1 August 2016 (Monday) - Jasmer Day
"er indoors TM"'s alarm went off at 4am this morning. She and our overnight house guest (Jimbo) were going to collect Gordon Tracey and set off to the week-long national geo-event in Wales. I couldn't get the time off work to go to that (I'm working mid-week) and had had my sulk some time ago. So instead of sulking today I thought I'd have a geo-event of my own. I decided to have a jasmer day. The Jasmer challenge is to have found a geocache in every month since people first started hiding tupperware in the undergrowth. I was missing a few months, and so I'd planned a little road trip for me and my dog.
I left home a few minutes before 5am and set off to my first target. Bearing in mind the grass can be wet in the early morning I parked up near Cobham and put on wellies. I walked down a lane only to find I'd gone the wrong way. I got within twenty yards of my target then had to got four hundred yards round the long way. But when I got there I had a quick find at 6.30am.
From there I moved on to Winchester Cathedral. There is an amazing bit of modern art there. It's a hi-tech lamp post which changes colours when you send texts to it. I got there, did the secret geo-thing and was back to the car before 8am (so I didn't have to pay for the car park)
My third target was the grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (in the New Forest). One of the many things I love about geocaching is the amazing places to which you end up going. It was a shame that Fudge felt the need to tiddle on the gravestone. But we were there and away before 9am.
As we'd parked up I'd noticed the local pub had a sign saying they did breakfasts from 8.30am. I thought that once we'd done the secret geo-thing I'd have a fry-up. I hadn't noticed that they only did brekkie at the weekends. I sulked as we drove out to Dorset.
My fourth target was the furthest from home. I'd never even heard of Hengistbury Head before, but there was a virtual geocache down there. We got to the car park and I had no change. I tried phoning the car park people like the sign said, but after five minutes I gave up and drove a few hundred yards and parked on the road. By now we were both getting a little stir-crazy and so a walk would be good. Our target was a kilometre from where we parked the car, and as we walked "Furry Face TM" played with, ran away from, and humped all sorts of other dogs.
The virtual cache was straight forward, and as I was in the area I did the nearby Earthcache too. Hengistbury Head was beautiful; such a shame it is so far away.
The plan had called for us to be arriving at Hengistbury Head at mid-day... we were leaving shortly after 10.30am. I was quite pleased with progress at this point. (But things were to change...)
Our fifth target was Wickham in Hampshire. As we drove I was beginning to feel a tad weary so we pulled in to some services in the general vicinity of Southampton and I dozed for half an hour.
We eventually got to where we'd been advised to park the car. But it was a rather dubious lay-by in the back of beyond. Bearing in mind how unlikely it would be for anyone at all to come close, and bearing in mind it had taken us two hours to get there, we left the car and went for a little walk.
Just as I found the geocache so my dog started heaving. He spewed up a lump of partially digested grass which was about as big as he was. I wish he wouldn't do that. And as we walked back to the car we felt a few spots of rain.
Target six was in the general vicinity of Chichester and had been originally hidden thirteen years ago by the TV personality Chris Packham. It was up a rather serious hill. As we struggled up I seriously began to wonder about saying "sod it" and going home; the hill was *steep* and the drizzle was getting heavier. But we got to do the happy dance at 2pm.
It was at this point that we had the only real hiccup of the day. I'd chosen our targets on their attributes listed on the geo-website. I had a vague idea where they were, but only enough to know what order in which they would best be done. I was utterly dependent on sat-nav to get from one to the next.
My phone's sat-nav threw in the sponge and refused to work. I had a vague idea that we needed to be somewhere near Worthing and so that would involve driving up the A27. I wasted a *lot* of time finding the A27.
Fortunately the sat-nav sprung back into action just before Arundel, and we found our way to Cissbury Ring. I'd been there on a hiking/camping contest with the Boys Brigade in the late 1970s and it had been a disaster then. Today's was marginally better. We soon found our target; the oldest geocache I have ever found (hidden fifteen years ago) but the rain had picked up, and by the time we got back to the car at (4pm) we were both soaked.
The sat nav said it would take an hour and three quarters to get home. It was nearer three hours. Admittedly I did have a sleep in the car park at Clackett Lane services.
Once home I had a rather good bit of curry; scoffed whilst watching "The Monocled Mutineer". I had planned to do so much else this evening. I shall have to set up the new lap-top tomorrow...
In the meantime I took a few photos whilst we were out...
2 August 2016 (Tuesday) - Star Trek Beyond
I suppose both me and my dog were somewhat tired after yesterday’s road trip. We both slept like logs last night.
We got up to find heavy rain. Yesterday had definitely been the better day to do our road trip.
Over a spot of brekkie I checked my emails. I’d got the thumbs-down on one of the questions about yesterday’s Earthcache. The task was to go to a certain point and (using my GPS) measure the altitude. It turns out my phone was fifty metres out. After a little to-ing and fro-ing the chap accepted my answers, but I’m left wondering just what else is adrift on my phone.
I then took the bull by the horns and started using my new lap-top in anger. I say “using”; setting up was closer to the truth. To begin with, Microsoft Edge had to go. It seemed to be little more than Internet Explorer, and that was always pants. I started off downloading Google Chrome, but after a few minutes I decided I just couldn’t cope without a drop-down bookmark menu thingy. So I went back to Firefox. It’s done me well over the years. I then activated my KnowHow cloud account. I can store no end of stuff there. I get the first year for free and then I have to pay for it. I wonder if I can get a similar thing free elsewhere. Mind you I’m not sure I’ll ever use it anyway.
After an hour I’d got to the stage where I had a browser that I liked and cloud storage that I probably would never use, and so decided to have a little break.
I’d spoken with "Daddies Little Angel TM" and we’d decided not to meet up today. The rain was against a walk. But seeing how the rain had subsided I took "Furry Face TM" round to the park. He gets fractious if he doesn’t go out. (Bit like me really). As we walked we saw that some trees by the river had fallen down overnight. Fudge was fascinated by this; he would have spent all day sniffing at them if I’d let him.
Fortunately, we didn’t meet anyone else as we walked; that always makes for a quicker outing.
Although we’d left home with no rain, the rain had returned as we walked. We were rather damp when we got home.
Once home I put some washing on, hoovered (with the Dyson) and fed the fish. I had intended spending a bit of time in the garden today, but it was a bit too damp for that. So I returned to the lap-top. It didn’t take long to install Paint Shop Pro (the package I use for farting about with photos) and so the lap-top was blog-capable if nothing else.
I then downloaded GSAK and got it registered. I also downloaded Urwigo. In theory the lap-top was now geo-capable too. I shall have to test it, but that can wait until later.
It was then time to transfer the data I wanted from the old lap-top (and leave behind that which I didn’t want). I started off with backing up three years’ worth of photos to the old hard drive I have upstairs (perhaps I might stick that lot onto cloud storage?). Over seven thousand photos took a while to shift.
I then had a rummage on the old lap-top. I discovered loads of stuff, and after a *lot* of farting about I decided to leave the vast majority of the stuff where it was. I’ve copied over that which I use on a regular basis. The rest of it can stay where it is until I need it rather than wasting time and disk space copying it never to use it again.
I was surprised at just how quickly I got the new lap-top to a state where it could take over from the old one.
Having a little time on my hands I then had a rummage through my letter rack. I had a letter from my Internet provider telling me they were pulling the plug on mankybadger dot com. They apparently did that three weeks ago (!) because as a company they don’t do that sort of thing any more. Oh well; their loss. I suppose the Internet will just have to rough it with mankybadger dot co dot uk. I started farting about with that some time ago. I really should carry on doing something with it.
And flushed with success at how good yesterday’s Jasmer day went I planned another one. Starting with a drive to Welwyn Garden City the next ports of call would be Tring and Stoke Manderville, ending up in Harrow. If any of my geocaching readers fancy a day of lots of travelling about for five smiley faces please drop me a line.
I had a bit of toast for tea, then drove out to the cinema. Bearing in mind hardly anyone was available for the traditional Tuesday gathering I’d posted on Facebook asking if anyone fancied going to see the Star Trek film. Chris said he was up for it. I’m glad he was. Have you tried to buy a cinema ticket recently? The last time I went to the cinema was in 2014 to see the “Paddington” film and Cheryl had organized that. Prior to that I’d been to see the previous Star Trek film (in 2013) and that was with free tickets given to the astro club. Buying tickets is a right faff now. You have to choose where you want to sit. How would I know where I want to sit? Fortunately, Chris organized all that. All I had to do was get there and give him the dosh for my ticket.
I was surprised at just how busy the cinema was. And as for the film…. It was *very* good. There was all sorts of nods to the fans in there. Mind you if you are the sort of trekkie that has Star Trek tattoos and you pay *very* close attention there is one glaring inconsistency with the Star Trek mythos. I won’t give any spoilers but I will say “warp four”.
3 August 2016 (Wednesday) - Before the Night Shift
Another good night’s sleep. I was sure I heard my dog bark twice in the night, but it is unlike him to do single or double barks. Normally he has a woofing fit. Perhaps one of us was dreaming.
After a quick bit of brekkie I took my dog for a walk. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" were at brat brigade today so me and my dog walked alone. We met one or two other dogs as we went through the park. We saw OrangeHead and her chunky little friend in the distance but managed to avoid them.
The plan for the morning had been to do some gardening, but heavy rain meant that everywhere was soaked. So I contented myself with gathering up dog turds and draining the rain water out of the bucket of brindle chippings I’d inadvertently left to fill up with rain water.
With little else to do for the morning I had a look-see on-line. Yesterday I’d given the power company some meter readings. Today they emailed to say that my accounts were in credit with them. A few months ago they estimated that I would use far more leccie and gas than I have been doing and so *reduced* the monthly direct debits. Maybe they might want to reduce them some more?
I then did some more geo-admin for the geo-day I’m organizing in a couple of weeks’ time, and had a look at the geo-map vaguely wondering about a short walk on Sunday. If anyone is at a loose end on Sunday…
With the weather still less than ideal I caught up with watching some stuff the SkyPlus box had recorded for me. “The Last Ship” and “Dark Matter” passed a little time, then I spent the afternoon in bed.
I burned a pizza for my tea, and I’m off to the night shift now…
4 August 2016 (Thursday) - Feeding Ducks (and dogs)
As I worked last night I listened to the radio. There was a rather fascinating article about the psychology of stalkers. There was a thought-provoking feature on how separated parents cope. Dick Barton and Campion did their things. And the pundits were speculating about what seems to be a civil war in UKIP as the party apparently tries to becomes something more than "The Nigel Farage Show"
And all the time I was very conscious that had I been allowed holiday I could have been hundreds of miles away camping at the Welsh geo-Mega. (Even if the weather there hasn't been what it might have been this week).
I came home, collected "Furry Face TM" and we went out to meet "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We made our way to the shops at Court Wurtin (what a wonderful name for a row of shops!) where I went in to buy some bread. There was a rather “council” chap at the head of the queue for the till. He had bought some scratch cards and insisted on scratching them there and then. It was only when some little old lady started coughing that he looked around and realised he wasn’t the only person in the shop.
Suitably armed with bread (and chocolate frogs) we walked around to Singleton Lake. As we walked "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" told me of the ructions at yesterday’s mother and toddler group. One of the baby groups meets in a church. Not the church hall but the actual church. Apparently there is a gaggle of church-goers assigned to stop the toddlers destroying the church, and the mothers don’t like it when the old biddies tell their little darlings not to trash church property.
