Sunday, 15 January 2012

Secret Carvings and Roasting One's Own Nuts

Today (Sunday) my friend Andrew and I assaulted the outstanding roof insulation at top of the entrance tower of Balintore Castle. I was still guiltily in bed when Andrew arrived (was it 10AM?) but despite the late start we managed to finish the insulation around 6PM. So a particularly rewarding day's work.  I proved singularly incapable of hammering in any nail with enough force to tack things into position, but hopefully made up for this by crawling round the minuscule loft spaces around the cold water tank to guide the insulation into position.

completed insulation



completed insulation - detail
There are always new things to notice at Balintore Castle, and while standing around for a minute or so, I noticed that a block of stone that had been hidden behind a wall (and was now exposed) had an intricate corner carving on it. Had the mason messed it up and just used the spoiled block in the fabric of the building, or was it a little apprentice piece? The stone is limestone, which in only used in very small quantities at the castle, generally for carved internal details. It looks like it might have been intended as a detailing for the internal windows between the grand saloon and the principal bedroom corridor.

secret carving that was hidden behind lath-and-plaster


One of my life principles, which I expound regularly to Andrew, is that it is ALWAYS possible to do something new every day of one's life. It is both an exhortation to behave "out of the box", but also to observe "out of the box". Fortunately, today's new task was not hard to identify: roasting one's nuts on an open fire. Neither of us had done this before, and Andrew had never even had a chestnut before. We found that around 10 minutes in a wood-burner wrapped in foil was about optimum - caramelised and delicious but not too burnt.  There is something about chestnuts that limits one to not having that many. One of my errors was once buying a large can of canned chestnuts. They need to be used sparingly, so I didn't use them all before they went off. However, loose chestnuts are another matter - one can roast on demand.

HOT - peel carefully
roasting one's own chestnuts on an open fire

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