Friday, 31 January 2014

31st January 2014 - One Down - Eleven to go ...

It is the last day of the month. It has been a mixed time so I am sure that any readers will accept if I close the Month of January and look to the next eleven months.....

I saw this and I think it may sum up my ideas so far ..

2014 - big deal. I give it a year

See you in February...

Thursday, 30 January 2014

30th January 2014 - Arnold Barker 10th April 1923 - 15th January 2014

Arnold Barker:
10th April 1923 – 15th January 2014

I would first like to thank everyone who has come here this afternoon to support friends and family, and to celebrate the life of Arnold, for it is a time of celebration more than a time of mourning, a celebration of a full and active life, of 90 years of a very caring, active and independent man.

Independent he certainly was. From the time he was 16 and bowled uninvited into the Blackburn Times and asked for an interview, got it and a 7 year apprenticeship, but had to persuade his father to come in and sign the papers to allow him to start his career in printing and newspapers. From joining the Home Guard in 1939, as he was too young for the regular army, but then serving with the 1st Army from 1942 in Africa and Italy – he never spoke of his war service, but he has five medals to give testimony of his service.  Independent right up to the time last year, when he was released from hospital after breaking a hip and advised me that he would not be able to sit at his computer desk.  I had better find him a lap top so he could use it from his chair. Something I did, and found that by next morning he already had the laptop case and cushion tray ordered on line and delivered from Amazon.

He loved driving. It is only afterwards that I have discovered that he drove lorries all over the country, including while being stationed in Carmarthen, as well as Africa and Italy in the war. Due to his motor cycle injury in the war, we always thought that he was a motor bike courier. He was a lorry driver. It seems he was only on a motor cycle pillion with a friend trying to catch up with the convoy in 1945 when it crashed into one of the lorries. That caused the injury that gave him a disability, and a plate of solid silver in his leg which would reduce his mobility for the rest of his life – though I never heard him complain (except occasionally when it was damp!)
He loved driving till the end – his car was his pride, even if only used more recently to get the papers and a trip to ASDA. He was looking forward to picking up his brand new Kia in February and had the brochures by his chair which he would delight to show you…

He was always active in the community until his later years. He loved his cricket and was a qualified Cricket Umpire presiding at many prestigious matches. An active member of the Royal British Legion in his early days, he gravitated to being treasurer and secretary in many roles and organisations. An active member of the Chapel (the printing union), he never claimed to be politically active, but does reminisce that he felt a little shame when he joined the Conservative Club in Rochdale, but the drinks were cheaper there !!! He always had a Northern Pragmatism.

His membership of the Buffs, the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes since 1963 was his true and continuing delight, and I am very grateful to Mr Roy Davies the Provincial Chaplain and all Arnold's colleagues from the Buffs in agreeing to conduct this celebration and committal in a manner that Arnold would  have appreciated.

He was also an active Freemason, being a member of several orders, though after his stroke he found large groups more difficult and has restricted himself to the Buffs for the last 10 years. Once again I thank the brethren who have come here to support and remember him.

He was also a very caring man, and suffered many losses in his time. His first wife, Barbara was diagnosed with cancer and he cared for her through the last three years of her life. He later married Betty, and sadly within five years she had also contracted a cancer and needed care until her death.

It was a couple of years later that Arnold came into our lives. His diaries tell me “Some friends then introduced me to a real dizzy blonde, who turned out to be exceptional”

In 1974, He married Eileen, Sue’s mother, and became part of our family. Sadly Eileen is not well enough to be here this afternoon, but their early years were ones of activity, and a shared joy of music, travel and the rich Northern countryside of Arnold’s birth. As Eileen became more frail, he devoted years to being her carer, a task he did without complaint. They celebrated 40 years marriage this year. Moving into more sheltered accommodation as the years went by he continued to care for Eileen as in time he required more care himself. We will always be indebted to his carers from Plas y Mor – and I thank you for coming here this afternoon.

He took delight in his Grandaughters, and in his great grandchildren. He gave a big smile when he learned that he was about to be a great grandfather again, though in hospital, and very poorly.

On the night before his stroke, while sitting with his laptop he wrote in his diary 

“Was a bit off today – didn’t eat all my tea”.

A full life, a dry humour, a generous spirit, a life of independence, commitment and caring.

Arnold Barker – I am glad that you were part of our lives.

Arnold was cremated at Llanelli Crematorium on 30th April 2014. 
Eulogy by Iain Sewell, son in law.

Arnold & Eileen

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

29th January 2014 - Welcome back to the Bothy

A day sorting through family heirlooms and medals. Also a day in which I read the life story of Arnold, written down in about 1990 and covering all his recollections up to that time - a fascinating story. Equally fascinating, though to be expected I suppose as a printer, compositor and proof reader, I only found one grammatical mistake in the full manuscript - a use of the word "their" instead of "there". This equally may have been subject of a spellcheck error - for I have not found the original file anywhere - only the neatly printed story.

It is a fascinating story, though brief in many of its details. A story that I will have to scan and find some optical character reader software to restore, and print where grandchildren and great grandchildren can read.

But medals and various gongs from the British Legion, Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes ( 50 years a member), masonic and war service make up a very impressive set.
From Left: 1939-45 Star, Africa Star (1st Army), Italy Star,
Defense Medal, and Service medal 1939-45
But as the day drew to a close, the word came finally that the Bothy had finished its heart operation. The Engine was back in. The Radiator replaced. Lots of other necessary stuff. Engineering of the head £200, plus skimming the head £40. Extra labour (Don't ask!!)  but all back together with lots of new oil. All flushed through with lost of nice antifreeze ready for the cold spell that we are bound to have. Engine should be good for another 100,000 miles and will not need a full service now in the spring which will account for about £400 of the bill..

But the £1,500 bill is still a bit painful - unless we consider how many hotels it may save us over the year, and how many trips in this country we might afford rather than going abroad - which we can't really because of the chickens - and I am sure there are other reasons that I can convince myself ......

Ho Hum.....  To be fair, the original van was probably a little cheaper than we could have paid..  so this just tops it up a bit really ....

But - we now have the Bothy back in service - have to get the awning repaired now...  That will be some more !!  

It would be nice if you could just print your own money - or maybe just draw it.. and then I saw this fine example of modern art - so clever and realistic you could pick up the note from the paper..

Maybe I should get my crayons out....  

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

28th January 2014 - Where have all the Green Hammers Gone ?

News this morning that Pete Seeger had died aged 94 - an excellent innings and a vast catalogue of songs. I read an account of his life which brought certain things forward that I did not know before. I knew that he played and toured with Woodie Guthrie, but did not know that he was banned in the 50's or that he was never invited to play on Hootenanny...

"Mr. Seeger was signed to a major label, Columbia Records, in 1961, but he remained unwelcome on network television. “Hootenanny,” an early-1960s show on ABC that capitalized on the folk revival, refused to book Mr. Seeger, causing other performers (including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary) to boycott it. “Hootenanny” eventually offered to present Mr. Seeger if he would sign a loyalty oath. He refused."  N York times

Best account I have read was here for those who wish to know a little more about the man and his music.
Pete Seeger - Account from the NY Times .

