Monday, 11 September 2017

Plus ca change - or something like that.

Nothing much makes it to these pages these days which is itself a very sad thing. This is not to say that life does not throw up challenges and things of interest. Just that life is not motivating me to write.

Maybe I am getting old, I am into my 6th decade - I still can't really buy that. Last week, on my way to a busy day in university I picked up  this radio 4 piece by someone my age talking about the limitations he faced and about aging. Perhaps it's a mind set, I was feeling a little below par myself I will admit. Leading a security team at a festival, up till  3.30 am chasing drunks round a field takes it out of you a bit, at any age. This age thing is a funny one, I was chasing people round a festival last year, noting that I seemed to have to wait for some of the younger ones to catch up.

Maybe that's just the healthy country lifestyle I lead, seems to conspire to keep me young.

Of course we have considered ending all that, Bethan has finally moved out, gone away with her current boyfriend. This was not a minor project, incredible quantities of gear emerged from her bedroom, it was like emptying the tardis.

But now she's gone and I think it's time we moved too. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Into the gypsy lifestyle

I suppose it was all my fault. I should never have told Beth about the cheap caravan for sale locally.

We had a caravan years back and it was a jolly little base to use when doing festivals and such like so when I saw a cheapie on facebook I told Beth who went and looked (on Facebook) and pretty much decided to buy without seeing.

So it was that Newton the trusty T4 VW and I set off for a town an hour away. The caravan itself was up a narrow back line and, despite being for sale was surrounded by piles of junk. Climbing over this a cursory glance suggested stuff might be in order, cash changed hands and the fun commenced.

Task one was move the huge piles of junk, task two get the beast out into the lane, now, this should have been the stage where I began to wonder at the wisdom of any of this. 

The caravan was a touch massive and took 3 of us to drag into the lane. Hooked to the van it was a bit of a struggle down what suddenly seemed a lot narrower lane. The 90 degree bend seemed a lot tighter going out too. Just as things were getting really interesting 2 cars arrived, well, got to the top of the lane, saw it was blocked and decided to turn in anyway. 20 minutes of fluent profanity unhitching, heaving, reversing even more profanity and the show was back on the road.

I have driven Newton with over a ton in the back and, it drives pretty well. So about two miles later i knew the brakes on the caravan must be sticking. Pull over and check. Nope, the hand brake was off and the hubs were cool. Must be something else then. Looking at the van properly "something else" struck me, this caravan was positively huge, bigger than the T4 towing it, the brake was  massive size of the van!!

This was reinforced,if such a thing was needed, by my return to the dual carriageway. Eventually the van was coaxed to a speed approaching the national speed limit, then came  a small gust of side wind which normally would hardly cause the VW to flutter. The effect on the wheeled block of flats behind though was pretty spectacular  and set in train a series of lurches and slides that did what hordes of speed cameras have failed to do - reduced my speed below 50 and made pretty sure it stayed  there.

Pengawse hill should have been a real chance to test the stamina of the van, being both very long and very steep. Being stuck behind a tractor helped reduce the possible embarrassment, second gear it was all the way. The back road home was a chance to experience how wide and long the bungalow was and the drive a series of challenges of the getting large vehicles round tight corners and through narrow gaps type.

They say that first impressions count, having been parked for an extended time under a tree at some stage, the bungalow was finished in what might best be described as green slime. Something which  did not endeer itself to the management who was overall less than totally impressed with the new addition. There was a very strong suggestion that the bungalow should be immediately removed to somewhere far away and that management for one had no intentions of sleeping in it - ever.

With that endorsment ringing in my ears it was time to make a detailed examination. So far so good it had things like cookers and fridges and lights and a battery. A washroom and space for a toilet.

It was time to summon the daughter and set her to work. Armed with a bucket of bleach and a pressure washer, she was soon very pleased at the transformation. Serious reversing skills were deployed to get the van, through, what would be a decent gap if the object concerned was not bigger than the house is adjoined. So, the van is now safely parked out of the way down the side of the house, the management is slightly less annoyed and the hard work of sorting the van out can commence.

The festival gypsy lifestyle beckons.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Showing some community spirit.....

Now i'm a great believer in being part of the community and putting stuff in not just taking. So sufficiently long ago for this story not to implicate anyone (last summer) the Penole crew were off to do a bit of helping out.

It wasn't a big ask, moving a couple of marquees that were being hired out for a party, an hour max, we were told. What could be simpler -lots of things, as it turned out.

15.30 up we rolled at the storage unit to a scene of chaos.  our leader had not really sorted things out. Various bits of tent were everywhere, things stored in the back of the shed having to be brought out to try and work out what they were and then shoved back in again when they were the wrong bits. Everything being at the far end of a storage container with a portable stage between it and the door. Remarkably it only took  about an hour of sweating swearing and getting inaccessible bits out of the back of the unit and we were ready for the off.

Brilliant timing,  said our leader he had arranged to drop off the tent at 5 PM.

But he originally said an hour, still never mind all we had to do was take it there and drop it off.  What could go wrong...

So on to a flat grassy site we wandered and it was five o clock and there were going to be four people there except there weren't.

Our leader seemed not at all phased or surprised which made me feel a bit err suspicious.

They were obviously setting up for a serious party, the garage seemed to be full to the roof with beers and spirits.  

Anyway, how long can it take to put up two tents, not long. Except these were monster marquees. Still it could not take that long could it?

There was of course a trip back to base to get the bits our leader had left behind

In this time frames were built clad in canvas, with alot of straining lifted in the air fitted with sides and sort of  pegged down.

3 1/2 hours  later, awash in sweat, we had finished.

At this stage I did sort of note that this was quite a windy spot and the weather forecast wasn't brilliant and the tents were a bit exposed. The tents weren't that well secured to the floor either These were all thoughts that went round in my head but, hell, it was only going to be an hour a lot of hours ago and I wanted to get home.

So the weekend came and the weekend went, this morning we had a few plans, none of which included tents and, the phone rang.

Would we be able to go and take the tents down, would not take long.....

ERH, NO, we were busy, someone else could do it. There wasn't anyone else, every time our leader asked for help with the tents no one was available.  Now that was a real suprise....

So rounding up everyone who did not have an excuse like going to work, off we went.

Time to take down some marquees!

Well no, the wind had delivered a scene of carnage. Tent positioning had not really been thought through and reading between the lines this had been a bit of a boozy party and when the wind came up no one really noticed or thought to close the doors till both marquees collapsed.    

This was really serious, one marquee was way from where we left it and all the canvas was gone.

The other was partially up but out of shape. With the wind due to rise getting the canvas off it and down was an urgent priority.

Things were moving and creaking in a not very encouraging way. Time to get the panels off the frame then, except the roof this could only only happen from inside the tent. On a scale of safe - this wasn't good.

So unpick the sides, up rolled our leader, hmm, if he clobbered that joint apart, being inside it at the time,  the whole marquee would drop on my head. Whack, down it came. I was right.

With the wind increasing by the minute giant rolls of flapping canvas were folded and dumped into the trailer as another team set about dismantling the frames.

Now, if some of the bits of tent were needed fo another job that day, logic suggests this would be an ideal time to sort  out some bits. No everything went into the van in one huge mess

So other end came the announcement, this mess of poles had to be sorted  into their various types so some of them could be transfered to another trailer to go back out again.

Lets make this more complex shall we??

Think I might be busy next time......