Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Thank you British Telecom

 First off thanks to everyone who has been so concerned as to TFTR absence, totally unplanned, the gale blew the wires down and BT still have to come and fix it. believe it or not they PHONED three days ago to say there would be further delays. Yes they PHONED the LANDLINE thats down and left a message.
So heres a brief lunchtime catch up of what you can do while you wait for BT to get their act and our wires together.
Miranda, dragged out of ditch. Only £1000 of damage caused by my enthusiasm.
 Lazy delivery driver dumped 11 2 metre galvanised steel fence panels 4/10 of mile away were manfully moved to cottage by yours truly.
 Surprise delivery number two!!!! 5 puppies, the KGB
 The site of the Swiss Chalet kennel block, the man test for concrete begins
 Sunshine and music helped.
 So did the peacocks.
 Day one over, 3 metres by 4.5 metres laid.
 And so day two begins
 with help
 and hinderance
 then the kennels arrived flat packed.
 During a wet lunch I laid the floor in the new utility room, finally. Roof still leaks but nice man promised to come and fix it.
 My little helpers with the man test.
 Day two 6 by 4.5 complete. Thats over 90 barrow loads.
 Day three, final stages.
 The well earned cuppa. No Muppets comments thank you!
 Day off! The Northern Clan arrive, Nikki and Glenn with their lovely kids and dogs.
 The short route around the Bonsai Mountain.
 Move this and we can get out!
 Proper floor laid in utility room, all my own work. Ahem.
See how they grow.

I am told that BT will fix the line by Friday. They have not said which one though.

Friday, 14 February 2014

In too deep

Miranda has sunk deeper into the mire, I tried to rescue her by myself before work along with famous last words of of course I don't need two people, I did manage to dig out two wheels, get planks and dog mats (not made from real dogs) to assist in grip but the end result saw me climbing out of the passenger side as the drivers door is now part of the fence.
Paid work saw me travel many miles over several snow covered mountains to get to the real alternative to work, a meeting, I only just made it as a tree blocked the main road, it was passable by driving over someones lawn and I got through just as the police arrived to calm things down. Someone with a chainsaw cleared the mess by home time.
The metal work for the Swiss Chalet Kennel Block has arrived, kind of. Its down by the gateway to the world, dumped by the driver, so I am now faced with the task of carrying each 2 metre metal section 4 tenths of a mile uphill, theres only 11 so its not much a man test.
Tomorrow where I am stood will be concrete.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The pressures on

The weather is adding to the mayhem at HQ. The roof, first reported as leaking before Christmas is still leaking. The nice man who said he would fix it hasn't wanted to get wet so we have.
The big build project is on for next week, a minor point that the concrete pad is still in tote bags and powder waiting for yours truly to mix it.
The hole in the ground in which to pour the concrete is almost completely dug out, looking like a swmming pool, but the deep end still needs me to wheelbarrow 4 ton of rubble into it before the smooth grey stuff is poured on. The metal work and gates are somewhere en route from Swaffam but several bigger than average rivers are between us and the inevitable phone call from the gate the world that they cannot make the final delivery.
Tomorrow(tonight) a new storm front moves in with a months rain promised in the next 48 hours to further hamper delivery of the wood due Monday morning ready for the build, which can only take place if the concretes down.
Fortunately I am a solution focused type so none of this is a concern.
And today was sunny and the bike repair shop gave me my bike back fully serviced and ready for Sundays Red Kite Riders meet for which I have plenty of time to take part in.
Especially as its supposed to be the best day for weather for the next ten days.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Knock Knock...

Who's there?
Tree who? 
Tree-mendously close one falling.

Stable Sprite's pigs had a lucky escape today as the high winds from the latest non Hurricane to hit the UK blasted through the happy valley. Winds as high as 108 mph to the north of us, average speeds of 50 plus here meant that the big tree just behind the new pig des res split in two and missed the latest wood work by millimetres.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tales of the unexpected

Not the way I had planned to start the day but Miranda provided some excitement by sliding into the bottomless gorge of despair, well ok thats an exaggeration, the heavier than heavy rainfall has made the ground so waterlogged that she has sunk to the what used to be called axles on the drivers side( no comments about it only happened when yours truly big bulk landed on the drivers seat, thank you!) and she is well and truly stuck, any attempt to move and she threatened to tip sideways into the you cant quite make out in this pic ditch which is 3 feet below so could result in an exciting roll over. As it is she has been told to sit tight and await rescue when Gerry will drag her out.
Those wondering whats happened since last Saturday can rest assured that its a lot but as the PC has either finally given up the ghost or (more likely) a toddler has broken if by banging the keyboard trying to find the Num Tums (a seriously good programme for all budding demolition experts) we have not been able to use the internet.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Without doubt

