Some Burns Night Warmth 65

This is my salvaged Belgian Efel Harmony 1 woodburner, sitting on a bit of recycled slate, in a hearth made of bricks and planed recycled railway sleepers, heating my home with wood taken from skips. With a glass of Lagavulin it’s not a bad way to spend Burns night, if not my usual way. Perhaps someone might send the photo to the Daily Record so they can be outraged.

Slainte Mhath

65 thoughts on “Some Burns Night Warmth

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  • defo

    Keep feeding the flames Craig. You do fabulous work.
    Have a wee sip of Lagavulin for me, i had to give it up 15 years ago, but i suppose a sniff would be okay.

    What a week this looks like being.
    Good luck..

  • Geoff

    I wish we could have enjoyed our glasses of Lagavulin together. Good luck this week.
    Cheers from a Canadian in Denmark.

  • c46613

    Slainte, Lang may yer lum reek Craig.

    Thank you for your bravery.

    I hope to successfully dial in and observe the proceedings. Our very best wishes.

      • craig Post author

        You’ve got me started now. It’s only intercontinental Crown class flights, not within Europe. And I have 88 of them – and definitely lost a few. That’s intercontinental flights on just one airline. I reckon you can multiply that by probably five to include other airlines. I seem to have in my former profession almost caused global warming all by myself.

        • craig Post author

          Sorry, can’t stop thinking about it. When I was head of the FCO’s maritime section, I had a personal travel budget allocation of £110,000 a year. That’s £110,000 in 1993.

      • Ian

        I have a few, but nothing like that fine collection. Great little ceramics. And the contents aren’t bad either.

        • Shatnersrug

          There was a time in my life that first class travel was was part and parcel of the job. I do miss turning left, but I never took it fir granted. I do remember sitting first class on American Airlines once and looking around thinking ‘not one of you fuckers paid for these tickets!’

          Ah well, I flew coach to Iceland recently and it was great. No complaints.

          If your home looking for things to watch Martin Scorsese’s documentary of Fran Leibovitz is really worth watching

          Good luck Craig,


          • Colin Smith

            Nice to know that the government don’t actually believe all their stances on greenhouse gasses. It must all be a good giggle in the corridors of the FCO.

    • Robyn

      We have a small collection, Business Class, never First unfortunately. I see that certain numbers are worth a fair bit of money but none of ours are the top collectors’ items.

  • Steph

    Wishing you all the very best Craig. Thank you for your decency, bravery and warmth in a rather bleak world.

    • craig Post author

      Thanks Clark. Getting the pipe into the flue was a bit of a bodge, and I several times was wishing you were here!

      • Wikikettle

        Happy Burns night Craig. Wishing you all the best. I have had a stove on my first river boat since 1996, and now on my sailing since 2015. Couldn’t live onboard without it. I use smokeless coal which burns slowly throughout the night without needing to top up or de ash once you get the air intakes sorted. Cheers

        • Wikikettle

          I get through about 30 10kg bags per month, delivered to the Wharf by a well known hardware chain at £130.

  • Phil Espin

    Good health and freedom Craig, I’m raising a neighbourly glass of Ardbeg to both you and Rabbie!

  • Chris Clay

    how are your defence funds, Craig…just say the word… the least we can do for you is to top the pot up when it’s needed
    thank you for your courage and stamina on our behalf


  • Baron

    You, Mr. Murray are not unlike him, stay positive, good luck with the case.

    “Say, pell mell, wi’ muskets’ knell
    How Tories fell, and Whigs to hell,
    Flew off in frighted bands, man.”

  • Node

    We went to a joint party for Chinese New Year and Burns Night.
    It was called a Chinese Burns Night.
    I wasn’t keen but the missus twisted my arm.

  • M.J.

    Bon appetit regarding haggis, neeps and tatties (it’s been decades since I ate that stuff).

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      Don’t neglect the wood ash either. Great for most soils, cleaning, making soap (beyond my time constraints even now), filling up potholes and helping grip on icy roads.

      • craig Post author

        The stove is astonishing. It reduces wood to almost no ash at all, and produces a simply astonishing amount of heat from very small amount of wood – which heat by some strange magic gets round the entire house. I am actually sitting here too hot at the moment, the airflow control being almost entirely closed and the fire down to a pleasant amber glow. It is well below freezing outside.

        • Carl R

          That’s the sign of a well installed stove, long may it reek. It is impressive when a good stove leaves not much ash from proper seasoned wood. Best of luck tomorrow Craig. Stay safe. Slainte

        • M.J.

          Maybe you should tell Prince Charles about it, who’s keen about environment-friendly living. He might give you an Honour to replace the ones you turned down!

  • Cynicus

    Lagavulin a great choice. May it prove a portent – “Freedom and whisky gang thegither”

  • Michael Keefer

    I drink to your very good health Craig, and to victory over the whole rabble of liars and hypocrites in defiance of whom you’re so finely taking a stand.

  • Giyane

    My wood burner was made in Bulgaria and it’s a beautiful modern design. The mosque people have discovered woke greenness and complain about the smell. They don’t complain about the power station that burns cardboard, or the neighbours who burn plastic and tyres , or the scrap yards that regularly self combust and send a column of black smoke that can be seen from 20 miles away.

    Don’t Gove the stoves, is my motto.

