Ice Station Lobster

January 18, 2013

‘Why are you looking at me like that? Do I look ridiculous?’ I asked as I donned buff, hat, jacket, scarf, extra socks and clumpy boots in preparation for going out on the bike.

‘No, you’re fine,’ said the other half – until I put on my gloves. ‘OK, now you look ridiculous…’

This is the downside of my magical crispy tyres: there’s now no excuse not to cycle, just because its a few degrees below freezing. So I’ve had to modify my winter wardrobe a little to cope with the cold. Mostly, riding a bike in the winter isn’t that much different from walking, so I get away with wearing what I’d wear to go outside anyway. But my hands are another matter – stuck out on the handlebars taking the brunt of the wind, they quickly feel cold, and then ache, and then go numb and then (when I finally get in and thaw them out again) feel as if someone’s just whacked them with a hammer. Given that I have such poor circulation I normally have to wear gloves to cycle even in the ‘height’ of ‘summer’, my hands are especially prone to getting chilled. So on my Christmas list I’d asked for (and got, thanks Babymother!) lobster gloves.

lobster gloves

Now in practical terms these make sense. They combine the warmth of mittens (where your fingers can keep each other warm) with some of the dexterity of gloves – I’ve never quite felt secure cycling with proper mittens on. And they do work … it’s just … well, they make you look like a mutant. A mutant with cloven hoofs where your hands ought to be. Which may not be all that helpful when dealing with drivers who think cyclists are all the spawn of Satan anyway.

Still, as I cycled home today into the biting north east wind and struggled up the longest hill to the wry salutes (from nice warm vehicles) from the workmen who were clearing out the ditch, I realised that from their point of view I was already a bit of a wierdo just for cycling in the freezing cold, regardless of what I was actually wearing. So if I’m going to be a wierdo anyway, at least I can be one with toasty warm hands.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering about the effectiveness of those ice tyres? This is what our road looked like yesterday (and that was actually an improvement). Bike didn’t even notice

icy road surface


January 21, 2009

Phew. Rayburn man came yesterday and degunked the Rayburn, and its temperature had finally crept back up to normal. We’ve solemnly promised not to turn it down lower than ‘2’ in future (makes you wonder why they bother to have a ‘1’) and shall be laying offerings before it diligently every morning to make sure it doesn’t get angry or sick again. The writings of G***** M****** will also be excised from the Guardian and burnt (if we can ever get them to light) before bringing the paper into the house.

Actually, what this has done is prove that – as far as our little Rayburn goes at least – Mr M****** was completely wrong. If the last few days have been anything to go by, running the Rayburn  actually saves us oil. Without it we’ve had to have the heating on much more (it was 12°C in the kitchen yesterday morning without it), running our inefficient boiler much longer, and even then we’ve spent most of the time huddled in the other half’s man cave with the electric heater on. Our oil gauge isn’t accurate enough to tell for sure, but we know from calculations we’ve done in the past that running the boiler for about 3 hours a day uses up 3 roughly times as much oil as running the Rayburn for 24 hours a day, so it doesn’t take much extra heating to tip the balance. Throw in all the savings on boiling the kettle, cooking with electricity and not having to run the tumble dryer or iron (in the unlikely event that we ever have to do any ironing) and I reckon the Rayburn’s positively green, in the winter at least.

And in the summer? Well if we ever actually have one, I’ll let you know.

Well I Never

November 15, 2008

So it turns out that if instead of trying to sleep in the bedroom with three external walls and a north-facing window you sleep in the room with just the one external wall and a west-facing window, life gets a lot warmer and more pleasant.

More findings from the department of the bleeding obvious as and when they seep into my thick skull.

Happiness is…

November 4, 2008

… a warm Rayburn

A warm rayburn

A warm rayburn

Especially when you’ve had the foresight to leave your longjohns folded up on the top of it to warm overnight.


Swallowed Up

September 26, 2008

Another reason for getting out on the bike these days – as if fetching the paper weren’t enough – to get warm. We’re having, at long last, something of an indian summer here but that means clear cold nights as well as lovely still calm days (‘sunny’ would be going a little far). The net result is that it’s now warmer outdoors than in, and as my day now consists of staring at the laptop with my feet on the power transformer to keep warm, occasionally I have to get out and go for a quick ride (well, quickish – let’s not go mad here) to defrost.

And there’s another sign that, fine weather or no, the summer has gone: the swallows. It’s hard to notice an absence, but they have not been around here for a couple of days. The other half has seen them elsewhere, but there are fewer, much fewer, and the sky seems so quiet without them. If it takes more than one swallow to make a summer, how many non-swallows does it take to make it end?


And we’ll be getting fewer evenings like these, too, soon. Must remember to enjoy them while they last.