Bring Your Own Cans..

With so much going on around the place many seemingly lesser things have passed us by. Mike came into the kitchen yesterday morning looking sheepish. “I should have paid more attention to Physics lessons at school.” While it might have been an odd thing to hear I wasn’t, at that point, in full panic mode. But it didn’t take long.

We haven’t had oil fired central heating before. It’s always been gas. Either out of a big orange 47kg bottle, or several, or via a pipe from under the road. No, oil is something entirely new. Mike had been monitoring the oil tank ever since we’d moved in. Thinking what good value it must be, because the level of oil in the sight glass hardly ever moved. Even though it’s been the lousiest summer on record and we’ve had the heating on for at least some part of every day.

So it wasn’t until yesterday that the awful truth emerged. Mike had decided to investigate further and in doing so took the cap off the top of the sight glass. The level of oil in the plastic pipe went into freefall. Right to the bottom of the tank in fact. Gulp. What were the chances of getting an oil delivery before Christmas now? Probably about the same as the world ending anytime soon*.

After much ringing around and some frenetic search engine activity, Mike located a company selling heating oil via a pump in much the same way as petrol. His first stop was an agricultural store where he purchased eight 25 litre plastic containers with screw top caps. It was as many as they had. And then to the back end of an industrial estate over an hour’s trip from home. The screw caps turned out not to be watertight and, inevitably, during the return journey some of the oil leaked out. But that was nothing to the struggle to get the oil into the tank. Yesterday, you’ll recall, it was raining. Not light rain, either. The tank is located in the middle of a copse at the top of the drive. And the lid is at least six feet off the waterlogged ground.

In an effort to show solidarity, I rode shotgun for the second trip. By now the car had acquired the delicate aroma of a petrochemical plant. Even with the containers empty once more, the windows had to be left open and the rain came in. Clearly, we’re not the only people on the learning curve of oil: at the depot, there’s now a 20 minute wait just to get to the front of the queue. And then the tortuous journey back up the A30. Every bend in the road a new opportunity for spillage. The sound of sloshing oil our accompaniment all the way home.


* 21 December 2012 marked the end of a phase in the Mayan calendar. Some had predicted it would coincide with the end of the world.