Wednesday, 31 December 2014

On the mend....sort of

Things are getting back to normal at HQ. Not quite so much snot, coughing and sore throats. Lots of time spent going aaarrrhhh at new puppy. And because we need another like a hole in the head I bought a new horse today, a massive big French one. Absolute bargain and came with all the horsey bondage gear necessary like saddle and bridle. The owner was keen to sell and yours truly has never been able to resist a bargain, or look a gift horse in the mouth, instantly handed over the required number of beer tokens necessary to transfer ownership and have the beast transported to HQ. Thankfully, despite being the biggest horse of the breed and looking very fierce (he has a mean stare) he is actually very amenable, let me brush the tangles out of his mane and tail and then much to my beautiful and oh so patient wife's surprise, let me ride him. Lil t wants to call him Chester, but we are settling on Bullseye. Pics to follow.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

CD+3 Plague House

CD+3 a glorious day. Crystal clear skies, fresh air, sunshine, what more do you need to motivate you to get out into the great outdoors and rip around on your new racing steed, play chase with the Dolyhir Berners or push the apprentice down the hill in his new go kart. Good health for one. All bipeds were confined to barracks feeling sorry for themselves. I did muster enough energy to paint a big cross on the door to warn off visitors.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Not as it should be CD+2

CD+2 was not spent as it should have been, travelling up to see my folks, lots of chat, eats, prezzies, CD MkII in fact, but all that fell by the way side in the early hours as the apprentice was poorly bad. By mid morning he was so poorly that we had to take him to the emergency Doc who can be found if you persevere. Doc gave coughing child the once over with several high tech pieces of kit and pronounced that his oxygen levels were lower than they should be, his temperature was well above normal and that the apprentice was indeed a poorly boy. More medication was prescribed and after blocking the local high street by illegally parking while fetching meds, lil t and yours truly were safe back at the ranch and wrapped up under a duvet in front of the TV. Which is where he stayed until (and this is clearly a sign of quite how ill he is) around 6 pm when he asked if he could go to bed. Rug rat MkII decidd to hop on the see how ill I am bandwagon before retiring to bed and so began a very long night of sitting by coughing child and hope they fall asleep so we can.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


CD+1 or Boxing Day as its more traditionally named, traditionally spent going to the shops to buy batteries for yesterdays gifts and eating left overs. As the bipeds that inhabit Rock HQ were feeling poorly (not hungover) it was in fact a very quiet day spent making puzzles with the apprentice and stopping rug rat MkII eating pieces waiting to be fitted.

CD+18 hours

Christmas finally arrived and much jollity and fun was had by all. Father Christmas had excelled himself and the sack of well wrapped presents were soon demolished by the apprentice and rug rat MII leaving the cottage floor under a cover of festive ripped bits.
Family arrived in time for Champers and nibbles before a huge feast . Gifts were exchanged, small children entertained, older children admirably managed to keep younger siblings amused and provided insight into what lies ahead for he who cannot be named (number one son) and his lovely wife who are making yours truly a granddad next year. He who cannot be named spent at least an hour assembling the toy garage they had bought the apprentice while I got on with the more important things like drinking gunfire. Twas (festive word) an excellent day made fun by all present, so a big thank you and Merry Christmas one and all!


Twas the night before Christmas (CD-1 in new money) a time traditionally spent by parents fretting over the presents for their sproglets that invariably require some form of self assembly. This armed with the required tools, namely a power screw driver and pair of scissors (the latter due to the fact the pliers and house spanner were missing) and several medicinal beers the apprentice's go kart and rug rat MkII's gifts were laid before me (or rather their bits were) and I began the task of reading the instructions. In bold letters on the front of the go karts was a stark notice "It is the duty of the importer to translate the instructions into your home language"
Thankfully the Welsh importer had done a fantastic job and within two pints the four wheeled fun machine was ready for action. Flush with success I turned to the Baby Gym instruction book and took a sip of beer 3. The instructions made very little sense at first glance, primarily due to the fact they were written in German. Having been Mr Organised this year I had got the baby gym med November and now remembered the import documents, made in Germany, for Germans, no need to translate. Panic set in along with a beer fuelled idea to phone my mate Andy in Germany but several things prevented this happening, such as time difference, not wanting to induce a sense of humour failure on a new dad, losing his phone number and an unwillingness to admit defeat. In any case having spent a while in Germany I was pretty sure I knew my rechts from links, and whilst my ability to identify the right schraubenmutter and bolzen might be impared I was going to verschrauben this rutschbahn together before the fat bloke descended and scoffed the mince pie, carrot and overly generous sherry left out as a bribe.
As the picture shows ich bin der champion baby fitnessraum bauherr! And I go to the mince pie and sherry first.

