Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy new ear - nose job next

As the old year finishes and I have to get used to signing things 2012, something which usually takes till November every year, it's time to sit back.

It's difficult to envisage that this time next year things will be a lot better, in fact there are plenty of portents of doom in the offing.

One of the most difficult economic periods for this country and we have Clegg Camerron and Osbourne at the helm. Whilst there is a lot to be said for having skills in smashing up restaurants and getting daddy to buy you out of the mess you make, I think I would rather a dour Scott in charge of the treasury.

The terrible fact is that the last time things looked this bad in the world. And it was a banking crisis that ended that one too, the world only properly came out of recession when governments were throwing millions at going to war.

I am not sure that would be my preferred option.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Martyred to the Green Cause

Here at Penole we are martyrs to the green cause Not for us the midwinter tumble drier to control the monster mountain of washing. No the line is up in the living room and, while the student is doing some essay about illness and health, I am in charge of clothes drying.

This involves log stove at full chat and washing everywhere, it's like a sauna in here. 75 F and 60% humidity.  

Of course this is both  a lot cheaper and a lot greener than electricity - but god elp us all, reckon I will have melted by the end of the night!!!


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dealing with banks and rating agencies

Someone quite clever once suggested that if you rob Peter to pay Paul. Paul will still be your mate. Now, apply this to thhe screwed up economic system in which we live and think..... Are Moodys et al Peter or Paul. To the streets..... R

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Boxing day without boxing.

Well, we survived.

Boxing day was gotten through with a remarkable lack of fisticuffs, If cornered and in total confidennce i would say I have quietly enjoyed having all of my children here with me and her for the last couple of days.

That is all over now, Bethan has gone to her boyfriends and they all seem to have somewhere that is not here to see in the new year.

So, this new year is likely to be quiet by any measure, in a true measure of how things are, our village local looks set to close in the new year.  Of the pubs on the square only one is likely to be open at midnight, one closed months ago and another closed just before Xmas.

The pubs that are doing well are the very small wholy owned little pubs that were of no interest to the big chains who are now stuck with big pubs no one can make a living out of.

Today we made our first tentative forray into the market town, for a time of recession there seemed to be a lot of money about. It was life in hands time on the driving front how the road was not paved with bits of broken glass and twisted plastic I will never know.

Peace on Earth - yeah right.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Xmas spirit

Throwing a load of people related by an accident of birth together at a time when emotions are high is not necessarily a good thing.

The bleakest deepest part of the year when you cannot simply run outside to escape the carnage is perhaps a less wise way of plan things. 

Of course we are trapped in this time scale by the Christians taking over the midwinter feast for themselves. Truly interesting programme on BBC radio 4 yesterday about Constantine and the Christians. How the Romans took on board the church but in the process removed the theology and it's underlying politics. Reinventing it as being about a baby in a manger and a man on a cross whilst removing a lot of what came between.

Today though is a family day, Serenity and her children, making it about 15 people in the house A sight best enjoyed through my beer goggles.


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Clyche arian cyn y wawr.

So the morning has broken, she and me are having a who can be the most ill competition. The young people have some new dance game on the Xbox which is keeping them quiet.

The fire is in, the living room is at 70F.

It has been a strange Xmas; Tesco the night  before last looked as if it had been hit by a plague of locusts with empty shelves everywhere. But it was quiet, bookers yesterday was quiet.

All i all I am feeling pretty grim, elevated temperture, sweating like a fountain, crashing cough general Bleugh.

Not well in fact. There is at least a decent red breathing in the livig room.  

I think the world is going to wake to the most horrendous economic hangover in the new year.


Friday, 23 December 2011

SEasons greatings

This is a mythical time of year.  People buy into the notions of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.

What a load of tosh, yesterday, in Bookers someone elbowed me out of the way to get to the checkout first, that simply does not happen in that beacon  of take turns, the wholesaler.

No such rituals in Tesco's,  a brisk scrap saw us in a parking space. Peace and goodwill were in very short supply as we  careered and crashed round the aisles, hundreds of pounds added to our over breeze later and we were ready for home.

Of course this is easy to say but not so easy to do. It's lucky I am used to driving in France so the mass cutting up, pulling out in front of and planting the car into the roundabout routine was no suprise. I am going back tomorrow, think I might use the looming presence of the Green Goddess to calm things a bit.  Tomorrow will be the day everything goes on reduction and clearance at Bookers.

That of course is all against a backdrop of a student who has the plague and is, at the same time trying to do her Eugenics Essay so she can do her Stress essay and her third essay whose subject I have clean forgotten before going on to her 4th essay to do with dissability by the end of January and there's two exams in there somewhere too.  

Today is a date of great significance to us here at Penole. 18 years ago right now. I was out on the M4 in a 1950's Bedford flat bed truck with all my wordly goods in the back. My mate chopper was behind me in a Renault Traffic also loaded to the gunels. We arrived here in some trepidation, the aga was nearly out,  the coal central heating had clearly been out for a long time. There was no coal or oil and it was the night before Xmas.

In the living room it was exactly 70 degrees faranheit colder than it is today and today it's 75 F.

There we sat the management and I with 3 babies in ski suits in sleeping bags.

The adventure had begun.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

The return of Serenity

Those whose memories predate this blog will know of serenity my step daughter. Her antics her partner the Great Intellectual Thinker kept the group amused for a good while. Serenity has rolled out a good one this time though.

Cars have been an issue for her And of course having acquired a GIT  replacement she needed something big enough to cart them all about. She settled on a Zafira which was offered to her at a knock down price and as an added bonus the engine had just been rebuilt.  Now, people don't rebuild an engine then immediately decide to sell the care, well normal people don't anyway.

I was whiffing rodent big style and made a suggestion she let me stick my head under the bonnet before she did anything rash like part with money. No this was Serenity  and soon she proudly turned up chez nous in a car that was making a slight clatter.

It was one of those annoying noises that you can't quite put your finger on the root of. I listened and listened, I could not quite work it out. Her garagiste could not quite work it out either till he took the lid off and  a scene of carnage was revealed. This could still have been a cheap car had she done something sensible like buy a second hand engine.

Not our Serenity, at truly vast costs and against advice she had the engine rebuilt.  This left her about as solvent as Greece and so full on austerity measures went in, Well no it was more like Greece that you might think. She didn't actually rein in expenditure but passed it on to the United Bank of Mum and Step Dad.

Of course with the car back on the road an admirable opportunity presented itself to lend the car to a friend who had a errand to run to Hull. An impressive time he must have put in too to have left here at 11 in the morning and be most of the way back by 10 pm.

10 pm being the time that something went mega bang inside the engine and decided to get out and walk.

The car was duly AA recovered and is awaiting it's fate outside Chez Serenity.

The lady in question then got on the phone, at least she had now seen a bit of sense and she had decided to get a second hand engine, trouble was she could not find one at a price she could afford. Of course, it took me a few moments to find several engines but of course then the penny dropped. They were at a price I could afford not free, the price she could afford.

Of course the first line of attack has to be the garage who charged her a ransom sum to rebuild the engine. I am more confident she can get through that than she used to be

Serenity has recently, alone and without a leader, taken on an access fight with the GIT where he was legally represented and she was not. By all accounts she played a blinder got the judge entirely on side and, without Serenityonics presented a logical and calm case.

She won the day.     

Good on her





Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Going green - look out for the nimby's

Wind has allways been a waste here. Ever since we moved in i have thought there was a huge potential for wind generation here.

Now it's a reality, a company is proposing to rent some of our land for a small generation project. We get rent and free electricity and they get the feed in tarrif which is how it is viable. For the next 20 years the place will host a small bunch of medium size generators.

The deposit that secures our agreement is paid today.

Think I am going to look at electric cars.....


Getting plastered.

There is a long tradition of getting mightilly plastered at this time of the year and we are happy to join in. It's only taken  months and the plasterers are in repairing the damage done to the house in July.

