1 December 2012 (Saturday) - Geocaching Christmas Party
There was vague talk of going shopping in Lakeside this morning, but I had too much to do. Astronomy club accounts don't sort themselves. But we eventually got our chores done, picked up Geo, and set off to Bluebell Hill,
There was all sorts of things we could have done today. The kite club was having a Christmas party, as was work. But instead we thought we'd try something of an unknown quantity - the Kent County Geocacher's Christmas meet-up. We'd met one or two other cachers here and there throughout the last few months; and they all seemed decent people. So we thought we'd give the Christmas bash a go. I am so please that we did.
The meet was planned for 2pm, but for those who were interested there was a mini-cache run around Bluebell Hill. A local cacher had offered to meet up with anyone who was interested at the Bluebell Hill picnic area and lead a little expedition. It was a really kind offer; one I readily accepted. We were taken along the "Snail Trail" - a trail of six caches. And as we went along we found another six random caches as well. It was a bright morning; very cold. But it was a good morning to be out and about. Meeting old friends, making new friends. Smiling smugly whilst others struggled to find the cache you've found. Swearing impotently whilst everyone else has found the silly plastic box that you can't find.
The two hours flew by, and we made our way back to the cars, and on to the Castle Lake Hotel. I went in to the place with a little trepidation. I didn't know what to expect. I was rather amazed. I don't know how many people were along - I would estimate about fifty. We had an area booked, and on seeing Lisa and Earle we sat with them. We exchanged pleasantries with those people we knew. We were introduced to new friends. And without realising it we were chatting away with all sorts of people. After an hour the organisers called for quiet,and awards were made. Being a newbie to all of this I sat quietly, and applauded politely when people were called to receive awards. My name was called. I couldn't believe it. They'd made the effort to look at my caching history and present me with a certificate for having found over seven hundred geocaches. I was rather humbled that someone had done that for me.
We had a meal in the hotel, as did many other people, and then the "Secret Santa" gifts were given. I was presented with a telescopic magnet and a pair of tweezers (both with attached lights) which were ideal gifts for geocaching. And we chatted some more. As you go out geocaching, at each cache you sign the cache's log. On these logs you see other cacher's names and aliases. I found myself being able to put faces to so many names. And there were so many people coming up to me being pleased to finally meet Manky Badger.
We chatted until everyone else had gone home, and being the last few people left chatting, four of us set off on a mission. To find a last couple of geocaches.
I understand that these geocacher meet-ups happen quite often. I shall certainly go to the next one...
Oh - and it's December. December isn't December without a Lego Advent Calendar...
2 December 2012 (Sunday) - Kings Wood
Oh, it was blooming cold this morning. But Furry Face was rather fractious, and so having let him charge round the garden for a while I took him for a walk round the block. He didn’t seem at all bothered by the frost on the grass and the ice on the paths. That is he didn’t seem bothered until he skidded on the ice. That made him sit up and take notice.
I had this naïve idea that not many people would be about before 9am on a Sunday, and we had Bowen’s Field to ourselves. But as we got to Viccy Park I realised that we were not alone. Seemingly every dog in Kent was running loose round the park. Howling, and whiling, barking and fighting. Fudge went straight on to his lead, and we went to the co-op field. Which was just as overrun with badly behaved mutts. So we came home via a bit of a detour.
The morning was dull, and in the afternoon the Bat called round and we took Fudge up to Kings Wood for a walk round the area. It was cold, and I slipped on frozen mud a few times. But Fudge needed a walk, and Kings Wood is good for a stroll. There’s three geocaches up there as well. We found two of them. The third was a puzzle which involved finding a particular tree stump. This stump was marked with an “X” carved into it. Apparently. We couldn’t find it. We gave up after twenty minutes, then went into Challock where we did a few more caches, and didn’t find another.
And so home to warm up. Fudge had a bath. He doesn’t seem to mind baths too much, but if he will roll in fox poo, he has no choice. It’s perhaps rather worrying that I am now quite familiar with the smell of fox poo. I can recognise the smell of poo in general, but I can now distinguish common or garden poo from fox poo. We made a discovery when we came home - as well as fox poo, that dog also likes tea.
With "er indoors TM" out bowling I then spent the evening watching rubbish on the telly whilst Fudge slept. Perhaps a waste of an evening, but sometimes you can't beat slobbing about.
Oh - and it's December. December isn't December without a Lego Advent Calendar...
3 December 2012 (Monday) - A Day Off
Having a day's holiday I thought I'd have a lie-in. Fudge thought otherwise and leapt on me and licked me awake at 8am. It's a dog thing.
I had a spot of brekkie, and pootled around on Facebook until the Rear Admiral and Sid arrived. We put the dogs in the kitchen and popped to the bank to pay in some money. I don't like having too much astro club cash in the house just in case. In case I lose it or embezzle it. Mind you it would be a lot easier to embezzle it whilst it's cash rather than when it's in the bank account.
Whilst we were in town we had a crafty fry-up. You can't beat a bit of cholesterol.
Home to collect the dogs. Both dogs were in Fudge's basket; in a heap on top of each other; both fast asleep. They woke, we got their leads on (Sid's easier than Fudge's), and I took the Rear Admiral on a tour of my geocache trails. I wanted to do a maintenance run, and he wanted an introduction to caching. Three hours later both missions were completed.
Mind you I was rather surprised to find that about half my caches had lost their waterproofing. I wish people would be more careful whilst geocaching.
A quick cuppa, and then the Folkestonians set off home. I got the laundry out and ironed like a thing possessed. Ironing doesn't do itself. Whilst ironing I found all the tea towels that I couldn't find last week. And then I fiddled about with my blog archive. Six years of my life. I wonder if a web page is the best format for the archive. I suppose I could put years' worths into e-book format and make them available via Amazon for a few pence (to cover my costs!) I might just be the next JK Rowling (!)
I then added a friend to the Kent Geocaching group on Facebook and was frankly disgusted at the reception the chap got. I had to remind myself that there are over two hundred people in the group, and the vast majority are really good, decent people. But it only takes one thoughtless comment to give offence. I really wish people would read what they've written before pressing the "send" button.
It's certainly put me off of adding anyone else to what I have always thought to be a very good group...
Oh - and the Lego Advent Calendar continues...
4 December 2012 (Tuesday) - News
I woke this morning at about 6am, which was something of a good night's sleep for me, and I then lay there for an hour feeling profoundly miserable. I do this most mornings. I wish I knew why. My life might not be perfect, but it's certainly not that bad. Perhaps it's my age - there's apparently a glut of people "of a certain age" who seem to be having the hump at the moment. Once I get up and get going I'm OK, but for the first hour every morning I'm never in a good frame of mind. Being miserable every morning is getting me down (!)
It would seem that my misery will get worse for four more years before it gets better. ho hum....
I fussed my dog, brekkied, and set off to work. having first scraped all the ice off of the car. This morning scraping the ice took some doing. There was also a lot of condensation inside the windscreen which wouldn't clear easily.
The radio wound me up as I drove. There was an interview with a chap who'd been naturalist-ing in Papua New Guinea. He could have given an interesting interview. Instead he wasted my time and TV licence money by demonstrating the difference in the sounds made by two sorts of birds he found in Papua New Guinea. he didn't have recordings of the birds - he did impressions of them. To the uninitiated the two noises sounded very similar to each other. So similar in fact that the bloke was unable to make the sounds appear to be any different. After squawking into the microphone for a few minutes he then assured us listeners that there was a difference if you can hear the actual birds, and that said difference is apparently fascinating.
I wish I could get paid to be interviewed whilst doing an impression of a look-alike of an irate seagull.
There was also an interview with one of the big cheeses from Scout HQ. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that in years gone by I was a cub scout leader. For a boy (or girl) to be enrolled as a member of the scout association they have to make a promise. Part of that promise goes: "I promise.... to do my duty to God......." It could be any God at all - but the potential member had to profess to believe in something to which they might do their duty.
Personally I had a problem asking children to make such a religious commitment when they were so young. After all what eight year old can really understand the concept of what any religion is all about. I reconciled myself to the fact that these children were promising to do their duty to God, and it would be up to the individual to determine exactly what that duty was. The atheist that was me at the time had the clear idea that I had no duty whatsoever to any God, and so I could make the promise with a clear conscience. (Nowadays I'm not so sure).
