How to keep warm, in rented accommodation . . . .

It is cold, freezing cold and as I look out of the window, it is now snow that is falling. The sycamore seeds are gently being propelled into our courtyard and are falling down, like fairies. There are lots of them, the wind has blown them in and it is really rather lovely. That windchill takes or rather drops today’s temperature to -4C.

As this is our first winter in Prague, the first winter in this apartment, we are going to be testing the heating. Now I quite like a cold bedroom, I enjoy snuggling under the covers and feeling ready to hibernate. A warm bedroom, gives me the sweats and at my age can easily be mistaken for the onset of menopausal hot flushes. No need to bring them on early. Unlike anywhere else we have lived, we have electric heating. In Zurich the heating was controlled by the ‘office’. They had computers that worked the heating system, miles away from the property. It was all done remotely with them controlling valves that supplied the underfloor heating system. If the thermostat was playing up the whole thing place became really cold. It was a ridiculous system that we only discovered when winter arrived. No matter what temperature you liked, the bill for the building was split equally amongst the occupants. This went for hot water too. Even if I was opening windows to get the cool bedroom I liked, the underfloor heating in the rest of the place was cranked up to a toasty 25C come day or night, whether we there or not. In Stuttgart, the apartment was only three years old, we had geothermal heating. A solar powered pump worked to get the warm water up to the building. It meant constant hot water for heating and bathing but it will take about 40 years for the hole in the ground that they needed to drill down into, to pay for itself. Now in Prague we have good old fashioned electric heaters. No central heating, just thermostats on the heaters, you can leave them on or off. It is all very simple. In an ideal world it would be good to do the British thing. Have a thermostat but also valve controlled radiators, have the place nice and warm when you get out of bed, no heating or very little when everyone is at work and then nice and toasty again for the evening. Of course leaving the bedroom radiator on a bit and having the window open, to allow a little fresh air in. This drives my darling husband berserk.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 16.51.28When we were living in the Middle East, it was all about the air con! People would rather their brakes failed on their cars, than the air con stop working. Going to sleep to the gentle hum of the air conditioning units at any time of the year really was not too bad at all. A gentle cool breeze wafting throughout the bedroom. The sound of the little geckos as their little suckered feet went padding over the ceiling: tsk! Tsk! Tsk! There were perhaps a hand full of nights when we did not leave it on. If the weather was cool enough to have the windows open during the winter, it was also cool enough for the mosquitoes to come and play. The windows remained shut whatever the time of year.

In Lambourn our ‘home village’ there is a lovely elderly gentleman who is sleeping in the bedroom he was born in. This man must be over eighty years old, he has had the pleasure of one room most of his life. All this moving around and adjusting to different places every few years is something he finds totally bonkers. He told me he went on a crossing from Portsmouth to Gosport on the ferry, a journey of about 10 minutes, he felt so seasick he abandoned any plans to travel ever again. He said he was simply not cut out for it. I guess it is a case of ‘horses for courses’ ! And by the way – Lambourn has over a thousand race horses in training and this weekend a local horse ‘Many Clouds’ won the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury!! His stable is probably nice and warm with heat lamps to keep him comfortable.

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