Four days in a van with someone full of cold and who coughed and sneezed from here to breakfast produced the usual results - I went down with whatever it was. What was really irritating was that I'd got through from last year without even a hint of a sniffle and I thought I was home free. Never mind; a few jobs around the house and some simple servicing work kept me out of mischief during my convalescence.
I'd always had mixed results from my wood burner and had attributed its lack-lustre performance to wind direction, atmospheric pressure, the price of fish - anything but the actual cause which, I discover, is all about getting the doors to seal properly. A week or two ago I'd replaced the rope door seal and found that it was too thin - 6mm instead of the recommended 9mm. Knowing how the rope compresses with use quite quickly, I elected to slap on some 12mm rope and replace also the rather thin rope seal around the glass with ceramic tape.
Warming to my task, I next tackled the door handle by extending the shaft an inch or so, turning up a top-hat section to retain a spring and reassembling the mechanism so that when the door was closed, the whole was pulled against the seal and made air-tight. I can't begin to tell you what a difference it's made. I'd always noticed other people's wood-burners having that hypnotically lazy type of flame, the sort that seems almost half asleep but my burn pattern was always either on the frantic side or I couldn't get the thing going at all. Now my flame is also rather relaxed and, what's more, the fire stays in overnight. Perfect.
Learned Counsel dug out another picture of his racing days (he's in front as usual) and explained to me that this was at a time when you could almost get away with every trick in the book. This is a 2-seater and with close examination the canvas cover on the nearside of the car is where the second seat was - as long as the seat was there, it passed scrutineering. The body had moveable skirts fitted and in combination with the airfoil on the back, the down-force and consequently the grip produced was apparently phenomenal. Funnily enough, it was only the other day I had cause to mention the TV production, 'Gentlemen, Lift Your Skirts' which described the development and subsequent banning in 1981 of that particular modification.
And as part of my convalescence, I thought I'd start a painting off. I'd been meaning to get cracking again with the brushes for quite a while and wanted a record of the Hillman to hang on the wall.
Working from a photograph which I took whilst George was welding the mudguard sections together, I knocked up a quick sketch which, now the donkey work's done, I can advance at my leisure. I used to paint in acrylics which was good training as they demand speed and accuracy but oils, my now favoured medium, allow a more casual approach.
They're a bit of a skive in comparison.