It would seem that the Scout Association has finally realised the foolishness in trying to make small children commit to that about which they have no clear understanding and are revisiting their entire religious policy. About time too.
Here's some sad news. The Dandy is no more. Today saw the publication of the last ever copy of the Dandy. As a child I used to delight in the antics of Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat. But children today aren't so keen. With circulation down to a mere eight thousand copies the comic is no longer going to appear in newsagents. Apparently it will be available on-line for those who want to pay for it. I can't see how that will bring in the money, but what do I know?
And in another surprise it would seem that the humble text message might be in decline. For the first time ever there has been a fall in the amount of texts having been sent. The amount sent still numbers in the billions, but it is the first recorded fall in text messages. Apparently instant messaging via social networking is to blame for the decline. People would rather use Twitter than an SMS. Which is odd - I can remember the first fruit of my loin having a Twitter account. The novelty soon wore off...
5 December 2012 (Wednesday) - Snow
My plans for a lie-in went west when "Daddies Little Angel TM" texted at 7.30am to ask about the walk we were planning to do today. So I got up, abluted, brekkied and pootled about waiting for her to arrive. Once she was here we fed both dogs (they are best fed together) and looked out at the snow.
Having planned to put out a series of geocaches today, and having planned a rather serious walk along which to put them, and having spent a little while making them, plans went on hold. It's enough of a struggle to convince the most recent fruit of my loins to do anything geocache-related. Let alone doing so in sub-zero conditions. Instead we took the dogs on a walk round the nearby fields where they seemed to have a good time. For all that it was cold, the dogs seemed to like the snow. I took some photos of them whilst we were at it.
I just wish that I could train Fudge to be as well-behaved as Sid is.
After half an hour we came home to warm up. "Daddies Little Angel TM" has a nasty rash. She's had it ever since she had a set-to with Binks a few days ago. From what we can determine, I think she's got cat scratch fever (really - it exists!) and I suggested she see a doctor. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing she did just that, and has been prescribed ointment.
I then patched up an old coat, and went up to town. Money had to be paid in to banks. Santander had an offer - for two quid a month they offer an account which gives cashbacks. Quite a few cashbacks. I asked my bank if they offered anything similar. They don't. I might be changing my bank soon.
Whilst in the town I went to all sorts of shops trying to find more patches to cover up the small holes in an otherwise perfectly serviceable coat. I couldn't find anywhere that sells them though. I came home and had a good look around. Over the the years I collected all sorts of sew-on patches which would do the job. Now I can't find any. Mind you, on the plus side I found my astro club hat which I thought I'd lost.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" 's mate Skinhead came to visit. Which was nice. I'd not seen her for ages. We exchanged insults and pleasantries, and then terrorised the dogs. The plan was to teach Fudge tricks. Instead Fudge seemed to teach Sid bad behaviour. Good dog...
6 December 2012 (Thursday) - Dull
Fudge seemed particularly soppy this morning. He was unusually quiet yesterday afternoon and evening as well. I'm told that after I left for work he was sick. I hope he's not the next one in the family to be going down with cat scratch fever. Perhaps he too needs ointment.
Mind you, I expect it was the lamb bones he crunched up last night (or the sauce they were covered in) that disagreed with him. His guts were ripe this morning, as were mine. Which was nice for us both (!)
It was cold when I got into my car this morning - minus five degrees. That's chilly. My usual trick of pouring cold water onto the windscreen failed at that temperature because the cold water froze and made the ice worse. Perhaps I should try adding anti-freeze or washing up liquid to the water? I need to work something out - it took quite a while to clear the car of ice today.
I had a quick look on Facebook this morning. A teacher of my acquaintance was having a minor rant about a news item. It's been suggested that teachers' pay rises might be linked to the teacher's ability as judged by the success of their students. Apparently teachers see this as a bad idea. I'm not sure I agree. After all a salesman's pay is related to how good he is at flogging his wares. Footballers who don't score goals get the heave-ho. What's the difference?
And on the news on the radio was an article about a company called "Golden Spike" who are hoping to offer commercial flights to the moon within the next ten years (for those who can afford it).
Interestingly the radio focussed on the legal aspects of such a venture. Apparently space is somewhat anarchic. All of humanity's laws only apply groundside or in low Earth orbit apart from a few which were made in 1967 and aren't really applicable any more. There are now people who are making a career out of space law. Surely going to the Moon is a far bolder venture than legalistic quibbling?
Also flying, but not quite so high, are unmanned drone aircraft which are being used more and more to obtain quite stunning aerial photographs. Whilst no one denies how spectacular the photos obtained are; there is a growing feeling that these photos might be invading people's privacy. So much so that here are calls for legislation about such aerial photography. There are those of my loyal readers who attach cameras to kites to obtain scenic shots. I wonder how they might be affected by this? If kite fliers had a national body then this national body might look into the matter, but I doubt the BKFA will be interested.....
Today was rather dull...
7 December 2012 (Friday) - Puddles
Four weeks ago I saw something interesting being advertised on the telly. "Empire" was to be a stunning new six-part series following the events after the assassination of Julius Caesar. It looked really good. I've now watched three of the episodes. I say "watched" - "slept through" is a better description. I shan't bother with the last few episodes. There are far better things for me to sleep through.
I mentioned on Wednesday that I had planned to put out a series of geocaches, but the snow put me off the idea. This morning was cold, but dry. Furry Face needed a walk, so we set out on a mission to set those caches. He likes a walk, but he still needs to work on the whole “lead thing”. We were having a good walk up to the point where we got to being about three miles from home in the middle of a ploughed field. That’s when the heavens opened. We got soaked through. Fudge found puddles which were deeper than he was tall. At that point we were as far from home as we were going to be on the walk, so we had little option but to carry on. The rain didn’t last for long – just long enough to soak us. By the time we got home little Fudge was shivering. I wish he would wear his coat but he does seem to hate it so. The pup had a warm shower, and then went to sleep.
Keith called round – he was having a tidy-up and found an old air-bed he thought we might use when camping. Air beds are always useful. Someone came to the house flogging double glazing. I wish they wouldn’t. And during all this I did the on-line organising for the trail of geocaches we'd hidden.
The first fruit of my loin called with his entourage, and we all then went back to their house. They are having Fudge for the weekend (after all he is their dog), so we popped him round and I stayed for a while before coming home to an empty house. It’s not the same without Furry Face being here...
Meanwhile in another plane of existence Stanley has got a remote controlled doo-daa which puts all of his Uncle Norman’s knick-knacks to shame.
8 December 2012 (Saturday) - Lewes
I had an early night last night. Just as I was dozing off there was a frantic hammering on next door's front door. The hammering continued; I looked out to see a couple of policemen on their doorstep. They continued hammering on the door for five minutes before giving up and going off on their way.
"er indoors TM" came home quietly at 3am which was nice. Why is it that that these little episodes never happen on nights that I'm laying wide awake?
I got up perhaps a little earlier than I might, and came down to a very early house. I've got used to being greeted by a sleepy Fudge in the morning, but with him being away this weekend there was no one downstairs. For someone who's definitely not a dog person I found myself really missing Furry Face (who had only been gone for twelve hours). We brekkied and having collected the Rear Admiral we set off for deepest Sussex. We don't see anywhere near enough of Dave and Tracy,and having suggested a weekend's geocaching round Lewes today, we took Dave up on the offer. We all met up at the start of the Lewes circular. and had a really good walk through the Sussex countryside.
Three hours later with the walk done we drove into Lewes to find Tracy. We also found Simon and Corinne and we had a crafty pint (or two) in the Lewes Arms. From there we went on to the brewery shop of Harvey's brewery. They had a whisky tasting going on. It's always been my ambition to find a whisky that I like. I am still searching.
Pausing only briefly to do a few geocaches in Stanmer Park we then went back the the Davery for a rather tasty bit of tea, and a few beers, and some sillyness, and more beer, and cheese and port, and more siillyness, and it all got rather vague.....
