1 December 2007 (Saturday) - An Xmas Party

01 December 2007 (Saturday) - An Xmas Partymagnify

Up early to work. Normally it’s a mid day finish on a Saturday, but today I’d been asked to stay a little late so’s the I.T. chaps could do some necessary work. It would only be for a couple of hours. Well, they arrived late and eventually started at 3.20……

We were almost (but not quite) late for the evening’s bash – the Brighton Kite Flier’s Xmas bash. Through the wonders of Sat-Nav we arrived in Redhill (Redhill?) with time to spare. An excellent buffet was followed by a pudding eating contest which was won by one of our party. The raffle was fun – I won a USB back massager, a cuddly duck, a huge artificial Xmas tree and a really tacky pot with some green stuff in that will go great in the next scout’s raffle. Kate won something as well (I’ve no idea what), and er indoors came away with a sackload of lager. There was an impromptu game of “burst the balloons”, in which the smaller ones charged round bursting balloons. This game was won by a large orange balloon, and the loser was carted off to hospital to have her head fixed.

The next game was “pass the parcel” with a difference – like many dice games it seemed inherently to be a fix – with Canterbury beer festival flashbacks, I half expected to be asked whether I was English or French. But after an hour’s passing, swapping, giving and taking I ended up with quite a haul. Wax crayons, sweeties, a paddling pool, a tin of custard and a torch that goes on your ear.

As we finally tidied up, the loser of the balloon game returned from hospital, looking none the worse for her ordeal, and eventually having de-programmed the Sat-Nav we arrived back home at about 1.30am. An excellent night out, and speaking for myself (as an avid do-er) it was such fun to be able to sit back happy n the knowledge that someone else was doing all the organising. Same time next year – I hope so….

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02 December 2007 (Sunday) - The Nativity

02 December 2007 (Sunday) - The Nativitymagnify

Overslept somewhat today – after the late night last night I was awoken by the phone at 11.15am. A quick wash, shave and brekky, and I was ready for something special. Today was the day of God’s annual praising. As time has gone on, my annual routine has acquired various elements which reoccur regularly. Going to church is one of them. Regular as clockwork on the first Sunday in December for the district cubs and beavers carol service.

Kids from all over descended on Bethersden for this malarkey today. I was rather disappointed at the turnout from our lot. Out of a potential sixty, we had ten. The carol service itself was, to be honest, rather rubbish. The host cub pack had put on a nativity play. Having directed cub performances in the past, I can sympathise with the organiser. “Mary” was played by the biggest, fattest girl cub you ever did see – even bigger than me. Joseph looked terrified, but not anywhere near as terrified as the child playing the part of the donkey. The three wise men were one short, and as little Debbie pointed out, if they are so wise, why are they wearing such stupid hats? The shepherd themselves were rather nondescript, but it has to be said that I mistook the sheep for the cast of “Planet of the Apes”. The child playing Herod has obviously been to the pantomime recently as he hammed it to the max, so much so that I for one was booing him (to his evident delight). Little Debbie tells me that she’s playing the part of “King Harold” at her Sunday School nativity play next week.

On the way out of the church I saw a notice rather prominently placed in the vestry. Apparently the running costs of Bethersden Church are £95 per day. That’s over thirty thousand pounds a year just to keep the place going. The righteous obviously have cash to spare.

After the ordeal that was my annual dose of organised religion it was off to the bunfight. Faces were filled whilst a magician did his thing. The magic man was brilliant, hilarious, and a very good magician. And during this I met up with Jerry – one of the original Ener-guys that I haven’t seen in over ten years. He’s been co-opted as a cub leader too…

 

03 December 2007 (Monday) - Vote for Ashford Friars Pre Prep School

03 December 2007 (Monday) - Vote for Ashford Friars Pre Prep Schoolmagnify

I was greeted with outright jealousy at work this morning. Where does your advent calendar come from? Tesco’s? The Milky Bar Kid? My one is the lego one, and despite getting a lego gay-boy on Saturday, it’s been quite good so far. Enough of work - what’s the point of doing an early shift if the time you’d get home earlier is wasted by some plank jack-knifing a juggernaut in Beaver Road?

It must be Xmas – hands up who remembers Miss Snob and class 3B? No? Well, while you look it up on Wikipedia click here to vote for Ashford Friars Pre Prep School. Don’t click to listen to it – it’s not that good. But vote for them !!!!

