Great Fireside Activities for the Winter Months.

Ok, we get it, lockdown number who-knows-what, thinking up new ideas for fun times is becoming tiresome. So, we’ve racked our brains and scoured the internet and put together 8 fantastic fireside activities to shake up your evenings this winter. Entertaining ideas to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, in fact fun has never been easier! So, get set and get planning for an evening around the fireside and get ready to make memories.

  1. Cook

Sounds simple but eating around a fire is something we’ve done for years and you don’t need to be outdoors to enjoy it! Cooking is an all-time favourite campfire activity and now it’s set to become your indoor fireside favourite too. Roasting marshmallows for s’mores is only the beginning of fireside cooking activities to enjoy, and if you don’t have an open fire consider using a small burner on a safety mat.

2. Sing

Singing isn’t just for campfires, bring the tradition indoors to your fireside! Choose to go acapella or add a guitar, harmonica or whatever else you may have. Make you own rules and just go for it! Why not show off your musical talent with a karaoke night? Enjoy the chance to sing round the fireside to your favorite tunes. A karaoke evening is among the easiest of activities to plan. Whether you choose to use a karaoke machine or simply an app, your living area will become an area of entertainment and delight. Set up a stage and position chairs or blankets accordingly. Grab some bat snacks and it’s an open mic night ready to go. Take your activity to the next level by choosing a theme such as 80’s music and go all out with fancy dress to match. Have the fun is in the preparation!

3. Tell ghost stories

Add some spooky vibes to your fireside by planning a ghost story night. Gather around the warmth of a fire and swap classic horror tales and personal favorites. A ghost story telling session is hassle-free and easy to plan, and they provide hours of freaky fun for everyone. Sure, you don’t necessarily need to decorate for your ghost story telling, but where’s the fun in that? Break out those Halloween decorations, tack up some fake spider webs, and have the storyteller wear a witches hat. Play a spooky soundtrack on a phone or small speaker to enhance the entire experience. If you’re loving this idea but wanting something a little less Halloween, why not tell fairytales or read aloud your favourite poems. A simple story telling game is to take turns to each add a sentence to a story you make up together, who knows how this once upon a time will end!

4. Quiz

You might be over zoom quizzes, but a home quiz by the fireside is a totally different experience. Make some cocktails/mocktails, get out the snacks and make up a quiz (or there’s loads of free themed ones online too)! Try and keep screens to a minimum so you can enjoy the ambiance of the fire. Play in teams or all against one, if there’s just the two of you simply quiz each other in a battle of the brains!

5. Movie night

Enjoy the nostalgic feeling of the cinema by transforming your living area into a cozy theatre. Assembling your home cinema may be easier than you think (just reposition seats to face the tv or set out a big cosy blanket with all the cushions) and it will provide all ages with a unique, memorable viewing experience. Stick with a family-friendly Disney theme or add a hint of exhilaration with a marathon of classic horror films. To add some extra magic, give out movie ticket invitations and arrange a self-serve popcorn and candy bar. Make sure to keep everyone safe by using string lights to illuminate the way to the loo!

6. Games

Twenty Questions, Name That Tune, Would You Rather, Eye Spy – the list of great traditional games to play round the fireside is endless. Many games you might play on a car journey are perfect for screen-free, fireside fun and are guaranteed to get a good few giggles.

7. Wine tasting

There’s nothing quite like a glass of vino by a roaring fire, unless it’s several glasses! There are many fantastic companies now offering wine tasting experiences delivered to your door and hosted online. Bring the elegance of a fine dining experience to your own home, make this an opportunity to sample a plethora of wine selections and discuss their observations. Add a touch of class to your fireside evening with just a bit of planning and shopping, polish the glasses and why not get in or set up a tasting platter to pair with the wines. This activity requires very little preparation and cleanup allowing you more time to enjoy the experience and ambience.

8. Sleepover

Sure, camping makes a great summer outing, but why not campout in the convenience of your own lounge? An adventurous spin on a traditional slumber party, and who can deny that a bathroom within walking distance adds a certain sense of luxury generally not afforded by other camping trips? No need to check your weather app or prepare your bug spray, simply get ready for a fun-filled night indoors! Many of the ideas within this list can be accompanied by an indoor campout. The best part about indoor camping is its simplicity. Grab you sleeping bags and pillows, that’s it, setup is a breeze. Once the sleeping arrangements are made, you’re free to relax around the fire with hot chocolate, win!

2021 Fireplace Trends

The fireplace, welcoming, warming, utilised and loved in many homes. The centerpiece of our living areas and focal point in our day-to-day lives.

