Thursday, 29 November 2012

Essay Essay Essay

I'm not at all sure how parents guardians and relatives of undergraduates have ever lived with them, surely this is why offspring chose universities largely on how far away they are.

But of course the student lives at home, and we have the clashing mix of:

"I just want to pass"


"I want a first"

The last few days have been quite challenging as she tried to frame her essay in the best possible way.

I think this is the fortyeleventhousand re write.

Everyone else has gone to bed

I am still here.  

 Today has been properly cold.

But unlike earlier this week lack of wind has kept temperatures in the house bearable.

23 C in the living room just now, which is properly comfortable.



Monday, 26 November 2012

Don't know weather it's safe to go out aye....

Good grief!!!!

Not sure what to do today, had to go into big town and wasn't sure if it was classed as driving or wading.

Haven't seen so much water in ages, forgot to put the handbrake on the VW which I realised as the van trundled past the window pushed by the unseen hand of the wind.  

The house is in silence, the student is essaying and the kids in college school or gone to boyfriends.

I am struggling with a fire that shows extreme reluctance to deliver anything like warmth.The cover bought for one of the GG's is in tatters - obviously force ninety eleven winds are too much for it.

A day to be glad we are not on a ferry, a day to stay inside.....

What a day to make my 1200th post here!!


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Feeling psychadelic

Been an odd few days, filling in for the student who has been a bit unengaged,

Now I have it


Thats all I can say though I got through it yesterday, but did a lot of work stuff today and I was really out of it by mid afternoon - total fatigue.

IKEA is nothing like what it's cracked up to be either. Cheap chipboard, MFI reborn


Thursday, 22 November 2012


Today, the student submitted her dissertation plan. This included electronic submission so of course this tested her DIC to the point where it creaked. Documents written in one format needed to be sent in another. This was real testing stuff.

Then physically drive to uni up an M4 that was properly full on wet and windy.

Next stop Uni drop  the physical copies of the documents off then on to get the bits for the refurbished rooms. A big shopping list in IKEA buying things we can't affoard to buy for the D's who wont be able to affoard to replace them when they, almost certainly break them.

I am feeling so positive today aye!! 

Big D has a day of assembling tomorrow, but before that we had to get home.

Weather conditions were truly terrible the M4 like a bath in places. I pulled our speed back to match the trucks, there were still lemmings in the outside lane doing Mach 1 whilst touching the car in front's bumper.

Really scary

Everywhere round here has flooded, from what I can work out.

Apart from the places that got blown away by the wind.

Climate change?

Ok who is denying it?


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Plague house

Every so often you get an outbreak of winter illness. Monday Beth and I were doing a course when around lunch time she went a very strange colour and we decided she needed to go home. Just as well too half way home she barfed spectacularly out of the car window naturally just as we were going through  a village. Fortunately the rain was like nothing seen since Noah was about and that will have washed away.

The student has not been right for days, I suspended her driving licence after she both forgot and didn't notice a roundabout. I positively insisted on taking her to university as there is no way I could see she could have driven 60 miles up the motorway and not hit something.

This morning I woke feeling a bit odd, got the students to their various buses then, with the student bustling her dissertation I thought I might just chill for a moment. That was 9 AM a few minutes later, or so it seemed I opened my eyes and it was 1.30 pm.

This is obviously something doing the rounds, people were looking decidedly ill in Bookers, with one member of staff wandering round in a complete daze.

Still things are not all bad, the builder has finished and we are off tomorrow to get furniture for the new bedrooms.

That will be more money we don't have spent.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sun day over the rainbow

OK so maybe I lied, no rainbows here today. Loads of wood to bring in to keep the fire going.

Warm living room rest of the house less so. Absolutely broke, had to pray the bank would let us fill the car today, that's one slight less worry.

I'm in coll tomorrow, with Bethan, student off on manoeuvres a couple of days this week. It's a tough time financially we have not been this broke in about 15 years.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. 2 years ago we had one sprawling house in need of refurbishment Now we have two houses and one small flat. This time next year we will have a brand new cottage as well one that features super insulation and generate at least some of it's own power.

