Sunday, 31 October 2010

Diploma in Computers Rodney

The student: "Brannie brannie come quick"

B "what"

S "I've maneged to save it and open it again"

B "Riiiiiiigggghhht what's happened to the graphic"

S: "I pushed a button and it went all funny"

B "What button"

S: "Errrrhhhh Can you sort it out?"

B "I'll do it all - it will be quicker."

The student really is not getting this computing thing....


To Brittany - for a Chinese meal.

Now you do sort of get used to it sometimes, when the student and I go away it tends to turn wacky on occasion, well on  all of them really.

Most of the time the student and I are models of good behaviour, we try and be frugal. Even our trips to Brittany to see to the house are characterised by a very detailed and firm eye on keeping the costs down.

Just occasionally though we allow ourselves some slack and get all profligate. This weekend we went a bit mad and splashed out to the tunes of booking ourselves a night in a hotel in Roscoff

But first we sailed into St Malo, one of the loveliest ports in north France, on the Bretagne a Ferry we sailed on when it was new and so were we as an item.  An irresponsible profligacy in the restaurant, they had langoustines in the buffet so I filled the plate, then wonderfully cooked beef followed by a bewildering selection of sweets  some lovely wine and bed in a comfortable cabin.

Bright and early, full of coffee,  into the gloom of October morning we ran off and found the "Route de rhum" in full swing, The harbour was littered with square rigged ships which made a spectacle so tremendous I really wished I had brought  my camera.

A sense of direction would have been a help too and we ended up lost on the wrong side of the, now open, swingbridge.   We did though find our way to the carrefour where we spent some sensible money before we set our sights on Dinan stopping at the intermarche on the way.

Of course the day was enlivened by the Xantias random hydraulic suspension setting: taking it's pick between high medium and low  with no particular sense of it doing anything in particular at any time.

Parking up just outside the medieval walled town we walked down to the house of my old mate Peter and his wife Mina.

Having decided not to bother with breakfast we were just about ready for lunch. A few happy hours and we were on the interminable drage from Dinan to Roscoff via St Brieuc. Thank goodness we timed it right and were past the metropolis before the ruch hour got under way. Roads were still very very crowded by the normal average for  the region.

A couple of hours boredom and we made our way to Roscoff (via the Leclerc Supermarket at St Pol de Leon)

I must say that the car was, by now, on the "full" side of full and we pulled into the carpark of a small hotel, then parked up for the night.

There is only one place to eat in Roscoff and that is a particular Creperie whose name eludes me. It's definitely going to elude me  now because I recommended it on and online review site since then  it is always full  when we go to Roscoff.

So, rejecting the other restauraunts we followed a whim and, in a Breton seaside town we went for a Chinese. Oh dear, what a find, the food was simply superb a superlative packed few hours we were beyond further food  and crawled off to bed. .

Next day, bright and early we had spotted a few odd nooks and crannies in the Xantia so it was off to Red Cash Wine and Beer at St Pol and yet another visit to LeClerc.  

The car was now just about close the doors level full and we went off into town, err to get a meal actually. Thinking I might not need to eat for a good few days we set back for the ferry and a rather choppy trip home. Management chose to sleep this one through, historically she has leaked a few times in rough weather. Not this time though she slumbered all the way home and I read a 200 page book.

Our luck is not always the best and we had landed as one of the very last cars to be taken off the ferry, last but three in fact.

So it was up the M5 and home beckoned.

Luck is indeed not limitless and ours ran out at this stage. The Xantia suspension locked firmly in the down position. This was not good news and I did debate calling the RAC to recover us. This would have added hours to the trip and so I decided to brave it. A thoroughly unpleasant drive in both wind and rain. But we got home, at, well I am not sure when it was and the clocks changed exactly then, so it could have been 2 or 1 or 3 depending how you look at it.

Management is recovered, she has slept bathed and is now busily reflective writing. 

Me, a good few hundred miles driving in a couple of days under my belt, I could use a cold beer and a kip.

Hmmm I think I might know where there is the odd drop of beer.


lovely weekend with management

Lovely weekend away with management I need a couple of days off to recover.

Sure I will end up writing it up later 

Hell og a lucky break for Obama and Cameron though. Lots of lovely terrorist bombs, just the thing when people are asking serious questions about what you get up too.

And the cuts are really bighting too big cut in tax - for Vodafone, but at last signs of politicisation, people organising to boycot the company.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Now, I love management dearly, (I tried loving her cheaply and it just didn't work....).

But I was just sitting here, enjoying life, peace silence and stuff.

I heard a car outside - bugger: social workers doing a raid.

No, even worse, Serenity dropping the kids off so I could look after them.

Errr, excuse me, had I agreed to this?

No, kind management had agreed to it on my behalf on a day when she knew she would not be here.

I am starting to  see why many spouses leave their studenty partners.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

ohh grief.

