Like the morning after a good curry, there was sudden and unexpected movement today on the chimney front when the builder chaps rocked up at 7.30pm to fit the pots on the rebuilt stack.
With uncharacteristic good timing I had spent a few hours yesterday and today cleaning our four reclaimed Queen Crown pots to get the chunks of white cement off their bases and give them a bit of a general tidy.
To begin with I had been gently using the pointy end of a stone hammer coupled with an exceptional aim, but I was getting increasingly worried about the shock waves of the impacts and the fragile nature of the clay and eventually switched to an angle grinder with a masonry disc. This turned out to be faster and more accurate and, by happy coincidence, I found myself gritting my teeth much less than I had been.
Today I gave them a gentle jetwash from a distance and tickled them with a scrubbing brush which removed a little bit of the thin film of green moss that covered some of the outer surfaces and also got rid of the cement dust that the angle grinder had caused. I didn't want them to be perfect, because we may as well have bought new ones, but they just needed a little bit of love. So love they got.
This evening saw more good timing when I decided not to pack in for the day and have a shower, and instead grind some of the ragged brickwork and lime mortar in the Living Room.
When visibility was down to about three inches because of the billowing dust I turned off the angle grinder in time to hear hammering at the door. It was the roofer and the brickie who had come to set the pots on the new stack, despite it being well after tea time and despite no prior warning. To be honest, Dawn and I are normally tucked up in bed in the shed watching Orange Is The New Black on the laptop with beans on toast by that time, but my better half is away with work for the night, so there was another bit of good fortune.
Still, never one to turn down watching people do manual labour on my behalf I dragged a couple of the spruced-up pots out of the garage and left them to it.
Ninety minutes later and with the sun setting over the woods, they packed up and left, leaving The Lodge with - much later than we had anticipated - a finished chimney!
I have a slight worry in that I need to keep the mortar damp while it goes off, and it had already started cracking within an hour of them leaving. The builders were probably on their second pint by 10pm but I was up on the scaffolding with a spray bottle and a wet towel, like Burgess bloody Meredith in Rocky Balboa's corner. Adriaaaannnnnn!
I'll be back up there first thing in the morning to see how it's all fared overnight before I head out to order 2 x 9m flue liners and rain hats for the pots, as per the builder's instructions, and I'll make regular return visits to give it the best chance of staying pristine-ish.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go.
Not only is it after 1am but this afternoon, on a whim, I decided to strim the whole front garden and deprive it of acres of 2ft stinging nettles.
Unfortunately I forgot I was wearing shorts at the time and now I have some serious scratching to do before I have any chance of getting to sleep...
It's 9.30am and after just four hours' kip I've been back up the scaffolding to find that the damp towel-covered area is still perfect although a few hairline cracks had appeared elsewhere. Because cracks will start if the mortar (which is part lime) dries out too quickly I've sprayed everything with water again and worked around the cracks with my finger to seal them.
It's due to be a reasonably warm and very sunny day so there'll be a few more trips up there to keep on top of it all.
Fingers crossed and all that.
It's now 1.30pm and the weather hasn't developed in the way that the Met Office said it would, so although it's not warm it's not chilly either and I haven't seen the sun since about 10am.
All of this is very good news for the chimney pots, the mortar for which will dry at a more suitable rate. There's certainly not much cracking up there this afternoon, so all seems well.
I won't be making any more edits.