500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

I’m just going outside and may be some time.


At it’s deepest, the winter has given us the experience of twenty five degrees below zero.   I have fond memories of the days when I thought ten degrees c was cold… I noticed myself thinking when I saw this temperature on the thermometer on my bedroom wall –  “oh good, it’s not too cold then.”  Luckily, manual labour is very warming.

The week in which we experienced minus twenty five was rather catastrophic. Over the weekend we lost drainage, and then a chimney fire on Monday night meant that we had no heating at the house until we had a certificate to say that the chimneys had been swept.  A couple of weeks before the chimney fire we had texted a chimney sweep, but had not chased it up when there was no immediate reply. Next time we will know that when the fires start to burn less strongly, it’s time to get the sweep to visit.  I’d thought it was just because of damp wood. Anyway, the net result is that the core temperature of the house has fallen dramatically. We are down to zero.

We have made some stupid decisions. For example, insulation was removed from the temporary drainage pipe at the back of the house – this has now frozen solid – so no use of the washing machine or shower for the time being. We had planned to put in the new (accessible) bathroom and link this to the old underground sewage system to give us drainage during the hard winter months, however the project did not advance that far in time.

We also did not get out onto the roof and clear the snow away early enough. When it was decided that the snow looked serious enough that we should clear it off, it was impossible to open the roof hatch to get onto the roof – possibly because of the weight of the snow, and possibly because it was frozen shut. Now we have mounting snow and no way of getting up onto the roof to clear it. If only we’d gone up there every day to check, and figured out how to clear the snow before it was too late. The roof is newly repaired, so it should be okay, but I’m worried.

A wood pile left uncovered was buried deep in snow – creating hours of digging and damp wood which is difficult to burn. The chain saw failed on Sunday – meaning that we have enough wood cut only for a two or three days… we will be lucky if it lasts till Thursday morning – even when we’re heating the house only in the evening.  Also, the fridge freezer is working intermittently because the room we use as a kitchen is too cold for the mechanism to work. About the only place in the house where food could possibly spoil is our fridge.

I wish I’d had a secondary set of doors installed in the hallway, and there are still some rooms with only single glazing.

We cannot now retreat from the house because of the animal entourage.  To have the three cats and a puppy in the one room we can use in Tábor is just not feasible.  Taking on a puppy in the winter has not been a good decision – there has been snow on the ground every day (apart from Christmas Day) since she arrived on the 18th December.  We cannot leave her in the garden as it is too cold. She is spending all her time in human company and this is not good for her.

This winter has been way harder than I thought it could be. The positives I can take from the experience… lessons learned about clearing snow and insulation… we’ve realised that a central heating system is essential – yes, local heating and insulation is also important – but something to protect the core temperature of the house is necessary in order to have some degree of freedom over the winter. You can heat a room to a nice twenty degrees with a roaring fire, but if the next room is at zero, that heat doesn’t stay there till the next day.  I was looking forward to winter sports, for which we have had no time since Christmas. Right now, I’m emotionally exhausted, and tired of all this snow.

One Comment to

“I’m just going outside and may be some time.”

  1. On February 11th, 2011 at 7:37 pm Elizabeth Says:

    Very instructive.

    Have you read Sacred Sierra by Jason Webster? A British writer cultivating land near Valencia.

    If I ever go on this journey, I’ll bring it.

    Elizabeth (potential March helper)

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