01 April 2007 (Sunday) - Looking After Number One

01 April 2007 (Sunday) - Looking After Number Onemagnify

The day was spent with something of a sense of guilt. I should really have been somewhere else:

At Brighton for an AGM

At the scout hut for Bingo

Fixing my nephew’s sound card (again)

Sorting out the NHDCW

Instead I did what I wanted to do. Ably assisted by “Er Indoors TM” and “At the next junction, left you must turn mmmmmmmm TM” technology we did a circuit around some of the fish shops & garden centres in the Canterbury area. There’s a decent koi shop at Hersden that I shall be going back to next week. There’s a garden centre in the Alkham Valley that I’ve been meaning to visit for years and now I know I wasn’t missing much. It was in this garden centre that my mobile rang. A phone call. From Jakarta. Terry sounds in fine form, and is keen that I drum up a contingent to go to a kite festival in the Far East. I’m keen, but any spare cash I might have had has gone into the back garden.

I found what I was looking for in the last place I went to. Well, I would, wouldn’t I? Why do people always say “…and it was in the last place I looked!” ?. Of course it is. Having found what you’re looking for, you don’t keep searching, do you? Maybe you do. Far be it from me to criticise, if that’s what you want to do…..

Where was I? – Oh yes…..

So, a quick trip home to get the Espace, a quick trip back to the garden centre to watch the nice men knack themselves lifting the arbour into the back of the Espace. I then spent the afternoon painting the rest of the fence until “My Boy TM” came home. He got the job of unloading the Espace and helping me build the arbour. So we looked at the bits. And we looked at the plans. And we looked at the bits again. And then we realised that building the arbour is probably the last job that needs doing, so we left the bits in a pile and carried on painting. (We’ll build the arbour next weekend. If anyone is good at jigsaw puzzles, feel free to join us for the assembly of the arbour.)

It has to be said that painting isn’t “My Boy TM” ‘s strongest talent. Apparently “painting sucks”, but once he’d got the hang of getting paint on the fence and not on his hand he declared he “paints just like Mozart”. Presumably Mozart’s fifth movement in white emulsion?

OK, the arbour is still in bits, but I think we’ve now got most of the ingredients to finish the pond into the back garden. It’s just a case of putting it all together. Today was a very productive (if selfish) day. But I still feel I’ve let people down….

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02 April 2007 (Monday) - Science

One of my trainees qualified today. Five years work, and now she's state registered. It's a shame I didn't find the song below earlier. It might have ben useful. Still, I shall expose the new trainees to it.....

If anyone understands it, please explain it to me....

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03 April 2007 (Tuesday) - My Sweet Lord

03 April 2007 (Tuesday) - My Sweet Lordmagnify

Two thousand years ago the baby Jesus got nailed to a tree for saying how nice it would be if we were all good to each other for a change. Nowadays we remember this by eating chocolate eggs and going to Chambers bar’s beer festival.

In America some crackpot has wound up the righteous by making a six feet tall chocolate Jesus complete with chocolate willy. Some people have too much time on their hands.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2047001,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1

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04 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Going Home Early

04 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Going Home Earlymagnify

We’ve started a new system of working. In October we are contractually obliged to work 37.5 hours per week as opposed to 37 hours which we do at the moment. As usual a wonderful deal is offered to the nurses, a shite deal to everyone else, and for some stupid reason a national majority opt for a shite deal. Funny old world. Anyway, we don’t actually go over to 37.5 hours until October, but the rotas are now in place, so (the management says) it’s up to the chiefs (i.e. me) to ensure that everyone gets back 6 minutes per day until October. The obvious way is for people to go home half an hour early once a week. Works quite well, especially if you go home early after an early shift. I had time to paint two more fence panels.

In the meantime I need to solve the mysterious mystery of the phantom fish feeder. When I went to work the pond bottom was clear. When I came home it was covered in enough fish food to feed every fish in the known universe. The entire household deny going anywhere near fish food today. Strange….

And a video to end with. Well I like it..

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05 April 2007 (Thursday) - Insomnia, DCWs and Plastic Herons

05 April 2007 (Thursday) - Insomnia, DCWs and Plastic Heronsmagnify

I couldn’t sleep last night. At 4 a.m. I was laying awake worrying about progress (or lack of) on the Network Haematology DCW. I gave up laying there at 5 a.m., and I was pegging washing out on the line just as it got light. Probably as well that I was up early as I had another early start and I had some stuff to do before work.

Parcels to collect from the post office. What is it with “Postman Plod”? They have a notice in the sorting office demanding that you have all sorts of I.D., and they’ve only ever asked to see it when I don’t have it. Having been sent home to get my wallet in the past, I always take some I.D. nowadays and they never ask to see it. Still, mustn’t grumble – I’ve got my plastic heron. Having bought the thing, I find opinion is divided on the subject of plastic herons.

