When I think back to the disappointment at the 'perfect' house being sold out from under us, I realize that it was a kind of quiet shock. There was no use flailing about being upset -- it was a quiet pain that needed to wear itself out.
In the meantime, life went on. We looked through the papers from time to time, but nothing interested us. So we decided to expand our living quarters! When we first designed the flat we took out the staircase that connected the basement to the rest of the house. After careful consideration we decided to put a staircase from the bedroom in the basement to the large room above. This change meant that our original one-bedroom apartment became a very large 3 bedroom apartment. In addition we installed central heating throughout the entire flat. What had been our bedroom became a very large dining room and the dining area off the living room was an ideal study.
There were two 'interesting' moments in the expansion saga. Although The Man had considered building the staircase himself, I insisted he have the builder give us an estimate for doing the work for us. This was a smart move as I am sure The Man, as talented as he is, could have done it in the two or three days it took the builder and his men. However, putting a staircase in an old house can be problematic, as I was to discover. On the third day or so the men came in to finish off the work around the edges. That afternoon, a few hours after they left, I smelt the strong odour of gas! I realized it was getting stronger by the minute and with The Man in London rushed to the phone to call our builder.
In all the times I have ever called Eric, our builder, I have always had to leave a message and he would call back. This time he actually answered the phone -- never before and never since! Within 20 minutes his plumber was at the door. And I got a very very valuable lesson -- he taught me how to turn the gas off! The gas leak had been caused by one of the lads finishing up the wood work around the hole in the ceiling. He hd put a nail through a gas pipe hidden in the ceiling!
The plumber's lesson was to be very important. This same plumber installed a new gas fire in our 'new' bedroom. At about 7.00 in the morning I was lying in bed about to get up to get the boys ready for school. Suddenly there was a loud bang and a huge plume of gas was shooting up into the room out of control! I tore out of bed, flew downstairs to the cupboard and turned off the gas I'd only just a few weeks before learned to do! The gas pipe to the heater had not been properly sealed...
Made me believe in angels, I can tell you! The year is 1986, a year of surprises!