Saturday, 28 March 2015

Mr Jones and the vet

My last words to the vet were, "What if he changes his mind and wants to start a family?" Oh how we laughed!

Today's story is that Mr Jones (or Jonesy to his close friends) has been castrated. Not a pleasant experience (I imagine), and from Mr Jones' behavior: definitely exhausting. He looks confused, lost, sore, and unsure about food. But he will receive plenty of affection over the coming days, and I'm sure everything will soon heal up.
Wire Loop Game

Now it is usual to post photos to add value to your blog's words, but as photos of Jonesey's privates perhaps should remain private, I plan to post a video (a video itself an experiment and a first in our blog) of Princess Lucy passing through Marple gauging point. Isn't that more interesting?

Now for those not in the know this is a length of canal where the width of the canal is just a dog's testicle wider than the boat. It is a bit like that wire loop game where you try to not make the buzzer sound when your loop hits the wire (you know what I mean). Well its kind of the same except you try to not let your boat touch the sides.

Anyway here is a video of Princes Lucy rather successfully negotiating said gauging point. And it's definitely much more interesting than Jonesey's testicles - which first mate has just reported "are going black." So while I Google whether that is normal, you can watch the video.

The accompanying music is "Slow Train," a song by Flanders and Swann from 1963

Its subject is the Beeching cuts.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Me and Mr Jones

Mr Jones getting to grips with the boat
It is exactly a year since we lost Jemma and seven months since Rocky was relocated to his new life on the South coast with Jim. We told ourselves that we should celebrate the advantages of being dog free. For thirty years we have had this responsibility and couldn't just take off for weekends in hotels, stay over with friends, spend hours shopping and book holidays abroad. But it hit us both that this is not what we really enjoy.

On reflection our best holidays last year were on the boat with the dogs and in two gorgeous holiday cottages with Rocky. It was truth time and we have to admit that this is what we have been missing. It is true that we have been able to lie in with no dog needing a morning walk. However that's a small compensation for the hours of pleasure we have had walking our dogs over the years. No matter how bad the weather, it always makes us feel better and it is the habit of having to go out two or three times every day that is really rewarding.

So when first mate was asked to pick a piece of jewellery for her big birthday. She just blurted it out: I don't want jewellery. I want a dog. There has been a doggy shaped hole in our lives for long enough.

Enter our new rescue. In this picture he looks like a fox but he actually looks a bit like a smaller version of Jem. That was purely by chance. We went along to Netherlands Dog Rescue near Mexborough with our heart set on another dog but he had already been taken. The rehoming officer suggested Jonesy (now often being called Mr Jones). It was love at first sight. He is such a character and very affectionate. We have had him for three weeks now and took him to see Princess Lucy for a short trip out on Saturday.

It was a lovely, crisp sunny spring day on the Peak Forest and we had a little cruise down to New Mills and back just to see how he got on. There was a lot for him to take in but he seemed to enjoy the experience. There were ducks, geese, dogs on the towpath, low flying branches, bridges that move, even a home that moves! 

However, he is a terrier cross and the biggest problem for him seems to be boredom. He will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. We think the canal gave him both as he patrolled the deck, checking out the flora and fauna. It's his first step to becoming a boat dog. We plan to take the boat out for a few days over Easter, and we have revisited which adds a further complication to the itinerary. We will see how he fares when the boat becomes his other home for a few days. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Eberspacher Expense ends in Ebullience

A few weeks ago the Eberspacher (the diesel heater for the water and central heating on our boat) began to fail. It would switch off for no reason and not attempt to restart. This was not good, as at the time the weather was seriously cold, and we do expect to wake up to a cosy boat. It only failed occasionally, so armed with a couple of screwdrivers, a 4mm allen key and a new gasket set I set about giving it a service. Surely the combustion chamber would be coked up, and a quick fettle might see it right?

Not so. In fact the combustion chamber was amazingly clean. This was a surprise as we have had the boat 2½ years and the Eberspacher has been well used. The cleanliness may be due a change in Red Diesel when, in 2011, it became ordinary diesel with colouring in. This meant we all got a lower sulphur fuel which burns cleaner. Well that’s all good then - but it didn't give me any confidence that I had done anything to cure the problem. And I hadn't.

Enter Ed Shires from Four Counties Marine in Leek. He knows his stuff. Most of his work is boat heating systems. So if you have a heater that is poorly, and kicking it hasn't worked, he’s your man. He came to the boat and plugged his tester in. It immediately showed a fault. The problem was, it then showed another fault, and then another fault and after some time Ed found that the fault was the brain of the Eberspacher. The brain, the control unit, the electronic control unit or ECU was failing and as a result throwing out random fault codes.

So, that was that. The options were
      (a) Cry into my oil stained tea towel.
      (b) buy a new control unit - around £300.
      (c) Obtain a second hand ECU or second hand working unit.
      (d) Buy a new unit - £700, but with a three year guarantee. 
There were other options, but I didn't fancy the one with the hair drier, and it would take some explaining.

New Unit
Without going into all the whys and wherefores, the THREE YEAR GUARANTEE seemed very attractive, so options (a) and (d) were selected. 

The following day after an hour of swearing at the control unit (which I thought may shame it into working) I took a steady drive over to H Bowers at Stoke on Trent to pick up a new unit. The man there was really helpful and by mid afternoon the new unit was fitted to the boat and warming the water.

I was so excited I took a video of it. I haven’t posted it anywhere in case it goes viral.