Thursday, 31 December 2009

What a lovely start to the day.....

So, bright eyed and bushy tailed I fell out of bed at 7 am to take Taliesin to work.

Both fires nearly out but managed to save the big stove and get some meagre warmth into the ice cold house.

A lovely drive through the crisp morning willing the 806 heater to wake up

Then get to Tallies work and whoa what have we, no one there.

He got the day wrong, they meant next week.

I was very nice, I didn't make him walk home.

Oh how we laughed.....

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Rain rain and more rain....

The rain falls in quantities I find hard to believe.

Our drive is now the river Penole - official.

Management has invited Bethans boyfriend over for the day so he can be interviewed by the family. Hang on she was a baby yesterday, well that's how it feels anyway.

Of course I am not going to be cast as the overprotective dad, the wheel brace is just in from the truck for cleaning and the pick axe handle I am going to treat with linseed oil.

Could be an interesting day.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Weather warning - best go for a drive then....

The weather is, yet again closing in and early indications say we might cop for about a foot of white stuff tomorrow.

With the skies promising a change in the weather off the management and I went today taking little D to his nans for a couple of days. That will be peace for everyone.

Took the chance to collect young P who has been nagging and nagging his mum to come here for weeks.

So he is here for the duration.

For the early afternoon drive up the management placed herself behind the wheel of the xantia. The drive home in the dark with the prospect of possible snow, and maybe an icy few miles to finish could be entrusted to me, she decided.

Early indications are that the snow will miss us but we will have to wait for tomorrow to find out.

One lot of kids want to go to town for the new year whereas others want to go to the village pub for a disco.

If we get snow we might be going in the Green Machine.

That could be a giggle.


Thats that then!!!

Well that's Xmas over for another year and it did not go too badly.

Altogether far to much of everything then back to reality this morning.

Time to get yet another new switch for the digger, Shame I hadn't noticed it is a bank holiday today.

I did notice however that it's cool outside as we had another of our mad half hours and cut yet more timber. Cracking oak that took the wind right out of the chainsaws sails and gave the big Elwell axe something to get stuck into. There is something really joyous about waving a big axe about.

There was no actual need really, I think we should have enough wood to see the winter out.

I could use it being a little warmer though - about 10 degrees would be nice. The wind also was not quite from the right direction, if you set up your cutting properly you can get it so the wind snatches the fine powdery saw dust and carries it away, get it wrong and you end up blinded and looking like you have just come out of a snowstorm!!

I really should have learnt to get it right by now.

But it's 22 degrees in my living room and I am sat here in my t shirt in the house.

Now we have a weather forecast for snow, lots of the white stuff. About a foot in fact, better get one of the bedfords ready.


Friday, 25 December 2009

Ho ho ho.......

The Xmas morning experience, happy brawling children. Xboxes opened, games played, the girls watching the Blackadder DVD's we thoughtfully bought for them whilst watchfully making sure I have not yet opened their favourite chocolates that they thoughtfully bought for me, management consuming port and lemon.

Me? Well of course I sit here beningn and benevolent, a beacon of good humour.

Actually, I went outside into the temperate winter air and weak sunshine to get wood a while back and luxuriated in the smell of woodsmoke.

Some things are nice.

Merry whatever it is you might be celebrating.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Twas the night before Xmas.....

The morn of Xmas eve and the realization of just how much was left to be done.

2 days lost to contact and we had a goodly list of things unbought.

So having lit the fire, we set off up the drive, or rather we tried to.

Modern cars have many many marvelous features, traction control, ABS, all sorts of wonders. There is one thing they cannot do however and that is manufacture traction where there is none. A good example would be; sheet ice and our drive was a perfect example of sheet ice.

Much slithering, sliding, wheel spinning and swearing; I managed to get the Plugeot up to the road.

Into the butcher and spent a fortune, into bookers and spent a fortune, into town and spent err a fortune then finally into Tesco and spent on, what is essentially one day, what we normally spend in TEsco for a fortnight!

I did come up with a money saving idea though, ever helpful I suggested to management that since a big pile of ready meals had just been placed on the "to clear" shelves we could save a fortune on Xmas by simply tossing loads into the trolley and inviting the kids to do their own Xmas dinners in the ding oven.

I don't know, she does not always like my good ideas and she gave me one of her special stares. Though a lot of the people around seemed to think mine was a brilliant solution to an age old problem.

Management though was hell bent on doing things the hard way. All she had to do was listen to me and she could have spent a festive day in that bath reading books and quaffing whatever it is we decide is in the frame for the morrow.

Eventually, exhausted by all the tapping of my pin number I headed reluctantly for home through the by now thronging mass of cars where quarter seemed neither to be being asked nor given.

I could not cope with a straight trip home so we arrived outside the pub just as the door opened and had a few us minutes before launching ourselves back into the domestic fray.

Still, we got here, the day is done, if it's not bought now we do without.

Tomorrow she will wake with excited delight to see what I bought her for Xmas, misty eyed and romantic I can confirm it's an electric cement mixer.

I am sure she will love it.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Travel blues

We have had two days of longness.

Yesterday she went off to do contact and spent much of the day out up the motorway.

Me, I kept myself amused as the kids looked patiently at the breakfast table waiting for the washing up to do itself.

Of course the table was going to wash itself too.

Sat in the warmth of the living room watching the fire go out.

Looked at the diminishing woodpile expecting firewood to march in through the door, all on it's own.

In short they avoided work like I avoid, well I dunnno, something I avoid, errr work maybe.

Back came the management and she was seriously wiped by the motorway vibe.

Delighted though at the chilli con carne that Branwen and I had made together.

So today, off we jolly well set to sort contact for little D and his sister.

This meant meeting her carer, so they could take him to Daycastle.

There really is not enough space here to discuss the wholeness of these last two days and do them justice.

But we got through them.

Lets leave the social care system outof our discourse and just discuss driving.

In real terms there is a skills defecit in the UK driver population.

She was up the motorway yesterday and I was doing the driving today and people realy are not competant.

Going up the roads and either lots of people secretly wanted to die or they had no idea of risk, were blind of the situation, or had no understanding of how much distance it takes to stop a car.

Yesterday a four hour journey - in normal conditions- took the management eight hours.

Today, I did it in 30 or so minutes less, but waht was going on around me made me really wonder if some people should be let loose on the road and if our driving test is an adequate screen and barrier.

It also made me wonder about parallels, we send people through a really inadequate driving test then prosecute them when they don't have the skills to drive.

We put people through social work training that often is no real preparation for the job they have to do. Then who do we blame when they don't have the professional judgment to do their job....


Monday, 21 December 2009

Weather forecast.....

Today the rural peace was rent by the sound of my chain saw.

Management and I outside chopping much wood to make sure we had a supply of softwood as well as the hard wood we cut up recently.

In reality we have lots of firewood stacked but it's good to have a few months supply stashed.

Next weeks job; get down to the wood yard to get something to cut up for next winter.

The weather looks set to defy the forecasts though, temperature is dropping like a stone and as the light faded it looked as if a blizzard was on the cards.

No one daughter is still in town somewhere going to get her could turn all interesting....


Sunday, 20 December 2009


We are slaves to fire.

Have spent all day getting the fires running right

Tomorrow the management and I are going to have to hit the woodpile again.

Well Ok we don't really need to, the stuff we have piled in the garage would last a while.

She is off to Daycastle doing contact so I will need some in house back up.

Must take advantage of the weather while it's OK though

Driving out first thing to take Tallie to work could be an interesting little trip though.

This might be a proper winter at the end of it all.


Saturday, 19 December 2009


This wasn't forecast for us!!

The roads here are like glass, sideways driving is us!!

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Snow joke.....

We have white stuff on the floor, it's been snowing.

Bruce was last seen heading up the drive with her camera in her hand.

Maybe I will do the same.

Might as well, we don't have any water.


Friday, 18 December 2009

Whither the weather....

The weather has turned goodness me bleak.

Snow tonight even though none forecast.

With that lot on the floor and ice set to come in overnight it looks like an interesting tomorrow.


Here we go again.....

The snow falls and the circus starts.

A bit of snow in the South East, the odd minor celeb gets stuck in their car for an hour, this will keep the meejah going for ever.

We got buried in February and it didn't warrant a aplash all over the telly.

That's the media world focused on London for you.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Education and learning.

I think I sort of hit on something that has been bugging me last night.

It seems to me that education is becoming exactly that, education and not about learning to live or gaining useful skills.

The kids from our valley school were introduced to a range of things and skills from an early age.

The school was an organic part of the community, the community would throw in money that larger schools found incredible.

12 years ago the school barbecue raised 1500 pounds or put another way about 30 pounds for every pupil on the roll.

But that was the school as part of community and community engaged with school.

