Monday, 30 December 2013

Cos you're just not busy enough!

 Daffodil could barely move this morning after yours truly left the door to the tack room open thus allowing rampaging Ryeland to access the remaining feed. Stocks were already low but between her and Will.I.Am who's presence was detected by the Himalayan piles of horse crap in the doorway they demolished everyone's breakfasts.
 Gerry was used for the first time as a feed wagon, gone are the days when he was a pampered Chelsea Tractor, he's now a solid member of the team and his cavernous interior was filled with critter goodies. This is 1/3rd of the load installed.
 Back at HQ while I was unloading Will.I.Am took a shine to an alternative source of calorie
 and when chastised for opening a bag of beef flavorful he took his angst out on the stable door
 and gave me a small job to do as I am just not busy enough!
 The sulking equine hung around for a while
 and then once he was sure it was really broken left me too it.
 Several cuts and bruises later a nearly new door was resurrected from bits, old bits, new bits and a bucket load of screws. Jobs done, jobs a good un, satisfied I can go indoors and have a well earned cuppa.
But just to my right a pretty boy pony has been making his own modifications to a 6 rail pole fence.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Toy story 2

 We headed North today to see my folks and have Christmas part deux. It was a good job we left Miranda at home and took Gerry as the mass of presents would have required a trailer for vehicles with lesser carrying capacity than Gerry.
Little t was so happy with his presents his brain exploded.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Variations on a theme

The day has been spent in various ways, critter care, child care, visiting family and friends, eating far too much and playing games. Traditional family games are a sure fire hit at Rock HQ, my beautiful and oh so patient wife is not a real fan of games at the best of times so alcohol inspired charades is a dead cert to get "the look". Her annoyance or games once led to me being painted magnolia when I wouldn't explain the rules of "Erm.... Venezuela" to which her response of "I'm not playing any more" led to the liberal application of paint by roller (we were decorating at the time)
So today's games have been modern versions of old classics, probably my favourite today was "Find the mobile phone" (hunt the thimble) a game where toddler places aunty's mobile phone safely inside an item of furniture and then gives unhelpful clues to adults seeking communication device. I did have a hilarious photo of this but so successful and entertaining was this game that the apprentice has enhanced the fun by using the camera as the thimble. Such fun!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Stuck on you

 Following Tasha's unexpected adventure she has developed limpet like tendancies
 and keeps a close eye on her owners whereabouts.
Its not safe outside by yourself.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Come quickly!

Little t shouted for help, "Quick look whats happened!"
Seems like a giant box of Thornton's forced themselves on him.
Good job we were there to rescue him!

Boxing Day Hunt

 Tradition has it that Boxing Day is a time when hunts meet, and here at HQ we had our own hunt for a missing Bernese Mountain Dog puppy called Tasha who freaked out last night after being stepped on by a pony. Searching resumed at first light where she was stepped on. Almost in sight of the cottage.
 The full story and thank yous is on the Dolyhir Berner site, link on margin. But suffice to say the likelihood of finding a frightened pup out there without masses of help was remote.
 Posters were made and put up as there would be dozens of walkers on the ridge today.
 Naughty pony was coaxed back and then put to work by joining the search.
But thanks to an impressive team effort Tasha was tracked, watched until I got there and then reunited with the clan by late afternoon.

Merry Christmas...who ate all the pies!

 Christmas morn....suitable weather on the high ground surrounding HQ
 Little t finding that a big fat pie eater has visited, but left packages in exchange for the two mince pies and small alcoholic beverage left out. Rudolf only took a few bites of carrot, he had probably had his five a day already.
 Guessing this isn't a CD.
 Small child delighted at contents of large package, then spoils it by asking if it will fit through door (see yesterdays posting)
 Older child surprised at content of gift card.
 Smallest child not impressed at festive outfit.
 Large dog amongst the explosion in the wrapping factory.
And all would have been an ideal Christmas day save for this plonker. No Christmas tale at HQ could be complete without a small animal drama and so it began when yours truly felt the need to miss Christmas Specials TV and head out on the bonsai Mountain with 8 Berners to walk of excessive calorific intake.
At farthest point of walk found naughty boys, the two escapees, Will.I.Am and pretty boy Apollo. Apollo gave it the thank God you found me routine and allowed himself to be walked slowly back. Will.I.Am gave it the I don't know who you are routine and stayed a distance away whinnying for support. 8 Berners rallied around yours truly and all 10 of us walked slowly back to HQ.
Knowing the difficultly faced ahead I phoned and asked beautiful and oh so patient wife to meet me outside to manage gates etc and so we all met in The Cauldron, 100 yards from safety, just in range of the AA lights and it all went rats. Pretty boy accidentally stepped on smallest Berner, Tasha, who in the darkness thought that a Troll had found her and she ran away. But as it was dark this was not noticed until we were all under the glare of the AA lights when the Berner deficit was obvious.
No amount of searching, name calling, falling over in the dark and swearing found the frightened puppy and eventually at 1 am we had leave her to it until daybreak.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Pearls of wisdom

