Sunday, 29 June 2008

Scythes and strimmers - a tale of Petrol Poverty....

Managing management is a sometimes difficult task, guiding her gently towards and idea.

Then when she gets there (particularly if you can convince her it was her idea in the first place) she is away.

For some time now I have advocated getting a scythe. A proper old fashioned blade like my grandad used to use. He never hed things like strimmer and hedge trimmers, he just had a scythe so old the blade was partly worn down.

So anyway yesterday there was an auction locally, this is often bad news neither of us is very good at driving past "to the auction" signs.

But we came home with a useful range of new toys, I picked up a big socket set and axle stands ideal for the discerning fire engine owner.

4 picnic tables for less than the price of the wood meant going to fetch the trailer to drag them home.

But the bargain of the day was a full size scythe. Management has been seen haunting you tube looking for footage of people using such weapons and has concluded that they are probably better than a strimmer and definitely use less petrol.

Once you make her think it's her idea.......


Saturday, 28 June 2008

Direct work

I suppose it had to happen.

The young committed highly motivated Social Worker from East Europe had subtly changed when she arrived yesterday.

Her eyes were open, she was fed up, she cannot make decisions, her managers will not make decisions, there is no money for anything, her life is about boxes and putting ticks in them. She is a great person, all those things she joined up to do, direct work with children, life story work, she cannot do, she is reduced to a clerk moveing bits of paper from one end of her desk to the other, be effective she cannot.

Of course as a foster carer all I ever do is direct work with children.

She was jealous, she wanted to be me.

I was damn sure I did not want to be her...


Friday, 27 June 2008

My muscles hurt....

Sometimes you have to admit to nasty facts.

I might be getting older.

It is a real delight to work on a Green Goddess, a truck where someone worked out I might one day need to change things. Getting the radiator off could have been a real ordeal, but no someone thought it through and it falls off. Well Ok except it weighs rather a lot.

Same with the cylinder head, I could feel my back objecting. Might design a little rig to handle it for the putting it back on bit.

And in total contrast I got to pretend to be clever and important yesterday.

Interviewing people who should in theory be my superiors is always an ego massaging experience. Getting to fight to get the job offered to someone who is front line and practice based over a management speak clone is about doing the job right.

Still today is back to important things, need to get that fire engine running.

Back to reality today.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


It's funny, I fill my blog with tales of woe about fostering and my ad box fills with adverts encouraging you lot to sign up to be foster carers.

With such clever ad placement it's not hard to understand how my ad revenue stands at a heady ten dollars. Hell the way the dollar is going I could end up being a net loser on my ad account.

Whats actually a personal problem for me is that one of the agencies involved is one I would not use to look after my cats. A money grabbing group where profit comes first second third and fourth, care for kids gets as far as their slick promos and no further.

Now I dare say me contric with ad sense would not allow me to.

But I digress today I got to do proper fire engine things. It's nice to get away from serious stuff and roll round under a 50 year old lorry for a while, oh and I went out to lunch too.

Tomorrow we are going green, putting a new cylinder head to allow the green goddess to run on unleaded. Yes hardly planet changing when the thing gobbles it up at a ferocious rate. In some garages you have to switch off the engine as the pump can't keep up....

Ha ha


Monday, 23 June 2008

Writing things down.

Funny how things trigger other things.

I was hauled up over the coals once. Water and the backs of ducks of course.

But anyway, I was pulled up for having offended a social workers delicate sensibilities by shouting at the little angel then slamming down the phone.

So of course that was all recorded and very serious.

Being a helpful sort of chap I said that maybe the records needed to be more comprehensive:

What I actually said admittedly quite loudly was:

"I have now been awake for 18 hours straight through with a child in the grip of psychosis, placing himself, myself and my family at risk. You promised to have someone here at 9 am this morning then at 4 PM this afternoon to take him to somewhere appropriate. Now you are asking me to drive 120 miles on my own in a car with this child. Do you think this is safe?"

The phone went down when you flat refused to choose between yes and no.

Funny you know there was a marked reluctance to record the whole conversation.

When I pointed out that when they went home and I organised transport for this lad, both the address for the place they had identified for him and the phone number were in fact wrong. Well I think they would have loved to write it down but you see their Biro had run out of ink...


Sunday, 22 June 2008

More fermenting festering.