In 2021, fireplaces promise to be a true symbol of comfort. An increasingly sought after element within interior design, this year will see fireplaces climb the charts even further as a home ‘must-have’. Modern fireplaces, with an increasingly subtle design, will become a core feature in the design of living spaces. In addition to adding value to houses, a fireplace can create a cosy heart to our home environments.

Here we take a look at the most stylish interior trends recommended by designers for the year ahead. This year is all about creating an atmosphere, utilising bold colour palettes and statement furnishings. Let’s start at the top;

Mantelpieces

A mantelpiece can be both a harmonious design element and an expressive accent. Interior decoration in 2021 will be much more environmentally friendly focused. As such, many natural elements will be used as a subtle nod to ecological spaces. In the year ahead, the following mantelpiece options are set to become relevant:

Modern: Expressive and laconic masonry, clean, strict lines, and smooth texture create a spectacular and mysterious unity with fire itself.

Country: A raw wood shelf looks like a guest from the past and creates an atmosphere of leisure and tranquility.

Rustic: The neat brickwork with a polished wooden shelf symbolizes the harmony of natural materials and clean lines.

The Feature Wall

Fireplaces remain the heart of any home and there are many new and refreshing ways for decorating walls around them. Stone, a number one choice in recent years, is still in demand, but in 2021 many modern materials are rising in popularity – and all of them are environmentally friendly, durable, safe, and are sure to delight with an up-to-date texture.

Concrete. The use of large concrete tiles gives an industrial and a slightly harsh appearance – a great choice for fans of minimalism. Rugged-looking concrete walls combined with modern, light-colored furniture will be another big trend for 2021 and is a trend that promises to last a long time.

Metal. The incredibly trendy 2021 solution will be an excellent option for a loft or industrial interior.

Glass. Reflected flames endlessly flickering – what could be more mesmerising.

Tiles for Fireplaces

Harmony and safety, variety, and reliability are just some of the reasons that prompted designers to take a closer look at tiles as a beautiful finishing material for a fireplace. You will have a lot to choose from in the coming season with specialists offer many exciting solutions:

Ceramic waves. This exquisite tile relief sets the perfect interior rhythm. However, it should be borne in mind that this design requires simple and straightforward shapes and lines of the fireplace.

Glass mosaic. Glossy dark tiles give vintage fireplaces an ultra-modern and luxurious look.

Patterned tile. A clear geometric pattern on the cladding surface is one of the hottest trends of 2021, allowing the integration of bright colours and ethnic motifs into the interior.

Marble texture. A noble stone is equally suitable for a classic living room as well as for modern minimalism.

Pebbles. Pebble tile is the trendiest eco-decor of 2021. Use it as an accent for your fireplace or create a balance with the surrounding interior.

Décor and Furnishings

After several years being used in interior decoration, Scandinavian inspired minimalism starts to be abandoned in 2021. This year, you can bet on maximalism. With a much wider range of possibilities and the ability to combine various styles this year is about making your home your own. With this new trend, you will be able to use more interesting decorative objects that are neither standardized nor simplified. Think big and bold, reflect your personality in your surroundings and go for it!

Curved shapes will also be on trend as we strive to incorporate organic and natural forms within interiors. Irreverent furniture and decoration elements, from soft downy chairs to curved coffee tables, large reflective mirrors and statement art pieces will be a part of this.

Velvet will be a widely used interior decoration material by 2021. Vinatge upholstered armchairs and velvet ottomans or cushions are excellent options to make your home more elegant and trendy. Team this fabric with the seasons must have geometric and tribal patterns to embrace another major interior design trend of the year. These patterns will help bring different areas of the home to life and turn them into more fun and welcoming spaces.

Colours.

The return of the use of black will be one of the most prominent design trends of 2021. Widely used in both furniture, fittings and finishes as well as walls. At first we may think that using black on the walls is a very risky decision, but when used with clear contrast, black can even help to make the space visually larger.

Within the trend of natural and ecological elements arises the tendency to use earth colors. If in recent years, gray has been the most widely used color in interior design, by 2021 it will be the most grounded colors teamed with deep rich greens. Used either as the main colour palette or incorporated using vertical gardens and home plants in abundance. Being a plant lover has never been so fashionable.

Our Top 5 Fires for 2020

What a year it’s been! But we couldn’t say farewell to 2020 without a rundown of our top fires. We’ve spent more time than ever staying safe at home this year and the fireplace has stormed back into the limelight with designers placing extra emphasis on integrating beautiful and functional fireplaces at the heart of our living areas.

Our customers have been transforming their spaces across the country and its clear that you love gathering round the fire, inside or outside, just as much as we do.

