Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 review

Its been a strange year and for the record 2009 wont go down as our best. Its not all been bad, there have been some great moments like Ben coming back from the war, crossing the finish line of the Great TODO, the birth of the puppies, Beth's 21st and Trevor's double page spread in the newspaper.
There have also been some truly shattering moments like the death of Tracey's father, Derrick, and the death of three other family members, the betrayal by those we thought of as friends, the panic every time the phone rang at odd hours while Ben was fighting and our current employment crisis.
However, despite the current troubles faced by man and beast at Rock HQ, we have been overwhelmed by the support of friends old and new, the help given by our family and so as we say goodbye to 2009 with some sense of relief that it is over we are looking forward to the future and are certain that all will be well in our world. Things to look forward to include the arrival of Hetty the cow, the birth of Misty's foal, possibly another litter of pups and the sale of the goats. It is a wonderful place to live and we know we are very fortunate.
So to all of you that have helped us achieve this dream, to those who have given so much help Tracey and I thank you with all our hearts. To all of you who read these pages, and there are a lot of you, have a very happy end to 2009 and we hope 2010 brings you all that you wish for and all that you deserve.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Nice face, shame about the legs

Last nights snow turned to rain, and it rained all day. Thwarted from the plan to sledge down North Face Gully (what could possibly go wrong?) I paced up and down like a caged animal eager to get outside, until I was actually outside when suddenly I became keen for the warm glow of firesides, and so the day progressed without much getting accomplished but lots of clothing getting very wet and dirty.
One need to change completely came from wrestling Ryelands who have all been wormed/drenched/manicured, a job that needed doing before a trip to the osteopath. The sheep are wretched miserable creatures at the moment who have yet to discover the custom built shelter at the back of the stables with its new concrete floor. Instead they congregate around the front door leaving dollops of green pooh which the Berners enthusiastically tread throughout the cottage. Tomorrows trip to see Agnes the osteopath should be money well spent as at present any form of movement including breathing sends sharps stabbing pains everywhere along my spine. An hour with her should sort it all out, or rather mask the damage done from years of excessive training long enough to allow work to continue at Rock HQ. Speaking of excessive training this is the traditional time of year when I review the effects of aging and lack of training programme. Gone are the days of 7 minute miles but still I hanker to the old days of competitive cross country running or covering mental distances carrying huge backpacks over massive peaks. Traditionally this is also the time of year that Sara, an equally mental friend contacts me and we promise to do much more by way of time/distance/peaks this year. Our first meeting led to her being dangled off a rope on a glacier in France, somehow she bluffed her way into the climb, somehow I managed not to kill her, and we have been friends ever since. Those so inclined might search the blog for references to Sara ( The Big Black Mountain Challenge is a highlight of the year), or look at her blog linked to these pages. Sure enough a text arrived and we are planning a walk to kick off the year sometime over the next week or so. No doubt we will both plan a spectacular daring do type effort but as life has caught up with us both we might end up dawdling to the pub, obviously to plan the next big trek. The Offas Dyke Ordeal 2 perhaps? 6 days was far too long, make it 5.

Geisha, those of nervous disposition, easily offended or put off by the sight of blood should look away now. Her leg is getting better, this is a close up of the wound today. In a week I shall take another to see how well its doing.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Three legs good, fourth leg bad

Paul the excellent vet called today, luckily he waited until it was really snowing and I after had drunk a rather large glass of Anna's winter warmer, a very nice home made damson vodka that does exactly as it says it does and can also strip paint off doors when either applied directly or from the fumes breathed out after consuming. So while Paul was explaining the intricacies of goat blood types, circulation and nervous systems I was utterly engrossed watching the very pretty snowflakes melting on his hat. Fortunately for goat and vetkind Tracey my oh so patient and beautiful wife was sober and understood the diagnosis that three legs were good, one was bad, but not that bad. After some deft work with the scissors the bad was removed and the good given a good dose of magic blue spray. A quick jab of superstrong antibiotics and Geisha, now looking like a mutant Smurf was left, as found, eating hay, straw, planks of wood, buckets, in fact anything that took her fancy.
Job done Paul was thanked profusely and he left before getting snowed in.
He will be back though.
How can I be so certain?
Well he's left his rather fetching hat.
Geisha didn't like the taste so its quite clean and only partly chewed.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 28 December 2009

