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A Foot in Two Campos

Thoughts from a brand new home-owner in the Axarquía region of Málaga. I hope there might be some information and experiences of use to other new purchasers, plus the occasional line to provoke thought or discussion.

47 - Fifty Shades of Grey
12 March 2013 @ 11:53

I'm definitely a "cup half full" type of person. Just as well, really. I nearly burned my house down ..... but I didn't and I'm turning it to an opportunity.

It was pretty stupid, when all's said and done. I'd been storing some logs around the chimney of my estufa, to dry them, because Francisco had delivered them on a rainy day and it being my first delivery I was unprepared and had no cover for the heaped pallet in the patio. So a few armloads were lugged upstairs to dry around the warm chimney.
 
So each evening that I lit the wood-burner, I took a few logs off the carefully-arranged stack, and replaced them with more of the damp ones. It looked like a massive game of Jenga resting above the air-vents. What I hadn't worked out (duh!) was that the ones at the bottom of the criss-cross of logs weren't getting used. So four months on and they were dry. Definitely dry. Tinder dry.
 
Late February. Not using the estufa so much. But then the snow came, and I had friends popping in later in the afternoon. So I lit the wood-burner and the room began to warm up, ready for my visitors, and I looked forward to a cosy evening in afterwards. Ros called, they'd found the square with the fountain, and were waiting by the ayuntamiento. I chucked another of the big logs on and went out to meet them. We strolled round the outer edge of the village - my daily morning walk, the walk I take all my visitors on to show off the wonderful views. Ros and Gareth were fit and healthy so we took the slightly longer walk then cut back into the lanes and home. 
 
Outside my neighbour's house, Isabelle called to me. Her brother Lorenzo was visiting, and I'd asked her to get him to pop in when he was next around. He's a builder, a proper one, and had re-built her entire house. I'd watched his work for my first four months in my house and he was a quick but skilled and careful worker, and I wanted him to quote me for damp-proofing and re-plastering the wall below the window that had some water damage. So my visitors and I, followed by Lorenzo, traipsed indoors. He inspected the problem wall and gave me an extraordinarily reasonable quote (mates' rates, for his sister's neighbour).   I had one more question for him, about the top terrace, so we all filed upstairs.
 
It took me a moment to understand. There shouldn't be this much smoke. A glance towards the wood-burner explained everything. The last big log I'd put on had lit quickly and the flames had grown. A stray flame or even just a spark had flown out of the top vents and had caught the bone-dry logs on the top of the stove. The criss-cross of stored sticks was aflame! One had fallen - only a foot away from the sofa (which would of course have gone up in an instant). Lorenzo and I had got all the windows open and the smoke cleared rapidly. Gareth had gone down for water. I grabbed the rug which already had scorch marks and smothered the remaining logs. With the tongs we chucked the smouldering wood into the metal fire-bucket and took them outside, where Lorenzo hosed it down. Back indoors, now with cups of tea to calm us down (you can take the woman out of England but you can't take her away from her cup of tea in a crisis .....), we reminded ourselves of all the "could have" scenarios and our relief came out in laughing at how the neighbours must have enjoyed the extra warmth they were getting through the wall. Ros suggested that in future I shouldn't dry wood on top of the stove.
 
I shouldn't have left the dry wood stacked around the chimney, of course. And I shouldn't have gone out and left the fire. Lessons learned. The smell of smoke lingers to remind me.
 
No lasting damage. The TV aerial cable that ran along the floor behind the estufa was the only thing that needed replacing.  Jose popped in, ran a new cable, and after hearing my tale he suggested that I shouldn't dry wood on top of the stove. That evening over spaghetti in front of a friend's wood-burner I recounted the story again (my Spanish getting more fluent with each re-telling). He suggested that I shouldn't dry wood on top of the stove.
 
No damage, but I now have a lounge tastefully decorated in fifty shades of grey.
 
