1 April 2018 (Sunday) - Bit Tired
As I left work this morning I had the feeling of it being the end of an era. My three-month secondment to the Tunbridge Wells hospital at Pembury is up, and (apart from occasional visits) I'm being relocated back to my usual base in Maidstone.
I've quite enjoyed my time at Pembury; I've worked with a good bunch of people. The work has been enough to keep me out of mischief, and I've seen several interesting cases. And I've even had my first ever snowed-in and had to stay over in accommodation at work (which was something of an adventure).
I must admit that I've not really enjoyed the journey to and fro, but (to be fair) I really don't like driving and my ideal job would be one without any driving.
If only my local hospital was a nicer place to work...
I’d been looking forward to listening to the church service on the radio as I drove home. I had been hoping for something inspiring and uplifting for Easter. I was rather disappointed to hear tired old rituals and banshee-like howling. I turned the radio off and put on my own random choice of music. A cover version of Sparks’ Number One Song in Heaven came on. Far more uplifting.
Once home, "er indoors TM" sorted out hot cross buns for brekkie and I had a look at the Internet. I had a message via geocaching dot com. The series of caches I hid in February have mostly drowned in the recent floods. I shall sort them out when the waters subside somewhat. Also the signatures on the paper logs don’t match the claimed finds on the web pages for some of the caches…. With any luck the paper logs will be too soggy for me to read them. I can’t be arsed with deleting people’s logs only to find they did me a favour by signing team names rather than as individuals (like I do nine times out of ten).
We got the dogs organized and walked round to the fountain. Yesterday I’d suggested that we had a dog reunion of Treacle’s family. Unfortunately not many people could make it, but "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" turned up with Pogo, and their brother Ethan showed up too. We had a good wander round the park, and ended up at the lower playpark. Being the lower one it was rather damp underfoot. So much so that the drainage ditches were very full. "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" was warned, but when you are three years old you rarely listen to sage advice, and he fell in the water. Only up to his thigh, but it was enough to wind his mother up rather impressively.
We said our goodbyes came home; some walked happily, some squelched miserably. Once home, both of our dogs got baths. It never fails to amaze me how Fudge gets far grubbier than Treacle. Is it because he is lower, or because she jumps in to the ditches so that the mud washes off?
With dogs washed and settled we drove round to collect "My Boy TM" and we drove round to the Windmill for lunch. Usually on a Sunday we are either out walking miles or I am at work. Being post night shift meant I was able to do something I’d been hoping to do for ages; get Sunday lunch at the Windmill. There was an excellent ale selection, and Alan came up trumps with a rather good bit of dinner. We weren’t going to have dessert, but I was so glad we did. They were *so* good – and so cheap too.
Suitably stuffed we then went out to Stone Green Nursery. This is the sort of place from which garden centres get their plants. Periodically they open to the public.
Last year "er indoors TM" got some large garden pots from her mate and re-potting my monkey-puzzle tree gave me another large pot. I wanted to fill them all but bearing in mind I don’t know my acer from my evergreen we took "My Boy TM" along as he knows a thing or two about plants. We had a good mooch about looking at the various plants. My favourite bit was the home-made ice-cream stall.
I came away with two “Pieris Forest Flames” and a “sorbaria sorbifolia”. I’ve read all the verbals about them, but I shall treat them like I treat my acer and my monkey-puzzle tree. They will get a bucket of water when I remember, and whether they live or die is up to them. Gardening in my world is very much “survival of the fittest”.
We took "My Boy TM" home. I had a cuppa whilst he hid his new plant in the garden. Cheryl had left orders he was not to get any more plants, but as I pointed out she wouldn’t know what was in the garden anyway, and consequently he’d be in trouble for getting a plant whether he had or not. So he might as well get the plant anyway.
I sat down and fussed Rolo. I woke up an hour later, and we then said our goodbyes and came home.
I spent the evening falling asleep in front of the telly…perhaps I should have had a sleep during the day? I was glad I didn’t though. Today was rather good.
2 April 2018 (Monday) - Wet Bank Holiday
I slept like a log last night – ten hours sleep. I suppose this is what happens after a night shift. I got up and had my weekly weigh-in. After a few choccy bars, KFC, quite a bit of ale and a roast pig-out over the last week I was expecting the worst but was pleasantly surprised to see my weight has held constant over the last week. No loss or gain.
I was rather surprised to see the forecast torrential rain wasn’t happening and had a look at the weather forecast. The BBC’s weather forecast was once rather good. They’ve now changed it so’s you get an icon describing the weather, and a percentage chance of rain. However, the two rarely agree. Take today’s weather forecast. At mid-day I was told to expect light cloud with a thirty per cent chance of rain. Two hours later I should expect light rain with a twenty per cent chance of rain.
As I scoffed hot cross buns for brekkie (over a quarter of my daily calorie allowance!) I had a look at the Internet. For once very little seemed to be going on, and with no emails of note I finished my brekkie and got off my bum. I went out to the garden and potted my sorbaria sorbifolia (as one does).
It took some doing.
I went into the garden at the very moment that the rain started, but I decided to crack on. The plan was to stick the plant into the pot that the monkey puzzle tree had been in until last year. There was already a load of soil in it. There was also a load of weeds. Where had they come from? I shifted the weeds and stuck the sorby-whatever in the new pot. It sat far too high, so I gave myself a backache digging a hole for it. Eventually I got it just right and thought I could fill in the soil gaps with the spare soil I have reserved in a dustbin just for these eventualities. After all, doesn’t everyone have a dustbin full of spare soil just in case of a horticultural calamity? No?
I had a calamity when I found my dustbin of soil had become a dustbin of mud. I slopped mud in until all was even, then thought I would make it all look pretty by putting down a weed-proof membrane and some decorative stones.
It was at this point that the dogs started to “help” me…
I had hoped to pot all three new plants, but the rain, the dogs, and having run out of spare soil put an end to that idea. Which was probably for the best. It was as I was posting a photo of the plant in its new pot onto Facebook that I realized that the thing was nothing like level. Still, it’s a plant. It will straighten itself out (I hope).
I came in to the house to find an intense smell of disinfectant. One of the dogs had been sick. Perhaps it was the excitement of helping me with the gardening?
We then went for a little walk round the park. We met a pup whose head was bandaged after a mishap at the dog groomers. We’d been thinking about taking Treacle there to get her claws clipped. Might have to think twice now.
The walk went really well until we got to the Chinese garden where some small kiddies (and their mummy) were looking for frogs in a stagnant mud pool. Suddenly looking for frogs became a game of “fetch the stick” in which all the kids and the dogs immediately became plastered in smelly black gunge.
Once home I scrubbed the worst of the mud from the dogs, and I switched on my exercise app. No matter how much I diet I still have a fat gut. A few years ago I lost a third of my bodyweight and still had a beer belly. I have this idea that an abdominal workout routine might sort it out. I’ve downloaded an exercise app, and I had a go. Russian twists, leg raises, planking, heel touches… all the time being mobbed by the dogs who both thought this was some novel new game for them to play with me.
I shall try again tomorrow morning before they wake up.
We had a spot of lunch, settled the dogs, and went for a little geo-mission. About two years ago I solved a series of geo-puzzles which are all in the vague direction of Sittingbourne. They looked to be more “drive-by” than “walk” and so they remained unfound until today. Finding the weather rather iffy and the dogs asleep, we thought we might spend a couple of hours driving about, stopping and rummaging in the undergrowth, and driving on a bit more.
We had a rather good time finding most of our targets. One eluded us; I suspect that one might have gone with a recent hedge-trimming. We thought about driving home via one or two more geo-targets, but the increasing rain put us off of that idea.
We came home and had a lazy afternoon and evening. "er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching Bake-Off and Tattoo Fixers.
Despite a rather good night’s kip I’m still rather tired. I might have an early night…
3 April 2018 (Tuesday) - Back To Work
Yesterday I was mobbed by dogs as I did my abdominal workout routine (as prescribed by my abdo-app). This morning I had a go whilst both dogs snored. I did some of the exercises, but not all. The full workout will be something to which I can work up.
Having exercised I scoffed my toast and watched last week’s episode of “Still Game”; possibly one of the best ones ever. I managed a quick look at the Internet; last night there was consternation in the Tupperware-hunting fraternity as geocaching dot com had died. This morning the website seemed to be running again.
Whist I was on the Internet I had a look at Facebook and saw that absolutely nothing had happened overnight. And with no emails of note I set off to work in my new shirt and trousers that I’d got from Matalan last week.
I got to the Matalan roundabout and found myself glancing south (the Pembury way) as I turned north towards Maidstone. There's no denying I had a much easier run to work today. Straight up the motorway. No weaving through country lanes, no idiots tailgating me for miles, no hold-ups at Goudhurst and Biddenden and Sissinghurst.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing what a terrible weekend it had been for the shops. For no reason that I could establish, the British economy is dependent on people spending money hand-over-fist. Personally I prefer to buy stuff when I need it, rather than going out purely to empty my wallet as quickly as I can.
I almost laughed out loud at "Thought for the Day"; the vicar spouting platitudes was one whose life-partner (!) wasn't a Christian. She subscribed to some other religion/superstition. The vicar was trying to explain how the fact that her crackpot ideas utterly contradicted his crackpot ideas in no way invalidated either.
I love religion - you *really* can spout rubbish with a clear conscience.
I stopped off at Lidl on the way to work. I've missed that place. You can go in for a jar of coffee and come out with a lawnmower. I got my essentials and carried on to work where I was greeted like the returning prodigal son.
I did my bit and came home again. Just as I arrived home the phone rang. It was Bernie… I’d forgotten today was a Tuesday – what with the bank Holiday it seemed like a Monday. But I was running late so we decided to postpone the usual Tuesday nonsense.
I walked the dogs round the block, and with "er indoors TM" out with her dad I resisted the temptation of a kebab, and scoffed a microwave curry whilst watching a film. Netflix had been telling me about “Deadpool” for weeks. It was OK I suppose. I’ve sat through worse. I suppose I must have liked it as I stayed awake through all of it…
4 April 2018 (Wednesday) - This n That
I would have slept well if not for a vivid dream about an overheating lavatory. I wonder what that was all about?
I got up and did my exercise routine again. I’m finding it a little like hard work, but it is only early days yet. Fortunately both dogs were asleep go I could get on with it. I tried a little planking yesterday evening and both thought it was a great game.
As I scoffed three hundred calories of brekkie I watched the telly. “Lee and Dean” is a rather good mockumentary about two builders. I’m looking forward to the next episode.
I then sparked up my lap-top and got wound up by the Internet. On July 3rd 2016 I was part of a twenty-four hours long geocaching event. This started with an official geo-event which took over a year to set up purely because the local geo-authorities didn’t like the idea. It was the sort of thing that happens all the time in other places, and is allowed for in the regulation. It took a *lot* of arguing to get one such event locally; finally the thing was allowed after an appeal to head office in Seattle. This morning I saw that there is a geo-event coming up not too far away which breaks several rules. Not only is it part of an already established activity, it is religious too. Both supposedly big no-nos, but that has been allowed…
Over on Facebook those who have never set foot in a local pub were bemoaning the demolition of a nearby pub which had stood derelict for years.
