Friday, 6 May 2011

The Oil Man Cometh.

All our appliances (Aga and Central Heating) run on oil and we were in danger of running out. I ordered it before the Bank Holiday weekend but it didn't come until yesterday. As we were intent on keeping the Aga going for cooking and heating the kitchen, we switched the central heating off. Unfortunately this coincided with the sun going behind a few clouds, so that although we face due South and have large windows, the house got colder and colder. Stove was lit to warm us and I added more cardigans. Last night we were able to bask in the warmth again.

How dependent we have become on things like central heating. As a child all we had was a fire in the living room and hot water bottles for the beds. I don't ever remember being aware of the cold. I do remember that we wore a lot more clothes than we do today!

This morning in the Yorkshire Post there is an article about Hannah Hauxwell (Too Long a Winter - made for TV in the seventies by Barry Cockcroft). For anyone who has not heard of her, she lived high in the fells on a farm - alone - with no source of heating other than a log fire. There she tended her few animals and had an income of about £170 a year! But was content, even though her bath was a bucket in front of the fire.

As a result of the film she was taken to America, to Venice, to Buckingham Palace to a Garden Party (where she said the cakes were dainty but not much use if you had been hard at work all day!) and became a world celebrity. But it made little difference either to her personality or her life style.

She is now 85 and lives in the village of Cotherstone in Teesdale. She can walk into the village with two sticks and says she has good friends, and that is all that
matters. She doesn't watch television - preferring radio. She doesn't bother with the central heating (there is nothing wrong with a good log fire), she doesn't buy new clothes (she has a needle and cotton to repair the ones she has) and although the mattress on her bed is thoroughly worn out - it is nothing that a needle and cotton can't fix.

Reading the article over my breakfast this morning - I wonder if the farmer and I have become softies!

25 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

Hannah Hauxwell's lifestyle sounds a bit like mine - why haven't I been invited to Buckingham Palace?

Heather said...

I think we have all become softies Pat and have become far too reliant on pressing buttons to get what we want. Hannah Hauxwell is a remarkable woman and I thoroughly enjoyed the TV programmes about her. I am so pleased that she is still reasonably fit and content. If we all followed her example the country might not be in quite such a mess.

steven said...

weaver when i walked the pennine way south to north half a lifetime ago i crossed hannah's property. it was located on a beautiful site although the casual observer might think it "rundown". i bought hannah's book and worried (unnecessarily) that she would be turned into a commodity. along with her independence there's a strong will and an admirable perspective. steven

MorningAJ said...

I'm not jealous of her at all. I know I couldn't stand it. Although I do remember as a kid having frost feathers on windows (which you don't get with central heating!) and only having a coal fire in the front room and a small boiler in the kitchen.
We are all grown into softies!

Reader Wil said...

She must have been an extraordinary woman! My daughter in Australia will like this. I admire her, but I like a bit of luxury, even if I don't buy new furniture but keep the furniture I have had for almost 40 years now ( at least half of it).On the other hand :what do we do without electricity?

Rachel said...

I went back to wood fires last year when the oil boiler finally gave up the ghost and could not be replaced like for like. All things like combis and condenser boilers now. I installed a second woodburner which would also heat some radiators and water. It is of course not so instant as oil central heating and the radiators don't get very hot. However, we got through the winter without turning on an electric fire and got used to wearing extra layers of clothes - sometimes I was in six layers and always two pairs of socks. I reckon if we got through last winter we can get through anything. However, wow did we appreciate it when April arrived and the sun. I am still lighting one fire in the evening and we are getting frosts at the moment.

angryparsnip said...

Somehow reading what you and the farmer do everyday, I think getting soft is not a term I would use.

If we were meant to freeze fire would never have been found, invented or harnessed...

cheers, parsnip

Cloudia said...

Thoughtful & helpful!




Jolly Aloha from Waikiki


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Gerry Snape said...

