It's An Electric Gnome That Brings The Heat

It's been a busy few weeks in the house at Pig Row. Our dark corridors and rooms have been transformed by the addition of some exciting changes.

How we have to learn to trust tradesmen again.

We can now see our hand before us at night. For the last few years we have lived with some dodgy surface wiring that has at times tried our patience, fused our appliances and one incident caused a fire when an electric heater overloaded. So, it with some sense of satisfaction that we are now up to building code and have a new fully rewired house with enough plugs to satisfy the most addicted gadget geek. We're not gadget geeks but a good plug nearby is better than a plug in the next room overloaded with extensions.

Light can be taken for granted.

The extension life is over for us, and so after walls coming down, we had a couple of electricians in called Richard and Chris, who have cast new light and surprises on our little cottage.

Hidden secrets discovered.

They said they found something in the loft and that it was waiting for us just inside our new loft trap. Oooer*. Up Andrew went* and down came Andrew with Norman the gnome, named after the man whose panache for DIY lead to every bodge we've found so far, from chicken wire in the ceiling to beams that float in mid-air and to an over excited desire to turn every surface into a Swedish sauna with tongue and groove.

Norman the gnome is pre-war

When our heating engineers turned up, all four of them - we can't name them all, purely because it felt like a hoard was banging our house to bits* - they revealed another secret when trying to hang a radiator off a wall we thought was sound. The plaster fell off the wall in sheets. It's now a feature stone wall because we didn't have time to get it plastered and frankly we liked it. Behind the plaster was a series of wooden posts driven into the wall, which we have since discovered was the original ceiling of the house. Again, more evidence that the house was shorter in the past.

A series of holes revealed a hidden past.

We are no longer short of warmth, with our new boiler pumping our house with wonderful heat*.

A rated condensing boiler has changed our house to a home.

The problem with heat is that too many of us take it for granted. Try living with out it, not for one day or one week but years and see how your bones creak. We take heating for granted in this country and making a commitment to solid fuel for three years taught us this. Unlike the last buggers who did our heating and made it one nightmare after another, these heating engineers where a delight. Pipes under the floor? Easy. They where shocked by the poor plumbing done in our house. We cried each time we saw they did the job right.

No amount of copper is a feature.

The plus side was all the copper and lead we pulled out went to the scrapyard, we got quite a bit of money for it and then the windscreen motor and linkage went on the car. You receive with one hand and get kicked up the arse by someone else. Thus is life. Thus is the shitty nature of money. We cried when the windscreen wipers failed as we where doing forty in the rain. Think screaming rather than crying.

How a dream became a nightmare

It's not that the solid fuel heating system was bad, the experience of having it fitted was bad. In the end we learnt how to use the oven and it was wonderful, it kept us warm for three winters but a job that should have taken five days took a year. That memory sticks with us. It's a great oven, just a bad memory. We wanted to sue the company but couldn't afford to and then they went bust, setting themselves back up under a new director - it all leaves a bad taste in the mouth and we could never get over it. We were badly let down by the manufacturer who recommended them but who in the end, had to step in and save us, we're grateful for that but as the wonderful heating engineers we've had in this time said, 'When this kind of thing happens you end up not trusting anyone' and they're true. It's been a tense few weeks, we have worried ourselves sick, and have feared the worse. That is the legacy of our solid fuel engineers, something wonderful tainted by awful people who are only in it for the money, not the craft. They made us cry, they made us poor, they took Carol's redundancy and ran away with it, no one should forgive that, no one should do that to people. We won't let them make us cry anymore.

Never take heat for granted.

We have a renewed faith in craftsman, one step at a time we are starting to trust them again. We have light, we have heat and we have a car to fix. Two out of three is better than none out of three.

* every pun intended there.