While I'm back in the UK running training courses in Devon, Laura will be my life-saver. A young Spanish woman working three jobs and looking after her little boy, she is a painter and decorator with an eye for colour. Instead of just going for the usual blanco on all the walls, with Laura's encouragement I have bought a tin of dusky deep pink, terracotta, not quite red, paint. Just for the smallest wall behind the chimney. I daren't risk more colour just yet. Poco a poco - little by little.
 
Laura is in there now, cleaning off the fifty shades of grey, repainting the white walls, and giving me a brave splash of red on the end wall. Just in case I decide to set fire to my house again, I'm hoping the red will show the smoke stains less.
 
I can't wait to see it!
 
And I wonder how many EXTRA readers will have clicked on this blog post, just because of the title.  Eh girls?
 
 
© Tamara Essex 2013
 


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17 Comments


Sam said:
12 March 2013 @ 13:45

OMG, these things are so easy to do !
So many times I have done things like that and later gone "of course that would happened, why didn't it cross my mind ! "
But at least you will have a beautifully decorated house when you get back, always a silver lining !!


Tamara said:
12 March 2013 @ 20:19

Thanks Sam :-) Yes, every cloud ..... etc!


Louise said:
12 March 2013 @ 21:20

Well Tamara I didn't see you as the kind of girl to be reading such material but you never can tell! Haven't read it myself as I couldn't be bothered! Interesting story and one to take note of though, I have to admit! I hope you like your colours when you return! I have already put a dusky pink on some of my walls in our living room to match the new sofas when they finally move in with us! Its darker than it appeared at first but I think it will look good in the end! :)


Patricia (Campana) said:
12 March 2013 @ 21:50

Haven't read it either, Louise, and like you, I couldn't be bothered. However, bully for the author, managing to sell all those millions of copies- A review of the book says it was the type of thing which two sixteen-year olds with a little imagination could have put together. But that isn't the point. It sold massively.

Tamara: glad to hear the damage was not as bad as it might have been. Your re-decor idea sounds very nice indeed.

Great to read your adventures, as always.




Angie said:
13 March 2013 @ 16:01

Tamara

Glad that the damage was relatively minor and more importantly you survived unscathed!

Like the sound of the new colour for the chimney breast wall too.


Tamara said:
13 March 2013 @ 22:12

Thanks ladies - oh, were there no male readers for this episode??? Lol :-). No I haven't read 50 Shades either - I just pinched the title! Somebody said it's more fun to just read the reviews on Amazon - apparently some of them are parodies of the book and really funny :-)


Angie said:
14 March 2013 @ 12:48

One of the best parodies I have come accross is the "50 Sheds of Grey".

It is well worth a read - started on twitter and expanded!


Maddiemack said:
14 March 2013 @ 19:25

Well, I haven't read '50 Shades of Grey' either, but a friend of mine has and she said she didn't know what all the fuss was about. I reckon your tale is more exciting...and it's all true! You do have at least one male reader. Tony and I read it together...although this might not count.


Patricia (Campana) said:
15 March 2013 @ 13:30

I expect many bought 50 shades out of curiosity, and wee not that impressed.

The real deal IMO:

Read "The Chinese Room" by Vivian Connell (male author). Published 1942/43!!
At the time it was censored....



Graeme said:
16 March 2013 @ 09:56


Phew Tamara...

What a giggle and lucky escape...

Keep the stories coming....

Cheers
Graeme


Londoner43 said:
16 March 2013 @ 21:27

This is a very useful blog! My son moved to Spain late last month and this could easily happen to him! We townies don't really understand wood burners. I bet the 2 tons of wood his property agent ordered for his arrival are piled somewhere outside and are wet now as it has been raining quite a lot. The house was extremely cold as it has thick walls and had not been heated at all this winter. I asked the seller if we should arrange for someone to go and heat the house for about a week before my son was due to arrive, but he said there was no need - it would soon warm up. He was wrong!

