Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Happy Birthday to me....

Every year you come to that day when it's time to add one to your age. In youth this is a rush to maturity, as you get older it's a note that you are closer to the trip to the oven in a box. Today I am ohh I dunno, older, I spent part of it on the campaign trail with Leanne Wood the new leader of Plaid Cymru chasing votes around town. Of course Bethan was the star turn again, feeling a bit up market about the prospects for the campaign. With leaflets rushed out, it's time to go out on the knocker. Could be a busy couple of days. R

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Poor students

The student is a poorly thing

In the middle of April she has raging flu.

She is curled up next to the fire ready for Bethans campaign launch tonight, leaflets folded ready to shove through doors.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

on any sunday...

No one son has his Discovery back this has produced a general improovement in his mood, well it had. He was driving the saxo yesterday when something mysterious happened and great clouds of white smoke belched out. Sensibly he pulled over and probably saved the engine.

Not sure whats gone yet, it could be an obscure cut in the bottom hose or it could be the water pump. either way the saxo is off the road, for the duration. OK though he has his discovery to play and he can borrow the VW which he secretly thinks is cool.

The student is in mid essay, we are preparing tea. An interesting tea, whats is it? Not sure yet, we removed some meat from the freezer and what we do with it will depend on what it turns out to be when it defrosts!!

In other areas life goes on, I have to do an election leaflet for the beloved daughter, she is standing for the council locally. Should have all been done by now but technical glitches intervened.     

Local politics is dominated by independent councillors. They are independent in that they don't admit to being in any party but they work exactly like a political party and actually act like Tories in every other way.

Bethan is going head to head with them, good luck to her.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Another adventure....

 This is a luxurious post, much of it was written in the bar on the MV  Bretagne en route from St Malo to Portsmouth in an air of relaxation. Of course this means we have been to Brittany again and following a few quiet events this one has been an adventure.

We were due to sail today, that is Friday but a conversation with one of the looked after kids Gran revealed that they were off to Oz for a couple of months so everything had to be completely re planned at very short  notice.

We managed to reschedule our trip for Bank holiday Monday. This is hardly the best time to undertake long distance travel and so it proved. With 8 hours allowed for a 4 hour trip off we set. Initially the management was up beat, traffic little more than normal, then it changed.

Before we even reached the motorway the traffic slowed to car park speeds. This continued for much of the way until we reached the M5. Up until then we had been heading in a direction most people would call "home", now we were heading in a way most people would call "away". Sure enough the carriageway opposite was a solid mass of cars and trucks whilst we cruised along steadily.

Until of course the tempest unleashed itself . A biblical assault of rain and wind buffeted the VW van causing some very severe sideways slides that brought speeds down to traffic jam levels, though fortunately not enough to eat into our huge margin for error.

So it was into Plymouth and another mistake. Eat in a pub close to the docks, OK so we didn't end up retching for days but indifferent was an aspiration. 

We chose the early loading option, people who turn up early always get stuck in the top car decks, so they have to wait for everyone else to get off before they do. Easy morning with coffees then. 

Unless of course they park you right up against the bow doors.  

 The forecast had  been benign for the channel and seriously wet for the other side.

When we got on the ship they had announced sailing had been delayed, something that should really have made me question. Reality hit when we set sail, leaving the roads there was the most tremendous lurch and our  bottle of wine flew across the cabin.Fortunately this was a case of "one we drunk earlier". 

Lots more lurching and we were in Roscoff.  The boat was dancing. The Meteo had been promising a massive downpour in Brittany so we had of course left the strimmer home. This was a bit galling as we arrived at the house to jolly mowing weather. This left all the more time for important things like shopping and of course lunch.

Lunch in Les Trois Marchands is always a splendid affair, and this was no different. Full beyond belief I headed off to the Intermarche on shopping bent. Full beyond belief we headed off for the coast. 

The plan, such as it was, was to head to the coast, have a light evening meal and a walk on the ramparts. A short stop off en route was also planned to see my old mate Peter in his new house.  

Peter lived, for many years in Dinan, a place you really need to visit, in a house you would die for. 

Like all of us he is not getting younger so he has moved to Lanvallay, a village across the valley. Like bits in a jigsaw it has all dropped into place for him and Mina his boss. Google Earth had given me some idea of  where he lives so we got there in the end. 

We arrived, ready for a quick visit, and all that went on hold. They have bought a lovely house, but one that needs serious work. They got it cheap enough though. 

They had also been waiting for us to arrive, having prepared a bit of a meal 

4 courses later I was starting to understand why some people end up obese. If food is good enough you can eat it without being hungry.  

With evening falling we went off to St Malo, parked the van and went into town. 

St Malo is lovely and we had a magical wander round the town. 

Back to the van and the sleep of the knackered. 

Morning arrived  stagger into the ferry terminal and caffeine in a cup.

We decided to use our spare hour to get some last minute sweets for the kids. 

GPS found us an Intermarche and off we went over the lock gates. 

