Friday, 29 January 2010

Fire we here......

Things are nothing if not complex here.

the plugeot came back on the fleet at 5.30 last night so I could race into uni today and not have a mega complex day - as if.

All in all it turned out not too complex on the work front.

Then home and weekend stacking up.

No one son having bought himself a disco, no not some joint full of crack head but LAnd Rover 4x4 for not a lot of money.

Now dad has been volunteered to go and get it and drive it home.

Thats at least part of the weekend planned.

And of course as I drove home flakes of snow fell.

There's the rest of it sorted.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Oh and did I mention

Of course there was more;

being a very important person (ha ha) I am in uni on Friday on an interview panel.

So no Plugeot makes for a very complex day.

Will need to race into work after dropping the kids off then race home to get them

I love this racey lifestyle...


All fired up.....

I think there is no limit to this, tis one thing after another.

The Plugeots myriad electrical faults appear to be down to there having been a real live honest to goodness fire in the back.

A whole section of the loom has simply cremated itself.

16 wires all the same colour. Numbered at either end of the loom, one end being behind the dash - meaning you would have to take the front of the car apart to get to it and the other in the back of the car. So it's slow progress trying to work out which does what then bridging the gap.

A fire would not have been so bad if it had involved smoke flames and a chance to get a GG out but it didn't even do that.

Or if it had been a proper conflagration that wiped the car out meaning we could claim it's rather juicy market value and take an earner on what we paid for it.



Monday, 25 January 2010

more low key days

You almost ask for snow.

No you don't

The kids went off to schools and I forced the management into the car.

She has had toothache for a week - making my life lots easier - not.

But we have managed life OK because the medication has killed the germs and the pain has gone.

This morning she was less than keen to go and I had to persuade her into the car.

In turn this was long day time.

Got there and the miracle of windows had crashed their server.

Sooo basically they could not look into her mouth and see a problem and be dentists, no, without the electronic moron to tell them what to do and record what they had done they could do nothing.

Having spent a while of time there we gave up on their computers and came home.

Then ran round sorting tyres for the xantia

Turned out that the tracking which should be measured in minutes was whole degrees out.

But of course, we were not here for much of the day, the two of us together, we spent a lot of time in the car chatting away.

No kids, no phone, just us with a bit of BBC radio 4 thrown in.

I commend radio 4 to everyone, forget BBC television listen to radio 4.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

back to a normal

Catch up weekend.

Our wood stove has been on flat out to cope with the cold spell so a mild weekend meant a frantic attack on the woodpile to build stocks back up.

One of the good things with the children getting older is them being more able to help. IT stuns me the number of families where the adults bustle and rush round running the house and the young people watch telly, play playstations, internet away, waiting for the next meal to arrive, surrounded by the debris of the last one.

Everyone in this house is expected to do something.

#firewood has been us this weekend, one of the positives of the cold spell has been removing the need for intensive chivvying.

Given the choice between no fire and work our children select work everytime.

But there's more, Gloria has been off the run for a while, Bethan anD Taliesin sorted that today, that meant removing both the front wheels while the truck is on blocks and stripping the brakes out.

Now, if you think thats a lot of work involving big lumps of metal, you would be spot on right!!.


Wednesday, 20 January 2010


God, normal is so nice.

Sitting here in the living room with the fire crackling, 21 C the thermometer says.

Management is completing a complex form online - always a laugh to watch.

Of course the car has decided I don't need to be bored and something has seriously gone amiss in the Plugeot. The electrics have taken on a random functionality with what works being entirely dependent on whim and whisper.

Sometimes the heater works, the windows open occasionally, lights seem to come and go. The charge light flashes when it feels like.

Water has gotten in somewhere and until it dries we are in for serious fun...


Monday, 18 January 2010

tired - hell no

this last few weeks has been interesting to put it mildly

go to the tap and there is no water - solve that by cognition and physical effort

go up the drive - a simple thing - now it needs cognition and physical effort.

keep the house warm - cognition and physical effort.

the children, sometimes on side sometimes making work

today, the everyday pressure child care relieved

My body rebelled and said "enough of this"

"I am doing no more".

