Saturday, 23 August 2014

Swings and Roundabouts

Did I sound just a tad smug in my previous post almost a week ago? Being self-satisfied and boasting about how good things are never pays off. Not for me, anyway. This week has been a humdinger for stumbling blocks and domestic misery.

Paul the gardener called for a morning’s work; hardly had we got started when heavy clouds chose Valley’s End, and my garden specifically, to shed their load. Paul carried on regardless, so I couldn’t chicken out. We adjourned to the compost heaps under some large trees - the rain was less wet there - and chatted while we worked. Suddenly Paul burst into tears. “Sorry”, he sobbed, “I just don’t know what’s wrong, I’ve been very weepy and desperately depressed for days.” He knows that I understand, being a depressive myself, so I let him talk and made appropriate noises. There’s nothing else you can do. Eventually he calmed down and we continued working.

I spoke to him a day later and he said that the cloud had lifted, he felt much better and hoped he wouldn’t need to weep into my compost next time. I suggested that peeing into the compost might be better than crying. We also agreed that it would be more productive if he didn’t top himself until he’d helped me to lick the garden into shape. Gallows humour. Depressives find that sort of talk funny.

Then the dog came home with new lesions on her face. The last course of treatments was to have sorted them out permanently. Back we went to the Vet’s Surgery. “Come back in the morning”, Sarah said, “and let George have another look at her”.  George had seen her before, as had Anne and Percy, two other Vets. So that makes four opinions altogether, so far. George said all that remained to do was to take blood samples and undertake a biopsy under full anaesthetic.  Millie has become a very expensive dog, and there’s no end in sight to the Vet’s bills. But we love her.

She had her op on the same day as Beloved had to be taken to hospital for a consultation with another one of his many specialists. This pretty much meant that I was on the road from nine in the morning to near six in the afternoon, ferrying Millie and Beloved around. I get tired and a long day’s driving and hanging about is not what I had planned for my old age. I was exhausted at the end of it, looking forward to some time off.

Then, out of the blue and without any prior warning, two basins in the downstairs loo and bathroom seized up. Nothing would shift the water. A plumber was called and his attendance promised for the following day. And the day following that day. He still hadn’t called this morning. We have other wash basins, so the lack of these two in the bathrooms was inconvenient rather than serious . . . . . . .

. . . . . until the boiler which supplies hot water and heating for the whole house packed up. It sits next to one of the basins.  One minute Beloved was doing dishes under running hot water, the next the water turned cold. The boiler man from Bosch was called and his attendance promised for next Thursday.

“What?” “Next Thursday?”

We had only just had a service done and paid through the nose for it. Bosch is a very reliable firm and they pride themselves on the perfect workings of their product. We wouldn’t dream of having any other boiler, and the only engineer we would let near it would have to be a Bosch trained one. They are expensive, but worth it for the peace of mind. Until something goes wrong . . . .

“Calm down”, the lady at the other end said. “That’s just for the records. I will of course, right now, see if one of our engineers is in the area before next Thursday. I’ll be in touch”.

She was as good as her word. The engineer called this morning. “Nothing much wrong with the boiler”, he said. I’ll fix a new fan, it sounds a bit rough. Still, while I’m here, I’ll have another look”.

“Funny”, he said, "the boiler seems to be full of water. Did you say this basin is blocked?”

It turned out that the boiler is a condensation boiler and needs an outlet for the condensation it produces. (Aren’t I clever, I understood that!) And its outlet was blocked.

I was ready to go spinning down the plughole myself by now. The plumber supposed to come and fix the blocked drains still hadn’t called. I rang Kevin, his boss, the owner and slave driver of the building company involved and complained - well, threw myself on his mercy. Beloved says I’m good with people like that. Besides, we frequently use the company and always pay our bills on time.

Kevin came within the hour, had a chat with the boiler man who was just packing up his equipment and set to work.  He took apart pipes in both rooms, found nothing, opened manhole covers outside, found nothing, and scratched his head. “I’m going to have to take the bath panel off and see what’s under the bath”, he said. He did, found the blockage in a complicated junction of pipes from several directions, removed it, replaced the pipes, fixed the panel back into place, and after a bit of a clean and tidy up, you wouldn’t know anything had been amiss.

So there you are, keep flushing your pipes thoroughly, and all will be well. I wish the same could be said for Millie and Beloved. Not to mention my own pipes.


  1. A lot of 'oh dear' and 'oh no' went through my mind as I read this. What a week. I'm sure if we counted right we could make all of this add up to three, since know that that is the magic number for trouble. We want it to be exactly three - careful not to start another series of three!! Three exactly.

