22 August 2017

Bacon mine

There seems to be a pattern in my Thursday nights! It looks like Miles can go digging every second week, so every other week I join the Thursdaynighters. This week was one of those! And Simon had suggested going to Pen-y-Ffridd. That's not a very exciting mine, but it has a big fireplace. I thought a calm evening wouldn't be so bad. David was just back from the festival he had been at, so we were back to driving up together.

Simon, who had suggested the mine, had said he'd bring bacon and baps. David offered a frying pan and soft drinks. Jay promised cake. I thought I'd give it a Margot-ish twist and bring healthy stuff. If the others wouldn't eat them I would! So before coming to work I popped by the supermarket, where I bought plum tomatoes in two varieties, and strawberries, and plums. And some beer for at home.I had none left!

When we got ready at the parking lot I suggested perhaps bringing the beer. Almost all of us were driving, but you can legally have a pint in this country! I brought them. We walked up through dry weather. Soon we had a fire started! And I was hungry so I looked forward to some food. It was forthcoming!

Simon cooks some bacon

I liked the addition of the tomatoes! And the others did too. They were all eaten. I also had a beer. Simon and David shared another. It was good I had brought them!

When we had eaten all the bacon we could manage we went for a stroll. The mine is quite long. When we got to the end we heard it was raining rather hard, so we went back the same way and not around the outside. Then it was time to eat strawberries and cake! Don had brought a cake too. We didn't even manage to finish one. We had three! And we did manage the strawberries but not the plums. I'll manage with those.

By then Jay was getting impatient. He had to get up early the next day so he didn't want to linger. We packed up and checked the fire (or what was left of it) was safe to leave. We walked back, partly in the rain. Then we said our goodbyes! Would this be the last time we'd see Simon as a non-parent? Stay tuned!

21 August 2017

Don't pay the energy bill

A few years ago I was contacted by Southern Electric, who had been my energy supplier in Plymouth; there was an issue with an overdue bill. I told them I had moved house twice since. It wasn't me they were after! The bloke accepted my answer. Case closed?

No. Recently I got a letter from a debt collecting firm. Guess what? It was about an energy bill from August 2014 to August 2016. At my old address in Plymouth. I have lived here in Wales since April 2014! Don't they know who they supply energy to? Clearly not.

I phoned the debt collector and was answered by the moodiest woman I ever had the displeasure to have on the phone. What a shit conversation that was! She told me to email proof of my residency somewhere other than Plymouth. The next day I did just that: a council tax receipt, some documentation of my letting agency in York, and a string of energy bills. From someone other than Southern Electric. At my current address. They didn't accept that. They wanted a signed letter from my Plymouth letting agency stating when I had left. That letting agency does no longer exist. I pointed that out to them. They mailed back pretty much saying I had to provide it anyway.

I decided this was a bloody nuisance and I sought online legal help. Some friendly chap pointed out they can't legally do anything if they have no evidence it was you who incurred the cost. Put up enough resistance and they will let it drop; it is not worth taking this to court. But things would get more complicated than that.

I received a second letter. This one threatened with Southern Electric registering a default against me which would affect my credit rating. They can do that! I know people who had that happen to them. You can challenge that but I don't want to have to. What a nuisance!

My plan is threefold: contact the bloody debt collectors, contact Southern Electric to tell them to back off, and contact the legal chap again to see what he has to say about that default. I don't want to do this, I just want to get on with my job! But I suppose I have to fight this. I don't want to be bullied into paying a bill that is nothing to do with me. With me luck!

20 August 2017

Evening walk

It is August. It is one with rather changeable weather. When I saw, after a rather wet Monday, that Tuesday would be lovely, I decided an evening walk was in order. Do a day's work, go home, eat dinner, get into the car and drive to the start of a nice walk. Welsh class (which is normally my Tuesday night activity) hasn't started yet! I had picked a small valley with nothing in it opposite Dinorwic Slate Quarry: Cwm Dwythwch. Probably beautiful, and small enough to be negotiated in the limited time after work.

It was a good choice! The valley was beautiful. And the light turned from summerish yellow to sunset red over the impressive spoil heaps of Dinorwic. It's great to live so close to such beautiful places you can just visit them after dinner, and be back at 21:15!

View at the start of the walk

In full screen view you can see the railway going up Snowdon

The view on the way back, with Llyn Dwythwch 

19 August 2017

Move desk

When Paul left I was the last one in the office. It was a bit lonely! I liked having Paul, Stella and Juan around. And now there was nobody but me. The upside of it was, though, that I had been ogling Paul's desk since forever; his was close to a window with a nice view, and you could open it while standing on the ground. It was also next to the radiator; the only one in the four person office.

In summer my desk isn't so bad, although it is a bit of a nuisance that only the skylight opens, and I have to climb onto my desk to open it. The other window near me is fixed and single pane and is, for some reason, at floor level. No, me neither. In winter, it is awful; cold air comes out of the floor-level window behind my old desk, flows past me (brrr) towards Paul's old desk, and there rises (past Paul) because of the radiator there. I'm at exactly the wrong place!

Paul was gone for a week, and nobody hads claimed muy  office, so I decide to move. And I did! The oly disadvantage so far is that the high window causes glare; that was something I never had at the old desk. But otherwise I'm enjoying it!

The old situation; my proximal desk, and Paul's empty-ish desk further away

The new situation: I'm now close to window and radiator! 

The view from the window

The old desk, now empty, with its funny low window with a view onto the parking lot

17 August 2017

Camera dead - again

When I was taking pictures of the working end of the dig, I took a picture of the extreme end. Then the camera refused. It demanded I set the time, but the 'menu' key did not respond anymore. Oh dear. But I wasn't upset! This was the camera I had revived in May. It had served me for 2.5 months more. And in the meantime it had refused once more, but that had only been due to an empty battery. Now it died with a full battery! But it still served me longer than I could have expected! Will it revive once again? Nothing seems impossible with this camera!

