Sunday, 30 September 2012

First Match of the Season

It was another early start today and I found myself out on the Three Miler well before nine o'clock. TP had a rugby match this morning and plan was to get the dogs walked beforehand so that 30% and I could spectate.

The first Under 16 match of the season was a reasonable start and although TP's team didn't win they put in a great performance, scored a couple of tries and held a more experienced team at bay. It will be interesting to see how they perform against some of their old rivals after a little more training and more match experience.

In the afternoon I retired to the garage and made a few adjustments to the rebate in the mirror frame I glued up yesterday. I then flipped it over, sanded and oiled it. Tomorrow's goal is to apply a coat of wax and insert the mirror glass.

And that is the sum of Sunday's activities; a quiet day at The Pile with some amateur sport and a pinch of DIY.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Project work

Saturday started with a flurry of activity and by eleven o'clock I had dropped TP off at the Charity Shop* and had taken T&M around the Three Miler. On my return it was time to get myself tidied up and 30% and I were out again. This time it was to a local Butcher to order a tunnel boned leg of pork for the next air dried ham. We took a sample of the ham we had unwrapped and sliced last weekend as it was purchased from the very same Supplier. I think it was fair to say that the Butcher was impressed by the product of our labours and took a few slices for his colleagues and Boss who is an air dried ham aficionado. I'll get the expert verdict when I pick up the leg next weekend. We then went back in to town and collected TP and a few groceries.

In the afternoon I retired to the garage and spent a couple of hours turning a few lengths of elm floor boards in to a mirror frame. I had plugged the nail holes in the boards last week and today I got medieval with a belt sander before routing a rebate to hold the mirror glass and a decorative beading on the face of the boards. It was then a case of cutting the mitres and using biscuit joints to hold the frame together. I glued it up and left it sat on the work bench to set.

If all goes well it will be sanded and oiled tomorrow.
* He "volunteers" there. I didn't leave him there to be put on a shelf with 50p scrawled inside his jacket.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Nearly finished

It was another quiet day at the laptop as I polished prose and inserted contributions from colleagues. I fired an updated copy over to IM and he eventually got back to me advising that he had only read half of it but that it looked good.  I'm on target to finish and submit it early next week and then just have the associated Presentation to develop ...

... I'm not sure how I feel about the Presentation. I know my subject and the documentation is accurate and of good quality. I guess I am just worried about "left field" questions putting me off my stroke.*

* Having read that I have to say that I have managed to produce a dreadful mixed metaphor resulting in the intriguing concept of Baseball with combined Rowing.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

This Sounds Expensive

I had an early start this morning as I had to drop the Defender off for a Service and MOT test. I left it in the oily hands of Mark at MP Trading and went about my day. Calls were listened to, documentation was drafted and IM was true to form in that he "totally forgot" that he had agreed to review some material when I gave him a gentle nudge late in the afternoon.

Towards the end of the day I called Mark to see whether the car was ready for collection. He advised that it had passed it's MOT test with only a need for two rear shock absorbers but ...

... it really needed a new ball joint fitting at the front and inspection of the front brake calipers showed that the pistons were corroded. He advised that he could replace the pistons but the labour costs meant that new calipers were actually the more economical repair. It looks like I am going to be driving the courtesy car until Monday as the workshop is very busy and he will need to squeeze it in around a few jobs.

As it says at the top of this entry ...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

As Dull as Monday's ditch water

If I thought yesterday was a non-event, today was even worse. I completed the re-write of my documentation and arranged for IM to actually review it properly and provide some feedback. That was it. That was how I spent my entire working day.

To break the massive tedium I did take a walk around the Three Miler with T&M and also had a brief spell pottering in the garage.

The only news of any import is that TP played a rugby match for the school team and managed to damage his little finger within a couple of minutes of running on to the field. The good news was that his team won 15:10, the bad news is that he may have broken his little finger which could mean that he has to defer his Grade 5 Guitar examination. Like the concerned parents we are, we decided to see how it improves over the next day or so before deciding on taking a trip to A&E.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Wordsmithing vs Taxi Driving

Tuesday was a quiet day spent re-drafting a reasonable chunk of my documentation and calling in favours from colleagues where I would like them to make a contribution. As is usual I achieved less than I would have liked but am on target to have a finished product by the beginning of next week.

