It is very cold in there. The old circa 1970s storage heaters stopped working a couple of years ago and curatorial debate over replacement heating is still in progress. (For those of you familiar with the Lord of the Rings, Ents make speedy decisions in comparison with those responsible for deciding what light fitting or heating system should be put in place in our historic buildings.) In the meantime McColleague and I plug in electric heaters (and lamps) where we can and put on several layers of clothing before venturing into the showrooms.
"I don't know how our volunteers are going to manage when we open in a couple of weeks time. This cold snap isn't forecast to end anytime soon. They're likely to freeze to the flagstones."
We ponder for a while.
"I'm not lifting the ban on hot drinks in the house," I assert. "Not after the coffee ring on the chest incident."
In the end we decide to let the volunteers keep the front door closed and stay in the Parlour, the warmest room in the house, emerging only to meet and greet visitors as they spot them coming up the path. That and as many trips to warm up in the staff room with a cup of tea as they like should help keep hypothermia at bay. And possibly taking it in turns to wear the Stately Moans fleece (budget restraints mean I can't buy one for each individual, sadly. I'm happy to share mine though, if people don't mind the fact it has paint on it and biscuit crumbs.)
"It's all moot though if the cold snap continues and the drive stays icy."
This is true. The drive down to the house is two miles of twisty-turny, slippy-slidey ungritted ice when the temperatures drop to below freezing. Getting down is a scary yielding to gravity and the patron saints of bobsleigh teams. Getting up is impossible. I spent two weeks back in the January snows dependant on Lovely Warden bringing in supplies over the fields on the Gator and what I could wrestle off the cows in the barn.
"Ah well, it's all beyond our control. Now give us that fleece and I'll go back and finish the bat covers."