With this energy price crisis, I thought about when I was growing up. What sparked this was when a woman on the radio complained about her children being cold in their bedrooms when they were getting up in the morning.
Here are some of my recollections.
Nowadays, we all take central heating for granted. And a wonderful thing it is in many ways. Our homes are, or can be, heated to a temperature we are comfortable with in every room. It was not always like this.
Once, when walking past a house that had recently been built, I was told, “That house has central heating.” On enquiring how one could tell, I was told. “It has no chimneys.”
Chimneys were an essential part of homes at that time (1950s) because the only means of heating was coal. Every room had a fireplace, including bedrooms, although fires were only lit there if someone was ill enough to have to stay in bed. A fire in the living room was commonplace. It heated that room, but others were cold.
Fires need oxygen to burn, and so they drew in air from any gaps, such as under the door, creating a draught; hence the long sausages people put at the bottom of the doors. One thing I do remember is when we had a Baxi fire put in. This was a special grate that pulled air from outside along a tube that opened under the fire. A great invention. The draught could be adjusted so the fire would burn either high or low.
Another disadvantage of having fires was that they need solid fuel. Coal was kept in either a coal bunker or a coal house. These were, of course, outside, and so occasionally someone had to go out to get the coal in. Coal scuttles were filled, of course, but the coal never lasted all evening. And the next day, someone had to go out in the cold to refill it.
Going from one room to another was always a cold experience, and bedrooms were cold. When going to bed at night, it was a rush to get into pyjamas as quickly as possible and under the blankets. Similarly, getting up in the mornings. Talking to friends from that era, they remember, as do I, getting dressed in bed.
I remember, on cold winter mornings, when there had been a frost, there were wonderful pictures on the window. Ferns, flowers, trees, all drawn by Jack Frost in the night. Sometimes the frost was on the INSIDE of the windows! Now we don’t see these pictures. Such a pity as they were beautiful, if transient.
Although I love my centrally heated home, I wonder if we really need to heat all our rooms in this time of economic crisis and with a soaring cost of energy. In ones we hardly ever use, perhaps we could turn off the radiators. It would save us fuel, and money, and also help the environment.
I also wonder if living in a constant warm temperature is actually good for us. We are warm, then go out into the cold. A recipe for catching colds, I think.
I didn’t intend for this to be as long as it is. I apologise. If you’ve got this far, Well Done.
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Maria and Tom have bought an antique table for the old cottage they have bought. When they hear strange noises in the night that sound like crying, they worry their house is haunted, but the sounds seem to come from the table.
They set about trying to find what is causing the disturbances. The answer is stranger than either of them had thought.
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