Friday, 31 October 2014

It's all so quiet

While yours truly took ten minutes from parenting the apprentice to make a well earned brew
 it all went very quiet. Too quiet.
 So quiet that the only sound was the whirr of the trains he was supposed to be playing with. So quiet that something was definitely wrong.
Sure enough. This is what happens when you leave a toddler unattended next to the draws that contain paints, glue, paper, glitter, lots of glitter, pipe cleaners, pom poms, sequins, puzzles.......

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mothers meeting

 Believe it or not
Daffodil has moved in the last 24 hours!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Don't move me!

 This is Daffodil, suffering. Not as you might think as a result of her encounter with a fence which badly damaged her front drivers side leg (the blue spray is the antiseptic) which has now thankfully all but healed and she has started putting weight on it. No she is suffering from a far more simple and self inflicted pain.
Tummy ache from scoffing everyone's breakfast after she found the door open to the tack room. Full to bursting by the time we found her!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Lunchtime special

 As yours truly has had a truly shocking week outdoor fitness wise due primarily to work, the demands of small humans and then falling victim to the lergy after playing Florence Nightingale to a houseful of sufferers over the weekend today was a day to put right some of the calorific damage inflicted by couch potatoing.
 The real alternative to work (meetings) provided the ideal window of opportunity, an early meeting over bacon sarnies then a four and a half hour break with a late afternoon meeting and an early evening one. Link that to location, take out travel time and that found me at 11am setting off up the biggest mountain in south Wales from the difficult end with a trusty Bernese Mountain Dog, Reuben, to keep me company. The micro lunchtime adventure made all the more possible by a weather window meant this was going to be a good few hours.
 Reuben, like is his owner, not a fit as he should be, but just before we hit the clouds at 850 metres he looked in fine fettle.
 Pause for obligatory photo on summit with obligatory summit clag spoiling views.
 Naturally once we descended the clouds departed to goad us, the far peak is Pen y Fan and the closer one is Corn Du, we are descending to the memorial at this point.
 Reuben had other ideas and decided to swink, its a kind of drink swim combination, see the dog blog for more pics of this mucky Berner in action.
 We paused to pay our respects to little Tommy Jones and then made hast to get back in to Gerry at the car park in time for the day to continue. Not long after this point Reuben who had been suffering from the most horrific gas let go and puked yesterdays dinner and this mornings breakfast all over the trail. One chap who I had been walking alongside for a bit of hill walkers banter almost passed out and seemed unduly keen to keep walking when Boo Boo (Reuben) let go at the other end. The devastating effect this had on olfactory systems is almost indescribable but lets just say it stung. Reuben pressed on while I made a vain attempt to bury his debris, thankfully he chose to drop this away from the trail and amongst some dead bracken. Once my eyes stop streaming and I could see again we left the mountain trail and headed along a lane headed in the vague direction of the car.
 Boo Boo by now had had enough and wanted me to fetch the Gerry.
 500 yards to go he decided to sleep but was coaxed back to life with the promise of a dog biscuit.
 But once we got to the car he did a complete Bernerflop and even the restorative powers of a Bonio failed to illicit a response. Our arrival at the car park coincided with the rain, which is now torrential and set to last for a few days. So the doofus had to be lifted into the Land Rover (55kgs of K9, not funny, thankfully only one stile the whole 7 miles) where he slept (and farted) for the next 6 hours.
Back at the ranch late pm saw him back to his normal self, if perhaps a bit less bouncy. Here he is playing trains. And farting. Still.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Same as it ever was...

