Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cold comfort

Browsing through G2 on arriving home this evening, my eye was caught by an article about people giving up their fridges in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Oooh, I thought, no fridge. Just like me on Andante. I wonder if there are any hints I might have benefited from.

Well, what a swizz. These people who have oh-so-greenly unplugged their fridges still, it transpires, have a 'small freezer' in their basement. Plus a 'cool box' upstairs. And this is still treated as an enormous deal. This despite the fact that within living memory, most people didn't have fridges (surely in fact, the electric fridge was invented within living memory). I mean, Jim isn't that ancient, but he remembers his family getting their first, second hand, General Electric model. People had larders, and meat safes. Hmm, and daily deliveries from the milkman and the butcher's boy.

Admittedly, I had a fridge on Andante - one of those little brown gas ones - but it didn't work. We took it all the way to Sowerby Bridge (we got as far as Brighouse by boat, but then had to turn round and come back and go by car. No, we had to buy bolts, turn round and come back and go by car) to get it decoked or whatever it needed, and oh the excitement when we finally (with much lying on the floor squinting into its little mirror) got it to light. Cautiously, I put the CO detector in close - possibly, with hindsight, too close - proximity to its workings, and watched and waited. Unbelievably, it seemed to be working. A few hours later I was wondrously poking at the thin film of ice that was forming on the top of the ice cube tray, when off went the alarm. And that was the end of that little experiment. Subsequently, Jim bought a 12v fridge - a full size one - on ebay, which was wired in just before I sold the boat.

So, all the time I lived on Andante, in short, I was fridgeless. When it was very hot, I would buy a bag of ice in Sainsburys, and put it in a tin tray on the top shelf. But mostly I just kept stuff in the gap under the foredeck, sitting on top of the pig iron ballast, where it was a bit wobbly, but always cool. This in fact was the original beer cupboard, and never bettered.

Here are my top tips for living without a fridge:
1. Don't eat meat
2. Don't eat fish. Unless it's tinned.
3. Eat up everything you've cooked so that you don't have any leftovers (the main reason, I think, that I left Huddersfield a stone and a half heavier than I arrived. But it might have been the pie and peas).
4. Take your milk to work with you every day and let it chill out in their fridge (cheat! cheat!) Or you could buy fresh every day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah Our 23ft NB Poppy used to have a gas fridge when we bought her in '96but the BSC soon put a stop to that as we have a petrol outboard motor. We thought about an electric fridge but with the low charge rate and only 1 battery it wasn't on.
Anyhow its never been a problem, we rediscovered tins, shopped more often, stored the beer and butter on the base plate and bought long life milk. Our longest trip so far has been 7 weeks and we havn't had food poisoning yet, just 12 years of happy boating.

carol said...

Thanks for the link to the G2 article. I'm amazed that their fridge used 1300kwh/year. We got our fridge/freezer three years ago here in the UK, and it uses 200kwh (probably less than their sneaky freezer in the basement). Too bad the Guardian doesn't allow comments.

When we were liveaboards, in winter we often just kept food on our front deck (we had a non-cratch cover) to save running the fridge and the batteries.

Neil Corbett said...

Or buy Cravendale milk. We use it all the time, but especially when camping without a fridge as it seems to keep for ages. It works by having the bacteria that make milk go off filtered out. Tastes nice too.