Early doors

The number of Berners at Rock HQ has gone down by 3 today as our guests went back home. Here they all are having an early morning stretch in the lane alongside most of our sheep who are not so keen on exercise but are keen never to miss out on an opportunity to get extra food so they stay very close, just in case.
Geisha seems a lot brighter today and was putting weight on her leg, it still looks nasty but it was clean and dry this morning. We are still going to have to call on the services of the vet but we are hopeful that she will not end up a three legged version of the goat world.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Taking up residence

This big lad seems to have decided that he likes it here. He started hanging around a few days ago, today he was found in the annex having broken through the plywood cover over the door hole and was busily helping himself to free hay.
Geisha seems to have taken a turn for the worse, her back right leg wound has broken open revealing a massive hole and foul smelling goo. This was washed out by Tracey, after she had hit her head twice on the roof support (cheers Karl) and then the clean wound was doused in the magic blue spray. The good signs are that Geisha was happily eating while all this was going on, he lower leg has a pulse and isn't swollen or hot, the top part of her leg is also healthy. A second attempt at cleaning it and a fresh burst of blue stuff this evening went well but we are going to have to get the vet out again.
Changing the subject completely I had an e mail asking how could I break an unbreakable camera 24 hours after getting it out of the box. Hard to say really, I suppose it a knack. This is why I try never to borrow stuff, it only leads to embarrassment.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Spot the difference

What a difference a year makes! This is Apollo the wonder foal pictured above a month after we had him and below, just over a year on, photographed today with the new unbreakable camera, which incidentally is going back on Tuesday as rather surprisingly its broken!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, 25 December 2009

White Christmas

As predicted its been a great Christmas day at Rock HQ and its been a white one. The snow remains and there are places where it is pristine white, the majority is stained all sorts of colours thanks to various deposits from numerous animals. There are also bare patches where the sheep have curled up to sleep melting the snow beneath them. Strange wool ringed dirty circles line the lane.
Not everyone had my enthusiasm for Christmas, especially at 4.30 am and I was told in no uncertain terms the sort of injuries I would sustain if I continued to try and persuade my sleeping beauty to go and see what Santa had delivered. I knew he had been as the Berners were on guard for any fat bloke bearing gifts (there was a false alarm at aound 11.30pm but they soon got the message that the fat bloke they were looking for wore a jolly red suit and not dirty jeans and t shirt) so had let me know it was time to get up and get amongst the gift wrap. I lay in the darkness impatiently and put the clock on by an hour. Tracey convinced she had slept in, was in fact drinking Bucks Fizz sitting on the sofa surrounded by excited Berners who were listening to Greg Lake singing the ultimate Christmas song a lot earlier than they thought. Presents were opened and our family and friends have been far too generous and we have been spoilt. So any of you reading this, thank you very much for the gifts.
I now have a new camera, and a new pair of glasses to read the monster sized instruction manual. I have tried my usual press the buttons and see what happens routine but this one is a mite more sophisticated than the last ones, and certainly more robust. "Unbreakable" apparently although I have been reminded several times this is not a challenge.
Animals were fed and watered, most then chose to frolic in the snow before having a snooze. The Technohermit had his lunch delivered and forced me to drink an enormous whiskey with him. I somehow found my way back to HQ and we had a lovely lunch with Beth and Tom, I had for once remembered to cook the pudding in time and so by the time of the Queens speech we were all stuffed. A glass of port with Her Majesty, a call from Ben who decided to buck with tradition and go somewhere else for lunch and the afternoon was set for the compulsory lapse into unconsciousness watching cartoons. Happy Christmas everybody!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas one and all!