To be really honest, not a lot of work got done at Red Kite HQ today what with being over run with toddlers and Christmas party food, but I bravely soldiered on
while some used modern technology to track Father Christmas' progress around the planet.
Our progress was a tad slower and the small amount of weather we have had proved a hindrance as we made the last minute rounds dropping of Christmas goodies to friends. The pic above shows non too clearly how much water has fallen from the sky, the river has yet to peak and already most of the valley is flooded.
Once the drawbridge was raised and Techno's cat found, cornered, captured, contained and fed, our Christmas was focused on. I realised that perhaps I had over catered and could easily feed 40, not the 4 who are expected the break bread with us tomorrow. Just before midnight when the final touches were put to various presents my beautiful and oh so patient wife casually asked if I was sure that the toy house we had bought the apprentice that I was wrestling with in the living room would fit through the door when I had finished assembling it.
 This was a feature of this particular gift I had not thought of. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Nightmare before Christmas

 Torrential rain. Gales. Normal weather then. 125 mile road trip. Floods. Normal driving then.
Trolley jousting at supermarket as world goes mad for every food item just in case they run out in the 36 hours the shops shut. Standard.
Coming home and finding the flashing between cottage wall and workshop roof has decided to let as much water as can in. Nightmare. Chances of it getting fixed in the next two weeks. Zero. Chances of it not raining heavily, about the same as Rudolf crash landing on Big Ben. Zero.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Act 2 scene 1....

I missed a call from Techno today which is how I managed to miss the real drama going on his side of the Bonsai Mountain. I was engaged in tedious activities such a fill the skip with rubbish, one point of interest was finding the hugest ever earthworm under a black hayledge wrapper. It had to be at least 14 inches long, so I carefully placed it on another muck heap rather than lob it to the poultry as is the usual fate of any calories found lurking.
But the excitement of finding a leviathan of the earth pales to insignificance compared to what was going on around the hill. Techno had another visit from a GP and it was decided that he needed to go to hospital, and what better way to get there than in an ambulance. So quite why Steve the ambulance driver decided it was safe to get a fully laden bog standard ambulance up the track to Techno's lair is a question that will be pondered for a while in these parts over a cuppa and Rich Tea. But he managed to get it half way before the inevitable call for help to retrieve emergency vehicle from ditch was made. The militia turned up with a suitably massive tractor and saved the day.
 I missed a fantastic photo opportunity.
But I did find a big worm.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Too long

