1 August 2021 (Sunday) - Hollingbourne and Penenden Heath
I went to bed (slightly the worse for wear) at nine o’clock last night. “er indoors TM” came to bed a while later, and the thundering of the dogs woke me. I got up feeling like death warmed up and drank a pint of Coca-Cola in the hope that it might act as some sort of a restorative, then went back to bed where I spent the rest of the night plagued by nightmares of having been drafted back into the Scout Association.
There are some people who love being a Scout Leader. I was one for thirteen years. Looking back there were some highlights, but there’s no denying that for much of that time I did it out of a sense of being morally blackmailed; there were never enough leaders, and if I didn’t help out, who would? I suspect the 6th Ashford Scout Group is probably better off these days with leaders who want to be there rather than leaders who feel they have to be there.
I got up at eight o’clock still feeling grim. Far better than I had felt during the night, but grim nonetheless. I set the washing machine loose on some laundry then peered out of the window and sighed. Yesterday evening we’d abandoned chairs and tables in the garden when the rain hit. My plan had been to tidy up this morning, but the rain was still quite heavy as I scoffed toast.
After an hour’s geo-plotting the washing machine was done so I hung wet stuff round the house, woke “er indoors TM” and went to have a look in the garden seeing how the rain had stopped.
I got some tidying done, and then we set off on the day’s adventure. With our usual companions peeling beans (it’s a chutney thing) it was just us today. We went to Hollingbourne for a little stroll. A little while ago a geocaching adventure lab cache series had been set up there, and it was ideal for us for this morning. We wandered round the village looking for points of interest and answering easy questions when we found them. And having found five lab caches we had the co-ordinates for the location of a geo-puzzle. I won’t say where that final was, but I will say that sometimes ordnance survey maps don’t know the difference between roads and footpaths…
With the Hollingbourne adventure done we drove on to Penenden Heath. Back in the day there used to be monthly meet-ups of geocachers, but what with the pandemic they’ve all been on hold for a while. In fact the last meet-up was the one that I staged on 15 February 2020; a year and a half ago. Today saw the geo-meets starting up again. There were a *lot* of friends who were away and on holiday today, but there were quite a few friends along to the meet today. It was good to catch up with them, and to meet new friends too. It was such a shame that the event got cut short by the torrential rain, but (as always) I got a few photos of our walk and our meet.
We came home through the heaviest rain. The rain stopped half-way down the motorway, and we got home to find most of the stuff in the garden had dried out. We got it all away except one table and the event shelter itself which were both still damp. Just as we got the last bit away so the rain we thought we’d left behind caught up with us. In the time it took to run from the garden to the house we got soaked.
We both pootled on-line for a bit as the dogs snored. For all that they like their adventures, they do seem to sleep a lot. As they snored I wrote up a little CPD as the lightning flashed, then dozed in front of the telly as some incredibly dull drivel was broadcast on the Discovery channel. Supposedly talking about the formation of the solar system the programme took an hour to say what could have been said in two minutes.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more “House of Games” whilst the tumble drier dried my undercrackers. No matter how bad my life gets, it is never as bad as that of my tumble drier…
2 August 2021 (Monday) - A Birthday
I got up early this morning. Having “er indoors TM” working from home has a lot of advantages, but wrapping her birthday pressies is tricky when she’s never out of the way. I got them done as she snored at half past five this morning. As I wrapped I scoffed toast and watched the first episode of the second season of “Chewing Gum” (which was rather lame)
As I peered into Facebook this morning I was bombarded with begging messages. Christian Aid, Save The Children, UNICEF… all of them publishing photos of starving children. And less than a minute on Google shows how much the people working for these companies earn… far more than I do.
My antivirus then asked if I’d like to know what it had done over the last month. It claimed to have blocked two thousand three hundred risky connections and had protected thirty-two thousand files. Had it? I have no idea.
Taking care to let sleeping dogs lie (and sleeping birthday girls) I set off to work. Since I'd last driven up the motorway the (frankly stupid) "Operation Brock" barriers had been removed, which was a major result.
As I drove I listened to the radio as I do. And (quite honestly) they didn't say anything at all of note really. The Prime Minister's wife is pregnant. Bearing in mind he is that same age as I am, I wonder if he's thought this through. I certainly wouldn't be wanting another child at this point in my life - I would be hoping to retire just as the child would be getting expensive. But I suppose that for some, money really is no object.
There was also talk of a second Scottish independence referendum, even though the last one did seem to be rather decisive. I suppose that today's United Kingdom is in a very different position to the one that they voted to stay in.
As I drove up the motorway so one of those "Traffic Officer" cars shot past me, turned on its "Do Not Pass" light in the back window and all its flashing lights, and slowed to a crawl, eventually stopping all the motorway traffic. We all sat there stopped for less than a minute then the "Traffic Officer" turned all his lights off and drove off. As did everyone else.
I wonder what that was all about?
I got to work and did what I had to. There was a minor hiccup at tea break when I spotted a tear in my new trousers. The material was wearing through by the thigh pocket. I put these trousers on for the first time on 21 June. That’s six weeks of wear out of them. I would have been disappointed with six months. When I was a lad stuff made by the Lee Cooper corporation was worth having.
I’ve ordered another pair (from a different company) which should arrive later in the week.
With work worked I came home (singing along to the third Ivor Biggun album) and, once home, I ran the dogs round the co-op field. I took a couple of tennis balls. Pogo played “fetch” very nicely; Treacle carried a ball and would not let it go. As we came round the co-op field we saw OrangeHead in the distance with a whole new posse, and one of her old posse on his own making a point of ignoring them.
With the dogs fed and settled we drove round to the abode of the first fruit of my loin. Cheryl had made a rather good bit of birthday tea for “er indoors TM” and Lacey had made a very good birthday cake. I scoffed far too much…
3 August 2021 (Tuesday) - Still Here
I could have had a good night’s sleep had I got up and gone for a tiddle when I woke. Instead I lay in bed for a couple of hours trying to get back to sleep desperately trying to ignore the fact that I desperately needed a tiddle.
I eventually realised that I was going to do that tiddle, and “er indoors TM” would break my face if I didn’t do it in the general vicinity of a lavatory. So I got up, did that tiddle, made toast and sorted the undercrackers that the tumble drier had sorted on Sunday. As I scoffed toast and sorted socks I watched another episode of “Chewing Gum”. It’s not a bad show.
I then got the leads onto the dogs. We walked for seemingly miles to where I’d parked the car last night and drove down to Orlestone Woods. We got there despite the driving of a lorry of a local scaffolding company. When most people drive up to one of the roundabouts on the A2070 they slow down so as to be able to negotiate their vehicle around the traffic that they are about to meet on that roundabout. However when the driver of a certain scaffolding’ lorry approached the roundabout they actually sped up and expected all the other cars to swerve around them. They nearly run me and four other cars off the road at the roundabout by the outlet centre, and sent traffic in all directions as they flew round the roundabout of remembrance.
But (to be fair to them) I see this sort of driving more and more these days.
We got to Orlestone Woods and had a good walk around. We met a young lady with two lurchers, and Treacle cowered in terror We met the little old lady with the Jack Russel and the poodle, and Treacle again cowered in terror. However when the walk was over and we were doing “Boot Dogs” she tried to pick a fight with a couple of passing dogs. Was it because she thought they might get the treat that I give them at the end of a walk? She’s not a greedy dog normally.
Once home again the dogs had their brekkie whilst I made a start in the garden. Whilst the fish pond filter wasn’t leaking I thought it best to clean it out before it did. Having blocked the bath’s plughole a while ago I’ve since worked out a way of cleaning out the filter straight into the drain. Far cleaner. A lot less smelly and seems to be quicker too.
As I scrubbed Koi poo out of the substrate (as one does) Cheryl called in on a flying visit.
With fish poo safely down the drain (best place for it!) I took down the event shelter. There was a minor disaster in that the poles were all full of rain water. I’ve emptied them and stood them in the shed to dry out.
I ran round the garden harvesting dog dung, made a cuppa for us both (which we scoffed with bit of birthday cake) and then wondered what to do next. I’d planned out my morning with several chores to do before bedtime, and I’d got them all done about three hours earlier than I thought I might.
I sparked up the Internet to see if I’d missed much. There was a message on Facebook saying that Geocaching HQ have set up a new challenge. Each month there is a challenge based on a mountain, and there are two e-souvenirs available each month. At first sight this looks like a bit of fun, but (at the risk of appearing to be an old misery-guts), it’s actually rather crap. Finding one cache gets you the first souvenir, and the second only needs another fifteen. That’s just one dog walk. And you’ve got all month to do it. They could have made it more of a challenge, couldn’t they?
I do like geocaching, but it rather bothers me that Geo-HQ don’t put in the effort. They are utterly dependent on thousands of volunteers to keep their business going for them. There are countless geocaching apps available – theirs is far and away inferior to every other one. The messaging system on their website is hit-and-miss at best. Their way of loading geocaches from their website onto a GPS unit is nowhere near as good as that offered by another provider. And I’ve just paid £18 to Project GC so that I can do so much more with the hobby.
I was then fiddling about with the link on the right hand side of the blog’s page (from which you can see my geocaching statistics) when suddenly everything stopped working. I got a message saying that mankybadger.blogspot.com was unavailable, and I had an email. Blogger's spam-prevention robots had detected that my blog “has characteristics of a spam blog” and (apparently) violates their phishing policy.
I immediately appealed, and the three hours I thought I’d got from getting all my chores done early were then wasted in something of a panic looking at alternate ways of ranting at the world.
Eventually I took myself off to bed shortly after lunch time in a sulk and it was with something of a sense of relief that I woke (three hours later) to find I’d been re-instated. Fortunately for humanity (!) the blog is safely backed up, but my work-related blog isn’t. Bearing in mind I have a legal requirement to be able to show two years worth of ongoing learning I’d better do something about that. I *think* I’ve got tons of web space with my MicroSoft account. I shall look at creating a backup.
4 August 2021 (Wednesday) - After the Night Shift
The night shift went rather well really but it was still good to see the early shift arrive. As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the hijacking of Panama-flagged asphalt tanker Asphalt Princess. I’ve ranted before about hijacking of shipping. Have you ever seen any of these tankers up close? They are *huge* ships. Have you ever been on the bridge of one of these? They have radar which shows them all ships (big and small) for miles around, and the computerised system identifies them all. So they should see the hijackers coming from miles away. I really can’t understand why the captains of these tankers don’t phone up the local coastguards when they see something dodgy approaching
And given that the crew sat idly by and watched the hijackers sail up, the hijackers don’t just jump aboard. The tankers are *huge*; someone’s got to help them up the ladder… What am I missing here?
I turned off the news and sang along with “Ivor Biggun” CDs until I got home.
I went to bed and slept for three hours, finally waking in something of a panic. I’d had a nightmare in which I’d somehow been written into the book “Brideshead Revisited” and was having terrible troubles with the upper classes.
I made toast and had a little look on-line. My comments on one of the geocaching Facebook pages had upset one or two people. There seems to be an attitude in geocaching in that the hobby isn’t something that you actually *do* very often. Anyone new to the game and reading the Facebook groups would soon form the impression that you are supposed to just talk about geocaching, only rarely get your hands dirty, and you are seemingly supposed to actively look down on those who actually do the hobby..
I also had a begging message from Oxfam. Whilst I do feel for those who are intended to benefit from their work, thirty seconds on Google showed me their chief executive earns more than four times what I get. Their communications officers, managers and deputy managers all earn more than I do. I’m getting just a little bit tired at the emotional blackmail being piled on me from people who are better off than I am.
“er indoors TM” and I took the dogs round to the co-op field and back. Pogo kicked off at other dogs a few times. He shouldn’t do that, but some other dog owners don’t help. If someone is clearly making their dog sit whilst he snarls at your dog walking by, would you walk your dog up to say hello?
We came home where I then spent two hours ironing whilst watching five episodes of “Four In A Bed”. Four B&B owners were competing to see who was best, but as always they weren’t comparing like with like. There were only really two B&Bs in today’s contest; one in the deepest Devon countryside and one in Canterbury city centre. One of the other places was a restaurant on the Isle of Wight that offered three bedrooms, and the other was an outdoors activity centre seeming to specialise in corporate events. The place from Devon won it using what seems to be a winning formula on that show. You go first and bend over backwards to give everyone a good experience, so everyone rates you highly. You then mark everyone else down when you go to their B&B and magically you are the winner.