Education to me has started to feel like a production line, the targets that should indicate good performance but set within a broader framework of learning have become the sole aim of the school.

Children are components moving along the line with the ones that the system will not engage defined as: dyslexic, autistic, ADHD,ODD.

Problems individualised and externalized.

The system is fine, the boxes are all ticked.

In social work too; did the stat r happen? Was it inside the time framework?

Tick Tick, that's fine.

Did it address the issues robustly? Was it properly recorded? Did everyone concerned turn up?

The important questions do not generate simple boxes for ticking.

So important things are not measured, because they do not generate simplistic boxes for ticks.

You can run a service that does not even get to worst practice, do all the process badly but on time and you come up with a gold star.

A few years back everyone talked about how the introduction of MINIMUM standards in foster care would drive up practice, how wrong they were. They defined the minimum you could get away with and that's what everyone now aims for.

Small wonder Social Work is a mess.


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Fin de siecle...

Every year for, well it's either 14 or 15 years around this time of the year I have been dealt an evening of torture.

This is the annual primary school Xmas concert.

This starts with the percussion band, bashing away on things to music.

Then things escalate, out come the recorders and the violins, the horrendous caterwauling din grates the ear till the point where the will to live has left.

Finally you get the two plays, one by the infants and the other by the juniors.

And here, this year, we went out on a high.

When we first started, the school was very firmly located in community. Teachers were alumni, who lived in the valley, the annual concert was scripted by the teachers and it was a collection of pieces with a firm local focus on local issues.

In short, it was hilarious.

Some few years back the staff changed and they commuted in.

Far easier than writing a play was buying one in.

You felt the disengagement.

But not this year, the play was not written by the staff it was another bought in item, it had been twisted to make the theme local though.

The performances very polished, young people displaying quite astonishing talent, like an X factor without the hype.

One of the great things about a little school is that in the Xmas concert there is a part for everyone and everyone does their part.

A 250 pupil school has a limited role for a few in the Xmas concert.

A 25 pupil school has a cast of 25.

It shows, in secondary school this primary school's children stand out, they have a certain something. A confidence in front of people that is inculcated by being part of the school concert from the age of three.

But enough of this ramble, tonight was the last school concert I have to go to, next year we will have no children at this school, the one that at times we have as a family represented 20 percent of the roll.

My little Bethan (first one at the school and 17) is doing a number at the high school talent show this week, Lovers Gold by Ella Fitzgerald. A really simple song, OK not at all, but she can do that in front of 1000 people because she did simple stuff in front of 100 people when she was 4. A skill as valuable as the A levels she does this year.

The challenge for the education establishment is to reinvent that as a target to be met and a box into which a tick can be put.

Ramble over.....

But, it will be very odd next year, no need to go and endure the torturous rasp of recorders.

I think I am glad...


Monday, 14 December 2009

It makes you sad

WE had sort of picked up on the odd bit of: atrmosphere, tension, niggle call it what you will.

Young D's SW was maybe too into good social work and unwilling to toe the party line.

Whatever the reason, he has now gone sick long term.

The case is to be re allocated, so we are told. Re alocated can mean all sorts of things.

Mum has a PHd in mayhem and given a quarter of a chance might well wreak everything for her children. It's not a willful thing she can't help being the person she is.

All it needs is to have a "nice" social worker allocated who will not put the child's needs over a desire to keep mum quiet and we are all doomed.

7 years work can unravel in weeks if you have a skill for doing it.

Could be interesting times ahead.


Saturday, 12 December 2009



Tina, in her blog, recently wrote of the delights of getting two kittens for her children.

Wrong, she got: a whole family, kids, adults and human hutch to amuse two kittens .

There is no way you own a cat, a cat is far two wilfull, cunning and clever to be owned by anything.

Here you have DaMan.

Da man knows he is the boss, food human or cat? That's his. The fire? That's his, Our bed? His, Anything else? His.

Well OK maybe not the vet.

He is a role model for disability, not only does he not accept any limit to disability, he dosn't seem to think he is disabled at all.

You can't really see (he conceals it well) but he only has three legs and we are secretly glad, three legs gives us a fighting chance. Four and we could not keep any control on him at all.

I had to go and go and get him recently from the field next door where he was trying to steal some beef. Trouble was the beef concerned was still on the hoof. Da man was trying to bring down a cow by hanging on it's tail.

Tonight, management has put her foot down, DaMan is a cat and cats live outside, so DaMan lives outside.

So he is outside, well maybe not quite outside, he is sat next to me, on one of "his" chairs.

At least he is not on the computer.

Da man on the computer does not mean the same thing as me being on the computer.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Starry starry night.

With the clouds gone the nights breathe crystal clear.

One of the truly great things about here is the low levels of light pollution.

Nothing helps you lose any idea that you are important, relevant or something in the scheme of things than standing outside in the light of countless stars, galaxies and invisible worlds.

Knowing that there were no humans when the light you see now left many of them.

That this world will probably end before the light that leaves them now arrives here.

Certainly I will be nothing, gone, not even a creature of living memory.

Makes you feel small.

But it also puts the things that bother you and take up your time into a proper perspective.

Today we were splitting wood, tomorrow we chop wood, tonight we are warm and know we are tiny and inconspicuous, just like all those people who think they are very very important and think their names will live forever....

Over my bed tonight the Velux window will pass a blanket of stars.

There are people out there who are wealthy, others live rich lives.

Poverty has many forms.....

For me, wealth is living with the management.

Please don't tell her...


Thursday, 10 December 2009

A dry day!!!!!

Today has been that wonderful thing a dry day.

A couple of loads of firewood cut in the lovely crisp clear December sun.

Reached some serious hardwood in the pile though. This morning we were tearing the wood up. This afternoon progress was pitiful. My though, the hardwood burns wonderfully when it dries out a bit and that's one of those chicken and egg dilemmas.

Having brought it into the house we needed the fire raging to dry it. Which of course needed dry wood not the wet stuff we had in the house. A quick raid on the garage and we got things going. Now we have dry hardwood and my is is getting warm here and my is it cold outside. The oil central heating is OFF.

We still have a telephone line that sounds like several bowls of rice crispies and the promise of yet more BT engineers descending on the place. This time they intend to test everything from here to the exchange, I would swap test for a repair that works but there we are...

The weather is turning a lot colder, so tomorrow I need to make the Fire engines ready for winter by making sure there is not a drop of water anywhere in their tank and pump systems.

But there was good news, Big D has a social worker, well OK a name, the contact service got in touch to try and organise contact for him. Because of all the delays and messing about it might not be before Xmas, but at least it will now happen, well, it may happen...

And this is before the cuts start....


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

50 days and counting.......

It is now 50 days since we had a day that did not feature rain.

I mean, Noah only had 40!! How much water is there up there??

Still it promises that the weather will change tomorrow; a couple of days of clear.

Maybe we will get a chance to wave the chainsaw at the woodpile. That said we have a lovely stock of dry wood and the house is warm warm warm.

Deimund the cat is looking very content and happy with his lot.

Management sitting here feeling sorry for herself - still ill. And she has no computer either, no puter means no I player and she has become quite the little addict.


BT are wonderfull.....

You catch us here between outages.

Between times that the phone is snap crackle and pop unusable.

over 3 weeks in and still a procession of BT engineers come down the drive, slavishly renew something or dry something out, pronounce the fault cured then leave so we can have a couple of hours of internet then we are locked out again for as many days as it takes for the fault to make it to the top of the list.


I am getting bored with all this.

I think I might cost running everything over the mobile.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

life is sooo simple

Having done our usual pre Xmas budget re alignment.

It was on to the next stage, find the gear and buy it.

It must be said that things are a lot easier than they used to be. When the children were young they each usually had a big list of goodies for mum and dad to struggle to find.

This year every one wants just one item, suitably pricey but at least it's just a couple of bits.

Why then, when all the boys want an Xbox 360 something or other can it be so complex to order this order x 3 with 2 free games each and end up with wildly vacilitating final bills requiring lots of attempts to get it right before I can hit process order.

Thank goodness it's done now.

Branwen, doing photography, needs a new camera, a request that rolled her GCSE reward, XMAS, Birthday and in fact everything else in one very costly ball.

Still I may never have to buy her another gift - ever.

I love the idea of financial easing, print money till you have enough.

But I'm not the bank of England, and I think I might get arrested if I did that...


Monday, 7 December 2009

xmas is coming......

One cannot fail to note that the yule is closing in on us.

Management is getting more and more anxious, eyeing the state of our overbreeze and wondering how pray all those presents are going to be funded from nothing.

I must confess that the fact had not escaped me either. Really I should have had a paperwork blitz last month and claimed for everything anyone owes me for anything I have done in the last ohhhhh a long time.

