Four Days In November
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The day the boiler fitters turned up it almost got down to freezing. The chilliest night of the season thus far. We thought we’d been so clever getting the chimney swept the week before. Now at least we could have a fire. But by the time all the furniture from the dining room was piled into the sitting room it was hard enough to see the woodburner let alone light it. So the fan heaters came out instead, moved around from room to room on a needs must basis. The bedroom was temporarily disassembled to enable an electric blanket to be wired in.
And was the discomfort to end there? Of course not.
Secondary ground zero
Whilst the dining room, home of the boiler cupboard, saw most of the disruption it wasn’t to be confined by any stretch of the imagination. Regrettably the hot water tank, cold water tank and central heating header tank are (were) all located within a six foot radius of my desk.
For the first two days the boiler men left me mostly alone. The ladder was in place even if the dust sheets had yet to make an appearance. And there was the gaping hole of the loft hatch. As we know cold air has a tendency to sink downwards. There it joined the arctic blast from the permanently open front door seeking out with military precision the gap beneath the study door necessitated by the uneven floor. I was left huddled in a veritable wind tunnel. Note I didn’t say they left me in peace. Between the effort to bore a flue sized hole through a three foot thick cob wall and the inevitable radio I could hardly claim an undisturbed working environment. What is it with tradesmen and their radios? Is it the same the world over? With all the noise a man and his drill can generate surely they can barely hear the wretched thing. And yet every other occupant of the household has to be exposed to the constant boom, boom, boom with the volume turned to max.
By Day Three the weather had improved sufficiently to enable an escape to the relative sanctuary of the garden where I dug up four tender perennials and planted out four others of a hopefully hardier constitution. There was also a trip to the hairdresser. A blissful half hour in the car with the heater turned up as high as it would go. It was tempting to camp out in the car for the rest of the day. Or take up the hairdresser’s offer of a seat in their lounge area for as long as I wanted it, supplied with coffee and an inexhaustible library of back issues from ‘Hello’.
On Day Four, to add to the excitement, the water went off as well. With rain in the wind I retreated to the greenhouse and spent a blissful couple of hours pottering about and potting up, almost forgetting about the chaos reigning indoors. Almost that is until I ventured back inside to wash compost blackened hands.. Ah.
So was it all worth it?
Well there is still a lingering angst over whether the plumbing will stand up to the pressure. But so far so good. And that aside it does seem to be working perfectly. The house is warmer. Can’t argue with that. There is the luxury of a wall mounted thermostat so I actually have the means to turn the heat up. Even if it does have the annoying habit of returning to the original temperature just a few minutes later. Positioning the thermostat with its digital display right by the stairs might have been a mistake. It’s far too visible there.
Then there is the small matter of relearning how to use the taps. In the past one simply turned the lever full on to extract the mere trickle that was to be had. Do that now and the tap explodes. In the bathroom the effect is to send water flying to all four corners of the room. I kid you not. But the hand shower on the bath mixer is a thing reborn. Never has it worked so well. And the bit of white plastic that had to be shoved under the diverter to facilitate any sort of shower at all? Redundant now.