1 February 2019 (Friday) - More Snow
For once everyone settled down and a good night was had by all. I could do with more of that.
I watched "The Young Offenders" as I scoffed my brekkie. The Young Offenders were talking about how being an orphan is no impediment to success, and quoted Harry Potter, Batman, Superman and God as examples of orphans who had done well in their respective fields. They felt that God had particularly done well despite not having had any parental support. I suppose God probably has. He's done a sight better than me, but I suppose being a divine deity is probably an advantage in any field of endeavour.
I got dressed. and set off into a dark morning.
It didn't take long to scrape the snow off of my car; it took longer for the dustbin lorry to get out of my way. As I drove to work my car's thermometer told me that this morning was ten degrees warmer than yesterday, but that didn't seem to have registered with most people. The roads were noticeably less busy today than they had been for the last few days even though the overnight snow had given way to rain.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the failings in the NHS's cervical cancer screening programme. I took a deep breath. It is a matter of public record that various governments of all political flavours have spent the last twenty years closing down the bits of the NHS that do this screening, so is it really any surprise that the bits which are left are struggling to cope?
For some reason the morning's radio show was coming live from Dublin where they were interviewing locals about Brexit. The general consensus was that the average Irishman was sick of hearing about it. A view with which I rather agree.
Having left home at exactly the same time as I did yesterday morning, I was rather early getting to work this morning. Usually I get to the roundabout at Lamberhurst just as the eight o'clock news starts. Today I was parking my car at eight o'clock. Usually there is six miles of stop-start-stop-start up the A21; this morning I drove the entire way without stopping once. Fear of snow had certainly kept a lot of people off the roads.
Having some time spare I thought I might visit the works canteen; you can't beat a cooked breakfast.
Work had a minor excitement today. As we worked, we had a V.I.P visitor. This one seemed pleasant enough, and asked everyone to pose for a photo for him. How times change. Six years ago when I worked "somewhere else" I was told that taking a photo in the workplace was grounds for disciplinary action. Not that I'm bitter at all... Mind you, I would have thought that someone on a six-figure salary might wear a suit rather than a jumper the armpit of which had been ripped out.
With work done I walked out to my car. The forecast rain was falling as snow. Rather heavy snow. It had settled, and getting my car up the hill at Goudhurst was tricky. I was wondering if I might have to abandon the car and camp out in one of the pubs there tonight. I eventually got up the hill, and at Cranbrook the snow gave way to rain. The rain stopped at High Halden, and Ashford looked as though the snow was but a bad dream.
I fed the dogs. Pogo was not hungry. Well… I say “not hungry” – he was being fussy. The other two ate theirs, I had to feed each morsel to Pogo by hand. He scoffed up his bowl of biscuits happily enough.
"er indoors TM" boiled up fish and chips, and we scoffed whilst watching yesterday’s episode of “The Orville”. For a series which started rather badly, this show is now going from strength to strength…
2 February 2019 (Saturday) - Dover Beer Festival
I got up for the loo in the small hours and went arse-over-tit down the stairs. *Someone* had left their dinner bowl on one of the stairs. I’m not assigning blame, but how many of the family walk round carrying their dinner bowl with them?
I went back to bed and gave the duvet a rather serious yank so’s I could actually have some. I managed to secure about eighteen inches of the thing, and then shivered through nightmares in which our usual walking pals had dragooned me into being the co-pilot of their formula one racing car. The co-pilot’s position in this car being pinned to the roof by the G-forces.
Over brekkie (toasted fruit loaf) I watched an episode of “Little Britain” then had a quick look at the Internet. Nothing much had changed.
I got myself organised and went to the station. As I walked in to the place there was a rather stupid woman shrieking at the world to look out for her bike which she had put across the entrance. I suggested she move it, and she got rather aggressive; she felt it was fine where it was. I suggested it wasn’t, hence her shrieking at everyone.
I went to the cashpoint machine and found it was out of order. Something of a pain. For all that there is another cashpoint machine only a hundred yards away at the BP garage it necessitated another run in with the idiot with the bike. And once I’d physically thrown her bike out of my way I had a run-in with another bunch of idiots who didn’t understand how the door to the International station worked. Basically the door rotates and you walk through it as it turns. If you keep bashing into it, it stops. Some idiot Frenchman was making a point of continually bashing into it. After I’d explained to him (half a dozen times) how not to be a tit I wrenched the thing open. I was in something of a rush.
I got my cash from the PB garage, and I was *so* glad to find that when I got back to the station the idiots swarming round the door had gone. I’d already had two squabbles before nine o’clock.
"er indoors TM" turned up, as did the train to Dover. At the station we met Jimbo, and we walked to the Maison Dieu. Finding that the beer festival didn’t start until half past ten we went to McDonalds for more brekkie only to find the lace had closed down. We went to Greggs for brekkie instead. Have you ever been to Greggs in Dover? I can’t recommend the place.
We went back to the Maison Dieu and joined the queue which was forming. It wasn’t long before we were drinking, and not long after that Terry and Irene joined us. I made copious note of what happened. Such a shame that I lost them. They eventually came to light. Here’s what I guzzled:
Kentish Rye Porter (Canterbury)
The Devil Made Me Brew It (Arbor)
Dark Snow (Old Dairy)
Merlin’s Muddle (Tintagel)
Christmas Pudding (Kent)
Black Pearl (Gadds)
Quadrant Oatmeal Stout (East London)
Brewers’ Reserve (Kent)
Excalibur (Tintagel) (again)
Christmas Ale (St Peters)
Opium Wars (Tapstone)
My notes made mention of “Hippo” and “RB” which obviously referred to the singalongs of the hippopotamus song and of Rue Britannia. But “WM”, “Canadians”, “Soldier” and “TBP” could refer to absolutely anything.
I did take a few photos of the day, but they didn’t really shed any light on what I’d scribbled.
Quite a bit of rather strong ale we all said our goodbyes. We had a cuppa at the station whilst waiting for the train which didn’t take *that* long to arrive.
I didn’t fall asleep on the train…
3 February 2019 (Sunday) - Blean Woods
Restless dogs made for a restless night. Mind you I suppose six pints of ale yesterday probably didn’t help an awful lot. Being unable to sleep I got up and had a shave and generally fiddled about between three and four o’clock before going back to bed and dozing fitfully until seven o’clock.
I got up, watched an episode of “Little Britain”, then had a look at the internet as I do most mornings. Yesterday morning I’d put up a video of me and the dogs; a lot of people had liked it. Quite a few people had liked the various photos from yesterday’s beer festival too. Talking of festivals I saw that the date of Brighton Kite Festival has been confirmed as the first weekend in July. Although I’ve not got my rota that far in advance yet, what with having already pencilled in family weddings and post wedding parties I suspect that I will be working that weekend.
I got myself organised, and walked up the road to my car. I’d left my wellies in there, and would need them today.. Having seen a big space outside the house I drove the car home. With a few minutes spare I harvested the dog turds that littered the back garden. This was a far less unpleasant job than usual; with the turds all having frozen overnight there was pretty much no niff at all.
We got ourselves, our luggage and the hounds together, and it wasn’t long before we were all in the car heading out to Blean. The original plan for today had been a walk round Bluebell Hill, but the place had been closed because of the snow only two days ago. We thought Blean might be a more sensible idea for today.
As we drove we had a phone call; there was a half-marathon in the area and marshalls were trying to divert cars who were following the race. As we drove we saw some people in yellow tabards; I made a point of ignoring them, and we were soon parked up. We found Karl and Tracey, and we went for a rather good walk round some pretty woods on a rather bright day. The day was was nowhere near as cold as I thought it might be, but we still insisted the dogs wore their coats. Treacle wore what I can only describe as a sock and Pogo had an amazing technicolour dream-coat. Fudge actually had a rather nice coat, not that he would have agreed
Treacle and Pogo weren’t bothered by their coats, and Fudge soon got over his sulk. In fact having a coat on Fudge was a good thing – it was easier to see him when he wandered off (which he did a couple of times).
Being woodland all the way, the dogs were off the leads for the whole time. Pogo particularly seemed to like the freedom. Treacle (as usual) carried sticks here and there. She does love carrying a stick.
The ground ranged from firm to sloppy; in some places the mud and puddles was frozen, in others it was rather slippery. I went over in the mud at one point. It was a shame that my wellies leaked. I shall have to get some new ones. Ones that fit…
Geocache-wise… it was an odd walk. Usually when we go out hunting Tupperware the caches are numbered. We start at number one, and have a guided tour. There used to be a numbered series round Blean Woods, but the chap who’d hidden it had realised that there was a lot of space for more geocaches, so he de-numbered the series that was there, stuck out a load of new caches, and has taken the line that people can make their own routes. Whilst this isn’t what usually happens when one hunts Tupperware, it isn’t entirely unprecedented. There are a load of caches in Bedgebury pinetum arranged in this way. Having to actually think about planning our route made for a different walk, and we did find ourselves stomping through undergrowth and bushwhacking rather a lot today.
And we did have a twenty minute hiatus when Treacle ran off with one of the geocaches and flatly refused to return it.
Usually we’d have a crafty pint after a walk. But the dogs were filthy. We came home (Pogo wasn’t travel-sick at all) and once the dogs were bathed we had a bit of dinner. It was rather good; it usually is.
"er indoors TM" then went bowling as she does. In between doing some washing I watched a couple of episodes of “Prison Break”. Just as things are beginning to get going, the star seems to have croaked. Still, dropping dead is rarely an impediment on most TV shows…
4 February 2019 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept like a log last night, for which I was grateful. Over brekkie I peered into the Internet only to find it was much the same as ever. Half a dozen people posted photos of what they had done over the weekend; dozens of people were commenting on what the half-dozen had done. I wish more people would post what they get up to at the weekends (or just at any time) as I am a rather nosey person.
Squabbles also abounded on social media. They so often do. But I did snigger when I read about “Leave means Leave – North West”’s opinion poll. A pro-Brexit group have managed to get twenty thousand people to vote in their survey. Over ninety per cent of the votes being in favour of “remain”. Something of an own goal there?
I also had an email from some brewery quibbling about the specifics of which beer I’d logged on my Untappd app at the beer festival on Saturday. It looks like I logged the wrong beer… who cares? Who would really take the time to point out such a trivial error?
I suppose some people make that their hobby? I deleted the check-in. It would probably avoid all sorts of arguments in the long run.
I had planned to take the dogs for a walk this morning, but with the rain still falling I thought we might put it off for a while. Instead I went through my letter rack. I stick all my letters into a rack, and then once every few months I go through them and thrown them all away.
With letters thrown away I settled the dogs and drove down to Ham Street. I had a voucher for Wyevale garden centres for Christmas, and bearing in mind my wellie leaked yesterday I thought I might use the voucher on new wellies. I got to Ham Street to find the garden centre there isn’t a Wyevale one any more. They politely refused to accept the voucher. The closest Wyevales are in Canterbury or Hastings. At the risk of appearing ungrateful, my voucher’s not going to get used in a hurry. Mind you, on the plus side the new wellies I bought in Ham Street garden centre were priced at sixteen quid, but the chap on the tills only charged me eleven quid. I saw that as a result.
