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Hunkering down ready for winter

It’s a few weeks away from the changing of the clocks and we are hunkering down ready for winter.  Days are noticeably shorter, of course.  The first storms are gearing up for some excitement to come and the first frosts have appeared in the morning.  In a rural and relatively isolated house hunkering down involves a lot more work than we had in Saltburn.  We will be taping up the window frames soon – a quick and very effective draught excluder.  The shuttered vents are all closed again – so welcome in August but not in October!  And I’m buying a cartload of proper draught excluder for the doors later this week.

Well, how hard can it be?

One problem we encountered was the failure of the clock on the boiler.  The hot water was fine and we could switch the heating on manually but the timer wasn’t working.  Oh, those cold mornings running to the utility room to switch it on – I thought they were in the past.  Well, we were hoping our boiler man would do a service and check it for us ready for winter.  Unfortunately a mix of Covid and overwork meant we were waiting – and waiting.  Finally I decided I’d have a go myself. 

Our nearest little town has two hardware shops, both excellent for different things.  I was most impressed when Dennis in Hassetts had the exact clock in stock.  He also had a fine, new mains tester screwdriver.  One thing I always remember from my college days was the importance of checking twice for live wires.  Good thing I did as although the local switches were all off it was still live!  Despite there being one wire cut very short (isn’t there always one?) I had it fitted and running in less than an hour.  Now I’m having another go at the plumbing and swapping an outside tap too.  It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.

Marvellous Mallows!
Anyone for camping?

Despite the approaching winter we’ve had some lovely sunny days and the last of the wild flowers have put on a grand show.  Freed from the mini-field of wheat from dropped bird seed a bed of Mallows has flowered.  They make a marvellous show, mixed with a few late poppies.  We hope for more next year and will sow another section now we are getting a grip on the garden.  The replacement mower is doing a splendid job and last week one of our (five) promised workmen arrived.  Bill the fence man built us a lean-to by the back wall and as soon as we clear the entrance we can house it, safe and dry.  It’s better than some tents we stayed in during our European ramblings and I am toying with the idea of offering it as “wild camping”.  Any takers?

An eagle-eyed Mabel

Mabel the cat has made a reappearance, materializing on our wall this week.  She sat above the bird window for a while but the birds were far too canny for her.  Then she suddenly ran back towards the gate end, jumped down onto the grass and crouched there.  Three flicks of her tail and she pounced, diving into the Mallows and coming out with something in her mouth.  She crunched away happily for a couple of minutes and then trotted off over the fence and into the wood.  On examination I found the remains of a small stomach and possibly a tiny gall bladder – a mouse I think.  I decided not to add a photo of that….

“Jenga” for adults
It’s the size of a lorry trailer

We are looking at the approaching winter and, like everyone else, pondering on heating the house.  Although it is considerably smaller that our house in Saltburn it is detached so has more exposed walls.  The windows aren’t as good as we had in Saltburn either, hence the tape.  One advantage we have is the log burner in the snug, which lives up to its name in winter.  And we have the magnificent log pile courtesy of Fergus and his crew.  This is like the world’s biggest (and possibly most dangerous) game of “Jenga” as the logs are packed in and piled high, though generally laid out in rows.  Removing one can allow several others to be taken easily or can cause a slide of heavy wood.  We are proceeding with great caution but now have full bins inside, ready for winter.

Autumn Sunrise

One positive bit of the shorter days is the later arrival of sunrise, captured by Jacqui through the bedroom window.  Facing east, the sky turns some wonderful colours in perfect counterpoint to the kitchen widows in the evening.  We love the skies and the open air surrounding us.  They are different every day and on clear nights the stars are breathtaking.  We may be hunkering down ready for winter but every day we know just how lucky we are.

Thank you for reading and I hope you are all well and happy too.