Saturday, 31 January 2009

Goodness me wotaday.

Has been another of those days you have every so often.

Up unfashionably early for a weekend so that the yellow machine could be on it's way.

I sold the yellow goddess some weeks back and it has been delay and delay over eventually parting with the beast.

Dan arrived to collect the truck today with brother in law and two boys in tow.

More like 4 boys arrived to collect the fire engine...

So we set to loading the spare wheel on the roof and lashing it down.

This was easiest done by dropping the ladder and sliding the big heavy wheel up the ladder till it was balanced then reloading the ladder, sliding the wheel off the ladder on to the roof. A job requiring various items of GG kit and suitable ammounts of teamwork.

So anyway that was done we noticed the tyres looked a little flat and it was off to Greasy Garage so I could lie under the truck and use the compressor to pump up the rear tyres.

In turn of course this was Dans first go at driving a 50's truck, something he took to quite well.

Until we got to the village that is, out of mercy I took the Goddess up the twisty 25 degree hill, handing it back when we got to the top.

Eventually he went off on his way and home I went to rest, well except that management was on taxi duty and she had to collect Bruce and Bethan from town.

That done and it was home to feed childer.

Out again; taxi run for Bethan to her little mates.

All in all it was a long day but now it is sort of over - ish.

Maybe I can have a quiet night tonight.

Might even get a lie in tomorrow.

But I am suprisingly sad, I had not realised how fond I was of having the four of them out there.

We have to be realistic, four GG is more than one man can maintain without outsourcing the work.

So Taff had to go.

Of course we get a flat bed next week....


Friday, 30 January 2009


We were out on the road today.

Yesterday was one of those bizarre days.

Me out for much of it doing university type things and pretending to be clever.

Management at home doing work type things.

The stove was working well, keeping the house ticking over. Management decided to take 5 minutes out.

Sat there minding her own business and - ding.

Half the glass fell out of the stove door - just like that.

This was a bit bizzare.

Later, with me at home there was a strange noise from the central heating; detailed investigation found a pipe off and water pouring out into the bathroom.

Now just remaking the push connection was not of course that simple as the water was on the hot side of scalding and not conducive to keeping flesh on the hands.

Use of fire gloves helped and eventually I got it all back together.

So this morning it was out to the bank to get euros for little D's trip to Paris then over to the Urdd centre to drop them off. Not before we went up county to pick up a new door glass for the stove, for a whole "HOW MUCH!!!!".

Then home to effect repairs.

Well OK maybe it was lunchtime and we did stop but anyway early after noon saw us home and the door being dismantled, well it would have been, had the screws holding the glass in had been done up a good few years back and done up was what they liked to be.

It would have been easier had the screw drivers been findable.

But anyway we were eventually in business.

Just needed to change the joint in the central heating.

I had every sort of connector bar the one I needed so swearing with enthusiasm and feeling I went off into town and got more of the right one.

With the right bit available I was able to get the original joint to take again meaning I had bought a load of joints without needing to.

But the aftermath has still been there, there has been an obstinate battle to budge a bubble of air that is currently slowing the central heating to nothing.

We are sort of getting there.

Then to put the tin hat on it all.

Tomorrow the guy who bought my yellow fire engine will be here to collect Taff (sob) but of course he is driving back to Liverpool and will arrive here at a time I would much prefer to be in bed of a Saturday morning.

Meaning I will of course need to be up and at them before dawn.


Still they do seem to be promising snow next week, the weather is bloody awful again though.

We were chatting to someone in the pub over lunch who has lived here for 26 years. She had also recorded the rainfall. Last year was the wettest she had recorded and since the last cold spell had broken she had recorded a whopping 7.5 inches of rain.

Now of course, lets go live, as I was writing this. We had finished bleeding up the system, the last of the air was out, the heat was building up when: the system lost pressure and air bubbles were roaring through the upstairs.

Rush to the bathroom and it was awash again. In we went and this time I changed the joint properly but it was square one again. Prime the system and exclude the air.

Still we have managed to get it running now, well sort of. Need to let the pump run for about 45 minutes to get the air to settle in the upstairs radiators, bleed it all through and then we can risk going to bed.

This is turning into a standard fun day....


Thursday, 29 January 2009

It's a funny old thing, we introduce species, often with no preditors and we then arrive at a situation a few years later where there are real problems.

