Sunday afternoon. The clocks have gone back and it’s crisp and cold outside, the air scented with the smell of wood smoke. Mathilde drops by with an enormous pumpkin-like object from her garden. Otherwise, I spend most of the afternoon lying by the fire with my laptop.
It’s almost a year since the wood burner was installed, transforming the sitting room from empty shell [left] to cosy salon in one fell swoop. The novelty of it all has yet to wear off: the challenge of making the flames take and then the satisfaction of feeding the fire, poking it and rearranging the burning logs. In this way, I can keep myself entertained for hours. Shortly after it was installed, I would lie, night after night, in complete darkness - all the better to watch the flames dance. (Yes, I know I really should get out more!)
But there are certain less attractive truths about log fires that are not immediately apparent. The first is the amount of paraphernalia involved. In magazine pictures, log fires are invariably shown with a neat, symmetrical, stack of logs on either side. In fact you also need boxes of matches and firelighters, piles of old newspapers, two different sizes of logs and a large stack of kindling to get the thing going. Then there is the huge amount of dust and the daily cleaning out of the ashes, down on your knees with a dustpan and brush (just like Ruby in Upstairs Downstairs but without the frilled cap).
On the bright side, cleaning the soot off the glass door is better than Pilates for keeping bingo wings at bay, while ferrying in logs from the wood pile constitutes an excellent upper arm workout [as does stacking a delivery of two cordes of wood.] A frosty, cold winter? I really hope so.