Saturday, 23 November 2013


After the thrills of the Thrust 2 simulator which replicated the breaking of the world land speed record rather more sedate forms of transport were enjoyed at the Classic Car and Motorbike Show in Birmingham. Beautifully restored and presented Morris Minors took me back to my earliest driving days whilst a host of stalls and companies were able to supply even the most obscure grommet or widget for a vast range of vehicles. Modern day developments were on display with Jaguar's latest eco beast but I suspect a new generation of drivers will miss out on the joys of spannering away lying on a cold floor with the prospect of grazed knuckles and oily palms.

A return to more rural pursuits came in the form of a memorable four day work party at LCB in the Elan Valley with excellent company. Martin and Mike formed a tribute band - the Pointer Brothers - by standing in front of grey walls for 6 hours a day but achieved several hundred linear metres of tedious pointing which transformed the look of this very special building.Meanwhile Howard created some functional bothy furniture, Keith dug a canal to Rhayader, Tony administrated, Dave re- rigged the drying rack and I spent a day on the toilet - the new oak door had swollen and attention with chisel and plane was required. After similar work on the main door all seems well and the building remains very much open to all. Two inches of snow on the Tuesday morning added to the scenic grandeur and made for stunning views - topped off on Wednesday by the sighting of an osprey as we walked out.
Mum and I are now in York before I head to the Lakes and she returns home by train with the weather still cold but clear so I hope to get some good walks in and enjoy the company of a number of friends. Spotty Spot will emerge again in due course but meanwhile the latest digital images sit here

Early days yet but as in the past I will be donating to charity in lieu of Christmas cards so take it as read that I wish you all a good one.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Progress,problems,probate and projects.

Well much has been achieved since my last post a month ago - after considering expensive proposals from outside bodies I decided to deal with Dad's affairs 'in house' and after a solid few weeks of endeavour have submitted the forms for probate, sorted out Mum's affairs, created a user friendly filing system for all areas of day to day life and enjoyed the odd bit of RnR.

Again with one surprising exception all the public and private organisations I have dealt with have been sympathetic and helpful - particularly so HMRC and the Probate Service and the whole process has been a source of interest and learning. The task is well within the remit of any methodical person assuming that the affairs were in reasonable order and that a will existed - again with reference to my advice in the last post please consider sorting out your paperwork and making a will - problems down the line are avoidable if you just take these simple and inexpensive steps.

Mum has kept me (too) well fed and watered and we have enjoyed some memorable days out together - usually involving a joint walk followed by a meal out and me cycling home via the various networks of tracks and bridle paths that I last explored as a youngster in the 70's. Dad is always in our thoughts and his ashes were carefully laid beneath a favourite tree in Shropshire where we can easily visit and we now look to the future as new challenges emerge.

I have enjoyed gently introducing a friend to the cycle tracks of South Wales and caught up with various acquaintances around Wales and the UK as well as enjoying a few days farm sitting in the Beacons for friends whose spacious, well lit and solid floored barn enabled me to give the van some minor attention - the bidet was restored to working order and a reversing camera fitted whilst two adoring blondes looked on. Both were then given their walks and joined me in dozing by the fire!

Meanwhile the Welsh MBA team achieved considerable success in re roofing Nant Rhys bothy and all deserve great credit and thanks, particularly Mike the MO, Frank the PO and Tony the AO who went AWOL but puts a huge amount of time and effort in to keeping us all in check, attending meetings way oop north and liaising with other interested parties.

Last weekend saw a group of us in Somerset for a weekend of walking and mine exploration based at Frome's premier B&B. After a muddy but enjoyable walk in the Deverills we repaired to the local curry house where the good natured and friendly waitress coped admirably with our gentle teasing and a heavy workload - one of the most entertaining young people I think most of us had ever met.
Sunday saw 14 of us gather to explore the extensive Box stone mines that supplied much of the material seen today in the buildings of Bath. We were to visit only a fraction of the 26 km of tunnels that comprise just the southern third of the mines and spent several entertaining hours under the guidance of a competent and well informed leader. The early miners' graffiti reflected the changes of the time with the representation of penny farthings and Brunel's broad gauge railways and many relics of their employment remain intact deep underground. Changes in their working methods could be seen but the overall impression was of a tough way of life demanding both skill and stamina for scant reward. 

Mum and I enjoyed a picturesque tour of mid Wales giving her an insight in to the scenery that draws me back time after time and a glimpse across the waters to the LCB bothy project that I return to next week. This will see a determined attack on the internal pointing that awaits completion before we head north together to see friends and family. Then I head over to Cumbria for a fortnight which will see a number of friends joining me for various activities - something I am very looking forward to.

Today Coventry's excellent Transport Museum provided a taster before tomorrow's visit to a Classic Car and Bike Show at the NEC so photos of that event will appear next time : meanwhile enjoy those to be found by clicking this link