I came home via Bethersden. There is a particular geocache there which was the closest to home which I hadn’t found. Looking at the map it was across some fields, and I thought it might be a good trial run for my new wellies. I parked up as close as I could to the thing and stomped through six hundred yards of mud until my phone said I was within ten yards of the thing.
Having read previous reports I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy find. Very experienced hunters of Tupperware had blanked here. Several people had given up after several attempts. People had mentioned sticking mobile phones in holes in trees to take photos and having to shove arms shoulder-deep into holes in trees. I found what looked like an obvious tree and shoved my arm into what looked like an obvious hole. No joy. I saw another obvious hole rather low on the tree. I got down into the mud and shoved my arm up inside the tree. Nothing.
Just as I was on the point of storming off in a sulk I got a stick and scraped all the leaf litter out of the bottom of the tree. Amongst the leaf litter was the plastic tub I was after. I’ve now found every geocache within five and a half miles of home.
On the way back to the car I met a rather friendly horse…
I came home via the tip where I got rid of my old boots. I came home to a very quiet house. Usually the dogs bark when I come home. There wasn’t a squeak as I opened the door. All three were sitting very quietly; all looking very ashamed. The contents of the kitchen bin were strewn everywhere. I suppose I should have taken that lot to the tip as well.
Seeing how the rain had slackened off to a mild drizzle I got leads on to the dogs, and we went round the park. As we walked we didn’t meet any other dogs (which was a result) and other than polite nods, everyone else left us alone. Sometimes (especially when on my own with all three dogs) that is for the best.
With walk walked I fed shirts into the washing machine, had a sandwich, swapped shirts for undercrackers, and spent a few hours doing the laundry. As I ironed I watched a double episode of “Prison Break”. Yesterday I mentioned that the star of the show had died; that didn’t stop him starring in today’s special, and I understand that he continues in the next season of the show as well.
"er indoors TM" boiled up dinner and went bowling. I soon found myself underneath a pile of sleeping dogs from where I watched a film on Netflix. “The Cured” was set in an Ireland just after a zombie apocalypse. Scientists had developed a vaccine to cure being a zombie, but the cured were facing quite a bit of discrimination from those who hadn’t been zombies. These people had the hump with the ex-zombies because they had eaten all the non-zombies’ loved ones. Some of the cured were forming an alliance against those who would make them an oppressed minority. Some might say the film was allegorical of the sectarian troubles in Ireland. Others might say that the film was a load of old crap.
I’ll just say that’s an hour and a half of my life wasted…
5 February 2019 (Tuesday) - Feeling Rather Negative
I slept rather well, despite a particularly vivid dream in which the hospitals at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells had declared war on each other, and in which I was expected to be a double agent for both sides to infiltrate the other. I was glad to wake from that one.
Over brekkie I had a look at the Internet. Last night I saw a large box of Lego had been advertised for same locally. I sent a message to ask if it was still available. I had a reply. “Yes”. Not even a smiley face.
I also saw some talk about how NHS chiefs are looking at making accommodation for staff in hospital premises should Brexit lead to motorway chaos. Bearing in mind that I regularly drive up and down the M20 going to and from work, this is rather worrying. I would have thought that the obvious answer was *not* to use the M20 as a car park, but what do I know?
I walked down the road - I had an appointment with the dentist. I said hello to the four receptionists (yes - four) who fiddled with their computers and told me to take a seat upstairs. I'd arranged to have the first appointment of the day, and was a little curious when someone else went in before me. And then another one went in. When the third one went in I went to the counter and asked what was going on. They took my details, and told me I'd missed my appointment. I should have been there half an hour ago. I told them that they had booked me in forty minutes previously. Just as I was getting ready for a fight, one of the receptionists came over. "Have you done it again?" she asked her mate, and gave me an apologetic smile. She then phoned the dentist and asked if they could fit me in.
The dentist agreed to see me; I told her that I'd been sitting in the waiting room for nearly an hour. Her assistant chipped in that she'd seen me sitting waiting. I've formed the distinct impression that this happens more often than they would like.
To add insult to injury I've got to go back for a filling.
I went home and got the dogs onto their leads and we went for a walk round the park. Perhaps my experiences at the dentist had boiled my piss? Perhaps Pogo is just too much like hard work? Pogo tried to fight with every dog we met that was on a lead. After ten minutes he went back on the lead, but on meeting the next leaded dog he suddenly yanked with all his might and pulled his collar off.
And then I had an argument. I could see a chap walking toward us with a dog on a lead. I went the other way. This chap hurried to get in front of us. I went back the way I came; so did he. I called to him and explained that Pogo isn't good with dogs on leads. He called back and said he has never ever let his dog off the lead, and he would like his dog to play with the two of mine that wouldn't want to fight. I tried to explain the impracticality of it... bellowing the conversation a hundred yards across the park was impractical enough. Eventually this chap took offence and stomped off in a huff.
Some mornings my dog walk is really enjoyable. Today's was a misery. I'm seriously considering leaving Pogo at home in the future, but that wouldn't be fair on him.
With dogs walked I went off in the general direction of work. A couple of geocaches went live in Wadhurst yesterday. No one had logged that they'd found them. There was the chance of a First to Find. But I wasn't to be lucky; someone had found them, but not logged. There are those who encourage that sort of thing - they call it "keeping the chase open". I don't encourage it - I call it "deliberately wasting people's time".
But on the plus side I did get to find a cache that hadn't been logged in eighteen months - another resuscitation. That’s thirty-five of the things now.
As I drove here and there this morning I went along several lanes that had signs saying that they weren't suitable for heavy goods vehicles. I lost count of the amount of times I had to turn around as there was a heavy goods vehicle stuck in a narrow lane. What is it with these people? Are they stupid? The highways people don't put these signs out for fun.
I got to work in time for dinner. There was a special menu in honour of the Chinese New Year. Dinner was rather good today.
Work was busy; It was a shame that there was mud all over the department's floor. I was sure I'd cleaned my boots before coming in to work...
Today was all rather negative, wasn’t it? Tomorrow will be a better day – I’ve decided.
6 February 2019 (Wednesday) - This n That
I had a rather restless night which was a shame. I gave up laying awake and came downstairs. Over a bowl of cornflakes I watched an episode of “Little Britain” as Fudge snored on the sofa. For all that he comes up to bed every evening, he soon goes back downstairs where he probably has a far better night.
After telly I had a quick look at the Internet. Other than some vague acquaintances having birthdays there wasn’t a lot happening on Facebook.
I had one email. Crosskeys Travel (the people with whom I went to Bruges a while ago) were offering day trips to the London museums for fifteen quid a head. That’s somewhat cheaper than the train, and probably easier too.
It was rather early when I left home this morning. I had a parcel to collect form the post office, and if you park in the sports centre it is free parking before seven o'clock. As I walked from my car there was a lovely smell. I'm going to hope it was flowers, and not some dangerous chemicals. Despite being nearly an hour before dawn, the birds were singing.
I got to the post office and got my parcel (Lego motor) from one of the most surly and miserable assistants that I have ever met there (and that is up against some pretty stiff competition).
As I walked back to my car I could see that the gyms in the sports centre were really busy despite it still being well before seven o'clock. These people must love it.
I drove round to Sainsburys to get petrol. I also got a sandwich as I'd forgotten to make myself one. And I got a bottle of wine too. I quite like those.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing the press coverage of the election in the USA when Donald Trump got voted in. They were interviewing some American journalist or other who said that the American press had unduly influenced the election. Apparently at the time everyone knew that Donald Trump didn't have a hope of getting elected and was something of a joke, and so all of the press coverage was on Hilary Clinton (because she was the only "sensible" candidate). Press coverage generally being a negative thing meant that the electorate heard far more bad stuff about Clinton than Trump, and so Trump got in.
An interesting theory.
There was also talk about how President Trump has made some speech or other in which he's trying to be nice to people. This is being viewed with some suspicion by most of the media.
My plan had been to get to work early. However broken traffic lights in Sissinghurst (lights stuck on red in both directions) meant I was stuck there for over an hour. By the time I'd negotiated the obligatory HGV wedged in the slalom bend at Goudhurst I was actually late for work. The drive I did in fifty-five minutes last night took me two and a quarter hours this morning.
Work was rather hard work; I was glad to get out this evening. I came home and unpacked my Lego motor. It doesn’t work. I’m going to give the seller the benefit of the doubt and suspect my batteries are flat. I shall get some new batteries and try them.
I then looked at getting more Lego road base plates. It amazes me that it is cheaper to buy these things new from the Lego shop than it is to buy them second-hand on eBay.
"er indoors TM" came up with a rather good bit of dinner. We washed it down with that bottle of wine I bought earlier. And we watched the latest episode of “Star Trek: Discovery”. I didn’t see that coming…
7 February 2019 (Thursday) - Something New to Watch
I had a rather good night’s kip, but was still awake rather early. I got up, and over brekkie watched the last episode of “Little Britain” that Netflix had to offer. With a few minutes spare I looked at a geo-puzzle and got a little cross with it. This one typifies what is wrong with the entire concept of a geocaching puzzle cache. These geo-puzzles aren’t like “proper” puzzles. In a “proper” puzzle you have an obvious logical problem to solve.
Geo-puzzles aren’t logical at all. Take the one I was fighting with this morning for example. This one is something to do with Monty Python’s cheese sketch. Each of the cheeses listed refer to a number in the latitude and longitude of the co-ordinates that you are trying to find. Now this number might be the last digit in the year of the foundation of the dairy making the cheese, it might be, the first digit in the cheese’s listing in the international cheese register, it might be the third digit in the amount of times that Michael Palin has made himself sick by gorging on that cheese, or (quite frankly) it might be absolutely anything at all.
And to further complicate the issue, once you’ve hit on the right idea (by random guesswork) you then have to find the right website from which to get the information because there are countless websites listing how many times the cheese has won the tour de France or the Nobel prize, and all the websites give slightly different information.
I stopped off at the co-op on my way to work. I wanted to get a biscuit bar for lunch (that's the kind of guy I am!) and I thought I might try out my new co-op card. Bearing in mind that my Nectar card has scraped me up over a tenner's worth of credit in a couple of months, I'm hoping for great things from my co-op card too. I suspect I will be disappointed.
There was a minor delay at the counter in the co-op as the builders were so obviously trying to charm the nice co-op lady. I think the builders were a tad optimistic - I once mistook this woman for a bloke. Her haircut has a lot to answer for.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about European Council President Donald Tusk who made a speech yesterday and mentioned a "special place in hell" for "those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely". Needless to say this has boiled the piss of those who are in favour of Brexit; even though Monsieur Tusk has probably got a point. But (to be fair) Satan should also have plans for those who screamed that Brexit would cause the end of the world. It is now clear that there was a lot of disinformation bandied by both sides of the squabble, neither side (it would seem) having the faintest clue of what they were actually talking about.
