Being British, apologies take up a large part of my life. If somebody bumps into me, or treads on my foot, I apologise. We’re off for a long weekend in Budapest in a couple of days, and the first word I looked up in the Hungarian phrase books was ‘Sorry’ (Bocsánat, in case you’re wondering).

But I do need to apologise to Lilly, who was in Murmur-y-Don over the New Year, and Dirk, who will be coming to stay for a week at the end of the month. Lilly arrived on Boxing Day in howling gales to find no power, no light, no heat. I managed to restore power, heat and partial lighting over the phone but replacing the kitchen and Empire State room fuses was a step too far.  So no lights in the east wing of the house. My Airbnb reputation will plummet.

The indefatigable Gary managed to get partial power restored on the Wednesday, but everything blew again half an hour later. He came to the house last Wednesday and spent four hours crawling through the roof spaces. By the time he’d finished we had lights throughout the house, except for the kitchen lobby and the outside light.

That’s why I have to apologise to Dirk in advance. To fix the lobby and porch light Gary reckons he needs the ceiling to come down. No time to do that before Dirk arrives. So sorry, Dirk — I hope it won’t detract too much from your enjoyment.

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