I was going to blog about giant African land snails today but we had a bit of a drama yesterday and I thought it might be interesting to write about it while it's still fresh in my mind.

You'll be unsurprised to learn that I had a lovely afternoon of tea drinking, chatting and possibly knitting planned. I do other things honest, and life really is hectic with 7 children but I treasure my time with my friends so much I always try to factor several hours a week with them when the bulk of my family are in the care of the local educational establishments!

Anyway. Tea was brewed. Luxury biscuits brought over by my friend just opened. A selection of under 5s settled with Pringles and small plastic ponies.

Fire was lit but struggling a bit so I added a few little pieces of cardboard to boost it. Fire revived. Unfortunate it revived a bit too much and after the flames died down from the logs we could still hear a roaring noise from the chimney. Oops!

My friend, a sensible Yorkshire lass, peered up the chimney and in a " don't want to worry you, but...." voice suggested a teeny bit of evacuating followed by a spot of fire service calling.
So while she started jollying assorted small children into coats and boots I hurtled outside into rapidly thickening snow and peered roof wards.

Ah. Lots of yellow smoke. Ah now. Flames.

By this time all of us were standing in the snowstorm while local workmen asked us if we had noticed the flames. No. We hadn't. We just thought we'd bring our tea and toddlers outside and shiver whilst peering skywards for some inner contemplation. As my children would say- "Duh!"

Anyway, much to the delight of the small boys a fire engine complete with blues and twos on arrived and a gang of lovely firemen got out and very efficiently took control.

I was amazed how much care they took to ensure they didn't make a mess of my carpet. Towels and sheets were laid and they even turned my rugs upside down.

By far the worst moment was when one informed me he would be going upstairs to check the heat of the chimney breast there, and would follow this by venturing into my loft.

Now my friends know. No visitors are allowed upstairs. I have 7 kids ( I know, I may have forgotten to mention this before). I am not a born homemaker. If it's tidy or drink tea I think you can guess what I'm going to do. It's clean, but unbelievably untidy up there because I focus on downstairs. Unless my mother is coming but since she lives in Cyprus it's sort of a once a decade job.

I debated shrieking loudly "Oh no! We've been burgled!" but settled on embarrassed muttering along the lines of "if I had known you were coming I'd have tidied up."

To give them credit there was no eye rolling or tutting and they did their job efficiently and with humour and kindness with only a hint of stern lecturing when they told me to get my chimney swept more often. They even replaced my smoke alarms with better ones for free. And the boys got to clamber all over the fire engine.

So for now no more open fires until chimney can be swept again. There was only a small amount of damage to the chimney pot which luckily dh thinks he can fix ( and he's going to repoint chimney and sort out some loose tiles at the same time so-result!)

Thanking my friend for her help including childminding and cleaning up afterwards she laughed and said she was grateful for the entertainment and was worried how she was going to top it at her next coffee morning. After all I had provided tea and real life Fireman Sam! I have to say quite a few of my female neighbours lingered after school checking out the firemen and other friends wonder if I will be providing similar eye candy for my next gathering. Ermm. No.

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