“er indoors TM” sorted dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Lego Masters Australia” which was rather impressive, but when you think that each model made probably contains tens of thousands of pounds worth of Lego, you have to wonder just how the contestants practice for the show.
And in closing here’s a question. Today the postman delivered two of the magazines to which I subscribe. Which would you read first?
5 August 2021 (Thursday) - Packing
I woke (and had a tiddle) at half past three and went back to bed. The plan was to wake after a couple of hours, hoof “er indoors TM” out of bed, and we would both take the dogs for a walk round the woods. I woke just before eight o’clock; far too late for “er indoors TM” to get a walk in before she had to start work.
I made toast and peered into the Internet. It was much the same as it ever is. There weren’t *that* many squabbles kicking off today, but there were quite a few “what do you think will happen” posts on the “Upstairs Downstairs” Facebook page. It would seem that the show is undergoing something of a resurgence and a lot of its new fans don’t seem to realise the programme is getting on for fifty years old.
There were some rather amazing posts on the Facebook “Tomorrow People” page that I follow. “Amazing” in that the chap who run the page is constantly complaining. Every day he posts up albums of hundreds of photos of entire episodes of the show, and all sorts of homo-erotic photos of the stars of the show. And every so often Facebook restrict his account because he’s not supposed to do that. So he has a little whinge, and then (once the restriction is removed) he carries on anyway.
And my piss boiled when I checked the weather forecast. The weather forecast for today (from the BBC) was for light rain. However that’s for all of today. When you went into the hour-by-hour breakdown, there was less than a ten per cent chance of rain right up until late afternoon, and no rain on the forecast until six o’clock this evening.
It must be wonderful being a weather forecaster – you just spout any old bollox and the cash keeps on rolling in because everyone knows you can’t do it anyway.
I got the leads on to the dogs and took them on a little walk. We went up to the corner shop to post a parcel for “er indoors TM” (they send parcels on from there). As I did the parcel thing so the dogs sat and waited outside. There was a minor episode when the woman and small child who had been in front of me in the queue went to leave the shop. The child went from quiet and mild disinterest to full-on hysteria (in the blink of an eye) because he was terrified of dogs. I (perhaps just a tad sarcastically) asked if it was those two dogs of mine sitting quietly tied to a fence several yards away that were bothering him. In the subsequent commotion the mother managed to slam her child’s head in the shop door. Meanwhile the dogs sat as good as gold and didn’t bother anyone. Or (to be honest) didn’t bother anyone until I came out and untied them from the fence when they tried to pick a fight with a passing bus.
We walked up to the park and came home through the co-op field. As we walked we met other dogs. We ignored some; when we growled at others I did the whistle training thing to get my two to come to me and sit. The idea was that I would have my dogs’ attention as I brandished treats, and the other dogs would walk on by. A good plan in theory; in practice it never works. The other dog owners always bring their dogs up for a treat too and it all kicks off.
We came home, and I popped round to Godinton. As we’d walked earlier I’d been scanning Munzees and was very nearly at a Munzee milestone. I only needed a few more scans to open two qrates, and ten minutes spent scanning bar codes stuck to lamp posts did the trick. Rewarded with two Qubimals and two more golden qrates (bad spelling is a feature of Munzee) I went on to Matalan for one or two odds and ends for next week before coming home to mow the lawn.
“er indoors TM” made lunch, and asked if I’d like some cole slaw. It was left over from last weekend and apparently “tasted fizzy”. I declined her kind offer of instant dire rear. Instead I packed my suitcase. As I packed I found six pairs of brand-new trousers in the cupboard. That’s “brand-new-still-got-the-labels-on” brand-new trousers. I really must stop buying more trousers until I’ve worn my way through these ones. And with suitcase packed I fell asleep on the sofa for an hour or so as the washing machine washed dog blankets. Dog blankets are very smelly things (as are dogs)
We had a spot of dinner, and just as “er indoors TM” started her packing I had a sudden panic. Having packed *all* my undercrackers for our holiday tomorrow (I take no chances!), I realised that I’d got none in the drawer to wear in the morning. As I type this the washing machine is frantically trying to rehabilitate the set I had on today.
Let’s wish it well.
And as “My Boy TM” takes command of the house I’ll just say that I intend to broadcast from Lincolnshire during the next week but I don’t know if the internet stretches quite that far. If it does, I will see you all tomorrow… if it doesn’t I’ll be back in a week or so.
6 August 2021 (Friday) - Off on Holiday
I didn’t really sleep very well what with the excitement of it all, and was up at five o’clock packing the last few odds and ends.
“er indoors TM” was soon up as well, and the sleepy dogs stared at us in frank amazement wondering what was going on so early in the morning. It didn’t take long to load the car, and we set off only a few minutes later than planned. As we drove I had considered Munzing up the motorway, but apart from a blast at Lakeside I abstained.
We were soon at a rather damp McDonalds somewhere in the vicinity of Duxford where Karl had got us all McBrekkie. The dogs perked up at company, and perked up even more at a sausage and egg McMuffin. As did I.
From McBrekkie we took a short (thirty-something miles) drive to Stilton (where they used to sell the cheese - *not* where they made it!) and we took the dogs (and ourselves) on a little walk round the area. We had a good little walk to break up the journey. As always the walk was set out for us by a series of geocaches, and I did chuckle when I read that the chap who had hidden them had written that he was quite happy for people to replace missing ones. Our local geo-fed doesn’t allow that in geocache descriptions in Kent, but the chap who’d openly invited help was the geo-fed for East Anglia. Oh well, as I’ve said before, geocaching is nothing if not inconsistent.
Just as we were coming to the end of our walk so the heavens opened, and the day went from blue skies to torrential rain… and back again five minutes later. This was something of a theme today.
With walk walked we then drove on. Taking care not to drive straight into the side of a lorry (like some idiot woman did just in front of us – seemingly having deliberately rammed a lorry) we went up to Heckington and the 8 sail brewery, The plan had been to get sme supplies then move on, but they had a rather good ale selection and seeing they did food as well. Cheese ploughman’s is always good.
Suitably replete we made our way to Silk Willoughby and Grange Farm. The correct Grange Farm – there are at least three in the area. Unloading and getting organised took a while, and as we unloaded and organised to the rain outside came and went. Several times.
Eventually the rain stopped enough to go for a little stroll before it got dark. A shirt stroll just up the lane and back… it was a shame the dogs got so filthy. But they don’t mind shower, which was for the best as they got one.
After a little supper of port and cheese I found myself falling asleep, and so I took myself off to bed at quarter past eleven. Today was a long day… you can see the photos by clicking here.
7 August 2021 (Saturday) - The Lincolnshire Mega
I didn’t sleep at all well. “er indoors TM” and the hounds had captured most of the available bedspace, and I found myself hanging off of the edge of the bed for much of the night. I gave up trying to sleep at half past four, and spent an hour or so on-line before getting an hour’s sleep.
Eventually I got up, and played a game of “fetch” with the dogs in which Pogo tried to fetch windfall plums whilst Treacle tried to stop him. It kept us all occupied.
We had brekkie, then set off to the Lincolnshire showground for the annual UK Geocaching Mega; a meet-up of all the nation’s hunters of Tupperware. As we drove I Munzee-ed like a thing possessed. Munzee-ers had taken the opportunity to get busy too.
We got to the showground and looked for the sign-in point. Having been told (in no uncertain terms) that we had to pre-book (at a cost), we found that attendance wrist-bands were being given out to anyone who asked for them. And suitably wrist-banded we had a little look-see at what was going on.
We spent much of the morning playing the Adventure lab games; a fun outdoor activity. It was a shame that the things were rather fragile though. Two of them were broken by eleven o’clock.
As we adventure-lab-ed I did chuckle at one old bat. Rudely insisting that everyone kept a distance of at least two metres from her, she had no qualms about walking up to other people. Social distancing only works one way in her world.
We joined the queue at the burger van, and it wasn’t long before we were scoffing dinner whilst watching the medieval re-enactment brigade. I couldn’t work out how medieval types could do a GPS-based hobby but I suppose they managed somehow.
We adventure-lab-ed for a bit in the afternoon whilst having a little look round the stalls, then having bought the obligatory supporters pack (that no one ever really wants) we went to find the bar. Having been told about how good the bar was we discovered it probably had been good a few days ago, but was past its best by the time we got there. It was a shame that the organisers were staging a “Meet the Reviewers” event in the bar just as we were about to have a second pint. It could have been interesting *if* we’d been able to hear what was being said. We slipped off quietly.
We stopped off on the way home to walk the dogs. The weather forecast had been against us, but we didn’t get *that* wet really. Mind you we’d been lucky – five miles down the road we saw it had rained torrentially as we tried to find a co-op. have you ever tried to find a co-op? They take some finding.
We made our way back to base. Karl and Tracey made dinner whilst Charlotte ran the dogs ragged. I sat and drank beer and offered sage advice (as I do).
Dinner was particularly good, but by the time we got it all scoffed and had loaded the dishwasher it was too late to go for an evening stroll. Instead we sat and I dozed off. I woke to find everyone else had gone to bed, and then spent half an hour being unable to upload any photos from today.
8 August 2021 (Sunday) - It Rained
I didn’t get to bed until after midnight last night having failed (three times) to upload yesterday’s photos. I gave up and went to bed, and on finding myself wide awake at five o’clock I tried again to no avail. I left them uploading, went back to bed and came back an hour later to absolute failure. I tried three different browsers and both the holiday cottage wi-fi and my own mobile data. After a couple of hours I got the photos up by posting them up one at a time. A couple of days ago I did wonder on here as to what the internet connection would be like.
As I posted the last few photos so Karl made me a cuppa, and I then helped him cook a full English brekkie. I say “helped”; “sat and watched him do all the work” would have been a more accurate description. But it was a very good brekkie.
And with brekkie scoffed we had a decision to make. Were we going to go for a walk? The weather forecast was against us, but the weather forecast was bad yesterday and we didn’t get that wet at all. So we set off. We’d found a geocache series which was only a short walk from our cottage. A mile or so there, two miles round the series of geocaches and a mile or so back.
What could possibly go wrong?
Things went amiss fairly soon. The mile and a half to the first geocache was a mile and a half as the crow flies. The crow doesn’t fly along two point six miles of footpath. “A mile and a half my arse” to quote Jess. And as we walked so the rain got heavier and heavier. We sheltered under a tree when we were just over a mile into our walk and pondered. Should we continue or should we give up? The consensus was that we were already wet; how much wetter could we get?
In retrospect that’s not a question that I would ask again for fear of finding out. But despite being wet through we had a good walk. We saw a red kite flying past, the dogs got to chase rabbits and squirrels, there weren’t too many hills.
Geocache-wise it was not a bad walk. To be honest we would have enjoyed it better had the weather not been against up, but we made the most of it. Most of the caches were there (we couldn’t find one of them), and with good co-ordinates. There were some rather clever hides . My only criticism is that there were fourteen caches where I would have put (at least) twenty-five. But the series was ten years old, and that’s how they did things back in the day.
It started to dry out as we started the mile and a half (my arse!) walk back to the cottage, but it started raining again just as we got within sight of base.
Once home Charlotte helped me and “er indoors TM” wash the much off of the dogs. First of all with the garden hose to wash off the worst of the mud, dirt and grit, and then in the shower to warm up. And then we got ourselves sorted. I myself skipped the garden hose bit and just went straight to the shower.
Doing a reprise of my sterling efforts of the morning I sat and watched others make a very good bit of dinner which we all enjoyed; we deserved it after the walk.
We then got out the Blokus and the profiteroles, and then spent half an hour gazing at the beautiful clear sky and/or barking at the owls according to your personal preference.
More port, more cheese… and to bed at half past midnight. For all that we’d got wet earlier, today was a good day. You can see photos of it here.
9 August 2021 (Monday) - Heckington
After a late night I slept like a log, finally waking just after six o’clock. I tried to get back to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. I got up and fought with the cottage’s wi-fi again. I managed to post up yesterday’s photos, but again I had to do it one at a time, which was rather painful.
