Ridge rolls, reed boats and Texans…

While I watch the Peregrine and the young swallow competing with maximum speed and agility…the one to secure his lunch, the other to secure it’s life…Daisy is engaged in a litany of outrage which finally punctures my bird watching peace…”Thatcher…THATCHER!!…I’ve seen them; I’ve actually stood and watched them and they are only putting on 2 ridge rolls! One on top and one to the side!!!”

So far in her apprenticeship, Daisy has tied  on and sparred together hundreds of ridge rolls, and then fixed thousands of cross spars through the wheat reed ridges…and she has heard plenty of cursing when I arrive at a new roof to re-ridge it only to find that there is bugger-all to fix it to.
The ridge, the peak of a roof needs 4 or 5 ridge rolls being 3 – 4 ” in diameter running horizontally along it’s whole length on each side, the whole thing looking very much like an upside-down  reed boat, the kind used on the Nile. Ridge rolls are needed to give a solid base to fix the final ridge to, to keep the ridge at a good, steep pitch, and of course to help keep out the rain…in short; if you  think you could turn your ridge over and float it down a river, then it should keep you dry for a great many years.
Building a ridge without them will work well enough first time around, but as the ridge needs to be done more often than the rest of the roof, what happens is, that as the roof thins and degrades, there is less and less to fix to…hence the cursing when I take off a ridge to find nothing but a thin coat of fragile reed beneath it. Adding ridge rolls in at this stage can mean taking off layers of thatch, and more expense…not news any customer would like to hear.
One of the best things about our work, is the people we meet….
On our way from yard to Mr and Mrs M’s roof, we passed a man out for a run. He was wearing bright orange shorts, the kind of hat that has seen a great deal of weather and a tan to match. I said to Daisy, ” I don’t think he’s from round here”. Later that day the same man and his equally weathered friend walked by and stopped to introduce themselves as Bird-dog and Vino (you sort of have to say their names with a Texan accent otherwise it just doesn’t sound right); professional climbers from Texas and North Carolina. They were staying with family and friends in the village and were interested to see how thatch worked. The great thing about thatching right in the village, is getting to chat to passers-by, and before long we had met the whole group as had Mr M. and Paul, who had taken it upon themselves to re-paint the signpost at the tip of the garden. We were all very kindly invited to a barbeque at their friend’s house. Ms A, the hostess had brought her smoker oven with her from Texas and she and Bird-dog had spent much of the day cooking the most delicious feast: There was smoked brisket, and ribs and beer-can chicken…I can’t quite remember how Bird-dog said that worked…but it tasted great, and mexican salsas and enchiladas, and so many other lovely things. There was dancing…not the Texas two step, but Bird-dog’s own ‘Lawnmower’, which makes me grin just thinking about it. Thank you so much Ms A…that was a fabulous night in excellent company.

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