The other day I read a novel about Mary Queen of Scots called Fatal Majesty by Reay Tannahill. I was reminded that Queen Elizabeth I was considered unusually fastidious by her contemporaries because she had a bath once a month whether she needed it or not. (Mary bathed once a week, but she was raised French and therefore full of peculiar habits). Let us not forget that a bath in Elizabethan times would have involved many servants carting water to be boiled over a fire and then carrying it in buckets up stone stairs etc etc.
Bathing here at the cowshed is also a challenge. Hot water is to be heated in a zip (remember those from school halls?) but the zip doesn't have its string (to turn it on) anymore. I am by far the shortest person on the farm (not unusual for me the be the shortest adult in most situations but here even the kids are taller) and it took me a long time to work out I had to climb on a ledge and reach round to poke blindly with an old chopstick into the place from which the string should emerge.
There is no immediate way of telling whether this has worked but when I'm lucky within half an hour the zip will feel hot to the touch and eventually it boils and I can have a bath. Unfortunately, whatever knack I had for turning on the zip last week has failed me this week and I have been clambering and poking to no avail for two days now.
I am going into Town today and while it is one thing to have chosen a reclusive and simple life, it is another thing to smell like an Elizabethan in the company of those who take limitless hot water for granted. So this morning I am anxiously clambering and poking and testing pretty constantly.
Tomorrow, I move into my own place, with its hot water cylinder and shower-no-bath. I can't wait to shower every day, whether I need it or not!