Flames and Wibbles


When it comes to our flat, family lore states that I own two departments: the garden, and the sitting room fireplace. I didn’t pay for much out of my own pocket for the renovations, but I did (and continue to) pour most of my earnings into buying trees, flowers, tools, gravel, edging, and compost for the garden. The other major things I paid for were a lining, hearth and surround for the chimney in our sitting room. There’s no place like home, my argument goes, especially not if home has a cosy blaze in the fireplace.

A chimney lining is not a glamorous thing, exactly. It’s a long, galvanised metal tube that stops the chimney catching fire or the smoke escaping into upstairs flats. But when it has to extend the height of four storeys from ground floor to roof, as ours does, the price extends by the same degree. My chimney lining is just about the most valuable thing I own. But who cares about the price? In autumn, a glass of red wine in front of a glowing hearth is just the ticket after a long day of pulling weeds and planting bulbs.


In a minute I’ll talk about the dahlias, but firstly we need to discuss that mirror. One of our few house rules state that both parties ought to agree before buying fittings for the flat… but… when I saw this lovely mirror on my recent trip south, I just had to buy it, and The Brazilian wasn’t around to ask. I thought it would look so chic in our sitting room. When I got it home and proudly propped it up over the fireplace, The Brazilian seemed somewhat blind to its charms, yet was quick to point out the wibbliness of the glass, with which he appeared to be deeply unimpressed. He asked me archly how much I had paid for it. Not much, obviously. I’ve just spent all my money on bulbs. Obviously. But who cares about the price? Because an elegant looking-glass above a fireplace is a necessity. Just don’t start to wonder why the ceiling seems to be drooping downwards and the painting on the opposite wall has melted like a Salvador Dali.


Oh yes, and about those Cafรฉ au Lait dahlias? Are you bored of them yet? Me neither. They are rather like wibbly flames themselves…


In a Vase on Monday is hosted by the flortastic Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I do recommend visiting her page to see her vase as well as links to all the other vases created by garden bloggers today.




30 thoughts on “Flames and Wibbles

  1. I’m with you on the wibbly glass. I our last house some windows still had the original 19th century glass and it had a beautiful green tinge with a wibble. Himself did not approve and I was desolate when the glass was replaced when we had to do some restoration work on the frames. However, when it is very windy here, the galss in our double galzing flexes – almost a temporary wibble.
    Sorry I digress, your arrangement is beautiful, restrained and elegant. I’m not a fan of double flowers but your Dahlia ‘Cafe au lait’ is stunning.

    1. Removing that original glass would have broken my heart. What a shame it had to go! I tend to agree with you about double flowers, as they are no use to bees whatsoever. I try to make up by planting lots of bee-friendly (often species) single flowers too.

  2. I love the setting- and the flowers. Very pretty. I’m just about to re do our fireplace. A wood burner would be more economic, but the lure of the open fire is leading me towards a new surround. As we live in a bungalow, the chimney lining should not be too expensive. Just checked- it’s exorbitant!

    1. Yes – see what I mean! In a future house of a different type I would definitely consider a wood burner. I just thought the open fire was more in keeping with the style of this Victorian tenement flat. A wood burner is better at not letting smoke into the room, and is far more efficient too.

      1. that’s true. As long as we can still toast marshmallows on sticks in the middle of winter. A favourite treat of ours- matched with hot chocolate. I expect we’ll be able to open the wood burner door to do that. Your fireplace is very beautiful and elegant. I’m afraid our house is very shabby at the moment and needing a complete renovation programme for every room! Just got to face up to the upheaval. I keep putting it off and working in the garden instead!

  3. Flortastic – tee hee! If you run out of adjectives you just make one up ๐Ÿ˜‰ The logistics of your flue lining must have been quite an undertaking as presumably the other people had to agree, or does it not actually pass through their properties? It certainly sounds as if it was worth the expense anyway. Sadly the chimneys had been removed from our house but we have considered an external flue – but the Golfer though needs instant heat and I am quite happy in the warmth of our kitchen with my Aga anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your CauL are still gorgeous and may finally have won me over as I think they will added to my dahlia order for next year. Your ammi is perfect with them too ps I am sending you an email

    1. There’s nothing quite like an Aga, Cathy. On my bucket list for whatever future place we live in. Luckily it is a single rather than shared flue right to the top so we didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. But the liner is there just to make sure the smoke doesn’t seep through the brickwork. These old chimneys have all manner of age-related problems, so the liner is essential.
      I will resort to my Roget’s Thesaurus next week. I am totally out of adjectives!

  4. He must’ve made the mistake of looking at himself in it โ€“ that mirror is obvs made to admire in its entirety and not as an actual looking-glass! It’s lovely. The fireplace is lovely and your vase of flowers is lovely. I spend my meagre earnings on the garden and the children. Does that mean they belong to me?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. You may have emptied your pockets to pay for the flue but it is worth every penny and each time you light your fire you’ll be so pleased you did it. We put a wood burner in and it is quite simply the best thing we did to the house. As for the mirror and dahlia well it looks like a picture from a well known paint company advert!

  6. What an elegant arrangement Joanna which compliments your magnicent fireplace perfectly. I’m intrigued by the items to the side of the vase.

  7. I know the feeling. We were pretty much forced to get our renovations done all at once in one fell swoop because the flat was not inhabitable when we bought it. Getting things done when they are less urgent is often a struggle.

  8. I love your wibbly mirror, the open fire (who cares what the flu cost? Needs must…) and the Dahlia โ€˜Cafe au laitโ€™ is stunning. I am trying to get my OH to agree to some renovations, but he is a stubborn man and quite happy living with the status quo. Me, I can see the potential in knocking down a couple of walls. But when I mention it he gets all sullen.. I might have to get an architect in whilst he is away.

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