Tuesday, December 6
The best break we’ve had to date has been this past month’s weather. It’s been wet, at times very wet, but it has also been the southwest’s second warmest November in 100 years, affording me plenty of time to perfect my fire lighting skills, become a little more acclimatised, and to winter proof the plumbing. Downpipes now drain into a ditch rather than the footings, and the septic tank has lost its pungency. The climate is changing, however, and I wouldn’t bet against a white Christmas. Snow or not, our location will remain a challenge. At least the yuletide tree is in place, as yet undecorated. It’s a much smaller proposition this year. Unlike the barn our current abode may well have been designed for hobbits. The precariousness of our adventure was made clear this weekend by my ignominious fall when walking on the moor. I’m still nursing a sore back and some choice bruising, but it could so easily have been another broken leg. I can’t afford the time off.
Saturday, December 3
This week it’s been widely reported that a shed is the answer to a longer life. Given the shed-men of my acquaintance, their little wooden structures are just as likely to be used for clandestine drinking activities as mucking about in the John Innes. Still, whatever works for you – Mrs G. has been cooking up a storm and I need the exercise. My life here to date has been a lot like living in London and never visiting the galleries or theatre: I’m billeted on Dartmoor and have been out on the moor just a couple of times. I forced myself to take time out this morning to brave a chill wind and drizzle and to head off up the hill. As you would expect it’s a desolate landscape this time of year, though I did bump into a handful of brave souls all well wrapped up. I was test-driving my new fleece-lined shirt acquired from the local farmers’ outfitters, and am pleased to say it passed with flying colours. I have a feeling I am going to need a fair number of them to get me through this coming winter. I’ve all but given up trying to draft-proof the house as there are too many chimneys and ground floor openings. I suppose the through breeze at least has the advantage of dissipating the smoke and alleviating any condensation problem.