One thing I left out in the previous, was what happened between V's 12th and her 16th.

At 12 as I said she was about to end up seeing to the needs of old men who do not wash a lot.

She was not an easy girl to like. Her early life had left her finding it very hard to be loved. If the people who love you hurt you, you have to defend yourself. Especially if you are a child. If the people you love and who love you are not predictable then you have to defend yourself. If the person you love choses someone who is hateful and hurtful to you, you do the same.

You build a great big wall around yourself, a big high one, with wire on the top. You defend yourself by creating hate, you know others dislike for you keeps them out, keeps you safe. To let them see the lovely person you are is to let them in and once in they can hurt you.

I'm not putting any of that up as an explanation, she is the expert on her, but I reckon this tree I am barking up is not far from the right one...

Over the years, we did not a lot, people who parent are in the position of handing the child the lego, thats all you can do. Hand them the lego and they either build a castle or throw the set out of the window. Foster carers go out into the garden, pick up the bits and take them back into the house to try again. It's what we do.

She went through crashing cycles where she would build and build and build then break it all down.

Thing was though she had her social worker.

A rock, a firm foundation, quite something else.

When she "decided" she was not "doing school" any more. SW could have talked about rights, she could have said we cannot make her. Nope, she said: "get on the bus and get into school".

Without lots of rights explainers to tell her she didn't have to, she did what was right for her.

Sometimes we adults forget that we are, the adults that is.

Every right carries a responsibility in it's back pack.

If I exercise a right I have responsibility for what happens if it all goes wrong. And if I am not mature enough to take the responsibility, giving me the right is a form of abuse. It is setting me up to fail.

Yes of course give kids rights when they have no understanding of responsibility, why not give babies guns while we are at it.

This was one of the best bits about her Social Worker, she was person centered.

Just as it says in the job specification.

When mum threw out the abusive boyfriend, Social worker didn't just do her job, fill in a referral form for the domestic violence team and forget about it; she went round the house and helped mum do what was needed, herself.

That's proper outside the tick box person centered social work.

V matured in ways that frequently delighted management and me.

When her school were off doing their outward bound and they got completly blisteringly lost. She was the calm voice that took charge and got them out of there. A born leader opened her wings and flew.

When she was 15 she said she wanted to be a foster carer, the calm maturity, the diligence, the caring person she had allowed herself to become was someone I thought I would be really happy to leave my own kids with.

This was the complete opposite of the child who arrived three years before and who is today, three years after.

Which makes it the more distressing for us, we didn't raise her to do what she has done now.

We handed her into the care of leaving care only to discover they didn't and between them and the toilet checkers they would try and stop us from caring too.

Being actively prevented from caring is abusive I reckon.

But as the toilet checker said "she only wanted to do her job and do what she was told".

I have a few things I would like to tell her, I am not sure she would not perceive them as abuse....


Who's a clever little reader then....

Having safely deposited no one son in town it's back home and check the email and blunder round the blogs.

I found a programme that apparently analyses your blog then tells you how clever you need to be to read it.

Well here's the news, the fact that you are reading this makes you a genius or so this website would have me believe.

Does that make me super brain for writing it?

Why does it not feel like that?

Aha I can put a link from their site to mine, do I detect the faintest whiff of rodent?

Is this but advertising dressed up as something else?

Ah well away to go, here in west Wales we are bracing for the storm that is forecast. The wind is getting up already.


Saturday, 21 June 2008

Fuel poverty - a post script

As I awoke this morning the papers were full of tales of a Welsh Police Helicopter and an Unidentified Flying Object.

I thought I had better put the record straight.

Now, whilst there are often continance challenging quantities of air under the tyres when she drives, I can assure you that, to the best of my knowledge, it wasn't her.....


Friday, 20 June 2008

Fuel poverty

We sat down yesterday and did our sums, we are officially fuel poor.

We haven't checked the price recently but last time we filled our oil tank it was 700 pounds. Electricity is up to 160 pounds a month.

We are not flagrant drivers round but taking kids to school and shopping runs up 500 miles or so every week. The xantia is not quite as economical as the Rover 200, quite surprising that it comes whisker close with the car being a lot bigger and having hydraulics and air con to run too.

It is also some way faster than the Rover and this is where life gets errrr interesting.

