Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Green goddess of the garden.

So anyway today with the weather a lot nicer management decided we were starting on the garden.

She has ambitious plans which of course require removal of the turf having first made a kind of compost heap to dump it all in.

Even management is getting the idea now. We made 4 posts (joist saw from the hearth kit) then knocked them into the floor (sledge hammer from tool locker).

Then we marked out her first plot and started cutting the turf (spade from the tool locker) and then lifted it (pick axe with "afs" on the helve...).

The only thing we didn't take off the fire engine was a wheel barrow (at a push we could have used the debris sheet but didn't)

But anyway I was too busy looking at the house water supply to find a point where I could put in a t joint and a short length of spare first aid hose so we could put in an instantaneous coupling and run a sectional watering system across her plot using spare lengths of first aid hose.

Though personally I think that this is a waste of the house water when I could simply drive down and fill up off the mains.

Green Goddess fire engine, what a useful piece of kit, every gardener should have one....

Monday, 30 March 2009

The morning after the weekend before....

It is the morning after the weekend before.

Saturday from 9 till 9 300 miles of child based running about with a few peaceful lonely hours in the middle where we had just Gwion at home.

Sunday one mad blur of car, trailer and wheelbarrow moving truck parts from various parts of the house and garage to what will become my definitive store.

Sadly some of it has deteriorated in storage - the garage roof has a leak I did not know about. Other stuff is just too exotic, I cannot see me ever selling some of it so there will be another series of scrap runs.

But that is for another day thank goodness.

Today we are having a day of rest - well we would except we went to bookers and got a load of chicken on special offer and this afternoon someone is dropping off half a pig.

So we are relaxing by emptying tidying and sorting the freezers.

The cats seem very err "interested"; all of a sudden an expectant optimistic throng are sitting outside the back door.

I just caught a managerial mutter, something about building and compost bins. I hope she means that's what she will be doing......

Goood morning west wales....

So of course getting used to the adjusted time but without an adjusted alarm I want to bed reminding myself that I needed to make sure I didn't oversleep.

Sure enough I woke at 5.30 cursed, switched on the phone so I had a clock I could see from bed.

Just a bit of extra sleep 6.30 ahhh half an hour and get up.

7.30 BLOODY HELL!!!!

Action stations.

Funny thing though, we just got up and went - kids on the bus and with time to spare.

No rushing round arguing and bickering, too busy to waste time on that. Just up and out the door, mmmm maybe I could make this a permanent thing.

If the kids are too busy they cannot argue!

And of course it is 16 years since the twins were born.

Happy birthday to them...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

I am dead part the two.


Each of those weighs about 25 kg, they are Green Goddess dynamos.

Not sure why I need to keep them

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I am dead......


We have spent much of the weekend having a sort out moving the myriad bits of Bedford out of the collection of damp garages and damp old hotel into the nice new dry lorry back.

This has not bee achieved without a certain ammount of effort and hard work.

I am cream crackered, she is cream crackered and the kids are looking down their noses at us.

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Saturday, 28 March 2009

We're on the road again.....

A quiet start to the weekend.

A D taken to meet his step dad about 50 miles from here then a dash to drop the other D at school so he can go to watch Wales play football.

Then on a very tight schedule back here to collect Sir Bruce et al to go off for a day out but they needed to be 20 miles away by ohh about half an hour ago.

Management, who had gasped sighed and gripped the seat for the first part of the morning has insisted on taking the car and dropping the girls off.

She muttered something about only being able to take so much terror.

Dunno what she is on about....

The weather is back to winter here, but at least, tomorrow morning, the big clock high up on the wall will be telling the right time again.


Friday, 27 March 2009


He is quite scary really....

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God help us all


You parked it tidy didn't you Tallie

Oh yes dad really tidy......
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He's 16 next week


Need to park the fire engine back outside the house.

It's OK Dad I'll do that
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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Meet the health service.

So today we took Tallie back to the local casualty have his nose looked at by the doctors.

This was less than simple as the place was in turmoil. Turns out there was just the one doctor and no shortage of patients waiting to be seen.

The minutes turned into hours and ambulances started arriving as well each adding to the throng, the place was heaving!!

As we always expect the staff were a model of professionalism and when he eventually got seen it was great to see that all his doctor training had equipped him to work out to agree with us all that Tallies nose was broken. So far soo good.

Doc decided that the hooterologist really needed to give a second opinion (not sure that's the right name but anyway...)

Into another heaving department and quite quickly Tallie was brought in and seen.

Nothing serious but the medico did offer to reset Tallies nose to it's proper shape.

But, and here comes the joined up thinking; was there really any point since Tallie plays rugby and he would most likely get another whack at some stage so why not wait and see, maybe the next time he would get hit on the other side and it would save him a job.

