Friday, 31 May 2013

None shall pass!

 Little Misty making sure she is in the right place for breakfast
 and refusing to get up
and enjoy the sunshine!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Thirsty work

Little t has his own horse, a bit more manageable than some of ours and easier to look after. Apparently the reason its drowning in the dog bowl is that its thirsty.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Schools out

 There are two schools of thought when it comes to all things equine. The one being that the country owes a debt of gratitude to the loadcarrying faithful intuitive loyal do anything for their owners beasts as they helped us build the nation we are today. The other is that they are a useful food source once their load carrying useful life has passed who's hapless owners might as well stand in a field and stuff money in their ungrateful mouths.
 I am tending to veer towards the latter rather than the former as once again I spent several hours of my life in horrendous weather conditions (horizontal sleet, high winds) searching for the little shitland Trevor who is over the hills and far away playing Johnny Big Potatoes with the militia's grey mares.
This time the prisoner escort was detailed as Rocky, Spotty, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Apollo the wonder foal who I knew that Trevor would not resist rushing over too once he saw and give it large to show who was King of the hill.
True to form Apollo slowed the search up as he tried to eat everything en route, and equally true to form the little shitland and his harem were at the point furthest away from HQ where barbed wire, electric fences and machine guns stopped their progress. As planned Trevor saw Apollo and galloped out of the murky weather making himself look all big and mighty (imagine an ant on steroids) in an attempt to intimidate Apollo. Apollo took no notice at all and consumed greenery. Yours truly spoke softly, ignored the little shitland and waited for him to get in arms reach.
Short version.
 It never happened.
 Nostrils flaring the pocket rocket disappeared into the mists and rejoined the herd, who in turn galloped over the crest of the hill. The usual pattern commenced, I dutifully followed to a point where could see the equine cretins all gallop back, past and over the other crest. Time passed they galloped back and over.
And again.
By now the two Berners were practically begging to get indoors and Apollo was fit to burst so we headed for sanctuary. We will be back, but hopefully in better weather and with a tranquiliser gun.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Behind you

Rocky sat in the garden next in front of a rock that fell off the cliff in 2006 just after we moved in. Its one of three that fell to earth that day, as well as a tree. The biggest of the three was some five times bigger than this one, it's remains can be seen behind this one after we spent a week smashing it up to stop it rolling into the cottage. Never a dull moment living under a cliff.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Strawberries for tea!

 Well its a bit premature to say strawberries for tea, but little t has been planting strawberry plants in his playground.
 He was a fast learner, and having watched nearly every episode of Mr Bloom (a strange children's programme with talking vegetables and no responsible adult warning children not to go into potting sheds with strange men who offer to show them their prize marrows) little t knew a lot about planting.
 He has a nice collection of 5 plants which may or may not yield anything edible.
It all depends on whether he can resist the temptation to dig them up again!

Knock knock!

Chester knocking on the door to let me know breakfast is late. Well it was a bank holiday!

Yesterday was all about me doing a massive bike ride, but he who cannot be named other half was toiling away at the same time doing the Edinburgh marathon, her first (and if we are to believe her sentiments after, her last) which was completed in a very fast time of 3 hours 56 mins and 25 seconds and came 2568th out of about 15000.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A grand day out

 It takes a lot to tempt me away from Rock HQ and the jobs list but the offer of free food usually does the trick so today saw yours truly step up a gear on the P2P training and do a 76 mile bike ride. On the way I met some very interesting people, a tit in a hatchback who owned the whole road and objected to me using part of it. His baby on board sticker in the rear window indicated that either he was teaching his sproglet bad manners or he had borrowed his mums car and was late for lunch.
The majority of those encountered were very friendly, especially those on two wheels. I closed in on a Teeside t shirt work by a Robert Murdoch who was cycling from Teeside to Lands end, John O'Groats and back again, and today as we spent a mile or so chatting he was on his way to Chester via Shrewsbury. The fact that he was on the wrong road heading away from Shrewsbury didn't faze him too much, it was a sunny day, the road was good, he would get there eventually. He was raising money for a children's hospital. Further on I met an Andrew Simpson with A N Other (Mike?) who was some way into their 90 mile target for the day, on their way to Jon O'Groats raising money for Help for Hero's. His buddy was cycling for RBLI. All have donations pages on Just Giving website and I give you this info because you might look them up and make a donation.
 After a fab lunch laid on by SuperGrandma the bike ride took a serious turn when faced with some massive hills, hills that made the Telford bypass hill seem like a pimple. I managed to complete the climbs without falling into oncoming traffic or crying and at the 75 mile mark which was actually 76 and bit where my beautiful and oh so patient wife was waiting to whisk me back to HQ to complete the evening rounds and play in the playground with little t.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Where is he now?