Management was in the woodland yesterday and noticed how much damage the deer do.

By coincidence the news this morning was flagging up deer as a problem too.

Yesterday surrounded by vegitarians the solution was to her as obvious as it was unpalatable to them.

Put Bambiburgers on the menu at McD's it's what our ancestors did so why don't we??


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Newspapers - BAH

So today's Daily Mule trumpets how the evil social workers are taking away the lovely children their grand parents adore to be adopted by evil gays who will presumably ensure the children will pine for their grand parents for ever more without seeing them ever again.

Now without wishing to be draw into individual cases it strikes me that grand parents are the ignored and excluded part of the care system.

We worked with a family where the grand parents were the corner stone of the children's lives, worked with us, alongside us, supported us bringing up their grand children whilst the children's mother was allowed to arrange things and not turn up, promise things and not deliver, actively disrupt and suffer no consequence.

Yet throughout this it was the mother who was asked to be part of decision making in which she showed no interest, invited to meetings she never attended and sent reports she would not reply to.

The situation in the mail is sad, sad because there you have grandparents who could and would take the children, but are not allowed to do so, of course to the mail a problem is the adopters and their sexuality....

Missing the point a little people....

Then again as an editor once said - never let the facts impede a story!!


Birthdays to come soon

I am perhaps a bit misty eyed here at Penole today.

With her off chopping down trees again I have turned my mind to pressing matters like her birthday which comes up soon. Those who know me of old will have heard of the many romantic tokens of affection that she has received for her birthday and xmas.

Things like jig saws, steam irons, shovels and rotivators. Things that I am sure she really valued.

I think I took yesterday as a broad hint so I have spent the morning looking for romantic girly clothing type things and to no avail. Not that there isn't any out there, far from it. It's a case of how can one get as much as possible for the money and dear reader I have found the perfect solution.

The Outdoors are the company that sell all the UK governments surplus military clothing and I have spent a happy morning on their website ordering things like pullovers, combat trousers and boots that will delight her for many years to come.

And I am sure she will be delighted.

I cannot wait for her birthday again, I can see her now, present just opened, eyes rolled back in head, face contorted with incredulity that someone could have found her such a romantic gift.

At least that's what I think it is.....


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

I blame the news....

Management has been sat here watching the early morning BBC.

Apparently the average UK woman buys 17 items of clothing a year that she never wears.

She is horrified, she doesn't buy 17 items of clothing a year she says.

She is hunting her credit card, thank goodness I have it well hidden....

I blame the media, it's all their fault.


Monday, 26 January 2009

The joys of a day of relaxation.....

Today, as I pointed out yesterday was; a quiet day of relaxation.

Not a lot to do.

How we relished that as the childer went to school.

So we settled down for a quiet day.

Well OK we had some eBay stuff to send but nothing tedious.

Ahhh how life lulls you.

First thing the CAMHS nurse was on the phone about a meeting, a bit involved and a while to sort.

Then the school, ahh yes young P fell ill in school so off we raced to get him.

Back home and off to the post office.

Whilst of course management was making a whacker, this is a thing woody types use to batter things into the floor and it being cold outside, she made hers in the living room in a shower of shavings. Which did in fact burn rather well...

So anyway the day went on and the last surprise was the parents evening, what another one??

Did someone forget to tell us?

Err Yes.

A couple or three hours spent lining up to speak to various teachers and look studious as the achievements of various children are listed.

That was all positive though.

Two children, one ours and one someone else's entrusted to our care, not the same age or same set, but both doing as well as they could at the top of their stream.

Thank goodness for quiet days though.

How would we cope without them...


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Places and times...

I suppose really I should have been suspiscious, I mean who ever heard of an auction on a Sunday.

But anyway off we went in a big hurry running late for an auction a good few miles away.

Arriving at the designated hotel, it looked awfully quiet.

It was quiet, no sign of an auction anywhere.

Turned out of course management had brought us to the auction exactly a month early...

Still with an hour to kill before we collected young P we did the weekly shoping a bit early and arrived in time to collect the man in question off the train.

This in turn is a job that won't have to be done this week so we won ourselves half a day by rescheduling one hour.

A result by any calculations.

Then home to a lovely wood warm house.

Before the rain....

More rain, ever more rain....


Just when you are getting settled.

Just when we were making plans, looking to enough wood for next winter.