It's 23.39 proper time and I cannot believe I am still here.

The student finished her work last night at 01.00. An essay plan had been put together in the car but then the paper went west and we could not find it so another had to be produced.

Cutting a long story shorter she got everything sent off so all was OK if not well.

She trundled off to uni this morning and I sat back for a mad day.

Childer needed to be everywhere and so I had a real driving day and managed to fit in an interview for TV as well. Fame beckons - I wish. I was so time pushed I didn't even have time to get the shaving tackle out so I did a passable impresonation of Claude Greengrass.

I should of course mention the fostering service, they only really pop up to cause us grief. Not having done a visit for much of a year, they are going to need to pack a couple in before the review. which is overdue anyway. So last week our supervising worker phoned to ask when we would be about this week.

 So we have straped ourselves in made sure the place is immaculate, or at least tidy and told the children that doing things with them that promote their resilience and self efficacy is less important than polishing the silver as there is a tick box in the assessment for the one but not the other.

She did not turn up today but tomorrow is probably a cert.  

Tonight we took the kids  to the cinema and watched a really good film, shame I cannot remember what it was called.

The weather there and back would have had to improove a lot to be VILE.

Oh did I mention being vehicularly challenged, the Xantia which is a Citroen and has hydraulic suspension has developed what can best be described as random suspension. Sometimes up, sometimes down, somtimes one end up and the other down.

Makes driving it a barrel of laughs and of course we have to drive it, this weekend to Portsmouth then from Dinan to Roscoff then Plymouth then home.

With the fuel situation in France it seems everything but fluid, as in you cannot have any fluids.

I think I am starting to drivel more than normal.

Time for bed for me.

Might try and award myself a lie in in the morning.

The student of course is off to uni. 



Monday, 25 October 2010

You join the big society, these lads are not up for it

Not a lot to add is there......

The student is buried in her essay brief  500 word segment of the essay.

If each bit is going to take this long it could be an epic document.

Note to self must read the Munro report.

In fact I might download it now as this is turning into a long night.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

For the love of the student.

I don't know if it's this schmozzing with the hoi poloi at the care council she has been doing or the general being at uni but the management has decided I need to smarten up my act.

Now, when I am doing work type things I do try and be the part, everything almost but not quite up to wearing a suit included. Though there was one occasion where I did indeed wear the uniform.

When I am not there though, I like to be "comfortable", shave is something you need maybe well, ok every time I have to go to university.

I have been getting the feeling this is getting to grate with a certain member of the household and so this week I spent a good few pounds on a proper razor. The instant throw away thingies are great if you shave every day, but are useless for dealing with proper face fuz.

So anyway, off she went to Uni and out came the razor. proper full on shave with all the smellies to go with it. Home she came and did she say; "gosh you look nice?"  did she even notice?

I understand how it feels when women spend all day making themselves look good for their husbands who then bury their nose in the paper and say nothing.

I don't know why us girls  bother.....


Death by Gramsci

One of the things that shook me a bit about the students intro to university life was a talk by one of the tutors that explained how most of them would most likely leave their partners by the end of the degree.

The degree she explained was such a life changing thing that they would not be the people they were now at the end of it and they would have dumped  the person they were with now as a result.

I must say that this wasn't the best bit of news I got that week and was right up there with someone coming down the drive saying they are taking  my Green Goddesses back into government ownership would have been.

But anyway the weeks have rolled on and we have had many a day and I have been furiously reading books and papers and delving the depths of theories and things I had not looked at for years and years.

Last night, it was middle of the night, about 3 am and she woke with a start. "Ahh", I thought "she loves me and she has woken to make......"

She was out the bed like a greyhound out of the traps. Downstairs and "got to write this up while I am still thinking it".

Back to bed she came and maybe..... No, she had to get it into her online journal.

Student had to send in an essay plan: completed in the car as we drove to Daycastle last night.  Then she had to send in a sample of what is likely to be in the finished article just so they can be sure she can write.

This  involved serious digging through the books archive here.

(one of my next jobs is to turn librarian, sort the social science and social work from her huge  crime fiction list and my big collection of anorak manuals.)

There are books open everywhere with quotations underlined  and pages marked.

This week we have done reflection, critical thinking. Essay planning and everything.

My brane hurts.  

I know the truth now, it's not the students who leave their spouses.

Their spouses are hegemony'd   out and throw them out.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Take it easy, I wish I could...

The political firefight continues,

Everyone arguing with everyone else about what is right

A bewildering 42 percent are said to believe the cuts are fair.

I wonder if some little tinker was able to find out how much more of his own money Cameron  is throwing in to fund the bog society everyone would be so happy. .

They are playing a dangerous game people in this country are sheep, but what if they managed to change them into lions.


Today has been a non lion day here Lots of driving round.

