Keeping Warm

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When I moved to Sweden I knew it would be cold. I was not too worried about this- England isn’t exactly warm- but before leaving the UK lots people (friends and family) kept buying me warm clothes and reminding me to be wary of the weather.

When we arrived in Sweden in August, it was actually one of the hottest summers on record. In fact it was so hot that most of the grass in our garden had dried up and gone brown.

In September it started rain a lot but the weather remained warm. Despite the warmth, the rain made me realise that the weather could change quickly, and it might be sensible to get some fire wood.

The wiring in our house is old so, while we have electric heaters, my husband and I thought it would make more sense to use the fire place and stove. Like most houses in Sweden we have a wood fire in our living room and a wood stove in our kitchen, that can be used for cooking (though we’ve not tried it yet). The challenge we faced, not speaking Swedish, was here to buy fire wood.

Not long after we arrived in Sweden we met the previous house owners. (They had come to check that everything was working in the house and that we were settling in ok.) We asked their advice about where to get fire wood and it turned out that they owned a saw mill. They were, at that time, taking down a wooden building and the wood was going free. They offered it to us, and the use of their car and trailer. In the end we collected three trailer loads of wood! The photo shows just the first load.

I made a shelter to keep the wood dry, which turned out to be very important as the autumn brought a lot of rain. My husband and I got stuck in cutting the wood down and storing it in the shelter.

When the weather did change it took a little bit of practice, lighting the fire as quickly as possible in the morning and remembering to keep it burning. Luckily, the insulation in most Swedish houses is much better than in the UK so once the fire burns out the room usually retains the heat- even over night if we close the doors.

Having lots of fire wood meant keeping warm inside was not a problem. My other worry was keeping warm out side. I was also worried about my car. Luckily I have a garage where I can keep my car, which means I don’t have to scrape the ice or snow in the morning but I keep a scrapper in the car in case it snows while I’m out. To be fair, this has only happened a couple of time but it’s sensible to have a scrapper anyway. I also made sure all of the liquids (engine coolant and screen wash) contained anti freeze. Most of the anti freeze sold here works at -18 but they sell others that work up to -40 degrees. So far my car has worked fine in the cold. Our coldest day so far was about -14, though I know that some winters it can reach -20 in this part of Sweden. The other thing that was really important to know, was that in November it becomes a legal requirement to fit all cars with snow or ‘all year round’ tires.  This is essential, driving on ice would not be fun without them. Driving in the snow and ice was scary at first but the roads get gritted so often the ice doesn’t stay for too long. Of course when it first snowed I drove REALLY carefully and slowly but I adapted fairly soon.

As far as keeping warm outside goes: get a good coat, hat, gloves and scarf. And remember layers!

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