Tuesday, 25 December 2007

More flu.....

Just as we thought all was OK

This flu kicked back in an the boss has expired in exhaustion.

I am just about staggering on.

This is like 2000 all over again.

That was a great celebration of milennium and I slept through it.


And a merry Xmas was in store....

So of course dawned the glorious day and soon the sound of happy brawling childer echoed round the halls. As presents were opened and the race to break them was on. This house celebrated peace on earth with gunfire and explosions.

Naturally we had bought every size of battery apart from the ones we needed.

Of course, we are in the grips of weather, the AGA which is a fantastic stove for cooking is entirely dependent on wind direction and atmospherics for it's operation so naturally these have gone all to cock.

Copious determination has persuaded the log stove to light and that is delivering well.

The AGA though has gone on strike.

Our huge side of pork has taken a mere 8 hours and is nearly done.

Vegetables though just aren't happening.

Not really sure what we are going to do.

I know, I'll go find the corkscrew....

As if I hadn't hours ago.......

Merry Xmas to you all, we should have ours in a few days time.


Friday, 21 December 2007

Siberia blast.

This morning has dawned wild and wolly.

This Artic blast clearly begun somewhere in the distant North and gained nothing in Warmth as it traveled South over the frozen Steppes, crossed icy oceans and made landfall somewhere in the distant east on it's way to deliver a chill to us here on our mountain.

This is not a wind of industriousness though, not going round anything, lazily it cuts through the hapless fire wood cutter wrapped up in a vain hope of warmth.

30 minutes is about my limit for waving the heavy fire engine axes at the fire wood, then it's in the house and de frost before another 30 minutes of heroism.

At least I have the consolation that the first load of wood will soon be delivering a welcome warm red glow against the black canvas of the log stove.

There is something of unique comfort in a log fire on a cold day.


Thursday, 20 December 2007

Back in the land of the living

It has only taken a week and at last i am back in the land of the semi living.

Way behind schedule we left the plague house intent on restocking the larder following a week of weakness.

Fire wood can wait till tomorrow when hopefully the wind might abate a bit.

Today was shopping day.

First stop Bookers the cash and carry where all the small traders on Mamon bent were stocking for the last minute.

much of the Xmas stuff already on "remainder". Bought all the kids Crimbo choccies for way under half retail.

Then bravely into Aldi before girding up our loins for and donning our armour for Tesco.

With "peace on earth" in full swing it was time to dodge the crazed old psychotic charioteers.

Side steps and dodges rule as old biddies with a dread gleam set about getting their yuletide fare.

Asking no quarter and certainly giving none either.

A few years back, in the town where I was brought up, ownership of the last turkey was sorted in the supermarket with the loser getting a trip in a big white van...

Xmas really is no fun any more.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Welcome to the plague house

Well it has all sure been happening here.

Spent most of the week with my nurses uniform on. Various kids are not well; a really awfull flu that knocks you for six for several days.

Imbetween times I have been splitting wood, more close encounters of the seasoned oak kind which are very good on the warm house front but less helpful in the shoulders and arms aching stakes.

I am sure I will be super fit at the end of all this but currently I would settle for not being in pain.

Management god bless her has succumbed, took to her bed days ago and has not been seen since. Only the odd groan to remind that she is alive, must go she is due her medication.


Sunday, 9 December 2007

On the first day of......

Funny you know,

Management and I were sitting there today discussing serious issues like whose turn it was to go and put the kettle on

Anyway with such important matters resolved it was on with the telly and the Sunday morning politics and everything else.

Today the themes were Xmas and the myriad problems it generates.

Funny though, there was the long tome about all the problems of drinking, how festive excess is terribly bad

Next came eating and how festive excess is terribly bad.

But actually lets think out of the box here.

We are told that we don't love our children if they do not have the latest PS wii Xbox, if we don't have the very latest toys already bought for them then we are failures as parents.

If we don't have the latest whatever the latest is, then we don't love our partners enough and we are failures.