The plugeot has been examined and it looks like the loom is full of water.

Need to let it dry out.

Oh, didn't I mention it went on strike last night.

And both cars need new front tyres.

Nothing to do with battling snow of course.


Sunday, 17 January 2010


Life has thrown and thrown things at us these last few weeks.

Not huge things in a house fell down in an earthquake sort of things but it has been one thing after another.

The management and I have sailed our ship over the troubled waters with an awfull lot of help from the young people here.

Thank goodness things are back to normal.

Hang on

Whats this? A severe weather warning?

10 cm of snow on Wednesday - oh what joy.....


There might not be much on the fields but it still took a snow blower to clear the roads.

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here comes the cavalry


The cavalry roll into town - and it's a sunday too!!!!
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Lets go shopping...


Off shopping again....

Not a lot of snow left

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in the snow still


Yesterday afternoon just before I entered the silly angle competition

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Saturday, 16 January 2010

Whither the weather....

After the deluges of December I never thought I would see the day where rain was as welcome as sunshine.

After all we had 50 days of rain but neverthless the rain was a lovely sound.

This morning less than jubilant, we noted that there still seems rather a lot of snow about.

But anyway we had a go at opening up the drive taking the chained up GG I set off.

Past the first corner and there was a snow drift to my left. Thing was it was still firm so instead of going through it the Green Goddess went along it. Plenty of grip with the chains but, hands up who enjoys having one side of the truck 3 or 4 foot higher than the other?

Not for the faint hearted especially when the truck in question is reputed to be a bit high in the centre of gravity department.

In many ways it was lucky the camera packed up, I bet I looked like I was "concentrating", hell my knuckles might even have been white....

But anyway between the two of us. Me in the GG and Tallie in the flatbed GP we almost made it out on to the road.

All a bit academic as the drift that was blocking the top of our drive went right across the road and a few yards down the road was another just like it.

But, we are closer than we were yesterday and that has to be good

I still think we will end up walking kids to the car for school on monday.


Friday, 15 January 2010

Water we going to get next.

With the snow going steadily we get the next drama.

Rain last night brought vast torrents of water down the drive where it has mixed with snow to form a sort of a goo that has blocked drainage channels and caused big pools to build up on the drive.

More work then as we shoveled gashes into the snow to let the water go.

And no sign of any one clearing the road, not that we could get to it anyway.

Still it could be very much worse Port au Prince is a tragedy unfolding.

We have food, water, power and heat.

Hell we have broadband too!!!


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Long haul back to normality

The slow return to normality begins.

Managed to get the Goddess running, yesterday the engine room was packed with snow, and tried a tentative run up the drive.

The snow is still so firm that the goddess rode up over the drifts rather than ploughing through them.

All academic though as there are places up the drive where it's 7 foot deep and part of the main road look like they are over 10 foot deep.

Getting Bethan and big D back was a complicated convoluted trek across fields going round the bigger drifts which, had they a soft patch would have swallowed you whole. All done in a fog that threatened disorientation at every turn.

We could hear the children for several minutes before we ran into Bethan who was delighted and big D who was in early stage hypothermia.

Thinking I really needed to have brought a compass we set off back into the thick mist and tentatively navigated our way back.

As luck would have it Taliein was playing in the field and we made the last couple of hundred yards by simply following the sound of a Bedford engine as he tried to use the flatbed to scoop up the snow by reversing into the drifts.

So we sit here hoping for a quick thaw to free the fields and clear the tracks.

We are back to needing another shop, and keeping the place warm has made a big hole in our stocks of firewood.

I have never been so grateful that we stocked up in the of spring last year, without that wood we would have really struggled.

Next month I start buying wood again, ready for next winter, surely it cannot be as bad as this one?


He's not even 17 yet......


Oh dear me.

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fork crying out loud

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The road is no better.
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I can't see us getting out any time soon, this is the top of our drive.
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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

deep doo doo


Still our drive - I don't have a good feel about this.