Having been there time was running and it was back to the ferry. 

Oh no, the lock gates were now open so a mad rush round the docks to arrive at the terminal to see that the lock  gates were now closed again. 

On to the ship, being quite late we expected to be on deck three in the "first off" section again, so of course deck 5 it was.. 

I'm not a huge fan of the day crossing back which is 8 hours out of your life with not a lot to do. She  convinced me that I would help her social policy essay if I took her to see War Horse. How come I fall for this every time?

Half way through I decided I needed a wee, what a time to discover the crew lock you in to the cinema on the Bretagne!! Really they do, blundering around trying to get out, I managed to break into a life boat station! Things like this just seem to happen to me. Anyway eventually I resorted to the fire escape, something that served to keep the student amused and provide her with a few more embarrassing anecdotes.  

A previous trip had earned us 40 quids worth of vouchers for the eatery so yet another huge meal got eaten before we retired to the cabin for a few hours social policy reading, the all action lifestyle is us aye. 

Into Portsmouth and no enthusiasm at all for 4 hours on the motorway home. Naturally I had forgotten to turn the fridge off meaning we had a zero battery situation meaning that, being on deck 5 amongst the last to get off we were literally the very last off the ship. It's time to fit a split charge and a leisure battery I think.

The impressive thing though was an accurate measure of the VW's on a trip MPG. The C5 is of course mega frugal but the T4 managed 37 miles per gallon over 500 miles driven. Thats seriously good, all I need to to now is work out what it did whilst tearing up the M5 with a full load of shopping.






Sunday, 8 April 2012

Time team.....

For those of a non UK base there is a very popular programme called time team which is about archaeology at interesting locations.

 Penole is of course no new build people box, we can place people living here in 1750, with the nature of the holding making it quite possible the site might be several hundred years older than that.

Today we decided to do a bit of tidying up which turned into a bit of amateur archaeology. It was great to strip away some layers and find alongside some 60's to 80's concrete the remains of an original cobbled surface we think went in about 90 years ago. This was absolutely great stuff but like most great stuff there was a price to pay.

Oh yes, on the up side lots of Green Goddess kit got unpacked. Unfortunately it wasn't fun stuff like branches and hose, it was shovels, picks and spades. Many hours of work, including some not at all fun wheelbarrow pushing we had achieved our goal - or rather got to the point where the student (aka slave driver) had had enough.

 The fire in the living room got lit and the hot water tank heated to a temperature just short of "steam". This was good enough for the student who vanished into the bath for an aeon. She left the water for me when it was towards the goodness me end of hot, and, i must confess it was a bit nice in helping undo my muscles which had tied themselves in bowlines.

I suspect though that tomorrow morning might be a world of pain. A world of pain in which I need to do a lot of driving,



Saturday, 7 April 2012

On the road again.

On the road again, facilitating contact for the looked after crew that the agency will not fund, again.

A long driving day with the student able to visit her 100 year old mum who seems as bright as a button as usual.

The C5 is returning an astonishing 49 miles to a gallon.

A brisk run back where much hilarity followed my:

"I'll show you the fastest line on the roundabout"

was followed by her:

"Oh look a Police car."

Which produced quite a lot of braking and not much best lining.

Her essay is sort of taking shape, it's about dementia, at least I think it is, I forget. 

I am going to really have to up the game and get things sorted for the political campaign to come. 

Tomorrow is leaflet design day.

Another day another crisis....


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Here comes the sun

After the summer like weekend we had in Brittany thing have changed with a full on vengence. The tempest is absolutely biblical. The fires are roaring the rain and sleet is horizontal. Into town to register to stand for the county council this morning and the car was all over the place with drops of water and ice smashing on the screen.

The student is sitting on the log stove and cats are trying to tunnel their way in through the windows. It has taken 3 hours to get the living room up to 20C.

Lovely spring weather in fact, here comes the sun.....

Monday, 2 April 2012

Living the high life.

Sometimes life here can veer towards the hectic and bizarre.  My beloved daughter Bruce is about to enter her last year as a teenager, next week in fact. She asked if we could do something to celebrate, as a family, What a great idea, we all agreed. She suggested a family lunch, lovely,  we thought,  Then she announced it should be near our other house in Brittany.

So off we went on the  ferry and a jolly good time was had overall. Bruce proved the very interesting fact that you can eat ice cream with chopsticks. Then of course it was home.

Now I don't think I have mentioned internet use before, it's a bit of a hot issue in the house. Normally everything goes along OK then occasionally we have huge download spikes. These are nothing at all to do with anything anyone does online, everyone is Innocent.

So fresh off the ferry, my inbox contained a couple of warnings about limited download, rather than risk the usual protests  of innocence I simply let it all go.

We had been home but a few hours and a chorus of complaint that the net was not working broke out. So anyway i left it a whole week, working on the thesis that those experiencing the most pain would be the most guilty. At midnight on 1st April the net reset itself. I wonder if people will be that little bit more measured in their use of the web this month?