Thursday, 31 October 2013

The last straw

Massive false alarm in the pig pen today when Pam, who is with piglet, was found to have made a massive construction of straw in her sty. This was in contrast to yesterdays efforts where she had made an enormous pit lined with most of the bale of straw given the day before.
 Today saw a large mound like creation made up from the bale given and the contents of three other bales taken from the wreckage of next doors sty where four bales had been carefully laid up and two naughty ponies had carelessly unlaid them. This equine vandalism has had to go unpunished as the naughty boys are at autumn riding school (like borstal but with whips) but this misdemeanor has been a bonus for Pam keen to win the porcine grand designs competition.
The one side of the mound appeared to be pulsating in a strange theres piglets hidden in here manner. Pam, not known for her geniality, was pacing around the pile making odd grunting noises (yes I know pigs are supposed to grunt but Magalitzas dont usually grunt they make a sound similar to Godzilla stubbing his toe) clearly on guard.
Yours truly decided that, given the evidence, a closer look was needed. Pam, a sow who does not suffer fools kindly, decided that private investigations of her pile was a definite no no and no amount of coaxing or Celtic oaths could persuade her that safe passage should be allowed. As I was about to try the time honored poke with a stick method something in the grey matter alerted me to the fact that the pile moved in a very strict pattern which meant that either the piglets were a highly co-ordinated display team or the movement was down to something else.
Like a plank of wood trodden on by a patrolling sow.
An organised person would have posted a pic of the mountain of straw and angry pork so you will have to make do with a picture of Reuben stood in front of the aviary with its winter covering being applied which might indicate some method in the madness that is my life.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Pumpkin King

 When I were a lad Halloween didn't exist and if it was remembered then you made do by trying to chip bits out of a frozen turnip sat on the doorstep to make a lantern.
Nowadays they have gone soft and have pumpkins that are already hollow, easy to carve and you do it warm indoors! I mean its not even got a candle in it its a headtorch!

Stage one

 First light saw yours truly braving the weather, which included a hail shower which resulted in dogs heading for cover while I shouted obscenities at the small god of falling ice crystals, to get stage one of the Swiss chalet completed.
 By first breakfast the mud bath was the correct dimension, 6 metres by 11 metres
and ready for stage two.
Breakfasted and cleaned up I headed for the city where I had the best alternative to work, meetings, and whilst travelling between two I discovered a new rule of driving.
 Unbeknownst to a yokel like me in a grubby 4x4, where a road divides into two lanes at an approaching junction, the left lane marked left turn only with a huge arrow for Magoos, the right lane, mine and Miranda's, marked right turn only, again assisted by a huge visual of a large white arrow pointing right. What this actually means is that the lead car in the left lane has automatic right of way on a right turn and is able, despite road furniture and visual indicators, to make an immediate right turn across the path of muddy 4x4 that thankfully has excellent brakes. So evident is this right that driver of car in left turn only lane turning right across muddy 4x4 with excellent brakes and bewildered pilot is allowed to call him a wanker and give the V sign before continuing their journey.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Playing chicken

Reba playing chicken, or the chickens playing chicken, not sure which.

Tonight's training was a very cross country run with Berners, a hazardous venture at the best of times as Berners like to run close to their owner, so close in fact that that every footfall is a potential Decker Budd moment. Ripley is the worst, she times her paw strike to cause maximum imbalance in yours truly who is less than graceful at speed without a near miss every other step.
So tonight's jaunt went something like, run, stumble, trip, wade through lake ocean very large puddle that proved to be near knee depth, avoid collie at gate, persuade Berners to follow through woodland, run past walker with spaniel, run back past walker with spaniel to retrieve Ripley who is running from spaniel, run into branch across path not there last time, staunch flow of blood from nose, recover from trip caused by Berner keen to get closer, trip over log that you knew was there but still got you, wade back through lake, return to cottage change Ripley for Spotty, decide that cross country in the dark with dog was a risk too far, change route to road run, avoid being hit by car driven by Mr Magoo who failed to note 130 lumens head torch, fluorescent materials built into running kit and dog harness, settle heart rate and enjoy a canter along the country lanes before wading through lake for a final time before tea and medals.