I went to the petrol station on the ring road to refuel. For once the grannie on the counter was without admirers and so I could get in and out quickly. As I then drove on past Sainsbury's I saw their petrol was three pence per litre more expensive. I'd saved over a quid and a half by going to the place on the ring road. But Sainsbury's is less than a minute's drive from there. How is there such a price difference? Don't people compare prices like I do? (Am I turning into my grandmother?)
As I drove up the motorway the radio was spewing its morning drivel. Today they were discussing the recent incident in Salisbury in which the Russian Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. The government is facing all sorts of problems over this; having accused Russia of the attack it seems the only evidence to blame them is circumstantial, and the Russians have got the arse.
Personally I suspect that the line the Russians are taking isn't so much "it wasn't us" as "you can't prove nuffink", but what do I know?
I got to work and my phone pinged. Three new geocaches not two miles down the road. Had I left for work ten minutes later I would have been in a position to chase a First to Find. But I didn't fancy navigating the rush hour traffic again.
An hour and a half later I had a tea break and so (with the traffic having eased) I thought I might have a little drive out but all three First to Finds had been claimed. By the same person... I would have been content with just one of them…
With work done I came home. I made good time home, and with the lighter evenings I was able to take the dogs round the park. Someone had ridden a horse through the park today; I wish they wouldn’t; Treacle just eats the horse poo.
We came back from our walk to find "er indoors TM" wrestling with the Hoover. It was totally blocked with fragments of dog toy. Half an hour with the screwdriver had the Hoover in pieces and eventually we unblocked the thing.
We watched another episode of Bake-Off whilst scoffing a rather good bit of dinner and guzzling a bottle of plonk. Not a bad way to spend the evening…
5 April 2018 (Thursday) - Tage Turtles
Another good night’s sleep, and again both dogs were still fast asleep as I activated my “Home Workout” app. I think it is working in that I can feel things tensing up (underneath all the blubber). I set the washing machine loose on some laundry and it chewed my trousers as I scoffed toast and watched the first episode of the new series of “Thunderbirds Are Go”. I liked the first two seasons, but I’m not sure if Alan and Gordon Tracey are supposed to be a pair of half-wits.
Whilst I waited for the washing machine to finish I had a look at the Internet (with Fudge curled up beside me). Not much had happened on Facebook overnight. Since all that nonsense about what data Facebook supposedly has about everyone (but doesn’t actually seem to have), it seems to be a lot quieter on there.
I saw a new cache had gone live not too far from work. The chance of a crafty First to Find? I read the description which told me “15ft up on North east side of tree. DO NOT ATTEMPT ALONE”. I was a bit surprised to read this – caches are all given a terrain rating for how difficult it is to actually get to the cache. This one was rated one point five. The sort of rating something magnetically stuck to a railing at waist level would get. If it really is “15ft up on North east side of tree” it should have a rating of three point five at least. It pays to read the instructions; I didn’t waste my time chasing off after it.
I hung out my washing and set off to work. As I drove to work there was a load of drivel being spouted on the radio about “travelers” (that’s the politically correct term for gippos and pikeys apparently). One of the leading advocates of the traveling community (but not a member of it!) was banging on about how local councils had a moral obligation to provide sites for travelers. It would seem that travelers like to settle down to send their children to school and consequently like a permanent base. My gut reaction is that they might like to get a proper house and job like everyone else but in this day and age I am wrong to think this. I was going to say that this goes against their inalienable human right to sponge off of the tax payer, but it turns out that when travelers are on official council-provided sites they pay council tax.
I suppose that’s a start…
(Am I wrong to think that all travelers are feckless workshy villains? I expect that most of them aren’t. I suspect I would feel different if I could figure out how on Earth they fund such an itinerant lifestyle)
Once at work I got to play with the department’s new blood testing devices. We have a track of four rather impressive gizmos. Each has been named after one of the four teenage mutant hero turtles.
This gave me flashbacks…
I cannot get rid of the vision of "My Boy TM" when he was four years old; charging round the house (stark naked) screaming "TAGE TURTLES!!!" and clouting everyone and everything with a plastic sword.
Once home I walked the dogs round the park. Both behaved themselves, and remarkably didn’t come home absolutely filthy (as they have done recently). Mind you we did have a “near miss” on the way home. Some bag lady was staggering along Christchurch Road and made great show of blocking the pavement to greet the dogs. Both utterly blanked her (as did I). We all stepped round her and left her trying not to fall into a hedge.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, then we watched yesterday’s “Benidorm”; the critics have slated this; I quite like it. And then the most recent episode of “Young Sheldon” – that’s not bad either…
6 April 2018 (Friday) - Rather Dull
Over brekkie I watched last night’s episode of “Still Game”; it was rather good. I then had a quick look at the Internet (as I do).
My piss boiled somewhat as I read the reply to a question I asked of the South Ashford Community Forum. I’d asked for confirmation of a rumour I’d heard. The rumours were true. To allow for the construction work involved with the expansion of the MacArthur Glen outlet centre, one of the most used roads in Ashford is to be closed for thirty-two weeks. As well as endless congestion for much of the town or the rest of the year, what was a half-mile journey to see "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" will now involve a four-mile detour.
Having read the posts from various local officials it would seem that the proper processes weren’t followed. Apparently none of the relevant councillors at Kent County Council were consulted; and this was just announced as a fait accompli.
Would any responsible official *really* agree for one of the most important roads in Ashford to be closed for so long? Did someone get a backhander to allow this rather stupid decision?
I would ask all of my loyal readers not to shop in the MacArthur Glen outlet center ever again.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing something controversial. From here on in people will only get family credit and such benefits for a maximum of two children. I suppose the idea is that people should be able to afford to have children. Not a bad idea; it is pretty much why we didn’t have more.
It’s not a new idea though – this has been the case in China for years (only more so)
The pundits on the radio were also discussing a minor squabble in the European Union. Following Britain’s departure there are moves afoot to replace English as the standard language used. However the reality is that there isn’t any other language in which everyone is fluent.
I got to work and (against my better judgement) had a busy day. I came home to find "er indoors TM" had a better offer for the evening, so I took the hounds round the park, and then had a rather dull evening ironing shirts. In fact today has been rather dull all round…
7 April 2018 (Saturday) - Litter Picking
When the dogs finally stopped barking at shadows (at two o’clock last night) I finally got some sleep. I did hear nice-next-door doing noisy sex in the small hours, but I dozed through till seven o’clock when I got up.
Over brekkie I had a look at Facebook. Some ex-colleagues had been for a beer last night. I did chuckle; knowing them and their various interactions I had to wonder if they all really were that lonely that they would socialize with people they didn’t actually like rather than be at home on their own.
Then my piss boiled (as it so often does). Someone had posted one of those racist memes: you know the sort “Anyone who’s not from the UK eats babies” or some such drivel. Despite the thing being patently a bunch of lies, people were queuing up to comment about how terrible all these foreigners are and to believe the worst.
And (of course) the various on-line squabbles persisted. It must be a month or so since I was last embroiled in one, for which I am rather grateful. However it never fails to amaze me how those causing the petty bickering on the various forums are those whose hobby is “posting on Facebook”. None of the arguments on social media about astronomy, snake-keeping, dogs, hiking, fishing, geocaching, ale-drinking etc are ever stirred up by anyone who is actually active in that pastime.
I particularly like geocaching in that regard; it is the work of two seconds to see exactly how much of the hobby a given person has done throughout their entire geo-career. Why is it that those who pontificate and deliver their sage opinions and rudely dismiss all others haven’t actually gone out and done anything in the hobby for a year?
As I scoffed my toast (and as my blood pressure went through the roof) the washing machine ground away at some laundry I’d fed to it. That machine is getting noisier and noisier. I have a service contract in which I pay a tenner or so each month and no matter what goes wrong with it, the nice people come and fix it. I’m wondering if this is such a good idea. Maybe it is time to chuck it away and get one which isn’t screaming quite so much.
We got ourselves and the dogs together and got into the car. We had plans for today, but bearing in mind the torrential rain as we left Ashford, there’s no denying we fully expected to get to Tenyham, meet our friends, have everyone look at the rain, have everyone say “stuff that”, and come back home again.
But we were wrong.
As we left Ashford the rain stopped, We got to Tenyham to find a dry day. We met our friends and joined in with the community litter-pick and tidy-up that was happening today, It sounds weird, but I for one had a great time walking round picking up litter and generally tidying. You wouldn’t believe how many beer cans and sweetie wrappers were cluttering the place up. I was shocked to find a bra and a pair of pants cast away with reckless abandon. And (perhaps I’m naïve?) I was amazed at how many syringes I pulled out of the undergrowth by the railway.
With litter picked we dropped off our bags of rubbish at the designated spot. I’d thought I would be clever by bringing along my own litter-picking device; it was a shame this thing broke half-way round and ended up in the rubbish. We then went back to the village hall where refreshments were offered. I had a cuppa, a hot-dog and a slice of cake, Very nice!
We then relocated to the village of Painter’s Forstall where five of us took the dogs on a little geo-wander. There are a couple of geo-series starting there. We followed one of them and had a rather good walk. As we went we saw horses and buzzards and the fattest sheep you ever did see. We played on a skateboard that we found, we were amazed to find several tons of litter that had been fly-tipped, we found our way blocked by an emergency ambulance, and Fudge ran off chasing whatever it is that Patagonian Tripe-Hounds chase (twice).
With our walk done we were looking forward to a crafty pint. We went to the pub near where we’d parked…
If any of my loyal readers are in the vicinity of “The Alma” in Painter’s Forstall, would you please (as a personal favour to me) take your custom elsewhere. I can quite understand that a pub may well be shut for a prior booking. That's fine with me. However I would suggest that such a pub should not have the "open" sign up, then wait for potential customers to walk through the door before turning the sign to "closed" then sarcastically pointing it out as though your potential customer is some sort of retard.
I contented myself by slating the place on TripAdvisor, and we all drove down to the Chequers in Doddington.
"er indoors TM" and I had been here last Friday for the Good Friday geo-meet. We’d been impressed, and today we went back. Karl, Tracey and Charlotte had missed out last week; today they were just as good as they’d been a week ago. Really friendly and welcoming staff and a rather good ale on too. Four pints of that and a very good selection of crisps made for a rather good bit of dinner.
We got home just as the rain started again. I took a few photos today, as I so often do. Once home I popped them on-line, and as the dogs snored I sparked up the telly. “Lee and Dean” and “Thunderbirds Are Go” was entertaining…
8 April 2018 (Sunday) - Diet... What Diet ?
I was rather later getting up today; so much so that the dogs were up and about as the app on my phone talked me through my abdominal workout routine. Both pups thought heel touches and mountain climbs were a great game; and I had to abandon when Fudge got particularly over-excited as I did twenty seconds of plank.
As I had my usual look at Facebook I was surprised to see something positive; there is to be a film made of the Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451”. I’ve not read that for years. I shall have a look on the Kindle store. I can remember this as being yet another book that was actually rather good, even if the English teachers at school did try their level best to kill it stone dead.
