Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wisedom of the student

We have been sat here contemplating the world and sharing a rather nice vin blanc. I noted that there had been a big increase in cases of flu. The student looked at me in wild surmise of course there would be she said. If you woke up in the morning and there was a small war going on inside your head, you could hardly call the boss and say you were suffering a self inflicted hang over. So, naturally you would have influenza.

Such wisdom in one so young....

Today we went and did a bit of shopping, at last bookers has decided to seriously clear out stock. 10 loves of bread for a pound. Lots of veg to go in the freezer too.

On to Morrisons and  they had lots of stuff on short date too so it was an absolute car full for about 80 pounds.

Of course there is also drama. Lots of parts of Wales are experiencing problems with water, including the estate where Serenity lives. When the water started coming out of the tap in odd colours Serenity was clever enough to think to boil the water, but of course the kids were maybe not so quick on the uptake. Fans of Billy Connolly might remember an early sketch where  he took his family on holiday to Tennerife and they ended up drinking tap water and suffering the consequences. It's a bit like that Chez Serenity so I am told.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Sat still too long

A bit of an action morning helping Tallie with his discovery and doing a bit of work with the digger.

Then more work in the house, then a rampage into town again and picked up some good deals in bookers, short date yoghurts and a big box of crisps and change from a fiver.
Now my leg has locked up and it's a emergency, I must free it up before she gets home or she will diagnose gout and I will decide I want to go teetotal for the rest of the year. I can feel my decision forming in her mind as I write..... 


The Sales the sales

Bravely the student and I went out yesterday to the sales.

I think I should have started to see what was coming when I Noticed there was a half mile of cars backed up outside the carpark...

It was only her and tallie after clothes from sports direct so I dropped them off at a point where they could jump over the fence and went to get Branwen.

I managed to avoid the main bit of wait on the way back driving into the centre from another direction but inside, GOOD GRIEF it was like the demolition derby in there. I weaved my way past Marks Laura Ashley  and Comet with cars whistling past me and driving at me from all directions.

I arrived at Sports Direct just as Tallie and the student exploded out the door, Glancing inside it looked like they  were hosting a particularly nasty game of rugby where there were lots of old scores to settle. 

I thought everyone was broke and had no money. It's not as if there were particularly good bargains to be had.

Glad to be home with no where to go.

With this weather being warmer we have had to bring the wine in from outside, it is now colder in the fridge than outside. 


Sunday, 26 December 2010

A day for Boxing....

This morning I woke with a terrible feeling of illness, must have been one of those packets of crisps I ate yesterday.....

Lovely start to the day, the boys had been up half the night and kept all the fires blazing so there was no wood.

No sign of the boys volunteering to go and get it, in fact not much sign of the boys at all.  Which left me and the student Branwen and Taliesin to venture forth to the woodshed to get wood and of course chop some at the same time.

How much fun was that with a  huge hangover,  whilst suffering a mysterious malaise.

The answer -  not much.

The student has told me I don't want to drink today, the things I can decide without even thinking......


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Ho ho ho

This is us doing Xmas.

Presant wise I really messed up this year and she is not talking to me.

But she is having a quiet happy Xmas reading a book about social work ethics and another about anti oppressive practice.

Not like me I am taking it easy, reading social work in a risk society

And of course watching the OFAH CD's I got for Xmas.

Friday, 24 December 2010

and here we go

Jackie sparkes came into the house today.

She was ever Lillliths mate.

They were allways together.

She didn't want food and she started fitting a little while back

She has just died  as Branwen who  does not to do cats fussed her

So we start Xmas with another burial.

This is feeling really good.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Student life

It is Xmas eve, 07.40 on Xmas eve and my darling student just brought me a coffee, she has been up half the night reading and she wanted to discuss the notion of "otherness" in the operation of power in social work as a basis of anti oppressive practice.

This was a pretty crude plagiarism by someone (not the student) of Max  Adorno who did a lot of work on how people could have been persuaded to work in concentration camps. What a lovely way to start Xmas, which I hope you have a merry one of  by the way. 

PS By heck, having posted the above an add popped up under the post saying that you could protect womens rights by studying gender and law at an American university. So knowledge must be power, only if the powerful let it be..... 

Peace on earth.....

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know a few things about me and be able to guess a few things.

Doubtless you will think I love the Xmas, the scramble in the car park, racing round looking for the one available parking space then slotting into it quick before the other guy can select reverse.

Dealing with scrums of shoppers where some years playing as a second row forward is barely any sort of preparation, because at least there is a ref on the rugby field and if someone bites your ear off he will be blasting away on his whistle.

Walking into shops where they may well have one on display on the shelf but they don't have any in stock or likely to get one any time soon and they won't sell you the display one as that would mess up their shelf and they will only tell you this after they have spent 10 minutes entering your most intimate details into their data base which you cued an hour to get to do.

You will just know this is my idea of heaven.  

Or maybe you will think something else.

That all pales into insignificance compared to the other task, chosing a present for the student.

Asked what she wanted, she said: "don't get me anything" in that tone of voice that suggested following her advice might be the gateway to a world of pain.

So of course we have to look at the "ghost of Xmas past"

I have bought her some lovely gifts, a shovel, a jig saw, a steam iron.

I was impressed today when I heard on the radio about this chap who bought his beloved a cement mixer, unfortunately we already have one of those.

 We also have a chainsaw and she has a nice axe, though I really don't think an axe would be a good idea after what she did to me with the steam iron and shovel. 

I am a bit stumped really.

I might buy her a bottle of decent whisky, at least I know she would never hit me with that, well not until it was empty.


In the bleak midwinter.

It's colder than yesterday.....

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The AGA can....

The aga has been out for a while and trying to sort it has been high on the list of things to do. The student loves cooking as do I but she cannot get to grips with the electric cooker in our kitchen.

So this morning I dutifully pulled it all apart. cleaned everything levelled the burner and after a while lit it.

So far so good it seems to be still in.

