Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Groggy Doggy

The day revolved around Poorly Bear who was taken to the V E T to find out what's wrong. By end of play we were still not much the wiser and Bear was pretty knocked about by the general anaesthetic. The good news is that the x-rays showed nothing sinister. The bad news is it showed his second crutia ligament has gone, and as his first one went the second operation needs to be a bit more heavy duty with lots of metal and bits to rebuild him. The even worse news is that blood tests showed he has depleted liver function so has go back Thursday for more tests. Poor Bear.

Monday, 29 September 2014

"Free time"

 Its the time of autumn misty mellow fruitfulness malarky here at Rock HQ which usually means me going a borrowing as much fruit as I can carry from other peoples gardens for our piggies. Not having any piggies as they are already the winter/spring supply of sausage gammon bacon and pork means no need to fetch free food. This has given me some free time. The nights drawing in also means less time spent out doors and more time inside plotting new escapades or "planning" new projects. High on the list includes new man test for 2015, a three day event to raise money for Myeloma UK, watch this space, also a plan to finish the Swiss Chalet Style kennel block, electricity supply and the like. Its just as well there is a bit more "free time" as rug rat mkII is getting more time consuming.
 For example yesterday at his birthday tea hosted by supergrandma he pulled the eject handle, baled out and escaped to the hallway and was found halfway up the stairs. His first ascent. He has no idea what's at the top but clearly shares yours truly's sense of adventure. Incidentally anyone wanting to see a fat bloke wobbling about the forest trails go to www.youtube.com and search for cannock270914.
Once cornered and returned to the party the little horror then helped out with the paperwork.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

First Blood

 Once the morning routine was finished and rampaging ryelands were removed from the bike store aka stables yours truly set off for a new experience of forest trail riding at Cannock Chase. This was new in all aspects and for a roadie the culture clash was immense. For a start I was no longer a lycra fat bloke on a bike I was a dude, or buddy and this was just the start. The forest tracks were not as I thought, wide gravel strewn fire breaks, but single track windy paths through trees that in places were barely an inch wider than the handlebars. The trail centre attracted all sorts of riders and bikes, from armour clad star wars storm trooper clones to bikers in cut offs, string vests and the only protection they had was flab. Bikes varied from top of the range carbon machines to bmx's, downhill racers and mine which was unique in so far as it still had the bell and reflectors on it as supplied by law. My omission to remove such tat was spotted by my new colleagues who let me off a good shoeing only because of my capacity for self harm surpassed any punishment they could meet out.
 Having survived nearly three miles for red route technical bits (obviously the course of choice for a complete novice fat bloke with one functioning arm) I was feeling pretty happy completing a section called Stegosaurus (lots of spiky rocks all leading downhill to a fast flat bit immediately in front of a small bridge, goats for the use of) and piloted my steed towards an easy looking wooden bridge that led for around 100 feet across marsh and tree stumps, when I saw that the bridge narrowed and bent and in my fixation on this rather than the route ahead I basically got too close to the edge and fell off. The blood running down my leg shows the damage my bike pedal did to me, best of all my bionic arm took full force of the impact and as expected held up to the abuse. Once the bearded unwashed who followed stopped laughing and I could breath again we left Dog route and set off along Monkey route which soon led to difficulties for my mate, sorry, buddy, Darren. He fell far behind and once I heard his shout for help I found him, his bike and chain in separate places.
 An hour or so later we got him going again, for a full five yards when it snapped again. Naturally all this happened at mile 7.5 of a 15 mile circuit route. The long walk back began.
Spirits were raised by bacon butties, tea and cake and once the bikes were loaded again we made it back to HQ in time for more tea and stickies. And so an evening of well earned rest began. Work done. Play over. A gallon of tea, a big peice of flapjack, Pink Floyd and a bath. Heaven truly was a place on earth and as I drifted off in red hot water my Dave Gilmour guitar rifted meditation was rudely interrupted by my beautiful and oh so patient wife asking if I had ordered a big load of hay.
was the not quite but working on it terse reply.
Thought you had she continued because its just arrived.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Birthday boys