The obvious answer would be to stage the mother and toddler group in the church hall…
Once at the lake we found ourselves mobbed by ducks. I fed bread to the ducks. "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" fed bread to the dogs before randomly running off and causing a passing cyclist to crash into the undergrowth.
Oh how I laughed.
Pausing only briefly for Fudge to swim in the river whilst we exchanged pleasantries with OrangeHead we were soon home again. I took myself off to bed and slept for five hours.
Over a bit of pizza I watched one of the episodes of “Game of Thrones” that the SkyPlus box had recorded for me last night. Usually on an afternoon before the night shift I’d watch “Upstairs Downstairs” on the Drama channel. But they usually have adverts about suffering animals and I didn’t want to see that today.
I’m off to another night shift now…
5 August 2016 (Friday) – Sulking
On the way home (after the night shift) I couldn't help but notice the price of petrol in Morrisons. On Monday's road trip I'd been keeping a look-out for petrol stations as I went. Fuel in Hampshire and Dorset is (about) ten pence per litre more expensive than what it costs in Kent. It certainly pays to shop about.
Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for a quick walk around the park. As we went he caused mayhem with some dogs and ignored others. Most of the other dog owners seemed to know him by name. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
And with my little dog walked I took myself off to bed for the day. Something of a waste of a day possibly? My old mucker Steve was getting married today. I'd had an invite ages ago but had had to turn it down. Originally because the plan had been that I would be on holiday in Wales. Then I wouldn't be able to go to the wedding because I wasn't allowed leave. And finally the reason was that following the night shift I wouldn't be in any fit state to go to a wedding.
Mind you it would have been good to have gone along; if nothing else I might have had someone to talk to. Other than professional hand-overs at the start and end of the two night shifts up until this afternoon I'd only had two conversations of any length all week. I had a good chat with Chris at the cinema on Tuesday night, and I jabbered away with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" on our walk yesterday. Other than that I've not spoken to anyone (other than my dog) all week. I'm not quite sure how I've suddenly become a hermit, but I'm not keen on it.
I slept like a log for several hours. A couple of weeks ago I did have this vague idea that I might get a good sleep and then drive up to the geo-mega in Wales. But driving to Dorset and back on Monday was tiring enough, and that wasn’t after a night shift.
Mind you reading the postings on Facebook I didn’t realize just how many friends were driving up today. Perhaps I should have asked for a lift and slept on the way up? Or perhaps someone might have posted on-line that they were going and asked if anyone (me) might have liked a lift? Perhaps they did offer and I didn’t see it? Or perhaps I’m just being precious through lack of sleep?
But whatever happened, I found myself feeling that I was missing out.
I was surprised at just how much of a sulk I found I was having on the matter. After all, whenever I go anywhere I advertise it as a Facebook event because afterwards I invariably get complaints from people feeling they missed out on something good. So I sulked (some more) about what I was missing, and did a little laundry and then went round to see "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" who’d offered me dinner.
I eventually got over my sulk, and had a rather good evening watching Oddbods and Furchester Hotel, and a rather good bit of curry.
Early night now I think…
6 August 2016 (Saturday) - The Wiston Wobble
My mouth has been rather aching lately. During the week I’ve started using an electric toothbrush and I wonder if the thing might be a little too vigorous for my poor gob.
I got up probably about two hours earlier than most people would have done today, and was glad to see my little dog asleep at the foot of the bed. With "er indoors TM" off geo-camping he’s spent most of the week sleeping by the front door waiting for her to come home.
Over brekkie (which it hurt to chew) I had a look-see on-line. The Wherigo I created for the Welsh Mega seems to be being visited a lot. I suppose that even if I didn’t get along, at least I’ve contributed to it. And there was a job or two I might consider applying for as well.
I forced brekkie into a sleepy dog, and we got into the car and set off. Two minutes later we came home for a bandanna and then set off again. We met Karl and Tracey just north of Maidstone and got into their car and together we all set off on a little adventure. First of all to Shoreham toll bridge, and then into Wiston in West Sussex. The Wiston Wobble is a series of sixty-eight geocaches. Possibly rather ambitious, but we thought we’d give it a go.
We had a great time. Some of the paths were overgrown to the point of being impassable, but others gave us rather spectacular views. The South Downs were rather beautiful, and we saw several buzzards as we walked. Saw them and heard them too. They aren’t quiet birds.
And we even had a couple of pints in the Star in Steyning. Can you believe it?
Cache-wise the route was something of a disappointment. We ended up trying for seventy-two caches but failed to find four of them. And most of the ones we did find were rather mouldy and in need if a little maintenance.
We got back to the car rather later than anticipated, but that was not a problem. We then relocated to Copthorthe (near Gatwick Airport) where we had a rather good bit of dinner at a pub with the wonderful name of “The Curious Pig in the Parlour”. We shall definitely be going back to this place. We ate outside (with table service) – my fish pie and pavlova was really good. And Ringwood best bitter too.
We didn’t get home till 10.30pm. I took a few photos whilst I was out – it was quite late by the time I’d got them on-line.
I’m rather worn out….
7 August 2016 (Sunday) - Badger's Hill
Despite a rather busy day and a late night yesterday I woke shortly after 6am this morning. I would have liked to have slept longer but despite the best efforts of my CPAP machine I couldn’t breathe. So after laying awake and getting more and more wound up I got up.
"Furry Face TM" was also up and about. That surprised me. Bearing in mind how hot it was yesterday and how the park fills with joggers on a Sunday morning we went for our walk rather earlier than usual.
Perhaps it’s a dog-owning thing; there were loads of dogs being walked round the park this morning. Fudge got up to all sorts of mischief.
We came home for brekkie. As I scoffed I had a look-see on-line. On Friday I had a little rant about how I was sulking because no one had thought to offer me a lift to Wales. Perhaps I had a point, perhaps I was being rather (utterly) unreasonable, perhaps lack of sleep had done strange things to my brain. However some chap had clearly read my rant and made reference to it on the Geocaching in Kent Facebook group and made mention of me by name. Apparently he too felt miffed; he felt he was not part of “the clique”, and several other people commented that they too were feeling equally not part of the “select few”. I was frankly amazed by what I read on the Internet this morning. One chap who posted saying that he too felt excluded is one who I first encountered four years ago. I’ve tried to speak to him *so* many times and every time he makes a point of deliberately blanking me. And there were several other posts in the same vein. Pots chirping in calling kettles black. The squabble rattled on for most of the day; eventually ending up with people kissing and hugging and making up (as these things usually end up).
But it made me think. Is there a geo-in-crowd? No. there is not. There are several groups who seem to do their own things, and there is one (rather fluid) group who seems to do all sorts of fun stuff. I suppose I’m part of that crowd. But we don’t have a monopoly on doing fun stuff. Anyone can join in. Or go climb trees or sail boats on their own.
I’m reminded of the time a dozen of us went to the cinema to seen “Men in Black II” dressed as men (and ladies) in black. A passing thug stopped us, turned to his thug mates and asked “why don’t we do anything like this?”
I then saw I’d missed out on something good – The Rocky Horror show had been on in Canterbury all last week. Several groups of friends had been along to see it… no-one asked me… And I started sulking again.
I then drove round to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and we went out to Badger’s Hill garden centre at Chilham. They’ve got animals there and we thought we might take the littlun for a lesson in advanced mammalian recognition. He was fine with horses and pigs, and he recognised statues of cats, dogs, rabbits and ra-ras. (A ra-ra is a lion!) but llamas did stretch him somewhat, and he didn’t have a clue when it came to maras.
He seemed to like the animals, but like all toddlers he lost interest after half an hour and wanted to go to the playpark. So we playparked for a little, then had coffee and cake. Cake is always good.
I took a few photos whilst we were there. I do that.
As it was just up the road we popped to the pond shop to get a humungous bag of Koi food. The fish had scoffed all the stuff we had at home. We then drove home; Sam had managed to lock himself out (woops!)
I dropped off my passengers and came home for an afternoon of dull. Firstly I sat on the front garden path and pulled all the weeds out from between the flagstones. I really need to lift them all and re-lay them but that is rather a long way down my list of priorities. I then put the hose pipe away; that had only been unraveled for six months. I then strimmed the lawn edges and mowed the lawn. By the time I’d then pulled the bindweed from the gravel my back was somewhat painful, and by face was glowing with sunburn. So I came inside and got a little bored with coming the dog so I went back out and trimmed back all that which was growing over the hedge from next door. I was emptying the fourth dustbin full of clippings into the garden recycle bin when "er indoors TM" arrived home from her week’s holiday. We unpacked her stuff and hopefully she’ll cook me some tea in a minute.
For the last week I’ve lived off of pizza, toast, and the goodwill of others.
8 August 2016 (Monday) - Early Retirement ?
I didn’t really sleep that well (again) and was up by 5.30am. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army” in which the highly secret agent (Captain Mainwaring) had to escape from a gorilla. Classic!
I then had a look-see on-line. Over the weekend a group of four people from Belgium had come to Ashford specifically to do all my Wherigos. Sometimes I get a little miffed that I put in so much effort to these Wherigos only to have no one bother doing them, but periodically people do make pilgrimages to Ashford for a large Wheri-session. I was rather flattered they they’d come along and done the lot. Mind you I’m not sure how the humour I write into the plots translates into Belgian but they seemed to like what they found.
It was a bright sunny morning as I set off to work. I spent a few minutes looking for my sunglasses before I pulled out. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the forthcoming Perseid meteor shower. And as they always do when discussing anything space-related the whole subject was seen as an object of ridicule, with the presenters laughing out loud about meteors. They take every other news article *so* seriously when most of what they peddle is forgotten about within a few days, but anything not of this Earth is never taken seriously.
Once they'd laughed themselves out they then started talking about the wages of company bosses here in the UK. Apparently the average boss of any substantial company earns over one hundred times the wage of their average employee. I was rather amazed at the figure, but even more amazed at the attitude of those presenting this. Surely they must realize that top bosses make a fortune. It's an old concept called "capitalism". The idea is that you play on people's greed. It's been the way the Western world has worked for some time now. Can’t say I am entirely in favour of it…
I stopped off at Morrisons for some stuff for lunch. Being thoroughly sick of bananas I thought I'd try pears. I hunted around for some time; finally finding the pears in the fridge. Are pears supposed to be kept cold?
Ironically when lunch time came I found that I don't actually like pears very much. And the pear I ate gave me a stomach ache.
During the afternoon I took a few minutes out to speak to the pensions people. They confirmed what I suspected...
When I first started working in 1981 I started paying into a government run pension scheme. At the time it was made crystal clear that after forty years I would be able to retire at full pension. That would have been in September 2021. Only five years from now.
However successive governments of various political flavours have all reneged on the deal. I've now been told that I cannot get a full pension until my sixty-sixth birthday. That will be in February 2030. In fourteen and a half years.
The pensions people gave me a load of old flannel about people living longer and the country not being able to afford pensions, but that's not my problem. I bought something in good faith thirty-five years ago and now I find out that I'm not going to get what I've paid for. I’ve been done out of nine and a half years of retirement.
I would like to know through whose letterbox I might post a dog turd in protest.
I came home and took "Furry Face TM" round the park for a walk. We got there to find the fun fair was setting up. Unlike the “Create” festival the fun fair doesn’t shut off the park, and those people setting it up aren’t surly and miserable. Several of the people in the caravans came out to see my little dog. He seemed rather popular.
"er indoors TM" went off bowling, and I had an evening in front of the telly. “Killjoys” might have been good had I remembered what had happened in the last season. “The Last Ship” is fast running out of steam, and I slept through “Dark Matter”.
