Friday, 31 July 2009

calling all crims.....

Soo it' Friday night and you a good little crim are stuck for ideas about where to go and open a few shops, relieve the odd warehouse of it's stock, clear a car lot.

Let me give you a hot tip.

Get yourself down to the Dyfed Powys force area.

There can't be an officer on the beat anywhere, they are all like honey bees round the Blues Rock Festival.

The place is crawling with them.

I was supposed to be there, Gloria too that would have been a giggle< driving through all their roadblocks

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Holiday fatigue.....

Ha - I thought it was easy....

Clean forgot that Bethan needs management so into town so she could miss the bus.

Drive her to maintown then hang round for an hour till it was time to drop P off for the train.

Filled that time with Booker and aldi then home just in time to collect Tallie and of course as I did that management got the call to go and collect Bethan from town. That just about meant we had time to shove tea down before it was time for Branwen to head off for work and to take the other kids to cinema....


Holiday? Give me a day at work any time.....


we're all going on a summer - what?????

It has been a recurrent theme over the years, the notion that a foster carer has holidays.

It' a measure of their failure to understand let alone have a spec of empathy that some social worker is guaranteed to ask me how I am enjoying my holidays. This should not be taken to tar everyone with one brush, but it is a question that I know I will need to answer soon.

This morning, bright and early at 6.18 the radio crackled into life, I was in deep slumber listening to a voice informing me that BT needs radical restructuring. Surreal, managed to gulp a coffee and get tallie to work.

Back home and management had very sensibly stayed in bed.

Just delivered breakfast in bed and now grab a minute to write this.

The kids considerately, left me the washing up to do, the milk to put away and breakfast to clear, there are after all computers to be played on.

Soon I think I might escape and spend half an hour playing fire engines, washing up can wait.

Later of course Branwen goes to work, she will finish by 11pm.

Oh joy, Can't wait.

Holiday - BAH!!!!


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cats are great

Now don't get me wrong, I like da man da cat.

He needs to learn that having 3 legs he should know his place in the world, and that's not half way up a tree.

He might not live much longer though unless he also learns that it's not funny to attack my feet at 4 am.

I know he thinks it's fun but.....


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

crunched credit

A result of this here credit thingy is a huge economy drive on all fronts.

Camp sites locally are fair bursting as people try to cut back on their holiday costs and the streets of a local town were jammed with groccles and their happy brawling children last night.

Put the brake on managements and my plan to slip away for a couple of hours peace.

The weather takes grim revenge on those determined to have a fun time here in westest wales.

Our plans lurch on, next month we brave the channel to Brittany; even with sterling worth less than andrex it's still cheaper to be in the land of cheap food and of course wine.

Could be our last trip for a while, belts must tighten.

with P going and the ogre leaving the cottage it might be a bit tight for a little while, or till we sort the cottage out anyway.


Friday, 24 July 2009

samba van.....

Last weekend went off rather well, the trip down a bit lively something that checking the air in the van tyres did nothing to calm.

The kids have decided our caravan is called Samba, because it did the samba all the way from by here to by there...

Festival itself was a bit of an unusual one in that the mad panics and rushes simply did not happen and I spent rather a lot of time listening to bands.

Of course about tea time my nose was running and by midnight I was in bed, unlike the kids.

But home we came and the dancing (with me by now feeling slightly off colour) got even more lively. Tallie didn't recognize the name Samba, said that all the way there and back I had glanced in the mirror occasionally and said ********** so he assumed it was called *******.

I can't really get my head round this caravan thing. I have towed some serious trailers in my time and none of them act up like this pesky little van.

Mind you normally I drive a big truck and pulling things in a van that weighs 3 tons tends to damp out a lot of the trailer gyrations, never mind the samba the trailer can do the hokey cokey and you don't feel a thing!

Next weekend it's another fest and I am seriously thinking of taking my big 4 wheel trailer, loading the caravan on that and unloading it when I get there.

But anyway.

Today, the mistress of all we owe money on decreed, was shopping day.

Being a new man, I rushed to assist and helped her round bookers making sure she bought beer and wine.

Being a true new man I thought I would spare her the boredom of going off to the motor cycle shop, selflessly I took Taliesin myself to sort out his CBT. That's the training you now have to do before you can ride anything on the road.

I think he sorted it, I am very keen on encouraging his independence skills, so I went and looked at things like Ducatis and Triumphs so as not to cramp his style.

Even more of a new man, having picked her up at Aldi I dropped her at Tesco and spared her the boring ordeal of going to have the air con on the 806 re gassed. Air conditioning systems have to be filled with coolant gas to work, a looming time in Brittany might be easier in a car with aircon.

So, the prime up started and all was sort of ok, until the refill. Nothing wanted to work no power anywhere.

By this time she had finished at tesco, Tallie might have phoned to remind me.

A few times...

You might recall that the 806 has been radically reconfigured to eliminate electronics.

So of course trying to make the aircon work became complex.

Everything had power but nothing worked.

Lot's of looking bemused and the main man realized there is a relay that stops the aircon working if you deploy the loud pedal.

