Luck was with us one autumn day when we spotted an old bellows in a charity shop window, going for five pounds. Such an ancient instrument, easily three thousand years since it’s invention, and a popular fireside tool throughout medieval times. You’d have seen one near every hearth through the Victorian age. And yet it seemed quaint to buy it.

bellows © elisa rathje 2011

Nothing of the kind. Chilly days have arrived, with fires lit in the wood stoves. They’re astonishingly effortless to revive with the little bellows. Our little country cottage is much easier to keep cosily warm since it came home with us. Marvellous.

bellows © elisa rathje 2011

The bellows was a little bashed, scratched and burnt, so I gave it a lick of chalk paint in ‘french linen’. I love it’s purposeful shape. It needs a noble spot on the wall by the hearth.

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