  2. Why is it that when you already have quite enough to handle, thank you very much, life comes along and says, "Oh, wait! Let me just add this one MORE thing to your load!"
    I'm so glad the pipes are at least sorted. If only our health were as logical.

  3. Whenever i have a sink draining slowly I take up the drain plug and put in a hook to see if it is just hair, which is had been the last two times. I have a wine cooler on the fritz, a middle burning not starting, a front door lock that is freezing up...I am waiting for the fourth item before I start calling for help.

  4. well i am glad they found your back up and got that fixed...yeah if only everything else was so easy eh? i am glad you love millie enough to care for def does get expensive

  5. we have a septic system, unlike the city plumbing we had at the city house, and the kitchen sink and bathtub drain get stopped up with regularity. well, not completely stopped up but the water will drain very slowly. Just had to clear out the bathtub yesterday. fortunately we didn't need a plumber, just some heinous clog eating acid. My own pipes were clogged up for about a week. working perfectly one day and not the next. finally employed some prunes with the extra water I was drinking.

    I would like to get some rain here.

  6. A lot of 'tsk, tsk' and 'chuckle' from me as I read this Friko. Gallows humour is such jolly good fun. I've just had my own plumbing issues of which I've yet to settle the bill on so I empathise!
    On a more serious note, my thoughts are very much with you for Millie and Beloved.
    Anyhow, there's way too much going on for you to go spinning down that plughole yourself. :)

  7. Oh poor you - and poor Beloved and Millie, too. It sounds like an 'It never rains but it pours' series of events (starting with real rain and Paul's tears!). Thank goodness the drains/boiler problems are now solved, and we really hope that Beloved's and Millie's problems can be sorted as well. We've had problems with one of our 'boys', and when the vet's bill was totted up we decided that animals are sefinitely in the expenxive luxury category these days! And the BH had to have an emergency trip to the acute eye clinic at Shrewsbury on Friday, as he's been suffering with eye/headaches and blurred vision, followed on Tuesday by serious double vision as he was driving me to the exercise class - I had to take over the driving, get him home and then get myself to class. When I got back, he'd contacted the surgery and they'd got him an appointment that afternoon, during which the Dr telephoned the eye clinic, and they sorted an appointment for him as soon as possible. Net result: a muscle has decided to get slack, but may get back to normal in a few months, meanwhile he has had a prism attached to one lens of his glasses to try to get the images to coincide, but can't drive! And we're going on holiday to the North of Scotland on Tuesday - so guess who's going to be doing all the driving!! Fortunately I still enjoy it (mostly - given that I have little patience with some of the folk on the road who seem to have no consideration for other road users!), and we've booked stop-overs en route up and back, and in between will be staying with cousins. So we're still going, and will see how his eyes and brain adapt to the prism.
    All good wishes to both of you from both of us, and to Millie from the 'boys'.

  8. I hate plumbing problems more than any other. Whenever we've had such problems, we've never found them to be easy pieces to replace, but entire pipe systems or water heaters...
    It all goes to show that moments of calm and contemplation are the exception to life, not the norm. Hope everything works out for the better soon. One can only take so much.

  9. It sounds like a pretty awful week to me, but with a happy ending. That's not so bad, but from your description and all the experts who needed to be hired, I imagined the future expensive bills that will float into your mailbox. Yikes! :-)

  10. You've had a heavy weak. Why is it that everything happens at once?

  11. I sometimes think that ill fate has an enormous ear trumpet which can hear the slightest cheep of self satisfaction on my part.....
    I do remember neighbours in France clearing their plumbing with their home distilled eau de vie....everyone armed with a bottle at each sink, loo, bath and bidet...on the word of command...pour!

  12. Oh no! Poor Millie, poor Beloved, poor Paul, and poor you!

  13. Ah! Life's plumbing! Hang in there, as we inarticulate colonials say

  14. Oh my gosh! What a bevy of things to go wrong at once. I hope this week is better than last.


  15. My own plumbing is good, but I wish I could afford a surprise plumber to my daughter's house.
    The plumbing there is old as the hills and pretty dodgy.

  16. Spinning into the plug that's a thought. You make me think my problems are minuscule. I do hope Millie is OK. As for you and Beloved...I wish you well. Poor Paul. I recall he is young. Life is so hard for youngsters. Did we have such woes when we were younger? Mercifully, I have mostly forgotten the angst of being younger. I don't give into can kill you.

