Wednesday, November 28, 2007

green eyed monster

Ooooooo I'm jealous of our neighbours.

I live on a street of pretty much identical Victorian houses. Our house has all the original cornices, doors and staircase, but only 2 of the original sash windows and none of the fireplaces at all.

We were round at our next-door-but-one neighbours who have been doing up their house. In their living room they showed us the most magnificent fireplace and oak surround, which are original to the house. Maureen told us that all the houses used to have these, but now only 3 on the street are left.

Another neighbour had been round to Maureen's house to take photos of her fireplace because someone in the 70's had cut the bottom of their oak surround off, mounted it on the wall in the hall as a shelf, and painted it black!

I was even more amazed to hear that another neighbour had put 7 (count 'em - SEVEN) original fireplaces from their house in the skip only last winter, and they were carted away before anyone else on the street realised and could rescue them! These particular neighbours were gutted when they realised the value of what they had just thrown onto a landfill. They were probably worth hundreds of pounds to a salvage yard.

Our house has had all the fireplaces removed and most plastered over. We have one reproduction surround with a gas fire, and one modern looking thing with an electric fire where the originals would have been.

We are considering getting the electric fire replaced with a proper grate so we can have a real fire. The fireplace man gave us this cool smoke bomb thing so we could test our chimney. We pulled out the electric fire, lit it and held it in the fireplace. Nick ran outside to check what happened to the smoke.

I knew it was good because it started to draw immediately, but the man had warned us that sometimes the smoke can start to come out of the eaves or into upstairs rooms if the chimney is damaged. Luckily for us the smoke shot out the top like a papal election. The nest step is to book a chimney sweep. Dick Van Dyke need not apply.


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