Away from work I headed out on the Three Miler suitably prepared with scuba gear  and wellingtons. I was disappointed to find that all of the flood waters had subsided apart from a single, shallow fluddle.* It was easily avoided but I wandered through the middle in attempt to justify the discomfort of walking in wellingtons.

In the evening my grumbling stomach told me that the rugby season was definitely here as supper was delayed by a couple of hours to fit in with mid week practice. There also seems to be a significant increase in the demands on Dad's Taxi Service with a pick up from school** and two return trips to the rugby club.
* fluddle: noun, a pool of standing water too large to be a puddle but too small to be called a flood. A fluddle must be large enough to cover the full width of a road to merit the term.
** one of his bloody mates managed to tear away one of the retaining straps for the tip up seats in the back of the Defender. I swear if I ever meet that child in a darkened alley ...

Monday, 24 September 2012


After what seemed like twenty four hours of rain it was another miserable day as I sat down at my desk to start the working week. My motivation levels were still minimal but I had a review call arranged with IM this morning to see whether I had wasted my time last week. True to form IM had failed to read either the meeting invitation or the draft document embedded therein so was typically unprepared for the call. He read through my work on the hoof and advised that I was well on the way but needed to hone my work to have more impact. I am somewhat encouraged by this but the cynic in me would have preferred it if those comments had come after a thorough deliberation rather than a hasty skim through.

Early in the afternoon the rain had eased off somewhat so I grabbed my hat and coat and took T&M for a walk. At a couple of places the roads were ankle deep in water and I had to take to the overgrown verges to avoid getting wet feet...

... However, as I neared home I was confronted by one hundred yards of flooded road and a choice. I could either turn back and walk five miles rather than three or attempt to get through the flood without getting a soaking.  At this point in the route the drainage ditches had filled and were overflowing back on to the road through the gullies that are cut in to the earth verges. I was presented with a narrow strip of overgrown land that I needed to traverse. To my left was a flooded road and to my right was an overflowing ditch. Marauder had already made some investigations of the depth of the flood water and in places it was a foot or more deep.

I started to make my way along the verge and periodically had to step over gurgling gullies that were emptying on to the road. After seventy or eighty yards I was presented with a dilemma. The flood water now covered the verge and my way was now blocked unless ...
I must have a word with the infographics team.
... if I could manage a four foot jump from a standing start I would be able to clear the flooded ditch and use the fence on the other side as a horizontal ladder to clear the last few yards of flood water. I leapt with a rare degree of grace and landed with the tiniest of splashes. I was still quite dry and all I needed to do now was clamber along the fence past the deepest part of the flood. T&M obligingly followed getting very wet. My plan was working and after thirty feet I could see the road rising from the flood waters. All I needed to do now was jump back across the ditch and I would be home dry within a quarter of an hour. I turned so that I was facing the span and again jumped from a standing start. I landed right at the very edge of the flooded ditch and time slowed as my left foot lost it's grip and slid down in to the depths ...

... my leg went in right up to mid thigh and it was a very soggy walk back through the village.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Filling Time

Bright eyed and bushy tailed we all loaded ourselves in to the car for the regular Sunday morning trip to the Rugby Club. 30%, T&M and I took off for a walk around the fields and woods whilst TP trained. We got back to the pitches around eleven to be instantly pressed in to signing a permission slip ...

... it appeared that the Under 17s were short of players and TP had volunteered to move up a year group and help out. He joined the game for the second half and ended up out on the right wing where he had a reasonable game. He didn't really get to run with the ball but made a good few tackles and no mistakes. The only downside to this first game of the season was that the rain started about twenty minutes before the final whistle and we were all quite soggy by time we climbed back in to the car.

I had nothing planned for the rest of the day and found myself out in the garage where I sorted out some lengths of old elm floorboards to be recycled in to a mirror frame. Last week 30% found an old bevelled mirror glass at the Charity Shop where TP volunteers and, with a little time and effort, it will be converted from junk in to a reproduction antique. I spent an hour or so dismantling the mirror and trimming the boards to a consistent width. I also cut some elm plugs and used these to fill any nail holes that would otherwise be visible in the finished piece...

... a few worm holes add character but a nail hole just looks shite.

Junk or Raw Materials?