  17. Playing catchup (again!) Your gardens and grounds are lovely, I'm glad to know Millie is in good hands, that the pipes are sorted and that somewhere in the days ahead you will be able to rest and gloat again. Your gift for storytelling is a gift to us all!

  18. What a week! Surely you've had your share of wretchedness and you're in for a season of smooth weather. I certainly hope so. I'm so sorry for Millie's continued problems and Paul's depression. Glad to hear that the plumbing is untangled.

  19. Poor Millie , her affliction sounds quite Biblical in its discomfort . I hope the vet can prescribe something that clears it up for good , this time .
    May next week be peaceful and only full of nice surprises .

  20. Oh Friko - all so frustrating ... I think poor you and Beloved - just glad he got to see one of his experts ... while eventually you were able to collapse with a glass of vino I hope ...

    Now Paul - gosh he must be so pleased he works with you (not for you?!) ... but at least you can laugh with him and turn his tables .. then you're considerate enough to check in on him - as I know that you would ...

    While Millie - I do hope she can get healed and not cost you a fortune ... or any more of one - but love of your animals is a human's lot ... so you don't mind ..... too much! .... or at all for that matter - the main thing is she heals.

    However the basins and Bosch - they are the best aren't they ... but am glad that's sorted out and the house appears to be functioning again ... Cheers to you both - Hilary

  21. Oh dear what a nightmare! just one thing after another. I hope next week is much, much calmer.
    We have just had our boiler serviced by British gas. Since then it hasnt worked properly. They have come back twice but need to come again. It happened literally the day after they came. T says it is probably just coincidence. Hm....

  22. OMG! Why does everything always seem to happen at once!? When issues pop up they seem to come in a big pile up. Awk!! Thank goodness the pipes and hot water are working in the house now. Prayers for Millie and Beloved. I hope things are sorted out for all of you, soon.

  23. You know, I think "calm down" is a condescending response. You were justifiably dismayed.

  24. Lovely Millie ... every time I see her pic in your side bar I think of my Piwo, rest his soul ... as for boiler and heater and alike problems , ya ... try that in -30C temperatures ... ya ... feel better now? Love, cat.

  25. It's nice that Paul confided in you. A lot of men would not.

  26. Friko, I also appreciate dark gallows humor. Of course, it's a shame when we feel as if we are getting too many opportunities to exercise it.

    Best wishes to you and yours. I do hope that the vet quartet can get lovely Millie on the mend.


  27. I understand
    as a lot of issues going on
    in the woods and with this one.
    One day at a time
    and keep going...
    Guess there is no other way.
    Love the way you can writie and share
    about all of this :)

  28. It's true. When it rains it pours. Or when it clogs, it doesn't pour....or some such thing.

    How your dear dog and even dearer hubby will do better soon.


  29. Sorry you've had a rough time Friko, but I admire the way you tackled the problems and got some results.

  30. Yikes. Sounds like you've been through the ringer. First I send good wishes and healing thoughts to both Beloved and to Millie. You could probably use a few yourself, at least with the angst. Nothing worse than water problems, whether it is leaking/flooding or not going anywhere. Glad all on that end is settled.

    I love the Paul story. Yes, gallows humor seems to be effective. I don't know why, but I don't argue!

  31. Thanks for the visit to my blog! Yours is going to be a fun read. I first thought you had two dogs when I discovered "Beloved" was the human variety! I will have to keep reading to find out what is wrong with Millie. I could probably order a beer in German but otherwise, it is all forgotten!

  32. I hate to ask, but has anything more gone awry since you wrote this??! It appears you had more than your share of disasters.

  33. Dear Friko, when I was growing up the Morton Salt Company had a slogan for the salt in its boxes: When it rains, it pours." I didn't understand the meaning and so came to believe that when rain happened--like something difficult in my life--more would happen: a downpour. And it does seem to me to be true that things happen in 3s. Well it seems to me that your is more like 2 X 3! I"m hoping that this week things will settle down and you're get to rest your weary bones and refresh your mind out in the garden and on a long walk with Millie. I so anxious to find out what is wrong with her. Peace.

  34. Oh dear, what a terrible week for you all, with problems flooding in from all directions. I'm glad some at least have been sorted out and hope that more will find solutions soon.

  35. Oh what a lot of trouble you have had. Thankfully, you have some good men to do repairs. I usually end up having to call them back for a second fix because the first one didn't work.

    Keep those pipes flushed. I hope your sweet dog is ok.


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