Today Rock HQ was supposed to be visited by a small lorry containing a large sofa. The reason I know this was that I wasted 20 minutes of precious lifespan looking in shop for said sofa, paid for it, fought off enthusiastic sales pitch for extra insurance that protected the surface of sofa from the thrills, spills and general trauma of life with two small children and 12 large dogs, and in closing the deal made absolutely certain that the nice salesman (called Steve) understood that only a small lorry, the type used by supermarket delivery persons, would be bale to make it from the gateway to the world to Rock HQ's front door. He very carefully wrote it out in red crayon on the sales ticket and stapled it to the forehead of the warehouseperson.
So it came as no surprise that today whilst I was enjoying the real alternative to work, meetings, I had seventeen missed calls from a frantic delivery driver in an articulated lorry stuck in the lane. Suffice to say despite phoning Steve to enquire what he had written in crayola on the sales docket and confirming it said small lorry, the sofa has not arrived and we await further developments.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Nothing doing

The jobs list got hammered today, the usual routine where money was stuffed into the mouths of various equines, the multi gym was sorted out thanks to Google, electric wires were fixed to walls in the new conservatory without blowing yours truly up, recycling sorted and loaded into Gerry, the new utility room was emptied, mopped then refilled with a brilliant new Thomas the Tank Engine layout which is where it went all a bit Pete Tong and from that point not a lot got done apart from helping the apprentice sort out train crashes.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Changing rooms

 A couple of weeks ago I was given a multi gym torture machine, you know the type of contraption that you sit on and your limbs can be hurt in a variety of ways as you press, pull, lift or drag weights about. As the planets must have been in some bizarre alignment on the same day my beautiful and of so patient wife also made the offer of allowing me to convert one of the stables into a gym, she actually said play room but I knew what she meant. But the day after the whatever it was going to be became a bale store. Again. But today that all changed. Once all the heavy metal and toys were removed, so were the bales.
 As this was going to be relatively animal free zone for a while attention turned to the six years worth of spiders hanging around.
 This turned out to be a horrific task as enraged arachnids the size of tennis balls fell from the ceiling when persuaded to by a yard broom. I also discovered that the light was defying gravity thanks to the electric cable, the plastic housing had cracked for some reason so was detached from its mounting. A quick repair with baler twine sorted that and pretty soon the roof was almost clean.
 Naturally my little helpers were on paw, here is Spotty making sure the exercise bike stays where I left it.
The bales were put in the proper bale store, and the run way cleared. Chester was evicted from his stall while that had a clear out, but the spiders were left alone, there's only so many you can upset in one day.
By end of play Chester was back in the warm and dry with hot and cold running hay
While in yours truly's stall things look like a cross between a stable and junkyard with the multi torture kit assembled but as there were no instructions I have no idea how the various pulleys, wires and chains all link together to make it more useful than a seat. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Get it right

Having decided that cycling is a good thing and wanting to reduce car use as much as possible yours truly decided today that as he was passing a real bike shop, as opposed to a virtual one, or one with a great big orange and black sign over it, or even one that was a pub with a troll behind the counter, it was time to venture in and try and buy a saddle. This was, as it turned out, not an easy task.
Since the last epic challenge (167 miles in 13 hours including stops) when all feeling was lost in a very important place just in front of the saddle, less cycling has been managed due to some intense pain when turning the pedals in the family department. Medics have almost decided that I am not a malingerer (scans, blood tests etc all clear) but unless a kidney stone has lodged somewhere low down and so far unseen then the root cause has to be lifestyle which boils down to cycling. Doc asked if I would consider giving up, but as it combines several of my favourite things like personal challenge, physical exercise and bacon sarnies he was on a losing wicket. Would I consider cutting down, well I have, but as I am planning to increase to a 480 mile man test with 28 miles of mountain running all in 72 hours next June to raise money for Myeloma UK, then no chance.
Hence rethink on apparatus of bike, a new saddle for a start. Super salesman, a not Steve, a Clive, leads me through the serried ranks of gleaming carbon racing steeds to a back room where I am fitted for a saddle.
This involved sitting on a gel pad for 20 seconds leaving an impression that is measured by a lazer and from that my ideal saddle was computed. While we waited he pointed out that my lovely stock racer is a medium frame which suits my dwarf like inside leg, but the length of the frame did not suit my longer than a dwarfs back while my wide chest was totally unsuited to the narrow 42 bars that come as standard. Couple that with my inability to straighten my left arm so lack of reach, compared to my right, then my left shoulder higher than my right due to two collar bone breaks, it was he gravely pointed out, not a surprise that I, in his view, was probably unable to pee straight after a bike ride. The computer suggested a type of saddle, he found it, it had a sort of strange tilt bit at the back to straighten my hips, but refused to sell it until I brought my bike in, and cycling gear, so they could strap me to a test rig to make sure it was indeed the right one. So one day next week I am going to be wired into the matrix and videoed, analysed and my riding style pulled apart so they can fit me with a new perch. Its suddenly got very serious this cycling gig.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Its not rocket science

