Tuesday, December 10, 2013

There will be smoke

Yesterday morning, my new chimney at Gamone became fully operational for the first time. And the dense column of smoke arising from the rooftop chimney was a friendly sign.

I lit up the stove and fuelled it with two or three sturdy chunks of extra-dry firewood. Then full steam ahead! During the first hour or so, I was anxious… like the captain of the Titanic looking out for icebergs. My imaginary “icebergs” would have been spots (literally hotspots) in the vicinity of the stove where the temperature might have appeared to be excessive and dangerous. In fact, there were effusions of all kinds, both from my recent paintwork and from the iron stove itself… but nothing of an alarming nature. The stove even emitted a wonderful “song” brought about by mysterious metallic vibrations. After an hour or so, everything seemed to settle down into a kind of harmonious cruising state. And Fitzroy took advantage of the delightful warmth that was permeating our ground floor.

Driving down towards Pont-en-Royans, Tineke and Serge noticed the smoke, and they drove up here immediately with a bottle of fine wine to celebrate the new warmth of Gamone. In fact, they came upon me in a state of turmoil, trying to unblock the kitchen sink. Serge helped me rapidly in the search for a solution to this problem, brought about primarily by the disastrous plumbing carried out by an unpleasant local "plumber" (hired in 1994 by the Grenoble architects in charge of the restoration of Gamone)… who hasn’t spoken to me for years, ever since I told him frankly that he was a lousy tradesman. The basic problem is due to the fact that the waste-water evacuation tubing—integrated into the reinforced concrete slab beneath my house—isn’t sufficiently sloped, and the slightest muck blocks it. Happily, I can live with this plumbing problem, provided that I respect a certain number of constraints.

PS It's Wednesday morning, and I've just had an opportunity of confirming an interesting aspect of this particular stove (the Bradford model from the French Invicta company). If I place three or four chunks of wood in the stove before going to bed, they burn slowly all night, keeping the house warm. Then, this morning, I found that the wood was all burnt, leaving a layer of hot coals in the stove. All I had to do, this morning, was to put more wood into the stove, and it blazed up within a few minutes. Incidentally, I've just ordered (through the Internet) some obligatory instruments.

The device on the left is a smoke detector, and they are now obligatory in all French homes. The slightly more complex device on the right is a carbon monoxide detector, and the presence of such a detector is highly recommended in any dwelling that burns fuel (inside the dwelling) for heating. When the ordered goods have arrived (within a day or so), if the Good Lord has saved me between now and then from being consumed by fire or gassed, I intend to install such a pair of devices at two strategic spots in my house: on the ground floor (where the stove is located) and on the upper floor (with the bedrooms).


  1. What wonderful neighbours you have, William. And I'm glad about the proposed installation of alarms. Like insurance, you hope they won't be needed.

  2. Hello, I'm a french reader so exuse my english. I pass here from time to time.
    I love your rustic and a bit aristocratic way of life. And I love your son: he is so pregnant!!!

  3. Hi Manon. Thanks for your kind comment. My way of life here at Gamone is indeed “rustic and a bit aristocratic”… but the aristocracy is purely in the mind, not in my manners. I’m intrigued to see that you love François and that you describe him as “pregnant”. That’s the first time I’ve heard that word applied to my son.

  4. Yes I'm fond of François! Sorry, I was not intended to say "pregnant"! I didn't got the right word. I meant handsome and obliging. In french we say "prévenant".
    Please don't tell him. I' m not beautiful enough for him. Far from there!
    Merry christmas