The day started early at Rock HQ, first light, which admittedly was half seven given the freezing fog but we were up and trying once again to get water to run uphill from the well. A new strategy was employed, the pump in the well pumping the water at max capacity along a 30 metre pipe that was either level or just a tad downhill thus lulling the water into a false sense of security and allowing it to build up speed and pressure until it reached the yard where it met a narrower pipe that went nearly vertical to the reservoir, and I am happy to say it worked. Well nearly.
The water would exit the pipe six inches below the opening to the reservoir but as soon as it was lifted to the aperture the flow annoyingly ceased. About a thousand times. Finally I had the idea to suck on the pipe and somehow that managed to set up some sort of uphill siphon effect and the water poured out. Trapped holding the pipe for an hour I was pleased to see the level rise by three inches. Suffering from the onset of hypothermia I managed to wedge the pipe in place with a small rock (which turned out to be a frozen sheep pooh) and left the arcane device to continue to defy the laws of physics and replenish the water supply. This would have worked fine had a sheep not sat on the cable pulling the plug out of the socket as soon as we left to visit Jill, Tracey's lovely mum in Telford. When we returned to Rock HQ six hours later it was a trifle annoying to find the level had not risen any since I last looked. Thankfully as I was starting the whole tedious process off again the real pump from the borehole unfroze and we had a plethora of water sources. The tank is now full and all is well in our world. And clean.

The day ended with a walk around the hill to take our Hermit some coal and cat food, I think the cat food is for a cat, not sure though. Carrying a 25kg sack of coal up a snow clad bonsai mountain in the dark with pockets stuffed with cans of tuna surprise is an easy task, especially if you are a fit athletic type. For a fat forty something it was an ordeal which my back now reminds me I should not have attempted, but he needed it and it is freezing in his abode so I battled on. As usual he wrong footed me, my ill temper evaporated as he thanked me profusely and handed me a card. He doesn't believe in Christmas, he knows it exists but that's for other folk, not him, so he gave Tracey and I a Thank You card with a short verse inside he had written. He refused the offer of a meal with us on Christmas day but felt able to accept an extra meal delivered at around lunchtime tomorrow. Especially if there is a helping of Christmas pudding.

I walked back to HQ with Berners bouncing around in the snow, watching the Stable Sprite struggling to get his van up the snow covered lane to wish us a happy Christmas. Across the valley Christmas lights flashed in competition with the neighbours, none so splendid as Steve's the electricians, hardly a surprise really. And there I was clutching this card suddenly feeling very happy, its Christmas at Rock HQ and despite what this year has thrown at us, thanks to friends and family it will be a very good one.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Dont drink the water!

After a few hours messing around, three trips to the local farm supply shop (only two of which were for supplies, the third and final trip was to pick up what I had already bought but left on the counter, famous last words end of trip two, "Hopefully wont see you again today", reply from old hand at shop "Dont bet on it" ringing in my ears as I entered the shop for the third time) and much sliding down the vertiginous slope that leads to the reservoir we finally managed to get a trickle of water to dribble out of the pipe. Its a question of context, that same trickle falling through the ceiling would be a horrendous torrent but as its what all life forms depend on at Rock HQ for its water supply its a tad disappointing flow wise. I am sure some clever bods will be able to tell me why its falling out of the pipe slower and with less pressure than it can fall out of one of my ponies todger, all to do with friction or something but I would have thought the pump would have been able to handle it. After all its not from an aquarium or anything, no, that was binned at 11 am when I finally conceded that a small ornamental fountain pump hoarded away a few years back was not up to pumping water fifty metres, most of which is uphill.
So now we are getting water out of the taps and at the current flow hope to flush the toilets by tomorrow. I expect it will all have thawed out by the time we get anywhere near the right levels but at least its saved us dropping a bucket down the well and carrying it into the house. Mind you the cost of the pump and the pipework could possibly have employed several out of work strawberry pickers for a month but that's a separate issue. I have reduced the amount of water consumed at Rock HQ by increasing the amount of Ben's beer drunk.
We had an unexpected guest in the yard today, more of our sheep arrived over the last few days. Today Roxy wandered back with her new man in tow. Crispen took an instant dislike to the handsome new ram and proceeded to head but him round the smallholding until he got the message he wasn't welcome. That said the ram is currently under the eaves of the stable sheltering from the snow and surrounded by Crispen's harem.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Do you want ice with that?

