Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Flower Power

 For too long our "garden" has resembled a WWI battlefield so today yours truly was prompted to take action and put some colour amongst the debris.
A sweepstake is being held as to the life expectancy of these plants who are destined to live (or not) amongst rampaging Ryelands, gutsy goats and 13 heavy pawed K9's. 35 minutes is the longest estimate so far for this instant garden. Place your bets.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Resurrection shuffle

Some things you just cannot explain. Like this dead duckling who five minutes previously had been launching itself into the micro pond (water bowl) and giving the impression that it was thoroughly enjoying life. However 30 seconds after taking this picture the dead duck obviously decided to stay away from the light and returned to the land of the living and is currently taking advantage of the benefits of the new fox proof duck pen. He's not even lame!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Over here! Pronto!

 The last time I was as Hartbury College it was to watch he who cannot be named (our eldest) play the Leicester Tigers under 21's as HWCBN was a member of the Gloucester under 21 academy. This was just before he went to the land down under and played for the a team in Canberra which I think were called The Gundalin Eagles or similar, and just before he blew all his 6 months rent on an air safari of New Zealand while drinking with members of the British Lions team and seconds before he phoned home with a dad I think I might need some more money phone call. He's easier to please now, hand made place mats make his year.
 So quite why yours truly was retracing his ten years ago footsteps was simple. He was making sure his beautiful and oh so patient wife did not return from the Horse Show exclusively for Andalusian (spell check) Horses like this fine chap called Hero who lives a bit more than a stones throw from Rock HQ, with anything live apart from me. Since moving to Rock HQ and making the bold statement "No horses" and finding we now have seven I thought it a wise move.
 It was also an opportunity to see how three year old Andalusian horses are shown in the ring. Dressing like an out of work wedding singer is apparently compulsory.
 Thankfully there were some lovely horses to look at.
 I really liked this one.
 There were some examples of what happened when horse owners have too much time on their hands. In all it was a great show, lots of horse jumping, dressage, beer, bacon sarnies, chips, more horses.
Just as things got really interesting with horses dressed as Christmas decorations, Umpa Lumpas and Aladdin's Genie (honest! nothing to do with the beer!) we had to say goodbye and head back to the ranch full of ideas of alternatives to rounding up sheep on quad bikes and a real insight into the lives of these fabulous horses. Which is just as well really as behind the scenes at Rock HQ, our best kept secret is a two and half year old Andalusian gelding called Pronto.
More of him later.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Special delivery

 Thoughts of lazing on the helipad sipping an ice cold G and T were quickly consigned to the dustbin this evening when I intercepted the apprentice smallholder engrossed in conversation on the telephone with our friendly Horse Botherer. Little t had very helpfully accepted delivery of much needed supplies for the equines here at HQ. So rather than spending time holding a cold beverage marvelling at the scenery, birdsong and sunsets, yours truly was getting up close and personal with freshly baled flora from the finest local meadows. As yours truly is to trailer reversing as an Italian Cruise Ship Captain is to unauthorised detours the Horse Botherers other half very helpfully brought his trailer and reversed the half mile up our lane as they had both forgotten I had removed the tyres from the area formerly known as the turning circle.
In a dramatic demonstration of driving skill the heavily laden trailer was parked feet from the bale store and the horses and ponies watched with interest as their rations were carefully put away for safe keeping. After palms were crossed with various denominations of beer tokens yours truly was left to get on with the fantasy of ice cold cocktails while dealing with the reality of the effects of a tub of strawberries on two toddlers left to their own devices for a few minutes.

Driving ambition

 Rug Rat MkII demonstrating a keen interest in
 all things cars. If only he knew what it was really like.
Enjoy while you can little man!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Blue Sky Thinking

 Not having an operational car
 and not having the foresight
 to bring my cycling gear
 home (it was in striken car)
 meant that yours truly
 had to walk to work.
There are some plus points to not having a car.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Breakfast bonus

Our lone Black Rock hen has been busy, busy hiding her contribution to the full cooked English enjoyed most mornings here at Rock HQ. A broody hen in the nesting box had kept her away so she found a different place under the loganberry bush. As broody hen was sat on nothing but her backside the breakfast bonus clutch have been parked under her feathered backside in the hope that in 21 days time we will have something other than rotten eggs.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Was it all worth it?