When I look back at my schooldays there were so many books that we read that the teachers dissected and pontificated on and generally ruined for a generation of schoolboys. “All Quiet on the Western Front”, “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, “Lord of the Flies”, “1984”, “Animal Farm”, “Moonfleet” (to name but a few) are all rather good books which took me years to appreciate after my teachers had reduced them to utter tedium. I wish I could get a reading list of all the books that were forced on to us at school; I’m sure that they were all actually rather good.
I polished my walking boots. I thought they’d been letting in water recently; I found two great holes in the leather. I must have ripped them on barbed wire at some point. Woops.
And then I had a look at the housekeeping account. Every month I bung a serious proportion of my wages into another bank account from which I pay all the monthly bills. I saw that now we have a SmartMeter for the leccie and gas we are actually saving just over a pound every month. I also saw that for this financial year we will only be dealing with one water company (not two any more) and so will be saving three quid each month there. However having saved four quid each month, the council tax has gone up by eight quid so the net result is we are four quid down the pan.
Having a few minutes spare, I wrote a message of complaint to the BBC about their weather forecasts. “Take today for example (Sunday 8 April). The daily forecast on your website for Ashford in Kent says “Heavy rain” however at no stage on the hourly breakdown does heavy rain ever appear.
And to add insult to injury this is at odds with that broadcast on your radio, and neither agree with what has appeared on your TV broadcasts.
This happens most days…”
I’ve always said that the BBC has a good weather forecasting service but on reflection this is probably because between their website, radio and TV they cover pretty much every form of weather imaginable. One of them *has* to be right.
We drove down to Hastings to see parents. My mum was well, I mentioned my knackered boots and my Dad gave me a pair of boots he’d bought and never worn. I tried them on and as I pulled them tight, the eyelet ripped. Oh well… if nothing else I can salvage the bootlaces.
We then took the dogs on a little geo-mission round Alexandra Park. "er indoors TM" laid an egg that dogs aren’t allowed off the lead in that park. Bearing I mind how many squirrels are in that park it is just as well that they stayed tethered.
We then visited mother-in-law, and I slept for an hour or so.
Once home we settled the dogs and drove up to the Kennington carvery where family and friends were meeting up for dinner. The diet went firmly out of the window as I scoffed two full roast dinners, and followed it up with a cheeky McFlurry.
And with "er indoors TM" off bowling I sat in front of the telly watching “The Mighty Boosh” alternately rubbing my bloated belly and farting…
9 April 2018 (Monday) - Valerian and...
I was sleeping like a log until the puppy had nightmares at four o’clock. Her whimpering woke me, and I then lay awake for an hour or so.
I got up at half past five and had a go at my abdo workout app. It seems to be working; things are tensing up. And then I got on the scales for the weekly weigh-in.
I had a weigh-in yesterday. Since yesterday I’ve put on four pounds. Four pounds! This is the trouble with weight loss; it ups and downs a *lot*. Still, the general trend seems to be in a downward direction so here’s hoping.
Over brekkie I watched more of “The Mighty Boosh” then had a quick look at the Internet. There wasn’t much happening on Facebook for once, and with no emails not destined for the bin I got dressed and set off to work.
As I drove to work so my piss boiled. Regular readers of this drivel may possibly recall my ranting of eight years ago. Following the General Election of 2010 in which no party had a clear majority, the Liberal Democrats (led by Nick Clegg) abandoned all promises and policies to get a taste of power in a coalition government.
Today with Labour going the way of militant tendency and the Con-servatives going more and more the other way, there are calls for a new political party to be formed. The idea being that this one might not be a total disaster.
There was an interview with the ex-leader of the dribbling dempocrap party Sir Nick Clegg on the radio today (Sir… and people wonder why I’m not sure about the honours system!) in which “sir” Nick was talking about abandoning the sinking ship which is the dribbling democraps and throwing his lot in with this new party.
If nothing else you have to admire the blatant opportunism of the fellow.
The road to work were busy this morning; coming home they were clear. Some evening it takes twenty minutes or more to drive from the hospital to the motorway; this evening it was less than five minutes.
"er indoors TM" had beaten me home; together we walked the dogs round the block; a day’s rain would have made our usual route to the park rather squelchy.
After a rather high-calorie bit of dinner "er indoors TM" went bowling. I sparked up Netflix and watched “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” which was actually rather better than it might sound. I stayed awake through the entire film…
10 April 2018 (Tuesday) - Stuff
As I did my abdominal workout (as dictated by my Home Workout app) I think I twisted more than I intended to when doing Russian twists. My back has been somewhat twingy today.
With workout done I watched the first episode of the new season of “Plebs” as I scoffed toast. With Joel Fry off doing bigger and better things, Stylax is no more. I wondered how the show would fare without him; it was rather good.
I then had a look at the Internet. According to one of the 1970s TV Facebook pages I follow, Mackenzie Crook is to feature in a remake of Worzel Gummidge, and Joe Pasquale is to star as Frank Spencer in a reboot of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. I suppose you might say that Plebs is following on from where “Up Pompeii” left off… are there no new ideas for television?
And then I checked my email. I saw that Meet Jethva (?) wants to add me to his LinkedIn network. I can’t help but wonder who Meet Jethva is, and why he wants to chum up with me. I had emails suggesting I might apply for jobs in Essex. And Amazon again suggested I buy that which I’d already bought from them.
I spent a few minutes looking at the geo-map. It has been suggested that I might make the French Mega my ten thousandth geo-find. This takes place in fourteen weeks’ time. If I am going to have this happen I need to make some geo-plans. I need to find an average of forty geocaches a week for the next fourteen weeks. Ideally that will mostly be in long walks at the weekends. Will this come off… time will tell. It always does.
I set off to work, and as I drove off of the slip road on to the motorway I was nearly killed by a lorry of the Discordia company. Personally (when driving) whenever I come to a motorway junction at which I am not coming off I move into the middle lane so’s people can get on to the motorway, rather than driving at a snail’s pace to block the junction then accelerating directly at cars which have pulled out at what was a safe distance in front.
As I drove there was talk on the radio about an expedition to Antarctica to locate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship. But it turns out there are legal problems. Technically the shipwreck is the property of Sir Ernest’s grand-daughter, and she’s not overly keen on having it messed with.
I got to work, had a busy day, and came home again. Whilst "er indoors TM" boiled up some scran I took the hounds round the park. Treacle had the hump that "er indoors TM" wasn’t with us, and I suppose Fudge *could* have gone slower if he had tried.
As we walked we met a drunk tramp who asked if the dogs were friendly. I said they most certainly were, and kept going. By the time the tramp had fallen over and got up again to fuss the dogs, we were fifty yards down the road.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. We watched more of the Mars docu-drama, then put the world to rights. As we do…
11 April 2018 (Wednesday) - More Re-Makes
I got up early and started on my abdominal workout (as I have done for a week or so), but gave up half way through. I twisted more than a Russian, and seem to have pulled a muscle. My lower gut *really* hurt.
As I devoured my toast I watched the first episode of the new season of “Gotham”. It was OK – it would have been far better if I had been able to remember what had gone before. But (as always) watching it from the SkyPlus box meant I was able to skip twenty minutes of adverts.
I then sparked up my lap-top… Last night I made the mistake of telling it to “update and shut down”. I always forget that this actually means “only do half of the update” and I waited for twenty minutes for it to finish what I should really have got it to do yesterday.
Eventually I got the thing going. I had a look at my emails, and seeing there was a new geocache not far from work I zoomed off hoping for a quick FTF (as one does). I drove through a rather murky foggy morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how some Cameroon athletes have gone missing from the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The opinion was that these people had no intention of going back to Cameroon. I suppose that's one way of doing illegal immigration?
I eventually got to Ditton and the start of the new geocache; the motorway was rather busy today. I solved the geo-puzzle that had been set; I went to where I *thought* I was supposed to go... I thought I found the right place but I couldn't actually find what I was searching for. After fifteen minutes of acting rather suspiciously I gave up and went to work. It later transpired I was barking up the wrong tree. I might have another look tomorrow.
Being that much later to work meant the hospital's car park had filled up. I had the choice of parking in a large puddle, or parking at the furthest extreme of the car park. I opted for the puddle and leapt from the driver's seat to the dry land some yards away.
I got a wet foot.
I went in to work, did my bit and came home. I put the leads on the dogs and we set off on what has become our standard way of walking. Treacle pulled like a train; Fudge straggled. Both were barking incessantly, both ignoring my telling them to shut up. After thirty yards I gave up and we came home.
Both dogs knew I was angry with them; once home they were both subdued and silent for over an hour. It was a shame that this should happen on National Pet Day.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of scran, and after an episode of “Plebs” we watched the re-make of “Wacky Races”.
With Professor Pat Pending replaced by a nerdy child, and no Red Baron or Rufus Roughcut, to say nothing of the Anthill mob, Sarge, or the Bouldermobile, it was a total load of crap!
12 April 2018 (Thursday) - More Stuff
I had a restless night; whatever it is I've pulled in my abdomen was tender. I didn't do my usual morning workout this morning as it hurt too much, Instead I scoffed toast whilst watching The Mighty Boosh who were having a Nanageddon. As they do.
I had a quick look at the Internet - some epically breasted young lady had sent me a friend request on Facebook. That was a result; even if I did reject her advances (and Facebook deleted her account only an hour later). And then I checked my emails. Last Sunday I complained to the BBC about how the weather forecast they give on their website, radio and television are always contradicting each other. This morning they sent me a generic reply which made it very obvious that they hadn’t actually read a word of the complaint I’d sent them. So I sent another complaint which complained that they had sent “standard reply to complaints about weather forecasts #1” and I asked if they would address my original complaint.
I set off (rather earlier than usual) through a foggy morning to the petrol station where the remarkably attractive grannie only had one admirer. Mind you what her admirers lacked in numbers they more than made up for in awkwardness. This chap had parked his car to effectively block all traffic around the petrol station. I suppose that is one way to get rid of the competition.
I eventually got a tankful, and set off to work. As I drove the pundits were talking about a looming crisis in the Chinese blood donation system. There were several issues which I think were being over-simplified. But how can a hospital have no blood? Do patients *really* have to go out shopping for the stuff? I might slate the NHSBT (look it up!) but it ain't a bad old body when you compare it to the alternatives.
There was also a lot of talk about how the Home Office is dealing with immigrants applying for residential status in the UK. I'm getting rather fed up with the topic. It is patently obvious that society in Britain will collapse without immigrants doing pretty much all the jobs that the British won’t or can’t do (from cleaners to surgeons), but still there is the widespread feeling that immigrants are only here in the UK to get dole handouts. I suspect that this feeling is being fostered by those who see immigrants as possible competition for their dole handouts, but I could be wrong. Or uncharitable. Or both.
I'd left home early. Yesterday I'd failed to find a geocache. Today I had a clue, which is more than I often have... Yesterday I'd got to the village sign where the instructions said to go. I had to look at the sign and count the various thingies on it, then sit down and ponder. Having counted the various thingies and sat down, I could see the numbers of the thingies I'd just counted clearly etched onto the traffic lights on the nearby road island. So, seeing the obvious, yesterday I'd wasted quarter of an hour on that road island looking for something that wasn't there.