The grand scheme to rent some of this land out for wind generation seems to have fallen by the wayside as the Nazi Parks threatened a veto, so it's not all good news. The drive too is looking a bit second hand, serial serious pot holes have appeared. We did a quick fix yesterday but I think something more permanent is indicated.

Talk about a money pit.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The heat is on....

When we last went to Brittany we came across a burnable wood product.

This stuff is very interesting in that it is a type of brick made from waste  wood. Stuff that gets chucked on the floor or sent to landfill. This product is made by finely grinding the wood and wood yard waste then passing it through an oven in which 10% of it gets burnt. The remainder is heated to 550C at which point virtually all the water evaporates and the wood is tinder dry. Crucially the lignums melt, so when it is compressed and extruded you are left with a very dry compact block that contains 4 times the heat energy as an equivalent block of kiln dried wood.

Unlike a lot of what you can get in this country, this process does not involve adding any binding agents or glues which would screw up your chimney.

I am very impressed. Out fire was going fine this evening but the student wanted a bath so I added one block of this stuff weighing about 1.5 kg. The living room has gone from 23 - 26 C in about 40 minutes and I cannot open the fire vents as the water in the boiler boils pretty much on the spot.

You have a clean fuel, the bricks don't leave mess on the floor, very easy to control and you can bank the fire then leave it a couple of hours before adding any more fuel.  There is virtually no ash as everything gets burnt. Next time I go to Brittany I am bringing more of this stuff back.

More than that, the student is printing leaflets and looking to sell the stuff we bring back. If it works out we are going to look into the costs of getting a plant. We have two sawmills locally we could be on to a financial winner here.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Hague's Britain

I know a young man, well someone in his 20's anyway who has some issues around his mental health.

A year ago he had his own flat, he was coping, sort of in his own strange way. 

Then the changes came in, he was out of his flat and into a room in a shared house, well not even that, a room in a grubby flat shared with someone else.

Last week his flat mate stole all his food, so he says.

Yesterday he was seen in town, carrying a lone pot of muller rice. His flatmate left the heating on overnight and used all the electricity, that was all he had left for food.

Welcome to Hagues Britain. Where the poor have to stave so Amazon can keep all their profits.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Bruce come home.

It has been an eventful time, Litle D our fosling is dishing out a very hard time for everyone. This weekend he did everyone a favour, he stayed in town. It was truly great as Bruce came home from uni something that required a deal of driving, then she vanished with the VW for as many hours as she felt she could get away with.

Came home to our first experiment with Satay chicken, she was never far away when there was food around.

Continuing our run of bad luck the student reversed the C5 into a post disloging the back bumper. This required a lot of manipulation to put it back on, until it fell off again, and again, and again.

Took us till yesterday afternoon to work out where the problem lay and i'm not convinced that opening the tailgate will not dislodge the damn thing again.

This week of course I was supposed to be on a course, having taken 460 pounds off me  the firm vanished.

Serial phoning last week produced converstions with "i'm just the receptionists" who promised to pass on the message but wouldn't promise to ensure someone replied. In fact they took your message with the tone of someone who knew there would be no reply.

Sending an email suggesting litigation was a possible solution, seemed to get someone to the phone, Friday, while I was out someone phoned the student and said the course was off and that if I contacted them again with the number of the card, they would try and refund the money they had demanded, up front, within a few weeks.   

This fair pushed me over the edge - oh did I mention I was at a conference on mental health at the time, Today I fired off a lively little letter, I hope they ignore me as I will then be able to hit them with a schedule of compennsation.

Could even pay for Xmas...


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Airs and Vans

The run back from France was a bit of a struggle but all that slow driving did offer one dividend. The van returned 39.7 miles to each gallon. That's remarkable when you think how loaded down it was.

The problem was it turned out, an air mass sensor, van is running nearly but not quite normally.