This will be good as it's Bruces bedroom and she will be well pleased to see it has been done and it will have had a coat of paint by the time she lands too.  

Her big sister has contracted something she assures me is at least Ebola and is lying in the living room groaning.

The weather is vile with some pretty rough weather promised foor a couple of days too.

Possibly even some of the white stuff so I had better get a battery charged for the Green Goddess.


Monday, 12 December 2011

You plonker Cammeron

DennisSkinner summed up the situation brilliantly today:

He said Cammeron was a plonker

Sums it up really.

He went to get assurances and came away with exactly nothing.

Everyone else negociated and he threw a tantrum.

Still, at least he had the guts to go to parliament today.


Errrrr right.



Sunday, 11 December 2011

Watch this space

Politics is very interesting just now. Yesterday Clegg thought Cameron was completely right to use his veto . This morning on Television he did a complete volte face. Recognising Cameron for the idiot he is on Europe.

You can see how under his leadership the conservative party has moved further and further away from Europe.

Now their isolation is complete.
Paddy Ashdown has launched a vitriolic attack on the euro sceptic right, or putting it another way a strong branch of the Liberal party has attacked one of the strongest branches of the tory party.

It is hard to see this coalition lasting. I wonder though what an election might bring.

Would the rabid press contribute to a Tory majority rule?

Then we would really be in trouble.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Oh dear, sometimes sad things happen.

Yesterday the student was not well, she was having trouble walking and getting up stairs was a struggle.

Today she really struggled as we cut wood yet again. This afternoon I was outside, no one seems to want FB  so it's going for scrap on Monday.

We were out there stripping it today.

When I came back in the student was obviously in pain, not little pain, the real McCoy.

So ignoring her protestations I took her off to see some child, who was apparently a doctor.

It turns out she has torn some ligaments and needs total rest. bed for the next 2 days. No driving walking or anything,   this could be interesting.

She does not do rest.     

Friday, 9 December 2011

Nice to have friends

It's nice to have loyal friends and the city has few more loyal than the bullingdon boy Camerron.

Trouble was he was a bit stuffed really - the right of his party happy for us to adopt isolationism and really he has achieved that. The city had to be protected against regulation to stop them staging a re reun of 2007.

But of course they are his paymasters so what was best for everyone except them had to be done.

Now Europe will impose a banking tax that we cannot veto and create a strong stable Euro and we will be a little island off the coast of a strong economy.

A "special relationship" won't survive that and the yanks will soon be on their way to Paris and Berlin.

Cameron has made us an irrelevance - then agian we  ceased being a big player a while back. Thatcher killed maufacturing in this country and Camoerron has killed banking whilst claiming to protect it.

Poor lad he's not bright mind.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Goodness grascious me

Things are really not good. Cameron has gone off to Europe to chuck his weight around, and what weight it that exactly? We are not part of the Euro so he can sit there and say not a lot. Everything is going on outside or this countries control I think there is a nightmare on the horizon, the eurozone is going solid - a sound currency with banking regulation and bankinng taxed. The UK sitting outside looking over then fence, we needed to remake or at least be part of the euro but decided not to. Could be a bigger mistake than Custer. Rhys

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Technology - oh really.

Ahhh the delights of a simple mind, when I thought we had the T4 licked I hadn't realised how much we really were in the thrall of technology. Much messing in the Greasy Garage failed to get the t4 to play. Time to phone around a bit...

Most diesels, like most petrol's, will run pretty much OK so long as you have the settings roughly right. Not so T4 diesels. There are 360 degrees in a circle; chose any one of 359 of them and your T4's brain will sulk and stop the engine. There is only the one the T4 will accept and to find that one you need to lock the engine solid in a certain position whilst using the vernier gauge to find the right point. on the scale to set the fuel pump.

This of course requires special tools of vast cost and only a VW computer can tell the engine management that it has had a new belt, not to panic and that it's safe to start again.

I suspect though that this has been a developing fault the van has been transformed. It lives at 70 MPH as if that was it's absolute home, it does this in an absence of din which is quite remarkable for a van. Now it's not C5 silent but it is pretty good nonetheless.

It came home today with an unfeasible amount of wine in the back and still it dealt with the M5 and 4 at a rock steady 70. Neither did it dig deep into the 50 L of diesel I put into it yesterday, lots of which I still have left, which, since the van has covered 250 miles since is pretty good.

The trip itself was not one of our best, braving the driving wind and rain on Friday we made Plynouth with a bit to spare. Opting to eat on the ferry we had an indifferent meal then spent a not totally uncomfortable night on the deck with no cabins being available. 

The morning was a welcome to a world of rain and shopping. A decent meal at lunchtime was spoilt by a load of arrogant expats, who have been living over there for ten years and don't need to learn French as "they all speak English".  We enjoyed an interesting conversation with le patron, en francais, naturalment.

More afternoon shopping and into Roscoff waiting for the restaurant to open. Not a good idea the restaurant is not one we have used recently, and we soon remembered why.

It wasn't a bad meal - it wasn't brilliant either.

The student of course got to taste it twice. The trip back one of the roughest we have had in a while.

Overall as weekends away go, it's been a bit of a damp squib. 

But at least the van is OK.

Still our time could have been worse, as I drove on to the ferry I noticed a big old horsebox like one of the local ones I help keep on the road with my stock of spares.

In fact, it was more than "like", the very first people we saw in the bar were it's owners.

We got chatting and catching up, they had been off to Spain for 3 months. They had been stuck in Brittany for a week while their dog's rabies status had been sorted. On their way to the ferry they had been stopped by the French customs. For a laugh, he told the French customs his occupation was "drug dealer" he said how the customs guy could not have cared less.

Thinking about this I had a baaaad feeling about this at the time. I know someone else who joked with customs and spent a lot of hours in a shed having their car pulled apart.

Anyway off the ferry we trotted this morning, into immigration and it was quite odd really, the nice chap asked if we had far to go then seemed to tense when we said where we were headed. Then, round the corner and unusually the customs were there, and in some force too.

They were not interested in us, they seemed to be waiting another vehicle. As it happens our mates had been not far  behind us in immigration so we stopped outside the  perimeter to have a chat. 10 minutes later lots of cars had gone through, but they had not, wonder what happened....

Sunday, 27 November 2011

the wonders of technology

The T4 has been languishing a few days over at the Greasy Garage until the Mr T could get round to attacking it with spanners. The job turned out to be suitable obscure and fiddly but with a final flourish good old Mr T got there and - it wouldn't start.

Considerable head scratching followed until a little green light saying "service" was spotted on the dash. This was worthy of investigation so Mr T connected his computer machine to the T4 and it got very excited. the failed belt had caused the engine management to spot 4 faults and conclude also that someone was trying to steal the van so it had turned everything off and gone from "limp home" mode to "full blown sulk".

A positive though, with everything now set back to normal there is every chance that tooorrow morning the T4 will be making noises again and moving under it's own power.

Thats not all, I have a clio outside with a flat battery after even though I had the right keys and remote unlocker it insisted I was trying to steal it and it too went into "sulk".

In the yard is a very nice Xsara that is convinced it's air sensor does not work and has gone into limp home too.

This modern technology is absolutely fantastic when it works and a total pane in the glass when it does not.


Peace descends

Peace is slowly descending.Having taken cover in the living room leaving herself at her little desk upstairs I am pleased to report she has nearly finished.

This means everyone can breathe easier as she is not storming round the house biting heads off as she goes.

The news is all of the Welsh football manger who has apparently killed himself. The coverage on telly is virtually continuous. 

A small foot note at the bottom of the screen notes that a soldier from 3 the riles has been blown up in Helmand, a tiny little piece not worthy of mention.

I wonder if I am the only one who saw the irony in that. 


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Essay a day

The student is locked in combat with her essay. A school desk has emigrated upstairs and there she sits hammering away on her computer. I am trying to do all the running round type stuff but things are really conspiring against her.