One school of thought says that should you dig a pond anywhere (in the Sahara desert, in Antarctica, in one of the smaller moons of Jupiter….), within milliseconds herons will find it and will eat the fish. This line of reasoning advocates the use of plastic herons as (apparently) herons are territorial beasts and the sight of a plastic heron will act as a deterrent to real herons.

The opposing school of thought is based on the premise that the first school of thought is “A load of old bollocks TM” , and claims that plastic herons only serve to attract real herons which then try to have sex with the plastic heron. On finding the plastic heron is unresponsive to their amorous advances the herons then eat the fish in the pond the plastic heron is supposed to be guarding.

I’m now not sure what to do with my plastic heron. In the meantime I think I shall wander round with it in a manner reminiscent of “Rod Hull & Emu”.

I turned up on time at work having been to Tesco’s, and I distributed crème eggs to everyone who showed respect to the baby Jesus. Still worrying about the Network Haematology DCW I found a rather major problem with it. Whilst able to access the files on a remote website, I can make copies of them, but I seem unable to send back any amendments or changes. So, I downloaded the lot, chopped it into bits which I emailed off to Dartford, Chatham, Maidstone and Canterbury with instructions to have it all sorted by the time I get back from holiday. I then emailed Fergus and told him that if all else fails I’ll email him the lot and he can upload it. I rather suspect all else has failed already. For a week or so it’s now S.E.P.

And then home early again. I felt somewhat guilty driving out of the car park as a gang of pikeys were having a picnic in the shadow of my car. As I drove off they relocated to the shade of a tree.

I was home in time to paint some more fence. As I painted away I was conscious that the pond’s waterfall sounded slightly different. There was a starling using the running water to have a wash. And more starlings queuing up to have their washes. I tried to photograph them, but I startled them and they flew off.

And then my antivirus expired. I got three month free with my new PC. It’s expired, and I’ve gone onto a free one recommended by “Er Indoors TM”. If this turns out to be the last blog entry, you’ll know why.

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06 April 2007 (Good Friday) - Chamber's Bar Beer Festival

06 April 2007 (Good Friday) - Chamber's Bar Beer Festivalmagnify

I couldn’t sleep again last night. At 6 a.m. I was doing the ironing and watching “Breaking Glass”. Wonderful film – is it really twenty five years old? I remember bunking off school one afternoon with a mate to see it in the cinema.

And then – it’s Good Friday – off to Folkestone for the traditional Good Friday beer festival at Chamber’s bar: As always the beer is excellent and is comprehensively documented by my tasting record:

Whites’s Dark: Bit bland

Goacher’s Old 1066: Tasty but bit harsh

Hopdaemon Golden Braid: Woof !

Cottage Goldrush: Yeah – go on

Gadds Dragons Blood: Could guzzle this all day

Harveys Sussex XXX Old Ale: Average. Good, but average

Bushes Ruby Mild: Bit bland

Harvistoun Bitter & Twisted: Citrus Twang

Quartz Crystal: Blah

Nelson Task Force 25: Skanky

Gadds Ship o’ Fools: Bit skanky

Old Thumper: Bit shite

Skrimshanker IPA: Oh yes !

Gadds No 5: Woof !

Adnams Bitter: Average

And then we left Chambers and wandered around the beach. I think. It was all rather vague at this point. We took the cliff lift to the sea front and attempted to nick a huge rock. I say “attempted” – it was too big to conceal about my person so we gave up. We then got some sea food and wandered up to the Guildhall for a pint of IPA and a game of pool. Then on to the British Lion for tea and a pint of Titanic Ale. And then home, following a girl with legs all the way up to her bum and shorts all the way down to her bum.

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07 April 2007 (Saturday) - Ricky Tomlinson Day

07 April 2007 (Saturday) - Ricky Tomlinson Daymagnify

Another sleepless night. It’s only when you don’t dare fart without the safety net of a lavatory that you realise how much wind you pass in the night. I’m blaming a bad pint yesterday. I’m sure the other nine were fine, but there must have been a dodgy one. For obvious reasons the rest of the day was spent quoting Ricky Tomlinson.

I had to go into work this morning. That was a bad idea. The afternoon was yet another wander around garden centres. I’ve decided I want a small shed at the end of the garden. I could keep all the electricals tidy in there, keep the lawnmower and strimmer and one or two other things in it. How much would a shed three feet square & six feet high cost? £110! Does anyone have a small shed they don’t want…..

 

08 April 2007 (Easter Sunday) - Folkestone Arbour

08 April 2007 (Easter Sunday) - Folkestone Arbourmagnify

Last night I had an invitation to go out – I would have liked to have gone, but I felt grotty so I stayed in and sulked. I woke up this morning (having slept until 5 a.m.) feeling really grotty. I’ve got a bit of a cold that has moved onto my chest. I had the choice of sulking some more, or getting on and making the most of the day.

