Early January is certainly the coldest time I have ever spent living aboard. Temperatures overnight reached minus 16C according to local measurements, and the canal was well frozen for days on end.
Sadly while away from Zulu I neglected to properly drain the Paloma water heater so I can only blame myself for the new shower feature in the kitchen, consisting mainly of a horizontal jet of water coming from between the two halves of the inlet valve.
Thanks to a chap who advertises Paloma exchange units on Ebay – he answered my email enquiry about whether this could be fixed with a phone number to call and he turned out to be most helpful. I discovered that the original screws which hold the two halves of the valve together should be have given way, under the force of any ice building up in the valve, but very commonly the valve is distorted by freezing, or the rubber diaphragm inside the valve splits. Either way its repairable but I miust admit I am tempted by Tony’s Ebay offer of a fully tested and serviced replacement boiler on an exchange basis, for the cost of £99. Many Palomas sell for much more than this on ebay. I will try to repair it first though and planned to pop up to see Zulu this week.
However this morning the weather warnings on the news have for once been justified as the entire south of the country is literally snowed under. No buses in London, half the Tube system out of action, Heathrow and Gatwick currently closed as well as Southampton Airport and to make things worse at Heathrow, Cyprus Airways landed safely in the snow and then taxied off the taxiway on the way to the terminal, resulting in a huge aircraft stuck in the mud.
Predictably the National Rail enquiries website is really struggling to cope at the very time it should be providing help and information to the public. People on the news are panicking about how to get home and it really doesn’t help when crucial sources of information are unavailable. In the event of a major public disaster I do hope the government has web based systems ready to keep us informed, but on this occasion I can only express my frustration with National Rail. I travelled last night and tried time and time again to find out if my onward arrangements were still running – the entire website was down. This morning it was unavailable through the morning rush hour, then came back on in a patchy sort of way, working one minute then not the next. A few thousand quid and some thought as to how the public want to use this service would easily put right the ability to keep the website going through exceptionally busy times.
Meanwhile for much of the morning this has been the result.