DECEMBER                                                                                                               Back to November


Friday 1st

 0 to 5 to 1°C. 2.52kWh 900W max. Another sunny day which felt slightly warmer since the wind has dropped but still northerly


Continued digging over the vegetable garden.

Saturday 2nd

 2 to 6 to 7°C. 484Wh 150W max. The wind turned to the south west bringing warmer air but also cloudy damp weather with light rain showers and drizzle.


Cut up some more firewood but had to give up when the drizzle came heavier.


Sunday 3rd

7 to 10 to 5°C. 780Wh 150W max. Another cloudy milder day but stayed mostly dry.


Pat has got enough chillies in the freezer to last her till next summer so I pulled up and shredded the remaining plants even though they still had a lot of fruits on them. Then back to cutting more firewood.

Monday 4th

3 to 8 to 6°C. 1.21kWh 1kW max. Another cloudy damp day with one sunny interval just before lunch.


Despite the light drizzle I continued to dig over the vegetable garden.

Tuesday 5th

 7 to 8 to 7°C. 402Wh. Another gloomy day but at least it was dry and not windy.


Cut some more firewood. We might be needing more of it by the end of the week, according to the latest forecast for northerly winds and snow showers.

Wednesday 6th

 8 to  12 to 10°C. 720Wh 150W max. This could be the last of the grey mild days. An Atlantic storm, Caroline, is on its way and after it has passed through Scotland the weather will come down from the Arctic and it may even be snowing by Friday.


Took the fine net off the fruit cage. Snow on this could bend nad damage the poles which hold it up. Then cut down and shredded the old raspberry canes.

Thursday 7th

 9 to 5 to 1°C. 2.08kWh 800W max. Bright windy start with some sunny intervals and broken cloud but the temperature falling all day as the wind turned to the north again.


Snow and frost is forecast for the next few days so moved the remaining pots of summer bulbs and fuschia plants into the polytunnel. The begonias and dahlias were already in there and now that they have died back needed cutting back, removing the stems of the begonias especially as when they rot they can damage the corm. Only the lilies are still outside; cold weather, so long as they don't freeze solid, stimulates them to grow better the next year.

Friday 8th

 1 to 0 to -1°C. 14Wh (the solar panels don't work when covered with snow). Snowed on and off most of the day but most of it was wet or thawing so only 2-3cm actually on the ground as the sky cleared and the temperature dropped in the evening. It is likely to be very slippery tomorrow. A lot more snow is forecast for Sunday.


Stayed inside drilling holes in the wall between the lounge and kitchen to inject silicone cream to try and cure the rising damp. Before the house was extended in the 1950s this was an outside wall and I suspect it never had a damp course. The wetter weather we have had in the last few years has raised the water table and having the house externally clad hasn't helped either. Hopefully this might help but it is a very slow process and it may be next summer before we see any improvement. Then I will need to remove the damaged plaster from the lower part of the wall, replace with new waterproof plaster and redecorate. Old houses are a lot of work.

Saturday 9th

 -3 to 0 to -2°C. 0Wh. Snowed some more overnight and this time it stayed but only around 2cm deep on the drive. The main problem was the tyre tracks left by the milkman froze and I needed to clear two tracks down the drive to make it safe, removing both the ice and the snow. A lot of work on our 80m drive for no real gain since once it thaws there will be nothing to see it was ever done.


Continued working on the rising damp problem.

Sunday 10th

 -6 to 0 to -2°C. The solar panels are still covered with snow. Snowed some more overnight and some heavy big flakes snow in the morning before lighter powdery snow in the afternoon and into the evening.


The lying snow is now around 20cm deep. I have cleared the drive twice during the day. If we get much more I don't know where I can put it.

Finished drilling the walls. This takes a long time to do. the holes need drilling nearly the full depth of the wall and spacing 15cm apart A full battery on the drill does less than 10 holes before it needs a recharge and after around 15 holes the drill tip needs regrinding. Both the mortar and the bricks in these nearly 200 year-old walls are very solid.

Monday 11th

 -4 to -1 to -6°C. 27Wh. Sunny but very cold.


The polytunnel is covered with snow and is slightly warmer than outside. Even so I fear the begonia corms will be frozen through and may not survive.

Tuesday 12th

 -12 to -7 to 0°C. 6Wh. Very cold start. Not as sunny as yesterday but the temperature was climbing throughout the day with some thawing by early evening.


Too cold to do anything outside and most of my planned jobs inside I have finished.

Wednesday 13th

1 to 5 to 0°C. 674Wh 100W max. A sunny much warmer day and the snow has thawed almost completelt but there is some still remaining in the lee of hedges and where it was piled up when we cleared the paths and drive. Late this evening it started snowing again but quite light.


Went to opticians for my annual check and my eyesight was pronounced as 'perfect' which is good to know. Without the modern treatment for cataracts I would probably me nearlt blind by now.


Found some old dark blue paint which once I removed the skin was perfectly good enough to touch up the woodwork in the hall, staircase and landing.

Thursday 14th

2 to 5 to 1°C. 2.85kWh 900W max. A sunny day but with a cold northerly wind and some heavy rain in the evening which should wash away what remains of the snow.


Now the snow has gone checked the nets over the chicken run and spring cabbage and the polythene cover of the poytunnel for damage. All seem OK.

Friday 15th

 1 to 5 to 0°C. 2.61kWh 800W max. Another sunny but very cold and north windy day with a few short showers.