I had to tell management I was driving the long haul to Daycastle to collect P as she is clearly very tired.

Four hours behind the wheel and I was very tired, she is refreshed enough to have run upstairs and added something to that which she has been writing.

Not sure if it's the essay plan or the reflective blog,

Must be good as she is very fired up by it.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

A time of relief

The student went off today to her very first student conference.Of course the state of the Xantia zorst meant that she took the little AX.

At this end of time things went on apace, no chance of doing anything with the Xantia with the garage lift chock full of 806 so tomorrow I am off to another garage the one that MOT'd it 2 days before the pipe snapped.

But it was off with me an Tallie on manouveres to get some bits. A visit to the auto electrician and the winch he had stripped yesterday was declared scrap.

My this is getting to be fun as the management came home saying that the charge light is flashing in the AX - something I might need to look at tomorrow.

Tomorrow could have been a very nice day, well if it wasn't for the evils of inset and all the kids being home.

We will have no proper quality time together till well next week when we are off to Brittany, just the two of us. 

Best of all, she had feedback today on  a piece of reflective work.

Having read some undergraduate stuff I knew it was really good.

So I didn't dance round the room when she got the kind of feedback I expected.

Because through all the bias, I know she's bright.

She, however was never as sure. 

Not bright though has another level.

Camerron god bless him has a personal pot of 4 mil or so.

As part of his big society and being wealthy he is really going to open the cheque book, or is all his money stached abroad so he does not pay tax on it.

The assessment of the budget says that the hardest hit will be poorer families with children.

So they pay for the big society and DC avoids paying anything at all.

I am getting the picture.

Not sure everyone else is though.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

We should have a French Moment

It might be time for us in the UK to have a France moment.

They have really shoved it to their government that neoliberalism dressed up as a response to a fiscal crisis created by capital is not going to wash.

We have in the UK uncritically accepted a need for cuts which are entirely due to the recklessness of the banking sector.The need to bail out the banks and the decline in economic activity and hence tax receipts have given us a huge defecit.

The response from the condems has been breathtaking so far  they have implimented a neoloberal government reduction programme. They want small government and this is their excuse it has nothing to do with economic circumstance but political dogma.

They will throw this country back into recession if thats what it takes to get their dogma through.

In that they are just like Thatcher, trash the country to get the result that pays you.

Ultimately though, these "we are all in it together" millionaires will never know what it's like to live in a sink estate and have your benefits cut.

As I said - time for a France moment  and say, no actually, we didn't vote for this, we never agreed to bail out the bankers, we believe in proper public services that are not run for profit.   

It's our money we want it back. 


Students are so unpredictable.....

She came home to be confronted by a winch in component form in the kitchen, and she laughed. He was just like his father she said, She didn't laugh when I decided it was more comfortable to strip down a carburettor on the kitchen table than outside in the cold, no she was pretty miffed in fact.

Then on to Damans misdemeanour's which she also found quite hilarious, mainly I suspect because it was me that had to pick up the vile smelling object and put he who lives outside outside. He is so outside just now that he is sat on "his" chair in front of the fire.....  

But of course she had had an event herself, a vehicular moment. The Xantia with the ink barely dry on the MOT has split something on the exhaust. I thought a dragster was pulling up outside.

This could complicate things nicely, as well as being a student she is a student off to her first student conference in the morning. They will hear her before they see her that's for sure....


There's going to be trouble.

Today has not been too bad a day, the student is in uni so I had a little pootle round, organised tea and went over to Greasy garage so we could strain and swear the 806 inside where the engine can be changed. This is solid progress.

Other things have been less good. The cats live outdoors, there I've said it. Thing is though living outdoors is what we say, what they do when it is cold and wet is quite diferent. Da Man having succesfully sneaked into the house where he immediately went to the kitchen to investigate food possibilities.  As far as he is concerned all food is his.

Well anyway, he took a flying leap at the kitchen units, missed, and fell into the compost bin which was full of old veg and coffee grains. This upset him so much that he had to got and sit on my bed. Where I found him by following the trail of footprints and bits of veg, looking a bit fed up but not even slightly remorseful. 

To add to the general air.Taliesin arrived home from work today and decided to find out why the winch on his discovery is not working. This was all OK except he decided to strip it down on the kitchen table and our tea was slightly disturbed by the wafts of oil and WD40 coming from his work area.

I am not psychic but I feel that the student coming home to all this, is not going to be pleased.

With all the running round today I left lighting the fire to quite late and the temperature in the living room is only 23 degrees, I had better get stoking, she is usually quite cold after a day in university. Mind you I bet things will warm quickly.


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

the weather arrives.

We have so far enjoyed a bit of an Indian summer. A very mild run into winter but all that changed today The temperature dropped below 10 C but more important out here the wind came up.

