Out with the old and in with the new

The old wood-burning stove with heat proof walls on either side © Ricky Yates

When I had the kitchen in my home completely refurbished, back in January 2018, other than the tiled floor and an overhead florescent light, the only other thing that was retained from the previous kitchen, was the wood-burning stove, because it was the only source of heating for the whole house. As part of the refurbishment, two heatproof walls were built, either side of the stove, in order to protect the newly installed neighbouring kitchen units.

Once the stove has been alight for a couple of hours, it does heat the house quite well. But the associated oven takes a very long time to heat up and it is very difficult to judge what should be the correct cooking time for anything one puts in it. Therefore since the kitchen refurbishment, I haven’t used the stove to cook at all, as I now have a very effective electric oven and hob.

Over the past year, I have toyed with the idea of replacing the old wood-burning stove with something both more visually attractive, as well as more heat efficient. My two concerns have been the cost of a new stove, together with the practicalities of getting the old one successfully removed and a new one installed.

Last week I bit the bullet. I visited the Mountfield store in Decín, from where I previously purchased both my lawnmower and chain saw, and ordered a new wood-burning stove. The one I ordered was in their sale, at half its normal price. So I felt I was getting a bargain.

The two staff members who I dealt with, both had some English. One of them was the one who had been most helpful to me when I purchased my lawnmower back in the summer of 2017. I showed them the photo above of the old stove, seeking confirmation that, as part of the deal, they would take the old one away when delivering the new one. They seemed to assure me, more than once, that they would.

I was also aware that I would need some new sections of metal chimney, as the smoke outlet on the old stove is on the right-hand side, whereas on the new stove, it is in the centre. Aided by the photo, the two staff worked out that I needed two new chimney sections which I duly purchased.

New metal chimney sections © Ricky Yates

At 07.03 on the morning of Monday 30th September, I got a text message saying that my new stove would be delivered that morning and that the driver would phone me about thirty minutes in advance of his arrival. But when the truck did arrive, it was one man on his own, working for the Czech branch of the German logistics company, Gebrüder Weiss. He duly unloaded a wooden crate containing my new stove, but deposited it on my front path. No, he couldn’t take it up the steps into my house and neither could he take my old stove away.

The new wood-burning stove, sitting before the steps leading to my front door © Ricky Yates

A year ago, at an event in Decín, I met a fluent English-speaking Czech lady called Mirka. She runs a weekly English conversation class and invited me, as a native English-speaker, to help her with her class. It is something I’ve enjoyed doing this past year, and has occupied me for an hour on Monday afternoons, during term time. In turn, Mirka has twice bailed me out with Czech language problems, for which I’ve been most grateful.

Last Monday morning, I made a cri de coeur to Mirka, asking if she knew anybody who could help me out by coming and getting my new stove into the house and the old one out. Over the past few days she has been absolutely brilliant.

She first visited the Mountfield store to ascertain whether they would take the old stove away & install the new one. The outcome was that I had misunderstood what I thought I had been told at the time of the sale – it is a service they don’t provide.

Then, following an exchange of text messages, emails with photographs, and phone calls, this morning, two men with their van, arrived to sort out my problem. Fortunately, the younger of the two guys had quite good English which greatly aided communication.

Firstly, the the two guys successfully moved the old stove out of the house, down the front path to the side of their van. Then they dismantled the wooden crate, to enable them to move the new stove into the house. They discovered that the new stove was actually bolted onto the crate and it took a selection of their tools and mine, to get it disconnected.

The new wood-burning stove, duly fitted © Ricky Yates

But they eventually succeeded, and here it is in situ. And the two new sections of metal chimney that the Mountfield staff got me to purchase, were exactly what was required.

Amazingly, the two guys wanted no payment for their labours. As the old stove still works, they would be able to sell it on. I did press 500kc into the young man’s hand as some ‘beer money’, for which he was most grateful. And I certainly need to find a way of rewarding Mirka, and not just by helping with her conversation class which resumes next Monday, after the summer break.

4 comments to Out with the old and in with the new

  • Sean McCann

    Hi Ricky,
    Congratulations on your new stove, I’m sure you’ll find it more fuel efficient, cleaner and easier to run than the old model with it’s hotplate and oven. You were lucky to know Mirka and have access through her to the world of local, rural / village ‘facilitators’ to whom one man’s rubbish is always another man’s treasure trove. Once you go outside the world of the big towns, with their big shops, there is always someone who knows someone, whose brothers wife has an uncle with the exact part you need for your rare machine. A thing which can’t be found in a year of internet searches can always be found in a shed on a farm down a long narrow lane two villages from where you live! 😉 And the deal is always easier with ‘the price of a couple of pints’ thrown in. I wish you many years of warmth from your new stove, take care Ricky,

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,
      I’m only into my second day of using my new wood-burning stove but it is already proving to have been an excellent investment. It certainly generates more heat & does so much more quickly than its predecessor. As you suggest, it also seems to be more fuel efficient. And because it is smaller, both in width & length, it will be much easier to keep the area around it, clean.

      Mirka has been wonderful. It was, very much as you suggest. Mirka asked her friends, and one of them, Karolína, knew the two guys who came to my rescue. Czechs are noted for being thrifty and I’m sure my old stove will end up in someone’s chata, out in the nature, providing a simple means of cooking & heating.

      The two guys were excellent and certainly deserved their beer money 🙂

  • Robert E. Doolittle

    Ricky: The saga of the stove has to be (perhaps) the best adventure you have had since you moved into rural Czechia. I was entranced by Sean McCann’s description of rural life in Ireland, or Czechia, or anywhere. he sounds like the kind of person I would love to meet. You are going to be making good use of your new stove in the near future. Do you have a winter’s worth of firewood on hand as yet?

    • Ricky

      Bob – I don’t know about ‘best adventure’ but it certainly was my first serious language misunderstanding.

      Rural life in Ireland & rural life here, do seem to have much in common. I’ve never met Sean myself but he has been a most faithful visitor & commenter & I do hope that we can meet some day.

      I had a truckload of logs delivered in mid-January 2019, bigger than the previous load in December 2017 http://rickyyates.com/logs/ All that were not used during the later months of last winter are stacked in my woodshed and I’m fairly hopeful there are enough to see me through all of the coming winter.