1 July 2013

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

As readers of my blog will know, Tan and Angie have departed, and before the new tenants move in, I’ve been doing up the house. Like the ‘Hotel Inspector’ on TV, I have an unwavering belief that my tenants should move into a perfect dwelling and should have absolutely no cause for complaint.

Typical French Water Heater
Wandering down into the cave for the first time in over a year (a cave is a cellar by any other name) I noticed that the hot water boiler had sprung a leak and decided on the spot that a new one was required. A quick review of the internet, a visit to the DIY store and I was dragging a brand new Ballon Chaud L’eau home in my trailer.

Now, whilst I am happy to try most DIY tasks, fitting a new hot water boiler looked somewhat challenging but with a bag full of tools and pipe connections, instructions in French and a confident, but delusional belief in my own abilities, I set about removing the old boiler and fitting the new.

Actually, fitting the new boiler was simplicity itsself compared to removing the old one which had obviously had the house built around it. It weighed so much, even when empty of water that the only way it could be ‘removed’ was to topple it (it’s about 6 feet tall) and then roll it into a corner of the cave.

New boiler fitted, all water and electrical connections made, I went up into the house and switched the power and water back on then rushed back downstairs to the cave to admire my work. I had asked Guy who was assisting me to cry out if anything looked amiss and he hadn't. As I descended the stairs I felt triumphant.

Guy hadn't cried out because he was agog at the fact that water was squirting everywhere and there was a serious ‘burning’ smell with the occasional spark lighting up the gloomy cellar. Eventually snapping out of his hypnotic state, he suggested in a rather understated way that something wasn’t quite right, so everything was switched off again and a rather reluctant call to my friendly plumber/electrician was made. I feared the worst.

‘Merde’ was his first reaction. ‘Merde, merde’ was his second reaction. I got the distinct impression not all was well. A couple of hundred euros later, everything was fixed and apart from the old boiler still lying in the corner, the cave now looks like a habitable room once more rather than a downstairs swimming pool! A new boiler ? It seemed like a good idea at the time!

The next job was the oven. I’d told Angie when she was leaving to forget about cleaning it as I was an
‘expert’ at removing oven doors and cleaning the glass. I was – I’d already taken it off several months previously to give it a good clean but this time not everything went to plan. After a litre of Mr Muscle and several hours of cleaning the glass both internally and externally, I was refitting it when it slipped and shattered on the stone kitchen tiles!

I was amazed at my reaction – no swearing, not even a 'Merde'! It was probably stunned shock and a realisation that I’d just dropped a couple of hundred euros, but it was worse than that, I couldn’t get a new door/glass replacement anywhere so had to hot-foot it down to the local electrical shop and buy a brand new oven.

Oven fitted, I relaxed and reflected that cleaning that glass had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then I spotted a couple selling a brand new American fridge/freezer on the internet. The existing fridge/freezer in ‘Angie’s’ house was working fine but at 20 years old, it was only a matter of time before it failed and being an advocate of pre-planning rather than post-failure panic, I contacted the vendors to enquire about the fridge.

Now this was a brand new fridge, not even unwrapped and being sold for half price. I couldn’t resist it but still put in a cheeky lower offer by e-mail.

The lady who was selling it told me my offer was too low but a day later called to say I could have it after all. She’d seen my blog, had obviously warmed to some of my ‘themes’ and was happy with my ridiculously low offer.

Standard Size ?
She was selling the fridge because after buying it she realised it would not fit into their village house which was being renovated. ‘Her loss, my gain’. I thought, ‘How can people be so stupid as to buy a major kitchen appliance and not measure the available space’.

I dragged the 116 kilo device back home in the trailer, eventually got a couple of my mates to move it into position and found ………………… that it wouldn’t fit! When did kitchen appliances stop being a standard size ?

I’ve now spent the last 2 weeks dismantling half the kitchen to get the fridge to fit! Buying that fridge had seemed like a good idea at the time!   

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