Agas are not at all like other cookers there being a bit of a black art to running one.

With that done it was time to start up the digger clear away a deep hole on the ground and put little Lillith in it.

She is down by our fire pit where we have our midsummer parties. A place where the views exceed spectacular. Bethan has marked the spot with a big stone.

Back to the house and take the battery of the excavator, it onoy just started,  I Had better do the same on the green Goddess later. You remember anti freeze but batteries are affected by cold too, that battery had lost a lot of it's power by being outside. 

The management will be lots happier cooking on the AGA, besides which the utility room is like a fridge with it out.

And a very good morning to the grim reaper.

Management went out this morning to take young Taliesin to work. Following a night of brightly shining moon and cruel frost.

On the way back up the un treated ice sheet hill to the house who should she meet but the milk lorry. Who duly slammed on his brakes and with a look of horror on his face, began the process of sliding downhill towards her in the little AX which would not have offered much in the way of protection against such a large and solid object.

The management, god bless her has just told me how she had not realised how quickly you could put the AX into reverse and she says it does not half shift going back wards too!

She was ashen grey and trembling when she said it though....

I think I might give her a whisky to calm her nerves.


Up and at them

Up and at them, well maybe in a little while.

We have enough firewood in the house to last till about boxing day so that will be good.

Management has done virtually all the shopping so she tells me.

Disposing of a cat will be tricky, the ground is solid frozen, she is OK for now as we have her somewhere very cold. I think though I need to fire up the digger and make a hole somewhere to put Lillith to rest.

Funny isn't it, who was the most upset? Bethan who loves the cats or the student who "does not do cats" and who nursed Lillith for the last couple of weeks.

Poor little thing though, she lived an outside life but she was never particularly well. She was a cat who came to you when she wanted a fuss and was her own mistress at all other times. She had, these last few weeks done a very good job of teaching me to feed her. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Lillith the late cat

Naming cats is what Bethan does, she keeps the tally.

There are rather a lot of them.

You are regular readers and so you know we took Lilith the outside cat into being an inside cat not that long back

She had actually decided a little while ago that being inside and fussed in a warm house was better than being outside

We have been nursing her a lot and she had been  a lot more perky these last couple of days.

She was a right little character who really wanted to live and fought to stay alive.  

Today though she had refused food and something didn't feel right.

We gave it our best shot to help her breathe but as the day went on it was getting harder and harder.

After all she is just a cat and she had a pretty good time of it so of course we just have to live it through.

But she died today as Gwion fussed her.

Poor little thing.

She was allways a small cat but one with a spark.

We will bury her tomorrow.

What a lovely start to Xmas



Sunday, 19 December 2010

hip hip essay !!!!

It has gone, winging it's electronic way to university.

Relief has flooded through the house not so much in waves as a full on tsunami..

Then she dropped her bombshell;

That's ONE of them done.

What did she mean one, I asked suspiciously. Turns out she has another 3 to do by the 25th of January.

Think I am going to cry.....


Whither the weather

I think the met office need a better set of forcasting dice. Of late I have come to believe there is no skill employed in wather forecasting they just throw the dice and write down the results.

We have had multiple severe weather warnings for snow and nothing has so far appeared.

That said I have been gearing up for an epic run tomorrow. The students essay HAS to be in uni between 10 and 1 then a big child protection meeting up the motorway in Daycastle.

It was looking as if I might need to borrow my mates jeep 4.0L straight 6 (YES!!!!!) but first the university emailed to say; send the essays electronically.  Then, looking at the new tranche of severe weather warnings I cannot see anyone in their right mind convening a meeting in Daycastle and I would be a bit bonkers to try and get there if there was one. Thats said I haven't indulged my taste for bonkers in a while....

So the student is sat here swearing at the Havard referencing system.

Oh and of course she has changed guardian ad litmus to guardian ad item to guardian ad litem,

Don't you love Microsoft Office's automatic spell check.....

But at least it will be gone in an hour or so.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

No no - we are doing a rewrite.

Having printed out a hard copy, it was decided another mild edit was needed.

That done, the conclusion beckons.

I think we are within sight though.


and that's just me  

And now the end is near......

I think i preferred it when she was telling me to go away.....

She is on the home straight and I have been draughted in to proofread.

Don;t tell her but it has 2:1 written all over it and I am incredibly proud of her

It is nearly but not quite there.

But any change to any word is going to require much discussion.

This could take all night..... 

No no, it has been ploughed through, a conclusion is being formulated and it's inside the word count, the whole essay that is not just the conclusion.

God's teeth not sure I am cut out for all this academic lark.

Essay Esssay Essay

The ground is frozen and the temperature in my living room has dropped to 23 C, that is at least in part because I have been upstairs with she who is writing, harumphing and sighing. At least I think she is in there somewhere all I can see is books with post it notes shoved in them and on them

Friday, 17 December 2010

I love the student

In case anyone doubted that, she ain't half hard work though.

Bit like me really


How many rewrites......

The student is becoming a little bit annoying, Having written her essay she proceeded to re write it. Not once but 3 times. She has just announced, in passing, that she has decided she wants to re write it al over again. 

How many times can you write an essay?

I suppose this is her first effort at essay writing for many years and maybe she needs the practice but........


Welcome to the plague house

The snow, much vaunted warned about and anticipated seems to have largely passed us by 

Yes we have had a light dusting but nothing serious.That said the roads are pretty slippery and the council road crew who set off to deliver some grit for us to use if the road freezes turned back when they saw the state of our lane.

Their driver could not believe I would get the 806 up to the house, surprising what can be achieved when the alternative is a mile trudge over icy roads in the freezing cold!!

The student though is not well and has taken to her bed with a stomach bug.

Taliesin also is not well and is lying on the setee in the livcing room groaning with a stomach bug.

Not to be outdone little D is lying on the settee in the kitchen complaining of toothache, the dentist seems to have used the snow as his excuse to go home early.