There was also discussion about eighty-year-old Geoff Whaley who has motor neurone disease and has decided to end his life rather than experience the indignity of the final stages of the illness. With the assistance of his wife he's gone to one of these clinics in Switzerland where they offer euthanasia, and his wife is worried that the police are going to bring charges against her. British law is a strange thing. It is illegal to help someone end the pain that a human is supposed to endure, but (by the same legal system) it is not allowed to let an animal suffer in the same way.
I can't see what there is to discuss here. Let's be clear - if I end up in the same boat as Mr Whaley, I want my plug pulling. Those who might be in the position to make that decision for me have had their orders for some years.
"Thought for the Day" was introduced by someone who was something big in the Catholic church. She was wittering about how the Pope has recently visited the Middle East and met with various Muslim leaders without having a fight with them. She thought it would be nice if everyone could all get on without fighting. Just like the Pope and her church and the Muslim leaders have done (drawing a veil over the Inquisitions and fatwas).
It's a valid point. We could probably all learn from this.
In the past I got into no end of spats. These days I try to avoid this more and more by deliberately avoiding those with whom I might fight. It seems to work up to a point.
Yesterday the journey to work took over two hours. Today I did the same run in a shade over one hour. The roads were a lot quieter for some reason, and not having broken traffic lights helped.
I got to work, and I found myself biting my tongue. Someone of about my age was banging on about how he wanted to retire because (so he maintained) you can't really do anything with your life or have any hobbies or interests all the time you've got a full-time job.
With work done I came home. "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good dinner then went off to craft club. Finding myself underneath a pile of dogs I turned to Netflix. “Russian Doll” is an interesting show, and it stars one of the racier cast members of “Orange is the New Black”.
I’ve developed a guts ache this evening. And when you’ve as much guts as me, that is a lot of ache…
8 February 2019 (Friday) - Before the Late Shift
Apparently Treacle was sick on the bed at six o’clock this morning? I slept right through it. I am reliably informed that there was quite a bit of commotion to sleep through. At brekkie time Pogo’s stomach was rumbling impressively. The pair of them have become quite established bin-thieves; there is no telling what they’ve eaten to upset them.
Over my brekkie I saw over forty people had commented on a post on Facebook that a friend made last night. Her dog died recently. She took the body to the vet’s and paid two hundred pounds for a cremation. When she went back for the ashes she was told that somehow or other her dog was cremated along with “another batch of dogs” and the ashes had been lost. She was given her money back and offered the (empty) engraved empty casket as a freebie.
I know I’d go to pieces if that happened to me.
I sent out a couple of birthday messages, saw I’d had no emails overnight, and got dressed.
Despite the rain I took the dogs out. We did our usual circuit of the park without having a single fight with any other dogs. Pogo did get told off by a dog half his size, but I think he deserved that. There was a minor incident in the co-op field though; just as I let the last one off of the lead so a squirrel sprinted past. All three dogs charged off in hot pursuit right underneath the locked gate to the allotments, and then zoomed around the winter vegetables trying to find that elusive tree-rat. I shouted at the dogs to come back, and (would you believe it?) all three came back without needing to be told twice.
We came home and dried off. I popped over the road to get some new batteries. A couple of days ago I said that my new Lego motor wasn’t working. I tried it with new batteries this morning and it still didn’t work. I took the thing apart and had a little look-see, It is working now. I think the trouble is that when I say “new” Lego motor, what I actually mean is “forty-year old second-hand Lego motor that had sat unused in a cupboard for thirty-five years”.
I then ordered some Lego level crossing accessories from eBay and set off in the vague direction of work.
I did have a vague idea of going to the Lego shop at Bluewater before work, but it occurred to me that Smyth's toy shop (only four miles away) might have the thing I wanted. I wanted a couple of largish base plates with streets marked out. The nice man in Smyth's had never heard of them and assured me that there was no such thing. I told him that there was and that I'd bought some a month ago in the Lego shop. "Lego shop?" he asked.
It was a shame I'd not left myself enough time to get to Bluewater before work.
Usually when I am on a late shift I plan myself a little adventure. I had several little adventures in mind for this morning but having seen how bad the weather had been during the dog walk I'd wasted much of my spare time farting around with my Lego motor earlier. I drove a pretty-much straight line to work, diverting only a few hundred yards out of my way (for geo-purposes) at Goudhurst.
I got to work. Usually on arriving at mid-day I have to circle the car park desperately hoping to find a space. Today was different - there must have been a dozen spaces. Just as I parked so the heavens opened. I sat in my car for ten minutes waiting for the rain to pass.
I came in to work and went to the canteen. The works canteen is usually good; today they excelled themselves. Fish and chips followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. Oh yes.
Today was dull…
9 February 2019 (Saturday) - Five Oakes
Over brekkie I watched a new episode of “Big Mouth”. I didn’t realise that the third season was about to start. Another good thing on Netflix.
I had a little look-see at the Internet. Apparently there is to be a load of closures and speed restrictions on the M20 over the next month or so whilst they install all the infrastructure for the proposed contraflow for when Brexit means the lorries will be queuing for hours, I would have thought that the ideal time to have done this work was over the last six months when miles of the motorway were closed off with no one working on them, but what do I know?
Yesterday I saw that Smyth’s didn’t have the Lego plates I wanted. This morning I ordered them from Amazon, then turned off the laptop. The plan for today had been for me to be at work, but last-minute shift swaps meant that I had a day free. We got the dogs and ourselves organised and drove out to Five Oakes. I must admit that we drove with some trepidation. Pogo isn’t a good passenger and we were expecting him to “blow” at any minute, but we got to Five Oakes unvomited,
We soon met up with Karl, Tracey, Jess and Charlotte and we went for a little walk. The rain of the last week made for a rather muddy walk, but a good walk. Even if the dogs did get filthy. It was a shame that the wind was so biting, but the rain held off, We finished the walk within minutes of the rain starting.
Geocache-wise it was a rather good walk. Sixteen hides over three (or so) mostly flat miles. We found all but one. If any of my loyal readers fancy a wander out I would suggest parking between caches nine and ten; the specified parking at cache one looks as though it is on private land.
With walk done we took some wet wipes to the dogs. You’d be amazed at just how much mud small dogs can accumulate. We all then drove down to the Half -Way House in Brenchley where Karl and I had a pint of stout whilst the ladies perused the menu. We had a particularly good dinner. I started with the soup. I think everyone had the scampi, and I ended with the fruit crumble. And there were a few beers in between. And port for dessert.
The nice people at the Half-Way House had given us our own little alcove, and it was ideal. The dogs could wander about with relatively little supervision. I say “relatively little supervision”; we had to keep an eye on Pogo as he’d not taken long to figure out the way to the kitchen.
There were some drunk women having dinner not far from us. There are those who don’t like drunken shrieking when dining out. Personally I see it as a good thing; it takes the attention away from the dogs.
We had a rather good dinner; it’s Karl’s birthday tomorrow, so we had to do something to mark the occasion. I took some photos – I usually do.
I slept most of the way home until "er indoors TM" woke me at High Halden. There were two small dogs running loose on the main A28. I soon captured one small dog, and the other one immediately followed me, telling me off for having picked up her friend. It didn’t take long for me to find the dogs’ home. But I have to say I was amazed by the lack of interest the owner showed about the dogs being loose on the main A road. I would be horrified if any of my wolf-pack got loose.
We came home to find the postie had been. One of the Lego level crossings I ordered from eBay yesterday had arrived. I was impressed with that speed of delivery. I spent a little while fiddling it into place, then we both had a bit of a doze.
I might put the telly on in a minute…
10 February 2019 (Sunday) - Wet Sunday
One of the dogs spent much of the night grumbling. I suspect it was Treacle; she is the most quarrelsome of the pack.
Finding myself awake a little earlier than I needed to be I got up, and over a bowl of cornflakes I watched the third episode of "Russian Doll". The plot took a rather interesting twist.
Being half-past six on a Sunday morning it was probably far too early for anything to have kicked off on Facebook, so I got dressed and set off to find my car. I did chuckle when a passing vagrant asked where my dogs were.
The roads were rather quiet this morning, as well they would be. As I drove the pundits on the radio were broadcasting from Nigeria where there are elections pending. They were interviewing all sorts of people there. I've worked with many Nigerians over the years and they have all said bad things about the place. What I heard this morning just reinforced what I've heard.
There was talk on the radio about how there are reforms to sort out the corruption that is rife in all walks of Nigerian society. But they are only prosecuting those who took bribes in the past. Those who are still in office and taking bribes are being left well alone. Bribery is only seen as an offence when the person taking the bribes is no longer in a position to need to be bribed.
And there was talk about how bad it was that the youngsters there are forming friendships and relationships based on whether they like each other rather than depending on which crackpot religion their family has followed for years. Stopping the religious hatreds of hundreds of years is seen as a bad thing.
I might whinge about the UK, but things here could be an awful lot worse.
I got to work and made a bee-line for the canteen. I've had better cooked breakfasts than that which work boils up, but I've certainly had far worse ones. I took a photo of my full English and put it on Facebook; tagging my colleague who had started her shift an hour previously. Not that I was gloating or anything.
Work was work; as I did my bit I learned of a new micro-pub. It is in Cranbrook. Not the easiest of places to get to, but it might be worth a visit after a walk one weekend.
With my bit done I sparked up my sat-nav. Last night just before bed time a Lego bargain appeared on one of the Facebook selling pages I follow. The seller took the line of first-come-first-served, and seeing how I was the first person to message him, I had first dibs on the bargain. The chap lived on the other side of Ashford from where I live. I typed his post code into my sat-nav. The quickest route was to drive north of Maidstone and pick up the motorway. I say "quickest" - the sat nav said that going that way was five minutes shorter, but twelve miles longer.
I went cross-country.
I soon found the house of the nice man who was flogging the Lego. He invited me into his house; there were boxes of Lego everywhere, and carrier bags too. His children had *loads* of Lego but they had grown out of it (so he said) and he’d put it all into storage, and now (years later) he was having a clear out. He was surprised at the market there was for used Lego. I was his first buyer; apparently forty-five other people had messaged him about the bargain I got in the twenty minutes it took for him to mark it as sold.
My box had my name on; many other boxes and bags had names on. I asked if he had any he’d not yet listed on Facebook’s selling page. He had. I snapped up another bargain.
I came home to find "er indoors TM" had gone shopping. All three dogs barked at me; they wanted a walk. Pausing only briefly to shut Pogo’s paw in the toilet door (whoops!) we were soon walking up to the park.
Sometimes our walks are good, sometimes they are a misery. Today’s walk was excellent. The dogs behaved themselves, did as they were told (they understand English no matter what anyone might say) and didn’t fight with anyone or anything. There was a minor incident when Pogo and Treacle both got soakings when they fell in drainage ditches though. They are used to running down and up these ditches as they are usually empty. But what with the recent rains there was two feet of water in them today. I laughed as Pogo fell in, and I laughed even more when Treacle fell in two minutes later.
