We are not in the coldest area of the UK, but it is quite cold enough here at the moment. A blanket of snow covers the roofs except where our insulation is not up to standard, and the lake is frozen over. Otherwise, it is business as usual.

My grandfather installed most of the central heating in 1932, but it was only put on for special occasions when I was a child. Instead, we had wood fires, wood burning stoves, imported from Denmark, and an AGA in the kitchen. There were old ceramic hot water bottles and a strange caged light bulb to warm the beds, each hazardous in its own right if not removed in time by unsuspecting visitors. We dressed in warmer clothes then, shut doors and excluded draughts with black tape etc wherever possible. In due course, my parents installed a straw-burning boiler, which had a voracious appetite for bales, but did a good job and saved large oil bills..

In the big freeze of 1963, my father drove a Land Rover, rather tentatively, on the frozen lake. As the snow thawed, we all went onto the roofs to shovel the snow out of the valley gutters so the melted snow could run uninterrupted to the drains. The wrong sort of snow, familiar to recent users of Eurostar services, also blew through the gaps in the slates to lie on the ceilings below. It had to be shovelled out before it melted and came down into the rooms below.

Now, we have extended the central heating and installed new and more efficient boilers. Most of the roofs are insulated and the wood fires still help, although their effect is more cosmetic.
But when the thaw comes, we will still have to shovel the snow from the valley gutters, but in the meantime our guests feel snug and warm.            JH-B    8th January 2010