Clock watching

Spot the cat sitting on a table watching the clock

The other night dinner was interrupted briefly by the sound of Spot (the cat) pawing at something in the living room. We quietly poked our heads out of the dining room door to see Spot sitting on the coffee table intently watching the clock, and every now and then coiling up and leaping at the second hand as it ticked by. It was quite charming and quite hilarious.

Spot sitting on the armchair watching the clock

And it hasn’t stopped. This morning he was sitting for about 30 minutes on the armchair watching the second hand going round and round, and every now and then he’d try to attack it.

I need to get the washing machine up and running today. I suspect that Spot can’t wait.

Heating woes, pt.2

Pipes and gauges

Me: Hello, our central heating boiler is not working and my wife called yesterday to arrange an engineer’s visit, she was told that someone would come out early — and certainly between 08:00 and 13:00 — but it is now past one and no-one has arrived yet. I just wanted to make sure that someone is coming.

Scottish Gas Homecare teleworker: Let me just check, Mr Saunders … [30 seconds later] there is no appointment booked for you today.

Which is strange because Jane spent 30 minutes on the telephone to another Scottish Gas Homecare telephone assistant (also called Jane) doing three things:

  1. moving our contract over to the new address (AGAIN!! She’d already called the day before to do this)
  2. putting me on the contract, and
  3. booking an appointment for “as early as possible” this morning.

To say that I was (and still am) upset and angry would be … well, absolutely spot on! Because not only is it infuriating that, for whatever reason, Scottish Gas haven’t been able to do their job properly and successfully book a visit but it has completely disrupted our plans for today.

My Mum came up to visit last night and the plan was that I would take her back to Edinburgh this afternoon.

Scottish Gas Homecare teleworker: Oh, but that’s okay we could book in the appointment for tomorrow.

Me: No, it’s not okay. We want our heating and hot water. We’ve been without it since Saturday and we were promised that someone would come out to see us EARLY THIS MORNING!!

So Mum in a fit of rash adventure has taken the bus from Anstruther to St Andrews (20 mins) to sit in the cold for 40 mins at St Andrews bus station to wait for the 16:00 bus to Edinburgh. And she has angina, and has spent the last 24 hours in a house with no heating.

And I’m at home still waiting and still upset. Upset that we’ve been let down by Scottish Gas, upset that I’ve let Mum down and she is now suffering badly with her angina (I know that because she’s just called me), and upset because … well, I’m upset and I don’t like being upset.

But at least they had put me on the contract… oh, hang on! No they hadn’t even done that. And now we’re going to have to wait until the weekend before they can call Jane to do that as she is off to Belfast on business for a few days.

They’d better turn up today. Otherwise … actually otherwise what? Otherwise I might write them a stiff letter? Otherwise I might just have to spend my fifth night in the cold and with no hot water? Otherwise I might just blog about my poor experience!

This is just not acceptable. We pay for this cover:

Choose HomeCare 200 and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing we’re caring for your complete central heating system. If anything goes wrong with your boiler and controls or your radiators and hot water you can rely on our engineers for help.

I actually do believe that. My experience of Scottish Gas engineers has been exemplary. It’s just the bureaucracy, the automated telephone systems and the not really knowing whether you have successfully booked someone to come or not that is the really infuriating bit.


17:16 The heating engineer has now visited. It turns out that he’s been here before. A lot. The hot water expansion tank has gone completely and needs replaced. Which will also mean that other parts (naturally) will also have to be replaced.

So, a bucket-load of parts have been ordered and he’ll return sometime on Friday (am or pm) to fit them and then hopefully we’ll have heating and hot water. In the meantime the system is running on minimum which may or may not limp through to Friday.

The good news is that I’ve now managed to get the electric fire in the living room working. Using a pointy stick and a can of WD-40. I kid you not. (Details on request.)

Heating woes

Pipes and gauges

Ah, the joys of moving to a new house. The Scottish Gas engineer arrived this morning around 11:00 — hoorah! He promptly diagnosed the problem: the unit’s water pressure was too low and the on/off switch was broken. Half an hour later the boiler was working. Hoorah! pt.2. At last, we had both heat and hot water.

