The summer of 2020, of course, was very different from previous ones thanks to the global health and travel situation. Locally, we went to fewer village summer festivals (in fact, none - several of them did go ahead, albeit under slightly more restricted conditions than usual, but we didn't go to any), and whereas normally we would have had a stream of visitors throughout the year and especially during the summer (in fact, last year we calculated that we'd had friends/family staying with us for a whopping 104 days of the year), this year we have had only one visit since Stuart's Mum left in January.
That was a very special visit though - Stuart's eldest son, Dean, and his partner, Gavin, came out to meet us and spend a week with us in late August. And what a week it was! We had a wonderful time getting to know them, showing them some of the local sights and introducing them to our way of life and general surroundings. We were overwhelmed by what a great pair of young men they are, we all got on like a house on fire and we spent the whole week laughing and smiling.
Dean and Gavin's visit coincided with one of this year's most exciting material additions to our home: a pizza oven.
For a long time we had thought about building a traditional style pizza oven, but we knew that - technically, at least - we would need planning permission to do so, and of course it was one of those jobs that would forever be on the would-be-nice-to-do list, being usurped by the absolutely-have-to-do list. Then, this summer, Stuart's mum, Sheila, very kindly gave us a gift that allowed us to consider another option: a pre-made, standalone oven. And so it was that in late July we found ourselves in a very upmarket garden furniture shop ordering a pizza oven!
The oven was delivered by courier during a short period when Stuart was away (of course, it would be!). It was so heavy that the courier struggled to get it out of the back of the van, even using his pallet lifter, but he eventually managed and left it for me (as requested) on the piece of grass next to the gates, and before long the cavalry, aka Paul & Kathy, had arrived to with the moving of it. Paul was game to drive the tractor up to the gates, and then the three of us unpacked the oven from the wooden box and pondered how to get it into the back of the tractor.
|A tardis? No, a pizza oven.
We eventually managed to get it into the tractor, strapped firmly in and Paul very slowly, very gingerly drove it back down the drive, with Kathy and me walking behind ready to catch it (or get squashed by it!) if it wobbled out. We left it in the back of the tractor, reasoning that we would wait until Stuart was back and had come up with a plan for getting it from the car park to its eventual home on the patio outside the house.
And so it was rather fortunate for us that the very next week we had additional pairs of hands available to help in the form of Dean and Gavin. Paul & Kathy also came round for the moving of the pizza oven and between five of us we managed to slowly lift and carry it from the tractor, up the steps to the back of the house, then round to the front. We soon discovered that the spot we had designated for is was too uneven for it to stay safely for the time being, so we moved it onto the gravel area until such time as Stuart could create a level base for it.
And then we lit it.
We had a great evening christening the pizza oven and taking it in turns to have a go. It worked like a dream.