No. 1. The Morsø Forno Outdoor Oven

Without a doubt, the Morsø Forno ruled the roost over the summer making it number one on our Top Fires of 2020 list.  The ultimate pizza oven with more uses, resulting in more usage made this Danish design the most coveted outdoor oven yet. Let’s just say if ever there was an object that was the epitome of both form and function, this is it. 

Guarranteed to ‘wow’ and not just because of its ultra-modern rounded design, the Morsø Forno helps you take cooking outdoors to a new level. The multipurpose outdoor oven and grill opens up the authentic pizza making experience so that anyone can taste the delectable flavours of traditional Italian pizza, and it certainly costs less than plane tickets to Italy!

The versatility in uses means you can still eat out on nights where you want to enjoy the oven but are not in the mood for pizza. Plus, the Morsø Forno functions brilliantly as an outdoor fireplace when not being used to cook. A winning design for outdoor entertainment in the current climate and obvious an obvious winner our option.

Find out more here

No. 2. The Nordpeis ME Wood Burning Stove

The Nordpeis ME woodburning stove is breathtakingly eye catching and original. Demonstrating cutting edge Nordic design and technology in equal measure. Winner of  Best Stove at the Built It Awards 2019, this stove makes it to number two on out Top Fires of 2020 list.

Few wood burning stoves offer so many inspiring fitting options, and the wealth of choice is testament to the ME’s versatile design. Choose from pedestal, steel log store stand, benches, or wall-mounted options – with stylish clear glass stands also available. There is even the option of a ceiling hung version, for a statement stove installation. Each mounting option transforms the ME, letting you choose the perfect combination for your home.

Find out more here

No. 3. The Stovax eReflex Electric Fire

Designed with the very latest LED technologies and offering a choice of stunning fuel beds, this innovative electric fire range lets you decide on the perfect ambience to suit your mood – with only your imagination to hold you back.

Consistently one of our most popular electric fires The e-Reflex makes it to number three on our Top Fires of 2020 list. Featuring state-of-the-art technology to produce undulating flame visuals, this is one of the most captivating electric fires ever created.

The eReflex range caters for everyone who is looking for a remarkable electric fire. Wall hung or inset models in fashionable landscape sizes up to 2 metres wide! Guaranteed to give any room the WOW factor, eReflex fires do not need a chimney or flue so they’re compatible with any home.

Find out more here

No. 4. The Flamerite Gotham 900 Electric Fire

Simple, understated and highly desirable! The Flamerite collection is new to our range of fires for 2020 and the Gotham 900 has jumped right in at number 4 to our Top Fires of 2020 list.

An inset electric fire with landscape proportions, the Gotham 900 allows the superb LED flames to take centre stage. The fire can be fitted completely frame-less for a minimalist theme or you have the choice of an optional silver or brass trim.

Find out more here

No. 5. The Gazco Sheraton 5 Stove

Available in gas, wood burning and electric models, this fire has soared in popularity this year becoming one of our best sellers and it’s easy to see why. Timeless design meets technical innovation combining stylish looks with high efficiency technology.

The Gazco Sheraton 5 features beautiful cast iron detailing designed and engineered in Britian. Coming in at number five on our Top Fires of 2020, this stove brings elegance and is built for year after year of service in your home.

Find out more here

How Does Santa Get Down The Chimney?

­By the time the holiday season is in full swing, curious, knowledge-seeking children have lots of questions about Santa Claus and Christmas. How does Santa make it around the world in one night? Do reindeer really fly? Why do people keep giving us mince pies?

But the biggest, mid boggling, question of all? How does Santa get down the chimney? Can he even fit into a chimney? After all, the chimney flue isn’t that big, and Santa Claus is a jolly and plump, old fellow. Plus, his bag of toys is pretty big, even with the world’s best magic it couldn’t get that small, could it? Does he drop straight down, or does he use special climbing equipment? And what happens if you don’t even have a chimney? Does that mean people without chimneys don’t get any presents at all?

It’s a perplexing question that many parents struggle to answer but to help you out this season, we’ve investigated and discovered 3 very probable theories to help you explain.

No.1. The Alice in Wonderland Effect

This is the theory that Santa Claus has perfected the art of miniaturization or the ability to make himself small and the milk and cookies that children leave for him help him do just that. Santa adds a special potion to the milk that causes him to shrink in size, so he can go up and down the chimney. He carries a thermos that he can refill with milk at each house, so he always has milk with him while he’s on each house’s rooftop. Then when he wants to return to normal size, he shakes magic sprinkles on the cookies children leave for him and eats them to grow big. This process is similar to the “drink me” potion and “eat me” cake that Alice uses in Wonderland to make herself small and big.

