My epic life
So the boiler started juddering and smoking today, as it does every other day or so – when it’s working at all, that is. Despite my running to switch it off and throwing open the windows and doors to the sub-zero air, the smoke set off the fire alarm and the poor fire brigade had to schlep all the way along our snow-covered ice rink of a drive just to check that we were safe. I think every firemen in the area must know about the boilers at Castle Beastie. Last time we had a call-out it was at five a.m. They must hate us.
Anyway, because of having to wait for the firemen to arrive, I was unable to collect my younger son from school. A kind friend stepped in to the breach, scooping him up with her own child and taking them home for hot chocolate. She also, bless her, sat me down for a badly-needed cup of tea once the crisis was passed. Over tea, her Aussie niece made the mistake of asking how things were going at the castle. So I told her about how the builders are pulling apart one end of the castle to try to deal with the dry rot; about how the down pipes at the other end are frozen up and we are running out of options for washing; about the chronically misbehaving boiler and the consequent lack of heating (it is 0.7 degrees C in the ballroom where the dry rot is, and a balmy 7 degrees C on the bedroom landing at the moment), how we wear coats inside to go to some parts of the castle, how the power cuts out every now and then and how, to cap it all – sigh – the Christmas food deliveries have failed to arrive.
‘Wow,’ breathed Aussie niece, wide-eyed. ‘I think your life sounds epic!’
This has cheered me up no end. Ladies and gentlemen, you are reading a modern epic.
Meanwhile, outside the castle, there are several inches of fresh powdery snow on top of the earlier falls. The local roads are as yet untreated, so driving on ordinary tyres is hairy to say the least. Since we are planning to spend Christmas at home, though, we are not affected by the weather chaos at stations and airports. It was minus eight degrees yesterday, minus five today: white and sparkling in the low midwinter sun. This morning I dropped in on a neighbour who is in his ninetieth year, and who has been farming in this area since 1949. He was saying that he cannot remember a single winter as hard as this, starting so early. My boys, on the other hand, will grow up remembering these snowy winters as the norm in their childhood. It’s not epic: but it is magical.