Thursday, 30 September 2010

somtimes things go well....

Today if I were honest did not start well. Bethan had to be in work by 7.30 meaning daddy had to bus her there getting up at silly o clock.

No coffee for me, well barely a mouthfull and dropped the lady off back to a nice tepid drink.

But it's good though, her first proper day in work and her first pay packet. She was well chuffed to come home a couple of hours later with 27 pounds in her little hand.

Now the very first thing she did was put some money in her mums money box because she had run out of
money about a month back and mum had been slipping her money here and there ever since.

How much of her 27 pound do you think she gave her mum?

£5, £10, £15, no she kept a fiver and gave her mother the rest.

And much to her delight she had a call tea time, would she go into work this weekend.

Oh great 7 AM start for me again.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Branwen on her throne

If you can work out what she was thinking when she built this you are doing better than me....

A few weeks worth of wood though.

Posted by Picasa

Eventfull times

As a general rule life here is pretty interesting most of the time.

This last few days it really has been head down and chainsaw out most of the time. The chansaw has a new chais which is a big plus. You can keep a chainsaw sharp but the chain is never quite as good as when it is brand new.

We have probable processed the best part of 3 tons of wood this last few days our woodshed is piled right to the ceiling Probably a couple of months supply.

Around all this normal life has been going on with P back for the weekend and Gwion inviting one of his mates from school over yesterday, necessitating a trip to the cinema in the afternoon which in turn meant half an hour outside pouring cooking oil into the 806.

I have been working with a real war veteran a 1940  Elwell splitting axe that has a series of nicks in the blade and marks on the shaft that hint at a distinguished past in the war. Tools of this era are superb, the quality is exceptional and the balance is perfect.  It's a delight to hold and to use.

Unless of course you are splitting really stubborn oak or some stuff that is still a bit to wet to burn.

But anyway, having done all the cinema type stuff it was time to take Gwions mate home, something Branwen and management set off to do in Mr Tick the AX.

With the light falling

They had been gone some little time when the phone rang announcing doom in the middle of a busy roundabout. Mr Tick had stopped and refused to start. Blocking the roan and they were sat there in chaos.

Did any of the throng think a bit stop their cars and help push the car out of the way, no - that was probably to much thinking for one day.

So anyway I phoned the RAC breakdown service, if they were having problems with non thinking motorists the call centre worker I dealt with was from another planet.

He had never heard of a Citroen AX - I was starting to get worried.

This was George Bush level geography, he had never heard of Pembrokeshire,  he seemed a bit puzzled when I said it was in Wales.

I  had to resort to giving him locations in phonetic language as he didn't seem to be able to spell at all.

He said he was going to help me by looking up the location on google maps.

So of course I opened google maps and found the spot very quickly.

Gave him the coordinates and frankly he just seemed confused.

When I had completed everything I set off to the rescue.

I was tempted to take a GG but thought better of it.

Half way there the RAC guy was on the phone, he could not find them, then how could he, he was half a mile away from where I had spelled out, in words of one syllable, they were at    

So anyway I turned up and he had solved the problem.

Well OK maybe, we set off for home and I could not help noticing that the lights were not quite brilliant in fact as the trip went along they were getting less and less bright.

Eventually the AX ground to a halt.
So I pulled the 806 in and used the jump leads to dump lots of charge into the battery.

Which got us nearly home, it would have had we not met a bunch of boy racers outside the village who knew how to drive very fast forwards but the mysteries of reverse had passed them by.

So of course, to relax we got the chainsaw out this morning and ripped lots of wood apart then I spent a while with the axe splitting big oak blocks.

Everyone slaved with barrows and making stacks

For some reason I am feeling tired. 


Friday, 24 September 2010

Open wallet surgery.

There are times in life when the wallet has to be open.

Having had tremendous success this year with the big Euroheat log burner in our living room we decided the central heating for the bit next door is going to have to be wood.

The choice of supplyer was a given  - Beacon Stoves they are not the cheapest but get hold of them, tell them what you need heated and they will come up with a suggestion that works.

We have bought a total of 4 stoves off them,  today another 2 thousand pound order went in.

The wallet was open the surgery painfull but has now been done.

We got a good discount not because we had shopped elsewhere but because we had no intention of doing so.

Lunch in a pub and then home. 

 Monster chain saw session followed; loads of work was done in a very short time.

Then, off went the management for a run out to Daycastle  which left me to cook tea.

Lets draw a veil. Chilli it was supposed to be, but chilly is not a proper description. By god my head near blew right off, but of course I could not flinch as I was the one saying this was tea.

I think the children are getting worried, she is going to be in university for 3 years - will they survive!!!


Thursday, 23 September 2010

I live with a student....

It is official, she has managed the online maze of registration and she is now officially a student.

