Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Frugal Fires and Thoughts of Yesteryear....

Hello there ....

Hope you all had a nice Christmas .... think I have had enough of it now .... all the sitting around and eating .... a girl can get a bit stir crazy.

I went to help Hubby P do a bit of sorting out at his storage containers today... it was nice to get a bit of fresh air.... bit of rosy into the old cheeks.

We had a good sort out of all the old furniture and brought home any tatty and broken bits for the fire .... we don't like to waste a thing ...... and if its wood it will burn and keep us warm.

May look a bit odd but its warming my tootsies as I type.

I remember as a girl my Grandad telling tales of the hardships during and just after the war, he was a Builder and cleared the odd house for a firm of Solicitors.

This is He....

He taught me how to make a fire ... how to lay it with dry paper .... save all the scraps of packaging from the kitchen ... it will all burn, add some dry sticks/kindling and one or two lumps of coal on top.
Put a light to the bottom and open up the vents so that it draws, if there is little wind/the fire is slow to get going, hold a sheet of newspaper across the front of the fire causing the air to be drawn up from under, and through the fire .... feeding the flames with oxygen and increasing their heat and power. Of course you need to remove the newspaper before it scorches and sets on fire..!

One of his tricks with an open grate/fire was to put a house brick to the back of the fire basket so that the fire was more to the front pushing heat into the room, he use to say its silly to spend good money heating the chimney.

I remember he and my Mother talking of the hard times when coal was either too expensive or could not be found, Grandad would break up old furniture to burn, another time he had cleared an old shop, much of it was old books, so he burnt the old and tattered ones .... they were dense and slow burning and kept the fire in.
He was a great reader, and I must say I would find it hard to burn good books but as he would say .... Needs Must.

Shoes .... old leather shoes were another source of keeping warm ... Grandad had cleared an old Pawnbrokers.
My Mother said as children they had great fun emptying all the little boxes .... when a someone pawned an item the the 'Pawnbroker' gave the customer a number and put it in a box with the number on it so it could easily be found when the customer came back and paid the money to retrieve it.
There were boxes and boxes of all sorts of everyday items .... lots and lots of them being shoes.

A lot of this stuff was kept in the cellar and Mum was sent down to get a couple of shoes to keep the fire going, no coal in the cellar but plenty of shoes!

We moan about things being hard but I think things will get harder before they get better, maybe we will be the ones telling our Grandchildren of the 'Hard times'.

I found a couple of Pic's of my young life to give you an idea of the barren moorland in which I grew up ... I just loved it ..... we had a freedom to run wild, something you do not see nowadays.

This is a photo of my Best Friend ... we grew together and here we are out in my first car ... I think we found an icecream van .... in the middle of nowhere!

Good days .... smiley days!

This next one is of my back garden .... me being chased by a big brother with a popgun!

In the depths of winter and Ivan is still wearing his short trousers with his wellies!

Twas just so then ... and nobody blinked an eye .... I'm sure nowadays we would be seen as deprived or something .... and it would be frowned upon to give us guns to play with.

Ahhhhh well ..... enough for now ...... take care xx


  1. Those were the days 'eh?!
    My mum used to save the (what we now call Tetra packs) the waxed orange juice and later milk cartons.
    We would be sent outside with a bit of old sheeting and shovels and trowels and buckets of 'slack' (coal bits and dust), and told to fill the cartons to the top with the slack. These would be placed in the firegrate at night on top of any fire still going. They would burn steadily through the night and be raked and fresh wood and or coal put on top in the morning. There was a back boiler, so this ensured hot water for the morning. Also in this range were 2 ovens, one shallow one and one deeper.
    Mum used to bake bread in one and a stew in the other one, with fist sized dumplings in! I can't stand suet these days, so use margarine or butter to make my dumplings and they are much, much smaller!

    Memories 'eh?

    Sandie xx

  2. Thanks for the brilliant comments! I love this post, I remember getting black hands rolling newspaper into scallies to burn like kindling. That is one impressive wood pile you have there, I wish our wood burning stove would work! The seals have gone for the second time and I think the chimney needs a good sweep, and perhaps the chimney is leaking upstairs a bit! So I have filled it with fairy lights that just look warm, you are right "needs must"

  3. Lovely photos, we didn't have central heating when I was little, we had two coal fires downstairs, I remember my Mums job was to light it in the morning, my Dad's to clear the ash away in the evening and set it all up again!! I spent hours gazing at our coal fire and daydreaming.
    Have a very Happy New Year folks and I'll email you soon.
    the Twiggys xxx

  4. We still don't have central heating - just a couple of woodburners downstairs that will burn anything. Socks and a hottie in bed!
    Love those boots - would like a pair for myself!

  5. Hi, having a nose at your other posts and came across this one of wood cutting. It made me laugh as here on the West Coast on the South Island of NZ, it also goes on, but they take it to another level. Having only just moved from Sunny Hawkes Bay on the North Island, we were slightly amused at how serious the would gathering was here on the Coast. They gather all year round and talk about the collecting and storing of it for ages. Conversation about chainsaws and where best to go and chop tree's down are priority subjects. My husband got caught up in it all and had to get himself a chainsaw - hand saw just wasn't cutting it. We can honestly say we have a lot of knowledge now on where to get wood, how to store it and definetly how to light a fire. We have a wet back which heats our water. Its great and I love it all even the daily trugde of bring it in to use. Plus we have learnt heaps about diferent coals. however, I do miss central heating, but our wood is free so heaps cheaper. Thanks for giving me somewhere to share this stuff.


  6. So sorry I should have read my text before i posted - fancy spelling wood wrong - so bad, my mum would go crazy. Just needed to apologies. Byee


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