I can say, hand on heart, that today I experienced the heaviest, wettest, coldest rainfall of my 49 and three quarters life. The rubbish photo shows, almost, the puddles gathering in the fields, the lane is nearly washed away (areas that I didn't repair) water almost knee deep by the gateway to the world (hence me in wellies at a funeral this afternoon) (actually I had shoes but left them at the cottage) and a huge tree has fallen over, a combination of high winds and water logged soil, its fell on where we buried Aunt Montana.
Fitting weather for a funeral, actually a memorial service for a friend who died just over a week ago. A sad loss, especially as he was only 53 and having led a fit active blameless life was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer 5 months ago. He was one of the 97% who did not make it past 6 months from diagnosis. This summer I am focusing my fund raising back on raising money for cancer research, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer. I have several events lined up for which I will be bothering people for sponsorship. These include  a non stop (except toilet stops and bacon sarnies) 180 mile bike ride 28 April, the BBMC 2014  May 17th, and the big one, the 3 peaks challenge with 450 mile bike ride in between all completed in 72 hours or less. That dates to be confirmed. Lets hope the weather improves so I can train.

Friday, 7 February 2014

It fell off the back of a lorry

 Living where we do lorry drivers who are oft requested to make deliveries usually fail in their task, for many reasons, but usually due to inability to operate the foot pedals and steering wheel in the co-ordinated manner necessary to negotiate the perilous journey from the world to Rock HQ.
 Only last week I returned from work and found a delivery van trying to sneak away after dumping our 20 metre roll of vet bedding in the Oracles garage rather than risk our lane with its lakes, potholes and overhanging trees.
 So it came as no real surprise today to get called back to HQ to sort out a lorry driver who was afraid to venture to his assigned destination on account he may never return.
 Instead he loaded the 250kg package in the back of Gerry with the assistance of yours truly, a tail lift and a pallet truck.
 Now I had none of those aids when I got to the cottage
 but thanks to an old table, a door mat, 3 straw bales, a modicum of swearing and considerable effort I managed to get the massively heavy package out of the back of Gerry and on to Terra Firma before the rampaging Ryelands ate the crash landing mat.
 I also did it without breaking me or the contents of the box.
 Now you must be wondering what on earth could be contained within the very secure packaging marked fragile.
Our lovely cottage is heated by a reluctant central heating system that is also very expensive to run, being oil its never going to be cheap and being old its never going to be efficient. So we have a secondary heating system, a woodburner. However this is all it does, it burns wood and offers very little heat by return. Twice we have had it refurbished and twice it has melted internally and this time having done the same again it got its marching orders.
Now there is a great deal of snobbery about woodburners, unless you buy one that costs the same as an education at Eton and is made by hand from cast iron poured by a master craftsman in a small village in the Shires then its not worth having. It has to look old, have a name like old woodsman knight burner and look incredibly ugly. You also have to wait three years for it to be built and a further year for delivery. Ours was all of those and refused to heat the room yet alone the house.
Inside this box is a very modern woodburning stove made by the very efficient and clever Germans who manage to make and deliver a chic woodburner for around the cost of the door handle of a British one. It is also amazingly efficient at burning wood and then radiating heat, which is why I am sat at the far end of the room in shorts and t shirt toasty warm. This is with all the upstairs doors open letting the heat escape into the bedrooms and bathroom.
 For once what I had planned in my head actually worked. It took 30 minutes to get old woodburner out and plug in new on, quick run round with a bit of fire cement to flue pipe and good to go.
This is full throttle, soon after this pic was taken all fixtures and furniture was moved from the vicinity before they melted. 
Thankfully not all drivers are incompetent cowards, heres KBS number one delivery team dropping off the makings of the base of the Swiss Chalet Kennel Block. By putting it here they have halved the distance I have to wheelbarrow the concrete and we can still get the cars in and out. Bravo team!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Wet Wet Wet

Its a tad damp here at the moment. In between downpours I got out of the office and found the local Urban Guerrilla had left his custom bike with anti handling device outside the library.  
This small puddle wasn't there when I drove past 30 minutes before, but in that time it rained some more so the return trip required waterproof footwear. Or a 4x4.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Road Hogs

The latest recruits to Pig Club "helping" sort the rubble into pot hole filling materials.

