This cottage is the first place I’ve ever lived in where I face the delightful prospect of being warm enough in winter. Unless you too have spent most of your life shivering, sitting as near as possible to any available sources of heat and taking extra showers because they are the only way to thaw the ice that has settled around your bones, then you don’t know how good that thought is.
(My sympathies have definitely been with everyone in the US who had their power and heat knocked out. Such misery.)
I’ve come to realise that my body is poor at generating its own heat. The circulation in my hands and feet is rubbish, and they regularly turn blue with cold, as though I’m a refugee from a 19th century novel. Consequently, I hate those people who say, as they wander round a 60 degree house in a t-shirt, ‘Oh, just put another sweater on.’ I could try that, of course. I could also try another pair of socks, a blanket and some gloves, make a hot drink to warm my hands on, but about 30 years’ experience tells me there’s No. Fucking. Point.
But now I have been introduced to the World of the Rayburn, and I don’t know that there’s any turning back. It is on its lowest setting and chucking out heat in a way I’ve never experienced from the paltry storage heaters and radiators that have chilled my life to date. Not only the kitchen, but the bathroom and spare bedroom (which will be my study) and which sit above the kitchen, are so warm they almost glow, and the Rayburn also heats the radiator in my bedroom and provides plentiful hot water. Even better, I can cook in it, and if I ever turn the temperature up, on it. A couple of times so far I’ve put a stew or a chilli in the oven in the morning, and come home to find it slow cooked to perfection.
Meanwhile, the sitting room, which benefits slightly less from the Rayburn, has a fireplace in which a log fire is now burning away merrily. And, as back up, there’s alway the central heating, which I have yet to bother with. Fair enough, it hasn’t been that cold yet, but the cottage is so consistently warm that the external temperature doesn’t have much effect. There’ a lot to be said for stone walls that are a foot thick.
I went to the village bonfire on Saturday night, an altogether different, more fiercely elemental scale of roaring and blazing and heat. It filled the sky with sparks and the scent of wood smoke. The villagers showed up in force (I’ve never seen so many flat caps and Barbour jackets in one place), willingly buying mulled wine and hot dogs and waiting for the fireworks. But I think, really, everyone was grateful for the fire.