Its just over two weeks before I run from Knighton to Kington dressed as a pantomime animal.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A quiet day before the storm

 In the forestorm, that's a made up word to describe the weather before the mother of all hurricanes hits Rock HQ, the weather has been pretty bad. Despite this yours truly just had to get on with the plan. Which is why I was found dressed in fluorescent Lycra, clinging on the the handlebars so the wind didn't separate machine (? is it?) and rider, dripping wet and hypothermic at the second meeting of the Red Kite Riders. Five other fools enthusiastic sorts joined me and we did a very exciting and when safely completed, enjoyable 11 miles. Back at the ranch I decided not to bother drying out and got on with the grand design and cleared more of the site for the Swiss Chalet kennel block. This was less hampered than yesterday as bad weather kept botherers indoors. End of play, read boredom, saw two thirds cleared.
 Thoughts of warm cuppas and fire side chats were banished as the boys were rounded up and walked to catch the school bus.
 Will.I.Am and Apollo the wonder foal are going back to school to remind them what its like to carry weights for a living and hopefully some manners.
Indoors the apprentice smallholder kept us entertained as usual and in a quiet moment he sat at the keyboard and typed this. Not bad for a 2 year 7 month old, all his own work. Even more impressive is the fact that he then called our attention to it by bringing a photograph of the screen he had taken. God help his teachers when he goes to school.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

All by myself

 Once the normal routine was done, and spinning, dog training, toddler entertaining, baby bouncing, shopping and other distractions were all taken care of I finally got 2.5 hours spare to start the new project.
 Clearing the site for the Swiss Chalet, or kennel block. Naturally as befits any project at HQ it was done without any luxury items like a mini digger, but with an ancient spade found in the nettles, an audience of various species and a keen amateur wanting to help.
 Once the novelty of shifting tons of topsoil waned
 the apprentice strategically placed himself to pose the maximum trip hazard.
 Then to really speed things up members of the clan decided that yours truly needed their attention
 more than I needed space to swing a spade.
 But slowly progress was made
 despite Rocky coming over all environmental protester and trying to bring the spadework to a halt.
End of play saw one third of the site cleared which Tasha and Ritchie thought was the best spot for some wrestling. Same again tomorrow!

Friday, 25 October 2013


Everything is either wet or mud coloured at HQ but amongst the gunge there are some opportunities for arty farty pictures. I'm all over art me.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Great North Run

 According to he who cannot be named I am an extreme introvert (yes really) and it takes a lot to coax me out of the safe realms of Rock HQ. Actually I only go where I am invited usually, saves a lot of time and bother, which is why yours truly was found 275 miles north of HQ yesterday lunchtime.
 We left HQ in torrential rain and knowing that its grim up north we had Miranda laden with foul weather gear and arctic survival rations (pick and mix and double deckers) but the further north we ventured the better the weather got. The sat nav with a sense of humour refused to talk to us throughout the entire journey and we almost fell at the last hurdle by not finding the house we were visiting.
 But there was a clue.
 Yes we were visiting people who are as nuts about dogs as we are, and this was partly the reason for our epic trek (look closely and you will see 4 dogs here!) it was also to sample some fab northern cooking which was a sort of beef stew sandwich (x2 for yours truly on account of the number of calories expended sat on his arse driving) and some wierdly tasty stuff called peas pudding which in an alternative universe would be humus but its made from peas and tastes of peas but looks like humus. Its a grower as far as I am concerned, the first ham and peas pudding roll was acceptable but the one I had today for lunch was a taste sensation. I will be sending for food parcels. Northern hospitalty was second to none and we plan a leisurely return trip with some of the clan in the new year. If they'll have us!
 Anyway back to the main reason for the 550 mile return trip in 13 hours, four double deckers, a litre of pop and one Burger King stop (vile poisonous muck and served by a teenager who hated life the universe and everyone in the motorway service area who had the temerity to order junk food thus paying her wages that funded her lifestyle choices such as more facial piercings than is necessary and aggressive tattoos, her mum must be so proud)
It was to collect this little chap who has been returned to the Clan. He spent the journey back sleeping, saving his energy for the big reunion with mum and dad. Today he has slept, played with Tasha, slept on my feet while I tried to do some work, watched the farrier sort the boys feet out, played tag with the apprentice and as I type is doing a creditable ying to Tasha's yang. Both snoring.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fair weather biker

There I was, a Mamil ready to sally forth and pit my wits against the quarry lorries on my daily commute. Two wheels against eight, minimum. And then I realised quite how wet it was outside so I changed back into "normal" attire (shorts and short sleeved shirt) and drove to work. Fair weather biker. Today anyway.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Mercy mission

 Its been a bit wet at HQ, in fact I think its safe to say that we haven't had a wetter 24 hours since we landed in 2006.
 For some time now we have thought that a standard car would not be fit for purpose on the roads we negotiate, hence the two 4x4's. Today's puddles were larger than normal
 and passing places were limited
 but we absolutely had to get through to our destination
 and then back again
as we had run out of some pretty essential supplies!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Why do birds suddenly appear.....