 Yesterday started well, donut's as a breakfast treat can never preclude a bad day, and rug rat MkII tucked into his with relish whilst the apprentice busied himself opening his little brothers birthday prezzies. Soon the living room was a colourful blur of wrappers, bits of do nut, puzzle pieces and large dogs (see dog blog) which all had to be bulldozed away (including large K9s) so we could set out on the days adventure to Chester Zoo. This trip was a change of plan from going to usual Zoo in Bristol, conveniently named Bristol Zoo, mainly due to current TV programme based on how to make your own zoo with a large overdraft and a big shovel.
 The show, Our Zoo is the tale of Chester Zoo, which is very handily next to Chester (so original these Zoo names) telling us how a bunch of shopkeepers and ex soldiers turned this fine old house into a magnificent Zoo despite upsetting the local god botherers. The original house is still centre of Zoo and still looks like work in progress.
 Naturally there was lots to see, this marvelous specimin caught mine and the apprentices eye, a Series IIa Land Rover in its natural state, a very tame beastie and great fun once it gets to know you.
 Now the USP of Chester Zoo is its lack of bars, not the beverage type (although there were two of those) but bars between prey visitors and animals and the vast acres of space the animals have to play in. Now apparently I have been to Chester Zoo as a child (I remember this when it was all fields) and part way round I did have a vague recollection of walking round some bits and not seeing any animals as we walked around not seeing any animals. The trials and tribulations of getting a three year old to look carefully through the third bush on the left of the watering hole next to the fallen tree and just by the large leafed plant behind it you can just see the arse end of a Jaguar have to be experienced. Especially if said three year old is only interested in pressing buttons (especially ones marked do not press) and more so if pushing buttons makes monkey noises and how much fun is pressing all five together. Couple that with a now one year old who tries to put anything and everything in his mouth (bat guano anyone?) and in quieter moments likes to keep everyone on their toes with his screech owl impressions.
 That said a great time was had by all and it is amazing how close you can get to some really big animals, this picture taken without zoom on the mobile phone (real camera died in the sands of the Gower, RIP camera you join a band of brothers sacrificed with monotonous regularity at Rock HQ)
 and some not so big animals, like these, my favourites, Aardvarks (anyone owning a spare one please feel free to donate it, I promise not to eat it) The bat house was just mind blowing, standing in a dark cavernous space with real live fruit bats swooping down and flying inches from your face was a real test of nerves. So many animals, painted dogs, hyrax, tapirs, giant otters, blind fish, not blind fish, so  much more, lions, cheetahs, boring monkies and apes (not a fan) and tigers.
Now I have never been this close to a real live tiger without a foot of reinforced glass between me and it, or a large fence and survival shell of a car, but here we stood on a platform level with the tree house of the Sumatran Tigers, and if there are cubs in however long the gestation period of a tiger is then you can say you saw it here first.

Today was birthday of oldest son, youngest yesterday, oldest today, no trip to zoo as we were both working in different parts of the country so we shared a long distance Nando's, its like a chicken zoo, but hotter, with fries and spices.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Gold Rush

Yours truly has it on good authority that within sight of this trig point is hidden treasure. Work commitments meant that today, first day of autumn, there was precious little time to go looking for it so it sits top of the to do list. I will find it. I know its there. It will be mine.
Other news, in an effort to be like the nation's favourite epitaph, I told you I was ill, my beautiful and oh so patient wife finally got to go to see a specialist doctor type about her poorly knee. MBAOSPW has suffered excruciating pain in knee for some time and has been found trapped in various locations unable to straighten leg. As doc was prodding MBAOSPW's knee cap asking if this caused her any concern she said no. Odd really mused the doc as this is fractured and I could dislocate it with my finger if I wanted. As this was MBAOSPW's good knee this was a tad alarming but at least now she has a diagnosis and treatment plan involving surgery and bags of sympathy from yours truly.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Back to normal

 This is Steve and Steve (another Steve who also helped was not here for the topping out ceremony as he was finding out what type of baby he was having ((not him his wife)) a boy incidentally) looking very pleased with themselves whilst holding my sausage (dont be childish) a small reward (along with some beers) for doing such a great job on rebuilding the front of Rock HQ.
 There were a couple of last minute hitches, one being the white down pipe being put the wrong end of the conservatory but that was not their fault they just got duff advice from a usually reliable source (my beautiful and oh so patient wife who knows nothing of the ways of drainage) The three minus one Steves cheerfully changed things round to allow run off rain water to go down the drain rather than across the lane.
 And so as the sun set on another mega busy day at Rock HQ yours truly took a few pics of the new add on
 and contemplated how nice this room with a view will be
once its been decorated.

