We now have HOT water.

Oooh, such luxury! I installed a temperature probe in the top of the thermal store, at the level at which the water exits the boiler stove, and ran a wire through the ceiling (using the hole which used to be for the television aerial) to the gauge. This is obviously a temporary measure; I will be making up a panel which will have 5 gauges;
Temperature at top of tank
Temperature at bottom of tank
Temperature of hot water supply
Temperature of solar panel outlet
Room temperature upstairs.

If you’d like to read about the construction of the thermal store, it’s detailed on this page:Thermal Store. Yesterday we had finally purchased the two missing pieces of stovepipe, so these were installed. It looks very odd to have a great big stainless steel pipe running across the lounge just below the ceiling! This morning (because even though the outside temperature had reached a balmy 9 °C it still felt cold) we then put some paper and kindling in the boiler stove, lit the touchpaper, and stood back.

The stove took a while to get going, but we watched the temperature gauge with fascination.
10h45: Stove lit. Temperature of water 13.1 ° C
11h33: Now at 16.7 ° C
11h55: 42.3 ° C
12h02: 46.8 ° C
12h13: The magical 50 ° C
The temperature seems to have stabilized at around 51 ° C (well I estimate we have around 450 litres of water to heat up). But at 12h30 we couldn’t wait any longer, and turned on the hot tap. Well, I say hot tap. There is a tap, but it’s a stopcock-type, leading to a flexible tube which will eventually be connected to the kitchen sink tap. Imagine our delight when hot water started flowing! We may even be able to have a bath tonight without having to heat the water in large saucepans on the wood stove. Having piped hot water is definitely a first for this old house!


So, today’s labour saw me putting the finishing touches to the manufacture of my steampunk-style electric hot water-cylinder workshop woodstove. I will be putting a page on the website detailing its construction, with photos of course. But as it was a rainy afternoon, I figured that I just HAD to test it.

I’m pleased to report it works fine! The only downside is that we will soon have three wood-burning stoves at La Darnoire, which means some poor unfortunate person will need to cut a lot more wood. Oh, that would be me.

The boiler stove installation is progressing nicely; I resolved the leak in the thermal store by using some silicone sealant, and now all we need is to get about 3 metres of stove-pipe. I enlarged the current hole in the lounge ceiling to take the larger 139mm diameter stovepipe (the old pipe was 100mm, and this size does not appear to be available any more). I used lime mortar to seal around the edges of the hole. Plastering upside-down is probably one of my least favourite jobs in the entire world. Lime mortar went all over the place including up my sleeves (or I should say down my sleeves as my arms were in an upright position…)

LSS harvested the remaining parsnips a couple of days ago (all except a few plants) and the next batch of parsnip wine is brewing. Nothing was wasted; once the parsnips had released their juice for the wine, LSS turned them into a parsnip lasagne (just like a normal lasagne but instead of using pasta, you use the sliced parsnips!)

I’ve also made a couple of racks to fit in our lightbulb-powered food dehydrator, so when our next crop of tomatoes is ready for harvest, we’ll be ready to dry some. If we ever get around to planting them – spring still hasn’t arrived!