What’s next?

Believe me dear readers, I do not ask for much out of life. I have given up on the notion of holidays, home or abroad. I am content to pass my time in retirement, writing my blog, spending time with Julie, and walking my dog Ollie, in all weathers, usually bad. I volunteer in the community, and give my time freely, to help the disadvantaged, and local children. I try to be a good neighbour, and to support local businesses and endeavours. I do not claim to be a saint, far from it, but I do try my best to be a decent person, and to have a social conscience.

So, why do things keep going wrong, and mysteriously so? Is it bad karma, from a previous life, or retribution for forgotten bad deeds? Do I expect too much, from my relatively simple life? I rack my brains constantly, to try to imagine what would cause me to be plagued by such a run of bad luck, and misfortune. This may appear to be perceived, but there is plenty of tangible evidence to support my contention. I don’t like posting these ‘woe is me’ articles, I really don’t. However, I feel the need to share all this, in the hope that problems shared are somehow reduced in importance. Of course, I am well aware that many others, perhaps most others, have greater cause to complain than I do. I am not suffering from a serious illness, struggling to pay debts, or looking for employment, in a world where that is almost considered to be pointless. My life seems comfortable, compared to many, and my niggles and complaints no doubt appear to some to be churlish, and whining. None of this helps unfortunately, as the impact of these small events, running one into the other, has no less effect on me than one far more serious occurrence would create.

Earlier this year, I posted frequently about the rash that plagued me. It did diminish eventually, but never went away. It seems this itchy condition will stay with me for the remainder of my life. I just stopped writing about it, as there seemed to be no point going on about it. More recently, I wrote about bad luck with those things that make life more bearable, such as not having floods in your shed, and having a heating system that worked. On Tuesday, the engineer will return once more, in the seemingly endless quest to solve the riddle of my radiators and boiler. Meanwhile, we continue to burn expensive oil, to heat only two of the seven radiators, and to provide hot water. We have replaced almost all the parts that can be replaced, spending even more of our rapidly diminishing savings, to no avail.

We woke up early today, as the archaic practice of putting the clocks back one hour was once again enforced. To our surprise, and immediate concern, we saw water on the top of the wood burning stove. This is not inside a hearth, or fireplace, but free-standing, with extensive pipework going through the ceiling, and out via the loft. We had this installed, again at considerable expense, in September 2012, so the work is out of guarantee by twenty-eight days. Scrabbling around in the loft space did not show anything untoward, but there were discernible drips on the outside casing of the pipes visible in the living room. With precision irony, the wood we had ordered locally then arrived. Half a trailer load, enough to last the winter, supplementing the (not currently working) heating system. This was unloaded onto the driveway, and had to be manhandled piece by piece into the back garden, to fill the log store. The spare wood that was left over was stacked into the back of the garage. It was all spit hardwood, cut to size to fit in the burner, so we thought it a good deal. The local supplier even agreed that I would drop the money off next week, an example of trust in a small community.

After a couple of hours spent sorting the wood, I got changed, and took Ollie for a walk. the weather was dry, despite storms being forecast, but the strong winds made the long walk wearing and tiresome. By the time I got back, I had a bad headache, not helped by Julie’s report that the heating system seemed to have failed completely during my absence. I checked the stove once more. The water seemed to have stopped entering from its unknown point of origin, and I had the (very bad) bright idea of starting a fire in it, in the hope of drying out any water left inside the chimney pipework. Within moments of the wood catching, the room began to fill with smoke. It could be seen issuing from the joints in the pipes, and even from around the well-sealed door joints. As the fire took hold, the smoke got progressively worse. I shut down the valves and dampers, hoping to kill the flames, and eventually put the fire out. The living room was so smoky by now, that we had to open windows to clear it. So, now the wood burner isn’t working either, and we have a house that smells as if we have been in a fire. I have to spend tomorrow trying to chase someone down who is capable of fixing it, or at least diagnosing the problem. We now have no source of heating, and a forecast for the worst storm since 1987. The piles of newly purchased logs can rest easy, as they will not be consumed by fire anytime soon.

On Tuesday, I will stand watching the engineer struggle to come up with a solution to the main heating system, hoping my back isn’t too itchy, as it is embarrassing. And I will undoubtedly cast a glance at the stove, dominating the room as a centrepiece, a cast-iron ornament awaiting costly repair. I might even consider that the installation cost as much as Julie’s car, or that it failed one month after the guarantee period. I will hopefully have got rid of the headache, and the buzzing noise in my head by then as well.

But perhaps not.

27 thoughts on “What’s next?