Road Test

 Starting late and finishing late in paid work meant that I could spend a couple of essential hours road building as the rented whacker plate was already two days overdue, supergrandma's car was trapped at the cottage due to large pile of rubble by entrance to the world and the road needs finishing so the materials for the Swiss Chalet Kennel block can be dumped in more or less carrying distance to the building site. So early doors saw yours truly and faithful Berners pulverizing rubble into the planets surface in an effort to get things finished and moving. Spotty tested the site of the lake, now a passable road. Admittedly there are small puddles either end, but thats just being picky.
 This lake has been in this position since 1980, its now ceased to be, its an ex lake.
 Spotty stood guard and watched the gateway to the world while I got on with removing the final obstacle to supergrandma's escape route.
Again minor detail the puddles either end but now its nice and flat and totally unable to smash the bottom off a Skoda. Which was just as well as as yours truly was plying his trade in England's second city my beautiful and oh so patient wife had an accident at work which meant she phoned supergrandma rather than the paramedics, who responded and rescued her. The Skoda survived both trips along the lane unscathed. By the time I got home at 22.45 MBAOSPW had almost regained the ability to walk unaided and was given a Toblerone by way of consolation. Somehow she had managed to wreck the ligaments in her left knee on a swivel chair, hopefully this is a temporary incapacity as I was hoping she would shift 3 cubic metres of concrete for me on Sunday.
Still, there's time to mend.
Yes I'm all heart.
 Its a failing I know.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Must have optional extras

Obviously a water proof dog carrier is de-reiguer this winter. Talking of bikes, as I am wont to do as I have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder (OCCD) by my beautiful and oh so patient wife (I blamed Andy) my break wind and you go faster Boardman speed machine has gone in for a service. Its done nearly 2500 miles in 11 months and creaks a bit at the joints. Steve the bike gave a sharp intake of breath, not at the state of the chain but at the play in the steering bearings, apparently they were shocking and borderline dangerous, hadn't I noticed, of course I had (no). So my bikes in intensive care and should be as good as new next week and I have to avoid looking at all the sale bikes at 66% off just cos its got 2013 colours and its now 2014 cos I don't need a new bike.
Yesterday I realised just how far down the foodchain a cyclist is. Riding through a one horse town like ours is a bit risky as the locals are not the most switched on when it comes to calculating the velocity of a MAMIL bearing down on them, but as it was Sunday (Yesterday) I thought it would be pretty safe maintaining speed along the high street. Cue hippy type female tree hugger with a tangle of Bassets on leads, a Peruvian knitted cap with ear flaps down and i-pod plugged directly into the grubby holes either side of the dimwits head that should have been listening to traffic and not "Didnt we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor".
Not only did she cross the road as I approached, without looking at all, she then proceeded to walk diagonally across thus maximizing the time I had to gain 70 points worth or road kill (50 pedestrian, 10 per K9) One of us needed to take evasive action and as she was unaware of death by lycra until I shouted "Excuse me madam might I pass" which in the heat of the moment translated to "OI!! DUMBASS!!!" she turned to see yours truly swerving to what would have been oncoming traffic and fending off a mutt that was about to wedge itself into a front wheel. Instead of jumping out of the way she (and I could see it happen on her face) calculated the likelihood of injury to self and poor poochy woochies, calculated correctly that speeding cyclist had a strong sense of self preservation so would take every step to avoid impact, sneered at me and continued to sidle across the road.
Oh to have been an Articulated lorry with airhorns.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

New rule! Leave well alone

 With gale force winds strong enough to rattle the slates on the roof at 3am it came as a nice surprise that the storm passed, the sky was blue (mostly) and by 9am the sun shone, the birdies sang their little hearts out making it ideal for cycling, hence cheery pic of yours truly on a Red Kite Riders spin. I did consider, given the size of task in hand, namely repair dirt track and shift 16 ton of rubble by tweezer wheelbarrow, not going for a ride and cracking on with hard labour. Thankfully common sense prevailed and I sprayed on the lycra and peddled off, pausing for a pic half way. Note jaunty angle of left arm, it being mostly bionic it won't ever straighten, lucky enough it does bend and having reinforced arm comes in handy for mega road build task once 40 miles had been ticked off.
 Heres a very blurry before photo. It does show how much water runs down the lane continually, and when it rains it gets worse. So rather than work on the pile of rubble half a mile down the lane yours truly decided that time spent diverting the flow, thus stopping the erosion (yeah I did geography) would be well spent. Thus
 some hours later the meandering rivulets and ox bow lakes had all but disappeared and I got on with shifting rubble and pulverising it with a whacker plate
after digging the mother of all ditches and drain across the track (temporarily covered by planks) As darkness descended and the last of the really super sized pot holes was beaten (supersized ones take at least 3 barrow loads of rubble, the rest will only take one, or two) I was prepared for Supergrandma to make the first ceremonial crossing in a standard family car of upper part of refurbished lane. It was only later that I found what I should have done was either not bother and leave everything as it was, or spend time non cycling and non digging ditch and move the 2 tome pile hurriedly leveled late Friday night. It seemed fine, but as its been crossed several times by Gerry and Miranda I failed to consider the difficulty a Skoda estate would have over the same obstacle.
 Which is why I owe Supergrandma a new front spoiler.