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The Flat Cap on ... Log Burners

In recent weeks The Flat Cap’s central heating boiler has been rather troublesome, and in need of major repairs. Ted, who drinks in the same public house, has suggested that Bert invest in a log burner as an alternative source of heat. Ted bought one last year and he says they’re great and that every home should have one. Whenever Ted buys something new it’s always the best thing he has ever bought, and he becomes very passionate about it - until his next major purchase, and then he has to tell anyone (who has the patience to listen) how great that is as well. Ted would make an excellent sales person if he wasn’t so boring, so oblivious to rational argument, and didn’t drink so much, or so often. Nevertheless Ted’s evangelical support for log burners prompted The Flat Cap to do a bit of his own research into the various types, and their history before deciding whether to buy his own.

Encouraged by Ted’s extravagant claim that you can heat the whole house for hours with just one moderately sized log, or a big bag of above average sized twigs, The Flat Cap went online to see how much they cost. Like central heating boilers wood burners don’t come cheap. Search for “stove” and you’re met with pages and pages of designs complete with pictures, specifications, sizes, flue diameters, and so on. It seems everyone wants to boast they own one; if only to show off their green credentials, and love of the planet. Then you’ve got to employ somebody who knows what they’re doing to install it. And furthermore you’ve got to have an almost limitless supply of cheap wood to keep throwing in it once it’s lit. Either that, or you have to light the burner all over again with some new logs and keep on top of things so that it doesn’t go out. Faced with all these issues The Flat Cap switched off his laptop and reluctantly went to see Ted for a bit more information and advice.

When The Flat Cap arrived at his wood burning associate’s home Ted was down the garden busy sawing some big logs into manageable sizes. Ted looked very hot and bothered and despite the fact it was early January he was generating enough body heat not to need a wood burner, or any other form of home heating. Once done the two men retired to the comfort of the house. Over a cup of tea Ted said that he needed to open a window because he was so warm. Behind the glass door of his burner/stove thing (The Flat Cap couldn't remember the precise terminology as Ted seemed a bit 'muddled') logs hissed and crackled and Bert was forced to concede that it all looked very cosy and homely; apart from a big scorch mark on the living room carpet. Ted explained that the mark was due to a “log mishap” shortly after the stove’s installation. A partially burnt ember had “accidentally” fallen out during refuelling. It was shortly after this that Ted’s wife had gone to stay at her sister’s, and the log burning evangelist had increased his trips to the pub.

Over his brew The Flat Cap learned a few more interesting facts about log burners, or maybe they were stoves, and their maintenance:

  • Arguably the most recognisable forerunner of the modern log burner was the Frankin Stove. Invented in 1744 by the US president Benjamin Franklin. It was made of cast iron and airtight. These design features meant that it could be sited anywhere in the room. Nowadays politicians are too busy having television debates, or earning extra income from consultancy work and directorships to invent really useful stuff. It is highly unlikely that Donald Trump could ever service his own central heating boiler, or Nigel Farage come round and line your chimney

  • The publishers of the magazine Country Life insist that every edition carries at least four photographs of wood burners

  • Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to the song "Big Log" after buying a second hand wood burning stove from one of his well to do neighbours

  • In 1763 Frederick the Great of Prussia held a competition for people to design " a room stove that would consume the least wood". This initiative arguably marked the introduction of green technology

  • In the eponymous fairytale Hansel and Gretel, the two children escape from a witch's cottage by bundling the old lady into a wood burning stove. They then steal her jewellery and return home to a heroes' welcome, and live happily ever after. Today, more than two hundred years after the book was published and you can bet both of them would be put into a young offenders' institution, or taken into care at the very least

  • Briar wood isn't much good in a log burner as it is naturally resistant to fire

  • A yuletide log describes both a type of cake and a large piece of wood that you put in your log burner on Christmas Day

  • Dry wood is better for your log burner than wet wood. But at least wet wood can conduct electricity

  • Log burners have increased in popularity as a hedge against grossly inflated gas prices. If you have enough time you can rummage skips for unwanted chairs and burn those to further reduce your fuel bills

  • The growth of log burners have meant there are more chimney sweeps in work than at any time since the 1960s

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