About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Wintry things

Winter arrived in Devil's Bridge this morning, almost as abruptly as autumn arrived, back in August. We've had a few hard frosts, but mostly it's been pretty mild, then this morning it snowed....

... and very pretty it is too, though not so nice for birds.

A pair of bullfinches came to feed on dock seeds.

When I say the weather's been mild, it's still quite cold enough to have the heating on and as usual, we're struggling to keep the house warm. The other day I did a maintenance job that I should have done ages ago. I replaced the fire rope seals around the doors on the wood burning stove.

Until I started measuring how much I needed, I hadn't even noticed that the ash flap at the bottom also has a channel to fit rope into. It's not a very big job, though slightly bigger due to the fact that it was previously fixed with cement (it shouldn't be), so I had to chip all that out first.

We couldn't believe how much difference it made! We'd always thought our second hand stove was just old and leaky but in fact, with new seals in place, it's possible to close down the air flow so much that wood stops burning. Without the flow of cool (room temperature) air into the fire box, it gets a lot hotter and radiates far more heat into the room. We're also using less wood, as it doesn't burn up so quickly. A day after I replaced the rope, Ian investigated the air inlet control, which has never had any noticeable effect before. With the ash cleared out of the vent, it works just fine, so now we have an efficient, controllable stove. It's like having a new one! It's a salutary illustration of the importance of maintenance.

Now, I'm going to go and sit by the fire, but I'll leave you with one more picture of snow, because the sun came out briefly about an hour ago.


  1. Good work on the stove! I always find myself wishing I had one this time of year because it would be so cozy to settle in next to a fire - but the truth is I'd probably burn the house down so it's probably best to just stick to the boring old heat pump/gas forced air combo that I have. Sigh.

    1. It's cozy now, but it wasn't before I replaced the seals! It is nice to sit by, but it's also a lot of work keeping an eye on how it's doing all the time. There are advantages to boring.

  2. The pictures are lovely! Kudos for your work on the stove.

    We haven't snow here, but the rain is keeping the heat down in the Caribbean. For now...


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