Either it's deep or I choped her head off!!!

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not too deep then.....

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The management checks the drive.

Not sure we are driving up here in the car any time soon.....


Wintry scene


Comes to something when you have to dig the inside of the truck out!!!
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Wintry scene

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Wintry scene!!!!

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Life is an adventure......

Management is at times very managerial, this afternoon faced with our continuing problems, all completely out of our control, she made an executive decision: she went back to bed to catch up on some sleep.

Today has been nothing if not complex.

It's no big deal not being able to get up the drive as we can simply stoke up the fire and sit it out.

There is an "however" to that though...

What to do about the 4 young people who were not here.

This was more than a little complex.

First and easiest to deal with was Bruce who has another exam tomorrow so we had already draughted a contingency plan which involved her staying put close to college at her half sisters house.

2 other children though were in high school some 25 miles away. The bus brought them back to town but that was as much use as the proverbial ashtray on a motor bike.

They could of course have walked home but that would just have meant they might well have died.

This was made the more difficult as conditions in town were wet and windy but there was no snow. So it was hard to get over to them how bad things are up here.

However, we managed to get a friend of ours to take them in for the night and there they stayed.

That was 3/4 of the problem solved. It just left Taliesin.

Now he is a sensible enough chap who would not normally do anything daft.

Unknown to us he had been on his college bus for several hours when it got stuck on the way to town.

He tried to arrange to stay with one of his friends but then changed his mind and decided to accept an offer to go and stay with a another friend a bit closer to home, who was at home having come in from school.

All well and fine but of course with his step brother not at home at his flat in town Tallie would have been too tight to go and wait in a pub (and have to pay money for a drink) he decided to start walking.

It was not clear at this stage where rain stopped and snow started and neither was it certain his friends father would be able to get the car up the hill to collect him.

So there was a real time possibility he was walking into a snow storm with little in the way of protective gear.

This is just a little short of an optimal situation.

So anyway, I called another mate who set off from town to try and catch him up and bring him back.

We had an anxious few minutes when the man himself was missing and it was not clear if no one friend had managed to get out of the valley or no 2 friend could get out of town to find him.

I gave serious thought to mounting a do or die attempt to get the fire engine out, which could have left me stuck in a drift somewhere on my own with 7.5 tons of fire engine which might have been a bit difficult to dig out on my own. But I could at least have left here with proper clothes an artic sleeping bag, goretex bivvi and survival gear in case I needed to sit it out.

Everything worked out fine in the end but it could easily have turned very nasty, as it was we had an interesting stressful 30 minutes till the man himself turned up safe, well and wondering what all the fuss was about..

Management has recovered some of her composure now and we are settled to a quiet night in our living room with iplayer and a stove that has heated the living room to 21C and our bedroom to 16C.

The tropic it isn't but for a 300 year old house it's pretty good.

I poked my nose out of the door and it is now looks even worse than it did earlier.

Everyone has been informed that no one goes outside in the morning till I have taken photos!!

It has also just struck me that, without the water being on we would not have been able to risk running our oil boiler. So we would have been without central heating, the last week or two. Boy that would have been fun.

Ah well.

Time tochill err relax with a gottle of gine methinks.

There is a new series of a BBC drama called "survivors" starting in a bit, I think, in the current weather, I can relate to that....

Where is the corkscrew?


Says it all really.....

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They said it might snow......



Up our drive there is snow up to the windscreen on the Green Goddess.

I think the met office chappies were having a bit of a joke when they said we might get a bit of snow.

We are cut off.

At least we have power - for now.

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Monday, 11 January 2010

We did it we did!!!

So on time this morning it was down to the main road, park the fire engine collect the car and school for the Gwion then drop Branwen into town to catch the bus.

Back home and some firewood sorting out.

Running out of water again, time to try and sort the supply out again.

This time a radical re think.

By passed all the underground pipe and ran a supply direct from the pump to the house. This meant pulling frozen pipes apart and bringing them into the house to defrost.