The war continues

 Mrs Bear, having evicted Mr Bear from the sofa next to the woodburner enjoys her victory
which was very shortlived thanks to Belle.

Was it worth it?

 For once in my life I was totally organised for Christmas. So organised in fact that I had found the ideal gift for my beautiful and oh so patient wife at the end of October, a lovely Golden Retriever who would be 8 weeks old three days before Christmas and within driving distance of Rock HQ (read within 300 miles) The fact we already have 13 dogs (at the time) is a side issue and early signs of the prudence of this decision were called into question by the return of Mrs Bear to our care. So by the time GR arrived there would be 14 K9's, so with that in mind the idea that one more really wont make much more mess the decision to go ahead was made and the secret of Advent Belle (thats her name) was kept right up until she arrived late 21st December. Such a secret in fact that when my beautiful and oh so patient wife was asked to come outside in the dark into the howling wind and rain she thought I was off my rocker and was about to show her a motorbike I had bought off ebay. (I haven't) (yet)
 In the back of the recently repaired Gerry she found a crate with this pup inside.
The look on her face reminds me it was all worth it. A fact I recalled as I stepped barefoot into a puppy mine as I wandered zombie like to the kettle this morning.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Asleep on the job

I caught Apoll napping on a new bed of hay, hay that I had very carefully unloaded from a trailer of fresh supplies delivered 
 to keep the equines going through the Christmas break. With that in mind I loaded the ring feeder with abundant breakfasts in the hope that that might save some time in the mornings.
 Apollo having stuffed himself took advantage of the soft stuff and made a new bed.
Much to everyone's annoyance.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Ups and downs

 Its been a manic few days hence no tome to argue with the internet gremlins and try and get a posting on. Working evenings in the far reaches of the Red Kite empire mean that time was allowed early doors to see the apprentice play lead Rudlolf in the playgroup Christmas production. He having the only speaking part did well while the staff dressed as elves did a fine job of herding 20 or so different sized and in some cases emotional reindeers around the building.
Meantime Gerry, my preferred mode of transport for journeys over 30 miles, got over the shock of passing his MOT with no hassle and freaked out 50 miles from HQ. The audible warning similar to a striken submarine and the red lights flashing on the dashboard forced even yours truly (who has immense capacity to ignore warning signs) over to a lay by and seek assistance. The fourth emergency service for Land Rover Discoveries (my mate Steve who has got one) did not know what was wrong but was able to tell me the ACE system had failed. Google did not throw any light on what that was but it did say if the light was amber then that was ok, if red and noisy (like striken sub) then stop and await casevac. As neither Steve or Google said that driving it home would result in an explosion I decided to risk it.
Gerry was dropped off with nice mechanic man who was surprised to pass Gerry for his MOT but not surprised that I had broken him so soon again.
While I was out some nice builders arrived at HQ and removed the front door, which from one side was ok but from the front side showed what 7 years abuse by keen Bernese Mountain Dogs can do. New door is bomb proof and glass, thus giving more light to the cottage and endless opportunity for rug rat MkII to tease dogs.
Inevitably 3 hours sat in a room with 20 crying reindeers, their parents and grand parents, the opportunity for bugs to transfer from ill person to well person was massive. Sure enough 6 hours after his grand performance on stage the apprentice was barfing up his hay, and within 24 hours my beautiful and oh so patient wife and rug rat mkII joined him. I managed to escape until 5 am when an unexpected conversation with God on the great white telephone rendered me incapable of work. Which meant I missed a lovely duck comfit salad made for me by one of my colleagues. I'm hoping it will keep until the new year.
On the good news front Gerry was repaired today and is back in action in half the time expected and for half the money.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Rainbow Racing

 In an effort to get some training in around work, childcare, animal husbandry and dog bothering yours truly has come up with the fool proof plan of making the commute to work as arduous as possible as often as possible, hence we find me wallowing in a swamp at the far end of the Bonsai Mountain in what was euphemistically referred to as a "run" on my satnavtraininggizmo. Having extracted myself from the soggy wet stuff and thus far spending nearly 20 minutes to complete the first mile,miles 2 to 4 were done in somewhat more favourable conditions despite mile 2 being all uphill.
 At the top of the ridge the Bonsai Mountain was under a rainbow indicating that if I did not get a move on then the top half would be as wet as the bottom bits.
You can just about make out the full rainbow here. Safely at the office I tested something I insisted was fitted when we took it over.
The shower.
Which was, needless to say, cold.
But clean cold.
Note to self.
Pack towel.
Drying yourself with loo roll takes ages.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

How much?

