Saturday, 30 November 2013

Moving sofas

Its not often that I am without a camera while out and about at HQ, but today was one of those rare times and as usual when without it you need it. Will.I.Am, resplendent in his red coat pictured above a few days back, was mooching around the place and generally keeping a low profile. He spotted me walk into the Berner annex which has at the back an area called The Black Hole which is currently a wood store. He seeing me with a large basket must have thought it was a mega bucket of feed rather than an empty receptacle for logs and  tip-hoofed over and took a closer look. The first I knew of his presence was when he snottered in my ear, me, alone in the darkness of The Black Hole took this as an indication that some strange beast was about to leap on me (almost right) and so I launched myself across the log pile until the fight or flight messages diminished enough for the neural networks to acknowledge that I was safe and that a very large horse now filled a very small space with yours truly. A fantastic photo opportunity wasted.
An exercise in patience followed as I tried to persuade less than forward thinking pony to take the necessary steps backwards, turn around and exit through less than horse sized door without going bonkers (him not me) It was a puzzle, similar to Dirk Gently's sofa conundrum, but this had to be solved without quantum, time travel and removing a wall. Eventually we both made it out to the real world to the rapturous applause of the Berners who were a bit miffed at having their beds violated by a dozy equine.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Work in progress

 Rugrat MkII is working on alternative facial expressions, he's an expert at bewilderment, cross patch and screaming blue murder
 so now we are happy report that
smiles are the order of the day. For some of the day anyway.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Room for improvement

 Yesterday I was a bit flustered when I took a phone call asking if I knew where a meeting (the real alternative to work) was to take place at 10am. This threw me into a lfat spin as as far as I was concerned the meeting was not as the caller suggested which was at the time today ( now yesterday) but tomorrow (now today) After several are you sure's and you need to check because if its today I am going to be really really late etc etc both of us resolved to check and get back to each other.
Me being used to smarter working had a leisurely 2nd cuppa and waited for the phone to ring again and when it did  was reassuringly told that I had not got it wrong the meeting was indeed tomorrow (today, but it might be yesterday by the time you read this) anyway, I was right, my diary was right, I was not expected at a meeting that day at 10am.
 So did I know where the meeting was my caller inquired, no sorry I was unable to help, but I did know the date and the time, which was not 10am but 10.30 I happily informed geographically challenged colleague. Great, thanks, see you there then (where?) and so this brings us neatly to today.
By 9.30 am I still did not know where the meeting was to take place, although I did know time, date and city. So after several fruitless phone calls, one to the organiser of the meeting who's answer machine told me she was not working and to call such and such. So I did, and their answer machine told me that they were unavailable (and to me it seemed most unlikely that the parks department would be involved in this meeting and it was their answer machine talking to me) and to phone A.N.Other so I ignored that waste of time and set off after sending a text message to my day before's caller (keep up!)
As I drove the 24 miles to destination unknown I had several missed calls which I fastidiously ignored as I had been quite specific in my text, I was driving, text me the location. I opted for a car park in the centre of the city and hoped that wherever I was supposed to be would be city centre and walking distance rather than outskirts and late arrival. Picked up voicemail, meeting to be held at Townhall (we are a city but we are soooo modest about it) see you there. The Townhall is quite big, so I now had the building but no room, but hey we are on the right track!
I was 500 yards away and once in the building found that meeting was being held on the third floor (obviously!) and after a quick (ahem) sprint (yeah right) uphill I made it on time where a dozen or so of my colleagues awaited my arrival. Inside we got down to the business of the day and spent several hours talking about the lack of progress etc until I got distracted by the surroundings, especially the Light Infantry flags hanging around.
The agenda of the meeting?
How to improve Inter-agency communication.
Based on this meeting's organisation there is room for improvement.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Breakfast bar

