Monday, 14 November 2011

Then the gas ran out

Our French house is centrally heated by gas but we are not connected to the main, or town gas as they call it over there. We have a big tank in the courtyard and a gas tanker comes round every so often to fill the tank if necessary. It's great - I don't even have to call the supplier, although should we run short between the gas man's visits I can phone and a tanker calls round the next day. What is not so great is the price. To fill the tank can cost 900 euros, which generally translates into £750-£800. That tends to last about a year, depending on how often there are people in the house during the winter and how cold the winter happens to be. Actually, the current tankful seems likely to last for two years. Here in England, however, our house is connected to the gas main. But that doesn't power the Old Bat's gas gun.

She (the Old Bat) only uses the gun when she makes crème brûlée, which she did yesterday. Unfortunately, when she went to burn the sugar, the gas ran out. Finishing a crème brûlée under the grill of an electric oven just doesn't work properly so I promised to call in at B & Q on my way home after walking the dog. There in the plumbing supplies section I found a suitable bottle of gas. Back home, I changed the gas bottle and the OB lit the gun to brûlée the crème. Well, she tried to light the gun. With the gas turned up quite a long way, it lit, but as soon as the lighter was removed, the flame went out and the gas merely hissed out of the bottle. Perhaps, we thought, the butane/propane mix was not right given that the bottle of gas was from a different manufacturer.

I charged down to an independent hardware store in the village, arriving only a few minutes before they shut. I didn't have time to fiddle about finding a proper parking spot and took a chance, parking on the bus stop. The lady in the hardware store knew immediately what I wanted when I explained that the OB was making a crème brûlée and I was soon on my way back home.

Would you believe it? This canister behaved in exactly the same way as the other. Or almost exactly. The flame stayed alight until the volume control was touched, when it was immediately extinguished. The problem must, we decided, lie with the gas gun and not the gas.

It was too late to attempt to buy a gas gun so we had an unbrûléed crème brûlée. But we do now have a spare gas canister so if one runs out when the Old Bat is making crème brûlée on a Sunday afternoon we can just swap it over.

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