Friday, 29 March 2013

Being LOGcal WOOD be good

Branwen Demonstrates why it is a good idea to wear goggles and a face mask

If you are going to lay waste to the woodpile with the big Stihl Chainsaw.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Looking to the future.

We were  out all day yesterday clearing up after the National Parks - several tons of firewood collected and brought home. Taliesin god bless him found some big lumps of tree to bring home as well.

This is all very well, in December it will be really good wood. The stuff I have stacked behind the stove might even be dry in a month.

Fortunately we sourced a couple of bales of reasonably dry wood today. I should have been here cutting it but sadly I had to be in university. Shame really.

Got a bit done before tea and she has visibly cheered up. She is less cold and this is good.

Tomorrow will be seriously cool here but it's have chainsaw will cut wood for us!!


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ice Cold In Penole

I think it has finally got to the student. This winter has set new standards for cold.

When you live somewhere lovely, like we do you get all these people being jealous of our life in some sort of rural idyll frame.

Thing is though that in rural idyll some of those things you just take for granted are just not there.

No mains gas, No mains water, There are even some places where electricity does not reach.

We do at least have electric  on the mains, but anyway
I know other parts of the UK have fared far worse than us but it has been -8 for night after night now, just when spring should be cutting in and we should be easing back on the fires - we are running them harder then we were in December.

Firewood, cut for September October has been coming out of the shed. The stuff we will be cutting soon is the stuff we should be putting out to dry over the summer so it's ready for  November December.

 Last week has seen off our stock of remaining wood. We are going to be cutting stuff to burn in the next week. This is really bad, you get far less heat and far more ash.

Unless of course you are actually burning ash which can be pretty much burnt the day you cut it.

This burning wood thing is quite scientific which is why I suppose a lot of people went over to gas and oil which requires no more brains than the ability to operate a switch. 

The end result for us though has been a house far colder than the student has become used to.

We have gone back to where we were 20 years ago, 2 13.5 tog duvets on the bed.

On the positive, today big D was in work with the national parks clearing some wood and doing some fencing.  They were left with a huge pile of waste that they just stacked, what would happen to that asked D, well it's just going to be left he was told. Would it be OK if we went down there later and took it away?  That would be great, they told him, thank you very much for taking it away.

Now don't get me wrong, this is not firewood  to burn now,  but we took a ton out tonight and we are going back in the morning with the 2 ton trailer  tomorrow afternoon we will go back again.

So that bit is good - in about 12 months we will have some lovely wood.

Does not help us today though.  

But the house is about OK on the warm front.






Saturday, 23 March 2013

Not getting it

When you are a foster carer you are locked in a day to day routine of schools children social workers and meetings. Despite this you do need to have an objective ahead. A where we need to be in 5 years time.

Now the objective with looked after kids is that they will at some stage want to move on.

Young P got to about 13 his mum was well enough and he went home, by all accounts he is doing OK.

Bethan my own daughter, went through a bit of a patch but sorted herself out in the end.

Big D is aware of the need to move on but he is pretty determined he is not going anywhere near there for as long as possible. He looked over the wall and didn't like what he saw.

Little D on the other hand is well on the way to moving out. The grand plan is still the flat in town. Despite a bit of a housing shortage the place sits there unnlet and unwanted. Sooo asked the student in the car how was this all going to work. What did she mean, who was paying for what and how. Everyone would be chipping in their rent each week. That was good, how much was the deposit? No idea Where was it coming from? No idea. Was the place furnished, did it have a cooker and a washing machine? No idea. How would he cope if it did not, no idea. Was the place furnished at all? What if there was no bed. D already had a bed, No D slept in our bed on our mattress using our bedding, what if the flat had none of these? He had a television and a PS3 he said. And??? Was he planning to sleep on those?

Would it not be an idea to look at some of these issues if he intended to be living there in a few months?

Had he really thought this through? This was a private landlord, he was moving in with a group with a bit of a reputation. What if 6 months down the line there had been one party too many, one thing broken too  much and he got thrown out.      

