What’s your plan b?

On Friday we were due a delivery of oil which would see us through the worst of the winter. I received a text and an email to say there was to be a delay in getting it. Now that was very unusual.  Typically I’d let the oil go lower than we normally would, so we were desperate for it come Friday. That was a mistake which I won’t repeat!
I rang up BoilerJuice which is where we place our orders through and they informed me there’s no oil for delivery in the north east of England at the moment. Not just where I am, but the north and north east! Apparently there’s a problem with the ships docking due to bad weather conditions. Now I don’t know where they dock, but we’ve not had any conditions that we haven’t seen before. The lady on the phone told me it was unprecedented. It all sounds a bit off to me, but it didn’t change the fact that we had no oil.
I went out and switched the main supply from the tank off and then the AGA. Boy that’s sad to do. Luckily I had a day off work on Friday so I set about getting the wood burner going ready for the kids coming in and checked the electric oven was working (we never use it except at Christmas!). It was. However I have never used the emersion heater for the water (normally ran off oil) so I had to guess as to how to switch it on. Not hard, you press the button, but when you don’t know if it’s the right button, it’s a bit tense! These are all costs I wouldn’t normally endure and I do think overall will be more expensive that the oil would cost me to provide the same service.
Anyway, we have log upon logs so I know we could stay warm, but the coal was low. This wasn’t like me, I am normally super organised and typically this series of events was going from bad to worse! Ste managed to source some coal on Saturday fairly quickly.
So we still have no oil, but are stocked up on coal. We’ve dug out the oil filled radiators and put them on in the kids bedrooms as the house is truly bitter, we’re at -5 here tonight. I kids you not that I am sleeping in a hat my nana knit me! The next problem is, the electricity is going off for 6 hours this week, it’s making me wonder what we’d do next if the cooker and emersion were to be out of action for a while. Would you be prepared for the worst? I know I didn’t feel it, but I’m going to make sure we’re ready for the next time.

We actually don’t have snow here today, I think we’re the only place in the country! These are a couple of days old now. The landscape is changing so much as we move deeper into winter.

7 thoughts on “What’s your plan b?

  1. Hi TraceyVery unlike you as you are normally very organised.In the dim and distant past there used to be a method of keeping something warm, especially if had been cooked in a Rayburn or Aga or indeed over a coal fire, called Haybox cooking. Basically you have a very heavily padded box into which to pop a casserole, stew whatever into to keep it warm and to continue cooking (I am not sure of my facts on this and perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me will put me right but I think it was originally used to take a hot meal out to the workers in the field). I remember being taught about it vaguely in Domestic science lessons and the box we were shown was a wooden box which was padded with hay and then had a blue felt material over the hay. The pot was then placed into the box and yet again tightly packed and surrounded by hay to keep it warm until it was required. I would think this sort of thing still has its place – especially if you have cooked something on the Aga and then the power goes off. I appreciate that this is probably short notice for your intended power cuts this week but it may be something to look into for the future. Here is an updated version using scrap paper but the process is pretty much the same. http://www.instructables.com/id/hay-box-cooker/There is also a light/supposed heat method which is meant to be quite effective made from terracotta pots and tea lights. I think if you Google or Pinterest it this one will come up.http://heatstick.com/_KanHeet01.htmI remember the power cuts well in this country when the miners were on strike and you were lucky if you got three days of light per week. Mum and Dad's house was originally oil fired central heating which was on an electric feed so we were scuppered (My father was an engineer and so he did find a way round it so that we had some heat but technically that was not legal. All he was concerned about was getting and keeping everyone warm. However you have a log burner. That is a bonus. Also you do not necessarily need direct light if you have a fire of some sort unless you are doing something that you specifically need to see for.During the power strikes we all decamped to the one room which was kept as warm as possible only going to the bedrooms at bedtime. Why not decamp to the one room and keep it going so that you have everyone very warm in that room (even sleeping in there all of you if need be in sleeping bags). We also had the Gaz camping stove single burner for cooking and also the Tilly lamps (Gaz again) but at least we had light. Might be an idea to have an SOS pack including candles and matches which the children should also be made aware of in case of emergencies. Part of the children learning and being able to fend for themselves is seeing how you and Steve cope with matters as much as anything else which will hold good for the future.For cooking there is also something called a Rocket stove which you cook outside on. There are several different versions if you check out Pinterest most home made from next to nothing.And if it was within budget what about a generator.Hope this helps. Pattypanx


  2. For us our oil central heating won't work without power, and although I have a small generator it won't plug into the heating system . We have our wood stove though and hopefully another one in by next year, it would be hard to heat upstairs without power though. I guess we'd just hunker down in the living room! I'm going to get a few more things in stock after this storm, a little camping stove for one!


  3. I think you know our situation here Tracy. We have our solid fuel/wood Rayburn which gives us heat, hot water and cooking facilities in the Winter months. We can put on a pump to put heat more of the radiators upstairs but we don't always bother, but of course we are just now with the colder weather and snow. We have an emersion but obviously that only works with power and we only use that in the summer. We are SOOO fortunate that Jon works at the sawmill as we pretty much have unlimited access to wood as we get lots of big off cuts. The woodburner in our living room heats the whole of the downstairs so we never have those radiators on. I still pay more for our energy than I would like but we are very fortunate compared to some people. Stay warm.xx


  4. We faced the worst in 2010 when, on Christmas Morning, with a foot of snow on the ground, the central heating boiler decided to die on us. In the normal run of things this was bad enough, but because we were waiting to have a replacement one put in on a Grant, we had to wait until APRIL to get it. So we had a whole winter without central heating. Fortunately, the Hergom (Spanish version of an Aga, but nothing like as good) in the kitchen was still able to run off the oil, and we had a woodshed full of logs to use in the wood burner in the sitting room. I would never live in a house without either, because those two things kept us alive through a bitter winter. We camped out in the sitting room unless cooking a meal. In extremis – e.g. no power either – we have candles and lamps, a primus and also the wood burner has a flat top so we could heat food on it. We did have electricity and a good electric blanket, so a warm bed to get into at night.I can't believe that the ships couldn't dock – sounds to me like they were waiting for the cold weather so they could bump up the asking price of oil. We have had them sitting off the Welsh coast in the Milford Haven area in similar circumstances . . .


  5. Little Cottage…open plan downstairs…woodburner in living area…electric Aga in kitchen…woodburner has a flat top so able to boil kettle, make stews, casseroles, even roasted on it before…oil combi boiler, but guessing it's electric that makes the spark. We do have a generator and plenty of hot water bottles x


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