Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Flat out

It being the 29th, an extra day, a day that we should do something different on I decided, much to the Berners disgust to forgo a jolly jaunt over/around/across the Bonsai Mountain as part of my less than intense BBMC training and get on my bike. I have been meaning to do this for a while, even went so far as to buy a lovely hardly used racer off he who cannot be named after his planned cycling holiday in Spain with the Godfather turned into a beer fest following a mad day where they did 80km in 100degrees of sunshine.

Bikes were sent packing back to the UK and yours truly snapped up a bargain when prodigal returned and was short of cash to fill his gas guzzling BMW M3 (I told him 15 mpg was not a good idea but the kiwi leather interior was a persuasive argument and I was over ruled) Anyway, having not ridden a bike since the big fall of 2007, unsure if bionic left arm would like supporting my massive frame on drop handlebars (plus unable to inflate ultra thin tyres to any where near hard enough) and certain that the combination of the previous would not survive the chasm like potholes that form our lane I dragged the exercise bike out from its covers (its not any old exercise bike, the £19.99 fall apart type from Argos, this is a LifeCycle as found in most gyms) and cranked the pedals. It burst into life, an amazing LED display of some 90 different routes/hills/training schedules all doable without having to leave the conservatory.

So while listening to some inspirational heavy metal under the glares of Bernese miffed at no long walk yours truly managed 13.8km in 30 mins and as I was fartlecking (not sure thats spelt right but its a technique not an anti social leakage of gas) I maintained 80-90 rpm taking it up to a flat out (for me)162 rpm at intervals. I think I feel good, not sure how I will feel tomorrow but in all it was worth risking saddle sores to increase fitness and decrease waistline.

This is now a 30 30 challenge, Sara the duracell bunny mentalist British women's downhill champion type sets these from time to time, the challenge is for 30 days in March to do 30 minutes on the bike a day. Challenge accepted providing the LifeCycle counts.

Meanwhile several more robust bikes than the gazelle like racer are on watch on ebay and hopefully some of the 30 30s will be cycling to work and making duty calls in the locality. I don't think I will ever get to be like Andy in Germany (there will be a link to his entertaining life/bike blog as soon as a gremlin can be trained to make it) who does almost everything everybody else does in a car on his bike, but hey its a start!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Blatant advertising

Red Kite Fostering sponsors The Lady Hawkins School equestrian team so we had some hacking jackets made for the team for when they go to various events across the counties. They look very smart so we had a few extra made, as well as a few for the BBMC team. Blatant advertising or what!

Bleaters corner

Ferny Fern Fern from Ferntown is holding an audience with the flock
Crispen is heckling by blowing raspberries from the cheap seats!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Happy Birthday

It seems no time since this little chap arrived bringing joy and countless smiles to our world. Yet here we are a whole year gone, we now have a one year old, his life no longer measured in weeks and months, little t's birthday. So many presents, so many thank yous, it took so long to unwrap the massive gift pile that our plan to visit a small breeds farm as a birthday treat (well he doesn't have much opportunity to see animals does he.....) was shelved for another time, instead he engaged in his favourite pastime and charmed customers in a local tea shop. Being the sociable sort he called out to all and sundry offering lemon drizzle cake.

Despite a ban several toys made it through the not allowed if it makes a noise embargo, the wooden xylophone was a real hit (get it?) as was the book on fire engines that made a siren noise that he loves to hate, screaming along with it while crawling for cover. We bought him a Noah's Ark, it makes all sorts of noises, mainly animal, one suspicious sound like the arks sinking and a passable foghorn.
Hours of fun.
If he's good I'll share it with him.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Don't lock back in anger

The tale of little t's birthday tea will have to wait, suffice to say it went everso well and thanks to all those that came and made it such a joyous day. I have just got back in from the evening rounds (10.24pm) having broken one of my own little rituals with comic/disastrous results dependent on which side of the door you were. The workshop is bolted and locked with a slide type bolt that has two lugs on it, you slide the bolt back and it locks into place, a padlock through the lug stops it moving without the key to the lock. I ALWAYS slide bolt back to lug two and place padlock back on lug one, locked in place but allowing the bolt to be used, sliding back and forth. Tonight for some insane reason I locked the padlock on lug two, locking the bolt open, even as I did it I thought you don't normally do this, why have you done this, what if something happens and you cannot get the lock off, the bolt is locked open, you wont be able to close the door.

Pah what could happen I chastised myself, get on with it.

So I did.

And in doing so something inevitably happened to the padlock. A big Bernese dog charged through the door slamming it into the newly arranged pile of logs bending the key in the padlock. Metal fatigue and impatience meant that the key snapped, just at the point that my beautiful and oh so patient wife offered to apply the gentle touch that might have prevented the catastrophic metal failure.