9 December 2012 (Sunday) - Jack and Jill
I felt rather rough when I woke this morning. But I woke to the sound of tea and coffee being made. Soon everyone was up and about, and Tracy made the best bacon and mushroom wraps I've ever tasted. Unfortunately Tracy couldn't join us for the day's outing, so we said our goodbyes. It's such a shame we won't meet again for ages. Really must do something about that.
But Dave had ideas, and lead us off into deepest West Sussex. We parked up at the Jack and Jill windmills and walked though wonderful countryside down to the Chattri monument. Yesterday was a glorious day. There's no denying that today was cold. The wind was bitter at times, and my hangover didn't help. But I was in the most beautiful countryside with good friends. I wouldn't have missed being there for the world.
Whilst we were in the area we took in a few of the local geocaches; including something I've not seen before. Two geocaches seemingly being hidden at the same place. The rules say that they should be a tenth of a mile apart. Something has clearly gone wrong. I understand that both caches have now been squealed up to the relevant authorities.
After three hours we were chilled to the bone, so we made our way to the nearest pub. Bearing in mind how many calories there are in beer, and also bearing in mind that the second bottle of port last night was possibly a mistake, and not forgetting how cold I was I chose not to have beer. Instead I went for hot chocolate. One small pissy-little cup of hot chocolate cost as much as a pint of ale. And they wonder why people don't go to pubs these days(!)
All too soon we had to say goodbye to Dave. We won't leave it so long next time, but for now (as always) there are photos of what I got up to on-line.
We came home. Had we been thinking we would have gone home via Hastings and the family Christmas party. But we weren't thinking, and we forgot all about it until we were home. And once home we collected Furry Face who apparently had enjoyed having a lazy weekend. The house does seem a better place for having him under foot again.
I then checked the internet to see what I'd missed in the day or so that I'd been away. Over the last few weeks there had been talk of setting geocaches designed to be found at night. Ones with reflectors and stuff. I'd expressed interest in helping set these caches, and came home to find they'd been put out in my absence. Oh well.
There was also sad news. Sir Patrick Moore has died. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I once met him. He was a wonderful fellow, and the world will be a sadder place for his going.
Meanwhile in another plane of existence "Ted the Spanner" has arrived on the scene. He has a large tool. He is not averse to brandishing his implement whenever the opportunity arises. One cannot help but wonder how much opportunity will arise over the next few days...
10 December 2012 (Monday) - A Wasted Day
One of the services offered by parcelforce is that if you have a parcel to be sent, they will collect it from your house. So "er indoors TM" arranged for a parcel to be collected from us this morning. I got out of my pit earlier than I needed to and waited for postie. And waited. I put on a film to watch whilst I was waiting. I watched the lot. I watched rubbish on UK Gold. I did some housework. I did the laundry. I did the ironing. I played games on the computer.
In between this I phoned parcelforce to see what the delay was. They promised they'd phone me back. They didn't. So I phoned them again. And again I got passed from person to person, all of whom took my name and number and promised to get back to me. Eventually they phoned me back (at 6.30pm) to say they had absolutely no record of me on their system.
Oh how I laughed.
Whilst we were away at the weekend we found a dog's T shirt laying about. So I brought it home, washed it, and thought it would be good for Fudge. When we go out he does get cold. He's only a small dog and just lately he's been shivering when we've been out. A T shirt will keep him warm. Having washed and dried it I tried it on him. I've commented in the past about how he doesn't like his coat. He doesn't like his T shirt either. He had a right sulk. You can tell when he sulks because he stops moving. He just stands still and sulks.
With "er indoors TM" off bowling this evening, I sat in front of the telly watching more rubbish on UK Gold. Someone from the TV company phoned whilst I was slobbing to see if I was aware of their special Christmas bargains. He was rather stumped when I told him that having cancelled the sports and movie channels because I never watched them I was rather loathe to pay good money to have them back. And then there was an advert on the telly for the perfect Christmas present - a DVD of edited highlights of the Olympic Games. I suppose that people must watch that sort of thing or they wouldn't sell them. But I can't see the attraction.
And during all of this, the nice people next door clanged their piano and strangled their violin. I'm not complaining. Far from it - I welcome their noise. It means I can make all the racket I like with a clear conscience.
I will end today with an apology. It's no secret that I welcome comments on all of my witterings. If nothing else it shows people are actually reading what I write. But I have tweaked the settings. From now on the blog software will not allow anonymous comments. If you want to comment on anything I've written you will need a Google account to do so. They are easy enough to set up, and they are free. If this is a problem for anyone, then I apologize. But the amount of spam comments that I am getting from people trying to flog their wares has reached epic proportions. So if anyone wants to comment on what I write, that's fine. But they can't do it quite as anonymously as they used to any more.
11 December 2012 (Tuesday) - Bit Dull Really
I thought I'd have an early night last night. It took half an hour for Fudge to stop howling. I came down to him several times, and each time he made a bolt for the stairs When I'm home alone he always plays up at bed time. Two minutes after he settled my phone rang. Last Friday I set five multi-geocaches. One of them seemed somewhat elusive. It seemed I'd made a stuff-up with setting the co-ordinates. Woops.
So much for my early night. And despite all the excitement I didn't sleep well; waking at 3.30am and laying wide awake until finally giving up and getting up at 5.30am. I had a spot of brekkie, watched an episode of "The Brittas Empire" that I hadn't seen before, and set off to work.
There was thick ice on the car this morning, and a near pile-up on the ring road. Call me traditionalist if you will, but if a car is on the outside lane and indicating right I feel I am justified in thinking that car is intending to turn right. I don't think that said car is somehow trying to overtake and will in fact actually go left whilst still indicating right.
The news was alive with Parliament's discussions about gay marriage. I don't see what there is to discuss. Anyone should be able to marry anyone they want provided both (or all) parties understand what's involved and are happy with the arrangement. Whether they should be able to get married in a church is a different question, but one which is just as easily answered. The bible is quite clear on the subject, so gay people can't be married in church. Unless churches are to be forced to go against their beliefs, or vicars don't agree with what they preach.
Why is Parliament wasting its valuable time discussing something which is so straight-forward?
The most recent fruit of my loin phoned mid-morning. She'd been home with Sid and the two of them had collected Fudge and all been off on a walk. She'd phoned to tell me how impressed she was with Fudge's behaviour. He didn't once try to fight with other dogs today, and he came back when called every time. He's coming on in leaps and bounds apparently. I'm quite pleased about that. I then carried on doing my bit at work, and then came home.
Being Tuesday the tribes gathered. Another episode of Merlin. A good show - one I've taken a liking to. And then rather than going to bed we went out geocaching. Wish me luck..
12 December 2012 (Wednesday) - 12-12-12
Geocachers are closet numerologists, They like confluences of numbers, and so today's date (12-12-12) got them rather over-excited. There was a midnight meeting arranged, so we went along. About forty of us met up at the Tesco car park by Junction 12 of the M20 motorway. We chatted for a bit, and then at the stroke of midnight it was suggested we checked the local cache list. Sure enough, twelve new geocaches had gone live in honour of the occasion. Everyone sped off on an impromptu geocaching mission, and we joined in too. Signing logs as "Team ELF" we got five "first to finds", got stuck in ice, and got very cold too. But for all that I was frozen and couldn't see a thing I wouldn't have missed the event for the world,
We thought we'd do a few caches. We ended up finding eleven of the series of twelve, finally coming home shortly after 3am, rolling into my pit just before 4am.
I awoke shortly after 9am, and leapt out of
bed thinking that Furry Face would be wondering what had happened. I came
downstairs and I felt sick. He was laying in his
basket, totally oblivious to my having come downstairs. Opening doors and
turning on lights got no reaction from him at all. I honestly thought he was
dead. Then he gave the biggest snore you ever did hear. He was fine; just
absolutely worn out from the night's fun. I stroked him and he eventually
looked up, gave a wag of his tail, and went back to sleep.
Home again, and with my beloved out of her pit we got ready for the day. The Bat soon arrived, we collected the Hurks, and set off to Sandgate. Some might call it excessive, but there was a second meeting of the Kent geocaching community today; this one at mid day. We arrived at the Brittannia in Shornecliffe to find quite a few other people already there. Some had been to the midnight event; some had not. It was good to put faces to names, it was good to meet friends; old and new. The pub did a wonderful meal, and with that scoffed we then set off to see how many of the new caches we could find. As we'd eaten, a dozen new geocaches had gone live locally in honour of this event. People soon sped off in their different directions to get searching.
