Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A lot of driving day

A long old driving day today.

A run up to Daycastle and then on to Reading

The 106 was a bit trojan, fueled it's 30 litre tank in Morrisons before heading off.

It got there and back and the fuel light is still off.

Result then.

The new car, a Citroen C5 estate is something I never really looked at close up.

Goodness me, you could have parties in there!!!

Does it ever go though, the student had a drive then handed the keys back saying:

"Don't let me drive this, I will kill myself"


Monday, 30 May 2011

Auction CARnage....

I have been a little in the maison de chien since taking our Xantia for an unplanned swim.

I have to say the Xantia has been one of our best cars ever, having added nearly 200 thousand trouble free miles to it's original 100 thousand miles.

I have been quietly watching out for replacements and last week on the Evilbay I got an early model of it's replacement vehicle the C5, also an estate, 1 owner full service history 130 thousand miles from new.

Getting it for about 30 percent below dealer price was a big plus. So we head out tomorrow to pick it up.

This in turn has triggered a bit of a frenzy, I bought her a Xsara last year for a few hundred pounds not knowing that the thing on the road is worth (dealer price) 2500 not including it's personal number plate that's worth another thousand or so. Have I been asleep this last year???

So that's going into the garage next week. With "for sale" going on the window the week after!! Then again, she might try it out and decide it's the car for her, it's no slouch ad she might decide she likes it, meaning the 106 might go on the transfer list now rather than in 6 months time when the student goes back to university and has vowed she wants a better car.

The vast and versatile 806 will go as soon as possible, it's done it's time but the management does not like driving it which is a critical fault. It is a bit of a tank, thought nothing like as tank like as the IVECO it replaced which I was very fond of, it being armoured and all. I also thought the long wheel base Turbo Daily van was easier to park than that dammed thing.  Crucially, it does not handle our little shopping trips to Brittany as well as the Xantia used to though it's far better at towing Samba the caravan - oh that's on the transfer list too as Madam has decided we want a camper van

So it's all change on the vehicle front, look out Arthur Daly, I'm in town.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Oh dear auction stations

So she went off on auction bent and came home with rather more gear than normal. She argued that as she had missed the last three auctions she had ground to make up.

She has spent a lot of money by out standards.

She is really pissed off she didn't get some chairs she fancied but said she wasn't paying a penny over 3 pounds for them and if someone was willing to pay a fiver then more fool them.

She bought a lovely print for five pounds that, it seems might be worth over 50 and some very nice porcelain for 30 pounds that should be worth twice that except she likes it and so it's staying.

A pound bought her a huge pile of glass salad bowls just like she needs for her mums 100th birthday party.

Me? Well I spotted this pre war petrol container that I assumed was a copy so i didn't go mad on bidding on, now I've had a good look I am not so sure..

Ohh and she got a lovely bike for Gwion that's as near to brand new as makes no difference for 20 quid.

I still reckon she should have bid on the full on professional level mountain bike that made just 50 quid.

Can't win them all, most of them is good mind....


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Back into the auction.

So with kids collected off she went to the auction viewing

Even i have to admit there was some intersting stuff.

Tomorrow could turn dear.....



Thank goodness for that, she has phoned and she's sore but OK

He goes home next week, phew....

Off to the financial adviser today to sort the money out once and for all.

I can then send the really snooty letter to the bank that I draughted up yesterday.

I do enjoy writing a good and shitty letter....


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Phone calls.

Sometimes a phone call is welcome.

Sometimes it's really bad news.

Sometimes the silence of the phone is a relief.

Sometimes it's a source of stress, waiting.....

She went into surgery today, we think, we don't know.

The phone is silent.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The other half of the day

There is a way that days can suddenly turn on their head.

We were pottering in the bottom field, me strimming with the new strimmer, her mixing commfrey and nettles in a big mash up.

Then the lightening hit. It was a phone call.

Now lets get a bit of history, some years back we fostered a young lad called P. P's mum had mental health problems and the plan was to foster him miles away so that she could not get to see him regularly. Not having a car and being a huge train journey away they reckoned she would not be able to maintain contact.

They reckoned without this mum.

2 days after ECT, unable to control her mouth, dribbling, she got on a train and crossed Wales to see her son.

The service threw lots at this to try and get her son freed up for adoption. It was a real war, I think it was one of the best bits of social work we have ever done. The problem I have is that the enemy in this case were all social workers.

Cutting a long story short, everyone worked very hard and a few years back P went home to live with his mother. Things have really been on the up for him.

Then the phone rang, mum has an illness that requires emergency surgery. She has been on psychotropic medication for years, her general health has been poor and she is a big risk for anaesthesia.

