After our restless final night in the San Se apartment, we all gave a huge sigh of relief when we arrived at our current accommodation - a beautifully renovated house in the small town of Duras in the French countryside.
The house felt immediately welcoming, if not a bit chilly, having been locked up with nobody staying in it for a good few weeks. In the lounge is a log burner, which powers the central heating, so after a quick call to the housekeeper to work out how it all worked, we got everything toasty and cosy, and if anything we felt a bit too warm that night.
We spent Saturday getting to know our new surroundings, doing some washing, visiting a Christmas market, and a couple of friends of the owner of the house dropped by to welcome us. We found out that the property was very new to the holiday rental market; they had only finished renovating it a couple of months ago, and we were the first people to rent it, which didn't come as a surprise to us.
On Saturday evening, we got the fire booted up again and made the most of the satellite TV, watching x-factor (I know, I know) while doing a bit of research online for our travels over the next year. We were marginally aware that the room was feeling pretty warm, and even went to check the radiators in the rest of the house, which were roasting.
Suddenly, there was a strange noise from the kitchen end of the room - we looked at each other and came to the conclusion it was the ice maker in the fridge. But the noise grew, and within a few seconds the deep rumbling felt like it was shaking through the entire house. There was an explosion in the roof space above the kitchen end of the room, and before our eyes water started pouring from the ceiling, down the walls and even from the fuse box. The whole house was still rumbling, pipes clanging and we weren't sure exactly what was going to happen next.
I ran up the stairs and grabbed the Littlest Hobo out of her bed; a rude awakening from her deep slumber, then raced back down the stairs, just as a second explosion happened in the floor below the cupboard in her bedroom - by this time the water was pouring down in that bedroom too. Then the lights went out in half the house too.
Mr Traveller threw water into the logburner to put the fire out apparently not the done thing, we now know, but he didn't do any damage, and he did stop the fire, which was the main thing), while I took the Littlest Hobo outside and phoned the housekeeper, who showed up a few minutes later with her husband. They were greeted by the sight of Mr Traveller in his bare feet with trousers rolled up to his knees as he mopped up all the water. Amidst fraught calls between plumbers, the owner back in the UK and who knows who else, we managed to clean up and make the house safe, or as safe as we could, given we didn't know where exactly the water had gone to within the walls. The housekeeper offered to take us to her maison d'haute for the night, until the plumber could come in the morning, but we opted to stay in the house, concluding that there'd been enough upheaval already for the Littlest Hobo that night, and apart from the possibility of being a bit cold, it should be fine now that it was all turned off.
The plumber arrived early on Sunday morning to survey the damage. He confirmed that the central heating system had exploded (it didn't actually take a plumber to work that out, once we had established that the world wasn't ending, and the house wasn't falling down). and set about mending it. I was quite impressed - I'd been all set with a second possible house lined up in the town, but he actually dealt with it quite quickly and we all crashed into bed for a lunchtime nap to make up for being up half of the night.
All was well until about 5 tonight, when we lit the fire and checked the radiators every few minutes for the next half hour - nothing. Something wasn't working. We decided to call the housekeeper, who in turn called the plumber. While we were waiting to hear back from them, the rumbling and banging started again. I took the Littlest Hobo outside, and Mr Traveller put the fire out. So now we sit here, slightly chilly, and wait for what tomorrow will bring. I really hope they can fix it - it's such a gorgeous house, I don't really want to move from it - we're supposed to be here another week and the Littlest Hobo is so much more settled with less moves. We're lucky that it's not too cold here yet - 18 or 19 in the day, 8 or 9 at night, but I think it might be too cold to manage the whole time without any heating.
So much for a relaxing couple of weeks - I'm really ready for a bit less drama now, it's been a rough few months, and I think we're all longing to just relax for a while. We've also been talking about whether the night time call from the man from the water board was an omen - was it a warning that this was going to happen, or is this a second (or third, if you count the Littlest Hobo's adventure into the chest deep sea as one too) warning, or the thing that we were being warned about? Ugh, it's a nerve-racking business, all this!
So, a demain...