In fact if we don't have thousands on the hip to blow and spend the rest of the year struggling to pay off we are a failure.

Isn't it time maybe we looked at the real problem of Xmas.....

An excessive festival of greed and consumption.


Wednesday, 5 December 2007

the green goddess in pictures.

  1. The pump works
  1. 3 branches and going for it!
Sad sight, 50 years in careful storage and now only fit for scrap

3 years in the open and it looks sad.
My four lined up

Hundreds just waiting to be cut up.



Just another woodland wednesday.

My first effort at this was posted whilst still blank. Very appropriate.

Another quiet management less Wednesday but one where she left barking the crisp instruction :

"Tidy up"

I have sort of complied but mainly spent the day marchalling our dwindling supply of firewood.

The fires are out as an economy measure but will need to go back in soon before the freezing management comes back off the top of her mountain.

The wood situation is becoming a bit critical. The holidays cannot come soon enough we need the kids at home so we can get some serious woodcutting done.

Every year in a wave of good intentions we vow to spend April and May cutting wood. Of course this year we had the house on the market and were expecting not to be here, at least that was my excuse.

The result has been a saw to fire winter so far, running very close to the wind.

Not ideal really firewood needs a bit of time on the ground before you burn it.

But the weather is well short of optimal for anything of an outdoors type.

So I suppose "tidy up" has a certain appeal.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Confessions of a would be tree thief.

Today with the onset of the yule, a festival which I try to have as little to do with as possible I might add.... Management and I went off on Xmas tree bent.

Braving the rising wind we donned warm everything armed ourselves with her ferocious looking forestry tools and set off for the common.

Well when I say "common" I should perhaps qualify that.

Many years ago this house and a number of other small holdings had rights to graze 500 acres of land held in common ownership. With the last war looming on the horizon the government in their wisdom took the common land and some of it ended up as a military base and some of it was planted with trees.

This in turn was the governments excuse not to hand the common land back when they closed the base. Rather they sold it on to one of their cronies.

We strode, despite the buffeting wind, up the long abandoned road to the long abandoned community at the head of the valley.

Prior to 1936 this had been a small group of smallholders ecking a precarious living off tiny plots of land high over the valley below.

Passing the remnants of their one room cottages we descended the hill, crossed streams and bogs before entering the forestry on Xmas tree bent.

Since we were last down here the place has been cleared. industrial tree processors ripped everything out leaving behind a waste of barren land being rapidly claimed by brambles.

There was enough wood discarded to keep us in fire wood for years, trouble was I could see no way of getting it.

Added to that the cedars edging the remaining forest were swaying in a way that it didn't need the forest manager in training to tell me was not good in the dangerous sort of way.

Retracing our steps I threw myself down to rest sheltering from the wind in shattered walls of a fallen cottage. Surrounded by the ghosts of yesterday I hid from the winds of today.

Back on the move and the wind pushed us away, on our way, till we crossed the brow of the hill and home to the comforting orange glow of the green goddess on the drive.


Monday, 3 December 2007

The cold war is over..... The green goddess is dead.

The cold war is over, well we all knew that but why am I saying that today.

As we speak in a yard in Staffordshire the end really has come for a cold war relic.

Going back as far as 1940 the UK was under serious aerial attack. Fire were everywhere and the fire services stretched. The situation was complicated since fire had traditionally been devolved to local councils each of which had their tastes and foibles, even hydrants and hoses might have different connection system between boroughs.

The solution was the formation of a National Fire Service with unified systems equipment and connections. On completion of hostilities the whole edifice was dismantled and all the equipment put into storage pending probable disposal.

Then in 1949 the iron curtain fell, the Russians had nuclear capability and back up the agenda came the notion of civil defence and a national fire service. Renamed the Auxiliary Fire Service it was reformed ready to fight the fire caused by nuclear attack.

Of course, a lot of the equipment was from the war years and had seen a lot of service. So a spec sheet was drawn up for a new Auxiliary Fire Service as part of a national Civil Defence Corps.