So that's what we agreed to do.

Of course if this had been social work then there might have been a box to tick.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Party party......


This summer we went to a wedding.

Not any sort of wedding - a druidic wedding in Brittany. A good time was had by all, if the Bretons know one thing they know how to throw a party!!

The happy couple havve just had a baby boy, so this summer we will go back to a naming ceremony, not any sort of naming ceremony.......

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Funny isn't it, just as you expect spring tom have a sprung...

I am sat here today: the wind is howling, the log stove battles valiantly to warm the place.

Management has gone off to play amongst the trees and I await the call from the great greasy garage that the 806 now has a proper mechanical fuel pump and I will no longer smoke the planet out every time I start the thing.

It might be time to announce it is a very cheap car.

The plugeot - yes the sticky out bits fell off the E making it an L

But as I said it's an L of a cheap car......


Monday, 23 March 2009

Feeling good....

Today I went off to work in the university and meet the students.

What an experience, any one of them would be welcome here in my home, any one of them would I felt have been great to work with.

I feel good about the future. They knew what social workers do.

They treated the agency that told them "we don't work from a theory here", as a joke.

They told me lots and by and large I liked it.

I feel optimistic for the future of social work.

None of them sat there and said nothing waiting for the meeting to finish.

I think what impressed me most was that it felt they were on the same side of the fence as me.


Sunday, 22 March 2009

Here's a funny thing.

Gwion came home and fell into bed.

Two of the cats are in there with him.

In a ball.

They have realy missed him.

We have too but they got there first.


Action stations

Well it has all been happening here.

Strimmers have strimmed and mowers have mowed.

A rear axle has been rebuilt in the Lilly Beast, not by me, by Tallie.

He will be glad to get back to school tomorrow for the rest....

Having done some drive re laying and other things we got on to back body moving this afternoon which I think we will keep in house if it ever needs doing again.

Terrible waste of beer getting the local farmer in to move the truck back body shed when we could have easily got the job done with a fire engine or two the flatbed and a Lilly beast.

Lots and lots of stuff has been planted.

Gwion, though has not been here.

He has been away with his little mates at a festival. His first ever weekend away from his parents.

Sounds like he coped a lot better than we did....

Still he will be late home and maybe he will not go to school tomorrow and stay home with his mum and dad.

Just to make sure they are still important to him.

Because we need a purpose in life.

Though of course we do have each other, which is a really good reason to stay in bed all day....


Friday, 20 March 2009

Time to accept defeat...

Today started on a complex bent.

Spent a lot of the mornign on telephones arranging things with people, then settled down for some serious gardening.

Well she did, she was off a strimmering and I was there with axe in hand.

Of course to strim you need fuel.

So with brane in neutral (must have been) I gassed up the strimmer.

Would not look at starting, soo off to the local garage where I bought the strimmer.

Played the merry hell there, I bought it there five years ago and it was not working so I wanted all my money back. In other words - wind up.

Garagiste opened the fuel tank, sniffed, gave me a look that said "dolt". Then said maybe if I wasn't using the original fuel it might run.

Got home and realised I had picked up the wrong fuel can and indeed the 2 stroke might have matured a little.

So anyway, filled the thing with the last of our current new 2 stroke, management went to work.

The last batch of wood had me thinking that the chainsaw was beyond blunt. I was wrong. The 50's axes that treat hardwood like balsa were struggling.

Now it's sort of late and the fire is lighting up the house and the warmth drifts lazily up the stairs


Thursday, 19 March 2009

Another day another drama,

It was another nice sunshine day so off we went ready for the garden.

Well until about lunch time.

Now with us not moving any more the troubled issue of storage had been raised. Easiest way can be a body off an old truck which gives you 18 x 7 for not a huge some of money. Now, this being West Wales where Manyana is considered a frantic concept. My local truck breaker man has been saying he will get a truck body sorted "next week" for several weeks. Early this week he had the right thing and mention made that he would phone me back that day with a price. So of course three days later (this morning) ha came back with a price and I agreed.

Money on the table changed the political map, he "might" be round today. Let me know I said.

Home and rushed round moving things, a fire engine parked up in September charged up and moved, trailer hitched behind Citroen and moved, flat bed moved up to the top field. A piece of ground currently in fire wood re designated - shed. All done, that's OK then.

Phone rings, he would be there in half an hour.

So now it was a race into the bank to get cash.

Got back in the nick of time, met the man with the lorry and a body on the back.

"Hmm, that's a big truck" I thought.

Then it was back to the house, "that's a bloody big truck" I thought.

Top of the drive and "this is going to be tight" I thought.

"No, this is not going to be happening"


Plan B.

