The Aga Saga

I stopped by the fishmonger yesterday and selected a beautiful piece of fish for dinner. As I was making my way home, I imagined grilling the fillets and drizzling a wine sauce with herbs and capers across the top. To complete the whole dish, a side of rice and some fresh vegetables from the garden. Healthy. Tasty. Easy.

On route, Roger called to tell me “I’ve had to turn the Aga off, will that be a problem?”

My disappointment in the change of dinner plans aside; this new situation wasn’t a problem. Or was it?

After arriving home and putting the fish into the refrigerator, I found Roger up by the oil tank. Then under the counter adjusting the valve on the Aga only to return climb up to the oil tank. Back and forth, between these two locations, he went, muttering and cursing a good deal in his mounting frustration. I knew that now was not the time to try and get a handle on what the exact situation was and instead, just to go with it in a light and easy manner. With that, Sam and I elected to take an evening stroll, tend to the garden before it rained, and put the chickens away for the night.

With no hope of my gourmet dinner, I picked twice as much lettuce than planned and rummaged around for things to throw onto the salad to make a meal of it. Boiled egg? Toasted nuts? Nope, the Aga was temporarily out of commission.

Usually a gentle soul, Roger’s mutterings were growing in volume. With a glass of wine in one hand and my book in the other, I moved to the other room awaiting word of our situation. It wasn’t like dinner was going to get cold.

Suddenly I hear, “Catherine, I need your help!” I ran into the kitchen and the jar that Roger was using to drain a little bit of fuel from the line was nearly overflowing. Expertly, Roger placed a second jar beneath the first, avoiding any spillage of oil in the house, and I cautiously carried the filled-to-the-rim one out to the barn for later disposal.

The oil tank had some water and gunk building up in it, which is not uncommon. The whole system requires routine maintenance, to which we adhere. Unfortunately, this time the project was taking hours and hours rather than the typical 30 minutes.

Sadly, our oil tank situation doesn’t end here. Today Roger tells me that after draining all the water out of the tank, the problem has now shifted. The stopcock was now leaking as long as the Aga was on and pulling oil. Even well maintained oil tanks need to be replaced every 15-20 years, and I’m guessing ours is that age or older. So, we’ve turned off the Aga for the next several days. I placed the lovely fish, purchased for the previous night’s dinner, into the freezer. Roger is now researching a new oil tank (an over due necessity and we did lay the concrete base for it a year ago), which can be delivered up our track within 48 hours (usual wait is about 10 days –Gulp!). A call to the plumber has been made to schedule a time for him to make the necessary attachments and welds. And while this unplanned expense is upon us, it isn’t the end of the world. We don’t have guests for a week or so, and therefore no need to do any cooking. And mercifully, it isn’t winter so we don’t need the boiler.

Life in this old house sometimes throws problems our way and we face them usually with good cheer and aplomb. Tonight, our “can do” spirit will be celebrated and nourished at the pub for dinner. I’m having the fish and chips.

Enjoying a pint while we wait for our fish and chips take away dinner.

Enjoying a pint while we wait for our fish and chips take away dinner.


We took our picnic dinner here while Sam waded in the river.

We took our picnic dinner here while Sam waded in the river.





21 comments on “The Aga Saga

  1. Maureen says:

    keep smiling, and I hope it gets better soon

  2. jllevitan says:

    Love your spirit and the way you reframed the situation. Could be so much worse!

  3. Paul Blaney says:

    Hurray for the happy ending.

  4. Carol Hynes Assmann says:

    $h!t happens. Every year at our Florida place I plan on doing some upgrade. This was supposed to be the summer of the electrician and new light fixtures…until the AC wouldn’t cool. No est geez. So, replaced the HVAC (“old” unit was 5 yrs & 6 mo old — just out of warranty, of course). Lights will have to wait until next year. Ah, the joys of home ownership. Bah!

  5. Dana Crowe says:

    Seems like you got lucky. Winter is right around the corner.

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. A well told Aga tale. Am sure all will be repaired eventually and then you can celebrate with your fish!

  7. Well I think you coped with this problem really well and with any luck you’ll be all sorted by the end of today 😊

  8. dreamfarming says:

    Ah well I’m sure it will all sort out. Maybe you could grill the fish on a BBQ if you’ve got one or over a camp fire in the yard. I love camp fire fish!

  9. Jim Charlton says:

    I will airmail take out menus.

    Sent from my iPhone


  10. hilary charlie and thomas says:

    Love your aga cooking; love fish and chips too;) At the risk of sounding corny (as opposed to fishy), either would be a pleasure in your company! x

  11. Love it Catherine. My dream is to own an Aga, after cooking on one when I was nannying in London, many moons ago. Alas, I fear the Queensland climate is not conducive and the wooden floor in my kitchen would need some major reinforcing.

    • Thank you. Yes, the Aga is a workhorse, but does require a cooler climate and a sturdy floor! Since ours heats part of the house, and the hot water for part of the house, we love it and treat it with TLC. Fortunately, our climate is, as you know, cool (and wet) and the floors are major slabs of granite. Perhaps someday your dream will be answered to have that Aga!

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