Episode 3 - Mobility, Heat, and Water

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February 16, 2006

So we traveled all the way across the Atlantic, exchanged our US currency for Euros, accepted the fact that they are going to continue to drive on the wrong side of the road despite the fact that the rest of the non-UK world mostly drives on the right, and are even willing to believe that one-lane roads are plenty wide to accommodate two cars traveling in opposite directions. And yet despite all of these attempts to assimilate into European culture, today we went out and bought a good old-fashioned American-made Ford. It is quite small, mind you: a little 1.1 liter, 4-speed manual (of course), 3-door hatchback Fiesta. The price was right, however, at 600 Euros and most importantly it has a 9.5-gallon petrol tank thatóget thisóonly cost 35 Euros (thatís about 45 dollars) to fill up. And you thought gas prices were high in the US! But after all that we are now mobile.

We sealed the deal with a very nice but impossible-to-understand gentleman (who, while describing the attributes of the car, shamelessly and continuously spewed crumbs from his mouth) and we were off. Jessamy and I took a 20-mile drive in our new little car around the valley that we live in. It is a beautiful drive with farms and open fields around every bend. Of course, there may also be another car around every bend, and so one must be ready to ditch the car off the side of the road at a momentís notice. They also, upon passing one another, give a little (fore) finger wave as if to say, ďIím glad you didnít hit me and if we ever meet again letís not run into each other then eitherĒ. Iím sure Iíll get the hang of it after a while, but for now I drive a bit slower than the other drivers would like.

The weather has been more of the same: twenty minutes of sunshine followed by heavy rain and even heavier wind. If it rains hard enough, the water is driven in under the door (and down the chimney), but I have to admit that it just adds to the allure of this old stone cottage. Jessamy and I are adjusting to the indoor climate as well, and evenings are not spent quite in the fireplace anymore but instead just slightly outside the reach of the flames. We have also begun a bit of a discussion with our neighbors as to what is best to burn, i.e. peat, coal, or wood. They both agree that coal puts off the best heat, and if that is the case then I must be doing it wrong. I can get a good coal fire going now without too much trouble, but when you go to warm your hands by it you find that you have to practically stick them right in before you feel any warmth.

A couple of mornings back, we woke up and went to make our morning tea only to find that, when I turned the faucet, instead of the typical deluge of water I didnít even get a drip. After a lengthy investigation, I found that the culprit was a small stone that had lodged itself in the intake valve and, as a result, allowed all of the water to drain out of the system and back into the river. Now the line that feeds the pump is about 150 feet of 1-ľĒ inside diameter hose (or, as some of you may remember, the horse that needs to be buried that Jess is so sad about). Priming that much hose using nothing more than a teapot was a really big Ö letís just say that it took me all day to get the water running again.