You see the management has missed a few lessons on her route to a driving licence. Most people think cars have a throttle she thinks it's a switch.

I would certainly describe her driving as "exhilarating" in that way that a fair ground ride is exhilarating. Think roller coaster where the car is not in any way attached to the track and is perfectly free to fly off at any time.

Add extra excitements like other cars on the track coming the other way, others under the control of drivers who are asleep at the wheel, surround the track with solid objects that would really hurt if you hit them and every second it feels like you might just do that in the next one.

You are starting to get there.

Driving with her is a permanent excitement. Never knowing what type of death is round the next corner, marvel at the miracle that is ABS, a chance to play "spot the gurn" when looking at other drivers, of course you can only do that on those occasions when you manage to keep your eyes open.

I was so glad today our trip up county was obstructed by a series of tourists. Helped me keep my composure.

Yesterday was nothing like though. Yesterday, so engrossed in explaining what I had done to annoy her(not sure what it was, I was being "distracted"), she forgot about THE corner; this is a rather impressive S affair that would really benefit from some camber adjustment, smoothing out and not being on the home route of a group of cows who have permanent dysentery.

The rigidity of my body, the clenched teeth, the eyes like dinner plates she did not notice, no what got her attention was that I did not whimper, of course I didn't I had lost the power of speech!

I love her really, I had to say that, otherwise she would have to take it up with me next time she drives the car.....


Thursday, 19 June 2008

A perfect morning.

Now I must admit that today is shaping up well so far.

It's a lovely day with the rain that washed everything clean yesterday blown away in a moderate breeze.

Moderate breeze is good, comfortable, but not hot. Time to round up the troops and do a bit of chainsaw therapy.

Choping wood followed by some very enjoyable axe waving. There is something terribly therapeutic about wielding a sharp axe. 60 year old tools that might have a tale to tell should they ever talk, well, should they ever talk then it will be time for me to go with the nice men in the white coats.

Quiet, thinking, planning time. Good exercise and a relief from the frustrations of everyday life.

The mistress of all we owe money on has gone off to tesc with plastic and hopefully will be suitably pleased that we have a bit of fire wood should we need to take the chill off the evening.

Fermenting festering part the one (a)

Something I left out of the scenrio yesterday was the baby.

Now we consideredit one of our biggest success stories that the Bigger V got all the way through her time with us being just herself and not have a little miniture V in tow.

In fact to be honest I am not sure how we did as she was certainly a very popular girl.

But anyway V has finished up with a baby, which she abandoned last year.

Really, when you look at her life story you wonder how she could be expected to be a mother to anyone without an awful lot of help and support.

Naturally, this was not what leaving care are about, despite this she managed to do a pretty good job most of the time. Up until the point the wheels fell off her life again.

So anyway the baby looks set to go for adoption and that is "good". You see the service gets a tick in the box for every child it has adopted and you can find people to adopt babies.

So, if a former looked after child has a baby, lacks the skills to parent, does not get the help they need, has to pretty much go it alone until they have to give up the child then thats called a "good outcome".

I wonder if parents out there would think about how they might feel to have a child taken from them because they cannot adequatly parent, now imagine that their background was not that stable anyway and they didn't have much self esteem to loose anyway.

But I had to include this as my post yesterday was so negative I had to go back and include something positive.

It is a "good outcome" isn't it????


The silence of the washing machine..

Now, our old washing machine has been a bit of a hero it must be 6 years old.

It survived C who would regularly produce underpants to grow tomatoes in.

And D's efforts which have included some fairly unsavoury under clothes.

I think it was tired and it finally gave up it's little ghost on the weekend.

This of course being one more little slot in a two month run of mechanical disaster at our place.

So we have a new washing machine. But goodness haven't things changed?

Washing machines used to sit in the Kitchen making macho noises and spinning your clothes into a tangled mess.

I had one that would actually tour the kitchen, move around the floor as it mightily did battle with dirt. The time I went out and came back to find it had toured all the way away from the waste pipe was a particular nightmare.

But these new machines are a different generation. May be the old ones had to announce to the neighbouring world that you were rich and affluent enough to afford these gadgets. Our first dishwasher sounded like it cleaned dishes by bombarding them with marbles.

These days owning a washing machine is something we take for granted. There sits our new machine spinning in silence.

