Sunday, 31 March 2013

British Summer Time!

 Its been a full on day at Rock HQ so as its the first day of British Summer Time here's some pics of today's adventures. A brisk walk in the sunshine.
 Little t exercised his autonomy and wanted to walk by himself.
 The snow has brought down several trees and made things a tad interesting
while the ice added interesting details, like the ice chandelier hanging from a branch
Little t was fascinated by his own reflection
His quest for independence ended on the hilly parts
 Once again the no lambs this year policy has been completely disregarded by Easter who gave birth on Easter day, and Easters mom was born day too. It was on the news today that a local farm lost over 100 lambs overnight due to the weather, the total was 107 and I heard it first from the militiaman himself. Wasn't too sure I should believe him when he spoke of breaking the frozen lambs from the ice but as the BBC have reported it it must be true. We now have four lovely lambs, Ice, a ram, then Minty, Fanta (still alive and kicking) and now this lovely girl.
 Miranda came to the rescue taking essential supplies to the technohermit, I would have carried them but after a killer training session (to get out of decorating, or rather clearing up the mess I made decorating) I was a bit tired, and as two of the essentials were 25kg bags of coal Miranda was very useful.
Meantime, proof that summers on its way emerged from the ice.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Tonights beat Santorini

 Once again Rock HQ
thrashes Santorini in the sunset stakes.

Quick thaw

We still have a lot of snow, this is today's, its beginning to thaw, but slowly. Today was a good day though, two truckloads of BT engineers turned up and rewired us (temporarily) to the world. They don't work Saturdays. But they were real. They did the job. We are back in touch.

Good Friday Geriatric Dogs and Zombie Sheep!

This is the moment Miranda disgraced herself and failed the MOT on account her indicator repeater lights were the wrong shade of orange. The really observant amongst you will also note that to compound her wrongdoing she dumped half a tank of diesel thanks to a fuel line getting busted in the snow (nothing to do with yours truly getting her up to the sills in solid ice and snow) and so the car medics seized the opportunity to keep her until the last branch of the money tree was exchanged for spare parts and lots of their time.
My attempt to grow the largest crop of icicles on a single building continued to Good Friday. As we had got Miranda back from the clutches of the garage a few hours needed to be spent in town buying essential supplies. 
Our neck of the proverbial woods was still deep in snow while five miles south there was virtually nothing save for clumps of dirty ice lurking in hedgerows. In town I did the usual, forgot what I was there for, spent far too long looking at books/magazines and cd's and then returned to Rock HQ with a Rabbit called Amelia ( a rescue bunny) as an alternative to chocolate treats for the apprentice smallholders Easter Sunday surprise. As its hard to conceal a large black rabbit with a posh name he has already unwrapped her and once she got used to the sonic attack of a small child squealing with delight (after he got over the disappointment that she wasn't chocolate flavoured) they have become firm friends.

Peace descended on HQ and after lights out strange things occurred which we still have not got to the bottom of. Just past 11pm while trying to sleep a dog barked. This is in itself not unusual as there are 13 placed strategically around the place (12 of our own and a visitor) and as we are expert in dog barks we (that's me and my beautiful and oh so patient wife) can identify whoever the culprit is and where they are.
 This one was the cartoon dog, or Missy and she was barking from the back of the cottage, unusual as she was supposed to be in the annex and definitely not outside. As the question of who was going to find out what the problem was was decided all hell let loose which included the above very ancient mutley, Preston, 22 years and very senile (he has actually chosen to eat outside in this pic, his food indoors but he has decided to eat Bears dinner) barking at great rapidity, clearly distressed and fading into the distance. Taking only as long as a fat bloke grabbing the nearest clothing and falling downstairs does to run out into the nighttime snow it was strangely quiet outside on the helipad, all seemed normal save for the zombie sheep trying to get in through the gate.
 The sheep had died several days previously and as protocol dictates when you find a strange dead animal in your garden the owner of corpse was contacted and then moved (corpse not owner) to a neutral location where the militia could collect their KIA and dispose of it hygienically.
Snow and idleness had delayed the collection of the fallen, but zombie sheep was some considerable distance from her last resting place, showing no signs of wanting to go home and every sign of wanting to do a return of the living dead to Rock HQ.
Meanwhile cartoon dog spotted the lights were on and bolted through the cat flap (made much larger than a cat several years ago by a randy Bernese Mountain Dog) and hid under the table. Preston was conspicuous by his absence and no amount of friendly late night dog calling persuaded him to return. Faced with the prospect of looking for a white dog in the snow in my wifes t shirt (me not dog) I resorted to driving Miranda down our dirt track (ice road) with the hope that the demented beagle had got over whatever it was that had frightened him and had gone in search of bins to raid. The closest bins belonged to The Oracle but they were intact, Jess his sheepdog making sure that nodog messed with them except her.
Giving up hope I turned Miranda to home and found Preston in the headlights staggering along the lane. Looking the definition of dragged through a hedge backwards he was coated in mud, some blood and extremely traumatised. Safe back at the ranch he went back to bed in the wet room and has stayed there for the last 36 hours.
Questions still to be answered, what happened to him, why did zombie sheep reappear in our garden and how did cartoon dog walk through walls?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

See how they grow!

