Saturday, 14 December 2013

Lighting a Fire

We've had an electric fire here for years now. We used to light fires but with one thing and another, it seemed a lot less trouble to put a board in front of the fireplace and stand an electric fire in front of it instead.

Recently, we thought it was time to sort out the fireplace again. We got the chimney swept. It turned out to be full of old birds' nests - the sweep managed to fill a whole binliner with twigs and mossy tufts. He recommended we get a wire contraption fitted to the top of the chimney to prevent a repeat performance. I went outside and had a good look at the other chimneys in the village. No wonder ours was birds' nest central. Just about everyone else had one of the aforementioned contraptions fitted.

I went to a hardware store and bought one. I then borrowed a neighbour's ladder with a view to fitting it onto the chimney pot. It shouldn't bother me -I climbed huge rock climbs in my youth- but I really don't like ladders. It doesn't look that far from the ground to the top of our chimney - from the ground. However, once I start up the ladder everything looks a bit different and I have to admit I had what climbers term "a bit of an epic" getting up the last few feet and getting myself into a position next to the chimney pot where I could actually fit the thing. The "thing" (I still don't know what it's called) is a springy, conical cage of wire legs, all of which need to be squeezed in while it's put into the chimney. I'd tied string around it to hold the legs in and intended to cut the string once it was well in, allowing the legs to spring out and grip the pot. Everything was just six inches further away than I wanted it to be and, of course, everything had to be arranged so it could be done with one hand, the other hanging like grim death onto the nearby "stench pipe".

To my amazement, everything went according to plan and I didn't fall off. To celebrate, we went and bought a sack of coal. We're never short of kindling round here and I've always got a pile of old newspapers handy, so lighting a fire was no problem. Walking up the lane gathering sticks had a real whiff of self-sufficiency about it. I had visions of  keeping chickens, of turning over the front garden to vegetables - now, I reflected, would be a good time to dig it over, let the frost break up the clods... So far, I've got no further than sitting in front of our "real" fire drinking a Martini and watching Youtube videos about vegetable-gardening. It can't be that hard, can it?


Joanne Noragon said...

I hear you can start a perfectly nice garden in spring, too. Enjoy your fire. I remember the lovely smell of the coal stove in my great grandparents' living room when I was very small.

AquaMarina said...

'real' fires - nothing compares ! Just the ticket on these dark winter nights - nothing like sitting beside the fire reading the seed catalogues and gardening mags and dreaming.......

Friko said...

Sounds complicated.Paul, gardener’s helper said he’d just stick a bit of chicken wie down the chimney the next he comes.
We are turning our electric fire into a real fire too, hope it works. I also hope that I can leave to electric connection pipes intact, in case I change my mind for when I get old ad pat making pen fires.

Sitting in front of a fire while playing or listening to music is quite a pleasant pastime. We were
thinking of adding poetry. Can’t wait.
Say Dominic. would would you consider adding yourself to my followers. I am desperately trying to get to 500 before the end of the year. a case of OCD poking through my apparently totally equable facade.

I seem to have followed your for donkey’s years.

If you really can’t bear it I won’t hold it against you.

The Weaver of Grass said...

No, no and No again.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments everyone!

JN and AquaMarina: Quite right. Real fires great.

Friko: I thought I was following you! I've been and checked. It doesn't seem as if I was but I am now.

WG: Wrong time of year. It's not "no,no,no" it's "ho,ho,ho".

Rachel Fenton said...

I have to say, I do find myself hankering after a wood burner on cold winter nights. But we don't have any central heating, save a couple of plug in oil heaters that get dragged out of the garage on the coldest days of July.

Your up a ladder excapade had me feeling a bit wobbly - I do not have a head for heights at all. I get dizzy looking at my feet.

A Cuban In London said...

I remember the fireplace we had in our holiday apartment in Granada a few years ago. It was nice to come back from a long walk in the evening, cook a meal and sit by the fire with my brother in law's family (who did live there, we were only visiting) and our children. Lovely post to read, it brought back memories. Come to think of it, during the summer we also lit a fire in Shropshire when we stayed there.

Greetings from London.

Gwil W said...

Now you can make proper toast instead of that rubbish that jumps out of a slot.

Adullamite said...

Yes a real fire is great but real hard work also!
The veg garden will be hard work, but good exercise. I wish I had one!

GOAT said...

It's a lot safer than climbing ladders and grappling with chimneys.

I envy you the fire. Over here, most houses come with electrified versions of ondol (floor) heating. Takes a long time to heat up and its main benefits are realised by those sitting on the floor.

I haven't owned a chair for two years...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Note to Dominic.

Ho, ho, ho or not. This is your mother speaking - you might be good at planting up a veggie garden but past experience tells me that it is the keeping up with the weeds, watering, spraying etc. which is the giant stumbling block. Instead of ho, ho and ho I think more in terms of boo, hoo, hoo.

Brigitta Huegel said...

Dear Dominic,
standing on high ladders is horror to me - I can, but I do not love to. So our chandelier still has to wait till a few cristals will be fixed.
Natural fire: beautiful (though husband gave up in Mainz, where we had the chimney swept for a fine fireplace in the flat, when he detected that someone - he - had to bring down the ashes). As to gardening: do it! Don't let anybody discourage you, if you feel you want to do it. It is rewarding, it is Me-time, it is time to work out while meditating: ideal! I love to garden, and think, everything you put your mind on, will thrive (after trial and error). So next year we may read in August about winners at the garden fete - or just: lovely peas and lettuce, (and slugs - nothing is perfect :-)