And the stuff comes out dry and needing little in the way of ironing.

Not that, left to my own devices I would iron anything. That's not some sexist macho thing, just I don't do ironing.


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Fermenting festering part one of two....

Really to get the point of our current situation you need to go back a few years.

We fostered a 12 year old girl who was perceived as being in danger of ending up in the bus station with the old men, the ones we are told do not wash a lot.

We went through quite a party with our big V, big V to tell her apart from the other and altogether littler V (about whom I could write another tale as bad as what is to follow). Well, years passed, loads of S&&& came our way and we stuck in there and ended up with a daughter of whom we were enormously proud.

By 16 this was turning into a serious success story, she was in school, had never been arrested, was virtually unknown to the local law and holding down a weekend job locally where she was well respected.

Of course then came something really traumatic and life changing. She turned 16. Now as traumas go being 16 is not too bad, well unless you are a child on a care order held by Daycastle. The leaving care worker came down the drive and things unraveled.

It would of course be so much easier to meet her needs if she lived in Daycastle and so she was seduced back to the big city.

This was her GCSE year and pretty soon it was clear that she could not be forced to go to school... Errr excuse me, no one ever forced her here either, we just EXPECTED that she did. She could not be forced to go to work, no we didn't force her either, we had an EXPECTATION that she get a job. You name it, from getting out of bed in the morning to paying the rent, there was a huge list of things she had a right not to do....

Funny thing was this "freedom" did not seem to make her happy.

There were good times though, we got an invite to one of her many "new" flats and there was a real pride in her place and a cake obviously bought in specially for the day. That flame of progress she had lit in her life was not out - yet.

But she could only ever hold it together for so long, and when she wasn't coping she needed someone to be there alongside her, have faith in her and sometimes even say "no you don't do that". What she got though was not positive mentoring but someone who supported her right not to do things and only expected her to fail.

It was impossible for us to do much from 100 miles away, especially since the agency would not help us in any way and could not understand why we would want to.

On one occasion we dropped everything, drove to collect her from hospital at midnight, a job the leaving care team should have picked up, they wouldn't even pay our petrol. And their job is to support the child and help them maintain their social networks??

That's another thing not joined up about foster care. We are expected to treat these children as ours, then pass them on like a library book. You know, even when you read a book you often go back to it in the future.

Proper foster care is about stability, trust and care. Care is not a switch to be turned on and off at will.

So anyway we got another phone call this time a solicitor. Would we take her on bail, she had no where to live and was currently in jail. Leaving care phoned next, would we take her, of course we could have anything we needed except money no petrol money never mind something for her food.

That would be fine, if she moved in here she had a job waiting for her. Embarrassed silence at the other end of the phone.

Now at this stage I told leaving care this all smacked of good practice and continuity for looked after children, or put another way I could not see the toilet checking service going for it quite the opposite in fact.

So I went to court, faced judge Jeffries and she got banged up some more.

Then came closer the time she would have been released and the toilet checkers decided a risk assessment was needed. Now there was plenty of time for this it could all have been done in time.

My fear was, that I would go to court to collect her and the TC's would decide on the day the answer was no.

Now, telling someone for months that this is going to happen, then on the day saying "No actually you are homeless" Falls a wee bit short of best practice in social work in my book. Make that person someone who is already a vulnerable service user, and phrases like "professional malpractice" spring to mind.

It's funny though everyone was quite adamant that this was not on the cards. Leaving care were saying she was coming to us and the toilet inspectors were saying nothing.

So anyway, the day before the court case, at 5 PM in the afternoon to be precise, we had the chief toilet inspector on the phone and she was adamant. They had done a risk assessment and Big V was not to come here. About a week too late to say that replied the MD, then things took a turn for the sinister. Go get big V and they would come and get the other looked after children. Good old fashioned oppressive practice aka Emotional Blackmail, we thought.

Ahh but there was more, in terms of giving reasons they were blissfully vague. They simply would not say. Since then we have managed to work out by our own research, they had information that might indicate she was a risk to children.

Now let's recap the situation here there are 7 children in this house, had they removed 3 to keep them safe they would also have been putting 4 children at risk.

Further more for the Rumpoles out there, the UK law has changed, confidentiality and data protection do not apply, they had a legal duty to share and an offence was committed when they did not.

