It's a bracing 11 degrees in my study this morning. Mmmmm. Fresh.
Yesterday afternoon, around 2pm, I was sitting in here, pleating ruffles for a funky dress I am making. London Niece asked me to make her a costume to wear to some Manga convention, and helpfully emailed me pictures of the relevant character to work from:
I'm not making the umbrella, hat, boots or creepy ghost thingy. Just the frock.
Radio 4 Extra was on; I think I was listening to a Sherlock Holmes dramatisation. Well, that's what always seems to be on Radio 4 Extra. That and endless dull dramatisations of twentieth-century political novels I've never read. Oh, and Elvenquest. I like Elvenquest.
So, as I said, I was sitting in here, pleating miles and miles of black satin, and I thought "Hmm, it's getting a bit chilly now. I'll put the heating on a couple of hours early."
Normally our heating only comes on for an hour or so in the morning, just before getting-up time, and then again at teatime until bedtime*.
So, I scampered downstairs, pressed the Advance switch on the boiler, made a cup of tea and scampered back up here. Another half-hour, and more Sherlock Holmes, passed. I realised I was still chilly - the tea masked that for a while - and felt the radiator. Stone cold.
Did I press the wrong button on the boiler? Not the first time I'd have done so, if I had. Back down to the kitchen, and a proper look at the boiler control panel.
All the correct lights were on. I ran the hot tap and ensured that there was hot water. Yep. Checked the oil tank sensor thingy. Yep, still loads of oil there. I pressed the heating button uselessly a few more times, then dug out the "Welcome to your new boiler" booklet that lives in among the cobwebby filth at the bottom of the boiler cupboard.
I read all the "Troubleshooting" advice, then tried everything they suggested. The options were limited, to be fair. I had to turn the hot water and heating temperature dials up to MAXIMUM POWER and listen for the burners igniting.
It was like the launch of the space shuttle.
The burners ignited with a satisfying THUMPFWOOOOOOSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH but there was nothing going on with the radiators.
I rang the boiler people and after a 20 minute wait on hold, interrupted by repeated attempts to make me go to the Internet, I got through to a helpful lady.
She listened to my babbling account of the problem - I suspect the only thing she was really interested in was my address and credit card details - but she made sympathetic noises and assured me that a repair man would be here on Saturday. I asked when. Oh, any time between 0800 and 1600.
After that, I went out to the impossibly awkwardly-placed log pile in the shed and managed to scavenge a basket of firewood. We have far too many sheds. You'd think at least one of them would be easy to use, wouldn't you? The log shed (formerly the dog shed) has our supply of firewood in it. I discovered yesterday that it has a leaky roof, and that Mr WithaY has rigged up a complex system of boards and tarpaulins inside the shed to keep the wood dry.
Unfortunately it makes it almost impossible to reach the log pile. I perched atop flimsy boards and slippery tarpaulin, grabbing at logs randomly, feeling the whole heap move each time I removed something. It was like playing Extreme Jenga.
It added an element of excitement to a routine chore, I suppose.
So. I lit the fire in the sitting room at about 4pm, as it was getting dark and cold, and then sat there like a Victorian miser, doling additional firewood out according to a complex calculation involving the amount of heat required, estimated duration of log burn, critical mass of fire needed to retain structural integrity and number of logs left in the basket to last me the evening.
I went to bed at 9pm, cheered by the thought that I have a hot water bottle in the back of a cupboard. I was going to fill it from the hot tap in the bathroom, wrap it in a small towel and a pillowcase, then snuggle in bed under a duvet and a heap of blankets, watching TV till I was sleepy.
I may even have hummed a happy tune as I filled my hot water bottle, after running the hot tap for ages to ensure maximum warmth. I screwed the lid on and turned it upside down over the sink to shake out the water in the neck of the bottle. Water poured from a myriad of tiny holes all over the bloody thing.
It's old. It's rubber. It's perished.
I went to bed in a bit of a sulk and contented myself with posting grumpy and petulant messages on Facebook, watching TV and finding extra blankets.
Mr WithaY is away on his bushcraft course this week. Every time he goes away in the winter the boiler plays up. Every bloody time.
Anyway, the boiler man rang me at 0730 to tell me he was on his way, and he is currently up to his ears in the boiler cupboard, fixing it.
In fact, update, he has finished, and the heating is back on.
So ignore the above.
Sorry about that.
*You should see our clocks. No numbers involved.