The big freeze continues here and like last time after five days the reservoir emptied and we have no water. A cunning plan was devised to get water from the well to the water tank that involved various bits cobbled together from the goodies I have hoarded away over the years but as it was being put together in almost total darkness in sub zero temperatures the results were far from convincing but at least all the animals all got water. Meanwhile we will have to make do without flushing toilets and are forced to start drinking the large amount of alcohol left in our care by Ben. The return of Heath Robinson will have to wait to daylight tomorrow when I am sure it will all work properly.

The reason such an important job was left until dark was because I went Christmas shopping. As ever I left it to the last minute, the only reason I didn't do it Christmas Eve as usual was that I could not be sure we would be able to get out of our lane if it was left any longer. As it was Fifi became a very large toboggan at one stage, Tracey and I got into the car, shut the doors and it started moving, slowly at first but picking up quite a turn of speed as we sledged down the track. I thump behind my left ear was all the prompting I needed to stop playing and start driving and we managed to get to the main road.

My shopping, well it was executed with military precision and completed in 45 minutes. This for me is an outstanding achievement as often when faced with the grim task of gift purchase my mind goes to green jelly and I hide in shops I like, like HMV or the model shop hoping to find inspiration amongst the Airfix kits. Then hours later I panic buy everything in the hope that something will match up to someone once I get back to sanctuary. This time I set out with a list, a plan and it worked,I got the lot. Now all I have to do is wrap them, and as I don't have the gift wrapping gene this is another ordeal to be faced before I can truly relax.
Posted by Picasa

Annex update

The camera has been persuaded to work for a few more pictures before its final destination at the great recycling plant so here is a pic of the annex which as you can see now has a roof. The door should be in place tomorrow and the windows hopefully by years end. The roof has already allowed the workshop to start drying out much to the frogs annoyance. Plans to clad the building and replace the front of the workshop so it looks like the stable have been put on hold but all in all the end result will be a very functional and well used building. Once we move the hay out. Again.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 21 December 2009

Festive spirit!

Another fantastic day at Rock HQ, despite a phone call at stupid o'clock from a harassed delivery manager apologising for not turning up with our hamper last night. In the sunshine we got lots done and the winter wonderland only added to the enjoyment of working outside. Wood was sawn, animals were fed, walks were had and most importantly Christmas supplies were delivered by MrTesco once we managed to get him to the end of our drive. As you can see from the above picture Ben has bought us all the essentials. He was worried he had not ordered enough food, I was worried that given the amount of alcohol he has bought none of us would remember Christmas anyway. It was his first go at on line supermarket shopping, he probably got carried away in the drinks section but we shall make sure none of it goes to waste.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Dawn of a new ice age

Today turned out quite differently to planned, nothing unusual there then, as we were confined to barracks due to ice. Last nights expected snow arrived but mixed in with heavy freezing rain turning our part of the world into a very exciting place to be. Comedy moments were aplenty as animals and humans fought off the inevitable effects of super slippy floor covering and gravity. Ebony, the puma like Ryeland sheep scored a strike on the ten runner ducks knocking them into next week as she ran across the yard to get to the corn put out for the poultry, found she couldn't stop and bowled the unfortunate ducks over.

As Rene is out of action Fifi focus was no match for the meteorological phenomenon, she did bravely attempt to break out from the ice as we were due to go to a 21st party but as she floundered sideways narrowly avoiding intimacy with the concrete mixer all flights from HQ were grounded.