This morning a rush to finish the wood before the weather turned horrid and I spent half hour stints outside with the Axe splitting  half hour outside then half hour defrosting in the 28C living room. Then   big D decided to get out of bed and help finish it off. That mix of oak and really knotted and twisted larch really made me  and the axe struggle.
Then it was a matter of trundling it into the house our cottage store room and the garage store room

The mackerel sky was it's own warning and without need of a weather forecast quickly we got everything under cover, not bothering with the tidy stack. I ended up putting a load of wood in a big sand bag outside the front door.

It was all none too soon  The rain arrived battering the windows and the temperature in the living room has fallen too. It's down to 25  C

The house is wonderfully warm,  I'm sitting on my bed in a warm bedroom lets keep it that way.

The house had a huge 100,000 btu boiler which never really seemed to deliver, this wood burner seems to suit the nature and fabric of the house far better.

I am a convert to wood heating, if not quite converted to wood cutting.

Though I would admit that chopping wood is good for my levels of fitness.


Monday, 18 October 2010

Ethics Values and Morals

The student is wrestling on the kitchen table writing a piece about ethics morals and values in social work. As you  might have noticed they have featured nearly but not quite as much as axes and chain saws in my recent life.

It was a bit stunning as today we get told the BMA has no ethical issues with this American who wants to pay substance users to be sterilized.

Now, leaving aside the overtones of eugenics in this. The medical profession will be paid to perform operations on people who at the time that they consented were in the midst of personal crisis, could be mentally ill  and possibly inebriated.

It would be illegal to give them a tattoo but it would not be an ethical problem to chop out their reproductive bits.

Pick on them when they are at their very lowest, say to them; "have this procedure and we will fund your next week of drugs".

What the hell ever happened to informed consent. How informed is consent given whilst in the depths of everything and desperate for your next fix. 

You would not condone this in selling double glazing never mind ending someone's right to have children

This is the ethics of the gutter, the last time something this odious was proposed the chap proposing it had a dapper line in shirts a really  off hair do and a moustache.

The student is out there writing about morals and Ethics.

The BMA it seems to me, has no problem with doing the immoral and unethical to those on the margins of society so long as there is a yank with  money.

Perhaps this is the big society in action


Sunday, 17 October 2010

Home work

The student should be writing all sorts about ethics and practice and reflection.

She is however knackered and she is watching brane dead tv instead.

I can see the appeal.


Ethics in social work.

There, thought that would wake you up.

Today our morals and ethics in social work student was seen throwing big lumps of wood around I was seen with chainsaw in hand and much axeing took place too.

As slave driver parents we were seen getting childer to move huge quantities of wood, much as they wood in Victorian times. Hmmm better be careful, maybe someone from health and safety will be worried that we didn't do a risk assessment for trundling the wheelbarrow  and stacking  the wood is probably seriously lethal.

Bad carer that I am, big D was actually seen with a felling axe in his hands, he is getting quite good at using it and perish the thought that he has enjoyed learning the new skill.

All the kids pulled their weight, we worked as a strong team.

We didn't get through as much wood as last weekend, but we are now working one of the older drier stacks that is mainly oak and that is real chain saw blunting stuff, I have   sharpened the saw 3 times this weekend.

The good news though, we are seriously getting there The garage is on the full side of full, so it's back to filling the cottage next and there is not a huge amount of room in there.

We are approaching the point of having a big space outside Somewhere we could dump even more wood.....

And the student still needs to do her reflective journal.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Student life.....

So we spent half the day waving chainsaws about, more time wheel barrowing,  time I spent with my axe in my hand.

We have a mountain of wood in the garage the place is close to full.

My chainsaw servicing bench will have to move in the cottage, Bruce's throne will be filled in.

I cannot believe just how much wood we have processed in how little time.

I think we are going to end up sheeting down a lot of the wood and simply leaving it till we have somewhere to put it. 

The student of course is currently lounging on the settee and regaling me with snippets from her current reading "ethics and values in social work" .

She is still working on her reflective piece of work which, if I was to be honest would be more like smashing the mirror.


Friday, 15 October 2010

the face of blog.

There has to be a way of prettyfyig a blog.

Lots of other people seem to have sussed it, maybe I am just an old technophobe.

One day I will look all this fancy stuff up


My brane hurts

 I think I need a rest, this living with a student lark is hard work.

She has read loads of books and the moral maze is really opening up.

This morning we went to user empowerment in social work as social control. With a discussion of how social work is part of the repressive state apparatus (Althuser) acting largely on a reserve army of Labour (Braverman) whilst also considering that social work is a way of diverting the middle classes away from developing radical class consciousness (Marcuse) whilst locking them down in a form of hegemony  (Gramsci) that prevents them from seeing that the true problem is located in  economic relations of production (Marx) just a normal car type conversation. 

She is downstairs now doing a reflective journal and I am banished upstairs to the bedroom - phew. 

