Tuesday, 30 March 2010

News from The Woodpile....

We have been very lucky and have sorted out our kindling requirements for a good chunk of next winter!! (a couple of months worth at least, I should think).

I've just finished sawing it all up and am cream-crackered.

The source was a bungalow in the village that is being modernised and turned into a chalet-style house. Hence a new roof. And lots of redundant trusses, beams, joists and lathes that were going begging before being skipped........

I had been giving this pile some very covetous looks as I pedalled past on the way to work..........

Needless to say, it was Jackie who worked her magic after I had told her about it.She chatted up the owner and obtained permission to remove as much as we wanted.

Four Vitara-fulls of later, I was hard at it in the woodpile........

There were loads and loads of 1 inch x 1/2 inch roofing lathes, which I have cut down into kindling.

Doesn't take long to type it, but this took all of Sunday and a good part of this afternoon and evening.

I've also cut up the off-cuts of bigger stuff into brick sized pieces ready for the stove.

However, there are some really big and useful looking lengths which I am leaving for now. As this sort of stuff costs real money to buy, it may be utilised in improving the shelter I have improvised over the wood, or donated to our chum Paul who is fitting out his WB sail-away on the mooring.

Also, I'll need another new blade on my bow saw before starting on it.....

And let the blister heal and arm-ache recover........

(Incidentally, I am no fan of chain-saws: Nasty, heathen devices that can cause the most shocking injuries. I'll stick to the old bow saw, grit my teeth and just take it nice and steady, thanks. Besides, think of all those nasty calories being burned..)

I worked yesterday, making tea and checking paperwork, mainly. I don't think this was anything to do with the problems I had on Friday, it was just my turn to do it.

Today was a day off which was badly needed. I slept until 11.00am which is very unusual for me these days. Must have needed it after the extra hours last week and a bout of sleeplessness on Sunday night.....

Anyway, when I had finally dragged myself from my pit, was properly up and about and showing signs of sentience, I persuaded Jackie to accompany me to Emmaus.

We went via the recycling centre where we dropped off a week's worth and stole away with a pyrex bowl, a 9mm/10mm Gordon Tools ring spanner AND a very convincing looking life-ring. (Total cost: £1.00). The life-ring is red and white with "HMS LAUREL" written on it. More about this later when I can post some pictures. (Jackie will have to decrypt the instructions for the new camera and then translate them into Bloke Basic before I will be able to take any.....)

I also bought an engraving of a painting by Tatton Winter of Salisbury Cathedral. More on this later too, as Jackie wants to watch a DVD and I'm hogging the Ship's Computer.

To be continu...........................xcaswccdjc..............

Friday, 26 March 2010

Houston, we have a toilet.......

Yes, Jackie triumphs once more!

I got home from the Hole-Making Shop today to find the macerator loo completely rebuilt and working. Things are going 'whiiiirrrr-whoooosh' in the way their designer intended, there is no longer any nasty over-filling or lingering blow-back, so I think she's cracked it!


This may mean we no longer need the Vacuflush gizmo. The jury is still out on this one.

However, on other blogs, you may have read some very negative reports of the Rutland 913 wind turbine.

Let us make things quite clear:

Solar panels are bugger-all use in winter. The sun tends not to shine.

If you are lucky, (and we are) to have a mooring blessed by much more than its fair share of steady breeze, then a wind turbine is the way to go. The bang for buck ratio is much, much higher.

Of course, as Spring is sprung (however rusty those springs may be) and the clocks go forward heralding longer daylight hours, then your solar is bound to kick-in in abundance.

If the wind is still blowing when the sun sets, though, a Rutland equipped boat is, still, laughing.

Incidentally, Pippin is blessed not only with a wind turbine, but also with a big solar array.

One is not better than the other. They should augment one another.

When the sun shines, it may be calm. When the wind blows, it may well be raining.

Or dark.

Or both.

Every £ invested in renewables is ££££££ of diesel saved.

End of.

In other news, I blotted my copy-book properly at The Hole-Making Shop today.

When we make holes in the highly reactive and delicate material that presents itself, we are seeking to puncture certain low-pressure conduits and extract the material contained. The problem is that very dangerous high-pressure conduits often run adjacent, parallel, or just too damn close for comfort to the low pressure ones.

Puncturing one of the high-pressure conduits is A Very Bad Thing.

I did this today.

Fortunately, one of the Hole-Makers' Guild Grand Masters was on hand to come to my aid. The delicate material was distressed, but not unduly so.