Lovely picture of Pete Seeger aged 2years old on his father's lap. He may have studied to be a journalist but I  think he was destined to be what he was - a campaigner and songwriter/singer.

Much of my early playing was influenced by Pete. Simple folk songs and lyrics. My instrument of choice was always the guitar, but my banjo hangs on the wall accusingly. My early renditions of "Where have all the flowers gone" and "If I had a hammer" together with "Freight Train" - which I still sing as part of a medley of songs in C ... My guitars are now adorned with the Vollsanger Logo and Slogan "Here all Week". A poor substitute for the more powerful script that adorned Pete's famous 5 string Banjo...

Of all the songs and influence that may have impinged upon me through my years from busking Hyde Park and Oxford Circus Tube station to playing Open Mike in Llanelli pubs and strumming under canvass in Taverns and foreign climes... there is a song originally written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, and made famous by a number of people including Pete Seeger. Of course they all got the words wrong - as often happens with songs that I popularise these days, and introduced far too many colours and something about boxes....  but it is fair to say that I would not have 45,000 hits plus on Youtube if it had not been for that certain song....

As long as you make allowance for the use of the incorrect words...  this is one of the nicest arrangements I have found with an introduction by Arlo Guthrie - Tommy Sands and his Irish Orchestra. Particularly like the Green Dance in the middle ...

90th Birthday Concert - Madison Gardens

There is an open Mike slot in the Bucket and Spade tonight, or a Folk Train heading from Llanelli "up the Trax" - tempted to go and sing a few Pete Seeger numbers - perhaps a medley of "Where have all the Green Hammers Gone...."

[as a sort of post script of the day - I was looking through various pages on facebook and came across the Arlo Guthrie FB Page and a rather nice summary from him ,,,  he was having trouble writing the obituary and added these words which I thought were rather right for the moment  

"Well, of course he passed away!" I'm telling everyone this morning. "But that doesn't mean he's gone."  ]

Didn't go out...  may be next time !

Monday, 27 January 2014

27th January 2014 - They weren't Hamsters!!!

Alright - on 25th January I confessed that there was a slight mixup between my powers of recognition in the field of Garden (though not Mountain) Greenery. The minor distinctions that keep Brussels Sprout different from sprouting broccoli. I do not think that this is a great problem - but I am a minority of one in the family home..  It was with more confidence that I went back to my strengths, my songs, my photography and my digital manipulations which provide me with moments of enjoyment and personal satisfaction.

My 52 Week challenge to keep a fresh image on my facebook cover - changing every Monday is progressing nicely into Week 5 ..

And a lovely picture it was  - all the logo requirements - the Flying Pig, the Jovial Bard with the guitar, the "Here all Week" slogan, a touch of purple to provide a variation from the incessant Green links.  The creature in armour - the "oh isn't it sweet!" image made for viral distribution. The clever title "Ride an Armoured Hamster"...    and then it all went a little wrong...

Oh there were the normal "likes" and the few supportive comments and then ... Disaster..

A comment came in - ( in parenthesis ) - PSST - Its a Guinea Pig ....

Umm...   What can you do ?  It is clearly a Guinea Pig. A hamster fits in a child's hand ( the net tells me) and therefore would be entirely unsuitable to wear armour (I worked that out myself).
But it is Week 5 of 52 .. It is already labelled so has to stay there.  Research tells me I am not alone in being unable to tell the various differences of these palpably different species, but then there are billions who follow Justin Bieber.  Obviously, Richard Gere would not have attempted to insert a guinea pig into his nether regions - far too big - though it now seems that there was a question as to whether it was a hamster or a gerbil - but I do not want to complicate the issue any more. I never thought it was a gerbil in armour. That would be silly !

My best solution was to ride with the story - for if it were a Role Play Guinea Pig, it may well decide to role play a beast creature different to itself  - and then the armour becomes more plausible..  Clearly covering over 75% of the body mass - for those armour specialists in some of my systems !!  Tenuous - but I have seen major plot based upon less considered concepts.

Indeed, my first association with hamsters would have been upon the riverbank - with Hammy Hamster and Roddy Rat - and their little boat and gentle commentary by Johnny Morris...  No sign of any armour there, though the motor boat worked well. But GP was a Guinea Pig !!
Preferred the black and white early videos but they do not seem to load upon this blog... You will have to search them out yourselves..

So, Brussel Sprouts are not Brocolli. Hamsters are not Guinea Pigs. And sad to say - you should always read the label on the flour - cos if it says "Gluten Free White Flour" it does not rise in the bread machine the way real flour does. Unleavened bread for toast tomorrow I think. I blame the Gerbil.

Not my best of days today !!

Perhaps a small night cap - Cheers !

Sunday, 26 January 2014

26th January 2014 - Sunday : Web Updates proceeding

The Blog now has a new look. As January comes to an end and we are a year from the start of the Sale of the Crimson Moon, it is now time to take away the Crimson Moon backing and think about the new marketing images.

The background is now blue with flying pigs - a hark back to the original concept "In a Wonderful World - Anything is possible - even Pigs May Fly!"

This is now standard across Twitter, Tumblr, and the Blog for background images.

Also, the calendar is now holding the same theme, and has some potential dates and commitments. Starting to organise for the year.

A new song for the end of January: Your Gambeson is too long!! I have been enjoying the open Mike sessions at Llanelli, and "Monkey Meic" did a lovely version of the Procol Harum Song "Homburg", which just called out to be changed....  Full text is on the updated Vollsanger Song Book. Quite like this one - though concept to recording and upload was less than two hours!!

Deviant art now holds the Cover Page Images from the Facebook 52 week challenge...  and the new business cards have been printed with the QR image on the reverse of the card. Now only need to find someone with a smart phone to see if it works and lists the website properly.

New Polo shirt, baseball cap and wallet ordered with new logos - so all moving forward in the Marketing World.

So as the rain continues for another day - and the weather forecast is for a cold snap to follow, we spent a little time in the flat sorting out some clothes and Susie emptied the Kitchen. Worked on some Probate papers and started the tax forms for the Probate. Things moving slowly forward...

And on a lighter note- another amusing link found today as I browsed the web ...

This ill do as the thought of the day for today...

And on the subject of weddings, the age old problem of removing rings when the fingers swell up seems to be made a little easier as a result of this little gem upon the web..

So, Monday tomorrow. Possibly and early night and a fresh start in the morning ..

Cheers !!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

25th January 2014 - They weren't Brussel Sprouts!!!!

Oh dear!!
Not home alone any more - but definitely in the dog-house.
The episode with the egg was bad enough - but at least I thought that I had managed the basics - like feeding the animals and looking after the house....


This is the stalk nicely laid out for the girls to chew on - they really thought it was nice. I though it was a good idea and though I was going to get brownie points for initiative... This is the stalk where I chopped it -

You can see that they were impressed. It was a neat cut, and involved doing something with the egg - but that was the other story.... But was a clear case of initiative....

