Thursday, 29 December 2011

wall to wall talent

The sequence of posts and events that leads to them is beginning to offer a strange fascination. In fact, the sequence found its way into a little Christmas tradition. Over the years clues have been written on the tags of presents. They are usually humorous little quips, but at times, they can be pretty difficult and offer a journey into some bizarre esoteric territory that can have non-family members somewhat perplexed.

A previous abode that was mentioned in an earlier post was susceptible to a fair amount of water ingress. The place was built in 1870, had three pitched attics (obviously an excess of slate in those days) and one huge valley gutter. Now, lets consider this for a moment; Glasgow is on the west coast of Scotland, it rains more than it should and the architect specified a valley gutter. Oh, and when you are up there, just put holes through the slates when fixing them to the sarking. I've always been dissatisfied with the process and technology of fitting slates to roofs. Where builders, developers and architects in cahoots? I can imagine the negotiation with tenders circa 1870. Builder - 'You want us to build for how much?!' Developer - Ah, just wait a few years, your crew will be back fixing all those roofs, insurance companies will be paying out. The flats will also be factored...need I say more. A fair few years have gone by and more than a few unfair repairs have been carried out. One such repair ended up in an entire room being 'rebuilt' The result of that particular incident and water ingress required a  new floor. It was the time when almost all sensible and insensible home owners where ripping up perfectly good carpets and fitting wooden flooring. The explosion of do it yourself laminate offers was everywhere. The decision was not to go down that route, but to consider something more responsible and sustainable. After all, the damaged floor was over 130 years old.

only a matter of time

The search for flooring was pretty easy. Other rooms had also been repaired over the years and the 'new' floors where solid maple. It's not cheap, but it looks the ticket and if treated properly, tends to cope well with water damage. A sustainable source was found through a reputable supplier and 49m2 of maple from the Beaver forest in Canada arrived. The flooring guys had a chuckle, 'hey mate, when you sell this place, you can say it has wall to wall beaver'.

The tag on a Christmas gift read 'wall to wall' talent. It was obviously a book, my mind began to wonder....I started out with 'does it have something to do with stonedykes?' no 'does it have something to do with architecture?' no. 'Does it have something to do with flooring?' Could do. Jesus, has my wife just bought me a book about floors!? The breathing became even more laboured when she said 'Beaver'. At this point I gave in and removed the wrapping. To my surprise and sheer delight, I wasn't in receipt of a book that chartered the history of wooden floors, or dare I say it, Beaver, it was Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore. One of these day's I'm might just try an Amazon search on 'Slaying the Beaver'. 

My wife had written the tag at 2am on Christmas morning, totally pooped after a crazy day. She had retitled one of the greatest cyclists of all time and a book that charts one of the greatest Tour de France, no mean feat. The best thing about the new identity is the name, Le Castor does sound better than Le Blaireau.

Another treat under the tree and a book that I've been on the look out for some time is Watchmaking by George Daniels. This seminal text was first published over thirty years ago, the latest edition is regarded as being one of the outstanding events of this year in the horological world. 

George Daniels lived on the Isle of Man and was known as the 'Man of time' and the greatest living horologist. Daniels passed away late October of this year. I'm hopeful that many opportunities will become available during the festive period and beyond to allow me to sit down and savour both books and gain insights to these incredibly talented men.

Stay upright

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