In case any of you were wondering what became of Kobe, the most expensive calf ever, well he and his mum Hetty went to live in the lands of the fabled Stable Sprite where he was to spend the rest of his limited days before becoming burgers. Kobe lives in the lap of luxury, is spoon fed fresh mown grass and has a sex starved sow as a concubine (in other words the sow has her eyes on him and chases him round demanding attention) and loads of fences to jump/run through/trip over as well as a very large pond full of expensive fish that will no doubt serve as a fine swimming pool when the mood takes him. This is the latest pic of the wonder calf sporting the latest in anti sky falling in headgear, obviously his time spent at HQ with the agoraphobic goats has had more of an influence on him than we thought!

Friday, 24 May 2013

One previous owner

I was lucky enough to have a day off so much time was spent clearing the massive amount of organic matter that falls with monotonous regularity from the backsides of our equine friends. In return for my housekeeping they made an effort
to contribute by mowing the "lawns"
and weeding the "garden".
Naturally I had some canine companions "assisting" my megamuckaton
but when it came to a second attempt to fetch the little shitland back from the wilderness they took the sensible option and hid under the kitchen table. I, having less choice then they, took a bucket of feed onto the ridge, then down the other side, looking for the pocket rocket Romeo and true to form found him far far away. He was very difficult to spot as he was lurking in a gorse thicket spying on the militia ponies. Deploying the food did for a few seconds attract everyhorses interest and the little shitland almost forgot himself until the grey mare, the apple of his eye chose distance over food and while she and the rest cantered away, he thought for a moment and cantered after her. Yours truly lacking ability to canter sat by scattered offerings and watched several of the herd scoff the freebies while the majority joined the magic circle and disappeared. Once sure they were not bluffing I did follow in their hoofprints and after we got a fair distance across the county they decided to canter all the way back. Knowing that this time it was in the vague direction of home I dutifully followed, half bucket of feed no weighing heavy. Horses being the totally intelligent types ran back to where we had started, up and over the ridge to the mirror image point. Once there they played merrygo round waiting for my arrival and then they ran all the way back. At least I think thats what they did because me being the sensible type carried on in the direction of home and gave the rest of the feed to the pigs who were very grateful. And where they should be.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Choices choices

 Shitland pony who is out there somewhere (he is actually in this photo, a microdot on the horizon vexing his owner mightily!))
or well behaved fwuffy bunny. (also in the picture making his owner very happy)

Just like old times

 Its been a while but Trevor the little shitland is up to his Houdini tricks again. I saw him last thing Tuesday night up at Five Ways trying to persuade little Misty to escape into the wilderness. I should have dragged him back then but as I was armed with four Bernese Mountain Dogs and no horse bondage gear I left Misty to lure him back.
 Wednesday morning he was not at the breakfast table, Misty must have been less appealing than the ponies on the ridge. Knowing what a nuisance he can be even without his family jewels I set off after work onto the ridge from the town side and pretty soon found the little beast. Obviously he wasn't with the lovely bunch sunning themselves by the monkey puzzle trees, no he was right off in the distance goading me into following. So I did.
 At this point in the story being brighter than the average shitland I took him by surprise and soon he was trussed like a spring chicken and being wrestled home. So happy with my horse capture was I that I text messaged my beautiful and oh so patient wife that we were on our way. Until we crossed a stream some half mile from Rock HQ. In one of those moments that you can see your future I stepped across and thought that that was definitely a mistake as should the little shitland stop instead of cross his Heath Robinson head collar made from a lead rope and dog lead might just come off.
He stopped.
It did.
We exchanged glances, mine of horror, his of triumph. With a massive (from a small pony) whinny which roughly translated meant "So long sucker" he cantered off back the way we had came.
 For the next two and half hours I tracked, followed, cursed, begged and concocted all sorts of recipes but to no avail. Trevor doesn't have a better side so he enjoyed the massive amount of ground covered, so much so that he performed a victory roll.
Eventually I had to concede defeat and left him with his new love and took myself off home to phone Findus to see if they had any space left in their lasagna.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Going solo

