Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Care for the elderly

Bad weather and rug rats have meant little time to get on line to keep in touch virtually. Mental weather patterns have battered Rock HQ forcing all indoors which meant yours truly got a chance to catch up on jobs which to the casual observer may have looked like hours spent playing trains with the apprentice.
At the height of Sundays storm our daft old thoroughbred who ignored his central heated stable and was found in the teeth of a gale with his winter coat draped over his head wandering around in the torrential rain. Trying to drag a soaked horse garment back in shape in a force 8 was doomed to fail but eventually, and with some wind assistance, Chester, coat and me were back indoors drying out. One of us got our nose in the trough while the other fetched something sharp to free the dopey equine from his very expensive now totally useless apparel.
The poor lad was happy to be out of the rain, happier to be eating, but looking a bit on the scrawny side, this despite all you can eat hay and half a bucket of horse nuts a day. Fast forward to today when in a gap between hail storms and torrential rain yours truly got inadvertently caught up in a dispute between a lorry and tractor, the drivers of which were incapable of reversing and utterly incapable of passing amicably.
Whilst the two tried to get their wide loads down the narrow road at the same time yours truly used the newly created spare time to ponder equine nutrition. Pondering led to the musing that perhaps value nuts had the same nutritional value as a 99p Findus Lasagne, and perhaps, in an effort to keep Chester from adding to the carbon footprint too soon, a different sort of food is more suited to elderly horses, perhaps like elderly people, horses need more food, more often, in little bits, mushed up and presented on spoons while they stare out of the stable window and recount how this was all fields not so long back and they used to be able to get four horse shoes, a bale of hay and a new bucket and still have change for a pony ride from a penny.
Traffic crisis over, the tractor driver backed down, I was determined to source new feed for Chester and as I was less than a tractors length from a farmers hypermarket it seemed like an ideal opportunity to do so.
Not being a true horse botherer I knew that entering the den of those that know, I had to be convincing otherwise I might leave the shop with something about as useful to Chester as a scale model of the Eiffel Tower, and, like a schoolboy on a French exchange I practiced my horsey phrases before meeting an enthusiastic helper wearing the label "Equine Expert" (Imagine the Duracell Bunny on speed who snorts everytime she perceived she or I said something funny) I reeled off my phrase rote like, keywords such as elderly, retired thoroughbred, lost condition, prone to laminitis, ad lib feeding and value mix gave the impression that I knew much more than I did and I even managed to answer a few questions sensibly, one of which nearly floored me but I worked out that what the bouncing expert was talking about was a horse with massive jaw muscles meant it was eating non stop and not gaining  any goodness. Ha! Bring it on horse world, confidence was high and once she established I could read she left me with a catalogue and told me to form and opinion on all the goodies listed on page 16. Panic set in but I held my ground and when she returned I casually ordered all of page 16, a months worth. Jumping with glee the DB set off to fill several pallets with my order and once we crammed it all in the back of Gerry I made good my escape before I was unmasked as an imposter.
So, as I type, hail batters the cottage and 60 to 70 mph winds threaten to cause further damage to the already weakened goat house. Chester is eating a lovely mix from three different bags, the smell was amazing, a mix of mint, basil, spring meadow and chocolate. The fact that each meal he scoffs costs more then mine will not bother me. Honest.

Friday, 27 March 2015

How'd ya like them apples?

Its my own fault, I should have remembered from a time way back when I shared a house with two other Policemen that unless your name is on your food then the chances of you actually eating it are remote, particularly when Steve wanted a full cooked English and forgot that he had not actually bought any of the ingredients, ever, and the items he found in the fridge belonged to someone else (me) and by cooking and eating them he was actually, technically a criminal.
Fast forward 32 years where yours truly has rejoined Chub Club (formerly Fat Camp) on account of his expanding girth, and as extra grammes (read kilos) will curtail a successful attempt at an endurance man test later in the year, Chub Club is the only option other than surgery. So a hearty breakfast of an apple and dust was on the menu. Except the apple was not there where it had been five minutes previous. Now as my beautiful and oh so patient wife was feeling glum at the lack of progress her knee was making after surgery I brought one of the ponies in to see her (well almost in) Chester was in a soppy mood and needed a bit of fuss so MBAOSPW was wheeled to the door to do so. In a massive error of judgement I said that she could give him some apples. Which she did, both species on the door step then cheered up somewhat. My cheery demeanour changed when I realised that thanks to MBAOSPW's generosity,  now there was only dust for my breakfast.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Better things to do..

