Sunday, 19 January 2014


Last week someone came by to give our boiler a service. It's getting on a bit (18 year old) but was working fine so we were going to keep it until the summer, when we would change for a boiler with a better capacity and more efficient gas and electricity use.

The service went OK, except that it would not light at the end, so the guy lit the pilot light with a match - meaning that the attic was filled with gas. I wasn't here, but Mrs Stace commented on it, but the guy just said  it was normal (after all what would a woman know...)

Since then Mrs Stace has said that every time the boiler starts the attic fills with the smell of gas, something that we didn't like - obviously. One evening we did a test together - we went upstairs just as the boiler started up for the heating and...  Wow! The smell of gas was extreme.

Boiler unplugged and gas off, and call the service people  to come back.

Someone came the next day to check and found that the first service engineer left an important plug off of the top of the boiler when he was done. So when it started all the fumes came out of that instead of out of the exhaust pipe.

Including the CO that the boiler produces.  Gulp.

Needless to say that is the type of thing that makes you go out the next day and buy a CO detector!

The engineer put everything back together and tried again. I thought it was better, but he was not happy with it and went to fetch his meter.  Every joint in the exhaust is leaking, not a lot, but leaking CO all the same. We needed new pipework fitting, pipework that would only be suitable for this boiler.

And to fit it you have to dismantle the boiler and remove it from the wall.  An 18 year old boiler that is at the end of it's life and would probably not go back on the wall afterwards.

So, a new boiler needed. We put lots of layers on, and left the heating off - just plugging it in (with all of the attic windows open) when we showered in the morning.

Thankfully we have been having a warm winter so far!

The guy came the next day and helped us choose a new boiler, and arranged for it to be fitted a couple of days later.  At least it could be done quickly!

On Friday they came with the new boiler and within 4 hours it was done and the house was starting to defrost (I said it was a warm winter, but it's still winter!).  Lighter in the pocket, but happier in the house, I have had to rearrange so much that I needed to do to arrange this - laser in prep for the op, and various meetings in the office had to be moved around for it.

Aside from having 50% more hot water now (the shower is GORGEOUS!) there was one other fun thing with the new boiler.

It's a geeks machine! It came with a free thermostat (our old one is not compatible with new boilers, as they are more complex).  Of course it's the simplest one available, but you can go better!

For an amount more you have one that has 7 programmable days.  Great.
For a bit more than that you can get one that is controlled via your phone.  Bingo!

7 days, 6 time ranges per day, settable per .1C if you want, we have it at the standard .5C intervals for the temp. Connected to the internet so it knows national holidays and automatically sets itself to a Sunday so you do not wake up too early with a too warm house.

It even tells you when there is a problem - and service engineers can connect to it for deeper analysis :)

I tested it yesterday and, yes, I can change the temperature in the house from miles away! Useful if you are coming home early and want the house warm for when you arrive...

Anyway, that was my week.  Cold, with no hot water for most of the day, scattered due to the  many appointments we had and tiring.

We never appreciate modern life until something goes wrong and you get thrown back to warming the house with candles do you?

And...  One last point - those of you without them... Buy a CO alarm - it is something everyone puts off untiil it's too late (we did!), learn from our mistake!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A bit late but...

Happy new year all!

I've just noticed that it has been a month since I last posted! Time flies when you are not having fun!

(Before you worry, it's not anything serious - I just didn't stop for air for most of that time!)

The last few weeks of the year were almost all about my project. Picking up the stray requests and ensuring that they go the right way, fixing glitches and basically just trying to keep things ticking over.

Due to Dutch health insurance laws you can only switch (outside of extra-ordinary circumstances) in the last two months of the year, with the insurance starting on 1st January.

To give you an idea of what this means for my project... Each month there are about 500 to 600 requests flowing through the system.  In November this shoots to about 40000. In December it gets closer to 100000. And a quarter of those requests in the last two days.


The machines crashed

On Christmas Eve afternoon

And I waved goodbye to any thought of a relaxing Christmas and New Year

And so I was spending between 2 and 14 hours every day from 24th December to 2nd January fixing the problems caused by this.

It kind of sucked.

But at least it wasn't boring - only having 24 hours in a day and having so much to do meant that whilst the tasks that needed doing were mind numbing, and at one point I think I went a little blind from staring at a screen for hours on end without a break and with total concentration, the time actually flew by.

Mind you 2nd and 3rd January I was about asleep for the whole day :)

But... I did enjoy Christmas (only a couple of hours worked Christmas day - mainly checking the mails to see how bad everything was whilst someone else was spending the whole day fixing it). Skypeing with parents, and having Christmas dinner with my in laws.

And that just about covers the last month :)

The house is really ready now (except that we need to hang curtains in the nursery and study).

Oh, and I've given up alcohol for the coming time. I had Champagne to celebrate the new year and that was it. Seeing as in the coming time I may need to drive at any point, and that if I'm driving them I don't drink at all, I decided to call a temporary stop :)

The problem for me is that I don't like sweet drinks. As a teenager I was obsessed with Coco Cola (to be fair I'm still fairly obsessed with the paraphernalia around it) and drank a lot of it.  These days it tastes like pure sugar and I rarely drink it!

So...  I'm currently drinking lots of coffee, lots of tea (which is a problem as I am running out of English tea and I don't know when I can get some more!) lots water and lots of apple water (half fizzy water and half apple juice).

It's not too bad, but I do miss drinking something with a bit of a kick (just to clarify - seeing as everyone thinks I have a problem with drinking when I say that - that is kick in the taste, not kick as in getting drunk) to it. Apple juice just isn't the same as a good wine, or a cocktail!  If anyone has any suggestions (most things online seem to be orange juice or grapefruit juice with a false sounding name rather than a real alternative!) without caffeine I would really appreciate it!

Well that's all from me for now! Look after yourselves!