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Gone Fishing – Cat Chasing a Salmon – Huntingdon

Posted By paddy

A really busy week this week, I have worked all seven days due to demand. This morning, a Sunday morning, amongst other things, I took a large birds nest out of a Farmhouse chimney in Rickling Green (10 and a half meters of nest) and recovered a sweeping brush and rod that a customer had managed to wedge up his chimney in a thatched cottage in Fullers End! CCTV was most useful in locating and then retrieving the stuck brush. I could actually watch the brush retrieval took fastening hold of the brush, which I was then able to dislodge and pull out of the flue liner within which it was firmly wedged.

On a lighter note, here is another thatched animal, this time another cat, but one who has gone chasing a fish. I think the fish is probably a salmon?

More Biomass Boilers Swept – Okofen Pellematic

Posted By paddy

This is becoming a more common feature of sweeping in the Walden area, the cleaning of biomass boiler flues. In the past couple of months I have swept three of these Okofen biomass boiler systems. These were all providing heating and hot water to domestic dwellings in the local area; Debden where the photograph was taken, Henham and Rickling Green. This make of biomass boiler is fueled by burning specially made wood pellets; they are a small pellet of compressed wood shavings. Apparently they are designed in such a way to optimize the burn and efficiency of the biomass boiler. The pellets are stored in an adjoining hopper and are automatically fed into the boiler as it demands additional fuel. The boilers burn so efficiently that the produce only a very small amount of extremely fine soot that again is automatically fed from the fire box into a waste hopper. The owner need do very little other than occasionally top up the pellet hopper and then sit back and enjoy the benefits of cheap heating and hot water.

Okofen are an Austrian company and one of the world leaders in producing pellet fed biomass boilers, indeed they produced the world’s first pellet fed boiler in 1997.

Attractive Contemporary Cylindrical Stove Swept

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this rather attractive Contemporary Stove at an address in Wimbish Green. The stove was positioned in a very contemporary setting so went very well with the large open space room. Unusually and rather trickily, I had to undo two bolts in order to drop the baffle pales in order to access the flue. Fortunately, both bolts undid rather easily and I was able to sweep the flue without any issues. The only material that I was able to extract from the chimney was a quantity of very fine soot, which told me that both stove and chimney were working very efficiently together and burning as much of the fuel as possible. I’m not sure what make or model of stove it actually is, there were no names on the casting and a search of the internet was unhelpful; if anyone out there can enlighten me I would be grateful for the information.

Thatched Animal – A Cat having a stretch

Posted By paddy

Here is another of those thatched animals everyone likes to see; this one is of a cat having a good stretch. Obviously the cat would seem to have just woken up and is having a good cat like stretch. It seems to me that the majority of my customers either have cats or they have dogs in their homes. However, a small number of people have both cats and dogs, and it is always a surprise to me that cats and dogs can get on with each other within the confines of the home. Indeed, in many instances they appear genuinely friendly with each other and protective of each other. Quite amazing I think you will agree?

The Latin name for the domestic cat is Felis Catus, which literally translates as Woodland Cat. The dictionary definition of cat describes them as a small carnivorous mamal, typically furry.

Attractive Victorian Fireplace Swept with an Audience

Posted By paddy

I recently swept this very attractive open fireplace at a house in Radwinter. As you can see I had an audience for the job, this is Maisey the chocolate Labrador. Maisey took a real liking for my dust sheets and wanted to do nothing more than just stretch out and have a bit of attention and company. Maisey is really old, although I can’t remember how old she is other than for a dog she is a very stately age. She is now blind in one eye, but she still gets about and her owner tells me she still enjoys her food and walks.

As you can see from the photo’s the fire place was very attractive, and had beautiful tiles along each side, setting off the ornamental wrought ironwork and making it very eye-catching. There are companies that now renovate these Victorian fireplaces and they can command rather high resale prices; you only have to peruse the internet to see what I’m talking about. Many of the reproductions sell for quite a few hundred pounds whereas the originals can sell for figures over £1,000. Indeed, original and reproduction tiles for Victorian fire places sell for rather high prices on their own.

You might be able to see from the photograph that I swept this chimney using traditional rods and brush. It was rather surprising that for a reasonably small village house, this fireplace had a rather tall chimney; it turned out to be over 15 and a half meters tall from the bottom of the chimney to the pot at the top of the chimney stack. Quite surprising! It turned out to be rather dirty too; well it was a very long cold winter last year after all!

An Audience for the Boxing Match – Fighting Hares and a Rabbit?

Posted By paddy

Yes, it is that busy time of year again; I have been working six full days a week now since the beginning of August. The seasons have Cleary turned from Summer into autumn, the leaves are turn brown and gold dropping from the trees and we have already had the first autumn gales. It won’t be long now before winter and the burning season, so everyone is now thinking about getting their stoves and open fires ready. So I thought it would be a good idea to have a little bit of summer and to look at this interesting picture of three thatched hares; two boxing and one watching. Or is that spectator a rabbit. Or as the old baldness/wig joke goes, ‘from a distance they all look like hares (hairs)!