I had the arch and the roses down by the time Jose arrived, and we soon got the sleepers round the pond cut to size. (Something I should have done months ago) Last Sunday I bought an arbour. Today we put it together, with not an iota of “Rustic Charm TM” to be seen. Whilst first Jose and then Tina painted the arbour, I started levelling the area round the pond. Levelling. That’s another of those things that’s so easy to type isn’t it? Half the garden needed digging up with a shovel, then going over with a fork, and then again with a rake. I’ve got most of it done, but I got cramp, so I gave up. “My Boy TM” can finish it tomorrow.

I could have proceeded faster, but having been subjected to an endless tirade of “Time Team (yawn)” my mind is now finely honed in matters archaeological, and I kept being delayed by the discovery of artefacts. For someone who’s constantly going gooey over Tony Robinson, you’d think she’d be a bit more interested, wouldn’t you? I excavated a lump of ancient medieval roman Iron Age metalwork. Was she impressed? I should co-co! I unearthed a Byzantine pottery fragment and was accused of wasting her time with bricks that I’d buried last autumn. Even the discovery an early twenty first century Bluetooth earpiece elicited only minimal interest. If Karenza or the bearded weirdie from Geophysics showed up with an old McDonalds wrapper she’d wet her pants in excitement, but my historical finds are but rubbish. It’s a right old con, this archaeology. If you look in any museum there’s all these crappy old bits of broken pots that came from Julius Caesar’s po. Or so they claim. How do they know? My discoveries could have Tony Robinson’s so called “finds” in a fight. Easy! But are they appreciated? I think I’ll bury them for future generations. Let’s hope future generations are more appreciative!

 

09 April 2007 (Easter Monday) - Landscaping

09 April 2007 (Easter Monday) - Landscapingmagnify

Last night I was watching telly at 3 a.m. There’s re-runs of “The Goodies” on Paramount comedy. They used to be so funny. Last night’s program was just sad. It was still dark when the Goodies finally ground to a halt, so I couldn’t get on with the landscaping, so I went back to bed (as opposed to sleep). By 8.30 a.m. I was raking and levelling soil, waiting for “My Boy TM” to emerge from his pit. Emerge he eventually did, and we laid some membrane. And it blew away. Large decorative rocks would help to weigh it down. Off to the garden centre. Again. I’m spending more time there than the “normal people” do.

They had a large container of decorative rocks, some huge, some the size of marbles. All up for sale at the same price. So we emptied the lot, chose the twelve biggest and put the rest back before anyone caught us. Taking care to distribute the weight of the boulders around the car we then set off to borrow a wheelbarrow from “Shrub”. “Shrub” is a friend of “My Boy TM”, so named because he looks like a small rhododendron. “Shrub’s Wheelbarrow” has long been billed as one of the mechanical wonders of our age, and it has been proudly boasted on several occasions how much easier the job of landscaping would be with the use of “Shrub’s Wheelbarrow”. “Shrub’s Wheelbarrow” was, to be honest, a disappointment. Not only does rancid water pour out of the handles from some secret internal reservoir, the tyre has had large chunks taken out of it, it is rustier than a rusty thing that’s been left out in the rain, and it screams in agony whenever it is used to actually carry anything. After using it to carry a couple of rocks for a total distance of some ten yards, we took pity on it and put the poor thing in a corner of the garden to enjoy the bank holiday sunshine. We just carried shingle and rocks around in buckets instead. It was easier, quicker and quieter.

And that was it for the day – laid membrane, covered it with shingle, repeated ad nauseum. We’ve got three quarters of the shingle laid now – a good morning’s work tomorrow should have the landscaping finished. Then there’s the washing line poles and the fences to paint, and several runs to the tip…..

 

10 April 2007 (Tuesday) - The Animal Carer Badge

10 April 2007 (Tuesday) - The Animal Carer Badgemagnify

The “Animal Carer” badge is known to my cubs as the “Rabbit Strangling” badge as it depicts a rabbit being strangled. It was with a heavy heart that I listened as Suzie told me that she wanted to do the “Animal Carer” badge tonight. It’s never been my favourite badge. Basically all the cub has to do is to look after an animal for three months. Simple? No.

Apparently last year I told William that dogs like to go for walks and they fetch sticks and swim in the river. William decided to do the “Animal Carer” badge to his dog. So every morning before school and every afternoon after school the dog walked, ran after sticks and swam in the river. Now I can’t remember giving this advice, and I’m sure that had I known that the dog was sixteen years old, grossly overweight and had a heart condition I would have advised a modicum of moderation. I’m sure you can guess what happened. The dog croaked. No one’s ever accused me outright of killing the dog, but it has been said (on several occasions) that my advice speeded the dog on its way.