Eventually I had the photos uploaded, I sent out some birthday wishes, and we scoffed a leisurely brekkie before Karl and Tracey drove Victoria and Jessica to the train station. They were only staying for the weekend and had other things to do this week. It was a shame they couldn’t have stayed. Whilst we waited for them to return we had a rather quiet few minutes. Charlotte and “er indoors TM” had a look at the Internet, me and the dogs had a little sleep.
With the girls safely on the train back to civilisation we set off on a little adventure. With our boots all still wringing wet we left them drying and drove up to Heckington and the eight-sail brewery for a spot of lunch. Paninis and ale. As we arrived so the heaven opened and perhaps the heaviest shower of the holiday (so far) hit. But like all of these showers (and we’ve seen a few!) it went just as quickly as it came on, and we had a good lunch. It was a shame that the dogs had to kick off quite so vigorously at a passing Saint Bernard… But to be fair to the dogs, the Saint Bernard was *huge* and he wasn’t really *passing*. So often these enormous other dogs are with people who march them up close enough to cause upset and then stand there grinning, completely oblivious that the fuss my dogs are making is the fuss they have caused.
With dinner scoffed we had a little wander round Heckington; the wander being led by the local geocaches. There weren’t many. We found all that there were in the town, but some of them were rather difficult hides. I can understand why geocaching isn’t taking off in Heckington; people are giving the hobby a go and finding it too much like hard work.
After an hour or so we were back where we started… at a brewery. So we had another pint then took a leisurely drive back to base past a couple of churches for geo-purposes. At one of them we had a rather tricky field puzzle to solve, but with puzzle solved we drove three hundred yards down the road to find a miniature model church bolted to a tree. Rather impressive.
We came home to find our boots every bit as wet as we’d left them, which was something of a pain in the glass (to coin a phrase) so we hung them out to dry, and sat outside having a pint, a bag of smoky bacon crisps, and some plum loaf. The plum loaf was rather good.
Pausing only briefly to explore the cottage’s outhouses we had a very good dinner. You can’t beat a bit of scampi, followed by strudel with cream and ice cream.
There had been talk of an evening of games, but I had fallen asleep once between scampi and strudel, so an early night was a good move (for me at least).
I took a few photos of the day – and they posted up with no problems (which made a change)
10 August 2021 (Tuesday) - It Stopped Raining
I had an early night, but was wide awake after four hours sleep. So rather than laying wide awake I got up and spent an hour sorting yesterday’s photos (which sorted very quickly compared to earlier this week). With photos sorted I prepared “Hannah” for today’s excursion, and after an hour I was feeling tired again and so went back to bed where I didn’t sleep well. There was a very loud repetitive sound which sounded for all the world like the ticking of a clock. After laying awake listening to it for well over an hour I realised that it was the sound of Treacle sucking the blanket.
I got up, made a cuppa, and took it and my boots outside where I gave them a good polish. They soon looked as good as new; you’d never think they had been soaked right through a day or so ago.
Pausing only briefly to retrieve my sock from Treacle we had brekkie,
We then drove off to… I’m a bit vague as to where it was, Having pulled up on a grass verge there was a minor hiccup as one of our number took a tumble into a ditch. But soon we were on our way. Two days ago we’d got soaked in the rain; it was a glorious day today. We walked down a beautiful canal, and (as only a dog can) Treacle and Pogo found the only stagnant bit and both dunked themselves in the mire.
As we walked down the canal, people coming back the other way warned us about nesting swans. Whilst everyone else diverted along behind the hedgerow I carried on alone so as to get the nearby geocache without disturbing the swans with the dogs. Most of them were on the water, but one was on the nest. It didn’t attack me, but it made it clear that I should shove off. Seeing how the swans had built their nest practically on top of the geocache I was after, I abandoned the search for that one.
We continued our walk down the canal, then across a field where we picked up an old train line and followed that in a circular loop through some pretty countryside. It was only a shame that the bottles of beer we’d taken were all bottle conditioned and so were full of yeast, but we didn’t burp *that* much.
Geocache-wise it was a fair walk. We found all of the caches we searched for except the one by the swans. All had good co-ordinates given. Several had no hints provided which was a shame on a series with so many caches; we didn’t really have time to mess about like that. One or two didn’t match the description given as over the years they had been swapped and replaced.
We’d gone knowing of issues having contacted one of the cache owners and having arranged to replace a missing cache. We replaced a few wet (soaked) log sheets, but the series of geocaches is eight years old. It needs a serious maintenance run with all the caches being cleaned out, logs replaced, and descriptions amended to reflect what the things are like now as opposed to what they used to be. Had this series been in Kent it would have been archived and replaced, but they don’t seem to do that up here in Lincolnshire.
After seven and a half miles we realised we’d parked not too far from a pub. We had a crafty pint, and stayed for dinner. Salmon teriyaki was very nice, as was two more pints. I slept most of the way home.
Once home the dogs got scrubbed. They weren’t dirty; just smelly. And then we sat outside as the sun set. The dogs barked incessantly at the sounds of whatever it is that lives in the tree over the road. We have a theory that it is an owl. There is certainly something that scares small birds living nearby. We’ve not seen a single sparrow all week, and the seeds (from the bread) that we put out this morning had remained untouched all day.
As always I took a photo or two. After the second glass of port I found myself falling asleep… we’d had a busy day today…
11 August 2021 (Wednesday) - Folkingham
Having got to bed relatively early last night it was rather annoying to be wide awake at quarter past two. But I used the time constructively writing yesterday’s diary and posting nearly seventy photos (one at a time) to Facebook.
After a couple of hours I felt tired and went back to bed only to be woken by “er indoors TM”’s alarm. I decided against flushing it down the loo and went back to sleep again.
As everyone else did their morning ablutions I sat outside and had a cuppa and was rather pleased to see the bin men deliver a new bin. Not that we needed one, but it gave the dogs something to bark at. And as the bin lorry drove off into the distance I saw a hawk circling overhead. I think it was a red kite (but I could be wrong). It flew really low and slowly, and once I’d got my phone out to take a photo so it shot off upwards where it soared and hovered for fifteen minutes. It only went when I fetched everyone else to look at it.
Everyone else then made brekkie whilst I programmed “Hannah” for today. And having programmed “Hannah” for today, I then did it again (wrongly as it happened) having mistakenly programmed “Hannah” for yesterday.
Tracey set some laundry going in the washing machine. We were intrigued to see how it came out – the washing machine has a sign saying that it had been tested with water, but there was no mention of it having been tested with laundry.
We scoffed a very good full English brekkie, then got ourselves ready and set off to Folkingham.
We arrived, and with cars parked we set off on our walk. It didn’t take long to realise that I’d not quite got “Hannah” set right but we muddled through; despite nearly failing at the first hurdle. After less than a couple of hundred yards we found the footpath was impassable.
We managed to find a way round, and a bakingly hot day soon cooled and we had a good walk. As we wandered across fields and along lanes we watched the red kites soaring in the skies, and saw a deer in a copse.
Geocache-wise this wasn’t the best walk we’ve ever done. Fortunately the previous people to have walked the route had done a lot of geo-maintenance, but even so, a lot of the caches on this route had already been archived.
After seven miles we found ourselves back where we started and we did a little geo-field-puzzle round the village. Having been set some years ago, the clues we were searching for were missing. We gave up and retired to the village shop where we consoled ourselves with a bit of ice cream, and then went on to the local pub for a couple of pints.
Taking a minor detour to the co-op (for more port) we were soon home. There was a minor disagreement about the kitchen hierarchy. Who was head chef? Who was sous-chef? I was quite content to be potwash.
Karl cooked up some rather good burgers, and with them scoffed we sat in the garden and watched fighter planes from the local RAF station flying about; both actually in the sky overhead and virtually on “er indoors TM”’s phone’s radar app.
We then came inside for profiteroles and viennetta and more port… and I woke up at one o’clock to find everyone else had gone to bed.
I spent half an hour trying to show the world the photos I’d taken today. They simply refused to post to the Internet though… I got them up three days later…
12 August 2021 (Thursday) - Kelby
Despite being incredibly late to bed, the dogs were even later. I think they must have been on Charlotte’s bed as our rather spacious bed became incredibly congested at four o’clock.
We had something of a late start today; once armed with a negative COVID test (I do them every four days!) I again tried and failed to post up yesterday’s photos, so contented myself with sending out a few birthday wishes before we all settled down to brekkie.
Having started the day late, we were rather late getting going, but we only had a short walk planned for today. Initially I thought that was probably for the best as it did look to be rather hot for the dogs but, like yesterday, it cooled down. Pausing only briefly to hunt for a geocache in a derelict chicken coop (geocaching takes us to the most amazing places!) we soon parked up just outside the little village of Kelby from where we had a rather good little walk. We started off by quarrelling with some other dogs; well… Treacle quarrelled; Pogo and the other two dogs were all friendly enough, and so was the nice man with them. He got chatting at us, and within minutes we were embroiled in a surreal conversation about the various acronyms formed from his car’s registration number. Even when on holiday two hundred miles from home my idiot magnet never fails.
We had a very good picnic lunch (as we usually do). I could have spent all day sitting in the countryside staring at a view which went on for miles (we estimated about twenty) whilst drinking very good beer from the local brewery.
As we walked we say so many birds of prey. Again I thought they were red kites, but my four years in Red Lake Primary School’s bird club are nearly half a century ago, and I can’t remember very much of what Mrs Wright taught us. We also saw two hares. Hares look a bit like rabbits, but they are bigger and taller and nowhere near as podgy. If you could imagine a stretched-out rabbit… that’s a hare. We also saw a giraffe. Not a real one, but an ornamental one in someone’s garden. Interestingly my brother’s neighbour had a model of the Eifel Tower in his front garden but the council told him it was too tall and had to come down.
This model giraffe was taller…
After four miles we were back at the cars. It was only a few minutes more before we were back at base and we spent a rather good afternoon finishing off the second twenty-litre job lot of beer, eating crisps, and throwing windfall apples for Pogo to fetch and Treacle to guard. As we sat in the glorious sunshine we were periodically covered in the dust being kicked up by the combine harvesters operating in the field next to the cottage.
Eventually we came inside; some of us had dinner to cook whilst others had moral support to offer. As I watched dinner being cooked Charlotte brought the dogs to stare through the window at us. They seemed to like that.
Suddenly the sky became very grey. Despite the BBC’s weather app insisting there was only a three per cent chance of rain, a torrential downpour hit. The little area where we had sat outside was quickly flooded, and that rain must have upset the farmers no end.
We had a very good bit of dinner, far too much pudding, far far too much port, and we played a couple of rounds of Blokus. I lost one, and (jointly) won one (despite nearly dozing off a few times).
And amazingly the heavy rain of only three hours previously had given way to a perfectly clear sky so we star-gazed a little; seeing quite a few of the Perseid meteors.
I took quite a few photos today too. But I waited until coming home before posting them. The internet is iffy in Lincolnshire.
13 August 2021 (Friday) - Home Again
I’d set my alarm for seven o’clock this morning. Having had several late starts this week I thought it best to take no chances. Usually I don’t sleep when I have an alarm set, but today I was woken by the sound of my alarm saying “get your arse out of its pit – it’s seven o’clock”. (It actually does say that !)
We had a rather frantic couple of hours. Packing, loading the cars, constantly clearing dog dung (both were pooping like things possessed) and finding all the windfall apples Pogo had hidden round the house all took time. We finally drove off just as the cleaner arrived to tidy up after us. Though (to be honest) I don’t think she had much to tidy.
Pausing only briefly to get petrol we were soon heading south on the two-hundred miles journey home. As we drove we all struggled to stay awake. “er indoors TM” said she was fine (I hope she was – she was driving!) but me and the dogs could hardly keep our eyes open, and Charlotte was particularly quiet.
Faced with a long journey home we’d looked at the geo-map and planned a short walk about half-way home, and at about mid-day we parked up at a church near Sheering in North Essex from where we had a short (two and a half miles) walk. Our route had been laid out for us by a series of geocaches, and despite crossing the M11 motorway twice it was a rather good walk. No stiles to clamber over, only two horses on the way (and they were friendly). There was an overgrown footpath on the way, but you can’t have everything (!) If I could find a similar short route I’d put out a series of geocaches like that.