One is left wondering if these on-line and telephone votes are more of a popularity contest rather than any judge of talent.

What are you still doing here - vote for Ashford Friars Pre Prep School !!!

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04 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Plaster of Paris

04 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Plaster of Parismagnify

Ashford Friars Pre Prep School lost !

Meanwhile at cubs we’re having fun with a new one. Just up from Beavers, and he’s supposed to be coming to Euro Disney with us in two months. However, his father was in charge of getting his passport. It would seem that mother calls him one name and her surname. Father calls him by a different name and father’s surname. All the travel documentation has one set of name, the passport a different lot. And neither parent understands why there’s a problem. Still, they can sort it out, or lose the £200 they’ve paid.

I made this new one grizzle tonight. I asked him if he’d done his plaster of Paris moulds. He looked at me. I repeated the question and he started whimpering. So I explained he wasn’t in trouble, it was a straight question with a “yes or no” answer. If the answer was “yes” then he would do something else, if “no” then he would do the mould. So what was it, yes or no? The answer – hysterics. Apparently if a grown up talks to a child then the child is being told off. No one had ever explained to this one that grown ups can speak without moaning.

I had this idea that rather than painting the finished plaster, if we added the paint at the moulding stage it might save time. Above you can see Jordan modelling the patented tie-dye effect plaster of Paris. In case you’re wondering, it’s supposed to be the scout symbol.

 

05 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Vermin

05 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Verminmagnify

Yesterday I noticed a problem with my emergency back-up advent calendar. It was covered in mouse turds. Bearing in mind the utter failure that was the lethal mouse trap of the summer, I popped into B&Q for a humane trap, left it overnight and this morning captured “Desmond” (pictured above). The destructions with the trap said that mice have a homing instinct and that they need to be released over a kilometre from home or they come back. “Desmond” was released in deepest Willesborough this morning. I came home this evening to find another capture. “Ermintrude” has been released behind Park Farm.

Despite giving my room a severe tidy up and clean (‘er indoors even hoovered!), I can’t find any evidence of a nest or where they are coming from. The “most recent fruit of my loin” wants to keep the mice as pets - she doesn’t believe they carry diseases such as plague, black death, lyme’s disease, broken legs and guts ache.

One of my operatives at work tells me that her mum once had mice and she found that these humane traps didn’t solve the problem. The mice kept coming back. She even dobbed one mouse with nail varnish (to prove a point) and released it two miles away, only to recapture it back at home a couple of nights later.

Whilst having my tidy up I found a whole load of computer fragments that I’ve been told I want. It must be a year since I last opened that drawer, so I can’t want them that much. If anyone needs a spare contrafibrillating galactivator, feel free to rummage in my drawers.

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06 December 2007 (Thursday) - Shopping

A late start, so I thought I’d go shopping. My undercrackers are somewhat threadbare. Matalan is good for clothes. And it’s cheap. Their £4 shirts last every bit as long as the £35+ shirts Emma suggested I bought last year. A couple of pairs of (Donald where’s yer) troosers, and a pink tie, and off we go. Mind you, there’s some pikeys in that place. And what is it with the Matalan card. You *have* to have the Matalan card, or you can’t shop there. What’s that all about?

And then to Bybrook Barn. The fish tank heater packed up a while ago, so I thought I’d get a new one. It’s only a small tank, so I won’t need a big one. The smallest starts at £25!!!

And then to work, where I’ve suggested a festive pub crawl from the hospital to the railway station one night after work. It should be good for half a dozen pubs. We’ll see if there’s much interest…..

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07 December 2007 (Friday) - Bored

No mice have been captured for a couple of days, so let's hope that's one problem less to worry about. And in a day which (it has to be said) was on the dull side, with no more ado, let's visit Hogwarts…..

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08 December 2007 (Saturday) - Party !!!

08 December 2007 (Saturday) - Party !!!magnify

Some time ago it was decided to stage a formal Xmas meal for all our friends from far and near. The date chosen was today. I wouldn’t say that enthusiasm for the idea waned, it‘s just that I never got round to organising anything along those lines. We staged the Xmas bash we were going to have anyway instead.