The little prat was like a stuck record. He didn't want apologies, he just wanted to repeat that we were on his land. After profusely apologising for ten minute (to no avail) I told him to get knotted and we drove off.
And then back to the pub to find a cache had gone live there whilst we had been out, and having got that one we had a crafty half of "Late Red" and I checked my geocaching app. That last cache had been my 899th find. So we went back into Folkestone to find the only one we missed out on during the night to put my number to the 900 mark.
And so home for a quick fried egg sandwich before setting off to collect Chippy and then making our way into town. On the way we met Steve and Sarah, and were all soon in "Oranges" where it was open-mic night. Jason and his band were performing, and we had gone along as part of rent-a-mob.
It has been said that I don't like live music. That's not entirely true. I like good live music. But for every band that is good, there are a hundred which are not. Jason's band were excellent; if let down somewhat by the sound system. Whilst the band played the Rear Admiral arrived, seemingly suitably lubricated by copious amounts of ale. For some inexplicable reason he'd come dressed as "Posh Smurf". The next act, "Ken", was also good. It was a shame the same couldn't have been said about the ale, but such is life. It was a shame that the open-mic night had so many waiting to have a go - it would have been good to have had an encore from the band we'd gone to hear. But that was not to be.
Some days in my life are dull. I put up with those for the promise of days like today...
13 December 2012 (Thursday) - A Birthday
As I was scoffing brekkie Fudge was sitting on the top of the sofa watching the world go by. The phone rang and made him jump. So much so that he fell off the sofa. I did laugh. I didn't laugh at the phone call. We get so many calls from 0843 numbers that, on answering, don't respond and then hang up. I wish they didn't call.
The most recent fruit of my loin arrived (with Sid), and we took both dogs for a walk. Fudge’s behaviour is improving. He’s still a pain at times, but he’s far better than he ever was. We came home, and soon the in-laws were with us. It was my father-in-law’s birthday today, and we went out for lunch. Whilst geocaching the other week we’d walked past the Five Bells in Brabourne. It had looked good, so we went there.
They had a locally made stout on the hand pump, and an all-day breakfast. Very nice. And then home for coffee and to proof-read a three thousand word essay on renaissance artists. Not that I know much on the subject, but that didn't stop me proof-reading it.
A quick squabble on Facebook, and then out. First of all to Lisa's house to collect an artificial duck for reasons which will become clear in a future blog entry. Then on to Tesco to get supplies for the work's Christmas buffet. Whist in Tesco's I saw Mr Creosote (of "Monty Python" fame) - this chap really did have the look and build of Mr Creosote. Poor chap. When I came out I found that a tractor was parked next to my car. What was that all about?
And then on to the abode of "the man with no alias (patent pending)" for an astro club committee meeting. Plans for the Christmas meeting, plans for Stargazing Live, plans for the future. Good times... just a shame that the complete cloud cover prevented me from seeing tonight's meteor shower...
14 December 2012 (Friday) - The News
An early night would have been good. If only next door hadn't been shrieking at each other I might have managed a little extra kip. My beloved came home from flogging candles at 2am, and then snored like a thing possessed for the rest of the night. I didn't want to sleep anyway.
And so up early, a quick bite of brekkie, and off to work. I was glad to see that the temperature had risen and that the car wasn't covered in ice. Thank heavens for small mercies. The morning's news had something of interest. Last night at astro club we wondered if Patrick Moore's house would be sold; we thought it would make a marvellous museum. Apparently that was what Sir Patrick wanted, and it might just be a museum for budding astronomers. His house was a special place, and I was once privileged to be shown around it. And given cake in there too.
It would be good for others to have the chance to see how this iconic figure lived. Mind you, the punters will have to buy their own cake.
In other news it seems that car road tax discs are to go. In this modern age, sticking a bit of paper in the windscreen is seen as somewhat old hat. Police will use number plate reading technology which will probably spot miscreants more easily than trying to identify forged discs. Paper driving licences are to go as well. Personally I'm amazed it's taken so long for the technology to catch on.
And then there was the announcement about a new species of primate having been discovered. Shock horror - it's only just been discovered and its an endangered species already. Am I the only one who isn't amazed by this news. this can't come as a surprise, can it? Any species which has gone so long without having been discovered can hardly be commonplace, can it?
Some news items should be headlined "Dur!!"
Also there was the announcement of the discovery of the world's oldest cheesmongery. It would seem that as well as iron and fish, cheese has been monged since antiquity. Archaeologists have apparently unearthed evidence that cheese was being made over five thousand years ago.
I'm no expert, but regular readers of this drivel will know that I have dabbled in matters arky-ological from time to time. Personally I can't see how anyone could distinguish fossilised Wensleydale from a manky bit of broken pot, or a random rock.
But news isn't news without piss being boiled. This morning not so much boiled as simmered. Why is it that those in positions of high office are expected to apologize for that which happened so long ago? The leader of the opposition is to apologize for things the previous government did when he was just a lowly back bench MP, and the governments to apologize for Alan Turing's conviction for his homosexuality in the 1950s (which was actually illegal at the time).
How can anyone apologize for that which happened so long ago, and about which they could not possibly carry any responsibility?
A few years ago I was very conscious that I was very out of touch with current affairs, and had been so for some years. That was the reason why I started listening to Radio Four on my way to work in the morning.
It would seem that I never missed very much of note...
15 December 2012 (Saturday) - Rather Quiet, Really...
The intention was to catch upon sleep last night. I dozed on the sofa with Fudge on my lap until gone midnight, then lay in bed chatting on Facebook till gone 1.30am. And was woken by the noise of the rain shortly after.
I spent a little while this morning trying to post onto the astro club's Facebook page. What I wanted to say was "Hi all. As a club we have display boards and a *lot* of posters for them. But 99% of these posters are hopelessly out of date. Being a very mean treasurer I am very loathe to spend good money on new posters which will also get out of date.
Instead might I ask the membership to design posters for the club. We have some very accomplished astro-photographers. A print on A3 or A4, maybe a description. laminated would be good. Or why not design something on a planet? All contributions gratefully received"
I posted that, and then deleted it six times because of spelling mistakes I kept finding. The final version has still got a typo in it, but I can't be bothered to change it for a seventh time.
Here's something of interest. t would seem some normal people watched a geocacher doing his thing and were suspicious. They called the police. A town was cordoned off for hours, and the poor geocacher ended up with a police caution.
In theory this is entirely avoidable. For all that caches are reviewed by experienced cachers before they go live, these reviewers do not have local knowledge. To get round this, when cachers find a geocache in a place which could be construed as less than ideal they have the option to say so in the log that appears on-line. In theory this should point out any shortcomings in problematical geocaches.
In practice this doesn't work. It's become the accepted practice that these logs should only be used in a very positive way, and any log which does not gush praise regardless of any problems is frowned upon, and then deleted.
And then shopping. First to the outlet centre. Every time I go there the shops are different. We got some Christmas pressies, then walked into town for more Christmas pressies. We had a look in the clothes shops and I couldn't see anything that I couldn't get cheaper in Asda or Tesco. A quick bit of McLunch, then on to the pound shops to pick up some bargains. And with bargains bought we came home, collected Furry Face and took him for a walk though some very wet and muddy fields. Whilst out we fitted in a couple of geocaches. Well, we were in the area and it would be a shame not to. The pup did get wet and muddy though. And was soon shivering. He will be wearing his T shirt and coat tomorrow whether he likes it or not.
And with "er indoors TM" off to the film night watching a film I wouldn't have minded watching I dusted off an old presentation I once gave to the astro club. I'm presenting at our upcoming Stargazing Live extravaganza, and am fast running out of time to have it all ready...
16 December 2012 (Sunday) - Yalding
I was woken by my alarm this morning. That hardly ever happens. Up, brekkied, dressed and out of the house by 8am. We collected Hursky and made our way to Yalding. On the way we drove past Teston Bridge picnic site; somewhere which is very special to me. The river was very full, the weir was under water. And there seemed to be a lot of building work going on. I wonder what's happening there?
