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Travel 2008-2009
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Roosting Chickens.....

OK, so it’s been a while. All righty, quite a long while. And it has also been some time since I posted on here. To be honest, I am a lazy so-and-so, and to be dishonest, I really don’t want to get involved in daily posts about the queue in the newsagents, or the ‘I saw it first’ attitude of the, twice weekly, Lidl bargain hunters. Being retired, I can easily see such topics becoming important to me, and I am resisting. I don’t even wonder if there is a good reason why some people feel it necessary to wear their best clothes to do their (mid)weekly shop in Tesco.  

The current state of the High Street, outside my front door. You will have to read the post to get the point of this picture.For anyone in gainful employment, I can assure you that the town/village where you reside assumes a totally different identity when you are at work. For eight hours a day, the battle for control of the streets rages between the unemployed, and the retired, neither of whom have any money, and with morning and afternoon salvos from the school kids.Anyway, I have some news of chickens coming home to roost. For a few years, I have rather abused my house. I have done this and that, but only really when to do either this, or that, has been essential to my everyday  comfort. And, of course, I have traveled a lot. So, things rather built up, or rather, nearly fell down.        


My, rather snowy, bonfire barrel.

The central heating is the prototype house warming equivalent of Stephenson’s Rocket. And about as effective as the said Rocket would be in competition with, say a goods yard shunter, never mind, a 125, or a Japanese ‘Bullet’ train. Obviously, I paid up for the British Gas mega plan to keep it running. And, for a number of years it did, providing scant warmth, and for some strange reason, scalding hot water. Every year, British Gas would ‘service’ it, and I am not going to be drawn into exactly what kind of value for money that practice involved, but it could be argued that British Gas were the party that were more satisfied with the arrangement.

Prospecting for waterIn early November, the pilot light on the boiler decided that it would usually stay on, and occasionally, normally when I had just taken all my clothes off, go out. Not a situation one would like to have to adapt to on a long-term basis. So I called out my house warming partners, British Gas. Who promptly condemned the boiler Not only did they condemn the boiler, they cut off my gas, physically, using the gasman’s equivalent of a pair of tin-snips, to cut the pipe from the supply to the boiler. Nice!

Prospecting for water (2). With luck we might strike gas as well!I did mention that there are a whole flock of chickens coming home to roost. I can see ‘egg-bound’ coming on soon. I asked British Gas what I was supposed to do for, say, warmth, for example. Not a problem, replied British Gas, we will get one of our highly trained quoterists in to, erm, give you a quote. Sure enough, three hours later the quoterist arrived. I was then treated to a good hour, or so, of pursed lips, shakes of the head, sharp intakes of breath, and glum looks. There is little doubt that these boys really are highly trained. Before he left, he gave me a verbal ‘indication’ of the price of a new system. And that indication was expensive, even to the untrained ear. A day or so later, the written ‘quote’ came through, and it was 34% MORE expensive than the ‘indication’. I showed the quote to an ‘in the know’ friend of mine, and he just laughed. And laughed, and laughed. I will give but one example. British Gas had quoted for 14 radiators, all at the same price, but they hadn’t specified the size. Some room for manoeuvre there then!

The (rather tricky for a low slung car) road to my mid-week home!As far as restoring heat to my home was concerned, that was it from British Gas. They bunged in a quote that made my friend laugh his socks off, and then left me to die of hypothermia. There has been no quote follow up whatsoever. I did get a ‘check’ call from British Gas, but it had nothing to do with my problem. It was solely concerned with the professionalism of the quoterist. Marks out of five please. Did he purse his lips a lot? Yes. Shake his head? Yes. Sharp intakes of breath? Yes. Glum looks? Erm, yes. Five out of five for the lot!

I always think that, if you are going to have problems, get yourself a whole basket full of them. There is not a lot of point in going through a whole lot of worry, and distress, over one major issue, when you can spread the same amount over at least two.

I eventually showed the BG quote to a plumber friend of mine. He confirmed that British Gas would be making a ‘healthy’ profit, but he wondered why they had quoted for a conventional boiler, rather than a more modern ‘combi’ unit. After some investigation, it turned out to be a water pressure issue.

I had known for some time that my cold water pressure was not good. It’s ok, but only just ok, it has never been bad enough not to be able to run, say the washing machine, or the dishwasher, but it took a while to cool down the bath for example. My plumber had a poke about with the stopcock, and various internal bits, and couldn’t cure the problem that way. So I was left with the likelihood that there was an ‘underground’ problem. And the only way that you can deal with an ‘underground’ problem, is to dig. 

Rather snowy sign outside my mid-week homeNow my house is right on the equivalent of the High Street in my town. It has a long, thin, 100 metres of garden down the whole block to another street at the end. So where do you think my water supply comes from? Correct! It comes from the street at the rear, all the way up 100 metres of garden. It is going to be a lot of digging! In the meantime, I have decamped to a local pub/hotel, three or four miles up the road. I stay there during the week, and I stay at MBG’s at the weekend.  And it has snowed. And snowed, and snowed. It has snowed enough to stop the digging, and it has even snowed enough to almost stop me going the three or four miles home. Fortunately, my car is a four wheel drive, so it copes pretty well with the traction element of snow. Unfortunately, it is a fairly low-slung ‘sporty’ job and it definitely doesn’t like that ridge of snow that you get in the middle of the road. Still, my temporary midweek home is a pub, and they do very good food………….

Might as well have a Guinness, seeing as I am here!