At mid day there was torrential rain which was quite handy – it kept the crowds away whilst I had my McDinner (you can’t beat a quarter-pounder), and then to Tesco for my ingredients. I was planning to prepare two dishes for the evening: “Peculier Chicken” (guess the old marinade), and an old favourite, “Sprouts Mexicaine”. Ingredients were prepared, scran put on to boil, and then the living room was tidied and xmas-ed. This year the living room featured “the satanic xmas tree” – it scares me, but er indoors likes it. My contribution to the decorations was a festive display of beer bottles and glasses. Martin arrived mid-afternoon with his first contingent of supplies. LOADS of puddings. The TV was switched to the “Corny Xmas Music” channel, and before long the house soon filled up. Despite there being half a dozen people missing, things were somewhat squashed in the living room. I think most people got a seat, and an evening was spent scoffing and drinking, starting with the sprouts washed down with “Dogtanian’s Sulphuric Acid”, moving onto proper starters, a choice of three main courses, and more puddings than sense. As usual, everyone brought something or other to eat or drink, so there’s no shortage of food for my sandwiches for the rest of the week.

Pausing only to pour molten chocolate all over the kitchen, I then lost spectacularly at the movie quiz before moving on to the port. It all got rather vague after the pickled eggs….

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09 December 2007 (Sunday) - Neons

09 December 2007 (Sunday) - Neonsmagnify

Didn’t get out of bed until 11.30am. A combination of a late night, a couple of shandies too many, and the sound of torrential rain outside made having a bit of a kip the best option for the morning. Once I’d staggered out of my pit I eventually set off to Homebase – my brother wanted me to get a lock-up box for his garden (just like the one all the camping gear’s in). I found one, phoned him to see if he’d be in this afternoon for me to deliver it, and he’d changed his mind. Didn’t want one now. Good job I’d not paid the £100 for it!

And then to Bybrook Barn. I’d been there in the week, and they’d had a bargain on their neons, so I picked up ten of them. And a couple of Kuhli loaches, as it’s fun watching anyone trying to catch them. I also picked up a lump of wood for the fish tank. The rest of the afternoon was spent boiling my lump of wood and doing the ironing.

On Thursday I bought six shirts. I really should get them out of their bags and ironed as well…

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10 December 2007 (Monday) - Clockwatching

10 December 2007 (Monday) - Clockwatchingmagnify

According to a poll by YouGov the average person will spend 22 minutes of their working time this week doing on-line shopping. Well, there’s no denying I ordered a couple of things off of eBay last week during work’s time. There’s also no denying I’m in at least half an hour early every day and have short lunch breaks. And on Wednesday I expect to be in some three hours early.

That’s three weeks extra every year HM Government gets out of me. It’s funny how YouGov polls don’t show that, but begrudge less than five minutes a day on eBay.….

 

11 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Ello, ello, ello

11 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Ello, ello, ellomagnify

Princess Prawn Cocktail” was on fine form tonight, but “Dimwit” was rather quiet and withdrawn. It transpired that “Dimwit”’s mother has told him in no uncertain terms that he is not to answer to the name of “Dimwit”. This has left him in something of a quandary. “Dimwit” was the ideal name for a sidekick. What should he choose as his new alias? I suggested “Brightwit” but, as he pointed out, it’s a lame name. But not as lame as my second suggestion: “Desmond”. He needs to find a new sidekick name soon or he will risk losing his role as “Princess Prawn Cocktail”’s sidekick, as “Constable Cheese and Onion” is waiting in the wings.

Talking of Constables, we had the old Bill in to cubs tonight. While I can’t pretend to be their number one fan, this chap kept the cubs' attention for over an hour. Must get him back soon, if only to judge the “most villainous looking cub” contest I ran once he’d gone.

In other news, er indoors has killed the new washing machine. I shall be touting my smalls in the not too distant future….

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12 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Human Resources

12 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Human Resourcesmagnify

Today was spent on a “human resources management” course. In the past any kind of management course I’ve ever been to has been geared towards running a hospital ward. Comments that hospitals have huge swathes that aren’t run by nurses are usually met by blank stares from trainers. Today was a welcome change in that it wasn’t a course purely for nurses. There were accountants, transport managers and radiographers. In fact nurses made up only a third of the attendance. Organised and run by a chap from ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, I spent the day learning all sorts of stuff.

