Friday, 30 January 2015

Whats happening?

The usual predawn amble, saw the sun rise
the way home
and the view from the front door.
Then the fun started. Chester's breakfast was left unattended by yours truly for 35 seconds (while I took a picture of the vista two pics up0 so was pounced on by the rampaging Ryelands who claim any unattended calories as their own and despite Reubens best effort to dissuade them from eating by urinating on it (and them, well those who were not quick enough) continued to to steal the now furiously offended equine's breakfast who then made his feelings known by smashing £14.99 worth of plastic buckets in his stall.
Meanwhile at the side of HQ I have cleared a workspace on the heli-pad for some major changes about to happen. Well not about to, it will take some time to complete, but save this pic and join all subsequent pics together and you will have a time lapse sequence of what's happening and it will look like it happened really quickly. Or you could fast forward 3 weeks and see the end result.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Make your mind up

The weather is mad. Today it varied between this, this and gale force winds, rain, heavy rain, rain and gale force winds, blue sky, sunshine, blue sky, sunshine and snowing at the same time (how) and back to blizzard. Currently its Harry von Ice Pigs and a bitter north wind. And snow. We are waiting for the small god of weather to sort itself out.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Keep saying it...

At 9 foot tall, the twin peaks, all horses doing, all shifted by wheelbarrow, keep saying it...I love my horses...I love my horses....

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Training partners

Those that know me are aware that I am trying to gain a bit of extra fitness to equip me for a big physical challenge I've set myself later in the year. Unlike others, say Mo Farrell and Sir Brad, I have minor trials and tribulations that seem to get in the way of a seamless training plan. Mo (no I am not in anyway comparing myself to an elite athlete, just bear with) does not have to start a run hopping after a dog that has taken a fancy to his trainer and is intent on hiding it up the Bonsai Mountain, Brad has never driven over his own bike before a ride, or found a puppy asleep on his best cycling jersey, or had pigs chew his tyres, no, I reckon that's a dead cert bet that neither of them have ever had to put up with anything like that.
Today took pre training setbacks to a new level. Having done the early circuit of the Bonsai Mountain (training mostly has to fulfill two purposes, so hike =dog walk, road bike sprint=commute to work, again Mo and Brad don't have to justify time spent sweating) I got my second road bike (Boardman has now been officially demoted to wet weather trainer) out of the stable and placed it carefully against the wall outside HQ while I got my kit on.
Enter stage left Chester the thoroughbred. Clearly Chester had something on his mind this  morning, namely an itchy arse crack, which is why he was observed by yours truly squatting on bike handlebars and working his backside up and down in a vigorous ooooh nearly there fashion.
Now I might be the fat lad at the back in many road races but I am certain that while my bike can put up with my weight, a thoroughbred horse with an itchy bum is an entirely different prospect and he needed to be stopped before irreparable damage was caused to one or both of them.
Enter stage right yours truly.
Chester having noted my less than amused expression contemplated fight or flight and when the latter connected with his one functioning brain cell he took off like he would have had he been starting the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Unfortunately for us both his tail forgot that the front end had decided to leave the bike alone so remained wrapped around various sticky out bits of said bike and it followed.
The sensation of a bike chasing him ignited some primeval survival template in the dopey equine and all I could do was watch as bike bounced off floor, wall, Ruby, fence, floor, finally flying free where it scythed through a brace of surprised Berners. Miraculously, and for once, instead of carnage and destruction there was minimal damage to all concerned. Horse had hurt pride, dogs same and bike had a slight bend in the handlebars and a few extra scratches. The commute to work was without incident.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Harry Redders

After a prolonged cold spell, lasting 4 years, where the principle heating of the house was a moody rayburn and a furnace like woodburner fitted by yours truly, we are all getting used to being cosy warm when further than 5 yards from the fireplace. The upstairs glaciers have retreated and wooly attire has been replaced by Bermuda shorts and t shirts. Its not so much Harry Redders as Harry Red Pigs.  

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lets do the time warp again.....

