We are now our 3rd day into go slow mode and cabin fever is as omnipresent as the oxygen we’re breathing. However there seems to be a misalignment between our physical and mental functionality. We lie, intermingled with the dogs and cat on the sofa and eye each other expectantly. Occasionally one of us will threaten to take action in a half hearted manner. This is usually circumvented by the suggestion of yet another hot drink. Our kidneys are benefitting no end as we easily exceed 2 litres fluid consumption a day. We have watched most of series 4 of the TV program My Name Is Earl. Usually I can’t sit through any TV programs let alone watch them and laugh. I have developed an unhealthy viewing relationship with HGTV; Canada’s Home and Garden TV. I have visited Canada to present research and my experience of the Canadians I met in person matches the friendly, welcoming attitude displayed both by presenters and participants in the myriad do’er upper, to flip or flop, love or leave type shows on TV. Great style ideas and building tips abound. In the UK we paid obscene amounts of money for TV/Film/Sport subscriptions. We now access all that content with a Kodi Android box (£25 upwards), a Smart TV (most are nowadays)/laptop/tablet/phone/gaming device and, in our case, a super fast fibre optic connection (just saying). There are no further payments required. Some of my more savvy students had mentioned this in previous years but blindfolded by the message that free is illegal I stuck like a sheep in the flock and we continued to pay and pay.
The reality of the cold outside and the unheated, unrenovated part of the house has seriously taken the oomph out of our motivation. The door through to the old house has become like a warped nemesis to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe storyline except when we remove the EPS insulation panels we enter a winter horror land. Flagstone or mud floors, raging gales through the roof, a decade of cold and mustiness and indiscriminate fallings of wattle and daub type materials. There are also all the cold metal tools and machines, piles of materials and timber that need to be navigated and the fact that what will be the library, main kitchen, 2nd hallway and storage rooms are currently workrooms, workshops and a woodstore.
Going outside unprepared carries a deadly health warning. We arranged to drive to Pavlikeni yesterday to pick up snow chains for the jeep. The Landy looked like she wasn’t going to start and I was about to call off the rendezvous when she roared into action. Terry bought a booster pack but even so it took 10 minutes to start. On this day I was wearing fashion boots with 2 layers of leggings, good top covering, a fur trimmed jacket, hats and gloves. I was sat inside the Landy whilst Terry was outside working his magic under the boot. By the time we set off my toes were burning so badly I had to take off my boots. My toes were literally frozen at the ends. I could feel the cold creeping from the legs up and for a moment I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return home. It was a very serious lesson in what is suitable winter clothing. The only items of apparel I was wearing that had any true benefit were the hat, the gloves and a thermal undershirt. The boots were flat but had a slim sole which rendered them useless as a cold retardant. The leggings were in effect 2 pairs of tights and felt like it too. The jacket looked the part but was a silk purse when actually a sows ear would have been more effective thermal barrier. Fortunately the heater kicked in pretty soon so I wrapped my feet in my hat and stuffed them in the air con vent in the footwell. On a serious note we do keep a sleeping bag, 2nd pair of footwear and first aid in the car at all times. I wanted to add snow chains to the emergency kit at all costs. We have both gained a real respect for the power of the elements.