The last of the pig club pork departed Rock HQ today and the pig clubbers who collected it had the full Rock HQ experience including bacon sarnies and a walk to the river with canines. They very helpfully donated a large bag of apples to Thor and Pam, who is in piglet again. Little t enjoyed showing their daughter around his domain was, with the exception of trying to push her in a puddle, the perfect gentleman.

Friday, 18 October 2013

All you need to change a light bulb

 Honestly you turn your back for 10 seconds and the apprentice smallholder is testing his head for heights. For those that are interested he did reach to top but had to resort to using his knees for the descent which every climber will know is a technical fail and frowned upon. Mind you having myself abandoned the tried and tested 3 point contact at all times in favour of a 56 point smother on some killer climbs way back when, I do know how he felt. Actually if memory serves it wasn't so much the climbs that were killers it was the sudden impact at the end of the unwanted gravitational pull that was the dodgy part.
Reason for the new climbing frame in the lounge was that Rock HQ was having a new light bulb fitted and apparently this is all you need to fit one.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Equal shares

 The rampaging Ryelands made a major break for freedom yesterday and the mass breakout was only thwarted by the Oracle who is the guardian of the gate to the real world. The power supply company have compounded their crime of a compulsory almost 10% price rise by sending a pillock to read the meter who disobeyed the country code and after visiting HQ left to fleece (pun intended) some other punter and left our gate open. The Ryelands sensing calories over the border ran after the van and were headed off at the pass by the Oracle. Disaster averted the naughty sheep set about the windfalls at the Ghost House, and there are a massive amount of windfalls as there is a massive amount of wind around at the moment.
 The speed eating competition was well under way when we happened past  so little t sensing some injustice decided to redistribute the wealth and feed the travelling man's ponies their five a day.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dumb Ass

This is Chester our thick as two short planks elderly thoroughbred who today surpassed all previous attempts by critters at Rock HQ to self harm. Those blessed with long memories who have followed our antics for a while may remember his previous fall off a cliff land on barbed wire fence escapade. It was a while before he could walk properly and he still bears the physical if not the mental scars.
Today he decided to partake in a little roll around in the dirt in the lane.
He does this from time to time.
This time he rolled on his back, rolled over to the left, then the right, slid down the bank, landed on a fence, panicked, flailed around losing his two front shoes in the wire and getting his rear hooves tangled resulting in him being trapped until my beautiful and oh so patient wife, alerted to his plight by a passing hiker, managed to cut him free and through the power of prayer got him upright ready for yours truly on return from work to remove the last bits of metal from his feet and bed him down in  a deep litter so the dumb ass could lie down and rest his weary bones.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Big boys toys

 Wow! Look what they've left on the drive for me to play with!
 They've even left the keys in it!
Right, let me see, mirror, signal, maneuver and away we go!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Grand Design

 Flush with the success of my latest DIY project where I managed not only to fit a new safety gate between lounge and dining room. The previous one became an unsafe gate when it nearly castrated me Wednesday night as I walked into it. We had already spotted that the end clipping up thing was at toddler eye height so bought a replacement, what I failed to notice both theoretically and literally was that the same metal post was at the exact inside leg measurement of yours truly causing intense pain when the impact occurred and a previously unrealized ability to sing falsetto. So out with the old, in with the new (gates not testicles) and being keen on improving things this one is supposed to be dog proof, as in its too high for them to jump (lets hope so because if a 55kg dog clears this and lands on a 12kg toddler then there will be a mess to clear up at least) its also level and the wooden supports fitted are almost equal length, are securely fitted to the walls and even have recessed coach bolts in properly drilled holes rather than screwed up so the pressure caused the heads to disappear. So happy was I with this job I set about the next DIY project, building a 5 bay dog kennel. Clearly a bigger task than hanging a safety gate but some of the skills are transferable.
 Step one in building is clear the site. In this case not having done any gardening in the space now destined to be built on has added a few minutes to the task.
 From the other end it looked equally bad, but at least amongst this mess is a very accurately measured out plot, albeit the corner markers are a walnut tree sapling, a bamboo cane, a broken pot and an olive bush.
No real time for building today as it was the first meeting of Red Kite Riders which despite the heavy rain had a good first meeting turnout of 6 with a mixed range of ability ranging from first time on bike in 20 years to triathlete. Naturally the start of the 15 mile fun ride started with a puncture repair. Full commentary of the RKR will be on the training blog and most likely a face book page will be started so all can keep in touch.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Fuel crisis