My BRANE hurts 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Student life

I had forgotten what student life is about.

I did a lot of the stuff the is engaging with, Gramsci, Marcuse and of course, though no one talks about him now Karl Marx.

There are books with titles like Critical Social Work Practice open on the bed.

I am going to have to do some reading. to stay up.

I am quietly loving this.

Going to have to force myself to look at her books when she is in uni.  


building work does not allways go to plan......

Some times things don't go to plan. 

Half the back wall came down today as the builders were hacking out to repoint the wall.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mamby pamby ism

I am getting really fed up and bored with politics.

Yes it's late at night, I have had a not to good day and I am  fed up.

Having heard the exchange between the two neoliberals today, Ed did well mind.

What is wrong with proper ideas.

Rich people pay more tax than poor people - that's fair.

Why doesn't the big society buy into this.

Or would that be pain for the Clegg Camerrons their little mates et al.... 

I can just see them buying into the notion of fair and just - errrr maybe not


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The students are revolting.

With management going on a degree course in social work coming from a family that has at times been highly critical of the profession it was sort of inevitable that at some stage things might turn a bit lively.

I had not though expected festivities to commence on day three in college. There appears to have been a debate about the personalisation agenda, something about which we both have pretty strong views. Throw in service user involvement   and you are in some pretty controversial territory, well so it seems. 

Sounds like she had a really lively time in her seminar, and she came home talking about marketisation making social work a commercial activity Gramsci and Hegemony.  She is turning into an academic at a speed that is, quite frankly, bewildering.

In contrast, I am not, last week the 806 expired in a ball of smoke and steam. The head gasket was suspected - I wish.... I am fairly careful on such matters as oil and water, though of course on the 806 the oil is checked automatically every time you start the engine and a little pointer tells you if you need to add oil.

A few weeks back I had to put a litre of oil in it which was unusual but since then it has showed it is full every time the engine starts.

I suspect a few of you are now way ahead of me.

But anyway what appears to have happened is that there was oil starvation, the camshaft seized in the head which will have lead to lots of mechanical bits saying hello to lots of other mechanical bits and to describe the cambelt as shredded is not really getting close to a description. Basically, the inside of the engine is going to be like a war zone.

I learnt this as I was sitting in the passenger seat of the AX as Branwen drove to college.

Now, the 806 with a dead engine was going to be worth about 100 pounds no more.

The 806 running was going to be worth 500 pounds. Add an MOT and you would stick a one in front of that.,

So everything hung on whether an engine could be found.  The answer to that was yes. The local breaker had just taken the engine out of a late and low mileage 306 that had got all intimate with the hedge as it's owner drove it home from the pub.

The 306 is a far smaller car but it does use the same engine. 100 pounds was a really good price and so off to the cashpoint and then back to the yard.

Now an XUD diesel engine is lots of things, light isn't one of them.  It took 3 of us to get it into the back of the little AX, I would hazard a guess that it weighs the best part of 150 kg in a car that probably weighs about 500 kg all up. .

To say this had an effect on how the little AX handled is also a understatement, especially as we could not quite get the engine into the car so that all the weight  was, in effect, behind the rear axle.

The drive home was "interesting" fortunately the weight had killed most of the performance and, having the engine so near to the back of the car, when it started leaking oil it did so on to the road not the carpet.

The thought that in an emergency stop in which I would probably have a bloody heavy engine coming to join me in the front also conspired to introduce an element of caution into my driving style  already made cautious by the anti handling kit next to the tailgate.

The engine was soon delivered to the garage and unloading was far easier as it was going on the floor and that was in the down direction, down rendered less damaging by the use of tyres as padding.

Then it was off home to see how much housework the two teenies had done - exactly none. They had sat there looking at the washing up expecting perhaps their gaze to shame it into cleaning  itself.

Now the evening is upon us, the student is home and she seems to have got the hang of PowerPoint.

I have found the corkscrew and I think I might just use it....



Students should be in university

There is a lot to be said for education you know. Students are in university, this means she is not here saying we need to cut another 50 tons of wood this morning, not looking at me reproachfully when I have not split a mountain of rock hard oak logs. Not in the garage asking for the next groaning wheelbarrow of wood to be delivered.

Her sadistic side is off being sadistic to someone else.

On the positive side her being in university is really bringing out her clever side, her intelligence that she has often not been confident enough to fully explore.

Gosh I said something nice about the management  I had better be careful or people might think I love her to bits and miss her when she isn't here.


Monday, 11 October 2010

Byw yn y gwlad.....

Today was one of those lovely autumnal days, crisp warm enough with just a hint of breeze.

So of course we started it by dropping Tallie in work and his car in the garage. Back home via the farmers merchant to get more chain saw oil  note to self get lots when you go to France cos it's loads cheaper there.