Several attempts were made to turn the shard of metal wedged in the lock, an enterprise made much more amusing by the security light deciding to switch off every ten seconds forcing frantic waving of spare limbs to reactivate it. The search for the spare key was pointless but done, as was the lets try every key we have in the vain hope it fits.

As I pondered the merits of having bought a lock that was reportedly hack saw proof the patient one offered I could shoot it off like they did in the movies. Luckily I can tell when she is being serious, this was not one of those times.

Eventually by use of a persuader (hammer) crowbar, cold chisel and heavy duty bolt cutters the lock was prised off the door (the metal lug was severed from the bolt mechanism, the padlock despite a furious attack with a log splitter remained shiny, unmarked and annoyingly locked) and launched into next week. Meantime the Berner who remained on the inside, the Rockmeister, seized the opportunity to polish off all the remaining birthday treats on the dining table.
See evidence above, he even picked all the cheese off as pickled onions are not his favourite. Bless him.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Fitting it all in

As its the weekend, and most importantly a sunny one (so far anyway) there was no time for lounging around, things had to be done such as move several ton of logs off the drive so a tractor could deliver breakfast to some very hungry herbivores. The usual routine got a hammering in double quick time and the runway was cleared of horse and cow debris.
Tracey, my beautiful and oh so patient wife (horsewoman of the year) took Chester out for a spin meeting up up with Mrs Stable Sprite and Alfie and did what horsey types refer to as going for a hack. I could at this point tell you a very funny tale thats been in this weeks tabloids where a distant relative refused to let Zara Phillips (13th or so in line to the throne) in to a three day event as her mum, Princess Ann was already inside and had Zara's ticket. There is no truth in the rumour that cousin Tim said "I dont care who your mum is unless you pay up £12.50 your not coming in" Eventually Tim and Zara were rescued by someone who was more up to date with those who appear in OK magazine. Anyway, I wont mention that.

As they were off on a jolly the apprentice smallholder and I went for a hike in the hope that our paths would cross, and also to take some moody shots of local abandoned architecture.

Little t liked the falling down chapel,

and the empty house was looking good as a fixer upper

looking even more idylic when the horsey types apeared

but the view across the road was a clue that it wasnt so peacefull all the time. The Quarry bought most of the propertys close to it so as to have a free reign on noise, dust and digging.

Back at the ranch the pigs got mucked out and the doings spread over the garden in the hope that it will add some fertility to the heavy clay "soil". The plan to build raised beds with the tyres is still a plan, several hours of the day that could have been spent doing that was in fact spent assembling another Chinese import for little t's birthday, a sitinpushalonglooknopedals car, its red so it goes faster, but as this plastic kit was put together while watching the defeat of England at the hands of Wales it wasnt all time wasted.

Final tasks of the day apart from the evening routine was to make a birthday cake for tomorrows birthday tea. The kitchen now looks like a scene from Saw3D as yours truly had an accident with the red food colouring and in trying to make amends actually made it a whole lot worse. A little red food colouring goes an awful long way. Its now late and I feel like as tired as little t looked at the end of our trek. Tomorrow our pigs arrive from the land of the Stable Sprite. Another early start if we are going to fit all of tomorrow in.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A touch of frogs

OK so its another picture of Chester and bears no relation to the text but hes such a handsome lad and much more easy to photograph than frogs who are the amphibian equivalent of boomerangs and return to our "pond" every year for a love in/rave up.
Valentines day or thereabouts heralds their return, this year they were two days early, and today there were hundreds giving it the frogs chorus and turning the water into a foaming mass of frogs spawn and drowned females as the over excited males weigh the poor lass down in a watery death grip. No photos of this frog soup as they are quick off the mark when yours truly's less than light weight approaches and anyway frogs are not so photogenic as our Chester.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tight fit

Hetty taking it easy in the bale store. Its a tight fit.

Trail Blazer

Sometimes we make our own paths

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Forging ahead

Days of yore required horsey types to take their trusty steed or aincient nag, dependent on social status and depth/content of pockets, to a huge muscle bound bloke sweating away in the village forge to have their beast fitted with new shoes. Modern times have improved this ritual. The Farrier is now mobile in air conditioned vans, the wonders of technology has miniaturised the forge into something the size of a microwave sat in the back of the van and a portable anvil is used to beat the metal into submission making the perfect horse shoe.
All we had to do was provide horses, money and cups of tea while modern mobile farrier went about his business with amazing rapidity. Based on how much it cost over time taken in relation to number of similar planned visits Farrierman is paid just a bit more than a Harley Street plastic surgeon. Still it was worth every penny, Chester was his usual well behaved self, Apollo was so laid back about it he fell asleep and William had to check every detail before allowing super farrier anywhere near him. Trevor resorted to type and ran back and forth challenging all comers while Misty took advantage of the fracas and made her way into the tack room where she found rich pickings until evicted.

