Two days before moving into my house I had one of those days. You know the kind, if something could go wrong it would.
My sofa-bed was scheduled to be delivered that afternoon and Christophe, who lived next door to the house I was renting, was coming to give another estimate on the needed electrical work in the morning.
The house has a radiator heating system with the fuel tank and boiler unit in the garage. I didn’t know how to work the system so I left it off until it could be checked out professionally.
I should mention that Christophe’s company does electrical, heating and plumbing work.
While he was at the house for the estimate I had Christophe look at the heating system. He turned it on and it seemed to be fine; the radiators were beginning to warm slightly. We proceeded through the house and I explained how the rooms would be used, what I thought would be needed in the way of outlets, etc. and he made some suggestions.
As we went through the house he pointed out some potential plumbing issues. Luckily those issues don’t impact the W.C., bathroom or kitchen, all on the first floor which was to be my living quarters for the time being.
But, when he was ready to leave he passed the unit that ran the boiler for the heating. There was a problem with the motor. He had another appointment so he couldn’t work on it then. The boiler being out of commission means that both the heating and hot water system will be out until it can be repaired.
I had been cleaning in the house, a few hours at a time, after the sale was finalized on the 18th of December. I hadn’t used the heating system but I was bundled up and moving around a lot. A thermometer there registered 44°F and went up to about 48°F when the sun was shining in. That wasn’t bad for working a few hours and going home to take a hot shower later. But, living in that kind of cold, with no hot water, and waiting for a new motor to arrive from Germany, that’s bad news.
(Fortunately Colin, my neighbor near the rental house, had given me a portable heater as a “house warming” gift.)
After a lunch break I did some more cleaning while I waited for the furniture delivery. When they finally arrived we discovered that the sofa wouldn’t fit through the doorway that leads to the stairs. (I had measured the staircase but not the door.) So my sofa-bed is on the ground floor and the room I will be staying in is on the first floor. The ground floor room is very large with a doorway, but no door, leading to the garage, therefore it can’t be heated sufficiently to change plans and sleep there.
December 31st was my move in date. After checking out of the rental the owners kindly brought me and my last bit of stuff to my house and I gave them a tour.
I had planned to live rather modestly in the house as I worked my way through it a little at a time.
I had not planned to go quite so Bohemian as it turns out that I have.
I am staying in the Séjour (living/dining room) next to the kitchen. It’s set up like an open studio apartment. My only furniture, at this time, is a little table, a chair, an air-mattress, a clothes rack, drying racks and my trusty portable heater (that keeps the rooms at a toasty 60°F). I have a plastic box to store my dishes, another to store my utensils, and a basket for cleaning supplies. In the kitchen I have my little refrigerator, a toaster oven, hot-plate and water boiler.
My hot water system is several water bottles filled with water heated in my little electric water boiler. I use them for rinsing dishes (it’s a single sink) or washing my hands.
The door from the kitchen to the hallway doesn’t close completely; it needs the edge planed down a little. To keep the heat in my living area I made a make-shift closure by tying some twine to the radiator and looping it around the door knob to hold it nearly shut.
The toilet is at the other end of the house so it’s a cold trek down the hallway and a colder seat when I arrive. (At least it’s not an outhouse!)
I use one of the bedrooms to store things that I don’t need right at hand. I went in this morning to get something and I could see my breath. It’s not all bad, my wine stays chilled and I don’t have to go down to the cave (cellar) to get it.
I celebrated New Year’s Eve as the first night in my house. I fix a baked potato, poached salmon and roasted broccoli all wrapped in foil packets and baked in the toaster oven, followed by a cinnamon baked apple. And, of course, champagne!
New Year’s brunch was fried toast and egg scrambled with smoked salmon.
It’s a rough life! – But I’m still enjoying it.
A note on logistics: The heating should be repaired in a couple of weeks. I’ll arrange for a moving company to raise the couch to the first floor to bring it in through the balcony and while they’re here they will bring up the dining room set that the former owners left. I’ll explore some nearby towns for a few overnighters and proper showers in hotels; I have a little camping shower here for in between.
It’s all about improvising.
Update: My heating is now in working order and I have running hot water !