Pausing only briefly a couple of times for caches we were passing, we soon met up with friends old and new in Yalding, and nine of us took Fudge for a walk. Along the Yalding Hill Walk, a series of twenty (or so) geocaches. Up hills, down dales, through swamps. Finding supposedly leaning trees that had actually fallen, shouting at small dogs for rolling in fox poo; it was a really good walk. And at the end of the walk as a bonus we were given co-ordinates for a further five geocaches which were slightly more tricky.
One of these boiled my piss. The official rules of hiding geocaches state that caches should not be put near playparks. The actual rules say that only caches hidden by me should not be near playparks. We found yet another cache on top of a kiddies play area. I've actually started compiling a list of such caches. It's getting longer. When I'm next feeling in a black mood I might just squeal them all up. But not today.
Finding all the Yalding Hill caches took just over three and a half hours. We made our way into the village and sat at the seats by the war memorial to eat our picnic. Disaster! Someone (me) had left our sarnies at home. Fortunately we were with excellent company who ensured we didn't go hungry.
We then said our goodbyes to some of our number, and three of us (and a small dog) then slowly made our way home via whatever geocaches we could find on the way. We stopped off for quite a serious stroll around Collier Street where we found four caches. One named in honour of a pig which once lived nearby, One in the fields where hops are grown.
And then on to Staplehurst where we gave up on two: one being a muilti-cache which seemed to lead us on to a point over a mile away, and another which required a serious hike up and down through the village; as it was getting dark we decided against that. Instead we found "Dog's Cache" in the dark (the light had completely failed by this time). And with only one more pit stop we made our way home. A successful day's geocaching having found over thirty caches. And, as always, there are photos of the day on-line.
Once home Fudge had a bath. He'd gone out wearing his coat,but it had got soaked whilst we were walking, And he'd also done his signature move in fox poo (what is the attraction?) so a scrub was necessary.
And we found the sandwiches I'd prepared for lunch sitting in the kitchen where I'd left them. Waste not, want not. They made for a passable bit of tea.
And with "er indoors TM" off bowling and an exhausted little Fudge fast asleep on my lap I wasted the rest of the evening watching rubbish on UK Gold. My face is glowing; I seem to have caught the sun today.
Five days until mid winter and I've caught the sun....
17 December 2012 (Monday) - Grain Sea Fort
Bikes boil my piss. Well, to be fair it's not the bikes so much as the people riding them. Take yesterday for example. I had an interesting altercation with a plank on a mountain bike. I was bringing up the rear of the group with whom I was out walking. I watched the party ahead of me scatter in all directions as an idiot flew downhill through them on his mountain bike. By the time he'd reached me he'd slowed down somewhat. He then launched a bitter tirade about how rude everyone else had been by not saying hello to him. When I intimated that perhaps they didn't like his flying down footpaths on his bike (like a bat out of hell) he got quite mouthy, claiming that he had a God-given right to do just that. Silly fellow.
And then this morning I nearly mowed down two cyclists whilst driving to work. Both were out on their bikes on main roads before 7a.m. Sunrise this morning was at 07.56 - it was really dark when I nearly killed them. Both of my potential victims were clothed entirely in black, neither of them had any lights or reflectors on their bikes at all. And one of them was cycling down the wrong side of the road.
And so to work, which was rather uncomfortable. The elastic had gone in my underpants, and I spent much of the day hoiking my undercarriage about; doing the job my pants didn't. It's the sort of thing which is rather entertaining all the time it is happening to someone else. But when it's your own junk, it's a bit of a nuisance.
And then home earlier than usual. I got changed, and was soon zooming up the motorway with Lisa and Earle. A call had gone up on the Kent geocaching page that people were going to try for the cache in the sea fort which is about half a mile off of the coast of the Isle of Grain and is only accessible at low tide. Low tide as at about 9pm, so a dozen hardy (daft) souls met up and marched along the causeway. The first few hundred yards were the muddiest, but people who had been there before had already gone out to the fort and left a trail of beacons for us to follow, and set up a ladder. And also arranged for hot drinks to be waiting for us all. Another of our number brought muffins, and having explored the fort we had an impromptu sixty-fourth birthday party for one of our number. I was impressed - the birthday boy had received a kidney transplant less than a month previously.
Being a tunnel rat at heart it was odd - reminiscent of the architecture of the tunnels at Capel and Dover, but not underground. And having a geocache there was a nice added bonus. It would have been good to have explored more but time and tide (literally) were pressing. So we made our way back along a causeway which I felt was noticeably wetter than when we'd gone out.
Back on the mainland we looked for (and found) three more caches that were in the area. They took some finding - the local geology apparently had a lot of ferrite which stuffs up GSP readings.
And so home shortly after midnight to find the Chinese take-away that he most recent fruit of my loin had left. That made for a nice bit of supper.
We shall have to go back and explore that fort in the daylight...
18 December 2012 (Tuesday) - Luvaduck
I felt quite ill when I woke this morning - headache, runny nose and a general feeling of bleagh. Fudge didn't seem quite one hundred per cent either. His ears were cold, which seemed unusual. As the day went on I think we both perked up a bit; even if Furry Face did sleep an awful lot.
Once "er indoors TM" set off to work I took Fudge for a little walk. I had some geocache maintenance to do. One of my caches is in a fake snail shell. Or that is it was. Now that it's gone missing, been replaced and gone missing again I've replaced the snail shell with a bog standard magnetic key holder. There are those who look down their noses at magnetic key holders as geocaches. But equally only yesterday I got an email of thanks about one of my series of caches which consists of seven of these key holders. And a magnetic key holder costs fifty pence whereas a fake snail costs over a fiver.
Whilst we were out we hid another cache. When we first started this game the third cache I ever found was round the corner from my house. However "Horse Guards" has not been looked after by its owner, was marked as needing maintenance back in August, and yesterday it was archived (removed from the list of active caches). I've been trying to contact the person who owned the cache for ages, but to no avail.
With that cache now gone, the way was left clear for my latest scheme. A geocache which is blatantly obvious, but rather hard to actually get at. Caches are rated on a difficulty/terrain scheme on which the difficulty and terrain are graded from a score of one (dead simple) to five (rather tricky!). I've rated "luvaduck" as difficulty 1 / terrain 4. The cache is obvious. As the name suggests the cache is in a duck (a floating plastic decoy duck). The difficult bit is that the duck is anchored in the middle of the river.
On arrival at where I planned to place the cache I let Fudge off the lead and spent several minutes trying to carefully arrange everything. And when I finally realised that I couldn't do it in a controlled manner without getting very wet I just chucked the whole lot into the river. There was a huge splash, and in a triumph of pot luck over the odds the duck ended up just where I wanted it. And then Fudge went mad. For some reason he didn't like seeing the duck in the water, and he wouldn't stop barking at it.
We came home and did the necessary on-line activation of the duck and I wondered how long it would be before it was found. I got a text from Lisa at 1pm to say that she had done the cache and found two others had already signed the log before her.
Fudge and I then went up to the post office to collect a parcel. My Chinese puzzle box has arrived. I shall use that in another geocache. One with a very easy terrain setting (very easy to get to), but rather tricky to actually open up. A 4:1 to complement today's 1:4. It's my intention to hide that on a bridge I know in Canterbury tomorrow morning; if only I can get going early enough tomorrow.
We came home and I did some laundry and then the hoovering. Fudge seemed terrified by the hoover. And then whilst I scoffed the Chinese take-away that "Daddies Little Angel TM" had left laying around I watched a film about the life of the famous footballer George Best. A watchable film, but whilst it was on Fudge fell asleep on my lap. I really didn't have the heart to move him, so I resigned myself to watching rubbish on the telly whilst he noisily snored the afternoon away.
"My Boy TM" came to visit, and he was watching the telly with us when there was a huge crash outside. Some twit had come down the road far too fast and had swerved into the cars parked outside the shop just over the road. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it made quite a mess.