Welcome to the plague house....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Oh for a quiet nights sleep

Now today was a day for me to be all presentable and intelligent at a board meeting. Or was that bored at a meeting...

The site used to be one of the warehouse huge mental hospitals in Victorian times, a massive site, but based on paternalistic Victorian benevolence not today's  individualistic approach which abandons people to a community that does not care for them.

This meant I spent a huge amount of time in "reception"   I found 3 "receptions" there might have been many more but fortunatly I blundered into someone in the car park who was late for the same meeting I had originally been early for.

I got through the meeting which being a management meeting did not really do anything massively exciting.

Except highlight how bad things could get.

There is a huge question mark over post graduate social work training.

But undergraduate essay is nearly finished, this was done by massive consumption of midnight oil.

She is not happy with it but it's on paper,  electronic paper.

She now needs to tinker it right.

Trouble is we have a promise of weather and not a good promise...

And the essay needs to be in on Monday


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Axes and essays....

She has finally snapped, it has got to her with books everywhere 6 different legal websites open on my computer alone, articles, post it notes rough drafts on odd bits of paper.

She has been getting more and more fed up, till she was telling everyone around her to go away (with 3 f's in the phrase)
She has had enough, only one thing for it; out with the chain saw for an hour then a quick wave of axes to clear all the pent up anger and frustration.

Now she is off in the bath to chill before one last big drive to get it done to the standards she has set herself.

I would not mind so much but it does not even count towards the degree....

God help us all next year when the stuff is assessed towards her degree grade.

On the plus side I have been reading some really interesting books on service delivery and ethics.


Monday, 13 December 2010

I's a cats life....

We have two distinct groups of cats here the indoors mob and the outdoors pack. Now when I say indoors there is a little bit of leeway there. Management mostly prefers all the cats outdoors arguing that it's easier to cook if enything on the table is not liable to vannish the moment your back is turned, the compost bin is safer and and opening the fridge does not result in a thunderous roar of paws as an allegedly hungry crowd gathered in expectation of something tasty.

There's a bit of a point to that, management says she does not do cats, that she hates the damn things etc. Now, if I know anything about cats it's that they will seldom waste energy on something that does not work for them. So if they all race for the fridge if she opens the door, there must have been some pay off at some stage, something she vehemently denies by the way....

But anyway one of the outdoor cats has been ill; Lillith.  is a small  white and black outdoor cat. She has never been that well but her health took a dramatic turn for the worse last week. She was so weak I declined to take he to the vet fearing the shock of the trip in the car might kill her. She has a horrid infection of her nose and eyes, after some real touch and go days she seems to have turned the corner. If fact I would say she is now well enough to go and see the vet!!

Cats are nothing if not expert at the good life though. When I call the cats to feed, last week she would not move, this week she sits up, immediately alert,  ready to eat. She does not join the general scramble for the back door though she sits up patiently waiting for "her" food to arrive on "her" plate. Leaving the others to a mad scramble outside. I bet she thinks she has achieved quite a bit, in a few short days she has taught a human to feed her......


Just another manic monday......

Days roll on here in the depths of West Wales. The temperature remains mild but the promise is for more wildness later this week. The weather people are confused they cannot decide if we are to be deluged with rain or buried in snow but they say it will be one of those. It can mean but one thing - sunshine imminent.

This weather though is taking it's toll, the wood we had confidently predicted would last the winter might not. That said we would anyway be using nice days if they came along to get some cutting done. An hour a week spent on wood cutting beats spending tedious exhausting weeks in May or September doing nothing else.

The student is studenting, still suffering from a serious outbreak of essay, with this being the third total rewrite, each being the subject of much frustration and harrumphing. I have just got back from town with post it notes so that she can draw together her massive stock of references and quotes.

I hope this will all be worth it I don't think I could cope if she got less than 75%.....

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Factor in some talent.

 I have had quite a bit to do with music and musiscians over the years. I have seen some astonishingly talented bands and seen how many "great" bands are bubble and hype.

Great musiscians are people who spend years learning, years practising, years working dreary unlistening gigs.  They graft their way up.  Now we have instant heroes on X factor, scooped from stacking shelves at Tesco to being great talent based largely on their ability to impress Simon Cowell.

It's an odd parallel to the banking system which is now based on instant fix betting approaches.

Not sound judgement on long term viability and profits over longer term.

The X factor will not deliver original "Purple Rain" or "Purple Haze" just more choreographed purple pyjamas.

The capitalist banking system will not deliver for the long term whilst it is locked into short term speculation to please it's immediate gratification backers.

The bonus gets paid this year, the bust happens tomorrow and by then we will be gone to the next set of emperors clothes.

Even more than the Condems this is the enemy.


A clash of cultures.

Now of course my dress sense is renowned, I am known  the world over for my particular brand of style and practicality. When clothes shopping I am diligent, making sure no branch of Oxfam is missed and the army surplus website is always thoroughly checked.

I am forever searching for new things for management  and many a gasp of delight has arisen when I ordered some more form the army surplus shop. Well I think they were gasps of delight.

So you can see how this could be described as a high fashion household one into which the new man L is trying his best to fit in.

A key part of his psyche has been to impress everyone around him. A few days ago he announced that he was going to see his dad soon to buy a pair of some sort of posh branded trainers which retail for over 100 pounds and they were likely to last him a whole month before they got damaged. This particular gem being aimed at myself and Big D. I said I would expect 5 pairs for that kind of money  and big D added he would expect a years use out of a pair of trainers and if his were wrecked after a month he would be well unhappy.

Personally, knowing the estate he had been living on, I wasn't thinking in terms of time but distance, as in how many yards he would get from his front door in a set of designer trainers before he found himself sat on the pavement in his socks!!! 

Yesterday was a bad day. I know I have said it and said but what is it with social workers and being honest with children? Why do they find it so difficult?  We had worked out before he arrived here he was not going back to his previous carers, it was as plain as the nose on his face. But no, they continued with the myth, then decided he needed to know what was going on yesterday, naturally the social worker was too busy to come and tell him himself, oh no muggins here gets to be the voice of evil.