What he would be offered would be a hostel, which would mean sharing, maybe with drunk people, maybe with violent people maybe with people who were mentally ill. A scary place.

I really had to sit and think - why is none of this touching him, does none of it enter his world.

I wonder if he has had too much done for him. From the earliest age for the LAC there is the foster carer with a duty of care, the social worker to sort out the problem with contact. I wonder if in the mess of "you have rights" stuff he actually get so used to being done for he never acquired the skill to do.

I am going to pull back from that point, a good few of our LAC have gone on to take control of their life. Little D seems stuck at a point where if he doesn't do it for long enough he thinks someone will step in.

A dangerous strategy.


Blown away by the weather.

I suppose it could be worse, at least there is no snow. 

It's incredible though, now we are officially in spring the weather outside is simply awful. We have used a simply vast amount of wood this winter and are already using the wood allocated for September.

This morning it was freeze outside selling some land rover parts and this afternoon looking at the wood that needs bringing into the house whilst noting it's not warm out there.

There old 1800's houses are notoriously hard to heat, it's fine when it's calm but any sort of a breeze simply sucks the heat out of the building. It still costs us a damn sight less to heat the house than many of our fossil fuel guzzling neighbours.

Going to be a blitz on wood in the next few weeks.

Peace in the house today both the D's in town, Branwen home tomorrow - oh dear.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Saintly patience required

It's a bit of a tell tale really, if i am here bashing a couple of messages  a week - it means I have too much time on my hands. If there are great chunks of time with no posts, it's probably kicking off big style.

Over the years she and I have fostered rather a lot of young people, would take me a good while to list them but we could pretty much name them all. Well except him who was here for tea. Literally, came put his stuff in the room had his tea climbed out the window and vanished into the night.

Then you get the others like Big D who came at 7 asked a week later if he could stay till he grew up. Has grown up and is showing no signs of moving on 12 years later.

Then of course we have D the littler the rest of this message will be about him and so he'll just be D from now on.

D's mum has been a one woman job creation scheme for social workers 7 children 3 adopted 4 fostered. D came from what could be described as a pretty chaotic background and came into care aged about 7, 10 years ago.

He has always tried to keep us entertained but i really think he is excelling himself at the moment. 17, staring leaving care in the face he is really struggling to get it. At 17 of course he can expect greater independence which he thinks is great, he can also expect to have to contribute more around the house and to become more self reliant ready to move into the flat he wants when he is 18.

Without prompts to go in the bath he is dealing with personal hygiene by not bothering. Clothes washing is another challenge he has to face which he also deals with by not bothering.

The game has really been upped the last few weeks as a bewildering series of narratives are starting to emerge. Naturally as a normal 17 year old he got himself a girlfriend about 6 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago she had his baby, all fairly miraculous I'm sure you would agree. Sadly the baby died within the hour of it's birth, a event which took place in half a dozen different hospitals, depending on when he was asked. I should add that none of the hospitals listed knew anything about a baby and a couple did not even have maternity units.

The tragic dead baby incident didn't last long, a couple of days later the baby had apparently come back to life and D was caring for it at night and we, so everyone was told had charge of it during the day. The student was particularly impressed with this, caring for an imaginary baby being so much easier than dealing with a very real D!

Things really got out of hand on Facebook when people started to "bully" him.  It turns out there were two groups of people, one taken in by the Walter Mitty narrative, offering sympathy and asking to be kept up to date with all the latest twists and turns of the story. There was a second nasty group of bullies who kept saying horrible things like - he was making it all up.

Nastiest of all was the person who said he knew  D's alleged girlfriend, knew for a fact she had not been pregnant, knew for a fact she was not pregnant and knew for a fact there was no baby.

When this first came to us we took the bullying claim at face value and so suggested  D take the whole sordid business to the Police who are very keen on this sort of thing, and since it was all on FB it could simply be printed off and everyone get charged.

When he declined, we took matters into our own hands went on FB to do some investigating and discovered the whole story. You miss so much if you are not on FB every hour!!

