Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Quite According To Plan

My husband was a lot later getting home last night than he had planned to be. Not that I was expecting him home early; that rarely happens before we head off anywhere, whether he is on business or holiday - but he had hoped to be earlier so we could go out for a bite to eat and start our journey relatively stress free. It was also so we could get to bed early as the alarm was scheduled to go off at 4.15am.

Neither of those things were on the cards. Not for the dinner, nor the early night, nor for anything else for that matter.

I had a cauliflower left over in the fridge, along with some cheese and milk, so I decided to make one of our favourite pasta dishes. I invented it many years ago, a fusion of macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese, but I always play around with it depending on what I have on hand. It turned out really well, so well that I intend to include this incarnation in my food blog Recipes from the 21st Century Housewife’s Kitchen. However that was about the last thing that went right last night.

You see, after dinner as I was clearing up I smelled gas. When I asked my husband to come and check, he smelled it too. This perplexed us as we have an electric hob (stove top) and cooker (stove). There was gas installed when we moved in, but we had it capped off. Yes, we have a gas fire in the living room and we heat with gas, but the heating was not on, nor was the fire, and the gas smell was definitely coming from somewhere in the kitchen.

Now we have always had problems closing a couple of the drawers in our kitchen. I have those really large pull out drawers you can put not only cutlery, but pots, pans and all sorts of other things in. We could never figure out what was stopping the drawers closing, despite a lot of looking, but that was where we could smell the gas. On removing the drawers we discovered something we had not noticed before. The runners for the drawers had been installed so that every time we closed one or two of the drawer we hit the capped off gas pipe. The tap had opened into the “on” position and a bit had fallen off it. My husband moved the gas tap to the “off” position but it was apparent something was still not right. A frantic call to the builders (we are still in our two year warranty phase with our house for the next six weeks) resulted in a chap being sent out. He made the pipe safe, checked for leaks (there were none) and arranged to come back to fix the situation properly. The drawers were left on the dining room floor so as not to put anymore pressure on the pipe. Problem solved - albeit temporarily.

Now by this time it was quite late, and after doing a bit of last minute packing, I went up to bed. My husband still had work to do so he stayed up. I didn’t hear him come to bed. I did, however, hear the alarm go off at the un-Godly hour of 4.15am. I was so excited about going to Athens it did not bother me at all.

We all rushed around getting ready. My son needed a pair of jeans ironed and did attempt to do it himself but with little success. I went down to the kitchen to help him. I could hear water running. It sounded a bit like our water softener running but much, much louder. My husband was in the shower, but I had been in the kitchen when he was in the en-suite shower before, and it had never sounded like this. I went up to speak to him about the water noises as he got out, and he was not in a good mood. We had not turned the hot water on in time (it was scheduled to come on at 6am) and our son and I had used all the hot water. Grumpy does not begin to describe him - although I admit my mood would have been less than perfect if I showered in freezing cold water.

He came downstairs and realised at once something was definitely not right - especially when he turned all the water off at the mains and we could still hear it running. I hate water - we’ve had so many leaks over the years, and it terrifies me how far it can go in a very short period of time. Thankfully we knew that the leak must have started sometime after midnight and it was only 4.30am, so hopefully not too much water had escaped - although the noise was so loud it seemed whatever was leaking was doing so at a pace. In the end, all we could do was turn the water off to our property actually in the street, and the noise duly stopped. My husband took the number of the builder’s plumbers so he could call them after we got to Athens and arrange for them to come and fix the leak.

Now I am the sort of person who checks and double checks everything before I leave the house. I won’t even leave the toaster plugged in when I go out - everything that can be off has to be off. So leaving the house with a gas tap made “safe” and the water turned off because something was really seriously leaking did not make me feel very happy at all - even if our (very understanding!) friends were staying there and help was on the way. In fact, none of us were very happy, but if we wanted to get our plane, we had to go.

And so we left our house in the capable hands of friends (albeit friends with no water and part of the kitchen in the dining room!) and headed off. I’ve never had such a stressful departure from home - not ever. I can’t help but worry about what will happen and how this will all get sorted out.

I’m flying over the Alps now about half way to Athens and I’m trying to concentrate on relaxing and enjoying myself, but my mind is definitely not here - it’s back with our friends, the gas tap and the leaky pipe.