 Winter Solstice, the short day, somebody forgot to tell Rock HQ. Yesterday I had planned to go and do a quick (not really quick, but quick by my standards) mountain marathon, but as Gerry had a meltdown and my 12 hour or so trip to Durham turned into a 36 hour stopover, all Wednesdays tasks were shoved along to Friday pm which meant a very long day but Gerry behaved and brought me back from our 125 mile recce of the Welsh Valleys where I met some lovely people and scoffed most of their biscuits (I need the sugar!) No matter how hard I tried to catch up the jobs list just got added to and time is running out before the fat bloke (not me) drops off gifts to the apprentice smallholder and rugrat mkII.
 As ever, once one problem is sorted the small god of your having a laugh throws a cosmic spanner in the works and this was the scene at the back of Miranda after Chester decided to do a spot of mechanicking. Unsure why he felt compelled to break the lights and dent the rear quarter but he did so he's not in the good books. He got an even bigger entry in the how much can a horse be a pillock book for losing his coat. Somehow over night he wriggled out of his nice red heavy duty winter coat which meant a quick trip out today to fetch a new one.
Our short day started at 05.30 with a phone call from Techno who was not in a good way. Having seen him the night before I was relieved to find it wasn't the food I had given him that was causing him distress and after a protracted effort involving 3 trips around the bonsai mountain to his lair I managed to coordinate the NHS on call system (whoever thought of the system wants a kicking, dial 111 get told this service is not available in Wales, redial new number, talk to machine, tell machine location, get told service no longer available in England, dial 111, go back to start, have a SOHF, go back home and dial again, get told that they need the patient to talk to, tell them he is up a mountain, advised to take mobile, tell them the scenario re service no longer available, finally speak to a sensible person who decided to phone Techno, if I went and got his permission) to make contact, they realise he needed medical help, they send out a very brave and well equipped Doctor and I fetch his medical supplies from Town. Having seen what was prescribed he is no doubt having a wonderful time sat in his cave watching pink elephants chase cosmic badgers across the sky. All this meant that today's jobs (sense a pattern here?) have got to be done tomorrow as one of them involved filling the skip with rubbish for collection Monday.
A quiet normal life?
Yes please.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A happy ending