Instead we baked, we walked across to see some cute puppies (see Dolyhir site for that pic) and prepared for a marathon TV session as the BBC were showing a classic, The Eagle Has Landed. With the ground too dangerous to work on I had a bombproof excuse to sit in front of the box and enjoy. No beers or popcorn to go with it but I would have to make do. It was going to be a good afternoon.

The phone rang just at the crucial moment with the child and the waterwheel, the Technohermit, "Hello I got no water.Its all froze up. "

Choices. Carry on watching Michael Caine alter the course of WW2 or set out with a container of water in a blizzard for a cuppa with the hermit. The Technohermit makes a good cuppa, as long as you ignore the taste so I forsook Michael, donned my Arctic gear and muttering the immortal farewell, "I'm going outside, I may be some time" waved goodbye to my beautiful but totally uninterested in war films wife who was sat glued to the screen and slid around the bonsai mountain.

If only everyone demonstrated such commitment I thought as I trudged back again this time with his dinner and another gallon of water. MrTesco was tasked with delivering our Christmas this evening but due to the drive being a luge has not kept his part of the bargain. Even offering to meet him in the Oracle's yard with a wheelbarrow could not persuade him to venture out into our ice field with his nice shiny and as yet undamaged van. I shall give him another 24 hours then I'm going to set the Technohermit on him as he has a knack of getting things delivered.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Good times

It was one of those crisp clear ice cold days at Rock HQ, the snow hasn't arrived just a really deep frost, the sun shone nearly all day and we got a lot done. First on the list was to clear out the annex so it could be filled with hay from the stable. The Berners watched this process with interest as, unbeknown to us they had developed a new game over the last few weeks. The type of game that involved chewing through the strings compressing the hay into nice neat bales. How we laughed as every third bale fell apart as either myself or Jill picked it up. Having salvaged forty or so bales from the canine playpen we had a rewarding cuppa and took in the view and contemplated what to do with the broken bales. The best option seemed to be to ignore them and hope they went away.

Meanwhile Tracey had gone over to get the boys loaded into a horsebox. The reason why they were being returned so sudden became apparent, they had been witness to a crime and needed to be moved as part of an equine witness protection plan. The stable at their temporary home had a generator to provide lighting. Some scrote drove up, loaded the genny and made good their escape. The nice lady who owns the field was worried the scrote would return and make off with the ponies, hence a busy day at Rock HQ to re accommodate them.

They were as good as gold in the trailer and seemed pleased to be back on their home turf.

After the rounds some friends called round, the type of visitor you like, the ones who bring a bottle of mulled wine so as it was half past drink o'clock we had a break from the chores and passed the time drinking wine and eating mince pies. A brisk walk around the hill averted an alcoholic stupor and we found two more of our sheep in the process.

The yard seems full with the horses back in their quarters, its great to have them back although I'm sure that feeling will wear off as soon as I see the mountains of pooh that will need shifting tomorrow morning.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, 18 December 2009

Karma Police

Its a bloke thing I suppose, when faced with a roaring fire you have the overwhelming urge to poke it, just to make it go better. So there I was sat in front of the wood burning stove in Rock HQ, warm and happy. One beer up on the evening I was pondering the day as for some reason a spare brain cell was kicking neural pathways into life forcing me to remember something. Something crucial.

It had, on reflection, been a rather busy day, another one where I relied heavily on Tracey to to point me in the direction of much needed doing jobs rather than standing in the yard and watching Stable Sprite wrestle with roofing materials. A real surprise last night was a phone message that our boys were coming home having outstayed their welcome in the huge fields they have been playing in. Great. Them coming home means that the goats who have yet to be passed on to some other mug, I mean, discerning goat fancier have to leave the stable that will be required by William our lovely Welsh Cob. Meanwhile the other stable will have to be emptied of the hay currently stored in it so that Stable Sprite and Pritch could build the annex. As there is no where for it to go it will have to go back into the annex, move 7 since we bought the damned stuff. Apollo can then take up residence next to William. So mix in a bit of Christmas shopping, a huge amount of house work, the usual rounds, the conversion of the old chicken pen to facilitate the goats, the moving of said goats, all whilst trying not to fall over on the ice rink like yard, caused in part by yours truly forgetting the hose was still running so providing a vast amount of ice making material overnight, it had been quite a busy day. One where I had earned that beer.

