Excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist.
Well, Christmas has finally arrived and (depending on whether you’re a human or a turkey) it’s either the best time of the year or the worst. But however you feel about Christmas, if you want a good giggle this festive season tune into BBC two on Boxing day at 10pm for our Christmas special of COUNTRY STRIFE – Abz On The Christmas Farm. We can promise you there’s a barrel of laughs to be had!
We’re so excited for you all to see what we’ve been up to! Our first year attempting to become ‘farmers’ has seen it’s ups and downs and rounds and rounds…As well as it’s fair share of frowns and with a few smiles thrown in…and some tears…
This winter has been weirdly mild. But allow me to take you back to the winter of yesteryear when it was not quite so cosy in paradise…
2014 was our first winter here on the farm and we were not at all prepared. Whatsoever….Like literally oblivious as to what lay in store…Abz became so depressed with the bitter cold he attempted to hibernate “like a bear” through the month of December, only to emerge hungry and weak two days in…
But before I take you on a tour of our frosty woes, you need to know that we currently heat our home and water (and do all our cooking) on a rusty old Rayburn stove. (which for those of you that have never seen one is essentially a cast iron cupboard which you can light a fire in.) And if you can get it hot enough you can cook things on it. (If you can get it hot at all that is.)
Living in a modern city like London, you get used to being dry and warm and you spend most of your life indoors, so our pampered, cold intolerant skin was in for a nasty shock!!! During the coldest months our life became all about tending the stove and attempting to keep it burning. But our fire making skills left alot to be desired…
Needless to say, countless firelighters and matches lost their lives that winter (and even a few bottles of lighter fuel) as we struggled to make and maintain a fire.
On the coldest nights we slept in shifts to keep the Rayburn burning 24/7. The duty bearer (AKA me) rising at 5am to stoke it back up only for the other (AKA me) to take over at 6am to feed & muck out the horses. Little did we know that all we had to do was pack it full of wood and coal before we went to bed and it would still be going strong in the morning.
It took us a year to figure that out but you can have that tip for free.
Yes the harsh reality of our first ‘off grid’ winter was far removed from the idyllic, blissful lifestyle we had fantasized the good life to be, but we adapted to our new low tech lifestyle surprisingly quickly. Superfast wifi was replaced with games of scrabble and mobile phone service involved a 4 mile hike up the nearest mountain but the view was so nice we didn’t mind. And as the months passed, without even realising it we began to adapt….In fact when a work commitment called for us to stay in a fancy schmancy London hotel in summer….The hotel room (which looked like something out of star trek) had a snazzy modern remote system that controlled the tv, wifi and changed the colour and brightness of the lights (which Abz was convinced was “witchcraft.”) It was so high tech we couldn’t work out how to switch everything off and eventually we had to sleep with the tv & lights on.
Yes our new life is far removed from the luxuries we used to enjoy, and I’ve got to be honest sometimes all this hunting and gathering of wood is a downright pain in the arse. But a rayburn is a pretty nifty bit of kit once you know what you’re doing. And it runs completely on solid fuel so there’s no more dreaded gas bills. Happy days!
Still, scarred from the horrendous winter of 2014 we decided to plan well ahead for this one. Spending a small fortune on coal and gathering enough twigs and branches to build our very own ARK. Only to hear that the U.K was on track for it’s mildest winter in years…Ffs!??!
Mother nature sure has got one G.S.O.H
The rain on the other hand is relentless and my obsession with comparing our weather with London’ is getting embarrassing. I don’t even say hello when our friends call anymore. I just answer the phone with “What’s the weather like there?”
I wish I could promise that this is the last time you will have to suffer a weather rant, but that would probably be a lie.
Wishing you a warm & dry christmas.