Off I went to town and back I came, "that's not one of our cars" thought I seeing a car parked outside.  My step daughter Serenity had figure  not at all on here recently and she had turned up showing her really good timing. Naturally to make our joy complete she had brought the whole riot of kids and her soon to be husband. Wait a minute, husband? When did that all come about? This has been in the planning stage for a long time apparently, the venue has been decided and a modest guest list of 80 prepared. 80???

%%%%%%!!!! I thought, or more Accurately I saw £££££££££. A tidal wave of cash leaving our beleaguered bank account.

She didn't actually ask, then again she never did.

Her father didn't actually swoon away when we told him, then again he didn't offer to dig deep either, just muttered something about being up to his neck in debt, that's two of us then.... 

That's September planned  

This is my 1040th post - just thought you might like to know!!


Friday, 25 November 2011

I think I know the answer

We are stuck just now in a big problem.

We have massive youth unemployment

Today we had the government announcing a fantastic scheme to deal with this.

Of course the previous administration had actually been doing something like this until this mob pulled the plug, but enough of such trivia. It was a crap scheme sd we were told at the time - much of it in the voluntary / public sector with a mere 60 percent of those who took part ending up with a job.

So today the private sector, who had been criticised for using the unemployed as free shelf stacker's in supermarkets will get exclusive rights to run this system with far less than the previous one.

I think I  might have mentioned that the previous system was about working for nothing - well as far as my daughter went anyway.

I can second guess this country's problem, Not enough chimneys so not enough climbing up them to sweep them.  Such opportunities - this will be the next Condem scheme - create more jobs by building more chimneys for us to send the young up. Would need a bit of "adjustment"  of health and safety law so that killing people is OK.

They are nearly there now though.  A nation with the lowest standards of employee protection in Europe will have further safeguards taken away, or red tape removed. Again what you see is dependent on where you are sitting at the time. 


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Betting on futures

We live in turbulent times the last few weeks Europe has lurched from crisis to crisis.

Today even Germany is taking a bit of a hammering.

I have to say this smacks of the old European Exchange Mechanism, this was bet against by the markets costing governments millions most of which went into profit for bankers and gamblers.

I cannot help but think that this is someone betting against the euro. Someone trying to make a lot of money out of the governments break the Euro pocket the coin regardless of the consequence.

I can see a few countries that might be pleased to see off this new kid on the block. America got very jittery when Iraq threatened to deal it's oil in a then more stable Euro. So annoyed they went to war and euro sceptic Britain followed like the poodle.

The thing that is bewildering in this is that the real dodgy dealer is Uncle Sam. Their sub prime mortgages took the financial world apart in 2007, when the world wakes up to how much more America owes than it earns, There is going to be some serious questions asked - with no proper answers out there.

Greece is viable compared to the States.

The interesting thing about this is that it dates not from profligate Democrats but from George Bush and the republicans who decided to cut the taxes of the rich.

Big things happening in Europe with big decisions being made.

Britain is independant or was that isolated, you chose the term. It could have been tough on us inside the Euro, outside we are at the mercy of the markets.  

And since when have they ever been merciful?

Of course where they miss the plot is the bottom line.

At the end of the day we can all say:

Well actually we do real work - it's time for you to join us.

Get paid  like we do

and pay taxes.



Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Splice the mainbrace.

Something rather jolly today. Mrs Saxe Coburg otherwise known as the queen decided to make her old man the lord high admiral of the fleet now that he is 90.

This could be a bit dodgy as old Phil the Greek was in the navy a while and might fancy throwing his weight around.

If he was to wander down to Portsmouth he might wonder where all the ships were.

A trip down to Plymouth might be an excuse to admire the massive boom constructed so the whole fleet could berth there some time back.

He might have to shuffle about a bit to find some ships though.

The fleet is now smaller than it was when another Liz was on the throne, smaller than it has been forever  in fact.

There is one carrier but of course no planes as the Harrier fleet has been grounded .

So when we decided to get all heavy with Libya we "didn't need" carriers but actually delivered a lot less at greater cost than France who deployed oh yes an aircraft carrier.

So even inside their jingoistic militarism this shower make no sense.

Of course this country has carriers in the pipeline two of them, one of which will never see service and the other will sail without oh yes aircraft because we won't have any.

But an aircraft carrier is supposed to have, ohh never mind I am obviously not bright enough

And  the final irony, is that carriers need to be part of a carrier group of support and escort ships which of course we cannot put together as we have sold everything else to pay for the carriers.

Oh, and of course Trident, the most pointless weapon ever.

My God I hope they are not letting the high admiral anywhere near those rockets....



Essay again

Oh for goodness sakes.  It's that time of term again, the student is locked into doing essays, books all round the living room and the student under stress.

Stuff I have not looked at since I was an undergraduate is all over the living room with all sorts of newer stuff too.

Her essay is taking over our life again.

The T4 is still off the run which might complicate matter a bit as we a re off to Brittany soon.


Friday, 18 November 2011

A life of incident

So anywaytoday with no plumber having turned out last night we drained the system ourselves and with huge struggle got the stove out.

Buckets were emptied and towels wrung out. 

The builder turned up and loaded the bloody thing into the C5 for us, the T4 being in the garage being sorted for brake pads, as in it would be good to have some.

A thought break and we ran some scaffold planks from the C5 to the T4 and put the stove in there.

Off we went. Tallie and I and we got to Beacon stoves dropped the old stove off and loaded a brand new one into the vayeas

 Using a forklift is so much easier than breaking your back lifting the thing.

Time to go home then, and all was well with the world.


We were a very little distance up the road and the truck ground to a halt whir with a nasty clicky whir noise .

This was not good in a cost a lot of money sort of way  expensive things  like cambelts were the primary suspect.

Naturally we were all out of signal for the mobile and I had to walk a goodly distance before being able to call the RAC to come and begin recovery. 

Some considerable time sat in the rapidly cooling cab and up turned the RAC.

Some head under bonnet time and i knew a fair ammount more about the VW than i did yesterday morning and we worked out that the belt for the injector pump had decided to give   up on life which is a deal less catastrophic than the cam belt unless of course the pump itself has siezed.

Knowing our luck that could well be the case.

Of course we were still broken down by the side of the road and miles from home.

The RAC do a recovery service but quicker to tow me to the garage than sit round waiting for the man with the flatbed truck.

This was all very well but how scary is being towed 20 miles on a rigid bar in the pitch dark when every time the guy in front puts his brakles on it destroys your night vision - VERY.

I got home but my composure was most certainly decomposed.

All we need to to do today is go and remove 100 + kilos of log stove from the van and transfer it to the car. Thank goodness Bruce is at home, otherwise I would have to send out for a crane!!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Technology.....

There is nothing like a bit of technology to cause bafflement and profanity from the direction of she who has a diploma in computing.

Feeling a bit flash she went on the  Apple refurb site and ordered herself an ipad 2 which has duly arrived.

Now I don't know much about these things but it  seems you can only set it up by connecting to the web via another computer. Much tutting and haarumphing later she is  downloading itunes on to her ipad and under a screen of profanity is busily setting it up.

I am not of course suggesting anything but it seems to me that by the time she has set it up with all the relevant apps it might be time to buy a new one. No I am wrong, she seems to have cracked it, she is logging on to the net.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Good Service

This has happened agin, wrote something and the whole text vanished

All I wrote about was the  good the service we received from Beacon Stoves and Euroheat,

But someone or something blicked the post

Once was odd, twice interesting three times a bit worrying .

Can you really express your views on here


worried parent

Branwen is of course at university, We went to see her the once and she seems to be OK and quite popular with those she is sharing a house with.

Of course she is a bit competitive and there have been a few little incidents, her room mate had a flat tyre something she thought she should get the boys to sort. Branwen gave a look of disdain and marched out found the jack  back the wheel nuts off then lifted the car off the floor. To change the wheel.

People have also noted that she has an iron constitution. I believe there may have been a chili con carne eating competitionand there might have been  a few people who bottled.