Then a trip into town to get bits, then down to the school to get Gwion.

Next was home to wrestle pipes and make connections before getting Branwen from town.

Low key stuff but all done in a wind chill breeze.

Cold is insiduous, it's gets inside you, makes each action harder than the last, makes each thought less clear than the last, it all adds up.

Now we are home, the house living room is 24 C, I am warming, the warm watered bath is calling me.....

I might be gone some time.

For tomorrow we have been promised heavy snow - ohh goodie...


It's an education...

The management and I have been taking turns overnight every night to keep the fires in. This means periodic crawling out of bed and shivering downstairs to feed wood on to the fire and make sure it takes and begins to burn before turning the fire right down again.

This interrupted sleep is starting to tell, having kids home every day is starting to tell.

Management is getting a bit fed up.

So anyway Bruce is due in college today so it was back to the grind except we overslept and fell out of bed in a frantic rush only to realize we had almost certainly missed her bus so she would need to go to college later. Then Branwen announced she didn't need to be in till lunch time.....

Management celebrated by dropping the cafetiere which duly shattered on the floor causing a coffee emergency - as anyone who has ever woken too early from slumber knows that's one of the worst things that can happen bar none.

High school is still closed but the primary is to open later this morning. So we discovered as we were about to leave.

Well, actually, we have to phone the school later to make sure the teachers made it in.

To sum up then, we got out of bed all of a fluster running round like headless chickens at 7.30 when we could have stayed in bed till gone nine.

The children, bar grumbling Gwion and belligerent Branwen are all in deep slumber.

I wish I was.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

Keeping the chain complete


OK who mentioned a 6 foot drift, let me at it!!!


Bah - bring it on!!!!

Decided to fit the chains today, with the met office promising "light snow" for miday, we had clearly had a bit overnight and of course it was fair carpeting it down first thing and has been on and off all day.

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Friday, 8 January 2010

Dearrie dearrie me....

We had communication of the education kind today.

Apparently the AS papers are happening as planned next week.

That means the school will be shut to all students.

Well OK not all, the AS candidates must get in regardless.

Ho hum.

How on earth is that going to happen?

I suppose I could always drive them in the fire engine

The goddess of shopping.....


New types of equipment for the Green Goddess: cat food milk, veggies......

Had to go shopping at some stage and the GG was the only thing moving.

Photos by branwen hughes.
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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Isabelle to the rescue.


Dosn't look that stuck, but of course you cannot see the ditch on the other side!!

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Water we going to do now.

5 days in and management was getting restive.

The lack of water was getting to her.

Time to do something about it then.

pulling pipes hither and thither running a whole new length of pipe overground and; we had water pouring from taps, toilets flushing and luxury of luxuries baths to bath in.

On a roll, we went and dragged the 806 down to the main road which has been designated a primary route and so should be clear most of the time.

So we should in theory be able to go shopping if we need to.

We have been told though that the shops in town look like they have been hit by locusts, nothing for sale anywhere.

Thank goodness we had some stock in the larder.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow joke this snow....


I told you it had been snowing.......

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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Never mind knuckles - it's white everything!!!

Sometimes life delivers a real time full on suprise.

This morning started rather well.

The temperature was up, the ground felt a lot easier, the schools were all open.

Except of course the little valley school Gwion goes to.

07.45 I went off in one direction to meet the school bus and the management went the other to meet the college bus.

Neither of us dreamed this would turn into one of the most eventful days of the year.

I was not even home and I got a text to say the school bud had turned round as school had just closed for the day.

Turning the Plugeot I raced back to the bus stop not wishing the kids to be waiting any time in the raging sleet that was now falling.

Quickly heading for home I noted the sleet was now snow and it was heavy very heavy.

Landing on the frozen ice it was forming a carpet in the short time I had been out about 1/2 inch was covering the road even the bit that had been gritted not ten minute since.