I got apprehended by the Thought Police today. Being a student at a university that is miles away I am reliant on virtual lectures and my coursework, tutorials and assignments are all on line. There are study days where we can go and meet real people but I have so far managed to avoid these. This year I have to conduct a research project, this means more deadlines and much more contact with tutors. Thus far emails warning me that deadlines are approaching and yours truly having to appear before the ethics committee to get approval for my study of human behaviour have been steadfastly ignored but today my luck ran out and they got me. What follows is a pretty much accurate account of the conversation.
"You need to get your project approved by the ethics committee, they sit again in November can you make a presentation to that one"
"Pretty sure."
"Good, remember this is an exercise in research, you don't have to change the world."
"Thats good."
"Did you get the email about attendance"
"Your attendance falls way behind what's expected"
Y"es you have to log on to the university hub to register the fact that you are working, its monitored, you have not been logging on."
"Oh. But I don't need to."
Well I logged on, downloaded the course, printed it off and I'm working through it....I did the same last year."
(Silence) "So you have all the course material.?"
"Yes...I can then read it whenever I want."
"And you don't need to log on to read it?"
"No, its here in front of me in a file"
(Silence) "Thats brilliant, wait til I tell them that!"

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Where are all the horses?

 Having broken the no equine rule here at Rock HQ, the question you do not ever want to be asked, especially after having just "run" 3 miles, half cross country, in the dark in the remnants of hurricane Gonzalez, is, "Where are all the horses?"
Chester, here pictured at 5.30pm was in his stable, or had been, I let him out to have a stretch and feed at a fresh bale, the others, save for Misty were on Oak Bank or the runway. At least that's where I thought they all were. 10pm saw Chester looking in through the living room window and begging an apple. With hindsight this was his way of grassing on his herd who were in the process of legging it as he crunched a windfall.
When my beautiful and oh so patient wife went out to put Chester back in his stall she found the gate to the runway wide open and unlike some cheap supermarket Lasagne's, a distinct lack of ponies. Hence question, "Where are all the horses?"
Answer, in the process of over the hill and far away, in the dark, windswept hill. As they were not hungry they were in  a playful mood and so began the lets run away from the headtorch that swears game. Finally they were persuaded to return to the yard and a bright orange bucket of allure coaxed them over the threshold and behind the gate.
The open gate was not as a result of another visit from the PGOOR, more a product of my own stupidity as I had not shut it properly when very helpfully fetching firewood earlier.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Automatic for the people