I was woken by my alarm this morning. That's twice in one month that I've not beaten it by two hours. I'm looking on having had so much sleep as being a good thing. I'm also reminded that a few weeks ago I downloaded a sleep management app for my phone. Perhaps I might turn the thing on? (The app that is - not the phone)
I got myself into gear promptly this morning, left for work a little earlier than usual and got that geocache that I mentioned yesterday hidden. There are precious few of the things in the Canterbury area, and fewer active geocachers over there, so I expect that activity on this one will be slow. Having said that, it was found for the first time about an hour after it went live. Perhaps the denizens of Canterbury are getting more into this silly game?
The morning's radio program had news about how social media will be policed in future. There are apparently concerns that prosecuting people for writing "offensive, shocking or disturbing" messages would have a very bad effect on the right of free speech. I can't see it really affecting me or this blog. As someone who writes a lot I might be critical of the world and those in it, but I try to avoid giving offence. Sometimes I even manage to do so.
Social media websites are being encouraged to embrace this new legislation, and persistent "trolls" will be prosecuted. This could be a good thing - a family member has recently been the victim of cyber-bullying. A mechanism to stop this would be good. But will it make social media a better place? Not really. There's no secret that I am very loathe to post in internet forums because of the bad feeling that is rife in so many of these places. Realistically I blame the schools for not teaching people literacy in the first place. Internet forums are places where people disagree. But how many of us can disagree without becoming disagreeable? How should one disagree politely or civilly?
"I disagree with you for the following reasons..." is a valid statement. "I disagree with you therefore you are stupid" or "You disagree with me therefore you are wrong" or "because you believe "A" you therefore believe "B", "C" and "D"" are not valid. However statements like this seem to form the basis of most of the (so-called) on-line discussions.
At school I learned logic and debating skills. There is a world of difference between reasoned debate and petty squabbling. It's a shame that the Internet can't see more of reasoned debate and less of petty squabbling.
My phone rang. The most recent fruit of my loin had come home for the day and had taken Fudge for a walk. Whilst they were out, a bird had startled both dogs. Sid hadn't been bothered by the feathered fellow, but Fudge had felt affronted, and leapt off after it in pursuit. The bird apparently flew into a hedge. Fudge also flew into that hedge, and got stuck. Daddies Little Angel wasn't at all impressed at having to extricate a Patagonian Tripehound from thick privet. (Apparently the Kennel Club has yet to recognise "Patagonian Tripehound" as an official breed of dog)
I had a good lunch today - the works Christmas buffet made for a serious feast. So much so that I gave myself a rather spectacular guts ache that lasted most of the afternoon and well into the evening.
We also had the exchange of "Secret Santa" gifts. I got a Christmas collar for Fudge and a couple of dog mince pies. He likes the mince pies, but he's not keen on his collar. I expect he will eat it before the weekend. Last Saturday I bought him a nice new rope toy and it is now nothing more than broken fragments. I suppose I can't really expect that much quality from the pound shop, but I live in hope.
Being on a late start made for something of a lie-in, even if my beloved's alarm did go off at five past seven. An odd time for which to set an alarm, but what do I know? I got up and spent a few minutes on my morning constitutional - having lost a lot of weight, I'm a bit loose in places. Toning up is a must-do. But have you ever tried to do twenty sit-ups with a Patagonian Tripehound sitting on your chest whilst trying to chew your ears? It's a form of exercise which doesn't come easily. So I abandoned sit ups and spent the time terrorising the dog instead.
After a swift bit of brekkie I set off to work. The rain was very heavy, as was the traffic. Or, that is traffic was heavy in every direction except the one in which I was going. I drove all the way with a sense of foreboding. It seemed that everyone knew of some delay, accident or obstruction that I didn't. Why else would no one be going that way? But I got to Canterbury without event. I wonder why every other direction was heaving with traffic except where I was going. Odd.
For once there was actually something of interest in the news. The star Tau Ceti would seem to have a family of (at least) five planets around it, and one "super-Earth" in the habitable zone. It's a far cry from having discovered aliens, but it's quite an impressive discovery. I felt sorry for the expert astronomer who was being interviewed on the subject on the radio. The news commentators were full of sarcastic puerile comments about little green men, but never once actually asked anything sensible; not even the name of the star in question.
There was also trivia. Apparently hideous Christmas jumpers are making a comeback. And, making a mockery of all of the talk of recession, shops are selling out of these jumpers; some of them costing over a thousand pounds. Who can spare a thousand pounds to spend on a jumper? If any of my loyal readers have money to burn in these austere times, spare a thought for "Yours Truly" with "er indoors TM" and Furry Face to support.... (provided the world don't end tomorrow)
Just in case the crackpots are right and the world does end tomorrow, can I take this opportunity to wish everyone what they would wish themselves at such a momentous occasion. Ends of the world don't happen that often.
Having said that I've lived through quite a few ends of the world. My first (in 1980) was something of a disappointment, and since then I've never really taken the occasion seriously. Having had a quick look on Wikipedia it would seem I've survived a couple of dozen apocalypses. So far they have all passed off uneventfully, but tomorrow might just be the big one. If it is, I'll just say "so long - and thanks for all the fish"...
It turned out that the world didn't end today after all. Which was probably for the best. After a quick spot of brekkie the Folkestonians arrived. I then did the run to drop people off at work because everyone else was off on the beer this afternoon.
I came home, and ably assisted by "Daddies Little Angel TM" we tidied the living room. It took a Herculean effort, and we tidied one room at the expense of another by merely lugging all the clutter upstairs. But we got there. Whilst at it we found all sorts of stuff, including a bag of pressies bought for last Christmas. For want of anything better to do, we then took a carfull of cardboard for recycling, then took the dogs for a little stroll. And then the dogs covered "Daddies Little Angel TM" in mud, so we came home to wash the dogs and "Daddies Little Angel TM"'s clothes.
A cup of coffee, and we tidied some more. It's amazing how much tidying one can do with a bit of assistance. And then hoovering. Fragments of what I can only describe as "dog-related wreckage" were everywhere.
Once I'd got to the point of being able to tidy no more Lisa called, and I popped out for half an hour's working on a puzzle geocache. I have been criticised in the past for putting out caches which are seen to be too easy. This one was frankly impossible. We gave up trying to figure out a fourteen figure key combination with absolutely no clue after half an hour's effort. We had some ideas, but none were successful. I shall keep thinking.
Home again, into my glad rags, and the Bat arrived and drove us into town. To Wetherspoons where we met the Rear Admiral, and after a pint of the plum porter we made our way to the Chippery. I'd brewed some ale for the gathering. It went down very well with everyone else, but for myself I didn't like it very much: too fruity. Sam had done an excellent spread, and whilst I didn't drink that much, I certainly ate too much. An excellent evening with friends; we finally staggered home shortly after 1am, when we then did battle with a turkey...
A late night, and an early morning. Once I'd brekkied I set about peeling spuds,, parsnips, carrots and sprouts whilst "er indoors TM" set about the turkey and the ham. The Folkestonians emerged some time in the late morning, follwed shortly by "My Boy TM" and his entourage, and my mummy and daddy. And we had Christmas dinner. Far too much to eat and drink. Ker-Plunk, Blokus, poker, home brew, port.
Up relatively early only to find "My Boy TM" had popped in on his way to the market. I was impressed to see him moving about quite so early. A quick bout of brekkie, and we tried to rally as many of the troops as was possible via cyberspace, then I played "hunt the sock". I wish I knew where they all went.
The Bat arrived, and we set off to collect others. Via the wonders of sat-nav technology we eventually met up with other friends in Eastling and set off on a walk round Sharsted Manor. For all that we are only two days past mid-winter the day was a lot warmer than it has been lately. We had a lovely walk though the woods. Whilst we were at it we picked up some of the local geocaches; it would have been rude not to have done so.
After a couple of hours we'd done most (all) of the caches in the Eastling area, and adjourned to the pub where we had a pint of the Christmas Ale with our sandwiches. Half our number left us at this point, and a few hardy souls pressed on caching. We found a series of four caches names after characters in "The Simpsons". They were excellent to do, and whilst we were doing them we found a lost railway track and we lost Fudge. The soppy dog wouldn't come back when called. After ten minutes calling we went looking for him. I found him at the bottom of what I can only describe as a small cliff. He'd either ran, climbed or fallen down it, and once at the bottom he was stuck and couldn't get back up. He had a look of abject terror in his eye, and he looked up at me with a very obvious look of relief. I got him to follow me along the cliff till we found a part he could clamber up, and then (after a good fussing) we carried on with our walk. For the next fifteen minutes he stayed within ten yards of me. Soppy dog.