Birds Nest Removed in Abington

Posted By paddy

Last week I re-attended an address in Abington to remove a bird’s nest from a chimney. I had initially attended the property at the end of May this year when I had swept a Jetmaster open fire configuration in the lounge and attempted to seep a small Coalbrookdale Wood-burning stove in the dining room. I had found that the chimney for this appliance was blocked from the level of the register plate and estimating that the stack was about 14 meters high, I realized that to clear the chimney would take a long and as yet to be determined length of time. Certainly, much longer than I had that day with the number of calls I had booked. I had also noticed that there were Jackdaws perching on the lip of the chimney pot and flying back and forth to the chimney. I surmised that it was these Jackdaws who were the culprits for blocking the chimney with a nest.

Although I’m not much of an ornithologist, I did know something of their nesting habits and was aware that they breed, build or repair their nests between April and July, and that their young are fledged and leave the nest between July and August. So potentially those at the top of the chimney were potentially feeding young in the nest. This would mean that to avoid killing or injuring the young, it would only be safe to sweep the nest towards the end of August.

I additionally knew that although leaving the nest in place until the young are fledged was the ecologically and ethically the right thing to do, it was also a legal requirement. It would actually be breaking the law to attempt to remove the nest in May knowing what I knew and having observed the behaviour of the rooks.

Interestingly, the legislation that covers bird’s nests is ‘The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981’, The Act states that it is an offence to:

Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird

Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird
while that nest is in use or being built

Penalties for breaking the law include large fines, or up to 6 months imprisonment or both!

In view of all this I arranged with the customer to re-attend at the end of August.

Upon re-attending the address I removed and inspection hatch in the register plate (it was an old style installation with stove pipe into a register plate with inspection hatches and no liner), and discovered that the void between the register plate and the mouth of the chimney flue (approximately two and a half feet), was entirely filled with compacted tar deposits. Having removed this I encountered about three a half meters of nest material consisting of sticks of varying sizes on top of which were two dead birds, one of which was a Rook. Strangely, there was nothing on top of the dead birds; they seem to have been lying on top of the nest.

The photo I took shows the two dead birds lying on top of one of the trugs containing some of the compacted tar I removed from the chimney.

All in all it was quite a mucky, but satisfying job and the customer was pleased that they could now safely use their stove again.

Another Domestic Pet – A Labradoodle Dog Called Noodle

Posted By paddy

Carrying on the pet theme in thatched animals, I saw this thatched dog at a house in Radwinter where I swept four chimneys recently. The owner told me that they had personally requested the thatcher to make for them a thatch representation of the family pet dog Noodle who is a Labradoodle. If you like me are asking what a Labradoodle is; it is a cross between a Labradore and a poodle. Apparently, this breed of dog does not molt very much. In real life Noodle was a very handsome, active and friendly dog, who wanted to play a lot and get as much attention as he could. He was big on the licking front too and paid particular interest in my dust sheets. I must also add that I thought that his thatched counterpart was a very good likeness of him and one that the customer/owners were very proud of.

New Walden Sweeps Van – Ford Transit Custom

Posted By paddy

My next bit of big news is that I have bought a new bigger van; a Ford Transit Custom. This brand new, larger van gives me much more space for all my equipment, is much more ergonomically friendly than the smaller van, all of which leads to quicker, more efficient working.

I bought the van online from Bristol Street Ford Dealership in Stoke-On-Trent, they were most helpful and professional in their dealings with me. They gave me a great price on the new van as it was on last year’s autumn plate and the also gave me a more than generous part exchange on my old van. So I was very happy with the deal.

As I said, the new van gives me much more space for all my equipment and to make it work in an efficient manner I have sectioned it out with ply boarding and put in metal shelving. All this makes the equipment I have very accessible allowing easy access to every item so it can be removed from the van and replaced with very little effort.

I think that you will agree that the van now looks and is very smart and professional looking. Incidentally, the sign painting was done by Paul Lambourn at The Sign in Wimbish: 1 The Stables, Pinkneys Manor, Wimbish, Saffron Walden CB10 2XD – 01799599996

Takeover of ‘The Saffron Walden Village Chimney Sweep’

Posted By paddy

The big news this week is that I have recently taken over Jessica Hayes chimney sweeping business ‘The Saffron Walden Village Chimney Sweep’, as she has retired from sweeping. Many people will know Jessica as she has been the only female chimney sweep in the area for a number of years now! And all credit to her I say in what is largely seen as a male dominated industry! I think Jessica has done ever so well over the years, as chimney sweeping is not the easiest of jobs, it is physically demanding and can be quite tiring. Taken with the fact that Jessica is only very slightly built, she has done remarkably well to contend with her male colleagues. Women like Jessica are a positive role models for others and a reaffirmation of gender equality in the work place!

Over the years Jessica has built up a large and loyal customer base, so I would now like to extend a warm welcome to all of Jessica’s customers and say that I’m looking forward to meeting you all in the future!

I am aware that Jessica ran a forward appointments diary for her regular customers. I will now be undertaking all Jessica’s forward appointments and will Endeavour to contact everyone prior to their respective appointments by way of a reminder.

So here’s to a new future of clean, efficient, professional chimney sweeping with Walden Sweeps!

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