to a well-organised (but not overly obsessive) wood pile. What could be more beautiful? To those who heat their house in this fashion would possibly agree; there's nothing quite like standing back and admiring the stacks of oak, rescued chunks of builder's planks and branches cut from the previous years fruit tree pruning.
Now I just have to get the chimney swept. Sweeps are sought after here in September and October. Organised folk might have got the job done in the spring, but somehow the whole winter experience becomes lost with the first warmish evening and we move on to all the next season's jobs; the fire left full of last ashes and the chimney forgotten.
The first sweep I called had done the Aude region and was now moving onto the Ariege. The second arrived yesterday, took one glance and said: 'Non madame, c'est pas possible' — he had back ache and our particular type of 'Insert' fire is complicated and heavy to deal with.
So back to the online chimney sweep association: Mr Bladel is coming on Saturday and assures me that his health is fine and that any type of fire is no problem.
As the weather seems stuck firmly in late summer at the moment, fires, blanket and hot water bottles all seem mysterious things, but will no doubt all be soon revisited.