 The icicles on the stables
 are growing
 to a new record length!

Only myself to blame!

Well what do you expect to happen if you leave a two year old in charge of the shopping trolley!

Extreme play testing

Whats this for?
Ok so it moves.
So whats it do?
This is what a hamster feels like!

Here comes the sun!

 Just to show that Hardy is alive and well, this is he on his triumphant return to HQ.
 And to prove that the sun really does shine from time to time here it is spotlighting Rock HQ which is still in the grip of the white stuff.
Forcing the militias woolly backs to extreme measures to graze. Our little flockers are all toasty warm in the stable. Fanta is still with us, not eating much but still happy to sit by the rayburn under the watchful eyes of several Berners. The promise by Steve from BT to come and fix our phone line turned out to be a crock.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

It wasn't me!

Ok so this is a pic of Laurel, one of our peacocks, Hardy bought the farm over the weekend, at least we though he had. This is Rocky convincing us he has no interest in foreign birds.Yesterday afternoon a very bedraggled but relieved looking peacock walked up the lane and began sharing Chester's late afternoon tea. I rugby tackled the brute (Hardy not Chester) and carried him back to reunite  the dynamic duo. It would seem that Hardy, last seen Friday night roosting in the wrong tree had got himself a bit disorientated and, by the look of the snow frozen to his plumage, had been caught in a drift or similar and frozen in place. Three days later he managed to work out how to escape and how to get home. We were very glad to see him and he is safe in the right tree with Laurel.
Chardonney didn't make it.
 Fanta looks keen to join her.

Save me!

Sledge dogs!

Sledging for Dummies

We have been working, but with the snow there was some time for winter sports!

Monday, 25 March 2013

In the nick of time

 Friday turned cold, as predicted and several jobs got done in the just in time category. We are still without a phone line but a nice man from BT called Steve phoned work to say he would fix it one day. Then it snowed, no doubt delaying things. The rayburn was beaten into shape by the SAS of rayburn repairpeople, another Steve who restored central heating and hot water to the cottage when we needed it most. Mr Fox thought that chicken dinners were boring and has gone for a more exotic flavour breaking up the partnership with Laurel and Hardy, Laurel is missing presumed eaten.
Its been a snow sport weekend, I managed to get Miranda well and truly stuck almost on her side in a massive drift, thankfully the height of the snow bank stopped her from going over into the ditch and after much panic, lots of apologising and promising to be good forever more (plus copious amounts of Celtic language) Miranda struggled back onto the dirt track along a series of vet beds and old blankets.
 Little t learned the art of sledging, and the value of looking behind you.
 On the subject of sledging the dogs were keen to rescue us from our fate.
 The no lambs this year policy is in tatters as Easter threw two lovely ewe lambs yesterday, thankfully I had anticipated the weather drama and rounded up the little flockers so they were all cosy in the stable. Easter is in poor shape after the birth and I didn't hold out much hope for the new arrivals as despite the luxury of the stables it was bitter cold. Couple that with zero milk from Easter saw a frantic excavation of boxes and containers at the back of the pantry looking for Colostrum powder, success in that search meant that Fanta and Chardonney survived the night.
That and being kept in doors by the woodburner!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Unexpected Guest

Work was a trifle perplexing yesterday and I felt like I was chasing my tail, endlessly going to meetings (an alternative to work) that failed to materialise. No one turned up which was rude as they requested my attendance but I did meet several people from my past life, that I know you don't I moment when both parties look at each other and try and figure out when/where/why you know them and if you parted on good terms the last time you met, thankfully both were in the friend category and one even wanted to convene a meeting (another!) as a consequence of our unscheduled bumping into each other (we were on a bridge)
The day did have its high points, I had an unexpected office visitor who took it on herself to follow me to work. Reba made most of the facilities and did not disgrace herself by thinking that the new carpets were the toilet. Further low points were changing the heat lamp bulb in the aviary to protect our feathered friends from the ravages of the weird weather, the new bulb shattered in my hand as I inserted and twisted. Being organised (ahem) I had actually bought two new bulbs so once I had disentangled flesh, glass and metal I fitted bulb MkII which refused to glow. There then followed the saga of checking all the fuses, resetting the trip switch, fitting old intact bulb on the off chance it might work, swearing, and generally threatening inanimate objects that if they didn't work then the skip beckoned. All to no avail and after an hour of messing around in the dark I had to concede defeat and left the birdies to their own devices. There is a severe weather warning, snow or rain, we are on the cusp Rock HQ settled down to a cold night our part of the weather front dumped snow. This time last year we were having to wear sun block and water shortages were predicted!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Who ordered snow!