Indeed the chain saw had been in action, axes were swinging and a car came down the drive.

It was someone who had just sold a house in Bristol and was looking for, well, pretty much where we live.

He seemed keen, seems he will want to come back and take a decent look round.

He seems to be in funds.

Just as a plan was forming another takes it's place.

We shall see.

Management continues to amuse herself saying things like

"Damn" "Blast" and "why didn't I keep bidding...."

Following another night of unrelenting tempest.

We hit the Sunday market, but of course there is more - a property auction.

This could be seriously worrying, might need to take a straitjacket just in case she starts twitching.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sleepless nights....

Saturday mornings are a real pleasure.

Usually someone conspires to bring us coffee in bed we can watch the beeb news on Iplayer.

All is good.

Providing management has benefited from a fine nights sleep.

Of course, if she hasn't, if something has been eating away at her, it's not soo good.

Last night was a bit like that, she seemed a bit absorbed, had to get out of bed a few times, was she really kicking herself? Or did I dream that.

Seems to be a bit upset about not carrying on bidding on something yesterday....

Ah well the sun is out the sky, is blue,

the wood is there the chainsaw too.

But she's pissed off, pissed off in her heart....

"should never have let it go" she just said, sitting across the table gazing wistfully into her laptop.

And sighing...


Friday, 23 January 2009

The all auction hero.....

Every so often the management and I head off for an auction.

Now, these used to be exciting events mainly because auctions featured green vehicles and items that came in green.

Military auctions were hard work as they were very much stitched up by the dealers.

So anything you bid on got bid up and anything they bid on went for a low price.

A couple of auctions bidding on anything and everything, thus making them pay lots of money to keep me out and after that I usually got what I wanted.

But of course this is another type of auction altogether - a general house clearance auction.

Well, it looked as if this might have been a pub clearance too.

Rather a lot of glassware came under the hammer.

And, more of something than everyone there wants, makes it very cheap.

Trouble is I cannot resist a bargain and so we now have plenty of glasses for the kids to drink out of.

OK so it only cost a pound but what an earth am I to do with 30 half pint glass tankards.

It would not be so bad if it stopped there, but there are 48 pint glasses as well.

For four pounds they were great value but......

She was not of course immune, the earthenware pot she bought for two pounds was really nice and good value. Shame about a kitchen full of tat that came with it, still that's why we have skips errrh recycling centres isn't it?

Gwions "new" 6 speed suspension and disk braked bike was a steal for ten pounds

That was of course before I bought a fridge freezer for two pounds.

This in turn meant a return pick up trip with the IVECO and added Bethan and big D to the crew to help with the load.

They of course toured the unsold items and added a table and chest of drawers to our pile for a cool 2 pounds.

But of course that was not the best bit.

Management had been a bit drawn to a particular watercolour, something about it appealed. She had meant to do more complete research into it's provenance but had not had the time.

So anyway at the auction she bid a whole 30 pounds before she dropped out.

Tonight she researched the artist, who had signed the work, last piece of his that came up made 1500 pounds at auction.

She has gone all quiet....


Thursday, 22 January 2009


Now, today was going to be an action day.

Out at uni working on a project.

Fortunately management is clever and suggested I check my dates and sure enough I had the wrong one and needed to be there next week.

Bliss and some...

A day off, relaxation planned and going to be executed...

Or not.

Out to make my staple healthy bacon breakfast.

Strange, the AGA felt cool, quick check and it was out.

Run outside, well OK stroll, the oil tank was empty.

Last week there was the best part of 200 gallons in there, this week, none.


There has been a bit of an industry round here in emptying oil tanks.

First time it has happened to us though.

Oddly I cannot see how they did it.

But anyway, our peaceful easy day is now one of trying to organise a delivery of fuel oil by teatime so that we can cook tea, have hot water and heating.

I should have mentioned of course that we are in the grips of a wood dearth caused largely by our thinking we might have sold up this year and failing to cut enough wood last March and April.

I wonder if anything normal is ever destined to happen to us.


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Costs of fostering

I was posting a while ago about how much it costs to foster and this really hit me tonight.

Idling along, looking at bookings for the summer. How much our trip out to Brittany would cost us this year.

Sudden realisation.

When we go out mob handed, it's an IVECO high top long wheelbase minibus with 9 seats to hold all of us plus the assorted and varied paraphernalia of our life.

