Ever since I was a child, the saying ‘Accidents come in threes’ has always stuck in my mind. So whenever one bad thing happens, I’m left waiting for the second and third, then feel a great sense of relief when all three are done and life can return to normal. If, that is, the pesky gremlins who are responsible for life’s mishaps take a very long vacation.

After a fantastic week starting with my grandson’s birthday, then my daughter’s wedding, followed by two grand-daughters’ birthdays, and a great eBook sales week, my wife and I were looking forward to relaxing for two weeks holiday in Edinburgh, far away from our home in Southern California, to work, visit my uncle and aunt, have visits from my daughter son-in-law and grandchildren, and browse through the Art galleries in the city.

So what happens?

Well we were lying reading in bed in our rented apartment when there was a crack and the bed subsided a few inches. Not good. On inspection, which required removal of the mattress, we found that the frame was cheap, the centre legs fixed by one screw which had loosened, and one of the legs was bent at an impossible angle, rendering the bed unsafe to occupy. So for the next few nights we had to lie on the mattress on the floor before a carpenter came out to repair the bed.

First bad thing over with, but now I’m waiting for two and tree.

The second thing happened a few days later when I forgot the oven baked chips in the fan oven while I was engrossed working on the computer. So at seven o’clock precisely, when we should have been eating our ‘fast food home cooked fish and chips’ because we were too lazy to cook from scratch, the alarm went off.

The Fire Alarm.

Smoke billowed from the kitchen and no matter how many doors and windows we opened, nothing would calm the incessant, ear piercing screeching of the psychotic smoke detector. It just refused to stop. And it was located on the ceiling a good six feet above my head and I am six one. Standing on a chair I pressed buttons, which just made it worse, waved a tea towel at it, which made it even worse, all the time wondering if the fire department would show up along with the neighbours and cover us in foam. So I put my thumb over the speaker and muted the eardrum shattering scream to a muted squawking sound, until eventually the smoke cleared and the alarm finally shut off. My wife tried speaking to me but I couldn’t hear a word for three minutes.

Two down, one to go.

Having settled down, after nearly repeating the whole fire alarm saga the following morning when I burnt my bacon while I was working on the computer again, we went for a walk along the river to blow away whatever gremlins were following us around. When we got back, feeling pretty good, there was a frantic call from our next door neighbour. Just to be clear, we live on a boat in Southern California and we came to Scotland for my daughter’s wedding and a holiday. Anyway our neighbour sounded out of breath.

“Did you allow anyone to stay on your boat while you’re away,” he shouted amid the sound of huge gasps of breath usually associated with fast running.

“What? NO. Absolutely not.”

“Well some girl broke into your boat.”

“What the……” said I with the necessary expletives thrown in.

Apparently this girl got tired of living on the streets and decided to choose our boat, our home to treat as her own. Now a boat is very different to a house. When you leave a boat for any length of time all the through hull valves are shut, the fresh water faucets are drained, water heater turned off, gas turned off at the tank, refrigerator emptied and turned off, the DC panel for the lights is turned off, so that nothing leaks, explodes, or floods. Thankfully our good neighbour discovered the vagrant before any damage was done and we have all our credit cards with us. He stayed there until the Sheriff arrived while the girl told him this was her boat, showed him a photo of our youngest daughter (who he knows) and said it was her and proceeded to say she was CIA, Police, Army Special Forces and everything she could think of.

Long story short, she was arrested and carted off to jail.

However the clean up took longer as she had used the toilet, to which all the valves were shut, and so could not flush. Enough said, but by the miracle of modern technology I was able to use Facetime on my computer to link with my neighbour’s Facetime on his iPhone and talk him through opening the valves and flushing the toilet, then closing everything again.

Now that’s a true neighbour and friend for you – there for you when the shit hits the fan, literally!

The saga continues tomorrow when the “Intruder” goes to court.

So today, after the traumas of the break-in, we decided to go for another walk to lose the gremlins that are dogging our path. Beautiful sunny day, cool but not icy and the thought of browsing through the Scottish National Gallery. But first a stop to top-up our UK mobile phone to last the rest of the stay. That done, we did indeed visit the Gallery, then sat in the gardens to enjoy the sunshine and call one of my daughters who lives just outside Edinburgh.

Nice conversation, hang up and look a the message on my phone that said I only had Four Pounds Ninety Five inside of Fifteen Pounds.

The woman in the O2 mobile phone store had entered the wrong number and had topped up someone else’s phone. Now it will be two days for them to sort the mistake out.

To my math that is FOUR not THREE ‘accidents’. Or perhaps it’s Three Accidents and One Break-In. Either way I’m feeling that perhaps we need some Stone Age Druid ceremony to rid us of this particularly determined Gremlin.