Mind you, no matter how terrible you feel your lot in life is, there’s always someone worse off. One of our number told of a member of his staff who’d managed to wangle a sick note from her doctor for every one of the last sixteen Xmases. Another on the course told us of her problems with a member of staff from an ethnic minority. This one would only attend work on those days her husband had nothing better for her to do at home. Another told of half a dozen one-to-ones with a chap who was persistently late. Each meeting had to be abandoned as the chap in question kept crying.

Perhaps my problems aren’t that bad after all….

 

13 December 2007 (Thursday) - A Day in the Life

13 December 2007 (Thursday) - A Day in the Lifemagnify

I came home from work last night to find the new washing machine that we’ve had for ten days has been condemned. To add insult to injury, er indoors has stung me for another eighty quid so’s we can upgrade to a better one that will hopefully make it past the two weeks mark. So, in the meantime, if any of my loyal readers would be kind enough to do battle with my smalls, I would be eternally grateful.

Despite not needing to get up especially early today, I was rudely awoken by “My Boy TM” arriving home at 6am. He’s now working nights. He claims it’s overtime, but I feel he’s doing this to get away from the workplace bullies – recently he’s been complaining of being mocked by the local rabbits.

And so to work – I’d better leave early to scrape the ice off the bus.

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14 December 2007 (Friday) - Spam

14 December 2007 (Friday) - Spammagnify

I turned on the PC this morning to receive over three hundred spam emails. Thank the lord for anti-spam software. Why do these spammers do it? Radio Four had the answer yesterday. Apparently 12% of the general internet-ing public have replied to spam emails and bought something. Spammers bombard us with their rubbish adverts because it’s incredibly cheap advertising and it works for them.

I would have thought that anyone would realise that buying from spammers only encourages them, but what do I know?

 

15 December 2007 (Saturday) - Tenterden's Beer Selection

15 December 2007 (Saturday) - Tenterden's Beer Selectionmagnify

A rather restless night worrying about “My Boy TM”. He took his shooter to work last night. After the night shift he was intending to show the rabbits (who keep mocking him) who’s the boss. I rather suspected the rabbits knew who the boss was, and that it would be a sad shock for “My Boy TM” to find it was not him. Imagine my surprise to see he’s potted a couple!

It’s always a mistake to make plans. I had this daft idea to get up early and iron all my shirts before going to work this morning. I went downstairs to find that what was once my living room is now a dormitory for boyfriends. So much for the ironing. The boyfriend can do it later. He did the washing up last night.

After a dull morning at work, the afternoon was spent in the Tenterden area. First to the Tenterden Vineyard. I’d been planning to have a look here for some time. Whilst I picked up twenty four bottles of porter for a tenner, I must admit to a degree of disappointment in the place. The word “pretentious” comes to mind. If I’d gone straight from work in shirt and tie, they would have been fawning over me (as they were the normal people in shirts and ties). In my combats and fleece, they looked down their noses at me. Their loss! I shall take the not insubstantial amount of cash I spent on locally produced beer elsewhere in future.

As we were in the area, it seemed sensible to have a crafty half at the Swan in Wittersham. I last visited this place during their 2005 winter ales festival when it was a charming, quaint village pub which served good food. I went back today to find the place has been refurbished and is now loads bigger than it was, complete with restaurant wing. As part of the refurbishment, they seem to have removed all the character this place had. I can best describe it as “coldly clinical”. It’s just it’s not what it was. Why do people destroy these “olde worlde” pubs in this way? The bar is now too spacious, and was deserted apart from the half dozen scary locals all crowded at the bar, all cooing over the barmaid’s pet guinea pig, making it very difficult to get served. It’s a strange pub. Today they had three ales on hand pump, four ales straight from the barrel (including “Level Best”) and two real ciders. For me – that should be heaven on earth. It’s been voted CAMRA pub of the year four times in the last six years, but I don’t like the place. It’s got all the ambience of a cold church hall, or the doctor’s waiting room. It speaks volumes that when I’m next in the area I’ll be going to the Shepherd Neame place up the road.

From here we popped into the Tenterden garden centre where I toyed with the idea of a fish tube, and then off to another vineyard. This time Biddenden. A better selection of ale, it must be said. And free hot cider and mince pies for the punters. Can’t be bad. Now to iron those shirts…

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16 December 2007 (Sunday) - Nothing happened

I spent the day with a rather depressed air. Weekends are too special to waste trolling round dull shops. We bought a surge protector to see if that will stop washing machines blowing up, had McDinner and bought a couple of sucking loaches for the fish tank.