For a while today yours truly had an idea of where he should be but no idea how to get there, which was a bit of a problem given I had text one (theres two of them actually)of pig club's greatest fans details of our rendezvous so they could meet me and get their share of pork based product.
Having decided on meeting at The Three Shires garden centre which I took to be half way between the two of us I was vexed to discover the place I thought was the TTSgs turned out to be The Handmade Scotch Egg Company and tea room. Since I was already 30 minutes late due to kids spilling stuff on themselves as we set out, horses spilling water they would need later in the day and dogs covered in  mud jumping up requiring clothes change (me not them) not actually knowing where I was, so to speak, was a problem.
My beautiful and oh so patient wife decided that I had turned the wrong way at the cross roads so we headed back and took her womens intuition route which raised our hopes on one bend but that was short lived as it was a van hire centre. A quick call to the those expecting pigs bits led to a clue, we were not only on the wrong road heading the wrong way bit in the wrong county. We needed to be a long way away and take the only turning on the cross roads as yet untried. Incidentally when we finally met up with Ian and Nicky they were not only grateful but a tad surprised that I suggested we meet within walking distance of their house, they thought I might have suggested somewhere halfway. However all was not lost, I got to meet Rudolf's mate and got the info on how hardy these animals are. MBAOSPW dragged me away before any firm deals could be made with the itinerant reindeer trader.
The most shocking part of the day was finding that I have turned into the type of Dad that buys a sandwich and cuts it into four so we can share it. This from a cafe in the garden centre that was of such unique layout it could only have been created by a dog, who having chewed up the original architects drawings, barfed them up again. Arrows pointed vaguely in the direction of where you wanted to go, when you got there it wasn't where you should be, or that section was closed, or the sign said across the bridge to the restaurant, but there was no bridge, that type of thing. The cafe sold everything except hot coffee and crisps that non lottery winner could afford (the coffee was luke warm and crisps were £1.25 a bag, that was without a sandwich, just some manky fried potato bits) Having missed breakfast and second breakfast I was going to take a chance on a sandwich which was for some reason tied up in green string, I joked with Ian who was also queueing for a cold coffee, that the sandwich would be four quid. I was wrong, by 5p, hence my annoyance when the apprentice wasted 97p worth and rug rat MkII dropped 16p worth of cucumber. I kept the string though, it might come in useful.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Drip drip drip......

Plague has struck Rock HQ so the apprentice and rug rat MkII have been dripping green goo down their faces and interspersing fifteen minutes of manic whinging with hours of lying still and feeling sorry for themselves. This put paid to all plans that included work, Christmas shopping and going to see a steam train that is cunningly hidden 7 miles away by a bunch of anoraks who have maintained a mile or less of track for their personal use. Every Christmas their mums let have visitors and so they dress as a jolly fat man and drape their huge engine in baubles to delight the kiddies. But not ours. Ours were leaking on the sofa instead of bothering train spotters.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Not where I left it.

We were hit by the weather bomb over the last 24 hours. Horizontal hail, gusts of wind strong enough to blow shitlands over and make the reality of smallholding seem like so much fun. In the early morning gloom I could see something was not quite right on the runway . The roof of the "spare" shelter (used for acclimatisation of peacocks, raise ducklings and imprison goats while garden fence is repaired) had decided to part company with the rest of it.
Not a lot left that's useful, but an interesting afternoons work added to the jobs list.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Pushing the boundary

So my research proposal has been submitted, over 24 hours before the deadline. But its bounced back 14 hours before the deadline as my comment that these are draft questions have upset the academic world, they want non draft questions which are in principle exactly the same as the draft ones but without the prefix draft. It does make sense if you read it twice.
So I have to revise and resubmit, except that at this point in time 13 hours before the deadline the appointed button presser for the academic forgot to press the button in the right sequence and retained the version they want me to amend. My hope is that one of them gets up early and realises and resends it to me so I can revise the document and send it back 5 hours before the deadline. It would not be so much of a problem save for hour 6 before deadline is the the only free hour as ones prior to I will be sleeping, and five hours and counting I will be involved in the real alternative to work, meetings. So heres hoping the crusties in university land get up early for the bowl of crunchy nut otherwise I am put on hold until 28 January 2015.