Hello Pat1
"The oil man cometh", would make a good title for a horror film don't you think? I can almost hear the
spooky music starting up even now!
as for comfort we have a good wood fire on the go even as I write.

Maria said...

She must have been an extraordinary woman! I need a little luxury too although the real luxury today is time....Happy weekend!

http://design-elements-blog.com/

H said...

In so many ways, technology has changed our lives for the good, but you are right - it has made us softies! I too remember a childhood without central heating; frost patterns on the inside of the bedroom window, getting dressed in front of the gas fire after a bath, hot water bottles to warm the bed. We were much hardier in those days!

mrsnesbitt said...

How I identified with this Pat! I wonder how many people defer a new oil delivery because of the price? Our oil prices have gone through the roof - still we are working on it! Yes I think we are all softies. Was warm here yesterday - a lovely temperature really.

Dave King said...

I often think back to the days before central heating. A fire in one room; cold if you moved outside it; staying in bed "to keep in the one temperature" if you were ill. Seems silly when you think that the Romans had central heating.

Pomona said...

I remember reading about Hannah Haxwell - I am glad to hear that she is still around. We have an oil Aga, but don't switch on the heating except to stop it freezing. We heat with woodburners, and I am a copious user of hotties - I agree we are all a bit soft now.

Pomona x

patteran said...

I remember that documentary and the celebrity that followed it so well. Wonderful to know that she's still on the go and that all the blandishments had absolutely no effect on her choice of lifestyle.

I don't know about there being any intrinsic nobility in eschewing those contemporary home comforts that most of us take for granted. But rejection of the lionisation of Celebrity - one of the more sickening aspects of our times - is to be admired greatly.

Marianne said...

I'm so pleased to hear that Hannah is still alive.
but no, I don't miss sleeping in my cardigan and dressing gown over pyjamas, bath once a week, chilblains and it was always damp and gloomy. enough heat is a good thing but I think we could all do with the exercise of getting the wood in!

Pondside said...

I've never heard of Hannah, but I'm now a fan. I've become a real softie, but a winter power-outage always brings me back to reality.

Gwilym Williams said...

For one dreadful moment I had a vision of men drilling for oil in your fields. Lovely bluebells.

Heather said...

Thinking of you Pat and hoping that your absence doesn't mean that the sore throat got the better of you. I think I have had the virus-with-the dreadful-cough. Feeling much better but still coughing well. Take care.

Leilani Lee said...

We entered the realm of "softy-hood" the moment our wood-burning stove was carted outside and replaced with a propane heater that all one needed to do was "turn the knob." I asked husband if was ever nostalgic for the smell of wood smoke and the comfort of that big old black stove, and there was no equivocating about it. NO!! We too have been on pins-and-needles a few times wondering if the man with the giant bottle was going to show up with propane before we ran out.

Elizabeth said...

I really admire people like Hannah Hauxwell.
We really do need to get back a little closer to nature. Though I do remember England as being very cold in the 1950's. My parents very kindly allowed me to put on the gas fire for 20 mins before I went up to bed ...so I didn't freeze while undressing.

I don't think of you as a softie at all --though I must say modern appliances make life much easier --giving us more time to blog.
The appliance I love above all others is the dishwasher.
The best invention ever.
In Maroc we did not have a dishwasher (except Robert)
or a washing machine......at first!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Missing your posts!
Are you on holiday??

Gwilym Williams said...

Pat, I read that May in England is set to be the hottest for 350 years, and water will be a concern...
By the way, also missing your posts, hope you are OK.

acornmoon said...

That lady made a big impression on me when I first saw it. She said how much she would miss the moonlight on the water.

Dartford Warbler said...

It is good to know that Hannah Hauxwell is still alive and doing well. A true countrywoman.

In the depths of winter, when I`m outside feeding animals in the snow, I often think of her. At least I have a warm house to go back to! Maybe we are all turning soft.......