The afternoon was spent asleep in front of the telly. All things considered, a day wasted.

 

 

17 December 2007 (Monday) - Diabolic Inspiration

17 December 2007 (Monday) - Diabolic Inspirationmagnify

Sometimes, God speaks to me with the voice of wisdom. Other times it’s the “one down belowwho’s bored and thinks he’ll taunt me. I wish I could tell the difference between the two. I had what I mistakenly thought was divine inspiration. I had this idea that I could run NeverWinter on one of the spare PCs. So I wired up a spare PC and my PC through this gadget that allows you run two PCs off the same monitor, keyboard & mouse. Genius !!! A minor hiccup was that the mains plug for the gadget was a bit “two pin” so I chopped it off and stuck a standard plug on it, sparked it all up and watched it all explode.

I suppose I should be grateful for what I’ve got left. In retrospect I should have read what the plug I’d chopped off had written on it. It wasn’t just a plug – it was a transformer too. One lives and learns. In the meantime let’s hope ‘er indoors don’t need her PC. Well, to be specific, she’s welcome to the PC, I’ve just borrowed the keyboard and mouse for a bit. And, it has to be said, the keyboard is on the dodgy side. Pressing the “Num Lock” button turns my PC off. I can’t help but wonder it was designed this way, of if this is a feature of bunging far too many volts through it……

 

18 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Xmas Parties

18 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Xmas Partiesmagnify

Two days ago life was dull. Today it all happened. Things got off to a flying start with re-runs of “Treacle People” at breakfast time. Quality TV !!

Today was the work’s mid day Xmas bash – a party is always fun, especially one with so much scoff we’ll still be eating it in the new year.

And then to the golf course for the cubs Xmas bash. A go on the driving range and the archery range. For some reason the two are adjacent, and golf balls and arrows fly together down the range. But the cubs seemed to enjoy it, and the burger and chips that came with it. And I got a home-made Xmas card from one of the girl cubs, featuring BJ himself!

And afterwards another Xmas bash, featuring a game of “Who’s in the Bag”. It’s amazing how similar Patrick Moore and William Shatner are, according to some schools of acting. A decent haul of pressies – a bottle of Hobgoblin and a pink poker set (must try that!) and I even won the raffle for some eBay stuff….

 

19 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Events in Sabden, and Money

19 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Events in Sabden, and Moneymagnify

The day kicked off with quality TV at brekkie time involving Sabden, parkin, traction engines, boggarts and subterranean excavation of preserves. For those philistines among my loyal readership, I suggest you Google for "Treacle People" and tune in to Channel Four tomorrow at 6.50 am.

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I received a letter from the electric people today. The meter man came last week, and on his say-so they reckon I've paid too much money over the last year. They're cutting my leccie bill by £20 per month, and sending me over three hundred quid back. That's better than a poke up the bum with a sharp stick!! It'll go some way to fix the bathroom sink.

Flushed with success, I thought I'd have a rummage through my accounts and see if there was any other cash to be had. I found a direct debit to the Carphone Warehouse for a quarterly insurance. Bearing in mind that the last contract I had with them ended a couple of years ago, I thought I'd try for a refund. They told me to get stuffed. Apparently it was in the contract that it was up to me to cancel the money arrangements. I've phoned the bank and left it with them, but their hopes aren't high. Mine are….

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20 December 2007 (Thursday) - Another Thursday

20 December 2007 (Thursday) - Another Thursdaymagnify

Among the four hundred emails I received overnight was one from Yolanda (!) offering to “turn your cock into da bomb! It'll be so big, you could ski down it.” That’s nice, but I think I’ll give it a miss. “My Boy TM” is out on the beer – his work have financed an all day booze up, complete with comedian. One wonders if the rabbits are invited.

Meanwhile in Sabden the locals have formed a band. The drummer is seeking fame and fortune, whilst the rest of the band are seeking a new drummer. The police are on a chop-out. A chop-out is like a stake-out, only smaller and cheaper. And the difficulties in judging the “bonniest babycompetition were resolved by treating the event as a “least ugly baby competition.

Is it too late to add the DVD to my Xmas list…

 

21 December 2007 (Friday) - Ear Ache

21 December 2007 (Friday) - Ear Achemagnify

My Boy TM” came home from his booze up and gave his sister a kiss. He must have reached heights of drunkenness of which I have only hitherto dreamed.

