As Nat King Cole once sang about, avoid Jack Frost nipping on your nose by cosying up by an open fire this Christmas.
Fire is Christmas’s good old friend; it’ll warm you on those dark, cold December evenings, and light up your log cabin, or country manor during the festive period. To give us the lowdown on how to start a fire and keep it going, we asked Thom from 7th Rise providers of outdoor courses in foraging, hunting, fishing and wild food cooking, for advice: 'Here's my top tips on creating the best inferno this Christmas, and providing the party with warmth, light and enjoyment that only a fire can offer.'
1) If you are only to remember one tip, be it this: The 'fire triangle' is quintessentially the most important building block of fire info and will always be the difference between success and no success. We were all taught it in Science lessons and it's still apt as ever, all you need is heat, oxygen and fuel to make that flame. If you ever can't get a fire going, you're missing one or more of these, so just think about it logically.
2) Know your wood. Wood is not just wood when we're talking about burning it. Get to know the trees and forests around you.
3) Ash, Oak, Beech and Hazel are the best, and fruit woods, like Apple and Cherry, are also excellent, providing wonderful scents.
4) Alder, Douglas Fir, Elder, Lime and - worst of all - poplar, are truly awful burning woods, unless you want little flame, plenty of smoke and limited heat.
5) Wood size is critical too. Make sure you collect more than enough before you start. You need plenty of a) Tinder (paper, dry grasses, leaves that burn very easily but quickly) b) Kindling (next size up, twigs the thickness of your finger) and c) Main fuel (logs, thicker branches) to create a great fire, building your way up as you go. Holding a match to a log just isn’t going to cut it.
6) Take your time. It usually takes a good 30-45 minutes to get an open fire to the point where it can 'take care of itself' and all you have to do is add on a few logs occasionally. My top tip for cheating? Get the extension cable out and get your girlfriend’s hair drier going, it provides plenty of heat and oxygen to your fuel.
Go forth and do what man is meant to do, go and build a fire... alternatively here are our top three winter warmers: