Country Mouse on surviving the cold

We picked a good time to move just as the cold snap arrived. Despite the heating going full pelt, you couldn’t warm our last house. Even with the Aga, coats and blow heaters were needed just to make the kitchen bearable.

The new cottage we’re renting comes with double glazing and the latest insulation. We are snug. Outside, the earth has been frozen as hard as iron, robins sit with puffed-up feathers, and in the fields, a flock (or, more correctly, a deceit) of lapwings whirls about, reminding me of the winters of my childhood. When I take the terriers for a walk, the snow creates an eerie, wonderful silence. The landscape appears to have grown.

Luckily, I grew up in a time when loos were plumbed inside the house. Our new cottage has a brick privy in the garden. It’s a rather handsome relic, solidly built with a faded green door and corrugated roof now all clad in ivy. It’s a reminder of how hard it was living as a farm worker less than a century ago. Then, the cold must have cut through everyday life like a knife. It’s impossible to imagine the real horrors that an extended freeze would have brought to rural families.

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