Last year when I was drawing up a list of recommendations for packing when on tour in Ireland I included hot water bottles.Â A flurry of emails came back to say that these were rarer than hen’s teeth to find in the States these days.
Which I find profoundly shocking.Â Of course, once on this side of the Atlantic I gave up on electric heating pads because hot water bottles are ubiquitous.Â Everyone has them.Â And once I had been embraced by my Beloved’s family I found out that if they could design the family coat of arms, there would be a mutt on the left and a hot water bottle on the right.
Indeed, Granny Cuckson (as Beloved’s mother was universally referred to) stoutly declared that she would pack her ‘jars’ (as they are called in Northern Ireland – referring to the earthenware hot water bottles that predated the rubber ones we know today) even if she was in the Sahara desert.Â In her dotage she took five to bed with her each night – one for each foot, one at each side and one to cuddle.
Granny was also famous for including taking a hot water bottle out to the dog kennel on winter nights to make sureÂ the dog was cozy. Barney had been found as a pup at the bottom of their garden.Â Despite her bluster about ‘No more dogs. It’s either me or the dog,’ she promptly put the pup on the hearth rug and slapped a hot water bottle beside it to thaw the poor creature out. They both stayed.Â Like all Cucksons, Barney became deeply attached to his nightly hot water bottle.
To this day at Christmas there is often an exchange of novelty hot water bottles in the gift giving.Â Most notably, my Beloved presented a teddy bear hot water bottleÂ to his younger sister as a form of apology for sawing off the head of her teddy when she was three. (There was intense sibling rivalry going on there, but fortunately in adulthood they have let bygones be bygones.)
The hot tip from this side of the pond is that you should ideally place your hot water bottle roughly over the area where your liver is situated.Â This is supposed to help you generate the greatest sense of warmth that will suffuse your body to sublime toastiness.
We always pack hot water bottles when we go camping, although we have been subject to a few sniggers…until there is a really rainy, chilly day and they see the good common sense in our preparation.
Hot water bottles are also good ways to be more eco-friendly.Â It is recommended that we sleep in cool, darkened rooms.Â A hot water bottle will take the chill off the sheets and make you snuggle under the covers for a good night’s sleep.Â With the thermostat turned lower in the bedroom, you also lower your carbon footprint without sacrificing any creature comfort.