She phoned, a scared woman who thinks she might be dead by tomorrow night. What she was worried about was her son.

The student is out of here tomorrow to pick him up for a few days while his mum is in hospital.

If mum is not with us tomorrow, her wishes are that her son stay here with his second family.

We have no problem with that, my worry is that there are social workers out there in Daycastle who will.

I don't have religion, but if any of you readers have a hot line to the big G, could you please put in a word....


A day in two halves....

Every so often we have one of those days.

Filled with belief in dud petrol we changed the fuel in the strimmer - no chance, something is seriously wrong.

So off we went into town to get a fork for the garden and a strimmer. We stopped outside of "gortterbuys" as we call it and the student emerged with a fork and I fired up the 806 to drive home, well no actually i didn't; the battery was as flat as a flat thing.

This was a not good thing so a call was made to the greasy garage and much underbonet poking about was undertaken. It seems that the earth lead was not making the best connection in the world. A jump start was undertaken and home I came
by which time rather annoyingly the car had charged itself back up.

The earth terminal came off the battery and I had a general clean and tighten. By this time the student had gone into the garden lent on the new fork and it broke in half.

This was turning into a good day....

Back into town and another fork bought, not from grotterbuys, who received a severe talking too and their offer of a replacement firmly declined.

So it was on to the strimmer shop and a heavy duty Stihl stimmer bought for rather a lot more than we would have paid had I followed my gut instinct to get a strimmer last Saturday in France.

But anyway it was back home and do the school run.

There is good news however, we have done the deal to finance the finishing of next door. We sign up this week.


Monday, 23 May 2011

Sneaking away.

Sneaking away weekends have become a bit of a ritual and one we are starting to get the hang of. Put another way we haven't had an adventure in a while and perhaps I was just getting complacent.

Friday started fine, we got off bright and early and were well ahead of ourselves dropping off the M4 at junction 13. Just as well as on the outskirts of Portsmouth the trafic really densed up and we spent a bit of time sitting round waiting for things to move.

On the boat and let the drama commence. Car on deck 5 bar on deck 7 cabin on deck 2. Leave car, up to deck 7 down to cabin. Realise phone is in car. Up to deck 6 down companionway to deck 4, this companionway does not connect to deck 5, up to deck 6 down to deck 5, a part of deck 5 that does not connect to the part of deck 5 where the car is, up to deck 6, swear a lot. Find the right companionway collect phone up to deck 6 so I can get the right companionway for deck 2. Still, being positive, it certainly kept me fit.

Look over the side at the sad remnant that is the Royal Navy. Various vesssels waiting to be scrapped, there will soon be more historical ships than operational ones at Portsmouth.

Into the restauraunt for a fantastic meal great wine and back to the cabin in the depths of the ship. This is not usually good news as "Depths of the ship" is also "next to the engine room". Cue a night of harsh vibrations, noise and, if the sea is rough sliding round on the floor - we don't usually use the beds.

Not so this time calm crossing quiet cabin, there was even a television that broadcast the bland and boring and no one in the immediate cabins was engaged in a noisy sexathon.

So off the ferry we roared in the morning, not into our usual Roscoff but St Malo. This mean a quick "pop in for breakfast" at a firends in Dinan. By the time we had finished our pop in it was miday and we raced for the house a couple of hours away in central Brittany. I am not sure where exactly I went wrong. But go wrong I did and soon we were headed for the South coast. I didn't realise till we passed Josselin and I had a "how the hell did we get here" moment.

Pull over, map out and work out where we were, could ot use the GPS as the batteries were flat. Another "how the hell did we get here" moment. Plot a route and we arrived at the house very late.

A quick trip to the intermarche for me as she got the strimmer out.

Which would not start - bliss.

Whats more we had booked a table at the excellant Trois Marchands and we were way too late to eat.

Abandon house and head for Morlaix and more shopping. Set off, realise we have very little diesel, divert to nearest town get fuel and loads of cherries which were on special offer. Fitted batteries in the GPS so we could find the Intermarche in Morlaix, which is great except I can never find it. Of course the demon squauk box does not actually know of supermarkets in France it does however know where the petrol stations are, so whilst it was clueless as to where the intermarche could be found it knew exactly where to look for the petrol station.

More shopping and it was on to St Pol where we did more shopping and then went to Red Cash to fill up on wine.

With the 806 approaching full we locked it all up and headed for town. This time I had booked a restauraunt so we managed to get into the Ty Sauzon Creperie and eat ourselves happy.

Back on the ship and the day caught up, barely a pint and I was ready for sleep. The student went straight to bed.