So things are back to normal now except the windows have yet to be done and the fact that there is now a mega new uber clean conservatory in front and underneath on is only a minor technical hitch. I mean what on earth could go wrong?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Happy family

A clan gathering today to celebrate only daughters birthday saw all four rug rats in one place for only the second time this year. Lots to celebrate, mum and sisters birthday, eldest son and youngest son birthdays, daughters obviously and dad not shuffling off his mortal coil while on holiday in Egypt. Bit unexpected that his full board accommodation included three days in intensive care but he's back safe and alls well.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Walk on by

 We live under a rock, a pretty big rock, massive by some standards, but not as big as this rock here called Stanner. It, like ours, is different to other rocks in the area by around another 300,000,000 years. In top trump terms we win. Our rock poked its nose through a 400,000,000 year old sea bed and refused to be worn down by anything trifling like an ice age or two. So when I was given the chance to clamber over this rock last night I jumped at the chance for a number of reasons which may become apparent later in the year. Our town is having a walking festival so I duly signed up for the secrets of the stone soiree only I didnt. Somehow I had inadvertently signed up for a walk that would prove to be very familiar and hardly taxing.
 Which is why I found myself in almost full alpine climbing gear amongst a bunch a cagoule clad geriatrics with assorted mental health and hip problems stood outside this building. Early indicators that this was not going to be A) Arduous B) Intellectually stimulating and C) Over quickly came when one red anorak pointed at said building and asked what it had been used for. As its name is Stanner Station yours truly felt that that one fell well within the bleeding obvious category and so seething with disappointment that we were not going to be in any way clambering over the cliff looming in the rear of above pic of curious building I trudged after the chattering band determined to make the most of a strange evening. Now my pack contained everything you  might need to spend a few days out in the wilderness, not because I planned to, but because I may plan to soon and this would be a useful opportunity to get some leg work in. A couple of pensioners also came out with essential items in carrier bags, such as knitting, tins of boiled sweets and copies of peoples friend.
 Whilst my companions swapped polo mints and tripped over tree roots I got a closer look at some young whipper snapper rocks, these are from the silvanian families period, a silky sandstone with small fossils and a dramatic example and a cline, sin or anti I cant remember but its the edge of a bigger edge and that edge went up a long way.
And when the boiled sweets began to run out further along I found this example of a break caused by compression, two edges of massive bits pushing against each other and buckling up and then snapping. So our merry band wandered on, up over the saddle of the ridge through ever gathering mists until we were in total darkness on the ridge. The route I take when I walk to work. I did think about passing on some local knowledge to those stumbling in the dark but they seemed more intent on discussing the various merits of stair lifts and walk in baths rather than rock formations, legends of big black dogs, robber barons and walking stones. As we looked for three missing from the group who decide that turning right was obviously the way forward instead of following the group one of the bright sparks commented that it could have been worse, it could be raining.
Which is when it rained, not the sort of rain that you could ignore but the type that really made your knitting heavy. Luckily it was downhill all the way to the zimmer frames and mobility scooters parked outside a pub and after a couple of pints of medicine yours truly left them to their Bovril and Vicks and walked back home. Almost. An SOS sent earlier was picked up and after a few hundred yards Ruby emerged through the torrential fog and took me back to HQ.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Like a cat on a hot tin roof

 We have glass, you cannot tell as its so clean, but there is glass and its already working as its this super duper only let 2% heat in out glass so stepping it it today was like stepping into a fridge. It being 24 degrees outside
which explains why this cat melted on the roof of its owners car.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Memory Lane

