I turned to John as we thankfully sat down yesterday evening after a typically busy Friday, ‘I do love that moment when one can at last sit down and relax, knowing that both lots of guests have arrived and are happily settled in…’ when there was an apologetic knock at the door.
‘I am so sorry for disturbing you, but there seems to be black smoke coming out of the boiler in Douglas’s Barn!’
And that was the end of the evening and the end of all relaxing. Phil Jennings our truly amazing ‘boiler man’ drove out at 8.30pm to fix, as he and we thought, the boiler, only to pronounce that the damage was fatal: the only solution a complete new system. Have you noticed how this sort of pronouncement only arises on a Friday evening? The only surprise being this isn’t a Bank Holiday weekend…
May we be forgiven for being so pleased about our QiT Inspection report! We are happy enough to share the good news, so we can’t be coy about sharing the bad although as some kind soul has just reminded us, it wasn’t anybody’s fault, it wasn’t anything anyone’s done wrong (except perhaps the makers of the not-old boiler – obviously a ‘Friday afternoon’ model which has given a lot of expensive trouble over its shortish life). Be that as it may, we do feel bad about it all. It is embarrassing and upsetting to let people down and one can’t help feeling that in the ideal cottage world with ideal owners this would never happen.
The guests in Douglas’s Barn, who had only just settled in after driving up from London for the weekend, have been brilliant and are now happily ‘camping’ in their central-heatlingless holiday-cottage-in-midwinter which, thanks to the electric ‘burning pebbles and two borrowed heaters (and its own super-efficient insulation), is we gather keeping plenty warm enough; apart from no hot water everything else is still working. We have lent them the use of our spare bathroom in the house which is literally next door so it’s not ideal for them but they’re accepting the situation apparently cheerfully.
These guests were all part of the unfolding drama so we were spared breaking any unexpected news to them. Breaking the news quite out of the blue to guests eagerly waiting to arrive on Monday was very difficult, although again they were very understanding about the rather unwelcome and unexpected turn of events. To cut a long story – and one pretty well sleepless night – short, everything is now beginning to fall into place, more or less… Phil the joiner man has managed to order a replacement boiler (on a Saturday!) which will arrive on Tuesday. Meanwhile, he will take out the offending boiler on Monday, replace it with the new model on Tuesday and he faithfully assures us that everything will be up and running and ready for the new guests on Friday, even allowing us plenty of time to get everything back in sparkling order before 3pm …
So we may live to tell the tale after all. We’ve had dramas before, many related to this same boiler; we’ve also had several minor floods, and more than one very prolonged power cut – one lasting two days. We have had so much snow that our guests couldn’t leave and we had to re-schedule the incoming guests offering them a free alternative date instead.
At the time they have all seemed a drama of sorts, even if only a minor one; some like the power cuts have ended up being really rather fun – our joint dinner party by candlelight during one recent power cut was rated the highlight of their holiday by both couples! We have not had anything on the scale of the current situation, which apart from the human element is going to be financially significant too. But at least there wasn’t a flood or a fire, no one has been hurt and no real damage has been done to body or soul other than to what my nuns at school would call our ‘false pride’.