Watery welcome

As usual after any trip, it was good to be back on home soil: France. The weather was cold, but not as cold as we might have expected from the weather reports, although as we were landing we could clearly see the snow on the surrounding hillsides and mountains.  An unpleasant surprise awaited us in the apartment. The radiator in our lounge had sprung a leak in our absence. Judging from the pool of water, it hadn’t been running for too long, but long enough to wreak some damage.

We alerted the lady who’s the elected representative for the building as to the problem. She immediately rang the plumber but it’s Saturday and therefore it’s difficult to a) get someone to come out and b) because we have central heating central to the building, it has to be someone who knows the building. She eventually located the plumber who’s going to take on responsibility for the building’s central heating system, assuming this little episode hasn’t put him off.

He arrived with his tools to find us knee deep in wet towels and plastic containers. Operation mop up in full swing. I’d also popped downstairs to see my elderly neighbour who’d noted nothing amiss but my eagle, and younger, eyes noted a water stain running the length of her bedroom. She wasn’t too worried as long as I could assure her that water wouldn’t be running down the walls. I could, so I left. Returning later with a full update and the bad news that her bedroom was going to be cold. She’s fortunately got a small heater to alleviate the problem.

The plumber was unable to switch off the radiator, although we managed to do so later that evening. Instead, he elected to close off all the radiators in the building above ours and drain the system. This means most of my neighbours would have no heating in their bedrooms during our coldest snap. A charm offensive beckons. It took four hours to drain the system, we were somewhat fearful that we’d have to sleep in watches to ensure we didn’t have a catastrophe but finally, around 22 hours, the water stopped. Bed beckoned.

I’m now faced with the tedious business of alerting the insurance company who’ll send around an “experte” to assess the damage.  I have to obtain quotes  and then we’ll haggle over how much they’re going to give me. Meanwhile, I’m going to get the radiator replaced pronto otherwise my neighbours are going to be facing further chilly nights. However, not just any old radiator will do. It has to be one capable of withstanding the pressure of a central system. The choice is limited and they’re not pretty but, fortunately, it’ll be hidden beneath my radiator cover.

Postscript: The building plumber, who couldn’t respond to our calls yesterday as he’d left his mobile at home, turned up this morning to decommission my radiator and restore the heating to my neighbours.

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