Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hurrah for pooh

Having spent part of the day admiring how much pooh the equines added to yesterdays pile you might have thought that yours truly would have had enough to do with pooh today, but I am so pleased to have just seen a massive dog pooh that I am smiling. Not my usual response to a dog do the size of a small car but this one fell from the rear end of Spotty the action Berner after an emergency call out for the V E T.
Spotty was straining to lay one out on Thursday night but the significance of this was missed in the general melee of HQ. Then last night he played roll over instead of scoff my dinner so was left with a bowlful while I shut the birds away so again was not clear as to who ate his pies but this morning he was not his usual bouncy self and tonight was arched up in pain, straining, walking in circles and generally unwell and in pain.
So V E T was summonsed and in an unusual twist to Saturday nights I was holding the front end while a V E T was squirting 120ml of lubricant up the poor dogs backside in an effort to shift the blockage that was hiding just over a finger length inside. After subjecting straining K9 to such indignity and injecting him with painkillers and antibiotics V E T gave the sage advice of "Quick run outside!" as dog was now primed to go, and go in a big way. V E T moved surprisingly fast in an effort to save the floor, money would have been placed on massive dog getting to door before anxious biped. Once in the fresh air Spotty declined to detonate despite coaxing and being spoon fed laxatives so he jumped into the back of Gerry and made himself comfortable. The journey home was completed in record time and once were on home ground Spotty jumped from his seat and literally went BANG as a turd with the diameter of a tennis ball cannoned into the lane. He quickly followed that one with a mountainous pile and proceeded to run from the scene of the crime leaving yours truly gasping for air but also relieved, albeit in a different way to Spotty.

Friday, 28 November 2014

A special contribution!

This is some of the very special contribution made by our equine friends at Rock HQ. Jobslist tomorrow dictates that their daily doings are moved from one end of the smallholding to the other, so the piles going to get a whole lot bigger. I love weekends.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The appliance of science

 As yours truly decided in early 2012 (pre Bradley) to enjoy the simpler things in life and cycle as much as possible several things have happened since my new found allegiance to Lycra. First off the bike I had chosen to become a fully fledged MAMIL on proved to be too big for someone of such short stature and thanks to the Governments cycle to work scheme I managed to acquire an all new racing steed that was brilliant. Say was as it was far superior to anything I had ever ridden and everso fast, even with me piloting it. So I happily did some 4500 miles on it in 18 months and that's when things went a bit pear shaped. The bike I rode began to suffer, bits, serious bits had to be replaced due to excessive wear and tear (wheels, chain, cogs, in fact most of it) and still things were not right. The main reason for this was that the bike is an off the peg racer suited to an off the peg rider. Excessive wear and tear began to show on its pilot, at one stage I couldn't sit down, walk, stand without feeling like I was being knifed repeatedly in the abdomen. Lots of tests, all seemed to point to cycling, so an enforced month off where I only rode my mountain bike honest doc began. No pain. Verdict. Get some science into the hobby, hence yours truly sat in a bike laboratory pedalling like a mad man and having every action/reaction videoed and scrutinised by the white coat brigade. They were more used to having pristine triatheletes and their machinery to analyse so me in my riding shoes the dogs had chewed and both shoes and bike covered in mud raised an eyebrow or too.  
 And so we began, heres my steed as we go through the process, firstly the saddle was measured after it was found my hip bones were flailing around at odd angles (apparently they should be still) and after sitting on several gel things to give an accurate measure of my backside a wider saddle was fitted. My previous saddle was too narrow and all my weight was being carried by the front of the saddle hence no feeling in the men's department. After saddle and saddle height pedals were adjusted, on the rights a 1mm shim on the left a 2mm shim reduced the erratic pedal stroke and then the addition of shoe inserts and an additional 2mm spacer in my left shoe stopped me hitting the frame with my heel and improved things even more. So much so that the power I was now driving through the bike was causing the frame to flex. Then the front end was sorted, new head spacer at the top, angle of the bars changed, advice given on new geometry required to make bars fit me and a riser put on the left side due to my shorter left arm. In all, nothing was right about the bike I had been riding, it was set for a 6 foot 4 inch rider with short arms, whereas I am 5 foot 10 on a good day and have a modified reach due to carelessness on a ladder.
The end result of me making their laboratory look like pigs had trampled through it was the above. This is my almost perfect fit bike which will be ready for final fitting early next week. This is what I am going to use for next years mega man test, a three day event covering 480 miles by bike, 28 miles up and down mountains and all in 72 hours.
Watch this space :)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

You've made your bed... lie in it!