As I was driving home tonight the President of the Royal College of General Practitioners was on the radio. Apparently GPs are up in arms because the government wants the average surgery to be open three hours longer each week. GPs claim to have done research which shows the average punter doesn’t want the surgery to be open longer. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that’s a load of rubbish.

I got home to find “My Little Girl TM” crying on the sofa. She’s had ear ache all week and been to the GP on Monday who said to fill the ear with olive oil and if it still hurts to come back on Thursday. She phoned yesterday, they made an appointment for today, but the surgery phoned to cancel the appointment because they claimed they were too busy. They’d made an appointment for her in a week’s time.

I wasn’t standing for that. I phoned them and told them I wasn’t asking for an appointment; I was telling them that I would be in the surgery in five minutes time with “My Little Girl TM” and furthermore that she would be seen by one of the doctors tonight. They told me they were closing in fifteen minutes. I told them that gave them five minutes to prepare and ten minutes for her appointment. We got there in four minutes and found the place was empty. She was seen immediately, antibiotics prescribed, and we were in and out in less than five minutes. She’s now dosed up and fast asleep in front of the telly.

Before falling asleep she asked why the surgery cancelled the appointment. Although she intended it as a rhetorical question, the answer’s quite obvious. They probably cancelled a whole load of appointments today on the strength of it being nearly Xmas, and that people don’t argue but just accept what the surgery tell them. It’s a good job “My Little Girl TM” has a gobby father….

 

22 December 2007 (Saturday) - Fish Poo

22 December 2007 (Saturday) - Fish Poomagnify

Rather a restless night waiting for er indoors to come home from her works drunken Xmas binge. She eventually rolled home at 10am. That was some booze up. “My Boy TM” then asked if I’d help him with the pond – the water level had gone down somewhat – the filter was again backed up with fish poo. It seems to fill up every three months – I need to be somewhat pro-active with fish turds sometime in late February. But it’s good that “My Boy TM” is taking the lead here. He even rewarded me with KFC for helping him do the job. That’s to be encouraged.

My Little Girl TM” is still in pain with her ear. A trip to the hospital was in order this afternoon. After the fish poo was washed off and the hospital visited, we stocked up with scoff from Tesco in readiness for tomorrow. Not that I’m planning a booze up or anything.

I wonder when this blog entry will appear – my internet circuit has died….

 

23 December 2007 (Sunday) - Stuff

23 December 2007 (Sunday) - Stuffmagnify

Up at 7.30am to prepare for the family visit & booze up, and it wasn’t not long before the phone rang. The chap on duty at work hadn’t turned up. So I spent the morning at work. We eventually got hold of him to find he was in London. Woops!. He soon (ninety minutes) came back.

The family beat me home by about five minutes, and a good scoff-up and booze-up was followed by sleeping in front of “The Great Escape” (must be Xmas!) whilst ‘er indoors had a go with my internet circuit. Not only is the network card fried, the PC doesn’t recognise my phone either. Next blog update will be once it’s resolved….. ?

 

24 December 2007 (Monday) - Xmas Eve

24 December 2007 (Monday) - Xmas Evemagnify

It is amazing how one takes things for granted. For example one’s internet connection. It was gone for two days, and I was lost without it !!!

A smashing evening with friends - must do that more often on Xmas Eve. I was planning to go to midnight mass, but fell asleep. Hopefullly the BJ will understand.

 

25 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Xmas Day

25 December 2007 (Tuesday) - Xmas Daymagnify

Despite not getting to kip till nearly 1am, I can never sleep before Xmas day. It’s too exciting. As a child my grandmother would stay over on Xmas eve, and would regularly be dressed and ready to go at 3am. Forty years later my dad still moans about it. I’d like to think Gran would be proud of me. I was up shaving at 5.30am, and playing “Worms” at full volume to wake the family by 6am. Kate finally got up around 7am. It’s all right for those who finished work last Thursday and don’t go back for over a week, but I’ve only got two days off, and I’m blowed if I’m wasting it waiting for people to get out of bed. So by the time 8am arrived I’d got the saucepans out of the cupboard and was bashing them together (a la “Top Cat”), accompanied by “My Little Girl TM” on frying pans.

