Rub’a’dub in da Hot Tub!

Recently, I was away from Crockern for four out of five weeks, leaving Roger and Sam many tasks to contemplate.  However, several of the projects were caveated:  nothing that involved climbing  high up on ladders, using power tools in tricky locations, lifting heavy objects, or doing anything where a possible injury could happen with no one nearby to help.  As clever as Sam is, he isn’t exactly Lassie:  “Woof, woof, woof!”  “What is it Lassie?  Has Timmy fallen into the well?”

You might think that with such restrictions in place, Roger would have read all the great works of literature, but instead, spurred on by warm and sunny weather, he and Sam were busy.  When I returned, I was greeted with many happy surprises, including new fencing where we are planning to keep pigs and the vegetable garden fully planted.  We are trying a bit of everything in the garden this first year, to see what will work.  Here’s what we have:

Lettuces, beets, cabbages, spinach, leeks, potatoes, rocket, rainbow chard, onions, carrots, peas, broad beans, green beans, runner beans, celery, celeriac, cauliflower, romanesco, courgettes, tomatoes, pumpkins, artichokes, purple sprouting broccoli, swede, brussel sprouts, sweet corn, cucumbers, peppers, squash and asparagus.  We have herbs (sage, thyme, chives, rosemary, mint, parsley and marjoram) and fruits (rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and an apple, pear and cherry tree).  Mostly, we have planted a deep belief that we’ll have successes.

Raised Vegetable Beds

Seven of the eight raised beds we have planted.


Things are growing inside the greenhouse.

So far, everything is establishing well in the vegetable beds and the greenhouse and we’ve gathered a few dozen strawberries, several salads and herbs for seasoning various meals.  We also have a very successful crop of Stinging Nettles.

Originally, this last plant was not intended for harvest and I hasten to add, we did not plant it.   Last year, the area where we put in our vegetable garden was covered in a stand of nettles.  These invasive and determined plants stood proudly, like a forest of sturdy pines, occupying the sunniest part of our yard.  Not to mention, this was also the one area we had successfully kept out the sheep!

Forest of Nettles

The forest of Nettles before the vegetable beds.

My first encounter with Nettles in England was when my old dog Al slipped down a steep Nettle covered riverbank and fell headfirst into the river.  He was not much of a swimmer and in his old age was growing deaf and increasingly senile.  As Al fell, I instinctively reached into the river, through a thick patch of stingers, and pulled him to safety.   While he shook river water from his coat, both my hand and arm immediately blistered as if from a strange science fiction movie.  The swelling lasted no more than ten minutes, but the stinging sensation remained for at least three days.

Last spring, Roger and I worked for days pulling up Nettles before building our raised bed vegetable garden.   While working free their tenacious root system, I reflected on one of the stranger things I heard about when first moving to England:  “Nettle Eating Contests”.  Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever contemplate eating these nasty, stinging, space-hogging plants.

Oh how things have changed!   Despite my strong reaction, Nettles aren’t all bad.  They make excellent companion plants in the garden attracting aphids and cabbage white butterflies away from our legumes and brassicas.   Rich in iron and vitamin C, Nettles have a history of filling the hunger gap and the young shoots of spring are the best to eat for their flavour and nutrition.    Nettles can be used in the same way as spinach.  Just boil, cool and chop, then throw into egg dishes, risotto, and pasta.   Hard core types eat them raw.  Not me.  I collect the leaves while wearing good gardening gloves and using scissors, and then I dutifully follow a recipe, most recently, for nettle ravioli!

So the few patches that are returning close to the vegetable beds are welcome and monitored!

But our pursuit of health and well being does not rest with our gardening and foraging efforts alone.   We’ve recently introduced a bit of life enhancing decadence.  Again, while I was away, Roger managed to source and install a wood fired hot tub.   It sounds medieval, but it is far from some torture cauldron for witches.  It is a sleek, round fiberglass tub that looks like a giant teacup.  There is a coiled loop that contains a basket for the fire and once lit, heats the water inside the coil feeding it back into the hot tub.  There is even a snug place for a wok, to cook food, on top of the burner.  On the other side is a holder for keeping wine chilled.    Eat, drink and simultaneously soak in the hot tub.  An inspired combination if ever there was one!

