QUICK POST: Gathered Round the Fire

The fire at the Farmer's Arms.

The Farmer’s Arms opened a bit late on New Year’s Day. Can an entire pub can have a hangover?

The weather had finally, at last, come cold, and we were hoping to find the fire lit. It was, just, but struggling along, with too much blackened paper and damp wood refusing to catch.

One of the regulars, unlit roll-up in mouth, was trying to fix the problem and engaged our friend in a discussion about tactics. Eventually, he left her in charge.

We sat pitching in advice as she moved some logs around to give the fire air. Between us, we spectators retrieved a dryish log from the store under the bench and hacked it into smaller chunks with a pen-knife while she rolled some paper into twists. The paper went up, the wood steamed and then started to blacken, and smoke was sucked away up the chimney. Confident it was off and away our friend loaded the fire up and, for the next hour, kept a watchful eye, making occasional adjustments with the shovel (the only implement at hand) to keep the flames healthy.

We didn’t mind when it cracked like a whip and spat sparks our way — that was all part of the pleasure. Fires and the sea are two things we can stare at for hours, and if an open fire in a pub on a cold day is a joy, one you’ve had a hand in lighting is ten times better again.

The photo is actually from early December and isn’t our finest work but you get the idea.

13 replies on “QUICK POST: Gathered Round the Fire”

Years ago I often used to go with my dad to a particular pub on a Sunday lunchtime. After a new family took it over, they often gave the impression of struggling to be ready at opening time, keeping us hanging around outside the door, and when we got in finding no money yet in the tills and the beer still being pulled through.

We do try to write about pubs when we have something to say but 90 per cent of the time it’s ‘Went to a pub we’ve been to before, drank a beer we’ve had before, and nothing particularly notable happened.’ Which is when we Tweet a picture of some crisps.

The fire is as elemental as the pub dogs lying around it.
We used to have a cat called Ginger when I grew up in Wales. He had several charred bald patches in his fur from when a missile would somehow shoot straight through the fire guard, imbed itself in him and momentarily set him on fire. Despite these traumatic experiences, he’d still sleep by the hearth.

I used to drink in a gorgeous country pub in Wiltshire whose only downside was a rather curmudgeonly landlord with a parsimonious custody of his log fire.
Woe betide anyone who deigned to add any more logs to the one or rarely two simmering reluctantly in the fireplace.
So you can imagine the hilarity that ensued when he returned from holiday one day to find in front of it 12 logs stacked ceremoniously in order with the months – Jan,Feb,March etc – painted on the end of each one.
He never did find out the culprit.
Which was fortunate for me.

The brain is a funny old thing.
I woke up at 4am this morning and the first thought that came into my head is that I should have written smouldering rather than simmering in that post.
Being borderline OCPB I only just resisted the temptation to get up and post what I’m posting now six hours later.
It’s enough to drive you to drink.
Which it has.

I can edit your original comment and delete those follow-ups if you like — your call.

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