Apollo taking advantage of the newly filled feed ring by pulling the hay out and making a nice cosy bed.

A little ray of sunshine

 Only in autumn
 do you get
 colours like this
at Rock HQ

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Dog gone!

 Those who own Bernese Mountain Dogs know that when left alone these lovely but dim dogs can create havoc, and any beast who has a bladder the size of a spaceman's helmet should not be left home alone if you value soft furnishings and oak floors. So our dirty dozen, yes there are now 12 (at least) are secreted at various locations around Rock HQ when we go to fetch essential supplies like today's home made fudge and pink lemonade. Bliss and WooZah get to share the annex, a purpose built room on the side of the cottage with leather arm chairs and radio 4. Now imagine my surprise today when on my return I opened the annex door to get Bliss and WooZah to patrol the perimeter fence and found one dog gone. WooZah bounded out, but Bliss, Dolyhir clan 2IC female was definitely missing. Fearing the worst I went inside to find two empty chairs, clean bowls and the shipping forecast. No dog.
 Back outside and a quick recount, one, two missing. Sudden frantic barking from inside the annex gave a clue that all was not well in Bliss' world. Now me being a champion hoarder found it impossible to throw away the old conservatory so its stored, flat pack style against the far wall, the wall that yours truly put up some while ago partitioning the annex from the black hole and the workshop. The day I need a knackered rotten wooden conservatory then I won't be found wanting, no sir, not me!
 Due to the length of the stored pieces and a breeze block supporting column thing there is an 18 inch gap at the back, meaning that there is a six foot deep, 18 inch wide 30 inch long hole between all the bits stored and the wall. This was now half full of a very frantic Berner called Bliss who, for reasons known only to herself had climbed up onto the wood and glass jigsaw and fell tuther side.
As can be seen from the pics there was no easy way out, and shifting a ton or so of wood and glass by myself was not an option. Neither was pulling her out as she is a tad on the weighty side (like me) which meant only one optimal plan.
Climb down to her.
That was the plan, I actioned it quicker than I intended but had a reasonably soft landing that having stopped barking was very pleased to see me. This is us almost seeing eye to eye. I gave her a helping hand to escape, which she did, leaving me to puzzle out what she had tried to solve for several hours previously. Finally I hauled myself out, assisted by swearing and the knowledge that effort is always better than embarrassment caused by phoning for help and soon the two of us were reunited in the cottage, her on the sofa, me on the floor.
 I know my place.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Take the hint

Training opportunities are few and far between at the moment (rug rats, work, lergy) so after last nights success of getting out on mountain bike for 45 minutes for the first time in at least 3 weeks yours truly decided to do the same but different and take racing steed out on same route. Reasons for this were convoluted and part of a mix it up training schedule but mainly because last nights ride was on a mountain bike with slipping gears and as I am to bicycle repair as Ed Milliband is to male modelling it was best left to an expert who was not available once the evening routine had been done and children were safely up the wooden hill.
Torrential rain was not going to put me off. I went out and changed the lights from the MTB to the racing steed. In doing so find that rear light fitted means no emergency saddle pack can be fitted. Look for hi viz rucksack. Find it in workshop.  Remembered that road cycling shoes were missing. Look for shoes. Give up. Find damaged shoes. Better than nothing. Rain heavier.
Decide to get wet weather riding gear sorted. Back in house find gear. Out to bike, only one over shoe. Back in house finally find left overshoe behind sofa (don't ask) Back out to bike. Decide tyres are a bit soft. Look for stirrup pump. Find it at same time as Bernese Mountain Dog who is quicker than me and runs off with it. Chase dog. Persuade dog to swap pump for bottle of horse spray. Back to bike. Pump up rear tyre but cannot read pressure gauge due to glasses steaming up. Wipe glasses clean. Four times. rear tyre solid. Move to front. Same routine with glasses. Tyre solid. Stand back and mentally check everything is in place for bike ride.
Sudden deflation of front tyre. Clean glasses. Find the tyre wall has blown out, cannot replace tube as tyre blown as well. Look at MTB, decide not to ride that due to gears. Rain gets heavier.
 Use front wheel of spare bike waiting to be clipped into turbo trainer. Tyre flat. Pump it up following glasses cleaning routine. Tyre solid. Simple task now of replacing wheel only nut missing from quick release skewer, never mind use skewer in original wheel.
Remove skewer.
Try to remove skewer from replacement wheel and find that it won't budge due to it being bent over like a hook thanks to some previous mishandling. Lose temper, hit skewer with large spanner that doubles as a hammer but due to glasses problem hit thumb making it bleed.
Count to ten.
Note that rain is now Biblical.
Decide there are enough signs that a quick bike ride is not going to happen. Spend evening sulking eating biscuits.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Look closer