Living in a valley where the majority of people are called Steve does have its disadvantages especially when you telephone one of them. Case in point being on the coldest night of the year (3 nights ago) our Rayburn, the heart of the cottage, but a defective one as it sits sulking centre stage and refuses to run the central heating hence the penguins and polar bears on the upstairs landing, tried to shuffle off its mortal coil and take us with it by filling the house with noxious fumes and quite a bit of flame. The beast was tamed by cutting off its food supply and a few sharp words while my beautiful and oh so patient wife phoned Steve.
Steve is a mans man, all boiler suits and utility belts and completely unafraid of defective kitchenware with ideas of grandiosity. MBAOSPW explained who she was to Steve, who argued the point for a while that he had never been to our cottage. Finally the penny dropped and Steve who was a heating engineer realised that we needed Steve a heating engineer and thankfully gave us Steve the heating engineer's telephone number whom we called and he was the real Steve and he remembered us, our naughty Rayburn and that the last time he was up here he crashed his nice new shiny day old van.
Steve turned up and beat the Rayburn into submission, while he did so we spoke of time past and his last visit. "You were expecting then" he said very jovially pointing at Rug Rat MkII, "and now look, he's on his feet!" It was at that point that we all realised that yes we were expecting the last time he called, but the expectation was The Apprentice, now aged nearly 4 years. We stood in silence waiting until the compulsory statement uttered in unison "Does't time fly!"

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Red ones go faster

 Not sure what this is, apart from a red BMX, perhaps more accurately, not sure what this is doing here, here being my office wall. Bit more placed than dumped, but methinks this has been dumped as it was not claimed all day. Just in case it was nicked and the nicker returned I parked my steed in full view of my desk so that at least I could watch it being stolen.
 As it happens it wasnt and the little red one stayed where it was left unclaimed all day. I did a short day today as work was going on back at the ranch. Some eeeejit caused mayhem for a while by parking their car across our gateway to the world. This nearly caused our 60 bales of hay to be unloaded in the yard of The Oracle but somehow the delivery driver retained his sense of humour and negotiated an impossible turn into our lane.
The hay was unloaded and stored away ready for the equines to turn it from nice meadow hay to something more unsavoury. The pile of which is ever growing and by nightfall this mountain had twin peaks.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


I was hoping to wake up to a snowscape similar to this one this morning, instead we woke to rain and fog. The only plus side was that the ice on the lane has started to recede which means I might actually be able to get my bike out tomorrow!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dawn Raider

Busted! Here we find Trevor Shetland trying to make a sharp exit from the bale store after breaking in under the cover of darkness and scoffing extra rations. Thankfully the shitland failed to convince the other equines to join in this heinous crime otherwise we would have lost more than two bales. He didn't eat two bales, but he made sure what he didn't eat nobody else would. Not even goats.

View from the top

This mornings sunrise from the Bonsai Mountain looking towards Hergest and the monkey puzzle trees.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Back to it

Early doors saw yours truly on a dawn raid around the Bonsai Mountain with a demi clan of Berners (6 out of the 12) in an effort to gain some fitness before the summers man test. Waddling along on sheets of ice wishing I had got my crampons on at less than 2 miles an hour is hardly going to get the pulse racing (except when trying to remain upright) but at least its a start. The Big Black Mountain Challenge is set for May the 16th and I have already got a place booked so every bit of time spent going uphill helps. Especially on ice.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Welcome back