 As yours truly was at a meeting in England's second city early doors, a meeting which, amusingly, no one turned up to, and which incidentally no one who I spoke to could decide on the start time, and when the sole attendee apart from me eventually turned up to say there is no meeting today, sorry we decided yesterday at 4pm but by then it was too late to tell anyone (yes because there is no such things as phones, email or carrier pigeon)  and then said sole attendee took two hours telling me what we would have discussed had the meeting taken place and we parted company agreeing to meet next week at 6.30pm to discuss it all again, but this time with some of today's absentees. On the way home I took a slight detour down memory lane, the last time I saw this impressive house was around 35 years ago. Its where I used to spend some time in the summer staying with my cousin. Its all changed now, no longer a farm house, the dairy farm sold to a property developer. So I stood for a while and watched the ghosts of my uncle washing prize bulls or my cousin throwing Airfix models from the window and pondered the passing of time and progress.
 Back at the ranch more progress from the very hard working builders who today fixed the cottage's gutters, replaced a missing tile all for free and set about fixing the roof to the new conservatory. This entailed using a massive piece of timber which one of them had forgot to load so they set off to a builders merchant to get one. Not having an account at the local builders yard they had to go further afield and on return followed the road signs back to Rock HQ. But they didn't. They followed the road signs to a small town with a remarkably similar name and once there found that they were still 14 miles away. Two and a half hours later three very sheepish builders returned and owned up over tea and stickies.
 They were introduced to the clan today, it having been shut away from nervous types. We made sure that they were well fed before introductions.
 And so more progress
 with it secured
and ready for fitting the roof. But before that there's some windows want changing.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Now...thats what I call progress!

 Early doors saw yours truly faced with the unenviable task of having to eat four bacon, sausage and egg rolls as the builders who promised to be on site at 8am failed to show. Having a waste not want not mentality I manned up and ploughed through the monster breakfast bonanza whilst seething over another days late start. They rolled in minus one builder who had gone with his wife to find out what type of baby they were having at second breakfast (10.30) and cracked on. I was working the late shift too so after a round of tea three sugars I left them in clouds of brick dust as they set about cutting new damp courses and laying a temporary plywood floor (which I am hoping they leave so I can recycle it)
It was dark when I got back so my beautiful and oh so patient wife sent me these pictures to cheer me up at work. Now that's what I call progress.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Rome wasn't built in a day

Progress on conservatory. Zero. Phoned the nice surveyor at 9.30 asking where the builders were to be told that it was a bit early for them. Sure enough they rolled up at 11.47. Then left at 12.14 after tea three sugars. They did leave a large ladder which I used to take down the never seen the point of trellis from the front of the cottage. I would show you a picture of this brave deed, me and ladders do not get on well, but as my smart devices are still on non speaking terms I cannot do so. I actual fact this is being written on a recently revived laptop that has gone one better than  turn it off turn it on again in that it has had its battery removed turn it on again it works after a six week sulk fest.
Talking of odd things I finally remembered to phone my cycling magazine subscription line to ask if I had a subscription, long story but it sort of features a free cycling jacket that never arrived, then did, but since I signed for the magazine none has ever appeared. Anyway nice lady told me that they have dutifully been sending said cycling magazine for the last 12 months. Question is. Who to?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Unspoilt views

 Early doors started the same as close of play yesterday, not with me bemoaning the lack of communication between so called smart devices, hence no update yesterday and no exciting pictures of the annual country show (which is where this handsome blue bunny came from, it followed me home honest) Instead I was found balanced precariously on various items of furniture or walls as the almost grand plan began on the cottage.
 There are plans to make HQ a bit more palatial rather than quaint but for the time being phase one (which was to be phase five) in being actioned with the conservatory replaced. This was put up in 2004, I know because I found the builders time capsule (no photo as today's photos are on three devices none of which want to talk to each other, don't get me started again) with his name and year. This explains why it looked so amazing when we arrived in 2006. Time and use has not done it any favours and as it leaked worse than a cabinet briefing on Scottish independence, had windows that defied physics and stayed in the rotting frames, something had to be done! And as ever the something has to be done on a budget and a lot of budget was saved by yours truly taking the old one down and leaving a clear site for the new builders. Which explains the above, last night after the show and during the cyber-rant I took the roof off, before breakfast I got the doors windows and front off and by second breakfast the sides were off. It looked for a while like my it will be down in three hours assessment would be about right. But then the conservatory began to fight back.
 The roof and canopy porch proved a tough nut to crack and several botched attempts served only to annoy it rather than dismantle it. A quick break to go and fetch the tent and kit from the show ground allowed time to ponder the problem. The phone the friend technique provided the time honoured hit it harder resolution but as that has been tried already something else was needed. Two years ago, more or less, I got another builder to come and replace the solid porch roof as it was the source of a lot of the water on the conservatory floor, having remembered this fact meant what was needed was someone to get up on the now not so solid roof and unscrew the new bits thus making it half the weight and a bit less likely to kill you when it landed on you. A brave soul was needed who could do this and they also needed to be a lot less heavy than me. Gareth fitted the bill and soon he had forsaken an afternoon watching the TV and was found trying not to cry on a ever decreasing roof space four metres above the planet. Thankfully my plan worked, he survived and roof came off and hideous metal brackets came out of the brickwork with no casualties.
 The cottage looks a bit different now, see margin to see how it looked before, and the builders will have free reign to fiddle with their erection tomorrow.
End of play today saw yours truly receiving accolades from offspring to "fixing" their house.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Hows things?

