Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

More Wintry Woes

The twenty something year old Ford Transit van suffers a bit on these wintry days where the temperature hovers in the negative range during the night.  Yesterday morning I turn the key and the starter doesn't spin the engine into life.  The battery tries and you can hear the starter attempting to move the cylinders into motion but on such a cold morning I guess the friction is greater and more effort is required.  In the past the van has always woken up after a few revolutions of the key but not this morning - and it would seem I have drained the battery of power while attempting vehicle resuscitation.  It occurs to me I could jump start from the leisure battery and indeed I have some jumper leads, but since the RAC took it upon themselves to automatically renew my membership and debit my card without my authorization, then they can jolly well come out here and get her breathing again.

So I call them and since this is the first day of the school holidays and also one of the coldest mornings this year, I am advised the wait will be over an hour.  So I sms the kids' mother advising I will be a few hours later picking the kids up, and make my way to the toilet block.  On the way I observe another Ford Transit owner has placed a metal container with burning wood underneath his van's engine.  I guess this is the way to do it - warm the engine up before turning the starter and I commit the tip somewhere in the reservoirs of my middle aged memory.

The RAC mechanic arrives a few coffees later and gets the engine churning over and into life again.  He puts his multimeter type tester to various wires around the engine.  After twenty minutes examining the state of my engine, like a doctor might examine the state of a heart, he shows me the conclusion on his digital tester's display - REPLACE BATTERY.  I am somewhat dubious about this conclusion but I am no mechanic and since I want to get away I agree to the mechanic's course of action - and near to a hundred quid less well off I am on my way with a nice new blue Bosch battery and a four year guarantee.  The weather is so cold the engine still will not warm into the Normal range while driving along the motorway - thus I require always a bit of choke.  Very few vehicles on the road have a manual choke these days, and this is something I like about the van.  The modern vehicle, does it not deprive the pilot of his driving skills with everything controlled automatically?  Just plug yourself into the driver's seat and turn the wheel while pressing the pedals.  One car I hired in the States didn't even require the use of a key to start the engine - just press a button, and just press GO.

After picking the children up and also my girlfriend we arrive back at the site.  We whittle away the hours doing the sort of things you do when the weather is way too cold to do anything else - watch DVD's, play computer games and read magazines.

We go to bed and I wake up a few times and check the weather and at -5 this is another very cold night.  In the morning I flick the water tap on but nothing comes out.  I had left the pump out and the water in the hose had frozen.  So out I go and remove the pump and take it to the laundry room.  Someone is using one of the clothes driers and steam comes out of the block and walking through this reminds me of a company trip we had to Iceland a few years ago.  I turn the hot water tap and place the pump in the sink and after a few minutes the pipes have cleared and I can attach it back so the aquaroll is once again connected to the body of the caravan.  And so once again I can fill the kettle and make the tea and the coffee.  So British - ever so British.

I am aware that another day cannot be spent with the children cooped up in this little caravan and so I have decided to take everyone to the cinema.  Typically I will have to endure this activity since I will have to sit through a kid's film which will normally, though not always, bore me mindless.  Today however I will take them to see the new Muppets film and, being a long life fan of the Muppets, I am looking forward to being humored by Miss Piggy and Kermit and gang.

Hope you all have a pleasant Sunday.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A bit of a freeze

It will be nice when the month is up and a spring arrives. The life of the camper is the outside sort of life. So the winter months are to be endured and if us nomads can agree on anything it is to curse the hardships of a world filled with ice, mud and a bitter wind.

Now when I lived in a flat made of many bricks there were few preparations to be made for the winter months. Just remember, advised the letter from the agency, to keep the central heating on. As we know the liquids can feeze and as they do so they will expand leaving you with the headache of some very expensive destruction. The caravan too has many arteries and care must be taken to ensure these do not burst asunder as the weather readings drop lower and still lower again.  So at night before retiring to bed I will switch the water pump off and drain the hose pipes of water that may freeze. And I will remove the whale water pump and bring it inside since these things can be expensive to replace and there is never a need to open a tap while asleep. And the heating will be left on during the night. And I will ensure the aquaroll is always more than half full as such a volume of water is less likely to freeze up. And I will also ensure the aquaroll is off the ground since this indeed is a conductor of the cold.

All these little things seem to be working so that all things considered, life in a caravan during winter is no great hardship. Some will complain about the morning darkness, but when you live it on a farm where there is no pollution of light, the morning trip to the wash house can be a moment to marvel at this superb universe of ours. To look up at the sky, as I did this morning, and to gaze at that red planet we call Mars and all those stars that are so much brighter on a clear and freezing winter's morning - can a man really complain about such a life?

And it gets better. The girlfriend of mine decided she would treat me to an early birthday present so off we went to tescos. Tescos is more than a food store - it will sell all sorts of electrical appliances. Out we came with a twenty two inch television set with a built in dvd player and something called freeview. When this was set up above the truma heater the caravan was more or less transformed into a mini cinema. As I experimented with the features of this electrical marvel, my mind was cast back many years to a time when you changed your channel by turning a clicking dial - and if you were lucky you could choose between maybe three or four channels, but if it was too early or too late you would have a static image of a girl and clown indicating the station was closed.

Now with the freeview there are scores of channels and you would be a strange character to be sure if you were unable to find something of interest. So if winter means being confined to the insides of a small caravan, then at least it can be entertaining with my new television and my digital radio and computer and internet and books.