Thursday 6 January 2011

Balls off a brass monkey

Our Christmas holiday in South Africa has given me a great deal of blog fuel. So many juicy ideas popped into my head while I was there that I should have hired an underling to run behind me jotting down bleats on a notepad wherever I went. But that will all have to wait. Because I have a more pressing subject to discuss and I cannot dilly dally because if I do, my fingers shall freeze right onto the keyboard as I type.

You see, I arrived home this morning after a relatively easy flight (including a handy upgrade to premium economy) but it was still very long and involved very little sleep. We left a nice 25C in Port Elizabeth, had a brief taste of 39C in Cape Town before landing in thick, cold, wet pea soup which appears to be covering Britain (for a change). Now I know that the current temperatures of 2C to 5C are positively balmy in contrast to the baltic climes that we escaped.

HOWEVER. Our house (300 years old, incredibly cold at the best of times) didn't manage to fit in our suitcases and had to stay here in the big chill. We had left the central heating on for one brief blast per day just to ensure the pipes didn't freeze and so that when we returned we wouldn't need to wear coats indoors for several days.

Back to my triumphant return home.....after getting soaked to the core carrying bags into the house, I rushed to boost the central heating, noting as I did so that it was rather parky in the house. I bustled about doing chores in a sleep deprived haze while the boys huddled under blankets on the sofa and demanded tea and toast and peeled grapes.

It was some time later that I realised I still couldn't feel my hands or the end of my nose. And then I got two further clues. I tried to spread some bovril on a crumpet for one of the small fascist dictators lying on the sofa and noted that it had frozen inside the jar. Later I went for a pee. Without wanting to be overly graphic, let me just say that when your pee results in large plumes of steam to bellow up out of the loo, you realise that perhaps all is not as it should be.

I investigated the boiler. The Red Light of Death was on. This could mean just one thing. No oil. I rang the oil company. They told me I could get some oil on 24 January. I told them some short four letter words. They rang back and said they can hopefully deliver tomorrow or Saturday. Of course I won't know if the boiler is on the blink until there is more oil added to the tank, and if it is on the blink, my chances of getting an engineer on a weekend aren't massively optimistic.

Suffice to say I have spent the entire day shivering, while wearing my yeti coat and thick boots, lugging basket after basket of logs into the house in a vain attempt to generate enough heat in our wood burning stove and cooking belly warming chilli con carne so that at least one part of us is warm. The children had a luke warm bath, have a princess and pea type bed situation only with blankets stacked rather than mattresses, I've boiled plenty of kettles of water for hot water bottles and now all that is left, is for me to decide the following:

Do I have a luke warm bath and quite possibly freeze to death getting out of it? Or do I go to bed wearing all the travel grime of the last 24 hours? I know which one I'm leaning towards. I might be quite smelly by next week.

Oh it's good to be home. (there's that word again)

PS - the boys were in bed and asleep by ten to six. It is now 6.35pm and I am about to follow suit. Whoop whoop. Rocking in the new year.


nappy valley girl said...

Oh bad luck about the heating. I'd be tempted to go and check into a Travelodge or something for a hot shower!

Jen Walshaw said...

Oh no about the oil and the heting. I hope it is just the oil. I adore South Africa and am very envious of your trip

Home Office Mum said...

We have heat! Oil was miraculously delivered today. And then while shivering during the school's Christingle service today, the wife of the vicar took pity on me, and got her husband to come fix the boiler. What lovely kind people and a post Christmas miracle