more photos of gorgeous tasting (and gorgeous looking, even though i do say so myself)… more, behind the cut, along with the tale of the boiler…

Fritatta, served with broccoli and pickled gherkins

Thursday night's dinner: Fritatta, served with broccoli and pickled gherkins

spaghetti served with mushroom, cream and white wine sauce

Friday night's dinner: spaghetti served with mushroom, cream and white wine sauce

crusty ciabatta, still warm from the oven, served with green olives, stuffed with piemento, in garlic and herb infused olive oil

part of tonight's dinner: crusty ciabatta, still warm from the oven, served with green olives, stuffed with piemento, in garlic and herb infused olive oil

On another note: I got back from shopping on friday afternoon to find the boiler a) not working and b) dripping water. Michiel called the plumber out (fortunately, since we rent from a housing association, the cost of such a thing is their responsibility not ours) from the housing association emergency team, who investigated the problem. Silt had been backwashed into the boiler from the sink, part of a wider problem we have that when the washing machine empties, it forces water back up into the sink. We’ve had the plumber out about this before. In the course of taking apart some pipes to clean them out, he had to loosen one screw – it took him two sets of pliers at full strength to loosen it – something that should have been tightened by hand. When we mentioned to him the bangs that Michiel had been hearing from the boiler, periodically, asking if the problem he was now sorting out could’ve caused it, his brow furrowed and he started to investigate further. What he found was extremely alarming.

Basically there’s a small valve inside the boiler that controls the flow of gas. That valve is leaking, and probably has been since the boiler was first installed. It should never have passed it safety test after it was first put in, it should never have passed the mandatory annual health and safety examinations that we have had for the last three years – ever since that boiler was put in. There’s carbon sooting around the boiler – despite us asking about this when the boiler was first put in, and reporting the bangs, we’d always been told “its nothing to worry about”. And now we’re being told by this plumber – who works for the same organisation that does the health and safety checks – that what is happening is that the gas is building up inside the boiler and periodically exploding, which causes the bangs that Michiel can hear. It actually happened while he was there – he temporarily turned it on in order to test it, and it very obligingly banged, sending us both scurrying for cover! He also told us that at some point it could’ve gone up in a rather larger explosion. I don’t think i need to explain what probably would’ve happened to us.

Anyway. He’s declared it unsafe, dangerous (and FUBAR), and to prevent us turning it on over the weekend, before he can bring the necessary spare part, went to the extent of removing the fuse. It was THAT dangerous. It has left us with no hot water or heating over the weekend; fortunately we have a small electrically run oil radiator and a small foot fan, so we’re not completely without heat, and there’s always the kettle for hot water. Not pleasant but we’re not freezing either. I’ve fired off an email to the housing, asking some hard questions and recommending that the plumber be given a commendation. But it really does make you think: how much you put your life in the hands of other people on a daily basis. Its enough to make someone become a control freak….

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