Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wisedom of the student

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

Such wisdom in one so young....

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

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

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


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Sat still too long

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

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


The Sales the sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glad to be home with no where to go.

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


Sunday, 26 December 2010

A day for Boxing....

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

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

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

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

The answer -  not much.

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


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Ho ho ho

This is us doing Xmas.

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

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

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

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

Friday, 24 December 2010

and here we go

Jackie sparkes came into the house today.

She was ever Lillliths mate.

They were allways together.

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

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

So we start Xmas with another burial.

This is feeling really good.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Student life

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

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

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

Peace on earth.....

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

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

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

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

You will just know this is my idea of heaven.  

Or maybe you will think something else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am a bit stumped really.

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


In the bleak midwinter.

It's colder than yesterday.....

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The AGA can....

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

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

So far so good it seems to be still in.

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

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

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

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

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

And a very good morning to the grim reaper.

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

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

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

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

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


Up and at them

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Lillith the late cat

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

There are rather a lot of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But she died today as Gwion fussed her.

Poor little thing.

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

We will bury her tomorrow.

What a lovely start to Xmas



Sunday, 19 December 2010

hip hip essay !!!!

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

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

Then she dropped her bombshell;

That's ONE of them done.

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

Think I am going to cry.....


Whither the weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, 18 December 2010

No no - we are doing a rewrite.

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

That done, the conclusion beckons.

I think we are within sight though.


and that's just me  

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

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

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

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

It is nearly but not quite there.

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

This could take all night..... 

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

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

Essay Esssay Essay

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

Friday, 17 December 2010

I love the student

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

Bit like me really


How many rewrites......

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

How many times can you write an essay?

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


Welcome to the plague house

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the plague house....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Oh for a quiet nights sleep

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

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

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

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

Except highlight how bad things could get.

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

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

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

She now needs to tinker it right.

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

And the essay needs to be in on Monday


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Axes and essays....

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, 13 December 2010

I's a cats life....

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

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

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

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


Just another manic monday......

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Factor in some talent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even more than the Condems this is the enemy.


A clash of cultures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 9 December 2010

The student of driving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lovely day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things that can become extraordinarily fixated in behaviour.

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

They might even have a point.

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

Not really, 

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She probably has the same vile bug as me.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Brawd Houdini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love the student and I love Bethan

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

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

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

By the way....


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Water on earth am I going to do now.

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

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


Water ran, washing machines and dishwashers  washed.

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

So that was that.

I am not sure what had frozen but something has.

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

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

Oh joy!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The state deserves everything it will get.