Chester and Alana sharing breakfast, without the rampaging Ryelands for once. They have discovered the windfall apples at the Ghost House so are stuffing themselves there. Its quite peaceful in the mornings for a change.
Those who pop over to the training blog will see that there has been a distinct lack of effort the last week, actually there are a few sessions to record but its been a hectic week so minimal time has meant minimal effort and then there'e the slight issue of one leg being longer than the other, a discrepancy spotted when I was Agnesed the other day. The mighty Osteopath quickly found that the cause of my acute pain in right hip was due to a bit of an imbalance in leg length caused by either excessive running, leg cocking (as in over bike frame, gates) but more likely due to stupid amounts of pedal pressing while driving in city rush our traffic. My pelvis compensated by tilting and so one leg longer than the other, in lay terms. This also explained why all of a sudden my right shoe was stubbing my toes as I was walking funny. A quick over the shoulder throw onto the treatment table and a big stretch and all was well in my world. Which is why I went and did a hill drills training session tonight on the bike. Cars. Bad for you in so many ways.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Wolfing it down

The apprentice with his favourite food, hot and sauce aka cheese on toast with tomato sauce dip.

Monday, 25 November 2013

All terrain

 Apollo the wonder foal demonstrating his all terrain capability.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

I'm a celebrity get me outta here!

 In another blatant attempt to hijack search engines here's a real life celeb, at least he is to cider makers/drinkers. Paul a good mate who is head chemist for Thatchers was very pleased to show me what I thought was his latest claim to cider fame, a nice shiny leaflet telling us how good he/they are/is at making cider. Me not having glasses on failed to notice that what he was actually showing me was a pic of his fizzog toasting the lovely beverage. It was only when I came to edit the pic for these pages that I spotted the obvious, should have got him to sign it.
 Anyhow I have known him years so my seeming inability to oooh and aaah over his advert will not have come as too much of a surprise. The apprentice made use of the grandchildren's toys, the dolls house was a hit
 but Paul was not keen to share the Seasame Street racing car.
Meanwhile in the smallest room in the house I found a reminder that I used to play with a paintbox. Kevin the Celt is dated 96, quite sure this is the last painting I did before moving on from the barbarian theme to transvestite robots at their coming out party paintings.
Have I mentioned the voices?.........

Saturday, 23 November 2013


 The title of the blog is just a blatant attempt to lure hapless search engines our way, but today has been totally DIY city, and given the weather what could be better than working indoors. Well everything, but as the concrete for the Swiss Chalet is on hold (perfect weather for it, bet we pick a day totally unsuited to working outside but hey ho) the builders kit that arrived yesterday was destined to be transformed into one of two things, either a very useful partition wall and new floor to create a 3 metre almost square if you look at it funny utility laundry room and secret store for Airfix kits (although the secrets out now, so its just a store for build them one day honest plastic kits) or an unholy mess/waste of money and endless source of self loathing.
 But with patience, a plastic rule sent all the way from Germany (Cheers Andy) a bread knife, a half rusty saw (only on one side) and my brilliant power drill with box of bits I soon constructed a passable, no wobbling allowed, goat proof wall. Its even insulated. The floor will have to wait for another day as time ran out and critters and toddlers needed attention.
 Decisions still need to be made as to whether this bit of wall stays or does it come down making the pantry part of the room and so making space for a big fridge, the type you can live in. The door and cladding has already been recycled as part of the current project.
Here's said door in-situ and plywood cladding used as part of wall as its stronger than the chipboard for hanging cupboards on. Like these impressive white ones recycled from when the pharmacy was cleared out and saved from skip. All this was done with no swearing whatsoever and bizarrely no self inflicted wounds.
There was minor annoyance in the form of a goat fluorescent light tube which refused to be removed from its holder, then refused to be moved as an entire unit, and as time was running out I decided it could stay temporarily but turned it off while I faffed around with white cupboard underneath it. Once cupboard was hanging light refused to operate. I doubt any causal link, even my DIY skills (lack of) can have broken it (unlike the spare fluorescent light unit in the corner, step back, oops whats that tinkling sound)  Floor is planned for next weekend. I say planned, I mean, I intend to lay it next weekend, but mean once I have figured out a way of moving the Olympic weights bench and plates just off shot on these pics. Cleverer people, like my beautiful and oh so patient wife, may have moved the impressive and uber heavy immensely wide and usually non movable piece of fitness kit out of the way before boxing it in behind a solid wall with a 29 inch doorway. So perhaps this is a DIY SOS after all!

