Saturday, 31 July 2010
Now I promise you I don't make this up. The tales within these pages are true. But this one takes some believing, but trust me, it happened..
The helicopter landing pad, aka "patio" is well under way, the grounds cleared and whats needed is tons, literally tons of building materials for the walls and floor. The floor needs eight tons of gravel as a base for the stonework. Right. We live next door to a quarry. How hard can getting eight tons of gravel be?
Telephone quarry. How much for gravel? Twelve pounds a ton plus VAT. Brilliant. Cheap as chips. Do you want to pay for it now? No, pay on delivery. Have to pay before delivery. OK Hour before. Fine no problem, Friday morning. How much by the way. £279 plus VAT.
A day passes. £279 plus VAT? The cogs turn in the grey matter. How?
Tracey my beautiful and oh so very patient wife makes a call to another quarry, why does eight tons cost so much? Probably being charged for a half load. Ah!
Forewarned is forearmed,and as part of my forearm is bionic, lookout!
Call to quarry Friday morning, expecting my eight tons. Yes its ready. Right, why is it costing so much?
Gravel 12 pounds a ton plus VAT.
That's £96 plus VAT for gravel.
Its a 20 ton lorry, you have to pay for the space.
Yes, that's £9 a ton plus vat, making it £108 plus VAT
Wait, I'm being charged more for air in the lorry than the stone its delivering.
Mate we are neighbours, I bet if we both stood at windows and look across the fields we could see each other, surely delivery can be free
Its half a mile
No, sorry. And you have to have a lorry load, its 20 ton, otherwise you pay for the capacity of the lorry.
How much is 20 ton?
£305 plus VAT
Sorry mate, you are way over priced, Ennestone will do it for £200 plus VAT.
You have another quote?
We'll match it.
Wait, I get 20 ton for £200 plus VAT, that's £235, that's less than the cost of 8 but over twice as much.
OK send it over.
Amazed at the turnaround of events I get on with the jobs that need doing. Phone rings an hour later.
Hello its the Quarry
You ordered 20 ton of gravel
Yes, at £200 quid plus VAT
Yes that's OK, its just that we don't have lorries that big here. Can we send it over in two ten ton lorries.
Yes, no bother.
And so dear reader 20 ton of gravel was delivered by a driver named Rebel, who dutifully dropped off all the stone a lorry load at a time at the allotted points in the yard and on the lane. I was left wondering how the quarry would have coped if I had stuck to the original order of only eight ton, would they have sent a second lorry up with ten ton of air in it?
British Industry, best in the world!
Friday, 30 July 2010
Thursday, 29 July 2010
Materials are arriving for the build project in the garden. The building suppliers dutifully followed the delivery instructions to the letter, they arrived in a small lorry to get up the lane and under the tree canopy. They used the turning circle and reversed the last 150 metres to the drop off point. From this point they subsequently ignored all the letters spelling use lorry crane to drop off all supplies the garden side of the white gate. Now the white gate is one of the most obvious features at Rock HQ, apart from the Rock, the gate, visible from space, dominates the scenery. The builders merchants interpretation of the letters on the page translated to leave the heavy building materials as far as possible from the scene of the build as the size of the yard physically allows. Thus pallets of blocks, three tons of mixed aggregates and a smattering of cement bags decorated the perimeter on my return home. Geisha stood guard, until a sunbeam melted her legs and she sought refuge on a plastic tray nearby.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
A short while ago we found Faith had cancer, the vet was amazed she was so active given how desperately ill she was. The good thing was was that she did not know about it, she just carried on, and we hoped she would see the autumn.
The last few days we noticed she chose not to run everywhere, but instead joined us at a steady trot. Monday evening she took a walk around the perimeter and gave us cuddles. We thought the end was close. Tuesday morning she seemed herself, trying to jump into the pig pen for extra rations, annoying Blackbirds in the hedgerow and generally making her presence felt. This morning she got out of bed, had a quick sniff of the summer morning, refused breakfast and curled up in her bed. Tracey sat with her and soon it was over, Faith had decided to go, she sighed her last goodbye, lifted her head and placed it on the back of Tracey's hand and went off in search of Paddy (another ex setter of ours ) to play forever.
She has been buried in a good spot overlooking the ranch on the slopes of the Bonsai Mountain at the base of The North Face Gully. Apollo was one of a number of the critters that came over to say goodbye.
She made me cry the first time I saw her, tears of joy as she was a Christmas present from Tracey. The last time I saw her was also with tears in my eyes. Faith was a joy to own and the sadness we feel now is a small price to pay for all the good times we had. A brave dog.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Monday, 26 July 2010
Rupert and Mabel have been re homed here at Rock HQ after outgrowing their previous owners garden. These very smart city chic geese are getting accustomed to the strange and wonderful on the Bonsai Mountain. The chances of them staying so ultra bright white is pretty remote but for now we can enjoy it while it lasts.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Rene our faithful Rx4, the mechanical version of the Swiss Army Knife and the motorised saviour of Rock HQ has been sold. He is a pretty boy now, all clean, well, nearly all clean, as clean as the inside of a mobile barn/animal transporter can be, and mostly shiny. Except for the roof. I couldn't reach the roof.
