British "stuff" · Christmas · Gifts · Holidays · Shopping

The Hot Water Bottle As Heating System

I first came across it in the Next store in Manchester more than a month ago.  It looked interesting enough — a colorfully knitted, flat-ish, matryoshka-design doll, lying among the “specials” arranged by the entrance to the women’s section.  But when I lifted it, it was heavier than I expected and had a wobbly feel to it.  What on earth is this?  I looked at the tag, and, surprise, surprise …. found out that this knitted “matryoshkha doll” was but a casing that housed a hot water bottle underneath.  Curious, I asked the sales attendant what exactly it was for.  “It’s something you can bring with you to bed to keep your bed warm.”  Oh.  Ok.  How ingenius I thought. 

I would soon find that this in fact is a popular Christmas item in most stores — at least among women and ladies.  (Note:  Hubby didn’t know that these hot water bottles came in “designs”, although he DID confirm that warming beds with hot water bottles was fairly common).  That’s one thing I’ve had to adjust to, coming over to the UK.  I used to gripe a lot about how cold it was/is/can be here in the UK, in response to which the Hubby would often remind me that “It’s not even close to the kind of cold you have in Chicago.”  Which is very true, … and for a while there I couldn’t figure why it just felt colder here in the UK.  THEN IT DAWNED ON ME.  The reason was largely due to the fact that in Chicago, once I get INDOORS of anything — a store, a building, even the bus — there would be heat.  The condo where I live in Chicago has centralized heating (with each condo unit having its own regulator to switch on and off) as part of your monthly association dues.  Over here (UK), you have to knock the heat on and it takes a while for the radiator to get busy.  And you can’t just keep the heat on forever because it is expensive.  So we usually keep it on by the hour and dab to extend the timer if the house isn’t warm enough.  Of course, we DO have a small fireplace which mostly heats just the living room, leaving all other rooms cold.  So the best, most efficient, low-cost and maintenance way to warm your bed?  A water bottle, of course.  :)  Who woulda thunk?   

These loveable little heating systems are found in ALL the major stores.  They come in the guise of dolls, reindeers, cows, — and just as they are, hot water bottles but in their winter coats:

From Next:

From John Lewis:

For a while while searching I had thought TopShop was spared this wonder of a merchandise…. until I looked  underneath at the lower rungs — aha, there you are hiding….

And in that girl-paradise of a store, Accessorize (the stand-alone accessories store of the Monsoon chain):

And even the Charlie-and-Lola series have their own.  I found these in an indie store on Cockburn street in Edinburgh:

There is a  small side story to all this, closer to home:  A few days ago, at the end of an 8-hour overnight flight from Chicago to Manchester, I came home to an house underheated due to the hubby being away on an off-site project.  Extremely tired, I barely made it through the usual post-flight cleaning up routine, and finally dragged myself to bed, ready to plop and bracing myself for the cold bed.  Guess what little surprise I found tucked underneath my blanket, all filled up with hot water? —

AH, THE BRITISH.  UNDERSTATED, BUT NEVER UNDER-ROMANTIC.

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5 thoughts on “The Hot Water Bottle As Heating System

  1. I never would have survived my first year in England without my hottie as the heating in my flat completely sucked. I freakin’ LOVED it! I’m a bit of a purist though…I filled it up with boiling water from the kettle and stuck it under there with no fancy cover. This method is not for the weak!

    1. Yes, that is the one we have too in our house. I think the plain-vanilla no-frills ones without the fancy covering stay warm best and longest. :)

  2. You have to be careful not to make it too hot, because you can then wake up with burns. And if you expel all the air before putting in the stopper, it stays warm longer.

    Top tips for the top hottie.

    Love your snowy background, by the way.

    1. TRUE THAT! i learned it the hard way when i unconsciously (how else?) went to sleep forgetting my foot was on the bottle. good thing i had socks on….

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