Today I had a better idea what to do with the numbers of the thingies I'd counted. I did the calculations and worked out that the geocache would be right in the middle of a school.
That was clearly wrong.
I had a little think and (after deliberately mis-spelling "Ditton") came up with what might have been a plausible idea. There was a minor hiccup as I drove off in the wrong direction. I eventually managed to turn round, and five hundred yards up the road I found myself at what turned out to be another wrong place.
I've since found out that there are serious errors in the way the final location of this sandwich box is calculated, and (armed with what I am assured is the right answer) I may well go back for a third attempt tomorrow.
I got to work, and did my bit. Over a tea break I found myself embroiled in an interesting squabble. Someone with whom I work was talking about the Lord of the Rings books.
Have you ever read them?
This chap hadn't, but maintained they were "a classic". I've read them. They are crap. The first time I thought they were tedious to the point of being excruciating, and the second time was because I thought I'd give the books a second chance (and wished I hadn't).
For over thirty years I have maintained that the books told a reasonable (if not original) story, but would be far better if several hundred pages shorter and with several hundred fewer adjectives. I was told that i was wrong, and who was I to disrespect "a classic".
Once home we walked the dogs round the block. They were *far* better behaved than they were yesterday. I then fed the fish; that pond is surprisingly clear.
"er indoors TM" is at craft club. The dogs are asleep. I *really* should do some CPD…
13 April 2018 (Friday) - Betting on Sad Ken
Last night my washing machine had what I can only describe as “an episode”. By the time I’d emptied the gunge out of the waste trap, I’d flooded the kitchen.
I was rather pleased when I got up this morning to see that my fix had worked and whilst I’d slept it had scrubbed and tumble-dried my undercrackers. I then did a whites wash (I know all the technical terms!) and then set the washing machine loose on all the towels I’d used to mop up with last night.
My stomach was feeling a bit less ouchy this morning so I had a go at my abdominal workout app. As I did leg raises and crunches, so Fudge watched with one eye from the sofa. If I do the routine later in the day he thinks it is a game and tries to join in, but this morning he regarded it and me with an expression of “WTF are you doing?”
I then stood on the scales. I’ve decided to have weigh-ins on a Friday; Monday doesn’t work if I’ve had a weekend pig-out. I’ve lost another couple of pounds. I was pleased about that, and felt rather smug as I sorted my dried undercrackers whilst watching the last episode of the current series of “Still Game”
I then had a look at the Internet as I waited for my towels to finish. Oh, I got cross when I read the Tupperware-hunting pages. What *really* winds my up is not so much the rules of hunting film pots under rocks, but the random way in which sometimes the rules are pedantically and strictly applied by the geo-authorities, and sometimes they are just ignored.
Take today’s rant…
At the beginning of July 2016 I was part of a twenty-four hour geocaching event. We *really* had to fight with the geo-feds to have a formal event to start it, and under no circumstances would we be allowed a formal event at the end. It says in the rules “Events will be published within a similar time period only if they are more than 20 miles apart (as the crow flies). Events closer to each other than 20 miles will only be published if the end time of the first is more 10 hours before the start time of the next”, and although we were looking at twenty-four hours later, we still weren’t allowed a second formal event despite over a year’s squabbling and appealing to geo-HQ in Seattle.
So you can imagine just how much my piss boiled when I realised that (planned for a week next Saturday) on the exact moment when one event in Sussex ends, so another event starts not a hundred yards away. Just like they did it last year…
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about Cliff Richard is suing the BBC for damages. It turns out that when it was his turn to be at the end of baseless allegations, the police decided to raid his house whilst he was on holiday. The police apparently phoned the BBC and asked if they would like to come and film it all and broadcast the raid on the telly. Cliff was branded a pedophile on national TV, even though no charges have ever been brought.
He’s going to sue the BBC for four million quid (or so I hear) – good for him.
There was then an interview with Diane Abbott. She was asked about Labour’s stance on the problems in Syria, and she reduced sensible propositions to stark nonsense. I sometimes wonder if she and Jeremy Corbyn are actually part of a Conservative plot to finally sink the Labour party once and for all.
Work was rather busy; I’ve entered the works sweepstake for tomorrow’s Grand National. I’ve got a horse called “Tenor Nivernais”. With odds of a hundred to one, I think “Tenor Nivernais” is on a par with Bottom’s “Sad Ken”.
I wonder if I will win…?
14 April 2018 (Saturday) - Danger Will Robinson !
I spent what seemed an age locked in a nightmare last night in which "er indoors TM" had announced that because she always wanted a second child she was going to “squeeze one out”. My protestations fell on deaf ears; neither her nor anyone else claimed to have ever heard of "Daddy’s Little Angel TM". And when the time came to actually do the “squeezing out”, my father-in-law appeared and promptly stole the hospital to use as a money-making scheme.
I woke in a cold sweat shortly after four o’clock and didn’t really get back to sleep after that.
I set the dishwasher and washing machine doing their things, then had a go at my abdo workout app. After a couple of weeks, things are definitely firming up. I’ve still got a huge gut, but it is a far firmer huge gut.
I then watched the first episode of the Netflix version of “Lost in Space”. For those old enough to remember the original series from the 1960s it has several little snippets that the average viewer might miss; “the chariot”, “Danger Will Robinson” (of course), and somehow they’ve managed to retain the way in which you want to carry on watching even though it is crap.
So far there have been no conical tits (which were a hallmark of the original series), but there are still several episodes to go. I remain hopeful…
I sparked up my lap-top for a quick look at the Internet. On Facebook Thuraya Dahman was asking me to do her homework for her (she’d obviously contacted me through one of the professional pages I follow), and I saw that apparently my local hospital has had a bit of a stuff-up in the radiology department. The MP for Canterbury is looking to crucify them. For all that I am the staunchest supporter of the NHS in general, I do have something of an axe to grind with my local hospital. The wound where they knifed me in the back seven years ago is still sore, so since the local MP has mentioned the radiology department…
One of the pre-surgical appointments I had with this Trust was held in a GP surgery rather than the hospital. This GP surgery (in Sellindge) didn’t have access to my radiology images and results. So the doctor with whom I has the appointment showed me the pictures of my scans on his mobile phone.
He told me that since the surgery in Sellidge didn’t have access to the radiology images it was his standard practice to photograph them when he was at the department and show them to the patients in the surgery.
The images I saw weren’t very clear on his mobile phone… if indeed they were the images of my insides. The images of the other people I saw whilst he was looking for my images weren’t very clear either. I *could* name the people whose images they supposedly were, but (call me old-school if you will) I subscribe to the old ideas of medical confidentiality.
Apart from Amazon recommending that I buy music that I would never listen to in a million years, I had no emails of note, so I set off to work. As I drove the news was about the recent allied attack on Syria and absolutely nothing else was mentioned.
I did my bit at work, and came home. We put the leads onto the dogs, and "er indoors TM" drove us all to Go Outdoors in Canterbury. You can take dogs into Go Outdoors, and we did.
Having ripped my old walking boots on barbed wire I needed new ones.
I did feel sorry for the nice man in the boots department who was alternately supplying me with boots to try on and attempting to amuse Fudge whilst I tried the boots on. I didn’t laugh *too* much as I watched him chasing round the store after Fudge (several times). Eventually I bought some new walking boots (I felt I owed him that much), and some waterproof over-trousers too, then we walked the dogs on a little geo-series which was nearby.
If nothing else it tired the dogs.
We drove on to the pet shop in Chartham where Treacle got a new harness, and once we were home I called up the results of the Grand National to see how my horse in the works sweepstake (Tenor Nivernais) had fared. He, she or it didn’t win. In fact the useless nag threw in the sponge half way round the race course.
But to add insult to injury, the horse that "er indoors TM" had got in her works sweepstake won the race.
With "er indoors TM" off to the Saturday film night I spent a couple of hours doing the ironing wilst watching more “Lost in Space”.
It’s growing on me….
15 April 2018 (Sunday) - Lower Hadres
I slept well; I slept a tad too late. I had to skip the abdo workout this morning as both dogs were up and about. Have you ever tried to do an abdominal crunch with two tripe-hounds (Hungarian and Patagonian) mobbing you?
Over brekkie I had a little look at the Internet. Last night Lacey had been playing at making fake horrific wounds using make-up. I’d posted one of the pictures and it had got quite a few favourable reactions. I also saw that a few other people had been watching “Lost in Space” on Netflix; from their comments I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d ever seen the original.
Other than that, surprisingly little had happened in cyber-space overnight.
With no emails of note we got ourselves, our gear and the wolf-pack together and set out to give my new boots some field trials.
There’s no denying that as we drove my right boot was a tad tight. As we left Ashford it felt as though my foot was in a vice; I was seriously considering coming home to change the boots. But they needed to be walked in.
We were soon at the designated starting point for today’s walk. I was a tad dubious about parking in the farm shop’s car park, but I had a word with the nice lady in the shop and she was fine with the idea, so we set off following our GPS to the first geocache… and off we went. We had a rather good walk. Bearing in mind that the big weekend geo-walks are basically a dog walk for us, this route was ideal. Beautiful woodlands and well-marked footpaths and very quiet country lanes through some rather pretty countryside made for an ideal hike. It was muddy in places, but what do you expect? We’ve had serious rain for some weeks recently.
The hounds were off of their leads for most of the way. However that isn’t always a good thing; when unrestrained, Fudge does tend to do his own thing. Fortunately today he was never lost for more than a couple of minutes at any one time.
And talking of dogs, the walk was rather marred by Fudge rolling in a dead fox half-way round. As dead foxes go, this one was rather ripe. It probably shuffled off this mortal coil about a month ago, and had been stinking ever since. Fudge shot off to roll in it, and when I went to retrieve him the smell made me nauseous at a distance of thirty metres. He stank for the rest of the walk.
Geocache-wise it was good. Caches not too far apart; reasonably straight-forward hides. At the first geocache we saw that someone had already signed the log today. As we went round we saw their signature time and again… except on the trickiest find where they hadn’t signed. But they still logged the thing as found on-line. This might sound trivial, but in geo-circles this is akin to high treason.
We decided against squealing them up…
After a few hours we were back at the cars. Bearing in mind we’d had free parking at the farm shop it was only right that we should buy some stuff from them. And (to be fair) they had some rather good stuff for sale in that farm shop including rather good ice lollies that were only two months past their sell-by date. We then moved on the a nearby pub (The Granville) where we continued this theme by getting some pork scratchings that went out of date last Christmas.
As we drank our stout so we chatted with some locals who had brought their bored children out of the pub to see if they could play with our dogs. Loads of woofing ensued, and a little cherub in the pettiest dress you ever did see played with the hounds in the mud.
We came home… one dog needed the stench of dead fox scrubbing off of him. And with dogs scrubbed they both snored whilst I ate my rhubarb from the farm shop.
With "er indoors TM" off bowling I watched more “Lost in Space”. It is rather good, but with *so many* nods to the original series, why do I think I’m watching a remake of “Earth 2”?
I always feel that setting an alarm is a waste of effort; despite a good night’s sleep I was still wide awake half an hour before it was due to go off. I lay dozing for a bit, then got up before the alarm would wake everyone.
