Sitting on the top of a cliff as we are (or, in the modern ungrammatical parlance, SAT on the top of a cliff as we are) and with a 210° exposure, we enjoy more than our fair share of weather. Wind and rain leaving Ireland have no place to stop until they hit Murmur-y-Don. And hit it they do. Not many people come here in the winter; those who do tend to remember it for the rest of their lives. 120mph gales are not uncommon.
This, together with the blistering, relentless sunshine we have endured for the past week all takes its toll. Nothing more so than on our poor wooden windows. When the house was built in 1907 they used wood which had matured, dried and seasoned naturally over years. We don’t know how to wait any more, so we kiln-dry our timber, which shortens its useful life by about 70 years.
We finally had the 1907 windows replaced in 1995. And now, having been unable to open any of the upstairs windows for the past couple of years, it was time to replace them, after just 20 years.
There’s a simple solution, of course: plastic windows. Unfortunately I hate and abhor plastic windows. They are dreadful, hideous, obtrusive, out of scale, ignorant of the beauty of fenestration, and they are of course indestructible. Long after their ticky-tacky houses have collapsed, those white staring uPVC windows will linger blindly on. They cannot die. They never rot. They can’t be disposed of. They’re made of a non-renewable resource — oil. Plenty of reasons to dislike them.
So we opted for timber windows again. And, I’m afraid to say, we went to the UK’s largest supplier of uPVC windows to have them made. The salesman looked as if all his Christmasses had come that afternoon. “You do realise these will cost TWICE as much as if you’d had them in plastic?” We gulped, and bravely said “Yes.”
I have to say they have done a great job. We now have opening, draught-free wooden double glazed windows. After much initial reluctance, they agreed to paint the casements in the Harlech house colour, Dulux Lizard, and they look hell’s smart. It was a deal breaker. Dulux Lizard or we don’t buy the windows. (I know our friends would have expected us to use Little Green, or Farrow & Ball at the very least, but I’m very happy with Lizard).
We have committed ourselves to a lifetime of repainting and maintenance. It’s probably not worth it.
But it brings peace of mind.