Saturday, 31 October 2009

Thank goodness for that.....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me I am all central heated out.

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


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

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Might as swell sweep the chimney while we can!

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

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Let the travail commence!!!!!

Little old stove ready to come out!

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


So long as I take the kids with me.


And of course that means I have to drive.

I am cooling on the idea.

And it's the childrens Haloween party.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 30 October 2009

Fire in the stove......

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

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

Less if we had firewood delivered by the truck load.

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

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

Thats outrageously cheap, I reckon.

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

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

All that before it suddenly becomes a green fuel.

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

Moved entirely by horse and cart

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

How many people would be prepared to pay for that?

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

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


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Living the life of Noah.....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then fill the system and - nothing.

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

Something though was not happening.

Nothing seemed to be filling.

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

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

No little trickles of water there were fountains everywhere.

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

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

Overseen by a management in bemused bewilderment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well no

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

Then today, all day on sorting every leak.

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

No, it's bloody hot!!

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

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

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

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

Much of it he has chosen to spend here.

Is this good?


Maybe not.

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

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

This return to parents thing is not easy.

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

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

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

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

Or have they just abandoned us to it, again.

But the fire - god bless us

That works.


Monday, 26 October 2009

getting there

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

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

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

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

I thing we might even fire up the monster tomorrow.

Watch this space.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Plumb job...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds simple.....

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

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


Saturday, 24 October 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back home then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning, ah yes we like mornings.

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

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

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

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

So now we were ready to go.

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

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

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

We were ready to go...

Yes of course we were.

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

The thing was too big for the fire place.

Could not connect it to the flue.

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

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

Serious rethink time and we needed a 45 degree connector.

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


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

So back home we went.

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow the plumbing starts.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

A diferent sort of slavery

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

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


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Be thankful

Today was a last,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Monday, 19 October 2009

Save us from our children......

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, 18 October 2009

white goods.....

After a busy day yesterday, the pace quickened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The wind blows icy from the Artic.

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

I will understand one day.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

hell of a day was had by all

A truly lovely day for working today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So far so seriously productive!!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 16 October 2009

day on....

Having a nice easy day planned.

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

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

This is more threatening and problematic than the former approach.

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

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

Took a lot longer than planned.

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

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

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


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Another day another drama,

A day of mixed fortune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Oh dear....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh yes I felt a right one....

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

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

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

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


How strange....

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

There's no wind - at all.

We are not anywhere near a road.

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

We think it might have been an earthquake!

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

How brilliant!!!

Did the earth move for you too darling...


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Open wallet surgery.....

It was not a good idea....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that kind of know how is worth 100 pounds.

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


Monday, 12 October 2009

last evening...


My was last night a night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thats me finished with teaching for the first years.

Now they want me to teach the second years instead.

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Good morning...

Good morning, no really it is, it's a wonderful morning.

The management, awoke from slumber uttering not some statement of undying affection, but those dread words:

"chain saw"

She is denying this but she was half asleep and I was there

Then I looked out the window and saw that dreadful sight, precipitation.


Rain in a "thou shalt not cut wood today" commandment sort of way.

Yes it's a GOOD morning....

All is well with the world.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Stoved in,....

As if doing the wood was not enough, this morning we turned our attention to the two log stoves.

They have been getting neglected of late so off came the doors out came the glass, out came the scraper, on went the glass cleaner, on went the paint, good as new.

New sealing cord for the door completed the deal, well it would if I had the right cord. We made good time into town to get the right stuff, we nearly caught the shop before it closed too....

I blame the paint, 10 more minutes in the kitchen in those fumes and I could have flown into town never mind driven the car.

I spose we could have gone into the big town but there we go you cannot win them all.

Still they sit there now, looking as good as new and no use to us at all....


Quiet weekends....

There is something about the weekend, a peaceful restful time for relaxing with errr the chainsaw actually.

I sit here shrouded in sawdust, the other day it was how we found the xantia in Tescos, it was the only car liberally coated in sawdust. My fingers are tingling my shoulders are aching. We cut the best part of a ton of oak and beech this afternoon, great in terms of things like fires that stay in overnight not so much fun when you need to saw it up and split it.

This is of course where a parent comes to rely on teenage children and rely on them we can.

They have spent all day in front of the television.

I knew we could rely on them to do that....

Not quite true; big D has been out with us on the wood and Taliesin has been out, not sure what he has been doing but he has been doing it.

Still have done all this work is a good excuse to open a beer in the afternoon.

Management has collected yet more french beans from the garden and you just cannot beat that.

Cold French Beer and raw beans, what a combination, luxury....


Friday, 9 October 2009


Yesterday was an achievement day.

Truly huge amounts of wood got cut so last night I was ready for a quiet one, sleeping.

This is where technology is there to hinder us all.

Now, if you have a business phone line there are people out there with the very thing you always needed but never realized it until now.

Regularly they are on the phone offering you color coded pencil sharpeners or company logo embossed loo roll.

There is no limit to the ideas these people come up with or the lengths their reps will go to to bend the ear of the person with their pen on the cheque book - that would be the multifunction pen, ironing board and barometer, last weeks special offer, of course.