Everyone up, brekky scoffed, pressies done and off to my brother’s for turkey dinner and half a gallon of the Rother Valley Brewery’s finest “Blues”. Some really good scoff, some power naps, and home to watch the Doctor Who special. And half a stilton and the best half of a bottle of port as well.

There was a minor dilemma last night in that my PC wasn’t seeing my camera. It is now, but on start up it’s now finding a “SM Bus controller”. One wonders what a “SM Bus controller” is. The only other bus controller of my acquaintance is “Blakey” out of “On The Buses”, so if future blog entries are titled “I ‘ate you Butler”, you’ll know what’s gone wrong. Or that is, you will if you are as old as I am.

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26 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Boxing Day

26 December 2007 (Wednesday) - Boxing Daymagnify

As today is the last day I have off for Xmas, I did resent wasting half of it waiting for everyone else to get ready for the off. Every year I say that I’m not going to waste my Xmases driving round to visit relatives I only ever see at Xmas. Maybe one year I’ll get a peaceful Xmas at home like everyone else.

The afternoon was spent at Mum’s. A good time – scoffing far too much food and playing Blokus. Unfortunately my brother and sister-in-law were both ill, as was one nephew. So where there should have been four of them, there was just one nephew. He’s going through a strange phase of making weird random noises at the moment. I expect he’ll grow out of it. I hope so.

After “Garfield the Movie” it was round to the in-laws where one of my nephews summed up the entire Xmas spirit. He took one look at one of my less inspired presents, told me it was rubbish, and then announced that now I knew how he felt. My immediate reaction wasn’t to think him an ungrateful git at all. The boy’s got a point. Whilst they’ve got some good pressies, there has been probably the best part of a hundred pounds spent on him, his brothers and sister that is, to be frank, money straight down the toilet. When younger, my two brats would get plastic rubbish that would never, ever, get played with.

I’ve had some really good gear myself this year – Blokus (oh yes!) some excellent DVDs, a toy helicopter, a pink poker set, some good books, but it has to be said that I’m not going to achieve much with eBay’s a “flog your unwanted tat pressies” day this Saturday. Would anyone pay for a pair of binoculars with a x4 magnification, or a compass that carries a warning “not for professional use”? “My Boy TM” says I’m an ungrateful git…..

 

27 December 2007 (Thursday) - Art

27 December 2007 (Thursday) - Artmagnify

This evening’s news featured some irate arty-farty ponces. They had a right cob-on because they’d decided to see “art” for Xmas, and had travelled to London to see “art”. (Art is apparently people-shaped statues on high buildings.) But the local taxi drivers refused to take the AFP to see the “art”. The taxi drivers said that by taking people to see it merely encourages it, and the public money wasted on it would be far better spent on the local hospitals which are under threat.

I’m with the taxi drvers

 

28 December 2007 (Friday) - Hello Sailor

28 December 2007 (Friday) - Hello Sailormagnify

On the way to work this morning there was an article on the radio. I am reliably informed cruises are fun. I see a holiday for myself….

Apparently every year an increasing load of old biddies (whose husbands have recently croaked) are going on a cruise rather than facing Xmas alone. Amongst the many and varied attractions on these cruises are “Old-time dancing”, “ballroom dancing”, “foxtrotting”, and all that old malarkey. However it transpires that what with the husbands having croaked, there’s a preponderance of biddies on the cruise. In fact some cruises this Xmas have had up to 95% women along, which rather puts the kibosh on having a crafty rhumba.

To get round this, some cruise lines are offering free cruises to any bloke who is prepared to trip the light fantastic. Free board & lodgings, free run of all the ship’s amenities and shore trips and tours. All you have to do is dance with the blue rinse brigade every evening. Much as (it has to be said) dancing is for puffs, it’s tempting.

On the plus side, there’s a free holiday, fourteen meals a day (so I am reliably informed), free bars, a boatload of sailors and you get to goose up the biddies. The drawbacks – apart from over-amourous biddies are the risks of shipwreck, seasickness, mutiny, piracy, icebergs, scurvy and being keelhauled.

Well, I’ve sailed out of Folkestone twice and wasn’t sick, and I’ve got all the Hornblower DVDs (ooer!), so what have I got to lose…..

 

29 December 2007 (Saturday) - Another Day in the Life

My Boy TM” let slip that er indoors thinks that I have forgotten how to do the laundry. I haven’t been so hot on the laundry lately as firstly I’ve been loathe to learn a new washing machine only to have it blow up, and secondly there’s no space to do the ironing. But a good couple of hours were spent ironing before anyone else emerged from their pits this morning.