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Air Dried Ham: Day 282

Around the middle of December last year I bought a leg of pork with the aim of producing another air dried ham. After three weeks packed in salt it was washed in white wine vinegar, lovingly wrapped in a muslin shroud and hung up in the rafters of the garage to dry. Now nearly nine months later it was time to examine the fruits of my labours ...
After nine months hanging in the garage a dark green mould could be seen through the muslin wrapping.  Mind you, in view of some of the recent projects, it could just be an accretion of sawdust.

After unwrapping it was apparent that the mould was restricted to the cut surface of the ham. The skin was spotless, incredibly hard and a deep tan in colour.

There was absolutely no odour emanating from the ham and the next stage was to give it a thorough washing in white wine vinegar before paring away the outer surface. It was then a case of lugging the bacon slicer in to the kitchen and loading the ham in to the cradle.

 The first few slices were very dry and more akin to Jerky than ham but after a few more cuts we were rewarded with millimetre thin slices of a prosciutto type delicacy. It has a robust flavour with a saltiness that screams out for an accompaniment of wine or beer. I think it fair to say that I'll be starting the cure on another in the next month or so.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Lacking Enthusiasm

In an attempt to get some feedback on the documentation that has been my focus this week I fired off a copy to a senior colleague and also set up a review meeting with IM early next week. The lack of clarity on what is required is a great demotivator and, to be honest, I did very little other than that in the final working day of the week.

At lunchtime I hitched up the trailer to the Defender and set of for the centre of Worcester to pick up the slate hearthstone. I took the trailer as I had no idea how heavy the stone would be and didn't fancy wrestling it in and out of the Land Rover if it weighed a ton. I also took the view that if it was really heavy it could just sit in the trailer until Chippy Ian was ready to fit it. I subsequently found out that it was a manageable weight and took the stone mason's advice that it would be safer in the car where it stood less chance of being bounced around...

... I will obviously require TP's assistance to unload it before rugby training on Sunday.

The rest of the day was uneventful and in the evening we decided that cooking was not for us and took a wander down the road to see what was on offer at one of the local hostelries. We walked in to receive a number of "what are you doing in here" type looks from a group of drinkers at the bar and then headed towards the restaurant area which was ominously dark and quiet. It appears that it has, yet again, changed hands and the last management team removed all kitchen equipment on their departure* ...

... As a result we drove to a local that has very little atmosphere but has two massive advantages; it is very close to home and serves decent food at a reasonable price. There is nothing there that encourages one to linger so once our appetites were sated we headed back home and were relaxing on the sofa a few minutes before nine o'clock. It might seem a little lame to be home so early but, after a fairly busy week, popping out for a quick supper and then being able to chill on the sofa seems like the best of both worlds.
*This is not the first time that we have had this type of experience there and explains why we are such infrequent visitors. It really is a case of changing hands every couple of months.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Picture Post No. 17

Thursday was even more tedious than Wednesday and my frustration level is increasing as I fail to get any feedback on the work I am doing.  I have therefore opted for a Picture Post rather than continue to moan about work.

This little fellow was snapped at the San Diego Zoo back in 2006 and is a fair representation of what I would much prefer to be doing.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Quickie

Not a lot to report for today; more words got typed but I have no idea whether I am producing literary genius or complete and utter bollocks. I really need to get an hour with Idiot Manager and get him to review the stuff and advise accordingly. I know that it is not exactly what he wants but I need to get a steer on whether I am heading in the right direction or so lost it would need military satellites to track me down. IM is one of the assessors of this piece of work and, for once, his opinion might actually be of some value.

Putting work to one side, I knocked off at a very civilised four o'clock as I needed to collect TP and one of his mates from school after rugby practice. I killed two birds with one stone by taking a slight diversion and dropped an old pine trunk over at Dave the Strippers. It is quite a nice old piece and is a great place to store the Christmas decorations but at some point in it's history it has either been stained or polished with a very dark wax. It is not a nice colour but a quick dip in Dave's tank should soon put that right.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Nose to the Grindstone

Today was most definitely not an exciting day and, to be honest, I don't expect much from the rest of the week either. I have been sat in front of the laptop drafting and redrafting documentation. I really need to get this job done and it will benefit me but I really don't like doing it. As a result I have to goad and bribe my self in to completing this task ... "No bad man, you can't have another cup of coffee until you've finished this section" or the traditional "Come on you lazy Fuck, you know it will be worth it in the end".