We got home at about the same time as "er indoors TM". I put the Lego I’d bought on the scales. I’d bought two job lots at eight quid each. They had a combined weight of eight kilogrammes. I’ve seen mention in many places on the Internet that the going rate for job lots of Lego is ten quid per kilogramme (plus postage). I’ve just saved over sixty quid. Result.
A cup of coffee, a slice of cake, and I had a little look-see at my first bargain. There’s an awful lot of fiddly bits, but it didn’t take me long to knock together a little shop-salon thingy. There’s also a Lego ladder, conveyor belt and all sorts of other goodies. And I’ve not looked at the second one yet.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a very good bit of dinner, and we scoffed it whilst watching last week’s episode of “Star Trek: Discovery”. I think where Discovery is going wrong is that it is trying too hard to have an ongoing storyline. I’m afraid that “The Orville” is in danger of leaving Discovery behind…
11 February 2019 (Monday) - This n That
Fudge was laying on the bed grumbling last night. Usually when he is disturbed he goes downstairs, but last night he just growled every time anyone else fidgeted.
Over brekkie I watched the third episode of "Russian Doll"; it is a strangely fascinating show despite not much actually happening. And with not much happening on the Internet either I got myself organised and set off up the road.
I was surprised at how much ice I had to scrape from the car this morning, but with ice eventually scraped I drove to the co-op for some granola bars, then off on a cross-country route to Pembury and work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how there are calls for changes to how the UK's foreign aid budget is spent. Rather than dishing out money to do-gooders (which then ends up in the pockets of the undeserving and the embezzlers) it has been suggested that the money be spent on warships and the BBC World Service as that would better serve those in need. I suppose it might do - I don't really know.
There was also talk about the so-called "blood scandal" of the 1980s in which haemophiliacs were given contaminated blood products. Here's another abuse of public money, surely? The only "scandal" is how much effort is being spent on raking this all up. What happened in the 1980s has long been explained. In the UK blood is donated and donor blood is scarce. In other countries blood donors are paid, and so there is far more stuff available. Back when the "scandal" blew up the UK was not able to manufacture anywhere near enough blood products to meet demand, and so the stuff was (and is) imported. Admittedly the stuff imported thirty-odd years ago was contaminated, but it was contaminated with diseases not known to medicine at the time. Can the victims of this realistically claim compensation for something about which no one knew anything? Mind you, it seems odd that hundreds of documents about the case have since gone missing.
Just as I got to work so my phone beeped. A new geocache had gone live three miles down the road. I'd just driven near it. But I wasn't going to mess about in rush-hour traffic. I went in to work and did my bit. Things were rather fraught with the inspectors visiting today. Once I used to lay awake at night fretting about such inspections. Not any more.
I did my bit. As I came home I had to brake sharply as I drove out of Goudhurst. Some idiot driving a rather fancy car flew past me on a blind corner. He then sped off up the road, but I caught up with him at the traffic lights half a mile later. I then followed him for about ten miles or so, watching him desperately trying to overtake the car in front of him. He didn’t find himself on the wrong side of the road head on to an oncoming car *that* often.
I stopped off at B&Q to get some plastic boxes, then came home. "er indoors TM" boiled up some dinner, had a fight with her printer, and went bowling. I watched “SAS – Who Dares Wins” whilst I ironed some shirts, then put undercrackers in to scrub whilst I sorted the Lego bargain that I got yesterday.
I see that geocache still hasn’t had a First to Find logged… I might go have a look in the morning before work. If I get up in time…
12 February 2019 (Tuesday) - The Fyre Festival
I didn't have a good night; I spent much of it refereeing Treacle who was trying to fight with anyone who was up for it. I eventually nodded off only find that I was sleeping most uncomfortably so as not to disturb Fudge. I couldn't get comfortable without waking him, so I gave up and went downstairs. I found I woke "er indoors TM" who had gone downstairs an hour or so earlier to get away from the commotion that Treacle and Pogo were kicking up. I did find it rather amusing that both Treacle and Pogo had followed her downstairs...
I watched an episode of "Russian Doll" as I scoffed brekkie, and seeing it was still incredibly early I thought I might have time to go hunt out that geocache that went live yesterday morning.
There wasn't that much ice to scrape from my car this morning. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how trials are starting in Spain today. Those responsible for the uprising in Catalonia a couple of years ago are having their day in court. Except for the former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont who is still on the run in Belgium. I say "on the run": he's not doing much running. He's been quite openly going round Europe trying to persuade public opinion to back his cause.
The whole thing is rather odd; co-operation of legal and police systems across Europe is one of the (many) reasons given for remaining in the European Union, and here we are with one European partner refusing to extradite a wanted fugitive to another. What's that all about?
There was a lot of talk about how the Prime Minister is planning to resign in the summer once the current Brexit row has passed. The theory being that if she resigns she can have some say on who takes over whereas if she is ousted she cannot. Those in the know feel this is her best chance of preventing Boris Johnson getting into Number 10.
There was also talk about how well she is doing in the opinion polls.
Doesn't this speak volumes that despite having made such a monumental balls-up of the most important thing to happen to the UK since the last war, the electorate *still* see her as preferable to Jeremy Corbyn. Either Corbyn is utterly incompetent, or he has upset every journalist in the country. Either way he is certainly not the leader of the opposition that our country needs right now.
I eventually got out to the little village of Frant and pulled up. My phone said I was only fifty yards from the Tupperware I sought, and it also said that no one had yet logged a find on it. No find in the first twenty-four hours? That's unheard of. Part of me was expecting to find someone had signed the paper log and was playing silly beggars. Some hunters of Tupperware do that - they find the thing and sign the paper log but don't log the thing on-line until at least one other person has wasted a journey hunting the First to Find. A few caches had gone live in the area last week and the first person to find the things had waited a day before telling the world about it. I wish people wouldn't do that. I'd actually planned out a little bitter diatribe to post on-line if this was the case, but I'd been thinking the worst of my fellow Tupperware-hunters. I was the first one to find the thing this morning. Happy dance. That's now two hundred and forty First to Finds to my credit. Not too shabby at all, really.
As I did the secret geo-rituals I saw that i was being watched from a nearby house. I smiled sweetly at the normal people who were looking at me whilst having their breakfast. I don't think they realised what I was doing, but this cache is on a main road and will make for a quick easy find. I suspect a lot of people will be stopping off. I wonder if those normal people will go have a look-see to find out what the attraction just outside their garden is.
I got to work, hid as best I could, and came home again. "er indoors TM" boiled up rather good bit of scran, and as we watched it we watched the Netflix documentary about the Fyre festival. I though the thing was a spoof. It actually happened ?
13 February 2019 (Wednesday) - Velociraptors Biting Things
Another night which would have been better without the “terrible twins” quarrelling in the small hours.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Russian Doll”. I then had a look at the Internet. It was much the same as I’d left it last night. I had a couple of emails, but none of note.
There was no ice on my car to be scraped this morning, for which I was thankful. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Brexit Secretary who came across very poorly. He was unable to give a straight answer to absolutely any question that he was asked. You would have thought that with just over a month to go, *some* details of his plans would be available. Perhaps he hasn't got any plans at all? He certainly didn't have a clue.
There was also talk of a creating a national database of people's hands; the idea being that people's hands are unique and if there are photos of hands at crime scenes then villains might be brought to justice more easily. I'd volunteer for this since (at the moment) I don't intend going out doing anything criminal. I suspect most non-criminal people would also be up for it. Not so the crims though; which rather negates the benefit of having such a database.
There was also talk of some idiot who subscribes to a crackpot religion in which they believe the world would be a better place without any people at all. This chap is trying to sue his parents for allowing him to be conceived and born without his consent. It turns out his parents are lawyers and are welcoming the challenge. You couldn't make this up, could you?
Despite sixteen miles of half the motorway being cordoned off I made good time to Maidstone. I took a little diversion to get petrol. This stuff just keeps on getting cheaper. Odd really. With all the Brexit doom and gloom on the radio and in the media I would have thought that the price of that stuff would have skyrocketed.
I got to work; I'd not been at Maidstone work for nearly four weeks. But I was soon back into the swing of things; avoiding that which I could avoid, and getting on with that which I couldn't.
There was a minor hiccup when the late shift was a couple of minutes late getting in; she'd had a calamity at home when her small son had claimed to have been bitten on the willy by a velociraptor. I suppose compared to that, all else pales into insignificance. The ladies of the department were unanimously of the opinion that being bitten on the willy by a velociraptor was a good thing and it might go some way to reduce the "unnatural demands" from their menfolk.
I went for a rather long tea break at that point.
With "er indoors TM" off out this evening I walked the dogs round the block, then finished the last of the French Stick for dinner. As I scoffed it I watched the last two episodes of “Russian Doll”. For a show which started well it rather fizzled out at the end. Such a shame…
14 February 2019 (Thursday) - A Bush in Challock
I had something of a restless night last night. Better than many recently but restless, nonetheless. I got up to find a rather good Valentine’s card from "er indoors TM"; she’s been making cards recently. This one featured a dog not unlike Fudge.
As I scoffed my toast I peered into the Internet. It hadn’t changed much since last night. I had an email from Amazon saying they could not publish the review I gave of the Lego boards I bought from them at the weekend. They didn’t say why though. Oh well. They bothered me for the review. Their loss.
I then phoned the power company. The nice people there sent their bill via email last night. They were planning to increase my monthly payments by about forty quid a month based on estimated charges. I thought the whole idea of a smart meter was that they knew exactly what we were using without having to estimate anything. I got through to them and couldn’t hear a word that they were saying. I phoned back and had a rather bizarre conversation in which they wanted to know why I was having an estimated bill when I had a smart meter. They then hit upon a frankly amazing idea involving their logging in to my smart meter and getting a reading from it. I suggested that I was in full agreement and that they had my permission to do so (if they needed it).
They are going to send me another bill.
I took the dogs for our usual walk. There was an interesting development; the Jehovah’s Witnesses stall is under new management. There used to be two little old ladies standing at the entrance to the park by the fountain. They had a little stand and were polite and civil and not at all pushy. They’ve gone. There is now a miserable-looking bloke at the stand, and the rest of the Jo-Bos are pulling a rather dirty trick. The two little old ladies have been replaced with two young women about eighty years younger with epic chests and legs that go all the way up to their bums. These two made a terrific fuss of the dogs whilst giving me the eye and making all sorts of suggestive looks, and after a few minutes of the “come-and-get-it-big-boy” stuff they pulled out the God-bothering pamphlets. I made polite excuses (having Pogo rummaging in a hedge was a reasonable excuse) and I left them to hunt down their next victim. If everyone else is Viccie Park is as shallow as I am, they will have an easy time.
We came home through the co-op field where the allotments stank of “funny fags” as they so often do.
I settled the dogs and set off to work. Due to a minor hiccup I’d been asked to do the late shift today. When we went out this morning my car had been covered in ice. In the meantime it had melted.
