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Ten things to consider when having a bonfire

Autumn - season of Halloween, Guy Fawkes and bonfires.So essentially a couple of months devoted to burning things.

When having a garden bonfire, there are a few rules one should observe -

  • never light one before the farmer has harvested the crop on the other side of the fence
  • avoid days when the wind would blow the smoke into the neighbours gardens or the road
  • never turn your back on it
  • and only burn things that were once growing. Leaves for example ...

Then there are the ten things to consider that if considered and acted upon make having a bonfire easy -

1. Don't embark upon bonfire building without friends. And a bench. Not for burning! For resting on. I can't remember when I last had time to sit in the garden, nor when I last wanted to sit in the garden and the bench wasn't covered in bird droppings.

2. The more friends, the merrier.

3. Wear a polo-neck jumper or a scarf. Because if you do the sparks can't fly into the gaping hood of your hoodie, bypass your open collar and burn your neck.

4. Build a fire break. It's best to do this before lighting the fire. If you do it after lighting the fire, you end up racing against time and smoke and sparks (!) to prevent the fire spreading into the to-burn pile.

As the picture shows - pile-to-burn on right, rapidly cleared fire break through the centre and bonfire on left ... already burning. Hmmm ...

5. When burnt on the neck, pretend that nothing has happened. You don't want anyone to think that you're a complete idiot.

6. And you don't want to frighten the dogs, although they are so busy gorging themselves on the rotting wood from the base of the to-burn pile that they probably wouldn't have noticed any wild flapping and shouting of 'Ouch!'

7. Arrange for the delivery of refreshments - mobile phones are a great way to order coffee. And emollient for burns.

8. Smile at Bertie Baggins who eating a tasty stick and lacking a table opts to use his uncle's head instead.

9. Take all day - it's Autumn; the leaves are damp; the bonfire is slow and smokey. Your lungs need a rest and you need lots of hot water for serial showers (no-one likes to sit next to someone who smells like a kipper). There are plenty of other things to do and fruit to stir and Christmas wishes have to be made. I know, I know - it was stir-up Sunday last weekend, but the Christmas cake is better late than never (last year was a never that I will never live down - the Christmas of 2012: the one without a cake!)

10. (and 11!) Stamping is necessary. A lot of stamping. And careful excavation of the to-burn pile. No-one wants to throw a hedgehog on the fire. Nor murder the mouse that ran into this cave at the base of the bonfire. Funny that - worry about chewed wires and housefires means that we are perfectly happy to trap mice inside the house, but the thought of a little mouse trapped in a bonfire brought my burning activities to an end. (He was still alive when I left ... )

Um .. I never could count. Ten things to consider here becomes eleven. Aside from the negative aspects of your carbon footprint, having a bonfire is a therapeutic activity - it's clearing, getting rid of the garden clutter, burning away the spores of diseased leaves, and a physical workout. And at the end of the day ...

... consider that it was a good one ( ... if a bit hot in places!)


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