And then there was the sad tale of Debbie’s budgie. Debbie kept a really good diary of her three months work on the “Animal Carer” badge, complete with feeding records, lists of what the pet got up to, and photos of her budgie. For some inexplicable reason after six weeks the photos of the antics of the budgie suddenly gave way to photos of the antics of a gerbil. And four weeks after that, (some two weeks before the planned end of the work on the badge) the diary ended abruptly with a photo of the gerbil’s grave. Debbie muttered something about Mum saying its all very well for poor dumb Kaa to suggest these hare-brained ideas but it’s the other poor dumb animals that suffer.

Having killed three animals (to my certain knowledge, and there are rumours of several other fatalities) I was rather loathe to sign any more death warrants in the form of the “Animal Carer” badge pet care diary. However Suzie has already started looking after her animal. Now, the scout hut can be a noisy place, but I was sure she said she was looking after a “Vampire Frog”. “Vampire Frog”? I asked. Suzie misheard what I said, and interpreted it as what she’s actually said, that being “Grandma’s dog”. She then regaled me with all sorts of details about what I took to be the natural history of the “Vampire Frog”. I need to clean my ears out.

Let’s hope this isn’t another “Animal Carer” badge which has to be awarded posthumously.

 

11 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Going To The Tip

11 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Going To The Tipmagnify

As work on the pond has progressed, we’ve generated a lot of rubbish, to say nothing of the sofa and chair that has graced the front garden for the last month. It was time to take the seats out of the Espace and load up the rubbish.

The plan was to move the rubbish from the back garden into the front garden to see how much we had, then to load the car. This had the added advantage of being able to do an “Auntie Wainwright” and attempt to sell broken rubbish at extortionate prices to passers-by. The car was soon full to overflowing and it was painfully clear that we needed to make two journeys. Was moving all the rubbish into the front garden tempting fate? Had we not done so, would the queue to get into the tip have been shorter? As it was we queued for twenty minutes to get into the tip. Not because the tip was busy, but because people are stupid in so many ways:

·         Stupid #1: There’s a new parking system at the tip. As you drive in, you come along a one lane section which is queuing to get in. You then enter a four lane section (which is six car lengths long) for unloading, and you park up, unload and then go. Easy? There are those who commence unloading in the one lane queuing section, and as the unloading section becomes clear, they refuse to move forward. The queue grows whilst one idiot unloads. Had he moved forward, twenty four could unload…..

·         Stupid #2: Those who can’t be bothered to queue. They take all their rubbish in a trailer, park up where they can, and then manually drag their trailer in through the exit where the cars (who’ve done it properly) are trying to come out. Those trying to come out can’t reverse because everyone else is trying to come out too. Those dragging trailers in can’t reverse because they are stupid, and the queues get longer.

·         Stupid #3: Those who need to bid farewell to each and every scrap of rubbish. Having bagged it all up, they stand on the edge of the skip, open their bags and drop each piece in, one by one, oblivious of how long the queue behind them is growing.

·         Stupid #4: Those who think that watching the stuff being mashed up inside the skip is akin to watching telly, and stand there for hours on end watching it get mashed up, again oblivious of how long the queue behind them is growing.

·         Stupid #5: Those who feel they are really above such mundane trivia as going to something as demeaning as a public tip. Having got to the unloading area, they need to waste ten minutes of theirs and everyone else’s time by ceremoniously donning overalls, apron, wellies and gloves before carrying item of rubbish at arms’ length to the skips.

·         Stupid #6: Those with nothing better to do. They queue for half an hour to throw away one small carrier bag of rubbish.

I had to sit through this performance twice. And I could probably find enough rubbish to make another tip run by the end of the week.

 

12 April 2007 (Thursday) - A Booze Up

12 April 2007 (Thursday) - A Booze Upmagnify

A Booze Up ?!?!?!?” I hear my loyal readership exclaiming in disbelief. “Surely Not!!”

A good friend was intending to be in the area, and we’d originally planned to go out to a pub dinner somewhere. But early in the week I had this flash of inspiration that it was cheaper to go on the lash at home. So an afternoon in the “New Look Garden TM” was planned.

Plans were somewhat thwarted when the guest of honour called last night to say he was unable to attend, but we decided to go ahead anyway as some people had let us know they were off work anyway, and other people hadn’t said anything so it wouldn’t be fair to have them turning up to an empty house.

Dan stoked up the Barbie, and nine of us scoffed burgers, and spent an enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine.

 

13 April 2007 (Friday) - Another Booze Up…….. almost

13 April 2007 (Friday) - Another Booze Up…….. almostmagnify

The morning was spent gathering up the last of the garden rubbish and doing one last tip run with it all. Then the afternoon was to be spent getting a “No Fishing” sign for the pond, and a box to sit by the arbour in which we can keep fish food, and stuff. Brian was still on the sniff for a new shed, and we’d seen some in Bethersden so we thought we’d plan a circular route via Ham Street, Tenterden, Bethersden and then back home. A round trip of about a couple of hours. Ham Street’s garden centre was dull. It has to be said that all garden centres are dull, but Ham Street’s was duller than most.