  • Ronson

    Be careful. The whole of Edinburgh is a smoke control area so you’re only allowed to burn smokeless fuel or appropriate wood in a modern DEFRA approved stove (which yours isn’t). You could get a £1000 fine, and if yours is the only chimney in the area sending out smoke then it’s a bit obvious.

    It’s also a bad idea for your family and your neighbours (and your chimney) to burn old treated softwood, as you seem to be. It releases toxic chemicals including arsenic. Here in Scotland we have plenty of properly seasoned and sustainable hardwood, and that is all we should be burning. Leave those building timbers in the skip to be recycled properly, they don’t belong to you anyway.

    You may have seen a phenomenon called a temperature inversion, especially on still days, when instead of going up, the smoke comes down and stays near ground level. Children on their way to school may have to walk through a cloud of your toxic smoke.

    • craig Post author

      It is a Defra approved stove. And you seem to have a really bad case of self-righteous busybody going on..

        • Bayard

          ” If you want to attack somebody for having a sense of civic responsibility and caring about the health of our children then that’s up to you.”

          FYI, I grew up in a house heated by wood and, in fifteen years, the phenomenon you describe happened only once, which is why I remember it. You’re just using children as a human shield for your prodnosery.

          “Here in Scotland we have plenty of properly seasoned and sustainable hardwood, and that is all we should be burning.”

          You have no idea whether Craig is burning treated timber and are just assuming that he is. Moreover, whilst softwood is not on the list you link to, neither is the “properly seasoned and sustainable hardwood” that you recommend. There is nothing unsustainable about burning wood that would otherwise be thrown away, either.

          • Ronson

            I can see that the timber in the photo is treated because of the colour and the visible penetration showing in the cut ends. Whether it’s the most toxic CCA (copper, chromium, arsenic) depends on the age. Prior to 2006 it certainly is, and that’s probably why it was put in a skip for proper disposal.

            Inversions happen *far* more often than that. The worst persistent ‘pea-souper’ smogs of London, Edinburgh and so many other cities around the world were and are caused by them. Read about it.

            These are all verifiable facts, but I guess I’m on the wrong blog for those to be accepted.

          • Dawg

            Well I accept it. I haven’t checked the details, but you seem to know what you’re talking about.

            So let this be a warning to all: stop pulling junk out of skips, they’re full of toxic gunk!

            When I was wee, we burnt anything that would burn, including planks covered in tar. Didn’t do us no harm. But regulations is regulations, so I hope Mr Murray will now do his bit to save the planet (or nextgeneration or whatever the reasoning is).

          • Bayard

            Ronson, the only piece of timber in the picture that is obviously treated is too long to fit in the stove and appears to have been set aside.
            Yes, I already know about “pea-souper” fogs. Sure they used to be common, but that was before the very clean air act to which you refer was introduced. This type of argument is beloved of bansturbators like you, that something that is extremely unlikely to have any effect on anyone’s health except in circumstances with a vanishingly small probability of happening, is something that should be made illegal. Consider the current scenario: first we have an atmospheric phenomenon that is rare, then we have the factor in the likelihood that Craig’s fire is burning during the day, when children are about, when for all we know, he only burns it at night, after that, we need to add the probability of a child walking through the smoke, not once, but many times, so that the child inhales enough of it to affect his lungs. Most children have the sense not to breathe in smoke, at least after they have done it once, so this is a very unintelligent child we are talking about. For causing this extremely improbable event, we are supposed to excoriate Craig for heating his house with fuel that is not only carbon neutral, but also recycled.

          • Ronson

            Kids just need to hold their breath while they walk to school. That’s a brilliant idea! Why did nobody think of that before?

        • Wikikettle

          Ronson, the Gestapo burned all their offices records in each town. One was captured intact. It showed how informers wrote in denouncing neighbours they smiled to and greeted everyday.

          You are allowed wood to start the fire as kindling actually.

        • Ed

          Nonsense! My grandparents used throw anything that would burn onto the fire, household waste, worn out clothes, newspapers and magazines, timber, old tyres… It never done us any harm.

      • Toby

        I think Ronson was only trying to be helpful.

        Treated wood is actually quite dangerous as a fuel. Best left in the skip.

        If you search for “burning treated timber” you will see some of the dangers.

    • M.J.

      So that’s how the English did Napoleon in with arsenic – they fed the fire in his dwelling with wood taken from skips! Of course skips might not have been invented yet, a small technical difficulty. 🙂

    • Kempe

      I’m intrigued by the way the government tries to discourage us from having log burners in our homes but the biggest most polluting wood burner in the UK, probably in europe, gets a £785 million subsidy!

  • Republicofscotland

    Your decadence on Burns Night is truly outlandish, just wait till the Daily Mail or Express newspapers see that exuberant picture.

  • nevermind

    Please do not burn wood that has been treated, everytime you open the fireplace ypu will get aome of it via the embers.
    Slantje from freezing Norfolk. Sitting at home with a two day old cramp and matches holding up my eyelids.

  • Ian

    Home is where the hearth is. Trust you will be ensconced there after the trial is thrown out.

  • jeannette

    Hi Craig,
    I see you’ve been on a few KLM flights in the past. Hope the contents are still in them 🙂

  • ET

    A fire is nice, I grew up with one lit every day. Nice but a pain in the butt cleanng out the ash every day too.
    Good luck tomorrow.

  • Highlander

    Hi Mod, I’m sorry, yes I agree off subject, but I have no other address to contact Craig.

    My apologies.

    [ Mod: Try the ‘Contact’ link at the top of every page. ]

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