1500kg of body might bend the roof bars on the Xantia...

Bit big to stick on the wheelbarrow for the last 1500 metres to the house.

Not going to happen then.

"Aha" we thought, we could cut across next doors field.

Should really ask but the old boy farmers are pretty good boys, gambled that a couple of cases of beer would solve any problems with them (usually works).

Opened the gate to the field - nope the truck wasn't going in there either.

Plan Z, up the top of the mountain and turn round. Reverse into field 1 then open field two, drive in, down to our land, through the gate across the field into the car park - every one a winner.

Of course we have had weather recently. The ground is a weee bit damp.

Got to the first gate and - no chance.

We were not even looking at that far too wet.

Back to plan A, well not the original plan A, just that after Z you go back to A.

It was over the hedge into our land and leave it till tomorrow to work out how to move it from there.

Tight into the hedge then, lift the body off and over the hedge. As easy as that.

Well no.

1500 kg's dangling off a hiab arm is not the best news you had this week.

Putting a pitiful wood pad underneath the foot of the ground arm away we went.

A thought inducing few minutes followed - that's another word for a big lump of metal swaying on the end of an arm, with the leg of the Hiab sinking steadily into the floor.

"If it starts to roll, run" said the driver.

Did he think I was daft?

If that thing even looked like rolling, he would be watching me through a telescope....

Luckily it all turned out OK and we got him out of the field without recourse to a chain.

Which of course was perfect timing as in the middle of this lot the children were all collected from school.

Now all we have to do is move it over the field....


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Who closes the door, thats the important thing....

Life trundles on in West Wales.

The weather has suddenly gone all lovely ...

Well except here where the wind keeps the temperature down to about 13 -4. Down by the sea in the shelter yesterday we saw 20 on the Xantia external thermometer.

P's SW has been back on and is now concerned. Having done a few things like read the file, she is of course another ship in the night, sounds keen though, young and very new. But as we picked up, the concern is not moving P from one place to another, any negatives this might have in him and his education and social relationships no, the worry is the plan, there was no plan for this.

S'funny going back to mum was always the plan as we got it, but no it's subtler than that it seems the route of the problem is that this is mum's plan and not a SW plan.

I might have wondered if best practice suggested that P's best needs were the worry but no it seems that if they were to be closing the door that's OK but mum making her own arrangements is going to be an issue.

Again it is Social Work systems that seem to count not quality Social Work nor it seems, what is best for children.

It is OK to close the door but it's who closes it and whether they planned to close it that counts.

I might of course be completely wrong here but this is how it feels from where I am watching.

Of course other matters intrude also. Tallie has been playing rugby and his particular style of tackling saw us on our way back to casualty last night.

Mayhem on the NHS, something fairly drastic must have been going down as the Cas department was in chaos: ambulances running in lots, of bussle and a crowded waiting area.

Broken nose this time we think. But back into hospital this morning for more tests.


Monday, 16 March 2009

When a door closes someone might have slammed it in your face....

It has been quite hard the last few days.

There was a plan that P's mum would, for his benefit, move down here so that his education could continue without disturbance.

That of course was dependent on help from SS so of course that never happened.

Well it was all set to happen then Daycastle discovered that if they shipped mum down here they could not wash their hands of P and leave him for our local authority to pick up the tab.

P has now been placed in a situation where he will lose 5 years of social links in an instant. The sort of thing best practice says should not happen.

This is a very complex case and can't be treated as something that simple.

He was very quiet coming back this weekend and we think a compromise needs to happen for him where he goes to his mum for a few weeks then comes back here for part of the Summer including a week in France we think.

Then at the end of the summer away he goes - he's on his own.

We will stay in touch but our ability to help will be limited.

Today though has been like a bloody roller coaster - this might be a long blog, could be time to send out for coffee.

The morning opened with the phone, time to get a grip on the social worker problem.

Phoning at 9.05 she was "not available" that's SW speak for "hasn't arrived yet".

Off we set on Tesc bent, but I left a message expressing surprise that having been told that we are often not around at 3.30 to 4.30 she had chosen those times to phone trying to arrange a meeting on a day of the week that was even more surprising as she would have known we are not available that day.

This in turn produced the answerphone message cryptic about not understanding the message left for her.

Which in turn was dealt with, when management called her back, by expressions of sorry she had "forgotten". S'funny that, she made an agreement that she would treat us respectfully, yes easily forgotten.

Sorry to all the social workers reading this if this makes some social workers sound more problem than solution, unfortunately that's how it feels and far too often too.

Though she was not the only amnesiac social worker. P's SW called today to arrange a statutory review, she, it seems didn't know that mum had a flat, had no inkling that he was to return to mum on the ** of )()* 2009. This was puzzling when on a named day last week she had met with mum who told her.....