Important note to self  - this is sprouting broccoli - which has been growing for 18 months and is just coming to the stage where it is ready to be harvested. More important note to self - this is Susie's favourite vegie stuff - ever in the whole world - ever!!  and she has been looking forward to coming home to use it... Extra Important note to self - It is meant to look straggly and moth eaten and well past its sell by date - that is what a fine specimen should look like - do not read a plant by its leaves !!

Equally important note to self - This is Sprouts. Also a favourite of Susie - but allowable under remote conditions to be fed to the chickens. Extremely important note to self - "THERE IS APPARENTLY A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO PLANTS" ......

This is a chicken - You do not feed prized Sprouting Broccoli to this bird!"!! 

Or any of these either ( apparently )

It seems that under dire circumstances I may in future be allowed to cross the road and pick a cabbage to feed the chickens. Between you and me I think I will be safer emulating Delft and staying the other side of the gate and letting them get on with it ..

Home alone for short time . She-who-plants-the-garden-and-must-be-obeyed has gone to the shops now. Not sure if I will be fed or not !!! In the future I will try to ensure that the closest I get to Broccoli will be a James Bond Film...   On twitter they would probably say #inthedoghouse 

It is little compensation that they were both Green Ones!!!

Friday, 24 January 2014

24th January 2014 - Home Alone Diaries - Day 3: Don't put eggs in your pocket

Note to self:
"If sleepy when collecting eggs - don't put them in your shirt pocket and forget them"

It was not really my fault. It all started with the "specially reduced" Cheddar Cheese in Whisky, and a glass of Tesco Cheap and Nasty Ruby Port ( which I rather like but I may be influenced by the price). The Duck Pate in Port, (half price today only) added a bit of zest, and an evening on he computer. No I do not play games and MMROGS whatever they may be, though I occasionally have to log on as the dog to load up Bubble Witch or Candy Flash or some similar game to unlock a friend or help Susie gain another level. In this case I was mainly doing a little drawing, checking the tax returns and sorting some of the bank accounts.

And checking Twitter. Not much happening on Twitter and I am singularly unimpressed at the moment.  But I thought I should give it a chance - enough people seem to enjoy it - but more watch Celebrity Big Brother and "I am a congenital idiot - get me out of here!" so numbers are not really very helpful in gathering its worth. I turn the television off after five repeats of the current story, so really do not want the Guardian or BBC informing me of the same story, unbidden - as I am not following them, in 140 characters or less. I am now following 84 people that I have found - and in most cases already have on Facebook - and am followed by 34 - most of whom I know. I un-followed ( is that a word?? ) one who kept tweeting political views with which I have little sympathy. And Really could do without on my social media. But, one page was open on the laptop by my side - and every so often it would say "3 more tweets".  I still say that the best conversation so far has been with my Author friend Sarah - but that may be because she tweeted that Vollsanger was awesome in every universe..  This is the sort of information that should be out there all the time - but sadly is not...

So, the computers led to the pate and cheese and the glass of port led to a rather good film about Roman Cohorts and Early Roman Britain - the Eagle I think it was. Far fetched maybe - but going down well with the Austrian Smoked Cheese. On the subject of Austrian Smoked Cheese - the one in the long tube with brownish covering and metal wraps at the end - you know the sort. Have you ever tried opening one with a blunt knife? It is almost impossible! Stab it!! Saw it !! Bounce it off the chopping board!! No joy. And the longer it takes the more you feel that you really would like "just a small taste". In our house, fetching another "sharper" knife involves a traipse downstairs and across the house to the kitchen. Surrounded with Cheddar in Whisky, Pate and a glass of port - this seems like an excessive amount of energy, and would require putting the television onto pause..... Other solutions have to be found.....

Now on Youtube there is a fine video showing how to open a bottle of wine with a leather shoe - by hitting it gently against the wall. There is also another video showing how to open  any can without a can opener, by rubbing it against concrete gently and putting a little pressure...  But I have looked,. There is no video showing how to open Austrian Smoked Cheese with a blunt knife - or no knife at all !!!.

There is inspiration everywhere, and in this case I noticed an entry on Facebook which read "You are in a Zombie Apocolypse...  You are being attached and you are alone. The item to your left is your only weapon - what do you kill the Zombie with??" This is the sort of posting I normally ignore completely - but on this occasion I chanced a look to my left and saw a credit card bill and a ball point pen. "Well" I thought, "If these two things could kill a zombie - I am sure that they could be used to sort my small Cheese problem..."

Well the interest rates on the credit card might reduce the zombie to a crying wreck in time but I could not see much assistance in the Cheese Opening even if it "would do nicely!"  But the Ball point pen???  Now we are talking...

After ten minutes of pondering and struggling - there is an immense satisfaction in stabbing an Austrian Smoked Cheese Tube with a cheap biro, and seeing the covering split, and the white contents bulge towards the Tesco Value crackers.... Satisfaction at last...

But that is not why I put an egg in my pocket. It was after the film about the Romans and perhaps another glass of Port to go with the, now released, Austrian Smoked Cheese, that I should have decided that it was clearly time for bed. The dogs had already decided that they may as well crawl away into the bedroom, but the cheeseboard really needed to be taken downstairs before the "specially reduced" Stilton decided to crawl into the strange crack in the bedroom wall which disappears when you are not looking at it... Persuading the dogs that they really ought to have a final visit outside before going to bed involved standing in the rain for a few minutes - It did not seem to be very cold out there... May be the port....

I should have decide to go to bed then - but as I returned to check the entries "just one last time" I saw that the Seven Samurai was just starting on TV. Wouldn't harm to just watch the beginning. Long time since I had watched it, and still love the Magnificent Seven, and I remember watching for the parallels last time ...
I should have gone to bed then! Seven Samurai is a long film! I knew it was a long film. It has always been a long film. It is not going to be any shorter in the middle of the night - though if you put it on hold for a couple of minutes to start - you can skip lots of adverts on the way !!.   But it is still a long film whichever way you look at it...   and there was this bottle of scotch.....

No matter how late you go to bed, the Dogs seem to want to rise at the same time every morning - and if the dogs need to go out - then you may as well stumble down the garden and open the Chicken coup. As the birds fly out you may as well  check for the eggs. They really should have stopped laying by now - but still give us one or two each day - enough for breakfast and the occasional quiche...  Since you are working on automatic, it may be a good idea to chop a bit of brussel sprout bush and put it out for the girls to peck at...
For this you need a sharp implement, and rather than a ball point pen I used the garden shears - which requires both hands ...

Note to self:
"If sleepy when collecting eggs - don't put them in your shirt pocket and forget them"

Thursday, 23 January 2014

23rd January 2014 - Home Alone Diaries - Day 2

An early start to the day. Was not really intending it, and as I stirred at half past eight my thoughts were that I could lie therefore another hour or so quite happily. Were it not for the dogs. They needed to go out. So, I thought, sneak back on for a n hour or so, then remembered I had agreed to do a Tesco run.

There is no hardship in this. Just might have been a little better not watching the late film. But by then I was awake and a cup of tea made the day look bright. Two eggs from the girls and the sun shining. Not a bad start...

