Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Bed-wearing experimentation

Well, what I started out with was quite a long way from how I finished up, and I think Gandhi might have found my solutions disappointingly luxurious.

The weather has not been too cold here on England’s south coast. The expected precipitation has come, but because the prevailing wind has blown from the west, the harsh winter expected hasn’t materialised. Just as last year. The wind direction never swung round to the east, so we’ve had abundant rain but no snow. On clear nights we’ve had some deep frosts, but at the moment rain rain rain is the thing, so though it certainly feels like January it’s not as cold as it might be.

With this in mind, I began my foray into bedding-free sleeping wearing micro-fleece trousers and a high-necked micro-fleece top (with full length sleeves). I had normal briefs under the trousers, nothing under the top. I wore a pair of cashmere socks (I have a precious stack of these accumulated over some years of gifts from our Rosie).

On the floor I put one sheepskin, and for a cover I had a large crocheted blanket – made by Hebe, Alice and Fi, my housemates. For a pillow I had the cushion with the crocheted cover our Alice made me. And I had a hot water bottle.

I was comfy on the sheepskin – it gave entirely adequate padding, but I woke up in the night, cold, several times. The heat all escaped through the holes in the crochet, and the hot water bottle lost its heat earlier than usual. I could feel the night going down to that cold, deep time – the bit people die in – around three.

Early in the morning – about five – I decided this was no good. I got up and put on a vest (in the UK sense of the word – underwear, not a waistcoat) under my fleece top, and added a long, thick cardigan. I fetched an extra blanket. An annoying one, as it happens. It’s wool, and a beautiful grey and tan plaid, and I bought it on eBay for £10, promising to be about 6ft square. But when it came, it was a lot smaller than they said – I concluded they’d measured in centimetres thinking it was inches. Such is life. So it’s not quite big enough. Either does feet or shoulders but not both.

I changed my strategy with the crocheted blanket, laying it full length on the floor (over the sheepskin) but this time folded in two, so it wrapped round me, then added the plaid throw on top. This improved things a lot, and I also made the discovery that I could draw the single layer of the crocheted blanket over my head and still breathe comfortably because of the holes (it’s triple-crochet), which on a very cold night could be a real bonus.

This was a lot better, but I was still cold, so about six o’clock I tried again.

I went downstairs and got a second sheepskin and a big fleecy coverlet that’s double thickness (micro-fleece that looks like shearling one side, velvet the other – a gift from Buzzfloyd), also a mug of liquorice tea, and I re-filled the hot water bottle.

I put the sheepskins end to end on the floor, then the crocheted blanket folded lengthways on top, then the plaid throw, then finally the shearling-velvet big cover. I also put on an extra pair of socks over my cashmere ones – large ones with baggy crumply tops to keep ankles warm, knitted by our Alice of alpaca yarn.

Now I’m all warm and toasty, though my tea’s going cold because I’m typing this.

So this isn’t really bed-wearing, is it? It’s still bedding. BUT. In the day, the three blankets will fold and stack – looking cheerfully colourful – and I can use them as a seat with the cushion for my back; and the two sheepskins can just lie around being sheepskins, so the storage problem is substantially addressed. The whole kit is a lot less bulky and problematic than duvets.

Even simpler and easier is my four seasons sleeping bag, but I loathe its bright blue nylon shell. It is the most practical thing though – it does the job of all these blankets, I’d only need one sheepskin, and the sleeping bag rolls up neatly to store in its bag during the day (after airing). But you do have to go on seeing it, and it does go on being nylon and bright blue. Besides which, because Buzzfloyd gave me the fleecy cover and the others made the crocheted blanket, they are extra special to me as well as colourful and groovy, so I wouldn’t part with them anyway. The plaid blanket goes on annoying me because of its size issues, and I only bought it on eBay, so I might part with that even though it looks nice. But extra throws are handy on winter nights, so it would probably stay in general use here anyway. It makes sense to use what one will anyway be keeping, and not keep both those things and the sleeping bag.

So I conclude that I haven’t been able to satisfactorily reach my goal of bed-wearing, but I have made two duvets and their covers redundant. Also the camping mattress, which I don't think I will need after all. As I’m always scrutinizing my possessions to see what can be pruned out, I regard this as a good thing.

And this is the coldest season of the year, so though there are colder nights that this particular one has been, I think I’d be warm enough like this come what may – and I always have the option to add a hat and an extra hot water bottle.

It was dark when I started and now it’s daylight.

I’m sleeping in the Badger’s lair even though he’s not here, because you can shut the door of this room. The cats were restless last night, and I was worried they might bring a rat in and let it go where I was sleeping. So I came in here.


Jen said...

well I think you will refine it as it goes a long and it will all work out fine in the end.

But I wanted to post to say....

how HEALTHY you look in the bottom picture - glowing and light and bright.

Rebecca said...

....and you're wearing a big smile in the photo! That's more than I'd probably be able to do.

Paula said...

You forgot the most important thing for keeping warm -a hat. I'd try again with your original bed wearing ensemble but try with a hat. There is a reason medieval people wore them all the time. Night caps were worn well into the 19th century too. I bet you would find a big difference.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi friends :0) Waving! xxx

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

If my feet and head are warm , the rest of me generally stays warm too.

What a brave experiment!

Jenna said...

I should think that yonder mini plaid blanket might be redeemed with putting a crocheted edge on of whatever width might render it more functional :) Love your smiling face!

Pen Wilcock said...

Me too, Elizabeth. xx

Jenna, I realised I need only two blankets not three, so the plaid one has gone to be the thing that makes one of our fishing chairs look good as a living room chair. The fishing chairs are handy, because we can easily move them from room to room, or pack them away if we want more space, but they are comfy for guests. Only, they do need a throw to make them pretty. xx

Rapunzel said...

Gandhi lived in a much warmer climate, I don't think he could have done better.

Pen Wilcock said...

The Indians of the sub-continent are a tough lot, though. A friend of mine went to India a few years ago, in the winter, and she said it was frrrrreeezing, but they still wore the same salwar kameez with just a thin woollen shawl for extra warmth, and a brazier of coals in the centre of the house to heat it. Very spartan! xx

LANA said...

I admire you for your goal of sleeping on the floor, but I am too fond of my nice soft bed!

Rapunzel said...

Yikes! The Indian students at our university often wear sandals even in winter. My feet would fall off, I'm sure.
I have no idea what to make of this,

Buzzfloyd said...

I strongly suspect that bedding - any bedding - will be more effective than any amount of clothing, because of the air it traps. So you will probably find that blankets and rugs are the thing to keep, which is why bedouins use them in the freezing desert nights.

Pen Wilcock said...

Lana - I've been sleeping on the floor for months now and I, for whom the biggest and softest bed was once my only nonnegotiable must-have piece of furniture, am astonished to find I don't miss it one bit and sleeping on the floor has greatly improved my sense of wellbeing. xx

Rapunzel - interesting . . . I must read about that . . . I wonder if it's something you adjust to? xx

Buzz - Bedouins . . . must read up about their lifestyle - storage, clothes, cooking. Thanks for mentioning them. They have cold night too, in the desert, don't they. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Ha! Bedouin beddin!

Pen Wilcock said...

Bedouin-inspired bed. Hideously ugly, but interesting.