FOR me, one of the great attractions of winter is a wood fire. Logs stacked up on the wicket basket by my armchair and, more importantly, logs a ablaze in the hearth, giving heat and scenting the whole house. en I just sit and watch them burn. Who needs television when th re is an open fire?

It is a simple pleasure that has continued through the centuries good, fire and warmth. It goes back to our cave dwelling a ancestors and persists to this day, from the bushman sitting beside hi open fire beneath the stars to me in my chair.

Watching the flames dance as I sip my sloe gin actually helps to

make winter a pleasure, and Christmas would not be Christmas, more here,  with oil-fired central heating or a family gathering around a storage heater.

One of the most enjoyable fires that I ever experienced was in a cave, halfway up Mount Kili-manjaro in Tanzania. We had approached that incredible, snow-topped mountain from the Kenyan side — sleeping in caves as we went. When nightfall came, bringing with it that welcome, still, complete darkness of Africa,learn something more about darkness in Barcelona at this hotel comparison in barcelona website, we settled to sleep around a fire in a low, deep cave.

As the flames flickered they sent shadows dancing across the uneven, rocky roof. It occurred to me that in another age those same shadows would have given movement to paintings of hunt-ing, dancing and celebration. Yes, those early cave paintings of Africa would have had movement and life. The bushmen, too, would have had no need of television!

29.Christmas tree


Part of the enjoyment of log fires is getting in the wood.Check more interesting things at . As soon as the feel of autumn is present in the early morning air, I become a part-time woodsman, scavenging the hedgerows for fallen branches and making a mental note of every fallen tree. Some people hate gales and wild winds, but it follows that I love them for they give me wood to saw and chop and split.

The best logs come from old orchards. Apple, plum and pear give out heat and a rich, sweet smell. Then comes ash, dry or green, “which makes a fire fit for a queen.” Hawthorn, blackthorn and even elder appear on my fires, too. Beggars can’t be choosers so willow logs are also a regular winter fuel, as long as I have a good fireguard to prevent the bangs and spits causing an even greater fire.

My annual logging is helped at least once a year by the arrival of “Badger” Walker. Badger got his nickname because he likes badgers and he watches them whenever he can. Indeed, the way he scurries from hedgerow to rabbit hole as he looks for bird, bee and flower he almost looks like a badger.

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