Oh yes she remembered now.

Amnesia is dreadful complaint aye...

But today has not been all bad.

While we enjoy these lovely benefits of life - other things happen.

My middle daughter Bruce, the genetically modified hoover, was called in for interview at the local collage.

They offer a photography A level that school don't so of course she has gone there.

She blew their interviews apart today.

They are not used to students who score 100 percent on their tests.

Of course they had not yet met Bruce...

Who flew it

Then the tutor noted that her application for A level photography had been passed by the tutor with no art GCSE or even grade specified.

This was very unusual most students send in a portfolio and the tutor sets them a grade, Bruce sent one in and the tutor said "you are in" - Bruce was pleased.

The tutor had seen the photos, recognised potential and added her - is that OK?

But of course the tin hat had not yet arrived

The university

Has offered me some serious work.

So whilst the service I work for treats me as an idiot the university seems to think I am slightly clever.

I just wonder who is being truthful.

I want to be really positive about this.

But when so many people get so forgetful it can be difficult.


Being human

What a lovely morning

I bounced out of bed at 5 am head clear, morning clear, fresh ready and radiant.

5 am is of course too early so I went back to bed and sleep.

7 am What sort of time is this?

Someone has removed all my energy and filled my head with sawdust.



Sunday, 15 March 2009

It has been a long hard day with rather a lot of things going on.

Spring might have sprung - children have been children again.

Running wild.

My mate says we have free range children here, room room and more room.

So with the weather set on OK they were outside.

So of course have we, so she has "sorted out the seed potatoes" whatever that means.

Noted the rhubarb has taken in the raised beds.

Really great to see the garlic has also. Brought some back from France and simply stuck it in the ground and it has made that ground it's own.

There is a little part of Wales that is forever Brittany...

Young P came home, a quiet and subdued version of P. I think maybe an interesting few weeks are in store.

But this evening we were off out for an hour of peace.

So we ambled down to a local that has live music, took in an interesting few numbers then went back to make sure Bethan had not murdered too many children.

Management drove us home home.

Now people in many places have driven Citroens.

Their suspension system must have been beyond mind blowing when it first came out.

It is still like cruising along a road on a magic carpet somehow immuned from the lumps and bumps that bother lesser mortals.

Of course sometimes management drives...

Now I know this is becoming a theme.

I think she has a mission.

Every car should be a Reliant with only three wheels on the floor at any time.

Except for those Dukes of Hazard moments when they have none at all....

I have discovered; I really, really want to live.

I am nearly becoming religious.

But I love her really.

Unless she says we are chopping more wood tomorrow.


Oh dear need to sort out a tidyup and a bit of a fire.
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It is the most lovely spring day.

So naturally this afternoon I will be cutting firewood.

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Let the gardening commence.


Having set out her patch on the ground management has descended on the field complete with agent orange.

Her lovely new sprayer has been in action and she has started to clear the ground for her veggies.

Now, words like "pump" and "spray" would normally have me saying things like "diffusion head" and "sigmund pump".

However, a quick read of the bottle has caused me to say alternative phrases like "not in my fire engine"

As these things go the stuff does not seem that toxic to humans but I am not sticking it in Gloria, just in case.

Anyway, I spent a deal of money on her birthday present.....

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Saturday, 14 March 2009

The panther was pink

So off we went this afternoon to see the Pink Panther 2.

We have had quite a good day in terms of things done lots of clear garden, plenty of brambles to burn tomorrow.

The only shame being the wind which prevented management trying her new sprayer. Hopefully, tomorrow will be quieter.

Early evening and off we went for the cinema. Soo whats the verdict, trouble is the Pink Panther will allways be shot in the shadow of Sellars ghost. He was a towering genius and a anyone taking the part will run straight into comparisons between Blake Edwards originals and Sellers legendary improvisations.

It has to be said though it is a stunningly funny film. It is not better or worse just different.

I liked it and would happily go again.

I won't spoil the plot but it was as good as a remake could get.


Friday, 13 March 2009

All change......

Change can be a difficult thing, or it can be an exciting opportunity.

We were tearing our hair out a year ago, thinking we should really move because the place is about to become too big, and so on.

It's funny how life can be a series of what appear unconnected positives neagatives and changes.

As the regulars will know we have had a bit of a time of it managing the changes or not as it may be.

But through this all we knew that change was coming.

Our ability to move was limited.

Here I will digress a little and talk about fostering regulations.

You see because we have 3 children placed with us, we need a 4 bedroom house to move into.

That is - 3 bedrooms so each looked after child can have their own and another bed room that means our family, all five of us do not share bedrooms with them.