If only I could sleep tonight…
9 August 2016 (Tuesday) - New Job ?
Yesterday evening I sat in front of the telly and kept nodding off when I wanted to actually be awake and watching stuff. Last night I slept for a bit, but was still wide awake far earlier than I should have been.
I know why I can’t sleep at night – the nasal polyps have returned. I can feel them blocking up the inside of my sinuses. But do I go back to the doctors? Having had my nose surgically re-bored was a major undertaking; only to have the things grow back. Looking on the various forums on-line some people have had the surgery many times, and each time the things come back quicker. Sometimes within a matter of weeks.
Over an early brekkie I had a cup of coffee. "er indoors TM" had brought a new kettle home after last night’s bowling. The old kettle had died on me. And then I had a look-see at the Internet.
In the past I’ve whinged about how much effort it is to write a Wherigo and how infrequently people do them… Last weekend a group of four people came all the way from Belgium to do all of mine in one go. This morning one of the chaps has emailed me asking if he can blag one of mine and if I’ll help him write one of his own.
Perhaps I might persevere...
I then drove out to Pembury hospital… I’d heard there was a vacancy at Maidstone hospital and I’d been lead to believe that not only did they pay more money that I currently get but they also give you a rather substantial bung for taking the job as well. Maidstone is about the same distance as Canterbury, and being motorway would probably be a bit more economical on the petrol. So I arranged to have a chat with the boss there. She was keen, but said to meet her at Pembury hospital. Apparently the hospitals at Maidstone and Pembury are all one unit. I got there thinking she’d said to meet at Pembury because she was working there today, but I got the distinct impression that the vacancy to be filled was at Pembury hospital.
Mind you I actually liked what I saw, even though I would just transfer at my current pay scale. I came out thinking I’d like to work there.
But then I had a think…
Why was I even considering applying for the job? I was looking to do the same sort of work for more money. The hospital at Pembury is twice as far away from my house, and has a major trauma centre. I wasn’t looking to do more work for less money (once the travel has been taken into account)
Oh well. If nothing else it was a mini-adventure.
I stopped off for a crafty geocache on the way home in Goudhurst. It would have been rude not to have done so.
Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round the park. As we went he barked at everyone and everything. He seemed to be in a very shouty mood today. He’s not been himself for a few days. I blame the heat,
With walk done I had a spot of lunch. I would have watched a DVD as I scoffed but the DVD player seems to have gone tits-up. Oh well. I can’t afford a new one just yet. If we want to watch a DVD we shall just have to play it from the lap-top via the ChromeCast. I suppose I’d better see if that works on this new lap-top.
Having scoffed lunch I had a look at the housekeeping accounts. The emergency fund isn’t looking that good at the moment. Every month I put a little aside for unforeseen household disasters. Like lap-tops going west, pond filtration systems breaking, fuseboxes needing replacing, walls needing re-plastering, DVD players going tits-up, that sort of thing. That’s five major disasters over the last few weeks; I’ve probably got enough in reserve to pay for one and a half of them. Hence my needing a job that pays better.
I then had a little go at the astro club’s website. Some time ago I had a rant that astronomical events are known years in advance; why doesn’t the website have a list of them. I’ve finally got round to putting that list up. I also tried to post up a guest article from a member, but that was a tad beyond me. I shall need some help on that one.
I then set off to work. Being on a late shift and having taken half a day off I didn’t need to be there until 4.15pm. It seemed rather odd showing up so late in the day…
10 August 2016 (Wednesday) - Going Nuclear
Last night I saw an episode for a TV show called “Top Boy”. It looked quite good; being all about London drug dealers. I downloaded the first episode and watched it this morning. It was rather good. I’ve set the SkyPlus box to get some more episodes.
I then quickly checked out my emails. I saw I had an endorsement on LinkedIn. Not much else of note had happened this morning.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing the debacle of the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station. The previous government had somehow pulled a fast one in which the French company EDF and the Chinese government were going to build some nuclear power stations for the British. But apparently the new Prime Minister isn't so keen on the deal. The experts being interviewed were of the opinion that Mrs. May feels that having the Chinese building the UK's nuclear power stations potentially gives them a stranglehold over the UK government. The possibility was mooted that the things might be built in such a way that should the Chinese get the arse then they might be able to remotely either turn the power stations off or blow them up.
Mind you as the chap being interviewed said, would anyone ever trust the Chinese to do anything ever again if they pulled such a fast one. Is anyone *seriously* considering such a ludicrous scenario? Unfortunately it looks like the government is doing so.
I got to work, did that which I couldn’t avoid, and came home. I collected my dog and walked round to visit "My Boy TM". Cheryl had done a rather good bit of dinner, and I played basketball and limbo with Lacey in the garden whilst the dogs ran riot. I would like to have stayed longer, but I was rather tired. I’ve worked for three days on the trot and I’ve got to work a fourth tomorrow. I’m finding this working to be a tad like hard going…
11 August 2016 (Thursday) - Up Your Bum...
I woke in desperate need of the loo at 1am and went downstairs to find "Furry Face TM" on the doormat intently guarding the front door. I fussed him a little, but he would not be distracted from his self-imposed sentry duty. I went back to bed, and when I got up shortly before 6am he was still on guard. I wonder what that was all about. Once I was up he clearly felt he didn’t need to maintain his vigil anymore and trotted off to his basket from where he started snoring rather impressively.
I made myself some brekkie and watched the second episode of “Top Boy”. I quite like this show. It is not entirely unlike “Essex Boys” and that sort of thing. I wonder who will get beaten up next.
Over brekkie I saw I’d been tagged in a post. There is this thing on Facebook at the moment where you post a picture of an album you particularly like and ask friends to do the same. I was first asked to do this a few days ago. Then I chose the album “Kimono My House” by Sparks. Bearing in mind that was somewhat predictable, and everyone would be expecting another Sparks album I thought I’d go for another old favourite. But in retrospect “The Kick Inside” (by Kate Bush) would have been equally expected by anyone who has seen my attempts at karaoke.
As I left the house to go to work my daft dog was again guarding the front door.
On the drive to work the pundits on the radio were crowing about how well we are doing in the Olympic Games. I say "we" because that is the pronoun used when discussing the national team. I personally can't take any credit for Team GB's success. In fact (in all honestly) how well the British team does or doesn't do at the Olympics is a matter of the utmost indifference to me. However I am fully aware that a *lot* of people do take it all to heart. But (without wishing to detract from people's enjoyment of the event) I can't understand why.
At the moment the British public's attention is entirely on the diving events. Cynically I wonder if this is because British athletes are getting medals at those events, it is on the telly, and everyone feels everyone else is watching it.
I've been accused of being unpatriotic in not supporting Team GB. Is this a fair accusation? How many people *seriously* follow competitive diving? I suspect kiss-chase would suddenly get a surge in popularity were there Olympic medals being won by British kiss-chasers *and* it was on the telly. After all how many people showed any interest when a British competitor came third in the International kite-boarding championships last year. Or when three of the last four international indoor bowls championships were won by a Scot. Or (in the wider scheme of things) when two Brits won Nobel Prizes last year.
But (as always) I realise I'm in the minority. I just wish I could see the attraction of watching any kind of sport. So many people do so. I'm sure I must be missing out on something.
I got to work and took the pears (that I'd bought on Monday) out of my locker and gave them away. I've given them a go; I think they are bloody awful. If someone else would like them, so much the better. It will be back to bananas next time.
I came home a little early to take "Furry Face TM" to see the vet. He’s been chewing the base of his tail a lot recently. That is usually a symptom that his anal glands need doing. As far as I am concerned, “doing” a dog’s anal glands involves me holding him still and looking the other way until the nurse says it is all done. And that was pretty much what happened today. However, after the squeezing of glands had been done the nurse then shaved his bum a bit so she could wash the area where he had been biting himself.
All the time my little dog was shaking in terror. He knew that we were going to the vets this evening. He didn’t want to leave the house when we left, and he stopped twice on the way. He is *terrified* of the vets, and when we got there he was quivering and shaking in fear the whole time.
The shaking persisted long after we got home, and he was still sulking four hours later.
"My Boy TM" called round to drop off Rolo. He’s staying here whilst the first fruit of my loin and his entourage go to Great Yarmouth for his father-in-law’s fiftieth birthday holiday weekend. Events and conspired against them so that the guest of honour can’t actually go, but the holiday is paid for (with no refunds available) so they might as well enjoy it.
They went to Great Yarmouth once before. That was back in the days when Fudge was his dog. I can remember the car getting as far as Maidstone before it broke down. Here’s hoping they do better this time…
12 August 2016 (Friday) - Poorly Pup
My little dog seemed to take a long time to recover from his ordeal at the vet’s yesterday evening. He was very subdued until "er indoors TM" came home and started ordering him around. He was his old self then, but as soon as she sat down and started watching telly he sidled up to me and snuggled all evening without moving. Mind you he did eat all of his dinner.
This morning I came down to find our house guest Rolo full of beans but Fudge sitting quietly by the back door. He slowly heaved himself up (clearly with great effort) and was slowly struggling toward the door when next door made a noise when they dropped their dustbin. Suddenly he flew down the garden barking like a thing possessed. And he was fine for fifteen minutes until I fussed him when he went back to being quiet and moody.
I *thought* he was still sulking. However he wouldn’t move. I went to pick him up and he cried when I touched his belly. It was rock hard. We went straight to the vets.
We got there over half an hour before they opened so I sat on the floor outside with my dog on my lap. He sat feeling sorry for himself and I sat blubbing like a baby. After a while the vet arrived for work and came over to see us. I pulled myself together enough to explain what was going on and they took us inside. We went straight into the examination room and they gave me the option of pain killers and waiting, or doing a proper investigation. Apparently they have to offer pain killers and waiting as a lot of people can’t afford vet bills. I asked the vet to do whatever she would do with her own dog, and Fudge was immediately admitted to dog hospital. I took a deep breath and managed to pay the bills and get out of the surgery before I started crying again.
Once home I realized I could either sit about fretting or I could do something. So I prepared “Hannah” with the co-ordinates for my new geo-series around Challock on which I’ve been working recently. Then I spent even longer getting the pots and stuff ready. I had intended to do all that last night but I had been fussing my dog instead. And with all the pots and stuff organized I took Rolo on the walk that I had been planning to take Fudge on. We walked for about four miles around Challock and hid twenty geocaches as we went. It was a rather pleasant walk; when we walked it two months ago the crops had made a couple of footpaths all but impassable, but the crops had since been harvested. Hopefully everyone should like it next weekend.
As we went my phone didn’t stop beeping with people sending messages of support and concern about my dog. Many publicly, and many privately. As we walked I blubbed a few times; not so much with worry for my dog but for the kind thoughts of so many people.
With our walk done we came home. I was in the kitchen just giving Rolo some water when I heard a rumbling crashing sound from above. I went to the back bedroom to find a huge area of plaster had fallen from the wall.
I took all the DVDs from the shelves which were above the affected area (in case the weight made more of the wall collapse) and piled them up. And left them there. I then tried to contact the insurance people. “Tried” being the operative word. I was passed between seven different people before I finally got to someone who took every conceivable detail. After what seemed like an age she “processed and validated” what I’d told her and she said that we weren’t covered. So I shall have to pay to have it fixed myself.
Do any of my loyal readers know any plasterers? Failing that how hard is it to plaster a wall?
I then made the final changes to the geo-series following this morning’s walk, then sent the entire lot in for review. It took a few seconds to write that sentence, and about an hour to actually do.