No.2. Science

Santa Claus uses the science of contraction and expansion. Michael C. LaBarbera, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy and geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, believes that reducing the distance bet­ween molecular bonds could do the trick. There’s a lot of empty space between the nucleus of an atom and the electrons surrounding it, so moving everything closer together could potentially decrease the size of an object. The mass of the object stays the same, of course, so that may explain any loud crashes that might come from the fireplace if Santa slipped [source: University of Chicago].

But what about Santa’s suit? If he compresses his body to a small enough size to fit through the chimney, wouldn’t the suit just crumple into a pile since it isn’t a part of him? Santa’s suit would need to be threaded with carbon nanotubes. This would allow the suit to compress as Santa himself compresses. His belt would also be equipped with a grappling hook, making his descent into your living room a bit smoother.

To visualise and help explain this concept, try this experiment with your children. Gather a saucepan, water, some small-to-medium-sized eggs, a glass milk or juice bottle and matches. Fill the saucepan with water and boil the eggs for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the eggs cool and peel off the shell. Light a match and drop it into the bottle. Quickly, place the egg on the mouth of the bottle. Watch what happens. As you’ll see, it’s a good thing that Santa’s not an egg, but the concept is similar. Besides Santa has his fluffy red suit to provide some padding and his sturdy boots to help break his fall.

No.3. Magic

The most popular theory of all is that Santa Claus himself has magical abilities. After all, in the poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, all Santa has to do to go up the chimney is to lay his finger aside of his nose and give a nod – and up the chimney he goes. If that’s not magic, we don’t know what is.

Whatever theory you believe explains how Santa Claus goes up and down the chimney, make sure his journey is easier by having your chimney professionally cleaned and ensure you fire is turned off or burnt out before bed especially on Christmas Eve! We’re sure Santa will thank you. And remember, if you don’t have a chimney don’t worry, Santa always find a way.

Santa using Magic to go down a Chimney with his Bag of Gifts.

How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire aren’t just the lyrics to the Christmas Song, made famous by the great Nat King Cole. They’re also a fantastic treat to make during the holiday season! Not only will they fill your home with an incredible aroma, but the actual chestnuts are fairly delicious.

Roasting Chestnuts over an open fire (or in the oven) is an extremely easy and great holiday entertainment idea, as well as a delicious snack. This step by step guide will walk you through the tools needed and how to roast delicious roasted chestnuts that will make you a holiday hero.

Step 1 : Buy Chestnuts

Fresh chestnuts best used for roasting have the shell on and usually found in the produce section of a grocers or supermarket. Farmer’s markets will likely have them as well.

Chef’s Tip: Buy the chestnuts as close to the day you are roasting them so they are fresh.

Step 2: Get The Tools Ready

If using the oven, the key tool needed for roasted chestnuts is a cast iron pan or roasting dish. If using a fire, which we highly recommend, these are some additional tools to make the roasting experience both easier and safe.

  • High Heat Welding Style Gloves – This is important to avoid burning hands when the fire and heat are several hundred degrees. Protect those hands!
  • Cast Iron Pan – A cast iron pan can handle the heat.
  • A Large Grill – Because the cast iron pan is heavy, in addition to having a handle, using a large grill is key as it helps to keep it stable.

Step 3: Prepare the Chestnuts for Roasting

Chestnuts are a soft nut surrounded by a hard shell. The nut has a fair amount of moisture and steams when cooking. To avoid the chestnut from exploding it’s important to prepare the chestnut for cooking over an open fire.

One side of the shell is typically flat while the other is rounded. Be sure the nuts are fresh and uncut when buying. Start off by rinsing the chestnuts in cold water. Score the flat side of each chestnut with a paring or serrated knife with an ‘X’. This should be deep enough to just expose inside the nut casing and to prevent them from popping too violently as the steam escapes. Only one side needs the scoring.

Step 4: Ready, Steady, Roast!

Start with hot lumps of charcoal or a good bed of hot embers in an open log fire.

Lay out just enough charcoal that the cast iron pan will set atop the embers on but not touch the handle. Setting a large grill for indirect cooking is an easy way to do this.

Put the chestnuts into a seasoned cast iron pan, ensuring they’re spread evenly. The scored side should be facing up. This allows the shell to absorb all the high heat first. Cover the pan before placing this over your open fire or in your oven.  You can cover it with aluminium foil if you don’t have a fireproof lid.

Place the pan over the coals. Allow the cast iron pan to heat up with the chestnuts in the pan.

After 5 minutes, begin to stir the chestnuts. Stir occasionally for an additional 5 – 7 minutes or until the shells begin to split – the insides should also be soft. Over fire, roasted chestnuts will cook in 10 – 12 minutes if the shell is on.

Remove from the fire. Wrap the roasted chestnuts in a damp towel to steam them and allow them to cool.  This makes them both less painful and easier to peel.