This year my eldest three are most likely getting summer jobs meaning I could cost up a trip taking an MPV instead of the IVECO.

The difference in ferry cost was staggering. Then factor in fuel then factor in everything else.

Yet spending summers in Brittany has for us been about the cost of living as much as anything else.

It can be so much cheaper to live out there than here.

So long of course as you do not try and live like you do in the UK.

Cereals, crisps and fizzy pop are awfully dear.

You would not dream of stopping off at the pub for a beer, well not with 7 kids in tow.

The children have to put up with limitless fruit and fruit juice instead.

Live healthy, save money!

For larger families I have often wondered if it might be worth simply renting in France for the summer.

We certainly live a lot cheaper out there and save more than the fare.

But our living costs with the three extras are higher and it gives us the freedom to be away for a month!


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The times we live in.

I have probably lived a long time.

I can remember the cuban missile crisis - just.

Kennedy shot dead.

I can remember the cold war, the permanant background concern that at very little notice the world might explode in flames.

Then suddenly the order was all over.

The cold war was gone, the eastern block collapsed.

The triumph of capital we were told.

Mandela walking to freedom and the man who was an image on a T shirt showed himself as an iconic statesman.

The dream of freedom for my own small nation edging closer, a vibrant democratic senedd that is fit for purpose, with even Tories prepared to walk through it's doors.

But now we are back in the dark, looking more and more like the 20's every day.

Capital really has triumphed though.

The head of RBS ran the company into the floor trousered 20 mil and then got to walk away and leave the mess for others.

What a beacon of self interest - the very stuff of capitalism.

Today, the unthinkable, a black president for our colonial cousins.

Elected by the peoples 20 dollars not the corporations millions.

The buffoon out of the white house, the one whose grand parents would have said the current incumbant was closer to baboons than them.

The initial speach was so far removed from the narrow rhetoric of the right.

One almost begins to feel times are a changing again.

I wonder if we havn't all been here before though.


Easy life.....

We have a simple time of it us foster carers....

Having spent half the morning on social worker bent.

Dealt with a couple of them, then out to the woodyard to collect unfeasible quantities of wood in a huge trailer behind the fantastic Xantia.

Easily back to the house with rather a lot of timber dangling off the rear.

This was going to make it very easy to reverse and turn round in the yard especially as I have had a green goddess shuffle and a few of them are not in ideal positions..

At this point we needed more excitement so of course we got it. Whosshh fuel was gushing everywhere.

Hmm. I thought, not supposed to do that.....

So we decided there was only one thing to do - stop for lunch.

Lots of digging round under the bonnet traced the fault and whats more I rectified it too.

Just as well - the man from DHL came to join the carnage.

So I had to some complex trailer reversing to get him out and up the drive.

Onwards and upwards off we went again. 100 fence posts in the trailer, and we are back.

Another complex reverse in store and a big unloading job. Delegate that one I think.

The man himself Taliesin was mad to get this project moving, so he can get the posts moving too.

Of course I should be writing something profound about events on the world stage. Our life has gone on around it...


Monday, 19 January 2009

Snow Joke....


OK so maybe it's not that deep or even snowing at all but we did have snow over at the high school tonight and coming home over the mountains was a bit tricky.
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Sunday, 18 January 2009

A change of day......

What a contrast in a day.

After a night of ferocious wind and viscious rain, we woke to a lovely early year day and spent much of the day outside.

Lots of work and lots of just being outside for the sake of it.

Now the night closes and the weather comes with it.

The fire has been out all day and we took the chance to get ahead with some proper dry wood.

Now the evening draws and we draw on our wood, I am off to light the wood stove.


Saturday, 17 January 2009

Goodness gracious me....


Property is in free fall.

No one in their right mind is buying houses.

Management has been looking at property auctions.

She fancies a look around next week.

I am wondering if she is right in the head.

Or is she maybe ahead of the game.

Goodness knows.

The hatches are battened.

Out this morning in the comparative calm, no hint of what was to come.

As the day has continued things have got worse and worse.

Took the battery out to Gloria the Green Goddess and very quickly it was fired up and ready to go.

No one son was for reasons best known to him going to replace a length of fencing and soon the Green Goddess and tools were employed eventually resorting to a long rope off the back of the truck to uproot the old fence and drag it out.

