Friday, 29 February 2008

My first winter in the house 3

On the first day in the house I was delivered by my friend together with a few bags of basic belongings. Most of these were her hand-me-downs - an old duvet, sheets, and cooking pots - and some of those in turn had been given to her by her mother when she returned to Czecho. And I was extremely grateful for them. There had been more snow over night and I had to clear my way through the snow in the yard. The door was frozen shut and I had to use all my weight to open it.

My first job was, as it was to be on every day of my stay, to set the fire going in the stove. I then put the kettle on for a proper English mug of tea. Whilst it brewed I used some of my friend's old tea-towels to block the drafts in the faulty double-glazed windows. Having drunk up I went into the bathroom to discover a large hole where the bath had once been. The local carpenter had set about preparing for the fitting of a stopcock. This was a bit of a shock as I hadn't agreed to it, but he had adopted me and there was no arguing about it, even if I could speak Czech it would have been rude and the Czechs take such things very personally. Upstairs he had even been whitewashing one of the bedrooms!

I went outside to the stable to bring in some more wood for the stove. It was glorious - in the orchard the top layer of snow had melted yesterday, only to be frozen again overnight into bright diamond crystals which flashed in the sunshine. Across the snow I could see the trails of the wild and domestic animals who shared the garden with me - deer, the local cats and others I did not recognise.

And so I pottered about for the rest of the day setting up home in the one room that was warm. I was happy, despite the cold, despite the absence of water in the bathroom, I was at last at home in my Czech house.

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