I poked the fire some more, the heat was fantastic, nice dry wood really does affect the heat radiated, that brain cell was doing somersaults, a neural pathway revealed itself and it wasn't going to waste the opportunity to trigger a memory. It was dark, freezing outside, wasn't it good to be indoors with potential for more beer the majority of my brain cells were musing. Yes, replied the single cell, the heat is quite amazing, what a difference dry wood makes. True agreed the majority, you really couldn't get warmer than this unless you burnt coal.

Coal said the single brain cell in false innocence knowing the master stroke was about to be delivered. Coal, like the technohermit burns. It waited.

The majority remembered, Coal like the Hermit burns, like the bag of coal in the back of Fifi, along with all his shopping, his food, his provisions I said I would buy for him and deliver in the afternoon. Before it got dark and cold. Before he starved and froze to death. Before I got all cosy and warm and started to relax with a beer. Satisfied it had done its job the single brain cell took the rest of the night off while the majority set out to walk around the hill earning good Karma for carrying 20kg of spuds, 2 kg of carrots and 2 litres of milk. The coal could wait until daylight, the Karma police only allow you to earn so much in a day.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Snow hope

For once we are ready! We might not have a roof on the annex, the frogs have had a days reprieve, but we have a million tons of logs, a full oil tank (well full for us) and the pantry is well stocked with us even remembering to buy powdered milk. So if the next ice age starts tomorrow we are prepared.

The drive is just about navigable, the ice sheets are filling in the potholes that I missed with the mixed aggregates a few days ago. We had ventured out from Rock HQ and visited my parents, little sister and hubby who live a fair way away but it was worth the seven hours travelling, the temper tantrums at the traffic lights who conspired to make my life a misery by insisting on being red five times longer than green. None of us could remember when we last saw each other so it was great to catch up even if we missed lil sisters better half who was at work. Lunch was a lavish spread from the McTakeaway and it was while I was eating my burger and fries that I remembered the organic pork joints, sausages and bacon I had thought to bring but forgot to put in the car. Ah well, an excuse for another trip then!

We got back to a trainee winter wonderland at Rock HQ, even a small dusting of the white stuff does wonders to tidy up the yard. The Berners set up a skating ring at the far end and took it in turns to slither along on their backsides frantically trying not to knock yours truly for six, at least I think they were trying not to, fifty kilogrammes of canine hitting the back of your legs at speed is a fantastic test of balance.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Making progress

Work continues today at Rock HQ despite the weather and my dark mood. Tracey as ever provided the inspiration to get things done otherwise I might have just stood in the rain sulking but between us we sorted out the workshop, this entailed another bonfire where I burnt all the stuff I saved from the last workshop clear out, well nearly all of it. The smoke in the above picture isn't actually from our fire, it looks like its from over the Oracles direction. There is a small pile of goodies I salvaged from the flames hidden behind the kennel block on the proviso that I might just need a broken domino's box. Hoarding is a hard habit to break.

So now the workshop is once again a clear and open space and the frame of the roof on the annex was masterfully assembled by the Stable Sprite so hopefully by tomorrow we shall have a water proof shell on the building which will mean that for the first time in three years we might be able to drain the pool at the end of the workshop. The frogs who rather cheekily took up residence will no doubt be disappointed at this sudden progress but they have had plenty of warning to move on so they will have to get used to the great outdoors again. What are they going to do about it any way? Croak at me in a menacing manner? I shall have to cope.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Climb every mountain