Soon the sound of axe on oak was heard together with the wheel  squeak of heavily burdened wheelbarrows.

Next came the 2 stroke yowl of chainsaw which was cut short as no one son had used all the fuel trying to start a V8 yesterday.

Still it's all progress and we are running out of storage space for the mountain of wood we have processed. Perhaps I have overstated that but we had to do some rearrangement in the garage today to make room and the cottage is next up for realignment.

The stack  in the garage is 6 foot high 20 foot deep and about 6 foot wide.

The cottage about 8 foot high 6 foot deep and 14 foot wide.

Thats a lot of wood but we are not finished yet. 

We are thinking of getting some cheap tarps to put over the wood when we completely run out of storage and that day is not such a long way off.  

It's been a bitty day though.

In the midst of all this we got some new tyres  on the AX and towed the hapless 806 over to greasy garage.

It must be said that this was not the most relaxed part of the day, the 806 weighs a bit and half way up the 25% hill the Xantia was scrabbling furiously trying to get grip. Somehow we got past the hairpins and delicate throttle control kept us on the move. Management loves being towed - not. 

If she dislikes being towed, being a passenger with her is something I find errr interesting.

Keen to experience the new tyres off we both went tonight to collect little D from school.

School being a special stage collection of twisty lanes away. Management to be fair was very impressed with the pin sharp handling on the new tyres.

She was impressed to the point that the AX was going to be the mode to get to Uni tomorrow. Then of course, full of joie de vivre the AX got dumped into a corner too far. Far too bloody far.....

We didn't actually hit anything but she has now decided it might be better to take the Xantia tomorrow.

 There is even more good news though, she is very pleased with herself as she thinks she has now got the hang of powerpoint. Indeed tonight she downloaded some lecture notes for tomorrow and she was full of beans about how she could alter them to make them more sensible.

She should really be doing more powerpoint practice but she has gone off with Tallie driving to see one of her little mates instead. I think she might have taken a bottle of wine with her.



Sunday, 10 October 2010

the end of education

Some chap has been asked to look at universities in the UK and is about to make a report that will suggest it is OK for universities to set their own fees for degrees - the sky is the limit.

We moved under the Tories last incarnation from a system where the state funded university education to one where the individual picked up the tag.

This original was derived from us in  Wales, where workers funded universities then supported them to educate the brightest as a ladder out of poverty.

The Welsh word for education is ysgol in English that's ladder.   

Lets also  remind ourselves that having a degree was a real profit point from the state point of view as graduates paid shed loads more in tax over their lives, therefore making it  a shrewd investment on the part of the state.

Today students self fund, borrowing money to cover their fees etc which they repay later, as well as paying the higher tax on their improoved performance - Del boy would love it!

But now we have gone a step further universities become just another fee paying part of the education system - just like Eaton or Harrow.

So you will have the top end universities charging goodness knows what a term and the mainstream charging less but of course what will also come in is the bargain basement.

The send us your money and you get a degree without the tedious need for lectures and work.

This will work top end too - if you have dropped a university a big bung in course fees then spent 3 years smoking dope you are hardly going to be happy with less than a first are you?

And you will have lawyers to explain why they were the ones who didn't wheel you into lectures because you could not walk and write your essays because you could not talk and it's all the universities fault.

I got my degree from a Polytechnic, something that used to be viewed as a second rate institution but which had a central council that oversaw academic standards whilst universities set their own.

This is the second nail in the coffin of universal free education.

We will be back to send your kids to the school you can afford.

And if you can't afford school  it's your fault.

So much of what made this country great was a product of people saying: "lets pool our money, send our children to school and send the brightest to university"

"pool our money and get the best medical care for all of us"

It was based on a notion that we are all in this together and we all look out for each other.

That was then.

Neoliberalism is on the march.

Time to invest in petrol and empty bottles methinks.



Student life

It has to be said that the student is not the happiest creature on the planet.

True there is great delight at the state of the woodshed, but I misunderstood her this morning.

What I took to be a triumphant "I did it" was actually a form of frustrated harrumph at the nanny electronic teacher whose voice no longer has me thinking of lump hammers but has me imagining throwing the laptop under the wheels of the green goddess and driving over it - lots.

Apparently "I did it" was a response to teacher telling her that what she had done was wrong and that what she should have done is what, so the student says, she actually did anyway.  

She is settling in for and evening of computerism, she is determined to get this right if it kills her, or me....

Having had the grandchilder round all day so Serenity could sleep, though of course knowing Serenity "sleep" could be another word for going down the pub or staying in and having lots of rumpy pumpy.  But anyway a day of grand kids is the sort of thing to elevate the student to levels of happiness only usually seen if her mum comes to visit, a time when cats emigrate and I go and hide out in the garage...


Don't axe what I did today.

It has been a brisk few days.