Downhill all the way

Poppy and the Rockmeister at the start of The North Face Gulley, not for the feint hearted due to the slope and provided yours truly with a very interesting descent on wet ground in wellies. This section wont be included in the First Annual Dolyhir Bernese Mountain Dog Treasure Hunt 10 June 2012 but features regularly as part of the BBMC training.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Death row

These are very lucky pigs enjoying an extention on their time at the trough as Dr Death has failed to appear (again) to do the deed necessary to turn these porkers into sausages. This has had knock on effects all round, not least of which us having to buy sausage off Stable Sprite for the apprentice smallholders birthday bash at the weekend!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Changing rooms

Finally the apprentice smallholder's room has been finished, I wont begin to recount the saga of how the cot was moved from our room to his, suffice to say the realisation that our bedroom door allowed its exit with 1mm to spare, provided I defied gravity on the stairs. However when we challenged the laws of physics further by turning it around on the landing and then standing it upright to access the small landing the realisation that his bedroom door was three inches narrower than ours and no amount of to you to me or shimmying it around a bit would get it inside without resorting to dismantling. It was worth it, little t was very happy with the final reveal.

The magic blue brick was still his favourite but he is learning to tolerate other toys.
Luckily he cannot read so hasn't spotted his fathers inept DIY.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


The pocket rocket came over all small horse syndrome today, thus part of the day was spent sorting him out. Having already suffered a SOHF due to Ambrose using my backside as a target, again, Trevor playing Johnny big potatoes around his kingdom put the tin hat on it (the day not my backside).

Tracey, my beautiful and oh so patient wife, horsewoman of the year, took Chester the full size version of horse out for a spin (or whatever the terminology is) and set off in the glorious sunshine along the lane.

Trouble started when the little stalker Trevor followed all the way to the gate that marks the boundary between us and reality. Unable to open the gate without releasing the maniac miniature horse on the general populace yours truly was summonsed by phone to come and sort him out.

Vic and I to the rescue to speed things up, the gateway to the world was a confusion of aggravated thoroughbred, miffed patient one and aggravating tiny horse. Trevor was given suitable advice and set off back along the lane, the portal to reality swung open, Chester haughtily pranced through, taking forever to do it, meanwhile pocket rocket seeing an opportunity for more mayhem shot through at light speed and made a bid to go over the hills and far away.

The next few minutes passed in a blur punctuated by swearwords as I fought to get a grip on one horse and avoid being trampled to death by another. Eventually Trevor gave up and got the right side of the gate while remaining on the wrong side of his owners.

Last I saw of him was a horse shaped blur as he overtook Vic on the way back to HQ.

I say last I saw, he has been tucked up in his bed.

He did create more havoc later in the afternoon when a pleasant group of around 20 walkers went through the yard,exchanging the usual hellos and walking fars and yes they are big dogs aren't they. Directions were given to the cauldron and warnings shared about feeding the trolls as they were planning a lunch stop.

They left. The sun continued to shine. Birds sang their hearts out.

Not long after a sound like a demented werewolf impersonating a small but terrifying pony accompanied by several raised voices suggested that the trolls were the least of the hikers problems.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

As sure as eggs is eggs

Its been a brilliant day, despite the mud, the insane antic of animals, the blizzard that hit HQ just as I decided it was evening rounds, its been a great day. All is well in our world. Red Kite Fostering is flying high, feedback from the multi agency teams we work with is all good and the 22 people at today's training all enjoyed meeting new members of the team. They also met little t who surprised us all by eating an egg sandwich ( a small part of the huge feast provided by the 22 at training who each bought a plate of food to share for lunch) , a first for little t as the two previous encounters with egg (see above for encounter 2) ended with him launching obviously offensive food product across the room to feed waiting canines.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Manmade or natural

If you got an itch you got to scratch it. But whats best, man made scratchers or natural ones.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Here we go again

I got back late tonight, as I turned Vic to home I was thinking about foxes, and one that I had helped to the celestial chicken coop when I chanced upon it in our lane. Vic crawled along our dirt track, his suspension cant take the deep potholes at anything other than walking pace and the sheep refuse to give up their sleeping spaces until gently nudged by the muddy Volvo so we were looking out for dozy Ryelands. There sitting in almost exactly the same spot where I had dispatched the fox were two more, sniffing the air and watching our slow progress. A late patrol of the perimeter ensued, all poultry was accounted for but its clear we are still under siege.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