 Its a funny world we live in, or a mark of how quiet the area we live in is compared the rest of the world when what makes the front page of the news paper here is local garage sells ice cream. So incredulous were we at such news that we had to go and see for ourselves. Little t enjoyed testing the product and it defied physics by actually staying in the cone despite the heat and toddler gymnastics. While we were at said garage we were witness to some real life drama, aside from woman sells ice cream to small child, the customs and excise men were dipping fuel tanks for red diesel and some chap in a blue Subaru consented to the dip test and then sped off as customs man tried to get a test. Not quite Starsky and Hutch type car chase ensued but not what you expect as you sample chilled dairy products.
 Gerry also had a turn on the way back, it is slightly disconcerting driving around in a car that periodically looks like a Pink Floyd stage effect, and for no apparent reason Gerry stopped, emitted plumes of white smoke, rallied and then behaved until the next time. Once he got us back safely projects on the go were got on with, the poultry run that was the scene of the turkey peacock massacre last year was restored, cleaned, new roof and hatch fitted and is now "Fox proof"
 Hopefully for the sake of the call ducks who are now in residence.
 Naturally I had an audience throughout the jobs today.
 Of various species, the second job on the list was to finish the perimeter fence, a job that has taken weeks.
 The final bit was around the new old gate between the house and stable. Here I had a lot of spectators keen to spot any flaws or week links.
 By early evening all was complete and the Berners were introduced to the strange concept of dog proof fence.
Its taken weeks, cost hundreds of pounds, but in the end it was all worth it.
For a whole nine seconds.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

She is real!

Apparently the Fixit Fairy arrived in my office in my absence and restored the functions deficit from my PC that sent me to the local offie where I found a bottle of aptly  named medicinal beverage. The Fixit Fairy wants to be recognised for her stirling efforts and stresses she is real and not a figment of her imagination. What's more her talent does not rest solely with repairing misbehaving computers so I have compiled a list of what she should turn her attention to next. Miranda. Gerry. My mobile phone (who would have thought driving off with it on the roof of Gerry would be detrimental to its functioning) and the conservatory roof which has all the water resistance of toast.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sleep easy

Last night we were treated to a spectacular lightening storm, the bolts flashing right across the horizon for over an hour. Naturally this did have a few knock on effects, the power tripped, the dogs freaked out and only clamed down when playing sardines on the landing outside the bedroom door and in the following torrential rain yours truly was found outside in the dark in his jim jams retrieving precious objects that should not be left out in the rain. Usually we can sleep easy here as on a hill not so very far away is a very special set of buildings where people watch the skies 24/7.
Yes just down the road on the horizon is the National Space Defence Centre where boffins with mad hair and dressed in white coats peer intently at the sky watching for the first sign of a life threatening asteroid strike or the advance party of an alien invasion fleet. Thanks to their stirling efforts we can all sleep easy. Unless its thundering. Or 14 dogs are barking. Or a Peacock and Peahen are arguing, or rug rat mkII is bored.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Iron Curtain

 Its almost finished, the ring of steel around Rock HQ is in its final stage of completion.
The last gate, re-cycled from doing nothing by the front door, is now the new rear entrance to the garden. Well it will be a garden when we reclaim it from the small gods of weeds, brambles, fallen rocks and nettles.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

More defined.....

Spontaneous... adjective...meaning..... performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inclination or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus. Could be used as in a spontaneous decision to buy cake....it doesn't mean spontaneous decision to buy cake as today at the office there were a number of reasons for cake, birthday, someone getting a distinction in an exam, someone else going on leave and not least of which I like cake and the someone who's birthday it was could not be relied upon to buy a cake (she is also crap at fixing computers) so park Gerry outside cake shop and try to buy two fine cakes, sorry sir we don't accept debit cards (one horse town often has difficulty in accepting technology) we only take cash or glass beads, leave shop, drive to town centre, park, walk to cashpoint, walk back to Gerry to retrieve cashpoint card, queue, get cash, walk back to Gerry, attempt to drive back to cake shop but at only junction in one horse town find man with road closed sign merrily closing road to cake shop, drive to supermarket car park, turn around, head back to cake shop, park Gerry, queue, try to explain to Neanderthal who replaced young lady behind counter in my absence that carrier bag behind him contained my cakes, finally he realises I am trying to communicate and he fetches help, young lady hands over bag of cake for cash and has look on face that conveys disappointment that no glass beads were involved in transaction, back to Gerry, drive to work, ignore road closed sign and drive to my car park, drop lemon cake in car park, scrape up lemon mess and get in to office to surprise everyone with cake, everyone is surprised at the amount of cake (and gravel) as birthday girl had remembered to buy cake (she still can't fix computers despite telling everyone otherwise) so spontaneous action was not required.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Totally defined

