Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Back to the future

This is the view from the top of Llanllwni mynydd looking towards the Presceli hills, where the Stonehenge bluestones came from. Click to enlarge, as ever.

Yesterday's weather was abysmal. More like October than May - terrific gales and a few hours' rain after lunch. We had a power cut too. When we phoned to report the outage, we were told that all the local villages were out and it might be 6 hours before we got the power back.

I had been making a big pan of soup and stewing up some lamb bones for stock, so I left them on the heat. Sadly, my soup needed another half an hour's cooking so the idea of soup for lunch was abandoned. I had been busy spinning when the lights went out, leaving our kitchen pretty dark, so we lit the candles which are in applewood candlesticks turned by my husband a few years back. This room is gloomy on all but the sunniest of summer days, as the main window faces East and is a Victorian bay add-on, and the only other window is at the back of the room, facing South. I needed to comb more of my Jacob fleece anyway, so I went and sat in the bay window and combed up a big pile to spin. Then as I didn't really need much light to spin by, I stayed in the gloom and spun and spun for about 2 hours when power came back on. I was just starting to really enjoy NOT having the power. No distractions of tv or radio (though if I am honest, I did look for batteries so I could listen to Radio 4).

The soup had carried on cooking with the residual heat (I use Le Creuset pans) and just needed heating up for a late meal. I had spun half a bobbin of wool. The grubby combed-out bits of left-over fleece went onto the compost heap. I have toyed with the idea of washing the coarser bits of this fleece however, and using it as a backing for a warm bed quilt (I have the material upstairs, just waiting for me to shift up a gear!) I have an old Welsh quilt which used up fleece in this manner and it is SO warm . . .

I could return to my vacuuming (deep joy . . .) I did the worst bit first - the stairs. The Dyson was very sniffy about the cat hairs and since I was having to use the skinny little pipe which is meant for getting in corners (as the proper stairs head attachment is unwieldy and crap) it was heavy going. Lightbulb moment. I went and fetched the stiff bristled brush my mum used to use on her stair carpets. Gosh, but I never knew there was so much detritis trapped in the carpet pile. The Dyson sucked that up OK. And a dead bat. Then rounding the home bend, on the darkest part of the stairway, a sudden chortling raspberry noise as the nozzle got another dead bat stuck across the end of it. I was about to turn the Dyson off when push came to shove and the bat disappeared up the tube . . . Note to self, OH really MUST sort out that bit up under the eaves in the top bathroom where they are coming in . . . Think Pipistrelle rather than Fruit Bat size (thank heavens!)

This morning I found that the hallway, vacuumed only yesterday afternoon, had a pile more dead leaves in it which had blown in under the door when someone had forgotten to put the draught excluder back across (think Georgian door and nothing level in the house = large draughty gap). The Dyson was still lounging upstairs. I went and fetched the dustpan and brush and saved on electricity and I probably burned up at least 2 calories doing it!

With oil prices going up daily, most of us are in for a sharp shock this winter. We have already planned when the heating is going on - and staying off. The Hergom stove in the kitchen will go on in the morning to provide heat (we live in the kitchen most of the day) for us and to dry clothing - we have two Betty Maids which we hang our damp washing on - thus saving on having the immersion heater on. In the afternoon the central heating will go on for a couple of hours to warm the rest of this (enormous) house. The wood burner will be on during the day on the coldest days of winter - we have found that the daily newspapers (which we formerly recycled) burn quite efficiently when tightly screwed up, and the residual heat from this keeps the worst of the damp/chill off the room (we shouldn't be having to do this in MAY, however!) When we do have the woodburner fuelled with wood during the day, I shall use it for heating water for washing up, tea-making and cook soups and casseroles on the top, to save using electricity.

We have a couple of tree trunks, which have been felled a few years now, to cut up for the winter stores, and we are fortunate to have trees around our fields, and about half an acre of woodland which has a couple of dead trees (still standing) which will see us through this winter. Whilst we plan to downsize in the next year or so, the next property will still need to have land for growing fruit and vegetables and woodland for renewable fuel. Plus a very big polytunnel so we can be as self-reliant as possible.

So - a two-hour power cut has made me look into the future and change some habits of a lifetime . . .


LBP said...

I am sorry! I am laughing my butt off about your bat problem! Dead Bats everywhere! I guess they are much smaller than the bats around where I live. Our bats like to inhabit our barn and are always flying at us at night.

The price of fuel is horrendous! We are riding to work together now to save money on gas. We also have not had the AC on this year yet. Open the windows and turn on a fan! We also have a wood burning stove in our dining room. I expect we will be using it more this winter.

Mam and Lizi said...

Jennie, I read this post yesterday and was looking over it again. I thought I left a comment. Maybe not. Anyway, I'm enjoying these items as always!

Bovey Belle said...

That's odd Nancy - you DID leave a comment and I put it up and I was trying to reply to it, but lost the signal, so I don't know what happened there! I hope to update this evening, broadband willing . . .