I know there's something going on!

 This is what happens when you let a very helpful delivery driver drop off some essential supplies while you are out saving the world. He phoned to say he was at HQ and where did I want it putting. I told him it was to go in the workshop but as I was not there could he put it somewhere dry so I could put it away on my return. Hence the above. Nice and dry, but not very accessible for the workshop.
After much too-ing and fro-ing all was safely stowed away and as is the way at Rock HQ any sort of project takes place under close supervision of the critters.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

So far away

 For two days in a row the alternative to work, meetings, has taken me from this green (mostly, except for the brown bits) and pleasant land, to the UK's second city. A fairly straightforward journey across country piloting Miranda. This journey would only take an hour at a steady pace save for the curse of the road user. Traffic. So last night a SOHF was had waiting in traffic because a lorry had the lack of foresight to imagine the consequences of breaking down on the main roundabout on the ring road. How we laughed as it took 45 minutes to cover 1.75 miles. As the broken lorry was .5 of a mile from our destination made it even more amusing. Today we were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes at the very same roundabout for no apparent reason. In total in the last  32 hours I have spent 11 of them driving (or not) covering a distance of 200 miles making the average speed 2 miles an hour slower than the usual speed on my bike. .
The Bonsai Mountain, centre of pic, the pointy bit.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Why I prefer English

 I thought this was a bit harsh, two prize calves demonstrating how useful gates could be, right next to a very nice lady churning out cheese burgers as freebies to customers at our local farmers superstore. Quite how they managed to get the interior of the building to be colder than outside, and outside was cold enough to freeze the windscreen of our Miranda, is a feat of modern warehouse architecture. Staff were dressed like polar explorers while the rest of us shivered looking for bargains for the critters. It was so cold that they forgot to give us the 10% discount off everything and we were so cold that we didn't notice.
 Mind you the visit did provide entertainment and free dinners which was much needed given what my evening had in store.
This is a sample of some of my doodling statistical analysis work, math was my least favourite subject at school (alongside chemistry, physics, French, German, and PE) (I liked Art, RE, English and just about tolerated geography) so why I have embarked on a course that has as its first module qualitative and quantitative analysis is a bit of a mystery. It might have something to do with not reading the course syllabus properly!

PS. For those interested the exercise on the left was correct after 2.5 hours trying to establish why I was 0.02 adrift. The exercise on the right is 100% correct and did not involve turning to the answer page "accidentally". Apparently this is the most complicated calculation necessary in the course without the use of computer software. I'm as good at using computers as I am at Maths. This is going to be a long course.

Monday, 18 November 2013

You're nuts

"Did you tie the boys up?" is not the usual greeting one might expect from your beautiful and oh so patient wife early doors. Once the cognitive functions returned and I realised it was morning and it was me being shouted at, or rather too, and that the boys were not the apprentice or MkII rugrat (social workers don't tie children up no matter how vexing they have been) but in fact Apollo the wonder foal and Will.I.Am the almost Welsh Cob, I sat up in my bed and had to admit that I had not. The result of me not tying up the recently released from borstal ponies meant that they had leaned on the gate until it succumbed to the pressure and had buggered off. Yes, I had forgot to tie the gate shut. They on the other hoof had not forgot how to open an untied gate. As usual this was at the start of a very busy day and as there was insufficient time to allocate to hunting naughty ponies in the fog on the slopes of the Bonsai Mountain they were left to their own devices for several hours. During an interactivity interval (read job done and psych yourself up for the the next one) a commotion was heard around the stables. The boys, having been at school and used to breakfast in bed, elevenses, lunch,  tea and biscuits, three course dinners, unlimited snacks surround sound TV and the like, got fed up with wandering the bogs of the cauldron and had returned to HQ in the hope of tiffin. Having found the Ryelands devouring second breakfasts the boys got in a tiz and were hoofing buckets across the yard. Hence commotion. Cue blue bucket of allure and dozy well trained ponies walked back to captivity, some horse nuts (hence squirrel pic, its a tenuous link) and a double granny knot hitched on a bended byte on the rope securing the gate shut. Get out of that boys.