As I speak the Met says we have 56 MPH gusts, well sorry peeps you got that wrong reverse the numbers and you might be getting closer.

The log fire is roaring and there are draughts everywhere in this old house.

Water is smashing into the windows and I am concerned that we did not pay enough attention to what is lying round outside.

Things may really fly when it's like this.

It is always a suprise just what will move.

One storm, I forgot the handbrake on the car and it was on the other side of the car park in the morning!

Not as good as the storm where we were woken at about 3 am by the roof of the barn taking flight. This was a pretty big item and we walked the surrounding fields for hours the next day looking for it.

Never did find where it landed!!


Friday, 16 January 2009

Demonic possesion

It sometimes seems that life is a bewildering series of wild events whose improbability exceeds the last one, this week has been no different.

Whilst I was off with the girls being famous, management was driving the bottom of the valley. She mentioned that the van had been behaving a bit oddly but I am used to that from her and thought no more about it.

So bright and early next day I got in the van and saw what she meant.

Now the IVECO has become a bit eccentric of late leaving the fuse in the speedo slot would make the lights come on. Switch on the headlights and the speedo would work.

But now we had more.

Wipers developed their own will, occasionally wiping the screen once then going dormant, switching the wipers on sometimes but not always made them work.

Lights blazed, flashed and flickered on the dash and finally and bizarrely, sat outside the house the headlights would switch themselves on for a minute then switch themselves off.

This was obviously demonic possession or Italian wiring or both.

Either way I knew it wasn't supposed to do this, so off the the auto electricians through the raging tempest with occasional wipers and head light that would flash at oncoming drivers whenever they felt like.

A fairly unique experience but one related to our current weather.

You might have noticed the quantities of water falling out of the sky and much of it had got into the IVECO electrics.

I still don't have a working horn and the ABS seems to be on strike, but we are getting there.

Tomorrow Taff was supposed to be going North to a new home in the Wirral, so today was going to be a frenzy of work.

Thankfully the buyer has decided to put things back a week - that means I was spared lying round under the truck in the rain.

A win win situation.

Tomorrow does not look good on the weather forecast front.

Mind you they are talking about snow for Monday!


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fostering families

I had a bit of a day out yesterday.

Quick run up to the Beeb to do a prog for S4C well it wasn't actually me that was doing it, Bruce and Bethan were doing a spot on a regular prog.

It was lovely to see how the fact they were being interviewed live in an early evening slot didn't really phase them at all. The most natural thing in the world to do as far as they were concerned.

That's one of the pluses of being a foster carer, the day previous I had spent getting a performance licence sorted for Bruce, because of course I was at home.

As a full time carer they have not known many times when dad has not been available to take them somewhere, pick them up, drop everything and take them to casualty.

As a father I have not missed their childhood not any of it.

When they were younger we used to take the more interesting teenies, children you might have seen in the papers described as one person crime waves, children on their way to or coming from rooms with bars on the windows. It was a lively life, first name terms with everyone in the Police station, coffee readily produced in casualty and on the children's ward.

But for my children this seemed to go on around them and not particularly touch them. It was also good for many of the looked after children, whose childhood had often been truncated and distorted, a serial car thief and general mischief maker could fill in the gaps in his childhood under the pretence of playing with my four year old son. 2 boys splashing in puddles and covered in mud.

But there was more benefit too, because these older teenies were witness to good enough parenting, now at least they have a fighting chance.

Many of the children we foster come from families that have been fostered. They love their children dearly and desperately want to be good enough parents but have no idea what exactly that means.

My own children though knew that dad would be home, holiday times would be times when dad was always home. Too many fathers, increasingly, mothers too, miss the benefits of that as they struggle their 40 hours a week with 4 weeks off a year.

But back to yesterday, 2 young women, (where did my girls go?) Went confidently on the television and did themselves proud, made their father a bit proud too.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Foster care.

I don't only write here. In fact I only started this blog to try and broaden my scope and get to write about more than fostering.

Last night I caught a message on a fostering website that set me to thinking. It was from a youngish person who is thinking about fostering but spoke volumes of an unresoleved anger and hurt.

In it's body it alluded to two things that every so often rear their heads in fostering, money and welfare of children.

