Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Kids and Finances

In some ways it's nice to have a break from their boundless energy, squabbling, shouting, screaming and irrational moods (teenagers eh ?) but in another it's only when they go away for a short while that you realise
how much fun they can be, it's only been a few days but we're both missing them, although it is nice to sit down in the lounge and watch TV without interruption or just talk for a while, it's the first time we have had alone since we got married and it's nice, Andrea only has 8 weeks left until the new arrival, and she it getting to terminal velocity as far as her bump is concerned, it's a very active baby always on the move, it's like watching "Alien" uncut for most of the time.

We are both looking forward to it's arrival, the kids are too, we have most of what we need, we got a very nice pram and travel set from ebay for £117 it's called a "Hauke Infinity", apparently they are quite expensive to buy new, all I know it's in very good condition and looks like it's hardly been used, so I guess it's a bargain !! my sister offloaded practically all of her baby inventory to us, because she has stopped breeding now, for which we are very grateful, (the baby inventory, not the stopping of breeding ;¬) )

I dread to think what it all would have cost had we bought it all new, probably well over a grand, possibly more !!! What did people do before Ebay???? I've also had to spend a fortune on a new computer for one of our friends who kindly lent Andrea a spare computer when her ex husband left, he took the computer with him along with half of the furniture including the bed !! so our friend stepped in and loaned one of hers, I wasn't involved in this "deal" but I have taken ownership of this "debt" by the default of marriage it seems, anyway the short story is, it blew up when moved, the guy who repaired it last (another friend), well lets just say his construction skills aren't up to much, and one of the screws in the motherboard came out and shorted the motherboard, unluckily it took out the entire computer, and my luck didn't stop there, I intended getting a computer of similar speed and capacity, like for like ...... as it turned out the cheapest I could get is 8 times faster than her original, I don't begrudge it she did after all loan hers out in the first place, so it's only fair to replace for similar or better :) however it is going to make things tight this month.....again !!! there never seems to be a let up in the finances, we squeak through every month with either nothing to spare or very little or like the last few months actually spending more than I overdraft is like the north Atlantic trench, deep and very full..... :(

But I guess that's the price you have to pay if you want to stay ahead of what you owe, sacrifices have to be made, personally I hate owing money to anybody, although in some circumstances it's impossible sometimes to avoid it, although I know some people are perfectly happy to run up debt with their friends (or enemies) and not give a toss about paying it back, personally I would be mortified if I was in that position, thankfully Andrea is almost completely out of debt now, and it's the first time since her first marriage that she has been in that situation, we have both been working hard to clear the problem, we took some hard financial knocks, and there were a few debts I really didn't like paying because half of them were down to her ex husband, or in some cases completely down to him, but we have more chance of being hit by a meteorite than him opening his wallet anytime soon, besides I don't think 10 shilling notes are legal currency anymore are they ?

Monday, 20 August 2007

Bizarre weather and a strange silence .....

I awoke this morning at 06:30am to get ready for my day, went downstairs made myself a coffee, and went outside onto the decking, it was a glorious morning, sunrise had just started and it was streaming through an almost cloudless sky lighting up the valley and warming my face... lovely I thought brilliant start to the day as I sipped my hot coffee, and listened to the woodpeckers and wood pigeons close by, (ok there was a crow too, but he didn't sound half as good) :)

I went back into the house with a smile on my face, put the television on to catch up with the news, only to be presented by the local weather forecast, which was giving a met office warning that Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire would have torrential rain and possible flooding.... "surely not" as I looked out of the living room window from the sofa, then at that precise moment the skies opened, and it was streaming down like stair rods, in the matter of a few seconds since coming in a huge black cloud had closed in on us and dumped enormous amounts of water on us in a few seconds, outside was a swimming pool, made worse by the agricultural auction held over the weekend which had turned our field into a quagmire and the surrounding
road.... oh well at least it will wash all the mud off the road outside our house by tonight I hope.