 Time flies. So fast that the last time I saw this vista the cafe at the start was a green shack with a toilet attached that smelled like a medieval sewer. The food was hot and unrecognisable unless you had a bacon sarnie which looked the part and set in its own lard in the chill mountain air unless you ate it quickly.
 I told the hyperactive anorexic Liverpudlian in the new hybrid cafe that now looked like a cross between Greggs and Costa but with less soul and worse food that things had changed. Yes she agreed, they had, must have been 3 years ago then your last visit, er no...10 years, but I didn't admit that.
She continued.
Apparently the same people own the cafe as last visit but they were able to upgrade to the new all singing all dancing fragrance free toilets with lottery money. Not winnings, but funding. Anyway after a tasteless 500 calories and a cuppa yours truly, Keith and Spotty the action Berner set out to complete a traverse of the Devils Kitchen, both Glyders and then home in time for tea and medals. The approach route had also changed, instead of hauling ourselves up a sheer rock wall at the back of the cafe, health and safety set us along a wheelchair friendly track in the opposite direction until we were allowed to head off vaguely in the right direction. Having circumnavigated the lake and eyeing the rock wall at the end the way forward was obvious, up, and aim for the dark crack in the centre. From there it should be easy. Ish.
 Initially things were none too bad, crossing the snowline we encountered iced rock, but some helpful stonework almost like steps. I had taken Spotty as memory served that this was a straightforward route with no real tricky bits, so dog friendly.`
 Which it was. Apart from this near vertical section with Spotty in some difficulty (falling) and me with no rope so not able to help, or descend thanks to the ice. The only way was up.
 Here we see Spotty demonstrating true grit, its his fourth attempt, just to his right you can see paw prints higher up, the high water mark of the previous attempt. He didn't make this one either and this time he left blood on the rocks from a cut paw. Camera away I dropped down a few feet and lay down good arm outstretched and this time managed to grab his collar giving his the final bit of help he needed. This had an unexpected consequence in that I now had a very happy Berner on an icy ledge with me, who, in his enthusiasm to thank me, nearly sent us both back to ground zero a lot quicker that either of us would have wanted. Thankfully a swift bollocking curbed his exuberance and we were able to extract ourself from the danger zone.
 It was a tough climb after nearly two hours we topped out
 where we encountered a 300 metre ice slope. Crampons on, ice axes out and we were away. Spotty really enjoyed this bit, in fact he was sliding down and then running back up. Had I not been maintaining 12 point contact with the acute angle of the mountain then this would have been captured on film.
 The alien like landscape of the summit hove into view, along with a break in the cloud cover allowing us fantastic views
 where Spotty played King of the Hill.
 Last Novembers route appeared through the gloom
 as did the lake from where we started.
 The summit of Glyder Fawr has a very famous stone called The Cantilver, Keith posed for the compulsory photo while I concentrated on eating.
 I took the easy route down, deciding that Bristley Ridge was not K9 compatible so we headed south then north east to the saddle between the Glyders and Tryfan. Daylight was running out but we made the descent without needing headtorches
with the final mile or so out of the snow. Buoyed up with thoughts of a cuppa, happy with our success and overjoyed that we were dry we sped up a bit just in case the new look cafe had new look opening times. The old cafe stayed open as long as there were cars in the car park.
Ahead of us several dozen climbers were converging all with one thought in mind.
We finished a 5pm.
In time to see the lights go out and the shutters go down on the cafe.
Progress sucks.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Decisions decisions

Sit inside the cottage next to a warm rayburn and be all nice and toasty or sit in the wind and snow on top of the duck house.
You decide.
Nemo, our very lazy ginger tom cat showing how bright he really is.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Halfway there

 Yesterday saw yours truly manage to exploit a weather window, ie. a gap in the storms where you could at least stand upright, and ride my bike to work. This had to be the mountain bike as the racing steed might not have coped with my bulk and the addition of a rucksack full of clean clothes, laptop, shoes, phones, research papers, food (lots, obviously) diary, notebook, and coat. Despite this a gentle ride in was much appreciated, the hum of the tyres, the sun on the face, wind in the hair, that type of thing.  Once at the office the clouds gathered and by lunchtime weather warnings were out and the bike was in the office, stuck halfway as I got a lift home.
 Snow fell overnight and this morning was perfect, crisp, clear, snowy, just right for delaying the usual pre dawn tramp around the Bonsai Mountain with a large number of Bernese Mountain Dogs until it was light enough to see the lovely views. This is the Ghost House, (don't look back!) and its not just me that thought there was a face in the upstairs window in this picture!
 At least that was the plan. I set out in the gloom of first light and headed off uphill. Black shapes raced past me, back and forth, and it became apparent that I was N+1 relating to the K9 quota. There should have been 5 and one Golden retriever but in the dark I was pretty certain there were more than 5 Berners.
This young man, Bear, should be in the cottage by the rayburn resting his poorly joints, but somehow he managed to mingle with the demi clan and head off up the mountain. He managed to get halfway before detection and so I turned back, thus missing all the good bits of the walk but saving the dozy dogs legs.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Off again

