Thursday, 31 May 2012

Parent of the student.

Now, I am a parent and she is a student. So I suppose there is an expectation I should be shocked and appalled.

Off went her mother her and I to get her stuff from her student room. My first thought on walking through the door was that the place had been broken into and rummaged. No, it turned out, it always looked like this, to duplicate the effect in your house would require a modest explosive charge.

The second thing to hit you was a quite distinctive whif, god it penned in there and some. Turns out the young student had clothes going back a little while that had not been washed. Deeper examinations revealed "little while" included September when she arrived.

Of course I am appalled by this, just like my parents were when I was at  university.....



Wednesday, 30 May 2012

That was the week that was

Gosh What a week this has been.

Full on disappointment that I could not get down and run up the fire engine, spent all that time working on it and Saturday morning arrived with all the issues I cured back again with a Vengeance

Since then we have had friends from Brittany here which has been basically staying up all night with a big Social Services meeting in the middle.

The student did not actually throw her rattle out of the pram but it wasn't brill. A new social worker who quite clearly had not read anything in the case file. Had it pointed out that this was a young person with intellectual impairment, then proceeded to speak to the young person like he was delivering a seminar in university.

We even stopped him twice and asked the young person to explain what had just been said to him, which he could not. The Sw then just carried on regardless.


Which brings us neatly on to the highlight of the week - well everyone else thought it was anyway; the Olympic torch. If anyone ever doubted we live in a Police state then this was the proof. The Police were out in force at levels i can't remember since the poll tax riots or when i was on picket lines in the miners strike.

Really it was incredible.

Of course all we needed to make our joy complete was Serenity my step daughter.

Sure enough Sunday off went the phone, let the hysteria commence. Now of course Serenity has decided for some reason to get married this year.  On the face of it nothing wrong with that.

Into the ointment though went the fly, not a sensible registry office, with a big marquee borrowed from the music festival on our lawn and step dad and mum catering with a band thrown in by me calling  in a few favours.   No no, that was not good enough, she is proceeding to arrange an event the like of which has not been seen since the last royal wedding.

A prestigious venue has been booked, sumptuous meals ordered to be washed down with ludicrously overpriced wine. When i reckoned I could supply wine a lot cheaper I got told it would cost Serenity 10 pounds a bottle for the use of their corkscrew!!!

This has produced a budget deficit that would worry George Osbourne and austerity measures that a Tory would consider excessive. All done in the expectation that parents would do some quantitative easing - dream on....

In the midst of all this the last thing Serenity needed was a CARtastrophy. So there I was peacefully enjoying my weekend when the phone exploded. Serenity's VW Sirocco had begun vomiting water and it wasn't a hose so  this had to be major meltdown and the recovery service had to attend immediately.

In this case recovery was step dad, who duly loaded the van with spanners and set off to investigate.

Bear in mind of course the undercurrent was that they needed 2 cars for both of them to go to work and so if one was terminal a new one would need to be found on a Sunday afternoon. This was feeling like it might cost me a load of money that Serenity would not be able to repay any time soon.

By the time we arrived Serenity had decided the car was a total write off and that step dad needed to go on a car hunt on a Sunday afternoon.

A check of the situation revealed water being expelled from behind the cam belt cover. Water pump then. The oil was "watery" not because it had water in it but because the car had been very very hot.

In many ways this was for Serenity a nightmare, a new car would have hit the united bank of step dad hard with an unlimited term interest free loan attached.

This was a "get it round the garage and pay for  the job yourself with the money you should have held back from paying for the wedding" scenario.

So of course this was not a good result she would be funding the event not me.

It was a small matter of deciding which vehicle she should borrow short term.

VW van - too few seats. 

C5 estate - needed to tow the boat


Saxo- would have to be this one.

Yesterday  got the phone call to go and collect the car, it could not be delivered back to us as it was nearly  out of fuel (errrr right) 

Around this we have had a couple of mates over from Brittany. This was a couple of sleep free evenings in the making - and so it was. But a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow, we are up bright and early to drive up to Branwens university and collect the furniture she left behind.

Could be another long day.

I like sleep - sleep is good 





Friday, 25 May 2012

IKEA way out of this.

As if the week had not contained enough, friends from Brittany are visiting us on Sunday.

Of course this is a "no room at the inn" situation so with nobody yet moved in next door, we had to get some beds organised.

For reasons I am not sure about this meant IKEA which was a 200 mile drive, there and back.

So tonight off we went.

Of course that was after today when I discovered why the other Green Goddess is not running right.

It's because it needs an engine rebuild

Of yes, I was delighted.

