Ode to the Hot Water Bottle

Its that time of year (and, boy oh boy does the weather want you to know that it is that time of year) and so I have decided to craft a seasonally appropriate blog post. Whilst quite tipsy on (seasonally appropriate) red wine (thank goodness for those red squiggly ‘you’ve-done-something-wrong’ lines, otherwise this post would go out NOT ONLY embarrassingly written, but ALSO with spelling mistakes. SHOCK HORROR).

I’ve already done my, ‘Why-you-are-wrong-and-I-am-right-and-winter-is-ACTUALLY-the-best-season-ever’ post (see here) and I’ve also done my, ‘Isn’t-autumn-lovely-with-its-pretty-colours-and-its-breath-like-smoke’ post’ (see here), so all I am left with now is to break down the various seasons into tiny little bits and comment on them individually: ‘Oh, how I do enjoy the autumn leaves!’ ‘Oh, how I do enjoy seeing my breath!’ ‘Oh, isn’t lovely when you wake up and its sunny and brisk and then you go to work and it gets rainy and miserable and then you have to walk to the tube station in the rain without an umbrella because you thought you didn’t need one and then on the tube you have to choose people to sit next to and they’re all, ‘Don’t sit near me with your wet and dripping sleeves’ (in their EYES) and then you choose the person/people you least like in the carriage (based on carefully deliberated and TOTALLY SUPERFICIAL factors) and then you deliberately LEAN IN (in a non-Facebook-feminist way) to them just so you can make them all wet and cold just like you are because that will somehow make everything better’. Yeah. Its the little things that make the seasons lovely. 

So, in that spirit, here is my ‘Ode to the Hot Water Bottle’ (also in the spirit of previous posts, ‘Ode to the Trampoline‘ and ‘Ode to My Shoes‘).

Do you guys know how awesome that hot water bottle is? I don’t think you do.

Before I came to Europe, I thought a hot water bottle was something that you used only when you were sick and on your special lady times.

But then I went to Ireland and I discovered that the way the Irish show their hospitality to a guest is by putting a hot water bottle in their bed. Even in the summer! No, seriously! I once stayed at a friend’s house in June and her mother had put a hot water bottle in the bed! Under the doona! And, I have to say, I was delighted! I had never felt so warm and cosy and looked after in all my life! Sure I as a little woozy from the slight over-heating, but I was still very, very happy to be there and to be so looked after.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the hot water bottle:

1) Containers used for warmth in bed have been around since the 16th century and used to be filled with the dying embers of the fire.

2) The modern day hot water bottle made of rubber was patented by the Croatian, Eduard Penkala (thank you Croatia).

3) Hot water bottles have been supplanted in most countries by better heating and electric blankets (boo) but in ‘developing’ countries, rural areas and places such as the UK & Ireland (yay), hot water bottles remain popular alternatives to the other fancy-schmancy things (source: Wikipedia and life experience).

4) Hot water bottles have seen a recent upsurge in Japan, where they are seen as a cost-effective and ecologically friendly way of staying warm (source: Wikipedia)!

5) There is a wikipedia post for Hot Water Bottles!

6) The german for Hot Water Bottle is: Wärmflasche! It has an umlaut! Hooray!

7) They are like hugging a teddy bear! A WARM teddy bear (yay)! Or a (very small) human being (Yay? Boo? CONFUSION)!

8) They have magic (medicinal) properties! Father’s remedies for an upset stomach included: a) flat, warm lemonade b) time off school c) MANDATORY viewing of Disney cartoons and/or Home Alone d) some kind of watery soup with toast (or those tiny little French mini-toasts that came out of a packet and made you FEEL LIKE A GIANT or possibly ALICE IN WONDERLAND WHEN SHE DRANK THE POTION – obviously the best snack food ever) e) (most important) HOT WATER BOTTLE

9) They come in novelty shapes! They come with novelty furry wrapper things, possibly shaped like your favourite animal (if its stomach was a square)! The rubber comes in a variety of colours (mainly red or blue)!

I think I have switched from interesting facts into why I like hot water bottles by accident. Probably all that seasonally appropriate red wine. Anyway, it pretty much all boils down to this: hot water bottles are awesome. They are warm and comforting and old-fashioned in a way that electric blankets and halogen heaters can never ever hope to be (unless, of course, we are talking about electric blankets and halogen heaters in a far distant future when they are also old-fashioned and possibly obsolete due to the MASSIVE HEATING OF THE PLANET AND MELTING OF THE ICE CAPS THAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT TO FACE. DOOM DOOM). Why are they so much more comforting? Probs because you have to hold them directly on to your skin. To, like, directly transfer the heat from one place to another. But also, you either you have to make one up yourself, or someone you know has to make one up for you. It’s not just flicking a switch and having hot air blasting hot at you. You have to put the kettle on. Pour the water (carefully) into the hot water bottle. Put the plug in. It’s not that much effort, but these days we’re so adverse to any thing that in anyway resembles effort that any effort at all suddenly seems special.

‘You waited in the kitchen for 2 minutes for the kettle to boil? Just so that I would have a lovely warm thing to clutch as I slept? I FEEL SO SPECIAL AND LOVED!’

It’s like the difference between growing all the vegetables in your local allotment and then going and picking them and taking them home in a brown box and then washing them and peeling them and cutting them up and putting them in a big pot and spicing them and mixing them and checking on them and taking them out of the pot and serving them to yourself with a little sprig of rosemary; and going to Sainsbury’s and picking up a plastic container of vegetable soup for 1.50 pounds and putting it in the microwave for 3 mins. That is the difference between a hot water bottle and an electric heather (so, basically, everything).

Do you know what else is good about hot water bottles? They are fun. Yes, fun! They are squishy. You can hear the water sloshing around inside. You can rock them back and forth and feel the water moving. Its all very sensorially pleasing.

So, how can I sum this all up?

Hot water bottles people! Get amongst it! I’m going to go make one up now!

Hot water bottles! One red! One blue! One normal! One novelty shaped! Founda at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W%C3%A4rmflasche1.jpg

Hot water bottles! One red! One blue! One normal! One novelty shaped! Founda at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W%C3%A4rmflasche1.jpg

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