The only other news is that the kids have gone down to Exeter with their Dad, and the house seems eerily empty now, both of us are expecting a sudden explosion of sound or screeching to erupt, but it hasn't happened, the only other thing is that we have bought in food that WE like for these two weeks they are gone, and the change of diet is refreshing to say the least :) I dunno kids and fussy eaters!! Their dad has said they are doing all sorts these two weeks, camping, horse riding etc, they should have a really good time....I hope they do :)

On a slightly different note the eldest lad was recently told he was getting a motorbike by his dad, but unfortunately he lost the auction and of course the motorbike, which begs the question why get somebody's hopes up then dash them at the last minute??..... Needless to say he was gutted, he should have just kept it to himself until he actually had it to give, rather than what he did, there is no point in promising things that may not happen, it's a bit like the boy who cried wolf, eventually they simply don't believe a word you say, personally I prefer to only promise things I can actually deliver, that way you avoid disappointment all round.... one thing in these two weeks they are gone, it will be cheaper to live with the gannets down in Exeter, I fail to see where they pack all the food they get through, they must have hollow legs !!

at least we won't have the last minute rush to buy the school uniforms they have been bought along with new shoes, so they won't go back to school looking tatty..... :)

I miss them already to be honest.... :( ahhh well it's only two weeks I guess, wait for the post titled "OH GOD THEY ARE BACK !!"

Friday, 17 August 2007

Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Traffic

Well here I am on a Friday evening, still at work, because I’m on the late shift, but I’m faced with a long journey home because a portion of the M4 has been closed off and all the traffic is being filtered past my work place, it’s going to take me ages just to reach the motorway, in fact it’s going to take me bloody ages to get into the traffic stream !!!

The weekend has landed……..yeah right !!!

Monday, 13 August 2007

This weekend flew by

It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since I was pulling up outside the house on Friday thinking "yesssssssss the weekend"

Well I finally managed to put "freeview" in my step daughters bedroom, that turned out to be a bit of a drama, the stupidly long drill I bought from B&Q got through the wall ok, so I fed the satellite grade cable through the hole minus the bit for the fly lead for her television, then I moved all the tools to the other side of the house so I could get up into the other loft, I got up there shone the torch on the back wall and failed to understand why I couldn't see the cable curled up at the pine end....."hmmmmmmmmmm...." then it dawned on me, I went downstairs and found the tail end of the cable dangling in the fire !! I had drilled through the chimney breast and fed the wire into the fireplace we don't use in the utility room....duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !

So upstairs I went again and started drilling again this time 2 feet to the left of the chimney breast which can't be seen from the side I was drilling, in case you are wondering how I missed that important fact !! I got half way through then BANG! The drill blew up filling the small loft space with acrid plastic smelling smoke....."ohhhh bugger" <edited> I thought, so then I had to go on a mission to find another drill, I eventually found a lovely 1940's specimen, probably antique, so old in fact it was made of aluminium and had no identifying marks on it !! but it rotated and hammered so I was a happy man....nothing was going to stop me completing this, I hate to let people down at the best of times....

I eventually got through and by this time the sweat was pouring off me because the house is a pretty warm house anyway but the lofts are just unbearably hot, anyway I managed to lasso the offending cable from the pine end, because whoever built that roof intended for nothing more than a mouse to go across it, leaving me with no option but to use my wild west skills and a thick but flexible piece of green grounding wire....I had plugs on within minutes and it was plugged into the distribution amplifier......

And Voila ......

a perfect picture was had on my step daughters TV, one happy teenager :) Job
done !

The only other thing we did was some fishing, but four of us went minus the Xbox thumb twitching delinquent, I knew it was a bad idea, fish need peace and quiet if you are to coax them onto a vicious but tasty looking size 6 hook, one teenager and one smaller but related person who at the best of times cause more mayhem and noise between them than a small troupe of
elephants, just wasn't going to work....I did mention this earlier to Andrea, but it fell on deaf ears and I adopted the "I told you so" stance on the way back.... I got a couple of bites as did the other rod holder, but overall we returned with no fish........surprise, surprise .......