Today, thanks to the boys in blue, was a massive waste of time as they, despite millions of taxpayers money, lack the capacity to make a phone call. I was summonsed to the real alternative to work by Messers Plod for a risk management meeting and yours truly along with the six other professionals involved spent the greater part of our morning traversing the country to get to our second city, one of us was sat in a humungous traffic jam thanks to a fuel tanker being inconsiderate enough to catch fire at the biggest road junction 1 mile from the venue. Suitably seething on arrival I was less than impressed to be told the meeting, hosted by the thin blue line was cancelled. I have better things to do with my time, see above.
Some compensation was had by calling in on a colleague who like me had not had second breakfast so we took to a greasy spoon and had a full English.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Different pace

The apprentice being lower to the ground and slower (sometimes) over the terrain of the Bonsai Mountain is better positioned to notice things like these three curious holes we found as we circumnavigated our back yard. Yours truly is not sure how many times these have been passed unnoticed but now we have seen them an answer needs to be found. Three holes the same size in rock, unknown depth and uncertain purpose. I think it might be something to do with geological sampling, the apprentice thinks its caused by rock mice. Or worms.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Wish you were here!

 Okay so the technical hitch
 transferring video clips has yet to be reolved
 so here are a few pics from Aussie Pink Floyd Show which featured lots of lazers, giant marsupials
and a very wild boar.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Dark Side of the Moon

 Yesterday  was one of those that  had extreme contrasts. Having done the usual routine and fed and watered the critters  time was allocated to watching the near total eclipse which was to take place in clear blue skies.
 The place I chose to witness this event was on Hergest Ridge by the Whet Stone (back from the pub) The total eclipse of 1999 I saw in the grounds of a Ch√Ęteau in France parleying Franglais and downing vats of champers. I think I saw it anyway. This one I was not going to miss, I was going to ignore it as bereft of any suitable eyewear to see it happen I would have to studiously look away at the key moment, but at least I could say I was there. So there I was, this is the Whet Stone at almost the height of the partial eclipse and despite the sun being some 95% obscured its remarkably light.
 This is about as dark as it got, a bit of as disappointment in one way, it got colder, that was noticeable, as was the small group of Hippies sat smoking pot and downing rough cider from demijohns debating the merits of welding masks over commercially available solar eclipse glasses. As they debated these very real 1st world problems yours truly borrowed a communal commercial set and saw the solar spectacle in all its glory and then to have an opinion I had a look through a welders mask. Opinion. Its a dead heat, both were useful and worked, but half a dozen stoned cider drinkers looking skyward with welders masks adorning their features looked more sci fi than the paper solar specs.
 This is the unfiltered pic of the sun when there was only 5% showing, its a bright thing isn't it.
Once the story of the day had been dealt with (and work) I set out with the Stable Sprite to the Metropolis for another interesting adventure but this time involving The Dark Side of the Moon.
Pink Floyd have stopped touring on account of death, petty  squabbles and idleness but there are legions of fans still hoping that the lead guitarist has a personality transplant and goes on tour with the two other survivors. The band has been together(or not) for 50 years and in that time a few tribute bands have popped up. Now the term tribute act conjures up images of dodgy musicians in a transit van gigging at working mens clubs and vaguely sounding like the act they are stalking, much like the god awful muzak played at B and Q where you know what the song is being played but wonder why anyone would bother recording such a poor attempt. However, the Australian Pink Floyd were very different, in fact they were very much the same as the real thing, and once I figure out how to do it there will be a few clips of the lazer and light show that accompanied the awesome musicianship. Having seen the real Pink Floyd at Wembley the imitation band at the NIA might have been a let down but I have to say they were great and I cannot wait to see them again.

Keep Calm and Curry On

 Paid work has had a bit of stress exercise going on the last few days, in other words yours truly has realised that this is a job and needs to be taken a bit more seriously otherwise the inspectorate who regulate our activities will have a SOHF (sense of humour failure) and take my toys away. In an effort to prevent this an expert has been going through everything (well almost) with a fine toothcomb as part of a quality assurance audit thing. The good news about this is that apart from being really useful and informative, it meant I got to go out one of the evenings for a curry and swap salty  sea dog tales as the nice man doing the QA was an ex matlow medic from HM RN and so had a few dits to spin while we got our gobbling rods around the scran. Any Jack will know what most of that last sentence meant.
And as MBAOSPW is at her mothers with the two boys yours truly has been left with a massive jobs list to complete in her absence which undoubtedly had on it (having conveniently lost it) play on new spinning bike and make Airfix kits.
Another task completed was to collect a friends new bike and as she had not really told me what to expect has to be said the style, weight and accessories were a bit of  a surprise. I wasn't expecting a highly tuned carbon racer but the pre Napoleonic War design coupled with the length and that its made from scrap bits left over from constructing the Forth Bridge was a jaw dropper. The fight to get it in the back of Gerry was overshadowed by the struggle to get it back out again but as you can see its owner is very happy with it and will soon be knocking lorries out of the way as she cycles off to have a picnic or do the weekly shop.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Dirt track racer

