At this time of the year, in the depths of winter, the focus of the home at Autumn Cottage is the kitchen and the Stanley stove. Theoretically just a prosaic contraption for heating the house and providing cooking facilities, when the wind is biting outside and the thermometer falls, 'Stan' is so much more than that.
- It will thaw out and heat up a home-made soup in the casserole on the hot plate while I am out in the garden; a few slices of olive bread and a quick salad make a wonderful lunch and restoreth the Inner Glow very rapidly.
- It provides somewhere to dry wash-cloths, tins, pots and pans - and knickers!
- The bottom oven is the perfect place to dry out kindling for lighting our other fires.
- The kettle can be kept at a simmer, saving the need to boil one electrically.
- You can park your bum against it if you are cold and/or wet/and/or feeling like a chin-wag; it restores the spirits like nothing else (except, perhaps, a bottle of good red Cabernet - also not far away from the stove…)
But most of all, of course, it just provides that most primitive of pleasures - a constant, intangible source of comfort and contentment for every member of the family - including the most important one…