I remember those heady days, the relentless party every weekend, I am not sure I will cope but I look forward to trying.

Unless of course she does not invite me.


AGA Lout

The AGA is one of those wonderful devices that really cannot be beaten.  Ours is a really ancient item maybe even as old as 1930. Imagine how many normal cookers would have come through the house in that period of time.

Every thing though does have a life span and our old AGA has seen it's best days.

Originally AGAs were solid fuel stoves and pretty efficient ones at that, these days they are often run on oil or gas. Ours was converted to oil a long while back and the conversion is perhaps not one of the best.

They are fantastic things when they are working properly, long time readers will have spotted the crucial words in that sentence. Today has been quite a day...

In truth they do  need servicing every year or so. We just ran ours till the tank was empty and so having invested nearly 1000 pounds in oil there was no point even thinking of just sticking a match in the hole, everything needed to come apart.

That is not quite as easy as it sounds. The main internal bit of an AGA is a dirty great casting called a bell. This weighs about 50 kilos and has to be lifted vertically through about a metre to get it out.

The only way to grip is is via a hole in the middle which is just about big enough to get your hands into.

Having heaved the thing out you can get in and at the burner. This is a pretty simple affair which has to be cleaned.

This might be a good time to mention soot. Heating oil soot is a really special material. It has greater adherance than any known glue and can pass through solid materials where there are no gaps.

This is only really produced in any quantity when something is not working right as in, say, when you run out of oil..   

When an aga burner is working well the paraffin evaporates and burns, over time though a heavier residue builds up in the bottom of the burner and it's supply pipe. This is not a problem as the areas are very hot, the gel stays liquid and the paraffin passes through it.  Stop the heat though and the stuff turns to a solid blob of carbon which requires drilling out.

So much stripping and drilling took place but each time the flow really wasn't right.

Several hours profanity and repeated strip downs I realised that something I thought was metal was actually a big lump of carbon blocking the the pipe.

The inside of the machine also contained a formidable amount of ash some of which went over the top, some on the floor but most attached itself to the nearest warm moving object - me.

Which in turn meant that one those occasions when I went for a break, management could trace my progress footstep by footstep and even identify exactly where it was I decided  to sit.
Perhaps it might also  help if I explained how you  set an AGA burner.

The burner itself needs to be level, now,. I am not refering to level as in a wall or kitchen unit. This is a sort of "level" that is beyond the average spirit level in terms of accuracy.

So, you have got that far and you reassemble the burner with 2 very large round wicks and 4 steel burner frames taking extreme care lest any slight nudge or knock push it off true.

Then of course there are the connections to the fuel pipes. Paraffin is a very light fuel and it likes to escape, so all the joints have to be properly secure because paraffin would far rather escape and be a puddle on your kitchen floor than do anything usefull like burn and go up the flue.

I am not saying these joints need to be sealed, but there are airlocks on the space shuttle that are more porous than the connections on our AGA.

So of course I did this all 3 times today.

Then I put the bell back in and the thing would not light, and of course  we were  running out of matches 

 Persuaded it to light and it  started  running backwards, lots of black soot was going into the kitchen.

This did nothing to enhance  the managements serene calm.

Coming on top of the previous events I began to suspect she was getting very slightly annoyed.

So anyway we turned the stove off and I removed the bell again, but of course with the burner having been on the bell was a little bit warm.

Rodded and vaccumed the top flues which produced a seriously impressive extra load of ash which duly went to places other ashes cannot reach.

So at the current state of play AGA is off

Getting the AGAologist in would have cost 80 quid, she is starting to say it would have been cheaper.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Rain stopped play.

 A good start to the day with lots of wood in the shed possibly even a month and a halfs supply cut now which is OK, need lots more doing and having her nibs in uni will limit our chopping time severely.

The scrap man turned up also and we had a huge tidy up of scrap metal, and he parted with money too, which is allways good.

Bye bye to my beloved old Land Rover, Lilly, a 1960 vintage series II ex army land rover . We were quite famous for a while as I wrote for the off road comics in the 80's and 90's when Land Rovers were not viewed as the devils devices and despoliers of the rights of way.

But today hope finally died and Lilly was taken away, she broke in half as she was loaded onto the trailer, poor old thing.

Land Rovers are not really like other cars, you develop a  relationship with a Land Rover that is individual. Lilly was the chariot that took me and the management off on our earliest adventures together.

I do however still have Lillys engine and well I do have a vehicle that it can go into.

Maybe I have a project to get on with.



Tuesday, 21 September 2010

It was as wet as this looks.....

Posted by Picasa

Make your own rain!!!

Posted by Picasa

And there was great rejoicing.....

Having been tested to see if she had blood, scanned to see if she has guts Serenity was sent home with a flea in her ear and a supply of the medication her mother told her she should have been taking yesterday. Serenity of course told mother that she didn't know what she was on about.