Geocache-wise it was a good route. Relatively large boxes to find, all in good order, and with a simple puzzle to solve for the final cache of the route. I’d recommend anyone new to the hobby to try this one… if it wasn’t a hundred miles away.
I took a few photos of our walk, and once back at the cars we said our goodbyes. With the last walk done the holiday was officially over. Despite concerns about holiday traffic we made good time home; I Munzee-ed like a thing possessed as we went. Once home It didn’t take long to unload the car. Unpacking properly will take some time though.
I got twenty assorted T-shirts washing whilst I uploaded the last two day’s photos and blog entries. A week ago I wrote “I intend to broadcast from Lincolnshire during the next week but I don’t know if the internet stretches quite that far”. The internet reaches into Lincolnshire easily enough, but reaching out had been problematical. And with two days worth of diary and photos posted on-line I hung out the T-shirts to dry and herded my socks and undercrackers into the washing machine.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Lego Masters: Australia” in which the contestants made some wonderful space-related Lego models only to see which one could be destroyed the most spectacularly. It has given me some ideas…
The dogs have been asleep since the moment they came home – I think I shall have an early night too…
14 August 2021 (Saturday) - Gardening, Ironing
I went to bed just after ten o’clock yesterday evening. I woke at half past nine this morning. The week away had certainly taken its toll. I put another load of washing in to the washing machine to scrub and had a shave. Much as I loved being away for holiday, I’d certainly missed having a shaving mirror which was in the general vicinity of the sink in which I was shaving.
Just as I was making toast the dogs went frantic. Cheryl had arrived with something to put in the freezer. I have no idea what it was; I didn’t dare ask. I get told that something is being put in the freezer and I say “Yes Ma’am”.
I had peanut butter and marmalade on toast (what do you mean – yuk! Try it!) and had a little look at the Internet to see what I’d missed over the last week. I hadn’t missed much as it happened. So I pondered the geo-map planning some new walks, and re-thinking some plans, and pondering what I had in mind for the Adventure Lab caches I’ve been given by Geo-HQ. And all of the plans look to be thwarted by old existing geocaches which have been laying there unfound and rotting for years. Whilst there is a case for keeping some of the older ones, do we really need quite so many kicking about? Slowly but surely they are strangling the hobby.
I went out into the garden, hung out washed trousers and mowed the lawn. In the ten days since I’d last mowed it, it had got rather long. And with edges strimmed and lawn mowed I hung out more washing and then attacked the stepping stones that go up the centre of the lawn. When I set them in place (about fifteen years ago) I just laid them and thought they would sink into place. They have done just that, and having sunk a fraction of an inch below ground level, the grass and soil is actually encroaching over them. So I lifted each in turn, using garden scissors trimmed the grass and soil round the edge of the hole, and re-laid the stone. Simple enough to type, but by the time I’d dealt with the five ant nests I found whilst doing it (I wondered where all the ants were coming from) two hours had passed and I had developed and burst a rather impressive blister on my thumb.
Having got up rather late, by the time we’d realised we were rather peckish it was nearly two o’clock. “er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of lunch then went shopping. I tided up the garden carnage and again confirmed what I have been ranting for years. Gardening is such a futile exercise. Having spent the best part of three hours in the garden it looks just the same as when I’d started. Admittedly the lawn and paving slabs do look tidier, but you’d need to have that pointed out to realise.
“er indoors TM” went shopping; I got the ironing board out. I don’t know just how much laundry “er indoors TM” generated for me last week on holiday (I don’t count her stuff – I just wash and iron it) but I had washed seventeen t-shirts and six pairs of trousers of my own. Between us I’d got enough ironing to keep me occupied whilst I watched a DVD. “Scum” is an old favourite film of mine. I have seen it dozens of times. How has it taken me so long to realised that one of the senior prison wardens was played by the actor who was Mr Samgrass in Brideshead Revisited?
With “Scum” and ironing finished I then watched David Attenborough on the “Eden” channel. I didn’t realise that the largest egg in the world was something that was given to him (in fragments) over fifty years ago.
A rather good dinner, two episodes of “House of Games” and now “Madagascar” is on the telly. I shall do a little more geo-planning and then have another early night…
15 August 2021 (Sunday) - A Knuckle Sandwich
Once the dogs finally settled last night, new-next-door’s son came home drunk. He’s probably a pleasant enough lad; he just doesn’t have a volume control at the best of times. Oh well… all the time he’s making noise at five o’clock he can’t complain about the dogs.
I had a look at my emails. One of the geocaches I’d hidden in Kings Wood had been reported as missing. And then I looked closer. The report was dated a week *before* I actually went out and replaced it last month. It had taken someone several weeks to get round to saying there had been an issue. I wish people would get on with the admin of hunting Tupperware a lot more promptly than they do.
I sent out birthday wishes on Facebook, geo-plotted a tad more, then took the dogs out for a little walk before it got too hot. I won’t say where we walked – there are those who in the past have stalked my movements in the desperate hope of getting to be first to find on a geocache hide, and I was geo-plotting this morning.
Once I’d geo-plotted I took the dogs on for a little walk, and they were as good as gold (for once). As we walked we met quite a few other dogs and we didn’t have a single “episode”; even if they did pull like trains.
We came home to find the house smelled wonderful; “er indoors TM” had been baking. Her first attempt at a pineapple upside-down cake was rather good. With any luck she’ll make more.
I quickly popped over the corner shop for cream to pour over it, then started on the hours of geo-admin which will be required for what I’d done earlier this morning. It is hardly surprising that Munzee is taking off in leaps and bounds whilst geocaching is slowly dying on its arse. In Munzee you just stick a bar code onto a lamp post and off you go. In geocaching you put in hours of effort just to be told “Quack Quack Oops” by the geo-feds.
With “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” off to the gym (!), we settled the dogs and went round to the abode of the first fruit of my loin. Today was Cheryl’s birthday and a little gathering of her immediate family was taking place. Still having something of a re-hab after last week’s excesses I drove and “er indoors TM” had a pint or two. I contented myself guzzling several litres of Doctor Pepper and eating far too much; though I turned down the offer of a knuckle sandwich. Two-year-old Eddie was offering knuckle sandwiches to anyone who wanted one. He didn’t get many takers, but I was giggling about the thought of a knuckle sandwich all afternoon.
It was rather good to sit in the sunshine with family – I only dozed off twice. But there’s no denying that I spent much of the time fretting about the dogs. I *really* don’t like leaving them. We left them about two hours longer that I had planned.
And that’s it. The holiday is over. Having had ten days that all felt like a Sunday, today really was one, and tomorrow is Monday. But I’m not fretting about going back to work. Having spent years (decades) dreading going back to work after time off, in a strange way I’m actually looking forward to it.
16 August 2021 (Monday) - Back to Work
I didn't have a good night; I spent most of
the night in a sweat (too much to eat at yesterday's barby,
perhaps?), and when I wasn't sweating I was
clouting either “er indoors TM” or whichever of the dogs
was snoring the loudest.
I spent an age trying to find what I'd done with my sandwich box; finally finding it where I'd left it over a week ago. I made toast and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of the second season of "Chewing Gum". Whilst it was entertaining enough I can see why a third season never got made.
I recorded another negative COVID test then set off to work. As I walked to my car I made a point of pretending not to see not-so-nice-next-door who was shoving something quite huge into the public dustbin outside the hairdressers (at half past six in the morning). I considered fishing it out to see just what she couldn’t put in her own rubbish but thought better of it. Instead I set off work-wards.
As I drove the only thing I could hear on the radio was talk of the evacuation of Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of the western troops the Taliban have re-taken the country and the place looks set to descend back into the dark ages. (I could be wrong, but I doubt it). When I was a lad the future looked so bright. Now we face environmental collapse, crackpot religions, and being unable to say a word in protest for fear of offending those who make a profession out of being offended.
There was other stuff on the radio, but I couldn't hear a word of it. Today the pundits on the radio seemed to be specialising in interviewing people who mumbled or shouted or stood too far from the microphone in a deliberate attempt not to be heard. Some mornings the radio is thought-provoking and inspiring. The only thoughts provoked this morning were "WTF are they talking about?"
I got to work for the early shift. After an hour or so in one part of the lab I was seconded to another. There are those who don't like being moved about during the day; I'm only too happy to be wanted. But an early start made for an early finish and I took a little (quite substantial) detour to test out my latest geo-project. I got to the back of beyond, sparked up this geo-project and found that what I had on my phone was the Mk1 version that I’d made yesterday morning. I’d never actually put the Mk100 version (that I actually wanted to test) onto my phone. Woops.
I came home, made geo-project Mk101 and made sure that was on my phone. I shall test that tomorrow.
Some of the family were going to the cinema this evening; “er indoors TM” went with them. I didn’t. I took the dogs to the co-op field for a walk, and with walk walked they had their dinner and I had mine. Pizza covered in grated stilton – that should be good for a stomach-ache.
As I scoffed it I watched “Sandkings”; the first episode of the re-imagined “The Outer Limits” series (which is now twenty-six years old). I didn’t realise that the original story on which it was based was written by the same chap who wrote “Game of Thrones”. It was every bit as good as I remember it; I wonder if all of “The Outer Limits” shows are available on Netflix or Amazon Prime?
17 August 2021 (Tuesday) - Late Shift
Another restless night: I’m wondering if maybe a new mattress might be in order. We got our current one on Saturday 30 August 2014 when a suspicious-looking chap sidled up to me in a charity shop and said “Psst – wanna buy a mattress?” and we got a decent mattress out of the back of a lorry for a tenth of the going rate. But seven years of supporting my carcass have probably done for it. If any of my loyal readers know where I can get another hooky mattress, I’m all ears.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. I had a message from China. A little while ago I bought a rather sexy shirt from Amazon from a seller in China. Labelled “XXL”, this thing would have been tight on one of my dogs. After a few messages to and fro it would seem that people in China are nowhere near my size, and “XXL” over there is “incredibly thin” over here. I’ve been offered a refund; it’s just a shame it has taken so long to sort this out.
There was an interesting row kicking off on Facebook; a friend was having great fun at the expense of an ex-colleague of his. Like so many Brits, this friend of his had planned to retire to Spain. However having loudly campaigned in favour of Brexit, this chap has found that now that the UK is not a member of the EU his plans are thwarted and he may possibly even have to sell his villa in Spain (at considerable financial loss) as emigrating isn’t the foregone conclusion it once was. A turkey who voted for Christmas? Not my circus, not my monkeys.
I popped the leads onto the dogs and we drove down to Orlestone Woods where we had a little walk. As we went round we met a new dog walker; a rather posh woman with a Labrador. Treacle hid behind me, obviously frightened of the Labrador. The posh woman sneered at her; calling her a coward and loudly explaining how her dog wouldn’t hurt a fly. The silly woman stomped past us in a most arrogant way, then stopped dead when she saw Pogo following ten yards behind us. “Oh my!” she exclaimed, then cowered in terror behind her dog as Pogo sauntered past.
I didn’t point at her and laugh… I didn’t need to.
We came home where I popped to the corner shop for a sandwich for later and a Danish pastry for coffee time. As the dogs slept “er indoors TM” and I had coffee time. I wrote up a little CPD, then left home a little earlier than I might have done so as to test out my latest geo-project. It didn't take *that* long to take the circuitous route out to the back of beyond, and testing went far better than it did yesterday. Having the right version of the geo-project to test made a world of difference.
I then carried on to work where I had a good late shift... I was going to say as good a shift as anyone can have on the late shift, but I had a far better late shift today than some I used to have in "a previous life" (shall we say). It makes a world of difference knowing that the boss isn't going to spend time in the morning going over every single thing I did the night before actively looking for the most trivial of mistakes to blow out of all proportion.
However it was rather depressing when the night shift arrived. The longest day was two months ago; it is now dark when the late shift finishes. With some utter tripe about the Victoria and Albert museum on the radio I drove home singing along to one of my "Ivor Biggun" CDs.