Its unusual to see any pictures on these pages that are not taken close by, this is a photo of a very great friend of ours, Paul, seen climbing the difficult section of Mt Blanc a few years back. Paul and I were introduced at a dinner a long time ago and despite his absolutely rubbish jokes our friendship has survived intact. There was a moment when I did threaten to cut the rope on this climb if he repeated the same joke I had heard ad nauseum for several hours (altitude does strange things to tolerance) and as I was holding a very big sharp ice axe at the time he, for once, heeded the warning signs. He is a man of great intellect, often leaving me way behind as he begins explaining something technical, a man who is just fun to be with whenever and whatever. He has taken my particular sense of humour well, especially the day I turned up at his house unexpected and pretended I had been invited for the week, he is quite unflappable, and believe me hanging off a rope at 4000 metres with a death drop to your right with only me guiding you normally causes a minor flap in the most resolute of climbers, especially as I am prone to turn round, wave a lose end of rope in the air and ask in all seriousness whether it should be attached to something.

Paul is an all round good guy, a great and devoted family man and we have shared many good times together. He is currently climbing an absolute monster of a mountain having been diagnosed with a nasty type of illness beginning with c. Without doubt he is the most cheerful desperately ill person I have ever spoken to, and true to form he has turned some positives from this. There can be very few people in this world who can persuade their consultant to prescribe them a medicinal cider whilst lying in a hospital bed but he has managed this. His "humour" may have even improved as he told me the worlds shortest joke today. Dwarf shortage.

It might be some time before we can think about a stroll up some of the biggest mountains in Europe, where I can share with him the joys of holding his wife's over mitt while he throws up into it. But I am looking forward to a beer with a true friend in the new year, as soon as the cells in his body start to behave and the consultant prescribes real ale rather than a girls drink.

The thoughts and prayers of Rock HQ are with him and his family and we know he will get better, the world needs Paul's. He makes it an interesting place to be.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 14 December 2009

Third time unlucky

This is Rene our oft abused Rx4 who provided an interesting footnote to the day at Rock HQ. It has been a great day on the whole, for the first time since the tree felling operation it actually looks like there is an end to the job of moving brash wood, chainsawing trunks and chopping logs, a massive pile of which await a move to a permanent home. The bonfire today cleared away most of the remaining twigs from the bank by our reservoir.

The Stable Sprite has begun the task of roofing the annex, his task made much easier by me leaving piles of stone, dirt and other detritus in his way. He has diligently worked around these obstacles without comment but I noted he ate my bacon sandwich at lunchtime so I sensed he wasn't happy. But its starting to come together out in the yard.

The kids arrived with a Christmas tree so I left Stable Sprite to it and baked mince pies and soon we were scoffing fresh baked goodies, quaffing mulled wine and applauding Ben's efforts at trying to get a Christmas tree to stay upright. He might have been to war but there are still a few man tests to pass, the arcane art of Christmas tree balance is one of them. An ever increasing number of bricks and rocks eventually persuaded the Norwegian spruce to stay vertical.

All was well in our household, except Beth phoned to say that the exhaust had fallen off Rene. Again. The third time since we have had him. The bright side of this is that we think he is still under guarantee. We shall see.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Death Trap

The round bale holder in this blurry picture might look innocuous enough but we found two dead sheep in it the other day. Our goat Maggie is, as I type, somewhere across the fields bothering the local militias sheep in her quest to find an equally love sick billy goat. Her unfortunate companions are having to contend with a horned multicoloured maniac in their midst. Some sought solace in the hay on offer in the feeder, unfortunately two of them stuck their heads through the gaps in the bars, ate their fill and being the woolly brained non academic types couldn't figure out that as they ate their way down the bale the gaps in the bars narrowed. All they needed to do was stand up a bit tall and they could have escaped with ease, as it was they struggled and pulled until they exhausted themselves. They have an immense capacity for self harm you see, and so unable to move they were attacked by birds and having had vital organs pecked out died a painful death side by side. The militia removed the bodies today. Its not only us that has inexplicably stupid animals, I sometimes wonder if Darwin had been a smallholder how it might have affected the theory of evolution.
Posted by Picasa