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 thoughts on “QUICK POST: Gathered Round the Fire”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

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

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