Saturday 16th

 0 to 5 to 0°C. 2.07kWh 700W max. Another day with sunny intervals and a few light showers but with a strong northerly wind.

Sunday 17th

 0 to 12 to 7°C. 282Wh 50W max. Another damp miserable day though it did come a lot warmer by the afternoon and stopped raining just before dark.

Monday 18th

 1 to 7 to -1°C. 2.30kWh 800W max. A sunny still day with a clear frosty night to follow. it may be foggy by the morning.


Back to cutting up firewood now it has stopped raining.

Tuesday 19th

 -2 to 10 to 6°C. 268Wh 100W max. Cold frosty night followed by a sunny morning but soon clouded over to a still mild afternoon.


Continued cutting firewood.

Wednesday 20th

 7 to 12 to 10°C. 1.06kWh 800W max. Sunny morning but a cloudy afternoon. Surprisingly mild for the next to the shortest day.


The snow damaged the gutter along the front of the house. This seemed like a good day to fix it but without success so far. The problem is that the brackets which hold it up have bent. I can bend them back but this is not an easy task from a ladder and they will only bend again next time it snows .However I think I know how to permanently fix them to they won't bend again and will try to do this tomorrow if the benign weather continues.

Thursday 21st

 9 to 11 to 10°C. 637Wh 500W max. Another cloudy mild day with a short glimpse of the sun just before noon. Still very warm for late December.


Managed to fix the gutter by adding extra bracing to the middle bracket of the five. Once I had done this the other four were much easier to get back into shape. Only another heavy snow will test if this works.

Then back to more firewood cutting.

Friday 22nd

 6 to 10 to 8°C. 654Wh 100W max. A cloudy day with a strong southerly wind making it feel cooler than the thermometer would suggest.


Bought myself a new toy for Christmas; a reciprocating saw. This is really designed for cutting sheets of wood, metal or plastic as a substitute for hand sawing, and I shall be using it for this purpose, but it can also be used to cut small branches up to 7-8cm thick. When cutting up firewood it is difficult to cut the thinner pieces with a chainsaw so I have used a bow saw instead but this takes much longer and often gets jammed halfway through. Now I have a means of cutting everything from 2cm upwards with one of these tools. The thicker pieces still need splitting which I still enjoy doing so I have no intention of buying a hydraulic log splitter.

The other job which it will be useful for is trimming the boundary hedges. These are the usual mix of hawthorn, blackthorn,hazel, willow, holly, elder, maple, beech and oak, often bound together with ivy. Farmers use heavy mechanical flayers to cut these but I need to use something less powerful (and less messy!!) You can't cut these with a mechanical hedge cutter or shears because the stems are much too thick. Using a chainsaw at shoulder height is too cumbersome and a bowsaw needs room to get it in between the stems, especially close growing hawthorn, ivy and hazel and you end up using loppers or even secateurs to clear away the smaller twigs blocking its use. This reciprocating saw has a thin blade and I have already discovered that cutting neatly along these hedges is almost as easy as the proverbial knife through butter going cleanly through tiny twigs all the way to quite thick 10cm stems.


Saturday 23rd

5 to 9 to 8°C. 3.13kWh 900W max.  A sunny day but feeling colder in the strong southerly wind/


We are now really working our way through the stacks of dried wood now that I can saw it all without using a bowsaw.

Sunday 24th

 10 to 11 to 10°C. 355Wh 100W max. Another grey windy day.

Monday 25th Christmas Day

10 to 11 to 3°C. 747Wh 300W max. A dull damp day with a short brighter period in the early afternoon but with some drizzle from time to time becoming rain in the evening as it turned colder.


Had our usual quiet Christmas. A pasture reared capon, which breaks our vegetarian diet but at least it had a good life before it was slaughtered. The sprouts were also bought, the few we had ready were destroyed by the recent snow. The potatoes, stuffing and bread sauce were from our own produce.


In the afternoon I finished taking down the tomatoes and tying up their strings in the polytunnel.

Tuesday 26th

 3 to 6 to 2°C. 2.29kWh 800W max. Sunny with a cold northerly wind.


I have almost finished cutting up the seasoned wood and the woodshed is almost full.

Wednesday 27th

 2 to 4 to 0°C. 1.06kWh 500W max. A very cold windy day with a few flurries of snow. Other parts of the country had a lot more.


Started cutting some more firewood but the strong cold wind drove me back indoors.

Thursday 28th

 0 to 4 to -1°C. 3.04kWh 800W max. Some light snow and frost overnight then sunny but with a very cold wind.


This time of year when it is cold I can keep warm by digging over the vegetable garden and the annual flower beds but the melting snow last week has made the soil too soggy to dig. So I spent part of the afternoon assembling my other new toy; a much better work bench than the cheap one I had before.

Friday 29th

 -3 to 6 to 3°C. 1.19kWh 600W max. Another cold windy day though it did brighten up for a while in the afternoon.

Continued to tidy the polytunnel.

Saturday 30th

 3 to 11 to 7°C. 715Wh 300W max. Rained overnight then another grey day but with a warmer less strong wind.


Finished tidying up the polytunnel and started to dig it over. Also half pruned the roses while Pat cut  back the mint and shredded the stalks.

Sunday 31st

 8 to 12 to 3°C. 1.72kWh 600W max. Bright start with some sunshine and less wind but was cloudy and windy by lunchtime and rained in the afternoon. Cleared again late in the evening to a cold starry moonlit night.


January 2018