 A long time ago (well thats how it seems now) in a galaxy far far away, well a place a long way north east of Rock HQ anyway, I went to a different world on a quest to bring back a lovely 1 previous owner low mileage top of the range Land Rover Discovery TD5. To get there I needed to use the train. Now I have loads of experience of train use, not all of it good, getting off the train in Plymouth when it should have been Portsmouth was one of the classics.
So having to get on a train that I would have to get off and get on another one to get to my final destination was always going to be an anxious affair. Initially the small gods of rail travel were kind, I had a forward facing double seat all to myself, the views were pleasant and the journey comfortable. In fact so good that I mused the possibility of using the train more often.
 Plans to take the family on holiday by train were dashed at the change over at Manchester Piccadilly when in the 12 minutes between trains I decided to go and buy a magazine having located the train and platform required to get to Durham. The magazine shop was in view of the platform, and had the 7 tills been operating then the nine people fretting in the queue would have been less concerned about missing their trains. For some inexplicable reason the young man at the front was trying to pay for a 75 pence bottle of water with a cheque book, the ensuing chaos and time wasting manifested in angry exchanges between several commuters one of which shoved cheque boy to one side and demanded service.
The assistant was non plussed at everyone's need for haste and went even slower. My turn came and when we eventually established that I didn't want a carrier bag or one of several chocolate bars on special offer my change was carefully counted into my outstretched palm and I ran back to platform 1 to get the trans Pennine Express.
 Except it wasn't there.
While I was getting all het up in the newsagents the fat controller of the railway decided that platform 1 was too easy, really we should all be on platform 9 which changed back to platform 3 when we all formed up on 9. That part of the game complete I managed to get into the front carriage to find all seats reserved except for one.
The one next to the nutter.
 He started quietly, as we pulled out of the station he cleared his throat several times in quick succession. I busied myself reading my magazine trying to ignore the barking and the smell of dead camels he exuded. As all the seats were reserved I had no avenue to escape. So we sat, one of us in silence, until he barked at me that he effing wanted off the train and he left startling people with his dog impressions.
Nerves steadied with a cuppa (which cost £3.20, when I got off the the train I found I could have a full cooked English with tea and toast for the same amount) I endured the rest of the trip and we pulled into Durham where the sight of its fine cathedral inspired me while seeing my mate Glen and his Berner Buddy on the platform reassured me that all would be well.
 So there we were, at the garage where my new 4x4 was prepped and ready. The nice man who was selling it showed me round, paperwork was sorted, beer tokens exchanged for keys and away we went.
Me following Glen as I had no idea where I was except in the area referred to as The North East. All seemed well, we pulled into Asda where I filled new 4x4 (now called Gerry) with diesel, and again we joined the rush hour traffic.
Out on the dual carriage way, just as I was feeling quite pleased with myself, just as the saxophone solo from Baker Street hits its crescendo, just as I was satisfied that I had more buttons, LCD displays and LED lights than your average star ship commander could shake a stick at, and just as I ordered Scotty to give me warp factor 10 and overtook the worlds biggest articulated lorry there was a loud BANG from the front and a severe lack of engine feeling.
At this point Kirk would be screaming at Scotty for more power to the deflector shields who would be yelling back I canna hold her Capn I've given you all she's got,  but in reality I was praying that the big lorry that I had just overtaken was not going to be too miffed at me cutting back in front of it and stopping.
 Fully expecting the lorry to put the rear wheel carrier into the passenger seat I spotted a clear patch on the roadside and rolled to a stop on a flat green bit between bushes as miffed lorry screamed past.
 Having survived the non-crash landing I tried to coax the stricken 4x4 back to life to no avail. I was now stuck, Glen who was driving a car that worked properly had gone off into the darkness, I was lost too as I had no idea where I was. To make matters even more fun my mobile phone decided to play silly buggers and would not phone or text.
Eventually I got a message out to Glen, Disco's died, and sent that to the nice man at the garage. As if by magic Glen reappeared behind me having spotted my absence and then my distress signal. As did a nice man in another Discovery who stopped to see if he could help. He had a black box computer thingy which he plugged into Gerry to see what the problem was. Gerry refused to speak to him. The computer said he could not help. So he left.
 Then along came Rover Tech, dressed like the SAS, they meant business, they would sort Gerry out. First I had to survive the interrogation over fuel. Was I sure that I had put diesel in? This became a boring feature of all conversations relating to Gerry for several hours with all newcomers to the tale.
 Except Gerry didn't want to be sorted out so they left and sent a recovery vehicle who's drivers lack of English was only surpassed by his lack of Geography (he drove past us) then his lack of situational awareness, You drive (accompanied by mime) You drive yes? pointing to back of truck now being lowered onto the road. Fully expecting a car to do a Dukes of Hazard stunt up the ramp I explained carefully in words of one syllable or less that if I could drive I would not be sat freezing to death on the side of the road. He nodded sagely than asked if I had a screwdriver, lucky for him I didn't and as I looked for another sharp implement Glen saved his life by lending him one. Gerry was hauled off and he was gone. The nice man phoned and promised the world by way of apology but we settled for a small selection of Pizza's (see yesterdays pics) and I spent the night with Glen's family.  
 And so began my very short but fulfilling holiday in The North East. We went dog walking.
 Saw an amazing monument which was impressively hugely pointless
 and based on a Greek tourist attraction
 while the Angel of The North was singularly unimpressive, a lot smaller than it looks on the telly and not even a coffee shop nearby.
 But the area is a friendly place and the inhabitants have a sense of humour
 and a Cathedral, in fact my 18 hour holiday confirmed that our planned week sometime soon is a good idea. The nice man then let me know that Gerry was fixed, apparently the trauma of discovering that his owner had sold him to a less than careful heavy metal fan who lived in an area of the world with dirt tracks rather than tarmac was too much for Gerry who was used to radio 3, clean tarmac and an elderly driver. Having Baker Street at full volume and being thrashed into overtaking on a dual carriage way was the final straw and Gerry's brain melted. Or in other words the set of relays that govern the engine control unit had become loose and began short circuiting so they shut down the engine.
So take two began.
 The nice man selling him begged for forgiveness, and got lots when he gave me a slab of money back.
The SAS Rover Tech ninja phoned me to let me know that all would be well and that Gerry was a good un. They filled it with diesel (are you sure?) and I was free to go.
 Except Gerry wouldn't start.
Until I swore at him and used a different key.
 Then he was keen to go.
 Over the next few miles Gerry was subjected to all manner of abuse, the rev limiter tested, speed test, acceleration, stopping, and once I got over the upset caused by mis reading the odometer which read nearly double the mileage (Glen pointed out kindly that I had got it on Km rather than Miles) the two of us were set to head south.
We waved goodbye to Glen and  in the 250 miles we drove in 70-90mph winds, torrential rain, hail, through two floods and avoided two fallen trees, Gerry and I bonded and we think we will get on. He's behaved perfectly all day doing another 125 miles and only once refused to start. The non starting is down to one of the keys which after having its battery changed still refused to operate the locks or ignition so its been flung over the hedge.
A big thank you to all the The North East who made this tale a happy one.