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When I moved into this place last Fall (April 2010), I was concerned about what friends warned me re: months ahead:

“It gets cold here in winter.”

“I’ll be OK.” I’d respond…mostly to those who know where I’ve spent many Northern Hemisphere Decembers-Marches, and many of whom have been there to.

“Oh no…” they’d say, “this is a different type of cold.”  Followed by a series of reasons why.  The most popular being:
– homes aren’t insulated
– no central heating
– bone chilling
(etc)

So my concerns about the house came from an overpreparedness born from these warnings and the reliability of my sources – a trusted cohort of former snowbunnies.

Without going into detail, my house appeared to have little protection from cold (lots of windows, gaps, uncovered tile floors) and the surroundings seemed like a recipe for a wind-tunnel (open fields on two sides), which after feeling many gusts from the Hudson thru 140th st bldgs up to B’way, made me a bit scared.

But now, several months and South African cold snaps later, I think I’ve figured out the essentials.

Either that or I never fail to ignore and always give thanks for the power of African sun to turn 40 degree nights into beautiful 70 degree days without fail.

“It hardly ever rains in winter.”

A few months back, before the “cold” set in, I was resigned to shell out big bux for multiple gas heaters, electric blanket and special curtains.  No so.  Here’s a list of my survival basics (in order of puchase)

Round 1 (April)
* King size down duvet-inner for my double bed
*5 fin oil heater (stays on in the bedroom – since late April)
* portable 3-ber halogen heater with rotation option

Round 2 (June)
* tiny fan heater (BEST PURCHASE EVER…heats entire bedroom and circulates 5-fan heater heat…for R150)

Others
* a deep bathtub and functioning hot water
* big fluffy bathrobe
* knee socks without toe-holes

When it gets “reeeeeeaaally cold”
* firewood, kindling, fire lighters & newspaper
* ol’skool hot water bottle

That’s it!

So it’s either winters aren’t so bad, I’ve got the essentials down, or my cottage is a South African enigma – old construction with some impressive penchant for solar conversion and heat retention.

I don’t require additions, but please feel free to add your own 🙂