Except, my mother's phone seem to have gone on the blink again. Emails came through so there is a link - but no dialing tone it seems. We had only just got through that problem. A visit to the house and it was clear that the problem was indeed on the line. Of course, without a telephone you hit the problem of having no way of reporting the problem.In the old days then any clal to BT would sort the phone - now you have to find someone else with Sky Talk - or whichever system you may subscribe to - to get hold of the fault reporting facility. In my case - it was easiest to come home and phone from here to report the problem. Which led to the line test that says Openreach will have to go and sort it !!  5-7 days ..  So here we go again. Asked for the priority that should follow an elderly single resident, and assured that 72 hours would be the result.  we will see....

But off to Tesco it is!! Now if you are heading for Tesco I can recommend  going at late morning on a thursday. (may be that time every day I will have to test)  But on this occasion it was definitely the time when all the shelves were being searched for dates and transferring to the "reduced" section.We managed to find the things my mother wanted fairly easily and listed the numbers of the aisles for future reference, but my shopping spree was int he reduced section. I did occasionally check to make sure that there was not a better deal in the normal costings. I have seen them do that before!

But, I found some nice pizza, pork pies, cheeses - including a rather nice cheddar in Whisky that I could not even find on the shelves, a loaf of bread, pate and some nice blue cheese. A pity that the bottle of Port was not on that shelf but that and the frozen chips made up the shopping list. Well not really! I had not really meant to buy anything but I suppose I was caught by the Supermarket Marketing !!  Oh the liters of tonic water with lime/ lemon were also at 50p which was cheaper than I expected.

So after the shopping and return to Burry Port, a trip to the Hospital and a very alert Eileen, which was a fine bonus.

A bit of news from the Estate Agents. The people who viewed the house seem to be quite positive. The Garden was larger than they expected and I think that they found more space in the rooms than expected. They have to think about selling their own place of course and I think that this was the first place that they looked at - so it is very early days - but it would be nice to think that a family might take  on the place. There are many happy memories here.

Another day with a few Tweets...  Nicest was from one of my dear friends from Curious Pastimes. Sarah is an author with many successful publications, in one of which (the Gildar Rift) I was surprised to find that Vollsanger appeared within the pages - not as the happy go lucky bard, but still in name! And I devised the name, so it has no other origin..

Vollsanger rocks. In all universes.

In the style of the American Election TV/Film Campaigns  " I approve of this "

So - after the Gin with a drop of Tonic with lime ( and a glass of Chateau 41) - I do rather feel that it may be time to open the bottle of port - and sample some cheap cheddar in Whisky...

Life Home Alone could not be better ....   

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

22nd January 2014 - Home Alone Diaries - Day 1

A nice early start allowed Susie to get up and out early to travel up to look after the Grandchildren for a couple of days. That of course involved me getting up to get the cup of tea and let the girls out of the chicken coup - on egg this morning, sort the dogs and be available to carry stuff.. all with the option on being able to go back to bed afterwards...

Somehow, that option does not seem as appealing as it used to - maybe an age thing - i shall review it as time goes by. Left to myself I shall probably sleep until late in the morning - but I seem to stir at about 7.25am most days and manage to go back for an hour - but then be willing to get up and stay up. this is a trend that I do not really approve of. I am nit going to bed any earlier in the evening - though to be fair O do often take an afternoon siesta.

But today was not a day to go back to bed... Some paperwork and some webwork seems to have taken most of the day. Susie got to her destination by about 1pm which was fair timing, and an update on the twitter links to websites and web updates took much of the day. Fully intended to take a nap in the afternoon - but the dogs persuaded me that it was already 6pm and their need for dinner was greater than my need for sleep - so I had some heinz spaghetti on toast  - yum..

So, little really to do except head off to the Llanelli Folk club t try out some of my own songs on an unwitting public..   Ron and Paula turned up with Eileen - so the Empty Shed Experience were there to try out their new material - and as a result my chosen set was torn up ...   Went for "Do Virgins Taste better" and a request for the Auctioneer instead. Also went for Sir Cadawyr, and Maid when you're young - if only to try to keep the rowdy ladies at the back quiet....

Empty Shed were great as usual - with excellent harmonies and some really lovely guitar work from Ron Savory  playing in DadGad tuning. 

Normal crowd were there and a good time had by all ..

Back in the domicile now - and chilled for the night..

Tomorrow is another day ..    Glass of scotch before bed ....    Cheers...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

21st January 2014 - No substitute for people...

When someone dies, there are many things that that follow. The emotional attachment. The memories. The clearing of personal items and the histories that flow for that. Even long expected deaths still have a finality when they are at last reached. Shorter illnesses bring a level of unexpectedness. Long lives allow a level of acceptance, and reflection upon a rich existence.

In all cases there is a point when the "admin" kicks in. It is little satisfaction that I have in fact gone through the process on two previous occasions, for my father and for my grandmother. These however were many years ago, and time heals many things, and covers less wanted memories. I recall little from the previous times, other than being sure to ask for several copies of the death certificate to ease the correspondence with financial institutions - I remember that - but little else...

So, facing the task of Executor for what feels to be the first time seemed a daunting task. Today was my first day to actually start. Though the death occurred last week, it was in hospital and that made things both simpler and more complicated at the same time. Simpler, because my father-in-law was under medical supervision at the time of death so no requirement for autopsy, and more complicated because the issue of certificate is tied into the general administration of a hospital - meaning delays!

But this is balanced by the role of our funeral director - Malcolm & Mary Silcox (and Paul). Apart from being friends, the funeral director "machine" rolled seamlessly into place, and instead of starting to try and think of everything that should be done, the weight is lifted almost from the start. The checking of personal property; ensuring that jewellery such as wedding rings remain and do not need to be collected separately; the collection of the death certificate; the arrangements for the Registrar; the appointment with the Registrar; delivering the certificate to the Registrar office... These were but some of the things done ....  And all done in a caring way. I know it is their daily business, but the human touch is so very important.

So today was really the first day that I could "get the ball rolling". One thirty at the Registrar's Office.

Llanelli has been my home for almost the last forty years so nothing should really surprise me. But the Registrar's office in Coleshill Terrace is not a building that I had really noticed in the past. The Chapel next door which doubles as the polling station for many years rather overshadows it. The four parking spaces outside were all taken as I swung into the one way street. The rain was incessant - I would normally have walked as it is not far from the house - but today I decided on the car to keep me from the elements. Passing the front door, peering through the windscreen wipers, I see that the next five parking spaces are disabled only...   then resident permit holders only...  as far as the eye can see... There are only a few cars parked, I later am informed that most of these houses are flats now and few residents actually have cars, but the length of the road is restricted parking. The exit roads that would bring me around the block are all "No Entry", so there is no recourse but to drive the full length of the road, come into town again and try again.

Now it seemed inconvenient for me, I was trying to park up for my appointment to register a death. It was later that I realised that this registry office is also where people get married. How on earth could you park here for a wedding - with a few guests - unless it was a special needs or local residential wedding? Good old Llanelli Council seem to be short sighted once more, transforming a rather picturesque road with excesses of white paint for parking places restricted to those without cars at the expense of those wanting to visit for statutory office needs...  The cynical part of me thinks it may be that residential permits cost an annual fee and provides a crumb of income...  But back to the parking problem..