Regarding 50 Shades of Grey: there are actually 3 thick volumes! Somebody gave them to me a week ago through this helpful Freecycle thing were have in London. I haven't got round to starting the fist volume yet.


Tamara said:
16 March 2013 @ 22:24

Hi Londoner - I was telling a Spanish friend about my fire, and noticed that he had plenty of space adjacent to his woodburner but kept ALL his wood outside even though it was raining. He said that the wood burns better and more slowly if it's wet! So I'm going to try that next time I light it :-). Though he did warn me that there's extra smoke so it only works if your chimney draws well (and it can cause extra tar around the top of your flue pipe). Worth a try though! And certainly there is NO meed to dry it out around the chimney!!!


ChimneyDoc said:
17 March 2013 @ 00:18

Hi Tamara - lucky escape indeed! I am a UK chimney sweep (Guild of master Chimney Sweeps registered) and I spend a lot of time trying to educate my customers on the dangers and safe use of wood burning stoves and fuel. You are right not to let the wood sit in the rain, but equally, wood should not be tinder dry. Ideally, a moisture content of around 15% is good. Having started to do a bit of chimney sweeping in Spain, I'm finding that the biggest problem is blocked flues due to the very oily nature of the wood available here. That, of course, carries a risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and I would recommend anyone with a solid fuel appliance to install a CO alarm. I have also started to exclusively rotary power sweep lined flues in Spain for the same reason - normal brush sweeping does not remove the tar deposits in flues. I am happy to talk to anyone concerned about the safe use of their fire place and can be contacted via my website.

Good luck with the redecoration - the same scenario in the UK could have been very different with carpets and soft furnishings.


ChimneyDoc said:
17 March 2013 @ 00:40

Hi Tamara - lucky escape indeed! I am a UK chimney sweep (Guild of master Chimney Sweeps registered) and I spend a lot of time trying to educate my customers on the dangers and safe use of wood burning stoves and fuel. You are right not to let the wood sit in the rain, but equally, wood should not be tinder dry. Ideally, a moisture content of around 15% is good. Having started to do a bit of chimney sweeping in Spain, I'm finding that the biggest problem is blocked flues due to the very oily nature of the wood available here. That, of course, carries a risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and I would recommend anyone with a solid fuel appliance to install a CO alarm. I have also started to exclusively rotary power sweep lined flues in Spain for the same reason - normal brush sweeping does not remove the tar deposits in flues. I am happy to talk to anyone concerned about the safe use of their fire place and can be contacted via my website.

Good luck with the redecoration - the same scenario in the UK could have been very different with carpets and soft furnishings.


ChimneyDoc said:
19 March 2013 @ 00:52

Hi Tamara - lucky escape indeed! I am a UK chimney sweep (Guild of master Chimney Sweeps registered) and I spend a lot of time trying to educate my customers on the dangers and safe use of wood burning stoves and fuel. You are right not to let the wood sit in the rain, but equally, wood should not be tinder dry. Ideally, a moisture content of around 15% is good. Having started to do a bit of chimney sweeping in Spain, I'm finding that the biggest problem is blocked flues due to the very oily nature of the wood available here. That, of course, carries a risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and I would recommend anyone with a solid fuel appliance to install a CO alarm. I have also started to exclusively rotary power sweep lined flues in Spain for the same reason - normal brush sweeping does not remove the tar deposits in flues. I am happy to talk to anyone concerned about the safe use of their fire place and can be contacted via my website.

Good luck with the redecoration - the same scenario in the UK could have been very different with carpets and soft furnishings.


ChimneyDoc said:
19 March 2013 @ 00:55

Sorry, every time I reload this page, it re submits my comment and I can't delete it! not quite like a forum!


Val White said:
13 April 2013 @ 13:10

Also like several other people's comments, I couldn't be bothered to read these books either! Glad to know your home wasn't too badly ruined by the fire Tamara and I'm sure you will be happy with your new colour scheme.


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