|A nice place for a cup of coffee.|
The landscape rang with the chimes of many and various bird life. Cormorants dried their washing in trees.
|Drying in the sunshine.|
The little rivers laughed on their merry journey into the reservoir to tickle the toes of the trout.
|Happy little river.|
Rafts of Canada geese, mallard and grebe honked, squeaked and quacked in a discordant avian orchestra.
|Honk if you love geese.|
Then, with the world put well and truly back to rights I returned home to find something red, large and dangerous occupying my driveway.
The oil delivery lorry.
I sneaked into the house and hid. The oil man left having retro-burgled the tank. I'm not sure which door he knocked on to hand over the bill but it wasn't the one I was expecting. Perhaps he was too embarrassed once he had written down all the numbers.
Eventually curiosity overcame me and I went in search of the bill.
I found it. Holy cow*.
|The result of opening a heating oil bill in 2011.|
Sixty pence a litre. Sixty pence! When records began - ie when we moved back here in 2002 and I started signing the cheques - we paid 17p per litre and a whole tankful cost £146.38.
Today's tankful was a teaspoonful short of £600.
The oil heats our radiators and our hot water. There is no alternative**.
We are sitting ducks.
I don't suggest our local supplier is profiteering. They do seem to offer a competitive price and there is a £57 discount if I pay this bill promptly (which I will). There is no competition for heating oil and - call it coincidence - but oil is always more expensive over the Christmas period and the price seems to shoot up as soon as there's a whiff of trouble in an oil-producing area - Egypt is the current reason for the price hike.
I turned off the heating. Then for good measure I turned off the water and the boiler. At the plug. If it's cold later we'll huddle round a spirit lamp. I think I've got a bottle of malt whisky somewhere to run it on..
** There are alternatives of course - solar panels, heat exchange pumps - but we don't have the capital for the initial set up cost.