The rain continued as I decided to stop in the wide expanse of disabled parking area. Well, mainly in the proper parking area into which my small car could not quite squeeze and two wheels in the disabled spaces. Engine running, yes I know that is an offence - quitting a vehicle with the engine running!, but I nipped out of the car and up the ramp to try the door.. Locked!!!  A check of my watch and it was only one twenty five - but the sign outside clearly stated "Open 9.30am to 12.30  and 2 till 4.30" . I checked my appointment for 1.30....  and went back to the car where with the engine running at least it was warm..... Hoping that the 2 o'clock sign was wrong.

I have issues with people who park badly; who misuse disabled spaces; who misuse Parent Child parking spaces; who park on pavements preventing wheelchair or prams passing; park on the approaches to pedestrian crossings; and who leave their headlights on when stationary - I am a reasonable man - but all these provide the only form of minor road rage in my quiet soul...  I remember mentioning my foibles to some staff while acting as Superintendent of Police in Llanelli many years ago. It was only a passing aside, but I might have said "who will rid me of this troublesome priest?". Next morning, it turned out that the night shift had obviously had a quiet time, and some aspiring sergeant had sent his team out to find some people offending against the "super's"  foibles...  It seems that the only place they could find cars parked on pavements were in a stretch of town that had 15ft hard standing in front of their houses, which had allowed safe off road parking for years....   and all twenty cars had fixed penalties...  That was an interesting morning as I received a succession of irate residents and a series of excusals...Couldn't even really complain about the enterprise of the officers, well not until they came on for night shift again..."But, Boss!! You said..."

No, I have issues with parking violations. But I was about to hand in the Blue Badge...  So I left the front wheels in the disabled area - there was still room for another 5 cars so I was not really taking up a place for someone more needy than myself.... Yes, I know!! This is the form of self justification that slowly leads to major crime and serial killers...!!   But is was still raining very hard!! And the office may not open until 2pm!!

But open it did - at 1.30pm, and a matronly and quietly jovial lady let me sit in the warm. As she bustled about the office checking that the forms had arrived, with the efficiency of a Moneypenny secretary, I quietly dripped onto the worn carpet. "There we are" says the lady, "better come on in". At that moment, her clone arrived at the secretarial desk, while my host bustled me into the Registrar office...  This was my Registrar.

With Arnold's trusty briefcase full of all the documentation that I thought may be useful, we started filling in the details.

Of course, though I can remember little of my past registrations - the key change now is that everything is done on the computer. The details are dutifully added onto the machine and printed out to check the entries. Simpler than applying for a credit card on line, while my Registrar chats away in a quiet and friendly, but more importantly, sympathetic manner. Like my Funeral Director friends, this is a daily task, yet again the human touch is predominant in dealing with the issues at hand...  After checking the details, and remembering to get the extra certificates now (cost £4 each - if you come back later there may be a delay and it will cost £7) the touch of the old world Registrar suddenly returns to the fore. When I was told to get the extra certificates, I was told that most places would only take "originals" - that they would look for "the Registrar's Ink!"  This meant little to me at the time of being told..  And then I saw the box of "official" paper being brought out - pre-printed with hologram style watermark in light Green!! Placed carefully into the printer, and the few details were printed back and front and formed a small pile in the tray....

Having checked the details I reached for my trusty ballpoint - but was quietly asked to use the Registrar's pen - a fountain pen, with real ink!!! in Blue!!  I haven't used a fountain pen in more years than I care to recall. I never was good with them - even back to the days in primary school with the dip pens and the ink well and blotting paper. So with meticulous care, I think my tongue might even have been sticking out the side of my mouth!! I scrawled my moniker onto the sheet. Then watched as the the Registrar dutifully appended her immaculate script to each of the copies / originals while she reflected on the days when the whole form had to be filled individually and by hand...

And in her reflections I noted another throw back to the past. The addresses on the certificate contained no post codes. I know that the post codes had been entered upon the machine - so it is by choice that they are not contained upon the form itself - that will annoy the archivists and ancestry chasers in the future when they try to map and google cross-check their records.

So, armed with my copies of the certificates, and the Green Copy for the funeral director to release the body, safely ensconced in the briefcase - we returned from Bob Cratchetland back to the machine - for the "Tell us Once" process. Once again I was impressed, as we listed pensions, driving licences, the blue badge on the car outside, housing benefit, electoral services, social services, war pensions, Work and Pensions ...   All automatically notified by the press of a button .... My carefully researched list of potential notifications speedily reduced with a mouse click.

Forty five minutes and outside the rain had stopped. Computers have changed the tasks required at this time.. but I had to reflect that the manner and attitude of the lady - for she can best be described as a real lady - had made the whole task unexpectedly easy and pressure-less...   Yes, she was unassuming, but I fully believed her passing anecdote that in her work as registrar she also has the task of officiating at weddings. It seems her favourite place for weddings is not in the parking-starved Llanelli Registry Office, but rather at Dan yr Ogof Caves, where, at the end of the caves, floating candles on lily pads can be lit in the pool. Where the voices echo in the candlelight....   and where, though her boss does not approve, she dressed as a witch for a Halloween wedding.  Her long and pointed nose prevented her speaking clearly so had to be lifted on the elastic to her forehead to pronounce "Man and Wife" like an oversize wart.... but I could see the scene in my mind's eye.

Yes - I like the Registrar in Llanelli - Computers and Systems make life far easier - but there is no substitute for the Person....

Monday, 20 January 2014

20th January 2014 - Sorry ... Missed the day - Blame the Twits

Yup, after many years refusing to get roped in - I decided that the website needed a twitter  link...

Have no idea what it does and cannot really understand it at the moment ..

But it has taken much of the day ..

So - that is it - No blog today - the Twitters ta'en it away...

night !!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

19th January 2014 - A clean house again-

Maybe it is true that we only did it because we had our second viewer of the house today. Nice family who may actually want a house the size of ours - and have somewhere to sell - though they seem to be as slow in the market as we are...

But it does mean that we have an incentive to get up and give a good hosing down on the back yard and a good hoover around the rest of the house... and to be honest it normally seems to be a waste of time to be engaged in the pointless and repetitive task of cleaning - but after it is done the house actually looks pretty good....    thought the dogs seem intent upon covering the carpets with more dog hair - for the natural cover of course...

So they came and looked around. The Kids enjoyed the house. In fairness there is a good vibe in the house. It is a family house. Has raised families in the past and there is a good feeling here. It would be nice to have a large family take it on....

But that was lunchtime and we shall just see what is happening in the future. Meanwhile, the opportunity to store everything - allbeit at a cost - has presented itself - in a dry environment ..  I think it will be worth the investment ...  May need to see if I can borrow the trailer back again  for a while....

So.. Sunday  it is....     Monday tomorrow .. Another day.. A new week ...  many things to get sorted...  

Maybe time for a glass before we finish for the night.....

Saturday, 18 January 2014

18th January 2014 - Saturday - probably should have gone to bed....

Yes it is evening and Yes it is raining... No change there !! The Chickens are put away safely and despite the fact that they should have stopped laying weeks ago - they managed another two eggs today ..

