Sunday, 19 December 2010

-11C, ice inside the windows and more frozen quail eggs


It's -11C this morning, or thereabouts: I had to defrost the thermometer to get the photo, so I haven't a clue how low it was before bringing it indoors and scraping the ice off it. But it's still a novelty going out and reading it every morning because it probably isn't all that much colder than previous years, I just never checked back then. Time was better spent battling our way to school in Shotts - notorious for being the worst hit town in Lanarkshire when the snow arrived in winter. At least, that's what we always though...

Anyway, I'm just thawing the ice from the inside of the windows. The bedroom curtains were actually frozen to the windowsill, but there's a lovely clear sky, so I think we might get some sunshine very soon. Doubt if it will be enough to dry any washing on the line, more likely freeze it solid.

I am so glad that we invested in the multifuel stove for this year but that was mainly as a result of last year's proponged winter. We pulled out all the stops to get the job done to avoid a repeat performance and it's incredible the difference it makes! OK, so I can't leave 'George' burning overnight - he's too small - and we've no central heating, but this time last year meant having the three storage heaters plus the coal fire, a fan heater and an oil-filled radiator plugged in just to keep warm. The costs were phenomenal, hitting £53 for a single week's electricity. Unsustainable! We had to invest in some way of protecting the finances against the cancerous electricity charges. The new roof is also coming into play, too, as there's no leaky skylight window and no water running in that can freeze and split any wood. I can only imagine how much electricity we'd be going through and that's without the latest near 10% price increase that's been announced.

Coal is costing £11.50 per 50kg bag at the moment, but I'm able to make a bag last about 10 days. Then there are split logs to be paid for; these are between £40 and £50 per trailer load delivered. We have little space for storage, so no choice in this matter. We haven't anywhere to bulk store wood for the year, so no chance of being able to season it ourselves for the following year. The cost of heating a rural property without central heating is quite staggering when compared to bills grumbled about by towns' people with the luxury and economy of mains gas. To date, in 2010, I have spent £1,190 on electricity, £110 on coal and £210 on logs. The electricity is on a prepayment meter, which is about £70 in credit, so this lot will need to see me through the new year - the budget for each of these categories has gone. With the help of the new stove, I'm hoping to reduce the overall annual expenditure on heat, hot water and power from £1,510 to £1,140, a drop of almost 25% before the price increases.

One of the biggest plus sides to having the stove is that while it heats the back of the house, it also heats innumerable kettles of hot water and doubles up for cooking. I can keep it ticking over on a good enough heat to roast a chicken or, as I'll be doing today, boil a clootie dumpling.

More marzipan fruit and truffles to be made today, along with the lemon curd and the clootie dumpling. That should keep the kitchen warm! I've a friend visiting later, so organisational skills must be honed so I'm ahead of the game by the time she arrives.

Hope the weather isn't too bad wherever you are.

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