Not to mention both of us suffering from bubonic plague, it was a slight cold but then she caught it too.

Still tonight she has given herself over to hedonistic leisure, she has gone to the cinema to watch the end of the world in 2012. That should cheer her up!

Thinking about it I might as well cut back the payments on the mortgage, if everythings going to end in just over 2 years, there's no point paying it is there!!!!


wonderfull weather

SO came the wind, came the rain, went the internet.

Back at the moment but for how long who knows........


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Weird comments>>>

I if I am alone in having someone trying to leave comments on the blog in some script my computer will not read?

Strange one

da man has done something odd to the keyboard and nothing seems to work right - BLOODY CAT.

Still at least the internet works, for now, here comes the wind and rain - watch this space....

Monday, 30 November 2009

A weekend adventure....

Now, there comes a point where you think towels really should be thrown in, resignation should rule, just accept it boy, mundane never happens to you.

Life has just overwhelmed me.

Lets' recap; for the last three weeks we have been trying to get out to Brittany to check on the house and make sure all is fine.

For two weeks the ferry weather has stopped us. 3 weeks ago, excitement mounted car seats removed, text message and ferry canceled. 2 weekends ago I looked at the weather and thought there was a real chance nothing would be happening on the Saturday night so I canceled before they did. Naturally, so it turns out, all sailings went through as per schedule.

This weekend just gone arrived at the end of a week of occasional phone, rare Internet and BT saying they would repair it but no indication as to when.

Our life was a procession of BT line vans up the drive, each engineer spending hours: opening connection boxes, up poles, replacing wires, reneweing joints, on average about 4 faults per call. Each call ending with a good line test, followed by a by a snap, crackle, pop on the line and a total lack of internet.

Some repairs lasted ohhhh hours, one broke down while the engineer was still driving away up the drive.

This went on against a background of social care, big D we discovered by accident no longer has a social worker. She stayed a month, decided she was not happy, gave in her notice then went home sick.

Contact has turned really complex, who was dealing with it for him we asked, the answer was no one.

Whoever this "no one" is they have been not dealing with it for a few weeks now.

Wednesday we decided we could wait no more for news of the revised contact arrangements for big D so we went and asked the complaints officer to organize them. No doubt that's another star for us in the popularity stakes..

This on top of our refusing the minutes of the last stat review which had been the subject of a good massage to make the garden look rosy.

Thursday it's own excitement with children everywhere, tintinabulated the phone: twas young D whose social worker was picking him up after school, only he hadn't.....

D would get in a car with an anyone, but had the good sense to phone home, this prompted wild alarms and a rush to get school to find him and get him safe before he walked under a car or some such like thing.

So anyway I roared off to pick him up and the head of the school was delighted in an incandescent sort of way.

Next morning, Friday, off went the management on auction bent, leaving me in charge of Plugeot preparation.

Seats all removed and a buzzing in the pocket, text message: Brittany Ferries regret that, due to bad weather......

Turns out that the Bretagne was in Roscoff unable to sail so they had pulled the plug on the Friday night sailing from Plymouth but, we could sail into Cherbourg, a mere 150 miles the wrong way. As these things go; an offer akin to being told you could not have the gourmet meal but you could have an enema...

Trip off then - again.

Of course now we were seriously out of coffee and it was crisis time.

A check of the diary and no way we could go again before Xmas.

Problems problems. As they say.

A quick check and it turned out, the St Malo ferry was an option.


ALL this meant was get to Portsmouth by 8 not Plymouth by 10.

Or put another way, completely rewrite the child care plan, re draught the afternoon and pack everything we had left to pack in the next 10 minutes.

Up the drive we exploded picked little D up from school and blew up the M4.

Daycastle and drop off at grans then back on to the tortured motorway system.

Still the GPS said we had plenty of time, only use it to estimate ETA these days.


Oh yes that was great, Noah level rain and wind and rain and wind.

Just to add to that, a trucker had a sleep moment, nothing like a 38 ton artic veering into the outside lane as we overtook him, to help you "concentrate".

This was a really unpleasant motorway trip.

But we got there, on to the good ship Pont Aven.

One of the good things about Brittany Ferries is the posh restaurant, best value ever.

A three course meal for under 18 pounds.

Unlimited first courses, a lovely hot meal and unlimited desert.

Sensibly, (????) we had prepared for this by skipping breakfast end everything thereafter, even then we struggled to do it justice.

Mind you, taking Branwen in there could bankrupt the ferry company!!

The crossing, oh my the crossing. The Pont Aven uses some form of jet drive and, in the rather choppy seas this would cavitate, that means suck in air not water.

You would know it was doing this when the whole ship would shake and there would be the most tremendous banging. It seemed to do this a lot.

Couple this with taking the seas at about a 40 degree angle and you had a vessel that corkscrewed across the channel making the most appalling din.

If you are thinking this might not have made for a good nights sleep you would be almost psychic..

So, unrefreshed we reeled off the ship and made the trip down to the house.

St Malo is a lovely old town, the weather lightened and we set off for the South.

The road over to Pontivy is vastly improved and much updated, something we soon recognized as the GPS came to the conclusion I was driving across fields and started insisting I drove on roads it knew about.

Still, it took not a lot of time to get to our house and soon we had the door open and realized we had been burgled again. Must have been in the last month as all was secure back in September.

Break out a selection of GG tools and my cordless drill. I soon had the windows boarded up and everything tightly screwed closed. They will still get in if they want but this time they will have to struggle a bit.

Feeling a bit jaded it must be dinner time...

Up to les Trois Marchands. 4 courses €11.50, a simply fantastic meal that I struggled to pack in on top of the remains of the day before's feast, still I managed somehow..

Management, God bless her decided I had done quite enough driving, or was that too much wine, but anyway she placed me in the passenger seat.

I think this might have been an error, Lack of sleep, lack of familiarity with the plugeot, which in turns lacks the fleetness of foot of the xantia, combined with driving on the right made for an "interesting" trip.

In St Pol I absolutely insisted that I would drive......

Car loaded with the weeks shopping plus several months coffee and enough wine to ensure a festive yule and we parked up in the ferry terminal and went for even more food in town.

There are many restaurants and creperies in Roscoff, some of which are quite well known. Ty Sauzon in Roscoff is where the locals go for crepes, presided over by an elderly patriarch, always immaculately dressed, trousers boasting a razor crease shoes a mirror polish. Crepes there are simply to die for, though too many and you might too... Having spent an unfeasible amount of time on food over the weekend, we admitted defeated after the second.

Reluctantly we walked back to the ship through the chill night air with only the odd hint and wisp of rain to soak our spirits.

An hour in the dismal terminal soon passed and we mounted up the plugeot and set off for the ferry. Without a ticket.....

Management was confident it would turn out we were booked on to the ferry in St Malo, Cherbourg, or somewhere equally far away; but no, everything went well and on to the ship we went all was fine.....

Or not.....

"The captain regrets to inform you that due to bad weather........" our usual jinx had struck. Or had it, no, the crossing had been delayed so arrival would be delayed so, glory be, we could stay in bed an extra 2 hours next morning - this was the sort of thing we wanted!

Silly me....

The delayed crossing set off and with management and I ignoring the building plank wide berths in our cabin we spread a couple of duvets on the floor and went to sleep.

Midnight passed, lines were dropped and with a slight stir that barely broke the tiredness, the ship was at sea and we slumbered on, but not for long.

"Thud", my head hit the bed, "smack" my feet hit the door. As the vessel pitched into the substantial seas management and I slid hither and thither with various bits of body making contact with various bits of cabin.

Of course this was not consistent, occasionally things would calm, just long enough for us to drop into slumber then: "thud".

By morning however we had managed to snatch ohhhhh at least a few minutes sleep so it was off the ferry and away for home.

The trip back was quiet and uneventful, joyously boring even.

Home and discovery that the phone line that BT assured us was "working fine" had been out all weekend. So we had a houseful of young people who had been separated from Face book I player and you tube, which we all know are the essentials of life!

Still, I could always phone ~BT in the morning and they would be round to sort it straight away.

Well, as I write this, it's Friday, another Friday, another eventful week has passed and I think we might have the Internet back on again.

I had better hit send before that changes.....


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Back to electronic life....

Tenatatively I think we might be back on line.

You don't notice how much you use the net till it's gone.

At least we have it back for now.

Next storm tonight, who knows??

Management has decided to rest after a marauding cat on food stealing bent pushed a big saucepan over which fell off the table and landed on her foot. She thinks she has a broken toe, just the sort of start we want for a weekend away.


Monday, 23 November 2009

The communication revolution....

It's amazing the things we can do online, or in our case, can't.

The raging winds and driving rain have done for our phone again.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up the phone and thought I was listening to someone pouring milk over their rice crispies!!