Sitting on the sofa feeling sorry for myself due to persistent lergy, PC issues, working evenings and injured rug rats have all meant that there has been a break from the steady stream of updates of the chaos at Rock HQ, however yesterday was a better day (save for the apprentice nearly knocking his brains out on a car park concrete bollard) which saw yours truly able to get out and about and enjoy the autumn sun on the pretence pretext of working.
Part of my job involves seeing how people are and what better way to see how everyone is than by persuading them to go for a long walk in the countryside looking for treasure, or geo-caching as it is commonly known as. First horde was found swiftly by this very old gateway, several others were found after a lot of searching and two were given up as lost causes but the best one was find three, the clue Rocky 2 and co-ordinates found us scrabbling around a gateway looking for a geo cache horde. A long time passed and no treasure, spirits waned but we kept looking. I kept picking up a small boulder convinced treasure was under it. Finally it dawned on me that what we were looking for might be the rock and sure enough it turned out to have a geo cache sticker on its bottom and was hollow!
I also got to see two pups from the KGB litter, here are Diesel and Skye. Diesel on the right here is 8 months old and growing into the biggest Berner I have ever seen. Good job he's so well behaved!
Having fifty million poultry waiting to be fox food at Rock HQ its quite easy to miss the fact that one of the number is missing as was the case yesterday morning when I was feeding the critters. Rippers, a very bouncy Berner kept bouncing up to a large cardboard box that yours truly had walked past at least 11 times that morning. Finally she got her nose under it and flipped it over to discover the young male peacock trapped, or rather ready to fly straight at her as she released him. Seems the idiot bird had perched on the edge of the box, it tipped over on top of him and he could not get out until a very curious dog helped him with his VTOL technique.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

You did it all for us.....

 Lergy lifted substantially in yours truly today so time was spent wiping runny noses on other bipeds and putting together the furniture that finally arrived in the right sized lorry late last week.For a few moments the new conservatory and new furniture looked great.
 Then reality struck and two very happy soggy doggies thanked us for all our hard work and made themself very comfortable.
 Then their was the lesson learned over cake. Never leave a Christmas cake unattended by the open kitchen window when there are hungry peacocks about the place.
As they are pet status they cannot be eaten in revenge.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Something to look forward to...

So this time last year I was dressed as a Lion "running" (stumbling) fifteen miles across country to raise money for BBC Children in Need. Today the only running done has been from sofa to toilet as manflu transmogrified to some sort of winter DV bug. As the apprentice kept himself awake most of sunday monday tuesday night by coughing himself silly we decided enough was enough and phoned the Doc. Thanks to having a well funded and smoothly run NHS our infant who had not slept for three nights and who was just exhausted from coughing fits was rushed through the appointment list and got to see a nice understanding medic at 9.45 this morning, except he didn't. Due to high demand on their time we finally crossed the threshold of the consulting room at 10.35. In the meantime yours truly had to keep unwell child occupied in busy waiting room full of scowling geriatrics who all felt their need was far greater than anyone else's. Thus we ran the gauntlet of UTC's, or Unexpected Toddler Comments. The opener of "Why is everyone so QUIET DADDY!" was innocuous enough, as were repeated requests for the toilet (its the latest game, check out the toilet facilities wherever we are as many times as possible) a real cringer of "I've just done a massive pooh!" was lost amongst the klaxon going to alert another patient that their time was nigh, but the one everyone heard was "Look Daddy, that man's a really big giant man LOOK!" (child runs forward at this stage and points to a man some 7 foot tall) Thankfully giant man had sense of humour and I ushered the apprentice into the docs room before he succumbed to any more patient tourettes.
Inside, bad news. Having given the doc the history of endless coughs and colds, runny noses, DV, few days grace, then repeat doc says. This is normal. Apparently a child of the apprentices age can expect on average to be ill from cold like symptoms for some 21 weeks a year until the age of about 7 years old. The luckless parent can expect to pick up two thirds of these bugs brought back from play groups and school and so should expect to feel unwell for some 15 weeks a year. So in other words the doc was saying man up you two and get used to it as being ill is something to look forward to. Obviously.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Where are we?