When cool enough to handle, remove the outer hard shell, then serve warm with a touch of salt and enjoy with your loved ones!

What do roasted chestnuts taste like?

Roasted Chestnuts will be soft, buttery, and slightly nutty. These mild flavored nuts have a lot of moisture and make for a nice chewy bite.

Finish with a good quality finishing salt for extra flavor, or some melted butter.

How to serve and store chestnuts

After roasting chestnuts, they are best served the same day as roasting. Simply place them in a dish, remove the shells and eat as required. Have an empty dish handy to collect the shells. The presentation is part of the roasted chestnut experience.

If they are not all consumed, then store in an airtight container and rewarm gently over a low heat with some butter or oil within two days. Because the moisture is cooked out during the roasting process, they don’t reheat well.

What else can you roast?

If you don’t love the taste of chestnuts, don’t despair! You can still get into the festive spirit (and make the most of your home’s open fire) by roasting other treats. Some options include fruit, marshmallows, seeds, and other nuts, such as pecans and hazelnuts.

Deck The Halls

It’s time to get ready for some Christmas magic and give your house that festive feeling. From the perfect tree to extra snug blankets it’s time to set the scene for a cosy Christmas at home.

We’ve put together some simple tips for every type of decorator, subtle to sublime, to make your fireplace and living room the heart festive activities and really bring the Christmas spirit to life at home.

The Tree

The true centrepiece of Christmas, adding a twinkle to interiors around the country and joy to our winter months. Remember, be careful not to place your tree too close to the fireside, whether real or fake they can pose a serious fire risk. Don’t forget to save space for a star (or your topper of choice) too! Pull the room together and mimic the topper as the key design feature of your mantle, star on top and a star in the centre, a classic and timeless choice.

The Decorations

Much like opening the first door of an advent calendar, the Christmas season officially begins when you start decorating. Coordinate or mix things up? Perfectly organized or creatively constructed by the kids? Following post lockdown interior trends, this Christmas is a time for self-expression and your decorations should be as unique as you are. Select ornaments, and even a theme, that reflect your personality and we can guarantee you’ll be sat admiring it for hours.

Go all out with bright, bold and vibrant colours, 2020 is the year when the rainbow became a worldwide symbol of hope after all! Neon stars, sequins and fun! Why not decorate your tree and mantel using ornaments in colour sequence? A quick and effective way to achieve the seasons number one look.

Keep it calm with a soft pastel palette, blush, mint and warm neutrals. A luxurious look that’s easy to create. Use artificial flowers and feathered birds to decorate, garlands, beads and simple drapes.

Chose quirky and abstract with fun, tropical decorations. Rich colours with plenty green and a hint of gold, team with decadent velvet, embroidered fabrics and jeweled ornaments. More is more with this theme!

Cool and classic. You can’t beat a snow theme in winter. Iridescent ornaments that sparkle, plenty gold or white lights and don’t forget the faux fur throw to transport you to Narnia.

On your tree, place a variety of decorations in and outside the branches to create depth and intrigue. Go lavish with lights. Dot your tree and mantel with twinkling lights for one of the most festive touches.

A few Extra Festive Finishing Touches

  • Deck the walls with Art so Jolly. Don’t forget the pictures! Print off Christmas photos from years gone by, frame your favourite carol lyrics or get the kids to create a portrait of Santa. A few festive images on the wall takes the decorating up another level and is sure to raise a smile or too.
  • Get your glow on with candles and diffusers to create a warm and relaxed mood. Inspire all the senses with warming scents of the season. Fill your room with notes of cinnamon, red berries and pine needles.
  • Cosy does it. Count down the sleeps until Santa arrives with seasonal soft furnishings. Soft blankets and thick fleecy throws in colours coordinating with your decorations invite you sit down and enjoy the moment. Deck the sofa with plump cushions, ideal for sinking into in front of the fire for a seasonal tale.

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Fire

Fire has been a fundamental tool of mankind throughout history, and civilisation would not have been possible without it. Since the earliest times, human beings have used fire to keep warm and cook their food.

But how much do you really know about fire? Test yourself and read on for 20 fascinating facts!

1. Fire is an event, not a thing. Fire is the result of a chemical reaction that releases energy as light and heat. Heating wood or other fuel releases volatile vapors that can rapidly combust with oxygen in the air; the resulting incandescent bloom of gas further heats the fuel, releasing more vapors and continuing the cycle.

2. A fire needs three components to exist: heat, oxygen and fuel.

3. Most of the fuels we use derive their energy from trapped solar rays. In photosynthesis, sunlight and heat make chemical energy (in the form of wood or fossil fuel); fire uses chemical energy to produce light and heat.