Dutchtub by Weltevree

Our wood-fired hot tub.

In 1983, Eddie Murphy depicted the funk soul legend James Brown in a fictional hot tub talk show sketch on Saturday Night Live.  Dressed in gold Speedos and a wig, Murphy shows the Godfather of Soul getting down with his bad self as he sticks his toe in the hot water, achieving a pitch-perfect “Whoa oa oa!”

This comedic sketch aside, there is something profound about the love of the hot tub.  Perhaps it goes back to the calming and soothing effects of being submerged in liquid.   Is it possible from our early days in the womb, with the outside world distant and yet unchartered, where we develop this early experience of serenity best recreated with a soak in a hot tub?   Ah, the water’s embrace as we drift into peaceful surrender is bliss defined.   Soaking in the hot tub is not just for pure pleasure, though, as there are health benefits too:  stress reduction, muscle relaxation, improved sleep, reduction of headaches, and lowering of blood pressure, to name a few.  The heat, the buoyancy of the water and, lets face it, the views surrounding us are a luxurious tonic and marvelous fun!

So now to our ongoing list of projects we can add two more to resolve:

1.  Where do we locate the mechanism to spontaneously refill the tumbler of gin and tonic?

2.  Where do we source a James Brown style call-and-response back up band?

A man on a hot tub mission.

A man on a hot tub mission.


51 comments on “Rub’a’dub in da Hot Tub!

  1. Andrea says:

    I LOVE your new hot tub, most stylish tub ever! How long does it take to heat up? xx

    • The reward is in the wait, about two hours. But, as long as the fire is tended, it keeps warm without using any electricity! It’s a planned event to sit in it, but fantastic!

  2. Lim See Yee says:

    Hello. You owned great post and pic!

  3. wisejourney says:

    All coming along nicely ….

  4. Heather Henriques says:

    There are other uses for stinging nettles that as a young impressionable teen I remember being told about, all of which you would no doubt find on the more dubious sites on the worldwide web! Might come in handy for Roger as old age starts!

    As for the hot tub, glad you’ve introduced a bit of luxury into your idle, although can’t help thinking of Bugs Bunny when Elmer keeps trying to trick him into a stew as if it is a bath……..just watch out if Roger starts adding some of your home grown produce!!

    Hope to see you both soon

    Heather xxxx

  5. Nancy Farmer says:

    hello!…now I see how you might have stumbled across my Stinging Nettle Fairies!

  6. Sheila Shepheard says:

    Hot Tub or giant egg poacher?

    • Yes, we are at odds to accurately describe it, too. Roger thinks it looks like an orange pig. I think it looks like a giant tea cup. The one thing we can all agree, though, is that it is fabulous.

  7. Paul Blaney says:

    I was anticipating the hot-tub-in-action shot, but I suppose that would have entailed one of you getting out of the water to take it.
    Excited about the pigs!

    • Yes, the hot-tub-in-action shot…..well, couldn’t figure out how to not get the camera wet or, as you rightly point out, one of us getting out of the water (hot water, cold air) to take the photo. Perhaps as summer approaches!

  8. Love the hot tub – will have to show Mud when he gets home tonight.

    The vegetable beds are looking fabulous too. What a lovely surprise to come home too 🙂

    • It was indeed a lovely surprise. And thanks for your encouragement on the veg beds. Feeling pleased and hoping that pests of all sorts continue to feast elsewhere!

      • Mud loves the hot tub and would like to know how much it cost please or where Roger got it from 🙂

      • I suspected, without having ever met either of you, that he would love it. We just spent several hours in it tonight watching the sun set, the birds finish their evening feeding and then the bats coming out to begin theirs. I feel another blog coming on…. Roger got it from a company called Big Fire in Exmouth. They represent Weltevree products. He worked with a guy named John MaQueen. We first found it at a show (The Devon Country Fair) and met John there. Web site: Good luck and I can’t wait to see which one you select!