It seems the wire has let go internally on top of the mountain and with the weather being a touch breezy the engineers are going all shy on climbing up a pole and replacing it.

No arguments with me on that one - stuff that for a game of skittles.

Funny though you don't realise how much you like having instant news, immediate weather forecast, the ability to type just about anything no matter how anoracky into a search engine and finding out about it at one click.

I player, management is lost without Iplayer.

Should get decent service back soon, at the moment everything works, but that could change with the next gust of wind.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Singing in the........

Been playing games this morning, managed to get 1 1/2 cuts of wood done, between blustery rain squalls.

The wind is a help, strong wind can whip the horrid sawdust away from you, so long as you put your cutting table in the right place.

Good wood too, we are into seriously dry stuff now, stuff we bought last year and put to one side because it was too wet.

Think I am getting the hang of this chain saw sharpening lark, the chain is well sharp.

Things looking up, between torrential showers....


Friday, 20 November 2009

Children in need......

Oh boy, here we go again.

Lets all wear our underpants outside our trousers for a day and all will be well with children in the world.

Listen everyone, if there is a problem that we agree needs adressing and things need to be done.

Thats great we all agree on it, that's why we are a democracy and we have government.

Sorting social problems is why we have that government and why we have social workers.

Agencies need to be fit for purpose, staffed by the properly trained and professionaly competant.

They do not need to be based on how much you got in your bucket they need to be based on taxation.

Trouble is going that route would require equitable contribution from everyone, maybe the rich might not be quite as rich. Maybe they might have to settle for the Jag not the Aston, maybe the tax scam might need to be targetted over the benefit fraud. There is shed loads more money in that anyway.

If you care about children in need, shoot pudsey, demand progressive taxation and properly funded public services.

I am sure tonight is great TV, lots of celebrities feeling good about themselves, count me out.

I am touched that so many people are concerned over the plight of children, all that is needed now is to focus that concern properly.


Lovely day, errrrr.....

So this morning dawned bright and clear, time to sharpen the chainsaw, get it fueled up and cutting.

Except as soon as I started to cut there was a ping and the chain snapped, having a chain fly off a chain saw is exactly as alarming as it sounds. Management dived for cover and I played statues, stood there rooted to the spot.

On the scale of things this is exactly what you could start the day without.

Anyway off to the chaisawologist who put in a new link, arguing that the chain is nearly new. Me, I just eyed him doubtfully.

Back home and spark up the saw, not at all impressed with my sharpening skils, this was still too blunt, Not our day then.

Still, a bit of wood got cut and a lot more got chopped up.

We are warm and it is not raining, first time in days for not much wind and no rain.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hello White van man......

They are a bit of a legend: the man and it usually is a man in the white van.

Jaguar? Aston Martin? Forget it - if you want to see a vehicle moving quickly look for a Mercedes Sprinter or a Transit in white.

The people who drive these delivery vans are a special breed, almost always on piece work so the more they deliver the more they get paid and the quicker they do their run the sooner they are at home in front of the telly watching footie on sky, reading about the world in the current bun and drinking Carling Black Label.

So anyway today off I went through the vile tempest, taking young D to see the paediatrician. Management had gone off on her own mission to secure a university admission form and had arranged to meet us there.

So there I was in the Pugwat cruising a local narrow local lane when I met him coming the other way.

Forgoing the passing place, white van man just planted the loud pedal and came powering on full pelt. Off the road into the verge I went, into the wet mud went the wheel, the pugwat ground to a halt.

That was me in the technical condition we used to call bolluxed when I was into 4x4. Much water, plentifull mud, no traction.

White van man noted the situation in his mirror then drove on anyway.

I thought some very uncharitable thoughts, contemplated being there next week with a Green Goddess and taking revenge....

Then got out and checked the situation, yup, seriously stuck, was us.

Now of course there are a variety of approaches to being stuck, one very popular one is sit on the loud pedal and sit there with a wheel spinning furiously and uselessly. Generally this is a very good way to make a bad situation tragic.

Gently I reversed the car as far as it would go, then drove forwards. Switching from second where the car applies the torque less savagely to reverse. By gentle rocking I created a bit of a run untill about 20 minutes later by a combination of luck and errrr luck. I had a long enough run to build up enough speed to crash out of the ditch and bounce back on to the road. Leaving the side of the car even more smeared with mud than normal.

Of course I should not really pick on white van man, if you want true insanity look for the milk lorry, these are the drivers the van companies sacked for being too reckless, I reckon they have a contract to turn as much milk into cheese as humanly possible en route to the dairy. These guys drive like they are imortal and have reaction times that would make Jensen Button look as if he was sedated...

Back on track and into hospital, which was good news all round as the pead was very pleased with young D his condition has not deteriorated as she would have expected it to.

Good result then.

Back home and the weather is delivering yet another biblical cloudburst riding on a typhoon tempest.

Thank goodness for lovely log burners.....



Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Cats are great

Today it has been a combination of torrential rain and howling wind.

Management is not the wellest she has ever been, took to her bed this afternoon.

I was left to keep the furnace lit.

So there I was in the living room alone sat on one setee.

Watching in distant slumber Deimund, Da man, Adam and Seren.

4 pictures of leisiure, as rain thrashed the window, it's a cats life aye.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

When I was young....

When I was young there was this new series from the BBC called "doctor who".

I can still remember watching the first ever episode of Doctor Who.

This was a real time voyage to terror and nights of no sleep.

Daleks viewed from behind the settee.

Sadly the brand seemed to lose it's direction and the plug got pulled till a few years ago when they brought it back.

Without lots of blood everywhere and grisly scenes, it was just as scary as ever.

Then last weekend a special, Gwion could not look away or bear to look either.

Bit like me at 10, management and I have had company in bed ever since.

Some things stand the test of time.


Letter from the prime minister.

Lord bless us all!!

As some of you know I had a bit of a explode in the general direction of the sun the other day and backed it up with a letter to Gordon Brown.

I got a reply today:

I wanted to thank you for your recent e-mail about the private letters I send to bereaved forces families. I was very touched that you got in contact. I appreciate how many things everyone has to fit into a day, so the kindness you’ve shown in finding time to be in touch is very much appreciated.

Anybody who has ever lost someone knows that each individual is irreplaceable. Every single death robs the world of a unique set of talents and leaves a grieving family with a space at the table that nobody else will ever be able to fill. My thoughts and prayers today, as every day, are with those wrestling with the deep sorrow of loss, and with those who are serving Britain far from home.

All of us who love this country, however much we disagree on other questions, can stand united in honouring the courage and the sacrifice of the men and women of the British military. In writing to the families of the fallen, I wanted to convey my sympathy to them and share the enormous pride the country feels in those who risk their lives on foreign streets so that we might be safer on Britain’s streets. Their service has not been in vain, and we shall remember them.

Best wishes

Gordon Brown

Not for a minute do I think it was from the man himself but it's nice that someone replied.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Normal Service.....

So the weekend kicked in with more rain and wind and rain and a leaking central heating pipe and an leaking oil pipe and normal things for the house here.

Having rebooked our weekend away we then noticed that we had something on that weekend and so re booked again which cost 25 pounds because the first time had been the ferry company fault the second ours.

Then this morning into the local collage to ask a few pertinent questions on behalf of Taliesin, apparently the person who took over responsibility for his "special needs" gave them such a priority that they had not enquired if he needed any support on his course even though the tutor had asked for help for a number of students who were struggling with written content. Soooo years of hard work keeping him in school and on track has become, he is a failure and about to quit the course this was the first she claimed to have heard.

What could be described as a fairly robust opinion from his parents was followed with a promise of some immediate action.

I would be there to see how they got on, tomorrow evening I said, I was going to discuss doing a post grad teaching qualification.

Oh yes, said one of them, she was the admissions tutor for that course, Oh boy, don't think I will be offered a place there any time soon then.....

Then home, and there was more, need to sort out parental contact for one of the guys here. Fostering had been none to happy with our comments about the new contact service. Organising contact around what they were prepared to do meaning that a disabled parent had to make 6 bus trips to get there and ended up losing 30 minutes of 2 hours of contact. A contact that started and ended in tears, not quite optimal.

We had said the next one needs to be properly planned and since then had heard nothing from the fostering service.

Bull by the horns time, on the phone to the district team. His SW had gone out said the receptionist then the line went dead. Phone back, next receptionist, this time she had "gone sick". Asked to speak to duty SW and it turned out she was sick, so when was she expected back, errrh she wasn't.

She had it seems handed in her notice and then immediately gone sick, of course no one thought to tell us, or the child.

So where does this leave him when it comes to seeing his parents?

You tell me.

Now, things happen, but if something like that happens once it should not be allowed to happen again. Rather, this is a re run of something that has happened several times before.