You do not have to know the Children's Act backwards or to be able to recite the Codes of Practice for Social Work by heart to end up with a fairly full page of things that really should be shared with the Care Council if not some old chap in a wig.

Ahh yes talking chaps with a wig, next morning the phone rang, it was big V's solicitor. He was about to spring her and where was she to go. So I brought him up to speed. He went off to phone leaving care and probation, who knowing that a vulnerable young adult was about to become homeless decided to do the sensible thing - hide.

To this day, if leaving care were asked I do not know where she is. Despite promising to keep us informed as to where she went and to try to let us help them engage with her in a meaningful constructive way.

It's OK though, we have her phone number. We know that with their help and support she was back in jail within three months.

You could almost print this off and hand it to social work students and run a competition to see who could come up with the most points of bad practice...

You certainly could not make it up...

Oh but the caption says part one of two.

There must be more to come.....

Actually, I could make that three, or four, or five....


Tuesday, 17 June 2008


So anyway today we went off and did another scrap run.

Management did rather better than last week.

Last week she came home and then spent the money.

This week we didn't get home before......

But anyway what is it with women?

Having dug round in the camping gear for the stove and the stand and the gas bottle. Having found them straight away and set them up. Properly and without leaks.

So the aga can go off saving us a fortune in 80p a litre oil for the summer.

Was she pleased? Not a bit of it, she has been giving me lessons on not putting things on the cooker then wandering off to do something else whilst it cooked. Citing problems she had to deal with last year.

I mean, OK it was a frying pan ruined, well OK two. Oh yes how could I forget (she clearly can't) a saucepan. Oh and A kettle, she says A kettle, hmm maybe her memory isn't faultless after all.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Getting paranoid......

Reading my last posting even someone as out of touch with reality and feelings as the average social worker might have suspected I was a bit hacked off.

And I should say here that I am not anti social workers, I have worked with many who are absolutely excellant and honest and caring people. In fact my general air is optimism, the kind of fools that work as toilet inspectors would not get a place on the degree I help to manage. Standards are going up.

A few weeks ago I was a bit annoyed by something and wrote about it on my blog.

Within hours the phone rang and I had a groveling apology from a manager, something pretty unique in 15 years of festering.

Now I have just let fly again and damn me if we have not just been told that us being docked money was an "error" and whats more they were damned if they could see why it had happened as there was not a shread of paper in the building that instructed anyone to do so. Certainly no one had put their hands in the air to admit to having done the deed.

I wonder who is reading this.....

It is generally an odd experience reading the Stats, so many quations begging an answer.

Why is someone in a school in America an avid reader, or how about the one in Mountain View California. I know who is reading in the Hague but who one earth came into my blog from Nigeria and how??

But I am starting to get wildly suspiscious that one of the trickle of people who my statcounter picks up as reading this file is actually a social worker in Daycastle.

That was then, this is now.....

Now some of you will have read the little stroppy one (though of course I never actually call her that to her face- tooo risky)last blog entry. You might be forgiven for thinking she was upset.

That was then, this is now. She had, by means of casual amusement opened our pay slip.

Much to her surprise she noted we have been docked a bit of money. Investigations revealed the cause.

Now maybe I need to go back a few weeks. Some time back one of the kids here, the larger D asked to go on the school trip to Spain. The district team came up with what amounted to a third of the cost the fostering team of toilet checkers promised to come up with another third and we were left to find the difference out of our allowances.

Fair enough.

Of course the toilet checkers never got round to raising a cheque and we had to get the money in before the man in question lost his place on the tour.

A bit of questioning and we found that they had really paid us the moneys since they were not going to take our allowances off us for the week he would not be here and that was how they were paying their share. Anyway if would be far to complex administratively to alter our pay structure for that weeks.

Of course, I would not have minded losing that money since it would have meant they needed to pay the rest of his tour fees and come up with all his spending money etc etc etc. In effect what they were proposing was the cheapest thing for them, getting us to subsidise their service.

So anyway, last week, young P goes for the weekend with his mother and, guess what, we got docked 48 hours pay because he had spent 36 hours with his mum. It was explained to her that it had to be so as he had not been here for two nights so we were not entitled to be paid the money.

