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Fire and smoke


Fire and smoke, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Living in a three hundred year old house does mean that sometimes you have to do things that bring bits of it into – if not the 21st Century – at least into the 20th. The house itself, although preserving what estate agents like to call “Period Features” is of course a modern machine for living. It's got plumbing, bathrooms, a kitchen with oil fired ranges, electricity everywhere, and associated gadgets, and both a wired and wireless computer network (with a home server – I’m a geek and proud).

Some of these things that would be unimaginable to the original inhabitants in the late 17th and early 18th Century. Water out of taps – OK, a bath – you could work out what it was for. Fridge, Washing Machine, Dishwasher, Microwave, TV, DVD, Espresso machine – getting a bit trickier.

Computers. Mmmm

But fires, now that’s something that any human from the last 20,000 years could understand. Fires for warm, fires for cooking, fires for light. Interestingly of the four chimneys in our house, three are in use. The kitchen one carries the flue for our oil fired Rayburn. The Sitting room has the original fireplace, dated to the 1690’s by a St Andrews professor in a wonderful academic way, and used for large fires on high days and holidays. And downstairs, in what is our family room, we have a little woodburner, a replica of a French late Victorian vertical stove. We had not used it for a number of years, but last year decided to bring it back to service.

Which was fine, and with most stoves it provided great heat for 90% of the time. But sometimes it smoked, and sometimes it would not light, and sometime it would not draw. So I decided to bring the chimney into the 20th century, and drop a flexible liner down to improve the draft, (which it has dramatically) and install a fancy aerodynamic cowl that stops it smoking, no matter the wind direction.

So now it does not smoke, and the draw is great and little ash and dust escape into the room.

Now that’s something that our 17th Century predecessor would understand, and I think approve.

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