My step son understood, he just said "Girls can't fish, or throw" I guess he
is right ;¬)

Thursday, 9 August 2007

How do you get an 8 year old to do as he is told ?

Well besides beating them with a large stick.....which I am told is illegal, there aren't many options left open to you except withholding things that they like doing to get compliance, at times he can be very stubborn, mainly at bed time when he is asked to put his pyjamas on....and it's not just me it's his mum as well she has trouble getting him to do things at times, it must be his age I guess.... but at the moment just the merest mention of NOT going fishing at the weekend seems to be enough, and no doubt once this fad wears off something else will have to be dangled in front of him to keep his interest, I dunno kids these days have the attention span of a goldfish, what with games consoles, kids TV, numerous games to play and toys etc, yet
still they say "I'm bored"

Whatever happened to entertaining yourself? I used to spend hours outside as a kid, building tree houses or dens, getting dirty, swimming in the flooded quarry, making go-carts, catching newts & frogs, fishing, shooting my air rifle, I don't remember ever going to my parents and saying "I'm bored" mind you these were the days when there was no TV during the day, or very limited TV and it was black and white too !!, no Internet, no mobile phones....we marvelled at our first colour TV !!

I have to be honest these days with all this instant gratification around, life seems to have become that little bit more shallow and superficial, and what we have gained technology wise we seem to have lost humanity wise, the children of today just seem to have no appreciation of things there is no WOW factor left, they have seen it all before or simply don't care....we were talking about the moon landings the other day over the dinner table, and besides being met at times with blank faces, one of them piped up, "well lots of people think the moon landings didn't really happen..." I sat there in despair......

I was sitting out on the decking the other night and the night sky was crystal clear, I was wishing I had my telescope to look at the stars, the milky way was very prominent and bright, and most of the planets were easily visible, when Andrea came out as well and looked up with me, at least two of us appreciate some of the more simple things in life.....we have a lot to thank for the internet, and a lot to hate about me old fashioned, but I preferred it the way I was brought up :)

And if I find another box of empty matches with their burnt out contents scattered on the floor outside, or another lighter smashed because they want to "blow it up" I might just have to install a strong box in the kitchen and put the key around my the old days they used to call it pyromania, I fail to understand how ANY enjoyment can be gleaned from striking one match after the other in quick succession until the box is empty ?????

Am I missing something here?

I guess we will just get a "sorreeeeee" when the house burns down

God I must be getting old ;¬) .... I don't believvvvvvve it !!! pass my flat cap,
and walking stick, I'm off to the wheel tappers and shunters club for my pint of real ale :)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Speed Camera Vans !!!

They are a bit like cars broken down in the overtaking lane really, you come over the brow of a hill, see one of the "safety" camera partnership vans.... don't expect to see them, check your speedometer, which immediately takes your eyes off the road, you find out you are 10mph over the speed limit, you stand on your brakes the driver behind you thinks somebody has thrown a metal bar in your wheel spokes, then he slams on his brakes and a cloud of blue burnt rubber floats into the air........ VERY safe.

It happened to me this morning, I was happily driving along at 80mph along a very straight road probably built by the Romans it was that straight, the limit is 70mph and I am in a convoy of traffic doing 80mph with safe distances between cars for the speed (well I was anyway can't vouch for the cars behind me), we are passing 3 lorries quite safely, when the lead car which is doing 80mph overtakes the first lorry in the line he spots the camera van sitting there in a layby, he slams on his brakes clouds of blue smoke pour from his tyres, I slam on (with the blue smoke), the guy who has even less time than me slams on, the 4th driver reaches for the toilet paper as his car nearly takes a shortcut under the third lorry to avoid hitting the back of the 3rd car....