I immediately got the thumbs-down from the geo-feds on one of the caches I’d hidden as I’d mistakenly said it was in Yorkshire. Whoops!
Soon enough it was time to collect "Furry Face TM" from the vet. I was there early, and I did blub a little when the vet brought him out. When I left him there he was as meek as a lamb, when they brought him out to me he was pulling like a train.
They’d had him on fluids, done blood tests and X-rays. The blood tests hadn’t shown anything, but if anyone says that was money down the drain they have picked the wrong biomedical scientist with whom to argue. A negative result rules things out; a negative result is a useful result. The vet felt the fluids had perked him up. But the most helpful thing was the X-rays. They showed his entire alimentary canal was bloated. He’d got bunged up and had an awful lot of wind.
Five hundred pounds to be told my dog needed a good fart. Have I ever mentioned I never wanted a dog?
I had been planning to go down to be with the astro club for the Perseid meteor shower this evening, but I felt I couldn’t leave my dog. As he sat on my lap this evening he would periodically whimper and cry. I was on the verge of calling out the emergency vet when I realised that his whimpers and cries coincided with when I stopped petting him. Like any poorly toddler he was seeking attention.
I should really have done some ironing this evening; I just sat with my dog…
13 August 2016 (Saturday) - Still Poorly
The best thing my dog could have had last night was a good night’s sleep, so I settled him in his basket and went to bed. I lay there listening out for him. I heard Rolo fidgeting and walking about, but I heard no cries from Fudge.
I came down at 6.30am to find Fudge seemingly a little better than yesterday, but still out of sorts. He had a little walk round the garden then took himself back to his basket. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Top Boy” whilst worrying about him.
I hung the washing out, and thought Fudge might like a little walk. I showed him his lead and he didn’t look very interested. I put his collar on and he heaved himself up. I got Rolo’s harness on him and took both dogs to the car. Rather than jumping in Fudge tried to climb in and started crying. I went to help him and found his stomach was again rock hard. I immediately took Rolo back inside the house and took Fudge straight back to the vets where they again admitted him to dog hospital again.
This time I didn’t quite make it out of the vets myself before collapsing in tears.
I was supposed to be on night duty tonight. With both "er indoors TM" and "My Boy TM" away I knew I couldn’t leave him overnight. I did a little phoning round. A colleague offered to do my night shifts; that was *such* a relief. Covering shifts at short notice is difficult; an August weekend doubly so.
So I then took little Rolo on the walk I’d promised him. We went out to Kingsnorth. There was an e-souvenir to be had today for anyone logging a find on a multi-geocache. Multis start off with puzzles you do when out and about. In this case you go to the village sign in Kingsnorth, answer a few questions, do a few sums, and you end up with totally the wrong answer. You then swear a lot, realise that two plus two isn’t fifty-seven, do the sums properly and then go find the geocache. Whilst multis aren’t rare, they certainly aren’t common. In fact there was only one (that I hadn’t found) within five miles of home. So me and Rolo went for a little walk. I’d actually been to the village sign at Kingsnorth with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and done the sums some time ago (February 4th to be precise) so all we had to do was go to where I’d calculated the thing to be hidden, do the secret geo-ritual, and come home again. We got to where I thought we were supposed to be, and after ten minutes of fruitless searching I suddenly spotted the cache. Obvious! Laying on the floor. I’ve put it back where I thought it should be. But I might be wrong…
We carried on with our walk. We probably covered a circuit of about a mile. Personally I would like to have gone further, but (for those of my loyal readers who have never met him) little Rolo is tiny. Probably a quarter the size of Fudge. He’s not built for long distances; he slept like a log after yesterday’s four miles. So we came home and I had a slice of cake with a cup of coffee whilst the washing machine chewed more laundry.
The vet phoned and said they wanted to keep Fudge until 5pm, so finding myself at something of a loose end I mowed the lawn then cleaned out the fish pond filter. As the pond isn’t as clear as it might be I put in some finer filter medium, turned it back on and watched the water leak out. I say “leak”; “gush” might have been a better description. So I turned it all off, re-assembled it how it used to be, and turned it back on. No leaks this time. I was rather pleased about that.
I then wasted half an hour cutting back more of the various climbing plants which pour over the fence from next door, then watched a little telly until 3pm.
Brian and Rachel had invited me to a barbecue. Originally I’d declined as I had thought I was going to be in bed prior to the night shift, but I thought that an afternoon in Brian’s garden might take my mind off of worrying about my silly dog. So I spent a rather good afternoon with family and friends in Brian’s garden until it was time to collect my dog.
The vet said he was much improved, but had been on stronger pain relief. I thought he looked spaced out. We went back to Brian’s and sat in the garden for five minutes but Fudge wasn’t himself so I carried him home. I put him down and he crashed out where he was on the floor. Eventually I persuaded him to go to the garden, and having done his business he staggered back to his basket where he snored for the evening.
Whilst my dog slept I did loads of ironing in between watching him sleep. He woke shortly before 10pm when I chivvied him outside for a tiddle. He walked very awkwardly; I blame the catheter which is still in his paw. I managed to slip one of his tablets into a bit of cheese and he scoffed it. I then hand-fed him all of his dinner. I shall probably be up with him most of the night…
14 August 2016 (Sunday) - I Never Wanted A Dog
I slept for a bit last night then lay awake listening out for my dog. At 4am I felt I couldn’t leave him anymore and came down to find him asleep. He looked up when I came to his basket. With a little encouragement he got up and went to the garden, then ate Rolo’s biscuits.
We both went back to bed, and when I came down at 6.30am he wagged his tail when he saw me. I took that to be a good sign, then he refused his breakfast. He did walk round the garden and have a wee, but he was walking very awkwardly. I thought it was the catheter still in his front leg which was upsetting him; that could be taken out.
I set the washing machine to chew the last of the laundry whilst I watched the last episode of “Top Boy”, then once the laundry was hung out I took my dog to the vets. For the third time we were first in the queue outside waiting for them to open.
The nice vet lady said she was pleased with his progress, took the catheter from his leg and gave him some more medications. She then brought him back to me. Today wasn’t a day in dog hospital.
Vets are rather amazing. When I’m not well I can tell the doctor exactly what’s wrong, how long the symptoms have been going on, where it hurts, and if the medicine is working. Animals however just seem to be a bit off-colour and the vet has to figure it out with nowhere near so many clues. From what we can work out my dog has eaten something which has given him very dodgy guts. The pain of a bloated gut has made him walk awkwardly which has set off the spondylosis he developed when he slipped a disc a couple of years ago. The vet says he is on the mend, but it will be a slow process.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" met me at the vet’s; we took my dog home and settled him. We then drove out to Ramsgate. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had arranged to buy a wardrobe and I was to collect it. As the A28 was closed we had to go via Challock. It was as well we went that way. I had an email this morning. Apparently there was a geo-coin in one of the caches I’d archived on Friday. Could I retrieve it? I’d actually been to all of the caches that I’d archived when I went round with Rolo. This one had been buried when a tree had collapsed on it. I hadn’t been able to get to it on Friday; but since I’d been asked I thought I’d have another try. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get at the cache- there was several tons of tree on it.
We made our way to Ramsgate. I was glad to see the chap selling the wardrobe had taken the thing to pieces. That made getting it into the car a lot easier. And with the car loaded with the ingredients of a wardrobe we came home. Via the wonderfully-named Hengist way and McDonalds.
Normally I would have hung around to interfere with the building of the wardrobe, but I wanted to get home to my dog. I’d assumed he’d still be in his basket; as I walked in to the house he ran from his basket to see me. I was so happy, but after a dozen paces he stopped awkwardly and cried. He *really* needs to take things easy. But the fact that he’d got up and come to see me was a major advance on how he’d been over the last few days.
I showed him his lead and he clearly got excited, so I put his lad on him and took him and Rolo for a walk. We walked at a snail’s pace, and walked the shortest “round the block” that is possible locally. Even so a walk of a few hundred yards took fifteen minutes, and he was clearly flagging toward the end of the walk.
I lifted my dog onto the sofa and sat with him for the afternoon and evening. There was all sorts of drivel on the telly. “Fantastic Journey” was on; I’d not seen that for years. “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” was quite entertaining; the special effects were dire but the film makers knew that so the film had a plot to make up for it. “Are You Being Served – The Movie” was rather sad. But the period drama “Doctor Foster” was quite good if you like that sort of thing (which I do)
As I watched the telly my little dog snuggled next to me. And his condition changed from one minute to the next. Sometimes he would be sleeping contentedly and relaxed. Other times he would be rigid and burping. And other times he would be quivering uncontrollably. Most of the time his tummy was gurgling.
He's just been out for a tiddle and had his medications forced down his neck, and is currently laying in his basket absolutely spaced out on tramadol. He’s not eaten anything since 4.30am.
The vet says he is on the mend. I must trust her judgement…
15 August 2016 (Monday) - Done A Poop
Poor Fudge was spaced out from the painkillers when I went to bed last night. I lay awake for much of the night worrying about him; eventually I came down to see him at 5am. Overnight he’d turned round in his basket which was a good sign. I chivvied him to the garden to do what dogs do in gardens, and then I hand-fed him his brekkie. He ate it all up, in the end feeding himself.
All the time little Rolo was running round feeling he was missing out on something.
I then had my own brekkie whilst watching “Dad’s Army”. The platoon was doing Morris dancing as a fund-raiser and Mrs Fox was wearing fleshings which (allegedly) wasn’t a pretty sight.
I then sent out a few emails inviting people to this coming Saturday’s geo-event, then set off to work. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had promised to look in on my dog, but I was still not keen on leaving him.
Just as I was about to leave the house I gave my dog one final fuss. As I reached down to him I saw the two tablets I thought I'd got him to eat with his breakfast. They were neatly on the carpet in front of his basket. He'd spat them out when I wasn't looking. So I had little choice but to force them into his throat. Yesterday opening his mouth for tablets was quite easy. He put up a fight this morning; he must be getting better.
I set off to work a little earlier than I needed to; I'd heard the A28 was closed. It actually opened at 5am this morning so getting to work was plain sailing. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the boss of the fast food delivery firm Deliveroo. There is an attempt to stir up scandal in the media about how little fast food delivery workers get paid. Personally I can't see how it can ever be anything other than a low-paid job. Who is going to pay that much to have a take-away delivered? The pundits on the radio were trying to shame the delivery boss by asking if it was true that his firm expects their drivers to supply their own vehicles. The chap said that it was true; and made the valid point that if his firm supplied the mopeds the punters would never pay the cost of delivering a pizza. It was a shame that the chap then rather pissed on his own chips by insisting his firm’s commercial priority was to "refine their own business model" and other meaningless managerial buzz-words. Had he kept on speaking English he might have garnered a little more respect.
All I can say is that when "My Boy TM" delivered pizza he used the firm's moped. However he was doing it as a little earner whilst at college. He wasn't trying to make a living wage. When I was a lad there were a lot of jobs like that; pizza delivery, football pools, paper boy... all intended as a little extra for schoolkids and students. The idea of a minimum wage is all very good for "proper" jobs...
I then stopped off in Morrisons. I looked at the pears and decided to go back to bananas. I also bought a small box of chocolates for my colleague who had been on duty last night and from whom I was taking over. It should have been me on last night and she's covered for me so I could be home with my dog.
I got to work early, and had a rather busy day. But an early start made for an early finish. I came home to find "er indoors TM" was home from her trip, and my dog had done two poops in the garden.
In the great scheme of things having some poops from that dog is something of a result.
