Well although we were tied up with the birth of our first kids on Friday, Irene has managed to find the time to re-decorate the dining room (with a little help from me of course). It’s been 5 years since the dining room was last done, and with the multi-fuel stove we use, it’s no wonder that things have become a little discoloured and dusty! The room is now bright and fresh.
We have taken the opportunity to downsize a bit and get rid of one of the recliner chairs and with a bit of re-organising, the room looks and feels much bigger. We tend to stay in the dining room for the winter as it is easier to heat. Although we have oil fired central heating, its is quite an old system – it was second-hand when it was installed in the 70’s! It is still serviceable and is quite efficient but it doesn’t have a ‘timer’ and no room thermostat so once it’s on and running we have no control other than the thermostat of the boiler. As the pump continues to run even when the boiler cuts out we found the house gets too warm so we have got used to not having it on at all. We intend to ‘upgrade’ the system by putting thermostatic valves on all the radiators, but to be honest even then we probably won’t use it as we have adapted and are so used to doing without. At least when we are too old to ‘get the firewood in’ we will have the heating to fall back on.
Shortly we will be moving back into the living room for the summer. Whilst we have a multi-fuel stove in there too, it is not as efficient as the ‘squirrel’ so we only use that room in the summer and at weekends in the winter or when we have visitors. The chimney needs lining properly as we do not get a decent ‘draw’ on the fire. Our blacksmith friend, Graham, has made us a nice snug fitting flue adaptor which has helped, but the fire itself isn’t brilliant.
In a few weeks time I have a week off work so our plan is to pull out the existing fireplace and surround and open it up before having the chimney lined as we did with the dining room chimney. It’s not a cheap option but it is very efficient and creates a smooth flue all the way to the chimney pot. A large inflatable rubber tube is put down the chimney, boarded up at the bottom and then pour filled with a mixture of vermiculite and cement. Once dry the material resembles the tiles on the bottom of the Space Shuttle and it is totally fireproof and reflects most of the heat back into the room. The smooth flue creates a good draft and makes any fire much more efficient. The plan is to swap the two fires over so that the squirrel is in the living room so that we can use the living room all the year round. The benefit will also be that the warm chimney should take the chill off the bedroom upstairs.
Today we’ve been busy tidying up after the decorating and getting a few other outdoor chores and jobs done. A bit more work in the vegetable garden, tidying up the hedges, a few more seeds planted, cleaning out the ducks and chickens and generally pottering about. It’s amazing how a bit of sunshine makes everything seem so much easier and more pleasant – and to cap it all, Wales won against Italy in the rugby yesterday! Result!