Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Short History of Yule Logs

For most of us, a Yule Log is a seasonal item of confectionary involving a swiss roll decorated with chocolate frosting, artfully fashioned to look like bark, sprinkled with icing sugar by way of snow, and topped with any number of festive decorations. But where does the idea of a cake in the shape of a log come from? Big K, suppliers, of heat logs and seasoned hardwood logs, looks at the origin of the Yule log.

The festive cake version of the Yule Log is based on a real tradition – based on real wooden logs – which dates back to the pre-Christian era.

So, if you are one of those people who doesn't so much as glance at your fireplace all year round, but gets a sudden urge to see a crackling fire over the Christmas and New Year period, you could be unconsciously tuning in to an ancient tradition. You can order high quality Seasoned Hardwood Logs and other winter fuel options right here, but just to help you get into the festive spirit, we've decided to take a short historical tour of the Yule Log.

Origins - To understand the true origins of the Yule Log, we first have to look at the meaning of Yule itself. The word "Yule" stems from an ancient German word for the festival that took place at the time of the winter solstice in northern Europe, which was celebrated for many centuries before Christmas was even heard of and marked the end of one year and the start of another. It is probably no coincidence that the practice seems to have developed in the Scandinavian, Baltic and Celtic areas of Europe, where the emphasis was on keeping warm and well fed during the coldest months of the year.

It is believed that the original Yule log was a lot more than a log - in fact, it was a whole tree! (It may even have been this traditional practice which eventually metamorphosed into the modern day Christmas tree in the living room.) The base of the tree trunk was put into the fire and slowly burned. As the tree was consumed by fire it would be pushed further into the fire – a crude, but effective method of ensuring continuous heat for many days. As well as being a welcome relief from the cold, the chopping down and burning of the tree was seen as symbolic of the cycle of life, with death an inevitable and necessary part of sustaining life.

Middle Ages - In the medieval period many pagan traditions were co-opted by the Church and reassigned with Christian symbolism, and the burning of the Yule tree saw its meaning change. (At the same time, the tree became a log, making it a more practical option for a household fireplace.) Now, the log was burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas, and any remains of the log kept until the following Christmas. The practice became increasingly ceremonial rather than about keeping warm, involving rituals around the lighting and relighting of the log from year to year, and this began to involve the log being adorned with other symbolic elements such as evergreen plants and pinecones, to represent the promise of new life and fertility.

17th Century - Of course, another very important element of the original pagan Yule celebration was feasting, just as it is for our modern Christmas celebrations. So it was perhaps just a matter of time before the Yule log was created in food form. It is thought that the appearance of the earliest cake-based Yule logs was in the 17th century, around the time when ingredients such as sugar and cocoa from the Far East and the New World were beginning to become more widely available.

19th Century - In France, the popularity of the Yule log as a seasonal dessert really took off and was known as a "Bûche de Noël". It appears to have spread to other countries including the UK during the late 19th and 20th centuries, where it became a staple of our modern Christmas fare along with Christmas pudding and mince pies.

21st Century - In some places the burning of a log at Christmastime continues, with many countries choosing a specific type of tree (e.g. the Oak in England or the Birch in Scotland) usually reflecting what's locally available as well as an element of national or local symbolism.

While we can't supply you with a whole tree for your hearth or woodburning stove (and wouldn't recommend you try it) we can provide you with a much safer and more convenient way of staying toasty over the festive season, in the form of our Seasoned Hardwood Logs for woodburning stoves, or Kiln Dry Hardwood Logs, suitable for woodburners and open fires and made from top quality FSC sourced hardwoods. Alternatively, our Heat Logs are an environmentally friendly and fuss free way of generating plenty of heat for your home.

Seasoned Hardwood Logs - Click here for our complete winter fuel range, all available with free delivery.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

5 Creative Ways to Store Wood Burning Logs

Have you organised your logs for home delivery yet? If not, autumn is the ideal time to stock up before the cold weather really kicks in. For convenience, Big K provide door-to-door delivery services of all winter fuel products, so you can make sure you have everything you need during the frostiest days of the year. If you have bought more than you are likely to burn through the winter, and don’t have a designated shed or outhouse for them, here’s five creative ways to store your wood burning logs, including some weird and wacky ones too. Only your imagination is the limit!