I was sent away to have a cup of tea while the grown-ups sorted out the mess I had made.

Did ever an apprentice feel plain stupid? More stupid than I felt when sent to the stores to ask for a Long Stand? A bucket of steam? Some sky-hooks? Or best of all, a Whitworth Adjustable?

I feel stupid, sad, annoyed, and sorry for the material.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Hole Making a la mode

I've just got in from a day out with the Cambridge Touring Hole-Makers! I was asked last night at the end of my shift in the Hole-making Shop if I could go in and help the Tourists today. Loss of staff through re-location has left them short-handed. With a couple more off sick, they were truly up a tree. So I went in on my day off.

It was great fun! They are a very nice crowd.

On the way home, the Hole-Making-Session Manager rang me to ask if I'd go out with the Tourists again tomorrow, this time as far as the Cambs/Essex border. Lots and lots of holes need to be made in very quick succession....

After he'd assured me that my colleagues in the Hole-Making Shop weren't going to be left short as a result, I agreed. (I mean, it's flattering in a way, or would be if they weren't so short of bodies..., but a chap can't be in two places at once.)

The absence of a day off means no further progress on the various boat projects, the wood-pile, nor any sneaky trips to Emmaus to buy more toys.

Never mind, think of the money.....

Actually, thinking of it is all I'll be doing for nine weeks, as that's how long it'll take for today's overtime to limp and stagger into my account.

Still, musn't grumble, eh?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Logging On, and on......and on.........

Lots and lots of logs on the roof of our neighbours Andreas and Louise's boat nb Rowanberry.

Last night the Rowanberrys came to supper to help us demolish a very large Cottage Pie I had made, along with two bottles of very decent Rioja which they bought with them, along with Lou's friend Kate, who was up from Brighton for the weekend.

A very convivial evening's nosh.

This morning I was up and about and just starting the huge pile of washing-up when I received firm instructions to desist at once as it was 'too noisy'....

How odd...........

(Actually, washing-up on a boat is a fairly noisy business: pumps whirring, plates clattering, me whistling cheerfully......But Jackie never normally minds. I can't think what can have been wrong, but dutifully did as I was told).

During the previous evening's meal, we had decided that Sunday would be a good day to build up the reserves of wood for next winter. I duly chugged off upstream aboard Rowanberry with Andreas, Lou and Kate at about 11.00. Andreas wanted to leave earlier, but for some ( perhaps the same) unaccountable reason, the girls were having none of it.

Jackie, by the way, elected to stay aboard Pippin and continue the rather ghastly job of removing all the limescale (over a quarter of an inch thick in places....) and associated gunge from the inside of our loo macerator. It had been left to marinade overnight in a very effective, cheap and widely available industrial cleaner. It's marvellous stuff: loosens caked on deposits, cleans steel, brass and copper, unblocks drains, and will even unstick a seized-up piston.

It's called "Diet Coke".

Apparently, some people actually drink the stuff! Given all of the above, I have to say I find this a trifle unwise.

Anyway, we chugged upstream and moored up at the 48's at Clayhithe. Here, we loaded some very large and heavy logs which had recently been felled.

(Incidentally, Andreas had contacted the Cam Conservators, who said they were very happy for us to take it away. This made us feel much better when various tow-path walkers gave us dirty looks as a reaction to our assumed criminality.....)

The rest of the morning was more of the same, and when we felt there was enough, we chugged back to the pub at Clayhithe for a well earned pint.

I had a whole Guiness!!!! All to myself!!!


Here it all is, on the bank before it disappeared into The Stealth Woodpile:

Lou and Kate with next winters fuel

What a weekend that was!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

It's The Weekend!! Wooo-Hoooo!!!

Okay. It's been a bit of a week.

A struggle, in fact.

When I started on my career with The Hole-Makers Guild, I really enjoyed every aspect of the learning process. I have gone from humble Apprentice to Journeyman Holemaker in a comparatively short time and felt a very real sense of achievement in the process.

This of course, was in the art of Pure and Applied Hole-Making.

Nothing really prepared me for the rigours of Very Advanced Hole-Making. The paperwork, particularly, was frying some rather important circuits in my brain. I was getting really down about it, to the point of considering leaving the Hole-making Shop and practising the Pure and Applied Art out on the road with the gallant band of gypsies that are The Cambridge Hole-Making Team. In short, going all peripatetic, like.

