Thursday, 20 October 2016


I saw it first in Giles's workshop: squat, bulldog legs and growling empty amongst tired tools.
A cast iron fire-dog fed on trees, it had coaxed fruit ripe in the greenhouses of Norton Conyers until supermarkets dazzled us with shinier, shapelier, taste-free options like fruity page three girls.
It is a Jotul 118; built in Norway and designed in the late 1930s by the artist ├śrnulf Bast. It reminded me of the Bankdam-Crowther in J.L.Carr's 'A Month In The Country and like Carr's hero Tom Birkin, I'm looking forward to cajoling it to life and learning of its caprice and foible.

Perfectly timed for the recent drop in temperature (can't have an arctic artist), Dougie the sweep and son Paul arrived to infuse life back into the Norse fire-breather on Monday. In an effort to have as little impact on the fabric of the building as possible we'd intended to put the flue out through an already broken pane in the window. It soon became apparent however that we would have to make extensive alterations to the frame and louvres which appear to be original to the building so we ended up going straight up through the roof which has clearly been replaced in recent years and would, we felt, be the better option. The experts did the clever stuff, I replaced the broken glass in the window and all was finished in an afternoon.

So - here we go: for the first time in many years the Jotul 118 gets fire up:

It made for a lovely environment to work in Yesterday and we'll see how it copes as the autumn turns to winter.

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