4. Fire spreads very fast, and it can take less than 30 seconds for a fire to get out of control.

The flame is the visible part of the fire that consists of heat-generating gases.

5.  Assuming a constant supply of fuel, heat and oxygen, a typical house fire will double in size every minute.

6. Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn. Everywhere else: Not enough oxygen.

7. The more oxygen available, the hotter the fire. Air is 21 percent oxygen. By combining pure oxygen with acetylene, you can make an oxyacetylene welding torch which burns at a scorching 3,500 °C — the hottest fire you are likely to encounter.

8. Oxygen supply influences the color of the flame. A low-oxygen fire contains lots of uncombusted fuel particles and will give off a yellow glow. A high-oxygen fire burns blue. Candle flames are blue at the bottom because that’s where they receive the most fresh air, and yellow at the top because the rising fumes from below reduce the air supply to the upper part of the flame.

9. A candle flame burns at around 1,000°C.

10. Flames do not cast shadows.

11. Fire makes water? It’s true. Place a cold spoon over a candle and you will observe the water vapor condense on the metal. This is because wax (like most organic materials, including wood and gasoline) contains hydrogen, which bonds with oxygen to make H2O when it burns. Water comes out your car’s exhaust, too.

12. Fires can be stopped in 3 different ways:
Removing the fuel source by exhausting it or taking it away.
Removing the oxygen by smothering the fire.
Removing the heat by absorbing it with water.

13. No one knows who invented the fire hydrant, because its patent was destroyed in a fire in 1836.

14. Spontaneous combustion is real. Some fuel sources can generate their own heat for example by rotting. This can lead to spontaneous combustion in certain conditions.  Pistachios have so much natural oil and are so prone to heat-generating fat decomposition that the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code regards them as dangerous.

15. During wildfires, trees can explode if the water inside them rapidly turns to steam.

Forest fires move faster uphill than downhill. The steeper the slope, the faster the fire spreads.

16. The ancient Greeks started fire by focusing sunlight onto a small area. The tradition continues to this day with a parabolic mirror that focuses solar rays still used to ignite the Olympic torch.

17. Every 52 years, when their calendar completed a cycle, the Aztecs would extinguish every flame in the empire. The high priest would start a new fire on the ripped-open chest of a sacrificial victim. Fires fed from this flame would be distributed throughout the land.

18. Back in the day when horses pulled fire engines, fire stations were equipped with spiral staircases so the horses would not try to climb the stairs into the living quarters. You may still find some stations with these stairs.

19. Dancing on fire is a common ritual performed throughout many cultures.

20. Fire is used in many cultures for decoration, which could range from lighting candles to exploding fireworks. The practice can be traced back to ancient China, where people ignited fireworks to create spectacular fire shows.

The most important thing that everyone should know is how to protect yourself from fire and don’t intentionally cause fires unless in a controlled environment. Fire safety is an extremely major topic that must not be neglected.

Fireplace And Stove Home Safety Tips

Virtually every home has some source of heat to combat the winter chill. The most common of these are fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. While the warm glow of a dancing flame is the perfect way to cozy up in the colder months, it can also present a real hazard.

Here are a few basic safety tips you can implement while using your fireplace or wood stove this winter.

Fireplace Safety

The best tactic for making sure your fireplace is safe to use for the winter season is to have regular visual inspections – both inside and out.

Start inside the home by making sure to clear the area around the fireplace of any combustible material. (This can include wood chips, papers, spare logs, matches or anything else commonly used to start or fuel hearth fires.) Sparks from a fire may fly out of the fireplace and catch on these items, so clearing them away can reduce the threat of a house fire.

Fireplace Ventilation

Chimneys must be swept annually – sounds obvious but this is often forgotten. It’s important to make sure to clean your chimney before you start using it to rid it of accumulated soot. It is always a wise choice to get your chimney cleaned professionally to avoid the build-up of tar and creosote. 

Proper fireplace ventilation is essential to fireplace safety. When looking outside, be sure to inspect the chimney cap, since it keeps foreign objects out of your home while preventing hot embers from flying out of your chimney and on to your roof. You should also check above your fireplace to assess whether the mortar is intact and to ensure there is no physical damage.

Next, check the integrity of the chimney plumb on the roof to make sure it has not begun to tip to one side. A tilting chimney is a sign of a bigger structural problem and requires immediate inspection.

When using your fireplace make sure the vents in each room of your house are open as well. This will prevent any gas or fumes from getting trapped and accumulating inside a single room.

Wood-burning Stove Safety

Proper wood-burning stove maintenance is important. One tip is to make sure to clean the wood stove properly to remove all ash before you use it for the first time in the winter, as well as before each subsequent use through the season. You can read more about cleaning you stove here.

