How to tackle heating bill anxiety – Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

There are few problems in life that can’t be solved with a splitting axe

Mum's the Word.
Mum's the Word.

When I started stockpiling candles in lockdown, fearful of the lights going out, I wasn’t joking, spraffing on to anyone available in the homestead about happy nights during the Winter of Discontent, dining by candlelight with my parents.

Because my kids don’t listen much they probably assumed it was one of my fantasies about us having a meal without the assistance of TV or mobiles, using my parents’ cutlery that is stashed away unused, including the fish knives, cheese and butter knives. On a table, because I’m posh, apparently.

It might be my generation that killed the planet, but it isn’t me who likes to eat overpriced food out of cardboard and plastic boxes, delivered by vehicles burning fuel, when there’s a perfectly good potato in the fruit bowl.

Even with my cutbacks and the heatwave - I’ve used so little gas my provider made me take the reading again, no doubt in a bid to justify doubling the direct debit - the rise in energy bills is chilling. And winter is coming…

Country Girl has come to the rescue with a wind-felled tree kindly sawed into logs and left me with two bits of advice: “That’ll not last you through the winter so buy in some logs as well”, and the more ominous: “There are few problems in life that can’t be solved with a splitting axe”.

So when I’m not buying candles and switching off appliances I’m browsing logs. Pricey, but nothing like the power bills.

While the heatwave hits and everyone’s wafting around in floral midi dresses, I’m outside preparing storage for my woodpile. Fortunately Middle Child has left me custodian of a church pew and two garden benches while he’s between sofas (he has aspirations to live in a place with outdoor space, or maybe open a garden centre), and stacked, these’ll make excellent makeshift log stores.

Sadly the leather sofa he also deposited in our garden didn’t last the winter. More povcore than cottagecore perhaps but I’ve always envied the Ozark Langmore’s outdoors seating - a place to drink tinnies with your kin while plotting an escape from financial ruin - however, this isn’t Missouri and the mould had taken hold.

“Hey Ma, guess what I inherited today from that flat move I was doing with the van?” says Middle, rocking up.

“Another garden bench? Ya beauty.”

“What? No. A surfboard.”

I wonder if it’ll burn.

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