 After caning it on the BBMC I would like to say my legs are back to normal but that would be a big fat fib. Still the money keeps being pledged so it was well worth it, more donations arrived today, one as I typed this. Spotty on the other paw is made of sterner stuff and has been running around HQ like he normally does, carrying assorted wooden items like brooms. I am pretending to be normal so took the long way to work on the bike today and for some masochistic reason agreed to a mega bike ride tonight.
 This turned out to be a mistake, not because of sore legs but due to blow outs on rear wheel. Just as we were agreeing the route I had to pull up and change the rear tube  after a sudden let down. Checking nothing sharp was in the tyre I fitted spare tube and used shiny gizmo gas thingy to inflate it. Success was shortlived as tyre went flat almost instantly. At this point I could have resorted to the old fashioned fit patch to tube method except gizmo had run out of gas and old fashioned bicycle pump was not in backpack but in the apprentice smallholders toybox. After several doh moments and self recriminations for not taking it off him when first spotted I pulled the eject lever on the bike ride and dialed home where my beautiful and oh so patient wife was waiting patiently for my return. Once she stopped laughing she saddled up |Miranda and rescued me from the kerbside. Meanwhile my cycling companion, who was also deficit pump, set off to complete the target mileage solo.
On a seperate and entirely unrelated note having seen the awful news from Oklahoma I will never complain about the weather again. Ok I might complain a bit, one day, but in context because we are lucky to live where we do and our thoughts and prayers go to all those who lost loved ones and property in the tornado.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Better than average

Yesterdays lack of posting on the blog had nothing to do with an inability to get downstairs or walk properly but all to do with gremlins on the interweb. So to recap, BBMC 2013 completed, heres how.

Early morning Saturday saw yours truly amongst the massed ranks of kit zombies (the ones who walk into mountaineer retailers arms outstretched to the shiny goodies, drooling must have, must have) forces wannabees (yeah you are SAS weighing in at 22 stone mate) gym rats and hikers. Eventually we got going, this is a fun, well organised event, but the start is what is technically known a ball ache, 1000 or so all heading up the same track to the first check point, all crossing the same styles at snails pace as the fat knacker (not me!) at the front decides thats the best place to stop and change their gortex jacket/retie their boots/eat pie or take in the view (you dont get this on a Wii2)before waddling out of the way wheezing and looking like they are about to test the lift capacity of the air ambulance.
When Spotty finished showboating his style crossing and everyone patted the big doggy we got off at a fair pace until 1 hour 57 minutes in I bonked. Another technical term for running out of energy. This was not good and as I had set out with the meagrest of rations due the wanting to burn off more than I consumed I was fortunate to have packed as an afterthought a lucozade which was just what the doctor would have ordered. That drunk I stumbled on and 4 hours in stopped to eat the brown whole meal organic pasta I had packed (what was I thinking?) Spotty tucked in to a fair portion making my backpack a bit lighter. 6 and a half hours in I had got to Gospel Pass, accepted a Jaffa Cake from a mountain rescue chap at the checkpoint to suppliment the second attempt to refuel on pasta and water before heading off for the last 6 miles. The last 6 were a bit of a blur, cramp on the last summit threatened to spoil the day, and major back pack malfunction saw yours truly retracing his steps salvaging his pride, gear and pasta.
Then down to the last 100ml of water I got to the final checkpoint.
The run (read stumble) towars the finish line (read plate of cakes) was uplifting as I took a standing ovation from the crowd. Spotty stuck to me like glue sitting politely by my left leg the entire time in the refreshment tent, so much so that some nice lady had to comment how well behaved he was and finding he was one of 9 Berners we have told the congregation that I was some form of animal trainer. Had to be, look at his perfectly behaved dog. I didnt put them right and no one noticed Spotty stealing from a tub of jam tarts. Or scoff an unguarded scotch egg.
Total time 9 hours, better than average, a bit off my best time but that was when I was 12 years lighter and 42 pound younger. For once I didnt think never again, and next year I'm going bacl and will do it in 7.5 hours.
Big thank you to all who sponsored me, anyone wishing to add to the final total can using the donate button top right, put BBMC 2013 in the message box.
Many thanks to you all.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Been there, done that