As a bit of an aside, as I was typing the preceding sentences I mistyped laptop and instead found myself sat in front of the alp top. Now that would have been splendid. I could really enjoy a few hours of Mountain views rather than this head scratching, keyboard pecking torture.

At the end of the day I had completed less than I had hoped for but more than I had achieved on Monday so at least I am heading in the right direction. I just hope that the material is up to scratch.

Away from work; I had my annual flu jab, the dogs got walked and TP was taken to evening rugby practice. I even found time to pop over to see BMS and SMS to drop off the photographs of Tilly.

As I said in the opening paragraph; not the most exciting of days.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Catching Up

I find myself watching the sun set on Monday and note that I haven't made a Journal entry since Thursday Last.  To be honest I have been just plain lazy so here is my attempt to make amends with a round up of the last few days.

I managed to finish the piece of work off for the Americans by lunchtime and consequently had an easy slide in to the weekend ... well I would have if we hadn't got guests over for supper this evening. It was therefore a manic couple of hours as TP and I got the house looking straight before 30% arrived home from work. Our guests were Bond, Moneypenny, Rosie, Jim and their progeny. We had a lovely Friday evening catching up on each other's news and there was copious drink and laughter. 30%'s 24 hour roast leg of pork must get a mention here as it was absolutely delicious and was served like a mini indoor Hog Roast in baps with relishes and all the trimmings. As usual it was a "late one".

As is now the norm I was tasked with taking TP in to Redditch for his voluntary session at the local Charity Shop. I combined the trip with a few chores and returned home with a new pair of jeans and sundry items from the DIY store. To be honest we had a fairly lazy morning day and the most significant activity was collecting the photos of T&M on our way in to pick TP up at lunchtime. The photos are great and it looks like I may be out in the workshop soon to make up a set of three frames as 30% has found just the spot for these family portraits. Actually this is definitely a new entry on the "to do" list as 30% returned from collecting TP from the Charity Shop clutching a large bevelled mirror. It's frame was in very poor condition but the mirror itself was lovely so it looks like I will be out in the workshop making four frames.

After lunch I took T&M for a wander around the Three Miler whilst 30% dropped TP off at a music festival being hosted by one of the nearby villages. He disappeared with two cans of Carling Black Label and strict instructions to a) not get drunk and b) make sure he got his arse on the eleven o'clock bus that night ...

... unbelievably he managed both!

Sunday morning was consumed by Rugby Practice so 30% and I filled the time  by wandering over the fields of the local estate with T&M.

In the latter part of the day we were at home to visitors and received 30%'s brother and GF for afternoon tea and Jules arrived to join us for Sunday Dinner.

It looks like I may have a quiet week which is good as I have a few things that I really need to complete but first I had to be the dutiful father and take TP in to Birmingham Dental Hospital. His Dentist is concerned that some play fighting several years ago damaged a front tooth and that root canal work is required to ensure he keeps his smile intact. Specialist Consultation was required before the treatment plan commenced ...

... putting this in to plain English translates to us spending 3 hours enduring Birmingham's rush hour and paying £6.50 in car parking fees for an appointment that took forty minutes including the spell in the waiting room. The good news is that they are confident that the work is within the scope of his normal dentist and that the treatment will be carried out much closer to home.

The remainder of the day was spent in front of the laptop and ended abruptly with  significant swearing when a "session time out" lost the best part of an hour's work.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

... and another

Today went reasonably well from a work perspective. I have given the American Team two out of the three cost deliverables they require and the outstanding one should be available within the next twenty four hours. All being well they will have a lovely weekend putting all those numbers in to a model while I have to endure the social whirlwind that 30% will have arranged for me.

Putting work to one side I can report that the timber arrived for the dining room skirting boards and joist reinforcements but the promised call back from the Stonemason about the hearthstone didn't happen...

... one more duck and I will have a row of them.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

One step closer

Today I was head down for most of the day on a  new piece of work. We need to get some estimates pulled together very quickly to placate an upset client and attempt to oust a competitor. Fortunately much of the work will be done by my US colleagues and all I need to do is assist with some costing guidance. To use a culinary analogy; I'm out doing some of the shopping and they are stuck in the kitchen attempting to deliver haute cuisine.