So anyway last day one of her house mates had a pack of chillies allegedly the second hotest chili in the world. One of the boys had licked one and had to run his tongue under the tap. This was too much for Bruce she promptly ate one. The boys gazed on is disbelief, of course by midnight last night she had pretty much emptied the fridge 2 litres of milk and 4 yoghurt's I think she was contemplating sleeping in the fridge at one stage.

Things got soo bad mummy might have been needed. A call to NHS direct got a call centre nurse who fair play managed not to guffaw.  Clearly this was not the first time this kind of call had come in.

Putting her in touch with the NHs calmed matters but this morning she was still getting  looks from her housemates.      

Thursday, 10 November 2011

This was the scene outside the house a coupld of weeks ago as the rain fell and the wind howled - heroes every one of them

Posted by Picasa

Round and round we go

Today has been just one of those days the school are still mad keen for us to get a doctor to look at Gwions rapidly vannishing rash and tell them it's meazles. It comes down to another young person in his year who is due to come back to school following serious cheemo.

They want us to be responsible for the decision for this child to come back to school or not. 

All a bit of a joke, there's a really nasty cold flu thing goind round just now annd maybe thats more of an issue than meazles. Everyone seems dissapointed that public health have not come down the drive to paint a red cross on the door.

This is all exceedingly silly.

The student has gone out to her little mates out, taking Tallie as driver - this is not good.

She is in uni tomorrow - this leave me to cope - all will be well with the world, so long as they leave me alone....


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Plague house

You can never really predict when life is going to turn all interesting. Gwion has been a bit out of sorts for a few days and yesterday the student had a decent look at him and pronounced it was measles. This is a very contagious disease and as such is "notifiable" under public health law.

This morning bright and early the student phoned our GP surgery and told a bored receptionist that we thought we had a case of measles here. Noting her disinterest I then went on to phone the school and break the good news on the absence hot line which is of course an answerphone.

All went quiet and we got on with our day, then at about 4 this afternoon the deputy head came on the phone sounding grave and concerned. Was it right that we had a case of measles she asked, yes, we said. Who had diagnosed this she asked, we had we said. Ah but had someone who was qualified made the diagnosis, we were hardly going to take him into a doctors surgery full of people while he was contagious we said. Yes but a doctor had to make the diagnosis, so he had to be "seen". This was all a bit silly mused the student,

I phoned the surgery back and got a brighter receptionist. She was a bit alarmed that we had phoned in the morning and no one had done anything. But we had the "who says he has measles?" conversation and she said a doctor would call soon. Soon was the right word and soon the student was locked in social intercourse with one of our highly efficient GP's who comes originally from Germany. Things did not start well, why had he not been immunised she demanded. When he was young Gwion had his first immunisation and experienced such a reaction that we decided against any more. This did not please the good doctor who started tutting only to have the student cut across her to say immunisation is not compulsory and anyway the real issue here was a failure to respond to the call at 8.30 am. This back footed the doctor nicely she said she was going to find who had taken the call and failed to act, in the kind of tone of voice that suggested that particular conversation might end in a gunshot and the thud of a body hitting the floor.

Why did the student think he had measles, how could she possibly be qualified to tell. The student replied fairly calmly that she was in her 50's and that when she was young measles was common and everyone knew how to recognise it, she rattled off a list of signs and symptoms without actually suggesting she had probably seen more measles than a doctor in her 20's who had been raised in a time when immunisation was the norm. Someone "expert" needed to make a diagnosis said the good doctor. The student suggested it might not be a brilliant idea to bring him into the surgery while he was contagious, it became very clear that doctor was not disturbing her day by getting into her car either.

What could she do for us? She asked; nothing said the student, we knew how to treat measles. We were phoning her to help her do her job, we did not need her help at all.  This did not go down at all well.

Doctor got all stern and Germanic

There would need to be a report to public health said the good doctor, that's why she phoned at 08.30 replied the student. This produced more harrumphing at the other end, maybe it wouldn't be a single gunshot any more - a burst of machine gun fire perhaps.

The doctor said Public Health would be in touch, I am not sure what this means, maybe they will paint a red cross at the top of the drive, lock us in and come round once a day so we can "bring out our dead" - I will keep you posted


long time no write

I have tried to write a few times recentlybut something is blocking my postings - no fun at all!!

The world seems to be sliding towards financial mayhem and whats more winter is here.

The fire is lit and the management has bubonic plague or something like that. She really struggled to get into uni yesterday and I think I might have to come over all strict and keep her home tomorrow. Today she has managed to get up and go back to bed leaving me in charge.

Gwion seems to have meazles as well, just to make our joy complete.

Still at least the fire is in and she can have as many hot baths as she likes which is a huge plus for her.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Good lord Greeks

So the Greek prime minister has said that their bail out  will only go ahead if his country endorses it by a democratic vote.

What a place from the country that gave us democracy.

This deal that stuffs them and makes them poor will only go ahead if they agree it.

Otherwise capitalism collapses big style, the euro might go down and economies world wide fold.

We think in the UK we are outside this, but we sold insurance against this scenario.

There could be a few more Lloyds names sleeping on the streets.

Poor things


Sunday, 30 October 2011

New roofs

There are good things in life too.

This weekend we had one of our standard epics, only it wasn't it was a really chilled relaxed tme.

The roof on the house in Brittany is changed, we went we saw we lked, then we came home.

A lovely weekend.

Monday, 24 October 2011

I thought I was a bit mad.

Now, I thought I was a bit madwhat with all the mad diggerology in the wind and cold yesterday.

But today, with the wind howling the rain lashing it down the guys from the electricity board turned up with a big 4x4 truck and a couple of land rovers. As the weather turned all biblical this team was up a pole changing a transformer.

I went to see what they were about and got completly soakes in 5 minutes flat- it was horrid.

Than back into the house and the comedy turn called.

It was fostering, they wanted us to house a emergecy placement.  A 14 year old girl who was being moved to keep her safe. Pretty much waht we do!!

I thought it pertineent to mention that we didn't actually have anywhere for her to go. The manager had told her we hada a rooom spare said the SW, her manager knew full well our "spare" room had a bloody big hole in the ceiling and had been that way for months waiting for them to pay for the repairs. Did she, asked the SW.

Of course shes did, I had threatened last week that I would  get the baliffs round to seize the mayors limo if  she didn't do something about it  

She laughed thinking I was joking, then realised I wasn't.

Ah yes more info turns out this one has an interesting "hobby". I wonder sometimes, I have a 14 yo and a 16 yo here swimming in testosterone and they send me the equivalent of a bitch on heat.

Still it would have taken D's mind off his dad I suppose, would not half keep me alert though.

Sleep at night?

Who needs it eh.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Digger for victory.

So with winter  closing in it's time to think of water. 

Cold weather usually means frozen pipes and a decided lack of the wet stuff in the taps.  No more, with a big trench was needed for the new mains electricity so I put a new water supply in there to keep it company.

We are going to avoid freezeing at the pump end by building a shed to keep bikes and such like to which we will run an electricity supply which will in turn run a small heater.

Now this is the kind of plan I like so yesterday I dug a huge water pipe trench and filled in part of the power cable trench that needed to be filled. All was well with the world till the digger threw a track right where we needed it not to and four of us spent 2 hours this afternoon struggling and swearing trying to get the track back on. 

Did the fact it was in a huge patch of mud and the wind was blowing a hoolie and bleedin brrr too make it even more fun?

Errrr no


Saturday, 22 October 2011


So things move on. Dad's "Recovery" prompted a bit of a flurry of activity with talk of moving him to the regional centre where he would receive a better standard of care.

All this hit the buffers when they did another scan. The brain stem is dead.

The stats are grim 90% dead within 4 months 99 percent within a year of the remaining 1 percent some live for years others recover.

Now D god bless his is a bit aspi and sees only black and white. In his book: people said dad was going to die and they were wrong. So when they told him there was no chance of recovery they were wrong too.