The morning started well with a meeting of the Order of Athelston across the road and a degree of trepidation as I was consecrating the new eminent prior and had not really concentrated as much time as I would wish upon the ceremonial learning.  Happily a colleague decided to take the last chunk of the storyline - a pretty hefty analysis of early cosmology, which left me to concentrate on the parts I had managed to learn - and the day went well..

A high point of course was where I was to present the book of ritual to the new  eminent prior, and looked down and found a number of ritual books  - I said " I now present to you Ritual 2 of the order" and as I looked - I simply said " I am sure it is the Green One !!"  Now, not many people in my fraternity have any real concept of the songs and entertainment I do in my other alter- egos, but I could not ignore the snort that came from one of the back benches as I mentioned "The Green One"

Maybe .. One Day .. the fame of the Green One will transcend all boundaries...

What can I say ??

The morning turned into the afternoon and it seemed churlish to leave too early...  Afternoon turned into evening.. Seems wrong to start drinking wine when you are already sampling the whisky...

Maybe turn the telly on for a late night program of some form ...  Glass empty ?? 
Oh!!   Better fill it ..



Friday, 17 January 2014

17th January - The BT Man Cometh... Well hopefully

Sometime between 8am and 1pm. At least they can schedule for an am or pm these days, though previous experience suggests that they have an inability to find the large sheltered accommodation complex in Glanmor Terrace, despite the large sign outside...

So up and showered early and cup of tea done...   Ready to brave the weather and see if we can get a ringing tone on my mother's telephone. Everything seems to be working fine except the fact that it will not ring - and the connection is behind a large desk of drawers which will have to be moved to get to the test socket...  So - an early trip to Burry Port methinks...


So Mr BT turns up and turns out to be an interesting gentleman, very pleasant, but the problem is not as simple as anyone really wants. A trip around the building trying to find the distributions points ( DP's I now know they are called) as there are sadly no administration in the office, and borrowing keys from the office allows us to check all the obvious places. A cup of tea later, and a bit of the history of Mr BT - not John but Robert, with a new son called Griff who is a cheeky little fellow, as we try to get a signal through the wires... A trip tot eh exchange as nothing seems to be happening here - for Rob not me !! -  and finally we get a ring tone on the phone - the problem was in the exchange . rob tried to explain it to me - but to be fair - you can only explain so much about colour to a blind man !! Job done !!   The phone now rings and people can talk to her ... Of course - stopping her talking is another matter ( for you mother   !!!   Love you !! )

Rest of the day is taken up in looking at the flat and starting to think about details for funeral..  Another flat to empty - I may need more boxes...  Does this seem a little familiar???  Meanwhile everyone is very supportive for which I am grateful...  

Not much more to say today ....   so I will share a glass and have an early night...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

16th January 2014 - Passing...

Arnold Barker - Born 10th April 1923 - Died peacefully 15th January 2013. Aged 90 years.

Death is a subject which admits of no levity when mentioned by mortal man. The young may die, the old must die, and the wisest knoweth not how soon. 
None can escape that inexorable doom. The youngest entered apprentice upon the chequered pavement below dwells ever in the shadow of death; while the invisible hand extends equally over King Solomon on his ivory throne. We walk upon the ashes of generations who have gone the way before us, to which our ashes must in turn contribute, and our bodies crumble into dust. The very air we breathe is but the sighing of spirits once mortal, now clothed in immortality. It is not for any of us to hope to escape the common doom of man.

But for some, we may think that it is through the gate of death that we enter into a place of refreshment and rest, and receive the rewards of our labours. After the strong hand of death has levelled all in the humiliation of the grave, the Almighty hand of the Supreme Master will prevail, and exalt every Brother to the glorious companionship of that undisolving fellowship. 

There the designs upon the trestle board will be seen completed. There the adoration of the twelfth hour will be the everlasting joy. There the noontide of bliss will eternally shine. And there the scales of doubt and darkness will fall from our eyes, and the wise purposes of the Divine Architect will be displayed in all their splendour. With this light of faith beaming upon me, I can say "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 

We walk upon the ashes of generations who have gone the way before us, to which our ashes must in turn contribute, and our bodies crumble into dust. The very air we breathe is but the sighing of spirits once mortal, now clothed in immortality. It is not for us to hope to escape that end, but each has drawn a record and laid a memory upon those whom they have touched in life.

For some, their hope will rest in that Higher Lodge to which we all are advancing.
For others it is enough to draw that record, and lay that memory. To know that lives were touched by actions and that the story is written, and though the words will be buried there, they live on in our memories and in the generations that follow. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

15th January - Half way through the first month - Long time to be idle

Wednesday - half way through the week. They do say that if M  is for Monday and T is for Tuesday it makes sense that the rest of the week spells WTF. The weekend would be all at sea I suppose with an SS.
But half way through the week and half way through the first month.
A second viewer for the house is due this afternoon - so I suppose we will be rushing around the house trying to gather the dog hair - Rusty is shedding like a sheep!! and tidying up and de-cluttering. There is a limit to how much you can de-clutter and I have serious concerns for the condensation in the garage - which may be getting all our collected boxes damp....

Oh well - it is the same with the storage container I suppose - we have not seen the contents for 5 years - so have no idea what is there - well other than the jig saws that we want to retrieve for the grand children.

But though the rain is still incessant and the temperature is fairly mild, and there is still no news from the hospital, a giant step for the household - both accounts AND tax return completed yesterday.... Haven't posted the tax return - thought best to check it through in the cold light of the day - but the bulk is done and the sums seem to make some sort of sense. Still have a few days and it is only a case of pressing the "send" button to file it ......

Thought for the day :
"How deep would the ocean be if there were no sponges?"

So, a day of preparation for the visit, and sorting out the dining for a meeting in Cardigan this evening. Probably am not the best choice for treasurer, but I am sure that I will sort it all out in the end... Guessing at numbers and prices...  but what could possibly go wrong?  Well  .. let's not go down that road !!

Put together another cover picture, based upon a Valhalla picture this time. Decided to change the cover once a week and see what other ones I could draw during the rest of the time.  So this will be next week's Facebook image. Also started a Vollsanger "Like" page - but have not advertised it at all until I decide what I want to put on it ....

So...  tummy rumbling - must be time for breakfast ...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

14th January 2014 - One big job out of the way ...

Sadly, after a couple of months it was much easier to ignore the growing pile of statements and letters that sit in the empty wine boxes..  Yes you heard right. If you take a wine box from your standard supermarket, and drink all the wine ( naturally) - then take a pair of scissors to the top - then you can furnish yourself with a fine filing box with a handy handle for pulling in and out of a shelf....  try it and see!!!

I have many of them - it is more useful to put the box to use rather than have to recycle the bottles. 
On a side note someone posted some recipes for left over wine the other day. I had to post "What is Left over Wine??"  Seems a strange concept to me...

But back to the wine box filing utensils, crammed with six months of statements and general information.. 
I managed to sort through them a few times and re-arrange them neatly - but in the end it really came down to getting up a little earlier and sitting and ploughing through the list and transferring the information. Its not really that I manage the accounts and home finances any better, it is much more that I record where all the money has gone, but it does give a small degree of satisfaction and a belief that you may, even in a small way, be in control of your life.....   Being in  wine box helps!!!