We had quite a little kicking off session though by the standards of what I have experienced before it was nothing to write books about. Then he decided to take his making himself look good campaign forward another step. Into town he went and bought cigarettes. Of course at 15 he should not be able  to, something the management went into town to discuss with the shopkeeper.....

So anyway home he came and announced he was going outside for a fag, something that impressed no on at all.  Well except Talieisin who called out of the door asking if he was cold enough and was he always as big a  prat as this.

The things that make you look big in one place can make you look a fool in another.

He has a big mountain of learning to climb if he is to fit in here..


Thursday, 9 December 2010

The student of driving.

The student, I might have observed before has a rather brisk style of driving. Scenery can seem to whiz by as she deftly steers the car along.

I think though this morning she might have had a bit of a "bathroom moment" taking the kids to college. Reliable witnesses mention: S bend, unseen patch of ice, sliding car,  grass, verge, hedge, grass, verge, hedge.

With a suggestion that there was no need to be alarmed as it would come round again in a minute

Despite this, there might also have been an outbreak  of fervent religious devotion from those in the passenger seats, that's not unusual when herself is driving though.

So anyway she came home and then we went out. All fine and dandy, I became aware that she might have taken a bit of fright when we entered a patch of road which could have been described as a "bit icy". This produced a response akin to transferring us back to Edwardian times when a car could proceed no faster than the chap walking in front with a red flag.

This was all very well, but when the road got properly frozen I thought I would have to measure our speed with a theodolite....

Having suggested using the conditions to practice a bit of cadence braking and other skills we did eventually get to the other side but not before being passed by a couple of Telecom engineers travelling totally too fast for the conditions.

We had a quick trip to get the student a new pair of jeans (not I hasten to add because of any soiling incidents)  then arrived at the wholesalers just as a freezer full of meats went on special reduction.

All in all it was an hour and a half later when we returned and found the Telecoms chaps had got a good 150 metres up the road from where they had passed us. A trailer was abandoned in a gateway one vehicle was in the hedge at a strange angle. They were in that condition known as stuck.  Gently I eased the AX up the icy slope passed first one then two of them. A bit further on was the milk lorry who had just had someone in a car wrap it all round the front of his lorry. Spreading an impressive mix of bits of hedge and broken plastic across the road.

Then finally I drove the last bit home, oh did I mention that, the student felt she had experienced quite enough ice driving and she was letting me experience it instead....

She did mention  that conditions had improved a great deal in the time we had been out, it was nothing like as slippery as when she had been driving.  Naturally, I agreed, it's always far more sensible to agree with the student.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lovely day

The student did what she had to do going off to uni today.

I stayed at home and did constructive things like sleep and keep the fire alive

This was after she did all the important work about getting kids to school and firewood in the house. 

Really interesting stuff on the Iplayer  tonight though a re run of Panorama talking about addiction not to drugs but to games.

Addiction is one of those odd concepts that we all think we agree on and then often, so it turns out do not have the same vision at all.

People, find this a bit bewildering sometimes. People lock down their life into one thing. In reality it does not matter weather it is coke, skunk, jogging  or games it's the same thing.

Something you do that has no behavioural advantage but you do it anyway.

Things that can become extraordinarily fixated in behaviour.

Then you have the games industry who point out that watching the X factor is a passive event but playing games requires intelligence and skill.

They might even have a point.

Young L the new placement, balances his day between the laptop and the X box, does he interact outside that?

Not really, 

He was quietly good last night though, did he articulate his real thoughts or what he thought it would be politic to share, hmmm

Oh and she was late home so I had to cook tea with the young people here, I'm not going to say what we did, but she loved it when she came home and the base of the sauce it there ready for tea tomorrow. 



So yesterday was not too bad from the weather point of view. We now seem to be getting it a lot easier than elsewhere. Certainly last night when I went to Daycastle taking L for his OCN presentation night it was lots colder and icier there.

Lacking the Xantia, the little AX was again pressed into service and we benefited from the volcanic heater there and back.  This is not as good as it sounds as of course there is a nasty lurg doing the rounds and I seem to have caught it.

I got home feeling none to good and within minutes was shivering uncontrollably whilst at the same time running the kind on temperature not normally seen outside of nuclear reactor cores.

I did get some sleep last night but as the temperature built up my mind was whirring bizarre and unconnected random thoughts. This morning the duvet was damp my T shirt was wet and I was described by the loving student as "looking like sh%%".

She has done some shopping then went off towards uni saying she would be late home.

That has just left me with Lillith, one of the outside cats we have just brought in because she is so ill.

I have  managed to clean her up and she has eaten a bit of food, she seems impressed with a seat in front of the fire. But things do not look too good for her.

She probably has the same vile bug as me.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Brawd Houdini

One of the things that has affected my life a lot has been music. I have been lucky to be surrounded by people who are dazzling musucians.

Well OK maybe that is a bit strong; I was involved with a Welsh folk band called, well never mind what they were called but they fell a lot short of brilliant. Perhaps I will write about them one day, but, in about 1977 I met a guy called Meic Stevens. Unless you are some sort of serious hippy type you will know nothing about him, did an album called "Outlander" with Warner back in the 60's, breathtaking album but it bombed and ever since then he has been active on the Welsh language scene.

Meic is a huge talent but one that never fitted the "music industry" mould.

He has decided he now wants to go and live in Canada (don't ask me why) and this Saturday he did a going away gig, in a village hall close to here.

It was an odd night and I went with the student,  who does not really do Meic and Bethan my daughter who sings and really does do Stevens.

We sat and watched him and it was magical, the guy bleeds talent.

He writes simple song of enormous complexity, he has been a big part of my life and I doubt I will ever see him again.

But it was a real point of connection for the three of us.

I love the student and I love Bethan

I hope I will see Meic again but somehow doubt it.

