Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ergorapido v Life in the Preseli Hills

Life in the Preseli Hills can be a muddy, hairy, hay-covered existence and I seem sometimes to be fighting a losing battle against the tidal wave of daily dirt that washes up in my house.

We have ponies, sheep, dogs, cats and hens and their hair, fur and feathers seems to find its way indoors on the bottom of wellies along with the mud that is an inevitable part of life on a farm.

And it gets all over the cream tiles in the utility room, kitchen and bathroom. Why, why, WHY did I choose cream tiles? Because my house is a tiny cottagy thing and anything darker would have made it look like a cave. I'd tackle the problem with a broom and an old handheld vacuum cleaner (which died recently) but, inevitably, seconds after I'd swept, the floor would be all hairy again.

The main problem looks like this:

Mido can't help being so hairy!

Labradors, even part-bred ones like Mido, shed copious amounts of hair. He's surrounded by it in the picture if you look closely.

So when AEG said they were looking for people to test their Ergorapido cyclonic cleaner I begged pleaded pointed out that I had a problem with a black Labrador and cream tiles. They said their machine was well up to the challenge and one duly arrived in a nice shiny box.

What is an Ergorapido? It's a lightweight rechargeable (astonishingly powerful) vacuum cleaner. It's 2-in-1 which means you can use it as an upright or take it apart and whip out the smaller handheld cleaner. It has a rotating brush to pick up all the hairy dirt and headlights on the front so you can see where the dirt is. 

It tackled my tiles:

Can you see the furrow ploughed by the Ergorapido?!

What makes this such fun is that it's so easy. One swipe with the Ergorapido and the hair and the mud has gone, safely cyclonically suctioned up inside the machine.

Me and vacuuming aren't the best of friends because I have a bad back and find it uncomfortable to do. I tend to leave it to my husband (he prefers to do it rather than find me on my hands and knees using the cleaner or incapacitated having used it). The Ergorapido, however, is light and nimble - a veritable ballerina of vacuum cleaners - and I have no problem with using it (which is good because I now use it at least twice a day!) It's laughably good at turning corners (it should do Strictly...) and there's no fighting with retractable cables because you just lift it off its stand and then lift it back on again when you've finished.

And boy is it good at picking up hair...

BEFORE: Wound around with hair, sewing threads and hay

I have long strong hair which is (previously) impossible to pick up. I also do a lot of sewing so invariably there are little bits of cotton all over the dining room carpet. Not any more! The Ergorapido winds them round the brush (see picture). To clean this I just snipped the thick bit in the middle with a pair of scissors and most of the hair just pulls easily off. You then put the cleaner on a hard surface, press the head cleaning button on the side, count to five and Hey Presto!...

AFTER: Spotless again

It comes up like new. Every single time. Ingenious. It's a doddle to clean the dust container too. You just unclip the dust box and tip it the bits into the bin. It has an efficient filter (I now keep an old toothbrush handy to quickly brush this clean) and the inner filter has a spring loaded trigger that you ping the dust off with. All done in moments.

Headlights so you can see where the dirt is

The Ergorapido is the sort of thing that I didn't know I needed until I got it and now I'm wondering how I lived without it. I'm a fan of Fly Lady style of cleaning (set the timer and GO!) and I can vacuum my whole house with the Ergorapido (just the middles, as Fly Lady says) in ten minutes (less if I run!) This is a Very Good Thing.

The handheld cleaner has two nozzles - one concentrates the suction into a tiny area so you can clean hard to reach places (like behind the pipes in the bathroom). The other has a brush on it (which is excellent at cleaning the dust off the TV). It's so easy and quick to use Brian grabbed it and gave his car a quick spruce up before he went off to work one morning.

I was trying to find something negative to say about it. I first thought the handheld bit was underpowered but it's very efficient once you fit the nozzles on (better than my old one in fact). It does run out of juice after a while (as all cordless things do). I charge it up overnight and use it morning and evening so that's not a problem.

I'll leave the last word on it to R8: "Wow!" she said, as it flitted past whisking up dirt, "that's awesome!"