16 August 2016 (Tuesday) – Zucchini
With "Furry Face TM" settled I had an early night last night. However I woke unable to breathe (despite the best efforts of my CPAP machine) at silly o’clock, and was watching the last episode of “Doctor Thorne” at 6am. Not a bad show, but the continuity people slipped up somewhat. One of the characters was obviously a piss-head. He was seen draining his brandy glass seven times without once ever re-filling it.
I gave my little dog until 7am then woke him and insisted he went outside. He had a tiddle, and came back inside. I hand-fed him half his brekkie and then he heaved himself up, struggled outside, dropped a log and then it all went wrong. Having had a poop he was then crying in pain, and was panting for the next hour.
I went to pieces again. I sat him with me on the sofa for a while and brushed him, but he couldn’t get comfortable. After a while I carried him back to his basket where he eventually got settled.
I then had a look-see on-line. We’ve had an invite to a weekend break at a Warner hotel next Spring. Up till now I’ve had the idea that Warner is the twenty-first century version of Saga as they advertise as being child-free. I’ve had a look-see at their website. It could be fun. I just need to confirm dates, and if I have any money let by next year I could be up for that. But I do need to pencil something into the diary soon. With only one weekend day free in the next ten weekends I struggle to fit everything in…
I then took my dog to the vets. I met Anita in the vet’s car park; her polydactyl guinea pig was in for surgery. It was as well that she was there; seeing a friend meant I had to pull myself together and not dissolve into a heap of snot and tears again.
Before we went in Fudge got weighed. Ten point three kilograms; he’s lost over half a kilogram in weight during his illness this week.
We were soon in with the nice vet who seemed pleased with his progress. The fact that he was pulling to get away and was trying to stand up and rest on my arms made her feel his problems were more intestinal than his back. She’s suggested we carry on with the Tramidol and go back at the weekend. I suggested Friday.
Seeing how he seemed keen to get out of the place I let him walk out of the vet’s. He made it to the car, but it was rather slow.
Once home he gulped down loads of water and went to his basket. He lay there seemingly dozing until the postman came. He had a grumble about that. I sat with him until I realized I was achieving nothing by bothering him and he would be far better off asleep, so I gave him the chew I’d bought at Pets at Home and set off to the late shift.
I listened to the radio whilst I drove to work. "Women's Hour" was on the radio. They were talking about healthy eating. I turned off when some pretentious harridan started wittering about the importance of sprialising her zucchini. I ask you - who on Earth eats zucchini; spiralised or otherwise? Come to that what *is* zucchini anyway?
I had a look on Google. It turns out that a zucchini is a posh courgette. I thought it was poncy spaghetti. One lives and learns.
I must admit I took a slightly circuitous route to work. I stopped off at the co-op to use the cashpoint machine. There was quite a queue; the woman at the machine took about fifteen minutes to do what everyone else does in two. I didn't realise it was possible to be so slow when using a cashpoint machine.
I then took a detour to Challock. Last Friday I archived an old geocache of mine which was in the area.. I archived loads that day and fetched in the old caches. Mind you there was one which I couldn't retrieve as it was crushed under a fallen tree. I'd had a message there was a geocoin in there. Those are rather precious so I went back this morning with some tools, but I couldn't get at it. I'd need block and tackle to move the fallen tree. I messaged the coin's owner. My conscience is now clear - I tried to get it back.
To console myself after that failure I went for a cache hidden near Molash's village sign and ended up nearly being late for work.
Work was surprisingly fraught; but that is the nature of the job. And with the day done I came home to my dog. I've spent the last five days feeling physically sick with worry about the soppy animal. I *really* never wanted a dog because I knew I'd get too attached. And I have done...
17 August 2016 (Wednesday) - Another Late Shift
I got up at 2am to check on my little dog. He was fast asleep. He was still asleep when I came down at 7am (it seems that if I get up in the night I actually sleep longer in total). That tramidol pain killer does make him drowsy. But he needs to rest, so that is a good thing.
Over brekkie I had a look-see on-line. My email inbox had gone mental. My new series of geocaches in Challock had been published. But for every cache I got a notification that it had been published, a notification that the reviewer had published it, and a notification that there was a new geocache. That was three emails for each of twenty new caches when realistically I didn’t really need any. Mind you it’s good that they’ve gone live; it was quite a bit of effort to get them to that stage.
I also had an email about a job in Maidstone at a higher grade that I might apply for. Mind you the job was for “quality manager”; it would be a *lot* more work for not that much more money. And for all that I might whinge, I quite like my job at the moment. More money would be nice (definitely would be nice right now!), but currently I’m doing something that I can (mostly) do with a group of people I really like. I’ve been a manager before and in all honesty didn’t like it.
And I had a wry smile when I read something about Butchard Gardens. I doubt any of my loyal readers have heard of Butchard Gardens; it is a rather pretentious park in British Columbia. We took the scouts there for an afternoon when we were staying in Canada. In retrospect it was a waste of time and money. Apparently the staff there now expel visitors who they feel look “too posh”. I can remember the staff being right up their own backsides when we were there; at the time I wondered how they ever stayed in business bearing in mind the contempt they showed for their customers.
My plan for the early morning had been to generally fiddle about and hopefully the morning’s hustle and bustle would gently wake my little dog. It didn’t really. He slept through it all. After a while I chivvied him into the garden where he walked around for a bit then walked back in again. He walked straight past his brekkie and went to bed. I hand-fed him a couple of scraps of dog food, but he wasn’t very hungry. However we did trick him into eating more tablets having buried them into pieces of cheese.
Yesterday morning I was in tears over him (again). This morning I was a little more positive. The vet doesn’t want to see him till Friday; he is eating (if only a little). He is permanently spaced out, but that is the drugs, and he doesn’t seem to be in pain. I’ve just got to be patient.
Usually on the morning before a late shift I’d take my dog for a walk. But he is resting (whether he likes it or not) and so with a little time on my hands I watered my tree. A couple of months ago I thought I was rather flush and so spent out the best part of fifty quid re-potting that tree and making a feature of it. I then fed the fish, and couldn’t help but notice just how clear the pond water is becoming (having spent five hundred quid on a new filtration system).
If only I’d known...
I then started putting together the paperwork for the insurance claim for Fudge’s little episode. Currently the vet bill stands at over six hundred quid. I *really* hope they pay out.
And so to work. To add insult to injury as I started the car it told me a service was due. No matter what else goes west I cannot do without a car, so I’ve booked a service for next week.
I listened to the radio whilst I drove to work. There was an interesting article on the radio about how when (during the war) ex-Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin refused to allow the gates of his garden to be taken to have the iron used for war materials. There were questions asked in Parliament about this; a lot of the locals got rather upset about the issue. One MP actually suggested he should be allowed to keep his gates to keep out the irate locals; feeling was running so high.
Admittedly a rather obscure part of history, but it was the sort of thing that had they taught it in schools I might not have dropped history as a subject at the first chance I got. Looking back our history teacher was rather crap. I learned absolutely sod-all from years of sitting on my backside copying out texts books about the Seven Years War. (That was how history was taught at Hastings Grammar School - over the course of a year you'd copied the entire text book but learned nothing)
There was also an article about the use of tampons in China; I turned the radio off then.
Pausing only briefly to claim a geo-find in Boughton Aluph I then carried on to Chartham garden centre. I needed flocculant - again they had none. I could really do with some for the pond.
On leaving the place I noticed the coffee shop; I couldn't resist a cream scone and a cup of coffee; after all the stress of the last few days I thought I deserved it. And suitably replete I set off to work where I had another rather busy day. But (if nothing else) being busy meant the time passed quickly.
This evening my dog got up and had a tiddle of his own accord. Without being prompted. Result!!!
18 August 2016 (Thursday) - Having a Tidy-Up
I got up for the loo in the middle of the night; my little dog seemed fine. I came down shortly before 7am and he was laying by the back door. I opened the door and he whimpered when he got up, and after his tiddle he was quivering in pain for fifteen minutes.
Normally on a rostered day off I would take Fudge for a major walk, but today rest (for him) was the order of the day. I did dull housework instead.
Bearing in mind a major lump of plaster had fallen off of the back bedroom wall last week I thought I’d have a tidy-up in that room. The affected wall has bookshelves on it. I put those shelves up some time ago – there is a blog entry on it somewhere but I can’t find it. However, I can remember saying that I wondered how long they would stay up. Realistically their time is up. Last week I took the DVDs off of one set of shelves. As I was having a sort out this morning I saw the plaster had blown along the length of the wall behind the shelves with books on. Having decided that *I’d* like to be the one to take the books off of the shelves I made a start. But we’ve nowhere to store books. So I had a thought. A somewhat radical thought. I decided that I would get rid of all of the books that I have already replaced with e-books. And (bearing in mind how old some of those books were) I also decided to get rid of any I’ve not looked at in the last five years. And as I started taking books from the shelves I thought I would also get rid of those which were obviously mouldy.
I wasn’t keen on throwing away so many books, but I’ve kept all those that "er indoors TM" wants. And the ones I’ve chucked have either already been replaced in e-format, can easily be replaced in e-format, or don’t interest me anyway. If nothing else I’ve saved "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "My Boy TM" a job for when they tidy up after I’ve croaked.
With the boot of my car full I then thought I’d have a look-see what other rubbish I could get rid of from that back room. I found four dustbin bags full of tat for the tip. I also found a Christmas card from "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and a birthday card from "My Boy TM" which they made when they were small. The birthday card still had nine pence sellotaped inside.
I also found four premium bonds. I put those to one side and then started scooping all the plaster rubble that I could get to. There was a lot of it…
For some inexplicable reason I then set my phone to update all its apps. Rather silly as it was time to go to the tip. But not wanting to use my mobile data for my phone to carry on its updating I delayed going to the tip. Instead I got a bucket of water and gave my car a little wash. It was rather grubby.
Eventually my phone sorted itself out, and I took all the rubbish, rubble and books to the tip. In the past I’ve taken unwanted books to charity shops, but they’ve made it crystal clear they don’t want books. It didn’t seem right chucking books in the skip, but they are gone now. And I do have a lot more space.
I came home and watched an episode of “Game of Thrones” over a spot of lunch. And with lunch devoured I picked up my dog and sat with him. He seemed fine, and he quite enjoyed being combed. We sat together for the rest of “Game of Thrones” and I also combed him all the way through “Dark Matter”.
I then took him outside for a tiddle and he took himself back to his basket. I let him stay there. I didn’t want to push him. Instead I took the hoover out to my car and had a little clean-up inside. It had got rather grubby inside as well as outside.
As I’d worked I kept the washing machine going until we ran out of detergent. Whilst I waited for the washing machine to disgorge the shirts which needed ironing I had a look-see on-line. I had a vague idea that my premium bonds might be worth something
Their numbers had never been winners. Just as well as it turns out that you only have eighteen months to claim a premium bond win after which time you are too late. I then thought I might cash them in; it looked like a *lot* of farting about. I then thought I might register with the premium bond people; I typed in the details on my bonds and they said they’d never heard of me.
I might just chuck those premium bonds into the skip with the unwanted books…
I then ironed my shirts whilst watching last Monday’s “Killjoys” and spent more time combing my dog whilst watching “Upstairs Downstairs” and then “The Last Ship”.
"er indoors TM" then boiled up a rather good bit of tea; a bottle of plonk, and I found a bottle of amaretto…
19 August 2016 (Friday) - A Day Asleep
I came down this morning to find my little dog still dozing in his basket. He has been very sleepy over the last few days; I am sure this is the effect of the tramidol. I’ve also noticed that within an hour of his taking the medication he gets very breathless.