 Once Mrs Bear was settled at Rock HQ, and to see how settled turn to the dog blog in the margin, yours truly dragged his reluctant self out into the early  doors of last fridayness and did about a weeks worth of jobs which included packing for a weekend away at Centre Parcs. Admittedly for me this entailed toothbrush, single malt, outdoor fitness and cycling magazines and spare boxers. For my beautiful and oh so patient wife this meant a tad more but my excuse was genetic deficit meant I am ill suited to pack for family hols. Hence yours truly shut outdoors sorting critters out until time to hand over their care, including new Berner, to our everso accommodating housesitter.
 Soon (read after 6 hour nightmare traffic horrendous weather car journey) we were in the winter wonderland of Sherwood Forest where magic trees and freak weather kept the apprentice very entertained.
 As did the magic animals. Lil Bef joined us and soon all of us were making most of the facilities of one of the UK's premier activity holiday villages. Running, cycling, racquet sports, mountain biking, spinning, walking, climbing, swimming in the sub tropical paradise, were to name but a few of  the activities we managed to steadfastly avoid for almost all the weekend thanks to all of us coming down with lergy. Huddled under the duvet on the sofa (naturally being a bloke I was the really ill one) the only thing running about me was my nose. There were some high points (fuelled by co-codamol, cold cure and one of speysides finest) such as a trip to see a jolly fat bloke dressed in red and his elf helpers. This was indeed a great and memorable family moment, the apprentice stole the show by interviewing the big Father Christmas and then took to heart his advice of puddle jumping all the way back to the villa. Cheers Santa. Of the 72 hours or so resident at this mecca to sporting life I managed a 27 minute burst of exercise which in no way allowed me to consume as much chocolate as I could reach whilst feeling sorry for my self prone on the sofa.
Back at the ranch the lergy continued, the drawbridge to the outside world was lifted, crosses painted on doors to warn off unwary callers and we waited to get better. Some of us are still waiting but I had to man up and get outside today to take Bear (our Bear, the one we got back from Ireland) to the V E T.
 My departure coincided with the first dry spell since Monday night. So here is an opportune pic of the Pea Hen Mrs Laurel and her offspring which are now nearly as big as she is and are not featuring on any exotic Christmas menu, unlike the Kangaroo steaks found in the freezer section of a local German supermarket.
Bear is doing great. Here he is beside himself with excitement after being told by the specialist V E T that surgery would not be a good idea at this stage. Had he been the more active type, like his litter brother Spotty (aka action berner) then a new knee would have been created for him where he would not need a crutiate ligament, but as he is like this except when eating or doing what Bears do in the woods then it was felt as being a pointless exercise. So a new way has been found, some series of injections that will mean he should grow new cartilage. Or not. If he does we should see him back to his old self of....erm....couch potato grand master.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Living the dream

 This is Tina and Mark with Bear. Tina and Mark are about to do what you or I cannot do, they are ditching the 9 to 5 with suitable ties and heading off across the Atlantic in a massive yacht (massive is subjective, not massive compared to an oil tanker but uber massive compared to the Drascombes I sailed from Portsmouth which is where they are currently berthed) and are intending to go around the world. Now despite having a life jacket Bear is not a sea dog and did not like the prospects of a life on the ocean wave so has opted to come back to the clan for the time being (estimated 2 years, depending on how hard the wind blows) and is now an official foster dog within the Dolyhir Clan.
 Bear got quite excited in Gerry re-enacting a scene from The Shining at one point.
Back at HQ Bear met her mum and dad, Rocky and Reba, and Bear her older brother, we kept the rest of the clan seperate from her on her first night but she briefly met Spotty, Bliss, Ritchie and WooZah and the pathetic triever Poppy. As can be gleaned from the above picture she is making herself very at home. Thats her sat watching the news with me on the sofa. This is unusual as I have actually got a space on the sofa.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Gimme some!