The reason for yesterdays absence was not due to the fantastically high winds that caused a bit of upset by waking WooZah and Bliss when the front of the annex roof blew off, no, we survived that. It was due to a very small Golden Retriever biting through a number of cables just for laughs.
Snows arriving so just for laughs I'm off outside.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Happy days

Heres our lovely Andalusian, Pronto, enjoying a brunch of carrots and apples.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Blown away

It was a bit of a shock on return from a resupply trip to find the phone engineers had been here already and fixed the downed line. This meant we were back in touch with the world for all of 3 nano seconds as the shock of the phone being fixed was nothing in comparison to it actually ringing which led to Bear, the usually sedate Berner, launching himself at Mach speed across the room, away from phone he was casually lying on (don't ask!) and breaking the phone line. New trip to town to buy new internal phone line is planned for the morrow.
Main reason for being in town today was to be Agnesed, which is where a diminutive Scottish Osteopath fixes me so I can carry on hurting myself. Focus of attention today was my diaphragm which for reasons unknown to yours truly keeps cramping. As I was prodded the usual banter changed to an enquiry if the bruising up my right side might be the cause of the cramps. This is where I had to confess to the latest self harm episode where in an effort not to wake my beautiful and oh so patient wife as I went to bed I gallantly decided to do without turning on the bedroom light despite carrying a jug of water and a small cup of milk. As I negotiated the foot of the bed and turned to my side the fact that I had forgotten that I had removed the drawers from my wardrobe and placed them in a stack by my bedside became apparent as I was felled like a tree and landed face down amidst water mild and broken ceramics. Unlike a tree that isn't seen when it falls, me not being seen did not mean I did not make a noise. The sound of me hitting the deck was loud enough to wake the whole household. It was that or the sound of MBAOSPW laughing.
As the cramp had been present prior to fall it was decided that the reason for my bruised and cramping diaphragm was the consequence of the cough I have had.
I told you I was ill.

Friday, 9 January 2015

By contrast...

 Here is Belle, a very well behaved pup before she has a massive needle with a micro-chip tag stuck in her.
Here she is 10 seconds after the microchip insert.
By contrast to the Berners she is a very well behaved pup!

All aboard!

Like the previous blog predicted, the high wind has brought the phone line down for the 9th time in 8 years, so we wait for Mr BT to come and find us. Shouldn't take long, around three weeks based on the average. Yesterday I called in on our friends the microholders still living the dream in the suburbs, where I had a lovely goats milk cappuccino. Here I got to see their goat train. Amazing what listening to Marillion can do for goats!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Big Jobs

 The winds blowing in the wrong direction so precious little time to explain whats going on at Red Kite Fostering before the internet connection evaporates. But as can be seen its a big job, so big in fact that it's work in progress and the cavalry had to be called given the complex jigsaw of glass and frames that have arrived en masse.
 As a trial run the first bay looks pretty good from the inside, its not quite finished but weather proof, just as well in light of the forecast.
Looking good so far.

Monday, 5 January 2015


This is our new horse, a big black French type who is proving more popular with the adults at Rock HQ on account of his lack of droppings and need for expensive food. The apprentice who rides real equines won't go near him but rug rat MkII seems to tolerate being sat astride him (Bullseye not the apprentice) providing he doesn't move.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Walking with Berners

 A warm glow on the horizon early doors, thankfully not a bushfire (Kathy and Simon are still fire fighting in Oz) as the sun rises. A very fresh frosty start to the day
 at Fiveways Crossing looking towards England, the frost clearly visable.
 Reba rushing back from a recce
 as we clear sheep skull lane and look towards Gladestry.
 Bliss finding some fox poo
 a favourite smell. To be frank its not my favourite smell but try and keep them off it. More luck herding cats.
Reba back on point as we head for home facing Old Radnor, snow on them there hills.