This is the setting you can't seem to get out of anymore

16 August 2017

Along the ceiling in the dig

We were digging again! I was keen. That route along the ceiling was very enticing. But I knew I should limit the amount of time I would spend in the space below the ceiling; Miles could not follow me there, and if anything would go wrong I would have a problem. So I anticipated me carefully exploring along, while Miles would have the drill and make the access route wider.

We started out like that. I started out having a better look at the situation; the previous time I had not had much time to explore. The route onward looked difficult but not impossible. I also had a look at a possible route sideways for in case the route onward would not work. I found one that was not passable yet but could be easily made to be. Good! We already had a plan B.

Follow that ceiling!

I went back to see how Miles got on. Not very well! He had already exhausted the drill battery. And he had only brought one. The previous session we had drilled our derrieres off without exhausting even one! He must have drilled hard. And he had started rather low. The bottlenecks were higher up! But that's how he works. Start at the beginning and work your way to the end. I am more for working on the worst bit until it's not the worst anymore. Then I move on to what's the worst then! But we are all different.

As the cordless drill was empty I suggested we go get the other drill; the one powered by the generator. Miles thought it was a good idea and went to get it. I seized the opportunity to chuck some big rocks down, knowing he was well out of the way! Then I took a few pics. As Miles could not get here yet, pictures would be the best thing I had for showing him what the situation was. I also went on to clear a pile of big rocks that were in the way at the far end. They weren't easy as they were very big and heavy, and on a slope towards me. One had to proceed carefully! But I did. It went rather well!

After a while I heard the drill again. Miles was back! With the drill! Good. I came down again to have a look. He was almost ready to charge the shot holes! I should be on the correct side of that. It took a while to connect it all up; Miles had used every last charge.

We had some food and drink while we waited for the resin to dry. Then we tried to blast. It didn't work! It turned out that the detonation wire was damaged; probably because of the big rocks I had thrown down. From where I had been I had not been able to see where they landed. We fixed it and tried again. Success!

We had a small look. Miles had blasted a big hole! We had a lot of tidying up to do the next time. But then we noticed a big slab of the ceiling had almost come off. Oh dear! That really had to come down altogether. Without us underneath it. We had to leave it for now. Hopefully it will have come down on its own accord next time we get down there! If not, we have to sort that out first...

15 August 2017

Practice casualty care

Paramedics get several years of education to prepare them for administering pre-hospital care. If you are in Mountain Rescue, you have to pretty much deliver the same kind of care (albeit with more limited means) in more trying circumstances. And typically, you only get one solid weekend of training for it. Eek! Luckily, the course I had done came with additional sessions later on. And after half a day at the Eisteddfod, and a few hours in the office, I reported at the Owgen Valley Mountain Rescue Base for an evening of additional training. In the time between the original course and this evening, I had acquired a printable copy of the book that forms the basis of the qualification, and managed to make my way through half of it.

I was early and there was nobody there yet, so I started by admiring the view. Then a lady, Gill, appeared; she didn't have a key. Then more people appeared; Stefan, another person coming for training; Jamie, a qualified doctor (with his charming dog) who would help train us; and Chris, who wasn't involved in the training but who had a key. He was there not only for us; there was also a call-out. A man had a lower leg injury on a nearby hill.

We went in and Gill produced some tea and bara brith. Soon physicians Glynne (an orthopaedic surgeon) and Lisa (an anaesthetist) appeared. They spent quite some time pondering what we would do. In the meantime there was a lot of running around going on related to the call-out. There seemed to be a call-out as well of the Llanberis team; some climber had fallen out of a route. And there was a lot of reconnecting with Jamie; he had been a member of the Ogwen team for years, but had been away for years since too. He was back!

About half an hour after we got in we actually started. Gill, Stefan and me were taken upstairs by Lisa. Glynne had joined the call-out. And upstairs there was a very advanced dummy. Not your average CPR dummy; no, this dummy could also breathe, and had a pulse, and could scream and gargle and cough and wheeze and whatnot. In theory, that is. It seemed that operating it was no sinecure! Initially they only managed to give him asthma. And before he was willing to noticeably breathe his lungs had to be inflated with a pump. But stubborn insistence got Lisa and Jamie to get the dummy to do most things they wanted. Although there still were some blips; while I was taking the pulse of my patient the rate changed so strongly and abruptly I don't think a living patient would have managed that.

We all three did a scenario. Gill had someone with a serious allergic reaction to peanuts; Stephan had someone with a seizure and I had a person with a heart attack. That was OK! I think we all did fine. Of course we were flawed; it took us ages to find the adrenaline for the anaphylactic patient, Stefan missed a medical bracelet, and I forgot that the threshold for giving oxygen to a patient is not the same for a heart attack case as for most other cases. But I think we did alright! And there is another session coming up.

By then Glynne was back, and he helped me get a lot of my logbook almost filled. We need to have 28 items signed off before we can do the exam! We could have a serious session now, as I had nothing else planned that evening. And Glynne had to stay anyway until the next rescue party was back; there had been yet another call-out in the meantime. Something with someone lost in woods. So we worked steadily on; either with Glynne demonstrating things to me, or him interrogating me on theoretical knowledge and signing off when my answers were satisfactory. At the end I had eight more items ticked off. I'm at 27 now! Not bad.

By then everybody else seemed gone. Time to go! I had to first get one of the men to move the car of one of the chaps on call-out; he had blocked my car with his. But they are prepared for this (their parking lot encourages, if not necessitates, such parking) and these mountain rescuers tend to leave their car keys behind. Off I was! Homewards, where the other half of that book on casualty care was waiting...