Getting some help starting a fire in the fireplace from the neighbor

I have lived my whole life in the city.

Most of what I know about country life comes from what I’ve seen in the movies. I’ve realized that this is not an accurate representation of country people. I have learned that they tend to be be deeply generous and welcoming. They are often wary of outsiders, but also make friends easily, and have a strong sense of community. Last winter, I joined a friend for a stay at her parents’ remote cottage. We were both a bit nervous, because we assumed the neighbors would not be thrilled with us coming around. We did get some odd looks, probably for the way we were dressed. Our biggest concern was when we realized there was no central heating system in the cottage! We spent a long time looking around for a thermostat before realizing that there wasn’t even a heating unit. The only source of heat in the cottage was the fireplace in the living room. The fireplace was big and impressive. However, this was not a natural gas fireplace with a thermostat. This was an actual fireplace made of stone and mortar, with a hearth and a chimney. This put us in a bit of a pickle, because neither one of us had a clue how to make a fire. We were really wishing for a standard gas furnace. I knew there had to be a flue in the chimney and we’d need to be open it up so the smoke wouldn’t fill the cottage. Other than that, I was clueless. Within a few minutes, a neighbor knocked on the door and said mentioned the cold weather. He figured we’d help heating up the cottage.
Smart thermostat

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Cape Town, South Africa