Rumours of my disappearing are greatly exaggerated, I’m pleased to say. The reason for my absence comes down to sheer lack of hours in the day. First of all, the recent storms have punched home the message that winter is here.
We’ve a great pile of wood from the removal of some trees last year that need cutting up into stove sized lengths and the thicker logs need splitting. Then there’s the bits of pallet wood that aren’t any use for construction to chop up for kindling.
Some time back I had a bit of a rant about health and safety and wondered if all the gear was really worth having when using a chainsaw. Well some of my online friends were pretty adamant that it was worth having and gave some graphic examples of why.
Now happily so far my gear hasn’t been called on when using the chainsaw. Probably because I’m still very respectful of it. Chainsaws are serious bits of kit, very useful but also quite dangerous if not handled properly. It’s when you become used to them and stop being a bit scared that you get careless and slip up.
However, the chainsaw glove turned what could have been a very nasty accident into just a painful bruise. I was chopping the pallet wood into sticks with a hand axe and somehow mis-aimed. Much use of Anglo-Saxon! But very pleased I was wearing the Kevlar glove.
Apart from the wood, we’ve had the coal bunker filled which was £60.00. If we have a cold winter then we will need at least another fill or possibly two. Not a cheap fuel anymore. In fact I think it’s gone up by half in just three years.
The LPG tank has been filled, that’s a quick £500. If you think piped gas is expensive, try LPG or oil fired heating and you’ll know what real pain is. A lot of people living in the country find themselves stuck with expensive fuels and houses that are hard to insulate.
Fuel poverty is almost the norm now in many parts of Wales and Scotland, we’re certainly in it although we don’t feel poor. The definition of fuel poverty is spending more than 10% of income on energy.
Now the other problem we have in the country is electricity. Actually it’s not as unreliable as we feared but even so, when there’s no power our boiler dies so no hot water or heating. Huddling around the wood stove, heating a kettle full of water at a time and lighting by candle is very romantic for a day but it pretty soon gets tired. So we have a small two-stroke generator.
The cupboards are stocked and we could probably go for a good month without shopping (although dried milk is a bit grim). Whatever this winter brings, we’re pretty well prepared so it will probably be mild and gentle!