That was the perfectly decent young person in admin not the toilet inspector social worker who made the instruction, the same one for whom it was too complicated to to stop our money for a week so it was easier for us to subsidise them. To rub in the salt as it were, it was taken for granted that even though our money would not be paid we would still pick up P from school, go and meet his mum take them both to the leisure centre so he can go to his Karate club, then an hour later take her and him 20 miles to the railway station on a Friday evening to boot. Leaving muggins here to manage a mutiny of children single handed.

It would have been fair to say that she was a bit upset last night.

Today little wisps of steam are gently wafting out of her ears. She is glancing at papers and they spontaneously combust, the cats are in hiding, I am typing this inside the office with all the furniture piled up against the door. Some where off in the house distant crashing tells me where she is at the moment.

I wrote before about how foster carers are often treated with a disrespect that borders on contempt. The money is not really the issue here, it's the assumption that they can simply take without asking, discussing or negotiating. That goodwill is there for the taking and we can be taken for granted, no, more than that, taken for fools.. Personally I think the toilet inspectors are would have to improve 100% to be contemptible.

Management, oh she says someone is going to pay, and you know, I think they just might......

Saturday, 14 June 2008


To explain to those who are not stupid enough to be foster carers.

Every year a UK foster carer has a review of their performance, the things that went well, the things that went less well, the disasters, the calamities and out and out mayhems...

So anyway yesterday was the start of ours. Our link worker arrived and decided she was doing a health and safety review. Now, I do know a little about these things, "know a little" placed me 150 % ahead of the visiting social worker and thus gave me a source of innocent fun.

But the daft things they want to know; are the car keys locked away, of course not this is the country and anyway we would be bound to loose them. Only on place to keep car keys - in the car.

Of course that wasn't the best bit, no sir; are all electrical appliances safe? I didn't know I was supposed to be an engineer. The answer: howtheforkwouldIknow did not go down well.

But the best was yet to come. I had to undertake to prevent anyone who is a danger to children from having contact with the looked after children (my kids of course may be exposed to anyone). Oh what a merry dance we had, you see one of the looked after kids dad is a violent sex offender with a record of offences against women and children. Apparently it's OK for them to allow contact between such a person and children but of course if I do it, it's wrong. This was a real live proper giggle as their non joined up risk averse thinking unravelled.

Think about it, what do you know, as in really know, about everyone who has contact with your children?

Can you give a guarantee in absolute that none of them have harmful intent?


Then we moved on to training and assessing our training needs.

"Something else you are not qualified to do then", I quipped.

Oh look, a passable impersonation of a bulldog eating wasps I thought....

I did enjoy it, her manager is coming next time.

Watch this space.

I might even sell tickets.


Thursday, 12 June 2008

Any old iron.....

Number one son is a bit of a character to say the least.

His campaign of metal recovery proceeds apace.

Today he had the tools out of his fire engine. He was lifting the floor upstairs to get at the pipes underneath.

This after a full day at the garage on work experience.

He will never be short of money that one....


The plague house

Ahh the best laid plans....

A night of hacking cough with a nose that feels like it has been attacked with an angle grinder is not the best start to a day interviewing people for lecturer posts.

So reluctantly I have called in sick citing the bubonic plague as an excuse.

Management has said it's a slight cold and headed for shops, armed with plastic.

Taliesin has accused me of malingering with a strong hint that my wages could have been invested in petrol for his motor bike.

Said item having become more contentious when I went to mow the lawn last week and found there wasn't a drop of petrol anywhere.

The man himself took on the job over the weekend but it seems to me that the mower has developed an inordinate thirst for petrol, either that or it's all going in his bike.

Not that I would suggest such a thing of course...


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

any old iron

God save us from our children.

Tallie, equipped with the knowledge that scrap is money has moved into overdrive.

The former house next door is being systematically mined, stripped of copper pipe and wire , he was up a ladder pulling out the lead flash bands earler.

This is sort of commendable but worrying too.

By this time next year he might really be a millionaire.....

Still, tomorrow I get to be a proper employee, working in the university for the day.


Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Any old iron.

Hells teeth the price of scrap has gone through the roof. 2000 a tonne for copper, 600 pounds a tonne for aluminum.

A load of old fire engine bits weighed in today very nicely crossed my palm with paper.

I am no royalist but I do like to have some pictures of the queen about my person.

Management has generously offered to help me spend it, she's good like that......