I scoffed my brekkie whilst listening to the noises emanating from my dog’s basket. There were some very odd squeaks and whimpers as he dreamt. After a while I chivvied him to the garden for a tiddle, and then he ate his brekkie – from his bowl – in the kitchen - *not* hand-fed whilst in his bed like it has been all week.
I also had a look-see on-line. I’ve had an offer of a walk on Sunday. Fudge won’t be going. He will rest (whether he likes it or not) but I’d like a decent walk.
There was also talk of postponing a trip to Wales which has been planned for early November. I’m in two minds about cancelling; although I’ve already booked the holiday I have plenty of other things on which I might spend my money at the moment. Mind you I’m a bit miffed about missing out on a day’s fun yet again. I missed the week at the geo-Mega, and I’ve missed every time that "er indoors TM" has taken her canoe out.
I saw that today was World Photography Day; there seems to be a day for pretty much everything, doesn’t there?
And I was pleased when I read a snippet of news this morning. One of the greatest disgraces of our age is the buy-to-let housing market. Over the last twenty years it has become increasingly difficult to buy a house. Successive governments have not seen houses as somewhere to live; rather as financial investments. Those with money buy houses and then let them to people who can’t afford the initial outlay for a house. However those renting the houses effectively pay the price of the house *plus* some profit to the landlord too.
It would seem that the new government is going to derail this gravy train.
I can understand how this may make things difficult for those who only rent out one house (a partner’s house, or one they inherited), but hopefully this will end the blatant profiteering of those who can afford to snap up houses purely to get rich at the expense of others.
The phone rang. Someone claiming to be called “Keith” was phoning from “the windows computer”. He asked how I was. I told he I was delighted he’d phoned as I had a wonderful offer for him. I gave him (as a one-time offer) the choice of “p*ss off” or “get knotted”. I don’t think he understood.
I then took "Furry Face TM" to the vets. He dropped an enormous turd outside the vet’s, and once he was weighed (a little more weight loss) he pulled like a train to get out of the surgery. And when he was called in I had a mini-fight with him to get him in to see the vet.
The vet agreed with me that his breathless spells and drowsiness are probably down to the tramidol, so she’s advised that we stop giving it *unless* he seems to be in pain. And he’s been discharged; I was rather pleased about that. Although far from one hundred per cent, he is greatly improved on what he was. I *think* that although he’s still quite poorly, a lot of his trouble is a combination of the tablets and his sulking.
So all that remains is to wait for the insurance people to stump up. Let’s hope they do.
We came home. I had intended to get the lawn mowed this morning, but I only got as far as strimming the edges before rain stopped play. So I loaded my car with that which I shall need for tomorrow’s geo meet instead. And then I solved a geo-puzzle and wandered up the road to get myself a sandwich for lunch. Whilst there I got some scoff for overnight so’s I wouldn’t have to brave Morrisons later. Morrisons on a Friday evening can be rather fraught.
Over lunch I watched the next episode of “Game of Thrones”; it was rather good. I then had an afternoon in bed before combing my dog to an episode of “Upstairs Downstairs”, and now I’m off to the night shift…
20 August 2016 (Saturday) - International Geocaching Day
Last night’s night shift wasn’t particularly unusual or busy as night shifts go, but there was no denying that I was glad to see the relief arrive this morning. I came home and found my dog waiting at the door for me. I was so pleased about that. I then took him for a little walk, but even going round the block was too much for him; he came home with a really tight belly. I sat with him until he settled, then fed him his brekkie.
I would have liked to have taken "Furry Face TM" with me today, but he needed to rest. Having loaded the car yesterday I drove out to Challock and set up for today’s geo-meet. Once a month there is a meeting of geocachers and this month I’d organised a picnic on Challock village green.
I had an idea to put up the event shelter, but the wind was too strong. So I just put up a table and bench, then lay down on the bench thinking I might have a little doze until everyone arrived at mid-day (ish) I slept like a log until a passing lorry blasted its air-horn at five past eleven. It made me jump, and in jumping something pinged in my back. I then carried on laying on my bench unable to move until the first cachers arrived half an hour later.
Noelle did chuckle as she picked me up from that bench.
It wasn’t long before the picnic was in full flow. Despite the heavy winds over fifty people came along. Most brought a little picnic, some brought barbecues, some brought little stoves. “Red Pandas” kindly brought cakes for everyone. I chatted Tupperware with so many different people. Some people had been to loads of meets, for some it was their first one. And everyone who had walked the series of caches which I’d put out round the area was very complimentary about that too.
I was *really* pleased with how the event went. And bearing in mind that today was International Geocaching Day everyone who showed up got an e-souvenir too.
I came home, fussed my dog, then fell asleep in front of the telly for an hour or so. Having boiled me up a rather good pie and chips "er indoors TM" shoved off out with her mates, and I told the internet about the upcoming meet of the astro club. I don’t really thing we actually achieve much by doing this but it doesn’t hurt to do so.
I then programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow, and spent the rest of the evening watching drivel on the telly whilst fussing my dog…
21 August 2016 (Sunday) – Borden
I slept like a log and came down to find my little dog in his basket. He wagged his tail like a thing possessed, but showed no interest in getting up. After I’d had a shave he was still laying there so I chivvied him outside for a tiddle. For the first time in over a week he cocked his leg when he tiddled rather than squatting. I’m taking that to be a good sign.
Over brekkie I had a look-see on-line. Yesterday’s geo-meet seemed popular. Logs on the event were very enthusiastic and gushing with praise; even from people who weren’t actually there. Do I delete their log? Do I not? I suppose that at the end of the day logging something you’ve not done isn’t actually hurting anyone but yourself.
I then saw on Facebook that someone with whom I once worked had retired and moved from the Home Counties to Devon. Apparently the locals seemed pleasant and she hopes that they can make some friends down there. Much as I like Devon (I’ve been there a few times over the last few years) I’d not dream of upping sticks and moving away like that. Someone else with whom I’d worked for years similarly left Kent and moved to Ireland. How can people get to retirement age and have no friends or family to make them want to stay where they’ve lived for thirty or more years?
After an hour and a half I went to wake "er indoors TM", and then I took my little dog for the shortest of walks. We went round the block and he cocked his leg to wee twelve times. And he scavenged a chicken bone from the KFC that he wasn’t keen to let go. But just as we got home he tensed up and wouldn’t relax. I think we may have overdone it slightly this morning. So I settled him in his basket and he had a day of rest.
We drove to collect Suzy-Pup and her entourage, and we then went to Borden. Our usual partners in crime for geo-walking weren’t able to come out to play today, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to go walk the series of geocaches they hid earlier in the year.
We parked up and made our way to the start of the walk, and off we went. The first part of the walk was a little noisy being near the main road, but that was unavoidable, and wasn’t really a problem at all. I was soon claiming “smug mode” having found the first cache, and as we walked a rather beautiful path we saw blue tits and a squirrel. Soon enough the path opened into a field with spectacular views of the M2 bridge.
From here it wasn’t long until we were walking through orchards. Plums, pears, all sorts of apples. It was only a shame that the plum I pinched had a maggot in it.
About two thirds of the way along our route we took a little diversion into Newington for a Church Micro and a Sidetracked. (it’s the sort of thing one does when on a geo-wander) We found a co-op too, and an ice-cream went down very nicely. I had a Magnum; it was a shame I got chocolate all down my T-shirt.
It was odd; we saw people in Newington, but as we walked along the lanes and footpaths we didn’t see another soul. *Until* I stopped for a tiddle, when dog walkers and teenagers on motorbikes and more walkers and more dogs all seemingly came from nowhere.
While it wasn’t an especially sunny day it was warm. And what with one thing and another and poorly dogs I’ve not been walking anywhere near as much as I usually do. We got back to the car and “Hannah” said we’d walked about six and a half miles. It felt more; I slept for much of the way home.
I was half hoping that my little dog would be waiting at the door for us when we got home. He wasn’t; he was in his basket. He was very excited to see us, but didn’t get up. Having fussed him we chivvied him to the garden to do what dogs get chivvied into the garden to do. But doing it seemed to tire him, so we settled him in his basket and after a lot of fuss he went back to sleep.
I took a few photos as we walked today; once my dog was snoring soundly I posted them on-line. Almost immediately friends and family were commenting and “liking”. This is why I am such a fan of social media. I love seeing what other people are doing, and it seems that friends and family like to know what I have been up to.
Being Sunday "er indoors TM" set off to bowling. I dubbined the walking boots then sat with my dog watching “Rovers” – a brilliant series. How did I ever miss it first time round?
22 August 2016 (Monday) - More Dog Stuff
I slept reasonably well, although was plagued by nightmares about working on Christmas day with a load of old schoolfriends who had been conscripted into the NHS for no apparent reason.
I got up shortly before 6am and fussed my dog a little. He wasn't as lively at 6am this morning as he was at 11pm last night. I had to turn up the volume of the telly to hear "Dad's Army" over his snoring.
As I drove to work the radio was spewing its usual blend of drivel. Mind you there was an interesting interview with the French Minister of something-or-other who said (quite rightly) that having voted to leave the EU Britain should go. It's not fair on the rest of the EU to mess them about; they've got plans to make. Personally I wouldn't be surprised to see them pull up the drawbridge on the UK.
And there was talk about documents have been found which allege that during the 1960s the Home Office gave permission for doctors to give experimental drugs to pupils in approved schools to calm them down. (For those of my loyal readers who are unaware of the term, an "approved school" was tantamount to prison for the nastiest and most ill-behaved children)
This was billed as a bad thing; I can think of several evil brats with whom I was at school (in the 1970s) who could have done with being forcibly tranquilized - and I was at a Grammar School !
I got to work, and we didn't really have a good day. Things would have been far better had the local farmers not been muck-spreading. A colleague was complaining about the terrible smell of pigshit. I felt that (at the risk of being pedantic) I had to correct her. It was actually a very good smell of pigshit, smelling as I always remembered pigshit smelt. A *terrible* smell of pigshit would have smelt of something quite different.
It was conceded that I had a point, but this in no way reduced the vile odour of said pigshit.
I did my bit and came home as quickly as I could; a new geocache had gone live along my route home. I missed being First to Find by two hours. I was a tad miffed about that.
Again I came home hoping my little dog would be waiting at the door. He wasn’t, but he seemed very keen to see me, and he jumped up when I suggested he might like to go into the garden. He had a good bark at the Koi, then ran to the kitchen and looked hopefully at his collar and lead. I had intended not walking hm for a while, but he wanted to go out. As we walked he tried to pick a fight with a Staffie, and he came back seeming not in pain at all.
He ate all his tea, and is now currently destroying his telly bear even more…
23 August 2016 (Tuesday) - Family Fun Day
"er indoors TM" came home with a present for me last night; a water-filled pillow which would stop me suffering from the night sweats I get on an annoyingly regular basis. It was a particularly comfortable pillow, but I’m not sure it actually helped against the night sweats I had again.
My little dog was still fast asleep when I got up, and over brekkie I watched last night’s episode of “Dark Matter”. In this episode our heroes did that tired old story in sci-fi in which they meet evil duplicate of themselves. It is a regular theme in sci-fi; however having the same actresses playing good and bad versions of their characters can get confusing. So the viewer knows which ones are the nice ones and which ones are the evil ones, the evil female characters have their boobs hanging three-quarters out. You can’t tell which of the men are good or bad, but quite frankly with the amount of chest hanging out, no one really cares.