Every so often you meet someone who notes that some (but not all) foster carers get rather a lot of money every week. This weekly money is not subject to income tax like everyone else. It is tax free money, and for that there is a very good reason. Foster carers do not get a wage, don't have a salary, they get an allowance which is linked to the children in their care.

Often people think that foster carers earn huge sums of money but claiming means tested benefits is more often the case.

Houses must be larger, furniture replaced more often, car's are bigger. Foster carers are also subject to all sorts of regulation and inspection that simply passes parents by.

Allowances are paid for children, if the child goes, and they might at any time, the money stops.

If the carer gets hurt, maybe even if it's by the child so they cannot work. The money stops.

The carer gets ill, the money stops.

Carer takes a holiday, that is a real holiday where you do not do what you do when you are in work, the money stops.

There is the venus fly trap of fostering, the money to pay for the big house and big car and big bills is there, until you stop.

It used to be that a foster carer might devote 30 years to caring and be left with no pension, at all, left to live on nothing a week. There are many foster carers out there who are living out their retirement on means tested benefits.

Is this something to be jealous of?

Put like that I am not so sure.

But of course then we come to the Children bit.

The poster rounded on foster carers and said she would not trust any of us with her children.

Thank god for that I say.

With a few spectacular individual cases there is little evidence that being with foster carers harms children.

There is however an overwhelming body of evidence though that contact with the social care system predicts a poor outcome.

Recently a panicked head of childrens services said that in the wake of child P lots more children should not be taken into care as the outcome would be bad for the children. One might wonder if this might also dent his budgets but of course he was not thinking that way. He was totally focused on children.

No, he cited the fact that he was running a bad system as a reason not to take children into care, not a challenge for the next time he sat as his desk.

I wonder what that says.

Then again foster carers use up shed loads of money, as I said.

Much of it goes into the coffers of private agencies who decide to better what local authorities could do then force the same local authorities to feed their profits to get the people they might have been able to use themselves had they shown a bit of respect.

It's not about money it's about children and someone needs to start putting them at the front of their thinking. Really thinking about children and not "I go home at 4.30" or there is "50p in the budget".

Sorry I am in rant mode too.


Sunday, 11 January 2009


Management is nothing if not green.

Everything is now in some pile or other for future recycling, which is actually remarkable since by the time we have sorted it all for banking burning or composting we hardly generate any rubbish at all between the 9 of us. Far less even than the eco vandal in the cottage in fact.

Tins of course go for recycling but to be green we wait till there are a lot before expending any diesel and there has to be lots as we crush them before they go in the big bag in the first place.

So anyway yesterday she decided that we would make an IVECO full trip to the recycling centre, laden with months of tin cans and a Xmas of bottles we went on our merry way.

Well no, management had not looked at the clock, we arrived as they closed so we had to leave the van to absorb the considerable smells overnight.

Bright and early, well for a Sunday anyway, we got out of bed, so far so good. The weather was battering the walls and smashing rain into the windows, the met office being worried enough about all this to tell me that tomorrow there might be floods again.

Still I can cope with floods at 10 C and now that I am warned I will make sure the GG is fully charged so I am ready for whatever play opportunity presents itself.

But I digress as usual.

This morning I duly made coffee had my healthy bacon breakfast and, after a little while the management came down stairs, accepted the coffee I poured for her which she took her time drinking as toast toasted and eggs fried.

Finally, with a leisurely wipe of the mouth and an assurance that she had not possibly slipped a piece of egg to da man who was at the time impersonating an angry sabre tooth tiger under the table somewhere, she sprung into action.

She wasn't waiting for me for another moment, we were off to the tip now.

So we went....

This afternoon it's the cinema we are off to.

I am sure she will stop waiting for me again any second.


Saturday, 10 January 2009

Uuuuuurrrrrrrggggghhhhhh Saturday mornings

There is something sadistic about teachers. Why are all out of school weekend activities at silly o clock in the morning. Who gets up at 9 am on a Saturday for goodness sakes?

Having successfully woken up I was in the civilised Saturday morning routine of drinking coffee in bed, waiting for the managerial laptop to deliver the news from the BBC.

No such civilisation today it was up and at them to take Bruce and Bethan to practice for the "school show", a suspicious sounding event which will probably result in parents having to pay money to sit in a cold hall and be tortured by violin playing where determined enthusiasm is substituted for skill and talent.

But I digress, management made a big song and dance about getting up and driving the children in 20 minutes a trip that would under all circumstances take 30 so they could be where they needed to be and not be late.