The route to Tenterden took us past the Red Lion in Snargate, somewhere about which I’ve heard wonderful reports. The idea was to stop for a quick half (just to have a look) and then to crack on. We stayed two hours.

It’s been run by the same little old lady since the war, and it’s not so much going into a pub as going into someone’s living room. The beer is poured straight out of the barrel. As the bar seemed a little crowded we wandered to a room at the back where we admired a really old pub game, “Toad in the Hole”, in which you have to toss brass counters into a hole on a table. But this wasn’t a museum exhibit. It was a working game. The little old lady who runs the place soon tootled over with a handful of brass counters and showed us how to do the game. I was afraid I might damage something – the counters were quite heavy. But Doris was insistent we enjoyed ourselves, and another visitor to the place joined us and we spent ages lobbing counters at the hole. A point is scored each time the counter lands on the table and two points when it goes down the hole. Dan scored 31 to my 17.

We never did get what we set out to buy.

The Red Lion is really welcoming, the beer is good, OK, so there wasn’t a menu, but there was an ample supply of bar snacks. The pub is quite easily a half way point for a walk through the countryside. I must get the map out and get planning a route.

 

14 April 2007 (Saturday) - Punt & Dennis

14 April 2007 (Saturday) - Punt & Dennismagnify

When I was a lad there was all sorts of humour on the telly, and among the best was Punt & Dennis. We saw them in Folkestone in the early 90s and they were hilarious. Which is how I like my comedy. I read Viz as the profanisaurus has me in stitches. I like watching Andy Z live as he has me gasping for air. As humour should be. Something that is truly funny, not just entertaining or just amusing.

Something that, on reflection, Punt & Dennis isn’t any more.

The show wasn’t helped by the sound system – Steve Punt was inaudible for much of the start of the show. The show tonight had some very funny elements: “musical passports” was good, as was “drunk man with pointer”, and the “bird flu” gags. As ever, Hugh Dennis excels in visual humour. I chuckled and giggled at some lines, had a few wry smiles at some of the more satirical bits, but I didn’t laugh out loud at any of it.

The audience at the Gulbenkian seemed to be their typical target audience. The average age was certainly older than me, and our party of fifteen had the two youngest people in the place. Unless you were very up to date on current affairs many of the jokes would have been wasted. I was reminded in part of the awful American comedies my children watch in which every time there is a joke the cast all grin at the camera to tell the audience that there is a joke being told. In the same way, every punch line tonight was accompanied by smug grins with which messers Dennis and Punt expressed self satisfaction.

In the most part Punt & Dennis seem to have abandoned “being funny” in favour of “being clever” – examples include “royal watchers”, most of the songs and all the Olympics and the political stuff. Which is a shame because they can be so much better than they were tonight.

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15 April 2007 (Sunday) - Lazy Sunday

15 April 2007 (Sunday) - Lazy Sundaymagnify

Off to Whitstable for a stroll along the sea front. I think I caught the sun somewhat – my face is burning. Five of us sauntered from the nudey beach to the bar, then back again via the chip shop. I slept a pint of Oyster Stout off on the way home, then spent nearly three hours painting more fence.

I’ve been told several times in the last week by different people that painting fences is dull. I’m beginning to agree with them.

 

16 April 2007 (Monday) - Bored

Spent over an hour this evening painting more fence. Painting sucks fish!

 

17 April 2007 (Tuesday) - email

Email is a wonderful thing - or can be if it works. In the last three hours I've received 220 emails, three of which I actually want. None of which are on the subject I'm expecting. Having wondered about doing something over the coming bank holiday, last Sunday I emailed fifteen people to see if there was any interest. I've had one reply. I need to update my address book ! In the meantime, a musical interlude.

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

 

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18 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Pond Life

18 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Pond Lifemagnify

“My Boy TM” announced the fountain in the pond wasn’t working right, and he proceeded to fix it. I missed a wonderful photo opportunity with him hanging over the pond with Emma holding his ankles. He’s put a smaller gusher on the fountain which seems to be OK – a change is as good as a rest. Then one of the fish got poked with the net. It was quite happily sitting at the bottom of the pond, minding it’s own business, but Emma decided it was trapped under a cable (?) and needed to be rescued. I suggested that rather diving to the sub aqua depths, it might be less stressful to all concerned if we gave the fish an experimental poke with the net handle. It didn’t like being poked, and swam off. Emma was happy about that.

However, none of this is getting the fence painted.

Tomorrow “My Boy TM” is getting a new tattoo. His mother will lay an egg!

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19 April 2007 (Thursday) - Bored

I've had my hours of work changed (whether I like it or not). Periodically I will now be required to start work at 11.30am and finish at 8pm. Which leaves me with an odd couple of hours, and I'm bored. I've watched a DVD and Doctor Who, done the washing up and the ironing, and had a look on YouTube. "Gay Daleks" are entertaining, "The Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show" is fun. I like the "Foxy Bird TM singing Shine", and the chubby lad singing Mika is OK, but they all lack a certain je ne sais quoi (!)