I gave Bethan the ticket for the night to keep to remind her of where we had been together when she is old and the student and I are gone.

The weather eased a bit and now we are back to brrrrrr

By the way....


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Water on earth am I going to do now.

So this morning out I went into the cold blue yonder.

The student declined University so we spent some time wrestling the pipe and connecting things up to restore our water.


Water ran, washing machines and dishwashers  washed.

Then we went a shopping, which meant the water stopped flowing and water that is not moving can easily errr freeze.

So that was that.

I am not sure what had frozen but something has.

Tomorrow morning we bring about 100 foot of pipe into the house and heat it till it thaws.

Then we can connect it up again then we have water.

Oh joy!!

Something today was a bit funny though; the front page of the Daily Mail.

It said something along the lines of "Punished for being English". This left me a bit bemused so I read on.

Apparently English univesity students have to pay huge fees whilst Welsh and Scottish students do not.

That's right, your government chose this option - you voted for them.

The devolved assembly chose something else, I voted for them.

Apparently this is unfair, I am not sure what though, England is facing up to naked neoliberalism and Wales is chosing a more people centered approach.

There was a box and you put a tick in it, you must accept the consequences, of course, you might have voted for one thing and got another - that's different, I suspect a lot of students went for the Lib Dems precisely because they proposed the opposite to what they are now delivering.  

The state deserves everything it will get.



Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Water we going to do about this then...

This morning started well. Slid to the school bus and  kids to school.

It was a scream - literally...

Next up taking masses of pipe outside and connecting everything together so we now have water.

Well no we "had" water.

The pipeline to the top of the mountain must be frozen somewhere and  so our pump was just pressurising inside the house.

This was a bit sub optimal; opening a tap did not so much produce water as nearly fire the taps off the sink!!!

But  anyway this was progress, both washing machine and dishwasher succesfully run before filling our reserve tanks and dismantling everything for the night having first drained the pipe of water.

I hope the winter is not going to carry on like this, standing out there in an icy blast disconnecting joints was really tedious.

That said, it was a good excuse to take the green goddess for a little trip today. Not on the roads just round the fields a couple of times to free the clutch and make sure it all works.

The next job is fitting  electronic ignition.

I seem also to have devised a new method of getting down the ice hill. Lets remind ourselves, conventional wisdom says driving on ice is pick a high gear and be as smooth as a smooth thing on steering and brakes. Which is wrong, the advice should be: DON'T!!!!!

On going down hills, the advice is stick it in a low gear and walk it down hill. at tickover - feet off everything. Applying this has produced a ski experience with zero steering effect.

Today I changed what I did. I went for neutral then using cadence braking to really keep the speed down - walking pace.  It seemed a lot better and more effective to me, having all four wheels trying to stop the car seems to work better.

I am not recommending you try it mind, just observing that my underwear was less under  threat I thought.    

But now it's not driving time. It's free evening time, the log fire is generating heat, the living room is 25 C the student is essay writing. All is well with the world. That can't last....

Monday, 29 November 2010

Dazed and confused and all before breakfast.

Every so often here at Penole we have an all action day and today has been one.

You would have had to have the news disconected and maybe be locked in the house to have failed to notice the last few days have been a tad chilly.

Serious cold has been the experience here and that has exploded in two dimensions. The first has been transport, the  little road up the mountain to our drive has become virtually a uniform sheet of ice.

Driving up ice is one thing but driving down it takes excitement to a whole new level. Normally this sort of thing would be dealt with with a bit of Green Goddess 4x4. Ice though is very different to snow, when driving down ice it's the standard drill; low gear and feet off everything. Of course if it's really icy or  steep or both what can happen is you lose tyre traction and the vehicle just scates off in a random direction. In a car that's "interesting" in 5 tons of Green Goddess thats a bit more "excitement" than I would like.

Taking the kids to school both management (AX) and I (806) had a skiing moment or two where the car in second idling begins to accelerate away out of control as it skates over the icy surface. You can of course accelerate till the wheels are back at the right speed then try and decelerate again. You could also chuck an anchor out the back

 ABS, on paper offer a whole host of new levels of control, excepting if the  tyres are gripping at nothing  the ABS  is less use than the cigarette lighter to a non smoker..

Now, if you are thinking this might be all have been a  bit interesting then you would be right.

I went out this morning to drop the kids for school then out to the builders merchants to get bits to re do the pipes (enough of frozen pipes we will get to that soon ). Then out again to get the one bit that the builders merchants would not have then out to get the kids then out to meet the college bus then home.

On one of those trips we rounded the corner on the way home to find another car - half way up the hedge.

Stopping, (wow, how did we do that!!) we summoned Taliesin who arrived shortly after with his V8 Discovery and a tow rope.  The state of traction being well illustrated as Tallie stood up from hitching the rope and slid away gently down the hill. luckily towards the other vehicle.   We soon had the nice lady  recovered and on her way, being a nice lady she pressed a note into Taliesins hand.

He is not daft and very soon Taliesin seemed to be spending most of his time looking out of the window spotting  cars leaving the main road, then shortly after disapearing up the drive with his tow rope.

I'm not sure quite how many cars he towed out but he did mention one that got away, well sort of. Someone got stuck and Tallie missed it so someone else got there first with a Defender that they promptly got stuck too. They got a special two for the price of one deal when he attached the Disco to the Defender then pulled the pair of them out in one.

He has not been forthcoming with the profit of the day but he does seem to be in a good mood.

Of course we now move on to the second of the days vexed issues - water.

We are on a private water supply and I really am kicking myself, I saw this coming and did not put 50 gallons of water into jacks for just this emergency.

So this morning we woke to a zero water situation.

We spent much of this morning clearing various pipes of ice. Spotted the frost shattered one way valve on the well head where at some stage the insulation had been blown away. That was two of our trips out.