Turning up the minor road towards the house, I was very aware how much snow there now was. The car got tantilisingly close to home before all traction was lost and it slid to a halt. It was really close so we reversed back a way and tried again, conditions were now getting really bad and after about 30 minutes trying to get up to the house I abandoned the enterprise as too dangerous, especially as none of us were expecting this and whilst I had good outdoor clothes the others were dressed for school.

But of course my mate had gifted me a set of snow chains, most excellant, time to fit them and, they didn't fit these tyres. They were a lot of use then....

Hit reverse and all the way back down,leaving the kids at the farm on the main road, I hitched a lift on a tractor and made to collect the Green Goddess.

Isabelle was on the button and the 4x4 fire engine made short work of the drive up to the house.

Bruce had been summoned home from college and when they made it to town off I went in the fire engine.

Things seemed to have improved, a lot, so I dropped off to pick up the plugeot and have another go.

Following the GG things went well, untill keeping momentum up I got too close to the fire engine and had to slow down which then became stop.

Of course the fire engine stopped to help and then found that the ice would not permit a restart.

So I reversed right back out of the way and the snow started again.....

Blinded by the snow the fire engine ended up in a ditch.

Lots of effort and really skilled driving got the truck out.

Several more attempts the truck got itself up the bank.

I reveresed all the way back to the farm and tried again.

Getting virtually to the top of the hill I lost it big style and the car ended up on it's side in a ditch.

Time to walk home then.

Got home about 4pm.


Taken me all day to get warm.

Still tomorrow I can put chains on the GG then it should be a doddle.....

Watch this space.....

Of course Bruce has some photos I might be able to post those later.


Monday, 4 January 2010

Even whiter knuckles....

Much of a day today.

Big school decided to close yesterday, little school at 8 am.

Just left Bruce going to college. That could wait till this afternoon, so the morning was spent chiseling ice, splitting wood and trundling it into the house.

SO it was out and up the drive, or was it. The gear box was frozen solid. The plugeot was jammed in first. So up the drive in first hoping that heat would thaw things out.

This of course meant that, when the car slithered to a halt, I could not reverse and try again. With muscle assistance that was done and with a few more goes, each getting bolder as the windscreen cleared and we were off!!

Road conditions were however dreadful.

We made it to collage, the long way round, Bruce texted to tell her tutor she would be late. As we arrived we found she got her reply, he wasn't there...

So we went for a Booker, where an empty icy car park, a front driver with a rear handbrake was too much temptation.

"Donut" I said.

"Yay" said Bethan and Branwen>

"NGHHHHHHARGH....." Said the management again as she nearly tore the hand grip off the door, she really has a strong grip that one....

With the car pointing the other way nicely we went shopping.

On into Morrisons, and another car park;

"Don't even think about it" said she with her knuckles glistening white.

Soon we were on our way home.

Decided that, with the sun having been out a few hours it would be worth taking the cross country short cut. BAAAAD move. The road was a mass of ice but at least we got into the next village down from us.

It seemed a good idea to stop in the pub and lucky we did too as the village school was open and the land lady needed to go and get her kids.

Back on the road and we got a whole 500 yards before turning right to climb the mountain. Well, that was the plan. We had barely started before a sheet of ice defeated the car.

Trying another we got round to the other side of the mountain and slid and scrambled our way up to the drive passing "ohhhfoork" corner as it's now called. It wasn't quite as dramatic as yesterday but getting to the house is still a struggle.

Top of the drive and it was Taliesin on the phone asking where we were and saying there was a true emergency; his phone was out of credit.

So having battled up to the house, it was battle out of the house into town get some credit and battle back in again. 2 more goes at managements favorite corners with her making the quite uncalled for suggestion that I was making the car slide on purpose to upset her.

As if I would...

Will school be open tomorrow?

Goodness knows.

I hope so.

Then again the met office said it would be 4 C here tonight, it was -2 at teatime.


Not going to fit is it......

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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Far be it for me to lay blame of course.......

Now Bethan is very much her mothers daughter.

Fiery, passionate, definately someone whose wrath is to be avoided..