How can it possibly be called a safety camera partnership when the VAN very nearly caused a bloody accident??? If the van hadn't been there, we would have sailed past the lorries and gone about our business SAFELY, I suppose the lead car got a speeding fine, but at what cost? What if the 4th driver HAD gone under the lorry he would have most definitely been killed, is it worth a drivers life policing that 10mph over the speed limit?. I wonder how the camera operator would have felt had the 4th driver ended up as a greasy stain on that road right in front of him ???? lunacy !!! It's all about money making, that's why the partnerships are companies and don't seem to be accountable to anybody including the law

You can drive safely at ANY speed, speed isn't the killer it's the stupidity of some drivers who use it irresponsibly or without thought, Germany has the right idea, you can go as fast as your car will let you on the Autobahns, they also happen to have one of the lowest death rates on their motorways, while law abiding Britain has one of the highest with a 70mph speed limit........go figure !!!!

And if you really want a laugh read through the highway code and especially the stopping distances, most modern cars can stop within 1/2 of the distance the highway code specifies, but then again the majority was written in the 50's and 60's..... the world is going mad I tell you !!

Monday, 6 August 2007

The Fishing bug bites deep

Ok not as big as this particular one.....but only slightly smaller :)....

I had been promising to take my step son fishing for a while once the school summer holidays were here, and eventually after looking at the price of fishing tackle because we aren't exactly rolling in cash, we decided to take the plunge, we were pleasantly surprised by the cost, we managed to get two rods and two reels along with hooks and split shot weights and bait for under £40, admittedly the fishing gear isn't designer, but the fish don't care or in fact know that you're using a £15 rod and reel, and they work perfectly well, besides no point in splashing out top dollar only to find out they don't enjoy it....

Anyway I setup the rods packed up the bait and we set off to our local river, it took us a while to find a good spot, but fortunately it's within walking distance, and once we got there, I put a worm on his hook and showed
him how to cast it into the river (in fact I had to cast EVERY time for him) no sooner had I dipped my fingers into the bait box to put a worm on my hook than he was reeling in his first fish, literally under 2 minutes of fishing produced his first ever fish, it was well undersized, and unfortunately it had swallowed the hook too deeply to remove it without killing the fish, so I put it out of it's misery, and explained it would have been thrown back in usually, something he wasn't impressed considering it was his first fish !!!

I tried to get him to worm his next hook but that too was met with "no thanks, I'll just watch you again", anyway overall we were out for just over an hour, and we brought back 2 decent sized brown trout and a tiddler....he is hooked and loved it....and to be honest I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy it

We hatched a little plan on the way back with me telling him to say to his Mum that he hated fishing and was never going again, they fell for it hook line and sinker (pun intended) and gasped with amazement when they saw the haul (ok it was 3 fish, but 3 more than they expected us to catch !!) , he was particularly chuffed that he caught the biggest fish and is now completely convinced he is a far better fisherman than me.... I'll let him bask in his glory for as long as he wants, he is only 8 after all....

And yesterday we all went to Telpyn point minus the Xbox360 recluse and took in some sunshine and surf, and I taught him to body board, like I had my step daughter a few weeks back but he wasn't interested at the time and didn't want to go in the water much, well not past his shins anyway..... but this time it was completely different.... the look on his face when he caught his first big wave was just priceless !!! :)

It's the little things that matter..... :)

it did make me sad though for some reason I ended up missing my daughters awfully that day, I guess it was
because I was having fun, or maybe it triggered a memory, I dunno it hits you at the weirdest times :(

Friday, 3 August 2007

Miraculously !!

My ears are fixed !!! and what a relief that is, last night after getting home they just stopped hurting as if a switch had been turned off, my step daughters ear has stopped hurting as well so the ear drops have worked for both of us :)

I'm still going to carry on with them for five or so days, I have no intention of it coming back....

On a slightly different note, I have tasked my bezzie mate Chris up in North Wales to source a pair of cheap rods and reels, he is insisting on delivering them by hand, so it looks like we will be going fishing this summer, he has been dying to try out the rivers down this end and it's a case of any excuse it seems.

The last time I fished the rivers of this area I was about 9 or 10 years old, I remember the disgust my mother showed when I brought back trout and eels and then proceeded to cook and eat them, they were just above legal size but big enough for one, I really used to enjoy fishing, and we have quite a few medium sized rivers very close by to us and my youngest step son
has always wanted to go fishing but never had the opportunity....

