Comings and goings at Awkward Hill

The sweep came back to Awkward Hill on Friday, to clean the other chimney ready for the arrival of a second wood-burning stove for the study. This was a thrilling moment for me - I love seeing the brush emerge from the chimney and rushed outside like a big kid to take a picture.

The new stove has made the prospect of sitting down at the computer more bearable, because for the first time since I moved in, the study seems warm and inviting. It has two outside walls, and three big windows, so it needs something a bit more radical than just one measly radiator. But like the rest of the house, now it has warmed up, it seems to retain the heat quite well.

Talking of heating, the new range also arrived. This was another moment of great drama - it is cast iron, so it took quite a lot of skill and muscle to get it off the truck and into the kitchen. The range provides hot water and central heating (oil-fired) and is also what we cook on. With this model, you can have the heating and hot water on without having the cooker on, and vice versa, so it's very flexible.

The chap in the foreground is Dave Keenan, who is a heating engineer. He came recommended by Cast Iron Range Cookers where I bought the stoves and the range, and he has been absolutely wonderful. He's patient, reliable and good-humoured and is an endless source of advice about anything to do with heating a house. When the temperature is below zero and snow is forecast, he's a useful guy to have on your contactst list!

Right, that's the stove in the kitchen. Now all we have to do is to put in a new flue, sort out the pipework and connect her up...

Here's my niece Roisin, who turned up this morning with her dad, Paddy, to do some work on one of the bedrooms. She was a huge help, and she looked incredibly professional as she got down to taking off the skirting on the landing.

My friend Ollie, putting up the Christmas lights. Ollie is a freelance theatre production manager who specialises in arena events. He's spent most of the year working on either the Diamond Jubilee Regatta or the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, so I now consider him suitably qualified to take charge of the decorations on my house. Under supervision, of course.

My son Rory and his girlfriend Alison, who came to stay for the weekend. I don't know which they enjoyed most: the bonfire, the fresh country air or the huge Sunday lunch we had in the local pub. One thing is for sure - I wasn't the only one behaving like a big kid over the past few days.


  1. I'm amazed at the meager heating systems you use in the UK compared to the roaring monsters we must use in the US to keep away the frigid cold.

  2. Now that you have your wood burning stoves working the cottage will feel warm and cosy, the cats will love curling up staring into the flames, as you will yourself.
    Sue M

  3. Do the kits approve of the new stove? Glad the weather behaved for the delivery.

  4. How very exciting. You are certainly getting it sorted out, and so nice to have friends and family to lend a hand.
    Village life is made special by contacts & tradesmen who are helpful, friendly and I find more reliable than in urban areas. And if you don't know who to call, your neighbours probably will!!

  5. Your new home looks absolutely beautiful, so impressed that you took the plunge, and so envious! Thinking of you from chilly Wandsworth.


  6. Warm inside and a bit of a chill outside makes for a happy home. It looks like you are making grand progress. Can't wait to see the stove unwrapped.

  7. It's interesting to hear how you do things and how you are changing things on Awkward Hill. It sounds like you are really enjoying it!

  8. It looks like you are doing some wonderful things to the cottage. It will be feeling very happy.

  9. It sounds like you and country life are getting along beautifully! xog


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