Over brekkie I saw that there were plans for an organized geo-walk round my series of geocaches in Bethersden. I’ve been meaning to do a maintenance run along that route for some time; maybe I might get someone else to do it for me? Here’s hoping.
I then drove my car out to the garage – it was due for a service. I left it with the nice garage man, and walked to Willesborough urban farm where I met "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". The plan was to fuss the tame sheep, but the tame sheep weren’t having any of it. So we went back to their flat where Sam made us all brekkie. Croissants and jam was very tasty.
We watched a little telly then came back home. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" played in the paddling pool whilst I got camping gear out of storage and into the living room. And with gear ready to load into my car I spent half an hour pootling in the garden until "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" ‘s phone beeped. A friend of hers told her that there was a family fun day in Viccie park.
So we walked over to the park and had a wonderful time. The fun day was at the far end of the park; as we walked we met a few young mothers (friends of the most recent fruit of my loin) who were grumbling that there wasn’t any fun day happening. There *was* a fun day, but you had to go find it; it wasn’t obvious. It was right at the far end of the park where no one ever goes.
We had ice creams and sorbets and played in ball pools and on bouncy castles. There were side shows from the police, fire brigade, dog wardens and the Salvation Army. It was really good.
But it was hot.
So we retreated back to my back garden and the paddling pool for half an hour before going back to "Daddy’s Little Angel TM"’s flat for an ice lolly.
Whilst there my phone rang. My car was ready for collection. I walked to the garage to collect it. As I walked I found a two pence piece on the pavement. It didn’t really offset the (nearly) seven hundred quid bill. As well as a full service (and air-con re-gassing) I’d needed four new tyres and new brake pads.
Oh well, what is money for if not to squander foolishly?
The Rear Admiral arrived, and we loaded up all the camping gear into my car and drove it out to the Batfarm. I’ve not been out there for ages. The gear is now sitting in a barn waiting to be put to use.
I came home, and hopefully "er indoors TM" will boil up some dinner in a while.
And I’ll end today with a little update on my dog. For the last week he’s only left his basket when I’ve chivvied him out of it. Yesterday he started coming and going from his basket of his own accord. This morning he came upstairs to find me when I was getting dressed. He came out into the garden today with me and "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and even tried to hump Sid. This evening we even had a little walk. He’s still not quite fully recovered, but there has been a seemingly miraculous improvement in him which happened yesterday.
I have a theory.
Yesterday he did one of the most monumental turds I have ever seen. It was rock hard, about the size of a small bus, and had no less than four breather-rings along its length. I counted them! (For those of my loyal readers who are unaccustomed to the concept of breather-rings you can find out about them by clicking here. However I wouldn’t).
Perhaps that was what was keeping him down?
24 August 2016 (Wednesday) - Habemus Papam
My nice new anti-night-sweat pillow failed for the second night in succession. I was rather disappointed with it. However having had a tiddle in the small hours I managed to sleep through till nearly 7.30am, which was something of a result.
Over brekkie I struggled (and failed) with a geo-puzzle. If any of my loyal readers can identify any of the people in the picture above I’d be grateful. I *think* the top centre one is St. Bismuth, and I’m not entirely convinced that the bottom right one isn’t St Anthrax.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" came round and "Furry Face TM" got very over-excited. Bearing in mind his improvement (and his incessant shouting) we took him for a little walk round the park. He seemed to be OK as we walked past the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he managed to summon up the energy to hump a passing Springer Spaniel. But I think he played in the river for too much and for too long. For all that he clearly enjoyed our walk, he was clearly flagging on the way back from the river, and was trembling when we got to the play park.
I picked him up, and he was as meek as a lamb as I carried him home.
Once home he sat quietly as I fussed him. With my dog settled I asked "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" if he would like to feed the fish. A certain dog leapt up and went to terrorise the Koi, and shortly after he managed to growl at the postman.
He’s on the mend, we both just need to take it easy.
I then looked at the household accounts. Oh dear. Feeling somewhat flush a month ago I shelled out on a new lap-top and Microsoft Office and all sorts. It was nearly six hundred quid, but what is money for if not to squander foolishly?
Then the pond filtration system went west. I could either replace it (five hundred pounds) or leave the Koi to a slow and lingering death.
Fudge’s near-seven hundred pounds vet bill is hopefully covered on the insurance, but that will probably take ages to come through and the credit card people want paying now. And seven hundred pounds on a car service yesterday didn’t help much.
I’ve also got to re-plaster the back bedroom wall and replace the house fuse box.
I’ve come to the reluctant decision that I can’t afford the geo-holiday to Bath that I was hoping to do in November.
An afternoon in bed, and now I’m off to the night shift…
25 August 2016 (Thursday) - Helical Cucumbers
As I was getting some supplies for overnight in Morrisons yesterday evening an announcement came over the tannoy. They were suggesting that if customers made their way to aisle fourteen then they might get something for nothing. So I made a beeline for aisle fourteen where I was disappointed.
Some obvious fly-boy was giving the punters all the chatter. True to his word he gave out the freebie - a rather crappy plastic thingy that cuts cucumbers into helical shapes. Rather useless unless one wants a helical cucumber. Personally I've never wanted a cucumber in any shape. But having been given something for nothing I felt obliged to listen to his patter. It turned out he was trying to sell a novel hand-whisk. As hand-whisks go I suppose it wasn't too shabby. I would have paid a couple of quid for it. However he was knocking them out at what he considered to be the bargain price of twenty quid.
I walked away, taking my cucumber slicer with me.
I then had a look in Go Outdoors. I got talking with the nice lady on the shoe stall. She assured me that the shoes I'd bought from them less than three months ago shouldn't have fallen apart yet and suggested I might like to bring them back for her to send to the manufacturer.
I must admit that I was hoping they'd last more than a couple of months, but what do you expect for twelve quid?
I got to work, and did my bit through a rather busy and very warm night. As I worked the radio was spewing its usual blend of drivel. There was a Poirot play which totally failed to grip my attention; some drivel about motor racing (which was equally dull), and all sorts of other unmemorable stuff.
Mind you it was probably as well that they were unmemorable; they will all be repeated tonight and so since I won't remember them I won't realise it is all repeats.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" were off swimming, so it was just me and my dog for our morning walk. Bearing in mind he over-exerted himself yesterday he had a shortened walk today; through the co-op field and back through the wetland park bypassing Viccie Park altogether. Mind you he still picked fights with some bigger dogs, tried to hump other bigger dogs, and found some fox poo.
Once home I scoffed brekkie and watched an episode of “South Park” that the SkyPlus box had kindly recorded for me, then spent most of the day fast asleep. I would have slept better had it not been such a hot day, but I’m not complaining. Reading social media enough other people are already complaining. Those whingers boil my piss.
We get days like today – a heatwave. It’s supposedly too hot. We get lots of days like today – so many people complain. We then get one day of rain and the same people immediately forget how bright it has been and are complaining about “typical British weather”.
I’m going to watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” then it’s another night shift…
26 August 2016 (Friday) - Off to Camp
I suppose that really I should have gone straight to bed after the night shift… I didn’t. I loaded up the last of the camping gear I would need, and as I had my shower so the doorbell rang. Martin had got a taxi round with his gear. I told him off – I had every intention of driving round for him.
We loaded up Martin’s gear and drove down to the fishing tackle shop for some maggots. I used to swear by “Ashford Tackle”; in the two years since I last went fishing they’ve been taken over by “Angling Direct”. They probably could have been more rude and disinterested, but they would have had to have made a serious effort.
We then went on to Tesco for the makings of lunch, and then drove out to Smarden where I had a minor disaster. The idea was to use the cigarette lighter attachment of my power pack to charge my phone during the weekend. But as I unplugged my one and only adapter from the car it spectacularly exploded into about a dozen separate bits. Consequently power was at a premium, and I decided that as I was on holiday I would have a holiday from the Internet as well.
The idea was that we would get the communal tent “Brown and Smelly” up, then my tent, then I would have a little shut-eye. It was a plan which suited me. But we did it in reverse order. We got my tent up, then “Brown and Smelly”, and after a rather good lunch of squeaky cheese and a pint I found my head nodding.
I woke to find that Jimbo had arrived with the little dog he was looking after; I dozed off again and woke to find Terry and Irene were with us, I nodded off again and woke to find that "er indoors TM" had arrived with "Furry Face TM".
Terry and Irene had prepared a curry for tea. Oh it was good. I had seconds. And I dozed off again. I woke to find everyone else had adjourned to bed. So I too went to bed.
27 August 2016 (Saturday) - At Camp
Being unable to power my CPAP machine I knew I would have a restless night. It didn’t help that the airbed I’d bought for a fiver had been money down the drain. I saw every hour of the night. I gave up trying to sleep shortly after 6am, and had a fit of the giggles when I saw "Furry Face TM". We’d set up his basket in our tent, and he definitely had a “what the hell is going on” expression as he looked around.
Early morning fishing is traditional at Bat-Camp, and so I went to get my tackle. Jimbo and his pup had just got up too, and we made our way to the pond. We quickly set up (well, I did) and were soon catching fish (well, I was). However the fishing was slower than it had been in previous years. Where in previous years I might have had thirty fish before brekkie today I had six.
At nine o’clock we made our way back to camp and joined in the ongoing concerted tidy-up. Last night’s tea had been rather late. We had all agreed that clearing up the mess in the dark would have been silly, so we all tidied and washed up. I say “we all”; I did a load of washing up, then sat down, and woke to find the kitchen had moven outside to the open air, and that brekkie was ready.
Brekkie was rather good, and as it was a rather warm day once we’d tidied it all away we had a little look around the pond closest to camp. We’d fished in a pond further away because it wasn’t quite so overgrown, but the pond closest to where we camp has always been dear to my heart; possibly because on Sunday November the second 2008 I think I actually had cardiac arrhythmias in that pond. You can read all about it by looking up that date here.
As we looked around the pond and got ripped to pieces by the brambles my dog found a fox’s tail and started trying to eat it. As I prised the brush from his powerful jaws I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the rest of the fox.
We then set up the event shelter, sat in the sunshine and had a pint or two. Hic!
Jose and Maria arrived, and we went back to the pond. Some fished, some swam, and Jose played with his new toy – he’s got one of those remote-controlled drones. He was using it to take aerial videos of what was going on. I was impressed; but surprised at how short the battery life is on those things. Just under half an hour.
As the Hoseys left so Chris and Matt arrived. They set up their tents, and I watched from afar; offering sage advice as I drank more beer.
Jimbo was on cookhouse duty; fajitas are always a camp favourite. I had too much to eat. And again time raced away from us. We’d made a point of deciding to have an early meal so we could tidy up in daylight, but again failing light meant we left it all until the next morning.
Port was passed around, but not too much. Perhaps I’m getting old; in previous camps we would have emptied two bottled of port; this evening we shifted maybe a quarter of one bottle.
I made my apologies and staggered off to bed shortly after 11.30pm…
28 August 2016 (Sunday) - Home Again
My airbed was utterly flat; I was trying to sleep directly on a rather lumpy field. I woke at 1.30am with the most excruciating stomach pains. It was wind; it was probably going to be a fart, but I wasn’t going to take a chance.
One of the things I don’t really like about camping is the toilet arrangements. I messed about in the darkness trying to find my boots, then staggered across the field to squat on a bucket only to find my suspicions were correct. It *was* only a fart. Mind you it was a rather impressive one at 1.30am. I’m not quite sure who gave it a round of applause but someone was clapping.