So, as “My Boy TM” once told his teacher, if you want a job done, do it yourself….

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20 April 2007 (Friday) - Reviewing Old Haunts

20 April 2007 (Friday) - Reviewing Old Hauntsmagnify

A month ago I visited the FILO in Hastings Old Town. Today Chippy & I went back. The beer was still every bit as good, as was the food, but rather than spending the afternoon there, we had this vague idea of having a look around the Old Town’s pubs. Hastings Old Town is famous for the amount and variety of pubs, and I must admit I shamelessly took advantage of the session to visit some old favourites:

The FILO

Not one I visited as a youngster, but the beer is always good, as is the food, as is the resident cat. To say nothing of the “Fit Bird (tee hee) in business suit TM” or the “Goth Chick TM” or the resident cat.

The Queen Adelaide

As a lad (aged 17 in 1981) this was the local for the staff of the Harbour Restaurant. Sadly it’s now arguably the pub from Royston Vasey, but it was good for a pint of Director’s.

The Cutter

The staff of the Harbour Restaurant had an ongoing rivalry with the staff from the Regal & the Seagull Restaurants (both owned by “Jimmy the Greek”) and this was their local. When feeling particularly brave we would charge into this place, shout abuse and sprint back to the relative safety of the Queen Adelaide. Even now (twenty six years later) going into the place still had the aura of invading enemy territory. And the beer (Harvey’s) was sour.

The Carlisle

The Carlisle is famous (notorious), but provided a good pint of Hen.

The Havelock

A disappointment. What was once a never-fail pub back in the days when I would guzzle anything today didn’t warrant our custom. With no ales on the pumps we walked in one door and out the other.

The John Logie Baird

The name has significance – look it up on Google! But like most Wetherspoons, the place was clean and had a choice of five ales on.

We then got the train home and made a few phone calls, and eight of us the descended on the Riverside for tea. Whilst the service can be a tad on the slow side, the food is usually good, and whilst they don’t have a lot of beers on, those that are on are usually good. I should go there more often.

 

21 April 2007 (Saturday) - Garden Stuff (again) and Doctor Who

21 April 2007 (Saturday) - Garden Stuff (again) and Doctor Whomagnify

Apparently at some stage yesterday I agreed to go “Garden Shopping”. Five of us ventured to the Isle of Sheppey – a strange place. It’s located some five miles past where the locals start eating strangers. We found this wonderful place where they sell all sorts of garden statues and stepping stones and stuff. It’s pretty much the same stuff that you get in local garden centres, but at about a quarter of the price. I shall be going back to get a table, two benches and a water feature.

The afternoon was spent in the garden getting the fence finished – how long can it take to paint a fence? I also got the washing line poles painted too. I think I may have overdone the being in the sunshine bit, as I feel a bit iffy now. Next time – wear a hat. Rather silly of me – I had a phone call to remind me of a party tonight that I’d totally forgotten about, and was thinking what a good idea that would be, and I just started feeling more and more ill.

And then tea & Doctor Who. Pasta bake is always good, and more daleks….. What a load of old rubbish. Without wishing to spoil the plot, if you’ve not seen it, don’t bother – it was crap. The problem with daleks is that when I was a lad daleks appeared maybe once every three or four years. Not twice in thirteen weeks. I think the current Doctor Who is suffering from “dalek overload”. The current writers seem quite able to create new monsters and villains, and breathe new life into old baddies like they have with the cybermen, the autons and even last week’s macra (did you know the macra originally aired on Doctor Who in 1967?) So why this obsession with thrashing dalek stories to death? Bring back Sontarans, Ice Warriors, Yeti and Sea Devils !!

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22 April 2007 (Sunday) - Missing Fish, Golf and Augustus

22 April 2007 (Sunday) - Missing Fish, Golf and Augustusmagnify

Despite a relatively early night I couldn’t sleep. Rather than laying awake worrying about work I was up and painting yet more fence by 8 a.m. Fence painting now really has got to stop as I’ve actually run out of fence paint. We had a minor calamity when Emma announced some of the fish were missing. She had a photo on her phone of a Koi that simply wasn’t in the pond any longer. We had a quick head count and at least three fish were missing. Eggs were laid, and we deduced that if it was “human theft” there were several bigger, more attractive and more valuable fish that would have gone. So it must be avian theft – heron or sea gull. Dave (the plastic heron) was moved closer to the pond, and I set off to cubs fully expecting to come back to an empty pond.