But in the mean time I think my task this weekend is to put freeview into my step daughters bedroom, I have bought the longest drill bit I could from B&Q I hope it reaches through from her bedroom into the loft where the distribution amplifier is .....or I'm stuffed :(

The weather seems to be improving and it's nice to have a bit of summer in between the downpours we have been having, the only other notable thing was a mouse caught in the dog food bin, it was jumping around trying to get out when Roxy needed to be fed, I was all for dispatching it to mouse Valhalla, but caved in when my nearest and dearest said "noooooooooo SAVE IT.....pointing to the youngest child and wagging her head from side to side"....

So I attempted to retrieve the mouse from the dried dog food bin, needless to say the second I managed to grab the little bast@rd it sank its yellow fangs into my little finger and promptly jumped out of my hand and disappeared back into the shed, meanwhile with my finger dripping blood I cursed my way to the tap to wash it off and see to the rodent damage, it was only a little bite but by God it stung!!! And bled way too much for such a little bite. I suppose I should get a tetanus jab but so far my finger has remained pink and my jaw hasn't locked up yet :)

Needless to say I explained to my dear caring mouse loving wife, that in future I would deal with the mouse problem in my own and mostly terminal way, anyway last night another mouse had found it's way into the dog food bin, how it got in there is a mystery, they must be scaling the walls and abseiling down mission impossible style into the bin !!!

There aren't many ways you can deal with a wild mouse jumping around the dog food bin you could squash it I suppose, but I didn't relish Roxy eating mouse entrails, so the executive decision was made, the air rifle was loaded and said mouse was dispatched at point blank, it didn't even have time to bleed over the biscuits, the pellet however went through the mouse and the biscuits and the bottom of the steel bin.....oops.....probably overkill, and if you scaled it up it's probably like shooting an elephant with a 32lb Howitzer field gun point blank, but nobody got bitten and the mouse didn't feel a thing........THEY WON'T WIN THIS WAR....

I will go on to the end; I will fight them in the yard,
I will fight them on the grass and decking,
I will fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, I will
defend our outhouse, whatever the cost may be,
I will fight on the nettle patch,
I will fight in the static horse box,
I will fight in the fields and on the road outside,
I will fight in the hills;
I will never surrender........

Fade to "Battle of Britain" music....... ;¬)

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Ears (the update)

Well I went to the doctors, bizarre experience that it was, I've registered with a doctor, I haven't been to one in years not since well before the divorce, it turns out the doctor I have been assigned is the very same
doctor I had before I went into the Army in 1979, he is now the senior partner and the years haven't been kind to him, although when he was my GP he was fresh out of medical school, the bizarre experience though was when I handed in my registration form, the receptionist said "your Ann's brother aren't you ?" she remembered me and it's only when she saw my name it confirmed it to her...... the genes are strong, there's no mistaking a Brabrook it seems

Anyway the upshot is I have otitis externa which basically means my ears are cracking up and oozing plasma/pus, so much so that yesterday morning when I woke up, I had the pillow stuck to my right ear, which was very bizarre and I hit the roof when I peeled it off my face, because it disturbed my ear,
whatever it is it bloody hurts, turns out now that one of the kids has come down with it as well, I do feel sympathy for her, because it's not pleasant at all, luckily though only one of her ears is affected, both of mine are, it's not often I have to take a day off to get better, that's born out by the fact I haven't seen a doctor in years, anyway I have the opportunity now to have a full medical, so I will take advantage of it I think. My step daughter wants to go "coasteering" but unless her ear clears up, I don't think sea water will do her any good at all, I hope it does clear up, because she will enjoy it... I did :)

Anyway nothing much else to report except the kids cleaned out the static horsebox and painted it inside yesterday, they intend to use is as a den of some description, there is even talk of putting a TV and DVD player in there.....

GOD whatever happened to roughing it ? Next thing she will want her mothers GHD ceramic straightner's in there and a bathroom suite. ahh well it keeps them occupied these long summer holidays I suppose :)