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January 10, 2014

Inside a Cold Castle

For WarmthPhoto by @topgold using Lumia.

YOU LEARN A LOT about cold castles like the Rock of Cashel when you live in one. And because we are deep into our first winter without the warmth of central heating, we can feel for castle royalty from years ago.

When I arrived in Ireland, I spent the first winter in a flat lacking central heating, a fireplace or a hot water heater. That was a challenge involving boiling water for a bath or to wash dishes. This winter, I need to cut our heating oil outlay by half because other living expenses continue rising. So a small space heater now gives us a little comfort.

Some things I have discovered:

-- Wooden banisters stay cold longer than wooden floors.

-- Wet clothing does not dry without warm air circulating. And with no tumble dryer, we reduce our washing by two thirds.

-- Cold metal frames on eyeglasses can cause headaches.

-- Even though rooms might be cold, if your immune system is strong, you don't get sick.

-- A concrete block house is often colder inside than the weather outside. It takes longer to heat a multi-storey home once all the floors fall below the average outside temperature. No wonder the landed gentry kept fires burning every day of the year.

[Bernie Goldbach has saved the sound of a boiling kettle and the roar of a furnace to savour in the depths of winter.]

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