Saturday, 29 June 2013

A house in Grey

The last few years have seen a few changes here the place changing shape as we moved from a B&B through fostering then turning the B&B into a house and now comes phase the next.

With the bit down the far end of the house set up to be a little self contained flat, our end is falling under the beady stare of management. What had been the farm milk cooling room had become the B&B's kitchen and utility area. This ended up as our utility room boiler room and where the big old Aga cooker lived. The AGA has since died the boiler been made redundant and the kitchen units for the B&B were looking every second of 20 years old.   As usual the student had a plan and one damp drizzly day we set too with sledge hammers and ripped everything out. When I say Everything there should be a not quite in there in the mix somewhere. 

Anyone who has ever even seen a photo of an AGA is likely to realise that AGA moving is not for the weak limbed or faint hearted. So the plan is to remove the AGA through the wall, now as a Green Goddess owner few things sound more fun. Small hole in the wall pass a chain in and round the AGA, attach rope to GG with about 20 foot of slack. Drive off briskly and out comes the AGA. No need to waste time on that sledge hammer and chisel stuff, out it comes making as big a hole as it needs. Would look brilliant on you tube.

Unfortunately this didn't pass muster with the student.

So we have to tediously make some hole in the wall and swear and heave it through.

But enough of that, that's the future, for now the room needs to be cleared.

Out came everything and then in went Taliesin with the SDS Clouds of grey filled the house. Barrows of render were taken away and dumped up the drive. Every day for the last three the ritual has been repeated.

So of course, yesterday we had a big social worker visit, to the house of grey. We started preparations early,  there was a major paperwork sort out. Good Lord where did all these receipts and bills come from? Thank goodness I strimmed round our fire pit  after I had put the mower through acre that is the bottom field - not a day of idleness then.....

Hettie the hoover was used to try and remove the grey patina followed by lots of washing and wiping.

This came at the end of a week which started with Bethan completing her training for Door Supervisor registration. The last day is the day they learn practical pain infliction and dad was wheeled in as crash test dummy, spent the whole day being battered and thrown around, the system they use is very simple and effective - my does it hurt too.

There was also THE driving lesson, there are too many anecdotes written by parents of teaching their offspring to drive to write an essay here. I think Bethan has excelled over her mother, never has her mothers driving terrified me to such an extent. It was some little time of bewilderment at her random signalling that I realised she was trying to use the indicators to change gear.

There are some people who should simply be told driving is not for them. 




Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Citron is not always a lemon.

Cars have always been an important hobby to me and it's also been a source of amazement how fickle the trade can be. Range rovers have always been well thought of even when they were a collection of panels thrown together with gaps around the panels you could almost walk through.

Oh yes, when it was new it was revolutionary but 20 years later it was a 20 year old design surrounded by thoroughly modern cars built with jigs and precision tools. So really it was an unreliable, backward, outdated design which turned to powder almost as soon as it was delivered and the trade loved it.

Fast forward a bit and Rover teamed up with Honda and were making the 200 series, a lovely little car which was built like a Swiss watch. The trade hated it, we had a 214 SEi, for which we payed next to nothing. It was a truly lovely car, a delight to drive.

So of course we come to one of the trades permanent pariahs Citroen. I have to admit I was a bit of a sceptic too. Citroen always pushed the boundaries of what was do able, this usually meant something so technically complex that no common mechanic could grasp it and that in turn resulted in cars whose value was set by what you could get for weighing them in.

Things have come on a bit since then, but Citroens are still the cheap cars as far as the trade is concerned. Outside we have a 8 year old AX, the other end of the Citroen stable, the inheritor of the 2CV legacy motoring for the masses.  1 owner from new 60 thousand miles dealer serviced and 400 pounds to buy. An equivalent Golf would cost 4 times as much. And the Golf would not have holders so each passenger could keep their bottle of wine upright!!

Recently though we disposed of our C5 Estate, bought 3 years ago for 900 pounds 85 thousand miles later we got 200 for it.

Whatever way you look at it that was cheap motoring

But it was cheap motoring with bells and whistles.

Arrive at crisis, stand on the centre pedal and the car would take over, stop you automatically in the shortest distance whilst switching the hazards on. Whether you would love this as much if the car behind you was a 38 ton artic and the driver was so locked into radio  one he missed the incident is not quite clear. You might be under the third axle before he realised what was going on.

Then you had the stability programme, drive along the motorway and it would lower the suspension to improve the aerodynamics.

Off the motorway and play fast and loose with the throttle, the handling would be totally remapped the engine management too gets a wake up call.       

It was like driving another car, taught and responsive

Meant you would be carrying another 30 MPH as you went through the hedge.

But at least the hazards would be flashing.    




Sunday, 16 June 2013

The voice of eggspierience

Last year the student made one of her many executive  decisions: life at Penole would be better and more fulfilled if we had our own chickens. Mine is not to question why so in due course a large shed arrived followed closely by all sorts of paraphernalia and finally 4 chickens were installed in the run.

We have been at times inundated with eggs quiches have been made on an industrial scale.  Then of course winter, winter is the time when feed is short and Mr Foxy Woxy at his hungriest. First one then another chicken "disappeared". Still at least we have two left and two are a lot easier to keep up with than one.

That of course implies they are co operative chickens who lay in the coop and not belligerent buggers who have a safe laying spot somewhere else.