Being a loving caring partner I said she should not do that alone, I would come with her. As I said this of course I threw myself out of bed, being a loving caring partner she said that if I was going take them she could go back to bed.

So she did.

Talk about tricked.

Resigning myself to no breakfast I staggered to the car leaving my coffee half drunk. This meant I got to wait 5 minutes in the car for Bethan who had berated me about the need to get a move on as she could not possibly be late and then decided she had a load of things she could not possibly leave the house without doing first.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Attempted murder.....

I have narrowly survived an attempt on my life.

No not the sort of thing with knives coming at you on dark nights or axes silently taking you from behind, this was murder more subtle.

"Let's go for a walk" she said.

Thinking it was better than sitting here dwelling on the frozen up pipes and waterless house I got the camera and off we went.

Now there were two routes on offer, one was a pleasant little valley bottom ramble with a pub at the end.

The other, a vertical ascent up a mountain then back down again with errrh a pub at the end.

Trouble is though only one of those pubs serves draught bass from the barrel; mountain climb it was.

I had not realised what her real plans were when we parked the car at the bottom of the hill and the management was gone like a goat up the mountain leaving me to wheeze stagger and drag myself along with plenty of pauses to take photos of the magnificent scenery.

She was trying to give me a heart attack I am sure and in a place where the mobile phone would not work, to guarantee exanguination before help could arrive.

Her plan though was doomed to fail and I survived.

Sold one of my axes whilst I was in the pub too.

Then home to da man and sid having a huge sort out in the living room!!!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Driving Miss D. - again...

Now, those who read this all the time will know I wilt in terror at that experience which is called her driving, well OK wheel turning.

We have now for a little time been in the grip of cold, well OK very cold.

So of course management has made a managerial decision and I have been delegated to drive.

This in turn has produced occasions where roads have been ice coated and I have demonstrated how ABS is useless.

She didn't seem impressed.

How too much power applied on ice makes cars do strange things.

She does not seem to view this as learning.

More like terror.

Well she might learn a bit if she was not a little ball curled up in the footwell..

This could be payback time.

But I love her really..

And this is driving like I have not done it since about 1980.

Really tough road conditions

Now we have no water, nothing comes out of the tap when you turn it on.

Tomorrow looks really busy....


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A fable - or is it?


Many many years ago in happy foster land there was a happy fostering

Happy foster family had a happy foster child well he was until this day.

This day he had quite a small fall in the playground in school and,
unknown to anyone he had low bone density which caused his leg to break.

Now school had proper fully qualified first aiders and because the fall
was small and child very well known for crying wolf, they decided to
send him home to happy foster carer one.
So home he came and he lay on the settee until happy foster carer two
came home from work.

Now happy foster carer two had once been a proper first aider who had
seen a lot of real injuries and when he had a look at this something did
not add up.

Thing was, the mechanism of injury ruled out a break but this was a
child in a lot of pain and soon the house was lit up by the blue lights
of a big white ambulance which rolled up outside.

The crew agreed with happy carer two that this could not possibly be a
break and nominations for Oscars for foster child were being discussed.

Of course on going to hospital it was found to everyone's utter amazement
that the leg was broken but no one at believed it until the X ray was
on the screen.

For the hospital though this changed everything.

Being brought in from a foster home meant the hospital
immediately decided this was a "non accidental injury" and the size of
the small fall was obviously deeply deeply suspicious. The fact that
they themselves had not believed there was a break before the X ray
proved the case. Since of course everyone knows foster carers routinely
hurt the children in their care and this was obviously a cover up..

When records were consulted it was found that this was not the first
time this child had broken his leg in suspicious circumstances and the
picture was complete.

Not so happy foster carer was well into the routine when, she asked
innocently, whether they had check WHERE he fell and injured his leg.
She also thought it might help if they checked a bit more into the
first break, particularly who it was he HADN'T been living with at the

But of course I digress, meanwhile back at the ranch investigations were
proceeding apace. Social services were on the plot and, there were
serious questions to be answered, how on earth had carer one missed
something as "obvious" as a broken leg. This was incompetence and
irresponsibility. Someone might have to pay there would be repercussions.

There was a fair amount more in this vein, carer two listened quietly
then asked how could carer one possibly know what a broken leg looked
like, had the agency trained her in first aid?