Actually if I had started on that GG, I could have called in the pros and the work could have been done early this week and they would both be ready.

But  flicking forwards to tonight it seems everyone and their brother took off for west wales this weekend And I can tell you that they spent a long time sat on the M4...

 When we got to IKEA the student displayed typical cunning.

We had two beds to buy and of course the frames weigh, so she suggested I went and got those. She went and got the mattresses, of course she hadn't factored in that mattresses stood up on a trolley flop about a bit.

So as I trundled briskly towards the checkout, she pursued me trying not to demolish too many displays.

It was quite comic really.

A nice end to a day.         

The student has been hard at it gardening.

The temperature has been just short of melting.

Goodness have I done some drinking today - all water.




Thursday, 24 May 2012

We love old trucks.

Actually we do. The Gang of us has split this week, lots of garden has been done by she who likes us to dig a bit. Bethan and I have done green goddess. She spent forever polishing Isabelle and today I moved in properly on Gloria. Gloria is Bethans Green Goddess and I was pretty delighted that it took so little time to get it running. There is some serious technical issues though, feels like it's not getting enough petrol. Tomorrow is another day. Quite a few days have been spent on spanner bent. I am a bit fired up by this. Working on Green Goddesses is actually fun Modern cars - forgeddit.... R

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Isabelle the Green Goddess

I don't tend to dwell much on vehicles on here, well not recently.

Setting the scene there is a big tractor rally in the valley next weekend. They have asked us if we can lay on a bit of spectacle based around the old Green Goddess fire engines from 1955 of which of course we have three and two theoretically mobilisable.

So we started off by checking Isabelle who is usually as reliable as a hammer, but for some reason is not keen to start.

Bethan and I went to work, it's not turning over so the favourite reason has to be the battery, being 6 years old it's prime suspect.

So off to the garage and pick up new battery, test it before we leave all looks good.

Drop it on the truck - nothing.

Replace starter switch - no go.

Clean all connections - nothing.

Run a new earth lead directly from battery to starter - nope.

Change starter motor - still not playing.

By now I have pretty much covered all bases.

Call in mate Greasy Steve who is an engineer but currently emptying our oil tank for money.

"Flat battery" said he.

"Not possible" said I "it's brand new"

So anyway to keep him quiet I agreed to let him connect his little Daihatsu 4x4 to the GG via jump leads.

Off whirred the starter.

The  new battery gives very impressive readings on the voltmeter just like it should.

Put any kind of load on there and everything changes.

The new battery is as stuffed as the old one.

2 days under and over and about the truck.

Am I laughing, well actually I will be as soon as the truck is running.



Saturday, 19 May 2012

Post it boat

This morning it was round to the garage and pick up the boat. There has been a lot of tyre kicking but not much of people getting their cheque books out.

So it was load the car up with eager helpers then over to recover the boat.

Naturally this involved a certain amount of heaving lugging and swearing and a little time later we were back at HQ.

Next up a trip to the garden centre, vital as we were short of, well not sure what it was but it cost money.

Next a proper job, start to get Isabelle the green goddess to issue state by next weekend. A project that took the whole afternoon and we still have not got it running - not good then.

The problem is a starter that won't,  so far we have replaced the battery, the starter, the starter switch, cleaned every connection we could find and - nothing.

I am a bit stumped!!

Then, just in case I was bored it was dig a bit of the garden as she who was a student and is now a gardener wants to plant peas tomorrow

I think I preferred it when her nose was buried in books.


Friday, 18 May 2012

John Pilger

Sometimes you get total refreshment. John Pilger has suggested that Bradley Manning is the real issue in American politics.

How someone who exposed the truth has become a criminal.

So telling the truth is a crime.


I might add that this is my 1110th post.

Nice to make it one that has an important message 


Thursday, 17 May 2012


It has been a very diferent sort of day, there was a palpable reduction in stress.

Everything was much more relaxed, calm, chilled.

Got everyone on busses then came home, then fell asleep for 4 hours.

Did a big lump of mowing, went a shopping.

A very calm day no exams or essays.

I found a really interesting academic piece and she declined to read it.

Academe is for October.

Hmmm this probably means that tomorrow is for gardening.

Thank goodness it's raining.



Wednesday, 16 May 2012


The student has done it. Exams are all over, though she is convinced a resit is needed for one of them. Tomorrow it all kicks off; wood chopping, lawn mowing, seed planting she has it all planed. I gave the field mowing a good go today - till I ran out of the go go lotion. For now she wants to sleep. I suspect rest might be a good idea for me too. Our boat might well have sold, which means, she tells me, that we can have a break in Brittany. I hope it does sell, I booked the ferry last week - shhh don't tell her. R

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A weekend of bliss.

