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A very old box

This week: Edible dormice; Meeting a van from the UK; Everyone should have an area like this; A very old box; Looking back;

Autumnal tints
Morning sunlight on Autumnal tints

It’s been a funny old week this week, with lots of comings and goings.

This week’s blog will also be shorter than usual because I’ve been feeling below par for a couple of days.

I have some aching muscles and joints and some swollen lymph nodes. However no fever, cough, loss of senses or anything else thank goodness.

In amongst this dreadful pandemic, people have forgotten that the whole panoply of other virus are still around. The good thing is their circulation is not in such great numbers.

Edible dormice

Remember the little mouse in the Old Amsterdam windmill, who wore clogs?

Well I think I have one up in the roof void.

I suspect it is a Puh, one of our Dol Edible Dormouse population. There is certainly something up in the roof space which is making a racket in the early hours.

The roof needs completely renewing so I have not even tried to close the many access holes between the old tiles. There is nothing up there that they can damage though.

The Puh are known to look for some warm winter quarters in occupied homes where they can hibernate.

Edible Dormouse
Edible Dormouse Photo: World Wildlife

Our Puh, celebrated by a festival in the village every August, are quite cute. But they look more like squirrels than mice.

The BBC reported this week that Police in Sicily had arrested a number of Mafia members following a raid on a farm house there.

During a search, the Italian officers found over 200 edible dormice which were being prepared for cooking.

In Italy the species are a protected species, but they are served up to leading members of the Mafia at banquets, as a symbol of Mafia power.

It is said to emulate the Roman Emperors of old who also ate Dormice on special occasions.

I have very occasionally seen one at dusk in one of my trees and the felines have brought one in once, but I much prefer to see them alive and well rather than served up on a plate.

Meeting a van from the UK

I realise how very lucky I am have to have orchards around my home that I can disappear into.

There is still an awful lot of work that I have to do to get everywhere landscaped to the standard I want. Part of the year it is just too hot to make very much outside work bearable to any degree.

Then there is the ongoing building work, which is still taking up a lot of my time when working outside is pleasant.

Then once the inside work has been finished, I will still have to do things like laying the new floor tiles, to name just one of many jobs.

I have had furniture and family heirlooms in storage since my parents home was closed and sold just before the pandemic struck. The COVID virus and all the allied restrictions have prevented me from getting across to the UK to collect anything.

So when an out-and-back transport opportunity presented itself, I took it.

A Scottish lady in the next village has sold up and is moving back to the UK after her husband suddenly passed away. So all her furniture and belongings were going to go in a transporter back home.

First ferry of the day
First ferry of the day

I took the opportunity to share the cost and have a lot of my things brought out. They arrived on Sunday morning, on the 10:30 ferry from Split.

By 11:45 everything had been unloaded.

The loaded van
The loaded van

I have inherited all the family gardening tools, together with assorted historical items like three Peggy Tubs.

These, together with a Posser were the Zanussi washing machine of their day.

19th century Peggy Tub
19th century Peggy Tub

All these went straight into the courtyard.

The full courtyard
The full courtyard

My more valuable heirlooms like old oak chests and a grandfather clock have gone into the Konoba, which once again has become a storage area.

This does make me really fed up with the builders here.

If the guy who was doing the pointing had turned up as planned at the start of June, the room would be finished. However because it was the middle of September when he finally arrived to finish his work, there is still a lot of work that I have to do.

Now I need the storage space.

With the furniture now in situ, the work to finish the Konoba inside is going to have to be curtailed. At least that is, until I can get the old cottage completely renovated.

This was the job I started in June and worked on until the temperature and my wrist injury stopped further work. I am back at the start of the Clotski empty square puzzle again!

The empty square puzzle
The empty square puzzle

My wrist is finally more or less healed, but I am still being careful with what I do. The doctor did tell me it would take three months!

I spent the day on Monday in Vrbanj helping the lady to get everything packed and onto the van.

In return I have taken over responsibility for some nice potted plants, which had adorned her steps and now are on mine.

Potted plants
Potted plants

Meanwhile I have a lot of ceramic pots which came out of the van from the UK, which I also need to find a home for so I can once again get my car under cover.

Everyone should have an area like this

Readers of a certain age who were raised on black and white TV may remember this monologue:

“Down at the bottom of the garden was a place where the man who worked in the garden left his things when he went to the house to have his dinner.”

This of course was where Bill and Ben lived and their friend, ‘Little weed’. Now do you remember?

Needing somewhere for some flower pots, I decided that I should have a clean up around my garden sheds.

The garden shed corner
The garden shed corner

The sun is still warm and with no wind, it has been pleasant working outside.

It would have been very pleasant had it not been for the Tiger Mosquitoes which are still flying and still biting. They are the only reason that I look forward to some winter cold.

The brambles were dispatched in short order, and will be shredded for mulch in due course. There is some variegated Ivy which is growing along the back wall.

