Rob, agreed, that top plate isn't the fairest of them all.
Now, what's that old adage about mantle piece and fire?
Mantlepieces: when I had one, I used to lean against it with my hands as I tried to heat my nuts in defense against Scottish winters. Central heating put an end to that particular thrill, but don't underestimate the value of attractive mantlepieces! Having said that, once the CH was installed, pretty mantlepiece or not, I decided to wall in the fireplaces downstairs with panelling, and I must say, it did end up looking rather grand. I suppose I must thank those grim years as a mech.eng. apprentice for the skill. Wood is as nothing when you've been working with steel!
Here is Spain, there is a log/burner stove with a sort of hood that forms a nice shape, and hides the steel pipe leading up and through it to release the fumes to the sky. The ventilation tiles on the sides at the top of the hood let the air heated by the exhaust pipe gather and sally forth into the room... I never lean against that hood, however, as it's painted, and I would end up having to paint and paint... but on the other hand, my wife would often stand in front of the stove and lift the back of her skirt the better to heat herself. As I never wore skirts, and especially not kilts with the danger of large pins etc. I have, myself, ever been denied that joy, which I'm assured was considerable.
Further on the matter of skirts: when I was buying Rusty
- you may remember snaps of him - I got pissed off because the local Ford dealership failed to deliver on time, despite the car existing (I'd seen the damned thing in the distributor's huge garage) twenty miles away, so I pulled a tantrum and marched into the showroom and cancelled. They were, I discovered, looking after the interests of car-hire firms ahead of mine; you couldn't make it up!
Anyway, that afternoon, the doorbell rang and I opened it to a guy in a suit, who turned out to be head of sales at the distributors. He offered to deliver the car, if I'd reconsider, the following day. I was not wearing a suit myself, in fact I was wearing a sarong and not even a T-shirt. I felt a little bit undermined by my sartorial choice for the postprandial period, and so felt I had no option but to accept his offer. Oh well, I wanted that car anyway...