A Beginners Guide to Plumbing – Moving Home Part 5



Call of nature answered and bladder emptied, I flushed the chain on the toilet with the expectation of washing my hands and then leaving for the grocery store. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

I pressed the lever on the toilet, fully expecting it to flush and fill the bowl with clean water. I waited……and then…..nothing.

I pressed the lever again, assuming that I hadn’t pressed hard enough the first time.


They say things come in threes and so, just for the futile hell of it, I pressed the lever for a third and final time before I realised that something was wrong.

Now I’m no plumber, the knowledge that I have of cisterns and flushing mechanisms could fit quite comfortably on the back of a postage stamp. I lifted the top of the toilet away, more in hope than confidence that I would be able to fix the damn thing.

I peered down into the water and had absolutely no idea what I needed to do next. As is the way with we naive women folk, I started pressing and prodding things, attempting to work out which pipe and bit of machinery did what.

Through a process of much trial and error, I ascertained that the issue was a broken chain between the lever and the thingy that lifts up and lets water drain from the cistern and into the toilet bowl itself. Hey, if you wanted Plumbing 101 you’ve come to the wrong blog. ‘Thingy’ is the most technical term I can think of, apart from ‘whatsit’ and ‘dooberry’.

I’d figured out the problem but had no way of fixing it until my mind chanced upon the thought of using cable ties to secure the two pieces of chain together. That was all well and good until I realised that I didn’t actually have any cable ties. Being the smart woman  I am, I wrote that item on my shopping list. Flushed (though not in the toilet sense) and a little harried, I made my way to the grocery store.

I rarely visit this particular store and therefore had no idea where anything was. It took me nearly an hour (and several circuits of the store) before I found all the items on my list – including the damn cable ties!

Pushing my trolley to the checkout, I unloaded my goods, realising that I’d forgotten an item. Running to the fresh produce section, I picked up the first tub of butter I saw, not really caring if it was the one I wanted or not. At that moment in time, all I wanted to do was go home, curl into a ball and cry like a baby.

While in the grocery store I had found myself distracted by the pretty-looking candles in the home goods aisle and thought it would be a good idea to purchase a couple to take the edge off of the freshly painted smell that came with my new home. Somehow, through the process of shopping I managed to purchase pretty much the heaviest goods in the store, paying little attention to how many times I would have to walk up and down the stairs to get my shopping into my newly acquired living space.


Shiny, shiny, fire thingy

Shiny, shiny, fire thingy

After several trips up and down the stairs, I managed to get all of my shopping into the kitchen, unpacked, and put away in the relevant cupboards. I have to admit ‘put away’ is fudging the truth a little, the last three of four items were thrown carelessly and left where they’d landed.

Tired, sore, and hungry, I knew that I needed to sate my hunger, but more than that I needed a damn drink to try to get my nerves under control. I’ll have a beer, I told myself as I walked to the fridge. The trouble being that the fridge was still working to get itself to the correct temperature leaving me with a room temperature beer which, as any drinker worth their salt will tell you, is an affront to drinking itself.

Only people from 'up north' drink their beer warm....

Only people from ‘up north’ drink their beer warm….

Stomach grumbling and yet in no mood to want to cook myself a three-course meal, I decided that I’d make myself beans on toast as a quick and easy dinner (I’d gorged myself on a McDonalds at lunchtime). My planned meal was going well until I pulled the can of beans from the cupboard and went in search of the can opener so that I could heat the contents. I searched and searched and then searched a bit more until it became obvious that the can opener was one of the items that I’d left off of my ‘Things I need for my new home’ list.

I literally would have killed for one of these:

I literally would have killed for one of these:

Looks like you’ll have to make toast then, I grumbled, throwing the tin back in the cupboard and shutting the door with a heavy thump. I put the bread in the toaster, switched it on and waited for it to cook. The bread popped out less than thirty seconds later looking exactly the same as when I’d put it in. I pressed the lever down and tried again, ending up with the same result as before.

I lifted the toaster up to eye level as the floppy slices of bread fell out and onto the floor. Picking up0 the soiled bread, I smacked my head on the corner of another cupboard that I’d left open, cursing my useless yet colour-coordinated kitchen appliances.

In no mood for any more, I turned the toaster’s timer all the way up to the maximum and left the kitchen in disgust. I was so annoyed that I forgot I’d left the bread in the toaster and by the time I’d remembered, the toast had burnt completely.

Imagine this but a lot blacker....

Imagine this but a lot blacker….

I was about to have a nervous breakdown at this point and couldn’t face the trauma of going through the whole process again. Liberally spreading jam all over the blackened pieces of bread, I ate them, chewing on the charred remains as if I were eating a piece of cardboard.

I cut a sad figure that night, sitting in the corner of a room with no furniture to speak of except a blow-up camp bed. Would I ever make it through my first night unscathed?

I really did look THIS sorry for myself

I really did look THIS sorry for myself



Filed under Starting out

7 responses to “A Beginners Guide to Plumbing – Moving Home Part 5

  1. This made me laugh! Poor Heather, running here and there, addressing plumbing woes, fancifully distracted by candles, forgetful of the logistics of lugging bags of various items back and forth from car to apartment, and – to top it all off – experiencing cooking woes. A very enjoyable post!

    I must admit, obsessive personality that I am, I found myself worrying about the toilet and its contents throughout the remainder of the post… please assure me that you managed to finally flush! 😀

    If not, I would indeed think you looked like that sad-eyed beastie in the photo!

    Great post!

    • I’m glad that my stressful first night made you laugh, Kate, I can assure you it wasn’t all that fun at the time….. 🙂

      I don’t think I could have had a worse evening if I’d tried and it was certainly a wakeup call to living on your own – talk about a baptism of fire!

      To put your mind at ease, I did solve the broken toilet flushy chain thing with the cable ties and, to this day, my ‘fix’ is holding! The only good thing was that I only emptied my bladder and not my bowels that fateful first evening. One should be grateful for small mercies….. 😆

  2. I’m not laughing…I promise! Wish I could help. What a sweet sad puppy dog face you make, Heather! 🙂

    • I’m glad to hear it too, Audrey! 🙂

      I cut a very sad figure that first night. That sweet little puppy dog was all me, especially the drooling and flatulence afterwards…. 😆

  3. You really aren’t having an easy time of it, are you? My two observations are, in no particular order:
    1. Putting away is way, way, way the worst, most boring and least fulfilling and satisfying part of shopping, and
    2. It should be a fundamental law of nature, writ into the very essence of things electronic, electrical and mechanical that lifting the lid, feigning intelligence while looking at it, then replacing the lid, be enough to make it work again. It never ceases to surprise me how often that works, but like Arthur Dent’s attempts at flying, you mustn’t let it think you are trying to work out how to fix it. Allow the laws of serendipity to do their work.

    • I completely agree, Keith!

      I absolutely hate having to put shopping away yet I never seem to give that element of the task that much thought when I am actually out purchasing said goods.

      Lifting the lid, poking and prodding things should have been more than enough to make the toilet work again and I am totally with you that it should be a law of nature that doing so instantly makes things work again. When cunning and nous didn’t seem to be cutting it, I just went for good old anger, frustration and brute force in the end! 🙂

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