Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Old Faithful

Old Faithful, as every schoolboy who wasn't looking out the window during geography or geology knows, is the biggest, most spectacular, and most consistent geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. At least since its 'discovery' in 1870, it has ejected massive plumes of super-heated water to a height of up to 185 feet, at intervals of something over an hour and lasting between a minute and a half and five minutes.

I haven't seen Old Faithful, but she popped into my mind this evening. It seems that however many burst pipes we fix around the cabin, the water will out. This morning, I stood in the 50-strong queue in Jackie Brown's hardware store, and under pressure of limited daylight hours, equally limited plumbing experience, a family gathering in the cabin at lunchtime tomorrow and a glacially slow queue, I caved in and enlisted the services of a plumber to give me a hand.

Can I say, that if you live anywhere near here and need a plumber, you won't find anyone more responsive or pleasant to deal with than Conor Sloan of CS Plumbing and Heating. He was unfazed by the prospect of going to the job by boat, he turned up as promised and he got the job done. Mind you, we haven't had the bill yet..

Well, I worked underneath the cabin and he worked outside, and there is no way on earth - speaking of which, I was covered in the stuff from head to toe, which I wasn't slow to point out to Conor - that I would have got the job done in time on my own. We fixed four leaks in all (well, I fixed one and he fixed three as well as running hot and cold pipework into the bathroom and fitting drain taps so we're better prepared next time) and we opened the stopcock at the top of the bank, up above the cabin, well after dark. Everything looked good, the only running water we heard was in the pipes, and I ran Conor and his father-in-law Davy back to the mainland. Conor's parting words were, 'Did you ever lag that expansion pipe?', meaning the pipe that extends above the roof - a few days ago, when I first called him for advice, he said that if we couldn't turn off the wood burner without freezing to death, it was essential that the expansion pipe from the hot water cylinder be kept ice-free, otherwise the tank might... take off.

When I got back to the cabin, Lynn said she thought there should have been a little heat creeping into the copper cylinder, and I went outside to investigate ('investigate' is a little misleading - I hadn't a clue what I was looking for). It was drizzling, and I walked aroud the cabin, shining my torch underneath every so often and listening hard. I was standing at the north gable end when the rain came on hard, the kind of rain that soaks you through in minutes, and I thought, 'Tomorrow's another day' and took a step towards the cabin. The rain stopped. I thought, 'Where there's a will', and turned back to continue my investigations. The rain came on again, even harder now, and I looked skywards. Just above the roof ridge I could see the silhouette of said expansion pipe, and a couple of feet from its tip I saw the twin plumes of our very own Old Faithful, great sheets of water shooting out horizontally and arching down onto, on one side, the roof, and on the other, yours truly.

One further repair, and my last 15mm straight connector later, and we were finally in business, and as I write this in the office at the back of the cabin, Lynn had just walked past with a towel over her arm, and offered to leave the water in for me.

A bath, a bath..
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