 Here is Alana
 in the process of
 totally defining
"Breakfast in Bed"

Monday, 14 July 2014

Bringing words to life

 Here is Apollo the wonder foal bringing
 new meaning to an
 old saying
"Feeding your face"

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Room 101

The big day arrived for the Kington Classic Sportive, 70 miles of murderous climbs, insane descents and a smattering of fast road sections. Red Kite Fostering hosted the event that was ably put on by Kington Lions. We were riding on our home turf but some of the participants came from far and wide, Yorkshire even.
It was a time for bike porn, and catching up with an old friend, niether of us knew each other cycled, one of us hasn't put any weight on since we did battle on the squash courts.  We got our race numbers, I was 101, my favourite number.
Three of the Red Kite Riders turned out, well four did but one got away before the team photo. We raced the first seven miles then paired up for the next 63 miles, Christian in green went ahead with Jimmy while I stayed with Elaine who was on her first sportive and longest ever ride.
First challenge of the day was Stonewall hill, this has been bugging me as the last time I attempted it I failed to get to the top (read half way) This time I almost made it, so close I could see the top, one more bend, a final bit of effort, I had the legs I was going to get there but the two riders in front ground to a halt I ignored that mental block and ground the pedals round but rider two moved into me and as I zigged out of his way my centre of gravity pulled me over and that was that. Two minutes later I was back on top and the view was worth the effort.
The first water stop had an interesting mode of transport on site, this would have come in handy later on. My dad had one of these, at least I think he did. Its on my must have list but its not going to happen for a long time. Anyway back to road racing, or rather not racing. I got a bit ahead of Elaine and got goaded into a 15 mile battle with the men in black, three riders who were in a train racing along after me who was battling alone into a nasty headwind. I let them past and tucked in behind and for a while we shared taking the front while the others slipstreamed. Once we were into a set of climbs I forced the pace and soon we were down to two men in black and me. In the end I slacked off feeling bad for leaving Elaine and wondering where the third men in black had got to. Lunch stop gave me a chance to chat to the two racers while waiting for Elaine, me thinking they were waiting for their amigo. Apparently not, they were a bit tired after the high speed man test and the third man was nothing to do with them, who ever he was we broke him.
Lunch stop saw me reunited with Elaine and we were fairly quick over the next 14 miles, Elaine choosing to ignore the yellow signs with black arrows pointing the way with me shouting "This way" as she freestyled the route and headed off south instead of east. A short quick chase ended thanks to her having the sense to stop and look at the map and we were back on track to the next water stop and the legendary Glascwm Hill. This is a 14% on average hill with some 20% sections and shortly after the cattle grid I though sod it and pushed my steed to the top before walking back a short distance to help Elaine wrestle her bike to the top. Total climb to that point was over 5400 feet and by the time we finished was around the 6000 mark.
And that was it done apart from nearly getting crushed by a tractor, it being so wide and the road so narrow the only way we could pass was for cyclists to climb into hedge and hold bike whilst praying, hit by a camper van and black car who in avoiding a horse and rider nearly killed two of us and a silver car that had a dent in its roof caused by the driver jumping out of his skin as he met me on a bend, yours truly did not have time to jump as he was hanging on the handlebars, braking and trying to stay upright while both front and back wheel skidded on gravel.
Back in civilisation we rounded the final corner
where Elaine was presented with flowers for completing such a grueling challenge, a brilliant effort considering she only began riding last October and then she only managed four miles,
and yours truly was presented with a bacon roll. Each to their own!
Thanks to all those who supported this event, the Kington Lions for organising it and most of all to my beautiful and oh so patient wife for keeping the apprentice and rug rat mkII occupied while I was out enjoying myself and for bringing them to the finish line so they could cheer their mad dad as he crossed it.