When I wasn't on the 'phone or begging favours from colleagues I seemed to be making several cups of coffee for Paul the Plumber.  He was in to replace the radiators and pipework in the Dining Room before the floor is put down. The timber for the skirting boards and joist reinforcement arrives tomorrow, so all I need to do is get a date for the collection of the hearthstone and I can start nudging Chippy Ian to come and put it all together.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

How the other half live

I found myself crawling out of bed at five o'clock this morning in order to be in London for a nine o'clock start. For reasons that are still not not fully understood I had been invited to the launch of a new Business Unit at Dante's Nine Circles of Hell. So I turned up at the appointed hour suited and booted, I registered at reception and affixed my name badge. After the obligatory bad coffee and mini pastries I wandered in to the Presentation Room found a seat and for once paid attention ...

... The Event was launched by one of the most Senior Daemons at Dante's and after a couple of minutes it was apparent that this was an auspicious occasion where three separate groups had been joined to form a new Business Unit. One of the aforementioned groups has a bit of a reputation in Dante's for a high degree of extravagance and it was apparent on this occasion where the Agenda included a free lunch and an end of day free drinks and networking session. There was also a massive amount of branded goods left lying around for attendees to stuff in to their laptop cases.

Working in a far, far more financially constrained Circle of Hell* I must admit that the Cynic in me thought that it would be a long, long time before this lot were dishing out free sandwiches and drinks again now they had Revenue and Profit targets. I did my best to educate them in the need to rein in their profligacies ...

... today's haul included two USB Memory Sticks, a pen, a leather business card wallet, a pocket sized USB mouse, an A5 hardback notebook and  a leatherette A5 Journal and pen.**

The laptop bag was so heavy I considered employing a Sherpa to haul it back to the Tube Station for me!
* a Severance programme every year for the past three years
** All goods featured subtle corporate branding

Monday, 10 September 2012

Back to it.

Monday; the first day of the working week, the key word there is “working”. After a fortnight off work I am back at my desk clearing e-mails and trying to work out what I will be doing over the next few weeks.

I had the fortunate situation of finishing my last piece of work on my last day before my holiday started and therefore there was not likely to be anything to do on that Project unless something had gone seriously awry. I appreciate that my Indian colleagues had made some ridiculous requests as I was about to finish but these would have either been completed by my buddy or have been thrown back at them as unachievable. Either way I wasn’t going to have to hit the ground running today.

After a trawl though my mail and a couple of instant messages it was apparent that I need to be in London tomorrow for a Security Services Sales Briefing.* After initiating the appropriate travel authorisations I carried on with the mission of completing all of those certification and review activities that had accumulated over the past two weeks.

On the Project front I noticed a flurry of communications about some impending work with a Client I have met with a few times over the past few months in deepest, darkest Dudley. It looked as though I was to be providing a supporting role on that deal but a call with Idiot Manager soon put me right … this was not the gig for me. This was a little bitter sweet as, although I was not really looking forward to carrying a supporting role, I have had a quiet year*** so far and a win would have been nice whatever role I was fulfilling.

The conversation with IM continued with him giving the briefest mention to my next project before taking an interesting turn…

… perhaps more on this in the next few weeks.
* I cannot tell you how excited I am about that **
** If anyone from America reads this it might be worth looking up the definition of the word sarcasm about now
*** A Global Deal lost and a handful of early bid stage successes but no final signatures

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Quiet Day

After a week at home Sunday was our last day of leisure before it is a case of "back on yer 'eads lads". In the morning we took TP to rugby practice and enjoyed a lengthy walk with T&M over the fields and through the woods on the nearby Estate.  The dogs got filthy and, as Tyson insists on attempting to climb in to the front of the Defender, I put aside some time in the afternoon to refit the dog guard.

The only other things worth mentioning was that the new pullets were let out in to their run today and unusually seemed to have enough intelligence to find their way back in to the coop at nightfall. * I also cleared the underfloor area around the radiator pipes in the Dining Room as Paul the Plumber is due to visit at some point this week to get them replaced.