The Log House

An alternative take on the traditional log cabin, this arty log store/farmland feature has upstairs windows, a roof, chimney and floral window displays! While making an unusual and elaborate play-house from seasoned hardwood logs might be a little over the top for the average householder, it shows what you can do with firewood when you’ve got time on your hands!

The Decorative Store

An appealing feature in its own right, this eye-catching log stack is a common yet attractive way of commercially stacking logs. As well as being decorative, it's designed to capture people’s imagination and remind them to stock up on their logs. And, the good news is that resourceful types can recreate it on a mini scale at home! Click on the link to use Big K's handy, nationwide home delivery service for winter fuel .

The Garden Wall Feature

Multi-purpose but lacking in practicality, this versatile garden wall feature combines aesthetics with a clever log store for open air fires. Although it lacks suitability as a log store for the UK climate, it makes a great commercial or home garden feature. For more ideas for winter, see Big K’s products for year round use which include a superb range of high-quality outside kitchens and outdoor ovens. We also sell patio heaters to keep you warm during the coldest months of the year.

The Mosaic Store

This is ideal for crafty types keen to turn log storage in their shed, home or porchway into an art form. While re-creating a similar design to the picture above is possible if you cut your own wood, our Premium Kiln Dry Hardwood Logs are in uniform pieces – so you can do it on a mini, neater scale at home. They look great stacked in a log basket and equally appealing if you want a well-ordered stand-alone pile near the fireplace.

The Alcove Store

Although not overtly creative, this contemporary metal outdoor log stall is pretty and functional and is easy to top up and access. It’s set in an alcove with all the home fire accessories to hand, including a dustpan and brush and an ash shovel. If you have an alcove inside or outside the home, it’ll make the perfect log store. Just like the modern indoor fireplace alcove in picture below.

Big K - Click here to order your winter fuel products and logs for home delivery today.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ten Home Decorating Ideas - Choosing the Right Fireplace for Your Interior

Ten Home Decorating Ideas - Choosing the Right Fireplace for Your Interior

If you are revamping your home this winter consider whether your existing fire surround will work with your dream interior….after all, a fireplace is a focal point and, as such, it should blend well with its surroundings. While you might be lucky enough to have a home with a beautiful period fireplace and want to base your décor around this feature, you may have a fire surround that is in need of an update. In this article Big K, suppliers of winter fuel products including smokeless coal and firewood for home delivery, gives the rundown on ten home decorating ideas and fireplaces to match.

Smokeless Coal - Click here to view all our products online including winter fuel for home delivery.

1 Natural

Natural interiors are very much in vogue for 2015, with the emphasis on materials inspired by nature. Solid wood or stone fire surrounds fit perfectly with this theme and, as it is a timeless look, your fireplace will last generations. Hang a driftwood or bamboo framed mirror above the fireplace to match the theme.

2 Romantic

Vintage-inspired interiors is a trend that is set to continue this year, with white distressed finished furniture and romantic style gilt framed mirrors. Intricately carved wooden fireplace surrounds look elegant in a vintage style interior; hang an oversized mirror above to add drama and interest.

3 Neutral

Decorating with a neutral palette adds elegant simplicity to an interior and is a look that is here to stay. Fire surrounds in neutral colours fit with most interiors and will inject style and personality. To make your fireplace stand out, why not paint the chimney breast in a different colour to the walls? Black or grey, for example, will stand out against a white palette.

4 Patterned

To give your fireplace even more of a focus, consider having a tiled patterned fireplace surround in blue or green. Continue the theme with patterned soft furnishings, and hang a print, containing your chosen accent colour, above the fireplace.

5 Ethnic

Interiors inspired by travel have been a popular theme for generations and have their origins in the Grand Tours of the 18th century. Carved wooden mantles are a good choice for this style of interior. Team it with zebra print footstools, wooden sculptures (placed on either side of the fireplace) and bold ethnic prints.

6 Rural

Marble or rustic fireplace surrounds look fantastic in a country property and work well with modern or traditional homes. Furnish with solid wood furniture or cosy, leather upholstered arm chairs to complete the look.