But as the darkness grew this evening and the chickens voluntarily returned to their Chicken Coup to get out of the rain I finally reached the last of the statements and added the last of the entries onto the financial package that I use.. Quicken.... Quicken is a bit of a misnomer on its own. I do not think it quickens anything, though it does remember transactions and tries to fill them in for you - not always successfully !!

So, the last six months household matters have been re-arranged and sorted. Bills paid and credit cards swapped to best options. Will be pretty good until the next set of bills come in..

So, from the Sunday List, another small number has been taken off...  

Better think about the tax return now ....

Thought for the day :  

"The Whole Universe - with one trifling exception - is composed of others"

Meanwhile - I reached my 45,000 hits ion Youtube - maybe with the help of this post ...

But we are there now .....   Cheers !!!

Monday, 13 January 2014

13th January 2014 - Monday, miserable weather, and motors

In fairness the day started quite bright, with sunshine as I drove down the motorway heading for the Crematorium. Sad passing of a friend who had lived further east, at Port Talbot, but apparently the Crematorium at Margam is currently closed...  It seems they had a fire !!!!

But a gathering of friends and relations to see another on their way....

No it was not until after a trip round the shops to find the best price on HP ink cartridges; varying in price from £11 to £14.99 so it pays to shop around, a visit to the pound shop for more glasses; I seem to lose them with too much ease and trying to read the instruction book on my mother's new telephones yesterday told me I need to have some "reading" reading glasses as well as my "computer" reading glasses.. a wall planner; as my calendars have not arrived from america yet, and some envelopes; which I may not need but seemed a good idea at the time... 

After that trip - which then included getting some haggis for the end of the month - £1.50 in Morrisons and £2.59 everywhere else!!! And delivering them to the caterer which gave an excuse for a cup of coffee ( I don't normally drink coffee these days but actually fancied a cuppa today) and some Bara Brith - I think that is how you spell it...  Yup - google confirms and also tells me

"translates to 'speckled bread' and is a rich fruit loaf made with tea"

So There!!

After all that, I managed to get home and then it started bucketing down again....  There has been so much rain recently that I half expect a hosepipe ban to be introduced!!!!

Once the rain had started properly, of course that was a good time to get the call from the garage..
There are good calls from a garage and there are less good calls. a good call is "Glad to inform you that the car went straight through the MOT with no trouble!" A half good call is "Your car is ready" - that is only half good because it also means that you have to pay now.. A Really not so good call is " Paul would like you to pop around so he can chat over a few things "   as you may guess - Paul is the mechanic....   

When you know that your Bothy is on the ramp - and the front is hanging off, and the radiator is on the side, and the top of the engine is all open - this is not really the sort of call that you want to hear..  And you have to go out in the pouring rain to hear it !!!

It could have been worse.. I am sure it could have !!!   But it seems that there have been some "complications"  Well he explained them all in graphic detail - but as he was talking to the one person in Llanelli who really has no mechanical savvy at all - who can best tell you the the engine is "missing" if it is not there!! The explanations did not mean a lot. But feeling like the guy whose kitchen has the boiler spread over the flooring and a plumber going "tut tut!!" I tried to look intelligent and understanding...

The give away was really when I said - "So what is the bottom line?"  

It seems that the engine is not too bad - but there has been a lot of extra hours spent trying to get it out - because bolts were sheered or welded in or bits had to be welded to them to get them out - or broken or bent ..  Extra hours means more labour and that means more money at £40 or £50  an hour plus VAT....   Oh, and the radiator is damaged !!!   That is not good either .....

So, bad news seems to come in the rain - but I was pleased for the family this morning that they could see their loved one off in the sunshine - that seemed fitting as well..

So back to the machine and rather than the tax return or the accounts - the challenge seemed to be to write a short story for the Curious Pastimes Cosmology...   The "Der Vollsanger" blog entries seemed a good starting point so a short re-write and a 2,000 word story was forthcoming...   Will forward it tomorrow I think..  But there was a picture to go with it ...

 Of Ales and Tales  - Scene One ....  
click on the link if you wish to read the story...

And now - it is beginning to get dark again. Strangely, yesterday it was still quite light at a quarter to five - but four o'clock today and I think the chickens need to be getting into their hen house.... Roll on the longer days .....

Sunday, 12 January 2014

12th January 2014 - Sunday is not always a day of rest

Seems I have a list today :
  1. Take all the Christmas rubbish to the dump
  2. Take the chicken straw to the compost bins
  3. Clear the Chicken House
  4. Clear the Coup and replace straw
  5. Bath the dogs
  6. Find out if there are rats in the Chicken Coup 
  7. Do something about rats if found
  8. Get eggs
  9. Cup of tea (done)
  10. Accounts
  11. Tax return
  12. mess about on facebook
  13. practise guitar and lyre
  14. Write Black Pearl song
  15. Work out which of these can suitably be delegated
  16. Cup of tea 
Right - that is a good start - making a list !!!
My mother always used to manage this part of the tasks for the day - though "Ironing" was always at the top of the list - though she rarely, if ever, did any ironing even in those days. Drip Dry is a wonderful invention. Yest Ironing would always appear at the top. Since she moved to her current flat I do not think she has found the iron. Well, she probably knows where it is and we did find her a small ironing board that could go over a chair or on a table top - but I am confident that she is far too sensible to waste her time on that ...   She did learn the art of Mind Mapping at one stage - which allowed her to put "Ironing" somewhere else on the page - so that it was still there, but in a more suitable place in the hierarchy.

But I do not have ironing on my list. I can do a shirt in a minute when needed. after the last people came to view the house - all the ironing pile was stuffed into the airing cupboard. We have not had to look at it since - which may tell us something about the pile....

So, procrastination over - I should get on ...

Better check the email's first in case there is something important there.
Maybe some mogul in Nigeria has decided to leave me some money ....

Thought for the day :
"I have for years been trying to study procrastination. However, due to delays and not wanting to start it I have never succeeded - but maybe I will start tomorrow!"

With assistance - well actually I assisted - honest - I held the bucket!!!
  1. Take all the Christmas rubbish to the dump      -  done
  2. Take the chicken straw to the compost bins      -  done
  3. Clear the Chicken House      -  done
  4. Clear the Coup and replace straw      -  done
  5. Bath the dogs      -  done
  6. Find out if there are rats in the Chicken Coup       -  done
  7. Do something about rats if found      -  done
  8. Get eggs      -  done
  9. Cup of tea       -  done
  10. Accounts      -  urr  thinking about it 
  11. Tax return      -  urr - thinking about it 
  12. mess about on facebook      -  done
  13. practise guitar and lyre      -  urr  thinking about it 
  14. Write Black Pearl song      -  urr  thinking about it 
  15. Work out which of these can suitably be delegated      -  done
  16. Cup of tea       -  done
Now the list is smaller - better pop down to my mum's to set up a new set of telephones...
What ?? That is not work avoidance - that is adding something to the list !!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

11th January 2014 - Of the Uses of Tarpaulins

Another wet and windy day yesterday...   Not as blowy as previously experienced, and in fairness the heating went back onto timing for the first time in a month or so. But the chicken have been suffering!! The storms had ripped the roofing on the chicken coup, and the chip board was suffering, and leaking badly in the joints....  An attempt to stay the damage had been partially successful, with plastic sheeting draped over the sections, loaded down with bricks, but the clips ( stolen from Bertha ) had done their damage and ripped the plastic in a number of places. The flapping also seemed to scare the birds a little, meaning that in the breeze they were fairly reluctant to return to the cover of the chicken house...

