My, but I've been busy! As well as testing the repaired oven (cheese scones, plum and almond cake, a bit damp but delicious), ordering window blinds, registering with GP, vet and dentist, caving in to the damper atmosphere here and buying a tumble drier, I've been shopping for something I've wanted for years, a wood burning stove. I know that in some quarters they are considered a passing trend, a fashion fancy, but I seem to be in authentic wood burning country here, and my cavernous fireplace cries out for one.
First hurdle: what size? In kilowatts, that is, not centimetres. Not straightforward, that one.
One local stockist/supplier/fitter/aftercarer/stove nursemaid comes highly recommended by absolutely everyone, so I am now on first-name terms with him and his crew as we measure and look through brochures, go online, chew our pencils, and argue gently amongst ourselves about how powerful a stove is required for my sitting room.
Kev (who feels the cold) thinks 8 kw. Dave thinks 6. I fret about both, because I know that ten minutes of having the central heating radiator on warms this room for hours, and that the last thing I want is a sitting room as hot as the hobs of Hell, as they'd say up North, with me standing out in the garden in the middle of February, red-faced and sticky, trying to cool off while my stove blasts out
So the boss - who thought that 4 or 5 kilowatts might suffice, came out to have a look for himself this afternoon, and a 5kw it will be. Toasty-warm, not charcoaled.
He brought my specs, forgotten on the showroom desk, with him. I am growing ever dottier....
The other hurdle was the style. There are stoves to suit every taste and fancy, antique, traditional and ultra-modern, shiny, matt, penny plain or tuppence coloured. My own preference is always to the ultra-plain, and this one has very understated matt steel handles and no twiddly bits.
So this is what I've gone for, except it will have legs, not a skirt:
The dogs and the cats will love it, regardless. The more kilowatts the better, they say; they think the hobs of Hell sound just about right.
I can see it now. Winter evenings, glowing fire, slippered feet up, cup of tea and slice of cake to hand, good book, comatose animals melting into the hearthrug..... aaaaahhhhhh.....