Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Chestnuts roasting on the open fire...

Image by Elstruthio

We now have a fully functioning open fire in our Living Room. It took two visits from the chimney sweep, who spent hours clearing out the chimney. There were two crow's nests in there, and the second one was almost impossible to dislodge.

Mr Chimney Sweep cleared out several bags of twigs and stuffing, and other 'nest-building' materials such as metal pipes and steel rods (they must have been some mighty muscular birds!)

When he finally managed to dislodge the second nest, he called me from the kitchen (where I was test-baking cupcakes - for a change) and told me to come outside to see the birds. They were rioting! According to the chimney sweep, when the crows saw his brush break through their nest, they (correctly) assumed it was a predator, and called out a warning cry. This summoned a huge flock of crows, who circled above our house, making a huge racket. It was a grey, overcast day, and the whole thing felt very Hitchcock.

Image by deadeyebart

After extensive testing the chimney was declared safe to use, and we have been enjoying our open fire ever since. The fireplace itself is quite small (a lot smaller than the one in the first picture), and the chimney sweep informs me that this would have once been a bedroom fireplace, for example in a nursery. Some clever clogs must have replaced the original one, which would have been a lot bigger. Fortunately, this bedroom fireplace is lovely to look at, and still big enough to have a cosy fire.

We live in a little town that is set within a National Park and World Heritage Site. The town was granted World Heritage status in 2000, to recognise the importance of its Ironworks and Coalmine. (Which are no longer in operation, but played a significant part in the development of the modern world; certain processes used in the creation of steel were discovered here.)
They recently filmed a BBC Series here which you may have seen - Coal House.

It's really nice to look at our little fire, and think of all the history behind the pieces of coal, and about the town with its terraced Miner's Cottages and the local landscape, characterised by huge slagheaps. (I'm getting carried away with these romantic notions! Next I'll be dressing in period costume!) We've lit the fire, had the Christmas tree lights on, and sipped mulled wine whilst wrapping presents and watching Nigella's Christmas cooking on TV. Bliss!

I would love to take a photo of our actual fire for you, but it takes a while to start up, and looks less attractive in the daylight. Perhaps I'll persuade my other half to build one this evening, and post a picture for you later.

****NB Big thanks to my Mother, who advance-gifted the chimney sweep to us for Christmas.


Michelle Goode said...

Oh wow! Your house sounds simply divine! I can't wait to see it ;)

Have you thought about researching the history of your house? (Assuming it's an old enough house). That could be really interesting!

I read in a magazine here in Australia that a couple, installing a TV aerial in their loft, found a giant mass up there and called someone in to investigate. It turned out to be a huge nest, spanning the width of the loft! Imaginations running riot, they thought some giant bird must inhabit their domain. But no...It was just a small common variety. They'd built it bit by bit over many years. Took quite a while to clear out and filled about 12 bin bags!

Just a random little story there for you!

I only hope that when Ant (my fiance) and I eventually get our own place it can be as lovely as yours sounds! The whole fire/Xmas tree/mulled wine/presents and cooking show sound just perfect!

Biba said...

I'd love to see a pic of your fire, sounds like heaven with the mulled wine and presents!

Hope you have a lovely christmas :)