The following article was published in In Retrospect Magazine’s Summer edition (Issue 07).
“If you happen to follow me online, you might have noticed that during the past few months a lot of my time and energy has been devoted to working on our house. We bought it last July and moved in after our honeymoon in October. It is a c.1910 build, and architecturally it sits towards the end of the Edwardian period of building. It is a semi-detached with a double bay, and long walled garden. Our project is to transform it back to the 1940s!”
“A small but significant step has been to get the fireplaces back to working order. One main reason for buying this particular property was that the living room has a beautiful original fireplace, with petrol blue tiles and intact wooden mantel. I sanded the floorboards in the week before Christmas, and in the week after Christmas Mr. Aviacion and I primed and painted the woodwork, painted the ceiling, varnished the floor and got the wallpaper up.”
“However it wasn’t until the end of January that we got round to inviting that indispensable icon of ‘Mary Poppins’, a chimney sweep round, to service the chimney. I couldn’t quite get my head around the notion that such chaps still existed, I mean how wonderful! We worried about covering all the furniture in big white sheets, and offering bowls of warm soapy water for blackened hands and face… but there was no need. The only resemblance to the happy chappy of the 1964 film, was that Steve (our chimney sweep) turned up on our doorstep with a huge grin on his face.”
We showed him round our house (currently half 1940s decorated, and half building site) and he inspected our three fireplaces/chimneys. The two upstairs he said had probably never been used (this I questioned, maybe he was exaggerating?) and we could get them fully functioning but that it would take time and money. We’re happy to let the chimney in the spare room lapse into a pretty but non-functioning state, but we’d quite like to get the one in our bedroom up to scratch! A fluffy cat, a husband, and a hot water bottle does go some way towards warming a bedroom, but nothing beats an open fire- surely?”
“However, for now we focused on the living room chimney, which Steve said was a simple case of sweeping. I busied myself in the kitchen while Steve and Mr Aviacion got to work, so I can’t relate the full details of the event, however I’m told it was quick; efficient and quite similar to how one imagines such a service to be performed. Although the old fashioned brushes have been replaced with slightly more modern tools. The result was a very happy couple and a roaring open fire that night! Our cat, who is a rescue cat, was delighted with the new source of warmth, and gave herself a proper roasting before we retired to bed. Our evenings since have been spent by the fireside, I’m decorating the dining room at the moment so we’ve eaten our meals in front of the fire, and I’ve managed to get started on some sewing/mending. It has absolutely transformed our living room, and the fire itself provides a source of entertainment. One can sit and watch it, and feel completely satisfied, with no need for electronic entertainment! Although as our record player is still in storage, and our original 1940s radio needs some repairs… we have listened to Al Bowlly and Glenn Miller on the phone. Needs must, eh?!”