Tuesday, July 7, 2009

JTAC episode 6: A Grand Folly?

You may recall a couple of posts back I was writing with much excitement as the Agaman was installing and doing the gas conversion on the Aga. Well after 10 hours of work, at 7pm on a Friday night John finished the job, fired up the Aga, gave me instructions on operating and left. I felt a little like a mother going home with her first-born: Don't leave me alone with this thing! The gas burner was roaring away (and I was imagining the next gas bill) when we went to bed and the mercury was slowly making its way up to the all important sweet spot between two lines on the temperature gauge at which the Aga needs to sit. During the night I got up once and walked into a kitchen warm and toasty, then early in the morning I got up again (I told you it was like having a new baby!) to silence and cold in the kitchen - the burner & the pilot had gone out! Well as they say in the South African classics, lots of 'snot en traane' (snot & tears!) followed as David & Jonathan together tried to relight the pilot & I watched on and gave useless advice. I phoned the Agaman who came early next morning (Sunday) pronounced that some grit had blocked the gas line into the pilot, cleaned it out, relit it and left.

So no Aga breakfast for us, but I made plans for soup once it had got up to operating heat. About 6.30 on Sunday night I started preparing for a roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup, cheese scones and an apple & blackberry crumble. Everything was going swimmingly: pumpkin and sweet potato were in the hottest spot in the top of the Roasting Oven, cheese scones cooking below them in next to no time, apples were stewed, butter was melting on the Aga top for the crumble when CLICK! the burner turned off and an ominous silence ensued. The bloody thing had gone out again! I rang John, who swore, apologised and promised he'd be there first thing Monday morning. Around about this time there were two things going through my mind: "Oh my God this thing is going to turn into the biggest folly of my life" and "There's still all that stored heat in there - what can I make?" Ignoring the former I commenced baking like a maniac, biscuits, a couple of cakes, by the time I went to bed that night we had had a great dinner and all the biscuit tins and cake tins were full (and the Aga was still warm, damn I should have made meringues!)

Next morning John returned, spent even more time dismantling and cleaning out the burners, told me to pray and that he was leaving on Wednesday to do some Aga work in the country. With trepidation I went to the shop and rang up a couple of times during the day to ask Pippa if it was still on - "Yes Mum it's still on". After closing for the day I went to the gym and was in the change room when my mobile rang and a teary voice said "Mum I think the Aga's gone off again. The burner's not going and it's making a clicking noise". The whole time I was in the gym (luckily it was boxing!) I was on the verge of tears "#$%^ what am I going to do, I've just spent several thousand dollars, and I'm going to end up with nothing". Even worse I knew that John was not going to be able to come in the next day to fix it. You know that horrible sinking feeling you get sometimes when bad things surround you? Well that pretty much sums up my mood as I left the gym.


Lyndel said...

Oh no,how terrible! I think old lady Aga is just letting you know who's boss.

Barbara said...

SO right Lyndel - I have christened her Mrs Doubtfire. Things have definitely improved since then, will blog it soon.