Then  fell back to emergency planning; we have a reserve pipe that can be used to bridge the gap from the house to the pump head.  Using the pipe bypasses everything from pump to tap, a cunning piece of emergency planning by me. This is stored outside ready for use, (anyone spotted the flaw) can be left connected all day then brought inside for the night so it does not freeze.

We had reckoned without there being any water left in the pipes which of course there was. It took us a while to work that out and by then it was getting late so we just pumped lots of water into jerry cans for toilet flushing and dish washing then called it a day.

By then it was time for more trips down the cresta run to the main road.

And of course Branwen suddenly remembered  that she was baby sitting and needed to be at her sisters 15 miles away  by 6 PM.

Having taken a very circuitous route, we got back by twenty to seven  tonight

"Time we had some breakfast" I said, "good idea" she said.  

I don't think the student is uni minded tomorrow, what with the ski run and all.

I am going to switch the alarm off before I forget.




Sunday, 28 November 2010

some weekend

This really has been a weekend

Gosh how can I fill in the  details

I will try tomorrow after I take my daughter to meet the bus for the conference up country that she needs to meet at 7 am.

Mornings are great - I don't do them but...


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Snow joke

We are snowed in again. Not in the same sense as February but enough to make getting out interesting.

I must go and sort out a couple of green goddesses in case it gets deep.

No one son got up, had breakfast and then drove off in his discovery - not seen since.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Phew - a full on week.

There has been just so much going on this week it's been hard to keep up with myself let alone blog.

The arrival of L the new placement has been very much an on off thing all week.

But preparation meant persuading Branwen to give up her bedroom to move back in with Bethan.

We had not realised how "at home" Branwen had made herself in there until we had to move her back out.

Took half a day to move her and even then not all her books have been moved and her photos are still on the walls and her drawings still on the ceiling.

Yesterday I went to a conference (after the student had been in uni the day before and came home despondent having failed a module in ECDL.

As I said I went off to a conference, taking the car as I might need to bring L home. Parking a car in Daycastle is worse than a nightmare and I ended up over a mile from the venue. that made me fashinably late and so I am told meant I did not have to suffer the first few speakers.

The day happened against a child protection back drop with phone calls every so often and updates as the day drew on.

There were some serious issues for me though. I am getting really uncomfortable, to put it mildly with the personalisation agenda. Personalisation is good if it is a choice that you are given, but if personalisation is enforced that's not choice at all.   

Telling people it's a choice then telling them they have to have it is having a laugh at the service users expense.

Proper neoliberalism individualising the support then when they cut it it is not a population that are affected but individuals.

So those individuals who are assertive will get and those who are compliant will not.

We have a choice, all of us, social workers, carers and users.

There is no third way.

There are two choices:

Stand up or lie down.

Which side are you on?



Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The circle turns

A while ago, as in a damn long time, we were told that "out of county" placements were to be no more.

We were heading for extinction off to join the dinosaur....

Of course in the back of my mind I always doubted, I remembered a few times where this has happened before.

Confidentiality prevents me saying exactly what has gone down. But there is a young person with complex needs who is in danger in daycastle and suddenly they have remembered where we live.

Overnight from being a bloody nuisance we have gone to being  highly valued.

That said meeting this young persons need is either us or somewhere where the weekly bill has 4 figures.

They do that sort of "value" so well,

That said all things equal, as of tomorrow, our familly income goes up 50%, it's like being a banker except that what we do adds value to society.

Monday, 22 November 2010

days of variable quality and content.

Today  started on and odd start, the student has presented her pices to turnetin, the anti copying thing that stops students plagiarising others work  It's just a bit over sensitive picking up "of the" as something somenone has ever said before is a bit extreme.

Her mark overall though at 19% is pretty good especially when you realise that every time a book is referenced this idiot software notes that someone has done it before.

Today has been an interesting day though, turned up at bookers, having dropped Branwen in  college and there was lots on special offer.

Loads of carrot soup made today, ready for the freezer.

Then in got more tricky, Phil the builder turned up with loads of scallops so we have spent the night slightly arguing how you cook then.

I was taught in a Breton Paysienne kitchen where you threw in loads of butter loads of garlic loads of onions and pints of last nights left over cheap white.

How I wish I had listened more closely.
Then again we were cooking for 250.

The thing I can't remember is the searing of the meat first.

But it has been  a great night.

We made short date carrot into carrot soup and short date other stuff as well.

There is loads of proper rich sauce Coquilles  waiting to go in the freezer.

Yum yum.




Sunday, 21 November 2010

Wild winter

Winter is a cold time.

Yesterday was an outside sort of day with a lot of chainsawing and axing going on. I was out there in a Tshirt waving my vintage Elwell axe about.

The afternoon was a disappointment we went to the cinema to see the new hairy grotter film. I was expecting a lot and didn't get it. The books themselves, I am not a big fan of, perhaps I am being controversial but I find her writing style a bit turgid, some of the films have been pretty good. I could not get into this one.

Now it is Sunday morning and really I should get up.

The student has completed one task she has an essay to finish.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

me me me

OK so maybe this is going to get to be a bit heavy and philosophical but...

Have we not all been dragged into the Cameron Clegg agenda where all we are worried about is ourselves.

It works for them as multi milionaires do anything that turns a pound regardless of the misery they leave behind types.

But what does it deliver for you and me?

Cooperation is real self interest, gaining what we want as individuals, but  collectively, makes us stronger than anyone in the world.

In the previous world everyone in Britain got their heads down in 1940 and did something tremendous in terms of stopping a political view that was a contagion.

Now we have a new contagion, except we don't, Maggie started it, those like Major who followed her failed to keep the torch burning then her arch acolyte Toby Blair came to power.

Brown tried to place a brake on things and failed. His innablility to pull the banks in was really his downfall.

The way he handled the crash will go down in history as his real epitaph he did wake up and he did the right thing at the time.

He was a good chancellor who should never have been appointed to PM.

Foolishly he ran the election on debates rather than sun reader sound bites.

Now the contagion has reared it's head again after the election of  the  liars.