OK so maybe I am over egging that a bit - but not by much.

Well today, OK a bit before we expected it we had a bit of a bombshell.

Young P's mum has got herself a proper flat where she can have him home.

This is pretty damn good overall.

He can go home to his mum.

She is now well enough to meet his needs.

It has been a long few years but by working together I think we all got there, us, his mum, and whatever social worker was passing through at the time.

We went head to head with them over their desire to see him adopted.

I am pretty sure that would have tipped her over the edge and he would have been heartbroken.

Trauma created, but boxes ticked.

But our decision not to sell was a good one.

It will be a tough year.

Make no mistake.

Losing P will hit my kids hard, to them he is not a "placement" "service user" or "client" he is "family".

I suspect to him he is that also.

Poor little bugger, how dare he be what he is, not what the authorities want him to be.

But of course we have social services who will allways "have the child at the centre of everything they do".

That's OK then.

They will make sure he is still in touch, make it their mission to enable continued contact with the new brothers and sister they gave him.

You would not send your child away from it's brothers and sisters and say "thats that mate off you go" not if you are a good parent.

Because of course YOU are not an abuser.

Oh dear.

Suddenly, I don't have a good feeling about this

This time next year though we will need a far smaller house.

So we can move.

Ohh hang on was there a child in there somewhere.

It's OK SS will have him at the centre of what they do.

Lord Laming said they must do that.

He said that a few years back too.

They listened then too....


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Festive days.

Today we awoke in a festive mood. Th management god bless her has added yet another year of bliss to her already blissful life.

Her little cup runneth over well if would have had she not been careful with the coffee delivered to her in bed this morning.

She did eventually get out of bed and off we went for a festive day out.

Management loves the garden and so that's the direction we took. The Welsh Botanical Gardens near Carmarthen. A recomended day out for anyone in the area. Lovely it was too, though of course the rain was a bit of a dampener. I would imagine the flower beds are pretty good too shame that in March they are a sea of mud with the odd sprouty bit.

Daffs are starting to appear and they made a sea of yellow dancing in the breeze.

From there the romantic day continued with a lovely pub lunch, had to think of something to do for the hour that the scrap merchant was closed for his.

You see it turns out the fault with the cheap 806 was somewhere inside the fuel pump and it's attendant electronics.

Easiest thing; remove all the electronics and find a car from the previous model year replace everything with mechanical pumps and old type injectors.

End result - very cheap car.

For those who have started to doubt my romantic streak, I didn't vannish into the scrap merchant with spanners for an hour. No, I went and spoke to the man, explained my predicament and, he was so smitten that he offered to help and remove it himself so I could spend more time with herself. Well it was either that or the money I pushed into his hand that changed his mind.

All was peace and light and children from then on, children collected and back over to collect the 806 from the garage so it can be home for the weekend.

Unknown to me my mate the grease had been called out but the car was there and ready to take away as he said.

Also unknown was that he had in his interrupted haste left a spanner quite litterally in the works.

So when I hit start all hell broke lose.

I thought he had installed the seismic engine running indicator.

The car was shaking itself to pieces, surrounding buildings were starting to sway.

Revving the engine made me think that the ground might crack and swallow passing buses.

It was an interesting reminder that diesel engines are not much smoother than they used to be, it's just the clever engineers with their rubber blocks and bits of felt that have changed that.

But enough of that.

This weekend the "Pink Panther II" hits west wales and we are going to be there.

I am logging off to go and buy tickets.

For the back row.....


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

ticking the boxes and oppresive practice.

Now I have noted a few things about how things are very often measure driven and not based on any quality.

And here we have a paramount example.

It has come to pass that number one son has missed a bit of school. All for reasons agreed with school in advance, sanctioned appropriately and so on.

So I was a bit puzzled yesterday to get a letter from the school attendance lady saying that Tallie had been absent from school rather a lot.

Now, this was news to me so I duly got myself into school to find out what was going on, of course it was blank faces all round, no one knew anything. So this was one the "pupil support officer" had come up with all by herself.

Now it seems that she has decided that when attendance drops to 80% she automatically sends out a letter. This is not about quality intervention, nor is it about effective measures, it is no reflection of best practice nope it's about having a box and putting a great big tick in it.

Now, management is a big believer in prompt reply to correspondence and she is working on something which will definitely be a tick in her "sent a reply" box.

It will defiantly represent best practice, it will doubtless be an effective measure and it will ooze quality from every carefully crafted word....

But of course there is more, for some time now management has been off doing forestry management on a Wednesday. Since that became apparent the children's SW's have always made arrangements for meetings on other days of the week. It's difficult for them but they do it.