  1. Just wondered whether you got your problems sorted Pete. Reading below it seems as though the wood-burner has been fixed – what about the boiler? Hoping everything is fixed for the winter πŸ™‚


    1. It was all fixed-eventually, and at considerable cost. The wood burner seems to have a door-seal problem, that at least at the moment, is behaving.We never did find out where the water came from, though the installer is convinced that it was condensation, but I don’t agree.
      The main oli-fired heating needed new bits and bobs, then a major re-routing of air venting pipes in the loft. Once the air coming in was solved, it is working again, and more efficiently. It is almost too hot, but I’m not complaining…X (Other than being Β£620 lighter in the wallet!)


  2. Sorry to hear about your heating woes among others. I spent two winters in a G.I. trailer in South Dakota, winters of way below zero It was a long, narrow, trailer, no water, with a tiny little heater that puffed heat about six inches from its frame. I used to sit in front of it, bundled to the ears in layers of warm clothing, saying,”I will never be warm again.” I certainly can sympathize with your predicament. Hope the problem is fixed soon.


  3. Pete.
    Don’t like this linked-in site coz I get loads of rubbish from it (not yours!)

    Soooo sorry to hear about the heating .
    Get the engineer to try the returns and breather pipes. They can get blocked and lead to the fault you describe.

    Email again, send you a card or will write soon.

    Jim Cass’


  4. Oh dear, oh dear what a #*+# shame! I’m so sorry to read about this heating problem, Pete. In Bonn it’s 20Β° right now, small comfort, I know, but I hate to be cold and the thought of you three not having any proper heating is not funny at all. Hopefully it’ll be sorted out soon and a small cost.
    Can I help you with the itching problem, I wonder? I work in the dept of dermatology …
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed!
    Do you feel better, after you blogged about the problem?
    I actually felt a lot better after I got the theft from online account off my chest.
    Say hello to Julie and give Ollie lots of pats from me
    Big hug, Dina


    1. Thanks dear Dina, for your words of concern. The skin problem is Rosaria, which you would know about, hence no long term cure…I felt much better, with all the support and kind words from my blogging friends. Luckily, we were spared the worst of the storm, and it isn’t too cold-yet! (Ollie patted)
      Best wishes from Norfolk, Pete.


    1. Cheers Eduardo, I am going with the blockage theory too, at the moment. Maybe the flue damper isn’t working? If all else fails, I will just walk into the sea, like Reggie Perrin!
      We had some serious 60’s girl teachers at Walworth. Mini skirts, and a liberal attitude. Ahh, halcyon days…


  5. So sorry to hear about your continuing problems with the heating system and now the wood-burner Pete . Thankfully it has been a mild autumn so far, and hopefully your troubles will be over soon. I was going to suggest that the water found on your stove was from condensation, the kind of thing you get in your exhaust system and corrodes it. Maybe the stove should be used regularly? However, I am sure your installer will get to the bottom of the problem, without too much expense. As for the heating system, I can’t remember if you mentioned how old the boiler is, but given the issues you’re having, may it not be better to cut your losses and buy a new one? More expense I realise, but a new boiler should last for many years and they are much more efficient now.

    And don’t give up on the holidays, you and Julie are far too young to just ‘retire’ – you could have another 30 years ahead of you!

    Jude – not responsible for the overnight storm, although I often feel I am surrounded by lost causes πŸ˜‰


    1. The boiler is only two years old Jude. We renewed it when we bought the house, and it is working well. The problems seem to be centred around airflow in the system, with more remedial work due tomorrow.
      As for the wood burner, if only it was condensation! During heavy rain this morning, we woke up to find water dripping constantly from every joint. I have contacted the installer, and I am currently waiting for him to ‘get back to me’.
      I have only given up on holidays because we keep spending all our money on the house. Julie is ten years younger, (almost) so we have plans to travel again one of these days, once everything is working properly!
      Regards from a now storm-free Norfolk. Pete. X


      1. Well I hope ‘yer man’ fixes that heating system soonish then! And that the installer gets back to you re the stove; that does sound nasty! You’re beginning to make me wonder whether we’d be better off carrying on renting – I do like my holidays πŸ˜‰
        Jude (from a very calm Shropshire – it was a bit windy yesterday and the River Teme is flowing well, but no signs of any storm here – St Jude didn’t reach these parts)


        1. If you can afford the ‘dead money’, then rental is peace of mind, to a large extent. We have pumped over nine thousand pounds, just in refurbishments and repairs, into this house during the last two years. Hopefully, it will be a long-term investment, and give Julie some peace of mind in the future. Hopefully!
          Regards from an also calm (for now) Norfolk. Pete. X


  6. I hope that your heating and wood burner are fixed this week. Considering that you had parts fitted to your heating and nothing seems to be able to fix the problem, maybe they should supply a new one instead of having to cope with breakdown after breakdown.
    As for the wood burner, how awful that it is only one month after the guarantee that it breaks down! Would the supplier be willing to overlook that 28 days and fix it? After all, you don’t use a wood during summer months! You could try and you could also say that you will tell family and friends to avoid them!
    Another thing! Would the wood burner be covered by your house/contents insurance? I’m pretty sure that it will be.
    I’m really sorry that you and your wife are going through this, especially at this time of year.