Wood-burning Stove Ventilation

Regularly check your stovepipe to make sure it is kept clear of all combustible materials. Your stovepipe should have no more than two right-angle bends along its length, keeping the venting distance as short as possible. Also, routinely inspect the stovepipe to ensure it is correctly fitted over the wood stove so no fumes leak into your home.

Finally, when it comes to both fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, there are 4 additional safety tips to consider:

1. Wood choice: Most experts suggest using hard woods that burn hotter and longer, as they emit fewer fumes compared to wet woods. Cut, split and dry the wood well for a whole year before burning, or buy fireplace wood that is manufactured for burning. You can read more about selecting your firewood in our handy guide here.

2. Detectors: Make sure you have a carbon monoxide monitor in the room where the fire is. This is required by building regulations. Standard monitors can be bought off the shelf but make sure it has the CE mark.

3. Leaving your Fire: Don’t overload a fire and don’t leave it burning when you go to bed or leave the house – you don’t have to wait until the last embers have died out but don’t leave flames burning – apart from the dangers, this is also a waste of fuel.

4. Fire Screens and Hearth Gates: Making your living space a safe haven for all the family is essential. If you own a stove, fire or fireplace and have young children you may wish to consider using a fire screen, not only do these help protect from sparks or fuel inadvertently falling on to the hearth but they also aid in keeping little explorers from getting to close. There is a large selection of fire screens available providing a stylish finish to your installation but also a safety barrier for young children. Hearth gates are fitted to the walls each side of your hearth with quick release wall brackets, adding extra security.

Following these guidelines when using your fireplace or wood-burning stove can help to keep your home and family safe throughout the long winter season.

Relighting Your Fire For The first Time This Autumn

Unfortunately, the summer is over, but Autumn brings a frisson of excitement when it gets cold enough to bring up the question “shall we light the fire?”. If you have a fire or stove you will be well aware of this wonderful consolation for the summer going. Already people are chatting about it at the school gates “have you had yours on yet?”.

Tis the season that allows us to curl up on the sofa each evening, watching the newest episode of your favourite series with the fire heating up your frost-bitten toes and embracing all things hygee.

However, before lighting the fire for the first time this autumn here are a few important tips that might make things run a little smoother and allowing you to receive the maximum benefit from your crackling fireplace. A room full of smoke is not uncommon for people lighting their fire for the first time in the autumn so follow these tips and avoid the pitfalls!

Preparation

Before lighting the wood burner, refresh yourself and your family upon basic fire safety, informing each person of the steps to take when the fire is alight or, in the worst-case scenario, in case of a fire within your home.

Do I Need My Chimney Swept Every Year?

The basic answer here is yes. It is always best practice to have it swept once a year before you start using it. It is not ideal to have it swept in the spring and not checked again because birds can nest in chimneys over the summer, debris can find its way in there among other things. You may also wish to take assistance from a chimney sweep to ensure that it is properly cleared, allowing room for the safe lighting of your wood burner. Remember, book early, chimney sweeps get very busy in the autumn and you may find you can’t get an appointment until well into the winter.

Warming Up

Now that safety has been recapped, your chimney has been cleared and your fireplace is fresh, your home is ready for the annual re-lighting of your wood burner. As always, make sure you have some high quality well seasoned or kiln dried wood to burn as well as some good kindling and newspaper.

It is common for homes to experience rooms filled with smoke when completing this action each year, but there is a way to work around this, allowing for a smoother and more satisfying process to be carried out. It is all to do with the flue. By warming this up before lighting the fire fully, you can create the perfect environment for a wood burner to operate. This is essential and will help get the fire working well the first time. There are a few ways to do this but the main aim here is to get the flue warm so the warm air can travel up properly creating a draw at the bottom and feeding the fire properly. A cold flue will not work as well and can cause smoke to come back into the room. You can use a fire lighter out or a small pile of kindling. Ideally, let something small burn for a good 30 mins to really get that flue warm.

Re-lighting

Normally you may set a fire in a certain way but because you have been warming the flue you must take additional care when setting the full fire. Dry newspaper is always good as are firelighters. Place them where the initially small fire was and light, you may not need to do this as there may be enough heat to get it going. Step back for a moment to ensure that if it does re-light, you are a safe distance away. Ideally, the newspaper balled up or twisted into tight lengths can sit in the grate without catching straight away. Place some kindling in a cone or pyramid shape over them and light with a long match to begin your wood burner’s successful first burn with minimal smoke. Make sure there is plenty of room for air to come through to get to the fuel.

