Monday, April 23, 2012

Possibly The Last Post

If I whisper a secret do you think that you can hold it close to your chests? Can you keep it for me? Can you guard it safe?
I hope you might.

I have opened Pandora’s box you see….

Eh?? Oh no not that again. I am not talking about the phone thing again. No no no. Bigger than that I think!

I have cast aside the old bow rope. I have slipped the mooring. I am off on an adventure.

I have lived and worked in North Wales for thirty two years now. Barring Accidents, I shall not quite make it for the thirty third.

Next September I exchange the rural idyll of Hallett’s Mountain for the streets that are reputed to be paved with gold.

Coming soon.

Notes From Hallett’s London

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiadau iddo yn gyfrinachol ac wedi eu bwriadu i sylw'r derbynnydd a enwir yn unig. Gallai'r neges fod yn cynnwys gwybodaeth freintiedig. Os yw wedi eich cyrraedd ar ddamwain, ni ddylech ei gopïo, na'i ddosbarthu neu ddangos y cynnwys i unrhyw un, yn hytrach dylech gysylltu â'r sawl a'i danfonodd ar unwaith.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cold Comforts

As the buffet was presented to the assembled masses I realised that fate had indeed dealt a cruel trick.

And so, as so often before, let me rewind.

I am attending a celebration in my local council chamber.
I represent my school as we gain a prestigious award.
An award showing what a healthy workplace we are.
For three years we have filled in forms showing all the healthy things we do.
Some of us go to the gym. Others cycle to work. A couple have given up smoking. A water cooler has been installed as a refreshing alternative to the tar like black coffee trap. Healthy snacks and fruit have replaced cakes and chocolates, though here with the same hand chocolates have been introduced as a reward and promotion of relaxation and thus staff well being…..a healthy workplace is complicated.
We have corresponded with outside organisations. We have promoted moderation in all things and wisdom in our interactions.
Tonight, along with others, we are declared a ‘Healthy Workplace’ and the Welsh Assembly Government presents yours truly as a representative member of staff with the badge of honour. A propitious occasion worthy of celebration.
Much clapping, fine words and mutual congratulation. We were all very pleased.
We were also very pleased to stay on afterwards for the thoughtfully provided celebratory get together.

I don’t think though that I was the only crestfallen soul when I saw the feast prepared. I was anticipating vol au vonts, sausage rolls, cheesy things on sticks, cold meats of various origin, quiches, chicken legs, maybe crisps of perhaps a chip or two, cheesecakes and chocolatey biscuits, fresh rolls and yellow butter. Even a glass of something. What do you think the table was graced by?

Carrot batons, celery sticks, incredibly small tomatoes. Crispbreads. Fruits chopped and whole. Juices and water……….

Phtah! You can take this healthy living business too far you know.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not Waving But……

How many of you recognize the snippet quoted I wonder?
All weekend I have been feeling a little out of my depth.....
...All weekend? Well no not all weekend in truth.
I remember some years ago helping a couple of fine fellows who worked for Carmathenshire County Council install a chimney liner. While they took a brief weekend over the whole thing, I remember thinking at the time that there was no great mystery revealed. Given a following wind I could manage that.
As I may have mentioned before I have never seen a lack of prior experience on my own part as prejudicial to flinging my hat in to the ring.
Secure in myself I have been carving up the Gable end wall of Hallett's Mountain in search of a chimney.
Inside the barn large holes, holes that might make lesser souls quail,Holes that a structural engineer migh have batted an eylid at, have appeared. I have gradually hacked and chopped all weekend until I have finally got the majority of a gap made all the way to the pot. In this flue I intend now to install a chimney liner that I will backfill with vermiculite cement and various reinforcing members (steady on now it is only a word).
I had not a care and was quite confident. I live in the best of all possible worlds and optimism is my current middle Monica.
All of a sudden.
She Of The Townhouse mentioned building regulations………
.......Fiddle Faddle.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


In my secret life, the work that I can only hint at here dear reader because so much of it is confidential, we have been having fun.
Some of the Hallett's Mountain ants have been carefully scooped up. Brushed into a small Tupperware container with a soft paintbrush, and introduced to the ant-o-sphere.
All week we have followed their Antics with rapt attention.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Count Your Chickens

The warmth of the early spring and the abundant supply of easy food both surrounding and inside the bird feeders has attracted some unwelcome attention from squirrels here on Hallett's Mountain. They have only made it this far up once before in my tenure and that some time back in the last century. This year however there are at least two and possibly more.
I can’t tell squirrels apart of course and have never seen them as a pair.
I know there are a minimum of two though because one of them is a consummate expert at dodging to the left.
The other one tasted a little bit like chicken……

The illustration is the ever growing hole in my wall as I search for the chimney....
I didn't feel I could use a squirrel picture....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Right Slating

In the past I have been a mocker of my local council for eschewing the produce of local granite quarries in favour of cheaper alternatives procured from the Orient.
Now I find myself eating my own words.
I live within easy reach of slate quarries of world renown that are bursting with marketable goods of the finest quality. I find though, that I am whistling innocence and looking the other way.
As the house is being turned upside down anyway, I have decided that a fine slate tiled floor would make a suitable statement downstairs. The long serving green carpet (that doesn’t show sheep sh*t stains) that has done its job for almost thirty years is finally for the skip.
After a consultation with James The Tiler, I was shocked to hear that slate slabs of suitable quality, excellent quality even, were obtainable from Brazil for a fraction of the price of the home grown and doubtless organic variety.
Realising that this would mean a saving of at least a thousand pounds on my grand design I have seen the light. I no longer seem to be concerned that small children are splitting slates for cents in a dark quarry in the depths of the furthest reaches of the Amazon basin.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Up On The Roof

Given the family script you will perhaps forgive me if I point out from the outset that I was extremely conscious of the safety aspects.
So. There I am on the apex of my own roof with my Heath Robsinson stick in hand. I mean just how would you get a good look at what was going on further down a chimney than you could see?
This relates to my ongoing central heating installation. Radiators are all in place and the heating circuit to them and to the new hot water cylinder is complete. They now need connecting to the Rayburn. Before the Rayburn comes in to the house though the direction the flue pipe must first be clarified.
Now I know that there is a fireplace hidden somewhere in the kitchen. I have been reliably informed by a bloke who saw it just after the second world war. The trouble is it hasn’t really been seen since. Sometime in the interval it has been obscured. Working down from the top I was to drop a sonde, a little radio transmitter, and then by use of a pencil and a radio detector set to ping when it heard 33kHz signal, mark crosses down the wall inside the house and thus reveal the line of the chimney.
I was also quite confident, and remain so, in my uncle’s advice that chimneys in houses of this age are not complicated. They seldom deviate from vertical.
Lowering away then, I was a little disappointed that my test stone on a string stopped about three metres below the pot and refused to go further. What to do, what to do?
Using my neighbours draining rods, A USB webcam and a long lead, also an inspection lamp, balancing a computer on the chimney haunch, I was able to make a surprisingly decent endoscope contraption.
I now have video and photographic records of the inside of my chimney. I also have a degree of frustration in that I can see now that there are no side shoots and that it is in fact blocked up with rubble from an earlier modification.
The next step I suppose is to hit a hole in the wall at around the level of the blockage and to start removing it. At the same time of course as taking stock of the prospect of everything above falling down.
Dear friends, the adventure of Hallett’s Mountain is never ending.