In France there is a lovely term for finding temporary measures or for saving money on stuff known as “système débrouille”. I couldn’t find an exact definition of the expression but we recently experienced it in our own unique way.
As you know, we have been suffering from heating problems due to the extreme cold weather. Last Saturday our oil boiler decided it was going to work when it wanted to and I blogged about how we were literally freezing. Temperatures were as low as -20 degrees Celsius at night and on Monday our heating system packed up altogether. That meant no heating and no hot water!
Fortunately for us, a good friend had managed to get their neighbour to sell us some wood so we weren’t completely cold. Mr Piglet and I moved into the living room and the three of us huddled together in front of the fire.
Thankfully Baby Piglet goes to the Nannies during the day so I was comfortable that she was keeping warm. When at home she has an electric radiator in her room to keep her nice and warm.
On Tuesday disaster struck, Baby Piglet caught the dreaded gastro (tummy bug) and began projectile vomiting everywhere. At only 9 months old my poor, poor baby was very sick and I had no way of getting rid of the terrible odour that had invaded the house. I bathed her as best as I could using a flannel and a bowl of cooled down boiled water but by Wednesday afternoon desperation had sunk in.
I called my Mother in Law hoping that we could escape down to her house for a few days, as she answered the phone my hopes plummeted, she was sick with laryngitis! Not something I wanted her to give to Baby Piglet.
So I started calling on local plumbers and heating specialists.
Deep down I hoped that there was another issue with the boiler and that we would be able to get some heat. After numerous calls and being told that nothing was possible for days, I finally found a firm that prioritised families with young children. We were in luck!
The guy came out and spent a few hours looking at our boiler and concluded that it was definitely down to the frozen oil. I sighed, oh well, at least I had tried.
Later that evening after Baby Piglet had gone to bed and I was drinking wine in a bid to keep warm, my phone started ringing. It was the owner of the plumbing firm – he had a temporary solution to offer us! Systeme D!
At 9pm he rolled up and came in carrying two jerry cans full of car diesel. We watched, intrigued as he dismantled part of the boiler and sunk two tubes into the jerry can. He explained that this would keep us warm and allow us to have hot water and when we ran out, we’d just need to pop down to the petrol station. Even I could mannage that!
I’d heard of local farmer folk using red diesel to run their cars but not of anyone using car diesel to run their boiler! This was upside down, topsy turvy living. Systeme Debrouille in all it’s glory.
So the innovative plumber had found a temporary (if not expensive) solution to our coldness and I felt much better knowing that my darling daughter would be nice and warm.
Each jerry can costs 30 Euros to refill and the first one run out this morning but I think that was more to do with the fact that it had to re-heat everything back up.
I am so grateful to the plumber for not giving up on us and am so relieved that he found a solution for his, his innovation has made us warm and also proved that solidarity and good service from companies does exist.
I did have a chuckle as well as Mr Piglet was getting on well with him and they were chatting just like old friends and the apero (at 11pm mind you!) was being served. Mr Piglet asked what the Plumbers wife was doing and I just loved the Plumbers response: “she’s probably in bed” he sighed! Mr Piglet was asking in fact what she was doing in her life which is the literal translation from French, the information he was seeking is what profession she had!
Do you have any Systeme D experiences?
ps. I’m pleased to report that as of todat Baby Piglet seems to have recovered although she will only eat Strawberry yoghurts right now!