Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Winter Warmers

Preparing for Spring

I'll try to keep this brief, as it's supposed to be a quick update prior to the end of the month, but so many things have been happening recently!

First of all, the stove has, at long last, been fitted! Yeah! The job was completed on Sunday and 'Wilbur' has been blazing gently to settle him in for the past day, being lit again first thing this morning. The difference is utterly amazing!

As expected, the stove/logburner installation project was done on a budget. The new hearth takes the form of two stone slabs traded for locally with friends who are having the remains of an old fireplace in exchange. The fireproof backplate is an offcut of sheet steel sprayed black with stove paint. In all, I think the entire works, including having the old chimney opened up, repaired and fully lined, cost approximately £600.

The plasterwork all needs reinstated, but I can live with it like that until spring. We've already moved the couch into the room and are slowly emptying the livingroom in preparation for having the fireplace in there rebuilt. But better still, the stove top kettle has been used for the past 2 days, meaning we haven't had to switch on the electric kettle! Brilliant! Everything is drying out nicely and it means there's a warm room in the house to return to after a cold, wet walk. I like that part the best! We're also well prepared for power cuts now.

The budget is doing well, despite everything! All the major spends during the first month of the year take their toll - annual telephone line rental for one thing - and that certainly isn't helped when you lose your regular source of income, which I did at New Year. As of 1st February, I'll no longer have a source of regular, guaranteed earned income, it will be based on whatever, whenever, as I'll no longer be committing myself to contracts. But that's another story.

February, as you may all know from previous years, is my major effort to shift the excess 'flab' gained over winter. Shortest month of the year, so minimising the food intake doesn't seem so bad when it's for just 28 days. It gets me back on par for the spring and, of course, this year's BIG fitness challenge, to climb Ben Nevis.

I do quite a bit of walking, so that's nothing new, but I've never climbed a 'proper' mountain, unless you count the Merrick . My 'relearning to ride a bike' is sporadic, depending on how slippery the roads are, but winter probably wasn't the best time of year to lose the car. On that subject, the household has now been without a car for two full months and we've worked my way up to 20 miles of cycling, which is almost enough to get me to the Co-op and back. It's certainly enough to get me to the post office or village store, so that's all that counts for now.

As for hill walking... different story! Frugaldom lies in a fairly flat area and the highest hill I've ever climbed in my life is the Merrick, which I did in August. This tiny lane, only 2 miles long, is the hilliest road we have about here. I'm told that if we (friend's coming with me) can walk back and forth along this five times consecutively, then we are walking fit for Ben Nevis - but it won't prepare us for the intensity of the prolonged ascent or descent of Britain's highest mountain. It's going to have to, because it's the best we've got! (I'll go play in the Galloway Hills whenever a lift is available.)
 We need to be fit enough to climb Ben Nevis in May, when 9 of us are meeting in Fort William. (Still room for one more if anyone I know is interested?) As it rarely snows here, but can snow on the summit all year round there, I certainly made the most of what little we had! In the short space of time the snow lay here, we climbed two of the little hills nearby so I could test my super-duper, reduced in sale, Regatta boots. I still can't get my head around how they can be waterproof when they look like loose-weave fabric, but my feet remained dry at all times, even during a very squelchy, muddy walk to the loch. This bodes well for the Ben Nevis walk, as I'm assured the big hill will throw everything it's got at us, both on the way up and en route back down again.
Fundraising is going slowly. I'm not deducting any expenses from the funds raised, the cost of the trip is being met by each individual as per any other holiday. I'm not sure where I'll find sponsors but I did make a few baby McGonks to sell in the charity auctions. The results were very disappointing, to say the least. Of those that did sell, I'd like to thank the buyers for helping me get off the starting blocks with my charity fundraising to help with our local Lifeboat Funds. I see a few more pounds have just dropped into the pot, so I'll go and count to see if we've made it to £40 yet.
If anyone would like to donate via Paypal, please feel free to do so by gifting payments to nykmedia@aol.com with reference 'PIRSAC', which represents the Port William Inshore Rescue Service, Scottish charity number SC027347. We also have a donations page set up on the website at www.scottishmultimedia.co.uk/McGonks/Donate.htm
Until next time,
NYK and the McGonks in Frugaldom


  1. Lots of Merrick practice and you should be ok! Don't know what the climb is like to the top of the Merrick? Could you take a longer route with a few more wee hills? 2,766 ft for the Merrick and Nevis is 4,409 ft. not quite double the size. Not sure of your route up Nevis either but if you take one of the kinder ones if there are any lol..... Just a thought... Been a long time since Scafell Pike and Snowdon for me and never bothered with Nevis

    Good Luck with it!

    1. The Merrick is a fairly easy walk, it was done on the spur of the moment, complete with handbag and carrying my brolly. No walking boots on that occasion either, but I was wearing trainers and carrying a backpack with a picnic and my usual emergency supplies. :)

  2. Very jealous of your stove, that has been on my wanted list for a while. £600 to get the chimney lined is good isn't it? I had been told it would be around £1000.

    1. Helen, the £600 was for everything, including buying the stove, having the chimney lined and having stove fitted. You can but complete kits for chimney lining and I could have saved a few pounds more by ordering less liner - we have about 2 meters of the stuff left over, which I'm hoping can find a nice new home at some point in the future.

  3. The stove looks cosy ! If you cant walk hills do some strength training (jump-rope, leg exercises, squats, very important) lots of tutes of Youtube. Cant hurt to lose any extra lbs also in preparation for the climb. Good price on your stove lining, worth paying the extra for a one-off thing like that.
    My friend does a bit of data entry on the side, not very interesting but makes extra money.
    Have a look on your phone bill and see if there is anything you can cancel. Talk to someone in person and nail them to the wall about the bill ( I have done this) - bet they cave and give you a bit of a break.

    1. Thanks, Lizzie. Nothing to be cut from phone bill, I don't have any of the extras at all and have paid 12 months line rental up front. Just waiting to see best deal on broadband now, anything saved on that is great.

      Our 9 mile circuit walk that we'll be doing this weekend does have a couple of steep bits in it and I'm hoping to drop a pound of weight per week over the next couple of months while toning up a bit. Lower back & knees are biggest problems so I'm trying to fit in extra cycling and will try squats again - thanks for the reminder. :)

  4. I love Wilbur!! I'm so pleased you have it in at last!

    I know what you mean about your boots, they all look like they'll let tons of water in, but they keep your feet toasty! How on earth do they do that??

    have a lovely warm week my dear, and keep up the good work on diet and training :) xx

    1. Wilbur is behaving perfectly, although he's a hungry wee pig as far as the logs are concerned! LOL

      Boots remain a mystery, they even kept my feet dry today and oh boy, what a day that was as far as rain, hail and a lashing from the waves when they crashed over the sea wall as we passed! Everything else was soaked, of course. :)

  5. is that wood burner the only heating you have in your house, or do you have other heating sources?

    Gill in Canada

  6. There's an open fire in livingroom that has a backboiler for hot water and will also run 3 radiators once the fireplave is rebuilt. At the moment, it's barely useable because of the cracks allowing smoke into the room, so it's covered up and I'm relying on little electric, oil-filled radiators, which cost a fortune to run.


Many thanks for taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated to help prevent system abuse by spammers, time-wasters and chancers, so your comment will not appear until it has been manually accepted for publishing. This will be done as soon as possible - I check for updates regularly. We are on GMT - London times.