Yesterday dad was much improoved, his colour was a lot better. 

The hospital say no change and he now has pneumonia.



Wednesday, 19 October 2011

And then......

The old manhas opened his eyes and they think he is responding.

Don't like the sound of "they think", but still it's a lot more hopefull than half an hour ago.


Lets keep it simple

Life is so simple sometimes.

Big D played a blinder yesterday, showing tremendous care and maturity towards his poor old mum who, being learning disabled was struggling to understand what was happening and why Dad was lying there.

He was fitting which made mum think he was coming round or in some way getting better.

It is likely the very tough decision needs to be made, the machines all need to be turned off and things take their course. 

But Dad is estranged from his family so D and Mum are the only ones who could sign for the support to be withdrawn.

His mum is old enough but does not have the level of understanding, D understands but he's too young.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It's a funny old thing fostering. This morning I had a lovely warm bath and sat in the living room drinking coffee reading my notes for this here lecture on Anti Psychiatry.

One phone call changed everything. Big D's dad has had a stroke and is not expected to live. This completely rewrote the day and the student went to get him and drove the 120 miles to the hospital.
The SW wanted her to put D on the train.....

She has at least decided to call in the learning diss team for D's mum, we have only been asking for that for 5 years.

It's not looking good though, The old man has a huge bleed affecting the basal brain. His mum has a learning disability and it's all going over her head. She has been sitting there with her son, just crying.

I have been running round like a crazy thing getting everything else to happen I even managed to fit in the nursing lecture bit. It was all a bit hollow though, my mind was on events elsewhere.


Monday, 17 October 2011


Tomorrow afternoon 1 pm a hall full of nurses. What a mix, do I think it's great or am I looking for my bicycle clips...... Rhys

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Weak ends

Hey this was a good ish one. Got a load of wood cut then lots of axe and stack stuff then as I was just recovering two different lots of friends came down the drive

This morning was, for some reason a bit of a slow starter after a night that easily lasted into morning.

Off to see the students mum this afternoon, not so good, she has done her hundred and a week or so she fell and broke her femur.

This needed  full on surgery and of course she has survived it and was sat there looking really well in her hospital bed. I think though reality is dawning, she is not going home anytime soon.

In fact the Physiotherapy and OT services have signed her off, so it's nursing home for her. She has double hearing aids and can't hear much and her glasses are not really helping as her eyes are failing.

She actually said today that she has had her time and she is wasting other peoples.

First time ever.

Of course she is such a star I am not writing her off yet.

I am sad I didn't come from that sort of stock, my kids do though....

It is also worth noting how this much maligned NHS is full of really great people doing a fantastic job.

The staff on the ward were just fantastic, there is ann indutry out there of knocking the care system and sometimes it's important to tell the truth about how good it is and how stupid it would be to change something that works.

But I digress.

Gwion is off to Aberystwyth to stay with his sister for a day or two over half term.

Maybe Branwen just wants her mum and dad to come and see her.


Who me??

God I am teaching these nurses on Tuesday.


Friday, 14 October 2011

quiet night

It'sfunny how days can go on.

Today we had a really lovely day cleaning out the shower room of all the junk we shoved in there over the last couple of years.

With a bit of cleaning the shower added, how much fun was that?

The waste and associated pipes were a particular fun item.

Full of obnoxious black grunge.

Now we are back to dealing with social services who have, yet again said they are not paying for the damage done by young I.

An ICBM email has been launched 

And been ignored.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Oh what a lovely day.

Having spent many hours yesterday lugging things round, climbing in and out of the attic, squeezing into tight corners and making connection in very small spaces.

This morning  awoke to a competition. My shoulders Calves and knees were in a conflict over which could hurt the most.

BUT, I could get into a proper hot bath. Looking back, the boiler has been in slow decline for about 2 years and this was the first proper hot bath I have had in ages. That hot water was just wonderful. muscles slowly unwound, bliss.

It's now evening, we have had a long day, the muscles are aching again, the fire has delivered 3 or was it 4 piping hot baths today and raised the living room to 25 C.

Life is good.

I MUST get this bloody lecture done tomorrow .


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being the loved one....

Today I am the chosen one.

This morning I got up bright and early a load of central heating pipe to remove.

Also a whole remap of the hot water side of the house to achieve.

A new hot water tank heated by our big log stove to replace the oil fired jobbie in the old  kitchen. Now our utility room.

So in the process of this about 100 foot of pipe came out, that's about 30 M to you who don't work in real money.

If this was copper it would have been a fortune in scrap but it's all plastic So I simply reused it on the new system.

But anyway lots of swearing and we had a system that was taking for ever to fill but we are sort of there.

After a few hours trying out this and that we worked out that it would both heat the house and deliver hot water.

Hot enough for the student to have her best bath in two years.

Should I mention that i had to use a fire engine ladder to get into the loft and that when there was a problem and I needed to empty the tank a bit I used  a stirrup pump - green goddess flavour of course.

All that aside, the hot water system works and the tank is a really effective heat sink.

The student has had a proper hot bath for the first time in, well a long time really. She commented that reusing the old pipes that have been our central heating system was very green, especially when it came to  the colour of the bath water.

Bethan was more impressed with the swarff from the various holes  had drilled in tanks today floating in the top of her bath. 

Of course all could not have gone like a book and there has been the odd inundation, but nothing like last time I did central heating, There was water pouring out of the tank in the loft down the walls and one of the smaller joints let go big style .  Overall though  I think I am getting the hang of this.

Oh dear, that might not be a wise thing to say.

The management though is focused. 

She had a proper hot bath - end of discussion.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

ALL Change

So into next week I chargeWith a major lecture to write and a central heating system to completly  overhaul.

Had a "bucket " moment over the oil boiler, going to take the lot out. 

This is no minor enterprise, a hot water tank  is going in, with associated pipe work going into  the attic requiring a new cold feed into the roof, This will  render 100 or so feet of pipework redundant and that will need to come out too.

Blimey is all I can say, could be a busy time for me.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Just another day

So another windscreen day, having a serious think about boilers and  such things I had ordered a new valve for the old boiler.

When it arrived i had doubts, there were obviously loads of connections to be made and my sensible head pointed out this would not be Bedford easy access stuff it would be difficult to get to.

This proved seriously  right as I struggled to get joints to shift which were multi metal.

The boiler was new in 1998 and t means  they have spent  years being hot and chemically fusing.

It took hours to get the thing off.

This involved bending many of the pipes right out of shape and therefore having to bend them back to fit it all back together

This was as simple as you think it might be.

as in

Not easy

So anyway I got there

Turned on the tap and mucho hissing bubbling later no hot water.

So this morning we had a broke valve and hot water

Now we have a sorted valve, lots of  leaks and no hot water

Life is cool

At least our log stove is in heat mode




Wednesday, 5 October 2011


OverThe weekend we had glorious summery weather. It was a pleasure to be outside.

Overnight all has changed the house is shrouded in damp wet mist, the fire is lit and heat is slowly spreading through the house.

The childrens teachers are on strike over plans to reduce their pensions whilst increasing contributions.

The house is full the fire is lit. If you think that sounds very nice then you would be right.

It has been fun though, I forgot how different winter roads are to summer ones, thats a polite way of saying the C5's traction control has limits and I just found them!!

Think I might give the Saxo, all 100 horse power of it, a miss.

Then again......

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Human right Tory wrongs

Teresa May announced to her unconcealed delight that she had a case where someone who was an "illegal immigrant" and should one presumes be taken out and shot, could not be deported because they owned a cat.

Now the judiciary can at times come up with daft ideas but that one didn't ring true.

It turned out that was one someone had made up.

So now she is shown up as a liar.

Just like Tony Blair with his weapons of mass destruction.

He has done OK out of it though....

A lot of Afghan and Iraqui people paid for it.

Thats why we don't need human rights law, because it allows your actions to come back and haunt you and you might even have to answer for what you do in a framework of how what you do affects others....

