Friday, January 7, 2011

Cold creatures.

It all started the week before Christmas. Slowly but surely, the house started feeling colder and colder. With overnight temperatures falling close to -20, I thought it was normal to feel the cold. Noelie wasn't too impressed though, neither was Marie but with a few extra layers, it wasn't something that was too much of a problem. I come from a hot (ish) climate but I'm also used to cold winters but this was nothing I had ever experienced. Some of the rooms in the house were like walk-in freezers, the playroom's entrance had been condemned. I put it down to the size of the house and the number of big windows, thinking that the cold was getting in that way. The tips of our noses were frozen, our hands were red with the cold and not to mention my feet, who despite being in 2 pairs of socks (one of which a pair of ski socks) and a pair of Fuggs refused to warm up. I noticed that some of the rads were not working well and tried to come up with various explanations. The obvious one was that we probably ran out of oil. I tried ordering some more but the earliest they could deliver was well after Christmas day, and if things went according to plan, we wouldn't be in Ireland then.

The day we left for France, I gave the girls a bath and resorted to get both of them dressed in the warmest room of the house, the hot press. Thankfully, our hot press is more of a walk-in wardrobe than your traditional hot press so getting dressed in there was easy enough.

Then we left for our 2 weeks holiday. I had made sure that the heating was left on for a couple of hours a day, to ensure that the pipes would not freeze, I didn't go as far as leaving the taps running though. When we came back a couple of days ago, knowing that the house wouldn't be very warm, we had arranged for the girls to stay at Mr Foodie's mum and dad's for a bit, hence giving me time to get everything unpacked and the house cleaned and warmed up.

This was not to happen. The day we got back, the house was so cold that I kept my big heavy ski jacket on until I eventually gave up piling up the blankets on my legs on the sofa and went to bed fully clothed. Mr Foodie was very grateful for the pair of skiing thermal long johns he had bought in France. He has now earned the nickname of Robin Hood, Men in Tights after parading around my parent's house in them, demonstrating his fashion - showmanship (is that even a word?) for all to admire.

The day after we got back I ordered oil which was to be delivered yesterday. In the meantime, Mr Foodie and myself piled on the thermal ski clothes we had the great mind of buying in France. We went to bed around 7pm for a couple of nights and started watching the first season of 24 on DVD from the box set Mr Foodie received at Christmas. Getting up in the morning was a nightmare, there is nothing worse on a good day than leaving a nice warm bed knowing it's cold outside, multiply that feeling by at least a million and you might have an idea of what it's like to get up in a cold, freezing house. At some stage, I actually thought it was warmer outside than it was inside!

The oil came yesterday and, to my surprise, there was still some left in the tank, indicating that the problem was not it (doh!). We truly had a problem with our heating system. We called our landlord who showed up within the next 30 minutes, tool box in hand. In the meantime, Mr Foodie's mum and dad had arrived with the girls and our 8 month old niece. The house was so cold that Marie kept her jacket on, only to take it off in favour of her house coat and a pair of gloves and snuggled under her duvet (at 4.30 pm). Our landlord tried to fix the problem but, since he is not a plumber, couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. He got in contact with a plumber he knows, who promised to come out to the house first thing in the morning. The girls went back to Mr Foodie's mum and dad's for the night as there was no way they could stay in the freezer that our house had become.

True to his word, the plumber was at the door at 9h15 this morning. After a good look around, he identified that the problem came from the pump. Some valve on it wasn't tightening properly and needed changing. He went off to get a new valve and came back with it. He took the whole thing apart and put it back together with the new valve. The only thing was that he left the back door open all the time. The malfunctioning valve was causing the pressure to fall, meaning that the hot water wasn't being pushed through the rads and the rads weren't heating up. Once he had fixed the pump, he put the heating back on and carefully made sure that every single rad in the house was working. At that stage, I was shivering with cold and my knees were refusing to stop shaking. Our landlord supervised the whole operation which took more than 2 hours. So now, the house is warming up slowly but surely, I am glued to one of the rads and will probably need to be peeled off it in a bit. How did people do it before? Before central heating, before thermal underwear and fleeces? I truly don't know and really admire them. I'm not a cold creature, neither are my girls. Warmth is what we need and thank goodness, warmth is what we will now get! Now, I'm off to put my bikini on!

P.S: Happy new year everybody (I'm not a big Christmas and New Year greetings fan, so please don't hold it against me!)

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