Mind you it was something of a pain driving past the front door and then spending fifteen minutes driving round the local area desperately looking for somewhere to park the car.
18 August 2021 (Wednesday) - Before the Night Shift
I got up this morning, made toast, and sat and watched my lap-top for ten minutes. Pressing buttons achieved nothing and it was whirring like a thing possessed. Eventually it announced that it had updated something which was (and is) utterly meaningless to me. I wish it wouldn’t keep doing that. If it wants to ponce about it can do it when I’m doing something else; not at the very moment when I want to use the thing.
When I eventually got into the Internet I saw that the latest scammer to try to befriend
me was still active. I had a friend request on Facebook late last night. He (apparently)
has created a secret Whatsapp group,
but needs many hot women for his (!) group. If any of my loyal
readers knows of a hot woman who is at a bit of a loose end, why not have
them drop him a line and get them to sign up before his (?) group is
full. I’m not entirely sure if by “hot women” he wanted foxy ones or
I took the dogs for a walk. We had an “episode” before we even got to the car. As we walked up the road so some woman coming down the pavement waited until we were passing her, at which point she leapt (gazelle-like) into the adjacent garden where she started screaming and waving her arms like a thing possessed. That set the dogs off barking.
We then had a “near-miss” in the woods. Seeing a chap walking toward us with his dogs on their leads I put my dogs onto their leads. He seemed offended that I’d put my two on leads; I explained that Pogo often doesn’t like seeing other dogs on leads. This seemed to be something of revelation to the chap who then said that he has so many episodes with other dogs, and wondered if things might be better if his dogs were off of the lead. I made the observation that pretty much every dog I’ve ever met in the woods (but his) were running free. The chap considered it, but he said that if his dogs were off of the leads then he couldn’t tell them off if they barked (!?)
Why do I attract these loonies?
We came home and had a cuppa. The milk was on the turn, but such is life. It wasn’t that bad to warrant going to the shop for more milk. I sat down and spent an hour or so getting my CPD up to date, then there was a minor commotion as the postman called. Once I’d settled the dogs I had a look to see what had arrived.
We had the annual confirmation of who lives in the house for the electoral register, and the TV licence too. I do think that nearly a hundred and sixty quid a year for the BBC is a bit much, but I don’t get any say in the matter….
I then geo-puzzled a little, and (with quite a lot of help from “er indoors TM”) solved a nearby puzzle which has had me stumped for some time.
The plan was to spend the afternoon asleep. I went to bed and the dogs came with me. They slept very well; I dozed as bast as I could on the scrap of bed they left for me. I arranged them several times so that we could all have some space, and every time they arranged themselves back as they were. Afternoon sleeps before the night shift are odd. If the dogs come up to bed with me I can’t get comfortable. If they don’t then I’m lonely.
After three hours I got up to find “er indoors TM” had got some fresh milk so I made another cuppa, and saw I had a message from the Facebook Feds. They’d reviewed the filth that my prospective friend was peddling and had decreed that it doesn’t go against their community standards. I suspect that in a few months they will say that my pointing this out (!) contravenes their standards…
Hopefully “er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner in a bit, then I shall be off to the night shift.
19 August 2021 (Thursday) - Bit Tired
Last night’s night shift was one of the better ones, but I was still glad to see the relief arrive. As I drove home I was glad that I could, and thought I’d probably done the right thing getting petrol last night before work rather than this morning. I’d arrived at the petrol station at Sainsbury’s last night to find eight of the twelve pumps out of action. The chap behind the till told me they weren’t getting enough deliveries to maintain their usual service. Laughingly I asked if this was another benefit of Brexit; with a straight face he told me that he had been told he wasn’t to comment.
As I drove the radio delivered its usual blend of drivel. The pundits on that radio were interviewing the Defence Secretary about the collapse of the Afghan government and the take-over by the Taliban after the withdrawal of all western forces from Afghanistan. The Defence Secretary seemed to feel that having the Taliban in control wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; if they did anything that the western governments didn’t like then they would be sent a stern letter(!)
There was an attempt to make a scandal out of the fact that the Foreign Secretary had been on holiday last week, but those being interviewed on the matter were adamant the chap had spent most of his holiday in his hotel room on the phone to all sorts of people. I can’t help but wonder what that was all about. If he is going to carry on doing work-related stuff, why go on holiday? I can’t say I’m a fan of him, but demonstrably he’s the best option for the job that we have at the moment (come on Sir Kier – sort it out!). And like anyone in any job he is entitled to a holiday. Doesn’t he have deputies to step up whilst he’s away? There will always be some crisis or other going on – are we saying that senior ministers can’t ever have a day off?
I came home to find the front door locked and everyone asleep. The noise of my unlocking the front door woke the dogs. Apparently it was my fault that “er indoors TM” hadn’t set her alarm. I didn’t quibble; I just took the blame. Life is easier that way.
I went to bed; after three hours asleep (despite the best efforts of Pogo and Treacle) I woke, and we all walked up to the park and home through the co-op field. We had a good walk, we played “ball” in the co-op field, and despite seeing several other dogs we didn’t have a single “episode” at all.
With walk walked I had a late brekkie and peered at the Internet as I scoffed toast. The porn-monger who had been peddling filth (with Facebook’s blessing) yesterday was no longer doing so. Perhaps the Facebook Feds had taken a moral stance after all? Mind you Facebook were running adverts for rather saucy bras today, so whatever moral stance they might have taken didn’t last very long at all.
I spent a little while doing the ironing whilst watching several episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which utterly unlike Bed & Breakfast establishments went up against each other. As is often the case, the winners were those who offered pretty much the same services as everyone else, but at half the price. The take-home message of this show is that if you are planning a few days away in a B&B, it pays to shop around.
After this finished I dozed in front of the telly cuddling dogs until “er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good curry which we washed down with an overpriced bottle of French wine. And with curry scoffed I finished the plonk with some cheese. The dogs had cheese biscuits and seemed happy. Back in the day I would have shared the cheese with the dogs, but I can’t help but wonder if too much cheese contributed to poor Fudge’s illness.
As we scoffed we watched another episode of “Lego Masters: Australia”. Have you ever seen any of the “Lego Masters” programmes? They are rather impressive…
I’m really tired…
20 August 2021 (Friday) - Smart Meter, Church Micro
As I scoffed toast I peered into the Internet. It was much the same as it ever was, but I did chuckle at something I read that a friend had posted on Facebook. It advocated that we should never apologize for anything, and had immediately had an “I never do” comment from someone whose nastiness is only exceeded by his arrogance. I considered commenting that it is better to apologize for your own failings yourself than to have others do it for you, but decided against it.
Glossing over all the twee memes about dead dogs crossing the rainbow bridge which fill my Facebook feed these days (which I find particularly upsetting) I had a look at my emails. I had a flurry of “Found It” logs on some of the geocaches I’d hidden. There was mention about these having being found on the way home from the recent geo-Mega-meet. These reports were from someone of whom I’d not previously heard but had found over seventeen thousand geocaches. “Travelling home” in Kent from someone of whom I’d never heard with that many finds had me intrigued. It didn’t take long to find that these people lived in Manchester… So they were travelling home from Lincoln to Manchester via Kent? It also didn’t take me long to find that despite having found over seventeen thousand geocaches, they’d only ever hidden one. One !
I also had an email from the power company to say that our energy bill was ready to view. Despite our having underpaid by fifty quid in the last quarter (and that included a fifty quid bung from the power company because the ombudsman said they had to pay us!) our monthly payments are to remain unchanged. And the smart meter which was installed on 12 July has announced that in the last twelve months we used the most power in January 1970. I can’t say I’m impressed.
Having been successfully wound up I took the dogs to the woods for a walk. We walked our usual route round Orlestone Woods and didn’t see anyone. Mind you we didn’t have a quiet walk. I’ve never heard quite so many buzzing insects, and the squirrels were shaking the tree-tops about as they were scrambling all over. There were also some very noisy things crashing about in the undergrowth. Deer? Boar?
To make up for not seeing anyone as we walked, we met an idiot as we parked when we came home. As I got out of the car so this chap started apologising because he hadn’t seen me. I have no idea why he was so upset by not seeing me, but he wouldn’t shut up about how sorry he was; he certainly seemed distraught about it.
I popped to the corner shop for a sandwich for later and a bun for coffee time, and came home and made that coffee. I registered another negative COVID test, and suddenly the morning had gone, and it was time to set off to work.
As I drove the drivel on the radio was mind-numbing in the extreme, so I sang along to the (so I'm told) odd choice of music I have on my memory stick. I drove straight to work and sat in the car park and enjoyed the peace and quiet as I scoffed the sandwich I had bought earlier.
The excitement of a late shift in the blood bank was something of a contrast to the peace and quiet of lunch time.
At twenty-five past four I took a couple of minutes out, and activated one half of my latest geo-project. And as I did my bit so the geo-feds did theirs in activating the other half. After a few days' work, Church Micro 665 - Lenham was up and running. A five-part little walk along the public footpath going through the churchyard in Lenham answering questions as you go; each correct answer rewarding you with one fifth of the co-ordinates of a nearby geocache. In the past few weeks I mentioned that I'd been awarded another set of Adventure Labs by geo-HQ; let's hope the punters like what I've done with them. I'm told that I'm not the first person to set an Adventure Lab as a Church Micro, but no one can seem to find any other examples of this.
(In my world setting an Adventure Lab as a Church Micro is a big deal; in reality it is probably rather trivial. But reality is a dull place, isn't it? Who wants to live there?)
I then got on with my work; periodically looking at my phone in the hope that someone would go and do the Adventure Labs (and associated cache), and after a little while I had a message to say that someone had got First to Find, and that all was well with what I had set up. I was glad about that; no matter how much you plan and test, there is usually some problem which is overlooked.
I had intended to put the finishing touches to my next geo-project over the next few days with a series of six Wherigo geocaches going live next weekend, but that plan has hit a snag. The location I had in mind was on SSSI land, and despite having got all the requisite permissions from the land manager it turns out I also need to get them from the land owner too. Having filled in no end of silly forms for the Forestry Commission I've now got to fill in exactly the same forms for Natural England... Well... I haven't *got to* at all. Quite frankly I can't be arsed. I shall just find somewhere else. Doing so will be a lot less trouble...
I just need to find somewhere else.
Or let someone else put caches out instead.
21 August 2021 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift
I slept through till nine o’clock this morning; the aftermath of a night shift perhaps? Leaving “er indoors TM” and the dogs snoring (they have no trouble sleeping!) I made toast and peered into the Internet. Some friends were having birthdays. I sent out birthday wishes, and looked at the Facebook page of one of those friends. Had he changed his job? It didn’t take long (on Google) to find out that his Facebook page was a tad misleading. He wasn’t (and isn’t) the managing director of one of the leading Swiss banks. He is actually only the head honcho of their IT department. I say “only” – another few minutes on Google came up with an estimate of his salary… About ten times what I get. Forty years ago he was my best friend. To think we walked to school together for years. We were both in the Boys Brigade. We did so much together. I’ve seen him three times since 1984… I think he’s deliberately distanced himself from the old days (or just from me!). I mention this bloke from time to time. I’m not jealous… much.
I rolled my eyes when I read something on one of the work-related Facebook groups. In a discussion about something or other some woman had posted “With the turnover and incompetence we have in our admissions department, I do not trust them to admit the patient to the right medical record number”.
What a thing to say… let alone put in
writing. It didn’t take me thirty seconds to see she was posting from… well,
I won’t say where. But there’s not many hospitals in the area that she could
be saying that about. A year or so ago someone posted something equally
disparaging about their place of work on one of the other Facebook
blood-testing groups and found herself out of a job by the end of the week.
Someone she thought was a friend reported her to hospital management.
I had an email from Credit Karma; my credit score has gone down by eleven points. I wonder why?
I set off to work. I didn't bother switching on the radio - I just howled along to my strange choice of music as I drove toward Lenham. Today is International Geocaching Day and there is an e-souvenir if you found a film pot lurking under a rock today. According to the geo-map there were a few caches I might hunt for near Lenham Heath so I thought I might chance my arm there (as it was on the way to work). Just as I was on the trail of a likely target my phone beeped. A new geocache had gone live just on the other side of Lenham. The chance of being first to find... bearing in mind how few new caches appear these days that isn't something to be sniffed at. After a short drive I parked the car at what seemed to be a sensible place to park, only to find the car was at forty-five degrees to reality. Pausing only briefly to reverse off of the verge it wasn't long before I had the new geocache in my hand - and I'd got there before anyone else. First to Find. Result!!