The fostering service though are different, You see their link worker LIKES to do her work on a Wednesday, and of course because she PREFERS to work a Wednesday and CHOOSES to work a Wednesday. Then management has to miss her work because of course the social worker is more important and we have to do as we are bid and fit in around her.

Now it turns out there is no real reason why this should be so something we quickly determined when we queried the constancy of Wednesday meetings.

But of course there is more, you see she also likes to get her phone calls done at the end of the afternoon. Between about 3.30 and 4.30 to be precise, anyone with children in school will be out. Of course should she catch us in she will catch us at a time we are generally in a rush or when we cannot really talk because there are lots of little ears earwigging.

All these are matters we have raised before and had agreement from SW management that there will be no further Wednesday meetings and phone calls will be at times we are likely to be free.

So anyway, today being Wednesday and management not being supposed to be here at exactly 3.45 the phone rang and it was....

But there was more, she wanted to arrange a visit for 11 AM next errr Wednesday.

She knew management should not have been here today and that we would be busy if she called at 3 45 and that next Wednesday management would only be here if she canceled her day at work in the forestry.

Personally I have been here before, with a manager that completely rescheduled everything so that things I had prearranged would fall on days I was tasked to do something with work.

It's called low level harassment or in current social work speak; oppressive practice.

So we are drafting up a little letter for her as well and yes it will represent best practice, though probably not be effective and there will be quality in every carefully crafted and selected word....

Sunday, 8 March 2009


Occasionally something makes you wonder what it says about you.

Yesterday I was running through the books in Tesco when I came across a book which was a guide to the rough pubs of the UK. The country had been scoured and all the pubs sifted out to make a top 50.

All fine and dandy, but the pub in which you are most likely to find me holding up the bar is listed at number 2 and gets 4 pages all to itself.

Then I looked some more and realised another pub that I can be seen in occasionally was in there too.

Then I noticed that one of the pubs I used to be seen in before I moved here was in there as well.

So that's 3 of the roughest pubs in Britain have had me as a regular customer at some stage.

But there's more, a lot of that is because you would be drawing up the list today and some of the pubs I knew have been gentrified or even closed.

Drawing a national list, back then you would have had to include at least another three of my regular haunts, except now, you would not. Because if you had walked in there and started taking photos like they did for this book, it's pretty unlikely you would have left with your camera or on your feet or through the door, well unless it was Monday and the glazier had not been round yet....

Included though was one of my old haunts which looked refreshingly un messed about with.

This was the site of the great village folk festival which was a bit limited in scope as the place had just the one pub.

I should point out that this was the early days of folk before the scene was overpopulated by strange hairy people who had superglued their finger into their ear whilst wandering round with a pewter tankard so they could drink dissolved lead.

But anyway, this festival was a friendly mix of bikers, a bunch from the local RAF camp and half a local TA unit each of which had arrived smelling the whif of bar that might be open a good while and a bit of fun to be had.

As part of the festivities it had been decided to revive the game of Bando. Traditionally this had been played on a local beach when the tide was out. That being the length of the game, till high tide.

The villages at either ends were the combatants, no I mean players and the game was basically about getting a ball, though I also heard it might have been a barrel of beer from one end of the beach to the other as many times as possible. The winning village being the one who succeeded in getting the ball to the right end of the beach the most often.

It was a heady mix of rugby, football, hockey (every player carried a suitably sized stick) with some of the less restrained aspects of murder ball.

This was pretty dangerous stuff so they dealt with health and safety considerations by not having any.

We used the pubs rather large garden. A "try" was deemed to have been scored if the ball touched the right end of the field.

For the sake of sanity it had been decided that if the ball went outside the pub boundaries it was out of play and spectators were required to toss the ball back in.

Inside the pub was also declared out of bounds, a matter dealt with by locking the front door.

The teams were "Wales" and "the rest". This produced a roughly equal divide of the 100 or so who decided they wanted to take part.

There was an unfortunate air of sexism, women were not allowed to play, funnily enough most of them showed no regret, saying something about them not being stupid enough to want to.

It was tremendous fun though, in a way that those brought up in a "lawyers are us" culture of blame and litigation might not get.

Just like today there was a solicitor there, but he was offering a service based on writing wills and they were being written on beer mats.

The game got off to an auspicious start, the ball went straight into the gents. In these days urinals were a wall you went against. So when the ball landed inside, a veritable army poured in after it. Meaning the poor chap in there was smashed into the wall and came out with a great wet streak up his front.

This was the time when Americans often touristed, and one was indeed there. Of course he had decided that the concept of the ball in the bog was outstanding so he placed himself in the best place to catch it as it came out.

This was not one of his better decisions as the ball indeed landed where he wanted it.

And 80 or so blokes smashed into the spot, much to the detriment of, well everything really.

