HOWTO: A jolly good fire

Mariah selfishly taking off back home to America has seen me left to fend for myself. I mean, it was a full week before I realized that the fridge didn’t miraculously replenish itself when it was emptied of produce, and I’m still getting the hang of laundry a month later.

Turns out that after all these years, when someone says they “need to go number two”, what they really mean is that they want to do a quick spot of laundry. It’s amazingly simple: You insert the clothes, add your floral detergent, close the lid and flush five or six times. Bam. Good as new.

Simple as.

I had a lot of trouble getting a fire started, at first. Having a handy relative (thanks mum!) to light it for you doesn’t foster quite the skills needed to manage a successful fire. However, as poor Ned used to say, winter is coming; a man has to adapt or freeze to death. Or possibly be eaten by his cats. The looks that I catch them giving me when they think I’m distracted are worrying.


As I learned through blood, sweat, tears and a ten pm phone call home, you start off with a block of firelighters wrapped in a sheet of newspaper. Atop this you loosely pile kindling.

Light said wrapper of newspaper. The fire should take hold and the kindling ignite. Once the kindling has really taken off, I spread it out a little, add coal and top it off with a few more sticks of kindling.


Keep a careful eye on the fire and continuously blow on it to keep fresh air circulating.

Once the fire has really taken, I start to add alternate layers of coal, blocks of wood and coal again.

If you do it all right, you will have a jolly, cat-approved fire roasting your toes (and melting the soles of your three euro shoes).


Have your say on 'HOWTO: A jolly good fire'

  • Jen on

    Jesus christ Mark, where have you been living? Under a rock? I can’t tell you how many movies/television shows I’ve watched where people are building a fire. Start little, build to big, and if you’re smart you’ll keep some coals at the bottom to start your next fire.

    Or you could use a heater like the rest of civilization.

  • Mark on

    I am a man, hear my roar.

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