We could not have that now could we. 


Betrayal by a child

You do your best to raise you children well, teach them basic moral values and sense of justice.

Our family has a proud heritage, when the then government decided to sell off the roads so you could not go anywhere without paying the private sector my great great Grandfather got on his horse and lead his mates on a proper full blown riot of wanton destruction (bit of Cameronspeak there) that left dozens of toll gates burnt to the floor.
This household is a broadly socialist and left wing place to be - until now.

One of my daughters has sold out all our political morals and gone and joined a right wing neo liberal party, she has betrayed her class.

She has joined the Labour party.

I am ashamed of her.


Monday, 3 October 2011

Hooray no poll tax freeze!

Wales is to be spared the freeze on community charge.

One of the chancellors big points today English poll tax is frozen again.

Lets see how this works. 

So lets look at this you live in a modest house and lets say poll tax was set to go up by 5 percent

So hooray hooray if you live in a small house then 5 percent of 500 pounds is......

Of course if you live in big house then 5 percent of 5000 pounds is.....

Full on neoliberal economics dressed up as caring for the common folk.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Engine transplants.

We have been a bit slow of late and the cut down range rover has been sitting round waiting for a new engine.

The engine itself, from a military testbed has been waiting round a while too but now it's ready to go in.

So today we built a load of scaffolding ready to use as an engine crane.

Not one of our better plans   couple of hours messing about and not much achieved everything on hold till next weekend.

Today though was another milestone day little d turned 16, now his DLA goes into his bank account. Just how long will it be before he "decides" to go home to mum.

Hopefully we can hang on to him till he gets his GCSE's done


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dangerous politics

There are times when things get revealed. Now even the sheep voters in this country could not be taken in by a cut everything but especially taxes stance from this government. So things like their cuts in corporation tax had to be done under a smokescreen. Now one of them has broken cover properly calling for big tax reductions alongside cuts in government spending.

The arguments are simple public expenditure has to be cut to reduce the deficit even if it causes a recession that increases the deficit

Taxes (mainly for the rich it should be said) must be cut to make the economy work. No suggestion that VAT which affects the poorer more is cut, it's the income tax that benefits the rich that needs to go.

If you are simple you buy into that junk.
In essence this is classic right wing stuff spun. This is small state low tax right wing nirvana.

The cuts have done very little to reduce the deficit, the reduced economic activity they have contributed to have pushed it up actually.

Today the Tories have made it "easier to employ people",  by stripping whole rafts of workers of their rights and making it easier to sack them.

This coalition of the unelected really is showing it's true colours.

Not content, they have gone for the barmy. A plan to increase the motorway speed limit by 10 MPH. Now those of you who know anything about cars will know that 60 MPH is actually a very important speed. It's where aerodynamics becomes an issue. Between 60 and 70 a cars fuel consumption goes up by around 20 percent, the relation is not linear so between 70 and 80 it goes up even more. And No i don't mean another 20 percent on what it uses at 60 I mean about 25 percent more than in uses at 70.

So this stupid measure is going to hit everyone right in the pocket. This of course won't matter to all those rich Tories who won't be paying tax any more.... The trucks will still be limited to 56, where their breeze block aerodynamics is less of an issue but everyone else will be able to travel 25mph faster than them not 15.

Everything will be happening lots quicker, less time for reaction.

The professional motorway driver will be OK what you will see is more big smashes at holiday time. It won't do much for journey times though, congestion is the big issue on the roads today. I have often lately gone on an economy kick, driving places at 60 instead of 70. The surprise was how little effect it had on journey times even on quite long trips. The effect on fuel consumption though was quite spectacular. I expect the effect of travelling everywhere at 80 rather than 60 would be pretty spectacular too....

Maybe those couple  of minutes would turn out to be vital to those Tories freed from tax burden rushing round the country creating the jobs we don't have.

I am a little short of convinced.... 


Civil Servants

If the politinics are to be believed the private sector is innately better at everything.

Everything touched by the market is golden and everything down by the state a terrible mess.

Well I had that yesterday, I needed to phone families Tax credit about something and after a bit of a  pause and the odd "select option 97 for"ing i got to chat to a really pleasant and knowledgeable person who took me through the process and nearly made me faint by saying we were in face still eligible for families tax credit and thus free health care.

Next was phoning the electricity company who had agreed to provide us with a separate electricity account of the place next door a few weeks back but had said I had to wait two weeks before I could ask for the supply to be connected. They hadn't actually agreed to call me back but said I had to call them back. Getting through was a long protracted affair and the person on the end of the phone would not direct in any way. Appointments with them are located at some stage in a day not at a time convenient for you. You stay home all day waiting on them.

Glad it wasn't one of those terrible state monopolies then.....

And yesterday held a bit of a surprise, Mr Tick came down the drive, Branwen came home for the day. We had a lovely evening with her, I suspect very strongly though she came home to sleep. She has also been a bit shocked by some of the house mates who seem completely inept. Put another way she has a deal ,more life skills than most of them. Branwen can cook sounds like some of them cannot manage boil in the bag. 

Today in the uk is the summer most Indian. We've had the heating running in August and now we have the windows open in October.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Foucault that.

I should maybe observe that the student is now lost in Foucault, someone who successfully makes Marx look easy to read. I think being woken at 5 AM to discuss a point of ethics was preferable to being asked about epistemological rupture when I had been relaxing with a glass of wine. For Foucaults sakes,,,,, R

Beware of Greeks and gifts.

Some little while ago a leading economist said that a Greek default was inevitable. How he laid it out was a period where the banks bailed out with it's debt transfered to the IMF and ECB.

Then he said Greece would roll over and fail, so, yet again, the private sector banks that acted in a reckless fashion walk away from the hole they dug. This leaves the taxpayer to pick up the bill and of course ultimately those who benefit least from the capitalist system get to underwrite it's profligacy.

I am not left wing really.....


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Monday monday

I just knew it was going to be one of those days. It started with a video call from the Bruce who was, obviously sitting in darkness drawing light from her head lamp because her room mate was still out of it.

"I'm stuck in this mine, get me out" she typed.

Later came the news that lacking culinary skills most of her housemates are set to starve, so Branwen has opened her own kitchen selling bacon sandwiches with barbecue relish to other students fro breakfast. Teatime she was using some veggies she got cheap at Aldi to make a curry. Dear me - she is frightening.

We kicked off our day by trying to get the stove next door to work, did I enjoy realising the bloody thing leaks. That of course and the huge struggle to get the chimney to draw after having been without a fire for a long while.

Then there was the little matter of the hot water taps being completely air locked and refusing to operate. This required a really bizarre back filling operation which in turn meant opening the back of the fire engine for small pumping tools.

The afternoon kicked off in fine form. Our fostering social worker saying we would not "get permission" to go to France next month to sort out a few matters to do with the house. The reason? It would mean leaving big D on his own with Bethan and Taliesin.

Yes it was OK to leave them here as they are 18 and 19, they could look after themselves.But D who is 17 is looked after and so he must not be left on his own. Or using another word he must be discriminated against because he is looked after.

There was no discussion of his skills or his abilities, no question of offering him choice or allowing him to make a decision.

Fatally the link worker said it was not her view but her managers and the manager had said that it was forbidden by fostering regulations. That is potentially where a serious mistake was made, trying to sell it to us on the basis that there was something concrete that says no.

I might add a helpfull hint for anyone who is a supervising social worker or manager.  Foster carers like me can, very often, read, sometimes do research on their own, they even search the internet.

So it was not a vast ammount of time before I was looking on various websites and for the life of me could find no version of Welsh Fostering Regs that said I could not treat a 17 year old as being responsible, competent and able to choose.

Oh yes lets flit back, on the days we would not be here big D has college and he also has a day work placement. Put another way coming with us would have cost him EMA and wages.

So he was quite clear he wasn't coming. I suspect though, their position was less about  taking him and more about stopping us. Perhaps uncharitably, I am going to call that Oppressive Practice.

