We got used to eating with just a few teaspoons and forks because we couldn’t find the rest of the cutlery that was still hidden somewhere at the bottom of a box and that every time I turned the grill on, the electrics would have a tantrum and trip the switch on the whole house. ‘It’s an adventure and exciting things always happen on adventures,’ my children reassured me. I tried to keep calm and pretend that it didn’t matter; telling myself that in every new relationship there’s bound to be a few hiccups to start with.
Before we moved, life had been on automatic. I knew that on Sunday night I’d better take the dustbin out, because otherwise it wouldn’t be the dawn chorus drifting into my dreams but, ‘caution, vehicle reversing’ as the refuse truck rumbled along the road. I have been known to scramble into the road in my PJ’s, cursing, as I watched the back of the truck going off around the corner. So rather than bother my new neighbours before I’d had a chance to meet them properly, I surreptitiously started to watch the movements of the next door dustbin.
The days seemed to dawdle along; we learnt that wild rabbits liked our garden best as it had the untidiest, but tastiest vegetable patch and walking the dog was a good excuse to explore the area as I tried not to worry about the endless packing cases waiting to be opened even though they always seemed to multiply whenever I looked at them. Then, still in our sunny mood, we had some townie friends to stay for the weekend. I know it was a low-down attempt to seduce them to the wonders of country living but I hurried off to our local, farm shop and stocked up on steak, sausages, bacon and free range eggs. Fortunately for them, after a hearty weekend of feasting, the catastrophe did not occur until they had gone home and we were rushing about with the Monday routine. The drains had blocked. Not a savoury subject I know and I assure you I won’t go into too much detail.
Insanely my first thought was to try and flush the toilet. Silly move – as soon as I’d pressed the handle I took a step backwards and thought of rushing for my wellies and mop as the murky water rose ever higher in the pan. Anxiously, on tip toes, I braced myself for the aftermath, when without so much as a whimper, something gave way and the level sank at a snail’s pace to somewhere resembling imminent disaster over.
Alarm bells rang in my head as I tried to reason the quickest and driest way to rectify this conundrum. We’ve only recently moved to the area. Not knowing our neighbours very well I didn’t think the quirky take on introducing myself and asking for help with the drains would particularly catch on; even if carrying a sugar bowl. The local yellow pages seem to have died a death with the advent of the internet. But after searching through a few websites I was not reassured by the ‘no call out fee’ offered by some, just seeing the pounds signs spinning before my eyes. I decided that the DIY option on how to locate and clear a blockage was a good place to start.
When I say I -you know I don’t mean me, exactly. Whilst I stayed at a safe distance looking out of the upstairs window, my newly appointed drainage expert, aka husband Nick, attractively dressed in protective boots, gloves and ripped old clothes ( although without the peg I offered for his nose) removed the manhole covers. After poking makeshift rods along the brown piping in an attempt to restore the flow, he finally managed to hose the last of the offending articles along their way and out of our lives. Whilst I, from my vantage point, rigorously defended the drains against the verbal abuse they were receiving.
It wasn't all bad; at least now we have a map of the seven manhole covers that hopscotch across the garden, joining up with one another on the other side of the house, then collecting the neighbour’s deposits and continuing off into the sunset. And to be fair to our friends, they may have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back, with so many bends in shallow drains - it’s surprising it hadn’t happened earlier.
But it seemed this was part of the adventure that even the children failed to find exciting.