Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dear, Deer, the ultimate radiator

You have to be British, or at the very least a child of a cold country, to appreciate the true beauty of a radiator.  To qualify for true radiator worship status it helps to have passed a childhood jostling for a perch on a school radiator despite their bottom unfriendly design with cast iron sharp ridges and the added thrill of the rumour that prolonged exposure was a surefire route to piles.  But any radiator was better than the chilly alternative, in my last year of school I was taught in what was in effect an unheated classroom, and I have memories of wearing every article of clothing I possessed to stay warm before the exasperated and presumably freezing English master gave up and invited us all round to his place, where we could study without succumbing to frostbite, whilst politely trying to ignore the dodgy poster of girl in tennis dress scratching her bottom that adorned his kitchen.

Likewise I remember my unheated bedroom at university.  Cambridge is possibly the coldest place in England, with a Siberian wind that crackles straight across the Fens.  Rather than getting undressed to go to bed, I doubled the layers, and clambered into my tracksuit as a last layer of insulation, hard to overestimate the attraction of this particular outfit, and attempted to build a type of nest with the bedclothes.  It is safe to say I would have killed for a radiator at that particular point in my life.

Sydney houses and flats quite often don’t do central heating, relying on the fact that winter is generally short and sweet by Northern Hemisphere standards, and where there is heating it tends be in the form of reverse cycle air conditioning or systems such as ours where hot air is puffed round the house and I do hear rumours of underfloor heating in newbuilds – quite enough to make my toes curl with delight, but in general radiators are pretty much an unknown concept aside from their wimpy cousins, the towel rails.

My Australian friends are thus somewhat perplexed by my latest fashion passion on the home décor front, though my more heat challenged Kiwi friends get the concept of marrying warmth with good looks.  The November 24 th/ 25 th edition of my favourite read – the Weekend FT, published the most fabulous article by Kate Watson-Smyth entitled “The Heat of the Moment”, highlighting some of the modern takes on the traditional radiator.

I love it when I see something clever and utilitarian that represents a completely new approach to a standard boring bit of life and these fabulous radiators shaped like paperclips, paper dolls or in the piece de resistance, a deer, were enough to bring me out in a heat induced hot flush.  I just love the deer created by Gewoon Guus of the Netherlands, and defy anyone not to look at it and smile.  I now have my heart set on buying a herd of them to place in the hallway of the baronial Scottish mansion that I am obviously going to require in order to do my stunning new radiators justice.  Given the price tag, Husband is less keen on the herd of heat radiating deer idea – not to mention the baronial mansion purchase, but then when it comes to radiator fashion he’s got no eye for deer – or no eye deer in possibly the worst pun ever – 2013 can only raise the tone.

Happy New Year and may all your celebrations be warm ones.


  1. Oooh, my fave is the loop one towards the end. Here in the USA they're not keen on radiators, which are usually found in old houses and ripped out as soon as possible. We have the central heat/air, which is incredibly drying so we also have to have a built-in humidifier to stop everyone exploding when they touch another human!
    You might be interested in my post at BBC America's Mind the Gap blog - about Brits in a Cold Climate -

  2. Hi Expat Mum, have to say I yearn for the loop one too. When we lived in New York State we used to have what sounded like a 747 in the basement that cranked up and sent hot air round the rented house we lived in - but the insulation was so bad that the dishwasher used to freeze up - just typing the words makes me shudder and look gratefully round my kitchen in Sydney with doors open to the sunshine! Loved the Brits in a Cold Climate piece Happy New Year from Down Under. Cx