Fostering Services can sometimes seem to expect to control your whole life and that of your children as well. 

Time to make a few waves then, first off a call to the Fostering Network, having missed the regular advice line, it was call the national office. It would be falling a little bit short if I said the word "expert" was applicable to the worker I spoke to. She might have known what fostering was, but  nothing about the framework of regulation within which it operates. In fact she didn't even know who is the team leader responsible for fostering in the Welsh Government. As is the way in devolved Wales I was on the phone to the head of the fostering unit in the government within a few hours. Someone who really did know what they were talking about.

They agreed with me that the regulations said nothing about this situation but they could tell me (though I allready knew ) that they had recently tweaked the regulations because being in care was causing many looked after children to lose out on things like trips out with friends and sleepovers that most children enjoy.

She offered to give the fostering service a ring and ask what they were playing at, epsecially as she thought as I do that their practice was discriminatory, and  therfore quite possibly illegal.

Now, that sort of phone call might have triggered an out break of hysteria in fostering central so I asked her to keep that one on the back burner.    

On a whim I decided to speak to D's Social Worker. She, not quite litterally hit the roof.  The situation was ridiculous but also a stunt that had been pulled before. On that occasion they at leaving care had simply overruled the fostering service involved, really???

This provoked another image as, knowing the managers involved, someone saying that to them would result in everything going out the pram: rattles, teddies, blankets and toys. A serious tantrum might ensue.    

Of course what this was really about was respite. On the days we were planning to be away, they wanted to use us for two young lads whose carers need some "me" time. They would not commit to needing the beds but they wanted us hanging round in case they did.

Back to the controling our life bit again.

Of course it goes further than that, a little while back we looked after I the little angel. As you may recall he did a bit of damage while he was here. They also overpaid us 75 pounds in boarding out allowances, something which was the subject of 4 letters and they made sure they had the money back within two weeks.

Now the damage he did is quite another matter. £2500 is just the petty cash so there was no rush at all about paying for that. Two managers were "discussing" who should respond and we would be informed when they had finished. My garage isn't really discussing of course, he is phoning and asking questions about the bill for repairing the damaged car. Could I not pay it and wait for them to get round to paying  me in their own time of course?

Yes they really had the cheek to ask.

That was before I observed that the room the two young lads would occupy was I's and that currently needed a ceiling and that it rains on the inside when it rains on the outside. I did a fair amount of damage!

I asked if they would want to place children in that room if there were no ceiling and it was down to me, would the answer be different if the lack of ceiling was down to them - silence.

Complaints officer in the morning.

He is very good at sorting things out, especially after the last time when mention was being made of Judicial Reviews, that time they had made me properly annoyed though....


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sunday Sunday

Sunday sundayReally should be up and doing things, not sure what sort of things but should be doing them.

A string of texts from the student, not the one I share a life with but the one who has just gone to University.

Apparently her room mate celebrated her first night in university by being sick in the bin.

Don't they have windows in college rooms any more?

Branwen has gone off with her camera to see what she can capture. 


Saturday, 24 September 2011

It sounds like she is very happy at her university place. She said their kitchen is packed with saucepans as everyone brought their own. It's time for us to throw ourselves back to how it was for us and not be locked into how it is for us. We are very proud of her And we miss her. R

Friday, 23 September 2011

Spontaneous cuddles.

Branwen is up and out of bed, hours before she needs to leave. Cofee has been delivered to mum and dad still in bed. You can sense she is both excited and scared. Over the last few days there has been a lot of spontaneuous cuddles for mum dad sisters and brothers By lunch time she will be gone. R

A dificult time

A good while back, as in over half my adult life ago, I found myself a parent: for reasons I would like to think are noble I put aside career type stuff and did a lot of being a dad type stuff.  You dads out there missed a huge ammount of pleasure by going out the door at 9 AM.

Losing a career though is something many women do as a matter of course I might add.

Tomorrow, Branwen leaves home, she is the first to go proper and I am feeling this huge loss.

It's a bereavement but it's also a pride, she's off and she is going to fall flat on her face, pick herself up and get on with it.

She is an awesome lovely human being and I am going to really miss her.

I think I need to reinvent me I was happy being stay at home dad I need to become someone else..

But on the plus side, the student and I get to do mad things like we used to do, just go and get on with it.

Buying the T4 is one of the best things we ever did.

Following our lovely time at La Trinite we had been planning a run down to La Rochelle.

Today though Social Services who had been aware of our previous little trips got all cagey.

They were not at all sure it was OK for us to go.

We were a bit surprised at how they had changed.

Then about 5 minutes later they asked us about taking these 2 young people for respite the same week they said we could not leave the others alone. .

Hmmm - a sniff of the motive ulterior I wonder...

Especially as these are quite young people and children placed in "respite" are ones the foster carers really needed proper support to parent. Hence the sticking plaster "respite" which means that as soon as the child is off the premises the foster carer says "no more".

So we could end up with another couple of long term kids.

Do we want to go through this mill again?

I am gun jumping though. 




Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The reality of this government

2.7 million spent on sending letters to people who are dying telling them they will lose money over the last few months of their life. This is the full on face of the neoliberal agenda. How many bankers have been made to pay for the errors they made? No it;s the poor who pay. The last round of fiscal easing vanished into the banking system. We need a community bank to put money into making money not gambling. But that would benefit ordinary people not the Cleggs and Camerrons of this world. R

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

You know it makes ad sense

Some of you will have noticed when you arrive at mt blog you are also greeted with a torrent of ads.

Well, recently I got paid roaylties, in the whole of the time this blog has been running it had generated a whole 50 quid in royalties. But all that has changed, since I last got weighed in it's clear there has been a surge of interest and allready I have a whole tenner in the bank ready to come to my bank when it gets to 50 quid.

What shall I spend it on. A litre of diesel??


Monday, 19 September 2011

Just another manic Monday

A long old day. 

What a time, the student needs to complete her options for studenty things annd emails have been hitting her in box with all kinds of attachments none of whihc her diploma in computing equipped her to open. To be fair the Branwen  could not get it to work either.

Here comes the day, in 5 days time Branwen leaves for university, reality is hitting. She took Betty her hampster to Serenities house yesterday.

She is moving out, she is clear she will not come back. 

We will miss her and I hope she might occasionally look over her shoulder.

But it's change.

Which is both interesting and hard at the same time.

Bethan has almost moved out but not quite.

Taliesin, well I think we will need to move and not tell him.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Me and my big mouth!!!

Talk about being the fly.....

Goodness, things have gone from calamitous to disasterous via frightening.

Never actually had a central heating system let go before; as I was expelling air, one of the pipe joints went emiting a jet of scalding water and steam. . My that was interesting. I think I am OK, minor scalds  and water everywhere!!

I am very clean though, the kitchen was like a sauna full of very hot steam, I think I might get an engineer in.

That was a bit more scary than I care for on a Sunday afternoon. 


Somedays you are the fly....

The central heating in this house is in two halves. Our old oil system heats hot water plus a couple of radiators for overspill.

The main heating for the house is the monster wood stove that generates enough heat to keep the whole place warm. Yesterday management asked me to remove a radiator from the oil system which of course I duly did. So today the hot water system has gone on strike suffering a bad case of airlock. This I discovered after stripping the burner down and checking the fuel pump of course. The air is proving very stubborn, we shall see if I can shift it.

Then of course, in sympathy the other system started banging and thudding as it overheated spewing steam into the bathroom. That was a simple one, the thermostatic rad valves had tripped out as the house came up to heat coupled with a very enthusiastic stoker, causing it to get too hot.

Easily remedied the second one, the first is ongoing. Going to let the system cool right down them bleed it relentlessly. I've bled systems when they are full of hot water before - not fun!!

Some days you are the fly some days the windscreen, would be nice to be a windscreen sometime....


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Just another manic friday....