I headed to Challock. There was (and still is) a puzzle geocache there based on the village sign. Seeing how it was the only cache within seven miles of home that I hadn't yet found I thought I might hunt it down today. It would be the first stage of a little adventure that I'd planned to do on my way to work. I'd solved the puzzle that was used to give the co-ordinates of this cache and I'd plotted (on the map) where the thing was. It seemed to be near a corner along a rather obscure country lane. I did think it was rather far from the village sign on which it was based, but sometimes these things are a little way away from where you might expect them to be. I'd used Google Street View to find somewhere to park. I was surprised that the nearest lay-by was a couple of hundred yards from where I wanted to be, but I'd checked my calculations, and they were right (!)
I was soon parked up, and with my wellies on it wasn't long before I was stomping about in the undergrowth. I found a likely-looking holly bush, and with the clue "hanging about" I was looking for something tied to a branch of that holly bush. I couldn't find anything. I widened my search, re-checked my sums, went back to that holly bush, rummaged... all to no avail. Perhaps the thing had fallen off? I rummaged in the leaf litter. I checked my sums again. I carried on rummaging.
After about half an hour I re-checked my sums (for what must have been the twentieth time) and found I'd made a slight error. I had a "2" where a "1" should have been. A small error, but in the fourth place of a set of longitudes, that's the best part of a kilometre. Allowing for driving round twisty country lanes, I was over a mile away from where I should have been.
I went for a drive of about a mile, and when I was where I was supposed to be I saw the cache from ten yards away.
Oh how I laughed.
I did have all sorts of plans for the morning, but having wasted so long round the wrong holly bush I went straight to work. I had a rather good bit of broccoli cheese, then got on with the late shift. It was surprisingly busy…
15 February 2019 (Friday) - Wasting Time in Chatham
I had a rather good night’s sleep last night. It would have been better if I hadn’t been laying awake for the last hour in desperate need of the loo, but in retrospect I should have got up and gone for a tiddle, shouldn’t I? (It ain’t rocket science, is it?)
As I scoffed my toast I looked at Facebook as I do. The “Save our NHS Kent” brigade were up in arms about closures to stroke units in Kent. They’ve been up in arms about all sorts of things recently. What they seem to overlook is that a lot of these closures aren’t about saving money, they are about practicality. How *can* the local authorities keep a stroke unit open when there isn’t enough staff to run the place, and no one applies to adverts for the jobs? Here’s a suggestion for keeping the local stroke units open. Those who are complaining should shut their rattle and study (for many years) to post-graduate level and then fill the seemingly un-fillable vacancies themselves.
But to lighten the mood a friend had posted a video she’d taken in her hotel room. She was listening to the people in the next room who were doing noisy sex. I did laugh,
I took the dogs round the park for a walk. As we went through Bowen’s Field we saw the council had installed new rubbish bins. They were emblazoned with what seems to be the new corporate logo “KAC”. Apparently this stands for “Keep Ashford Clean”. I thought it was a mis-spelling and I would have put Fudge’s cack in there had Pogo not eaten it first.
As we walked round the park and the dogs played I thought something was up with Pogo. He was moving very awkwardly. And then I realised what was going on. He’s learned how to run in a sitting position so that Treacle can’t bite his ankles.
We came home through the co-op field and past the allotments which again reeked of “funny fags”.
Just as I got home my phone rang. It was an automated call from the power company asking what I thought of how they dealt with my query yesterday. Bearing in mind they haven’t dealt with it at all I hung up. I’ve been told (from various sources) that if you rate companies badly on these customer satisfaction thingies, all they do is have a go at the poor person with whom you spoke and *not* with anyone who might be able to help you.
I settled the dogs. I say that most mornings when I'm on a late shift. In the mornings they don't need much settling. In the evenings I only have to walk in the general direction of the kitchen and they all go mad. In the mornings I pick up the dog treat box and all three just lay where they are laying and not one moves. This morning was a typical example of this. I went to their treat box. Three pairs of eyes watched from the comfort of the sofas. Not one got up, or even stirred. I offered each dog a treat. Each lifted their head for me to put the treat into their mouth, and then chomped the treat whilst laying down. Clearly any more action on their part would be just too much like hard work.
As I drove this morning "Women's Hour" was on the radio. It would seem that young women barristers are leaving the profession in droves when they have children. Children are expensive things (apparently). There were one or two ex-barristers being interviewed who were whinging on about the cost of child care. It struck me that if a barrister couldn't afford child care then what hope was there for us mere mortals?
I drove to Chatham. I'd set myself a little geo-mission today in the Medway towns. First of all I had to find a plaque from which I had to get some information, I then had to answer some questions to get some numbers, do some sums, and then go get a geocache.
The sat-nav struggled getting me to the plaque. I eventually answered the questions, I did some sums and came up with what I thought might be plausible co-ordinates. I drove for a mile to find that they weren't. The location I'd come up with was in someone's back garden. I checked my sums, found my mistake, drove another mile in another direction and found myself in a residential street. I say "residential street" - it was realistically the sort of place where the council puts the scratters so that they can fight amongst themselves. There were several domestics kicking off as I walked up and down the road. Finding nothing remotely resembling the clues I'd been given I gave up, and told my sat-nat to aim for work.
Easier said than done.
I don't doubt that there are many people who can drive round the Medway towns. I find it hard work. It is all up hill and down hill, all narrow streets and sharp corners, cars parked in the most stupid places, and every driver clearly thinks they are the only person on the roads. I was rather glad when I got on to Bluebell hill and got out of the place.
I got to work rather later than planned, but still there was time for dinner. Being Friday a plate of fish and chips went down rather well. I went in to work, and did the late shift. It wasn't a bad shift - I've had worse.
Once home we watched the last episode of the current season of “Hunted”. It would seem the controversial ending has upset quite a few viewers.
Mind you I think I’d like to be in the next season…
16 February 2019 (Saturday) - Early Shift
I slept like a log until half past two when "er indoors TM" and the wolf-pack came to bed. Things were a tad crowded after that. I gave up trying to sleep and came downstairs. Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Alan Partridge" on Netflix (I do like Alan Partridge) and then got myself organised (without waking anyone) and set off to work.
When I'd got up I'd looked out of the window. I do that first thing every morning. At that time all the cars outside were frost free. Whilst I'd scoffed my toast a freezing fog had fallen. All the cars were suddenly thick with ice, and visibility was down to ten yards at best. I drove slowly to work; the fog came and went in patches. All very pretty but a pain for driving.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were spouting rubbish as they so often do. Today they were talking about the amount of money that university vice-chancellors are paid. The Labour party has declared that university vice chancellors should not be paid more than twenty times the rate of the lowest paid member of their university's staff. At the same time the Labour party aren't advocating raising the pay of the lower paid or cutting the pay of the higher paid. Someone or other from the Labour party was wheeled on and he made a complete balls-up of trying to explain this clearly nonsensical (and impossible) idea.
As a life-long right-wing lefty, the Labour party boil my piss. It seems that the only policy they have is to make themselves utterly unelectable.
I got to work, and with a few minutes spare I popped into the canteen and had the full English breakfast. Oh yes !! Feeling suitably bloated I got on with the day's round. I did that which I couldn't avoid, and left as soon as I could.
I drove from work straight to Kwik-Fit. Just lately my car has been making a terrible noise when I turn the engine on. I was convinced the exhaust system had had it. And bearing in mind the tyres had had the thumbs-down when I’d had the cambelt done a few months ago I thought I’d get the tyres looked at too. Ideally I would use my usual garage, but they couldn’t fit me in for another two weeks. Kwik-Fit could see me right away.
I got to Kwik-Fit, they got my car onto the car lift. The exhaust was fine; it was rattling because some clip thingy had perished. And there was nothing wrong with the tyres either. I went in expecting a bill for over five hundred quid; I came out only twenty-five pounds lighter. I was pleased about that.
I came home to find "er indoors TM" painting the skirting boards as a prelude to getting a new carpet. Perhaps I might have helped with the painting? She seemed engrossed in it so I didn’t interfere. I played Lego instead. I built a little shop-thingy from the bargain job-lot I bought last weekend. And with my little shop-thingy built I put in in place, and created a little photo album of progress so far with my Lego project. I really need a name for the town that I’m building.
I then tried to program “Hannah” for tomorrow’s little outing. It wasn’t having any of it, so I gave up. Over dinner we watched the latest episode of “Star Trek”. I think that the show is really suffering from having a needlessly complicated plot.
I then got serious with “Hannah” and programmed directly through GSAK. For those of my loyal readers who are unaware of the seriousness of this, programming through GSAK is fighting talk. I hope it worked.
I shall find out tomorrow…
17 February 2019 (Sunday) - Hunting Unicorns in Conyer
The data cable for my sat-nav “Hannah” hasn’t been right for some time. I think it’s got a loose connection inside. Over brekkie I had a look-see at the Internet to see if I might get myself a new one. I *really* wanted to get it via Amazon so I could have it delivered to the Amazon locker at work. Amazon were selling the cables for thirty-six quid. I thought that was a tad expensive, so I had a look on eBay. The same thing – three quid with free postage. Nice one, eBay.
There wasn’t much kicking off on Facebook, so I turned off the lap-top and started getting myself organised.
It wasn’t long before we were driving off. Having just worked for the last seven days it was good to have a day off. We firstly went to the co-op where their cash dispenser was again out of receipts. I get money from there at least once a week and it *never* has receipts.
We drove up to Tenyham church where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. After a little wheri-diversion we then walked the local paths following a series of geocaches. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I had fun and games recently straining my brain solving a hundred puzzle caches loosely based on unicorns. Today we went out to actually find some of the things. Finding a hundred geocaches in a day is ambitious (I’ve done it six times) but we had originally considered it. However having plotted the things on a map it didn’t look as though they lent themselves to one epic route march. So we thought we might do the series in smaller sections.
Today was the northern stretches. We’ve walked the paths and lanes round Conyer before. The paths are well-marked, the lanes aren’t busy. Ideal for walking the dogs.
As we walked we kept getting whiffs of dog farts. Pogo git the blame, but it could have been any of them. When I take my hounds out for walks with friends that are dog-less I am very keen that they get the “full dog experience”, and when you experience a dog fart you soon know all about it. Perhaps if Pogo and Treacle hadn’t eaten dead mice yesterday?...
We also saw what I can only describe as “pylon spotters”; some of the normal people were standing on the roadside intently staring at a pylon through pairs of binoculars. I suppose it is an extension of bird-watching or train-spotting, but with the advantage that a pylon isn’t going to go anywhere very fast. They seemed happy enough. It was pointed out that having spent the day looking for film pots under rocks hardly gave me any hobby-related moral high ground, but I think geocaching would trump pylon-spotting every time.