So, the weekend came and it has nearly gone.

Friday was a normal day for us. With next door let out and a tenant about to move in some serious thought had to be given to the fact that the fire in there does not work. A few weeks ago I ordered a flue liner and Phil turned up bright and early to fit the offending device. Central heating drained and log stove removed we were ready for some action.

This of course required a Green Goddess for ladders and miscellaneous kit and fairly soon the liner wasn't going down the chimney. Much swearing and shining torches up the hole revealed a serious obstruction. Much ramming with various bits of fire engine tools produced a dull rumble and cascade of debris into the living room. With that cleared we had a clear chimney.

Well except the brick that stuck out into it a bit of course. So instead of feeding the flue pipe down the chimney we had to feed it up from the bottom. This required much swearing straining and running up and down ladders but  it worked.

Whats more the stove, when refitted displayed proper draw and it was soon putting down an impressive amount of heat. So much in fact that the bath in next door had to be tested last night and jolly lovely it was too.

This was just as well as most of the day had been given over to mechanicalism, going into the field I found that the hayter had shredded it's drive belt. Then herself announced that the strimmer starter had snapped it's string. Into town for me then. Looking back i think i should have guessed when the young lad in the hire centre wanted to book the strimmer in not repair it that there might have been some issues with technical competence. When he was struggling using a set of circlip pliers bells really should have been ringing loud.

But anyway the strimmer was "repaired" and home I came well i tried to. Someone had called for a round the county cycle ride and sure enough it was "cyclists thousands of em" going up the road. Now I have no objection to cycleology but why ride two abreast on narrow country lanes when there is a car behind you?

But anyway strimmer home and off to get a belt for the Hayter. This was a cycle avoiding dice with doom as they seemed to be all going towards the mower spares shop. It obviously wasn't my day as another spotty young Herbert when told what I wanted gave me the wrong belt. One that was nearly but not quite long enough.  Of course I didn't know this until I had gotten home. If driving out was unnerving, driving back against the flow was positively exciting. In the end I put my hazards on in an attempt to attract the attention of the head down and peddle like hell merchants who seemed to miss flying over the bonnet by millimetres every so often.

So having had some at home and swearing time with the Hayter it was back on the road and head for the mower shop with myriad cyclists laying on the entertainment. Except of course for one small change, this time the car was being driven by a student who really felt that we were wasting valuable gardening time. This produced a fairly brisk driving style which mixed with hundreds of cyclists not at all. Of course no cyclists were hurt in the making of this journey but it was a bit seat of the pants stuff.

So at last it was home and time to Hayterise the bottom field. The big old hayter really struggled with grass that should have been mowed a few times already this year. Silly operator should have noticed that he had the height set on scalp really. Job done though - a field mowed.

The strimmer though, expired, the starter went home, examination revlealed that the "techician" had failed to replace the circlip correctly causing the starter mechansim to trash itself.   

Then it was time to quality control the new bathroom next door, luxuriate in copious really hot water. Could feel the stress releasing from tired old muscles, it was pretty cool really except it wasn't it was lovely and hot.

The morning broke and it was a case of off again.  

 Mowing grass around our little proto forest something that will be a lovely piece of woodland for us to leave to the world.   A mix of willow ash and beech that will be quite lovely in a few years, I wish we had started it 10 years earlier.  Mowed a lot of grass to help the trees along.

This was followed by a serious outbreak of chainsaw.  Blimey this is the all action lifestyle!

Around us working ourselves to death was a welcome dose of teenager. We have Bethan Branwen and their partners home this weekend. With D's and a Gwion thrown in a lot was achieved by teamwork. The grass cut yesterday has been barrowed to cover the potatoes and the mound been covered in black plastic. Several previous weeks of wood has been chopped barrowed and stacked.  Our woodpile is looking good.

The house bustled with teenies we have missed a lot.     So much bustling we decided to escape to the pub for a couple of hours.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sometimes you role in life is to serve as a warning to others.

Ages ago, when they were at primary school, another summer of disaster and catastrophe drew to a close, kids went back to school and obviously tales were exchanged. One of ours came home and asked why nothing boring ever happened to us.

I've been thinking, this last few weeks that the child involved had a point.

I mean what would I write about if everything went to plan.

You are interested when I am bringing a van full of kids up the M5 and the tyre on the trailer blew out, meaning we had to add a 12 foot dinghy, 25 horse outboard 3 canoes paddles and life jackets to the van that already had nine of us and all our camping gear plus serious supplies of wine. Realistically I could have found a campsite and got a new wheel and tyre next morning. That would have been simple but no, we had to try the complex route.