The backbone of the AFS would be the mobile fire column, a self contained self supporting entity that could advance from undamaged areas into devastated towns and cities extinguishing all as it went along.

The idea was that water would be pumped from rivers and lakes which might be some distance away to extinguish fires so a vast fleet of personnel carriers, hose layers, communications vehicles was ordered.

The central vehicle though was the self propelled pump, the green goddess.

Originally built on the 2 wheel drive Bedford S chassis from about 1955 these were built on the Bedford RL 4 ton 4 wheel drive truck by about a dozen coachbuilders. To appreciate how far ahead of the rest Bedford were in those days you really have to try the competition.

As an illustration trucks were limited back then to 20 mph, the green goddess fully laden easily tops 45, more than twice that.

Of course the whole idea was a joke and the H bomb made the idea of concerted fire fighting in the immediate post strike period improbable to be polite....

This being the UK of course the organisation carried on till 1968 when a cash strapped government called time on the Civil Defence and put everything into storage, in case it was ever needed.

Yet more time passed and in about 1973 the decision was made to sell the lot off.

This being Government this was a slow process and when the drought hit in 1975 they were suddenly in need of extra capacity to move water in bulk and realised they were sitting on the very kit they needed, all the old Civil Defence gear they had just decided to sell.

Came 1977 and the first national fire strike and a reversal of the original policy was on the cards.

This was only a partial reversal however. Many of 4 wheel drive Green goddesses and the bulk pumping hoses were retained and a quantity of the lighter 4 wheel drives. Everything else was to go.

It's a measure of the inertia that a full 25 years after the civil defence stood down, they were still closing stores and selling off gear!

By the mid 1990's all that remained was centralised in a store at Marchington in Staffordshire where, in an air of quiet efficiency around 1000 green goddess fire engines were held in storage together with a vast stock of spares and parts. At any time 40 vehicles were immediately available and the whole fleet had to be ready to go given 21 days notice.

You might have thought there would be not much call for a forty year old green fire engines when there were bang up to date red ones already out there, and you would be wrong.

You see the Sigmund pump fitted to the GG is one of the best ever for shifting water in bulk. When the centre of Chichester was threatened by flood water the 18 GG deployed could move 4 times the amount of water of a modern fire pump.

In fact for their original role they are still king. If your house was on fire send for a red engine, if the whole town was ablaze the green one would be far more use!

When fires threatened to engulf the moors in Yorkshire the modern fire engines had to stop 4 miles short, the GG crews simply engaged 4 wheel drive.

Then of course there was the millennium, come 2000 no one was sure what was going to happen, what would work and what would not. They knew though there were no computers to go wrong in a GG!

Finally 2002 and the fire fighters strike. There were still 1000 GG left but the military was a ghost of it's strength in 1977. Just 800 could be crewed and, despite claims to the contrary they gave a very good account of themselves.

A radical change of equipment fit was ordered and was slowly being introduced.

Then almost out of the blue on the 14 February 2005 it was announced the government would do a "market test" 40 were sent down for disposal.

In the feeding frenzy that followed over 7 thousand sterling a unit was generated. Someone in Whitehall saw pound signs and the whole bunch were dumped on the market at once.

The price plummeted and the sale stalled. Had they been sold at what the market would pay many more might have found new uses, but the heels were dug in and the money demanded.

I bought four for not a lot more than I would have paid for one of the first 40.

And now the inevitable is happening. The sad remnants, vehicles that have spent nearly 3 years in the open, are being cut up.

This summer the heart of England flooded, the very thing they needed was the green goddess fleet.

In fact 20 of their new owners volunteered to go and help, giving a pumping capacity of just under 24 million gallons of water a day. They were turned down, would not the government have looked fools. Having scraped them then needing them desperately.

So today the last of the thousand survivors of the thousands of Civil defence vehicles are being broken up and sold for scrap.

I for one feel a little bit sad.

There is a yahoo group for RL owners - seek it out.