The day did not start off well. At 10.30 there was no hot water. I know I like the cold, but we all like a bit of hot water, and running a bed and breakfast it’s a bit necessary.

The water heater dates from the 1960s and was clearly designed in the 1940s. I think it’s a work of art, a magic hot water machine, like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (a story that comes to mind because we recently had a Violet Beauregarde at the breakfast table). It’s got lots of large round knobs, a red dial on the side that looks like a smiling face, and a bulging wooden barrel-shaped tank with a milk chocolate coloured lid. Very nice, but we haven’t a clue how it works.

So we tried to call for an emergency plumber. We knew this is a bit like calling for Tinkerbell to come back to life. You can wish, and wish, but….This is a town where people who can mend things are doing one of two things: either they’re working for the mining company and being paid a stack of money which means they never have to do any other work for anyone else, or they’re working for themselves building their own summer or winter house/ ice fishing hut/ sauna in the back garden etc. People who can mend things are not sitting at the end of the phone waiting for a call. Indeed, they were not.

We could have panicked. We didn’t – instead we decided to take advantage of the sunny day and go out, and hope that, maybe, it might fix itself while we were out (stranger things have happened). So while we were out we planned how we would manage things: there would be morning drives to the local swimming pool, which we convinced ourselves would be an extra facility that people would appreciate.

But when we got home we found there was hot water. The simple explanation was the one we’d overlooked; the morning’s guests had simply used it all up. It wasn’t an explanation that had readily come to mind as we’d had a full house many times before and this hadn’t happened, so we’d thought the system replaced the hot water as it went along.

The trouble was that our shower was just too enjoyable. Delivering a massive amount of hot water per minute, after a cold day out with the husky dogs what could be nicer than to stand under a hot shower for 30 minutes? We can understand the wish to stand under the shower, so we’ve reduced the water flow, reckoning that a smaller amount of hot water than can be relied on is preferable to a massive amount that might run out. It’s still a decent shower, but no longer is it a hot, monsoon-like deluge.

We had got nervous, though, that our boiler might one day soon make hot chocolate instead of water. We decided to go to the local plumbers’ parts shop (because although you can’t get a plumber, you can get the parts). Rolf asked the man in the shop how we could arrange for our old boiler to be serviced, and how often we ought to have it done.

‘That’s shit,’ he replied, ‘boilers don’t need to be serviced.’

So now we’ve got the hot chocolate machine back on track, all we need to do is connect the blueberry juicer….