Thursday, 31 December 2009

What a lovely start to the day.....

So, bright eyed and bushy tailed I fell out of bed at 7 am to take Taliesin to work.

Both fires nearly out but managed to save the big stove and get some meagre warmth into the ice cold house.

A lovely drive through the crisp morning willing the 806 heater to wake up

Then get to Tallies work and whoa what have we, no one there.

He got the day wrong, they meant next week.

I was very nice, I didn't make him walk home.

Oh how we laughed.....

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Rain rain and more rain....

The rain falls in quantities I find hard to believe.

Our drive is now the river Penole - official.

Management has invited Bethans boyfriend over for the day so he can be interviewed by the family. Hang on she was a baby yesterday, well that's how it feels anyway.

Of course I am not going to be cast as the overprotective dad, the wheel brace is just in from the truck for cleaning and the pick axe handle I am going to treat with linseed oil.

Could be an interesting day.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Weather warning - best go for a drive then....

The weather is, yet again closing in and early indications say we might cop for about a foot of white stuff tomorrow.

With the skies promising a change in the weather off the management and I went today taking little D to his nans for a couple of days. That will be peace for everyone.

Took the chance to collect young P who has been nagging and nagging his mum to come here for weeks.

So he is here for the duration.

For the early afternoon drive up the management placed herself behind the wheel of the xantia. The drive home in the dark with the prospect of possible snow, and maybe an icy few miles to finish could be entrusted to me, she decided.

Early indications are that the snow will miss us but we will have to wait for tomorrow to find out.

One lot of kids want to go to town for the new year whereas others want to go to the village pub for a disco.

If we get snow we might be going in the Green Machine.

That could be a giggle.


Thats that then!!!

Well that's Xmas over for another year and it did not go too badly.

Altogether far to much of everything then back to reality this morning.

Time to get yet another new switch for the digger, Shame I hadn't noticed it is a bank holiday today.

I did notice however that it's cool outside as we had another of our mad half hours and cut yet more timber. Cracking oak that took the wind right out of the chainsaws sails and gave the big Elwell axe something to get stuck into. There is something really joyous about waving a big axe about.

There was no actual need really, I think we should have enough wood to see the winter out.

I could use it being a little warmer though - about 10 degrees would be nice. The wind also was not quite from the right direction, if you set up your cutting properly you can get it so the wind snatches the fine powdery saw dust and carries it away, get it wrong and you end up blinded and looking like you have just come out of a snowstorm!!

I really should have learnt to get it right by now.

But it's 22 degrees in my living room and I am sat here in my t shirt in the house.

Now we have a weather forecast for snow, lots of the white stuff. About a foot in fact, better get one of the bedfords ready.


Friday, 25 December 2009

Ho ho ho.......

The Xmas morning experience, happy brawling children. Xboxes opened, games played, the girls watching the Blackadder DVD's we thoughtfully bought for them whilst watchfully making sure I have not yet opened their favourite chocolates that they thoughtfully bought for me, management consuming port and lemon.

Me? Well of course I sit here beningn and benevolent, a beacon of good humour.

Actually, I went outside into the temperate winter air and weak sunshine to get wood a while back and luxuriated in the smell of woodsmoke.

Some things are nice.

Merry whatever it is you might be celebrating.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Twas the night before Xmas.....

The morn of Xmas eve and the realization of just how much was left to be done.

2 days lost to contact and we had a goodly list of things unbought.

So having lit the fire, we set off up the drive, or rather we tried to.

Modern cars have many many marvelous features, traction control, ABS, all sorts of wonders. There is one thing they cannot do however and that is manufacture traction where there is none. A good example would be; sheet ice and our drive was a perfect example of sheet ice.

Much slithering, sliding, wheel spinning and swearing; I managed to get the Plugeot up to the road.

Into the butcher and spent a fortune, into bookers and spent a fortune, into town and spent err a fortune then finally into Tesco and spent on, what is essentially one day, what we normally spend in TEsco for a fortnight!

I did come up with a money saving idea though, ever helpful I suggested to management that since a big pile of ready meals had just been placed on the "to clear" shelves we could save a fortune on Xmas by simply tossing loads into the trolley and inviting the kids to do their own Xmas dinners in the ding oven.

I don't know, she does not always like my good ideas and she gave me one of her special stares. Though a lot of the people around seemed to think mine was a brilliant solution to an age old problem.

Management though was hell bent on doing things the hard way. All she had to do was listen to me and she could have spent a festive day in that bath reading books and quaffing whatever it is we decide is in the frame for the morrow.

