It’s summer, so time to be organising our winter fuel. We’ve started chopping and splitting logs again, and now Ruadhri is making his contribution. He’s in charge of producing paper briquettes. We continually accumulate scarily ridiculous amounts of paper – the dreaded ‘pub’ that comes every Tuesday, newspapers (but no News of the Worlds), magazines, sugar and flour bags, flyers and letters. I store this all now and we use it to make briquettes. Because they take so long to dry, briquette manufacture is a job for when the sun is hot and strong.




I bought the maker from my Blancheporte catalogue for €9.99. What you have to do is tear up paper into smallish pieces, damp them in a bucket or bowl and then fill the briquette mould with them.

There’s a separate metal squishing part that you put onto the mould above the paper. Then you push the handles down, and they’re designed to press against the squishing thing and push the water out.

We have to give Rors a hand with this as it takes a lot of force. These days we also sit a brieze block on top of the briquette maker for a while to expel even more water.

And voila, a briquette. I usually tie string around them as they can flake apart when they’re dry.

Now we leave them to dry and then store them in the woodshed until we need them. Each one takes roughly three newspapers so there’s a good, solid body of burnable fuel in there. They’re good at helping a fire to get going. It’s a very sensible way for us to recycle all our paper. The very shiny stuff doesn’t work well, so that goes to the local à papiers at Bussière St Georges.

Thursday 14th July is Bastille Day in France. It’s one of the few public holidays that is pretty much 100% i.e. everything shuts. Here is some festive guillotine bunting I knitted. Grisly but cool I think!

Here’s the pattern if you’d like to make your own. I’m a bit late posting it for you to make some for this year, but you can always keep it stored safely for next year.

Bastille Bunting

I used DK wook (worsted) and 4 mm needles, but anything will do! Cast on 2 sts. Row 1: k, k. Row 2: p, p. Row 3: incr, k. Row 4: p. Continue increasing in this way i.e. on just the one side, until you have 21 sts. But around the 10 st mark, using red wool introduce a random, blood spatter pattern on the blade side (the diagonal one) over the next 10 rows or so. When you have your 21 sts, work 14 rows. Next row, eyelet  row – **slip 1, k3, psso** rpt to end. Next row: **p2, yfd, p1*** rpt to end. Knit two further rows then cast off. Even though I blocked my guillotines, they kept curling a bit so I made reversed shaped ones and sewed them together in pairs, right sides out with a neat overstitch seam.  Knit as many as you can bear and hang them up on a string for a real French festive touch on Bastille Day!