With the four "The Simpsons" caches found we went back to the car, and made our way homewards. Via another eight geocaches. We didn't find one, we found we'd been within spitting distance of another in the past, and got bogged down in a serious swamp in the dark. An excellent day out, but as it had got dark it had got colder, and every time Fudge got on my lap he made me wetter. It was good to get home, get Furry Face bathed and to have a shower myself.
With "er indoors TM" off out bowling I fried up the left over vegetables from yesterday's dinner. Very tasty. I then pootled about on the Internet with a small dog fast asleep on my lap. He seemed exhausted by the day's fun.
I had something of a lie-in this morning, staying in my pit until 8am. Life is too precious to waste slobbing about in pits. Whilst I waited for the rest of the tribe to emerge I did something festive, and de-friended a dozen people from my Facebook list. Several people have lost their passwords in the past and set up new accounts, so I pruned out the old ones. I also chucked off people that I don't know. There were several of those. Mind you, there are still quite a few on the list who I'm not sure about. Probably either members of the astro club or arky-ologee club. Or kite fliers. Or geocachers. Or people I used to work with. Perhaps I should delete absolutely everyone and start again.
As "er indoors TM" set off to do the last of the Christmas shopping I took Furry Face for a walk. It's funny but since I've started taking him round the block I am now on speaking terms with lots of people to whom I've previously only nodded or smiled. Today's topic of conversation was universally the local floods. The fields round by the outlet centre are under water as was parts of Viccy Park; and the river was several feet higher than usual. Years ago (before we moved here) our road flooded. Lets hope that won't happen again.
We came home, and waited for "er indoors TM" to return. Whilst we waited Fudge slept. Once she was home we got the last of the pressies wrapped and set off to visit the in-laws. As we drove across the Romney Marsh we saw so many floods; the road was completely covered in places. So much water that it rather spoiled quite a few geocaching opportunities (!)
We visited family, but what with trying to fit in one geocache too many on the way home we had no time at all on arrival home before we were out again. The tribes gathered at Steve and Sarah's where a dozen of us had a wonderful evening. Laughing and chatting, and we sent out for Chinese. Very tasty. And then more chatting as I dozed on the sofa...
We were rather late home last night. And staying up till 2am watching "American Pie" was probably a mistake. I came down this morning to find carnage. Last night Furry Face had been given a rope toy by his Auntie Kat. By the morning all that remained was rope fragments.
We then opened our pressies; a decent haul including new troosers and golf bats. Fudge got quite a few toys, and having trashed his rope toy then ripped the stuffing out of a plush within five minutes.
Eventually we got ourselves organised, and set off to my mummy for Christmas dinner. Fudge seemed to like my Dad; immediately spotting the softie who would feed him. Christmas dinner was good - and loads of it. Oh I ate too much, and then slept through a large part of the afternoon. I was only woken by the theme tune of "Doctor Who". And, in keeping with tradition, I wasn't overly impressed with the Christmas Doctor Who. The show tries to mix adventure and comedy, but all too often comes over as frankly ridiculous. Mind you I did like the new TARDIS console room. And I quite liked the idea of the baddie being an old one; one we've met before. I wonder how many other Whovians spotted the 1967 London underground references? The snowmen were just too obvious, but when they blatantly mentioned the Great Intelligence I was expecting (hoping) some sort of Patrick Troughton cameo.
I went to bed relatively early last night. "er indoors TM" did not have to be up for work this morning so she had a late night. When she came to bed at 2.45am she woke me, and I then lay awake for the rest of the night until finally giving up and getting up at 6am. I then spent a little while fussing the dog whilst watching "Smallville" on the SyFy channel. I've never watched a complete episode of that show; merely seeing snippets here and there. I really should make a point of watching the whole thing. It looks to be quite good. Certainly better than yesterday's "Doctor Who" - I'm still sulking about how rubbish that program was. Perhaps I should just stop watching it like so many others seem to be doing.
Originally I had been intended to work on Christmas Day this year and to be off today. Plans for today had involved going to Deal for the Boxing Day swim or going to Westfield for turkey curry with relatives. But a colleague wanted to take part in a Boxing Day road race today, and I didn't mind swapping shifts. After all, I'm always on the cadge for people to swap with me. And the weather turned out to be rather awful, so I couldn't really grumble.
I listened to the news as I drove to work this morning. The roads were very quiet, but then you would expect that. However, for all that it was Boxing Day, for many people today was billed as the busiest day of the year. Apparently there's more horse racing planned for today than at any other time, and also there are more hunts with dogs planned today than at any other time. For all that fox hunting with dogs has been banned for some time, hunts still go out.
Some hunts apparently chase a trail that's been laid for them, others continue to hunt illegally. There's apparently quite a rant from the hunting lobby that fox hunting with dogs is a good thing. I can't see it myself. If people and dogs like charging around then then that's fine by me *if* they can do so without making a nuisance of themselves. And if a fox is wreaking havoc with livestock, then one person can go quietly out with a shotgun. But as for traditional hunting.... Having a mob chasing a fox to exhaustion, and then allowing dogs to rip it to pieces is just plain barbaric.
And so back to work after a five day Christmas break. Other friends who are back to work today have intimated that they are rather miffed that a lot of friends and family don't go back for another week. There's no denying that I'd like to have done my own thing and gone with "er indoors TM" to visit family and to have had turkey curry.
Having had a spate of sleeping well, last night I had a terrible night; sleeping for maybe three hours. I went downstairs far earlier than I should have, and spent an hour playing tug o'war with Fudge. I was hoping that he would be quiet and soppy; he was bouncy and boisterous.
Something in the news made me sit up and take notice. In future every time a child attends a hospital's accident and emergency department, the visit will be recorded in a national database intended to pick up child abuse. Whilst I agree with the sentiment I cannot help but feel it will merely flag up how some parents take their children to hospital every time the child so much as farts. Or what if any child is naturally accident prone. I lost count of how many times the most recent fruit of my loin was in casualty over the years.
Yesterday I mentioned that Gerry Anderson had died. This morning the radio featured an interview with the actors who provided the voices for some of the Thunderbirds puppets. And my piss boiled. Here was an opportunity to speak with actors who had been part of something special to so many people -something wonderful. And it was an opportunity which was totally wasted. The interview couldn't have lasted for more than a minute. It was abruptly and rudely cut short to make time for a (frankly rubbish) article about some incredibly geeky inarticulate children who were allegedly using science to make unrecognisable music from wet wine glasses.
My piss also boiled at the standard of driving. Why is it that when the roads are so quiet everyone drives so badly? Indicators are useful; if only people would use them rather than randomly going wherever the voices in the head might prompt. It never fails to amaze me that the worst drivers are those who have taken time and effort to have their company's name and logo emblazoned on their vehicle. What kind of advertising is that? And if you are going to blatantly queue-jump at the petrol station, why do it in a car covered in notices telling the world who you are?
To work, where I did my bit. And then home again. The radio featured what I confidently predict will turn out to be a blatant lie. Comet Ison and Comet 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS) are predicted to be very bright next year. So bright that they will supposedly outshine the full moon. Come to the astro club next year. I confidently predict that there will be no bright comets, and if there is, I will eat the astro club's raffle...
We were woken this morning by the sound of "Daddies Little Angel TM" coming to visit. Complete with "Cat Scratch Fever". and Sid. A quick bit of brekkie and we left her supervising Fudge whilst we set off to see my mummy. After all it was her birthday today. On the way we stopped off a few times to pick up some geocaches that we were passing. It would have been rude not to have done so.
We eventually got to Mum's house a couple of hours later than originally planned, and after exchanging insults for an hour or so we came home as the darkness was setting in. Home via Tesco which was surprisingly busy.
We got home to find "Daddies Little Angel TM" still in residence, accompanied by the Rear Admiral. Fudge was looking very sheepish and was apparently in disgrace; having eaten his nanny's slippers whilst we'd been out. Normally he knows what he can and cannot eat, but today he would seem to have had an aberration. Bless him.