In fact, we have constant heat and hot water. The heating programmer clock in the utility room says that the central heating is off, the clock on the boiler itself says that the central heating is off. The radiators, however, say otherwise.

Not only that but the system appears to be draining almost as quickly as it is filling. There is a safety valve pipe thing under the boiler where you can see if there is any water draining, and it is a running at a fast and constant flow. I’m no heating engineer, but I know that that is not good.

So, I was back on the telephone to British Gas to ask them to kindly come around again and fix it. They fixed it enough to switch it on, now hopefully they’ll be able to fix it so that it works as designed. Only the kind lady at British Gas wouldn’t speak to me because I’m not mentioned on the contract; they would only speak with Jane. The wonderful nonsense of legislation sometimes.

Looks like I’ll be waiting in for the gas man again tomorrow morning.


You can follow this adventure in the blog post: Heating woes, pt.2.

The Move Postmortem

Music room
Our new music room.

The move went well; very well, despite my last minute worries and minor panics. As I get older (and possibly wiser) I’m getting better at trusting that things will work out fine if I give them space. So long as I’ve prepared well and set things up I’m happy. It’s a far less energy consuming way to live!

Our trusty team of friends and family turned up when they could and mucked in with great energy and enthusiasm. We were so blessed to have so many willing people to come along and carry our worldly belongings, and all for the price of a portion of fish and chips and a slice of cake. If only the wider world economy was so simple.

The two van approach clearly worked a treat. As soon as van #1 was filled a team was sent up in it to unpack it at the other end, and van #2 was moved into place (no mean feat on those narrow streets) and packed up and then sent up to the house, while van #1 returned to the beginning. Repeat as required. The house was cleared in only four van loads.

Our heartfelt thanks to Eddie and Rebecca, Pauline and Paul, Soo and Martin, Dorothy, Rich, Ian and Yvonne, and Colin for all their help, fun, laughter and friendship. It was a good, good day. At the end of which I was utterly exhausted.

The following morning Rich, who’d stayed over once we’d made his bed (by which I do mean built), and I built the bunk beds and then a couple of other manly tasks that involved either screwdrivers and hammers or muscle power.

Now, three days later we’re very nearly unpacked. You can see a photograph of the music room above, where I keep my ‘guitarsenal’. The study will take a few days to put together as we’re going to paint it first before stocking it with books … seventeen boxes of them! Clergy are such fun to move!

This afternoon my Mum is travelling up to Edinburgh to be met by Jane and brought up to see the house for the first time. In the meantime I’m waiting for Scottish Gas to send an engineer (any time between 08:00 and 13:00) to fix the heating and hot water, of which we currently have neither.

p.s. the telephone and broadband move went very well. BT was more than helpful and everything switched over on time, as requested. Marvellous! This morning I plugged in the wireless modem/router and — ta-da! — our broadband information super highway was happily gushing down the interweb pipe ready for consumption.

White van man

Renault Master van

This morning Jane and I drove to Cupar to pick up Van #1, which was fine. Enterprise were polite, courteous and very helpful and in no time we were driving off towards St Andrews in a newly cleaned Renault Master similar to the one in the picture above, only our one is a long wheel base (LWB) model with a higher top. It is essentially a giant kite on wheels into which you can pile loads of stuff and transport it to wherever you wish.

We wish to transport it from the harbour area at Cellardyke to somewhere about a mile away. It’s now raining, there are no fewer than 4 vans and 2 cars almost blocking the road from our house to the harbour, and George Street has now been closed to traffic by the council. How convenient!

So the only route in and out is via East Forth Street, which is even narrower than George Street (which would have been the luxurious route). And on my way to the harbour when we arrived back with the van I met two vans, three cars and a bus!

I can tell already that this is going to be an adventurous couple of days, and that my reversing of LWB vans skills are going to improve rapidly. If it is your discipline, a few prayers for wisdom, guidance, safety and good weather would be gratefully received from all concerned in the removals operation. Oh, and energy. Thanks.