 Today yours truly had to travel to the furthest reaches of the Red Kite empire in the east and as Ruby was booked in the garage for a bit of tweeking they promised me the use of a courtesy car. Signs that all was not well were instantly apparent when Steve (really) the book the courtesy man looked at the list of cars to be booked out, gave a sharp intake of breath (the way only those holding your fate in their hands can) and exhaled "Nissan Pathfinder to Honda Jazz....hmmmm......interesting" thus giving the game away that courtesy car was going to be entirely unlike Ruby and totally blew his cover by saying " thing you'll be telling me you can't drive an automatic"
My look of horror obviously fuelled his beaming smile when he delivered the coup de grace, "Well, you have limited options so I'm sure you'll catch on quick"
He led me past all the shiny super cars to a not so super car which looked like the type children collect found in chocolate eggs and was if similar stature. Driving lesson was all of "Don't try turning the key without the brake pedal pressed down" and "If you like we could amputate your left leg"
I tried to block out the funny man's comments and instead focused on the job in hand, launching Jazz into moving traffic. Sensing my disquiet Steve crouched down by the drivers door and with as much sincerity as he could muster said "Yes...I've often thought how tough it is on the driver of a car they they have never encountered before leave our forecourt and face that" He stared into the middle distance (Like Kilgore from Apocalypse Now) while the five lanes of traffic converging onto the 5 and half exits of Steels roundabout managed 157 near misses a second. He patted me reassuringly on the shoulder, "Good luck" and left me too it. Never ever having driven an automatic car this was going to be an eventful trip.
 Instantly I forgot everything about starting the car and after nearly bending the key in the ignition I remembered to press the brake pedal. We started moving, I wedged my left leg in the passenger door to stop me pressing the non existent clutch pedal, and somehow we survived 3.6 miles which was when I forgot there was no clutch and almost stood the car on its bonnet as I hit the brakes in an effort to change down the gear box. Apologies to the shock wave I sent through the traffic behind me. Apart from that all was well. The top picture is my view from the car park after 189 miles of nearly stress free motoring. I cannot comment on the stress I caused others.
The bottom two pictures were sent by he who cannot be named who had a much more interesting view from his car park.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Treasure hunting

Finally yours truly got some free time to head off treasure hunting today, I have known since the start of June of the approximate location of hidden treasure on the ridge, the location given on the interweb in a nerdy but compelling game of geocaching. Since finding out about it and now having mastered the GPS technology I just had to join in. Hence yours truly spending twenty minutes of his life looking at this pile of rocks on Hergest Ridge
to find this box of old tat. No gems, no gold, nothing precious save for the satisfaction of finding it, a box that has been there for some years, last found earlier this month according to the log book. According to the rules of the game I was entitled to take the swordless plastic medieval knight or the broken bottle opener, provided I leave something in return, which I did, but what I left remains a closely guarded secret until its found but rest assured its worth about as much as the plastic tat and broken bottle opener combined. If I continue the game, and there is another treasure trove within 3k of this one, I leave the bottle opener in that and take something else and so on. Some of this tat is on a mission to get places, other bits have been on exciting adventures around the world already. But not in this box.
But there is Gold in them there hills
and the reward on the return journey was
massive. These pics taken on a mobile phone
don't do justice to the natural beauty of our back yard.
Naturally theres a Berner in the picture somewhere, you can just make out Elf in the sunlight.
And here's the sun setting over Gladestry.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Home improvements

Today we celebrated what should have been celebrated yesterday, 8 years at Rock HQ, which have passed all to quickly bit certainly not without event. Jobs have been lost, won, lost again, tribunals won, businesses set up and flurished, two new humans have arrived, countless birds have been fed to foxes, cows have entertained us near and now far (as Hetty still creates havoc over the hills and far away) our flockers have expanded and now contracted, the no horse rule has been broken and now there are equines owned by us on three seperate farms, buildings have been put up, concrete laid, gardens destroyed by goats and bernese Mountain Dogs, numerous pigs have filled Mr Whirlpool, Techno has left us (not because of my cooking but because of flushing toilets and central heating) and after all that attention has finally turned to home improvements. Today the window/conservatory project has concluded, our wooden windows have been replaced by dayglo white non maintenance working double glazed efforts guaranteed to last loner than yours truly. Plans are now afoot to expand the living area now the living area we have is more habitable.
Havoc was caused in the cottage tonight by the unexpected arrival of a large amphibian sat on my trainer. Froggy hitched a ride as I walked back inside from the Zombie infested darkness, thankfully the torrential rain kept them away, and when we (me and frog, not zombie) got indoors felt that a quick bounce around the room with a detour under the sofa was the order of the day. Comments raised varied from arrrr to high pitched screams when froggy jumped at householders. Finally the rampaging beast was cornered, caught and released back to the zombies.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Heidi strikes again

