Sunday, November 27, 2005

A very useful engine


This guy who lives a few roads away from us has a model train running all through his back garden - he also has a full sized signal box of the old fashioned kind they used to have on the rails here - you can see a small corner of it behind Alex - but that's another story. Anyway, a few times a year, they have open days, with a donation to charity. They do one in late November, where they run trains with little presents and trees in, etc and call it the Santa Special. We took the kids along on Saturday - Alex thought it was great. As you can no doubt tell. All I can say is this guy must have a very tolerant wife, to have the whole garden given over to model trains...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not your father's onion bhaji...

Went last night to Cocum restaurant in Raynes Park - excellent little unassuming Indian place, specialising in Keralan cuisine, with superb dosai (and other things). The food was great, particularly a starter we had called Chemmeen Karumuru, a crunchy prawn dish, which I could have eaten a whole plate of. Oh, and another starter of thinly sliced aubergine deep fried in batter. And the dosai - Geoff had Masala Dosai (thin rice pancaked, filled with potato & carrot masala) and I had Oothappam (thick pancaked with chopped onions, chillies, tomatoes, curry leaves & quite a lot of ginger) - both gorgeous. Also, I think they had the best onion bhajis I've ever had. So, ok, pretty much everything was fabulous. And also, a night out without the kiddies was pleasant...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

2nd time lucky

Apparently, it wasn't the board, but rather the pump, which had gone on the boiler. According to gas engineer guy no 2, who came around yesterday to install the new board. Luckily, he had the sense to do his own diagnostic work and determined that there was power getting up to the pump, so it probably wasn't the board. He was obviously right, as once he replaced the pump, it all worked again. However, he also said that the board problem was very common with our particular boiler - so it's not that surprising that the other guy thought that's what it was.

I asked if the fact that it was the pump meant that the problem could have been fixed the day before (when the first guy was there) as the board wouldn't have had to be ordered. He said, "Well, there's no guarantee the guy would have had a pump in his van stock". Which strikes me as a polite way of saying "yes, almost certainly." But there you go - as Geoff keeps reminding us, seemingly ceaselessly, it would be much worse if we were on an Antarctic expedition. Which statement falls into the category of "true, but totally uncomforting".

Monday, November 14, 2005

Don't make 'em like they used to...

So, had the man out about the boiler today - which is pretty quick service, though one does wonder about that whole service industry thing, wherein 12.50 is still considered "morning" (as in, "someone will be with you this morning"). Not to mention the whole staying in the (cold) house all day just in case the guy shows up while you are spending 5 minutes walking to the postbox or whatever. Which you just know would happen.

But anyway. Verdict is: it's the PCB Board. or the PCP board. Or the LSD board. Or something like that. Basically, boilers these days are all run electronically. Like cars. And you know what happens with electronic parts - they just spontaneously go kaput sometimes. Apparently, this boiler quite commonly blows its PCB board within 1-2 years of first being installed (according to boiler guy) - however, the good news is that he almost never has problems with them once a new board is installed (my personal theory: replacement board is a better quality part than board originally shipped from factory with boiler, which is obviously the cheapest one they can get away with).

So, he has to order the part, which means no heat or hot water tonight, but he (or another little boiler guy) will come install it tomorrow (and he offered me a 2-hr slot, rather than having to take "morning" (8-1) or "afternoon" (1-6), which is nice). The other good news is we have a service contract with British Gas which covers the whole heating system, including the boiler - and it covers service AND parts. Which means that British Gas has to pick up the £200-£300 bill for the board, and not us. Our service contract has paid for itself this year, certainly.

Right, now off to the living room, where it's warm (the electric fire is on in there!)...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Slacker II: return of the slacker

I know. And I always promise I'll be better next time, but I'm not. Oh well. So for those of you still checking in periodically, today's excitement concerns lack of heat & hot water. Yes, the classic "boiler-mysteriously-has-stopped-lighting-itself-and-won't-do-it-even-when-you-reset-it-so-you-have-to-call-an-engineer-but-they-can't-come-until-tomorrow-morning". I can't imagine there's anything seriously wrong with the boiler as it's only just over a year old (better not be!) but it's still annoying. Luckily, it's unseasonally warm for November, and also, I cooked dinner in the slow cooker (beef stew - apparently, for those who didn't know this, eating celery does actually kill 8 year olds, so beware...), so there wasn't that much washing up to do - which is useful when there's no hot water. The kids didn't have baths, which really upset Alex, who, being your classic toddler model, really likes baths (aka water splashing sessions) and really doesn't like changes to his routine. But otherwise, as long as they can fix it tomorrow morning, it's not really a problem, just an annoyance. As are so many things!