The week has proceeded peacefully with the student in university and builders a building.

Building work is nearly done which is a worry, that end of the building is stunning. Little D could destroy an anvil and has no respect for anything, half the reason for moving hm is his current room stinks. Could be some grief there.  

Money is going to be incredibly tight for the foreseeable future, not sure how we are going to survive.

Not sure if we are going to survive!!

I am off doing my first aid instructors course next week, so there might be a few extra pounds to come in from that work.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Of mice and wine boxes.

There is something nice about the kids being that little bit older. Previously we were prevented from going away at all. Or forced to make very complex arrangements over kids transport and safety.

Last week with Bethan in charge of the house and Taliesin in charge of the transport off we went on adventure bent. The T4 was driven in leisurely mode, meaning it returned a creditable 37 miles to every gallon. With some little bits of dense traffic on the M5 we still made Plymouth with enough time to stop in a pub for a pint before boarding the ferry early.

This was the life, 3 course meal and an early night, just the job. Up next day and a leisurely drive to the house. We had left in a big hurry so the place looked a bit of a state. Got our new log stove lit and   soon the place was feeling warm.

I had left the strimmer home to make sure we didn't need to work, at all. 

The rush to leave last time had meant we had left quite a few boxes of red behind, the plastic bag in a box jobbies which are really good if you cook with wine as well as of course quaff the stuff.

Anyway the boxes were all fine and soon it was time to load the van and head out for lunch.

Well we thought the boxes were fine, we had not allowed for the local mice. Mice learnt a while back that food is often sealed in plastic and so they have learnt to nibble holes in the stuff to access the larder beneath.

So of course when  I looked at the boxes they looked fine. Picking one up though put pressure on the inner bag and produced a veritable spray of fine jets of wine from the multiple fine holes. This produced a bit of alarm, some quick thinking and into the shower with them.   Pretty soon the inside of the shower was looking like the set of "Psycho".

Running out of room, I took to lobbing them out the front door and soon the steps of the house looked like they were running with blood too. Of course in all of this there  was wine going everywhere, a lot of it over the student who was really wishing she had not forgotten her changes of clothes.

This was a full on major incident with wine all over the wood floors, pouring down the steps and bubbling out of the shower waste pipe into the back garden.

We sort of cleared it, but I reckon our next trip  will feature mops and buckets and a lot of cleaning up.

There was only one sensible course - we went for a 4 course meal in the Trois Marchands.

Feeling happy it was on to the Intermarche and open wallet surgery to restore severely depleted stocks.

Then on to the coast, a run back up to Roscoff with a few more shop stops on the way.

There is something special about Roscoff, leaving the van at the ferry terminal it was a lovely walk into town with the sea providing the background sound track. Disappointing but not surprising that the Creperie was booked up, we arrived early enough to get a table at the Chinese. Another thoroughly decent meal walk back to the van with a moon shining bright on to the sea.  With the illuminated chapel underneath. Made me wish I had the camera, then to top it out the Pont Aven sailed into the night, a blaze of light on the crystal sea, pure magic.

Then back to the van, try to create a bit of room so we could sleep. It's lucky we are really good friends - there was not much room back there.

So morning arrived with us both well relaxed - after the day before I am not sure how, on to the ship and back to bed - even more sleep.

Off the ship and bound for home, ahh yes, did I mention the van? Having an extensive rebuild, something wasn't quite there, loading it to the gunnels added precisely nothing, It was really odd, varying between it's normal self and gutless with no way of predicting which.

The student was heroic in her driving, till we got within 50 miles of home, that I had to take over and drive the last few miles. Sense of humour let go.

This morning - bright and early off she went to take D the smaller to contact. This afternoon off we went to collect him Had the weather changed? And some - biblical rain fell in sheets, at times we considered jacking up the C5 suspension to cope with the depth of the water.  The wind was incredible, thank goodness it had abated before we went home.

Still, we are home now - time to book the next trip....