Wednesday, February 4, 2015

There is something in the water....


Tuesday 3 February 2015

0 degrees

snowy winter wonderland!

Woke up and realised that there was a faint silver light slithering through the shutters. Opened the windows to discover a winter wonderland of sparkling white.  Not a breath of wind, not a tweet of bird song.  How little it takes to completely change ones outlook and see the wonder in the quotidian!

Drove carefully on the wet and slushy snow to meet a land surveyor.  I had not managed to notify the occupier who is rather difficult to contact as he spends his time either in the local bars or sleeping off the effects.  No one answered the door and the dog was going crazy so we decided he must be in a bar and got on with looking at the plots.  We had to teeter around the pigeon poo which was everywhere.  It was the land surveyors opinion that the part of the building which was being claimed by the neighbour, in fact rested upon the other lot.  Pigeons peered down at us.  The inside of the building was hollow and we stood in quite a lot of pigeon poo.  

A neighbour was leaning on her door post, watching us and smoking a small cigar. The land surveyor asked if she was the owner of her house and she said no, it was a Count and he lived near Barcelona.  She spoke very softly and her head jerked involuntarily to the left every now and then. The surveyor went to the town office to enquire about the identity of the neighbour and I went for a coffee and found the occupier of the house.

He was nursing a small glass of rosé and didn't look pleased to see me.  I sat apart and looked at the local traffic sliding on the slush and waited for the journal to become free to read.  The reader pulled down his cap and pretended not to notice at me beaming my 'finish reading' rays at his head.  The occupier shuffled over and told me that there were plans afoot to build a huge roundabout and to take part of the garden of the house to make a car park.  He stood back and smirked after imparting this information.  'Then again' he said, when I didn't react, 'I might have got it all wrong'.  He was shaking too and I wondered if there was something in the water in the village and regretted drinking the coffee.  I find it unlikely as the village is tiny. Perhaps they have spare cash and want to use it up?  It is sure and certain that they never think of putting the rates down, bastards.

Back home and find OH in kitchen, with muddy dog, taking off his boots. He says he has flu and goes to bed.  I enjoy blissful peace and quiet and make some phone calls.  Later on, go and collect some keys from a property where the owners have moved away.  It is very cold and dirty and the plaster has started to fall off the walls.  They tell me that this is because the house is not heated but I know full well that it is not true as the plaster is falling off my walls as well, and it is because of saltpetre.  

image_saltpetre.pngthanks Arcane Industries

Looking on Google, I discover that on the River Cottage forum, people are complaining that they cant get hold of it - I could supply them with it, no problem - and that it is also a component of gunpowder.

I also discovered the following on the Jamaica Cleaner ezine

Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor
YOU MAY be old enough to remember your grandmother or mother using saltpetre (also known as sodium or potassium nitrite) to cure pork legs to make hams at home several weeks before Christmas. Today, saltpetre is used in the cure of several foods indigenous to our culture.
As a strong oxidising agent, saltpetre is used for:
fireworks;
explosives;
matches;
fertilisers due to the nitrates to make soil more fertile;
glassmaking;
steel tempering;
reagents;
oxidisers in solid rocket propellants;
sensitive toothpaste;
food curing.

Saltpetre has taken a bad rap in what is termed the saltpetre principle. It is claimed that saltpetre is secreted in coffee, tea, wine, scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. This untruth originated in male recruits undergoing basic training to reduce their erections which came easily before boot camp. Saltpetre does not suppress sexual urges and it is dangerous if consumed without control.
The truth is that there is no saltpetre in the chow of military men but the rumour started to make the men feel that their failure at erections was due to the chemical additive to food and not from the rigours and exhaustion of military training. This rumour also circulates outside the ranks of service when young men are housed in institutions like boys' schools, colleges and prisons. This was to make the young men not feel badly when they could not be sexually aroused (www.snopes.com).
Saltpetre has been used in the curing of meats for ages but care must be taken in its use and label containers properly.
Make fire and spend evening traipsing up and down the stairs with many drinks, medications and toast.