One of the many reasons I chose to purchase 3 Tudor Cottages as a holiday cottage was because of it’s impressive open fire which you can’t miss when entering the property. An open fire or wood burner helps to attract winter holiday guests looking to enjoy a cosy break. Regardless of the weather, guests are often happy just curling up on the sofa and enjoying the warmth and the sounds from the crackling fire.

What always surprises me is how often holiday cottage owners who provide an open fire or wood burner don’t also provide the necessary logs and kindling. Sometimes I think it may be to deter guests from using the fire as this obviously incurs extra work for the owners !

During the autumn and winter at 3 Tudor Cottages I always have the fire prepared and ready to be lit when my quests first arrive. Some guests may be slightly nervous of lighting a fire so I usually try to get them started by using an instant fire log brick which I place in the grate, informing guests to light either side of the brick and to add kindling as the brick gets going.  A large fire guard stands by along with a metal bucket for ash, a metal box containing matches and a supply of old newspapers.

For each booking I usually leave a bag of kindling and 2 fire logs so enough to light 2 fires, after that my guests can purchase more fire wood from the supermarket opposite the cottage.  My absolute favourite guests are those who empty the fire grate of ash before they depart !

The secret to preparing a traditional open fire is all about getting the air under the wood and using plenty of firelighters initially to get the flames going up the chimney.

Here’s my technique for prepping the open fire, I first place 2 or 3 firelighters on the fire grate, then I cover with rolled up newspaper. I then add a layer of kindling, maybe some coal and lastly 3 upright logs shaped like a tent – this allows the air to flow through. Then light. Once the fire is going just add more logs as and when required.

Just a word of warning, on very windy days it’s possible that the smoke won’t make its way up the chimney and the living room can become smokey.

To help prevent problems I get the chimney professionally swept at least once a year.