But note use of past tense....

Today, one of The Grand Masters of The Guild, who is obviously blessed with the acuity to see when an apprentice is struggling, gently took me to one side, identified the areas of difficulty and went through it all with me, patiently and kindly (we bears of little brain respond to this sort of treatment) and made me see that I understood much more than I thought, while filling in some gaps and grey areas into the bargain.

I am a very lucky apprentice, to have such help and guidance close at hand.

So thanks to her and all the other Grand Masters, Masters, Senior Charge-hands, and fellow apprentices who make The Guild such a supportive place.

I am now going to have a glass of red wine with supper.

It is the weekend, after all........

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Turbine Heaven

I have just got in from work ( I was on a late shift tonight), to be told the rather startling news that it is the thick end of 20 miles there and back. (Jackie has looked it up on Google maps)

I not sure if the news has left me feeling more or less tired than I was.....

Anyway, I cycled homeward, wafted along, I thought, by a gentle breeze. (This was a pleasing corollary to the headwind I contended with this morning).

Not so! It would seem that plugging the Rutland 913 wind turbine on the day before yesterday's post has had the same effect as scratching a back-stay or nailing a sovereign to the mast did in the days of sail, as it's actually blowing a good half-gale! I just didn't notice it as it was right at my back. How lovely!

Our wind turbine is humming away to itself very steadily, which is a pleasant and reassuring sound. Hope the new owner gets some good use out of The Ducks' one.

I'm sure it will: Scotland is rarely short of a good breeze..........

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Plumbing the depths.....

.....of the void space under Pippin's bath, to be precise.

I cycled off this morning for a merry day's Hole-Making at the Hole-Making Shop.

Now the first part of the apprenticeship is nearly complete, I am being taught Very Advanced Hole-Making. This involves twenty times the paperwork and gives me a headache. I'd like to say I'm enjoying it, but I'm not.

Pure And Applied Hole Making was a stretch, but this is silly.

Never mind.

Anyway, while I was attempting, (and mostly failing) to increase my skill-set, my darling wife has, seemingly without effort, added yet another impressive string to her bow.

Yes, while I was at work, Jackie completely re-plumbed the bathroom!

(It's worth pointing out here, that being a WB, Pippin does actually have a full size bath, though I mention it only to underscore Jackie's level of achievement, not to brag, you understand.....And not everyone even likes wide-beams, but each to their own, eh?)

It all began yesterday when she got back from a visit to London around lunchtime, and decided, as you do, to dismantle and clean all the waste water pipes in the bathroom. This wasn't quite finished by this morning, so I had a stand-up wash and shave in the kitchen. I was very careful not to complain about this as not only would it have been churlish in the extreme, it would also have been very discouraging. And potentially life-shortening.....

I got back at about 9.15 this evening, having spent the day narrowly avoiding several major Quality Incidents, with spots before my eyes where I had over-focussed on self-adhesive bar-code labels, to find the whole bathroom waste-pipe system replaced with correct, large-bore piping, new fittings, chamfered joints and brand new seals throughout, the bath half-full of water to allow the new (and very spiffy) sealant to set correctly, oh, and the Gulper Whale pump relocated to facilitate the eventual fitting of the fabled Vacuflush 5000 loo for good measure.

Too clever by half, my missus? I think not!

However, I am now going to crawl under the duvet, curl up and feel inadequate for a while.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Chinook Dreams

I've just read on Lucky Duck's blog that they are selling their Rutland 913 wind turbine.

Just to try to drum up some customers for them, a word about ours:

We've had it for very nearly two years now, and jolly good it is too!

We are already noticing that the lengthening hours of daylight are pouring free solar amps into the battery bank, and with Windy the Turbine taking up the slack during the night and adding to the solar effort by day, we are waking to see the voltage traffic-light on green/amber rather than the more usual amber/red. The Duck's controller allows the addition of solar panels too, so you could augment the one with the other in the same way.

We went to a fair bit of trouble insulating the boat between metal roof and wooden ceiling, so the famous 'Marlec Moan' is now no more than a rather pleasing hum. If anyone wants the 'how too' details, just leave a comment and I'll do a retrospective post about it.

(Incidentally, even the experts, [well, okay, James Duck, actually....] have been confounded by Blogger not letting me comment on my own blog, so I can't reply that way, but will do so in the post itself. Computers, eh?)

