Tag Archives: coping

Cold apprenticeship

TropicalI read yesterday that 1st October is ‘Central Heating Day’ because it’s the day when many turn their central heating back on.  Now I must say, if that’s true, I don’t understand that kind of pedantic thinking.  Yesterday was glorious and I had the windows and doors open all day, (clearly no point in sticking the heating on just because of a calendar date then) but I’m only too aware that tomorrow may bring eskimo chills, with winds whipping down from the north.  Then I’ll have no hesitation in flipping the switch for a bit of warmth blasting throughout the house.

There is a trend to make people like me feel a little guilty about seemingly unthinkingly flipping the central heating switch.  I have to say, however, you’re not going to easily persuade me to go around in ever increasing layers of woolly pullies as the winter sets in, rather than basking in a generally gloriously warm and welcoming atmosphere.  My home is insulated, doubled glazed and I’ve just gone and ordered some new thickly interlined curtains for the cold months ahead.  I feel I’m being a pretty good citizen therefore and, more to the point, I’m old enough to remember the days pre-central heating and dearly hope never to have to live like that again.

Cold, 2Sure, you can sit around with extra layers on and even blankets over your knees, but when the atmosphere of the whole house chills down things start to become damp and inhospitable.  Getting ready for bed becomes a question of superquick timing to get under the covers as quickly as possible and then curling up like a pill bug until the bed warms up.  On top of that, those bed covers can, in themselves, be slightly damp if you are unlucky enough to live in something like an old granite building (as I once did).  Going to the loo in the night has to be done at speed, so as to not lose too much body heat and getting up in the morning?  Well, there is the real killer.  You’re all toasty under the covers but the almost numbing cold on your nose tells you that ‘out there’ is a different matter.  If you think it’s bad getting up to a 6.30 alarm on a cold winter’s morning now, trust me, that is pure luxury compared to hauling yourself out of the warmth of bed, into the the cold and then stripping off for a wash in an even colder bathroom.  As a child I developed a technique for blasting through to the bathroom for as quick a wash as I could reasonably manage, positioning myself as much as possible under the small electric ceiling heater, and then hopping back into my hopefully still warm bed to put on my school uniform.  Yes, that’s right.  In the very coldest months I actually dressed for the day in bed.

Worst memory of cold winters gone?  That’s a toss up between the damp sheets on the damp bed in the damp granite property I just mentioned and a mercifully short stint in a big empty guest house during the bleak winter months where it was so cold that my breath steamed just standing in the bedroom.

So, it’s October now and very shortly I expect to see articles telling me that I rely too much on central heating.  Maybe so, but you know what?   I feel I’ve done my cold-damp-apprenticeship and I’d like to enjoy a few more winters in the welcoming warmth of my home … before my pension fails to cover my fuel bills and I’ll be full circle, freezing my buns off again.

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A day in the life: Sunday

Continuing my occasional series in the spirit of  ‘full-disclosure’ here (well, as full as it’s going to get), here is an edited- for- privacy version of what is being recorded in my diary here at home:

Bette 5S asked me recently for the recipe I used to do for Tomato and Lentil Dahl with Toasted Almonds.  I found one – but it was definitely not the one so loved of this family.  This morning I looked again through my collection of recipe books and found the Real McCoy – hence the link to my recipe pages. I haven’t done this for ages and as it made my mouth water just typing it up, I think maybe I should do it again.

I keep meaning to get back to ‘real cooking’ but in the last few weeks I’ve struggled with the emotions of living in a seriously stirred house and it’s making me feel inordinately tired, not to mention fed up.  The book that this recipe came from is a heavy tome, under-used by me, and so well worth dipping into again.  When our visitors this week have been and gone, the carpeting guys have been and gone for the umpteenth and final time, and the house has some semblance of order again, I think I’ll try a few more of these vegetarian recipes.

Later…

No.  This is not funny.  We worked for most of the day again on clearing the dining room – carefully sorting, wrapping and packing away precious pieces.  I’m knackered and more than a little overwhelmed.  We virtually have no space to move things to now and it’s pretty depressing.

We can’t go on like this so I’ve come up with a strategy:

Tomorrow

  • I’m hiring the largest skip (dumpster) available and we’re having a massive garage clearout.
  • I will phone the carpet guys and delay the fitting of the final room (my study) by another two weeks – giving us a month to prepare between the last two rooms.
  • I will try to research lockable storage cabinets for the (newly tidied) garage….cabinets in which to store some of the precious bits from my parents’ house that have so broken the back of our usual Feng Shui calm and simplicity.

I want calm restored to this house.

I want to be free of tradesmen.

I want to, once again, freely access all areas of my home (which means spending time ‘acclimatising’ the kittens to the big wide world outside).

I want to, once again, have a thoroughly clean home (which means dealing with all of the above).

I want to go on holiday and lie quietly in the sun (frustratingly, we have to wait some weeks yet for that).

By the way, just to illustrate the tone of today, having only just finished packing away stuff in the dining room and feeling pooped and emotionally strung out, we came through to find that one of the cats had puked on our bed …. on our brand new Yves Delorme sheets.

Amen.

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