Switches it off to give you an extra couple of gg's

It does this in close consultation with it's little friend the engine management computer, the one we had surgically removed with a set of wire cutters.

Affronted by such an outrage it was having a sulk.

Removing the relay sorted it.

I hate electronics aye....


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Swine flu strikes...

I have not written anything for a while and that's a shame I have quite a lot to share.

At least some of that has, this last few days, been down to the arrival in my body of the dreaded swine flu. Normally, Flu I treat like an outbreak of Ebola and take to my bed claiming that death is about to take me.

But being objective, for those who might be fearful, it's nothing much to get excited about. yes the throat has been sore, the temperature has been high and the joints have ached.

But compared to the one last winter, this has been nothing.

Of course this has been helped by the fostering service and their interventions.

There I was in bed not very well and the phone called me.

So far so good.

It was my fostering worker and there were very important things to ask:

Ahh must be the details of young P returning to his mum after 7 years, errr no.

No, she needed to know about our preparations for swine flu.


what would happen if we both got swine flu and were unable to work?

Last winter we had both been very unwell and I had no recollection of anyone from fostering phoning and making sure we could cope.

Ah yes that was then and they did not have a form to fill in then, not quite the exact words but it became clear that was the issue.

As it happened I was in bed as she spoke and I thought I had the flu. Did she want to know if I needed help now.

shuffle shuffle she could not see a box for that on her form. Pause.

If I should get the flu, she repeated did I have someone who could go to the shops for me.

The concern, I said, was that if the flu became serious, large sectors of the population might not be in work and there might be shortages. Yes I did have a plan to increase our holdings of food and fuel in case this might occur.

Yes but would someone go to the shops for me if I was ill.

Tranport might be adversly affected but as it happens in a rural environment we would be better off than most.

Yes but could someone go to the shops for me if I was ill.

I was ill now.

Shuffle shuffle, no box for that.

If I became ill......

Anyway, more to the point, would the agency be happy for me to stockpile a weeks supply of paracetamol for each person in the house, that's a lot of paracetamol!

Shuffle shuffle.

If I became ill was there someone to go shoping for me.

Ohhhh for goodness sakes, if it keeps you quiet put yes, the relief was palpable.

Could we offer extra beds if they were needed?

Did they plan to use them then?

shuffle shuffle.....

I think it's an illustration of what needs to improve in social work today.

The form was all, it needed filling, good social work is making sure the box has a great big tick in it.


Sunday, 12 July 2009


So today off to collect the caravan in the plugeot.

Not a bad little van, the door does not quite shut right but nothing a few minor adjustments using green goddess tools could not sort out.

OK so I beat crap out of it with a big hammer.

The interior though is great. There is a cooker, a fridge with a small freezer box, a sink, a heater for those cold nights all: in all for us it's ideal.

If it lasts a year it will be worth every penny.

But there was more to it than that.

Normal caravans have funny legs on them to hold them off the floor in camp sites, they have mechanical screw adjustments to achieve this. Lots of rolling round underneath and generous helpings of swearing to achieve it.

Not this one.

Someone had got very clever and designed a trick hydraulic jacking system, it is something seriously sophisticated. Lots of valves and controls that mean there were legs going up and legs going down all over the shop.

There are 4 valve controls that control legs at the front and legs at the back, Logic says it should be one per leg but not so.

Far too simple, now, think about this, how many on/off combinations can you have with 4 valves. OK one of them seems to be a master for the pump so that's just three.

The thing is a bloody nightmare.

Oh, there is also the jockey wheel, this has a mind of it's own and seems to go up and down at random. Occasionally it simply jams.

Boy do I love it.

But I think we have it sussed now, well at least I think I can get the thing off the back of the car and on it's legs.

That's enough for me.


Saturday, 11 July 2009

life in the fast lane.

There is something nice about Saturdays.

Sometimes there is anyway.

Management has gone off to the Centre for Alternative Technology for the day to learn about herbs or something leaving me in charge with nothing more tedious than a motor show to go to and a lot of children to take to it.

The weather, ahhh yes, that's not looking too good and maybe plans might need to change.

Sitting in a field in the rain might not be a high priority for me...

But yesterday she did one of her raids on the auctions, came home with a painting valued at about 50 quid for a couple of pounds and I bought a caravan for errrhh two hundred.

This time though we dumped a load of rubbish accrued over the last few auctions. Got back most of our stake money and kept the good stuff for ourselves.

I could get quite into auctions, of course I have not actually seen this caravan yet.

Either way though it should be Ok, with 3 festivals chalked in this year caravan is worth having as it gives us a fixed base to work from, a place to run operations, beats cooking in a van every time!!

Our esteemed fotering team have invited themselves for a major visit omthing long and involved, just after the children break up for the summer holidays.

Of course they understand the dynamics of our familly and it's situation......


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

support - yes we all need support

I must admit life has been a bit boring recently and I needed something to brighten me up.

To relieve the jaded monotony of the day, we got to go to a fostering support group.

Now I had better say that of late I have been very smitten and impressed with the professional standards of many of the Social workers I have come across.

Today however it was a meeting with the festering team.

A reminder of all that needs to improve.