Obviously, our exposed fen-edge location is ideal for optimising wind turbine power: There's basically sod-all in the way of a windbreak between us and the Urals! But even if it blows more moderately where you are, think on this: even when you're at work, away for the weekend, at the shops, or in the pub, if there's a breath of breeze, you'll be getting some power.

And as with all renewables, the initial cost of purchase means it starts at £400 per amp, and then just goes on getting cheaper and cheaper.

Some say it's not cost effective: You can buy a lot of red diesel for your generator with £400. True, but you don't have to be there to turn it on and off, it won't upset the neighbours (the only sound you hear outside a Rutland equipped boat is a rather delicious swooshy noise), and you can be away the whole weekend and come back to a fridge full of cold beer (whatever that is....) and not have shot your batteries to hell in the process.

And I haven't even started on the whole Green issue yet!!!!!

So go on, buy The Duck's turbine, quick, before I decide to ignore my Beloved's wishes, and splurge the proceeds of the Fuel Cube sale on turning The Mighty Pippin into the only twin-rotor-helicopter-boat on the Cam!!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mother's Day Weekend.

Saturday was spent working away on the woodpile.

(I do actually have other hobbies and interests, though reading this blog, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise......)

It was a lovely sunny morning and I was up and about early. A trip to the lock weir furnished us with more wood for the pile. I arranged it to dry in the sun, then roused out all the previously salvaged wood. It was all sorted out: shaped timber that might be useful to one side, rough branches and logs to the other. The latter were then sawn up if small enough, or left for the attentions of our landlord's chainsaw if not.

Having unloaded another car-full of seasoned-oak off-cuts and stacked them in the wood store, I reorganised the rest and tidied everything away nicely.

While this was keeping me quiet and out from under her feet, Jackie changed the oil and filter on the generator, topped it up with diesel and took on more water.

Today we saw our Fuel Cube diesel tank on its way to a new home. We sold it on ebay for a creditable sum, (roughly half what they cost new), and the new owners came to pick it up punctually at 09.30. They seemed very pleased with it, so it was a deal with which both sides were satisfied.

We then went down to London for Mother's day lunch at bro-in-law David's. Very pleasant indeed!

Miserable March was let slide for a glass or two of wine and some dessert.......

I must punish this wretched excess with some severe cycling to work next week.

Lets hope it stays fine.......

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Quick Dog Blog......

They weren't even lost!!

Jackie rang Hollyoaks yesterday to see how the strays were getting on.

Their owner had come forward, having rung the police, who put them in touch with Hollyoaks.

It's good job the owner spoke to the same copper, or she would doubtless have entered the same mobius strip 'twixt council and police as Jackie did....

So all's well that ends well, although I think the owner went away with one of Hollyoaks' spare fleas in her ear regarding letting dogs roam free, completely unattended, with no collars, i.d. tags or micro-chips to identify them.

Hope they charged her for the worming medicine!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Rescue Dogs.

We've had lots of fun and excitement today. No blizzards though, so the Rescue Dogs in question weren't St. Bernards.

Fortunately, perhaps.

But let us begin at the beginning.......

This morning Jackie's friend Nicola popped over from Ware for tea and cake and a chinwag. I eschewed the cake, caught up with some of the gossip, then accompanied the girls to the lock where they left me to fish out more timber salvage and went off for a walk.

By the time they got back I had had it away on my toes with another large barrowful of logs etc which will eventually dry out enough for the woodburner. I'd also emptied the Diesel tank, (which now resides in our car park as it is currently selling on ebay) of the spilt diesel and rainwater that had collected over the years between the double-bunded skins. I undid the drain plug and drew off about 6 litres of filthy, contaminated and unusable gunk. Blechh!! Straight on the bonfire!

Jackie and Nicola then returned, having chatted-up a polo playing land-owner in a neighbouring field, and seen a couple of apparently stray dogs digging for rabbits near the pumping station. They looked quite happy, if collarless and filthy dirty, but Jackie was concerned. She rang the council first:

"Not our problem. Ring the police".

She rang the local nick in Histon:

"Stray dogs are the Council's problem, ring them".

Rather than getting cross, which is what I probably would have done, Jackie broke out of the bureaucratic Mobius Strip by ringing the vets who have looked after Tom Kitten.

Hollyoaks Veterinary surgery are fab. They said it was a Police matter, but as the police round here couldn't catch a cold, never mind a stray dog, they'd come out and help.