    1. Thanks for your kind comments, much appreciated. I have contacted the installer, and I am hoping that he will be able to liaise between us, and the supplier if need be. The manufacturer guarantee on the fire is twenty years, so if it is the fire that is the problem, it can be replaced. However, it seems to be a problem with the chimneys at present, so I am hoping that the installer will sort it out at some stage!
      As for the contents insurance, I will have to look into that one further. We may be covered for any damage done by the breakdown (none as yet) but I am not too sure about the actual installation being covered. I will keep you updated on the progress, if there is any!
      Regards, Pete.


  7. Hi Pete,

    Sorry to hear about your heating problems. At least its not too cold at the moment. Luckily we have an old gravity fed boiler system which has never been serviced and never failed (I shouldn’t tempt fate I know) during the 10 years that we have lived at this address.

    As this is my first post may I change the subject. (Is this the right way to do this??) I read a note of yours which said that you went to the same school as Valerie Averie. I am just about to finish the book, ‘London Morning’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. Which school was it based on. It doesn’t say in the book.
    I only ask as I also went to school in the 1960’s just off the Old Kent Road and wondered if it was the same as mine.


    1. No problem Stevie, changing the subject is good, in this case.

      I expect you have ‘found’ me through Amazon? The school in question is Walworth School, also known as Mina Road School. It was on two sites during the early 60’s, with the lower school in Surrey Square, but is now wholly at Shornecliffe Road, behind the Thomas A Becket pub. I was there from 1963-1969.

      Regards, Pete.


      1. You’re quite right Pete. I found your name through Amazon. I am delighted that you said Walworth School.
        Initially I went to Primary school at Surrey Square from 1958 (when I was 6 years old) until 1963. I then went to Walworth first school in Trafalgar Street for two years (1963 & 1964) followed by a further 4 years at Walworth School (Mina Road). I actually lived in Mina Road between 1958 & 1965.

        It’s nice to get in contact with you. We must have met in the playground πŸ™‚


        1. Born the same year, went to the same school (Trafalgar Road first, as you correctly mention) during the same years. What a coincidence! My uncle also lived in Mina Road, in the modern houses opposite the school gates. It just shows how large the school was, that we could have been there all that time, but didn’t know each other.
          Regards from Norfolk. Pete.


          1. Who was your last form teacher. Our’s was a Miss Owen who basically just took the register as she was a cookery/domestic something or other teacher which the girls all went to. She was gorgeous; mid twenties short leather black skirt and tight white jumpers. She used to drive a white soft top Triumph Spitfire. I wish I had done cookery!!!
            And getting back to the original point did you ever meet Valerie Avery. Where did she live?

            By the way, I went to Walworth school (Academy) last summer. It’s very different!!


  8. I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune Pete –why is it that everything breaks just after the guarantee period is over? Sometimes everything than can go wrong, just goes wrong the same time (at least this tends to happen in my life). I hope next week will be better for you and Julie, and well, at least when the heating is back on you’ll REALLY appreciate it!

    All the best and I hope everything gets fixed soon!


    1. Thanks Mari. You are certainly right that things that can go wrong will all do so at the same time! Looks like a busy week ahead for me, doing what I tend to do best these days- worrying!
      Regards from storm-lashed Norfolk. Pete.


  9. I’m so sorry, your heating and stove plight sounds miserable. I’m hoping that you find a solution soon. I’m hoping for a next to miraculous positive outcome for you — one that will make you laugh at all of this in the near future, after all is fixed and heat is flowing from those ducts. Perhaps it’s not retribution but The Universe throwing a problem your way to test & strengthen your resilience. The best to you from chilly New England. GG.


    1. Thanks for your kind words Gretchen. I have certainly had my resilience tested, but not so sure that it’s strengthening! I have fingers and toes crossed, for a positive outcome.
      Regards from ‘The Big Storm’, Pete.
      (I did notice your new photo, and forgot to mention it.)


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