At one point we left the unicorn trail to hunt out four other caches across the marshes. We had a rather good lunch looking across the river to the Isle of Sheppey. It was at this point that we decided not to go for a particular cache. Reading that it involved a tree climb had made us dubious about attempting it, but it was the drunk tramp who was nearby that put us off. It is difficult to be stealthy with three dogs when climbing a tree, and having a drunk tramp offering to share its White Lightening wasn’t really something we would have relished today.
Today’s walk was unusual in that our customary pub stop was half-way round the walk rather than at the end. We sat in the beer garden. Mid-February and we were sitting outside!
Geocache-wise we had a walk of two halves. The unicorn caches were close together along well-marked paths. Across the marshes the hides were rather spaced out and seemed to involve a bit of bushwhacking.
We were rather concerned to see that many of the unicorn caches were looking rather poorly. Many had leaked, and the paper logs weren’t what they might be.
Mind you I was pleased how “Hannah” held up. Yesterday I’d programmed my sat-nav directly through GSAK (as one does) and it had (mostly) worked.
I took a lot of photos today. Once home I put them on the Internet. "er indoors TM" did some painting and I did some Lego. Over dinner we watched the latest episode of “The Orville”. For a show that started off frankly terribly, “The Orville” is getting better and better. Tonight’s episode was in many ways a remake of the Star Trek episode “In Theory”, but was done far better.
I hope the dogs settle tonight – I’m a bit tired after today…
18 February 2019 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
Everyone slept well last night. A ten-mile walk seems to have that effect on people and dogs. I made myself some toast for brekkie, and as I scoffed it Fudge came and sat with me and watched every move that Pogo and Treacle made in case he was missing something.
I used the lap-top to see what I’d missed in the world overnight. I hadn’t missed very much really. For some odd reason Facebook was suggesting that I might like to buy a sledgehammer. I wonder what prompted that?
I had an email to say that a new geocache had gone live not very far from work. Had I been on a core shift this morning I might have chased the First to Find. But I wasn’t. So I didn’t. Instead I did a rather dull YouGov survey the subject of which I have already forgotten, got myself dressed, and took the dogs out.
We did our usual circuit of Bowen’s Field and the park. We only had one fight today, and that was very early in our walk. I say “fight”; Pogo just shouted a lot at another dog who was on a lead. Whilst I am a great advocate of having dogs on leads on the streets, why not let them run in the parks?
As we walked we met OrangeHead’s posse; but they were without their leader. Fifteen minutes later we met OrangeHead walking in the opposite direction with a face like a smacked arse. Has there been more fallings-out in the Viccie Park dog walking cliques? Whilst I’m on civil terms with most of the dog-walkers who frequent Viccie Park I make a point of not chumming up with any of them. Over the years I’ve found arguments to be had in scouting, astronomy, keeping snakes, flying kites, geocaching… it would seem that walking dogs also has its fair share of squabbles.
Once home I harvested all the dog dung from the garden. I didn’t *quite* block the chod-bin; buckets of water and vigorous stirring with a trowel soon budged the recalcitrant turds. I then got the lawn mower out and gave the lawn a little once-over. As I mowed I smiled as I remembered “Nutty Noodle” (our frankly insane neighbour who hasn’t been seen in over two years). Whenever we were on speaking terms he would always tell me off when I was mowing the lawn. No matter what I did to mow a lawn, it was always wrong. The grass would be too wet or too dry. It would be too early in the day, or too late. I would be cutting it too short or not cutting it short enough. The brand of lawn mower would be wrong… I wonder what happened to “Nutty Noodle”? I suspect he really is in a lunatic asylum somewhere.
With the lawn mowed I then spent a little while generally tidying up around the garden until my back hurt too much. I then got out the shears and gave myself a haircut, then played Lego for a few minutes.
Last November I bought a black and white Lego house – it was a special gimmick with Weetabix from over forty years ago. It was the first house I added to my little Lego town, but (using the mini-figures as a guide for scale), it was just a little bit too small. I’ve extended it by six studs in width and two bricks in height and cut down the tree. Its garden might need a little work now…
Just as I posted up a photo of my Lego house to my Lego album there was an almighty crash in the hallway. The postman had delivered two letters. Judging by the noise I thought he had kicked the door down.
I had a letter from the British Blood Transfusion Society telling me my membership was up for renewal. I pay them nearly a hundred quid a year and seem to get very little for my money. It turns out they offer an awful lot of stuff… if only I could log on to their website. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing it seemed they had the old email from my previous employer which I haven’t used for over two years. Which was why I wasn’t getting anything from them.
Over a bit of dinner I watched the last episode in this series of “SAS: Who Dares Wins”. I rather like that show even if I’d never be good enough to be in it.
I went to bed for the afternoon. Just as I nodded off all three dogs started howling and screaming. I have no idea what set them off but I had to poke each dog in turn to shut them up. When poked each dog shut up, and looked at me as though to ask what was going on.
I got a couple of hours’ sleep, then watched the first episode of “Traitors”. It seemed watchable enough. Having set the SkyPlus box to record the series I found out the entire lot is available for download. I’ve downloaded the second episode.
"er indoors TM" should be home soon. A quick bit of scoff then I’m off to the night shift. There’s a geo-meet this evening on the way to work. I might pop in if I have time.
19 February 2019 (Tuesday) - Between the Night Shifts
The late shift was surprisingly busy; for all that I might whinge about the night work, it is good to be able to get on with it in my own way sometimes.
As I drove home I was amazed at what I heard on the radio. Those who nearly destroyed the Labour party over thirty years ago are being welcomed back into the fold, whilst those few who until now have been the only voices of reason have knocked it on the head, left the Labour party and formed their own little club. The pundits on the radio were interviewing the apparent leader of this bunch (Chuka Umunna) this morning. He came over as rather rational and sensible; much like the gang of four did thirty-eight years ago. Mr Umunna was rather vague as to what his group are going to ultimately do. Will they just do their own thing and disappear (never to be seen again) at the next general election, will they form a new political party (SDP Mk II)?
You really would have thought that with the country being flushed down the toilet by what must be the worst Prime Minister ever and the government in disarray, the Labour party would be making the most of the opportunity and *not* making complete tits of themselves, wouldn’t you? The Prime Minister must offer up prayers of thanks every day for Jeremy Corbyn.
Once home I waved at "er indoors TM" in passing, then took the dogs round the park. When I’d left Maidstone this morning none of the cars were frosted over. As we walked up the road in Ashford, every car was covered in ice.
It was a beautiful bright morning today; but it was a shame to see that the KAC (“Keep Ashford Clean”) bin would seem to have developed some subsidence. As we walked Pogo made some new friends, all the dogs chased a poor squirrel, and apart from a quick roll in some fox poo we didn’t have any “episodes” at all.
As we walked we met OrangeHead who seems to be back with the “in-crowd”.
With walk walked I had a quick scrub, then over some toast I finally got to grips with GC-Droid; an app which I’m hoping will be useful for searching out film pots under rocks. I’ve used the NeonGeo app for years because it allows me to use ordnance survey maps. However NeonGeo is no longer available for download. I’m due for a new phone soon, and whatever geo-app I get, ordnance survey maps are a “must” for me. I can do this with GC Droid, I *think* I’ve figured out how to upload via GSAK, and in the circles I frequent you are nothing if you cannot upload via GSAK. I need to give the thing a serious field trial now.
I took myself to bed, and managed to sleep for just under five hours. That’s not bad during the daytime, really. The dogs did have a few shouting matches but having Treacle and Pogo upstairs did help minimiise that nonsense. Fudge stayed downstairs and instigated much of the shouting.
Eventually finding myself wide awake I got up and watched a couple of episodes of “Traitors” which the SkyPlus box has decided to download for me. It’s a good show, but does there need to be quite so many nudey sauce romps?
"er indoors TM" will be home soon. With any luck she’ll boil up some scran, and then it is off to another night shift.
Today was something of a non-event. The days between the night shifts often are.
20 February 2019 (Wednesday) - Bit Tired
The night shift was rather busy. I arrived to find the aftermath of a “Red Alert”, and the late shift stayed late because of that. “Red Alerts” are all good fun in “Star Trek” but in reality they are somewhat different. And that rather set the tone for the night. It was rather busy. I was very grateful when the relief showed up.
As I drove home I listened to the radio. There was a lot of talk about Shamima Begum. Having left the UK four years ago to go join Isis, she’s found that Isis wasn’t quite how she’d been lead to believe it would be. She now wants to come back to the UK despite having publicly told the world what a load of crap Great Britain is, and despite knowing that shoving off with a bunch of terrorists was a one-way trip. She now says she wants to come home to the UK because a refugee camp is no place to bring up a child. She’s got a child “Jarrah”… If she seriously wanted to be extradited back to the UK on the strength of her supposed UK citizenship and the child, she might have achieved far more by naming the child “Trevor” or “Dave” or something vaguely British… or am I being ridiculously reactionary in thinking this way?
Once home I was mobbed by dogs. Pogo was wringing wet; he’d been in in the shower with "er indoors TM".
I took the dogs round the park. We were having such a good walk…
Just as I was putting the leads onto Treacle and Pogo as we were about to leave the park, a rather strange looking woman staggered past with her dog. This woman was muttering away to herself; clearly having an argument with the voices in her head. With Pogo and Treacle on their leads I looked round for Fudge only to see this woman trying to kick him. She missed by a mile; it was clear from the way she was staggering that she was either very drunk or on some weird drugs. I should have kept quiet and let it go, but she’d tried to kick my dog. I suggested that she didn’t kick him.
She went absolutely bat-shit mental.
She ranted and raved at me. Her dog is the only decent dog in the world. Every other dog is a bastard. No one understands…
After five minutes of ranting, this woman stormed off, and from a distance of ten yards she started shrieking again. She bellowed that her name was Lisa Wynne, and I could report her to whoever I liked. Sarcastically I asked if she would pose for a photo, and (would you believe it) she did.
As she stormed off into the distance arguing with the voices in her head, passers-by asked me what the little altercation was all about. On reflection I have no idea. Had Fudge gone too close to her dog? Possibly.
It worries me that loonies like this are allowed to roam the streets. “Care in the community”? These poor unfortunates are a danger to themselves and (quite possibly) others too. Her ranting was very reminiscent of the ranting I used to hear from “Nutty Noodle”, our looney next-door neighbour. He often had the emergency psychiatrist out; I suspect he is in a secure hospital somewhere. Perhaps this woman should be in one as well; if only for her own safety?
I went to bed and managed three hours asleep before Fudge woke me by barking at shadows. I nipped up to the corner shop for a sandwich, and with that scoffed I spent the afternoon ironing whilst watching the remaining episodes of “Traitors”.
We spent the evening round at the French Connection where a dozen of us had a rather good meat to celebrate a couple of birthdays. Not a bad way to spend the evening…
I’m feeling a bit tired now...
21 February 2019 (Thursday) - Happy Birthday to Me
Last night I had a friend request on Facebook from a bloke in a dress who was sporting quite a lot of make-up. This fellow’s Facebook page featured quite a bit of rather graphic pornography. I squealed him/her/it up to the Facebook feds, and this morning the filth was gone. He/she/it was still there though.