Double celebrations at Rock HQ today. Supergrandma's birthday tea was interrupted by messages from he who cannot be named who has had his commission serving Big Liz extended to 2028 giving him some job security providing no one shoots at him. The moment was lost on his littlest brother who just wanted to get amongst the pizza.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Fair share

Alana making sure she gets her fair share of the breakfast bales.

Monday, 3 November 2014

You know what to do!

So I bust my gate down.
What you gonna do about it fat bloke?
Yeah that's right, go and get the baler twine!

Misty, a pint sized shitland with Tina Turner hairdo and bad attitude, adding to the jobs list after some modifications to her stall.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Don't look down

 There was one point today when yours truly thought he had accidentally deleted all the pictures and videos of yesterdays adventure. I had downloaded the files onto the PC to take the camera out to capture some real animal stupidity occurring on the runway between the equines and goat. Thankfully the technology is cleverer than its owner and I have just found a new folder containing all the pics. So here are some more of yesterdays epic over Crib Goch in horrendous conditions. Still pics wont convey windspeed, facial expressions and body language might. So here above is part of the approach, it got a bit steep.
 The Ridge stretching out into the mist, I am in the lead, Richard is getting ready to movc.
 John upright wondering what all the fuss is about.
 This mainly, the drop to our right is a bit on the non survivable type of fall.
 So if you are going to fall favour the left, this is the view to my rear.
 To my front is the exit, over these pinnacles of rock, by the time we got here there were gusts of wind in excess of 70 mph.
 To my left the way down was a bit impossible.
Clearly we made it, here's Richard sheltering from the wind behind the obelisk that marks the top of the Pyg track.

How windy was it? Well if you watch this clip you will see Richard blown off his feet.
Then the rain started.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Comfort Zone Tested

 There was a time when yours truly was a bit of a mountain leader but time passes, pies get eaten, left arms get damaged and skills fade. So for a while now I have been wondering whether I could still do a proper scramble like Crib Goch so a man test was devised for today.
 A team of four assembled for the day, yours truly, John (who has a long history of dangling me, being dangled by me, from a rope) and Keith and Richard who had no idea what they were letting themselves in for. Some indication came when Richard noted that I was giving a safety briefing, a first. The last time I did this ridge was with he who cannot be named and his lil sister in 2001. John and I last climbed together in the mid to late 1990's. Keith and Richard have never really climbed and as Richard truthfully explained had there been any choice in the matter he probably wouldn't have. The car park was full so that added another mile to the approach but we made good time to the base of the days objective. Now we had a weather window forecast, unfortunately the small gods of wind, clouds and rain had not heard this and the above pic is about as clear as it was ever going to be. The wind was pretty strong, and gaining speed so the ridge had to be done quickly. But as we were clinging on for dear life, speed was not an option.
 This is the start of tricky bit, Keith contemplating the Crib Goch bum shuffle at this point while yours truly at the front takes advantage of a drop in wind speed to gain a few strides. The pics don't show the sheer drops or the scale of the place. It was as I remembered, arse clenchingly exciting, a challenge and once over, great fun. Once we decended to the saddle between us and the next summit Garnedd Ugain. This was not as easy as it should have been as the wind was by now strong enough to blow us off our feet. One gust knocked all four of us over at the same time which was quite exciting as Richard was posing on a ledge to have his picture taken at the time.
 The summit bagged we were blown in the direction of Snowdon, the disappointment of the cafe being shut for winter eased by the knowledge that it was pretty much downhill from here.
 By 3.30pm the weather changed again from hard rain to torrential rain and the get down as fast as possible mode was selected. Finally we recovered Gerry from the layby, clambered in with soaked gear and sped off to the cafe where we had breakfast 8 hours earlier. All of us ignored the funny loks from customers and stripped and  changed into dry clothing in the cafe entrance, and once warmed by hot drinks we departed the mountains to the best fish and chip shop in the whole world, Keiths in Llangollen.
 Richard was the first to get amongst the hot food
and I had the local delicacy, mushy pea fritters. Fuelled by battered consumables and Vimto I piloted Gerry back to Rock HQ. A grand day out, many thanks to my companions for the banter and encouragement. It was good to get outdoors, even if it was the worst ever weather for the ridge crossing and summiting.

More pics and video clips will follow. But for now its time for some serious Zeds.