They are still demanding food and bullying the cats away from cat food. But  eggs have been off the menu  for weeks, today, herself was seen in the Co-op buying er eggs actually.....

Going to be a bit of a war this one, I cannot see her winning it either..


Fathers day

Those who know me well know that I am quite the romantic at heart and i never cease trying to find new and interesting gifts for my beloved.

You might also know that, since the big log burner went in we have stopped using our tumble drier I seem to recall there were some issues with it just before we stopped.

But anyway, Fathers day and rain pouring from the sky, herself somewhat concerned that drying is not possible outside and not practical inside as it would render the living room somewhat like a tropical rain forest in terms of heat and moisture.

So it was tumble drier to go then, what a romantic thought for fathers day - I would buy her a tumble drier.

I cannot say she looked impressed, in fact I sensed a bit of danger in the look she gave me.

But anyway before getting the money out it might be worth having a look at the old one. With a little attention we have got it running and it seems to work.

Well when  I say "work" I am perhaps being a bit too optimistic.  It does seem to be drying clothes but in doing so makes a continuous squeaking noise that is hard to identify, every so often it stops  squeaking, begining instead to rumble, sounding like the clothes have been removed and replaced with bricks.

But, with weather promising to be fine for the rest of the week, that's 200 pounds saved on a tumble drier 200 pounds than can be added to the budget for her new C5.



Saturday, 15 June 2013

For the love of cars

Herself of course is not a car person. Big old Bihan the Citroen C5 Estate was not really the apple of her eye and when it expired in a cloud of steam and oil she wasn't really upset. The car was taken away and she didn't  shed one single tear. Of course not.

Not electing to pay the 1000 pound to rebuild the car really felt like you were letting an old friend down. With our changed circumstances there was no real need to replace like with like and so we settled on a new look  fleet. The VW would do all the motorway stuff while the little AX did all the locals.

Of course you need to factor in that Taliesin has decided to set himself up as a car dealer and so we have two Saxos here as well.

But anyway young G arrived and that has changed things, maybe, I argued there might be room for something a bit more car like on the fleet.  She took no persuading at all, so now, I am online searching for a replacement  for her C5.

She has been doing the research, scanning all the available cars and all the available models, she has come up with a shortlist - Citroen C5 Estate.

I have scanned the websites and I think i have  found a couple of likely candidates.

We could be out tomorrow.


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Fire in the Mountain Festival

It's not like me to break cover and say explicitly where we have been or what we have done.

 A week ago we were at the above festival and what a good one it turned out to be. For a start it's not some commercial mega operation, 1000 tickets get printed and that's it. So it's not pack em in till they squeak.

It's also run by humans not people out to squeeze every last penny out of you. The festival food is not a series of dodgy burger vans and overpriced noodle stalls. There is a communal kitchen which conjours up meals sourced from local sources. They had a festival pig, reared on the site slaughtered locally and the meat went through the festival. £5 bought you a decent plate of food, I was getting by on one meal a day, and I was working there.

This year a weekend ticket was 80 pounds for which you got: bands all night Friday, bands all day and night Saturday, bands all day and night Sunday. 3 whole days - it was stonkin. Thursday I did a 12 hour shift which meant that by Friday night (12 hours more) I was ready to sleep. My head hit the pillow and a band started on stage, they sounded good so I got back up and had a listen. They finished and I went to bed, only the next band was pretty damn good too, well worth sitting up and listening to. So it went on, at 3 am I eventually went to sleep as the very lively jam session in the cafe tent was far enough away to ignore.

I worked Midday Saturday till 2 AM Sunday, finished work and went for a pint in the bar. Did I mention the bar? £3 a pint and 28 different real ales taped over the weekend.

 OK so when the festi finished I was on my knees in a way I had not been for about 20 years. This year it was a festival I had never heard of, next year it will be a festival not to be missed.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Festering times back in business

A month is a pretty unheard of silence for festering times. It's down to me though, lots been going on some of it good too.

It seems an age since Lil's death, so much going on and and a "where to start" situation.

When I last posted things were looking a bit poor for little D, someone seems to have hit the wake up button at social services and they are actually trying. He has a range of options with which he seems to be engaging.

We are just back from two festivals and, unlike previous events D has been a big part of the team.

As most of you know, we are foster carers and with little D turning 18 we would cease to be foster carers. Our agency has indicated very firmly that the services of a long distance out of county carer is no longer needed and that we would be finished as carers for them. We have over the years realised that we are, to them a bit of a pain, holding them to best practice or even insisting they act lawfully are viewed negatively, or at least so it seemed.  

This has lead to us looking at other options and me developing my profile as a trainer. This part of life has been really exciting for me, long time since I delivered training and having people compare my training packages very favourably compared to others has been a big confidence boost.

We are just back from working two festivals, the second of which I was working as security. Someone came up to me at the end and thanked us (security) for being there, it made him feel safe. Another plus, old style security was a pretty heavy and often threatening business.

But anyway as I said fostering in Daycastle have said we are surplus to their requirements. This all makes the presence of the 14 year old who arrived yesterday with an instruction to get her into school as soon as possible and to keep her till she is 18 all the more puzzling

What was nice was hearing how her SW had struggled to meet her needs and keep her safe. He sits opposite big D's SW who suggested he ask for a placement in West Wales and see what he gets offered.

She is a bloody brilliant SW and that kind of back handed recommendation has to be taken as the huge compliment that it is.

~Of course the wheels could all fall off the cart overnight......

We shall see.