And then on to astro club. Attendance was down. Very much so - I counted thirty five people tonight, and can't remember the last time we had less than sixty along. Mind you a combination of terrible weather and being Christmas week probably put a lot of people off of going. But we had an excellent meeting - tributes to Sir Patrick Moore, a demonstration of new planetarium software, a Chrimbo poem, a party feast.
Another disturbed night. When "er indoors TM" is having a late night watching drivel on the TV till all hours, she often doesn't notice Furry Face sneaking upstairs. He likes to sleep at the foot of our bed, and he woke me as he jumped up shortly after midnight last night. I wish that pup would stay downstairs where he belongs. Having successfully barged the dog-proof gate open and crept up undetected once or twice a couple of weeks ago, he now thinks he can doss down on my pit whenever he feels like it.
I got up shortly before 6am this morning and set about yesterday's pile of washing up. It's amazing how much washing up is left over following a visit from the most recent fruit of my loins. I then watched most of another episode of "Smallville". I'm getting quite into that show; even if I have no idea of what's going on.
As I drove to work the radio was abuzz with news of who has received recognition in the New Year's Honours List. This morning's news featured an interview with a lady who had raised thousands of pounds to give dying children some good times. No one can deny that she richly deserved an award. But awards for so many athletes? I suppose I can understand why Olympians get honours; or am I being cynical in feeling that it keeps the masses happy about having an Honours system? For all that most of humanity enjoy watching sport and games, I can't see the attraction myself, and never have. I really enjoy flying a power kite, playing poker, going fishing, riding my bike. However watching someone else doing that is (for me) incredibly dull. But I am in the minority; it would seem to be what the public wants. As would watching that someone else get a medal for doing so.
Mind you it is odd that athletes who had performed in last summer's Olympic Games had received honours for what they had done at the same time that a ninety-two year old chap had only just received an honour for what he had done in the Government's centre in Bletchley Park during the second world war. And Kate Bush has just received an honour (for her charity work) several years after she was most famous. And the illustrator Quentin Blake has finally been given a gong.
Again countless civil servants received honours for doing the jobs for which they are richly paid, and that annoys me. In the past I was particularly incensed by one such award, and wrote to the Home Office asking (under the Freedom of Information Act) why a certain Honour had been given. They told me that it had been well deserved, and that I should mind my own business. Which put me in my place. Even if it didn't stop me ranting. The country's Honours system is something I've ranted about in the past, the first time being on January 4, 2007 (!).
I'd left for work a few minutes earlier than I might have done today. Yesterday whilst out geocaching my tally of caches that I'd found had reached nine hundred and ninety nine. There are those who set great store by their tally count and some can be quite competitive about it. You can even get badges for numbers of caches found (akin to the distance swimming badges I had as a child). I'm not really that fussed about the number found. But I was told (in no uncertain terms) that my thousandth cache was to be something special. I suppose I can see the logic.
There is a geocache in the general area of Crundale named "Anno Domine MM" (The Year 2000).I felt that the name of that cache wouldn't be entirely inappropriate for the occasion, and it wouldn't be more than ten minutes out of my way as I drove to work. So I went to find it.
It was in a beautiful area, with a really pretty view. It turned out that the name of the cache related to an inscription on a bench overlooking a rather spectacular valley. The cache was just behind this bench. The last person to find it had mentioned something about hoping that a passing dog hadn't disturbed it too much. I can't help but feel that that person should have gone back after the passing dog had done its thing. I found the cache sitting out in the open; in plain view. Still, it made for an easy find, and once I'd done the top-secret geocachers ritual with it (known only to us "special people") I hid the cache under a pile of stones, enjoyed the view once more, and then took the scenic route to work. There were one or two more geocaches in the general area, but I've left those for when I'm next working on a Saturday. They will break up the day nicely. Hopefully.
It's amazing how much this looking for plastic boxes has become part of my life. There are people who are very active in the Kent geocaching community who have been playing this game for years who have only found a few hundred caches. I've now been doing it for just under five months and have found a thousand of them in that time.
And so to work . There's no denying that I would rather not have been working this weekend. Or would I? As I had a crafty cache on the way in to work it was a lovely morning. but as the day wore on so the wind picked up and the rain got heavier. I must admit that it wasn't long before I was looking at the rain and feeling glad that the bad weather wasn't spoiling a day off.
I did my bit at work, and came home again. This time via the more direct route. Home to find that "er indoors TM" had got me a metal 1000 geocaches badge and trackable coin. They are quite nice, actually. And, you know, I might just get myself a sew-on "1000 geocaches" badge as well. Unless any of my loyal readers might like to get me one as a late Christmas present. (You can get them on eBay you know) After all, I still have that hole in a fleece that I need to cover up...
I had a better night's sleep last night than I've had for a few days. But I don't like getting up whilst it is still dark outside. But we are now past the shortest day - mornings will get lighter. I got up and fussed Fudge. Once he was awake he wasn't interested in me. normally he's quite affectionate in the morning, but yesterday he was given a lamb bone, and this morning he only had eyes for what was left of that bone. Previous dogs have guarded bones and been quite aggressive with them. Fudge isn't nasty with it; he's just more interested in it that anything and anyone else.
And so to work. On Thursday I ranted about the drivel that was being aired on the morning's radio show. Today was equally wasted air time. For no adequately explored reason the morning's news program had invited a Rabbi, an Imam, a Bishop and some woman who was something big in religion (exactly what was never made clear), and all had been subjected to an obscure personality test. Funnily enough all of them turned out to be the sorts of people who would do well in organised religion. What a waste of my TV licence fee.
The weather forecast predicted a mostly dry day, which put me into a bad mood. Last night I'd turned down the option to go on a walk round Monkdown; somewhere I've not been before. Half a dozen friends would be off on a brisk winter's morning. With my dog. And I wouldn't be there. Still, as "er indoors TM" so rightly said, I can go back over the summer when it's brighter and warmer. And it transpired that much of the day was spent trying (and failing) to stop the dog eating horse poo. Mind you even if it had been raining today I wouldn't have minded being off today. Today was my brother's birthday; a crafty half with him wouldn't have gone amiss.
Having done my bit at work I came home again. The radio had a program about personal finances, so I turned it off and put on a CD instead. I squalled along to classic "Sparks" tracks all the way. Haven't done that for a while - must do it more often. It's probably better for my blood pressure than getting wound up by the news...
Over a spot of brekkie I did the astro club's account. Quite healthy really. Then I did my own accounts which could be a lot worse. Whilst I was at it I cleared out my letter rack; finding quite a bit of stuff I should have dealt with weeks ago. Oh well...
With very little else planned for the day we went up to the town. After all, the rain was rather excessive; too heavy to really do much else. Whilst parking I met someone I've not seen for years; someone with whom I attended a management course about fifteen years ago. We chatted for a few minutes, then set off bargain hunting. I got a nice box for excess lego, and several cheap bits for the evening. Whilst shopping we met quite a few friends who also seemed to be at a loose end.
We then popped to the bank to deposit over a hundred quid. Again I've slipped up; not thinking to embezzle it until it's safely in the account. And then on to Matalan where I got new trousers and T shirts in the half price sale. I needed new trousers. My favourite pair had become far too baggy and I'd ripped the arse out of then some weeks ago, but that hadn't stop me wearing them constantly. I was amazed by the attitude of the till staff in Matalan; as I was paying, the woman at the next till looked at the size of the queue and loudly and sarcastically remarked how it must be good to have time off during the week. I let it pass; perhaps I should have complained.
Home for lunch. I had planned on taking Furry Face for a walk in the afternoon, but the rain had got so bad that he wouldn't even go into the garden. So with little else to do I ironed shirts and then slept in front of the telly until the Bat arrived.
Once he was here we all piled into the Batmobile and set off to Folkestone for the traditional New Year's Eve gathering. Twenty of us met up and had a great time. Maria had put on a wonderful buffet, and I for one stuffed myself silly. We played the dice game for the silly things we'd bought from the pound shop earlier. Things got quite competitive for a broken tablet PC and some chocolate frogs. And a mankini was won. And modelled.