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Published:  2012-10-12 Views:  1096
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Published in:  Cruises
People who have read some of my previous articles will know that I am a great lover of the outdoors, walking and hiking, fishing and birdspotting. However, I do also enjoy just sitting at home in the garden watching the comings and goings of the neighbours and my wildlife visitors. Speaking of visitors, when we do get them (human, rather than wild ones), I find it most delightful to sit outside long into the evening with a little snifter and stimulating conversation.

Now, living in England means that we don’t get many evening like this so that is when some form of patio heating comes into play, but which one to choose? Well here’s a little rundown of the ones I like and why.

Most people will be familiar with the traditional heater that runs off bottled gas. This consists of a receptacle for the gas bottle at the bottom, a pole that carries the gas to the burners at the top and topping the whole thing off is a metal canopy that throws heat down on to the sitters below. These are very easy to light and quick to heat up, sending warmth to quite a large area, the heat can also be controlled as with any gas appliance. As well as this tall free-standing variety, there is a smaller kind that can sit on a table top.

Electric heaters are also quick to heat up and are turned on by the flick of a switch. These work just like any other electrical element heater and can be very efficient at throwing out heat. Safety is paramount with this sort of heater and for that reason they are usually wall-mounted. However you can get some that are designed to be used underneath a parasol, these attach to the ribs or pole of the parasol and should never be left switched on and unattended.

Becoming more popular now is the chimenea, these can be made from the traditional clay or cast-iron or steel. Thought to originate in ancient Mexico they were not only used as a form of heat for the home but were also used to cook food. A chimenea is a sort of pot-bellied stove complete with chimney; a fire is built in the pot-belly part which is open at the front so that fuel can be added; the whole of the pot is warmed by the fire and gives off heat to the people sitting around it. These can be a little more difficult to light but I find that the last embers from a barbecue are a good starter to which kindling and then bigger pieces of wood can be added. Some chimeneas double up as barbecues by having a metal grill that can swing into the pot-belly over the coals. It is advisable to protect them from extremes of weather, the clay ones in particular are not always fully frost-hardy. I do like a nice fire so these are my favourite heaters, especially as they are excellent for toasting marshmallows!

You can also get a fire-pit, again made from a variety of materials; these take the form of a bowl that can be raised on a stand or buried in the ground. They are like chimeneas in that you need to light a fire in the bowl, people can then sit around the bowl and all can have access to the flames – equally good for toasting marshmallows or even…toast!

For chimeneas and fire-pits there is now an eco-friendly form of fuel that can be used as an alternative to solid wood logs. Woodchips that are a by-product of the furniture industry are pressed together to form dense logs which actually burn for longer than solid wood.

Whichever type of heating you decide on, remember that fire in any form is always dangerous, so always act responsibly around it and supervise young children at all times.

Sitting outdoors is just one of the hundreds of http://www.myoutdoorstore.co.uk/compare_days-out.html. Follow the link to discover our vast selection of days out ideas.
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