Off the boat and the tedium of UK immigration, I don't know how they think sticking everyones passport through the computer will help them catch Terry Taliban or illegal immigrants.

But anyway I digress, let be positive again, The high wind buffeting the 806 all over the road served to slow me right down which vastly improoved our fuel consumption.....

I could not believe that some thing that loaded could be so pushed around. The car flew about 6 foot in the sideways direction crossing the Severn bridge, something the student definately noticed.

So anyway it was home and loads of unloading to do, in fact there is still unloading to do. Not everything is out of the car.

Today, definitely the last straw in the academic year, the student went to hand in her last piece of written work.I took the opportunity to put in my expenses, taking care not to arrive with the student, all a bit cloak and dagger.

Then it was home through more wind in a dancing round puegeot, working out as we hit the M4 why the student asked if I wanted to drive.

Work outside in the wind was not going to happen and so we settled for a quiet afternoon. Me writing this and the management practicing snoring.

She has a talent for it too....

Then out of the blue this couple came down the drive, they were from a company that wanted to rent some of our land for a small windfarm. Would be 120 pound a week rent and no electricity bills. Something we might need to think about.


Friday, 20 May 2011

away away

Previously I have described us as a species about to become extinct: foster carer out of county.

The back of my mind however has always been filled with the notion that once it becomes a choice between us or specialist resi or there's some question around media interest we would suddenly be remembered.

That's what happened a couple of months ago and, this morning the phone went into tintinabulate mode - a social worker asking us to take one of three young people.

Now, we are going into the exam season and Branwen has A levels to do so the answer was no for now.

Besides which we are off this afternoon to Brittany shhhh don't tell anyone, we are sneaking away for the weekend.

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Monday, 16 May 2011

Happy students....

The final straw for the academic year, the student submitted her portfolio today.

Lots of piles of paper all over the table collated into a folder. Delivered to her supervisor and she is home and happy.

Half the day for me spent sorting finances and things look OK

The bank who of course say we cannot afford to lend will be out of the equation. A new lender will led us a lot more on what will be a lot less equity. Since the loan will not be long term they are happy for tbe loan to be interest only which reduces our outgoings hugely.

I really am a bit bewildered at why our bank turned down a sound business case, someone suggested they don't have clever managers any more, just computers and chimps. I think someone had a point there.


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sunset at Penole

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Friday, 13 May 2011

Bankers - with a capital W

So at last peace has returned to the house. The student finished her placement today something which has been a huge success Despite everything they have tried she has decided not to apply for the job. They could not let her go though and made her a trustee of the organisation instead. I am really proud of her and her assessment report could have been better, I don't know how, but there must be something.

My own day has not been wasted, I have been sorting out money matters. Some of you will remember that we put the house on the market just as the market smashed into the buffers. Since then we have restructured and re thought. The house next door has been the The final heave lots of money thrown at it and it is nearly ready to sell. Finishing it would cost a bit more than we have and so we presented a financial case to the bank who said a resounding no. They said we could not afford more on the mortgage but we could have it on a personal loan over half the time at ten times the interest.

So we complained to the bank who listened to our complaint, said fair enough, apply for a mortgage again and then turned us down.

The fly in the ointment being a particularly nice individual who seems to have really taken a dislike to us. So today I asked him if we could place a charge on the house from a second lender, he didn't answer or, i suggested split the deeds creating two houses one of which we could sell. He said the bank would not allow us to do that as they would not have as much equity to protect them.

Now lets add some scale here if we split the place up the farmhouse bit would be worth about twice the mortgage ad the rest roughly 4 times the mortgage. So as the independent financial advisor put it there would be a bit of a cushion.

No, said the man from the bank, we would not be allowed by them to do that. Could not possibly allow us to sell bits of the place they held the charge they were in charge.

So in went plan B; switch the whole mortgage to another provider and finish the job and sell.

So I phoned my solicitor to instruct them and nearly fell off the chair. The bank has no control over what I do so long as there is something left worth enough to cover the charge.

The place is actually in my name so tonight I suggested to the student I sell her everything bar the derelict cottage and the field below worth pretty much what the mortgage is worth, for a fiver and then stop paying the mortgage. The they could repossess that and then if we hadn't written the deed for it right we might find it had no right to draw water. or maybe there was a foot of the drive over which it had no rights meaning it did not connect to the road..

The sort of thing that means whilst it's worth money the only way to be worth that money means lots of lawyers and fees and maybe putting in a whole new drive.

Clever student spotted the flaw, we have a joint mortgage, now of course this begs the next question how did she get a mortgage on a property that's not hers.  You tell me!!!