Finding a cache on the way to (or from) work on International Geocaching Day would seem to be "a thing" in my world. In the nine years I've been doing this lark I've worked on eight of the International Geocaching Days.
I got to work and popped to the works canteen for a spot of lunch. Pastie and chips went down rather well before the late shift.
The late shift was rather hard work…
22 August 2021 (Sunday) - It Didn't Rain
I was woken by the rattling of the torrential rain against the bedroom window at five o’clock this morning. Was this in for the day? Had we been right to cancel plans for a walk in the countryside today? After half an hour or so the rain subsided and I dozed off, waking again at half past nine.
I made toast and peered into the Internet. There wasn’t much going on really, which was probably for the best. There was a minor squabble on one of the Facebook groups that I follow in which someone claiming to be called “Chosen Betty” was trying to pick a fight with the Archbishop of York (somehow seeing him as personally responsible for some disaster or other) but seeing how the Archbishop wasn’t a member of that Facebook group, “Chosen Betty” was having something of a one-sided argument.
I had an email from the Credit Karma people. Apparently my credit rating has gone down because I’m not using my credit card enough. They told me that the outstanding balance on my credit card is forty-nine pounds and I should use the card more. Forty-nine pounds? I spent more than that using my card the last time I got petrol. They’ve clearly got something wrong – I wonder how this is affecting people who rely on this sort of thing?
As the weather outside went from black skies to glorious sunshine and back again (seemingly on a continuous loop) “er indoors TM” dished up coffee and Belgian buns and I struggled with a geo-puzzle. You can see it by clicking here. (Please do click there!) There are seven odd pictures which I thought were outlines of seas. Once you’ve identified which sea they were (*if* they were actually seas) you then had to do something mysterious (several ideas sprang to mind) to convert each to a number. And what you did with each number was then anyone’s guess.
Having identified (I thought) over half the seas I co-opted “the brains of the outfit” to see if she could identify the rest – after all she is a dab hand at geography. Not only did she identify them all, but she also got her mum to work out how you turned them into numbers.
After a little co-operative effort we had the final location of where the cache was. I’d been trying to solve this one for a while. It looked as though I could stop off to walk out to this one to break up the journey to go visit my Dad when we would next be visiting. And with no rain forecast for two hours we thought that next visit might be right then.
“er indoors TM” and I walked the dogs to my car, and we drove down to Rye. The plan was a little walk out to find this cache; a little walk back, and on to visit parents…
It was a good plan.
We parked up and walked out to where this puzzle geocache was. It was a surprisingly long way from where we’d parked the car, but a good walk for everyone is always a good thing. Eventually we found this cache; it took some finding. I then looked at the map and realised that rather than walking straight back the way we came, if we continued we could take a loop back finding a few more geocaches as we went.
That too was a good plan. Or it would have been if not for the swamp. Admittedly we found those extra geocaches, but Treacle found a swamp, and Pogo joined her in it for a bit of a wallow.
Realising that visiting parents with dogs in that state was a no-no we hurriedly changed our plans. Rather than driving on to Hastings we walked into Rye and did the two series of Adventure Lab caches that are there. One set took us round the town from the Landgate (almost) to where we’d parked and then up to the church, and the other took us on a little adventure round the church. As we walked round the church we met another couple of people also playing the Adventure Lab game. We “talked Tupperware” for a while (as you do) before going on to do the Church Micro. Ave you ever “done” a church micro? You should!
As we walked back to the car we commented on how good the dogs had been. We’d met no end of other dogs today, and our two had ignored all of the other dogs. No “episodes” at all. That was to be encouraged.
As we drove home so the rain started… and then stopped again.
Flushed with success at solving that puzzle this morning (and one or two in the week) I tried and failed to solve a couple more fiendishly difficult ones.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a particularly good bit of dinner which we washed down with a half-way decent bottle of plonk whilst watching “The Cockfields” on catch-up TV.
We had a rather good day today; making the most of it in spite of the forecast rain which never came.
23 August 2021 (Monday) - Making Plans
I was out like a light when “er indoors TM” and Pogo had a fight at twenty past four this morning and didn’t really get back to sleep after that. After an hour I gave up trying to sleep, got up and had toast as I watched another episode of “Chewing Gum”. As that finished and as I was about to turn off the Sky-Q box I caught the end of some utter drivel on the Sky History channel in which some scary-looking chap was expounding the theory that because he personally couldn’t have built the Great Pyramid of Giza on his own, it must have been built by aliens. And because the Great Pyramid of Giza had been built by aliens, then so must pretty much every other structure in history that was built before last Tuesday. Apparently (so he claimed) the Great Pyramid of Giza wasn’t a tomb at all; apparently it was a power plant, though what power it generated and how it generated it was never explained.
I must admit I would have found the chap expounding this theory a tad more plausible had he ever been given a haircut, and had he not looked like a looney.
I tuned in to Facebook and sent out a couple of birthday wishes; there were a few photos of a wedding on Facebook this morning. An ex-cub scout of mine (and life-long friend of “My Boy TM”) had got married at the weekend. Many of the generation of the fruits of my loin are getting married right now... a few years after they all had their children. More and more I hear from the younger generation that having children is no big deal, but getting married is. Are they right? When you consider the cost of a wedding (and divorce rates) I suppose they have a point. Mind you according to Facebook he did get seven toasters as wedding pressies... what is the trade-in value of a second-hand toaster?
I checked my emails (dull), activated the dishwasher and set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the evacuation of allied forces from Afghanistan. Bearing in mind that there doesn't look to be enough time to get everyone out before the last Americans have gone, Boris Johnson is (supposedly) going to beg President Biden to delay the American withdrawal.
The sensible money seems to think that President Biden won't be interested, and there are grave concerns in government circles that the so-called "special relationship" between the UK and the US will be exposed as little more than wishful thinking on the part of a nostalgic UK which is (quite frankly) living in cloud-cuckoo land.
Other than wild speculation about COVID-19 there wasn't much else on the news this morning. It never fails to amaze me how the morning news show can make so much out of so little.
I got to work, the night shift went home and I leapt into action. I say "leapt"... "lurked about doing that which I couldn't really avoid" would be a more accurate description.
I considered taking the dogs to the woods this evening, but as I came home after the early shift the roads were rather busy, and having negotiated my way through the traffic once, I didn’t fancy doing it again. So we went up to the co-op field again where we played “ball”. Playing “ball” involves Pogo playing “fetch” nicely with one ball whilst Treacle jealously guards the other.
We came home, and “er indoors TM” took the dogs out again. I stayed home and watched the video of a friend’s funeral. It was rather good and it made me think. It’s no good being squeamish; I’ve lost four very dear people so far this year. Plans don’t make themselves, you know.
Whilst I’m not going to write the speeches for my own funeral (though I could leave a message!), I’m making a shortlist of what music I want played. Everyone will walk out at the end (sobbing pathetically) to the version of “Mr Blue Sky” which was my fiftieth birthday pressie. But I’m still undecided as to what else to put on. I’ve got some ideas, but what to start with? Will we have a musical interlude half-way through?
I’d really better start making some firm ideas or I’ll just have it decided for me…
For what it’s worth I’ve already written my last ever blog entry which will be published after I croak…
24 August 2021 (Tuesday) - Stuff
After a very good night asleep I was woken by the dulcet tones of my phone's alarm saying "get your arse out of its pit". It really does say that; I thought it was rather funny at the time when I set it up.
I got up and make brekkie. There was a minor catastrophe as we'd run out of marmalade. We have loads of jam and peanut butter - but no marmalade. Some people would see this as a minor inconvenience; it was apocalyptic to me. I sulked as I watched the last episode of "Chewing Gum", then had a quick look at the Internet.
There were two separate arguments brewing on one of the Sparks-related Facebook pages I follow. Some chap had found a website selling Sparks-related merchandise at a fraction of the price of that charged by the official website, and the cheaper stuff came complete with spelling mistakes and was of far poorer quality. Did we all agree that this was actually officially licenced stuff? The poor chap posting seemed to think that the dodgy stuff must be legal because it is illegal to sell rip-off poor quality unlicensed merchandise. Some people were rather nasty in telling him how thick he was.
And there was a lot of unpleasantness about a particular arty film for which Sparks recently made the soundtrack. I've not seen it, and don't really intend going out of my way to see it. Apparently it is a terrible film, but if you are a Sparks fan you are supposed to pretend to like it because that's what fans do. There was quite the row kicking off about that too.
I got dressed and walked out of the house in the desperate hope of getting a GPS signal for my Munzee app. It is hard to play a GPS-based game when your phone's GPS has gone doolally and seems to think you are somewhere off the coast of Nigeria (as my phone did this morning).
I took a little longer than usual driving away from the house as I'd found my car was parked in place with only six inches between it and the cars in front and behind. It didn't take *that* long to winkle my car out; if only people could spare a thought when they are parking you can easily get seven cars in the bay outside our house. But people rarely give any thought.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about the new rules coming into effect soon in which care home workers must be vaccinated against COVID, and it was claimed that sixty per cent of UK care homes will have to sack workers refusing to take the vaccination.
There was talk about civil unrest over this, and that forcing people to have vaccinations contravenes their human rights and civil liberties. Presumably this is their human right to be a twit? Take anti-vaccination as an example of some people's stupidity. Ever since Edward Jenner gave the first jab over two hundred years ago, it has been a resounding success. Nevertheless the anti-vax movement goes from strength to strength?... is it because some people are scared of needles and make the most of how everyone has rights and no one has responsibilities?
I blame the schools. If over the last few decades teachers hadn't pussyfooted around so much and forced the kids to learn their lessons we wouldn't have such a load of uneducated people who feel that their misinformed and factually incorrect opinions are of equal worth as proven facts established by experts over many years. It bothers me that in today's society the considered opinion of an educated person is of no more worth than the whim of a half-wit.
There was also consternation being expressed that McDonalds has run out of milkshakes. McShakes are the latest thing to run out as the nation's few remaining lorry drivers struggle to deliver essential supplies. Nandos ran out of chicken last week, and there's been shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables in local supermarkets for weeks. Oh well... there's still water in the tap (for now).
Work was work (as it usually is), but starting early meant that I finished early. On the way home I popped to Aldi to get marmalade. I got some biccies as well. Like most supermarkets right now their fresh fruit and veg section was rather sparse, but amazingly the “centre aisles of tat” were full of the usual sort of tat that Aldi is famous for. With a nationwide shortage of lorry drivers and all sorts of foods in short supply, there is still an abundance of cheap rubbish. I bought a couple of tennis balls and a ball-thrower for he dogs. And I got a Euro-Millions ticket too. Thirty million Euros would suit me very nicely.
When I got to Ashford I had a stroke of genius. Rather than getting tangled in the traffic lights along Brookfield Road (where the road is up for a month) I decided to go through the town and home past the Outlet Centre… where one of the many lunatics who drives up there far too fast had driven straight into another car and had blocked the road. By the time I’d got round the wreckage and the police and the ambulances the entire town was gridlocked. Our road was bunged solid with cars trying to use it as a cut-through only to find police guarding the bollards which are supposedly to allow emergency vehicles through but have been stuck in the “open” position for years.
It speaks volumes about the mentality of the local traffic officers in that on the one day that people should be using that area to avoid the jams the authorities decided to enforce the fact that it should be closed.
I eventually got home to be snarled at by “er indoors TM”. I think she’s still got the arse that her handbag is awash with hand gel from where Pogo sat on it. I’m not sure why I’m in trouble about it, but I find it best to just go with the flow.
She took the dogs out and I mowed the lawn. It took some mowing. And with lawn mowed I sat down and looked at the household accounts. Every month I sit quietly and account for every penny that I’ve squandered over the last month. A bit petty of me? Perhaps. As always I’m not too badly off. I’d like more money, but I might well be a whole lot worse off. I wonder if I might squander a little on eBay… I shall type “1970s Lego” into the search bar and see what happens.
