Jonathan S.

Hi Ben,

I spoke to you over the weekend regarding the oven that I put together and the use of lettering in the slab and the keystone of the oven itself. For your interest I have included a range of photos here from the oven's construction. They also show the birth of the retaining wall, which was the initial project I started and before I have contemplated including an oven.

Since I didn't have a deadline, this project kept on expanding with additions that I decided to include along the way: inclusion of power and lighting to the wall, curved rock work around four established trees (laying of the granite rocks was another first for me), re-routing of water pipes and the discovery of a previously unknown sewer line. The oven was initially going to be just an external fireplace, something to warm your toes in front of. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to include something that I could actually do something with. Something to involve friends, family and neighbours. Something that people would naturally gravitate to.

I chose your oven after a little research because I thought it was one that would match my ability, would look fabulous in my garden and wasn't a compromise product. I thought I could have depended on your after sales service (which i did) and hoped that you would support me during construction for any "I'm-lost" moments (which you did). Ben, as I said to you over the weekend, I hadn't put one brick on top of another prior to this project. And yet the ways of adding to the project just kept flowing: a children's cubby in the oven stand, a curved front to the upper slab to make it comfortable to lean against, the inclusion of a sink, power, water, drainage, a gully trap which waters part of my garden.

The idea of the lettering came to me quite late in the project. I wanted to personalise it plus, between you and I, have a bit of a show-off element. The front slab was the first section I thought about. I planned the inscription to clearly show the reason I built the oven, as well as place a time stamp on the project. This also led my thoughts to the roof of the cubby. I wanted to leave some messages to the children who I hope will use it over the years, to give them what I believe are important values to retain in life beyond childhood, as well as an insight into me. Centred around five words I wanted them to adopt (Laugh, Explore, Persist, Think and Play) there are multiple messages embedding in the slab ranging from humorous to serious, a total of 266 letter in a range of fonts and sizes. Perhaps they will pick up on the messages as kids, perhaps they will come back to them and ponder when they are a little older. Again, nothing I’ve done before.

As a bit of an afterthought and as a nod to my family’s West English background, I added a Cornish blessing to the keystone on the inside of the oven. Not many people are aware of its existence but I get a kick out of knowing it’s there, giving a secret benediction to each meal that’s prepared.

Despite it being nearly two years, there are still some unfinished bits: glazing for the cubby windows, hardwood facades to the front of the oven stand, some hand-made tiles to the landing in front of the oven’s opening. Plenty of time yet. I wanted this oven to be a living part of my family’s life, a place that they will go to do things together. I wanted it to work for a range of ages to use. I am looking forward to the time when grand-children squirm past my legs as they dive into their cushion-filled cubby with a plate of crisp lamb, salad, fetta and other Cornish-blessed goodies. I am happy that my mind is still building, adding, planning, expanding, innovating and improving the oven and that it’s not really a project I can walk away from yet. And I am very, very happy to have made the right choice when I purchased this oven from you nearly two years ago.


Jonathan S.