I’m pleased to report our new kitchen woodstove is working brilliantly.

What? A new stove? No, it’s new to us, but it’s second-hand, and was probably made in the 1970’s. It has seen very little use though. Our old Rosieres was just getting more and more difficult to use, because the seals around the top cast-iron plate had long ago ceased to exist.
Despite having thoroughly cleaned the chimney, we found that the only way we could get the stove going in the mornings was to open all the doors and windows, switch off the newly-installed VMC (extractor fan), and wait for half an hour before the stovepipe was hot enough to draw properly. If we missed out just one of these steps, the kitchen filled with smoke.

So last week LSS had a look on Leboncoin.fr and we spotted a very reasonably-priced kitchen woodburner for sale in a village about 60km away. We asked our neighbour to help with loading and unloading, as these things must weigh nearly 200kg. As it turned out, he was very pleased we had asked him to come along to assist, because the person selling the stove also had a small forge for sale, which was just what our neighbour had been looking for! There was sufficient room on the trailer for the forge, so everyone was happy.

Not only that, but the stove we bought also came with a stainless steel stovepipe! Our old one was definitely not stainless steel, being a very rusty brown colour!

Both stove and rusty stovepipe have now been consigned to the scrap-metal junk-pile. The new stove is installed and functioning, and not only that, not a whisp of smoke escapes when we light it! It seems to put out a lot more heat than the old one, and the dinner LSS made yesterday (burgers and potato wedges) seemed to taste even better than before.

Some progress has also been made with the household water supply; I have become a dab hand at soldering copper pipes together, and water has now reached our new “ballon” in the loft. Hopefully by the end of next week we’ll have nice, clean, transparent borehole water on tap in the kitchen, which will make a nice change from the rust-coloured mouse-flavoured well water we’ve been using in the bath for the past seven months.


I have a certain sympathy for our ancestors. The ones who lived off the land. I’ve spent the evenings of the past two weeks peeling chestnuts, and shelling hazelnuts. Goodness gracious what a lot of work.

I did use some chestnut flour to make some bread. Very tasty, but it doesn’t rise quite as much. The poor food processor was struggling to make the flour; dried chestnuts are incredibly hard. I’m considering looking for a hollow log and using it the way that African women grind their corn. It’s been a bit chilly recently, but we’re still enjoying watermelons, cape gooseberries, raspberries (and of course, chestnuts).

The sloe wine finally finished fermenting, so has been bottled and put away. It’s a 13.5% brew. LSS found several pots of honey in the aged FIL’s pantry; they had been there for years. Instead of throwing them away, we decided to make mead out of them; so we now have a demijohn of mead bubbling away behind the fridge. We haven’t been lazy!

I also swept the chimney a couple of weeks ago, as the stove has been smoking heavily lately. Had to do it first thing in the morning because it was still around 2 degrees outside; the chimney-cleaning hatch is right next to a wasps nest, and the only way I could sweep the chimney without getting dive-bombed by lots of angry wasps was by doing it when it was too cold for them to fly. It took ages for my fingers to warm up. But at least we now have a clean chimney. Is there a market for around 3 pounds of soot? I left it in a neat little pile in the field across the road.

We also got some fuel for the tractor recently, and in a dark recess of the fuel store I discovered a Jerrycan. No, a real one. It’s marked “Kraftstoff 20 l – Feuergefährlich – 1942 – Nowack Bautzen – Wehrmacht”. It must have been left behind by the retreating German army. 70 years old and still being used!