Management has therfore departed with  childer in the car heading for Chez Serenity to do a bit of told you so'ing.

Our joy is complete, not even burning her hand on the cooker could make management unhappy.

There is of course a distant fly in the ointment.

Not content with having a look with the scanner the hospital have now decided they need to open serenity up and have a bit of a rummage. Now, unless I got it very wrong this will mean an overnight and an overnight means......

No We won't think of that, pretend it isn't going to happen.

Hey, I havn't put photos of our amazing Sunday on here - better put that right tight now....


Oh tidings of great joy....

Long term followers of my writing will of course remember her, who could forget Serenity my step daughter who brightened the lives of so many for so long. Sadly(?????) having dumped the Great Intelectual Thinker who fathered her 4 children life has become quiet and peacefull with few dramas in her to life to liven ours.

This has of course all changed having broken her fast of body purifying a few weeks back Serenity has been in hospital twice. with what is believed to be gall stones. Today, after our early morning of invigorating chain saw work we were off on bookers bent when the phone tintinabulated announcing by text that Serenity was unwell and then adding that she was being admitted.

The household here has sprung to action stations as we prepare to receive Serenities progeny  Producing a level of managerial delight just short of that seen  when her mother comes to visit.

With the management due to start at university next week considerable profanity has been dealt out and the hapless Branwen has been volunteered to go to stay at Serenities house so that the children do not have their school routines disrupted. The other option being that they stay here, something that would improve managements demeanour not one tiny little bit.I did suggest that, if she is not well, Serenity should come and stay here for a few weeks and bring the kids with her. She didn't actually throw anything at me, then again there was not a lot to hand at the time.

She is wandering round with a fixed haunted smile.


Monday, 13 September 2010

weekends away

Every so often the management and I whiz off for a weekend. So Friday came and we loaded the 806 with ourselves and little D and away.

Dropped the man himself in Daycastle and pointed the voiture at the ferry port.

It wasn't a good start, between howling winds and driving rain speeds on the motorway were severely restricted.

This all soon cleared and we made impressive time to Plymouth, well we did until the 806 fule light flicked on and, it seemed like moments later ran out of fuel. Fortunately, we were actually on a roundabout next to a fuel station.

A certain amount of heaving swearing and struggling, and a passing AA man in a van got the 806 to the pump. Of course this is a diesel so the whole system would need bleeding meaning the spanners needed to come out. Or not, Luckily the thing started on the key and after a few moments rough running all was fine again.  

All in all we still managed to be early enough for the ferry for us to tootle off and get a beer in a pub that overlooked the harbour, allowing us to have a spectacular view of the ferry berthing.

This in turn meant we were amongst the last to load, meaning again that we could not go on the car specific upper deck and had to slum it parked right next to the bow doors. Which in turn meant we were amongst the first off the ship.

The trip over was accomplished without a cabin, I had forgotten to book one and the only ones available were club class at 90 pounds a night - thanks but...

Next day all bright and early (7 am local time) we dozed off the ship.

The day proceeded like the running of a clock, lawns were mowed,  a fantastic 4 course meal for two offered change from 25€

Then it was on to the shopping spree, unfortunately there was a promotion on wine with a lot of BOGOF offers. This seriously filled the car meaning it groaned  into the ferry terminal with us having loaded ourselves with yet another good meal for good measure.

Our good luck on the out trip did not hold and we got stuck on the upper car deck meaning a longer wait to unload. That was before the interogation that is UK immigration. Having convinced the powers that we were not undecover agents for international terrorism we made our merry way. 

Trips back do tend to drag out but this one seemed to fly by, even the interminable stretch from Exeter to Bristol didn't feel like weeks on the road as it normally does.

Soon we were back in West Wales and driving the last bit to home.

Now the diesel in that 806 is a testiment to modern design. Propelling the mightily laden car along at a steady 65. Things however did not last, hitting our last 15 mile B road the 806 handled with all the precision of a canal barge. Massive roll and sufficient banging and crashing from the rear to convince me that the suspension had just collapsed!

Unloading took a little while and as the vehicle slowly rose up it became clear that all was well.

The dynamic duo me and management retired to bed, last night a bit early hardly suprising really.

A great weekend away though.

Back to normality.

Work work work.



Thursday, 9 September 2010

We love life really...

Life has rolled on, we are really getting the house done.

But yesterday night we had a night off, we went to see a mate of mine who has been living in Brittany for 30 years. We had to meet him at his mums, a small problem as the town had changed a bit and, well Ok someone could not remember the way,

Naturally I had not brought the phone number either, and we were a bit errr lost at this stage sousing the mobile  and aking a friend to check on the internet was enough to confirm that we were opposite the right house.  Something I had of course known all along....