I went back to bed and dozed fitfully until 6.30am when I got up to go fishing. Jimbo soon joined me; he brought a cup of coffee with him. Sterling fellow! Perhaps it was rather mean of me to laugh when his stool then collapsed under his weight.
Fishing this morning was somewhat brisker than yesterday; we both lost count of how many we’d caught by the time we had to go back to camp for brekkie.
Brekkie was good; it always is at camp. I was about to start on the washing up when Tony offered to do it. I didn’t need telling twice, so we left him to it and went back to the pond for more fishing. We fished until mid-day. As for morning wore on so the fishing became slower.
We gave up, and wandered round to the pond closest to camp. Matt and Chris had cleared back the brambles and were fishing for bigger carp. And they’d caught some too.
We then sat about chatting for a while until lunch arrived. Bread and cheese sounds a very simple lunch, but bread and cheese in a field can be heaven on Earth. We then played with "Furry Face TM" for much of the rest of the afternoon. Bearing in mind how ill he has been recently I was in two minds about taking him to camp, but the little break seemed to have done him good. On Friday Batty had bought him a pig’s trotter and he’d munched it during the weekend. And this afternoon he was playing his own variation of “fetch” with whoever would play it.
It was with something of a heavy heart that I left everyone at 5.30pm. Camp carries on till tomorrow, but I really need a decent night’s sleep before work. I came home; much as I like camping, I like a shower and a real toilet too. And once scrubbed I had a look-see on-line. With very little power I’d been off-line for a little over two days. In that time I’d got one hundred and sixty one emails and thirty-seven updates on Facebook to say nothing of three friend requests and a plethora of messages. I spent ages catching up with what I’d missed then posted a few photos from the weekend.
I’m worn out… I’m off to bed.
29 August 2016 (Monday) - Mrs Bra
Apart from a quick tiddle at 3am I slept for over eight hours last night. I suppose that is the aftermath of two night shifts followed by two nights camping. The air bed I had for camping is currently awaiting the dustbin. In the past I’ve used a self-inflating mattress when camping but it has finally given up the ghost. It was comfortable enough, but it really only worked when on a flat surface. If the ground underneath it was uneven, so was it. I need to figure out my sleeping arrangements for next year’s camping. Air beds are all very well they maintain air pressure, but are a faff to inflate. I’m wondering if "My Boy TM" still has that cot thing he used to take on his weekend fishing missions.
I set the washing machine loose on some clothes, and over brekkie I watched an episode of “Game of Thrones”. A rather good episode; Nudey-Dragon-Girl kept her clothes on, but others didn’t take quite such a moral stance. And I was hanging washing out on the clothes line before 7.30am.
I then watched last night’s episode of “The Last Ship” as the washing machine chewed my undercrackers. The first two seasons of this series were really good; the search for a cure to a deadly world-wide plague. But the third season seems to have lost its way; it is now a cross between a political drama and an arcade shoot-em-up.
As the sun came out I went to feed the Koi. It was a lovely morning. I must admit that part of me wanted to be at camp. It would have been beautiful at the farm this morning. But it would also have been hard work, and I had other work to do today; and the tumble drier had done its wonders on my pants.
So I psyched myself up to go to work by watching an episode of “South Park” whilst sorting my undercrackers. I had hoped my washing would also have been dry before I left for work, but perhaps that was a little optimistic.
With a little time on my hands this morning I left for work earlier than I might have done and did a little shopping on the way. I stopped off at Chartham Garden Centre. The people in the aquatic shop there had been so good with the pond's new filtration system, so I'd rather spend my money with them than elsewhere. I've been after flocculent for some time; they'd always been expecting some soon. Until today. Today they sang a different tune. Apparently it is now the end of the pond season and they won't be getting any in until next year. I didn't know ponds had seasons. I shall have to go elsewhere to get flocculent. It's a shame there's not that many pond shops about. But whilst I was in the garden centre I had a cup of coffee and a cream cake. I deserved it.
As I devoured my cake the women at the next table were slagging off a mutual friend of theirs. This friend was known to all and sundry as "Mrs Bra". Mind you, whilst I say "slagging off" the two old women weren't actually dishing much dirt on Mrs Bra. They merely would take it in turns to loudly shout "Oh that Mrs Bra" and then take a gulp of tea whilst the other would take a sharp intake of breath whilst looking shocked. It was all rather entertaining; I couldn't work out whether "Mrs Bra" was someone's actual name or a pseudonym, but whatever it was, it was being declared very loudly.
I then went to the cheapo-bargains shop and got cross with them. I wanted a new USB charger for my phone which would fit into my car's cigarette lighter socket. They had a loose one on the shelf. But no others. So I picked that up and took it to the till where I queued for fifteen minutes whilst the most hopeless till operative in the world dealt with the most troublesome customers in the world. When I finally got to the head of the queue the woman at the till flatly refused to sell me the charger, but instead rang her bell to call for assistance. Some spotty oik came over who took me back to the electrical section where he had just started stocking the shelves with boxed versions of what I wanted. I could *not* have the loose one. I *had* to buy one in a box. I *had* to queue up again. And as I followed the spotty oik about the aisles so my trouser pocket caught on a shelf in the shop and ripped open.
I rather lost my temper. I told spotty that I was going to spend my money in a shop that wasn't entirely useless and I went to Staples where I bought the same thing for twice the price.
Having ripped my trousers open I thought I'd go back to Go Outdoors and have a whinge. This was the second pair of these trousers I've bought from them that have ripped with minimum provocation. The knee on the first pair ripped open when I knelt on the ground when rescuing Sid from Singleton Lake.
The nice lady in Go Outdoors did giggle when I asked for a pair of trousers which wouldn't "go tits up if I so much as fart". She was rather apologetic, but apparently "going tits up" this is a feature of the "cheap and nasty" range. If I want trousers which won't burst open willy-nilly I need to spend a little more.
I've bought a pair of trousers costing thirty quid rather than a tenner; let's see how long they last.
And so to work. It was surprisingly busy…
30 August 2016 (Tuesday) - Immoral Ladies
I had a rather restless night; finally giving up trying to sleep at 5.30am. Over brekkie I watched a little telly. Would you believe they’ve re-made “Are You Being Served”? With Gavin from ”Trollied” playing Mr Humphries and Boycie from “Only Fools and Horses” playing Captain Peacock it was absolutely awful. Had they tried to make an up-to-date version then things may well have been different, but using exact replicas of the original sets and with the characters doing impersonations of the original characters it was a shallow echo of the original. The original series was lame, but in a way with panache and style. This re-make was just painful to watch. I hear it is a one-off with no plans to make a complete series. Good!
I then had a little look-see on-line. I had a friend request on Facebook from Birgit Ignacia Sac. (That's her in the photo above). She apparently lives in Ashford and “wants to experience love”. My back’s not up to it, but if any of my loyal readers fancy a nudey-sauce-romp with her, she’d given me a web address. I would post it here but my McAfee web safety wotsit wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. Interestingly her friend request and her entire profile has since vanished from my in-box. Perhaps she has “experienced love” elsewhere or been banned from Facebook for spamming and spreading malicious links?
I’ve also seen quite a few photos from the camping weekend that has just happened, and it made me realise that with the recent demise of mankybadger dot com I’ve also lost my old BatCamp website. I’ve got it all backed up, and I’ve a plan to bring it all back (slightly re-vamped). If any of my loyal readers have any photos from camping weekends in Smarden over the last eighteen years, please do email them through to me.
It was very foggy as I drove to work this morning. So much so that I nearly ran over a unicyclist who emerged with no warming from the murk. Normal cyclists are bad enough but at least they have the option to put lights on their bikes. Unicycles don't have lights. Or (to be precise) the ones I run over don't.
As I drove I listened to the radio. There was consternation about the refugee camp in Sangatte; it was intimated that what was once an EU problem will soon be seen as a British problem and the thousands of refugees who are now in France may well soon be in Dover. Apparently the Home Secretary is off to France to discuss the matter. Personally I can't see there being much discussion on the matter. I am pretty sure that the refugee camp will close on the day after Brexit with all the inmates being directed right into the Channel Tunnel.
I must admit it boils my piss that so many people are surprised at this.
There was also an interview with a barrister who was concerned that the court case in the radio drama "The Archers" wasn't following proper legal procedure (as if anyone really cares), and the Russians have found some aliens.
I got to work, and just as I pulled up in the car park I realised I'd forgotten to go to Morrisons for apples. I didn't fancy fighting my way through the rush hour traffic to go get some so at tea break I went to the League of Friends shop to get an apple from them.
Their apples didn't look that good - I brought a raspberry flapjack instead.
I coughed rather a lot as I did my bit at work. I seem to have developed a cough. That's a nuisance. I was also very tired today. These nasal polyps need cutting out again so I can get some sleep. I phoned the G.P.; they said to phone back tomorrow.
Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round the park. As we walked he picked a fight with a cat and tried to hump a greyhound. He’s clearly on the mend.
And then being Tuesday the clans gathered at Somerset Road. Eventually Matt managed to persuade his high-tech gizmo to play some Star Trek. Streaming TV shows is all very well all the time that it works…
31 August 2016 (Wednesday) - Art Nouveau ?
I woke very breathless in the small hours. My CPAP machine was doing its best, but there is only so much it can do. Another nasal re-bore is looking to be required. Mind you I was pleased to find my little dog curled up at my feet. It is some weeks since he last spent the night on the bed; he must be on the mend.
Over brekkie I watched the episode of “Dad’s Army” which the SkyPlus box had kindly recorded for me. In today’s episode Captain Mainwairing and his troops were running around dressed as Nazi paratroopers in an episode which (whilst rather predictable) was rather entertaining.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were wittering on as they do. They are now of the opinion that the aliens that the Russians discovered yesterday aren't aliens at all. Various possibilities were mentioned for what the Russians might have actually discovered; the leading contender seems to be a dodgy microwave oven in their observatory's staff room. Whilst this may well be the case, it rarely turns out to be so on Star Trek. Could you imagine Captain Picard being told it *wasn't* the Romulans after all, but Worf's cheese toastie?
And our old friend Science has declared that dogs *do* understand what humans say to them. This is hardly news. Dogs are clever creatures. (Some cleverer than others). I am sure my little dog understands every word I say to him. He doesn't take much notice of what I say, but he understands it.
I remembered to stop off at Morrisons to get fruit, and then went on to the early shift. During a tea break I phoned my GP to see if they could refer me back to the ENT people for another nasal re-bore. They said they would so now I’m waiting on the specialists again. Having had a look-see on the Internet this might be a regular thing every couple of years from here on in for me.
I had a grim day at work, but my little dog seemed pleased to see me what I came home. We went round the park and for the first time in three weeks we walked our usual complete circuit of the park without him coming home in pain. Whilst we were out he tried to pork an Irish Setter, and tiddled up the art nouveau.
And I'll close today on a note of disappointment. Some time ago I (yes me!) had a plan that the astro club might build its own observatory. The idea was snapped up by the (at the time) committee and quickly taken off my hands. Today is exactly three years to the day since the astro club formally announced its plans to build that observatory.
Initially there was a lot of excitement and talk; no one was more keen about the idea than me. We had all sorts of suggestions for sites, offers of building materials, plans drawn up, and a special sub-committee full of enthusiastic people who were raring to go. But since the council hijacked the idea the project has stagnated and is now realistically dead in the water. I've heard nothing about the scheme for a year. Three years ago we could have done something great, but the enthusiasm and interest that was rampant (from so many quarters) then is non-existent now.
Such a shame... it could have been something wonderful.