Tomorrow is St George’s Day, and rather than doing a dull march to a boring church to listen to an hour of hypocrisy in sub-zero temperatures, we thought we’d do “Pitch ‘n’ Putt” instead. We’d arranged with the “Pitch ‘n’ Putt” people that there would be a lot of us. They weren’t fussed, and proudly boasted they could cope with up to seventy five people. We didn’t have quite that many, but with Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, leaders and some parents who stayed to join in, we weren’t far off that number. I was somewhat taken aback to find that whist the “Pitch ‘n’ Putt” people hadn’t actually lied, it was one golf ball between two, and one golf bat between five. Fortunately some of the cubs had their own golf bats, and one of the parents waded into the water hazards and fished out several dozen golf balls. It was at least with a ball each that we divided into smaller groups, and started at various places along the “Pitch ‘n’ Putt” course. My group weren’t particularly good at golf – Billy in particular was using his golf bat in much the same way as I use a shovel. Now I’m no expert on the subject, but it occurred to me that where we were going wrong was the lack of a war cry on swiping at the ball. Any visitor to the place could have identified my group – they were the ones bellowing “Suck on this” every time they brandished a bat. Now it had to be said that my group did get a little loud, and comments were made, and so before long particularly loud cries of “Suck on this” were followed by even louder cries of “Don’t scare the normal people”.

They say that time flies when you are having fun – the afternoon was great. OK so we had two “spanners” along, but they joined in and a great time was had by all (except possibly the normal people) and all too soon it was time to go home.

Was I coming home to an empty pond? I dreaded going to the garden, and my worst fears seemed to be confirmed when I saw three arses sticking out of the pond. But good news – the missing fish had returned. There is a fold of pond liner concealing a hidey-hole some eighteen inches deep from which Emma had chased four fish, including the missing one photographed on her phone. Whilst I was out, Emma and “My Boy TM” had been fish shopping and bought four small Koi. “Dave”, “Dave”, “Shadow” and “Augustus” seem quite at home; “Dave” and “Dave” have even taken food. “Augustus” is yet to eat. I suspect he’s waiting for either lardy cake with pink icing or vol-au-vents. I’m not saying he minces round the pond with a fin on his hip in tight leather whist giving the other fish the eye, but…..

 

23 April 2007 (Monday) -

 

I’ve censored this….

 

In the meantime, guess what I did this evening. Go on – I’ll give you a clue. It begins with “P”. And ends with “ainted the fence”

 

24 April 2007 (Tuesday) - Codes

24 April 2007 (Tuesday) - Codesmagnify

For the communicator’s badge the cubs have to read and write messages in simple codes. The easiest is obvious – write out the letters of the alphabet, and beneath them write the alphabet backwards. Then the code is A=Z, B=Y, etc. How hard is that? A lot of the cubs soon got the idea – putting their names into code was fun. “Ibzm” and “Xlmmli” spent the evening addressing me as “Qzz”. However not all of the cubs were as bright as “Ibzm” and “Xlmmli”, so I had to be somewhat more patient:

OK” I said, “what you have to do is write out the alphabet

Uh?

The alphabet

Uh?

You know – your ABC

Oh – I know that – easy!”

But that was all that a large proportion of them did know – their ABC. What came next after C was anyone’s guess. For many of them it could have been anything out of X, Z, Q, J, red, green, cheese & onion or even Wolverhampton Wanderers. As the evening wore on, I took to telling successive groups that if they didn’t know their alphabet or if they couldn’t read and write then they would be wasting their time with me. All were most indignant that I should be so patronising to them, but I sent about a third of them on to other activities as they hadn’t a clue. Apparently they don’t learn ABC at school. Some of the nurseries teach it, but not all. And learning to read and write is a first year infant’s job. If they haven’t mastered reading and writing in the first year at infants then they never learn it. Instead a classroom assistant reads out all the child needs to read, and writes down what the child then might wish to have written. Funny old world.

 

25 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Gliese 581 C

25 April 2007 (Wednesday) - Gliese 581 Cmagnify

WTF” I hear you exclaim. Gliese 581 C is a planet some 20.5 light years away. It’s a bit bigger than earth, and today’s news tells us that it has liquid water. It’s joined 47 Ursa Majoris (Coyote) and 70 Vir b as a possible place to find extraterrestrial life. I’ve mentioned this to a few people today, and got responses ranging from utter boredom at one extreme to vague indifference at the other end of the attention spectrum.

This is important!!!!!! As our planet gets progressively knackered by global warming, here’s somewhere that (with a little effort) humanity can use as a backup for when we totally trash our current home.

On the other hand we could just ignore it. One could imagine a similar scene in northern France a couple of thousand years ago (translated from the original Latin):

Oi!! Julius

What?”