Things started without us so we missed a bit of the opening bit about education.

But when the show started to discuss tax then it all got entertaining.

Now for the uninformed; income is a problem for the UK foster carer, no one seems sure whether we work or not.

Our status largly depends on who we ask and on the day of the week.

If you are planning your life and day to day things, then you should really do exactly as you are told like an employee.

If fostering has destroyed your life then you should go away as it's nothing to do with the agency.

But of course this got to comedy, turns out someone had been advised by their fostering worker not to bother registering for self employed income tax and they might be hit with hundred's of pounds of penalties.

This threw things and there was a fair bit of trying to squirm off the hook.

I love to help so suggested that, if they had been advised to break the law by a social worker, really this was something mentioned in the code of practice and it might be something the care council might consider as a fitness to practice issue.

As comments go, in the popularity stakes this was on a par with popping a rattlesnake into the lucky dip.

I was not the flavour of the month.

Things could only get better.

Errrh no,

There was good news - OH GOOD.

The inspectorate had just been through and they had been blown away. Never had they seen an agency so perfect, rarely had they found nothing to improve.

Not the case, I quipped, Harringey had a simply fantastic inspection report that got published about the same time they found that baby P was dead.

True actually.

That went down well thought I.

Or not.

But of course it got better.

Today they launched the childs guide to being in foster care.

On page three (hey page three!!!)

It says:

Some foster carers live alone, others are married.

Thinking this a hilarious print error, I made a joke of it.

I can't be a foster carer, i am neither.

That was Ok though, so the person next to me whose: age, gender, race, orientation and ethnicity are not important said:

I was in a civil partnership.

this was ground breaking - partnership I know about, but is management going to be civil any time soon??

There was of course even more.

we don't have to be PC do we?

Said the worker.

And of course - we don't.

Diversity, and inclusion is an optional extra.

Back we go to the code of practice and the Care Council

This is the sort of thing you sort out in induction training, not with someone who has been in post for many years.

But now we have it, to be a foster carer you need to be; living alone or married.

It's why I don't really fit in.


Monday, 6 July 2009

fruits of the garden....

Things are growing fast and furious here.

Loads and loads of spuds straberries and goseberries.

16 lbs of gooseberries today alone.

Makes up a bit for taking a chimney down.

Not that I actually got up on the roof, some things I don't do!!!!


Saturday, 4 July 2009

Evenings out.

Last night we enjoyed an evening out with visiting foster carers.

A pleasant evening in pleasant company, my beloved chose the restaurant based on her infinitely greater experience of posh local eateries.

with her freshly delivered instructions ringing in my ears (no spitting on the floor, no food fights, or telling any of my jokes) wearing a very uncharacteristic shirt and clean, well Ok less oil soaked, jeans, off we set.

I was very well behaved, did not pass out when I saw the prices didn't query the size of the portions, in fact it was a really good meal, the only pain being parting with rather a lot of money.

Of course that was only the beginning of the evening. It was back to the house and, lacking anything else it was raid the red wine reserve. Rasteau's and Chateau Neufs; wines we keep for the most special occasions and the night passed on.

All too soon it was silly o clock and time at last for bed.

Morning made a not entirely welcome arrival and management seemed to be struggling somewhat. About mid morning there she wasn't - no sign of the lady.

A search revealed a body in bed, saying a vaguely weak - never again.

Serious sleep and she is back in command, orders given and the house back to normal. Thankfully we don't do that once a week.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Alma mater

back to the alma mater today...

old university to those not in the know

of course I was there so long ago it was a Polytechnic.

Things change, in those days getting a car into the car park past the porters was a degree level skill. Today I breezed in.

Mind you I was a valued guest not a nuisance student.

How things change.....

The whole place has had a serious make over, lots of money thrown at it.

I barely recognised some of the buildings, the place I was in used to be a tangle of aging portacabins not a fit for purpose brick building.

it's a very odd experience, going back to somewhere, like visiting an old friend and finding they had several job promotions. Still the same but all looking far healthier and better looked after.

Of course I was there in Thatcher's kill public life days, today it's the reflection of the Blair education agenda.

I don't support Labour, never voted for them and doubt I ever will.

But there is something far worse out there, these people cosying up to Cameron may live to regret it.

That's before we look at the emergent face of fascism. Griffin's uglies defiling my country with his presence.

Today was about recognising the input that users of services have put into training in modern social work. Lots of things have changed and this is one part of it.

But there is danger out there.

Cuts loom.

Baby P and Victoria Climbie died in a context.

Everyone wanted the social workers to have done their jobs properly and quite rightly so.

But, they need to be able to do their jobs, they need to have a realistic workload.

They cannot be firefighting all the time, they need to install smoke alarms too.

They need training so they know why they do what they do.

Trouble is that if the local authority in wales that has just announced a huge budget cut decides to pull the summer freebie festival, there will be uproar.

They can, and probably will butcher services, then when a looked after child torches someones street the public scream.

The social worker carries the can for decisions that were ultimately made in comfy posh offices by people who have lawyers to protect them and do not need to face the outcomes they make.

They just count the beans...