This is my preferred mode of transport and I use it more than the Miranda our 4x4. In fact I use this so much that I have not yet put my bargain Renatta 4x4 on the road, she sits, used only as a mobile stereo on the smallholding poised ready for action when winter strikes and pedal power in snow and gales is not such a good idea. But I cannot blame today's idiocy on lack of driving.
Today I was in a real hurry, I used Miranda to get to paid work and after that went to the garage to get a can of fuel for the strimmer so I could clear the "garden" ready for the grand design of the dog maximum security block.
Much to my annoyance every pump was full of old farmer types who who were filling their monster trucks, comparing weather forecasts, farming subsidies, price of sheep/cows/feed and loading their pockets with snacks from the shop.
 I waited.
None too patiently.
Eventually one wizened farming type laden with bacon fries and chocolate milk moved away from the pump and I got Miranda's nose in. Quickly I filled the green petrol can with eight quids worth of fuel (when did a fiver not fill a plastic can?) cursed as the pipe would not reach the filler on Miranda so ran in and paid for the fuel. The end of the line cleared and so I reversed out and pulled forward again and parked Miranda right side to the fuel pump and quickly put a tenners worth in to keep me going (not wanting to pay the extortionate village garage pence per litre price) and as the numbers clicked (ok its digital reading but it still clicks in my head) to 10.00 I realised to my horror that I was pouring petrol into Miranda who up until that point had only ever run on diesel.
 I went in and paid the man and confessed my error.
The locals all laughed sympathetically.
 I pondered and phoned a friend who knows about engines.
 He was as much use as a chocolate fire guard and basically said well it will either be alright or it wont. I pondered some more. The queue built up behind me. I decided to fill Miranda with the right stuff and shoved another 80 quids worth of fuel in which at local pump prices was around 2 pints 55 litres and did what any one in my position would do, hoped for the best. In my logic the fuel was now some 7 to 1 diesel and as some diesel engines run on lard Miranda should work on dirty fuel.
She moved and got me to the supermarket where  I got some supplies.
Loaded with goodies and with the engine running I sat on the car park thinking that all would be ok, my day would not go to rats, that things would get better from this point on.
I thought this at the precise point some geriatric lady driver faced with a half empty car park found there was not enough room to maneuver her Fiat 500 and could only stop by crashing into me.
Tomorrow I am going back to cycling everywhere.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Everything except the oink!

 There was an unexpected bonus to keeping pigs hanging on our post box as returned through the gateway to the world. A bag that contained a massive quantity of fresh vegetables which included leeks, carrots, parsnips, sweetcorn, courgettes and a marrow.
Now these were a gift from a microholder who lives the other side of the ridge, who had also been a member of pig club.
But the free veggies were not part of a trade for the ultimate BLT ingredients (see this mornings breakfast and yes you can eat that every morning and lose weight!) but a reward for a donation we made to their vegetable plot in the spring.
The donation?
A ton of pig muck.
Top quality stuff which is why the veggies are so good.
You can use everything except the oink!

If you go down to the woods today

 A crisp bright morning
 meant we just had to go to the river
 and then explore
 a new trail
in the woods.

Late PM saw yours truly go to whats billed as an extreme spinning session, primarily due to the usual instructor having the poor manners to go on holiday for two weeks thus leaving me with a gap in the training schedule, but also to see what a different instructor/venue could add to my quest to get back to uberfitness levels.
Once I got used to the different style of bike (smashing my left knee into the bottle carrier really helped) and the very different training routine where you go flat out for 3 minutes and rest for 1 doing various exercises while cycling very quickly, I found  it was a very intense session, some 20% more energy expended in the same amount of time as at my usual class which is, if anything,  more civilized than tonight's class.
15 of us were packed into a training room where a cat would have hit all four walls with ease, and as regular readers may know I am a fan of high volume music with distorted guitar rifts permeating a thumping bass but the volume of the training track made my nose bleed but this was nowhere near as annoying as the 20 something fitness instructor who had her lycra suit spray painted on and was compelled to gurn in the most spectacular fashion whilst performing pelvic thrusts as she pedaled.
Had I been an adolescent 15 year old I might have found this display of feminine contortions somewhat erotic but as I am about to crash into my 50th birthday in the first quarter of the new year I just found it an irritating distraction and a pointless waste of energy.