Unlike yesterday I activated my abdo workout routine. I don’t know how people “do exercises” regularly; it is *so* boring. Perhaps if I had the radio on or something I might find it less tedious?
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Lee and Dean”; I didn’t realise it featured the actor who played “Henry” in “You Rang M’Lord”. He’s looking older now, but I suppose he would; You Rang M’Lord is now nearly thirty years old.
I then sparked up my lap-top. Pretty much nothing of note had happened overnight on Facebook, so I had a look at my emails. There was one from Netflix who told me they’d just added a film I might like called “Beyond Skyline”: “In the wake of an extraterrestrial invasion, a suspended L.A. cop teams up with…”. I stopped reading at that point and pressed the “delete” button. What is it with police shows on the telly? *So many* TV shows are police shows with a difference – the difference being that they are exactly the same as all the other police shows.
As I drove to work the pundits were again talking of Friday’s bombing of Syria by British, French and American forces. There is a growing feeling that the British Parliament should have been consulted before the Prime Minister acted unilaterally. Perhaps the British Parliament *should* have been consulted… but where were they last week? On holiday again"er indoors TM"! Have you seen how much Parliament is closed?
Despite a rather horrific crash on the motorway I made good time to Maidstone. I stopped off at Aldi for boot polish and spam. Aldi don’t sell boot polish and spam so I made do with deodorant and jam instead.
There was a near punch-up at the till when I went to pay. Some idiot had brought something to show the manager (I have no idea what it was). He stood at the till and announced no one would be served until his problem had been resolved. A fellow shopper told the chap in no uncertain terms that the nice lady on the till had called the manager and she would now deal with the customers unless he wanted to make something of it. The nice lady on the till dealt with the customers (in something of a state of terror) whilst the idiot waiting for the manager grumbled to himself about how decent people should wait for his issues to be resolved.
Much as I like Aldi, it does attract the lower orders.
Work was going rather well today until "er indoors TM" sent a message. The fish pond’s filter had blocked up and the pond had lost quite a bit of water. Again. It does this every couple of months; the filter backs up with fish poo and then water gushes out of the top of it and the pond gradually empties. The obvious fix is to clean the thing out regularly before it bungs up. I *thought* I was good for a few weeks yet.
I managed to get out of work a little early so’s I could sort it. I set the hose filling the pond, then spent an hour up to my elbows in Koi dung.
Koi are like dogs. They all look so sweet and pretty and such a good idea until they either roll in a dead fox, or their poo filter needs scrubbing. Everyone sees the fun bits; few people see the crappy (literally!) bits.
After a rather good bit of dinner "er indoors TM" went bowling and I watched more “Lost in Space”. It is rather good, but the episodes are a tad long. I had to pause the thing half-way through as Fudge was sick. I wonder what’s up with that pup.
I also wonder if that pond is full yet…
17 April 2018 (Tuesday) - Sticking with Netflix
As I scoffed my toast this morning Fudge sat with me. He seems to be none the worse after honking his tea last night, but that didn’t stop me worrying about the daft little dog.
As I scoffed toast I watched last Saturday’s episode of “Thunderbirds are Go”. Whilst I realise it is a children’s show, it really would benefit from a plot which wouldn’t seem simplistic to a thick four-year old.
I had my usual look at Facebook. Last night I’d (idiotically) posted something on one of the work-related Facebook groups. And (as usual) the keyboard warriors were out in force; the sort who post with confrontation instead of reason. This seems to happen so much on-line. I’ve deleted the post; I suspect I will soon be packing up with that Facebook group if it continues that way.
Perhaps this is why social media is in something of a decline? I saw that the Wetherspoons chain have severed all ties with Facebook.
I didn’t have any emails that weren’t destined for the bin (unread), so (trying not to disturb my sleeping dog) I got up, got organized and set off to work.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the success of Netflix. With over five million new subscribers so far this year it has four times as much money to spend on making programs as the BBC does. And it costs me half what the BBC costs (through the TV Licence).
There was also an interview with one Paul Joy; a fisherman from Hastings. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the Paul Joy I once knew. It seems that the fishermen of the country have got the hump. In order to preserve fish stocks only so many fish can be caught every year. Somehow or other much of the UK’s fish allocation has gone to foreigners. Mr. Joy was rather vague about how that happened; I suspect it was sold somewhere along the line.
I got to work and did my bit. Once home I took the dogs for a short walk. It would have been a far longer walk had Fudge not plodded along quite so slowly.
And then being Tuesday the clans gathered and we watched “Gotham”; I do like that show.
And then I got cross. "er indoors TM" has an Amazon Prime account. She added me on to it, but the moment I tried to access any of the features of a Prime membership it immediately billed me for a Prime membership of my own. I eventually manged to cancel it, and I have been assured of a refund in a week or so. After quite a bit of farting about I figured out how to access the “Amazon Households” account rather than having the thing trick me into setting up an Amazon Prime account of my own.
I’ve had a look-see at it. It has one *major* drawback in that it is nigh on impossible to watch any of the videos on the telly without a lot of farting about. It seems that Amazon and ChromeCast are fundamentally incompatible.
Oh well… I’m happy with the Kindle, I rarely (if ever) buy anything from Amazon. I shall stick with Netflix…
18 April 2018 (Wednesday) - Fordcombe
The puppy woke me when she decided to walk all over me at two o’clock this morning. I didn’t really get back to sleep after that. I gave up trying just before seven o’clock, and once I’d had my morning ablutions I had a go on the scales. I was rather chuffed to see I’d shifted another three pounds. That’s over a stone shifted in the last few weeks. Weight loss is easy… *if* you can put up with feeling permanently hungry.
I had a little look-see at Facebook as I do most mornings. I’ve mentioned before that the site is nowhere near as busy as once it was. This morning I was reminded of the fact. On one of the professional groups an American blood-tester whose name I’ve seen from time to time was bemoaning how nasty one particular work-related group had become. And then on one of the geocaching groups someone else was crowing that they’d denied a geo-find having deconstructed the exif data on a photo and found the photo was supposedly taken at a different time from when the geo-find was claimed. Why are people always looking to stir squabbles?
I had an email from the BBC. A little while ago I complained to them that the weather forecasts on their website, TV and radio bear no relation to each other. They sent a generic response a few days ago, so I complained that they hadn’t read the complaint. This morning they sent another email which again didn’t address the issued I’d raised. I *could* complain again; I can’t be arsed.
We got ourselves organized, and set off to Fordcombe. There is a series of geocaches there which I’d not done. I first thought about walking round them a few weeks ago, and had posted on “Geocaching in Kent” to see if anyone fancied a walk. Sometimes people are free; sometimes they aren’t. Today seven of us (and four dogs) set off on a rather good wander. Beautiful scenery; even if it was a tad squelchy underfoot in places. Unfortunately “squelchy” is relative; what is a tad damp to me is chest deep to a small dog. Fudge was soon covered in black mud. I can cope with the black mud; it was a shame he had to do his trademark move of rolling in fox poo as well.
On the plus side we saw tadpoles swimming in the squelchy bits.
The walk was good; we had some beautiful views. It was very pretty walking along by the river. At one stage Fudge hurt his leg and was hobbling very badly. I had half a mind to carry him, but decided to just watch and wait. I know what that dog is like; he plays for sympathy. Within five minutes he’d forgotten the injury and ran up a five-feet almost vertical bank.
It was really good that the dogs were able to be off of their leads for much of the way. However we did smile when it came time to put the leads back on when we came to a road. Where was Norton’s lead? Gordon had put it down several hundred yards behind. Woops!
After four (and a bit) miles we were back at where we’d started, and (would you believe it?) there was a pub. So we had a pint and reviewed the situation. I did have a vague plan to go on for a second walk in the afternoon, but everyone else couldn’t be *too* late back, and it was getting rather warm. (Bearing in mind how awful the weather has been this year, today was excellent.)
So we had a little look at the geo-map and decided to go to Toad Rock instead.
At Toad Rock we did an Earthcache. For those uninitiated into the ways of hunting Tupperware, an Earthcache is basically doing your geology homework. You look at a rock, pretend you can see whatever feature that whoever set the homework pretended they could see. You then take a selfie at that rock, and copy and paste from what you desperately hope is the right page on Wikipedia, then submit it as your answer and hope for the best. All the time bearing in mind that no matter what drivel you write, the etiquette is that you always get a pass mark for simply having a go.
I was reliably informed that the answer today was "blah blah blah sandstone".
After the Earthcache we did a nearby virtual cache. They are rather obscure; this one was quite good fun. It has us scrambling all over the rocks looking for carvings. As we scrambled we got in the way of a young lad flying his mini-drone round an obstacle course he’d set up. And there’s no denying that the young lady sunbathing just by the third place where we needed to go hurried to put more clothes on as we arrived.
And on the way home we saw a pair of buzzards perching on the branches over Pot Kiln Lane.
Not a bad day out, really…
Once home the dogs got a bath. Partly to help them cool off; partly to remove the fox poo. We then spent a little while by the garden pond; at the moment it is rather pretty. I couldn’t help but notice that the gravel round the pond needs a little attention, the lawn edges need strimming, weeds need pulling, the acer has died, and I need to have a good tidy-up round the yard. I’ve got some time off work in a few weeks; I shall have a working day (or two) in the garden then.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" came to visit. SPOD (as he is known in his abbreviated state) got out the Ker-Plunk whilst announcing he wanted to “play plunk”. With “plunk” bits strewn everywhere he then attempted to make off with dog toys to take home to his Pogo.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner and we watched some stuff that the SkyPlus box had recorded for us, including the worst attempt at “The Crystal Maze” that has ever been made.
I just wish that someone other than Richard Ayoade was hosting the show…
19 April 2018 (Thursday) - A Day's Fishing
I was absolutely knackered last night. We’d had a walk, but it was less than five miles. A pint at lunch time and a pint in the evening… was it the heat of the day that had worn me out? Or am I just getting old?
I got up and had a go at my phone’s abdo workout app. The physiology of weight loss is odd. When I shave I can feel my face is bonier, as are my hands. My knees hurt when I knock them together in the night beause their protective layer of blubber has gone. But my gut remains epic.
I skipped toast this morning and watched Milky Joe on “The Mighty Boosh”, then sparked up my lap-top. I saw something rather interesting on one of the geo-pages – a geo-rally in Sussex. This is akin to something we organized a few years ago… leaving aside the fact that they are allowed two meets and we weren’t (still sulking!), I wonder if I can persuade anyone to do a day’s caching. As many caches as you can get in daylight (16 hours and 38 Minutes)…
I drove round to collect "My Boy TM" and after a rather good bit of brekkie at Brookfield café we drove out to Smarden and Sam’s Lakes. This was our third visit. Our previous two visits have been in sub-zero temperatures, so today was a pleasant change. It was rather warm.
As we arrived we saw a fox pootling about on the far bank. We saw herons and geese and woodpeckers. There were even two snakes swimming about. It was a rather beautiful place to be. As we fished we tried not to laugh out loud at the bungling incompetence of the lads on the other side of the pond. As "My Boy TM" remarked, they had “all of the gear but no idea”. No matter how much money you might spend on fishing, you can’t buy a clue; and they clearly didn’t have one between them.
