Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Advice for the wise....

When you are in the bath, contemplating a long day interviewing students, with a glass of rather fine wine in your hand, it is best not to have a razor to hand.

Otherwise you might test it on your chest before you shave your face.

This might well be treated high hilarity in the management but could be hard to live down.


The return of the car, and snow....

After much laying on of hands the Grease managed to get the 806 back by tea time yesterday.

This was a source of no pleasure to children who had gone to school in something that sounded like it was off the drag circuit. The bus driver, a bit of a petrol head was seriously impressed as the disco took off for home nearly blowing the bus over with the noise.

Afternoon MPV was a serious disappointment.

But today bright and early came the white stuff, yup even more snow.

Our life continues to feel like playing one of those old 70's space invaders games. You blast away at all the little aliens and the more you shoot the more there are till they grind you into the dirt.

More snow, and of course I am interviewing on the morrow. Then Thursday will all go on shopping. Friday the management is being interviewed and with massive skill I had previously booked that day for trip to Brittany, that should pack the day well. But of course there is more, in order to get to Plymouth we must go up the M4 on the afternoon of the evening where Wales play France at home. So the M4 will be full of people heading for Cardiff.

This could make life very very interesting in a get to the M5 in a reasonable time sort of way.

The sensible thing to do would be to start off early, but of course we then factor in the interview which could take errh goodness knows how long.

Stress? Who us?

It is funny, the literature says that individuals cope with individual high stress incidents, what wears people out is serial low stress incidents.

I can vouch for that.

But today at least should be nice. Gwion is 11, today we have a birthday party, fortunately, not the hundreds of children running wild sort, but a nice afternoon just all of us and him.

His friends all came round at the weekend - I am still taking valium for that....


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Motors - who would have them.....

Now, our 806 threw a fanbelt, Saturday last week. Not something complex you might think. Historically, cars have a pulley on the engine a pulley on the water pump with a fan attached (it's why it used to be called a fan belt) and another on the generator which used to be able to move to take up any free play.

So Sunday, management was diverted to Halfords from her "Sunday market" to buy what used to be a "fan belt" but which has now been promoted to an "ancillary drive transmission belt" and taken a huge price rise along the way. Monday morning: the spanners came out and the bonnet was opened.

A bewildering array of pulleys were more easily accessed after I jacked the blessed thing up and removed the front wheel: "gosh, this is easy to work on" I didn't say.

One pulley each for engine, alternator, water pump, power steering and aircon.

For good measure there was one for manual preload or it should have been according to the manual I have. OK, the manual is not actually for an 806 but the Xantia was made in France too so it can't be that different can it?

Having tried a number of different routes and routings none of them looking remotely likely to cause the fan belt to be tight, with the manual adjuster that was supposed to be in the engine room somewhere remaining in complete hiding, I decided that all cars are b*******s, but particularly if they are an 806.

With the resident Francophone engineer having gone for a foreign holiday, well OK he went to Manchester, I was forced to drive the 7 seater Discovery for a week. At such times that the Xantia was not available.

This revisiting of V8 window open driving delight was somewhat lessened by the re acquaintance with land rover handling.

I am not sure I remember my range rover being this much of a boat.

It reality it seems to behave itself well enough in an act of faith on every corner kind of way and tightens the line with gentle power on in an eyes closed sort of way. There has been the odd tight bend where crazy body roll, off road tyres, looming parapet of bridge over deep water have combined to induce touching religious fervour in the passenger seat.

As ever of course there is more, tomorrow it has to do the school run. Not a problem, well, Ok, maybe: you see Mr Taliesin has been much given to driving the thing round our fields and the holes he has dug in them.

This in turn has placed a bit of a strain, especially as the zorst system has been there before in someone else's hands and has a home made central pipe which the man himself has removed on lumps of mud 3 times in 3 days.

First time Daddy rolled under the truck (Tallie being in work and the kids needing to go to the cinema that afternoon) loosened a few zorst clamps jiggled it about a bit and tightened them back up again.

Next time of course the man himself did it and, well who knows what happened next, but he didn't just drop the pipe but wrapped it round the back axle at the same time for good measure.

Soooooo I am off to do the school run of the morrow in a V8 Disco with precious little in the way of silencing.

The real live dragster sound will bellow all round the county.

I know I know - it's a tough job, but I'll do my beast.....


it's life.....

It has been a truly busy few days of half term.

One thing has followed another and well we sort of got through it all with broken down cars and meetings and contacts that didn't happen - yet again.

We did though manage a 18th birthday for Bethan who could not have been born more than a week back or so it seems and who is now an adult.

A lovely night though in our local Indian, as she wanted with all the family together.

We also made a good start on next years fire wood, a couple of tons cut already while the weather has threatened us with more winter but never quite delivered.

It has been good too that I seem to have got the hang of the chain saw sharpener. The chain saw has been fair tearing the wood to bits.

