We've been cosy-warm today despite the grey wet weather. For the first time since last winter we've had the kitchen boiler on all day and the radiators have been piping hot. It all seems a lot easier than this time last year. Tod has been chain-sawing and splitting last year's logs - we've still got a good stock - and we've been steadily feeding the stove throughout the day. Having got the firebox up to a good heat this morning, every 20 minutes or so we put on another couple of fresh logs to keep it well fed.
Keeping the house warm is not the only thing that feels easier than last year. Yesterday Serge drove up with his girlfriend. They'd come to check his field that runs down the side of our track. He planted rape (colza) a few weeks back and it's coming up well except for a patch alongside us, which he says is being eaten by insects, despite having been sprayed.
We chatted about the neighbours (she has a new boyfriend), the spring that he's piped and diverted into a ditch (wish we'd known, we could have used that water for gardening), the sale of his field that's fallen through because of the credit crunch, the cows that are his pride and joy.
The conversation wasn't fluent. If you'd asked Tod and me at any moment, "what's he just said?" we probably couldn't have told you. But, we muddled through, got the gist of it, smiled a lot and managed. That too gives a warm, cosy feeling.