I am sort of optimistic that people really are going to be out on the street challenging the lie.

If  the cut to death Police ever realised which side they were on - we could be in for a ball.

A class in itself becomes a class for itself as someone once said.


Social Work in a Risk Society

If you are some sort of academic or have some interest in Social Work can I suggest the above book by Stephen Webb.

I'm not suggesting you read it I am suggesting you avoid it like a coach load of conservatives. It has bent my brane in ways I had not experienced since being an undergraduate.

I would suggest that he needed to look at Althuser a bit more in his analysis which whilst acknowledging the self centered individualism of neoliberalism is in danger of replacing it with another which is based on ethics, itself another form of hegemony.


Friday, 19 November 2010


I am having a bit of an outbreak of optimism.

I have to be fair I was a bit in despair of this country.

As a foster carer I am used to carers being in the mire, being supported, winning, then wandering off because all they were concerned about was them. Individualism was entrenched into the psyche.

Now, this government has been in power for a little while. Anarchist students spread revolt in London - only they didn't this was a new generation learning to kick the system.

We have a slowly blooming activism.

A class in itself become a class for itself....


Thursday, 18 November 2010

A long day

Running round the place today but not in the Xantia which is not making I want to run noises.

The student is really pissed of with the dead car and no ammount of telling her what really happened seemd to be working.

But we went off to Bookers ( a wholesaler) today and we did some pretty strong deals on stuff that is on a short date, so we can stick stuff in the freezer for the future.
But we are probably back into fostering proper.

We have a young man coming here on respite who looks, on paper, like a one  man crime wave.

This is where we went into fostering years ago.

And, you know what, the young people were usually great.

The service was the problem.

Having said that I had a long time on the phone today with some brain donor who had been charged with reading the risk assesment to me but could not commit to sending me a copy.

Or tell me a thing about the young person because all he had to go by was the risk assessment  #

That really helped me

Then a conversation with a very experienced social worker.

Oh did I say we had a long chat with the CAMHS nurse because we trust her judgement.

And we spoke to the current carer who is very new to the system.

I think we can deliver for this young man.

Then again been there and bought the  T shirt....





Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Today the student headed uni wards in the 806 leaving me to chose between Mr Tick and her Xantia.

One lot off on the bus and back I came to take the other mob to college.

All was going well, of course there have been biblical innundations here over night and we rounded the bend to find a road under water. No worries, not too deep, errr wrong.

I still cannot explain how the xantia with it's air inlet just below the bonnet managed to suck up a load of water but it did.

Towing it home was frankly terrifying as Citroens loose everything when the engine stops. No power steering I could live with but being towed home with only the handbrake to slow you down is a new type of fear altogether....

Currently the bonnet is open the injectors are out and I am slowly ejecting all the water.

Naturally it has just started to rain again and yes I am working in the open. My I am so enjoying this little job and this day.

This afternoon we get to hear the carnage that is the assembly budget so no doubt I will be even more cheerfull tonight.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hoooray for good news...

What an exciting piece of news, an extremely wealthy young man is getting married we are all over the moon, well the moon came into my thoughts somewhere. 

Back in 69 Wales was coming close to being up in arms and his old man was invested - that kept the proles busy with street parties.

Back in 70 something people were getting mightily fed up with the state of the country and his old man decided to marry Barbie. Well some young woman a bit short on brains but who was far more acceptable than the woman he was in love with.

Of course we now know that turned into a pr disaster well no actually the country simply lost it's mind.

Now we have another chinless wonder getting marries in a time of economic gloom and following a right wing coup. So, we had better gear ourselves up for lots of parties and waving of the union jack to celebrate privilage.


Triumphant student!!

She came home all full of herself she scored 86 percent I think and I get the impression that is good.

And the government have rolled out the individualisation programme and it's compulsary. So this scheme to increase flexibility and choice will be yours whether you want it or not.

Then we understand the body that oversees training for those who work with children is to go.

So when  Childrens services go the same way there will be no way of knowing if the person you employ is any good either....

We love these service developments don't we....

More Diplomas in Computing

I think the penny is begining to drop. The student headed off today looking all confident and pleased with herself.

She is off to do a diagnostic then put herself down for the module test for something or other.

This is one thing she cannot look at me to do for her.

My computer skills being close to zero   she though seems to be learning fast she was on about tool bars and all sorts. I thought a tool bar was a pub that sold spanners but apparently it isn't. 

Anyway she has made her happy way to university leaving me to see that the builders do not die of frostbite.

Personally i think I am turning into a cat: the further from the  fire I go the less happy I become.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Keep this secret...

In my living room it is now so hot that I cannot stand it.

This is official

The student had us outside waving the chainsaw with it's new chain around today and I got to use my big splitting axe as what we cut today is what we are burning tonight. Though a lot of it went on the woodpile too.

We are so much more ready for winter this year. That said, we are having frosts already and both fires are going but 2 fires makes for uncomfortably warm.

I  have paid the price though.

Not sure why but the gout has come back to visit - my how I love that


The politics of politics....

We all of us need to get to grips with Condem life.

Their bank tax, so it now seems will actually be worth over a billion more than they forecast to the exchequer, great news you would think. We are going to clear even more of the defecit, errrr no.  The tax will be cut so the money  can be given to the bankers in bonus.

Vodaphone owe the revenue 6 billion in tax, so the OAP's can get have their winter fuel allowance restored,  errr no, they have been told no to worry it can be written off.

Today was Vodaphone action day, everyone on Vodaphone to mass defect in protest. Did you hear about that in the news? I wonder why not....

Now, as it happens, we have been paid a few hundred too much in families tax credit, so, no worries they will write it off or are they after every penny?

This is the reality of their "big society"

Poor pain rich gain.....



Back to the grindstone

A surprising weekend with litttle of note to report. The Pont Aven, which is simply huge took the seas in it's stride and we had an amusing time unenlivened with things like mechanical catastrophe and mayhem.