His camera kit got reduced to it's basic components and he didn't do too well either.

I think he went off in the first ambulance.

The game was not limited by tides but the need every 10 minutes or so to reopen the bar so the spectators could buy beer.

It seemed a good idea also to get the most seriously injured off the field.

This was what ended the game.

The Police were already there.

The local bobby had been told that all he had to do to end the game was walk on and take the ball.

He was so selfless that he didn't want to keep it to himself
he decided to share it with the riot squad.

He added some concerns about whether they could do this deed as this was not people trying to rip each others heads off but hell bent on having a laugh.

The game finished when the ambulance control said they could not keep up and asked that we either stopped or gave up on 999.

The daft thing was that we were all pretty injured.

OK a lot injured

But it was fun.

Even the ones on stretchers were smiling.

Well except the guy who bubbled and dribbled a lot but he looked happy


Timing is all

So yesterday full of comfort management returned and decided that we really needed something exciting to do.

So we went for a tesc.

Right up there as a cultural experience with watching paint dry.

Of course we ae both so much more relaxed now we don't have a house move hanging over us like a sword of damocles.

Then I saw it, front page of the national newspaper of wales, "end of housing recession in sight" it screamed.

Estate agents report 45 percent growth in sales proclaimed the paper.

Yes thats the effect us pulling the house has on the market, everything starts to sell.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

D motivated

Now today management went off on her sweet own to visit her mum.

Well OK on her own means trailing several children.

Me, well I came over all executive and decisive and went back to bed with the laptop till the battery went flat.

Since then I have achieved precisely one boiling of the kettle for coffee and one making of a bacon sandwich.

Also one feeding of the lions, which does not really count as a horde of unfed cats is one of few things worse that a horde of children.

I am willing myself into getting up and doing things; so far I have been a total failure. But I think the cold might get me somewhere over near the fire with paper and matches in a minute.

Or I might go back to bed.


Friday, 6 March 2009

All action auction.....

So yet again the auction came around and management was off on manoeuvres. Well actually I was dragged along as well in a vain hope of keeping things somewhat under control.

Fortunately there was a decided shortage of items for sale and even better there was a real absence of people both ordinary punters and dealers. The place really was empty.

Things should have gone for buttons. It would not be right to say that was true, prices were like house prices, all over the shop. Some things have held up really well and other things notably furniture was being given away. In perhaps the clearest evidence of all of a downturn, some dealers had put stuff into the auction, clearly intent on shifting stock that was just not selling.

Management set her heart on some rather nice dining chairs, in this calm market they would not go for a lot and matching chairs would be great to have in the dining room instead of the current hotch potch. So up they came and the first bid was double what she had intended as her max.

No new chairs any time soon then!!!

She seemed a bit down, she has come to the conclusion she has very expensive tastes, this is very puzzling, I think she must be a slow learner as I had worked that out a long time ago. I didn't actually say that, I am famed for my diplomacy (or was that survival instinct?) and I thought it best to say nothing.

But all in all not a bad day, it's her birthday next week and remembering how much devotion she gave to getting me a Xmas corkscrew I did not hesitate: I got her a Spong meat mincer, a proper metal one not the modern plastic toys and it was a whole pound too.

Her little eyes misted over, she was getting all emotional again. She says she cannot wait to try out the mincer, and she knows exactly what she wants to do.

Something about how she said that made me just a little uncomfortable but I am sure the feeling will pass....


Thursday, 5 March 2009


I don't know how long ago it was but some time ago we decided to move.

So we had a huge sort out of the house - stress.

We got the place ready so that people could come and look at it - with 7 kids? STRESS.

We took to sitting next to the phone waiting for the call that said in a few hours some stranger would come and wander round your house - STRESS.

We took lots of strangers round out house - STRESS.

99% of them were a COMPLETE waste of time - STRESS.

0.5% of them wanted the house but didn't have a pot to peace in - STRESS.

Mind you, there was the one who foolishly opened the cupboard under the stairs into which we had jammed everything and then as a family activity scrummed the door shut.

The explosion was quite amusing - but only in a "sale off" kind of way.

Meanwhiles we went all over the high school catchment area looking at houses - STRESS.

In the midst of all this we balanced bids coming in from people who had some daft idea of how much house prices had fallen whilst trying to bid with people who thought it was still 2007. STRESS ON STRESS ON STRESS.

Now, the mistress of all we owe money on has been getting a bit, well errr how shall I put this? Ohh, I know "STRESSSED".

You have come to know me so you will know I sailed through this all on a cloud of calm.

Well maybe I am not being entirely truthful.