If I had reported we drove home up the M5 and nothing blew up broke or fell off, it would be boring, wouldn't it??

With the first of our Looked after Children turning 18 soon, everyone looking for summer jobs, me having found one too, it's all change again. Maybe my purpose in really is to serve as a warning to other people....


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

and there's even more.

So of course it's morning and the student has her next exam a day earlier than she was expecting and she's lost her student card and all is panic and light.

Taliesin's mate has turned up the the digger won't  start something that's far more important  than the fact we have no water. No water, yes ideal time to get covered in oil and red diesel. But at least the pump engineer is here.

Student has long gone so fosling has decided to leave house in tip state and watch telly instead.

Right on to the water. Diagnosis dud pump, much pulling of pipes out of ground and we are ready to go. No we aren't the new pump is designed for a 4 inch bore hole ours is lined at 3 3/4 inches.  This we discovered after much wiring in a conecting up had taken place. Engineer departs to pick up 3 inch pump, meanwhile some investigation and the thing is under 4 inches because it has a crappy sort of a inner liner thing. Detailed investigation, much swearing and we get the inner liner out and into the hole goes the pump water flows everyone smiles - well maybe.

The new pump is so efficient and the system so empty it's pulling water from the borehole faster than is can physically replenish itself.

This means your truly is dispatched to sit at the well head switching the pump off periodically to allow the well  to fill back up.

Oh joy and bliss. This is turning into such a fun event, in fact I think I might just go and get chips for the kids since of course no one thought to cook anything for tea.


Monday, 7 May 2012

There's more.

In the spirit of relaxation, i agreed to go and help our new tenant move his shed on to site. A simple little job. Said shed being a truck body which had allegedly come off a transit sized vehicle so moving it would not be much of an issue - yeah right.

So anyway we packed a trailer with goodies and useful bits of Green Goddess kit and away we went. I recognised the "shed" immediately as a back body off a telecom line engineers vehicle about 20 years back.

The vehicle under it was normally a proper Bedford of some description and the bodies weigh several tons.

Ho hum.

The minor fly in the ointment being the need to lift this damn thing just under a metre off the floor so we could get the guy who was turning up with a car trailer (later) to reverse the trailer underneath.

This project was to be achieved using a trolley jack, a selection of  blocks of wood, some bricks and a set of trestles that i was not at all sure were designed to hold 500 kilos each.

A health and safety prosecuting inspectors wet dream of a situation.

To add interest the owner of the house had several children who seemed to be risk blind, but it was OK as the owner thought this looked so entertaining that they came outside with a couple of chairs to see who got crushed first!!

For good measure my jeans which had given a tiny bit yesterday when I was chain sawing had slipped into proper rip mode and my derriere was increasingly exposed to the world.

Anyway, eventually the thing was way up in the air and we had just to wait for the guy with the big trailer to show which was when the heavens opened. Yes, I was by now really happy.   

Naturally he was late and at this stage I really did not need the student on the phone asking why there was no water. There was water everywhere but none coming out of the tap

Eventually, the trailer guy turned up the shed got loaded.

Then it was home and, yup we are a water free zone.

Leaving the others to unload the shed I got stuck into the water situation which is looking like we have a pump based problem, something for the morning.

Gosh somedays you really are the fly and others the windscreen


Sunday, 6 May 2012


These have been a few interesting weeks between two election campaigns and a course in Daycastle it has been full on stuff.

The student, lets not forget her, had 10,000 words to write, all this and fostering too.

The course being a good way away was dealt with by me going to stay in what used to be my local 20 years ago. So it was learning all day and catching up with old acquaintances all night. That was just as strenuous as it sounds. Did I mention going out for a curry that left me with fairly serious intestinal issues, perhaps i will spare you the 

Then back on the campaign trail with Bethan who was standing in a solid Tory seat. She was going down a storm on the doorstep. Ended up getting 20 percent of the vote in a seat where she had spent 3 weeks working the door. Pretty good stuff from a low base 

This though has been a seriously long couple of weeks and i am emotionally and physically tired!

The student, God bless her got her stuff written and we set off into uni arriving half a hour too late to submit it. Only to discover hers was the eighth out of about thirty students submissions to arrive.  

Took her for a rather special lunch and left for home. We went for the motorway and in mid sentence she stopped talking, looked across and realised she was asleep.

She stayed that way most of the way home, then went straight to bed, did not pass go or collect 200 pounds.

We were due to take it easy so of course yesterday we went to a wedding then allowed a load of teenies to stay over.

All the student has left to do is two exams - easy peasy. Stagger one we shall....