One of the vets soon arrived, accompanied by a veterinary nurse. With Jackie's help, the dogs were found. They were very friendly, well behaved and not at all aggressive. Despite having just managed to get hold of one of the rabbits they'd spent five hours digging for, they happily responded to a kindly "Here, boy" and proffered treat, and were soon safely collared and on the lead.

Under the caked-on mud, it soon became apparent that they weren't any old Canis Mongrelis. The larger one was a labrador/poodle cross, (are they really called 'labradoodles'?), the other a Springer spaniel. Thoughts turned to the likelihood of them having been stolen for the awful business of Fighting Dog practice, or perhaps more simply for re-sale. In short, were they micro-chipped? The vets took them back to the surgery for a hot bath, thorough MOT, some much needed food and a once-over with the microchip reader.

And where was I while all this excitement was occuring?

Emmaus, natch.

(Actually I was doing our landlord a favour by taking some unwanted items up there, okay? The fact that I came away with another toolbox, for Jackie this time, and a rather super socket set, and all for a fiver, has absolutely nothing to do with it, alright?)

On returning to "Pippin", I was being regaled with the story when the vet rang to say neither dog had a chip.

A mystery then, and sad to think there will be no joyful reunion with their rightful owners.

However, both hounds are safe, and, apart from each having a galloping case of worms, seem none the worse for their adventures. Indeed, Jackie likened them to the dogs in the film 'Dean Spanley', as they seemed to be having so much fun digging for rabbits. (Though if you know the film, you'll know 'our' dogs denouement was a far happier one....).

They are both now residing at the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Godmanchester.

Although if it hadn't been for the likely objections of a certain Ship's Cat, they might well have both been safely aboard The Mighty Pippin by now............

Loo update, and an engine service.....

There's just no stopping her!

After a successful effort in staving off the inevitable with the Suzuki, Jackie has been at it again! This time, fitting the new parts to the loo and then doing an RCR course on diesel engine servicing.....

First, the loo:

A conversation with Leesan decided that the solenoid was probably not the cause of the loo filling with too much water when flushing. More likely was a rise in pressure caused by the new pump Jackie fitted to replace the old, knackered one. (We also added another accumulator tank too, and this may also have been a contributing factor). Leesan reckoned that a restrictor valve between the pipe and tank would solve this, so one was duly bought, along with the non-return valve that prevents waste backing up in the bowl, a new air vent and some descaler for good measure. Good job too! The originals could have soaked for a week in descaler and been none the better. (We would have taken pictures, but such things are probably best left to the imagination.....). Lots of pipe cleaning ensued, and really stubborn deposits removed with 'One Shot' drain cleaner.

(N.B. 'One Shot' is lethal! It's a really powerful acid-based solvent that will eat rubber seals and most pipe adhesives.

It must be used sparingly, with caution, a long way from the boat and the river!

It must then be flushed down a mains drain with loads of water.)

It also eats clothes....

Having flushed the re-assembled loo and sorted out a couple of weeps, Jackie determined that, though better, it still wasn't quite right.

Some head-scratching ensued (hands were washed first....)

We reckon the loo is probably seriously scaled up inside. "Pippin" stood, unused, for at least six months before we bought her, and for another four with only occasional visits. This, plus a possible lack of preventative maintenance under the previous owner,(understandable, really: if the loo's working okay, regular de-scaling can look rather like money down the drain....), may well have done it.

Anyway, the system is now into it's third day of a good internal soak with LeeScale. Lets hope it does the trick....

Last year I did the RCR day-course on diesel engine servicing. It's really good! Pete, RCR's top engineer, comes to you with all required spares and service items and basically, teaches you how to service your engine.

I particularly like this approach as it is theory-light and heavy on the practicals of how to do your own boat's engine in the boat itself. The disadvantage of a classroom course is that even if your engine is the same as the one used , each installation is bound to cause potentially confusing differences.

Trouble was, after a year had elapsed, my hastily scribbled and oil-smudged notes made little sense...... My fault entirely, but as a result, I wasn't prepared to risk wrecking the engine by making a simple mistake.

Do the maths:
New Beta 50hp:- c.£5,500.
An RCR service plus one-to-one tuition:- £150.

So it was that Pete from RCR turned up on Sunday to teach Jackie how to do the engine service. A neighbour who has done the course too, but felt, like me, in need of revision, kept careful, clear and accurate notes (she's a teacher...) Pete was his usual brilliant self, Jackie really enjoyed learning, and the engine is now purring.

