Milestone alert! We have central heating in one room! For those of you who fantasise about living in a castle during its restoration: hardships and headaches are plenty, and you come to appreciate just how much we rely on modern conveniences. Number one on our list has been to keep warm. Even during the hottest months of the year, the house retains a cool dampness and we spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. In winter, it’s about the art of layering. Thermal underwear. Ski pants both in and outside the house. Consuming an offensive quantity of hot tea. And let’s not forget the daily routine of splitting logs for a stove, with a chorus of villagers merrily chanting “se chauffer au bois, c’est se chauffer deux fois.” That’s French for “Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.”
So, imagine how happy we were at the long-expected arrival of the first cast iron radiators. Wonderfully aged, they’re retiring from a long life in a fancy city residence. Miraculously, they’re in perfect working order. Old they may be, but they’ve got plenty of life left in them: they’re popping, banging and clanging. The sound of cozy warmth. And they are gorgeous! Hand-painted to bring out the splendour of the raised etched mouldings, they’re not just radiators, these fleurs de fonte are a work of art. To top it all, they combine beauty with heating efficiency. They may take a longer time to heat up than modern radiators, but they stay warmer for a longer time. Does this mean Thomas can stop spending so much time wielding an axe? Not quite, we’ve opted for a wood-fired central heat system, so the chopping isn’t about to end in many years to come. He wouldn’t have it any other way.