  9. jennyv123 says:

    Wonderful – how lovely to come home to 🙂 Love the idea of the hot tub and the views! Couldn’t you train Sam to work a remote shutter…..paw up, paw down……and smile

  10. Joanne Levitan says:

    Very important question. How many does it fit? ; ) There is an iPhone app called Wave Cam. You set up the iPhone and then it takes the picture when you wave. Maybe you can take the picture that way. If not, I will be happy to take a picture for your blog. Adding bathing suit to my packing list. Can’t wait to see you and Roger.

    • Now, if I only had an iPhone, then I might have the app called Wave Cam, which sounds very cool indeed. Yes, pack that swim suit….seats four according to the brochure!

      • Joanne Levitan says:

        Then I’ll have to be the official photographer. I guess we’ll have to start practicing our Rock Paper Scissors since there are three of us and two of you. ; )

      • I think we can manage 5! We’ll just need to figure out where to put all ten legs.

  11. hilscharliethomas says:

    Wow! This is the first post I’ve read for ages and it is amazing!  To be fair I haven’t read much- I’m supposed to be working but  the photos of the raised beds are fantastic- you have been working hard!  We want to come and see you again- with Charlie this year- how are you set week beginning Sunday 25th August?  We can do other dates if this isn’t good for you but we are in Axminster on the 24thfor a weeding so would be great to come to you from there…   Thomas REALLY wants to see you guys again.  He loves the house so much, he was telling Heather only yesterday that you have a summer AND a winter living room!   Hope you guys are really well, loads of love, Hilary x


    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Hilary! And yes, come visit with the boys. We’ll have to put them to some projects of some sort as Thomas proved to be such a great scientist on the ph testing of the soil for those veg beds. The week of starting the 25 is great. I’m working that day, but then the week is clear, so just let us know. C x

    • Joanne Levitan says:

      Hope you’ll be there for a wedding and not a weeding. If you travel for weeding you can come to our house anytime. ; )

  12. RobP says:

    I love the hot tub design – kind of looks like half a piggy-bank and half an old steam locomotive! It’s design has presence! 🙂

    • Thank you. We were drawn in by the design, too. Now being able to sit in it, I can saw that it is truly a case of “form follows function” as it is pretty inspired on the function, too!

  13. Catherine and Roger! I am blown away by your progress and so jealous of the piggy-tea-cup-hot-tub! The orange is quite a stunning choice to match your green, green, green grass. Top notch aesthetic choice! Now I am truly living my farm-life vicariously through you both xoxo Julia

    • Thanks Julia. We thought that orange was spectacular, too, and you’re right about how it sits with the green, green, green. Hoping in winter, it will do the same with all the grey, grey, grey!

  14. Chris Brown says:

    Great transformation in the garden. Looking good!
    Hot tub looks good too. Come on Roger; hope you’re wearing your birthday suit under that disguise. Just make sure the neighbours aren’t spying!
    Keep up the good work
    On my way home for a cold tub dip in the Thames Estuary. xx

  15. Mary Ann Swerdfeger says:

    The Hot Tub is AWESOME!! and the garden is most impressive!! Maybe I should leave Dave alone for 4 or 5 weeks….hmmmm…..on second thought…..

  16. Sue says:

    Another item for your list…a gold speedo for Roger. I’m sure he’d love it 😉

  17. How wonderful to have your own wood-fired hot tub! We went in one that I think was of the same design on Slapton Beach last year, pure bliss.

  18. bridget says:

    Looove that hot tub. Fab!

  19. ann dawney says:

    Roger has worked wonders! But could he please return Mike’s dressing-gown as soon as possible?

  20. Brilliant! Hot tubs are great, and I would love a huge vegetable garden 🙂

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