Monday, 31 August 2009


Celebrations of the academic kind have been had.

Last week, yes catch up being the name of the game, GCSE results were resulted.

Branwen produced a modest result, 7 A's 2 B's and 2 A*'s reasonably damn good. OK pretty much a proud dad moment.

Taliesin did not sound so good, 3 GCSE's at grades CDE enough to get him into college. Thing is, he has real dificulties with written stuff, he could do the maths but he could not understand the questions. Every mark a struggle every grade a fight.

Imagine that, giving it the best you have and not getting even average marks, now carry on doing that year on year. How would you feel? Might you give up?

He is this summers big success.

Now, lets not do Branwen or Bethan down here but this summer, before he finished his GCSE he got a trial with a local stone mason. A chap with a reputation for taking people on and then blowing them out a week later.

Tallie has been his side kick since June, ever day the weather is right he has been out there.

Most of his mates who did well at school have struggled, he has had work all summer and has work lined up for all his days off this winter. He is very bright but he just can't write it...

His mates are all struggling to find work but he is rolling in the folding stuff.

It has been a delight to see.

And he has changed out of all recognition, a different young man.

Confident, happy, a delight to be with.

Well no, the engine is out of his range rover and my old land rover is in bits to provide a new one. The weather is no obstacle he has worked on through biblical inundations to change bits of engine.

Inside the house mass changes are afoot too, but they can wait for tomorrow.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Towards a holiday history

I started full of good intentions saying I would get the holiday recorded and written about - never did, still have the photos tom pull out too.

I did manage to get this far though.....

We’re all going on a summer….

Another August breaks and again the crew and I pointed our noses at the ferry. Two cars one trailer and a congested motorway. The trip out was seriously uneventful, by our standards anyway.

Management found herself in work mode on the ferry. An adoptive parent, who took on a child then discovered he had long standing severe mental health problems. This completely overwhelmed her family and social services did a passable impression of Pontius Pilate.

Currently the service were telling her that having agreed to adopt him, they would look after him till he is 18 then he would be her problem…

Ahh the delights of work.

I am coming to like the new ferry Armorique, despite this being high summer the ship felt uncluttered and roomy.

Naturally I assumed this was due to the ships size, turns out that this is the year that no one booked to go. Talk in the French press not of the bloody Brits being a pain but of the Brits and their cash staying home..

The place instead filled with people from the med bent on escaping the blast furnace weather, as they say a door closes and another opens.

It has been a piece of typical Brit folly, yes the euro has risen sharply and yes prices have risen too. But the net effect is to make the absurdly cheap just cheap.

Unlike previous years our ferry costs will not be covered by the drop in our cost of living but that is mainly down to us spending 9 days here instead of 30!

Of course it would not be us without a trip to mayhem, and off the ferry we went and took our separate ways. Management headed off and we spent half an hour not finding her.

Down to the house and the modern world intruded, the house had been turned over. Pretty recently by the look of it too.

Proper opportunistic thieves, grabbed some silly random items more annoying than anything else. Bring forward a few plans already in the pipeline; New windows for the upstairs and knock a hole in the wall to make a doorway. A trip up to the pub of course being the tool to get a few recommendations the promise of a devis.

Children have been amused by lovely weather and trips out. A balmy day at le roche du diable.

Naturally everything has not gone like an operation planned with military precision.

Every day bright and early the management and I head off for the intermarche on our own and every day we trawled the special offers to see what’s cheap. Normally of course all went smoothly, not this day. Management managed to walk off with the wrong trolley and started loading someone else’s I was sure this wasn’t our trolley, the wine and cider had mysteriously vanished for one thing. But of course I have learnt to pursue the line diplomatic and let her have her way.

Some few minutes later I became aware of a bit of a commotion an aisle away. I had of course wandered back to get wine and cider…

Meanwhile one of the locals had returned to her trolley and found that some oik had replaced it with another. The principal source of grief being madam realizing that; whilst her original trolley had a euro piece this new one had one of the plastic blanks you can also get from many supermarkets. Someone had made off with her euro and (looking at the armful of wine I was carrying) was planning on squandering it on high living!

Naturally I plunged in at this point to try and defuse matters but of course finding out that I was Anglais, or so she thought, was enough to transform a major crime into a serious international incident. Madam had not forgotten Agincourt and was out for revenge.

Actually of course she wasn’t too far out as it was welsh longbowmen who cut the guts out of the French nobility at that famous English victory.

But anyway, just as things were getting complicated and the arm waving at it’ very worst, round the corner came the management. Calmly, she walked up the aisle past the carnage she had created. and walked on, affecting not to know me at all!

Revenge as they say can be a bit sweet and a bit of time biding delivered unto me my time.

Back to the house and young D who had been quite poorly overnight had fortunately made a complete recovery. This was in no way linked to him being told he could stay home in bed if he was ill of course!

Out we went in our little convoy of cars. D, it turned out had not recovered and, as we were driving through town, on a junction turning left, he announced he was about to be sick.

Thinking how that might smell after few hours in a hot car I told him to get his head out the Window and not a moment too soon. Little D exploded everywhere.

Now, nicking a little old ladies euro in the intermarche is one thing. But a child having a Moby Dick into the very posh Peugeot cabriolet that happened to be passing at the time is in a totally different league of transgression.