We had a lovely night and a great meal, then we went home

Or rather tried too.

Some fool had made a serious parking error with an articulated truck and it was now lying down for a bit of a rest.

Not a problem - technology was meant for this.

In the old days I would have pulled an oil soaked atlas out from under the seat but today we had electronic salvation - GPS. 

But first of course it needed to know where we were, and for a good 5 minutes it was clueless.

I think I had a better idea.

But, thank goodness it then devised a plan and lacking a map or one of our own we followed. it.

Looking at the area today on those old fashioned obselete  OS maps I am in awe.

What on earth possessed it to take us so far out of our way.

I might never know.,

She says that the online rally map style: "hard right" "hard  left" instructions were a help.

Though when the sats went silly and we were, so it said, in the river,  didn't rebuild our faith in it

We arrived at somewhere we knew and we turned the box off. 

But of course we did get home, and we got a bit of sleep, but not much
The GPS - versus a map in my hand saved us about minus 2 hours.

I am off to bed now and Brittany tomorrow.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Time for cuts

We are told by the great and the good that part of the programe they were not elected to implement is to make some cuts.

In the spirit of accountability they have asked us, the public, their bosses so they don't say, for suggestions.

The obvious first point of call is Trident, a useless obsolete weapon no matter how you  look at.

A matchlock in a rifle age and as independant as the Americans let it be.

OK, now we have liberated petty cash (60 billion) lets go and save some real money.

Lets cut tax evasion, unlike benefit cuts, this would effect a tiny proportion of the population. A few thousand at most.

This would yield, according to informed sources, about 60 bil, not  a one off though, 60 bil a year.

Put it another way - we just solved the deficit, we can keep education for our young people, no need to scrap the NHS, we could even have a proper well funded military.

Gosh, that wasn't hard, or rocket science I expect Mr Clegg and Camerron will be knocking at my door.

But wait, those couple of thousand people who will be hurt by this, who do they call friend.

Not me, but it might be Nick, Dave,  not to mention Tony and Margaret all  good friends to the rich who don't want to pay their share into the state.


up and at them.....

Feeling a lot more dynamic today, but have to be carefull as we have one of our special weekends coming up.

Did not get much sleep last night something kept waking me. Then I worked out that rain was coming in through the velux and landing on my head.

Quite amusing after the event...

Still today there is building work to do and firewood to sort.

Up and at them!!!


Monday, 6 September 2010

oh my gout....

While I am writing as it were. I might throw in a few bob about the wonderful condition called gout.

First it's really horrid, even toothache is nicer..

Then off you go to the doc and s/he will give you a diet sheet that includes everything you like.

Trouble is that will be the don't eat list.

Everything you like you can't touch.

My limited experiences suggest that you really rack up your vitamin C consumption and drink water like it's going out of fashion.

8 pints a day is a good start.

Start the medication the moment you feel a twinge - don't fight it

Don't fight it is a big part - stop what you are doing, rest and stay warm.

I was a lifeguard and there is a big part of that training: no pain no gain that is a real obstacle.

Ride it out till it goes away, consider a warmer climate - gosh maybe we should move to Brittany.

She would hate that - not much mind


By the combined might of very strong medication, vast quantities of water and enforced rest I think things are getting better.

Management, god bless her confiscated my boots to stop me going outside. So I was left to tend the fire, therin lies it's own contradiction too. She insisted we keep the fire in to keep the house dry as the biblical innundation went on outside.

My laptop was moved downstairs so I didn't spend all day in bed but went to the living room.

She was in the old hotel bit with Bethan doing building type things.

It wasn't too bad till Tallie got home; he is a reincarnated lizard and temperatures in the living room reached 28 in the cool bit furthest away from the fire.

I was sat on the computer watching my clothes start to smolder. 

His mother meanwhile had opened the windows upstairs because it was too damn hot.

So now we sit here with the fire going in the living room and the windows open in the bed room.

Really this is very very good.

Much air is being moved through the building and a bit of heat stored in the walls.

But the good news I am feeling Ok again, being unable to move really depresses me

I will not be good at being disabled if that ever happens.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

late into the night

It's a bit late and I am still awake.

We had a great time at the carnival, well when I say we I mean two of us.

Two is not a number to set up a green goddess for pumping .

But we got through it and had a reasonably good time.

Then back home and saddness of all sadnesses we got involved in serious building which has gone on around the young people here returning to education.

So anyway everything went Ok till the builder and Dai decided we needed a planning meeting.

This involved far too much re wine and corkscrew work  now, having had a few lovely days where I could drive the trucks, I am back in gout.

It really has to improve though this week we need to do some serious lumberjack work

Mind you I have a big love for chainsaw work.

Chainsaw therapy even...