Posted by: Sarah Giles | 3 August 2012

Operatiøn Squirrel

As part of our ongoing quest to greenify the Giles residence, this week has seen the installation of a wood-burning stove in our living room. It’s a Morsø Squirrel (with squirrel sides) and it is rather lovely.

Previously, the fireplace was occupied by a rather bland and unexciting gas fire arrangement. We never used it, didn’t like it, and have been keen to replace it ever since we moved in.

So. On day one, the gas man came and disconnected the fire. That took about two hours. (The plumber also came to look at our hot water and central heating, which are having issues, and the window man came to repair our derailed patio doors, so it was a fairly chaotic day in our house.)

On day two, two men came and took out the surround and hearth and widened the opening. They left the bricks behind (for building our new hearth). That took about three hours.

As part of the process, they also wrapped our living room in cling-film: the carpet, the sofas, everything. Even the mugs in which we’d given them their tea got the cling-film treatment.

The picture above reminds us of ‘Army of Ghosts‘, the episode of Doctor Who where the cybermen convert people at the Torchwood Institute.

See? (And yes, of course we have been playing at recreating this by taking turns at standing in the living room with a colander on our heads. What do you do on Tuesday evenings?)

Day three, and it was time to play with a pile of bricks and work out how we wanted the hearth to look. This was almost as much fun as playing cybermen. Would it be the herringbone?

The straight lines?

Or the not-sure-what-to-call-it arrangement that I made up?

We went with something like this in the end, after being interrogated a bit about the reasons for the single bricks in the pattern (they’re to make it symmetrical. I like symmetry). And then we went and hid upstairs while the men got to work, because it is loud and dusty and we have jobs to do and what-not. When we came downstairs for lunch, this was the sight we beheld. ‘Surprise! We’ve replastered the entire chimney breast and part of your bookshelves!’

Meanwhile, sheets of ‘brick slips’ cavity lining were sitting around in the front garden, giving the game away to anyone who cared to look. In my book this is cheating. Good job the neighbours are on holiday. The shame!

Next there was the saga of the oak beam. It was reclaimed from a local barn. It’s quite a friendly looking beam, with two flattish sides and a curved face with all the lovely grain showing. But which way round would we put it? The chaps wanted an on-the-spot decision but I was having none of it. Me, Dave and the beam excused ourselves for a short meeting in the hall and discussed our options. Decision made and instructions issued, we left them to their work again. Meanwhile the beam started to make a bid for freedom. I think if I was threatened with a circular saw I’d do the same.

Beam caught, sawn and sanded, it was put in its place (but not yet fixed to anything). I hid nervously upstairs. I always worry that I’m not going to like the finished result. Only once they’d left did I venture down for an inspection.

Day four came, as did the stove. It was installed and lit. Some fumes from the coating burned off, and we were asked to open the patio door. With some trepidation, we did. The door broke again. But that’s another (expensive) story. The stove chaps then declared the job finished. We had a few issues with that, specifically some gaping holes which needed bricks and mortar and skirting boards in them, but apparently that is the previous chaps’ job. Sigh. We have been assured that they will be back out to make it all wonderful just as soon as they can. A forthright email from us with some photos of the issues will be helping that process along later.

Meanwhile, we leave you with these pictures of our nearly-finished fireplace and our lovely squirrel stove (with squirrel sides). We just need to stock up on logs and then autumn is allowed to begin.


P.S. For more stove-related goodness, you might like to read a post I wrote yesterday about a book I worked on recently.


  1. It’s a very nice stove. Is it called a Squirrel stove because it has squirrels on it, or is there some technical thing called squirrel to do with log burning?

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