Other things did intrude in a very negative way but as these things do they often goad you into doing things you should have done a long time since and this morning I asked a couple of trades unions if they would be prepared to represent foster carers.

This is long overdue, time after time I have seen foster carers used and abused then dumped by their agencies now it's time to get a union and unionsise.

If you are reading this you might know that Slough is planning to halve foster carers pay, you probable don't know that Wiltshire too has a plan to take nearly 200 pounds a week per child off many of it's foster carers.

The problem is that the employers will not consider themselves as such. they wish to have their cake and to eat it as it were.

I feel we are in for a rough time with the condems and it's time for working people everywhere to get together and say where their bottom line is.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

An eventfull day of eventfullness.....

So off I headed to uni today taking the sprightly little  AX. for a run.

Now I suppose one of us should have thought before booking a 11 AM meeting on rememberence day. Parking was a total no no and I spent 20 minutes driving round before finding a slot in a pay and display car park discovereing that I had no change and being late had a "stuff this" moment and legged it.

We considered starting the meeting with 2 minutes silence but I suggested 2 minutes profanity with awards for lack of hesitation or repetition..

Our meeting went relatively OK with as much time spent dicussing the cuts and riots as university business.

Then it was over and time for home  back to the car park and the warden had obviously been round as I had a lovely note inviting me to contribute 50 quid to the council. Bliss!

Back on the motorway and the weather had changed,  the wind was really blowing. The AX is a remarkably frugal little car, delivering really impressive miles to the gallon, it does this by being as light as a leaf. Of course one thing about leaves is that when the wind blows they fly.

Each gust would shove the AX sideways anything up to a metre. If you think this might have been alarming you would of course be quite right.

That was on the motorway once I was on A roads it was lots more than alarming.

On the final twisty  B road stretch, hitting a bend then suddenly lurching across the road / towards the hedge really was no fun at all. Especially as the road was surrounded by trees which were bending this way and that in a really worrying way. All it would have taken was for one of those to snap and I would not be here writing this now.

Still, it is all done and  I am home typing this in the living room infront of the log fire I just turned down as it is 25 C in here.

Tomorrow though, is another day, we are off on manoeuvres again and   should be on the 10 pm tomorrow night. If the thing sails that is, the weather in  the channel looks less than good....

I might have an amusing little tale to tell on Sunday when we get back.

A life on the ocean waves


Is better than going to sea



Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A new dawn.

Today we saw something very interesting.

52000 citizens took to the streets and said: we are not playing your game and we do not find it acceptable.

Some of them went on to stage a bit of a party, smashed up a building and indulged in a bit of a riot.

Sadly some Police officers got hurt, about 7 and so far nothing serious.

Something that really really struck me though was the level of policing, having done the odd demo myself, I was a bit bemused to watch it all live.

Really there should have been a hell of a lot more Police round the front of the building and did they really not have vans and vans of blue uniform thugs round the back.

I am prompted to wonder if, with lots of them thinking their redundancy notices are in the post, the police decided to let the thing ride.

The other option being that the government let it all run out of control so as to change the focus from the poverty they intend to impose on the country to the people who are (unreasonably of course)  against them.

Of course the populace might not take such a view.

Sadly, I doubt that; we have become sheep.


The student in triumph.

The student, as part of her course has been writing a reflective blog. This has been a thinking about the stuff she has been reading sort of exercise and one that I thought  she was doing pretty well.

It has pushed me too, a lot of stuff like Foucault Marx and Marcuse I done a lot of before. Gramsci was a whole new territory for me and the debates have raged on late into the night, the writing done early in the morning, as ideas bashed into each other in her sleep. Personally, I have better things to dream about than Marcuse but each to their own.

Today, she had the feedback on how she had done, it could have been better, not sure how but there must surely be something that could have been better - damned if I could think what though.

As the final feather in her cap the lecturer used a point directly lifted from her blog in the seminar today.

Thinking about it, the lecturer didn't reference where she got it from, isn't that plagiarism...

I think she might let her off though.

Her head is not quite twice it's natural size but not far off.


A severe outbreak of weather

Today we have calm and the temperature in the house is on the comfortable side of warm.

Yesterday in contrast the wind was howling round the house and seeping in through every crack and poor joint on every door and window.

Trying to keep the fire under control was a constant battle and one that I didn't do too well at.

Today the wind has fallen and the deluge promised by the Met Office has yet to arrive.

The student went off at silly o clock again and I am left to do the housework (well OK some of it) and prepare tea.

Tomorrow it will be my turn at University, only a few hours, at a meeting. .


Monday, 8 November 2010

beyond the call

It is 6.37 and  I am awake. 

In fact worse than that I have been awake for 10 minutes.

The student has an important day with a pass or  fail at it's end.

She is heading off on university bent and to help her I set my alarm for 6.30.

That is beyond the call of duty if you ask me.


I am a bit bemused by the ads that seem to proliferate around my blog.

Talk about fostering and a sea of fostering agencies are there suggesting you work for them.

Mention chain saws and everyone and their brother will sell you a chain, for more incidentally than I paid for a chain today in my local hardware store.

Nissan car videos?

Don't ask me, no idea what thats all about. 

But Zooska is the one that really worries, what's all this dating thing all about?

Of course, if this is going to bloat my adwere account I am all for it. Quite a few years of blogging has yet to trawl me 50 quid in royalties though.

That's a lot of late night thinking for not much return.

Then again do I do it for the  money?

Obviously not.

I can't hear the rain....

The morning has arrived, clear and open and sunny.

Firewood has been fetched but it's mild enough not to need to light it just yet.

The student has lots of printing to do so hopefully the new printer inks will be here soon.

I am off to play hunt the new chainsaw chain.

Being extremely profligate, we are supposed to be off to Brittany this weekend coming to check the house.

A brief look at the weather forecast makes me doubt that, funny we were due to go almost exactly a year ago and the same thing happened, huge storms stopped sailings. 

We shall see.....