Fishing-wise today was probably the worst day we have ever had. In the past we really have lost count of the amount of fish we have had which needed the net. Today "My Boy TM" had seven; I had two. However he did catch a rather large goldfish which was worth having; if only for the novelty value.
But poor fishing notwithstanding, I took some photos anyway. Next time we’ll go back to Shirkoak.
We packed up at four o’clock. Bearing in mind that some genius at the council has allowed on of the busiest roads in Ashford to be closed for months, the roads round Ashford snarl up seriously at rush hour. We wanted to avoid the queues and be home in time for a barby.
Once home I got changed, got the dogs and we walked over to "My Boy TM"’s via Viccie Park. We made good time purely by my walking behind Fudge and herding him along like a recalcitrant sheep.
We then had a rather good evening. A couple of beers, a barbie, "My Boy TM" got out his five hundred pound poof (!), and Lacey told us of the consternation at school today when (in show-and-tell) one of her classmates delivered a PowerPoint presentation which realty was entitled “How Crappy Harriet’s House Is”.
I’m told it is *rather* crappy. Apparently it is just up the road from me…
20 April 2018 (Friday) - Late Shift
I had a rather early night last night and slept through till half past seven this morning. Too much sun yesterday, perhaps?
Last night I posted to the “Geocaching in Kent” Facebook group to see if there was any interest in the day’s caching event in Sussex in a couple of months. This morning I saw that several people were keen; the blatant infringement of the rules (again) didn’t go unnoticed, and I realized that I’m due to be working that weekend. Woops!
I had an email telling me that someone had commented on Tuesday’s blog entry. “Ashley Babs” had written: “Thanks for posting your valuable thoughts with us & our readers. Please keep continue writing on this blog” and then tried to give an advert for a bulk SMS servicing business. That was cheeky of her.
I took the dogs round the park before the day got too hot. Once I enjoyed our little trips round the park; now they are a chore. With both dogs barking incessantly at absolutely nothing at all, and Fudge taking ten steps back for every one he takes forwards I’m getting rather fed up with it. But if they aren’t walked to destruction they get even more fractious.
As we walked we met Brian and Rachel who have taken on an unwanted pup. The poor pup is a cast-off from a relationship that went west. I hope the pup has found a good home; I expect she has; maybe she might join our walks.
I settled the hounds, and set off to work rather earlier than I might have done. It was too glorious outside to be sitting about watching telly. I went on a little geo-mission to the south of Maidstone.
I started off acting rather suspiciously round a village hall, then went on to the church in East Sutton. It is a beautiful church; a very pretty building in well-kept gardens. There was a field puzzle there - I had to get some information from a certain grave and do some sums to find the co-ordinates of the final sandwich box (or in this case - urine container). There was building work going on at this church. As I made my notes and did my sums the f-word echoed across the graveyard at extreme volume and extreme regularity. Call me old-fashioned, but builders shouldn't shout the f-word when working on a church. They *really* should try bellowing something more pious.
I then carried on along a little lane where someone who does even less cache maintenance than me had hidden some boxes. I headed into Sutton Valence for a village sign (as one does from time to time), but with nowhere to park I turned around and ninja-ed a church micro which was right next to a dead badger. I hasten to add the dead badger was already there (and already dead) when I arrived. Presumably someone else had ninja-ed the badger.
Time was pressing... in the past I would have McLunch before a late shift. I thought I would treat myself today. Three chicken strips, a small bag of McChips and a diet coke... over six hundred calories. In fact over double the calories I'd burned off on the morning's walk with the dogs. I'd had a diet coke as the milk shake/ice cream machine was broken. I wondered what the calorie count would have been had I had my usual chocolate shake and a McFlurry... I looked it up. The chocolate shake has more calories than the chicken strips and the chips put together. interestingly the McFlurry isn't *that* bad; being on a par with a bag of crisps.
With lunch scoffed I went in to work where I had a rather busy time. I could do without that…
21 April 2018 (Saturday) - Before The Night Shift
I would have slept *so* much better had the puppy not been quite so restless. I suppose I should be grateful that she waited until six o’clock before marching all over me incessantly.
I gave up trying to sleep after an hour or so. It was getting warm anyway.
Over brekkie I saw that absolutely nothing of note had happened on Facebook overnight. But I had an email telling me of a new Tupperware box which was hidden in a box near Ramsgate. I must admit my piss boiled a little. The chap who had hidden it had claimed to have created a “geocashe”, not a “geocache”. A subtle different. Only one letter, but that one letter is the difference between being correct and looking like it was rushed out by someone who couldn’t be arsed to press the spell-check button. I wish those responsible for reviewing new film pots under rocks would pick up on these matters. There is a series of caches across the Romney Marsh the descriptions of which read as though they have been written by an illiterate eight-year-old who was in a hurry. Hunting sandwich boxes in the wild sounds lame enough as it is. It really doesn’t need help to look even more sad.
I’ve ranted about this abysmal spelling and grammar before. Every time the dyslexic brigade are up in arms claiming that I’m being unfair to dyslexics. I’m not at all. I’m having a go at those who clearly haven’t taken two minutes to read what they have written.
Whilst waiting for "er indoors TM" to get sorted I popped to B&Q for compost. Over the years I have had so many problems with the attitude of the staff at the Ashford branch that I would rather drive across town to their competitors, but with road works making half the town inaccessible this was not possible today…
I got to the checkouts at about 9.15am with a heavy trolley filled with bulky items. As I arrived, a member of their staff who was bearing the badge “Lisa” pulled out a barrier and told me the till was closed. I heaved my trolley to the next till only to watch this Lisa open that till and usher half a dozen other people up to it. When I complained she told me that she didn’t realise the store was busy.
Ironically as I paid, the girl on the checkout ringed the bit on the receipt which gave the website I could use to register a complaint.
I came home and did just that.
We got the dogs organized and, bearing in mind that the park is often full of joggers on a Saturday (there’s an organized event of several hundred of them), we drove out to Great Chart. I hid a series of geocaches out there a couple of months ago and had heard that the recent spate of wet weather had done for them. So we had this idea that we could sort out any problems and walk the dogs at the same time. Of the eighteen caches I have out there, only two had any real issues (one damp log; one laying out in the open). But I took the opportunity to add more paper to each one; having a maintenance run is always a good idea. If nothing else, it gives the mistaken impression that I actually do maintenance from time to time.
I had been expecting the terrain to be rather boggy and muddy; it wasn’t. The fields had dried out, and we had a rather good walk. We liked looking at the sheep and the lambs; both dogs liked eating their poo. Ripper’s wood was very pretty with bluebells; Fudge vanished on a little mission of his own. Twice.
We came home via the co-op for a Belgian bun for lunch. Four hundred calories – over half the calories we’d burned off during our walk. I then took myself off to bed for the afternoon and (despite one nuisance phone call from some ambulance-chasing lawyers) slept rather well.
After three hours I got up and (still feeling half-asleep) I watched several episodes of the Channel Four show “Four in a Bed”. The idea is that four Bed & Breakfast owners compete, but the show is never fair. Take today’s contestants. There was a little old lady who was letting out bedrooms in her house, two country pubs, and a country hotel with a staff of forty. Was it surprising that the huge place won?
I’m off to the night shift now…
22 April 2018 (Sunday) - Between the Night Shifts
I was going to start today’s rant by saying “Religion is a load of old rubbish, isn’t it?” but I thought better of it. Religion might actually be right. I don’t know. But I do know that I can’t understand it at all. As I drove home from the night shift there was a church service on the radio. It was led by some bishop or other from inner London. The bishop was taking the line that God was wonderful and brilliant. Admittedly there had been over fifty stabbings in the bishop’s stomping group already this year, but if you just ignored all the bad stuff in life, then everything was great.
I was reminded of the revelation I had when I gave up with religion. As a young man I was *very* religious. Having been brainwashed by constant exposure to Christian propaganda after ten years in the Boys Brigade I had risen in the Methodist church to the position of Steward. That’s the person that hires and fires the vicar. But one day I realized that I didn’t actually believe any of the religious stuff. The fact of the matter was that I desperately hoped it was true as the promise of the creator of the universe as your best mate was rather appealing, and the thought of a godless creation was rather frightening.
I went through a stage of being a staunch atheist… then I was an apathetic agnostic. Now… I think (like Blaise Pascal) I would like to hedge my bets.
We did have a vague plan to take the dogs to hunt some plastic tubs near Alkham this morning, but I’d had a notification about a new puzzle cache whilst I was coming to the end of my night shift. There were ten riddles to solve which would give numerical values for the letters A to J. From this there was a little calculation to give GPS co-ordinates to find the new geocache. Ten minutes work gave me solutions for A to J. I say “solutions”… I had answers from which I had no idea how to get numbers.
An hour later and twenty-five miles later I had a stroke of inspiration over a cuppa at home. I delved two layers deeper into the puzzle. Some frantic work on the lap-top gave me the thumbs-up on the checker on the first attempt.
Our hounds needed a walk, so "er indoors TM", the hounds and I set off on a little mission to locate this cache before our walk. I was pleased to have figured out this puzzle; doubly pleased to be the (joint) first one to find it too. Being the first one to find a cache has a certain kudos; and something of a novelty value locally as the competition is so stiff.
Having been successful in our hunt we relocated to Singleton Lake where we had today’s walk. There were people fishing there. I did chuckle. The fishermen were chatting. I say “chatting”; they were talking bollox as fishermen so often do.
I’ve fished in Singleton Lake on and off over the years. I’ve walked dogs past the place on a regular basis over the last five years. I have *never* seen anything bigger than six inches having been caught in that lake. And when you talk to people fishing there, neither has anyone else. However *everyone* knows someone whose mate knows someone who caught something the size of a blue whale only the other day. The people fishing there today were all telling each other how their mate’s auntie’s cat’s sister’s boyfriend caught something humungous only last week.
Pausing only briefly to re-pot those plants I got from the garden centre the other day I took myself off to bed for the afternoon. The nicest Sunday we’ve had all year, and I was asleep. Oh well. I wouldn’t be griping *quite* so much had nice-next-door not texted me after a couple of hours to say they were having a barby and did I want to get my washing in?
Once "er indoors TM" had boiled up some scran I’m off to another night shift…
23 April 2018 (Monday) - After the Night Shifts
As I walked round the park with the dogs this morning I could see that the park had been used quite a bit over the weekend. Walking round the place up to five times a week over the last few years I've found Viccie Park to be kept immaculately. However during the weekend the good weather had brought out the rabble who rarely (if ever) use the park, and their carnage had been strewn everywhere.
But it speaks volumes that we walked round there at five past nine this morning, and as we walked we could see the council’s clean-up operation was already in full swing. There were half a dozen blokes cheerfully emptying the bins and clearing the rubbish away.
What boiled my piss the most about the mess in the park wasn't the mess. That was already being tidied by a council who keep the park in tip-top condition. What wound me up was the nasty bitter sniping about the mess that I saw on Facebook; posted from people who also rarely (if ever) use the park and who claimed that the mess was the usual state of affairs.