Maybe it would help if I put in some numbers to make it clear. When we got back from Brittany it was to a house with quite a lot of wood but not a lot of firewood.

We didn't really get into our stride till September when we cut about 5 tons of wood. Not bad going you might think. This month we processed another 5 tons, only it wasn't in the month it was since Thursday morning.

What made it even more spectacular was that one tone of that was proper hard oak. Normal wood, post chain saw gets slivvered with little fire fighters hand axes from the 50's and very good they are too.

Oak though needs full hit blows with a felling axe, ours of course are veterans of the blitz in 1940 - far better than anything you can get today!

I split 1/2 ton of oak this morning, on my own. It was seriously hard work, one particularly stubborn bit took about 5 minutes.

In all today we probably processed about 2 tons with about 1/2 ton left outside to move and stack in the morning.

It's brilliant though, we have enough wood  cut to see us through the winter, though we won't stop now just in case. Unlike petrol wood stacked now and used next year will be even better!

We would use about 2 tanks of heating oil in a normal winter, plus run a dehumidifyer and use the tumble drier. The oil alone would cost us about 2000 pounds.

!0 tons of wood, that's 200 pounds, plus about 4 gallons (thats about 20 litres)  of petrol 2 gallons of chain oil and some two stroke. Even a Tory could make those sums add up.

Not factored in is our time but of course I am now, after a really nasty time this year, feeling fit, which improves my confidence and makes me feel a lot more healthy.   

So don't axe me what I did today though I am probably going to be saw in the morning.


Triumphant at 08. 44 on a Sunday morning

People often make statements about success on a Sunday morning.

The management or student rather has just announced very loudly to the whole house that she has " $$$$$$$$$ done it".

This is not however something in the bedroom department even though she is currently in bed.

I think it involves the computer and powerpoint and her ECDL.

Something she cannot do from home which is a big pity as then we could simply give the task to Branwen...

Branwen incidentally, the mistress of diplomacy, borrowed her mothers laptop yesterday so she could complete her homework which was a presentation about ecological house building which she was doing using errrr powerpoint actually. 

Her mother didn't actually explode but there was a bit of an atmosphere...

Hey ho, the student  incidentally is off to get the step kids for the day, I think I might be outside with the chainsaw. 


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Being alive...

Being alive is a superb thing and you do lots of hard work which makes you feel really exilerated on a wave of seratonins and then you have muscles which makes you feel good.

I am saying this because tomorrow I will probably wake up feeling like the insides of my arms are on fire.

So, please ignore the post I have yet to make. 


Long long days with a student

Been a long day with the student today.

Chainsaw reloaded a couple of times and real mountains of wood cut, well apart from this after noon.

Hit the motherlode, a batch of oak, now you might rememeber that the ancestors built warships out of this stuff because it was so tough. Chainsaw giving it's all and we were just about getting through it.

That amounts to a big challenge to the axe squad and much fodder for the wheelbarrow crew to feed the stackerologist.

Put another way, teamwork.

It did mean that tonight management and I went out and had a quiet night out.

Getting into the bath my arms feel lots stronger, I am quite invigorated even...


Friday, 8 October 2010

Red eyed morning.

Ah the peace of it all. Saturday morning, management snoring gently a cat curled up in a ball children and young people asleep.

What a peaceful start to a day should last all of 20 minutes, then it will be chainsaw and wood axe and stack.

I love life here, I think, well maybe...


Another day and even more fun in store.

Ahhh things go from exciting to even more exciting....

Out of bed all bright and early off to take Taliesin (broken down Clio) to work then back to cut wood - or not.

The AX simply died on the way home and electrics there were not a peep of, Dead as a dead thing.

Some serious Xantia level resuscitation got it over to Dinas and open bonnet surgery commenced

Back home and out with the chainsaw, sharpened to a sharp thing, then it ripped through a load of wood. 

Back into the house and  the laptop came out. Oh dear, on with the show Rodney, pretty soon it became clear that without a couple of glasses of wine's inspiration her computer skills were even worse.

This ECDL is going to be some mountain to climb.

She was really really miffed off and I thought it might be wise to put her laptop away before anything got broken.

But at least the AX is back on the fleet.

Now all we need to do is get the 806 back and we will be half way there.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Diploma in Computing Rodney....

As part of her Social Work degree management is required to do something called the European Computer Driving Licence.  

Now, I am going to have to be carefull what I say here. Management is perhaps not the greatest person with computers. In fact if the Israelis wanted to really screw up Irans computer in it's nuclear reactor, no need to spirit in a virus on a data stick. Put a white coat on the management and get her to a keyboard, everything for miles would glow in the dark within minutes....

This is one of these automated online courses with the wonderful patronising annoying electronic voice.

It dosn't have usefull responses like:

"My, you really screwed that up didn't you?"