People talk a good talk about professional respect, service user involvement and inclusion. Too often the reality is different.

So off we went to phone the fostering team where no one was available to talk to their co professionals.


Friday, 13 November 2009


Just had a text saying the ferry is staying in Roscoff all day today and will not therfore be sailing from Plymouth tonight.

Can't for the life of me work out why........

Could have thrashed my way down to Portsmouth but that ferry sails 2 hours earlier (and might yet be pulled anyway) which would have been barrel of laughs with the weather forecast to be pretty horrid all day.

That said the torrential rain forecast for 10 am is showing no signs of arriving here...


Cosmic Del Boy...

We are off on one of our adventures.

Hmmm, just look at the weather for West Wales and the marine forecast for the Western Channel.

This could all be a bit "character building".


Wednesday, 11 November 2009


It is all turning a bit lively.

We had a nice day, a lot of paper type admin and phone calls, to sort the sort of things we are not very good at sorting.

Now we have a hot house, both fires on go out mode.

My mother said don't come to live here, far too cold, she was incidentally, born about where little D's bedroom is now.

This is a house that can be a bit cool for those who live in towns.

Tonight our living room is 26 degrees and the end bedrooms, usually quite cold are at about the 20 C mark.

Basking in heat, thats us.

But of course, as a plus, our carbon footprint is not huge.


Bad night sleep

The management is not amused, she had a bad nights sleep.

The temperature in our bedroom soared to 23 C, then she opened the door to let some cool air in and, the radiator outside was piping hot.

Terrible to be so warm in November.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Baaad taste

I don't normally comment on broader politics, yeah right as if....

This week I have been appalled at the Current Bun or Sun an alleged newspaper published in Britain.

Those in the UK will probably know what is coming next.

Now, no one can say that to lose ones son in war is not a terrible thing. One that would leave you distraught.

When I heard that our prime minister writes personally in his own handwriting to every one who loses a son in Afghanistan I was surprised.

IF he was being a "look at me aren't I good" politician, making something for himself out of it I would have known.

But no, the man writes himself and tells no one, a human gesture.

Unfortunately, Gordon Brown has only one eye that works and that is not fully functional it means his writing is not tidy, his writing is even worse than mine if that is possible. Or put another way he has a disability.

The poor lady was driven to distraction and in her grief she mistook his disability for a lack of concern and care for detail. She would not have known, but the journalists at the sun would have done.

So they went on the rampage and made cheap publicity out of his disability; I find that very distasteful.

He then went on to phone the lady, stopped his day and got on the blower, when she went off like a balloon saying her son was dead because there were not enough helicopters, he didn't try and defend himself he let her talk, then again did he know the current bun were taping the phone call?

Despicable, despicable people.

Poor poor lady.

What she might not have known is that the chinook that she wanted to fly in and scoop her son to safety simply could not have. All these people who carp about helicopters don't realise what people on the ground say.

Yes they need more of them BUT the chinook in in flight is incredibly vulnerable to rocket propelled grenades, and bringing a chinook down with 30 or so sons and daughters on board would be regarded as a bit of a coup by the Taliban. So for every chinook you need another two helicopters to protect it.

Whether we should be there, in a country that had less to do with Al Quaida than one of it's neighbours that's a serious question, whether there is a deliverable military solution to the immediate problem in Afghanistan, those are serious questions.

Why this country has had a bunch of Chinooks parked in a shed unable to fly for years while Boeing took the money and ran. That's a serious one too.

But of course that would be for a serious newspaper.


Isn't the weather lovely.....

Looking out of my window and the grey sky weeps grey drizzle on to the Welsh landscape.

A day of damp and cold.

A day where the chain saw must rest in the shed and the firewood must lie untouched.

The fire sparks and cracks and the house is warm.

Think I might go back to bed with Iplayer.

Lovely weather...


Monday, 9 November 2009

I wood actually......

Another two tanks of wood cut, but not at all the same league.

Great big blocks of oak and beech, hugely heavy to lug on to the table, a real strain for both chainsaw and operator. Heavy blocks to lift into the wheelbarrow and stack.

Probably only about 8 barrows in total.

But incredibly good firewood for the times of the year you need the fire to burn hot and slow.

Arose this morning and it was 21 C in my living room, cannot remember it being this winter warm in the house, ever. Fire out but lit with very little complication. Need to find a source of newspaper and keep an eye on the kindling store though.

Only one fire going and that on slow.

Management in the bath, me sitting here in a t shirt, wondering if my shoulders will recover - ever.

Thats before I get an axe out, though I did have a little go just to see how hard the wood will be to split. Answer: 1950's Elwell firefighters axe one, hardwood nil.

I do like splitting with the axe, I think I might go off it before the winter is out though...

2 hours of freedom and then the kids come back, ohh god.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

wood you believe it

With a few weeks leisure putting in the new fire over, the small matter of finding something to feed it raised it's head, again.

We tend to categorize our cuts by the number of times I refill the chainsaw. About 45 minutes of running is enough to take it from full to empty. The makita Tears it's way through about about 6 wheel barrow loads of wood doing that.

Put another was that's about 5 days fuel for the big fire, depending on how madly we want it to be burning.

Normally we try and do 2 cuts a day which by the time it is all carted away is enough for anyone.

With most of the kids home we had a bit of a go today; 4 cuts done carted away and stacked. That's quite a lot of wood, almost filled the bedroom in the cottage.

Plus one we did yesterday but yesterdays is a diferent batch of wood, lots more hardwood in it.

"All" we need to do now is to split the wood ready to burn.

Just now I think my everywhere aches. Management says we can stop now, but we go again in the morning.

Tallie spent all day in work and now he is out the back digging a hole in the dying daylight.

I cannot for the life of me work out how he does it.

My living room is like a laundry, the wind so high nothing can go on the line so we are drying everything round the log stove.

Of course the interesting thing about the log stove is that the heat dries the clothes but the air movement from the fire drawing lots of air makes sure the room does not feel damp. In fact the stove really has made a huge difference to the house, not just by adding heat but by moving huge amounts of air.


Thursday, 5 November 2009


In a generation we have seen the virtual consignment to history of an national event.

In my youth Guy Fawkes night was a big social event. Young children made "guys" which were strategically placed outside shops and on street corners, adults were systematically relieved of money by the call "penny for the guy". This money would then be wisely invested in fireworks some of which would be retained for the event of the evening, others would blow the lot on bangers which would be the source of many juvenile pranks and attempts to blow things up.

Communities would organize themselves and plots of waste land would be secured for the bonfire which would contain things like old setees tyres doors and other general waste. Often these would be placed a bit daft and the fire service might end preventing the bonfire turning into conflagration.

Pranks also abounded, so if your neighboring street was having a party you might try and secrete a little something in their bonfire to liven things up. This was a generation that included a lot of people who had been in the services so someone could usually run up an improvised explosive device in the garden shed from common ingredients, meaning every so often a cheery bonfire party might be interrupted by a tremendous explosion!

I am sure people got hurt in these events.

If I am sure people got hurt that way it's matter of public record that lots of people got hurt every year letting off fireworks that even young kids could just walk in and buy.

The mindset was different though. If someone dropped a banger behind you and you got deafened and scared half out of your wits you did not look round for someone to sue. You got your own back.

If you lit a firework in a dangerous way and it went all wrong you didn't sue the manufacturer you told yourself you were a prat.

It started with the at home fireworks, they went, you could not sit there and watch dad try to blow himself up, (something he usually failed to do), then we had the public jamborees, how these were safer is not entirely clear to me.

Something usually went wrong. I remember the rocket that did a low altitude flypast of the crowd before hitting the ambulance roof and exploding in my first aid post when I was doing first aid at one particular display.

It started with an assault on the individual and their alcoholic attempts at self incineration in the garden.

Then the communal fire display became subject to attention. Now you need a licence and a health and safety certificate to hold one. Are we all so daft that we need to be taught to light the blue touch paper and run like hell or that lighting fireworks in the firework box is perhaps not wise?

OK, so maybe there was a case to be made.

I remember some spectacular events, when I was a teenager, at the golf club fire display. Golf clubs were excuses for grown up men to be away from their wives getting very drunk. Oh and driving home was no problem as the chair of the local bench was usually in the bar having after hours drinkies with his mate the chief inspector.

That is an observation, and should not be taken to condone drinking and driving.

So the golf club fireworks bash was a bit beyond what a modern health and safety type would have enough paper to write the dangers of.

Sure enough, things did get beyond silly.

One year, they had mortars, that's a big tube in the ground 3 foot or so deep.

So they dropped one in and it didn't go off.

A minute later someone dropped another one on top and it did.

So did the whole damn lot.

Big style.

The crater, viewed the day after was about 6 foot deep.

At the time we ran like hell then laughed like drains.