Keeping the Fire Healthy in the Autumn and Beyond

After the first successful and no doubt very satisfying fire it is well worth clearing out the ash and giving the fire a good check over. It is important to keep the ash pans clear but it is even more so at this stage as you will be able to see any issues or areas they may need attention.

Remember – don’t burn rubbish on your fire, don’t burn green/unseasoned wood and treat your fire with respect! The summer may have seen a few new ornaments being placed near the fire, make sure you check the surrounding area and remove anything that should not be close to the heat.

If you find any issues with the fire burning or smoke coming back into the room call your chimney sweep. If there are any issues with the fire or stove itself then give us a call, and we can help.

…and remember, don’t be sad about the end of summer, look forward to all those cosy nights by the fire.

Let’s Get Cosy

How to Achieve that Hygee State in Your Home.

If you’re passionate about making your house a cosy home, we’re almost certain you’ll have heard of ‘hygge’. In this blog, we’re looking at the Danish concept and how you can bring it into your life by making simple changes to your home environment.

WHAT IS HYGGE?

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” Robert Brault

This is what the Hygge lifestyle is all about.

Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, hygee comes from the Norwegian word which roughly translates to ‘well-being’ but was very quickly adopted by the Danes meaning ‘cosiness’. The word represents the Danish concept of being content, cosy, and surrounded by everything that makes you feel at peace. This concept has been around for years and has become a lifestyle that many now aspire towards.

It’s about living in the moment, being present and taking time to notice and enjoy the small things in life. It can be anything from watching your favourite film snuggled in a beautifully fluffy blanket, enjoying a hot chocolate by a wood burner or listening to the rain whilst reading a book by candle light.

HOW CAN YOU BRING MORE HYGGE INTO YOUR LIFE?

This way of life is something that many Scandinavians live by… it’s no coincidence they’re in the top 10 happiest countries in the world! One of the best ways to bring more hygge to your life is to make your home interior a cosy sanctuary – a place where you can shut yourself off from the everyday stresses of life, and relax.

Start by quieting your home. Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, embrace the silence and light calming candles. Take a step back from technology and enjoy everything at a slower pace.

At first, that might feel a bit odd – many of us are used to fast-paced, 21st Century style lives – we are always “connected”, device in hand and rushing through chores trying to fit everything in before the day ends. The Hygge lifestyle is about taking a step back and enjoying the everyday simple luxuries, something we’ve all got a lot better at in 2020.

By creating a warm and welcoming environment and taking a break from technology, you can embody this way of life. From an interior décor point of view, there are a few changes you can make to help create that lovely cosy feel.

CANDLE LIGHT
The Danes have been known to light more candles per head than anyone else in Europe and this is a very important part of achieving a hygge environment. A simple addition of some pillar candles, or tea lights dotted around the room will help to not only rest your eyes before bed time, but also the soft light will create that tranquil space for you to be able to wind down after a long day.

WOOD BURNING FIRE
Make your home more hygge by considering a log burner. Scandi living is all about natural textures, neutral colours and genuine materials. This includes burning wood, as it has a ‘back to basics’ feel, very traditional and pure. Having a wood burning fire lit, especially as the nights become longer, and watching the soft flickering of the flames as the wood crackles gives you a sense of total relaxation that allows you to feel cosy and warm. However, don’t assume you need to burn real wood to create hygge, it’s more about enjoying anything that promotes relaxation. Gas log burners and electric fires create the same ambient atmosphere as a real wood burner.

OTHER SOFT LIGHTS
If you have young children or pets or simply just aren’t confident with lots of candles lit there are other options to create an atmospheric glow. Fairy lights are good alternatives (or additions) to tea lights, hanging them from banisters or above the television will bring more light to your room but keeps it feeling soft. Table lamps that have light bulbs with lower wattages can also work well.

KEEPING COSY
Although a wood burner or lit fire will be lit emitting a good few kW of heat, hygge is about being really cosy. Adding blankets, fluffy throws and thick rugs in any room are simple ways of achieving hygge. Think of creating the perfect settings for nestling under a blanket and enjoying a good book when planning your interior space.

Thicker curtains, especially in the winter months, will also keep the heat inside the room for a homelier space. Warm, simple colours that coordinate with your cushions bring the room together. Speaking about cushions, the more the merrier in our opinion, everyone loves a cushion and comfort is key!

WALL ART
When choosing art for your home go for whatever makes you feel good and gives you joy. Something “easy on the eye” in the colour tones of your chosen room scheme could be hung on the walls to enhance that cosy living space.

We love this concept, and embody it as much possible, from taking a break from everything digital to enjoying life’s simple luxuries. So, as the Danes would say “Kan du hygge dig” (or have a cosy time) and enjoy your evenings as the colder days set in.