Anyway this brilliant vehicle is off to have a new life with a family who will look after him. He's got quite an adventure ahead. He's off to Cape Town. Now that is a road trip!
Saturday, 24 July 2010
It started with Pritch building a scale model of Stonehenge at the bottom of the cliff steps. He wondered why I was laughing so much, but then he's never seen Spinal Tap. So while I chuckled and kept repeating "I think the problem was that there was a Stonehenge monument on stage that was in danger of being crushed...by a dwarf!" he got on with setting up the space invader beacon.
Once assembled this looked like it should shuffle across the garden getting quicker and quicker avoiding missiles, instead it fired lasers in a 360 arc, pretty impressive kit, not for contacting ET but for finding levels, and as we were building a patio and garden walls, level was a good place to find.
He didn't mind finding rocks the size of small planets lurking centimetres below the surface of the lawn which made digging a bit interesting.
Friday, 23 July 2010
Four hours later I was still seething. A whole hour of therapeutic bracken strimming had done little to ease my mood, even a fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella salad washed down with a vat of cheap plonk could not persuade me to ease up. Lets face it, I am in a bad mood. Cause? Well for once not goats. No.
The RSPCA are the cause.
Now we have long supported animal charities, sometimes we do wonder where our hard earned pennies go when given to such a leviathan charity as the RSPCA but if our donation buys the tea and biccies in one of the three huge call centres dedicated to Royally preventing cruelty to animals then so be it. At least the intrepid Inspectors will be refreshed as they right animals done wrong.
Given my work in child protection, the horrors therein, it should come as no surprise that those engaged in causing suffering to children think nothing of brutality to animals. And so my path and the path of the RSPCA often cross, mostly just in passing, always with professional courtesy, each doing their job. Over six weeks ago I referred a case to them, a house so unimaginably filthy, condemned by environmental health, warrants sought , evictions imminent. The adults chose to live there. The dogs, up to seven, Alsatians, did not. These unfortunate canines are confined to a terrace house, never going outside yet alone taken for walks, living in their own squalor. The smell from outside was eye watering. Inside the setting for a horror movie. It might surprise folk that social workers have no powers, we have less power of entry to property than the electricity board. If we cannot gain access to help children, we definitely cannot sort out the animals. So call in the RSPCA, given the numbers of dogs, the numbers of concerns and the very hot weather I did expect a swift response. Six weeks and numerous phone calls later they still have not even visited the house. The dogs have been heard up until very recently pitifully crying, but no one has called. But its not the lack of action that has caused such anger within.
Its their call centre.
One imbecile in particular who is now subject of an official complaint for appalling rudeness, obstruction, unprofessional manner and for eating more than his share of the biscuits my charitable donations have no doubt funded.
I called to get some feedback on the progress of the case. I called partly in hope that something had been done having visited the property yesterday and found it eerily silent, dog wise anyway, but I called mostly as I had an email from the RSPCA asking me to do so. Once he had identified himself as a RSPCA call handler his first remark was why had I phoned this number. My reply that it was the one I had been given was rewarded by a snort of derision and a comment that they don't give this number out to the public.
I explained it was the number given and incidentally the number was the one I always used, could he check the progress of case number 123?
A huff indicated he was checking records, it had been passed to the field team, they were dealing with it.
He could not explain what that meant as it was breaking some rule or other, neither could he pass on my concern that six weeks had passed, I could do that if I called the national call centre, he was, he pointedly remarked in the regional call centre.
We established it was my region.
Therefore the right call centre, but still he could not pass on the message. I asked him how the system worked, from the point of referral who did what, no he couldn't that was the job of the national call centre.
What was the role of the regional call centre I asked, and this is where it all went Pete Tong with him claiming he told me and would not repeat himself, me pointing out I was taking notes and wanted to speak to his manager and eventually after five minutes of deafening keep you waiting in the hope you hang up music a bit more helpful operator took note of my concerns, would pass the message on and promised to have word in her rude minions shell like.
I reinforced my not happy bunny stance by faxing over to the national call centre a formal complaint.
What do I take from this? Well I shall not be buying the RSPCA staff any more tea and biccies and in future any donations made to animal charities will be to the local and small ones. Ones like the one run by Glenys Bufton, a marvelous woman from Llandridnod who single handed has rescued more animals the the RSPCA has eaten biscuits. Look her up on google, you wont find a web page but you will find lots of thankyous and info on how to donate.