7 Minimalist

A small fireplace that blends effortlessly with its surroundings is an ideal choice for a minimalist home and provides a cosy feel, without being too obtrusive. Store your winter fuel, such as smokeless coal in an alcove close by.

8 Artistic

Sculptural, carved wooden fire surrounds add interest. Although not a traditional art piece, it can serve as a work of art in its own right, and is likely to become a talking point among your guests. Lay inspiring words above, painted on wooden boards, or a modern art piece to continue the gallery theme.

9 Traditional

Traditional brick or stone fireplaces, or wood burners, add a snug feel to a country home and will be the place to gather in the evenings. Add traditional accessories such as antique style lamps or brass fireplace containers on the hearth.

10 Eco-friendly

Fireplaces with reclaimed wood surrounds are becoming increasingly popular as more people strive to become environmentally aware. Decorate with up-cycled or reclaimed wooden furnishings and you will have an eco-friendly interior to be proud of.

Big K - Your one-stop shop providing nationwide delivery of high quality winter fuel products. Click on the link above to order our products online.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Five Inspirational Fireplace Decorating Ideas from Big K

Five Inspirational Fireplace Decorating Ideas from Big K

Fireplaces are not only used to create warmth and atmosphere, but they are also a focal point in their own right; and the way that you decorate your home can make all the difference between whether your fireplace stands out, or subtly blends with your decor. In this article Big K (who sell a wide range of winter fuel products for home delivery including wood burning logs), provides ten inspirational design ideas on how to decorate your fireplace to make the most of this feature year round.

Big K Wood Burning Logs - We provide high quality winter fuel products at competitive prices including seasoned hardwood logs, coal, anthracite coal and smokeless fuel for door-to-door UK delivery.

Feature Mirrors – A beautiful feature mirror hung above the fireplace attracts the light and draws the eye to this part of a room. While traditional mirrors with solid wood frames look elegant, why not be a bit more adventurous with your choice? Intricately carved wooden mirrors, Art Deco mirrors, ornate, mosaic style, lacquered and shabby chic distressed mirrors all help turn your fireplace into a centrepiece. Whether you have a contemporary or period fireplace, choose a feature mirror that blends effortlessly with the design to create a uniform effect. Mirror frames are available in a range of different materials including metal, bamboo, solid wood, and glass – only your imagination is the limit!

Stunning Artwork – Whether you want to hang a vibrant contemporary print above the fireplace, a striking period style picture, or choose a favourite floor standing sculpture to sit beside the fire, the end result is eye-catching. Again, try to choose artwork that blends with the style of your fireplace to create a beautiful focal point. Artwork is a great way to add personality and individuality to your décor. Although placing paintings immediately above the fireplace should be avoided (due to excessive heat which may lead to deterioration), certain artwork works well in this space. Browse through art shops to find an art piece that you love.

Wood Burning Logs – Although it’s not an obvious choice of décor, it is possible to turn wood burning logs or seasoned hardwood logs into a feature. Logs piled up in a basket by the fire, recessed integrated log storage on either side of your fireplace, or a wall mounted log store or gives a rustic feel to an interior and works just as well in a country cottage or contemporary home. Wall mounted log racks come in various shapes and sizes from minimalist styles to rectangular, round, triangular and quirky designs in solid wood or metal.

Candle Displays –Place rows of candles on the mantelpiece or group together large, floor standing candles in different sizes next to the fireplace. Having several lit candles within the fireplace (when the fire itself is not in use) is also wonderfully atmospheric on even the mildest of evenings, and makes your home cosy and inviting when guests come round.

Book Storage – This is something to think about in summer time when the fireplace is not in use. You can transform your fireplace into a bookcase, stacking your favourite hardback books and magazines in the fireplace or on the mantelpiece to create a library area. This makes your living room look homely and makes use of this feature even on the warmest days of the year. Place an occasional chair by the side of the fireplace and you have your very own reading corner!

About Big K

Big K sells a full range of winter fuel products including wood burning logs for home delivery, seasoned hardwood logs, anthracite coal, house coal and auxiliaries. Just key in your full postcode before purchase, to find out if we deliver to your area.