Beneath a photo that has no relevance to the tale other than it depicts the sofa in question its time to recount Heidi's latest escapade. Heidi is Rock HQ's pet spook, poltergeist, ghost, whatever, and so called due to her (its) panache for hiding items. Never malicious, and perhaps the missing items absence might be explained by yours truly's inadequacy at remembering, except the missing items reappear, usually where they were supposed to be and blatant by their sudden presence. Having studied, and still studying, memory processes and the like I know the majority of tricks used to recall so again I can be quite sure Heidi is real, especially given the latest stunt.
Lets ignore the simple ones like missing keys suddenly appearing centre stage of an empty table after the house has been turned upside down looking for them (pre mobile toddler so doubting Thomas read on) a passport not where it should have been, but then was some days later, or the bizarre situation where we went without coffee for two days as we had none and then the coffee caddy was full, instead focus on the latest.
The TV remote, often missing, often found, gone for days at a time, found in toy boxes, down sofas and once in a suitcase on holiday as the apprentice thought we would need it on holiday. TV remote had been missing for weeks, so long in fact that I was on the point of buying a replacement. Again.
New copy of Outdoor Fitness magazine arrives and as ever yours truly reads the best bits and sticks magazine anywhere handy. In this case on back of sofa. 24 hours pass. Sudden recollection of article in magazine, must read it, where is magazine. Everyone has gone to bed, I stand alone in living room trying to remember what I did with magazine, my beautiful and oh so patient wife who follows me clearing my detritus out of the way had not placed in corner in pile of current magazines. Deep thought recalls placing it on sofa, so it must have fallen down the back, quick shove to one side reveals new magazine front cover side up between wall and sofa. There placed on top was the TV remote. Aha you cry, toddler placed it there, no, no toddler present, and anyway toddlers love pressing remote buttons so its presence is identified as rapidly as the changing channels or increasing volume. Then it must have been on the back of the sofa and the magazine dislodged it and in some anomaly of physics landed on top of magazine. That explanation has some credibility save for the fact the sofa had been moved the day before to accommodate window fitters and their chaos. So lacking possible explanations we have to seek impossible ones (cheers Holmes) and that's Heidi.
And anyway who's reality is this anyway, mine.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Your late!

Apollo the wonder foal waiting for his rations which were a bit late this morning.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Language Barrier

Seeing Misty lying down like a doormat in front of Chester reminded me of a case conference I attended where a huge Glaswegian parent burst in and demanded to know which b*****d called his son a F in doormat (insert Glaswegian style swearing here). There was stunned silence for a moment or two and then the teacher very bravely offered, erm... I might have said his functions were dormant.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Don't pick it!

 It takes a lot to turn the stomach of yours truly, previous lives have seen me present at post mortems, suicides, some messy, others just sad, but today Daffodil, our very pet Ryeland, almost made me lose my post ride fruit smoothie. Some weeks ago Daffodil arrived in the yard with a wound to the front drivers side leg, it looked like she had got caught in a length of wire, a deep cut and lots of blood. V E T gave us a long lasting antibiotic and a painkiller and some time in med bay saw Daffy perk up mightily and get more mobile. Two days ago we put her out with the rest of the flockers but she could not keep up (not in the eating stakes, she wins that race everytime) so today we caught hold of her and had a looksee. Her leg was clean, cool, looked ok but there was a large scabby bit which was loose so I gave it a quick tug. It came off revealing a nice clean healed leg. Looked perfect apart from another scab just behind it, that looked a bit moist but loose so I gently prised it back. It was at this point the smell became apparent, then the yellow goo, and wiht a sound almost like a pop a golf ball sized dollop of Doffodil fell onto the floor. She snorted, I heaved, we both gathered our senses and I got a closer look at the leg. It was raw but clean and no blood, the ball of goo had been sitting in the wound preventing proper healing. I waited until my beautiful and oh so patient wife came out to find out where I was (holding a sheep) who then proffered the magic blue spray which is antiseptic and will prevent further goo building up. The pic above was taken less than five minutes after Daff was released and she is happily munching away which demonstrates the hardiness of Ryelands as well as their greed. Me, if I had a lump of goo that big fall off me, I would want lots of TLC and dinner brought to me in front of the TV.
 Tonight's sunset.
Another epic!