Eventually, exhausted by all the tapping of my pin number I headed reluctantly for home through the by now thronging mass of cars where quarter seemed neither to be being asked nor given.

I could not cope with a straight trip home so we arrived outside the pub just as the door opened and had a few us minutes before launching ourselves back into the domestic fray.

Still, we got here, the day is done, if it's not bought now we do without.

Tomorrow she will wake with excited delight to see what I bought her for Xmas, misty eyed and romantic I can confirm it's an electric cement mixer.

I am sure she will love it.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Travel blues

We have had two days of longness.

Yesterday she went off to do contact and spent much of the day out up the motorway.

Me, I kept myself amused as the kids looked patiently at the breakfast table waiting for the washing up to do itself.

Of course the table was going to wash itself too.

Sat in the warmth of the living room watching the fire go out.

Looked at the diminishing woodpile expecting firewood to march in through the door, all on it's own.

In short they avoided work like I avoid, well I dunnno, something I avoid, errr work maybe.

Back came the management and she was seriously wiped by the motorway vibe.

Delighted though at the chilli con carne that Branwen and I had made together.

So today, off we jolly well set to sort contact for little D and his sister.

This meant meeting her carer, so they could take him to Daycastle.

There really is not enough space here to discuss the wholeness of these last two days and do them justice.

But we got through them.

Lets leave the social care system outof our discourse and just discuss driving.

In real terms there is a skills defecit in the UK driver population.

She was up the motorway yesterday and I was doing the driving today and people realy are not competant.

Going up the roads and either lots of people secretly wanted to die or they had no idea of risk, were blind of the situation, or had no understanding of how much distance it takes to stop a car.

Yesterday a four hour journey - in normal conditions- took the management eight hours.

Today, I did it in 30 or so minutes less, but waht was going on around me made me really wonder if some people should be let loose on the road and if our driving test is an adequate screen and barrier.

It also made me wonder about parallels, we send people through a really inadequate driving test then prosecute them when they don't have the skills to drive.

We put people through social work training that often is no real preparation for the job they have to do. Then who do we blame when they don't have the professional judgment to do their job....


Monday, 21 December 2009

Weather forecast.....

Today the rural peace was rent by the sound of my chain saw.

Management and I outside chopping much wood to make sure we had a supply of softwood as well as the hard wood we cut up recently.

In reality we have lots of firewood stacked but it's good to have a few months supply stashed.

Next weeks job; get down to the wood yard to get something to cut up for next winter.

The weather looks set to defy the forecasts though, temperature is dropping like a stone and as the light faded it looked as if a blizzard was on the cards.

No one daughter is still in town somewhere going to get her could turn all interesting....


Sunday, 20 December 2009


We are slaves to fire.

Have spent all day getting the fires running right

Tomorrow the management and I are going to have to hit the woodpile again.

Well Ok we don't really need to, the stuff we have piled in the garage would last a while.

She is off to Daycastle doing contact so I will need some in house back up.

Must take advantage of the weather while it's OK though

Driving out first thing to take Tallie to work could be an interesting little trip though.

This might be a proper winter at the end of it all.


Saturday, 19 December 2009


This wasn't forecast for us!!

The roads here are like glass, sideways driving is us!!

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Snow joke.....

We have white stuff on the floor, it's been snowing.

Bruce was last seen heading up the drive with her camera in her hand.

Maybe I will do the same.

Might as well, we don't have any water.


Friday, 18 December 2009

Whither the weather....

The weather has turned goodness me bleak.

Snow tonight even though none forecast.

With that lot on the floor and ice set to come in overnight it looks like an interesting tomorrow.


Here we go again.....

The snow falls and the circus starts.

A bit of snow in the South East, the odd minor celeb gets stuck in their car for an hour, this will keep the meejah going for ever.

We got buried in February and it didn't warrant a aplash all over the telly.

That's the media world focused on London for you.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Education and learning.

I think I sort of hit on something that has been bugging me last night.

It seems to me that education is becoming exactly that, education and not about learning to live or gaining useful skills.

The kids from our valley school were introduced to a range of things and skills from an early age.

The school was an organic part of the community, the community would throw in money that larger schools found incredible.

12 years ago the school barbecue raised 1500 pounds or put another way about 30 pounds for every pupil on the roll.

But that was the school as part of community and community engaged with school.

Education to me has started to feel like a production line, the targets that should indicate good performance but set within a broader framework of learning have become the sole aim of the school.

Children are components moving along the line with the ones that the system will not engage defined as: dyslexic, autistic, ADHD,ODD.

Problems individualised and externalized.

The system is fine, the boxes are all ticked.

In social work too; did the stat r happen? Was it inside the time framework?

