One of the horrors of the last winter was that the weight of snow stoved in the top of the oil tank and water got in (see ‘the next thing’, Dec. 14). This was particularly awful because we were still pretty much cut off, and the Professor was ill and needed to be kept at a fairly consistent temperature. Our angelic boiler men did miracles anent siphoning off water and reconnecting us, but the tank was obviously a goner. Dr Biswell took a hand at this point when he came for New Year, and we went and thought about tanks. The sort of tank which had stoved in is now illegal. It’s all right to have one if nothing has gone wrong with it but it’s illegal to replace. We learned a new word, which is ‘bunded’: the modern oiltank has to be within another tank which will hold 110% of its contents (thinking about it logically, this proviso is classic New Labour overkill, if if a split developed in the inner tank, gravity would distribute oil between the two: even if the inner tank was completely full, it would never need to have the same volume, let alone more). The new tank proposed looked about the size of a locomotive. The Tank Man came when the passes were open once more, and found that the existing somewhat collapsed tank was balanced on some rotting railway sleepers and a bit too much mere fresh air, so the whole thing would need rethought from, literally, the ground up. Yesterday, we had Tank Funne, a logistically complex business: its contents of v. expensive oil siphoned off to a holding tank, building new foundations, putting this green plastic locomotive on them, replacing the oil in the Bunded Tank, removing and disposing of the old one. So that is now done. Barry the Great is planning to finish our bathroom tomorrow, after which he will leave us for a bit & return when he’s dealt with various other people on his job sheet. Actually, the locomotive doesn’t look too bad. We’ll get used to it.