Christmas Eve & Burst Pipes!

On Christmas Eve morning I was in the shower and realised the water was lapping around my feet and instinctively knew the waste pipe was frozen (either that or it was the facecloth that mum had flushed down the loo a few days earlier!) Fortunately it was a frozen pipe, so there I was in my black & white furry coat (for warmth), boots, hat and rubber gloves, up a ladder defrosting the pipe with a hairdryer on an extension lead. The pipe suddenly dropped off, showering me with the dirty water, soaking me, but fortunately not electrocuting me – though leaving me looking and smelling like a wet Dalmatian!

All of a sudden the defrosting of the pipe suddenly got easier, I just took it inside, filled the sink with hot water in which I stuck one end of the pipe, bashed it a few times, turned it over and out came a metre long sausage of ice.

The chances of getting a plumber on Christmas Eve in freezing conditions in the most appalling winter for years, was nigh on impossible – and even if I could get one I didn’t feel like waiting around for one to arrive, especially as I promised Paul’s aunt that I would go and visit her in the afternoon. So, on my way there I stopped off at John’s Cut Price and bought some lagging.

Back home after visiting Edna, I was up the ladder again, trying to attach the lagging when the pipe dropped off again and I realised the bit adjoining the elbow joint had actually broken and as it is half embedded in the rendering I didn’t want to make matters worse by chipping the rendering away to get access.

I thought I could tie the bath waste pipe to the wash basin pipe directly above it, but having had cupboards ripped out of the kitchen to accommodate the washer & drier, I couldn’t remember which box I’d packed the string in, so I fastened the pipe up with a carrier bag! 11 days later, so far so good.

My building extension first going to plan in the summer, suddenly actually started in a flurry of activity in November, but then ground to a halt with the weather. Since then the two builders found alternative work and so my project manager, is having to look elsewhere. He has arranged to come with a friend on Monday – if it isn’t raining. I don’t know what the forecast is for Monday, but it’s currently snowing again!



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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

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