Tick Tick, that's fine.

Did it address the issues robustly? Was it properly recorded? Did everyone concerned turn up?

The important questions do not generate simple boxes for ticking.

So important things are not measured, because they do not generate simplistic boxes for ticks.

You can run a service that does not even get to worst practice, do all the process badly but on time and you come up with a gold star.

A few years back everyone talked about how the introduction of MINIMUM standards in foster care would drive up practice, how wrong they were. They defined the minimum you could get away with and that's what everyone now aims for.

Small wonder Social Work is a mess.


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Fin de siecle...

Every year for, well it's either 14 or 15 years around this time of the year I have been dealt an evening of torture.

This is the annual primary school Xmas concert.

This starts with the percussion band, bashing away on things to music.

Then things escalate, out come the recorders and the violins, the horrendous caterwauling din grates the ear till the point where the will to live has left.

Finally you get the two plays, one by the infants and the other by the juniors.

And here, this year, we went out on a high.

When we first started, the school was very firmly located in community. Teachers were alumni, who lived in the valley, the annual concert was scripted by the teachers and it was a collection of pieces with a firm local focus on local issues.

In short, it was hilarious.

Some few years back the staff changed and they commuted in.

Far easier than writing a play was buying one in.

You felt the disengagement.

But not this year, the play was not written by the staff it was another bought in item, it had been twisted to make the theme local though.

The performances very polished, young people displaying quite astonishing talent, like an X factor without the hype.

One of the great things about a little school is that in the Xmas concert there is a part for everyone and everyone does their part.

A 250 pupil school has a limited role for a few in the Xmas concert.

A 25 pupil school has a cast of 25.

It shows, in secondary school this primary school's children stand out, they have a certain something. A confidence in front of people that is inculcated by being part of the school concert from the age of three.

But enough of this ramble, tonight was the last school concert I have to go to, next year we will have no children at this school, the one that at times we have as a family represented 20 percent of the roll.

My little Bethan (first one at the school and 17) is doing a number at the high school talent show this week, Lovers Gold by Ella Fitzgerald. A really simple song, OK not at all, but she can do that in front of 1000 people because she did simple stuff in front of 100 people when she was 4. A skill as valuable as the A levels she does this year.

The challenge for the education establishment is to reinvent that as a target to be met and a box into which a tick can be put.

Ramble over.....

But, it will be very odd next year, no need to go and endure the torturous rasp of recorders.

I think I am glad...


Monday, 14 December 2009

It makes you sad

WE had sort of picked up on the odd bit of: atrmosphere, tension, niggle call it what you will.

Young D's SW was maybe too into good social work and unwilling to toe the party line.

Whatever the reason, he has now gone sick long term.

The case is to be re allocated, so we are told. Re alocated can mean all sorts of things.

Mum has a PHd in mayhem and given a quarter of a chance might well wreak everything for her children. It's not a willful thing she can't help being the person she is.

All it needs is to have a "nice" social worker allocated who will not put the child's needs over a desire to keep mum quiet and we are all doomed.

7 years work can unravel in weeks if you have a skill for doing it.

Could be interesting times ahead.


Saturday, 12 December 2009



Tina, in her blog, recently wrote of the delights of getting two kittens for her children.

Wrong, she got: a whole family, kids, adults and human hutch to amuse two kittens .

There is no way you own a cat, a cat is far two wilfull, cunning and clever to be owned by anything.

Here you have DaMan.

Da man knows he is the boss, food human or cat? That's his. The fire? That's his, Our bed? His, Anything else? His.

Well OK maybe not the vet.

He is a role model for disability, not only does he not accept any limit to disability, he dosn't seem to think he is disabled at all.

You can't really see (he conceals it well) but he only has three legs and we are secretly glad, three legs gives us a fighting chance. Four and we could not keep any control on him at all.

I had to go and go and get him recently from the field next door where he was trying to steal some beef. Trouble was the beef concerned was still on the hoof. Da man was trying to bring down a cow by hanging on it's tail.

Tonight, management has put her foot down, DaMan is a cat and cats live outside, so DaMan lives outside.

So he is outside, well maybe not quite outside, he is sat next to me, on one of "his" chairs.

At least he is not on the computer.

Da man on the computer does not mean the same thing as me being on the computer.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Starry starry night.

With the clouds gone the nights breathe crystal clear.

One of the truly great things about here is the low levels of light pollution.

Nothing helps you lose any idea that you are important, relevant or something in the scheme of things than standing outside in the light of countless stars, galaxies and invisible worlds.

Knowing that there were no humans when the light you see now left many of them.