 Full report tomorrow, Big Black Mountain Challenge 2013 is done. Spotty did it too. We managed to complete the 30 miles in the mountains in 9 hours including rest stops. Massive day.

Friday, 17 May 2013

These boots are made for walking

Practise walks are over.

 The main event is tomorrow so early doors will see yours truly at the base of the first climb of the day. Best time ever was 8 hours 15 minutes, average times has been 9.5 hours. Lets see what we do tomorrow.
These boots were made for walking!

Anyone wanting to sponsor me press the donate button top right and put in message box BBMC 2013 Donation, money is going to prostate cancer research.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Let sleeping dogs lie

Preston the very ancient beagle enjoying the complete turnaround in the weather. It wont last. The weather that is. He has lasted 22 years so far and is still as annoying as ever. Except when hes asleep.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


 The strangeness with the weather continued with 1.5 inches of rain from 6pm to 6am and when I was finally persuaded outside by the hungry critters calling for room service the hills surrounding us were a whiter shade of pale. Its not the first time its snowed in May in the UK, I know cos I was there 20 years ago on the sunny slopes of Plynlimon looking at the source of the river Wye and river Severn, we camped out and woke to a fresh covering of the white stuff.
And it still rained as I fed the critters. Thoughts of bike rides around today's appointments were changed quicker than my foul weather gear before breakfast and so Miranda was mode of transport for the day. But by going home time it was a different world, the sky was blue, the sun shone, the birds sang and all was well, for s few hours at least. On the subject of birds the aviary was attacked today by a Sparrow Hawk who was looking for an easy take away. Thankfully the wire held under its onslaught but if it comes back with bolt cutters things might be different.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Summer fun!

 Its summer time at Rock HQ and we can tell from a number of indicators like horizontal sleet, torrents of water rushing through the yard, knee deep mud, 110 pound soggy dogs, intermittent Internet and a wood burner working overtime.
If only we hadn't run out of suntan lotion!

Monday, 13 May 2013

If only....

Not for the first time I found myself wishing I had a full size front loader when faced with the volumes of horse pooh on the runway. Will.I.Am and Apollo have been up on the field but as the grass is so spartan they are consuming vast quantities of hayledge in speed eating contests with Chester. The by product of this equine competitiveness is left on the runway for yours truly to collect, a job made none the easier today as one of the naughty ponies thought it a good idea to redesign the wheel barrow reducing its carrying capacity by hoofing the barrow off the wheel. So instead of being able to scoop poop into wheeled receptacle while thinking how much easier it would be to drive a front loader and scrape it all in one go, I had to move each monster poop by hand, well shovel, and carry it to the ever growing muck tump. The industrial scale of their efforts can perhaps be understood if I tell you that over 24 hours they deposited 18 piles. One of the reasons for the clearing being a priority today is the weather forecast, seems like we are set for a summer like last year. There is a weather warning for up to 50mm of rain and as our little ponies are poor shots (or good shots depending on your perspective) quite a number of their turds land the drain, thus blocking the two gully's along the runway that prevent the pig pens turning into swimming pools.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

I counted them all out, and I counted them all back

 This bunch of stalwarts joined us for the trek along the Offa's Dyke path, 27 biped and 5 quadrupeds
 braved the chill winds
 and product placement
 to enjoy some of the finest views
 in the whole of the country.
 The guidebook says it will take 6.5 hours to do the 14.5 miles and
 that's exactly how long it took us
 to reach our reward at Red Kite HQ.
Spotty was available to clean up the crumbs.