Perhaps I’m being puritanical, but there is a place for porn, and that is on porn dot com. *Not* where the children are going to see it thrust in their faces (both metaphorically and literally)
While I was on Facebook I saw that I also had quite a few birthday wishes too.
As I scoffed toast I opened my birthday cards and pressies. Some very good cards – many were rather appropriate. People had clearly thought about what card to get me. and I had a rather decent haul of pressies too.
We took the dogs round the park; compared to yesterday, today was rather uneventful, and with walk walked and dogs settled we drove over to Canterbury. We were hoping we’d be able to get into the “Bricks Britannia” exhibition. We were told that there “might” be tickets available; we found no queue at all and were soon in the exhibition.
It was billed as “A History of Britain in LEGO Bricks”. In retrospect I don’t know what I was expecting, but I think it fair to say that I had been expecting more. What they had was good, but I was expecting to see more than a dozen rather small dioramas and one train. We spent about half an hour there, but (in all honesty) I’d seen it all in ten minutes.
As the exhibition was in the Beaney museum we thought we’d look at the Oliver Postgate section. Oliver Postgate was the chap behind “The Clangers” and “Bagpuss” and when he died a lot of the props and puppets from the TV shows had been left to the museum. I’d heard an awful lot about it over the years; I was expecting there to be more than just one glass cabinet containing very little worth seeing.
I took a few photos of the good stuff that we saw today. There were quite a few exhibits of dull bits of broken pot that I didn’t photograph though.
From the museum we went to McDonalds for a spot of dinner. It was absolutely heaving with brats. I suppose this was only to be expected at half-term.
We then had a nosey round the craft shops. We found one selling Pentel pens. Pentel pens! – they were the business forty years ago!!
We came home via Fat Fish tackle where I got some line and some wafters, and via Chilham Garden Centre. I had a voucher for there for Christmas. I didn’t spend it.
Also on the way home we popped into Sainsburys to get some cakes to take in to work tomorrow, and to get the makings of dinner for tonight.
Once home we walked the dogs round the block, then I got my new fishing line onto the reel I bought with my Christmas bunce. That was a job I should really have done two months ago, but as long as it was done by next Monday, "My Boy TM" will be none the wiser.
I then spent a few minutes making a new “birthday video” which I shall post out to people on their birthdays.
"er indoors TM" then boiled up a rather good pizza and some Christmas pudding which we washed down with a bottle of plonk. Hic! As we scoffed and drank, we watched the DVD of “Early Man”. It was rather good.
It’s been a rather good day today. I’m now fifty-five years old, That is positively ancient. I’ve got to the “old” part. How much longer will it be before “maturity” and “wisdom” happen…?
22 February 2019 (Friday) - Early Shift
I had a terrible night. Yesterday "er indoors TM" hung some new curtains. Billed as "blackout curtains" they would supposedly help me sleep during the day time when on night shifts by making the room dark. I can achieve the same by pulling the covers over my head. These curtains made the bedroom too dark last night; I kept waking because the dogs couldn’t see in the dark and were falling over everyone and everything.
Either the curtains will go, or they will be partly pulled open in future.
I gave up trying to sleep shortly after five o'clock, and over brekkie watched the first half of the first episode of "The Umbrella Academy" - a new thing on Netflix. It started OK, but with episodes being an hour long I'm probably going to give up on it if episodes don't have a suitable break point half way through.
I then thanked the world for all the kind messages I'd had about my birthday yesterday via Facebook - over a hundred people had wished me well.
As I walked to my car my piss boiled somewhat. The bin men had put a recycling bin on the road in between all of the parked cars. There were two of these bins hemming my car in; I pulled them both on to the pavement. The bin men round our way send out someone to move the bins before the lorry comes round. They put the bins to obstruct the traffic before the collection, and after the collection they leave the bins strewn along the pavements so that no one can get past. I've seen mothers pushing push-chairs down the road as the pavements are left impassable.
I realise the bin men have a difficult and thankless task, but they do themselves no favours.
I drove to the petrol station where my payment card was declined. Odd. The same card got money from the cashpoint machine five minutes later. I wonder what that was all about?
I set off to work up a very foggy motorway. As I drove there was consternation being expressed by all and sundry because the Irish government had announced its plans for a no-deal Brexit. I would have thought that making plans was a sensible thing (something the UK government might consider); but it seems that quite a few UK politicians have taken offence at this.
There was also talk of a privately funded mission to the Moon blasting off today. The Chinese have plans for a Moon base. Apparently Donald Trump is insisting that the Americans go back to the Moon pretty soon. He'd better get a move on or he will be left behind.
I got to work for the early shift and did my bit. It was a rather busy day, but an early start made for an early finish. I came home and it was light enough to walk the dogs round the park.
Sometimes our walks go well. Sometimes they don’t. This evening’s walk was utter misery. When Pogo wasn’t fighting with other dogs, all three were trying to eat other dogs’ turds.
The evening was rather fraught. "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" has come to stay. On the plus side he seemed quite taken with the Lego set-up. But he refused to eat his tea, and he has fed the Ker-Plunk marbles to Treacle.
I *think* "er indoors TM" has retrieved most of them, but I shell keep a weather eye on that dog’s turds for a day or so…
23 February 2019 (Saturday) - Whitstable
I slept better than I did last night. With "er indoors TM" and the dogs up in the attic room with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" I *wasn’t* trampled all night long. Mind you I was still wide awake about two hours earlier than I would have liked. Being wide awake I got up and watched the fourth episode of “The Umbrella Academy”. It’s not too bad – with only ten episodes I shall probably stick with it.
I then had a look-see at Facebook as I do most mornings. I had yet another friend request from someone I don’t know but in a novel break with tradition this wasn’t some odd-looking bloke in a dress who was advertising pornography. This was a Welsh New-Age hippie-loonie-type. I didn’t accept him on to my list. I’m actually rather choosy about who I have on my on-line list of friends.
I also had a few messages about some of the geocaches that I’ve hidden. There is often an arrogance in those who hunt Tupperware in that quite a few of them seem to feel that if they cannot find a certain magnetic pot stuck to a road sign then it isn’t there. God forbid that their sat-nav might be less than utterly perfect in every respect. I was told this morning that the co-ordinates that I had provided for a certain hide were wildly out and were pointing into someone’s house. It clearly never occurred to the person telling me this that over a hundred other people had no problem with the co-ordinates that I had given.
Similarly I was told about a failing in a Wherigo cartridge making the thing unusable even though sixty other people hadn’t had a problem. And a Suduko puzzle that I had set which wasn’t giving the right answer even though fifty other people had managed it.
With "er indoors TM" showing no sign of stirring I went and moved her car for her. She’d left it round the corner where there are parking restriction after eight o’clock. I don’t like driving her car; it feels rather awkward to me.
"er indoors TM" had arranged to take "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" off visiting relatives today. That was more than my nerves could take, so I took Fudge out with me for a little adventure. We drove toward Whitstable where we’d arranged to meet Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. As we drove along the M2 I realised the people in the car in front were waving at me. It was Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. I had no idea that it was them in the car in front. When I drive, to me all cars are just “cars” – I never notice who is in them.
We parked up at the end of the Crab and Winkle way (totally oblivious to the fact that there was a new geocache within a minute of where we were) and went for a little walk. Up the Crab and Winkle way to Clowes Wood, round the wood and back along the Crab and Winkle way into Whitstable. Through the back streets to the sea front, along the sea front to Seasalter, and then back to where we’d parked.
As we walked up the Crab and Winkle way we met several cyclists. Most were friendly enough. One was rather miffed when Fudge nearly ran under his front wheels. Words were exchanged. Some cyclists can be rather brave when they can zoom off at high speeds.
We also found an old tennis ball which kept Fudge entertained. He actually ran after it rather than just trying to eat it., but he did run through quite a bit of mud with the ball.
The plan had been to eat in the Old Neptune on the sea front, but time was running away. We were all feeling a tad peckish and realising that it was well past mid-day and the Old Neptune was still a mile away we found a rather good pub. The Monument was a rather good pub. With Harviestoun’s “bitter and twisted” ale on the hand pump we sat outside (outside – in February!) and ate one of the best plates of fish and chips that I’ve had in a long time. It was a shame that Fudge disgraced himself; there was a little petting zoo in the pub garden, and Fudge would not stop hankering after the rabbits. It’s his nature, he can’t help it, but it was a pain.
From the Monument we walked along back roads past what must have been the world’s crappest memorial marker. We thought it was some war memorial, or something commemorating an important event. It was actually in remembrance of Whitstable’s first council estate.
We eventually got to the beach. It was as well that we’d eaten earlier. The glorious weather had brought people out in droves. Every table outside the Old Neptune was full. There were dozens (if not hundreds) of people milling about, and people were three-deep at the bar. I queued for ages to get served.
But it was a beautiful afternoon to stand on the beach. Fudge played in the sea. Several children were throwing stones into the water at which he was barking.
The weather today was amazing; Exactly one year ago today I wrote “Despite five layers of clothing and my new fingerless fishing gloves I was shivering”. Today I was standing on Whitstable beach in a T-shirt drinking beer (shandy) whilst Fudge was paddling.
From the Old Neptune we walked down to Seasalter. We had intended to go up into Trench Wood, but time had run out. We’ll go there another time.
By the time we got back to our cars we’d walked over thirteen miles, and I’d taken quite a few photos too.
We said our goodbyes, and pausing only briefly to drive the wrong way up a cul-de-sac we were soon on the way home. As I drove I realised something wasn’t right with the car. There was a very odd sound. I turned off my music and tried to work out what the odd noise was. Eventually I realised it was Fudge’s snoring.
We got home to find "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" playing with his mother’s old “Polly Pocket” stuff. A shame Treacle had to eat quite so much of it.
After a rather good bit of dinner "er indoors TM" took littlun up to bed and I fell asleep in front of the telly. I woke several hours later…
24 February 2019 (Sunday) - Curry Night
I slept like a log. I did wake up feeling rather breathless at five o’clock, so I got up, emptied the dishwasher and had a shave, and went back to sleep for another three hours. I got up and had a quiet few minutes looking at the Internet.
There was an interesting discussion on one of the groups I follow. “Galactic Hitch-hikers” is *supposed* to be a Facebook group about the woks of the late Douglas Adams. I say “discussion”; it was more of a petty squabble. Supporters of Donald Trump posting on that group were asking about the cost of health care in the UK. From what I can work out, people in the UK and the US individually pay *about* the same in taxes (perhaps a little less in the USA), but no one in the UK has to sell their house or go crowd-funding to pay for medical bills.
I made the mistake of saying so.
Most of the UK-based people in the group agreed with me, but some of the Americans took offence. The trouble is that many Americans find the entire concept of the National Health Service to be (as has been described to me several times) “commie-pinko”. To the American mind the idea of anything being provided through tax is abhorrent. There is far more merit in paying for things when needed rather than through regular payments (for some inexplicable reason). I can remember talking with an American scout leader who told me that their scouts paid for each badge when awarded. When I explained ours were funded from a weekly subscription she was horrified.