 The apprentice bigging himself up, he's going to be number 1
 All he has to do is select the right gear
 hang on against the blistering acceleration
until he crosses the finish line by the gateway to the world.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Back from the dead

Hiding behind Chester is a surprise, insofar as sheep can be surprising. For a long time we have assumed that Easter and Springtime, twin Ryeland ewes were MIA, either they had been rounded up for pie filling by the militia or they had shuffled off their mortal coils and become chewy toys in sheepskull lane.

Then this old ewe returns and hangs around with our little flockers. A quick check of the eartag and suspicions confirmed, its Easter, back from the "dead". Springtime is still MIA. Pretty certain she is a chewy toy.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Wood Elf Chronicles

 The apprentice is all for exploring the great outdoors here at HQ. He does have a few favourite trails and spends almost the entire time out running or wittering ....I mean asking key questions or making astute observations like dogs like pooh don't they daddy as a Berner makes off with an offering from another species before it gets shouted at.
Along the way there is a tree which if you look at it funny it looks back as in our world it has a face and anything with a face has a personality and name. So while yours truly was regaling the apprentice with tales from times past involving Celts, Saxons, Romans, women with scythed chariots and wimps called Arthur, the apprentice turns all tree hugger and announced that this tree was his favourite as its looking at him funny. Is that so the chronicler says pausing for breath, what then is its name, thus allowing the apprentice free reign in creating his own narrative inhabited by gnarly tree folk. Having been raised myself on a diet of Tolkien, Games Workshop and later washed down by Pratchett (RIP) I expected something suitably mystical for an Ent.
Apparently this tree is called Tom.
Got a nice ring to it but I don't think it will feature in any chronicle just yet.
But then again.......

Thanks mum

 Sporting a kisser only a mother could love rug rat mkII got mothering Sunday off to a good start by helping himself to some chocolates that were not really meant for him.
 A severe hose down with the pressure washer revealed a small child who is not averse to posing for the camera. Here he is saying cheese on his sisters lap.
He's very photogenic, just like his mother and little big brother.

Hope every mother everywhere had a happy day yesterday, and a big thank you to my mum for everything, my beautiful and oh so patient wife's mum for everything else and the my beautiful and oh so patient wife for being so as well as being such a great mother to our lovely kids, young and older.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Its spring again

Despite the fact that last Saturday was 14 degrees and today its 3 with a windchill making it minus 14 its clearly spring again. I can tell as I can see Daffodils in the garden. This is she viewed from the kitchen window. Unless I'm very much mistaken that's Springtime above her munching on the grass.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Do it some more

 Its that time again when yours truly manages to get everyone in the office looking as daft as me.
Team photo, Tigger in the background rescuing a Red Kite.
Give what you can to comic relief.
You know you want to :)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Filling up

 The sun room, now complete, is being put to good use by Rug Rat MkII
 and the Apprentice (who insists its called the Patients Room) who are both rapidly filling it with their toys. This is because their bedrooms are already full, as is the landing, the stairs, under the stairs, the lounge, the new utility room which has never been a utility room because it is full of toys and both the dining table and the office desk.
Its noteworthy in all of this that there is no room for my toys.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Your carriage awaits

 This is the mess you leave when you come to an unexpected halt on your bike and you use your face as a crash mat. The creator of this bloody mess was not yours truly but a cyclist one car ahead on a country lane, a bright sunny afternoon, a lovely place to be riding (unlike 6 hours earlier when yours truly was pressing the pedals on the same route when it was pouring with rain)
The cause of this accident was not immediately obvious, one second cyclist went from rapid forward travel to a tangled mess on the tarmac. Somehow a twig, yes a twig, flipped up as he rode past, got caught in his front wheel jamming it solid allowing physics to take over causing him to somersault over the bars and plant his kisser on the floor.
 Now yours truly is not the callous sort, he asked me to take these pictures as I added to his battered pride by wrapping him in a dog blanket and inflicting first aid on him. As I tried to stop him leaking we noticed that his hand was probably broken and his left knee looked like it had two kneecaps. Clearly he was going nowhere except hospital so his carriage was called and soon he was in far more capable hands than mine and under far cleaner blankets.
I phoned him later in the evening to find his sense of humour intact and I'm glad to report he has no life threatening injuries, just a rearranged face, dislocated fingers and a bashed up leg. He also thinks he might wear a helmet from now on. Experience is a hard school.