"Are you having a laugh?"

but rather tells you

"Well done you succeeded" in a patronising tone that would quite frankly have me hunting down the lump hammer to exact revenge.

Management is busy, hell she has even pinched the mouse off my laptop, the one on the keyboard does not seem to be recognised.

So tonight she is doing power point; lists have been inserted and taken away, format's altered and layouts changed.

This has involved much harrumphing, a selection of puzzled facial expressions and of course profanity. I did think for a moment during  "cut and paste" the text would actually be moved by the laptop going out of the window.

But we got there in the end, we are now changing the font and doing something with the paragraphing.

This is turning dangerous, she is going funny colours, lives might be lost...

The cats know when things are dangerous, deimund and  Da Man have gone into hiding.....  

But at the end of this she will have a Diploma in Computing - just like Rodney Trotter.

Next week the three wheel van.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

just another day

Today went off like a normal day.

The student headed off to uni and I organised everything else.

By some miracle everyone ended up where they needed to be and I set off for the PMC.

Now, I am no engineer but the way the dashboard lit up like starship enterprise, the mirror showed me a road full of smoke and steam pouring out from under the bonnet made me think things might not be quite right.

The RAC were pretty good and soon I was home.

Not before I had talked a professional collegue in to the meeting in a place she had never been and I had not been for about 40 years.

But now we run back to the day.

Having got the 806 home I had to make the AX (which as you might recall broke down last weekend) work.

That done, after a fashion it was off to collect kids.

I love the AX it's a true hooligans car, you throw it into things on a tidal wave of joie de vivre and it emerges on the other side in a tidal wave of body roll hanging on to the road like a limpet.

This afternoon I was being followed by someone who has a serious Audi sports car and all was well till we got to a bendy bit and then the AX left them for dead.

But faces must be facted it's now morning and I have to shoe horn the kids into the AX to take them to meet the bus.

Really need something a bit bigger or perhaps a trailer with seats.

The student though has managed to pass part one of her ECDL, something that has surprised everyone, especially her....



Tuesday, 5 October 2010

One day down.

This has been a bit of a day management left before she went to bed to make sure she was early enough for Uni, I was driving the 806 like a rally car to get everyone where they needed to be on time.

Then got on campus and had quite a long and interesting day with the care council that I really should not write about so I won't.

Came home and there was a big digger tearing the ground apart which for good measure just before going home time managed to rip through the water pipe on the uphill side of the tap that would allow us to turn it off. All we had to do was wait for 5000 litres of water to drain down from the tank.

Errr right

So anyway, lots of water and stuff running everywhere we got things back under control.

The Student of course was off doing studenty things so we were within a few hundred metres of each other but required us to stay apart.

Which was a shame as I dined regally with the care council at the buffet booked for 40 where there was a whole 6 of us.

Rosita my collegue and I were heroic in our efforts but when we started to doubt our ability to walk out we admited defeat.

I rushed home and discovered that, in my absence the teenies had done pretty much nothing.

Nearly took the axe to the teenie not the wood when he "helped" by bringing in a pile of wood that would not physically fit in the fire and then looked blank when I asked what he was thinking - stupid me - of course he was not thinking....

But anyway off I go tommorow to the very first  Project Management Meeting for me for the Post Qualifying Training, where the first agenda item is likely to be an agency saying they can't affoard any.

That sort of ran that train into the buffers then...



Monday, 4 October 2010

An update day

Gosh I love chainsaw

But of course, chainsaw produces axe and axe produces wheelbarrow followed by pile it up in the shed.

The student and I spent hours outside today and it was pretty good till the wind changed and now I am a mass of sawdust waiting for the bath to fill.

A teenager came home today so the student  got through her software nightmare.

We are ready for a day of days tomorrow - both at uni life is going to get complex.

And the  day after.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

A grand day in.....

Somewhat unusual day today as we were visited by 3 babies, 2 of them twins. All of them born within 2 days of each other. A lovely time was had, oh the parents were OK too.

Management found last week hard work. Well actually I think she can have a new name - Student. Now of course since I was a staff tutor on the course she is currently studying that would make me her....

I didn't actually finish telling her all that she gave me one of her special looks. So I remembered about discretion.

She is quite quiet at the moment, she has been told that as part of a degree to be a Social Worker these days you need to have a European Computer Driving Licence. Interestingly you can only do this on the software of the all pervasive Mr Gates and those like me who use Mozilla need not even apply.

So anyway she is on the computer logged into the university system trying to access the area for the ECDL and she is struggling to open the portal and she seems to be swearing at the computer a lot - could be an interesting time to come.

No scrub that - she has had enough, she is watching Wallander on IPlayer.

It's a funny thing you know, the building work has meant we took down the TV aerial, no TV.

Now, OK you can watch TV these days via broadband but the TV downstairs is currently running an Xbox and playing the odd DVD. Telly there is none and the kids do not seem that bothered.