Given the climate, both financial and meteorological, the benefits of log fires – coal and wood offer a cheaper alternative to gas, and produce fewer carbon emissions – are continually being expounded. The aesthetic pleasures they elicit are also a plus. But a fire alone, though comforting, is like a painting without a frame. Fireplaces offer an attractive feature throughout the year, no flames required, and with the abundance of discounts available, January is the ideal time to buy one. Chesney's, which creates beautifully ornate designs and bespoke pieces, is offering discounts on 10 per cent of all its stock and 50 per cent reductions on certain pieces, including the Ormonde reduced from £1,169 to £584. Its range can be seen at www.chesneys.co.uk.
Hating... crime maps
It's hard to be critical of the Government's new crime maps, which were compiled by 43 police forces in England and Wales in a bid to better inform residents of the crimes perpetrated in local areas, but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and members of the Police Federation have tried. While the RICS is concerned that by highlighting high-crime areas on the maps, prospective buyers will be deterred and owners forced to reduce their asking price, certain Police Federation members fear that criminals will be alerted to high-crime areas, which they will perceive as vulnerable, easy targets. The maps were pioneered in the US, but are not as detailed as those compiled by American police forces. However, they will, it is hoped, help the fight against local crime.
Buying... Brabantia's sensor bin
When Anthea Turner's cleaner filed a claim for £7,800 in unpaid wages, after the former 'Blue Peter' presenter's buy-to-let property business went bust, it was clearly a sign that having your own maid has become an unaffordable luxury in these uncertain times. If financial constraints have forced you to don a pair of marigolds and bid farewell to your maid, then you'll need all the help you can get. Brabantia bins are not only substantial – their 50-litre capacity means that they don't need to be emptied as frequently as other bins – they are also fitted with a sensor-activated lid. They are also quite handsome: the sleek steel cylinders are reminiscent of a futuristic droid. They are available from www.cotswoldco.com for £94.