Today reeling from the soulless house viewing yesterday ("if you don't bid my phone number on this you can't have it" - tries not to laugh). We went to another house which might do but, oh dear here we go the price was set in 2007 when the house went on the market and the owner might come down 50 p.....

We were on our way to another viewing when the spluttering 806 clutch cable jammed and we had a zero clutch situation meaning I was doing clutchless gear changes.

Oh yes this really was my idea of fun.

Believe me I sat there in gales of hysterical laughter - well OK maybe I didn't

Only one thing to do.

I picked up the mobile, phoned the inastate agent and pulled the house off the market.

Management was visibly relieved.

We went home and I did what any decent man would:

I went to bed and went to sleep.

God that was good.

She went to a viewing, no not a house but a general auction which is on tomorrow, I think she has a cheque book.

Did I mention stress, oh yes I think I might have.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Playing the property market.

Fresh from our weekend we have exploded on to the world renewed refreshed and ready for action.

OK so I lied.

The troubles with the 806 are bizarre, the engine management and the fueling system are in disagreement over the timing of the engine.

Prime candidate has to be the cam belt which might have stretched ever so slightly, just enough to make the engine management think something is wrong.

Having been done some 10K ago this all sounds feasible.

Other than that it will be a fault inside the pump itself, something requiring rather more in the way of open wallet surgery. But the exact nature of the fault will determine whether I bought a cheap car or a very cheap car.

The property game continues, nothing from the inastate agent today but a quick look at the various lists and consider whats out there. Now being the time that a lot of new stuff will come to the market.

Nothing really pushes my buttons just now but, we have a few to look at and a few possibilities to consider.

Thinking outside the box is going on, at the moment there is not a lot of demand for development land and there is a big plot with a fantastic shed just up the road from here. That in turn changes what we need by way of a house.

We are also trying to second guess social services, for a while it has been clear that they want to get all the children back into town so they can tick another box. The trick is to work out whether this will be lots sooner or somewhat later.

No point just asking, you will never be told. Crystal balls must be deployed....

She who does not do waiting is upstairs as I write this scouring the web either that or she is playing solitaire...

The rain is pouring down which never helps. Rain gets you down and destroys motivation to be outside.

Should be doing all sorts and we are sat here instead.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Weekends of wildness.

Every so often the management and I get to spend some quality time together. This has got progressively easier as the children get older. Left to their own devices, there is less of a chance the kids will have burnt the house down, though they are approaching an age where parental absences might be marked by wild parties...

Soo Friday we went off on a jolly, now of course I had to increase the level of stress and excitement. Saving a bit of time I shot over to the high school to pick up the oldies. Now, I had noted a day or so previously there was not a lot of derv in the truck but when I got half way there i realised quite how little. So anyway with the truck running on it's reserves of reserve I got to the school.

Naturally I had prepared for the off by putting my jacket in the Xantia. Of course good preparation meant putting the passports in my jacket, and of course the plastic, and of course the cash.

So here I was miles from anywhere about to run out of fuel with no means of paying for more.

Fortunately Taliesin was in funds and able to fund a fiver of diesel till we got home.

With the start less auspicious we went on our merry way.

We are about 250 miles from Plymouth, needed to drop two children off en route and of course Wales were playing France. Kick off was 8 PM

The Xantia is nothing if not a lively little motorway toy, I am not providing evidence but we left the house here at 4.16 and I saw the end of the first half in the bar....

From there of course it was onwards and - errrh onwards.

This was our first run out on the new ferry Armorique.

The rugby was a disaster area.

Wales were so Welsh, started as the favourites and so tossed the game away

This is the new BF top ship and it's lovely. Lots of open areas but no restaurant which is what makes the trip so nice. The cabins are lots bigger and nicer which is why me and her slept on the floor.

Just like we used to do when we only ever slept in recliners.

Big plus though, no disco and no third rate covers band.

The lack of restaurant is a bit of a pain we quite like our sedentary relaxed meals on the ferry with a decent bottle of rouge to wash it down...

But anyway next morning b right and early away we went in brilliant sunshine and temperatures well into the teens to check the house. Just as well. The recent winds had blown an upstairs window open and we were lucky there had not been substantial rain or wind.

On to the favourite restaurant in town for a tough 4 course lunch before a leisurely trip back to Morlaix and even more shopping.

Of course it has been some time since we went to Brittany and, well frankly stocks of most things were low. This in turn resulted in IVECO level shopping with Xantia capacity. Somewhere along the line the need to leave room for two charges slipped off the radar and we arrived back in Plymouth in a car which could well be described as full.

Thankfully we did manage to create room and didn't have to abandon any children or go back for them.

All in all a positive weekend, and totally unlike ones we tend to have, one free of drama disaster and catastrophe.

This is worrying, very worrying.