Winter is here...

It snowed here on Tuesday night. Apparently this is the first October snowfall here in London for over 70 years. Lucky us to get snow in October after two cold, wet “summers” in a row, and a winter that lasted (complete with flurries) through April. Lucky, lucky us.

Anyway, this has given us a long time to contemplate our heating systems and what we’d like to improve for the future. What we’ve learned is:


  1. The electric blanket is the best money we’ve ever spent. Yes, this single item has increased our quality of life more than anything else, and it means that we don’t need to turn the heating on until way, way after all our friends have. For £20 you, too, can have blissful nights of sleep. Just don’t think about emerging in the cold morning, okay? NB: As pointed out to us by our friends who experienced a house fire caused by an electric blanket, these things are very dangerous, and you should treat them with extreme caution as we do – Just like we’d never leave the gas on or an open flame unattended, we also never, ever have the electric blanket on if we’re not right in the room with it!

  2. The diesel stove in the captain’s cabin absolutely drinks diesel and is therefore, really expensive to run. When we were running it on low last winter (and “low” is hot enough to almost be too hot back there!) we were going through 200 liters of diesel every 4-6 weeks. By point of comparison, the last 200 liters has lasted us 7 months with just the diesel boiler running. So as much as we love the aesthetics of it back there, it’s fiddly to light, has problems with excessive rain and high winds, and is expensive to boot. So we’re looking for another heating option that won’t disturb the woodwork in the back (so no big ugly radiators!) and, since we’re looking to rent it soon, something that is easy to operate. Right now the lead contender is these 12v plinth heaters. They’re low profile, fit into existing cupboards, plumb into our existing boiler like a radiator would, and because these are designed for high moisture areas, the fans are 12v (with a supplied 240v transformer that we just won’t use). The plan now is to put one in the kitchenette area and another in the bedroom, near floor level. Anyone care to poke holes in our plan before we spend £500?

  3. The deck outside gets incredibly slippery when frozen, even when it looks matte. Bosco has already slid sideways down the back deck, we came home Tuesday night to find our BBQ table an inch away from being in the river, and I myself slipped and took a high-paced rocket slide down the low tide tilted front deck just last night. What we really need is a week of warmish weather to paint the deck with the grippy stuff, but with the current below-freezing temps, it’d never dry.

  4. Oh yeah – and I need to sew a lot more jumpers and mittens! Gloves and mittens have a tendency to get wet immediately after touching cold railings and need to be swapped out in rotation as they dry…
  5. Oh, and I just realised we never posted about painting our front deck railings – we’re making them all black because the many different shades of blue was just gross…

    Black painted railing

    This one’s only got the first coat on, but you get the idea.

    - posted by Melissa Fehr on 30 October 2008, 13:27 in