Monthly Archives: April 2006

The Naked Man of the New Forest

At the weekend, we went for a walk in the New Forest. Despite living fairly nearby, we have mostly only driven through the New Forest to get to other places, like Hurst Castle.

According to 100 Walks in Hampshire & Isle of Wight, the Naked Man is “the stark remnant of an oak tree struck by lightning many years ago. As befits its sinister origins, it was also used as a gibbet tree.” The gibbet was used to hang highwaymen and smugglers – probably the same ones that used the track alongside, which, according to my book, “has a long history of usage, most famously as a smugglers’ path for contraband landed at Lymington.”

Disappointingly, the Naked Man looks like neither a gibbet nor even a naked man:

The Naked Man and me.

It looks, as it is, like the stump of a dead oak tree that has other plants growing on it. The fencing around it seems a little pretentious but we wouldn’t have found it otherwise.

Shiny new boiler

Last week, we replaced our old, 1970s Baxi back boiler with a brand-new shiny Worcester-Bosch condensing combi boiler. And thanks to the willingness of Sean Lidden, the boiler man who scaled our roof to install the vertical vent, the new boiler fits neatly into our roof-space storeroom.

When we first looked into it last year, we thought it would have to be mounted on an external wall. As we live in a narrow mid-terrace cottage, we don’t have a huge expanse of convenient external wall on which to unobstrusively mount a boiler. At best, we’d figured it would have to go in the computer cupboard (aka the server rack), which wasn’t really that ideal.

I guess it depends on the make/model of boiler but this is the make that Sean has used before because it’s easy to maintain and get parts, I think, and, for us, being able to vent it through the roof is definitely the best option. And being able to control the heating using a wireless thermostat/control means that we don’t have to make the trip upstairs just to override the timer settings.

So I worked at home for three days while it was all being installed. On the first day I had no heating or water (hot or cold) but a neighbour kindly lent me a key to use her facilities; after that, we had cold mains water but no heating or hot water. It was bliss on Friday evening being able to run the hot tap, and on Saturday morning have a hot shower.

The upshot is that we no longer have a hot water tank (and hence no airing cupboard), we have no cold water tank or header tank in the storeroom, and we have no ugly 1970s outset gas fire stuck to the chimneybreast. We have yet to decide what to put in the hole that the fire and boiler left behind but in the meantime, we can admire the pretty 1970s lime-green wallpaper that we discovered behind some formerly boxed-in pipes in the living-room.