There are *so* many people who live in the town (but rarely venture outside their own front door) who delight in calling the place "Trashford". I often wonder why – for all that it is a catchy rhyme, it is utterly undeserved. If people calling it “Trashford” feel the place *really* is such a shite-hole, why do they live here?
Over the last thirty years I've come to quite like the place.
With our walk done I settled the hounds and collected "My Boy TM". We went to the fishing tackle shop. He was keen that I should get an in-line method feeder. (No – I had no idea what one was either). Basically it is a next generation version of what I used to call a swimfeeder. (What do you mean “what’s a swimfeeder?!)
More and more I find I need to take"My Boy TM" with me to the tackle shop to act as a guide.
Back in the day when I first started fishing things were different. The rod and reel remain the same, but the paraphernalia at the business end of the fishing tackle has changed beyond all recognition over the last forty years. "My Boy TM" and the nice man in the shop had a good laugh at old-school-dad, even if both admitted that neither of them could tie a spade-ended hook.
Something else which has changed is the price of all the fishing gear. Back in the day when I first started fishing, things were a damn sight cheaper. I used to go fishing regularly, financed from my pocket money. Today’s two method feeders (and a few other odds and sods) set me back over forty quid.
After our tackle shopping we had planned to go to Stone Green Nursery to get something to replace the acer (it’s a small tree!) I bought last year. It clearly hadn’t survived the winter. But rather than driving out to the outlying villages, the first fruit of my loin suggested we stay local.
I’ve bought a small palm. "My Boy TM" likes palms. I wonder if I will.
Despite having been up for two night shifts I was determined not to waste the whole day asleep so I made a start pootling in the garden. The lawn doesn’t mow itself. And I had a good rummage in the shed; there is a foul smell in there. I’m convinced something has died in there over the winter but despite a good search I could find no corpses.
Eventually I gave in and went off to bed where I slept for two hours until the dogs went mental as the Avon catalogue was delivered. I saw that as being God’s way of telling me to get up.
So I got up and fed my undercrackers to the washing machine. It is still making odd noises from time to time. Part of me thinks I should give the thing an honorable retirement and get a new one; part of me thinks I should thrash it until it finally dies whilst still on the job.
"er indoors TM" came home from work, boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, had a fight with the printer and went off bowling. I ironed shirts whilst watching the last few episodes of “Lost in Space”.
Now I’ve seen all of the first season I find myself wondering if I liked it or not. I’m not sure.. I think I will have to watch the second season before I make up my mind…
24 April 2018 (Tuesday) - Gardening
I’ve lost another pound in weight this week. Not bad. I was hoping for more, but even staying at a constant weight is better than weight gain.
As we walked the dogs this morning "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" was having a rant. Yesterday she’d stumbled across “Alfie’s Army”; a campaign set up to prolong the life of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans. From what I can work out, Alfie Evans is incredibly ill and doctors in Liverpool wanted to turn off the life-support machines whilst the parents want to take the child to Italy where as well as the faintest hope of successful treatment, there are also religious laws preventing turning off the life-support. In fact the Italian government offered the child Italian citizenship yesterday in order to keep the life-support machine running. Apparently the Pope himself has got involved on Twitter; hoping that the child can be kept alive so more forms of treatment can be tried. The life-support was turned off last night, and the child carried on breathing unassisted overnight. The hospital’s press releases say he child is in a vegetative state with little (if any) hope of improvement.
Passions and feelings run high in this sort of case. What *do* you do for the best? On the one hand you want to keep your child alive. On the other hand you wouldn’t want to inflict needless suffering on a hopeless case. Personally I can’t help but feel I’d take the advice of medical experience.
Long before "er indoors TM" became pregnant we discussed this sort of thing at length and decided that we would not allow a child to remain suffering. Were we wrong?
With dogs walked we came home. I’d already spent the best part of an hour pulling the weeds out of the graveled areas of the garden before "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" arrived, and with no better offers for the day, I carried on gardening.
I gathered up as much rubbish as I could and went to the tip. The tip was heaving today. Had one or two people parked sensibly then twenty people could have got done in a fraction of the time. Tempers were frayed there today, and the rather stupid woman shouting at everyone to move their cars because she wanted to go really wasn’t helping. I came home via the co-op where I got lunch.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that over the last year or so I’ve replaced broken fence posts. In doing so I’ve acquired a small collection of concrete cores. I wanted to make a feature of them; I spent a back-breaking half-hour dragging them into a pile. Not quite the feature I was hoping for, but this pile is less likely to collapse now.
I then got the pressure-washer out and scrubbed down the back yard. Pressure-washing is fun; even if it does flood everywhere.
I paused for lunch; as I scoffed a wrap and a bag of crisps (over a third of my day’s calorie allowance) I watched an episode of “The Mighty Boosh”, then got on with the garden. Over the weekend I’d potted two plants; today I wanted to put weed-proof membrane and gravel over their soil. I thought I had a *lot* more gravel than I had; gardening went on hold whilst I went on a little shopping trip.
Bags of gravel aren’t cheap. It wasn’t that long ago that they were four quid each, or three for a tenner. Today I paid nearly seven quid per bag. I also got some pansies. I like pansies; I think they are rather pretty, even if I do get stick about them. I blame the name. I’m sure they would command far more respect if they were called “double hard b*stards”.
Home again. I got membrane and shingle on to the new plants. I potted my pansies. And then I looked at potting the palm I bought yesterday. First of all I had to get rid of the dead acer. Last year I’d put membrane and shingle in its pot. That stuff is far easier to put down than take up. Getting the dead acer out of the pot took some heaving. By the time I’d got the palm in place (and membrane and shingle done) I was ready to collapse. I’ll sort the paving slabs, replace the shed curtains and jet-wash the front garden another time.
I’d been working in the garden for a shade over seven hours, and when I’d finished it looked pretty much the same as when I’d started. I *hate* gardening; you break your back just to stay still. The very early days of this blog featured the transformation of what was once a jungle into a half-way decent garden. The whole idea was that with much of the garden being shingle or water, there wouldn’t be *that* much maintenance to do. I suppose there isn’t really much. But there is still far more than I would like to do.
I ache now…
25 April 2018 (Wednesday) - Early Shift
I *really* hurt when I staggered out of my pit this morning. I must have over-done the gardening yesterday. Mind you that stone bench and those concrete cores were probably just a bit too heavy for me to have moved on my own.
Over brekkie I watched last week's episode of "Gotham" (it was rather good) then wasted ten minutes trying to find what the puppy had done with my shoe before setting off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were telling how the child Alfie Evans’ parents have been given the right to appeal the decision not to let their child be taken to Italy. Much as I feel sorry for the boy, having read up on the matter, he seems to have irreversible brain damage and will never have anything approaching a normal life. Is it right to keep him alive? I wish questions like this were a lot more straight-forward than they are.
Purely for myself, I've made it quite clear that if I am ever in that state I want my plug pulling. The pulling of Alfie's plug is not my decision (for which I am very grateful), but those who would be responsible for me if I was ever in that state know full well that I would consider not pulling my plug in those circumstances to be an act of cruelty.
There was also talk on the radio of a young lad who is taking the Home Secretary to court. Being an immigrant himself he feels that people in his position have to wait an unreasonable length of time before the Home Office decided whether or not to give then resident status. He's taking legal steps to get the process speeded up.
In the past I have blogged ad-nauseum about how the country needs immigrant workers, but in this case the chap should shut his rattle and face being put on the next banana boat back home. I'm sorry, but the UK is bending over backwards to help all and sundry, and people who have clearly benefited from this generosity are now taking this piss by using our own legal system against us.
This is *exactly* the sort of thing that fuels the right-wing hate propaganda that so many immigrants face.
Despite the efforts of some rather terrible drivers between junctions seven and five on the M20 motorway I eventually got to work for the early shift. I hadn't been working long when I was assigned my challenge for next month's works bake-off competition. I'm in the bread and pastry category, and I've decided I'm going to have a crack at making a malt loaf.
In celebration of this I had one of the cakes that was on offer at tea time. Two hundred calories for on piddly little apple pie!!
Being on an early shift meant an early finish. As I left work I saw that the geocache not five miles from work (that had gone live half an hour after my shift started) was still unfound. An FTF beckoned. I was unlucky – I was beaten by forty minutes.
Once I got home the dogs demanded a walk; we went round the park and burned off the calories in that apple pie I had this morning. But no more - one pissy little apple pie which took less than a minute to devour took an hour to walk off.
We got home beating the rain by seconds. I went out in just a shirt, and as we came home I closed the door to the start of seriously torrential rain.
That was lucky.
"er indoors TM" will be home soon. I hope she’s in a “cooking my dinner” mood. She’s got eight hundred calories to play with; which sounds a *lot* more than it actually is…
26 April 2018 (Thursday) - Reflections on Management
I spent much of today thinking of times and people long gone, and being grateful I’m not the boss any more. It was all sparked of when my piss boiled as I listened to the radio this morning.
When I first started working in blood tests (in 1981) the boss was a senior chief medical laboratory scientific officer. When I moved hospital in 1984 there was another of those running the show in the place I moved to. When he retired his successor was a biomedical scientist grade 4. He was succeeded by a head biomedical scientist. I'm currently under the command of one of those.
For all that I've had trivial gripes with some of them over the years, they have all been people who know what is going on in the workplace. The clue is in the job title. They are senior people who have worked up through the profession they manage, and who know the job. You could go to any one of them with a professional problem and they would have the experience to deal with whatever issue might have arisen.
However during the 1990s there was a dodgy few years when the numero uno honcho was a "business manager" (!) Knowing nothing about the actual job, they were professional managers who would fart around in an office whilst those who got their hands dirty were actually running the show.
Dear old Gary was my first. He was someone we laughed at. He clearly didn't know his bum from a hole in the ground, and he would cover up his utter lack of knowledge of the department he claimed to manage by spouting endless meaningless management catch-phrases.
He was replaced by someone equally clueless who whenever faced with a workplace problem would use his catch-phrase of “I don’t do details”.
Thankfully the era of professional managers didn't last long in my world. But things would seem to be different for the water companies.
There was one such woman on the radio today. She'd been wheeled on to answer the criticism that twenty per cent of the nation's water supply vanishes into leaks. She glossed over the matter entirely and spent ten minutes wittering endlessly using words such as "contingency planning" and "fit for the future" whilst at no stage actually saying anything.
I was reminded of dear old Gary who once ordered me to a meeting at which we would decide our “strategic position” for another meeting. The fact that the outcome of this meeting for which we were planning had already been decided was a matter of the utmost indifference to him...
I was never very good as a manager. I always fell in to the trap of thinking that managing something was synonymous with running it.
After listening to the radio this morning I despair for the nation’s water supply.
27 April 2018 (Friday) - Oh Oliver !
I’d had something of a late night last night, to say nothing of a few glasses of amaretto after a bottle of wine. With a late start today I was hoping for something of a lie-in, so I wasn’t best pleased to hear the screams of “nice next door” having noisy sex at seven o’clock this morning. When they do this “her-next-door” often screams “Oh Oliver, Oh Oliver” a lot, even though “him-next-door” is called Bradley. Presumably they’ve got a bit of the old saucy role-playing going on. So… Today’s burning question…
Who is your favourite fantasy Oliver – is it Twist, Cromwell or Hardy?
