Books, life the universe

Friday, 25 February 2011


Mainly crime this last week or so.

Agatha Christie - The Mysterious Affair at Styles - the first book featuring Hercule Poirot. A classic poisoning mystery.

Stephanie McAfee - Diary of a Mad Fat Girl - Graciella (Ace) and friends try to free Chloe from her abusive marriage. Interesting plot and rather too many swear words and American expressions but I thought it was an interesting read.

Georgette Heyer - Lady of Quality - one of my favourites - set in Bath with an older heroine and an abrupt but humorous hero.

M C Beaton - Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage - Agatha is going to marry her neighbour, James Lacey, but is her husband Jimmy Raisin actually dead?

Maggie Sefton - Knit One, Kill Two - detective story with knitting interruptions set in Colorado. Good light read but not as good as some.

M C Beaton - Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist - set in Cyprus where Agatha goes to try and woo James Lacey. I think this is one of the best in the series.

Christina Hopkinson - The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs - about the niggly things which annoy everyone about living with someone else. I could not get on with this and abandoned it after 100 pages. It is fiction but could equally have been factual. I just did not warm to the characters at all. I usually read all of a book but this one had me beaten.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Yet more books and heating update

The heating is still working and we have been surveyed. The surveyor was not happy because the old oil tank has still not been taken away, the oil pipe underground was not replaced and the gubbins which stops the system silting up was not installed. We really don't want that done but we've been told we've got to have it done. But he did say because they have to drain the system again to do it they will need to take responsibility for any damage they might cause in the process and they will be told that in no uncertain terms. So we wait and see. In the meantime we have heating and hot water so we are happy - and warm - bunnies.


Theodore Dalrymple - Second Opinion - short and astringent essays about the seamier side of life from a doctor's point of view. I find it best to read these a few at a time as they can cause you to lose any faith you might have had in the essential goodness of human nature.

Hugh Hunter - Our Man in Orlando: Murder, Madness and Mayhem in the Sunshine State - the work of a British Consul in Florida. The British abroad are just disgusting but the book was interesting as I'd never been quite sure what British Consular staff do - now I know.

Georgette Heyer - Charity Girl - not perhaps my favourite Heyer novel but still enjoyable

Tilda Shalof - A Nurse's Story - memoirs of an intensive care nurse in Canada. Thought provoking, funny and sad and raises many questions about 'striving officiously to keep alive'.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Books read

The first few in the Agatha Raisin series by M C Beaton: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death; Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet; Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener; Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley. I like Agatha Raisin because she is not the conventional heroine. She is outspoken and a good organiser and she she is insecure about her ability to attract men. She does her best in any situation but her attempts at detection do not always go to plan. These books are a light and amusing read but well written. I have read all three before but they will bear re-reading.

Carmen Reid - New York Valentine - the latest in the How Not to Shop series. Chick lit at its best with Annie Valentine wading in where angels fear to tread to sort out clothes shopping nightmares.

Patricia Wentworth - The Lonesome Road; The Chinese Shawl; Miss Silver Comes to Stay. All three are excellent examples of Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver books.

Elizabeth Edmondson - The Villa in Italy. Set in the late 1950s. Four people unknown to one another arrive at the Villa Dante in accordance with a will. They have to find a codicil which is hidden somewhere in the Villa and they have thirty three days in which to find it or all the money will go to charity. The plot may seem a bit of a cliche but everything is in the writing and the writing of this novel is excellent. The characters are interesting and I wanted them to sort out their problems with or without the money. I felt quite sad when I read the last page.

Gladys Mitchell - The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop. A body of an unpopular man is found neatly jointed in a butcher's shop - but the head is missing. Another case for the inimitable Mrs Bradley.

Theodore Dalrymple - Second Opinion. A collection of short pieces about the flotsam and jetsam of society as represented by inner city dwellers and prisoners. Ascerbic and judgemental - Theodore Dalrymple will either delight or horrify you and may completely destroy your faith in the basic goodness of the human animal.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The good news

The boiler is working now and so we have heating and hot water - success!! Now we have to get the company who did it to clear up their mess and to give us the forms that says it's been installed properly. As we've not heard from them at all since last Tuesday I think we may be waiting a while and MJR seems reluctant to chase it up.

On the plus side we have a very quiet apparently very efficient boiler and a room thermostat that you can progamme down to decimal points of a degree. The house is not in a mess any more though outside still is. Was it worth it? I reserve judgement. I have learned more about the operation of central heating systems than I knew before or ever wanted to know.

It's funny when you have anything new like a central heating boiler and it must be a bit like having a new baby as we keep tiptoeing into the utility room to check it's still breathing!!

The surveyor is coming out on Friday to inspect the system - which will be fun - though I think basically that the system has been installed properly it's just that things haven't been done that were supposed to be done and it all took far longer than it was supposed to.

We are also fortunate that we had the insurance on the Boilermate otherwise we would have been left out of pocket for what was supposed to be free. As it is we've paid our own plumber to do some of the work. Would I recommend the Warmfront scheme to anyone? Yes with the caveat that they make sure that it isn't one particular company doing the installation - name supplied on application to me via e-mail!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Some progress

The man from Gledhill - who make the Boilermates - came out on Friday and virtually replaced everything in the Boilermate - which now works both normally and on emergency heating and hot water.

We did have the boiler working for a time - in spite of the absence of the installer who again failed to turn up on Friday. The boiler is now having a hissy fit again and we're back to the emergency heating. We are not letting anyone else touch the Boilermate again! Full marks to Gledhill - they've done a brilliant job and he had all the parts he needed with him - which seems to be pretty unusual these days.

Personally I suspect a fault with the only bit of the system which hasn't been replaced - the oil line under the ground from the tank to the house. This was supposed to be replaced and hasn't been. We're supposed to be having a surveyor come out to check the work has been done properly so he will have his ear severely bent when he does turn up as we have an ongoing list of what's happened and not happened.

To look on the bright side we do have heating - at a cost because it's electric - and we're not cold. We shall get it sorted in the end no doubt but when is anyone's guess.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The nightmare continues

Still no heating or hot water!

Electrician and the heating engineer came on Monday and they eventually got around to firing up the new boiler - which immediately went bang and blew a fuse in the Boilermate. It turns out there was a fault in the new boiler among other things. But we only found that out because we spoke to our normal boiler man and he came out and had a look and isolated the burner from everything else and the fuse didn't blow.

On the strength of that MJR called Bosch who make the boiler and they came out yesterday and confirmed what we knew and came back today to replace the relevant part. Now the boiler will work but the Boilermate won't. Added to which it shouldn't have been us chasing around to get that side of it sorted it should have been the company which is responsible for the installation doing it.

The heating engineer was supposed to have been here on Tuesday but we had a phone call to say he wouldn't be coming because another job took longer than expected. He came yesterday and did bits and pieces for an hour or so and said he would come back on Friday to drain the system again and fit the gubbins which should have been fitted last week and which stops the whole system silting up.

The local expert on Boilermates is coming out on Monday and we've got someone from the Boilermate manufacturers coming tomorrow and our usual plumber to see if he can throw any light on the situation. In the end I think we're going to have to have the Boilermate taken out and a conventional tank installed - which we were going to do in a couple of years time anyway when we had the money.

I am totally fed up with the whole thing. I don't cope well with this sort of stress anyway. Give me a room full of angry people to talk to on a subject they don't want to hear about and I'm absolutely fine but something like this and I am stressed. Still we're all different.