Festive fireplaces

The whiff of Christmas!
July 2, 2017
Fresh beginnings
July 2, 2017

Festive fireplaces

Come on, let us light your fire!

Come Christmastime, there’s nothing like a real roaring fire to make you feel utterly cosy and divine. In this blog, we give you some tips on making the perfect Christmas fire, a handful of chimney sweep-related titbits, and give you our stocking suggestions too!

Tips for getting it going…

Starting a fire – even in a proper fireplace – isn’t just as simple as lighting a match and chucking it in. To begin, crumple up a few sheets of dry newspaper (preferably black and white print), and place them on the grate. Next, take some tinder and lay it on top of the paper; you can use twigs and small branches for this. Then get some kindling and criss-cross it over the tinder so it’s two or three layers tall. Now it’s time to light the newspaper at the bottom – with a little bit of luck you’ll soon have a beautiful roaring fire. When that’s the case, add logs as and when you need them to keep it roaring. Oh, and firelighters are for wimps (but have them on hand just in case…)

A brush with fame…

With fireplaces come chimneys, and with chimneys come the need for chimney sweeps. A staple of Victorian England, these poor little blighters were as young as five or six years old and often lost their lives not long into their short careers. The chimney sweep is literary’s favourite type of cleaner, but how many chimney sweeps can you actually name? Victorian writers were obsessed with these begrimed figures: the protagonist in Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies is a sweep called Tom, and in Oliver Twist, there’s a particularly pernicious sweep by the name of Gamfield. Then of course there’s Bert from Mary Poppins, played by Dick Van Dyke with that unforgettable mockney accent. Jeff Schmittinger has been the White House chimney sweep since volunteering to do it for Bill Clinton in 1993. Schmittinger has 35 chimneys to make spotless, and in his 19 years on the job he’s never been paid once. That’s what you get for volunteering.

Stocking it to you…

When you’ve got your fire going, you’ll want to make sure it’s suitably bedecked. The classic Christmas look of course is to hang stockings from the mantelpiece (make sure they’re not dangling anywhere near the flames). This year, there are some great designs to choose from. Marks & Spencer have this unbelievably cute penguin stocking (we love the way its wings stick out). John Lewis is doing a fab line in Inuit-style festive footwear festoons. Meanwhile, for the slightly older (to fully grown) kids in your life, be a sport and get them one of these football fan designs. Oh, and one final piece of fireplace advice… don’t forget to leave out the sherry and mince pies and Christmas Eve!

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