Thursday, 26 May 2016

Preparing for winter.


When we moved in, we set up a housekeeping account which we use for any house related income and outgoings.  One of the unknowns that I try to budget for is heating oil.  Each month we put away £125, ready to fill the tank when we need to.  It also pays for our coal.  The amount we have left in the tank, we’re hoping, will last us until the end of August and then the money we’ve saved will buy us 1000 litres of oil and also another car full of coal.  This is the start of our preparing for winter. 
We have log burners which we use as a heating source for the main house, but they aren’t linked to the central heating system so they only warm the room they’re in, plus a bit of escape heat into the corridors.  Our heating in the new house isn’t great, it merely takes the chill off and given that our house is 100’s of years old, it’s glacial inside during Winter, so taking the chill off simply brings it up to a zero temperature opposed to a positive temperature (or so it feels like).  Therefore I begrudge putting the heating on as I don’t think we’re benefitting enough from the amount of oil we’re using.  We do however have the Aga which is on constantly and heats the kitchen so it is lovely and toasty.  We’ve taken the decision not to turn it off for the summer.  We use the two plates on the top to dry a multitude of clothes, boil the kettle and keep it warm, toast our bread, cook our eggs, plus use the main ovens for all of our meals.  At present, with oil prices being so low when we last bought oil in January, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make, however if oil prices go back up to their sky high 50p+ a litre then we would switch it off over the summer.  Maybe.

Another expense of the Aga is to get it serviced twice a year.  Now I don’t know if this is overkill, but that’s what we were advised.  It’s an old solid fuel conversion which now runs on the oil and it’s circa 45 years old so I want to take good care of it.  The service is £80 a time *gulp*.

In other planning ahead news, we’re having a housewarming party now the main jobs are done and the weather is being kinder to us.  We’re combining this with my son’s 6th birthday which has resulted in catering for around 100 guests!  I am really looking forward to it but by the same token must plan, plan, plan.  I’ve been good and accepted all help where it’s been offered, from bringing food & drink, to coming to help set up the night before and also an offer of a gazeebo to be prepared for the weather, umbrellas, tables for food and so on.  We have some lovely, helpful friends which we would struggle without, so thumbs up for them!

Throwing a party means that this month’s grocery budget will be stretched out to cater for everything, however I think we can do it and I love a good challenge (plus it’s 'Bring your own boose' so that expense is gone straight away!).

Finally for today, dare I say this, once we’ve had the party, I shall be planning for Christmas.  Now don’t shoot me, I love Christmas.  However this year is obviously hugely important as it’s our first Christmas in the new home.  We’re inviting all of our family over who want to come and I’ll do a traditional Christmas lunch for everyone, play games, have family time, drink mulled wine and generally enjoy how blessed we are.  I would like December to be full of Christmas cheer and that does not include stressing over cards, gifts and food.  I would like to do a get together/open house for the neighbours and some close friends but I need to think about how I’d manage that to keep numbers down, where do you draw the line!? 

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are planning well. Don't ever bother about using the C word where I am concerned; it is one of my very fav times with the food, decorating, family time etc. (Enough there I think.) We, too, have a wood burner, in our living room. We have turned our Rayburn off until winter and are using the emersion to heat the water once in the morning and once at night. We have a gas cooker which we are using in place of the Rayburn but I hope this will be the last time. We are looking at changing our Rayburn into one that runs on solid fuel, namely wood, as we are lucky enough to have access to plenty of trees and timber. When it is your first time figuring out all this energy stuff it can be a it tricky so like to hear how other people are dealing with it.

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  2. Oh to have an Aga or a Rayburn and a log burner or two. On my wish list but I grew up with these - my grandparents had a smallholding and that's how they kept the bungalow warm. could you not have the Aga fitted up to a couple of radiators to at least partially extend the heat from the Aga or would it potentially cost too much. The Aga and the Rayburn are very much lifestyle choices but like Louise I think I would go for a solid fuel version. I think you are doing the right thing with budgeting now for the extra fuel. And how about a walk in the woods and get the kids to pick up any fir cones. they make a lovely addition to the fire and you get the wonderful cedar sent from the sap as they burn. with an odd candle or two you can even turn them into fire starters (old woody herb stems make good kindling too). Oh and save orange peel and dry it then add it to the fire too. I don't mind about the Christmas word either its a state of mind and in reality I spend all year doing little bits and bobs in preparation especially on the preserving front. Elderflowers are starting to flower here so it looks as though elderflower cordial, elderflower champagne and elderflower wine. Although it might be a tad late for your party this year if you were going to have one next now might be the right time to make such goodies with the elderflowers. Hope your party goes well and a houseful at Christmas that's what my Nan used to do there was always room for one more. You can never plan too much with putting stuff by in the Pantry or saving for fuel or making the most of what comes your way. I have found that preserving often fills a need present wise for those friends and relatives who do not preserve and generally they seem to be very much welcomed. Probably because they are made from fresh fruit and sugar and no "additions". I hope the party goes well xx

    Pattypan

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  3. Nothing wrong with planning for these events, when i had the craft shop Christmas would start 25th of June that was when we would start launching the new Christmas stock, it had to get in early as those who make for craft fairs or even making things for Christmas need the lead time no good getting in stock in October, the 25th of each month was called Reindeer day and we would have special events to mark the day.
    On the subject of Rayburn's/ Aga's ours is solid fuel we have access to lots of free wood, we keep it going all year, it also heats our water and we run radiators off it upstairs in winter, I now cook on it all the time too, we choce to go for solid fuel over oil to keep costs down.

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