Eventually I looked at the house plans, at my local council. They were no use whatsoever. They showed the layout of the house and the discussions between the owner, the house next door and the council. No plumbing, wiring or fittings. Nothing useful, but least I discovered when the house was built, only about 25 years ago.
Last Tuesday, while I was outside, on my balcony, idly watching men repairing the road - a frequent event in this area - one of the workers told me there was someone knocking at my door. So there was. It was a plumber, with no work that morning, who was using his spare time to distribute his card. I told him I did have a plumbing problem. He said he could do some tests, make a diagnosis and give me a quote for repairs. What the hell, I said to myself, I can't go on like this, fearing the worst and not doing anything. Right, I said to him, have a go!
He ran various tests, turning on each bathroom tap in turn, while I trembled below, fearing an imminent collapse of the dining room ceiling. He ascertained that the bath was the problem.The next step was to cut a hole in the ceiling of the dining room. My trembling worsened. It then transpired that the valve thingy part of the bath could not be reached from the ceiling hole.
Back upstairs we went, and the plumber had to destroy a tile. He was then able to reach in and fix the leaking valve. Then he went out to buy a cover/grille for the ceiling hole. He has contacted a handyman mate of his to come and insert a grille to replace the broken tile, so that if the problem recurs there will be access. He fixed the dripping tap underneath the hand basin, and he changed a light globe for me.
Next week I can chase up the handyman.
I am relieved and delighted that after all my angst, the problem has been fixed, and will try not to be such a sook in future. It has been difficult, dealing with such things since Dr P died. But I do wonder about building practices! Why would you put tiles over a connection that might start leaking? Why would you not put a grille over it, in case of a leak? Why are plumbing details not put on plans?
Perhaps my next go at being a big brave girl might be to investigate getting a better exhaust fan over the gas hotplates? But I will have a little rest first. And I hope that if other things go wrong I will feel more capable of getting them rectified. And my house visitors will have a bathroom to themselves, instead of having to share mine.