Monday, 8 December 2014


 Leaving aside dive bombing peahens nearly decapitating yours truly as he went about his lawful business today (yesterday thanks to PC issues) was spent facing the awful prospect of deadlines. Having found a rich seam of undone research and persuading the University to froth with excitement at the thought of accolades thanks to young (ahem) researcher finding a link to life the universe and everything there comes a point where some work has to be done. Persuading academics to forsake dunking their chocolate hob nobs and listen to well reasoned research proposal is one thing, committing the plan to paper for the ethics committee to peruse is another and the deadline for that was tomorrow (today) Several IT issues delayed progress, as did emailing the wrong version to myself for a final proof read, but all that paled into insignificance when I got mightily distracted by tinsel and the joyous look on little kiddies faces when confronted by large sleigh pulling mammals and fat blokes with white beards.
 So instead of working like a diligent research type boffin I loaded the sprogs into Ruby and headed off to find Father Christmas. As can be seen, the thrill of it all was all too much for rug rat MkII and his reaction of stunned silence sums up the encounter with the less than jolly fat bloke dressed in an ill fitting thread bare red suit. Now the run up to this meeting was all very promising (forgetting for the moment the chaos in the car park) with interesting animatronic things to keep us occupied as we shuffled forward in the queue. How we marvelled at the almost life like polar bear which almost looked like it was breathing, if you concentrated and watched carefully it did just about move. Similarly it was highly entertaining stopping the apprentice sticking his hands in every water feature (available in store now) or preventing him derailing the toy train as it shot past. Finally we met a very happy elf who gave us all a sweetie and promised we would be thrilled by the magical encounter with his pie munching master. Through the doorway we went and inside was a vision of misery on a fake throne surrounded by presents. Clearly the essential attributes for this Father Christmas job application was no sense of humour, no smiling, zero personality, an allergic reaction to kids and absolutely no contact whatsoever (this includes eye contact)  Now if I had wanted the apprentice and rug rat MKII to have an encounter with an unhappy fat bloke I would have stayed at home, given them both hammers and free reign to my bicycle collection (N+1 where N now =7+2 exercise bikes) As it was I expected substantially more than a grumpy old git with an aversion to being photographed with children. So joyous encounter was considerably less than and we left Grumpy to it and did a spot more reindeer bothering.
Afternoon was spent looking at deadline, calculating how much time there was to deadline and what was necessary to meet deadline, moving stuff on my desk, making tea, checking the deadline was closer
and so on. After endless procrastination the scribbling eventually took on some semblance  of order and once panic subsided over how many appendices the ethics committee thought were necessary on any successful application it was cobbled together with minutes to spare and emailed to my supervisor, a very capable Dr who has decided that she can work with my eclectic thought processes and apparent inability to take deadlines seriously. So much so that she has accepted the challenge of managing my PhD.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A different perspective

Not a sunrise, a moon set, this morning at Rock HQ.

Snow surprise

Yesterday more PC issues hence no posting.

Today a tenuous link established and so a look back 24 hours to the first snow of the season. Not sure there's enough to do what the apprentice wanted to do, build a snowman, go sledging, buy a penguin, but it was a surprise, especially to an ill prepared cyclist.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It's good news week

 Leaving aside small potatoes like epic IT fails that have left Rock HQ unable to reach out and touch someone, or yours truly finding a powerpoint presentation crashed halfway through vital training session, this week has been a good news week.
 Puppy's that have followed yours truly on his bike have been caught and returned to rightful owner despite pleadings of the apprentice that we should keep it.
 Dogs have detonated properly and with regularity thus alleviating need for surgical intervention.
 Unbelievably, after handing over Gerry to a mechanic who on accepting the keys smiled knowingly, the type of smile from a man who is going to give you bad news later, the sort of bad news that will cost money, Gerry passed his annual medical examination with flying colours requiring no work and no money to allow yours truly another 12 months legal motoring.
 Once the now sad faced mechanic handed him back we (me and Gerry) shot off to town to Climb on Bikes to fetch my new steed. A slight miscommunication meant that I had no cycling kit and needed some to finish off the fitting process, so in for a penny in for pound I bought all new kit, and waterproofs obviously necessary to ride a bike indoors. So at the counter cringing waiting for the final reckoning for bike, testing, fitting, shoes, inserts x 2 pairs, 2 saddles, trousers, t shirt, waterproof jacket and pedals I questioned my sanity. Nice bike shop man (the worlds best salesman as previously |I had only gone into the shop for a saddle, I was now leaving with 2, albeit one attached to a bike, plus a serious amount of expensive kit) drew that sharp intake of breath, the one that costs you money and said, and I quote "So, if you pay for the bike you get all this lot for free"
Suspecting a trap I asked him to repeat it, slowly, and it transpired that Specialized the bike makers had a deal on that equipped winter riders if they bought a bike. Fab! But I asked him to write it down as it seemed so far fetched that I was certain my beautiful and oh so patient wife would not believe it.
And so it goes on, more good news, a beautiful clear day gave the ideal opportunity to test new rocket ship and without over exerting myself too much the new bike allowed me to knock over five minutes off my time on my usual training route. It is fast.
To pile on the good vibes in a parallel universe in a land down under our friend Kathy has reached the halfway stage to becoming a V E T.
But to top it all I was out dodging zombies on a night run wondering how Andy in Germany was getting on, or rather how his wife was getting on as she was about to deliver another human into the world and it turns out that she has popped and they are proud owners of a little girl to go with their three boys. Now that is good news.