That this world will probably end before the light that leaves them now arrives here.

Certainly I will be nothing, gone, not even a creature of living memory.

Makes you feel small.

But it also puts the things that bother you and take up your time into a proper perspective.

Today we were splitting wood, tomorrow we chop wood, tonight we are warm and know we are tiny and inconspicuous, just like all those people who think they are very very important and think their names will live forever....

Over my bed tonight the Velux window will pass a blanket of stars.

There are people out there who are wealthy, others live rich lives.

Poverty has many forms.....

For me, wealth is living with the management.

Please don't tell her...


Thursday, 10 December 2009

A dry day!!!!!

Today has been that wonderful thing a dry day.

A couple of loads of firewood cut in the lovely crisp clear December sun.

Reached some serious hardwood in the pile though. This morning we were tearing the wood up. This afternoon progress was pitiful. My though, the hardwood burns wonderfully when it dries out a bit and that's one of those chicken and egg dilemmas.

Having brought it into the house we needed the fire raging to dry it. Which of course needed dry wood not the wet stuff we had in the house. A quick raid on the garage and we got things going. Now we have dry hardwood and my is is getting warm here and my is it cold outside. The oil central heating is OFF.

We still have a telephone line that sounds like several bowls of rice crispies and the promise of yet more BT engineers descending on the place. This time they intend to test everything from here to the exchange, I would swap test for a repair that works but there we are...

The weather is turning a lot colder, so tomorrow I need to make the Fire engines ready for winter by making sure there is not a drop of water anywhere in their tank and pump systems.

But there was good news, Big D has a social worker, well OK a name, the contact service got in touch to try and organise contact for him. Because of all the delays and messing about it might not be before Xmas, but at least it will now happen, well, it may happen...

And this is before the cuts start....


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

50 days and counting.......

It is now 50 days since we had a day that did not feature rain.

I mean, Noah only had 40!! How much water is there up there??

Still it promises that the weather will change tomorrow; a couple of days of clear.

Maybe we will get a chance to wave the chainsaw at the woodpile. That said we have a lovely stock of dry wood and the house is warm warm warm.

Deimund the cat is looking very content and happy with his lot.

Management sitting here feeling sorry for herself - still ill. And she has no computer either, no puter means no I player and she has become quite the little addict.


BT are wonderfull.....

You catch us here between outages.

Between times that the phone is snap crackle and pop unusable.

over 3 weeks in and still a procession of BT engineers come down the drive, slavishly renew something or dry something out, pronounce the fault cured then leave so we can have a couple of hours of internet then we are locked out again for as many days as it takes for the fault to make it to the top of the list.


I am getting bored with all this.

I think I might cost running everything over the mobile.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

life is sooo simple

Having done our usual pre Xmas budget re alignment.

It was on to the next stage, find the gear and buy it.

It must be said that things are a lot easier than they used to be. When the children were young they each usually had a big list of goodies for mum and dad to struggle to find.

This year every one wants just one item, suitably pricey but at least it's just a couple of bits.

Why then, when all the boys want an Xbox 360 something or other can it be so complex to order this order x 3 with 2 free games each and end up with wildly vacilitating final bills requiring lots of attempts to get it right before I can hit process order.

Thank goodness it's done now.

Branwen, doing photography, needs a new camera, a request that rolled her GCSE reward, XMAS, Birthday and in fact everything else in one very costly ball.

Still I may never have to buy her another gift - ever.

I love the idea of financial easing, print money till you have enough.

But I'm not the bank of England, and I think I might get arrested if I did that...


Monday, 7 December 2009

xmas is coming......

One cannot fail to note that the yule is closing in on us.

Management is getting more and more anxious, eyeing the state of our overbreeze and wondering how pray all those presents are going to be funded from nothing.

I must confess that the fact had not escaped me either. Really I should have had a paperwork blitz last month and claimed for everything anyone owes me for anything I have done in the last ohhhhh a long time.

Not to mention both of us suffering from bubonic plague, it was a slight cold but then she caught it too.

Still tonight she has given herself over to hedonistic leisure, she has gone to the cinema to watch the end of the world in 2012. That should cheer her up!

Thinking about it I might as well cut back the payments on the mortgage, if everythings going to end in just over 2 years, there's no point paying it is there!!!!


wonderfull weather

SO came the wind, came the rain, went the internet.

Back at the moment but for how long who knows........


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Weird comments>>>

I if I am alone in having someone trying to leave comments on the blog in some script my computer will not read?

Strange one

da man has done something odd to the keyboard and nothing seems to work right - BLOODY CAT.

Still at least the internet works, for now, here comes the wind and rain - watch this space....