Time flies

 The last time I was on this hill was some 18 years ago, unfortunately the shaky shot means that you cannot read Wapley Hill, a vertiginous Roman settlement hidden in the trees and the destination of yours truly on a bike 18 summers ago with is 6 year old daughter following on her ikkle princess learner bike with fat tyres and matching fat lip when she chinned the floor trying to ride no handed. Again. Other sagas on that epic trek included the handlebar stem breaking on my best mates bike meaning a significant sudden deficit in braking and steering ability which was only partly solved by throwing himself into the hedge and not oncoming traffic and my 8 year old son having a massive toddler style SOHF over the distance covered that day (20 miles) and never riding a bike again until a cycling trip in Spain four years ago when he rode his new bike from the airport to a car hire depot drove the remaining 14 days with his bike in the boot .
 More dodgy phone pics reveal less trauma today as the intrepid Red Kite Riders -3 did a 25 mile (some did 35 miles) circuit that included Wapley
 and two other nasty climbs in the fog and rain
before we could park our steeds and stuff ourselves with slabs of Swiss Roll. R100 has been sold on to another keen cyclist so is now getting used regularly rather than waiting for yours truly to get bored with his Boardman speed machine.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Guess who's back

 The boys came back from school today, both are better behaved and even more rideable but as there are only 24 hours in the day we didn't get to ride either.
 Meanwhile in the pig pen Pam is doing a good job of looking after the latest batch of sausages
although she has lost 3 out of the litter the rest are looking especially tasty cute.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Mad dogs and British Lions

 So having told everyone I was going to run 15 miles along Offa's Dyke dressed as a Lion for Children in need I had to do it.
 All kitted out, ready for the off in front of a cheering crowd, if 4 people, a toddler and a babe in arms count as a crowd.
 Not seeing the funny side after a very nasty climb and a million volt jolt from an electric fence. I did discover that Lions should wear trainers, my outfit over trainers was a bad idea, slippy and the costume soaked up gallons of water making it like running in diving weights.
 X marks the final destination, alls well at this point except I dropped my mobile phone and had to spend a while retracing my steps to find it.
 Chariots of Fire music playing as I approach the finish line
 Ta-Dah finish, to victor the spoils!
 Pose for finishers shot, Spotty and me, 3 hours 13 minutes, 15 very muddy hilly miles and goodness knows how many stiles, gates and stream crossings!  I think I raised around £200.
 Meanwhile the apprentice decorated cakes to sell for children in need.
 Eating hardly any!
 Paradise found! The cakes sale. Raised loads of money, thanks everyone!
And behind every fun run Lion is a very patient and supportive woman.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Horses for courses

 Not sure that I will have the time or inclination to observe the fantastic autumn colours tomorrow as I take on my latest challenge, so heres a couple of pics of the surrounding countryside that borders Rock HQ and over and through which I shall be running dressed as a Lion to raise money for Children in Need. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm only doing it because I couldn't get enough volunteers for a pantomime horse race on the old race track on the ridge. Maybe next time.....

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Donkey work

Those that know me know of my strange addiction, my complete inability to no photograph an old tractor, I know nothing about then other than they have different names and they rust differently, but for some inexplicable reason I have to bag the shot, like a trophy hunter. So while I was getting all arty over the blue wreckage something more photogenic wandered into frame.
These two were rescued from the local market after a hazardous journey in an Irish meat lorry horse box where along with several hundred other Irish donkeys they were flogged for buttons to eager buyers.
Not too sure how many sold were destined for local nativity plays or foreign meat products
but these two seem happy enough and as they are both in foal they have better prospects here than in the supermarkets.