Of course this was against a backdrop of a D who desperately wants to be living independently. Now, you might have a view of whether someone who can't manage his laundry can manage his  whole life. The student was very supportive, offered him a cot we have going spare for the baby too. Last week D and a bunch of friends were going to set up home in a large flat in the middle of town. All well and good. The whole deal looked too good to be true, the flat was to rent for £450 per calender month, which for a 5 bed property was for nothing. Time for a bit of research, first off five bed flats in multiple occupancy fall under fire and other regulations and would need fire certificates electrical tests and meet a lot of standards. A check with the letting agent revealed this was not being let as 5 beds, rather is would be let to an individual. That person would need a bank account, credit and police checks (something that would rule out pretty much everyone D knows) before they could take a tenancy on the whole building. Then of course they could deal with the 4 spare bedrooms they had by subletting them to other people. These subletees would need to sign tenancy agreements, to do which they would need to be 18 and of sound mind. A typical room in a shared house round here is about 60 pounds a week so we are looking at a nice little earner for someone.

Chances of D and his little mates with their extensive collection of convictions and ASBOs with none of them in work ticking all the boxes - pretty much zero.

Un daunted D is marching on.  D is not as badly off as other young people having access to Disability Living Allowance.  He was briefly in charge of this at 16, when records were set for the speed at which he could empty his account. In one frenzy he had cleared 300 pounds in 48 hours with no idea what he had done with it. This couldn't go on, so we set up a system whereby his DLA went into a deposit account, D had a reasonable weekly sum put in his current account. This meant he usually had money  in his pocket and he was accruing a nice sum which he had to spend if he wanted a new laptop or decided to learn to drive. This was not to his liking and last week he decided to raid his own savings in fact in 14 days he got through 1100 pounds on precisely what we are not sure.

There was yet more excitement to come,  on the day he want to get another 200 pounds from his savings only to find he had but 90 pounds left things took an altogether more alarming turn. Mid afternoon, we got an urgent phone call from college, they had credible intelligence that a group of young gentlemen from college town intended to visit the ourtown youth club that night  to settle a few differences with D and a couple of his mates. The differences would be settled it seems by a generous dose of fisticuffs.

So of course off to town we went arriving moments before a senior youth worker who had received the same message. Youth club was closed for the day and the police invited along in case there was any kind of disturbance. I'll say one thing for the Police round here they do good lockdown and, by the time events were due to unfold the centre of town was like the Marie Celeste.

We never really got to the bottom of why a bunch of people were prepared to drive no little distannce to have an altercation with D. I could not help but notice this was the day when he was going to get 200 pounds but only walked away with 90. Was someone perhaps looking for their 110 pounds??

What would he need 200 pounds for anyway - none of the answers that sprang to mind were good ones or perhaps it was for something for his baby!!

Of course the fact there was no 200 pounds has been an act of major distress, where had all his money gone he demanded, he had spent it, he was told. Why was there not more Educational Maintainence Allowance being paid, EMA is paid to young people who turn up at their  education establishments not ones who frequently bunk off into town, futhermore if on those days they do turn up they chose not to behave in class they also risk their EMA. Did he want us to take it up with college on his behalf, he changed his mind.    

Of course things have further tightened for the poor angel, as I said at the very top, at 17 things are a bit diferent to when you are 7, particularly in respect of pulling your weight around the house. This has been another of his master strokes D has two strategies for chores, strategy one pretend there arn't any.  Strategy two, start an argument about it.

Things have rather come to a head as he sits in his little flat created down the end surrounded by landry  rubbish and dirty crockery. The student has decided to apply D's own methods to his principal benefit of living here, that is a lift into town when he needs it. This has been a cause of much hilarity and totally messed up his social life.  We don't use strategy two just strategy one, why would we be going in to town when we don't need to? Working of course on the real life principal, if you put nothing in you can take nothing out. D is putting nothing in so thats what he has to take out.

We are, apparently most unreasonable people. I can't wait to see the tale he makes up to put on FB

Fostering ahhh - all you foster carers out there - whateverh they pay you it ain't enough...