The winter maths are shaping too; between not running the de humidifyer, not using oil central heating, and the tumble drier we are looking at around 1000 pounds saved.

OK labour has not been costed in, and that would eat a big lump out of that.

But we are still very nicely ahead thank you very much.

Of course there is a subtlety to it. Today, we have selected soft wood in the fire, burns like blazes and gone in about 2 minutes, but the temperature in the living room is 25, ideal for clothes drying. The living room of course should be like a sauna, full of moist air. The fire though, as it rages like a furnace is drawing huge quantities of air and this afternoon it was not smoke but steam emerging from the chimney.

The house is not damp, but dry, warm and dry.


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Raining things in....

Just to add to our overall joy, last evening we made to go out in the plugeot and just as we pulled away the charge light went on the the steering went all heavy.

Fan belt gone - oh joy.

So management went off to the Sunday market today with just a few of the children in tow leaving me to tend the fires and feel sorry for myself as my knee had decided to go on strike overnight.

I hate taking anti inflamatories, they make you feel pretty grot, sometimes the swollen knee is the more attractive choice.

Still at least we have decent wood, the stuff we cut yesterday has obviously been down a long time and it burns furiously.

24 C in the living room, which is warm enough even for cats.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

A world of pain....

It has been the sort of few days that really we could manage without.

Management has been brilliant, Social Services, despite themselves are about to start doing their jobs.

She has helped them realize what is in various codes of practice not to mention the law.

I have been nose against the window hard working in Uni. Training days, interviewing lecturers and sorting huge piles of undergraduate applications.

Naturally with half term looming, I have gone down with what she calls a bit of a cold, us men all really know it's Ebola, Bubonic Plague or something equally bad.

This did not prevent fire wood being cut.

Lots of it, we processed a ton of today, bloody hard stuff too, had to pause operations to sharpen the chain twice. Thank goodness one of the bundles we brought in was stuff that was not just Ash but really dry too.

That and feeling really ill made for a tiring day.

So anyway, I have retired to bed, leaving the stove running in furnace mode.

It's 24 C in the living room and about 18 up here in my bedroom.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Brain block.

Tonight I should,be working on a conference abstract.

My brane has stalled, locked up, had enough, gone on strike.

Management has been dealing with social work matters and she has done so brilliantly.

Sitting there with the child at the centre of what she does she has got a real result, or so it seems.

I have sat here gazing at a screen and not getting anywhere but getting there at considerable speed.


Saturday, 6 February 2010

goodness gracious me.........

Every so often you come across a dazzling example of social work in action. A pearl of an example of how not to do it.

Yesterday I came home to find the management smoking none to gently, clearly something had pushed her little buttons.

Soooo yesterday the postie arrived, nothing unusual in that, he often arrives at the top of the drive laden with letters from some chap called William.

Not today, today he had delivered a letter from the contact service. This is the new agency of social services charged with organizing and supervising contact between young people in care and their parents and relatives. Contact for big D has been a mess the last couple of contacts have all been problematic as the contact service has managed to mess each of them up big style.

But not this time, oh no, this one is right up there.....

The contact has been organized without reference to us, in a place which mum will find very difficult to get to as she is disabled - they had of course been told this, they had of course ignored it. I thought there was something about supporting service users rights in the code of practice for social workers...

They have extended the time by an hour, no problems really they have not asked us to do the transport.

We could not do it anyway, well not unless we cancel my daughters 18th birthday party.......


Monday, 1 February 2010

GPS to adventure....

It has been a while since I used the damn electronic brain in the dashboard but lacking any real idea where Tallies new Discovery was parked I simply punched in the post code and away we went.

I have to be fair, at first the little brain came up with a really good idea that cut a big corner and saved us a deal of miles on the trip.

The weather of course was not quite optimal with rain easing it's way gently into sleet and on into full blown snow that was accumulating nicely on untreated surfaces,.

I was thinking it might be better to get this car collected on the sooner side than the later one and on we went.

Of course it was just lulling us.

"Turn left" it commanded and we did. Management stoped the car immediatly, "not driving that" she said.

Installed at the wheel I decided to proceed up the little side road with caution.

Caution rapidly became out and out alarm as the road snaked across the ground and the soft snow steadily deepened. We didn't actually get stuck, and, in it's defence it probably saved us a deal of distance but I really could have managed less the excitement.

Still, it wasn't too long and we were heading for home, along the main roads with the squawk box most definitely turned off.

That was when we got to the main road, the Disco was parked on a housing estate at the bottom of a hill. It was no problem getting out in the Disco but the 806 marked it up as a fail.

I am a nice person so I could not possibly mention how the management ended up stuck with her back wheels against a kerb pointing the wrong way across the road.

I could not possibly say that, it would not be nice.

And I could not even think to mention how it was her son who evicted her from the car and drove it up the hill through the snow.

I could not say anything about that at all.....