I may have fitted in a snooze too.
*In the past scrambles in a dark run with a torch have been necessary to ensure less astute chickens were safe from the fox.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

and this one wasn't any better

It was a reasonably early start today as TP needed to be dropped off in Redditch where he will be completing the Volunteering element of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. For the next few months he will be assisting at a local Charity Shop and I was tasked with taxiing him in this morning. I made the best of this trip and managed to pick up a few groceries, order timber from the Builders Merchants, collect Chicken Run repair necessities from the DIY store and buy a couple of chicken drinkers from a feed store too. With that level of productivity I was panicking at the thought of what would be expected of me for the rest of the day.

Back at The Pile I changed down a couple of gears and drank coffee before wandering out the the garden to repair the obstinate gate on one of the chicken runs. After  the installation of a new hinge and latch and a couple of runs with an electric planer it was restored to full functionality ...

... the reason behind this flurry of poultry related activity is the new batch of pullets. They are currently shut in a coop to get used to their new home but, when let out, their run needs to be separated from the old lags to avoid any bullying until they are big enough to look after themselves.

A little before midday 30% popped out to collect TP and I continued with my efforts until the 'phone rang. It was the Vet and it wasn't good news, unfortunately Tog had stopped breathing during the operation and failed to respond to resuscitation attempts. I was left to break the bad news upon her return.

The rest of the day understandably progressed under a leaden sky ...

... the chicken run was netted to prevent youthful escapees and a grave was dug for young Tog.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Not the best of days ...

It wasn't the best start to the day when we discovered that Tog had been hit by a car. He clearly had a broken tail and was in a lot of pain but was still able to walk so it was straight in to the Vets for a consultation. After a couple of x-rays he was put on a drip and is under observation with a possibility of surgery tomorrow morning. The reason for the observation period is that a broken tail can sever the nerves that control bladder function and we could end up with either an incontinent cat or one that cannot urinate, either way euthanasia would be the only option. It is a case of fingers crossed that there no nerve damage and that he will go under the knife tomorrow to remove his tail and reattach the ruptured diaphragm.

Later in the morning Bad Man Senior and I went in to the wilds of Shropshire in search of chickens. It was a return to The Gobbets Rare Breed Centre where we purchased our first birds seven years ago. This time we picked out three Red Black Araucanas, two Barnevelders, a couple of Light Sussex and a pair of Brown Leghorns. to go with the three Marans that we acquired earlier in the week.

It was then home for lunch and an afternoon walk with T&M. For much of the Summer we have been avoiding the fields as it has been so wet but in the past couple of days we have finally been able to walk over the fields without getting a soaking. The dogs seem to enjoy the change and can charge around without the need for automotive vigilance.

30% popped up to the Vets, while I was walking, to take Tog some grapes and reported back that he was much brighter but, as yet, he had not peed. This suggest that he isn't incontinent but we still need to know whether he can actually urinate.

We finished the day with a drive up to the Why Not for an early supper, As the title says; it wasn't the best of days but sometimes you just have to do what you need to do.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

They're only flat at the bottom!

Today's main objective was to pick up the oak from the flooring supplier in Stratford so I hitched the trailer up to the Defender and set out a little after ten o'clock. As pack after pack of boards was removed from the store I wondered about the capabilities of the trailer and have to admit that the tyres did look a little under inflated as I drove home at a sedate thirty five miles an hour...

... I realised why the trailer looked to be overloaded when it came to me single handedly unloading and it dawned on me that I had been carrying over a quarter of a tonne of wood! The seventeen square metres are now sitting in the Dining Room where they will acclimatise for a couple of weeks before Chippy Ian comes to fit them. All that is needed now is the carcassing timber to stabilise the floor joists and a few lengths of 150 mm x 25 mm PAR softwood which will be routed to match the skirting boards in the rest of the house. I plan to get that ordered from the Builders Merchant on Saturday when I take TP in to Redditch.

The rest of the day was pretty leisurely with nothing more strenuous than a walk with the dogs and I finally got around to culling the old hens...

... The local foxes will be having a feast tonight.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

New Arrivals

I walked T&M straight after breakfast this morning as 30%'s idea to replace the chickens has now gone hypersonic ...