Look over the sea – there’s a island there

Big deal. I’m off down the pub

 

 

26 April 2007 (Thursday) - Bored

It’s another late start for me today. So I’m bored – I’ve done the ironing and the washing up, fed the fish, and as there’s only one fence panel left to paint, I’m saving that till later. 11.30am is not a good time for me to start work. And 8pm is not a good time for me to finish. By the time I’ve got home & had tea, the evening’s gone. Still, I can always waste the rest of the morning in NeverWinter and wait patiently for the blog counter to hit five figures

 

27 April 2007 (Friday) - An Obituary

27 April 2007 (Friday) - An Obituarymagnify

Today will be a bit of an anticlimax bearing in mind the mega pub crawl I had last Friday. Following “Stuffing up the staffing rotas TM” I’ve had to do another late shift today at rather short notice. This is a bit of a pain as I had a BBQ planned for this evening. (I’ll make the next one, matey – honest!!)

Let’s hope work goes better today. There was what I can only describe as the death of a close one yesterday. Following months of effort, aggro, tears and suffering the Network Haematology DCW is now but a sad memory. It was finally put out of its misery yesterday. I got to work to receive an email to say the Network Haematology DCW wasn’t at all well. Another email followed shortly to say things were looking very bad, and about 6 o'clock I got another email to say that following tearful discussions from all its close friends and relatives it had been knocked on the head. Permanently.

I can’t help but wonder how one proceeds following the death of one’s DCW. Perhaps there are support groups? Apparently as a form of consolation Fergus and Jesal are going to liaise with me in the near future. That will be nice.

 

28 April 2007 (Saturday) - Earth Shattering

28 April 2007 (Saturday) - Earth Shatteringmagnify

As the blog counter stampeded over the ten thousand mark yesterday I wanted something rather earth shattering for today’s entry. I got it. An earthquake.

Today our county was rocked (literally) by an earthquake which registered at 4.7 on the Richter scale, brought down dozens of chimneys, cut power to thousands of homes in Folkestone and made blocks of flats in Ashford shake. Or so I’m told. Unlike those who (I’m reliably informed) screamed like a girl when it hit, I slept through the whole thing. The first I heard was when Jose phoned to wake me to tell me all about it. I must admit I was a bit dubious about it and decided that as I was up I might as well paint the fence. As I painted my mobile rang, and rang, and rang. Loads of friends concerned about me. I told them that there was no earthquake, but I’d farted at about 8.20 a.m., which seemed to satisfy most enquiries.

The only TV coverage of the event was Sky News who showed a county in chaos, with the only bunch having any organisational skills being (of all people) the Salvation Army. The police advised citizens to stay in their homes, so we went to Lakeside to do a bit of birthday pressie shopping. Shopping, as always was dull. Interestingly all the motorway signs were saying there was a major incident in Folkestone, and we’d heard the M20 was closed between Ashford & Folkestone. This would be a nuisance as we had plans to go to a combined birthday party in Folkestone planned for the evening.

Fortunately the motorway was open, and we set off to Folkestone. I must admit it was with a sense of schadenfreude that I arrived in Folkestone – I’d gone to gloat. Imagine my disappointment to find a town not in ruins. I had this vision of a pile of rubble where Jose’s house once stood, with the children forming a queue at a stand pipe in the street, whilst an itinerant vagrant played “keep the home fires burning” on a harmonica. No such luck. Apparently there’s a crack in the concrete on the patio. I couldn’t see it, so I resorted to my usual fallback position of guzzling lots of beer and winding up all the small children so’s they will be far too excited to sleep when it’s bed time.

 

29 April 2007 (Sunday) - Even more Garden

29 April 2007 (Sunday) - Even more Gardenmagnify

Couldn’t sleep again, so I was up with the lark (well, up with those larks that get up at 6.30 a.m at least.). The fence is now painted, lawn strimmed, and we’ve even dug out a bit for a new water feature. Excavations unearthed several artefacts including a fossilized “Pirates of the Caribbean” sweetie wrapper, but was “er indoors TM” impressed? Not at all! We then went water feature shopping. B&Q didn’t have much, I didn’t like what was in Homebase, WyeVale was expensive, and Bybrook Barn was very expensive, including one up for £149 that Homebase had for £69. So it will be a trip to the Isle of Sheppey next Sunday.

I’m now at a bit of a loose end as the garden is pretty much finished. As we’ve still got loads of the brindle chippings we’ve decided that once the trampoline has gone to Emma’s new house we’ll put in a small pond for goldfish & shubunkins behind the shed. We can use up the brindle chippings around that. Didn’t someone mention to me a while ago they had a pond liner they wanted to get rid of….?

All is not well with the current pond, though. One of the fish died last night. It had a manky eye and “My Boy TM” spoke to the nice lady in the pet shop who recommended some water treatment stuff. The pond water has gone green, and the fish aren’t eating. Will they all succumb…..? Time will tell – it usually does.

In the meantime there's a pictorial record of progress on the pond in the photos section. If you can't see the photos, there's a reason for that (Jamie - give me a ring & I'll tell you how to get in to them!)

 

30 April 2007 (Monday) - Gone West

With work on the pond prettty much done I'm now at a loose end. If I can't find something else to do, the world will have to suffer my theatrical aspirations.

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

In the meantime, I'm of to astronomonomony club. Wish me luck.