THE conservatory at Hextol Towers has long been our favourite room in the house, but has taken on an even more pleasing aspect since we felled some trees and built a fence instead, so we now have an unimpeded view of Dunterley Fell and beyond.

We can watch the antics of the birds enjoying their ablutions in the birdbath, as well as keeping an eye on the dog when she patrols the perimeter of the grounds.

Despite what Tim Healy says on the TV adverts, we have no problems with the temperature in our little glass haven, as we open the door in summer, and have an electric panel heater for the winter months.

We have had the heater for several years, but some weeks ago, it started giving off electrical burning smells for a while, and then gave up the ghost altogether.

A new fuse and a few gentle blows with a rubber hammer failed to spark it back to life, so into the dustbin it went.

Mrs Hextol was quick to source another heater via the internet, but it arrived just before she was due to go into hospital for surgery.

She was only in for the day, but I thought her absence would allow me to install the new device without her breathing helpful advice down my neck from a distance of two feet.

I had left the mounts from the previous heater on the wall, so I assumed it would be an easy job to slot the new one onto the same fixtures.

Also, the bracket for the new heater was fractionally larger than the old one, so to my dismay, I found myself having to fashion new wooden mounts from the vast amounts of wood I had accumulated in the garage.

Remarkably, I found two bits of wood of just the right length screwed then to the wall, and screwed the bracket onto them.

With trembling hands, I then attached the heater to the bracket, and it seemed a perfect fit.

However, when I stood back I realised one end of the heater was considerably higher than the other, so I had to jiggle and juggle screws before it was something approaching level.

I was now feeling mightily proud of myself, but when I plugged the heater in and switched it on - nothing happened.

For a dreadful moment, I thought there must be something wrong with the socket, and that we had thrown a perfectly good heater away, but I tried several other sockets, and it didn’t work in them either.

I pressed buttons, read the instruction book from cover to cover, and cursed it, but there was more heat from a can of Spam.

Even Mrs Hextol couldn’t get it to work when she got home from hospital, and while she was stunned I had managed to get it on the wall, she remarked acidly : “Why didn’t you paint those wooden mounts before you stuck them on the wall?”

We got in touch with the supplier, who agreed to take the heater back and test it, and replace it if it was faulty.

A couple of days later, we got a phone call from a testy lady from Birmingham who said the heater was at her feet, and had been working perfectly for the past half hour.

She said she would send it back, but we would have to cover the delivery cost.

It arrived back the next day, delivered by the same delivery man who had taken it away a few days earlier, and he asked dead pan: “Should I wait in the garden to take it away again?”

I thought he was joking, but when we plugged the thing in it remained entirely devoid of life. “Is there some hidden switch we don’t know about?” I asked, twiddling every screw and rivet on the casing.

Then I clumsily dropped one end no more than two inches onto the kitchen bench, and it immediately sparked into vibrant life, putting out more heat than Drax power station in its prime.

“There must be a loose connection somewhere inside,” I cried, and as soon as I moved the heater, the lights went off again. Mrs Hextol somehow coaxed it back to life, and I gingerly hung it onto the bracket, fully expecting it to conk out again.

Remarkably, it didn’t, and it has continued to provide sterling service ever since being much more efficient than its predecessor. However, I have filled in the two year guarantee...

Hextol is compiled by former Courant deputy editor Brian Tilley.