More recently, we had a firework display in the valley where after ending the display all the duds and stumps went on the bonfire, it was awesome, watching what happened next I could not believe that someone over 60 could run that fast. Then again there was a mini Hiroshima going on behind him.

It was also brilliant, it was a connection with being alive, it was life and living it.

Firework parties come and go but we remember the ones where something went spectacularly wrong. Sometimes people get terribly hurt, but most often they don't.

Could the increase in mental health problems in society be linked to the limitations we seem to have placed on risk taking behaviour and preventing ourselves from doing things that make us feel alive?

Is the obsession with being safe and avoiding risk dangerous in itself.....


Sunday, 1 November 2009

Genesis, Noah....... Make pumps one.

Last week I must have tempted fate.

I mentioned floods, I might have said something about Noah.

Bad move, Clearly that put me in big G's sights and he decided to show me a proper flood.

Last night it rained and it rained and rained

And then it rained some more.

As the household slumbered water poured over the fields.

It massed at the front of the house and still we slumbered.

It broke through the kitchen floor and still we slumbered.

It ran across the room, and still we slumbered.

It spread, and still we slumbered on.

Morning arrived and the first child rose to a house under water. A 1-2 inch lake covered much of our kitchen and living room.

Action stations!!!!

Management and big D set up a containment zone using towels and the carpet cleaner was rushed into action. Sucking up water by the bucket.

Outside Tallie and I set to with the digger, shovels and picks creating a diversion course and drain to carry water away.

Of course the rain storm continued and we struggled to get the water moving the right way.

Then we pulled a joint apart on the house' water system, if such a things was possible there was now even more water....

Except of course this pipe was spewing water underground so we had to dig down to find it, as it leaked.

Eventually the situation was just grim and management was able to set off, oh yes there was more. Young D was seeing his mum today, so he needed to be at the M4.

We counted without the roads, management phoned to say she had covered a whole 4 miles and so far 14 streams and culverts had overrun the road.

She didn't get to the end of the B road before she was confronted with something a bit more serious, a sea of water. Testing it on foot she got to the point where the water was up to the top of her wellies and decided that discretion is......

She turned round.

This afternoon young P needs to catch a train and Bruce has to be collected. I think I might get that job.

Wonder if she would let me take a Green Goddess.

We have given up on the living room carpet.

I just chopped it into manageable bits which were carried out the front door and dumped.

Even more expense.

The new stove has been running flat out to dry everywhere out and, I must say it has not done too bad a job so far.

Management is wandering the house with a fixed shocked stare, verging on catatonia, I am not entirely sure this is her idea of fun...

Apparently she found a piece of slate on the beach the other day, it had a hole in it, she was told such a thing would bring us good luck. Thank goodness for that, just imagine what it would be like if we had bad luck....


Saturday, 31 October 2009

Thank goodness for that.....

There are some things which are pure pleasure and some things that are pure hell.

A kids Halloween party phew weeee thank goodness for two bars, at least the kids could be corralled into the lounge and making room for me and her to hide in the bar.

Of course this was not enough, ohh no, our mob soon tired of the party and followed us into the bar. This was not at all good.

2 games of pool and it was time to go daddy oh.

Home we came, but fortunately so did Bethan so we can plot going out later.

Management has taken the kids to the cinema for an afternoon and to the Blue Lagoon resort for a day - she is all childered out.

Me I am all central heated out.

Now, with the digital changeover having happened. We need to get a digi box at some stage, we might pop out to get one tonight and leave Bethan in charge, we might be gone some time........


IT's a monster - but it leaks!!!

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Might as swell sweep the chimney while we can!

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Happy as a man with a load of GG kit out.....

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Let the travail commence!!!!!

Little old stove ready to come out!

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So this afternoon as a reward for putting in the central heating I get to go to the pub.


So long as I take the kids with me.


And of course that means I have to drive.

I am cooling on the idea.

And it's the childrens Haloween party.

Thanks for the offer but I just remembered I need to wash my hair, both of them....

I have as bit if a thing about Halloween. We don't parody Xmas, we don't make a joke of Diwali, and Ramadan has to be respected.

Yet, one of the most important Pagan festivals is denigrated, denied and reduced to a carnival. Worse we don't do it because it is part of some long standing tradition in the UK; people in Brittany will go to their churches this weekend as part of a long standing Christian take over of the pagan festival of endings but this country will run round dressed up like idiots because the Americans have a tradition of letting children loose to terrorize towns and demand money with menaces.

Whats more we are witnessing the slow death of the 5th of November, where we remember that if the politicians annoy us enough we may chose to take things into our own hands. Then again i can see how the executive might not be keen on notions that the citizenry may, if pushed hard enough refuse to do as they are told.

I will take the children down the pub this afternoon but please don't invite me to down there for the adults "party" tonight.

I shall just place a light in the window to guide the souls of the departed ancestors.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Fire in the stove......

Ok so it is October and Ok so it is a mild one.

But we have a warm 7 bed house heated by wood that would cost us about 4 pounds a day to heat if we bought fire wood at the local garage.

Less if we had firewood delivered by the truck load.

But we don't do that, we buy firewood in one ton bundles and cut it ourselves.

You need to factor in a bit for that and petrol etc but I still think you would get change out of a pound a day.

Thats outrageously cheap, I reckon.

And wood is a fairly sustainable fuel with a lowish carbon footprint.

Because of course all those people who rave about wood for heating and pellet stoves etc forget that the wood is usually cut using big machines that run on diesel and loaded onto trucks that run on diesel and go to sawmills that use electricity, only the one we buy from does not, no they run on diesel too.

All that before it suddenly becomes a green fuel.

Maybe if firewood was sold that had been cut by hand using traditional tools.

Moved entirely by horse and cart

I wonder what a fair trade cost for that stuff would be?

How many people would be prepared to pay for that?

Perhaps I am rambling on a bit but anyway, we have a warm house.

We don't - no - it's HOT!!!!!


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Living the life of Noah.....

I am sure you all thought I have written nothing because life has gone all quiet and everything went to plan, errrr right.

With Tuesday in full swing I woke with another recurrence of tendinitis, Probably thanks to the madcap wall drilling SDS escapade.

Recruiting Bethan and Branwen as assistants (to do the work I could not do) we got the tank all plumbed up and into the roof it went. Things went rather well and holes were drilled and all looked seriously well with the world.

Soon radiators were starting to go on walls and with Bethan as my ace assistant the plumbing was rapidly coming together.

This was looking seriously good and pushing the boundaries of time I was ready to prime the system late on Tuesday. Best do it then as of course yesterday was a day of university and work.

At first all went well, then it started to rain, not outside but inside....

And revealed not one but two leaks in the supply tank in the attic, faults sorted by Taliesin and Bethan using a blend of tools and swearing.

Then fill the system and - nothing.

Now the way to fill a central heating system is to have the supply tap on low then let water trickle in and if you find a leaky joint you switch off the supply and sort it before switching it back on and filling a little bit more.

Something though was not happening.

Nothing seemed to be filling.

Detailed check and there was an air lock between the tank and the system, clear that and the water ran.

The whole 40 gallon header tank came down in one hit.

No little trickles of water there were fountains everywhere.

This was not a first for this event, apparently you can read about the last one in a book called Genesis, it all happened to some chap called Noah blame apparently was down to some other fella called: God.

There was water towels, bowls pans and more buckets that 3 Green Goddesses carry - it was not good.

Overseen by a management in bemused bewilderment.

There were a lot of leaks but only two inundation points, one was the central heating pump. Dealt with expertly by Taliesin, the other was a joint above the living room (naturally) that was spewing water like a wet volcano!

The problem was only partly mine, the pipe had a big score in it adjacent to the joint that prevented the joint working properly, replacing the bit of pipe brought things under control.

One of the advantages of using modern plastic pipework is that this is a 2 minute rather than a 20 minute job so we got that done without completely flooding the house.

She says it was a good weeks work though; I saved us about 2 thousand pounds by not calling in a proper plumber to do the work.

She of course (or so she said) saved us about 5 thousand pounds by not getting a contractor in to repair the damage...

So that's 7000 pound saved on one job, impressive eh???

She didn't seem to see it quite that way.

So yesterday she headed off on contact bent and I went off to Uni to pretend to be clever.

Back home, more medication and today I went round sorting the various leaks we had identified.

Well no

Last night she came home and I was already stuck into sorting the leaks on the stove.

Then today, all day on sorting every leak.

Then more trying to sort the mystery airlock upstairs and we have a house that is really not warm

No, it's bloody hot!!

Much of today with earthquake rumble airlocks as the system sorts itself out.

Walls shook, jets of vapour poured up the system (maybe I lit the stove a bit too soon)

But we got there, people have come and complained about their radiators and not that they are cold...

