Sam and our son Leon are very practical people who can mend anything.  However, both of them have been away all this week on business – Sam in Berlin and Leon in Manchester.  Well, you can guess what happened… something went wrong, as it invariably does when they’re away.

Our boiler, installed just 3 years’ ago, started to blow its gasket on Monday.  The pressure gauge rose into the red danger zone and wouldn’t come down.  I was alarmed at the sight of it, and turned it off.  I’d previously called out the engineer only a fortnight before when Sam had been away.  The boiler is still under guarantee, and so if Sam and Leon are away at least I have a backstop (oh no, perhaps I shouldn’t mention ‘backstop’!).

The boiler man turned up last time, did his thing, and went away again.  Virtually as soon as Sam’s flight had taken off, the damn thing started to play up again.  I phoned the boiler company and was informed I’d have to wait a week for the next appointment.

Joy.  Okay, I don’t like a lot of heat, but the house thermometer was reading 14 degrees.  A bit chilly if I’m sitting still and writing.  I sent Sam a text, to which he replied that I’d have to ‘bleed a radiator’ and let some water out.  If I couldn’t turn the radiator key, then I’d need to get a pair of pliers and ‘give it some welly’.

This was on par with the true story of a neighbour telling his wife to … “just dig out those shed footings by the time I come home from work”.  She’s built like the proverbial brick latrine, and so she did.  However, Stevie has spaghetti arms and is not the least bit technically minded.  Sam might as well have told me to fly to the moon.

I felt like telling him to shove his radiator key where it would do the most good.  Instead, I set about heating the house the old-fashioned way – by way of an open fire.  We still had the old supply of coal and wood out in the garden.  The central heating engineers left us one open fire, and lo and behold, Stevie actually got the fire crackling nicely in the grate.

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However, it’s a voracious eater, and it’s not very efficient as the heat is going straight up the chimney.  It’s also messy and I hate cleaning it out.  Still, the thermometer has reached the dizzy heights of 16 degrees, and with 3 layers of clothing on I’m okay.  It’s quite cosy sitting reading by an open fire.  It doesn’t remind me of my childhood, because hey, we had central heating!

Thank God I didn’t live in Victorian times…