The day it rained indoors
If there is a vocational qualification in crisis management for small-scale disasters in the home, I think we could pass with honours. In six years, we have had to deal with a boiler blowing up, smoking chimneys, subsiding walls, broken beams, swarming bees, cluster flies and numerous floods with varying degrees of severity.
The latest incident happened while Tom was away on a four-day “study tour” in the French Alps – more accurately, skiing with friends. The children had been helping me to spring-clean our bathroom before we headed out to finish outside chores. Returning to the kitchen slightly later than usual, I set about making the tea, and listening out for B&B arrivals.Meggie and Jess were in good spirits, dancing around the table chanting: “It’s raining, it’s pouring.” And Callum was shrieking: “Mummy, it’s wet in here!”
As those of you who are parents will appreciate, when you are busy multi-tasking, the general humdrum of the children can pass you by. Eventually, I turned round to see that, yes, it was actually raining in the kitchen. Drips from the ceiling were landing in the fruit bowl on the table. A slow second passed as my mind digested the unusual situation and then – go!
Ben Johnson’s drug-fuelled dash in the 1988 Olympics was a stroll in the park compared with my adrenaline rush as I took the stairs three at a time and launched myself into “Badgers Bank”, the B&B room above the kitchen. It took another open-mouthed second to absorb the scene of devastation.Old lath and plaster ceilings really spread out when they collapse under the weight of several baths full of water and create a much more spectacular mess than the modern plasterboard equivalent.
Heading up to the top floor, it dawned on me what had happened. Our bath has a temperamental tap. It’s the kind of quirky plumbing all too familiar at Milton Farm and, unfortunately, on this occasion I had left the plug in. The overflow was also not fulfilling its job description and water was cascading over the sides.
Having stopped the flooding and isolated the electrics, I was then able to think how best to solve the soggy mess.
“Badgers Bank” was occupied, with the guests out at a funeral, so I organised alternative accommodation locally. Fortunately, they had not unpacked and their suitcases only needed a quick dusting off.. Tom was due back that evening, and I knew he would take another Paton disaster in his stride, but that I could be justifiably accused of having a “blonde” moment.
Fortunately for me, the skiing had been great, and he was glad to be back home, so I got away with only mild ridicule. Two weeks later and we are now back to our full quota of rooms, having laid new carpets, painted ceilings, refurbished sofas and repaired the TV. And so for the next Paton mini-crisis. Believe it or not, the conservatory roof has now sprung a leak. As they say: “It never rains but it pours.”