... I found her with iPad, 'phone and Poultry Breed manual canvassing the major local breeders to see exactly what young birds they had in stock. This morning we drove over to the other side of Redditch to meet Morris and to see his prize winning Cuckoo Marans. He was an incredibly well preserved eighty one year old and, after coffee and a chat, gave us free rein to make our selection from a group of twenty young birds. He had obviously selected his 2013 show birds already but these "rejects"were no scruffs and will be more than adequate as brown egg layers at The Pile. We selected three pullets at around sixteen weeks* of age and left with the sincere promise to return for a couple more if we were left with any more space in the coop.

It was then a case of back home to give the spare coop a sweep out and get them settled in their new home and start making some harsh decisions about the geriatrics they will replace. Later in the day 30% contacted the Poultry Breeder over in Cleobury Mortimer where we bought our first birds seven years ago. They have plenty of young stock available so we'll be away to the wilds of Shropshire at the back end of the week.

In the afternoon we met up with Bad Man Senior and Step Mum Sue over at a local Photographer's studio for the final element to their birthday present; Tilly was to be "snapped" and a portrait selected. T&M got in on the act too and were absolute stars, posing on the infinity wall with infinite patience. ** There were some wonderful shots taken and we will pop down in a few days to pick up the eight by tens. The nice thing about the session is that there are no fees*** but a £5 donation is requested for The Dogs Trust. There is also a chance that your pet can be featured on a Dogs Trust Poster or calendar.

After the modelling session it was back to The Pile for Dinner and to catch up with TP after his first day back at school. He was grinning when we returned as he has managed a crop of As and Bs in the first of the GCSE papers that he sat last year. I hope he performs as well with the remaining papers at the end of this school year.
* They should come in to lay at around 22 - 26 weeks but are put off by the shortening day length so there is a slim chance that they will lay this side of Christmas.
** Firm commands and a pocket full of liquorice work wonders!
*** apart from any prints selected, obviously

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Almost a case of "cart before the horse"

30% was out early this morning for an extended gossiping session with the hair dresser.* While she was being attacked with Ladies Power Tools I wandered around the Three Miler with T&M and settled down with a book for a while.

After lunch 30% and I nipped in to Stratford with the aim of ordering the oak for the Dining Room floor. We failed miserably here as the Supplier was out on a job so it looks like I will be nipping in at some point later on this week. We did, however, nearly buy a dining table at a nearby antique shop ...

... it was a beautiful 1930's, Victorian style, solid Mahogany, extending table and we were just shy of striking a deal when we removed all of the decor *** to view it au natural. At this point we notice a single dent in the otherwise perfect surface that had been concealed by the central cloth runner.  Our ardour diminished and we headed on in to town to pick up a few supplies and complete a couple of errands.

It was an early supper this evening as TP and I met up with Chippy Ian, Mick and Shaky Steve for a ride out. We headed out of Evesham on the A46 towards Cheltenham. We then cut off the main road and travelled through Beckford and Bredon before coming in to Tewkesbury. From there it was a glorious run along the A438 towards Ledbury. I had a bit of a flashback in the vicinity of Hollybush as I realised that the last time I had ridden this road was more than twenty years ago and had crashed a Honda VF 500 FII after a tank slapper as I headed towards my Sister's for a weekend away from London.

Just out side Ledbury we turned on the the A449 and headed back towards Worcester. As we neared the car park for British Camp **** we took the B4232 that afforded us fantastic views across Herefordshire in the late evening sun. This back road took us through West Malvern where we picked up the B4219 and then the A4103 through Leigh Sinton and on in to Worcester. After a coffee break and a natter we crossed back over the Severn and headed back towards Evesham. TP and I peeled off at Spetchley Cross and were back at The Pile a little after nine thirty.
* Note to self: Remember to comment on how lovely her hair looks upon her return **
** Second note to self: Remember to actually look at the hair before commenting favourably this time!
*** It was set for six with glasses and serving dishes etc
**** aka Herefordshire Beacon, Malvern Hills

Monday, 3 September 2012

Time for an Inquiry?

This morning started with me hanging around for the dishwasher repair main while 30% headed out for supplies. The man with the screw driver eventually turned up a little before twelve and very soon had the task in hand ...