25 August 2021 (Wednesday) - What If...
Finding myself wide awake half an hour before the alarm was due to go off I got up. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “The Chair”. Wanting something to watch, Netflix recommended it. Though bearing in mind they made it, they would, wouldn’t they? It was billed as a “comedy-drama”… it wasn’t very dramatic and it was more “funny-WTF” rather than “funny ha-ha” but it might improve as the series goes on.
When that finished and as I was about to turn the telly off my eye was caught by some utter drivel on the Sky History channel. Some rather odd-looking people were rattling on about Puma Punku. I’d never heard of Puma Punku before – it is (apparently) the Bolivian equivalent of Stonehenge. And (again) because the rather odd-looking people didn’t know how it was made, aliens must have made it. After five minutes I turned the program off thinking that their crackpot theories might well gain a little plausibility had those expounding them had a wash and a haircut before appearing on the telly. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have trouble lending credence to someone with the appearance of a deranged tramp.
With a few minutes to spare I had a look at the Internet. There wasn’t a lot kicking off this morning so I got myself ready for another early shift.
As I got to my car so not-so-nice-next-door came down the road. She goes out very early most mornings for some rather odd fast-walking, not-quite-jogging strange sort of exercise. (The sort of trot you employ when you need to get to the toilet immediately but don’t dare run as that will just end in catastrophe).
Having made several efforts to be civil to her this year and having had every single overture rudely rebuffed I pretended I hadn't seen her and fiddled about in my car's passenger footwell until she'd gone past. That woman is a worry; I’ve offered to repair and replace her knacked fence (on a few occasions); she just hysterically ranted that she can't afford to do it. I've offered to repair her knacked shed; she just gibbers incoherently and then tells me I don't understand English. I've tried to offer an olive branch many times... and have reluctantly decided it best to go back to the ways of the last fifteen years in which we simply completely ignore each other.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about how in China there are quite a few conspiracy theories circulating claiming that the global COVID-19 pandemic started in the USA, and not in Wuhan (as all the evidence would seem to suggest). Even Chinese diplomats are spouting this nonsense.
There was then loads of talk about how President Biden is refusing to delay the USA withdrawal from Afghanistan.
I wonder if President Biden is getting a tad fed up with the international perception that the USA is supposed to be the policeman of the world?
I rather lost interest in the rest of the news as my mind turned to that Euro Millions ticket in my pocket. There was a jackpot of thirty-three million euros in last night's draw. As I drove I planned how I would spend it. I would buy a house (cottage/bungalow) in the countryside vaguely equidistant from Hastings, Maidstone and Ashford and it would have to be near woodlands and footpaths. I would get the place decorated and have electric ports for electric cars installed before we moved in. I would have a loft conversion done to give me an extensive Lego room. I would have to get the huge garden dog-proofed and would landscape the garden and have a rather impressive ornamental lake dug. I then started thinking about how I would share my winnings. Who would I share it with? How much would I give out, and how much would I keep for myself?
I got to work and checked on-line. I actually did have a winning Euro Millions ticket... but with only two numbers and one bonus I've won four pounds and twenty pence. I've adjusted my plans somewhat, and am keeping the lot for myself. Selfish? Perhaps.
At tea break I had a little rummage in my locker. Last year (on November 12th) I broke a tooth. I had the remains of it pulled out the next day, but that night I was on a night shift. Thinking my gob might not be up to anything too arduous to scoff that night I got a few pot noodles and stuck them in my locker. I re-discovered them today, and seeing they were now two months past their expiry date I thought I'd better start getting them scoffed. I had one at morning tea break and it gave me a guts ache that lasted all day.
But another early shift meant that I got out early, and I used the opportunity to take the dogs round the co-op field and to use the ball-thrower that I got yesterday from Aldi. In a novel break with tradition Treacle played “fetch” nicely. She seems to have realised that Pogo has far more fun chasing after the ball than she does jealously carrying one round. With a ball each, both played “fetch” successfully.
With walk walked I then rigged up a fishing net and got most of the plums out of the tree overhanging the bottom of our garden. They have been falling and splatting on the shingle. The chap who lives in the house at the end of the garden doesn’t seem overly fussed about the falling ones so presumably he is equally disinterested about the ones that were still up the tree. In any case it is a rather grey area as to whose tree it is as the deeds of our houses disagree as to who owns that bit of land.
If the bloke in the house at the end of the garden kicks off, he can have the plums. We’ve got a plan to make plum jam, but I’d rather just not have them splatted into the shingle. I doubt he will ever know though… unless not-so-nice-next-door squeals me up. I wouldn’t put it past her…
26 August 2021 (Thursday) - More Stuff
After a good night’s sleep I turned on the telly and made some toast. If I turn the telly on before making toast then all is well with the world. If I make the toast first then sit down and turn the telly on then the Sky-Q box wants to do software updates and is utterly useless until my toast and coffee are both cold.
The thing knows.
As I scoffed warm toast and drank warm coffee I watched the second episode of “The Chair” which was entertaining enough, but for all that it is supposed to be a comedy-drama I’ve not seen a single funny bit yet.
With five minutes before the end of “The Chair” I sparked up my lap-top. If I turn it on and give it time to boot up (whilst I’m doing something else) then it is ready in seconds. If I turn it on wanting to use it then it takes about quarter of an hour to get going.
Facebook was a bit dull this morning. There were a couple of squabbles kicking off as there so often are. The Radio Four Facebook page was a classic example. No one was discussing the issues of the day; they were just making personal attacks on each other for want of anything better to do. But I did laugh when my cousin described her being woken at four o’clock by her neighbour having a physical fist-fight with his car.
I had a look at my emails. LinkedIn suggested that I become friends with Shadie McDuse. I had no idea who Shadie McDuse was (is); it would seem she is a lab assistant somewhere in London and we have one LinkedIn friend in common. The LinkedIn friend in common works for a recruitment agency specialising in filling vacancies in veterinary surgeries. I’ve mentioned before that LinkedIn leaves a lot to be desired.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about the shortage of blood sample bottles. If we run out, I'm out of a job, so this is a subject rather close to me. (We get through about two to three thousand of the things every day at work) There was talk about how there are issues getting the bottles moved about because of the shortage of lorry drivers and issues at ports, but there has been talk of blood sample bottle shortages on one or two of the international blood-testing groups I follow on-line so this *isn't* due to Brexit (much as some would like it to be). Possibly pandemic-related, but there are rumours flying around that it is all because of a shortage of plastic due to the Chinese not supplying the stuff. China does make a third of the world's plastic.
Are the Chinese playing silly beggars? Who knows?
There was also concern about how light pollution may be contributing to declines in insect populations. Artificial street lights have been found to disrupt the behaviour of nocturnal moths, reducing caterpillars numbers by half. Amazingly the modern LED streetlights appeared to have the biggest impact on insect numbers. These modern LED street lights wind me up. Back in the day when I was on the committee of the astro club we were in consultation with the local council about the introduction of these lights. Billed as the best thing since sliced bread, what was promised bears no relation whatsoever to what was delivered. Back in the day we had street lights that lit up the street. Now we have intense pools of light (which attract the insects to their doom) interspersed by humungous areas of darkness where you really can't see the black dog on the end of the lead you are holding. (don't believe me? - I've got a black dog or two you can borrow).
I've said before (many times) that the LED street light is an experiment that has been tried and has failed.
I went to the petrol station before work and got a car-full. As I went to pay I was glad to see that I got called to a different till to the one I paid at last week. Last week my credit card had got declined even though it works fine everywhere else. My card worked fine today. I remarked about it to the chap behind the till who laughed. Apparently the card reader at the other till only reads about one card in ten. They know the thing has issues, but their management refuses to do anything about it...
And then I popped into Aldi to cash in my winning Euro Millions ticket. The girl on the till called over her manager and after ten minutes the two of them figured out how to give me my four pounds and twenty pence. From the way they spoke I got the distinct impression that most people don't bother collecting such minor winnings. Does that make me a cheapskate? Possibly, but that four pounds and twenty pence has paid for three quarters of the first round of drinks for our next weekend walk. If any of my loyal readers have an unclaimed Euro Millions ticket for a trivially insignificant amount of money, don't throw it away. I'll have it and drink it for you (!)
After that, the rest of the day was rather dull…
27 August 2021 (Friday) - Rostered Day Off
I rolled my eyes when I peered into Facebook this morning. One of the work-related Facebook pages now has a “mission statement”. Some people really do lap up this meaningless management-talk claptrap. But whoever came up with this utterly trivially pathetic little gem had fallen at the first hurdle. Their mission statement hadn’t included their target audience and as those who love this sort of drivel will know, stating your target audience is the first part of any mission statement (apparently).
Mind you they could probably benefit from deciding who their target audience is. The group started off with a load of people who work in hospital laboratories sharing experiences but nowadays seems to be filled with either anti-vax conspiracy theories or students wanting someone to do their science homework for them.
I then spent a little while staring at the geo-map. I’ve got plans for another series of Wherigo caches… if only I could find a decent location for them.
I went down the road; I had appointments at the dentist’s. I arrived to see so many signs exhorting the public to wear face coverings and found three receptionists all wearing face masks as neck warmers. I signed in and was soon called in by the dental hygienist. There seems to be a rapid turn-over of dental hygienists as I never see the same one twice. The last one was rather rude and offhand and patronising and left me tasting blood all day. This one was polite and friendly and seemed to be rather impressed with the state of my gob. She did her bit and I went back to the waiting room to wait to see the dentist. Whilst I’d been in with the hygienist the waiting room had been annexed by a group that I can only describe as “The Family From Hell”. Mother was shrieking swear words into her phone whilst the brats swarmed. Periodically Mother would stop swearing into her phone and would swear at the brats. I was glad when the dentist called me in. I was in with him for less than a minute before he sent me on my way with instructions to come back next February.
I came home to collect the dogs, and leaving “er indoors TM” working I took the dogs out. As we drove we found ourselves behind a bus. There was a filler cap sticking out of the bus labelled “coolant” from which fluid was gushing and steam was pouring. I was rather glad when the bus turned off; I didn’t want to be stuck behind it when the imminent breakdown happened.
We drove up to Challock; I’d had reports that there were issues with the series of Wherigo geocaches I’d hidden up there a while ago. We walked the entire series – it was only two miles and made for a good dog walk. There were a couple of caches missing; I replaced both.
As we came to a road I put the dogs back on to their leads, but mistakenly attached Pogo’s lead to his ID tag rather than his collar, and when he pulled the thing broke and was lost in the undergrowth (as it so often does). As I searched for it, one of the locals came busying up and asked what I was doing. She seemed rather taken aback that I had a genuine reason to be walking up and down along the footpath outside her house, and we got talking. I was rather surprised when she asked if I was a breeder. Was she trying it on? Did she “want a portion”? My immediate thought was “not since the late 1980s” but then I realised she was talking about the dogs.
Toward the end of our walk we came past a little farm shop. The place had signs up about an off licence and selling local produce. Securing the dogs outside (where I could see them) I went in and had a look. I had high hopes of getting a couple of bottles of beer from a local brewery. They did have beer from a local brewery… Faversham is local, but you can get bottles of Shepherd Neame beer in the local supermarkets for half their price.
I bought a cake to bring home, and we all came home.
Leaving the dogs with “er indoors TM” I popped round to the pet shop where I got a new tag for Pogo’s collar. I had hoped to get a nice blue one but I had to have what they had. The chap on the till apologised for the poor selection; yet another casualty of the shortage of drivers.
Aldi’s beer selection wasn’t what it might have been either.
I spent a little while updating the Wherigo cartridge after this morning’s walk, solved a geo-puzzle, then cracked on with the ironing whilst watching more episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which the losers obviously gave away the contest. The idea of the program is that owners of Bed and Breakfast establishments visit each other’s places and pay what they think the place is worth. Bearing in mind that everyone is looking to find fault, overpaying the opposition is just doing yourself down.
He’s having a fair stab at it…
For a day off I’ve been rather busy…
28 August 2021 (Saturday) - A Stag Do
I was out like a light when my phone beeped with a reminder to do another COVID test. I’ve asked them not to send those reminders at quite such an ungodly hour. Do I really have to block their number?