All in all i think the bank has screwed up big style, we are off to see another provider Monday morning but not without having phoned head office who seemed a bit bewildered about the whole thing.

I am sure he can explain,    

If all else fails he can  lie - just like he did to me......

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cops and Nos

In normal life you would have cops and robbers, a simple little discourse where good and evil are easily described.

This is a different game where the student is playing codes of practice and national occupational standards.

This is a bonkers system where people are demonstrating good social work but being told that they need to fill in the grid instead.

Munro says that the tick box culture must go but in training boxes need to be ticked.

The student has spent days on her portfolio. It got to the stage last night where i was wondering where I could buy a new printer at 9 pm as the old one was not talking to anything.

A diploma in computing does not help at all, when the thing is really going all wrong and your partner offers to help but of course you have the diploma..

Then again if your partner had not bought lots of clone cartridges that sometimes won't talk to the printer it might have been better.

She has done her stuff though and it's in.

I had a good day in uni today, realising I was 24 hours early for a meeting - how i laughed.

Me and her had a lovely night tonight we went out for a meal on our own, one we can't afford but what the hell..

Sunday, 8 May 2011

We didn't shoot Adolf, not in front of anyone

I need to come back and be clear, Adolf Hitler killed himself. No bunch of self appointed people broke in and shot him.

His little mates Goering et al were not summarily blown away they were subject to due process by the judiciary.

And this is where we come to the key difference.

The decision to execute them, whether you think execution is right or not was made by the judiciary. That's how it works in a democracy.

The government does not decide guilt, it's left to a jury of ordinary people

I don't like your face or race that's it you're dead that's Nazis at work.

That's Al Qaida, summary death.

And America.

Al Qaida have won, they have reduced America to their level.


Strange events.

Will this allow me to post something

Friday, 6 May 2011

blocked from posting - you will never know what I think

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Going against the grain.

Is it just me?

I know the guy ended up directing a full on terror plot against us in the West, didn't we just degrade ourselves by executing him in front of his 12 year old daughter?

I don't care what he did, she was innocent on all charges and this was done to her.

I think it was illegal and immoral and our only claim to the high ground is we do not countenance flying planes into buildings. But shooting her father in front of her puts us in the same class as him.

We also believe in things like jury trials not summary execution.

These are things that set us apart, but only if we use them. 

Then again he was the CIA's man.... 

Just like Saddam.

Since i wrote this piece something is physically preventing me from posting to blogger.

In the light of what I wrote above that is very sinsister.

Could the thought Police really be monitoring what is written here?


Monday, 2 May 2011

Back to normal - whatever that is...

So it was out of bed and about this morning, it's blowing a blow yup here and the green house has taken a bit of a battering. Having recycled some oil containers into ballast wieghts she was able to survey the damamge inside. Not too bad just a couple of tomato plants dead. Still gave her an excuse to go to the garden centre, shame I forgot i only had a tenner reallly....

Normal service now with her writing her diary about what she saw in her practice before she goes back to play being social workers tomorrow. Things there are turning a bit cloudy, she had a day out with a social work group last week and it quickly became apparent that the questioning they encourage in university is not welcome in practice. In fact she got the impression of a card marked, This is exactly what I allways used to hate. Asking why is often not welcome, it makes people think about what they are doing and that can be more challennge than some can take..



So the yanks finally caught up with him, sitting next to a military accademy in Pakistan, now there was a suprise.

And they shot him, you would not want him talking now would you?

The body has been dumped at sea, now I am smellling rodent, Thats the stuff conspiracy theorists live on.

He was probably spirited away by his mates in the CIA, so they will all argue.

After all, of all the world agencies the CIA is the one he had closest links too, his old friends might well be looking after him....

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A holiday

Now it's pretty rare for us to have a day off but today is the day. Both completly wiped out by the past few days. She is in bed with Iplayer. I am at least sitting up and writing this. The water supply has been reconected to it's proper place meaning we can roll up the emergeency supply.

 I have a horrid suspiscion that the pump is on it's way out more money to find......

A celebratory time

We have been full of celebration this last few days. Celebrating the fact there is nothing wrong with the chainsaw.

We have a rule about cutting wood, it's measured in tankfuls for the chainsaw. A tankful is about 3/4 of a ton of wood, the amount can vary depending on the mix of hardwood and softwood little stuff and monster logs. It's a good way as the tankful knocks on in the amount of axing and stacking needed. Hardwood being that much harder to process.

This time of year we try to get through about a tankful a week. This last 2 days we have done 4 tankfuls. I could say I feel invigorated, I could also lie.

I am currently in bed with that sadistic monster the student, my sole consolation is that she's in as much pain as me.