I made the tea and contemplated learning to knit.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Cambridge has a new Rowing Club.......

The Charles Darwin Rowing Club, to be precise. (Motto: "Survival of the fittest")

To be a member of this exclusive club, you have to be female, in a single scull, and on the river Cam heedless of strong stream warnings.

To qualify for membership, you have to take your boat out in the aforesaid atrocious conditions, spin at Baits Bight lock so late that you end up all over the weir boom, then fall in the water and get swept under the sluices.

You must then extract yourself from the water and walk nonchalently back to Cambridge leaving your empty boat against the weir to cause as much alarm as possible.

Rowers, eh?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Have you had a bad day today?

Then read Rhian's latest post on Smiling Footprints blog.

Kind of puts everything in perspective, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Vitara Rides Again!

Yes, Jackie and Paul have done it: The Suzuki is reassembled with a new head gasket and new cam-belt. It is not just running, but purring like Tom Kitten!

I haven't driven it yet, but Jackie says it feels much lighter and more responsive. I should think it does, as the failed gasket looked so knackered I was surprised the poor old thing managed to run at all. Anyway, it's now not leaking oil, water and compression all over the place, which can only be a good thing....

Just a couple of small issues: the idiot who tinkered about with the rear bumper wired the lights up all wrong. One of the elements in one bulb has also burned out, (no doubt in protest at this oaf's heavy-handedness), so Jackie is off to the car accessory shop tomorrow to get a new one.

Oh, and a new exhaust as well, as the old one is about to fall off.......

Ah well, it's only money......

Monday, 1 March 2010

Altogether too much drama.


No sooner do we suggest that our friends' blog is worth reading, then said friends are involved in a tsunami following the Chilean earthquake!

Relax, they're both fine. Not quite back to Condition Beige, but okay just the same.

Thank goodness. It's been a worrying 24hrs or so.

Of course, after all this serious life-threatening drama, blogging about the Cam having risen a bit seems rather lame.

Risen it has, though. The drop at the weir is now as little as 4 inches or so. The E.A. are manning the nearby pumping station 24 hours. A lot of water is whooshing through the sluices, which are cranked wide open.

The water level just upstream of the lock hasn't got too worrying. In fact when things were this bad (or a bit worse) last Feb, our parish field didn't flood. The gang plank angle has increased a bit, but that's about all.

I'm jolly glad we are using the borrowed Thetford cassette loo, though. Cambridge is properly flooded (which will have stuffed the pump-out electrics again anyway). Having to chug to Ely in this sort of strong stream might make for a record breaking time on the out-bound leg, but a long, high-rev, low knots battle back against the current on the way home.

However, there is some progress to report on the new loo front. We have removed the ply panel behind the existing loo, exposing all the pipework. We have decided to try to repair it, (new solenoid, non-return valve and one way air vent), and then save up for the Vacuflush 5000. This may seem a bit daft, but consider the following:

-it will take us a year or so to find the money.

-that's a long time to be carrying cassettes.

-the Vacuflush uses about one quarter of the water our current system uses when working perfectly

-this will lengthen our pump-out interval to about eight weeks!

-this will save diesel, money, time, the environment, and mean less chance of getting athwart the hawse of rowers or having to deal with dirty looks from used car salesmen and estate agents in plastic cruisers.

So it makes sense.

To us, anyway.....

In other news, Jackie has been busy today helping our be-winged and halo-ed friend Paul strip down the engine of our Suzuki Vitara. (Why wasn't I doing it? Well, it's got heathen devices like fuel injection, catalytic converters, overhead cams, 16 valves and a plumbers nightmare of coolant hoses, air ducts and wiring looms, and is not a nice, big, bare block with four bits of wire emerging from it and lots of space around it, so I tend to get a bit lost..........

I busied myself removing and replacing the rear bumper's plastic impact-absorbing outer skin instead. (To remove the evidence of some impact it had absorbed, since you ask....) This was accomplished fairly easily despite some 10mm bolt heads shearing off. The dent was teased out using a small amount of carefully aimed percussion engineering and a waft of heat from my trusty hot air gun. It all went back together okay, though what lights will light up at the back when the clever people working on the engine re-connect the battery is anyone's guess.

If it stays sunny tomorrow, Jackie and Paul are going to clean the head and top of the block, install a new head gasket and put it all back together.......

And so, to today's gratuitous cute cat shots. Spot the difference:-