Monday, 9 June 2008

Taliesin got through his day today.

So have I

he has done well at Gwaun garage


Energetic thoughts

We have long thought about reducing our carbon welly boot sized mark on the planet.

Today, we got the leccytricity bill. Not good news. The cost of electric has nearly doubled in 12 months.

We don't have gas here, we heat with oil, I don't think we want to talk about that.

Well yes we do, we converted to oil 15 years back and recovered the cost in less than 12 months over the previous mega inefficient coal heating.

This year we have used more and more of our big log burner, not a perfect solution but pretty good and these old buildings really benefit from the air flow they generate.

So, it looks as if we are going the route of renewal.

Wind and photovoltaic electricity PV is getting interesting, it's still quite expensive but this is fit and forget technology, minimal maintainence for the next 20+ years .

Wind has to be serviced but you get a lot more power for your money - for now.

The energy decisions we make today may not look right in ten years.

I feel though that we have lived and enjoyed our stable time, the world may be more interesting and challenging very soon.

Time to think outside the box, globally.

As I said before, the old thinking and those who think in the old ways may not be best placed to thrive.

The current economic systems contradictions might bring it down.

Let us make a new order.


Sunday, 8 June 2008

Just a quick post.

I am done in after chasing her up and down the pool all day.

But my last posts have generated al kinds of ads for fostering with private agencies .

I am sure many of my posts will inspire people to follow those links...,

Well OK maybe not.


Saturday, 7 June 2008

Work experience.

In the UK when children get to 15 they take a week out of school and go to work.

This is to introduce them to the idea that when you finish school you don't simply sign on the dole but go and get a job.

So anyway the natural place for Sir Bruce aka Branwen is the library, she can spend a week surrounded by books.

Taliesin meanwhile is going to a local garage.

Tallie has been around cars. trucks, motor bikes and land rovers all of his life. When he was four he helped me build a body for the truck we had at the time.

Put another way he is pretty competent.

So enter stage left one the Health and Safety Assesor. Who calls in at Brian the garage and does his assesment.

Air tools are too dangerous for him to be around.

He could not possibly be under the ramp.

Oil? Oh dear can't possibly risk him coming into contact with that.

This is standard knee jerk risk elimination stuff.

Brian is very old school and asked very politely where it would be OK to put the seat?

The seat?

Yes, it had become clear to Brian that all Tallie would be allowed to do for the week is watch other people working, in fact he might as well not bother going and stay home.

Brian "failed" the health and safety assessment and Tallie cannot go.

So management and I are writing a letter absolving the agencies of liability all so that he can actually learn something.

This knee jerk risk averse society of ours is putting children at risk by denying them the chance to learn to manage it.

I await next year with trepidation, one of the looked after kids will be on work experience then.

I wonder what it will be deemed safe for him to do?

Stay in bed for a week?


Luxurious laptop.

There is something nice about a laptop, he says sitting in bed nursing his early morning coffee, proper French Carte Noire - caffine in a cup.

An island of peace before I launch myself on the day.

Chainsaw therapy with a bit of computer building thrown in for good measure, the kids computer has declined it's disk drive.

Reading Tinas blog, I realise how easy I have it really.


Friday, 6 June 2008

Rules of economics.

People are often fooled by the rules of economics

Economists look studious and make pious pronouncements about headline inflation trend and interest rate.

One thing I know is that it ain't half dear to live!

Fuel continues to spiral upwards. Round here diesel passed 1.30 a litre and is heading doggedly for 1.40, we cannot be far off the 1.50 litre of diesel.

Economists say that high price curbs demand and yet there is not sign of anyone chucking their car keys away any time soon.

Neither are all the leviathons for sale with people lining up to buy sensible cars.

Economics is not science because there are people involved in the equation.

Really, fuel should be falling, the price seems to be steadying or even falling slightly on the wholesale market. But of course the oil firms are all turning record profits.

They have learnt the lesson, fuel can go up a hell of a lot more and we will still keep on buying.

The actual market thing is itself driving price with wholesale betting on the future price of commodities pushing everything up.

Of course there is still the underlying contradiction. Manufacture has moved to the third world with markets laregely being in the first.

Here in Britain under Thatcher we moved to a model where we would all sell each other things, not real things but services.

This is an immensly fragile way to live which can easily implode on itself.