This sort of eclipsed in real terms something that matters, young P, returned to mum decided to come "home" here for half term.

Much of it he has chosen to spend here.

Is this good?


Maybe not.

He has spent so many years here and he chose to come back for more half term than he might have spent with his mother.

I'm sure he will see less of us from now to Xmas.

This return to parents thing is not easy.

The district team have just checked out, fostering, they are not exactly on the scene either.

We are left to cope again - as usual...

Of course that's because they trust us and out skills and our judgment.

We have skills and they have recognized them.....

Or have they just abandoned us to it, again.

But the fire - god bless us

That works.


Monday, 26 October 2009

getting there

I had originally hoped for lift off today but it's not going to happen.

I think I might have been stuck in some low level virus or maybe it wasn't happening fast enough and I was depressed.

Either way I have been in a bit of a lethargy, this afternoon all of a sudden there was a cascade of bits, all of a big sudden everything started to gel and work.

With the assistance of the girls the cold water tank went into the attic, radiators went on walls and things really fell into place.

I thing we might even fire up the monster tomorrow.

Watch this space.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Plumb job...

Well I suppose you could say the messy tricky bit is nearly done.

Lots of new pipe has gone in and it has taken all day.

Basically the central heating is being split. Half the building already gets good warmth from the log fires so the central heating there has been left attached to the oil system that still heats our water.

The rest of the building has been attached to the new big log boiler this has meant running pipes a long way along the building, stop ending the current system and being ready to connect the new system in.

Of course this is not a modern house with simple little cement blocks this house was made in granite with walls 3 foot thick. It's lucky we only needed to go through one traditional wall, my 1000W SDS drill took nearly 20 minutes to make 2 holes, thats 20 minutes each by the way!!!

Tomorrow it's fit three extra radiators, wire in a central heating pump, up into the attic to put in a water tank then run the last few pipes in to connect it all up.

Sounds simple.....

Management has been fairly content, the odd sigh, a bit of pipe, when checked with a theodolite might have been not quite at the angle she required, easily sorted when she wasn't looking, slide the stove across the floor.

The copper pipe we have is about 4 inches to short and I need one extra compression joint but hell that's how building work is supposed to be isn't it...


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Some days you are the fly some days the windscreen...

So of course we are at it again, another project in prospect.

Off in the Xantia bright and Friday early (Taliesin having gone to work at 8 am) and up to Beacon Stoves where the all Wales whistling through teeth competition ensued.

"Not going to fit that in there" sure enough they were pretty right so home for the 806 seats out and back again.

Naturally there were a few diversions with children being here there and everywhere.

But onwards and upwards back I went with a Bruce to assist and the stove went into the car.

Well, sort of, the little stacker lift handled the weight OK but of course as the stove went in the car, as the weight went on, the car went down and the tail gate came too rest, on the stacker lift.

So that was stuck. Rather a lot of fiddling and we manger to get the stove in the car and the lift out of the way.

Back home then.

Needing to have a usable car the stove needed to come out, time to break out the green goddess kit.

With the short rescue ladder we soon had a ramp affair leading into the house, well we did once we got the car lined up which took not many more than 5 goes.

Then of course with the stove struggled on to the ladder we realised there was an extra bit of Green Goddess kit we were missing. They used to come with 6 burly squaddies, marines or paras. Really we needed some serious muscle if 200 kg of stove was going anywhere and with the stove on the ladder and going no where either in or out of the Plugeot we realised we had none of those.

Getting the time right we assembled, Branwen aka the crane, Taliesin the all purpose tool, Management, Me and Bethan the ladder brake.

Ripping the case open, as much stove as possible was removed and the sweating and swearing commenced.

I should of course mention that Branwen was on her way to work and Bethan was off to a party and this was the 30 minutes or so between Tallie getting home from work and Branwen leaving for work all journeys of course being ours to drive.

So with Talie taunting I managed to get the damn thing in the living room and the rest of the night happened.

Morning, ah yes we like mornings.

Up and at em, old stove removed, of course it came out easily.

All it took was a lump hammer to smash a casting (hearth kit - Green Goddess).

The podium it stood on came out easy too, all it took was a sledge hammer big pry bar and oh yes, hearth kit again ( from Gloria.....)

The mess was cleared with a big shovel (from...)

So now we were ready to go.

Well no, of course Bethan had not woken early enough to go to work so she needed a taxi, well no, taxis costs money, dad and mum do not.

Into Jewsons to get the bits we needed while we were out. The staff in that branch do degrees in disinterest so having piled a load of stuff on the counter one remark was enough to see us out the door and off to our local branch to buy the same stuff, but of course that was 20 miles of drive driven.

So. we were home, we had the bits, we had the tools.

We were ready to go...

Yes of course we were.

Except one small minor trivial point - it hardly merits a mention really.

The thing was too big for the fire place.

Could not connect it to the flue.

The new stove is such a monster that the flue and it could not be conjoined.

There was a brief period of "consideration" - fortunately this was mainly a management error so a lengthy post mortem with it's associated detailed scrutiny of decision making and attendant recrimination was avoided

Serious rethink time and we needed a 45 degree connector.

Ahhh now it's after 12 on a Saturday, what's open?


and they did't stock anything like what we needed.

So back home we went.

This was the point where we thought of our own cottage with it's own stove that has an - oh yes 45 degree connector.

So we pinched that except it had been there for 15 years and was not about to let go anytime soon and needed technical skills removal - big hammer....

So anyway, at last we were ready to go and the new stove went in, well not, the one pipe was out of shape with the time it had been in and, of course, this required a lot of hammering.

But to bring you up to speed, vast amounts of hammering and a lot of swearing have put the stove in place.

Tomorrow the plumbing starts.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

A diferent sort of slavery

Ah yes, so anyway I phoned up today and the new boiler is in. Management made the decision managerial and off we went to fill the 806 with tanks and radiators and bits of pipe.

The boiler itself weighs in at a mere 300 Kg and has been earkarked for colleciton tomorrow. I sense that the half term holiday might not be....


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Be thankful

Today was a last,

The last day I go to the school thanksgiving at the little chapel inthe valley with one of my own chidren. Gwion starts in high school and next year for the first time in 14 years I will have no children in the little valley primary school.

When Bethan started it was almost a primary school for the local well to do. People living over the mountain who would not dream of sending their lovely well brought up children to mix it in the local primary which was a bit too working class for them.

Children have come and children have gone, the school is now largely full of children of the tied together clique of families that live at the top end of the valley and another sort of exclusiveness and exclusion has crept in.

It has delivered an at times excellent and at times barely adequate education for my own children and has been the making of three looked after children for whom it's small school small class teaching was exactly right

But today was the cwrdd diolchgarwch the annual ordeal by chapel, and it's done and over.

Next the Xmas concert then the summer fete where a school of 20 students usually raises a 4 figure sum of money for school funds.

The writing for the school, like all small schools, is of course on the wall but my children survived it.

Then it was home and chainsawing, really nasty chainsawing little bits of wood in high winds with dust going everywhere.


I'm off to do the banking quick before she says we need to do more.


Monday, 19 October 2009

Save us from our children......

I love my children don't get me wrong but....

When they are young you run round keeping an eye on them, a continuous round of bottle and nappy with occasional snatches of sleep and you end up knockered.

They get a bit older and you run round beaches and things and generally keep them amused and you end up knackered.

Then every weekend is taken up with rugby this and footie that and swimming here there and everywhere and you end up knackered.

Then there is light at the end of the tunnel, the kids go off doing their own thing and yes it feels like you are a taxi but within certain bounds things are not too bad.

Then your eldest son gets to 17 and he decides that the whole place needs sorting and whats more you are going to help him. What then ensues is a weekend of hell. Monday arrives and you are too tired to feel relief, you long for the good old days when you were knackered.......


Sunday, 18 October 2009

white goods.....

After a busy day yesterday, the pace quickened.

Our old cottage is needed as a wood store and so the work started. The delightful task of taking out the Bedroom started the day lots of old carpet ripped out and smelly old bed dumped in our burning pit a whole huge trailer full. A terrible partition wall met the sledge hammer and lost.

Then a general and overdue sort out of old white goods, 2 washing machines, various fridges a microwave and anything else we could see.

That filled the trailer again so off to recycledom we went. Well Branwen and i did, little D has been off at a disability football tournament for the day so management went to get him and take him home.

Taliesin has amused himself unloading the truck and barrowing several tons of stuff round the back of the house, till he had got enough out of the bags for them to be liftable by the digger and carried round the back.

By about 4 every one of us had really hit the buffers, it's now 5.30 all are on stop, I think an early night feels like such a good idea.

Might go and see if I can find a cool french beer.

Of course we did set a bonfire about 30 minutes back and we need to keep an eye on it in case that gets out of control and a green goddess has to be deployed..