On a lighter note, talking of cyclists, I saw a familiar shape today clutching a bike on the Bonsai Mountain, Technohermit was back. Regular readers may remember Technohermit left us a while back (read 14 months) going in to hospital and not coming back. He has a new cave on another mountain, one with flushing water and central heated beds, but every now and then he escapes and comes back. So as is the way of things round these parts no mention was made of being absent and we carried on as if he being here was the norm. For some reason conversation turned to eggs, yours truly having just bought some as the hens are off laying. The fact that most are cockerels is a moot point which we shall gloss over for the sake of narrative. So, as I explain that I had to buy eggs despite owning chickens, Techno nodded and interrupted saying that he knew how to persuade my hens  to lay more eggs.
I paused, waiting for the words of wisdom from one so wizened and wise. He reached inside his saddlebag and handed me a small box saying I was to hang it outside the hen house, the hens would see it and it would make them lay again.
 He shuffled away pushing his bike laughing to himself leaving me to wonder if I was to keep the box of Paxo chicken stuffing he had just given me.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Keeping myself occupied

 While my beautiful and oh so patient wife was having a much needed knee operation, one which will if as successful as we hope it will be will mean she can bend her knee without risking it not straightening again, I had to find a way to keep myself occupied. Luckily there was a very nice restaurant that was serving not your usual hospital food.
 Fortunately for  my waistline MBAOSPW was evicted before thoughts turned to the dinner menu and once yours truly managed to extricate the new invalid from Ruby I abandoned her, the apprentice and rug rat mkII at supergrandmas and headed back to the ranch. Supergrandma has drawn the short straw looking after everyone while I get on with the jobs list.
 High on the list, after paid work and normal routine was to finish the bike showroom. All that was required was to paint the wall
 and then once that was done
 hang and plumb in a large radiator. This was a lot easier without two small children asking Daddy what he was doing every ten seconds, making hand prints in the paint or demanding I play games/trains/jigsaws/go for a walk or go kart. All things that are much more interesting than DIY especially on such a perfect spring day.
Eventually jobs a good one, all done, which meant lots of time to enjoy the view. Well about five minutes before the next  job on the list.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


I got mine. New mug to replace my old work mug.

Theres more!

 Here are some pics from Richards camera of last Sundays epic adventure, this one shows the weather as we set off up the mountain
 while this one shows the terrain we encountered very clearly
 along with the scale of the descents from cliffs
 that had to be negotiated, hence an average of less than two mikes an hour.
 This one hints at the ferocity of the weather as it turned
and why we decided to head down (this is the way down) rather than up as conditions worsened.

Monday, 2 March 2015

All done...almost

The bike showroom er....sun room is now finished all bar the painting of the now inside wall. Start of day saw the apprentice using sun room as a gym
End of play saw it furnished and kitted out as a useful family room with bike. Job done!

But as is the case here the jobs list never quite shrinks to a manageable size. This is the result of two dogs helping themselves to a tub of Easter Bunny shaped ginger biscuits. Yours truly decided at 5 am prior to setting out on mountain adventure detailed previous to have a couple or three with a cuppa before heading off. Stupidly I left them along with a tub of flapjack on the cooker. Stupidly the dogs helped themselves and turned the cooker on. Pretty soon the remaining biscuits and wrapping caught fire, the heat melting a container of bike lights and batteries which spilled out onto the heat source and igniting. As did a wash basket full of clothes.
Thankfully the smoke detector sounded and Tracey came down to be confronted by smoke filled rooms and flames rising up the kitchen wall. It would take around an hour for the fire brigade to arrive so she ran back upstairs and got the boys out of their beds and shut them in the front conservatory before returning to fight the fire. This was aided by being able to scrape all burning things onto the stone floor and chucking vast amounts of water around. At one point she nearly gave up due to the smoke but she is made of stern stuff and was victorious. Meanwhile yours truly was off gallivanting around the Welsh mountains oblivious to the peril his family faced. Only thanks to his beautiful and oh so patient wife's valiant efforts yours truly was able to return to Rock HQ that needs some redecorating rather than a complete rebuild.