It has become customary for me to miss the Christmas Eve afternoon tea due to unforeseen problems. The afternoon tea is a great time to meet old friends and guests and to start the Christmas festivities. Over the years we have had frozen water supply and no water and we have had to replace vast sections of pipe and pump water into the tanks until the thaw started. Another year we had so much water that the a shower pump (the only one in the house!) burst in room 15 and water was cascading through bedroom 3 and into the drawing room just as everyone was arriving. A temporary repair with a washing machine hose did the job, although it was only temporary and unfortunately the same problem repeated itself, thank fully not at Christmas. Last year the water supply to the Boat House and staff accommodation froze and again temporary measures had to be put in place until the thaw. And then there was this year.
On Tuesday I turned on the secondary hot water boiler, anticipating high use of water over the next ten busy days. On Tuesday afternoon I popped through to check all was well and found, to my horror, water all over the floor. Not good and a little worrying that although we would have enough water, we would have no back up.
On Christmas Eve I went to check all was well, heard that the central heating boiler was sounding a little unwell and called my father in law in for a second opinion. He agreed and our boiler engineer was duly called. We agreed to wait until midday and monitor things.
By this stage I was now spending five minutes in every twenty standing in the boiler room. And then it happened, it stopped!
Martin Scidmore was sent an SOS and he agreed to cancel jobs, head from Nairn and come straight to Torridon. Guests had now started to arrive and the indoor temperature was starting to become a little chilly. Martin arrived, although the roads had meant he could only drive at 30mph.
What then commenced was a joint effort over a four hour marathon to provide hot water and central heating for the hotel.
It is always funny when people ask you how long do you think it will take when you are standing with deisel all over you and various parts in your hand…it never helps! Burners were changed, seized motors were replaced, pipes were blanked off and systems were disconnected.
Eventually at 6pm, the house started to become warm again and although the log fires had kept people warm, I sensed a welcome relief. The hot water boiler that had split needed to be isolated. All had gone to plan and then something moved that shouldn’t have, a pipe twisted and a leak appeared on the cold water feed to the remaining boiler. No!
The boiler had to be drained, pipe reconnected, boiler refilled all of which took another hour. All the guests were very understanding and by about 6.30pm hot water started to appear on the return flow and the order to use showers was given.
Needless to say, afternoon tea had come and gone. I hear it was a great success with Bruno and Emma putting on a veritable feast for the guests to enjoy. I am still trying to get the diesel off my hands and the smell out of my nose! Merry Christmas.