Management told me all about it later; the chap had decided to pull over and explain all to her; in some detail too. Me, I had seen that my car was in a dangerous position on a junction and pulled away, effecting not to have noticed events in the back of the car. I did stop but only when it was safe and my, that was a long way up the road…

This turned out to be a grim portent. One by one people started going down with the dread bug. Not before we found had a Barbie in a mates house, the trip back an eventful little chance to cope with management behind the wheel and children frightfully keen to get home and to the toilet.

Of course 9 people and one toilet is not good maths. .

Bethan and Gwion being the worst affected. Gwion effecting a precision long range vomiting style (usually out the back kitchen window) while Bethan adopted more of Blunderbuss scatergun approach.

Congestion and competition caused significant hold ups and near crisis hammering on the bathroom door. This approached a Billy Connolyesque scenario.

Open the door, screamed Bethan

Can’t called Gwion

Going to kick it down she screamed.

A moment of comedy in a sea of errr sick.....

Things though come to an end and about 18 hours later things had calmed.

Time to resume normalish life.

The kids have, over the years develped a deep love for the camp site Ty Nadan, not really that far from the house. It has been the scene of some of their happiest childhood times and a visit for what is probably their last childhood holiday had to be organised. The huge pool complex is a mad attraction, one beloved of them all, the lack of crowds this year made it all the nicer. A chill out time for everyone where adults can relax away from the need to do housework or keep the angels time managed.

Then time seemed to run in on itself and all too soon it was a night in Santec and a ferry home.

Of course it was going to feel short, normally we spend a whole month in France but this year it was just 10 days. Now we are home and as I sit here the "holiday" has virtually slipped by and their childhood with it.


Friday, 28 August 2009

times updated.

It has been a week or three

The summer has filled my time but I did get a few words down.

P finally went home today.

I should feel good about that but I am just a bit worried.

Life is changing, feels a smaller household already.

His bed is empty, fostering are clear it's going to stay that way.

I have a proper post, and photos too.

That will follow when time is actually there.


Friday, 7 August 2009

the life of quiet....

oh for a life that's quiet.

this week, wedneday dawned vaguely ok and down I sat, no sign of the water guys.

picked up the phone and they pleaded insanity, knew nothing about any water tank going in.

Hmmm this could get interesting in a no water sort of way.

So anyway they did agree to drop everything and come the next day - good on them.

So on went the show.

And of course our annual review, that deserves a chapter on it's own.

maybe later.

then yesterday, incredibly bright and far to early off across the fields tank fitting and pipe laying, then at last pump on water flowing.

today it's into off to france mode.

stuff everywhere and the realisation that an 806 and xantia combined are not a long high Iveco.

management had of course to collect young P and see her mum leaving me in charge.

Brannie and Tallie in work and children who left to their own sit down and await the servants, joy was complete.

Ideal time to notice the truck needs new boots and an 806 has a very weird tyre size. Eventually had a choice, either fit economy tyres fit for a wheelbarrow. Or tyres intended for some kind of sports car capable of speeds that an 806 might reach if you threw it out of the back of a plane at 30,000 feet.

Tomorrow is of course another day - phew, probably even more to do.



Monday, 3 August 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time.....

Every so often things have a habit of getting out of hand here at Penole.

For some little while now I have been planning a bit of a blitz on the water system.

Out here we don't take water from granted, our supply is two fold, a spring on top of the mountain and a bore hole outside the house. Not for us the limitless mains. If the one dries up or the other packs up the taps don't work.

The old concrete tank at the top of the mountain is just a bit past new, the pipe leading too it also.

So this week the new tank arrives. Of course that just left the minor problem of removing the old tank. Best see how much work was involved then, a quick recce so we knew what would be needed Wednesday.

Off went the dynamic duo, Taliesin and me.

Sensible fellows (?????) that we are we took a few tools, like a green goddess fire engine and a 3 ton digger.

A quick examination revealed this might be a slightly bigger job than first thought. OK beating the tank with a 10 lb sledge didn't so much as make a mark.

Substituting the digger bucket didn't improve matters. Smashing the bucket on top of the tank was getting us no where.

Time to get more scientific then.

Swinging the bucket at full tilt, massive crashing blows managed to displace the top section of tank sideways. Soon I had dragged bashed and battered it to the floor.

I know this was supposed to be a recce but the old red mist had descended and we were on a roll.

Not too long and the next section had joined it. Resolutely refusing to break as it did.

One more section and only the base remained. Fortunately, I had planned (errr right) and we had drawn a good supply of drinking water into tanks in the house.

It might in hindsight have been an idea to warn the management, a certain amount of sediment agitation had taken place and perhaps the odd drip of oil and hydraulic fluid found it's way into the water. This was no time to be running the washing machine if you ask me, but then who ever does that....

Now the more astute might have noticed that today is Monday, and the new tank arrives on errrrrr Wednesday. Could get a bit on the dry side..

Management has of course taken it all in her stride, arriving back from taking the kids swimming to discover we had no water apart of course from the mud oil mixture that had gone through the washing machine.

Lucky I am in her good books, last week I rained her with romantic gifts, a packet of pegs and a really top of the range food processor. Mind you, if this really is her good books I would hate to be in the dog house......


Is there life after rock festival....

Number one daughter being 17 went off on her first proper adventure this weekend. Camping to a rock fest.

Not quite sure what happened but she said she had thoroughly enjoyed herself and came home full of excitement.

Her mother was quiet most of the weekend but Bethan got through the mud wet and wind OK.

Not entirely sure how much sleep she got but come 6pm last night she retired to bed, she has just emerged from her pit at 11 am.

Must have been a good weekend....

Oh to be young again...