Just looking at the thickness of a couple of the stems, it is a while since it has had a haircut. So I obliged and gave it one.

Some simple cutting back has let a lot more light into the area. It looks a lot better now it has been tidied up.

The shed corner after tidying up
The shed corner after tidying up

I still had a problem with some very nice China indoor flower pots, which I didn’t want to leave outside. There were also a number of ancient but still very useable garden tools.

Taking a look in one of the two garden sheds which came with me from Abu Dhabi, I decided that with a little reorganisation, I could fit everything inside.

Inside the tool shed
Inside the tool shed

Once again, I emptied the shed for a reorganisation. Then starting from the back, I put into place all the old tools, with the ones I am least likely to use at the very back.

The ceramic pots went on the shelves and I still had room for my favourite tools.

Isn’t it strange how you have some favourites, for example a very old rake which I have had for well over 30 years, which still performs sterling service in my orchards.

In the end, everything which came from the UK in the van has now been safely put away. The bonus is that I can still get into the shed as and when I need to!

A few more tools
A few more tools

Bill and Ben can go back to sleep now…

A very old box

One of the items which came out of the van was a small wooden trunk, with the name N C Ampt painted on the front panel.

The old wooden box
The old wooden box

This belonged to my Great Uncle. He was wounded early in WWI and died from his injuries on 22nd August 1915, aged 27.

I’ve never seen the trunk or even heard mention of it until it turned up on Sunday.

2nd Lt N C Ampt was my maternal Grandmother’s brother.

When I was compiling my family tree, I found the paper cuttings and photographs which my Grandmother had collected and saved.

N C Ampt had joined the 4th Light Horse Regiment of the Australian Imperial forces on 18th August 1914, very soon after the outbreak of war.

He had been a “Sheep Station Manager” in Australia since 1909. However he arrived back in Europe shortly after joining up.

As part of the ANZAC forces he fought in the Dardanelles campaign, being commissioned into the 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment.

He was injured in the Sulva operation to take Hill 70 at Gallipoli on the 21st August, 1915.

1915 Newspaper cuttings
1915 Newspaper cuttings

Fourteen out of fifteen officers from his Battalion were killed or wounded on the first day of the abortive attempt to take the hill.

Opening the box, it was filled with old tools and tobacco tins with a variety of mechanical bits inside.

Many of the tools were still in their original boxes, like this Leaf Spring Greaser.

Terry Leaf Spring Greaser
Terry Leaf Spring Greaser

From the lettering on the box and the company catalogues, I think it probably dates from 1922.

One tool which I am struggling to identify though is this one.

Unknown tool
Unknown tool

A well made crescent shaped wooden block, fitted with a threaded shaft which has a square key post at the other end.

On the shaft is a machined “butterfly” shaped ring which when rotated moves up and down the shaft.

I had thought that it was a “puller” of some kind and as all the other tools are auto related, perhaps something to do with a car.

However asking on line, a colleague suggested that it might be for tensioning barbed wire in fencing. He had seen his Grandfather using something similar.

As Lt Ampt had listed his occupation as Sheep Station Manager, when he joined the Australian Light Horse Regiment, it may of course have been something like that.

A more definitive answer came from Stewart Would, another online colleague who identified the metal part as a wood carver’s bench Screw Holdfast.

Screw holdfast
Screw holdfast

However as the remaining tools are motor engineers’ and the screw holdfast has the half moon section at the bottom, I wonder if it has been repurposed?

Alternatively, one hundred years ago most cars had wooden bodies, with shaped wooden bodywork frames, so it may have been used in auto engineering.

If any reader has any ideas, I would be pleased to hear them. Meanwhile the tool is now safely back in the toolbox where it has lain I suspect, for many years…. NCG

Looking back – Week 42

This is the start of the weekly section, with links to past issues of the blog.

2014/42 The problem with IKEA pencils…….

2015/42 The Curse of the Packers and Stuffers

2016/42 Wet and windy weather

2017/42 Hedgehogs in the garden!

2018/42 Waste not, want not

2019/42 A van for all seasons

Black forest colours
Black forest colours

2020/42 The last Kiwanos

My morning walk
My morning walk

2 Responses

  1. John Bailey

    Sorry to hear you have been feeling under the weather Norman. Hope you are getting back to your old self. You still managed to produce an interesting read.

  2. Marcy Fletchall

    Norm, So sorry to her you are under the weather. It’s been a zealous allergy season here, and I’ve suffered with similar symptoms, except my eyes were awful. I took a flu shot as well to ward off that illness. I hope are feeling better. I figured something was off when the blog came in on Sunday instead of Saturday. I started to worry.
    The blog is always informative, and engaging with the most sensational pictures. I will say the two videos are definitely UK vintage. I’ve never heard of either of the programs.
    The autumn there is beautiful, and so colorful, much like the Rockie Mountains, the east coast and northwest. It’s my favorite time of year.
    Please stay safe and healthy. I’m grateful for our friendship and correspondence.