Had she acted according to the training she had received.

Pause and silence.

Was anyone in the house qualified in first aid by the agency?


Was it not the case that happy carer two had been trained in emergency
aid (not first aid) some years previously but that qualification had
expired some little while since.

Was there in fact no one currently qualified in emergency aid resident
in the house. Was it not one of their policies to have a qualified
carer in every household?

The agency might have a problem then. Failure to ensure this might be
deemed incompetence and irresponsibility. Someone might have to pay,
there might be repercussions....

Note wisely that a child suffering was not part of the equation.

Errr uummm. This was not the conversation the social worker wanted at all.

Fortunately for the agency, Carer two and his daughters had recently
completed a community first aid course.

Wasn't the agency lucky?

Carer two was not sure the social worker sounded relieved or even happy.

But all turned out OK in the end, child made a full recovery and the
tests revealed a previously unknown underlying illness.

The agency learnt too and they made sure everyone of their happy carers
was properly trained in first aid.

Or did they....



Great gods and cold places.

We have enjoyed a day and a half.

Outside this morning and immediately it was clear that the world was cold.

The IVECO declined the invitation to transport the children to the bus, being quite absolute that it had not intention to start - period. Not wanting them home all day, sorry, I meant to say recognising the vital importance that children go to school, the Xantia was press ganged to take rather a lot of children to the bus.

It would have been easier if the heater were working but this of course is the real world and somehow with multiple stops to clear the screen we eventually got there.

There was a decided lack of bus lots of similarly keen parents, but no bus.

Eventually we got relayed a message that the proper bus had also, like the IVECO declined to function and they had press ganged a far smaller version. This in turn had produced some quite unforgivable behaviour from parents keen to be rid of their children and saying there was no way he was driving a bus with children sitting on the roof or hanging out the windows the driver had taken off with the bus officially full.

This left a child whose parent had dropped him at the bus stop before going to work at a bit of a lose end so I packed him into the non existent spare apace in the xantia and went for home.

Gwion enjoyed the luxury of a seat as he went to school and the others settled themselves into a day off with such enthusiasm that I willed the IVECO into life and drove them into school as well.

Onwards and Tesco, it was time we went so went we did and invested a lot of money in catch up from the new year.

Seems a lot of stuff on reduction and not a lot buying.

Then on to Bookers and not a lot reduced for the small shop.

Home again and off again.

An emergency chain saw of mature wood to fill in the gaps in the very wet softwood we have now.

Then down to get Gwion and home just in time to get the IVECO and off for the biggies.

It has been a quiet day aye..

The temperature is now in free fall.


Monday, 5 January 2009

Back to the grind.

The kids went off happily to school bright and early of a morning.

Management is up to some thing on Wii fit, I might say she looks ridiculous but that would not be nice so I am not going to.

The weather though is completely bizarre.

Took the big kids off to their bus and everything was fine.

By the time another half hour had passed all the rain water that was covering the road had frozen.

Got phoned by the little school to say one of the school buses had crashed into the gate and not to take Gwion to school.

Decided this was worthy of a recce and discovered that the bottom of the valley was an ice rink. The school bus had been removed from the gates and had driven half a mile then smashed into someones house.

The van was briefly completely immobile against the front of someone elses house and I had to struggle like hell to get out of the valley and come home.

Really odd, one minute the road is wet and half an hour later it's an ice rink.

Got home and saw a severe weather warning - that was some help.

Just waiting the call from big school that they are coming home early.


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Living dangerously...

Many many years ago I would spend my summers working in a friends restaurant in Brittany.

The sort of place you could only get out there, up a dead end, no signs, no adverts, 250 covers every lunchtime.

No menu, you got fed whatever took Patricks fancy that day simple paysyenne stuff that was both simple and fantastic.

Steak was a winter dish and in those pre health and safety days it was a lump of meat thrown on a mesh grill on the open wood fire with a hand full of spices.

It left me with a lot of skills and a taste for cooking.

So with management away today I have prepared a simple tea for her return.

This is always dangerous, if you make something simply wonderful there is a danger you might be tasked with doing it again tomorrow and worse still management might feel that she is not irreplaceable.

We could not possibly have that now could we.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy new ear.....

Lovely crisp start to the new year in West Wales.

Will it snow?

Who can know!

Camera at the ready!!!