 Bit of a surprise throwing back the curtains yesterday morning and finding tons of white stuff had fallen, especially as I had got a soaking walking back the night before and had been woken up in the early hours by the ominous sound of dripping water. Something hit the cottage roof at speed a couple of nights back, presumably a large unguided peacock, this, we think, has dislodged a tile on the roof and allowed water to drip into our bedroom. Thankfully it misses the bed and it soon stopped, and as I am not going to climb roofs at 3 am on account incompetence and fear of zombies I did what any one would have done and pulled the duvet over my head and hoped for dry weather.
 Snow meant an interesting ride, and as I forgot to stable R100, a cold wet bum as well. Still the day was going to be a good one as Mr BT Man was coming round to re-connect us to the world. Or not. Not as it happens as he did find that our equipment was working, and that somewhere the line was bust, but quite where he was unsure and anyway he needed a hoist to do that and as he was deficit vital hoist then would me mind awfully if he left us too it and he sent someone else out. So we are still out of contact and hoping he remembers where to send a man with a hoist.
The day did get betterer though as my new steed was assembled (not by me!) and ready for his first spin out. First impressions are that he is a very quick steed and providing I manage to miss the Olympic sized potholes that are currently on the UK roads its going to be a lot of fun riding. Even in the snow.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A good walk spoiled

 Training for the BBMC 2013 is slowly getting started and yesterday saw yours truly trudging the green lanes with faithful Bernese in an effort to get some hill climbs in. A different path was chosen, one that had never been trod by the dynamic duo. Rewards were plenty, like this waterfall.
Along the way we found small cottages with strangely familiar names, the path we were on was an old horse drawn tram way used to move coal and nails in the 1820's. The cottages were built for happy nail making families.
 A quick pose for a pic from a helpful hiker and we crossed the bridge unmolested by trolls and headed upwards along a really steep drovers trail which was labelled on the map "public road".
Topping out saw this view, England's highest golf course, why you would want to spoil a good walk by smacking a white pill with an iron bar around the countryside has always been a wonder to me. Then it began to rain. Serious rain.
And with the Bonsai Mountain far in the distance (middle lump) Rocky and I knew we were going to get a bit damp on the return journey.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Fat Boy Slims

 Not being a fluent Dutch speaker (barely able to manage English most of the time) I have been puzzling over the instruction manual that arrived with the turbo trainer. Having already tried to get on my bike in the conservatory once already and finding the turbo trainer gubbins was too far from my back wheel I knew that several hours looking for a spanner was in order to make the necessary adjustments. Muttering what are the chances of finding a spanner while looking at various lumps of metal now sitting on the dining table the answer finding one but one that fits was most unhelpful from curious onlookers. The realisation that I actually needed two spanners the same size nearly ended the exercise but I persevered and by complete fluke found the tools for the job, one perfectly fitting spanner and knackered pair of pliers. With more enthusiasm than skill I removed the bolts holding the flywheel and tried to reposition it. Finding that the fixing bolt could only be fitted at one fixing point was a puzzle, as was the large black knob located under the flywheel casing which looked suspiciously like an adjuster. A quick put it back how it was ensued and with R100 safely strapped in the large black knob proved ideal in moving the flywheel into contact with the bikes back wheel. A quick training session followed and it all works really well once you get over the panic of cycling at speeds varying from 25 kph to 55 kph while stationary. The thought of the back wheel suddenly gripping and propelling me out of the conservatory window was ever present. as was William the Welsh Cob who interupted the training session by sitting on Miranda.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Its done it again!

This will explain why there has been so little action on the blog of late, the weather. Yesterday if poured with rain, which meant no outside jobs but I would have preferred to be outside that watch England get hammered by Wales in the 6 Nations, ah well, so the weather it rained, and it rained Friday too, and that day the phone stopped working, well it worked but sounded like a box of firecrackers going off in the earpiece  The internet also turned off.
This often happens, not the rain, but the phone getting all temperamental about working in wet weather. Call BT someone!! They did, no fault on line, must be your equipment and thus began a pointless hour of my life as I tried to explain to the BT call centre based in sunny Mumbai that here in wet Wales the rain has effectively stopped play. Betsey didn't believe me, as their computers or hamster in a wheel or crystal ball told them it was all ok, I on the other hand chose that moment to give the call centre head set wearing non believer something to think about as as he explained that the line was clear I held the exploding earpiece to the fully functional mouthpiece of the mobile I was wasting my life talking into and after hearing a satisfying yelp I asked if he had heard that. Yes indeed he had and agreed that there must be something wrong with the line but they could not fix it until Wednesday next week. Hence no updates on the blog.
Meanwhile the weather got a tad worse and it snowed again turning today into another winter wonderland.