Finding myself wide awake I got up, made toast and had a look at the Internet. Facebook was awash with people trying to sell stuff this morning. Lego, fishing gear… all vastly over-priced with shallow promises of “vintage” meaning “worth more” when what they should have said was “second-hand” meaning “used”. But all the time people pay over the odds, other people will take their money.
I also saw that today was the first anniversary of the release of the new “Bill and Ted” film; I’ve still not seen it.
There was an amazingly petty squabble on one of the Facebook Lego-related pages in which someone had made a very impressive model of the BattleStar Galactica out of fake Lego which upset the Lego purists no end.
And there were quite a few photos of now-dead pets on Facebook. Today is Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day when we all remember our beloved pets that have passed on. I’m sure whoever came up with this idea had the best of intentions, but does anyone *really* need this? It is four and a half months since my best boy died in my arms and two and a half months since Sid went. Both are raw nerves and I really don’t need some bleeding heart do-gooder reminding me of that about which I am still pathetically blubbing on a daily basis.
I then spent an hour solving two geo-puzzles. Both were Jigidi jigsaw puzzles. They filled time whilst I waited for “er indoors TM” to emerge from her pit.
Pausing only briefly to collect Ro-Ro we drove yup to Kings Wood or a little walk. Pogo immediately dumped, and as I took his “stuff” to the poo-bin I heard him and Treacle kicking off. As I came back from the poo-bin so I saw them kicking off at another big dog. I shouted at them and they immediately ran to me and sat. As they should. I have a theory that some of their bad behaviour is actually their idea of protecting er indoors TM”.
We then had a good walk round the woods; we saw some other dogs and each encounter passed off without incident. Perhaps because I was there to protect er indoors TM” and so they didn’t need to? Or perhaps because the voices in their heads said so?
We came home for a cuppa and a slice of cake. As I scoffed I solved another geo-jigsaw. I don’t like these puzzles, but it is all good preparation for a walk at some stage in the future. And then the phone beeped. Favourite daughter-in-law had announced that there was helium to be collected from Argos. Bearing in mind that I don’t dare say no to her, I leapt into action. I took Pogo and Treacle to “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” where they are having a sleepover, then came home via Argos where they seemed to be having a “park like an idiot” day.
Once I’d finally collected what I had been sent to collect I came home to find that in my absence we’d had a torrential downpour.
I had a shower, and it wasn’t long before Chris and Kirsty were at the door. We all drove down to Dymchurch where one branch of the family gathered. Matt and Glen had been told they were going to a quiet barbecue. They had no idea what was waiting for them. To be honest, neither did I…
There’s a few photos here. Hook a duck for shots. Party games. Karaoke. More drink than sense. And the cabaret… it all got rather messy…
29 August 2021 (Sunday) - Borstal, Teams...
With the dogs off on their little sleepover the house was rather empty and lonely when I got up this morning. Amazingly I didn’t feel anywhere near as rough as I thought I might this morning after six bottles of ale, more apple sours than you can shake a stick at, and more sambuca than sense.
I made toast, told the world about my adventures yesterday, set “Hannah” up for today, and checked out the map to plan a route to the Medway Towns via Folkestone, then got ready for the off. It was much easier to get ready with no over-excited dogs swarming about.
Firstly we had to collect over-excited dogs so we drove down to Folkestone where “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” assured us that the hounds had been well-behaved. As we walked them back to the car so Pogo tiddled like a thing possessed and Treacle cried. Treacle will not tiddle on pavement and tarmac, so we drove (as fast as we could) to Radnor Park where she tiddled what seemed to be about a gallon of dog wee. The sense of relief from her was palpable; why will she only tiddle on grass? Silly dog.
From there we followed my phone’s GPS which eventually led us to an obscure country lane near Borstal. Borstal is a village near the Medway towns where the first young offenders’ institution was built, and gives the name to the prisons. Despite the name, the countryside around it is rather pretty.
It wasn’t long before Karl, Tracey and Charlotte arrived, and we set off on a little walk guided (as ever) by a series of geocaches. We walked alongside the railway and the river, across fields and through woods, and got some incredible close-up views of the huge bridges over which the M2, the high-speed train line HS1 and the train track cross the Medway valley. The stinging nettles were a bit think in parts, but you can’t have everything.
Although the sky looked dark as we started, we had no rain. Sometimes overcast, sometimes bright sun, the weather was good to us.
Geocache-wise it was a very good walk. We found all of our targets. I did find the given co-ordinated were a tad awry on some of the hides, but bearing in mind that the things were hidden six months ago I expect the tree cover has had a lot to do with that.
I took a few photos as we walked, and slept for much of the way home.
Once home I spent a little while doing all the geo-admin from today’s walk then got rather angry trying to set up Microsoft Teams on my lap-top. Cheryl has said that tomorrow’s family bingo will be played via Microsoft Teams as Zoom is too much like arse-ache (or so I am reliably informed). Admittedly Zoom does chuck everyone out after an hour but most people are capable of logging back in again. I spent about an hour trying to get Microsoft Teams going but kept getting into silly software loops. It wanted my phone number but wouldn’t accept it. After repeating the same steps about twenty times it suddenly accepted it. It then refused to go any further until I installed the app on my phone but refused to believe I had done so. It eventually took my word, but refused to recognise any contacts. Eventually I managed to call Cheryl on Teams and it worked, but it took some doing. “er indoors TM”’s lap-top wasn’t having anything to do with it at all.
It seems to me that Microsoft Teams is too much like arse-ache as well.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching tonight’s episode of “Lego Masters: Australia”. In this episode the contestants were building bridges and testing them to destruction. They spent ten hours building something which was then trashed.
As we watched so the dogs snored. Their sleepover last night followed by today’s walk has done them in…
Mind you our booze-up last night followed by today’s walk has done me in too.
30 August 2021 (Monday) - Bank Holiday (?)
I was up far earlier than I might have liked to have been after the last couple of days, but that’s what goes with doing an early shift on a Bank Holiday. I made toast and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “The Chair” (which really isn’t that good) then had a little look at the Internet.
It seems there was a big geocaching event in London this weekend. With loads of new Adventure Lab caches I could have gone to the wicked city last Friday on my day off… Back in the day the local Facebook groups used to tell us what was going on well in advance. Back in the day (if only I had known) I would have organised a trip up there. Nowadays people just tell me after the thing had happened. Oh well… I’m off work next Monday. Maybe a trip to the wicked city then?
There was an impressive argument kicking off on the Facebook page of a local lake. There are arguments all over Facebook, but none quite so impressive as those on fishing-related pages. A local lake which has been a successful fishing venue for years was bought by new owners a few years ago. I’ve only ever fished the place once under the new ownership; at the time these people seemed to be bending over backwards to give offence. Now they’ve discovered the internet they can argue with so many more people.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes and got ready for work.
As I drove up the motorway I looked at the rain being pushed away by the car's windscreen wipers. I don't mind working on a Bank Holiday when it is raining. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the rise in independent councillors on local councils. Apparently the mainstream political parties aren't happy about this as unskilled amateurs are doing the jobs that historically were done by wannabe-MPs and other career politicians in training. However local people in councils run by independents are happy with the idea as they have people in charge who have no political axes to grind and can do what is best for their neighbourhood. There's a novel idea...
There was also a lot of talk about how a lot of people are currently incredibly skint having had to fork out for new school uniforms. It was claimed that a new school uniform costs over three hundred quid per child. It would seem that the government has had to step in to put a cap on uniform prices, but planned legislation won't be in place in time for this school year.
I can remember back in the day when I was a cub scout leader that we too insisted on a uniform. If kids were told what they had to wear then there were no contests to see who could come in the most expensive football costume or the latest pricey fashion statement. A cub uniform was deliberately cheap. Perhaps the schools have lost the plot somewhere? They must have if the government has had to tell them to cut the price.
I got to work for the early shift. It went as well as could be expected. As I worked I left my phone connected to the Internet. I don't usually do that, but there weren't any bosses about to catch me out today. As I worked there were quite a few messages flying about from friends and family who also seemed to be having trouble getting Microsoft Teams to work for them.
I came home to find “er indoors TM” had gone visiting relatives so I took the dogs up to the co-op field where we played an odd variation on the game of ”fetch”. I had two balls and would throw them in different directions. Treacle would hare off after one ball; Pogo would sit at my feet looking disinterested. Treacle would pick up the first ball and run to the second, where she would drop the first ball and bring the second one back to me. When she dropped the first ball so Pogo would run and fetch that one to me.
We did this for one circuit of the co-op field before coming home.
“er indoors TM” came home just in time to tune in to the family bingo night. I wouldn’t say that Microsoft Teams was a resounding success compared with Zoom, but then (once we’d finally got the thing going) it wasn’t as much arse-ache (I love that phrase!) as it might have been. If nothing else I won twenty quid. Personally I’m quite happy to play for bragging rights, but “My Boy TM” likes to play for money even though he don’t seem to win that much of the stuff…
31 August 2021 (Tuesday) - Early Shift
I slept like a log and woke full of energy and raring to go… at twenty past one. I then dozed fitfully for the rest of the night.
I watched another episode of “The Chair” as I scoffed toast, then sparked up the lap-top. Now that I’ve finally managed to install Microsoft Teams, that thing starts itself every time I turn the lap-top on. Having to keep turning it off – that is arse ache (!)
I had a look at the geo-map with a vague plan of finding a walk for the weekend. I might have found somewhere. And then I activated GSAK (it’s a geo-thing) to confirm a hunch. I’d not had any “Found it” logs all weekend on any of the geocache I’ve hidden. None. It seems that there were only fourteen new geocaches set up within thirty kilometres of home over the last month. Is the noble pursuit of hunting Tupperware dying on its arse? I wonder just how much longer this silly game had got left.
I had hoped to see photos of what people had been up to over the weekend. There were one or two, but for the most part arguments and lies abounded on Facebook, so I turned off the lap-top and got ready for work.
It was rather drizzly and overcast as I drove up the motorway, and was far busier than it had been at the same time yesterday. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the American evacuation was now complete and how the world is now waiting for all the terror attacks to start again. Perhaps they will. Perhaps the allied forces should have stayed in Afghanistan. But I can't help but wonder what the Americans think they are achieving by seemingly doing little other than involving themselves in leading the world in interfering in in other people's wars.
There was also a lot of talk about how dangerous the sport of rugby is. It would seem that playing rugby is causing serious and long-term brain damage to pretty much everyone who plays the game.
I got to work and did my bit. We had something of a busy day; not so much through workload as through a lot of people having taken leave today. I can understand wanting to take the week of a Bank Holiday off, shame about the weather though. I spent quite a bit of time today staring out of the window at a rather dismal day.
As I did that which I couldn't avoid my thoughts turned to a possible day out in London next week. Bearing in mind that the biggest issue would be getting there I had a look on-line and was quoted eighty-four quid for an off-peak return to Waterloo. Eighty-four quid!! So I phoned and spoke to a human who gave me a price of less than half of that.
With work done I came home via the railway station (as they will be the people making the final decision on train ticket prices) and they were at a loss to explain the quote of eighty-four quid. Maybe a trip to the wicked city might be happening next week.
I collected the dogs and took them up to the co-op field where we tried another game of “fetch”. This one was something of a disaster in that after the initial excitement Pogo refused to go more than ten yards to fetch a ball. So I would chuck a ball half a mile (with the ball-launcher) for Treacle, and as she vanished into the distance I would then lob another ball close enough so Pogo cold be bothered to go get it.
As we played so we got chatting with another dog-walker. Someone with whom I used to work many years ago. Ten, to be precise. Today marks ten years since the management at the local hospital stabbed me in the back and sent me packing (not that I’m bitter).
With dogs walked we came home and (with a *lot* of help from Gordon) I figured out how to import the locations of an Adventure Lab into a GPX file. Most people will be blissfully unaware of the very existence of GPX files and Adventure Labs and so will have no idea about the excitement of combining the two. Having combined the two I tried to transfer the hybrid to my GPS unit. “Hannah” wasn’t having any of it though…
I spent much of the evening falling asleep in front of the telly. I *hate* that – wide awake for most of the night, fast asleep for most of the evening.