Lay in stocks of fire wood against the winter November 14th

Photo by Sergey Lapunin on Unsplash

A note about my blog.

The blog contains news about London, archaeology and history. But I am also building my own London Almanac which will, in a couple of years, have an entry for each day of the year. It deals with the year, the changing seasons, the calendar, folklore, saints, gods and goddesses. I started the almanac Halloween 2021, and so am now illing in the many gaps I left during the last year, and updating entries from last year – checking the English, improving the writing, developing the content and making it, hopefully more ‘London’.

Advice on the burning of wood.

As the winter comes nearer and the St Martin’s Summer comes to an end – make sure you have good stocks of firewood. My own very limited experience of firewood is from the very occasional fires I lit during the Christmas period. I found a particular joy in burning IKEA furniture which had failed during the year. My kindling of choice was dried Christmas tree which pops and crackles like a very good indoor firework.

I suspect burning IKEA furniture, although good for the soul, is appalling for the environment, so please don’t do it! Take a pickaxe to it instead or even better upcycle it.

For more professional modern advice for your wood burning stove, here is an excellent, although American source:

And here is an old English rhyme summarising the best firewood.

Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs be kept a year
Oaken Logs if dry and old
Keep away the winter’s cold
Chestnut’s only good they say
If for years ’tis laid away
But ash-wood green or ash-wood brown
Are fit for a King with a golden Crown
Elm she burns like the churchyard mould
Even the flames are cold
Birch and pine-wood burn too fast
Blaze too bright and do not last
But ash wet of ash dry
A Queen may warm her slippers by.

Old rhyme quoted in the ‘the Perpetual Almanack of Folklore’ by Charles Kightly

A postscript on IKEA. To appreciate the joy this gave me you have to understand my dislike of shopping in IKEA and my even greater frustration at putting together the flatpack items. I have a form of flatpraxia which begins with an inability to spot key construction information cryptically hidden in those little drawings. Magically, as you survey the slightly wonky creation in front of you at ‘completion’ my mind finally resolves the importance of tiny details on those little diagrams. Understanding comes with the realisation that I have put it all together in the wrong sequence. This added with a ham-fisted DIY disability means, my IKEA is full of quirks such as drawers that are not the smooth sliders you dream of. So, when an alternative piece of furniture comes to my attention, with more character and, crucially, already put together, the IKEA is ready for its joyous ritual disappearance from my house.

First Published 14th November 2022, revised 14th November 2023

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