Sometimes I think I might just as well give in and say I don't understand them.

Rain her with lovely romantic gifts like food processors and jigsaws and carpet cleaners and shovels and rotivators..

The wind blows icy from the Artic.

Pick up a load of second hand compost bins and her delight is complete.

I will understand one day.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

hell of a day was had by all

A truly lovely day for working today.

So first thing in the morning the 50 year old flatbed lorry went up the drive with me and Taliesin "on the bridge" of the Starship Bedford.

That was after the trailer was moved to be in position to be loaded with stuff for the recycling place. Naturally Tallie hitched the 16 foot trailer, did a three point turn in the yard, reversed the trailer between a couple of trucks and down between two buildings where it could be loaded.

Leaving the crew to it off we went in the Bedford truck.

A leisurely proceed with people smiling (they do that a lot when they see the Bedford) and we were in the builders merchant.

I remembered several things, it has the turning circle of a supertanker and no power steering (what you heave is what you get!!!!) so I remembered to turn round before loading this time.

Couple of tons of aggregate and lots of cement on the back. No one son still not telling why we needed it and we went off for home.

Home being via the petrol station and soon the local bobby had turned up to interrogate me.

"Corr whats that? How old is it? Oh look it's 4x4 bet that was good in the snow!!! Petrol! My god it's petrol!!!"

Meanwhile a second group of admirers had built up who had "driven one of those in the army"

In all this excitement I sort of managed not to notice that 50 quid had gone into the tank and not made much of an impression on the gauge.

Extracting ourselves, off we went for home. A lovely leisurely drive through town followed by a little trundle through the lanes with the 4x4ites and Volvoscenti not rushing forwards expecting me to get out of their way immediately. Instead it was take to the fields caring not that this involved jumping hedges, crunching into 5 bar gates or flying off 10 foot drops.

Through the village and on the the 20% incline with the 6 cylinder orchestra singing happily at a steady 12 mph in second.

Things were not entirely free of drama, the heater stuck on. The heater on this generation of truck is a simple affair.

A little hatch in the floor that you open to let in hot air off the exhaust which is running at temperature probably around the 200C mark. This causes things to get a bit warm. It's not so bad for the driver as all this is going on over on the passengers side but also of course you simply open the hinged windscreen a little bit more.

By the time we finished the long climb to the house Tallie was actually hanging out the door and threatening to get spanners and remove it completely!

The trailer was looking a wee bit loaded so that was the next job, except that Tallie decided to take the digger up the field and bury the water pipe, the last 500 M or so anyway.

With him doing that I rounded up the other crew and off we set for the recycling place. Dumped the stuff but collected a load of brownie points by collecting a load of the councils compost bins.

They gave out lots of free compost bins locally and everyone has been chucking them away so I got another 4 from the council depot as we have huge lawns and lots of people so compost is us!!!!!

So far so seriously productive!!

Management meanwhile had decided to empty our cottage ready to use it as a wood store. SO I turned the trailer round again and backed in to position so the accumulated junk could be trailered away.

Of course there was even more to do and back into town for a replacement set of boots for the Branwen. She loves her Doc Martens and I paid "WHAT" for a pair about 3 years ago.

They have just started to fall to bits but to be fair they have been welded to her feet since she had them.

So really if you buy a pair every 3 years that's very very cheap.

Buying our new stove we could probably have found a cheap imported one and bought that for a fraction of what we payed.

Too often you buy cheap things then you find out why....


Friday, 16 October 2009

day on....

Having a nice easy day planned.

Roar up the M4 and a day in the office, finishing off the annual review by putting our little bit of writing into the office.

In my earlier self I would probably have gone into the office and laid the service waste. Flamed the whole inadequate thing to the floor, now it is about how things need to change and how those changes will be mapped and measured.

This is more threatening and problematic than the former approach.

We told them we are committed to helping them base their service on proper consultation, inclusion and partnership.

The buzz words for how the service must work and the very last thing they intend to do....

Took a lot longer than planned.

So it was a mad dash home, to find that Taliesin has had a busy day planning.

Tomorrow I am up early and out to get a ton of sand 2 tons of gravel 10 bags of cement. Not sure why, he won't tell me.

I think I might be less than happy to know too....


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Another day another drama,

A day of mixed fortune.

Out of bed up and at them, kids to school and away we went game on. Or off.

First item MOT Xantia - the garage computer threw a hissy fit and all tests were off.

Bookers next and a rumble through the short date discount line department was followed by a Tesco.

This was a serious assault on my will to live and soon I was dreaming of things I would prefer to be doing up to and including chainsawing wood.

By the time we got home we were on a timescale and with a meeting tomorrow I had simply loads of managements hastily scribbled notes to write up. Of course she had started a document on her laptop which records documents in one format, mine of course records them in another and it's mine that has the right pack to speak to the printer.

So Mr Computer Amoeba here had to push the bounds of his competence but managed to print it all in the end.

Gosh I wish I could get the chainsaw chop wood instead.

Just as I was finishing up popped an email offering me a days teaching work in half term, or funding for another weekend away as I call it.

Of course I had to cancel going to a conference but I had two of those in the rest of the year anyway.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Oh dear....

SO there we are: I thought the earth was shaking.

Management duly suggested calling the power company in case there was a problem and The British Geological Survey to report an outbreak of wobbly planet.

The power company were deadly serious, in due haste a couple of engineers turned up and checked everything over looking more than a touch skeptical.

The cats were delighted, one of them left his land rover open and four of them were in there like a flash fighting over his dinner.

The Geological survey checked a few local stations and confimed the earth had not been moving.

So what was it then, the power guys had a really good look round and wondered if one of the cows a few fields down had been suffering an itchy back then used the pole for a long relaxing scratch.

This it seems can be enough to set the poles waving.

Oh yes I felt a right one....

Still today we did manage to get the MOT for the plugeot done in the nick of time and, oh yes, I remember chopped up a load of wood, just for a change.

We are down to the last ohhhh can't be much more than 7 tons.

Now we actually start on the stuff that has been lying longest so we burn the oldest stuff first. and we are starting to struggle to find places to store it all!!

No fire yet tonight, thought we might burn out last night. Had to sleep with the window open.


How strange....

Management was just outside and she noticed the electricity pole moving.

There's no wind - at all.

We are not anywhere near a road.

Biggles has not turned up this morning (this is the season of the annual low flying exercises)

We think it might have been an earthquake!

There was one a few miles away a week ago that made 2.5 on the Richter scale apparently.

How brilliant!!!

Did the earth move for you too darling...


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Open wallet surgery.....

It was not a good idea....

We needed the right stuff to repair the stoves so off we went.

Normally we would have gone to the local coal man but I thought we might nip up to see Ben at Beacon Stoves our local wood fire ologist.

Now, when we moved down here we bought a wood stove from Ben.

Impressed, a few years later we decided to replace a coal burner with a wood fire, and the first choice was Ben.

Then of course the house burnt down (errr now this wasn't him) and we decided we needed another wood fire so we bought a big Franco Belle Carmargue from errr Ben.

This cost about 1000 pounds ten years ago, so you could say it was a good investement.

Now we have decided to go all technical, create in effect a split heating system, so half the house is heated on wood central heating.

I ran the idea past Ben and he was able to come up with some ideas how to do it and suggestions of which stove might do the best job.

Next thing I was writing a cheque for 1800 pounds - ouch.

I could actually have got the set up somewhere else and saved about 100 pounds.

Thing was though "somewhere else" would not have known how to set up a system to do what I need it to.

Our local "Somewhere else" could tell me wood really needs to be dried for about 2 years. Ben could tell us how to mix our douglas fir, beach and oak to get the best use out of the firewood.

And that kind of know how is worth 100 pounds.

And with the right door seal now fitted, the big Franco Belge has forced me to take off my sweat shirt, it's bloody warm in here....


Monday, 12 October 2009

last evening...


My was last night a night.

Bethan has a standing invite to go and do a few numbers with a local band.

A bunch of old boys who have been in the industry for years and get together on a Sunday night for a not very serious thrash through some old numbers.

Bethan went on with a couple of other people and the temperature kept going up and up and up.

Did a couple of beatles numbers a bit of blues and finished with some Ella Fitzgerald.

Now, as her dad I am supposed to be biased but she really did sound great.

She allready has one booking, for a folk festival next year, I think she might gain a few more at this rate.

Of course it was home and then no possibility of sleep, she was on a pure adrenalin high.

SO eventually she did go to bed at silly o clock.

Then this morning of course decided she was far too tired to do school, all very well but I had an early start lecturing and how much fun was that?

Actually, it was pretty damn good and of course the money is excellant.

Thats me finished with teaching for the first years.

Now they want me to teach the second years instead.

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