Disclaimer: AEG supplied me with an Ergorapido to test. I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Ffordd Ar Gau

We're having an entertaining week transport-wise, here in our little village. Last week the council, all of a sudden and without much warning (merely a sign announcing dates) decided to close the road and give us a nice new surface.

Terrific! It needs it! So the road has been scraped clean of the grass down the middle, the iron works have been raised, it's been scrubbed clean, bits have been eaten off by one of those road-eating machines and we now await a shiny new surface.

Getting to and fro our farm is the problematical part. The road is long and narrow with high banked sides, twisty bends and no junctions for means of escape. The detour is fine but tiresome if you attempt the road, find it blocked and then have to turn around. I've taken to dashing out early on the school run, taking the long way round to minimise the risk of meeting the road gang and after the first week of term (see Yesterday) I've abandoned the afternoon school run in favour of the bus anyway.

You see every cloud has a silver lining! The surprise coming home on the bus thing (because idiot mother left her lights on and flattened her car battery) was a huge hit with all concerned and is now part of the a daily routine.

My afternoon low-carbon school run now looks like this:

The dogs' enthusiasm for the new arrangements is such that they start howling at about 2.45pm just in case I change my mind and don't take them. They caught on straight away to the fact that the Big Walk involves a nice circuit - up along the footpath through our fields, down the road to the village to meet H10 and R8 from a minibus and then back along the road, up our driveway and back home.

It's about a mile and the dogs are inclined to tackle it at full pelt, towing me along. (I'm training them NOT to do this!) I carry a rucksack with the girls' wellies in it (so as not to wreck their nice new Startrite shoes) and it's lovely in the autumn sunshine and not too bad even when it's raining. I suspect enthusiasm may wane during the snowy, icy months though, but I'm sure even that can be conquered with the right clothing (there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.)

The road gang members are (mostly) friendly and inclined to wave as we stomp past in our wellies. On Monday we met a very tall, very African chap with a big smile (with tooth missing in the middle) who was kind enough to escort the bus through (he paraded magnificently along in front of it) and stopped the circular saw (which they were using to cut out a drain) while the children were there.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Haylage - at last!

Mown cut and baled - some of the bales in the first field...

...the rest in the second. This is the only flat land on our farm.

Brian brings all 30 down, one by one, carrying them on a spike on the back of our ancient Ford tractor.

They get lined up and then wrapped all black and shiny in plastic, thus preserving them for the winter. They're sitting in the field now waiting to be taken and stacked in the hayguard. Where they'll join the ones we have left over from last year! We made 30, we need 15. The leftovers end up (eventually) as rather splendid compost on the garden.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Yesterday I couldn't sleep (again) and I got up far too early. Yesterday I had a big row with my husband (I was grumpy and tired). Yesterday the something crunchy in my pasta was one of my fillings. Yesterday the postman was bringing something nice that needed a signature and I missed him. Yesterday it was raining and I forgot I had my lights on and when I went to start my car for the afternoon school run the battery was flat. Yesterday I accidentally put R8's favourite toy, Milly the Billy Goat Gruff, in the washing machine.

Yesterday was a bit tiresome in parts.

Yesterday I checked my Euromillions ticket and we had won!

Yesterday, being the sort of day it was yesterday, we had won £3.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Angelic angelica

Phew! It's September. In some ways I'm glad August is over, what with the family summer holiday and it being everyone's birthday (Mum, Dad, me, G11, Andrew... and others!) not to mention the need and opportunity for day trips out and then the annual topping up of the school uniforms. It's a long and expensive month. September heralds a big sigh of relief.

It also brings the blooming of the angelica on our small very wet field that we call The Moor. This field usually dries out in the summer, perhaps at least a little bit, but this year it has remained gloriously wet and the angelica loves it.

The flower heads change from neatly pink to fluffy white and then to deep, rich purples and greens. They are usually laden with brown, fluffy-bottomed wild bees, hover flies, butterflies and the occasional dragonfly. The bees seem to love it the most, roaming over the umbellifers giddy with nectar.

It's a gorgeous, tapestry effect. A beautiful perennial meadow.