And so - the trip to Wilkinsons - to find a tarpaulin... sadly not the right size. Trip to B & Q had a similar result.. The 3 x 4 meter versions were not to be found.. But for a few pounds more, a double size tarp was available - and a few cable ties.....

Which brings us to the problem of how to drag a double size tarp - needing to be double folded, over the top of a 3m x 3m roof, that is not very safe - 8ft high.... The roof itself was not very strong it must be said - but the frame was constructed by Susie. Had it been built by me it would not have survived this long ..  but in the mild rain - with some fairly surprised looking chickens clucking around the ladder, I managed to crawl around the side frame - and get the tarp into place...   clipped and cable tied....

Hopefully - they have a warm and dry night ....  we will see..

So on the subject of tarpaulins - it seems that there is almost a science in how to present your trap - if you are thinking of camping.. I feel almost tempted to go and buy another tarp just to experiment - though may wish to wait until I have a little more space to experiment.

Never knew there were so many ways to fold a tarpaulin. Bet you cannot fold it more than 7 times though!!

On the subject of field craft, on a similar location I found two other interesting tips for the traveller...

The first related to deciding how much daylight is left during the day by using the fingers of the hand. It still doesn't tell me how my wife knows it will rain within twenty minutes - just enough time to get all the canvass put under cover when on event in the past. But it always worked ...

This is a handy tip and way to gather up the extra strings on the tent - another little tip that I do not really need now I have the Bothy ..

Hoping for some news about the Bothy next week ..  Looks a little sad with the engine out and the front off it - sitting in the garage....

Maybe I should cover it up with a tarpaulin !!!

And a final thought for the day ...
A friend has just ordered a Chicken and an Egg from Amazon ... I will let you know....

Friday, 10 January 2014

10th January 2014 - Perhaps the start of a new career

Well, today I had an official enquiry from an event to attend in the role of Bard and entertainer. It is a recommendation from friend and Jester and professional entertainer, Devilstick Peat. We had the pleasure of providing the Tavern and Bar for Peat and Claire's wedding a few years ago in the Crimson Moon, and lately met up again at the Black Company Banquet where he attended as a paid act, and Susie and I were hosted to dinner and keep.

It was an opportunity to suggest that I would be interested in working a little more formally, though I have not really worked out the details yet.

But as we get to the 10th January - I have a  booking for five days in Germany in August. A provisional booking in April for a birthday Party, and now the offer of expenses and "honorarium" ( we will pay you what we think you are worth after we see what you do .. which is better than only the expenses that I asked for .) for August Bank Holiday at the Herstmonceaux Medieval Fayre ..

The Festival  has been around since 1992 and looks to be quite big....

It seems I will be able to take the Bothy and Bertha, and use her as a central location from which to entertain people. Then walk about - and then entertain in the taverns in the evenings with Vollsanger style songs etc... will be a fair challenge but should not be far from the sort of stuff I have done in the past.

Also this is the end of the year - so I may have some other expenses style fixtures by then to add to experience. Herstmonceaux looks to be a rather nice venue..

In the meantime, I suppose I had better start practising... well - after this glass of Chateau 41 I think....

Thursday, 9 January 2014

9th January 2014 - A good start .... and then...

Yes, the day started very well. The sun was out and the winds had gone down. The Chickens were delighted to be out in the sunshine instead of hiding from the rain and hail. I was up unaccustomedly early, tasked to deliver my mother to the Hospital for an MRI scan before 9.30am. A task in itself!! But an early cup of tea and a quick jaunt down to Burry Port worked fine.. As did the appointment at the hospital itself, though as the first appointment of the day we seemed to be fairly delayed and running about 3/4 hour late by the end...

No, the start of the day went very well all things considered, and then we picked up the extension lead and popped into the garage to open the Bothy and fetch the battery charger with a view to charging and starting my mother's car - left a little too long on the hard standing over Christmas methinks...

So, having been dropped off with the equipment, I started the simple task of dropping the extension lead out of the window - over the balcony, and connecting the battery charger.... When I noticed that there was a missing crocodile clip on the positive wire from the charger...... This would cause a bit of a problem - but undaunted - I raided the office at Plas y Mor and found a rather large Bulldog Clip... Aha !!!  a bit of ingenuity and a connection... but - no power!!!!

So up to the flat again and check that the lead was plugged in... change to a wall socket and back to the car....  No joy!!!    Back to the car - check again - No joy... Back to the flat and get a bedside lamp to plug in to check if the power is out or the Battery Charger failing to make contact ... Back tot eh car - No light on the lamp - so no power....  Back to the flat, check the fuse - change it for the radio - works on the radio so not the fuse...  Check the wiring - all seems okay..... Back to the car - Working !!!!

Oh well - getting exercise if nothing else !!!! Back to the flat - give it five minutes ....

Ten minutes later - down to the car and starts first time - disconnect the charger, unplug the charger... back to the flat to unplug the extension - back tot eh car to stow everything away . Say goodbye - get in the car and the rear wheels are jammed!!!!   Nearside frees after a bit of rocking back and forward - forward - reverse - forward...  Off side - no chance ... 10 yards driving and still will not turn...

Time for the breakdown insurance to kick in - and an hour's wait as they pop up from Swansea....

Nice fellow turns up with the recovery truck and agrees with me that a large sledgehammer will probably be the correct tool for the job !!!  So, me driving back and forth and recovery man hitting the wheel with the hammer and we are free once more.....

Battery seems to be okay now so, time to say goodbye and head home..  But at home there appears to be a slight problem - in that I have keys to the car and Arnold's car - but no house key!!!  I know it was in the pocket earlier on - it was on a piece of tape material...  Blue and Gold !!  (and not a green one at all!!)

I have a multitude of pockets, and it takes about five minutes to actually convince myself that three is no key in ANY of the assorted pockets......  Best get back to the flat then !!!!

Luckily a spare key was with my mother - but a search of the grounds fails to find the offending key on the blue and gold tape....  On the off chance I pop in on the office , and sure enough, a house key on a piece of Blue and Gold Tape had been handed in - found in the car park out front!!!

Back to the flat then to return the key - those steps are beginning to kill me !!!

And back to the car and home ...

So job done !!!  Oh, forgot to get the extension lead out of the car - it can stay there for the moment - I am not going out to the car again !!!

Instead I will get to the computer and laugh at all my friends who are so pleased at having a new Beta Version of come on line computer game sent to them .... It could be the Elder Scrolls.  But that only means this to me ...

So- having rested for a few minutes - I shall go and make some bread.. Getting to be quite expert at throwing the right ingredients into the machine and letting it get on with it ....