Is it too early to flick the central heating on? Or how about lighting a cosy fire?

Have you switched the heating on yet?

Have you switched the heating on yet? - Credit: PA

There’s a definite nip in the air now that we’re in autumn but I’ve so far managed to resist flicking on the central heating, writes Sheena Grant.

But, then again, it’s easier for me than for some others. After all, I’m a member of the growing ranks of hideously self-righteous woodburning stove owners. We can afford a smug smile as we toss another log on the fire and sit back to luxuriate in the toasty warmth of our sitting rooms on cold winter nights.

Of course, the most smug amongst us are those who can harvest fuel from their very own woodland. That, sadly, does not include me. I have to buy my logs in or scavenge them from the countryside, which is time-consuming and impractical. I’ve even tried making paper briquettes to save money but that soon became a chore so unpleasant that a few hours’ ironing seemed like a treat.

Given all that ? and the price of wood ? I lost my smug smile some time ago. (I think Chancellor George Osborne found it and is now wearing it permanently. Who knows why? Perhaps he has his own private woodland.)

But I still love my stove.

The chimney has been swept in readiness for another winter and a load of logs delivered ? too many to store in the space I had available.

Now, if you think logs are expensive, you should see the price of commercially-available log stores, which can run to several hundred pounds. There must be something, I pondered, that could do the same job for a fraction of the cost.

I found the answer when I spotted a surplus-to-requirements empty paving stone pallet on a friend’s drive. A few hours later I had commandeered it, sawn the front off and fixed on a basic roof, which was then covered in shed felting and, hey presto, I had a log store. It’s not as pretty as the bought ones but it does the same job. And all for the cost of a length of shed felting.

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• I’m more than halfway through my quest to survive on foods produced within a 30-mile radius of my home during September. Last week, I lamented the lack of Suffolk-produced hummus and olives. But no sooner had I done so than the god of bourgeois comfort foods took pity on me. As I perused the local foods deli shelves in my nearest Co-op, I found a tub of just what I craved ? Suffolk-made hummus, olives and even fresh pesto. They were pricey, so I just looked longingly at the olives. But I did buy hummus and a tiny pot of pesto.

Email Sheena or Tweet using #ThriftyLiving

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