Just a normal day at Penole.Everyone off for school or work except Bruce who was out at coll with Bethan.

Management off being managerial in a service user group in Carmarthen so I was left in charge.

Today was of course the big day that the power company was coming to reconnect the power so we have separate supplies for the new house next door and our house here.

So 2 builders were painting and the electrician was running cables through the house with the assistance of Phil the senior builder.

By mid morning things were well a bustle but not a sign of the electric firm who had been due on site at 8 am.

Soon the electrician was running out of things to do and so I phoned the power firm who seemed not at all bothered that I was paying people to sit round doing nothing.

I suggested quite forcefully that I objected to paying people to sit round reading porn mags and if they didn't turn up soon the whole lot of them might have gone blind....

But anyway soon down the drive came a veritable convoy of  power guys with a British Telecom Van following them with the engineer coming to repair our faulty phone line.

This was going to be beyond the house supply of mugs to keep in tea...

With the power off the camping stove had to be pushed into service and the kettle was virtually continuously on the boil.

At the end of the day the management strolled back down the drive eyed the mountain of mugs disapprovingly and asked what I had been doing all day.....



A life of adventure......

wA couple of trips where everything goes distressingly to plan can make you assume that everything will be OK every time.

 So of course bright and afternoon ish we traipsed up the drive with a whole 6 hours to make the ferry, what could possibly go wrong.....

There were a few vias though, the T4 has a habit of dropping indicator lenses so first stop was the T4 place to get a new one. With an engineering solution to make absolutely sure it didn't fall out again, well, zip ties anyway, we set off to collect the double front seat we had purchased off eBay.

To assist our day we had brought my brand spanking, new and updated, Garmin Sat Nav. So far it had been as reliable as a hammer and as sensible as a professor of sensible. They do that just to dupe you.

We were heading from West Wales to Portsmouth via Swansea and  Stroud, 6 hours allowed, what could possibly go wrong. Well, someone had been playing with the squawk box. Changed a few settings and, well, it took us up what I thought was an unusual route, but nothing wrong with that. Then of course it took us completely cross country along  simply delightful country roads  A road along which we made good progress but it felt, errrrhhh Wrong.

When we eventually got somewhere I realised this was not not "wrong" actually it was "bonkers".

Not just bonkers, but, from where we were: getting to the ferry on time would require some pretty spirited driving.

Ignoring the GPS I went off hell for leather heading down the M5 and then M4. The GPS took issue, in fact it had lots of issues. Every time I went one way it thought I should be going the other. According to it I could do nothing right. Mentally I have named it "management" but for don't tell her.

The pace was frantic, down the M5, with the semi headwind making the T4 struggle and buffeting it sideways in ways that the student found even more unsettling than I did. The M4 gave us an advantage, it was now always behind us. Then another discovery, the software was old so it knew about the "50 mph average speed"  section that isn't there any more. This provoked an outbreak of pinging pandemonium as it insisted I was blowing a 20 MPH hole in the average speed allowed.

All this against a backdrop of a insistence that EVERY junction was  the very one to turn off   while insisting that we could make the ferry on time. 

There was only the one thing to do - "off" switch.

We made the ferry with a small comfort zone.
A meal on the Bretagne is always a worthy thing it was so nice for the two of us to be together.

Then of course it was to the cabin. Now of course there is nothing nicer than retiring to your cabin with a nice bottle to enjoy a long quiet night. Of course, to enjoy a bottle you have to be able to open it.

My corkscrew is great and does many things, it does not open bottles from the car deck if someone leaves it on the dashboard. .

It was time to go and buy a cheap Brittany Ferries Corkscrew then, couple of quid, oh no, those are all sold out, but they can sell me a special bottle system thing for 12 pounds.

Time for some thinking, first thing to try was dismantle the cork with one of the van keys.

Hindsight is a great thing, there I was with a van locked up in the hold and me trying to open the bottle with a key.

I can sense the readership glee building, but no, as the key started to bend I acquired some sense, I used her toothbrush, brush end  to shove the cork it.

Was this a good night?

Lets remind ourselves, the  tail end of hurricane something or other was hitting the uk  The Bretagne is a very good sea boat and the regular pitching gave the truth to that. Fortunately the sea was coming at her head on, the worst experience is taking a wave at a corkscrew 45 degrees, but it was still well beyond choppy. Fortunately the student contrived to sleep through this, she is not the most brilliant of sailors putting it mildly....

Morning arrived and with a foaming mouth full of toothpaste the management announced her brush tasted funny.

By sheer luck we were right at the front of the ferry and got off to a flying start to the day. Ignored the GPS all the way down to the house excepting it's fixed speed camera function which actually turned into something useful when it warned me in the nick of time.

The house is simply wonderful, the job they are doing on the roof is  superb, if it is being hampered by the not too brilliant weather.Lunch completed the day another fantastic 4 course meal and change from 12 euros each.

After this the day could only improve so it was a drive down to the coast to test out our new camper van. The GPS performed relatively faultlessly, except for  trying to take us across a non existent railway level crossing.

Down to La Trinite Sur Mer this is a place of special family memory. A campsite right next to a beach the place we took our children for their first proper holiday many years ago. They loved it, so much so that we went another couple of times.

I wandered the site, recognising the pitches from each year. Did we really put  our huge tent in that plot then stick a huge LDV 400 LWB hi top in there too? I recognised the tree I used as a pivot point to enable me to get the back end round enough to reverse in, driving in having been abandoned in favour of reversing about 50 metres up the narrow aisle.

Finding the pitch from the first year, where we camped in three small dome tents with a Bedford Midi as our transport. The time Bethan stepped into the deep bit of the pool and promptly sank to the bottom. With noise filled bubbles coming up to the surface. Daddy had to grab her by the hair and hoist her to the surface.

This was a place of family memories. But now it was just me and the student. The whole thing made more vivid as the campsite was virtually empty of people and empty of children.

We are no longer the parents of children but the parents of adults.

We were there on this lovely campsite with it's lovely memories but now it was ours.

We walked the beach alone and it was - great.

Practicalities crept in, it was time to check the cooker

I had of course packed the cooker, one of our myriad camp cookers bought because we had forgotten the cooker again

Well not really, this was an original that had been fitted in the back of the LDV, it would have helped really if I had checked it.

Yup, we had the gas bottle, and the regulator, but the cooker was sell by date gone.

Oh yes - a cooker free zone.

An oh gosh moment as we realised that the local Super U was about to close.

A race into Carnac. to get a "camping kit" as that was cheaper than adding another cooker to the pile  

Then it was out to the seafront restaurant and a meal eaten to the crashing back drop of the waves.

Before returning to the campsite and bed to the sweet sound of the sea.

Set up for the morning, what could be nicer, cooker, kettle with water cafetiere with   coffee - ready to go.

We slept the night of the tired.

We awoke the morn of the refreshed.

Everything was there to have coffee in bed, all  needed to light the stove was the  matches that were in the cupboard blocked in by the bed.

Luxury locked in the cupboard - we are pretty good at this. 
But we had the cooker, even though we were forced out of bed there is something nice about breakfast accompanied by the symphony of the sea. I really wished we had our canoes, would have made the day complete. 

So it was off to Guemene to pick up some stuff we had ordered then lunch in a mates house.

Half way there she noticed we had left our load spreading boards in the campsite. Actually they are green goddess seat bases, but lets not let her notice how useful GG stuff is. So it was a mad dash back there, skip the supermarket and arrive with 5 minutes spare.

Spare minutes are a good thing, especially when the friends who have invited you for a meal have recently spilt up after about 25 years and want to unload. Ahhh yes, this was turning all complex.

Still, we managed to get clear, off to Guemene, load up and back to Roscoff.  A decent meal (what another??)  and on the ferry at silly o clock, arriving in the UK before dawn.

Half way up the M5 we pulled off and had a couple of  hours sleep before an unhealthy UK breakfast in the services before home in the rain.

All in all a lovely couple of days and now back in the grind..