They know me so well

Its been a good day, one that took me far from HQ but I met a lot of interesting people and over tea and biscuits conversations cantered through topics as diverse as squatting, suicide, building, DIY, D-Day, chickens, childcare, fostering, art of the renaissance and the last three CD's purchased. The penultimate visit was with some foster carers who know me very well and know that my beautiful and oh so patient wife puts up with my eccentricities now and then, but even I was at a loss to explain when they tactfully raised the subject why I was wearing brown jumper inside out and back to front. As I struggled to rectify the fashion disaster saying something along the lines of its a good job I don't embarrass easily they kindly pointed out that things like that made me more approachable. I think that was a compliment. After turning it the right way and immediately putting it on backwards again I decided that this was not actually my jumper, this was indeed remarkable but as the patient one pointed out on my return to HQ I had left the house that morning wearing a blue jumper. With your name tag in it she added.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Nothings simpler

As if life isnt complicated enough at Rock HQ what with mentalist ponies engaged in blood fueds over who should have the stable with hot and cold running horse treats, cows with the morals of alley cats and better gymnastic skills than the Russian Olympic squad and agoraphobic goats that deploy lethal gas as you grope in the dark for the milk taps, then whats needed to fill in any "spare" time is a childs toy, bought by paternal grandparents as a Christmas gift, that when finally released from its box, falls across the floor in a spectacular rainbow waterfall of bright plastic chunks amongst which is a small unobtrusive scrap of paper that states "Some adult assembly required"

This when translated means adult will have to spend best part of an evening sorting, identifying, opening bags containing 1.3 million microscopic screws, marrying up butterfly stickers and luridly coloured envelope stickers with appropriatly shaped slabs of plastic and then assembling childs toy that helpfully comes with a 17 page instruction booklet in 19 languages none of which are a recognisable form of English whilst at the same time preventing infant from pulling bags over head, eating the smaller bits or pulling hammer off cupboard onto head.

When finally assembled grateful infant stopped sobbing (the tantrum from stopping self inflicted injuries surpassed in volume the cries of same infant terrified by parents use of powertools necessary to finish job a Chinese factory worker started) long enough to advance on new large plastic construction, pat it gingerly, twiddle the twiddly thing before returning to toy of choice, a blue wooden brick with two holes in. Parent notes that small wooden brick is part of a larger number of wooden bricks which would if time allowed create a mutli dimensional brightly coloured wooden train. Suddenly murderous equines, tarty bovines and farting goats seem less of a problem.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Prisoner cell block H

Apollo opting for life behind bars. Maybe a file smuggled in with his hay might help.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

War Horse

Little Johnny Big Potatoes, aka Trevor the Pocket Rocket (above) has been up to mischief again, this time inflicting ABH on one of his companions. He is often found loitering with intent around Chester's stable door, they seem to have a duel over air space, lots of snorting and teeth snapping, occasionally I find a clump of Trevor's mane where he wasn't quick enough, but never any real trouble.
Trevor has been known to bring Misty along to observe this display of equine machismo, she being the sensible sort and definitely pregnant loses interest quite quickly and has her mind set on more important matters like wheres the idiot with the feed bucket. In all the sparring over the stable door has been of little concern to all but those involved.

Until this morning when the front of Chester's stable looked like a prop from a slasher movie, the blood was everywhere. Yours truly first thought that the poor horse had caught himself on something sharp, an unseen nail, a screw head, the edge of a salt lick holder, but after a thorough search of the interior nothing was found that would cause Chester to start leaking red stuff. He being the calm sensible sort let me have a closer look providing I promised not to spray him with anything that made it sting and it was clear that he had been bitten. There not being a full moon last night meant no werewolves were about, a few strands of brown turning white horse hair was all the proof that was needed to convict Trevor of terrorism.

Chester being a brave war horse was awarded an extra ration of nuts and was fir for action later in the day when he set out to test his new hanging cheek snaffle bit. He couldn't try his Mexican nose band as it would have rubbed his wound.
Trevors been advised against further attempts at world dominance and banished to the other end of the smallholding to think about his behaviour.

Brave new world

The apprentice smallholder is being acclimatised to his new room in preparation for the big move next week. He seems to have got over his initial shock/screaming fit when first told that he had to start sleeping in his own room. I'm looking forward to getting the floorspace back my side of the bed as it was sacrificed when his cot moved in.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Catching up

The jobs list was attacked today and for once I didn't create havoc and add more than were ticked off. This was probably due to the fact that I was ordered outside by my beautiful and oh so patient wife so she could carry on where Stable Sprite left off in the DIY on little t's bedroom. I was allowed in now and then, mostly when some item of furniture needed moving. I decided not to pass comment one the fact that the furniture placed in the room was moved round in every conceivable combination until the patient one decided on an arrangement that was the mirror image of how it was first placed. I did manage to put up a set of shelves in one corner that, when painted, will resemble a jungle tree, there is a theme going on here. I stupidly asked what sort of jungle had a green tractor coat hook, the response was to the point, the type of jungle that has blue and white zebras. The apprentice smallholder was introduced to this wonderland and I assume him throwing himself on the floor and crying his eyes out meant that he appreciated our efforts.