... it appears that at some point in the recent past one of the various plastic racks had become unclipped and when re-attached it had been misaligned which, in turn, meant that the door wasn't quite closing. The net result of this was a small puddle on the floor and the fee for this fix was a call out charge just shy of ninety quid! I appointed myself as Grand Inquisitor and set about interviewing interrogating the suspects. TP's "I was in Qatar" alibi seemed pretty watertight but 30% was uncharacteristically reticent on the subject and willing to absorb the cost of repair. The Court is now in recess while the verdict is being considered but I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

After being relieved of ninety pounds I headed out around the Three Miler with T&M returning for a late lunch.

The afternoon saw 30% and I head over to Worcester to visit the Stonemason and order the slate hearthstone for the Dining Room. That completed we headed home but stopped off at a local Smallholder's store to see what Poultry they had available ... our birds a long past their best and lay very few eggs and it is time for a new batch. Unusually it is 30% that is taking the lead in this restocking and I am wondering whether she is hoping that attrition rather than a cull will deal with the current flock. The store only had modern hybrids available and that wasn't really what we were after so our Pensioners get to scratch around for a another day at least.

Back at home I finally finished the restoration of the Satinwood chest of drawers and these are now installed in the spare bedroom.

Junk Shop find
Paul the Plumber also turned up to size up the pipework that needs to be replaced in the Dining Room. Our main concern is that there are no joints under the floor as a leak would be a nightmare to fix. He took us through the various options and then left to work out what was the best option for us. He plans to pop over at some point next week to carry out the work.

As we settled down for the evening 30% piped up that she had arranged for us to visit a local Poultry Breeder who has some Cuckoo Maran* pullets available ...

... She is really keen isn't she.
*A traditional, dual purpose, French breed that lays incredibly dark brown eggs.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back to it

It's that time of year again ... the rugby season has started and I found myself "encouraging" TP out of bed, washing up* and running him over to the club for a practice session. It was then back home for a late breakfast with 30% and out in to the garden for a session with The Porn Mower ... Christ it must have been wet here last week. The grass wasn't particularly long but the ground was sodden. I found out from conversations later in the day that it had been much wetter here than the traditionally soggy Gower and that flood warnings and constant rain had been the meteorological theme in these parts.

After hacking the lawn in to submission it was time to pick up TP and lunch before I hit the Three Miler with T&M. I had barely started when I bumped in to Paul the Plumber, his partner and their two Labradors. This was a fortunate meeting and within a few minutes had him lined up to come and see about replacing the copper radiator piping with plastic in the Dining Room. ** That was job number one crossed off the to do list.

With the walk completed I had time for a quick gluteal inspection of the sofa before it was time to hit the shower as we were out for Sunday Dinner with Trish and family. It may have been an early dinner but that just gave us much more time to chat, review photos from Qatar and catch up with all the news. It was a lovely evening but bed was a welcome sight after what had developed in to a fairly busy day.
* The bloody dishwasher has developed a leak
** On the subject of leaks, I don't fancy having one under an oak floor so the elderly, soldered copper is definitely being replaced with unjointed plastic

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Home again

Saturday dawned sunny and bright and I took T&M for their last early morning walk along the tide line before we breakfasted, packed up the car and headed back towards Worcestershire. We have had a lovely week and have done very little other than eat, wander along the beach and read, sometimes that is exactly what you need and this was definitely one of those occasions ... a week of doing nothing.

30% and I really enjoy the sense of "convenient seclusion" at Pwll Du that is brought about by it's Pedestrian / 4WD only access. This means that despite the fact that it is only five miles or so from Mumbles it never has more than a score of visitors and often one has the beach entirely to oneself. I think there is a very strong chance that we shall visit again next February whilst TP is away skiing.

There were no particular high points to the week that need to be recorded here but it is definitely worth remembering that the rock pools around the edges of the bay are home to shrimps and these can be cooked in two minutes flat in a pan of boiling seawater. We only ate a few but they are very tasty fresh from the sea. This was definitely an appetiser that I would like to turn in to a main course if we visit again.

As we left I did my good deed for the day and provided Bob, our host, with a jump start. He had left this ignition of his Discovery on all night and needed to get to the top of the cliff to collect the scaffolding and Scaffolders for his next building project. He was going nowhere with a flat battery but I soon had him up and running.

So, after three hours we find ourselves at home with a large pile of laundry and three very attentive cats.  

Time to fuss them and slouch on the sofa, I think.