 Got asked how things were at Rock HQ .
Everythings rosie. A major project is about to start on the weekend, thats after the annual countryside show and before I try and rescue a vital report off a laptop that went bang.
 One good thing has been that I have finally got to ride my new steed that arrived two weeks ago. Being surrounded by off road tracks it seemed a good idea to get a bike more suited to it than my fragile racer. Hence the above and having conveniently banished any recollection of a major wipe out last time I rode down the side of the Bonsai Mountain and almost forgetting that my left arm is mostly metal yours truly and new steed set off on an off road adventure. This lasted almost 20 minutes and approximately a mile which as long as it took to discover that A) Some fitness has been lost after a whole week of non stop beer, chocolate, ice cream and cheese B) Mountain Bike is not as easy to ride as racer, it having a strange array of levers and suspension parts C) The latter means that not all power makes it the wheels the former makes it amusing when changing gear D) Gears either mean pedals do not turn as they feel like set in concrete or fly round so fast that you fall forward smashing the family jewels on the not quite cross bar E) This negates the pain from the handlebars in the face as you unexpectedly wheelie on every hill due to weird gear ratios F) Failing that the rear wheel spins so fast through lack of traction part two of section D occurs again. That said it was quite exhilarating (once I had stopped crying and clutching my privates) so  much so that  once I fell down the side of the Bonsai Mountain I turned back for a second go.
 Having realised that hedonistic lifestyles means wheezing my lungs out of my arse, a lower power to weight ratio and general embarrassment (I wont mention my stomach knocking over a model train when someone showed me his Hornby collection the other day. Train approaching platform 5 will be delayed due to lardy bloke knocking it to the floor) when in public I sought to remedy this by getting back to some form of training, my mentor Chester making encouraging remarks. That or wondering why a fat bloke is on an exercise bike in the doorway of a stable on a sunny day when really he should be lycra clad and doing battle with quarry lorries.
 Which is what I did today taking new steed for a 10 mile ride which took 1/3 longer due to fatness of rider and tyres.
To ensure lard removal was maximised the apprentice and I went foraging late evening. He found seven hazel nuts and a pine cone. I found a large quantity of balckberries for a pie and large bar of wholenut in the kitchen drawer. 

Guinea Pigs

 When a close friend offers you his house by the sea to "trial run" it as a holiday home it would be bad manners to refuse.
 So last week (a lifetime ago!) yours truly, MBAOSPW, the apprentice, rug rat MkII and supergrandma became holiday guinea pigs. The fact that this coincided with the best week of sunshine the Gower (a posh part of Wales)has had all year was a bit of a bonus.
 The beaches were breathtaking, and almost deserted as school holidays were over, this being Rhosilli Beach and the white blob on the right is an old vicarage and back drop to a Dr Who episode a while back.
 For six days we had nothing to do except sit in the sunshine
 walk to ice cream parlours
 explore Jurassic forests
 and walk miles across sand dunes to the only sea washed cast iron lighthouse left in the world. This isnt the best picture I took of it, that one is being printed as a card so no freebies!
In all the guinea pigs were well happy with the house, venue and entertainment, so much so that we are going to do it all again next year. As long as we can persuade the nice lady to look after Rock HQ again while we are away.

And that's us up to date.