With the holiday rapidly abating it was time to do the job she had been set in the first week clear out her room so daddy and her could get in there and fit some wardrobes.

Design of the project had of course been handled by management who took me off to IKEA with a store card and a lot of room in the Plugeot a while back having made measurements, calculations and checked the online catalogue to see exactly what was needed. .

So eventually, the first unit was ready to go together and I wondered at the instructions and logicality as we tried to put the thing together by standing it up with just the one side on then connecting the other side too it.

This didn't go too well in a splintering crash and lots of bits of chipboard on the floor sort of a way.

This was not good in a tearful daughter sort of way and so plan B was invented.

It was sort of Ok as we noticed that in the heat of construction daddy had made two left sides anyway....

So anyway the thing took shape on the floor this time with lots of brackets added to give the damn thing a bit of structural integrity and rigidity (with mental notes to bracket it into the walls in ways that would make it stronger than the house itself..)

So anyway, at last it was complete with Branwen and Gwion summoned we tried to lift it into position. This was the point where Taliesin noticed a minor detail.
one that explained why IKEA said stand one side up then attach the other, It was so damned tall that, assembled on the floor it could not be stood up without jamming against the ceiling.

I could see another tearful daughter moment coming as ever practical Taliesin suggested an on it's side wardrobe.

Thing was, I could not see how these bits of chipboard could be made string enough to be assembled on their side, so we set about redesign.

It was a matter of equipping Bethan with the hearth kit off the fire engine. Taking out the joist saw and setting to.

This was not of course the sole drama of the day. This morning the pipe from our water pipes were spewing water everywhere presumably a pipe was solid close to the house and the pump pressure made the pipe let go.

Closing the gate valve and switching off the pump calmed that down, but of course this afternoon the temperature dropped and our water stopped flowing.

Luckily we have plenty of fire engine water jacks and had put lots to one side filled with grey water a few weeks back.

We will struggle for drinking water but at least we can use the toilet.

One last task: make sure we can get out tomorrow so up the drive went the Xantia to sit next to the road, in case the drive was impassible. Management thought that it might be a help to take Taliesin with her, in case she got stuck. Good idea I thought.

Then I looked out of the window and noticed the MD, as the car took off up the drive, she was in the passenger seat.

Were her knuckles really as white as the snow, again....


Saturday, 2 January 2010

White knuckle driving......

There are trips and there are trips.

Confident in the weather forecast (yeah.....) we went to bed last night and awoke to find it hand not rained; no, it had snowed.

But not only had it snowed it had frozen too.

Oh joy!

So a drive out to Daycastle really was going to be a load of laughs.

When we had got to the top of a drive after about 15 minutes of 2 tyres a sliding, (which day of Xmas is it?) I could see a pattern emerging.

20 minutes to get to the top of one of the local hills with the 806 sliding all over the place on a sheet of ice.

Then it got really frightening.

Driving down the motorway with the lights telling us the speed limit was now 30. Something to do with lane 3 having rather a lot of slush and snow on it. People driving nose to tail at 70 over that.

That's terrifying; one mistake, one minor slip and 50 or 60 cars would be sliding all over the road hitting things and each other.

Fortunately by the time we came to head for home the traffic was still all heading East.

Hopefully it would have cleared by the time we got home and yes some of it had been. The last couple of uphill country lane miles were just the same, except of course this time we were going uphill.

"Hang on" I said, trying to keep the momentum up, "we might slide a bit on the second corner!".


The first corner: front end let go and into the hedge we went, the back end slid round, some furious steering and keep the power oning and we brosdsided into the second corner and and into the opposite hedge before ricocheting off up the road.

A bit chaotic messy and not quite formula one but we got there.

Management said but one word:


I think it was - anyway, not a language I have heard before.

She didn't say much for a bit after that and her knuckles, gripping the dash, with that strong firm grip of hers were nearly as white as the driven snow in the fields around us.


Friday, 1 January 2010


Happy New YEAR!!!!!!!
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