I’ve mentioned before how important a fire place is to Thomas. Local specialists have been advising us that the chimneys of the château are bound to be leaking and that we will need to ‘gainer’ all of them, meaning lining and insulating them. But then Thomas is a bit of a smart-alec and he never takes advice before testing things himself. On the first day of the New Year, he set to work. Out came his brand-new chimney sweeping set: a super flexible nylon sweeping rod (15 metres long!) to easily get round the many bends and twists, a sweeping spiral brush and a poly spiral brush. He cleared ash and soot and laid out fire-resistant wall and floor plates.
For styling purposes and to humour my inner decorator, he set up the broken pieces of the marble fireplace mantel in the late afternoon light. Add to that a couple of buckets filled to the rim with water, smoke alarms on each floor and we were all set. All finished well in time for pre-dinner drinks. Candle light, a bottle of lovely local Saint Félicien wine, a gentle fire and…a smoke leak on the second floor. Alas.
All the while there was a waxing crescent lunar shape on the wall behind Thomas. It’s the shadow of the little opening on the side of the mantel, but I like to think it was the moon. As if Luna herself had come inside to comfort Thomas, immersing him in a dream to help him overcome his disappointment.