Having asked today’s burning question on Facebook I checked my emails. There was one from LinkedIn which had an article about the dangers of being nice at work. Apparently “Having a supportive and overly cordial work culture can undermine new and innovative ideas” and “environments that stress positivity and downplay conflict can suppress the tension needed to surface ideas and avoid bad decisions.”. I’ve worked in places that are nice, and I’ve worked in places that are not. I know where I’d rather be.
I put the leads on the dogs. This is a task which is becoming progressively easier. For some time the prelude to walkies has been two small dogs running round the house barking and shouting hysterically, and then fighting with each other as I struggle to get their collars on. A few days ago I told them that I’d had enough of this, and that they will sit nicely to have their collars attached (whether they like it or not).
So far this seems to make things much quicker.
As we walked through the park we met a thug who was walking two whippets. As we got within twenty yards of him he shouted “FRIENDLY!!!”. I smiled sweetly whilst trying to determine whether that was an order to his dogs to be friendly, information to me that his dogs were friendly, a question to determine whether my dogs were friendly, or his trying to avoid a fight with the voices in his own head.
Perhaps it is my grammar school education which has made me pedantic, but life is so much less vague when one uses complete sentences.
Shortly after this we encountered a gaggle of Gurkhas who were reduced to terror by Treacle. For a group with such a reputation for being double-hard they all seem to be terrified of dogs.
As we came home along Christchurch Road the bin men were emptying the bins. As bin men do. Having emptied the bins they then left them blocking the pavement. The chap twenty yards ahead of me was moving all the bins out of the way for the chap in the wheelchair fifteen yards ahead of me.
I considered complaining to the council about the bin men; I have done so before. Whilst their parks and gardens department is brilliant, the dustbin section leaves a lot to be desired. But I decided against it. Previous complaints achieved nothing.
With the dogs settled I set off to the late shift. I hadn't been rota-ed to do a late shift today, but one arose, a volunteer was needed, and (bearing in mind the thirty-third rule of acquisition) I volunteered to step into the breach. I left for work early thinking I might have a little geo-mission on the way to work.
I started off acting rather suspiciously in the graveyard at Leeds church where there was a field puzzle to solve. I found the numbers I needed; I did the sums, and decided against walking half a mile through wet grass. Instead I went on to the village sign at Leeds where there was another field puzzle. After five minutes of unsuccessful rummaging in a wet hedge I checked my sums and found I was fifty yards adrift. I moved those fifty yards, and soon found what I was looking for in a different wet hedge.
Despite the drizzle I drove on to Chart Sutton for another field puzzle and I found what I was looking for. It had narrowly avoided being squished by a falling tree.
I did have plans to move on to Boughton Monchelsea, but time and weather were against me.
I went on to the aquatic shop in Aylesford where I spent nearly fifty quid on fish food for the pond fish. I hope they are grateful - a garden pond isn't a cheap hobby. Mind you, talking of money, I couldn't believe the price of the Koi there. Have I *really* got several thousand pounds worth of fish swimming round my pond?
Somehow (unlike the pond shop) I doubt I'd get much if *I* tried to sell the fish.
As it was on the way to work I had McLunch. Much as it went against the grain, sensible use of my phone's myfitnesspal app told me that three chicken selects and a small bag of fries would come in at just over six hundred calories. The trick at McDonald's is to substitute the McShake (one squillion calories) for a diet coke (one calorie).
And then I went to work. Work was good, but like all late shifts, the day's adventure was over by mid day.
28 April 2018 (Saturday) - Five Oaks Green
Over brekkie I watched the last episode of “Lee and Dean”. For a series that started well, the ending was rather odd. The last episode was set in Great Yarmouth which (to my eyes) looked incredibly like Margate.
I then sparked up my lap-top. I really could not believe my eyes when I read the news this morning. When Britain leaves the European Union, UK nationals travelling to EU countries will probably need a visa. And that will cost. The Daily Mail were up in arms about the matter. The very people who advocated the abolition of free movement round the EU aren’t happy to find that abolishing free movement means movement will no longer be free.
So they don’t want what they spent months trying to get? Have I ever mentioned that I don’t believe in democracy?
We got ourselves and the dogs together, and set off to Five Oaks Green where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. Together we went on a little wander round the area. There are geocaches all over the place round there; we basically followed one series of caches but taking little diversions here and there for church micros, village signs, challenges and puzzles (and even mistakenly rummaged in someone’s gas meter) as one does when much on one’s life is spent hunting for film pots under rocks.
We had a rather good walk as we usually do. We found several painted rocks. Treacle ate a dead frog, and at one point we had to back-track as the footpath which once went between two ponds was now under the water of one huge pond. We saw some very pretty bluebells and apple blossom. We watched a heron take flight, and even got to laugh at the local chavs. Whilst trying to impress or over-awe us with the constant revving of their motorbikes, the idiot-er or the two chavs dropped his bike. Fixing that won’t come cheap.
It was a rather scenic walk. I even took a few photos.
After eleven miles we adjourned to the Queen’s Head for a couple of pints of Doom Bar and some crisps. Diets can be slightly relaxed after eleven miles.
I slept for much of the drive home.
We did fifty caches today. I spent the evening plotting out a slightly longer walk..
29 April 2019 (Sunday) - Rainy Day
Over my morning toast I looked at Facebook and saw that there was a bit of a squabble happening on one of the geocaching pages on Facebook…
Once you’ve found a plastic pot under a rock you have to log the fact on-line. The vast majority of people *never* read these logs except when looking for a hint when they can’t find a cache. But there is a rather vocal small minority who seem to want a little essay to be written which is gushing with praise for the plastic pot and admiration for the person who hid the thing under a rock. This minority is getting rather nasty in what it is posting on-line, and this morning had made a rather nasty personal attack on people who contribute a *lot* to the hobby.
Do these people *really* think that their plastic pots are so that marvelous that when I get home having found fifty such pots (like I did yesterday) that all of them were memorable enough for me to wax lyrical about each and every one? The game is a treasure hunt, not an exercise in creative writing. If people want to read fine literature, that‘s what libraries are for. Do we *really* hide these pots just so’s we can read about just how marvelous we all are? As a C.O. with dozens of active caches I don’t read any of the “Found It” logs.
Bearing in mind that the park run would be in full flow I delayed walking the hounds. Instead I mowed the lawn and then spent a few minutes bashing the mud from our walking boots before we went out.
We then had a good walk round the park. Most of the joggers had finished, but there were still one or two there. One of these exemplified why I don’t like the runners. He came past me without incident, but then started shouting at the two dog walkers fifty yards ahead of me. When he got close to them he stopped, and I could see there was a row going on. As I got close I could hear what was going on, and I went and stood next to the dog walkers to show my support. As did my two hounds.
It turned out that the jogger had got the hump because he didn’t have enough room to get past the dog walkers. I had been on the grass as he’d run past me; I’d done the right thing (in his eyes). It seems that joggers need the entire tarmac path to themselves, and the etiquette is that dog walkers should walk off of the tarmac and into the mud to let the runners pass (or so we were told).
The dog-walker with the staffie (who hadn’t walked into the mud) told the jogger to f… off; I shook his hand (the bloke with the staffie, not the jogger), and all was well.
Once home I had a squabble with not-so-nice-next-door. (The side that doesn’t do noisy sex).
I say “squabble”; she didn’t say a word. With a little time before the forecast rain I’d decided to spend a little time cutting back the jungle which flows from her garden over the fence into mine. As I trimmed it back she came up, stood and glared over the fence at me. I carried on pruning. After five minutes of her continued black looks I explained to her that I didn’t want any of her stuff in my garden; not a single leaf. She looked at me like I was the sh*t on her shoe, and walked off.
With the garden pruned I decided to prune my wardrobe. The thing had got so full that I couldn’t close it. So I had a chuck-out of stuff I haven’t worn for years. I got rid of ten pairs of “normal” shorts, fifteen work shirts (the armpits of which had become decidedly crusty) and twenty T-shirts. The wardrobe now closes.
I then carried on working on planning some geo-walks.
As I did all of this "er indoors TM" had stripped the kitchen, scrubbed down the walls and ceiling and started fixing the blown plaster.
By the time mid-afternoon came we were feeling a tad peckish, so we drove out to the Kennington carvery where we met up with "My Boy TM" and his branch of the tribe. We had a rather good double helping of roast dinner.
I quite like the Kennington carvery. You really do get all you can eat for twelve quid (and what you can’t eat goes into a bag for the dogs). Mind you the place is just the teensiest bit “council”. There is always at least one brat somewhere in the background screaming and the place does feature quite a few scratters in its clientele. One such was at the till when I was paying; loudly trying to confuse the girl on the till in a shallow attempt to get me to pay for her dinner. (The scratter’s dinner, not the girl on the till’s).
Her face was a picture when I told the girl on the till I had no idea who the scratter was, I had never seen it before, and it could pay for its own dinner.
We went on to McDonalds for a McFlurry for pudding. "er indoors TM" set off bowling; I set about the ironing whilst watching Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” on Netflix. For a film that stirred up a *lot* of controversy when it was released, I was rather disappointed this evening. I could remember it being *much* better.
It was a shame it rained for much of today…
30 April 2018 (Monday) - MONKEY !!!
Yesterday evening I mentioned on Facebook that I’d been watching Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” as I did the ironing. Overnight several people had commented about it. As everyone was gushing with praise for the film I didn’t have the heart to say I felt the thing had been something of a disappointment.
I was also glad to see that much of the squabbling that filled social media yesterday had died down overnight. That was probably for the best. I was expecting things to still be kicking off; one of the main protagonists was someone I’d not encountered before on-line. I was told (from people who know him) that he delights in trolling the internet.
I wish people wouldn’t.
I set off to work through some awful weather. The wind and rain made for rather nasty motorway driving. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the resignation of the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Having been following the news for the last week I think it is fair to say that there was a deliberate campaign to hound her out of office.
The shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott was wheeled on air. There was a discussion about the “hostile environment” policy that had been in place in the Home Office for some years. The implication was that it was originally something devised by the previous Labour government, and Ms. Abbott made what I can only describe as a total cock of herself. She was very quick to crucify anything and everything the Conservatives had ever done or said. But any mention of anything every said or done by the Labour party was immediately dismissed by Ms. Abbott who claimed the Labour party was under new management, and consequently had nothing to do with what had gone before.
I have a theory that Ms. Abbott (and Mr Corbyn) is actually an invention of the Conservative party designed to make the Labour party unelectable. It seems to be working…
As the radio driveled on so the traffic slowed and the queues formed. I was stuck on the motorway for seemingly ages. There is no denying that I was rather grateful to see the works’ toilet.
Work was work; I came home and walked the dogs round the block, and with "er indoors TM" off bowling I sparked up Netflix. Did you know they’ve re-made Monkey?
The New Legends of Monkey is an Australian made-by-Netflix show. Whilst it lacks the theme tune of the original, it has promise, even if Tripitaka isn’t quite as sexy as the original.