You might think that going to bed would be a means of escaping the constant barrage but sometimes it isn't.

These are bright ingenious people and they have fax machines.

Before going home of an afternoon they will dial in a ream of victims, sorry potential clients, phone numbers and leave the electronic slave to lay siege to the lucky selected client overnight.

These are not real people who ring a couple of times then realise you don't have a fax connected to the phone, far from it, these are electronic zombies that think if the fax machine does not answer it's because you have run out of paper and are so blown away by the last special offer that you haven't replaced it yet and so they give you an hour to change the roll then call again, and again, and again.

So, last night the phone rang on the hour every hour and the answer phone duly recorded the fax machine beep beeping for a few minutes each time.

At 2 am I woke and in my half alert state thought it was the alarm going off. I was half way out of bed ready to put the kettle on and make coffee, luckily management intervened. Otherwise I might have been straight outside taking the chain saw to the telegraph pole.....

Now why can someone not phone and sell me something useful? A machine with auto fax back that sends 1000 pages of fax with "bugger off" written on it in 6 inch letters and phones back every hour on the hour to repeat the message (even if it got through the first time).

That's good technology that would be worth every penny....


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Long work day

This morning the work kicked in.

Several chains saw loads of fuel got used processing the best part of a ton of wood.

Then we went on to sort the wood and stack it.

Shed loads of cutting and tomorrow we have Taliesin home.

Oh boy, I am looking forwards to that, more wood to do then.....

Mind you it's cool outside and inside - it isn't.

Both fires going on full chat, central heating - off.


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Peace and quiet....

Management is off Playing amongst the trees, peace has descended all is well with the world.

Well of course we did have to drop the 806 of at le garage first.

No problem, over the mountain we went.

Me first in the plugeot with her dawdling in the xantia. Now there have been concerns about her driving of late. A neighbour was sufficiently worried to stop us in the street, was she well? he asked. It was just that he has grown used to driving into gateways, up hedges, between trees in regular efforts to avoid collision and she has just not been doing the mania of late, he was concerned about her health.

I was starting to think he had a point; the plugeot carries a lot more weight and gives away a fair amount of power to the xantia, yet I was comfortably ahead when I reached the garage.

Her excuse that she had run into the road works as the lights went red was at least credible and she did mention a van.

Now, white van men are like white van men everywhere and I remembered passing one on the narrowest bit of the track over the mountain and noting he was making brisk progress.

All is well, on the way back we passed him, he was parked by the side of the road, ashen faced, fists locked on the wheel, a fervent almost religious look on his face which was smeared with sweat - or was that tears? Seen that before I thought.

Her driving must be as normal....

But off she went to the woodland she went and peace reigned.

Gave the kitchen a bit of a clean and did the washing up.

Lit the fire and brought in a bit of fire wood.

Sharpened the chainsaw and managed to get the tools and saw out of the way just in time for her to get home and not think I had done it on the kitchen table.

She just gave a sniff and assumed I had lit the fire with petrol.


Monday, 5 October 2009

Just call me Prof.

First go at teaching in 15 years.

Social work students are just so inspiring and the new breed are so bloody bright.

Not that there are not very clever, focused and committed people in SW today, just that are a lots of others too.

It was great being there with people at the start of their career, I hope they will still have the vision and views they had today 20 years on.

Then again, there is still a lot of the person I was 20 years ago here today.

I hope they can keep that too.

Sometimes things could not go better if you planted them. Knowing I was there, a family friend crashed the lectures and I had to ask her to leave as a scenario that was about to be presented to the students was about someone she would quickly recognize.

And some of the information, she would not need to know, of course this meant that as the students got to grips with the very complex situation presented to them they knew this was the real deal. This was not made up, possibly their first contact with a proper case and a real set of lives.

They read the notes and there was a horrendous jangle, someone had dropped a pin.

They were simply great, too good, some of the things they asked made me think; "why didn't I think of that?"

I have been on a hell of a high today, I am now feeling a bit drained and wiped.

Back to the thankless daily grind tomorrow

Early night tonight.


Friday, 2 October 2009

Turning on the heat.

It us really lovely here, a fire beguiles and delivers heat at the same time.

We are not to badly served by a couple of days chainsawing, we have a reserve of wood set aside for the depths of winter, dry cut wood stored indoors that should be good for warmth in winter.

I am starting to get the hang of chain saw sharpening machines.

Tonight we have a mix of hard and softwood to burn thankfully we have closed log burners so we can safely use stuff that spits everywhere as all it does is rattle the glass.

Motor wise we are working towards our usual simple situation MOT's are running out and the 806 has another electronic fault, this time with the brakes.

Oh boy - hunt the problem again.

The Xantia has yet to be assessed for a new MOT but luckily the idiot lights on the dash are all off - so far.....

I have a nice quiet weekend in store, a days teaching on Monday sprung on me on Thursday.

Part of me is excited, I have worked towards this for years, part of me is bricking, it's money where my mouth is time. It would have been nice to have a bit of time to prepare though.