Everyone says housing will crash, but, and it's a big but, last time that happened there was adequate supply. Today we are still not building enough houses to meet potential demand.

The global price of food promises to create a whole new raft of problems. Allready on land round here normally used for silage we have seen the ploughs move in and the crops planted.

But, the price of food contains within it the biggest threat. The great faine in Bangladesh was no famine at all. Food was not short, it was the money that was missing. If, driven by speculation on markets we again have full markets of unaffordable food the consequence could be dire.

The systems of economics spoken about as laws and science are complex social relationships which are far more fragile than we think. Each economic system of relations may well contain within it the contradictions that lead to it's demise.

A very famous man said that.

Summer is here, well maybe.

The summer is here, well maybe.

Sunshine pours over our hill in West Wales.

It was sort of peaceful till the kids came home.

Now the house echoes to the bustle or afternoon.

Today, with it being summery and all we went off to get firewood.

6 weeks supply for the winter all unloaded ready for the dificult bit, breaking out the chainsaw.

Then this afternoon one of those poor sad children who was cruelly transported from Daycastle to live here, miles from his friends and his family picked up the phone and called us.

Funny really, he has stayed in touch with his schoolmates from here and he was phoning to say he's going to come down for a few weeks and try and find work.

Would be great to be able to put him up here, but unfortunatly under the proactive corporate parenting he aquired such a record that his corporate parents don't want him mixing with the children whose lives they are still screwing up.

You wonder where's the problem really, is it that he wants contact with his former foster parents, or that he wants that and at the same time wants nothing to do with his corporate parent.

Makes you laugh dosn't it?



Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Power of Bruce.....

No 2 daughter Branwen, Sir Bruce even had an eye test today. Now what could be so bad in that. Her mother seemed touchingly keen that I spend quality time with her and her brother and so off into town I went.

The eye test itself went about OK, but then of course she needed a new set of frames.

Did they have a pair like Dame Edna Everage asked the lady in question. I think you might start to get the drift.

We started at one end of a huge wall of frames and worked our way steadily to the other. A few were worthy of consideration, but all were ultimately rejected.

It took two members of staff to rifle our way through their complete stock.

When they were pulling frames out of the window I knew we were in trouble.

But wait, they had a another pair, like the ones she had now but a different colour.

Yes at last, out of every pair in the shop she decided she wanted more of the same.

Sir Bruce - boy what a girl.....


Bemused carer..... The power of Blog??

It would not have needed a psychotherapist to work out I was not massively amused yesterday.

Then last night not long after I posted a senior manager phoned to apologise.

That has never happened before, and at ten past six when they are usually well at home in front of the telly.

I was promised a letter too.


It must be the power of blog.....


Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Fostering, why would you want to do that?

Last year we got an invite to go and meet the mayor, something that out of principal we would not do. If there's money going spare don't blow it on a beano blow it on child in need.

Shame really, because had we gone, she would have been able to collect, in person, her special award for being a foster carer for ten years.

HER award, thats right, I have sat on management boards, done consultations, written stuff been in Police stations, hospital wards, therapy rooms, and all that time she was the one doing the work.

It's not maliscious, it's just they are thoughtless and do not value anything done for them.

Yesterday, our annual review, this is a highly important meeting and so everything we do went on hold. We spent time preparing paperwork, checking records to make sure everything was fresh in our minds. And..... Nothing, no one showed up.

We phoned to ask why and no one knew, has anyone phoned back or emailed?

Thoughtless and disrespectful.

I wonder what would happen if they came for the review meeting that we agreed to host here this Friday, (which they changed the date of without asking us and then invited us and a host of others to our own house...) I wonder, if they turned up and the house was locked, or better still not locked but with our daughter in charge with instructions to see them off the property.

I wonder if they might have an issue with that??

Then this morning, the tin hat, a carer I don't know has wondered why he has no kids for three months. Turns out they were investigating him behind his back for an alleged malpractice.

Jeez if people knew the half of what goes on they would section and lock up anyone who even mentioned they were thinking of becoming a foster carer.


Sunday, 1 June 2008

tick box targets

Interesting reading.

Connected to my rant of yesterday.

A number of UK Police forces have broken ranks and said they are no longer going to be box ticking target meeters, they are going to start to run a Police Service instead.