I posted a few days ago about candlelight.
I really love candlelight, but (especially living in the garret of this tall Victorian house, from which escape in the event of fire would be difficult to say the least) I am uber-safety-conscious.
It might be fair to say I have something of a disaster mentality. In our supermarkets here there’s often a security sign at checkouts saying “This till is alarmed”, and I think I must have been born with an invisible notice on me saying something similar. As a consequence, though daily life is a matter of constant apprehension, I am prepared for almost any event.
Just now, apparently in slow-mo, we are having our kitchen ripped out and replaced. So we are several weeks with no stove to cook on or in – but, no problem! We have provided ourselves with a mini-oven and free-range electric hotplate, plus the top of the woodstove will take a casserole. We converted our back sitting room to a temporary kitchen and continued in there while Joe ripped out units and gouged holes out of the walls for new cable tracks. Then all went quiet while he went off to fix our Rosie’s roof while the weather was dry. Yesterday he was back with Nick, who will seal off the gas and remove the pipes that fed the hob and grill (we have solar panels now so it makes sense to go to all electric), take out the sink ready for the new unit with a butler sink Martin is making for us out of reclaimed floor joists (the unit not the sink), and re-route the cabling for where the cooker will stand. This involved turning off the water and draining down the system. No problem! Not knowing which day he would come, every day we have been ready with a huge 1.5 ltr pump thermos (which we happen to have) full of boiling water, and a bucket of cold water standing by. We also have an enamel kettle that we can heat on the woodstove in the evening to fill the thermos ready for the morning. For a while Nick also had to turn off the electricity. No problem! It was daylight so we didn’t need the many candles we always have, but we wanted a cup of tea so I went out to the shed and fetched the storm kettle, which we can run on the back doorstep on the shredded cardboard packaging we keep in a basket by the hearth to fuel the luxury fire when we sit down for a teabreak.
So well-defended are we against Hard Times (which we have seen aplenty) that Normal Times look to us like the treacherous surface of a sucking bog whereon all appears grassy and safe to walk on until you try to cross it. Thus we like to be prepared for all eventualities. As Lilian Beckwith expressed it in her wonderful series of stories about her life in the Outer Hebrides, “A Rope – In Case”.
So in my love of candle-light, I want not just candles in general, but candles that won’t fall over by themselves, ignite a tea-towel that accidentally fell on them, or get knocked over by the cat that jumped on the table when I wasn’t looking. When my mother was a child, the farmhouse being in those days lit by oil lamps, her sister managed to start a house fire by tugging out from under the oil lamp the piece of paper she wanted that it was standing on, not anticipating that this would cause the lamp to tip. I am wary of naked flames.
So I like my candles encased in glass, preferably with a lid, preferably hanging not standing. I take note of the comment Buzz left on my previous post about candles, recalling an occasion in her childhood when she had a candle in a jam jar and the heat from the flame caused a demi-lune section to shear off and fly across the room. Lawks! So though I do occasionally have candles in (large) jam jars, that’s just out in the porch or preferably right outside on the step as a “welcome” light.
In the bedroom I (briefly) had this beautiful lantern. It is a fair-trade item made by a firm using recycled and Earth-friendly materials, When I got it, I explained that I would be hanging it from a hook, and the shop lady and I spend some time peering into its chimney to be sure the metal fastenings that hooked the ring to the lid were sturdy. Happily the glass did not break when the heat from the candle melted the solder that was, surprisingly, the only thing adhering the lid to the chimney and the whole thing fell down with an impressive crash.
Then I discovered the UCO candle-lantern (cheapest in the UK are on e-Bay) and since then, friends, I have never looked back. Safe, effective, compact, it folds down for travelling, the candles burn 9 hours and they make a beeswax alternative to the standard paraffin ones.
365 day 17 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
A beautiful, handmade statue of Our Lady of Grace. Went to Barnados.