As the torrential rain that was forecast for this afternoon came overnight I was able to do some more in the garden today. My gusher now has a switch. The switch has fallen off the fence, but it has a switch. My gusher also has serious subsidence. I must do something about that…

Following a tip run, me and “My Boy TM” popped over to a certain farm of our acquaintance where I had a smashing bit of “lunch” (dinner!) and then availed myself of a metal fence which I shall use to reinforce my gusher. Before darkness fell we got some Hammerite on the fence, and tomorrow we shall either reinforce the gusher or go to Devizes. I finally got my akkers back off the Carphone Warehouse and have squandered it on eBay on a mega-Koi.

(And to think the original plan for this weekend was to get going with “World of Warcraft”)

 

30 December 2007 (Sunday) - Water stuff again

30 December 2007 (Sunday) - Water stuff againmagnify

Following a phone call from a nice man in Devizes, we didn’t go there today – that’s pencilled in for later in the week. I can’t help but wonder if I’m buying a fish from *the* man from Devizes. Time will tell – it usually does.

My Boy TM” had an appointment with a rabbit at mid day, so we got up early to sort out the subsidence in the gusher. It was only once we’d totally disassembled it, laid in a farm gate as a truss, rebuilt it, tidied up the garden and generally broken our backs at it that we realised we’d forgotten to photograph the fun we’d had. But it’s now a vast improvement on what it was – it’s not sagging in the middle so much that the stones are under water any more. Whilst I really don’t want people standing on it, it is now up to taking weight (should a littlun inadvertently wander onto it). There was a minor hiccup when securing the switch to the fence – it transpired that my drill was pogered. I’ve got a couple of battery-operated drills with flat batteries, and I’m sure I’ve got another mains-operated drill somewhere. I expect it’ll turn up when I’m next trying to find something else. But we managed without the drill – in fact we probably made a better job of it without the drill – what is a garden without “rustic charm TM” ?

By this time er indoors had emerged from its pit and we went shopping. First to buy a new bathroom sink. There’s a shop near McDonalds that has hundreds of sinks, all of which look the same to me. We bought one which will be delivered in a week or so. I’ll worry about it nearer the time. And then the idea was to replace the pond lights, but I found some barbel at Swallow aquatics. They look quite cute…

 

31 December 2007 (Monday) - New Year's Eve

31 December 2007 (Monday) - New Year's Evemagnify

As it’s the end of the year I suppose the obvious entry for today is to review what’s gone and to speculate on what’s to come. The only drawback with this is that I really don’t feel “New Year”-ish at all. I blame the two-day Xmas that passed in a blur! I must admit to a degree of jealousy that so many people are now on day ten of the Xmas break. But I’m looking forward to this evening – Spanish New Year is always fun. Red pants are ready, and I’ve been practising with peanuts in place of grapes (!)

This last year passed in many ways much the same as the last few years have. I enjoyed the standard events I seem to have every year – three kite festivals, four beer festivals, Cub Camp, Bat-Camp, Rye bonfire…. But there have been new additions to the calendar. I’ve joined the arky-ologee club and the astronomy club (which is now moribund). I’ve taken up exercise – in the form of several hikes as part of the revival of going walking, and I’ve found the FILO in Hastings Old Town (hic!). I’ve become a roving reporter for “Beer in the Evening”. Oh – and did I mention I’ve got a back garden?

Plans for the New Year? – In the first couple of weeks it’s back to the garden for fish and electricals. And the fence needs another coat of paint. Then I shall smile sweetly whilst “the nice people TM” mend my sink. And then all the usual festivals, camps and events will go ahead I expect. I’m looking forward to Euro-Disney with the cubs in January, and I’d like to go away for a holiday as well this year. I’ve been threatening to stage a pub crawl in Tenterden for some time. I really must sort that out – possibly for National Pubs Week in February. And there are pubs in Faversham, Broadstairs, Dover, Essex and London that I’d like to crawl round. And the astronomy club needs to be killed or cured. I’d like to get my oil paints out again. And play with bow snarrows. And fly a kite – haven’t done that in years, now. And get NeverWinter running again.

But when it comes to plans, there’s an old adage that sums me up “Talk is Cheap!