Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jodrell Bank

We’re back in the box at last. Water heater problems seem to be fixed and the sun is shining. We’re staying at a site in Cheshire, near Brereton Heath Country Park, and today, Saturday, is our wedding Anniversary. 33years. We’ve come for a day out at the new discovery centre at Jodrell Bank. (actually, we were not allowed mobile phones at Jodrell Bank, for obvious reasons, so it was Sunday before I found enough bandwidth to post this blog)

Here’s a photo, taken inside the rather excellent cafe, of clocks showing time around the universe. 
There’s Mars time where each minute is about 61 Earth seconds, and there’s Venus time where barely four seconds elapsed while we were having our cuppa – and the clock goes backwards, retrograde, just like Venus itself. Also there’s Jupiter time with the second hand racing around, and Black Hole time where it has stopped completely.

Then there’s Jodrell Bank Time, powered by Hydrogen atoms and accurate to 100 billionth of a second – so it seemed appropriate to take a photograph of the exact moment in time(to within 100 billionth of a second) when the anniversary of our 33rd year of marriage came up.
 And we toasted it with a nice cup of tea. The clock says 10 o’clock, by the way. We got married at 11 o’clock, but you have to account for British Summer Time.

[I should do a similar thing in October when my 39th anniversary of working in the day-job comes up, but then I’d have to that one in Black Hole time.]

Anyway, fantstic view of the Lovell telescope from the cafe,  jaw-dropping no matter how many times I look at it.
Incidentally, the discovery centre is brilliant and we would come back to Jodrell again just for the cafe, because lunch was awesome. I had a Cheshire Cheese and Rhubarb Chutney Bruschetta with salad. I ate too much, and to prove it here’s a picture of me attempting to eclipse the 76m Lovell Telescope with my stomach.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bank Holiday Blues

It’s Bank Holiday Monday. The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming. So why am I here? Why not caravanning?
Why am I not travelling in a box?
It comes down to this. I don’t like cold showers.
At the end of last season I noticed water pouring out from under the van. A connection into the water heater had cracked. When I fiddled with it, it disintegrated. That was a week before we went away for our last outing of 2011. I by-passed the heater and we managed with cold water only, in October! It was great, felt like real camping. But we’re never going to do it again.
Winter came. The clocks went back. The caravan went under cover. I ordered the missing part (which came a week later) and then forgot all about it.
Until last week.
So, Bank Holiday weekend I’m doing a job I should have done four months ago.
Here’s a potted guide:
Carver Water Heater on the path ready for action
Thread full of gunk, needed careful cleaning
Saturday. I removed the (already disconnected) heater unit from the caravan. Had a dog of a job clearing out the remains of the old connector, picking bits of plastic crap out of the thread with a bent nail, and I got as far as the part where I didn’t have a spanner big enough. So we headed off to B&Q, bought the spanner, looked round the kitchens, went for a coffee, wasted the day.
Here's my nice new adjustable spanner,
 before it got coated in dollops of silicon sealant
Sunday. Got everything connected. Slow and methodical. Carefully applied silicon sealant around the hole in the caravan wall, then offered the new unit up. Nice clean job. Screwed everything back in place. Now it could rain if it wanted because all the pipe work would be done inside the van. But inside the van I noticed the pipes didn’t match the ones I’d attached to the nozzles.

 Note: for future reference the non-return valve connector is for the cold inlet, not the hot outlet. I’d put the nozzles on the wrong way round. So I unscrewed everything, getting silicon sealant all over me and the boiler and my tools and the neighbour’s cat. Then it started to rain, so I taped up the hole with a plastic bag and went into the house to sulk.
Monday. Relocated the nozzles in the proper holes. Repeated all the Sunday morning steps, somewhat less carefully than before, and coated myself in yet more silicon sealant.
Hose connected. Nice neat job.
 Pity it's connected to the wrong side!

 Connecting the pipes was a fiddle, because I had cut some of them away (last year) so each pipe was an inch shorter than it used to be. The key to the job was to join the pipes with the boiler in place but not attached to the caravan. This gave me a bit of room to manoeuvre.
Last step was to fill the system with water, test that the heater worked and, with the system under pressure check for leaks. Amazing! Everything dry and clean. I did a little jig of delight and dug out the sites books. If it stops raining and if the temperatures climb above the current arctic lows we’ll give the van a weekend outing in the next couple of weeks.
But for now, Bank holiday over, back to work.