• Wendy Radley

"There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather- Just the Wrong Clothing”

Living on our hilltop we are 310 metres above sea level, to give this context Warrington in Cheshire where we lived previously is 17 metres above sea level. I guess it’s hardly surprising then that occasionally my ears pop as I drive up our lane and we seem to experience our own little micro-climate up here.

We can experience driving horizontal rain whilst down the hill in the village it’s dry. Some mornings we wake up enveloped in the clouds!

Photo by A. Radley: A walk in the clouds. Views from the rear of the cottage. November 2019

We also experience some really blustery weather when the wind whistles through the cracks in our old cottage and rattles all the doors. If you want to get some washing dried quick-smart, up on a hill top is definitely the place to hang it! Ha!

Photo by W. Radley view from behind the cottage: Storm clouds above, below the River Alyn bursting its banks. The calm after the storm: Feb 2020

The recent Storms Ciera and Dennis brought us heavy rain and severe gales like most other areas in the U.K. however it felt different from storms we‘ve experienced previously in a town location. Although open to the elements here we also have many established, mature trees in the garden and surrounding fields and the noise of the wind rustling through the tree canopies and creaking their bending boughs sounded thunderously loud at times even from the safety of indoors. Despite this we felt safe inside our cottage with its thick stone walls and huge beams, the Hubster reassured me several times that the house has surely withstood all kinds of weather during the 150 years since it was built and so he was confident it would again for us and so it did. We were fortunate to suffer very little damage: a couple of shrubs were ripped up from their roots and flung across the lawn and a rotten tree in the field behind was felled. Horizontal rains allowed water to seep in to the cottage and it ran down the walls of the Snug however these were all things that clever Hubster could remedy and he has. Fortunately Andy is very good at DIY, skills he mainly learned from his dad and from working as a young casual labourer (whilst a student) for his friend’s dad who’s a builder. One of the benefits of being in a raised position is that the rain tends to drain away so we haven’t been affected by the flooding experienced by those less fortunate in other parts of Wales and the rest of the U.K.

Photo kindly supplied by L. Jones: Village Pub - The Raven during Winter 2018-19

Not long after we moved here the Hubster and I knocked at the door of the half dozen or so other properties on the hill to introduce ourselves to our new neighbours. The stories and photographs they shared of Winters here; of getting snowed in with drifts up to their middles and having to dig themselves out when the snow gets higher than the door frame did nothing to dampen our spirits, the opposite in fact we both felt excited to experience our first Winter here. We figure if the price to pay for living in this beautiful rural setting is getting snowed in for a few days each year then it’s well worth it! Taking the advice of our neighbours we’ve made efforts to make sure we are prepared for any such heavy snow. Our log store is full to the brim to keep a log fire crackling through the Winter evenings and we shopped cleverly for suitable outdoor clothing and footwear to keep us warm and dry even in the worst of the Winter weather. In the wise words of one of my favourite comedians Billy Connolly “There’s no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes”. We rarely allow the weather to put a dampener on our plans now, instead we just dress accordingly, needless to say any fashion consciousness often goes out of the window!

Living in a remote, rural location means we do not have access to a gas supply: We learned the hard way the importance of an accurate sensor to keep a check on the amount of oil in the tank that powers our central heating having twice ran out of oil unexpectedly and waited several days for a tanker to deliver more. In the thick of winter having no central heating is not pleasant however we managed and made do with the fire burning day and night, a couple of emergency electric heaters and an electric blanket which is way more than the earliest settlers around these parts would have had. Top Tip: Install a digital monitoring system to accurately measure oil tank levels, an early alert of when the oil is getting low will allow you to organise oil deliveries before you run out and means you‘ll stay warm all year around. A couple of integrated fridge-freezers came with the fixtures and fittings when we bought the cottage, one in the kitchen another in the Boot Room and with only the two of us to cater for I initially thought they would offer plenty of capacity to stock- pile food supplies to keep us going in the event of being snowed in, however the reality is it just isn’t enough! I like to cook and bake, I’m certainly no expert baker in fact I’d say my cooking style is more rustic and wholesome comfort food than fine dining. I like to use the slow cooker especially during the Autumn and Winter months, making way more than we need for the two of us and the rest I freeze so I have something quick and easy I can warm up for dinner on days when I’m busy with clients orders. I also like to bake treats for visitors, often selecting recipes that can be made ahead and frozen for when neighbours and friends drop in for a chat over coffee and cake. With the ongoing renovation work on our cottage, the stables and the annex we often have local trades people here and I like to cater for them too, it might only be sausage butties but it’s always appreciated. Even Craig our friendly Postman drops lucky occasionally, calling by with a parcel just as a fresh batch of pies, biscuits or cakes come out of the oven. He knocked at my door recently, handed over a parcel and walked away with a warm, freshly baked sausage roll in his palm! The following day he brought the mail and we had a giggle when he said he’d been telling his lovely Mrs about the sausage roll and said he wanted the Hubster and I to adopt him! I have to admit I do make a mean sausage roll!

Warm Sausage Rolls fresh from the oven: a favourite of the Hubster, our boys (and the Postman!) December 2019

We enjoy a regular stream of visitors here: family, friends and neighbours often dropping in on us and staying over if they’ve driven from further afield. I made my case to the Hubster that we needed a third freezer especially for food stores to last us should we find ourselves snowed in. A chest freezer arrived and a week later I’d cooked up a storm filling it with enough home-cooked casseroles, lasagne, fish pie, soups, chilli, stew and dumplings “to last a nuclear winter“ according to Andy! But hey every time the weather forecaster warns of “snow on higher ground“ we can rest easy knowing we have a full freezer, plenty of dog food, a stack of fire logs and plenty of gin...so all the essentials are covered! Ha!

Photo taken inside our cottage in the Snug: Nothing beats a crackling log fire and a home-made cupcake when it’s cold outside. February 2020

Since then we have enjoyed a ‘Snow Day’ on a couple of occasions, in fact as I write this more is forecast. I’m as excited by the arrival of snow as our boys were when they were little. The white skies open and the snowflakes arrive thick and plentiful, within half an hour transforming the landscape into a stunning Winter Wonderland.

Photo by W. Radley. Rolo admiring a winter wonderland view from the garden February 2020

So far it hasn’t lasted long, the snow has melted as quickly as it‘s arrived staying only a day or so but it has given us a taster of what might be to come. And each time it snows our hill neighbours smile knowingly at our naive enthusiasm and tell us this is “just a light dusting”!

Photo by W. Radley: Sausage hasn’t quite git the hang of making a Snow Angel. February 2020

*** NEW POST COMING SOON: ‘Touched By The Kindness Of Strangers’


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