The simple pleasure of getting a home fire burning
It was when Robin opened the fridge and said "aah, that's a grand blast of heat" that I finally accepted we had to do something about the ambient temperature in the kitchen.
The room was built as an extension when we were getting married 13 years ago, ("seems like longer," he pipes up from the other side of the table) and it has always been cold.
It has three windows, one to the east, one to the west and a large one facing north. Plenty of sunshine comes in through the westerly window in the summer but the easterly one only gets a few rays early in the morning as it is blocked off by the rest of the house. As for the north one, well, it has a great view.
There is a radiator in the room, also a small electric fan-heater, which make a difference when they are on but, once switched off, the arctic atmosphere quickly returns. On a winter morning, it would often be no more than 12C. When I am working on this column I would usually wear a jacket and hat. When offering someone butter, you could be talking about sugar, "would you like one lump or two?"
But those days are no more. Last week, we installed a wood stove.
This is something we had often talked about, especially since we, like many people, had replaced the open fire in the sitting room with a stove. It is a Stanley Oscar and it has made a massive difference, in that it generates far more heat, from far less fuel. Apparently, they are about three times more efficient.
But we had always felt that this was not an option in the kitchen. We knew the absence of a chimney could be overcome with a flue. But we thought there just wasn't enough space in a room that is 18X12 ft. and has a bookcase, an island, a table along with all the other usual kitchen stuff.
I was bemoaning the lack of space to a friend over the Christmas and she pointed out that an awful lot has been happening in the world of stoves and they are now going into very small living spaces. It was a mini-eureka moment for me. Sure, you even get stoves on barges, I realised.