I also saw that a new geocache had gone live two miles south. I considered charging after a First to Find until I realised it was two miles south of work (not home) and consequently actually seventeen miles north.
And then peace was shattered when "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" came downstairs with Treacle and Pogo (who have become his devoted attendants). He sang his song about bumholes and refused to eat his breakfast. It was difficult to determine which wound his grand-mother up the most.
Eventually we got ourselves organised and took the dogs up the park. We had a mostly good walk up as far as the dog beach. I made a little You-Tube video up to that point. And then for no explicable reason "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" went totally hysterical and screamed pretty much the entire way home. Once home the hysteria passed, and he was fine. What on Earth was all that about? I suspect *if* he wasn’t wearing such a thick coat on a warm day and *if* he’d eaten a single meal whilst he’d been with us, things might have been different.
We took "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" back to Margate; I slept all of the way. Once in Margate we spent a few minutes with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" before heading off to Herne Bay. Geocaching dot com had sent me an email telling me about one of the best geocaches in South East England being there. We drove over and found a rather average sandwich box. Admittedly the hide was rather good, but I’ve seen it done better. There was supposed to be a trackable in the cache; there wasn’t. The thing was in someone’s garden but no mention was made of the fact. The chap who hid it gave up on the game two years ago… OK – I’m being picky, but geo-HQ had taken the trouble to point this one out to me.
Mind you on the plus side I did get to give my new geo-app a trial run and it worked rather well.
We went round to see "My Boy TM" for the evening. Some fathers visit their sons out of a sense of paternal devotion or familial love. I went round to get my birthday pressie and because I’d been promised dinner.
I got a rather good fishing rod (which I shall put to the test tomorrow), and we scoffed far too much curry. Having stuffed myself to the point where I could barely move I collapsed on the sofa and we watched telly until I could get up again.
I’ve loaded up the car, I’ve set the alarm… I’m hoping for great things from tomorrow’s fishing trip…
25 February 2019 (Monday) - A Day's Fishing
Yesterday evening as we scoffed curry I posted a piccie of us all to Facebook. This morning I saw that an amazing amount of people had clicked the “like” button. They wouldn’t have clicked the “like” button if they had my guts this morning. They had kept me awake for much of the night. In fact the only sleep I did get was somewhat wasted on a rather vivid dream in which I was leading an expedition of several coaches of rather argumentative “Sparks” fans to a Laurel and Hardy convention. Something which (I must admit) I have never before considered doing, and probably never will. (then again…)
I made myself a cuppa, did a little CPD, posted out some birthday wishes, and then got myself ready for the off. I didn’t wrap up anywhere near as much as I did when fishing this time last year, and soon I had collected "My Boy TM". Bearing in mind that we wanted to be waiting when Hartley Lands fishery opened at seven o’clock, McDonalds was the only place open for brekkie at six o’clock. We arrived to find a large fox standing outside. He wasn’t particularly bothered by us; he was waiting for his brekkie too. A nice lady came out and gave him a freshly cooked hash brown. He liked that.
With brekkie scoffed we left McDonalds. As we drove out, the fox was patrolling the car park obviously hoping for scraps.
We got to Hartley Lands fishery at seven o’clock to find it locked. The nice man arrived to open the gate three minutes later.
As we walked into the place we were rather shocked to find several baited hooks just laying around the lakeside. Any animal or bird could have taken the baits and got into all sorts of problems. We tidied it all up as best we could and gave the lot to the bailiff. I told him exactly where we’d found it all (swim 11) and suggested he posted on their Facebook page that some lost property had been found there this morning and see if whoever was fishing there yesterday gets in touch. The bailiff said that he would, and said that anyone who got in touch would get a photo of the mess they’d left and a ban from the place. Harsh? Not really. Is it *really* unreasonable to expect people not to leave baited hooks laying around? I tidy up after myself.
The nice bailiff then sold me an O.A.P. day ticket. I was rather pleased about that. They are cheaper then the usual adult price.
Soon we were fishing. I say “fishing”; we were doing all the things we usually do when at the lakes, but the fish weren’t having it. We tried every way of fishing with every bait we had, and we even moved half way round the lake to try the other end.
In the end I caught twice as many fish as the first fruit of my loin, but that wasn’t saying much. Looking back, the trouble was that although today was like a summer’s day, it is still winter. The water is still cold.
We didn’t catch *that* much today, but it was a good trial run for my new chair, rod and reel. I took a few photos; Hartley Lands fishery is a pretty place to spend the day. And I did catch the sun.
We packed up an hour earlier than planned. Once home I walked the dogs round the block. It was hard work.
"er indoors TM" was off out to her bowling league pub meal this evening. Before she went out she boiled me up a pizza. That was good of her – if she hadn’t, my dinner would have been toast.
As I scoffed pizza I watched the film of “The Young Offenders”. It was rather entertaining…
26 February 2019 (Tuesday) - Busy, Busy...
I had a terrible night last night. Fudge decided to spend the night upstairs and when he does, he grumbles every time anyone else moves, farts or even breathes. Each time he grumbles "er indoors TM" tells him off, and so no one sleeps. It didn’t help that I wasn’t allowed any of the duvet either.
Over brekkie I watched the first episode of the new season of “Alan Partridge”. The TV critics seemed to like the show; I’ve always been a fan of Alan Partridge, but I wasn’t convinced.
I then had a little look at Facebook. That is something which amazes me. Yesterday I posted up a one-line comment about getting charged O.A.P. rate for fishing. Over forty people clicked the “like” button. For once, other than people liking the fact that I look eleven years older than I actually am, not a lot was kicking off on social media.
I had an email – Amazon were trying to sell me e-books that had already bought from them.
I got myself and the dogs organised and we drove over to South Wilesborough where my car was booked in for its MOT. The dogs were fussed by all and sundry at the garage and we walked home through Frog’s Island. The walk went rather well.
Once home I fed laundry to the washing machine, then disassembled the pond’s fish poo filter and cleaned it all out. Every year I turn the filter off when the pond is shut down in November, and every year I don’t clean it out then. Instead I leave carp turds festering over the winter so they are nice and ripe a few months later when I come to clean the thing out. This morning I drained the stagnant water onto the lawn, and Treacle promptly drank her fill of it. Cleaning out the thing didn’t take anywhere near as long as it usually does, and soon I had it re-assembled. I won’t turn it on just yet. There is a scum on the pond’s surface I want to remove. I’m thinking a net curtain would be ideal for the job. Do any of my loyal readers have a net curtain they don’t want?
The garage rang. My heart sank. My car is twelve years old. I got the thing on 30 April 2010, and my intention was to have replaced it in 2014. However my life took an unexpected turn back then, and a new car at that point wasn’t an option. Now I’m realistically running the thing until it dies. I had been wondering if today’s MOT might have been that death.
The nice man at the garage said that it had failed the MOT, but all that was needed was a new bulb. There was a string of advisories; I was told that the headlight lens is a tad misty, the tyres will need sorting in a few months’ time, and there are some things which will probably need sorting out at the next service. But the car lives to drive another day. I had a cuppa and hung the washing out whilst the nice man at the garage replaced the bulb. Hanging the washing out – in February?!
I did the monthly accounts (could be worse), hung out more washing, and then the nice man phoned to say the car was ready.
I walked the dogs back over to South Willesborough; again they all behaved themselves (mostly). We got the car and came home. I scoffed a quick sandwich then started on an epic ironing session. As I ironed I watched “I Think We’re Alone Now”; a film starring Peter Dinklage (Tyrion out of “Game of Thrones”). It was utter tripe. When it finished I got all the washing in from the washing line and ironed that whilst watching “Ender’s Game” which I rather liked, even if I did fall asleep toward the end.
"er indoors TM" came home and boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst catching up on episodes of “Big Bang Theory” and “Young Sheldon”.
The second day of a week’s holiday has been rather hard work…
27 February 2019 (Wednesday) - A Day in the Wicked City
Yesterday I sorted through the Lego job lot I got a month or so ago. Whilst there was a lot of good stuff in there, there was also a load of custom-built shapes designed specifically for the kit from which they came, and not really any good to me. There were also a lot of roof bricks with various stickers making them also rather useless. Altogether I got a bucketful of bits that I didn’t want, and stuck them on several Facebook selling sites to see if they would sell. Asking for a tenner was a tad cheeky really, and when a friend said she was keen, I just gave them away and marked the advert as “sold”.
This morning some fourteen hours later the moderators of “Ashford Selling Site” approved and published the advert.
Whilst perusing Facebook this morning I saw there had been an earthquake. An ex-colleague who lives very close to Gatwick airport said his whole house shook this morning. You don’t expect earthquakes at Gatwick, do you?
Also whilst perusing Facebook I was inundated with adverts for the book and DVD of “Ender’s Game”. I mentioned that yesterday, didn’t I? Big Brother is watching me!
I wandered up the road to the railway station and got my ticket to London. I asked the chap on the counter when the next train to London was going; he looked me in the eye, turned around and drank his cup of tea.
And friends who work on the railway wonder why the railway staff are held in such low regard by their customers…
Once on the train I found a copy of “The Metro” and did most of the crossword. It kept me out of mischief until I got to Charing Cross where I met Karl. Together we hopped onto the underground and went to South Kensington from where we went for a little wander.
As we went we found some Tupperware and did some geology homework as you do. We even totally failed to do some algebra, but that error was soon rectified. Over a pint of lunch I realised that forty minus one is thirty-nine and not thirty-two. Getting the numbers right is quite important in a game which depends entirely on having the longitude and latitude spot-on. In my more sane moments I have a degree in mathematics(!)
There are some rather posh houses in Kensington you know. And the roads – how wide are they?
We walked round Holland Park and Hyde Park. Can you believe that there is a thousand-pound fine for letting your dog off of a lead there?
We found a rather good pub in Bayswater where we had a pint of Welsh ruby ale, and then a pint of local stout with a burger. And what a burger – with bacon, fried egg and black pudding in it.
We had a vague plan for a route for today, but in retrospect perhaps we’d been a tad ambitious. We cut the route short. Mayfair, Millbank and Pimlico can wait until next time.
We got back to South Kensington just as the rush hour was starting. We said our goodbyes at the Embankment, I found an Evening Standard, and rather failed at its crossword on the way home.
London was good; I took a few photos.
I got home just at the same time as "er indoors TM". We got the illuminated collars on to the dogs and walked them round the park. The illuminated collars were quite a success; I video-ed them.
With dogs walked we had a spot of tea and watched last week’s episode of “The Orville” which was rather good.
I then set about the geo-admin on today’s geocaching. The trip to London was a rather intensive test for my new app. It did what I was hoping it would… mostly…
28 February 2019 (Thursday) - Rather Busy
I slept well, and woke feeling hardly able to move. I didn’t think yesterday’s walk was *that* strenuous?
Over brekkie I looked at Facebook as I do most mornings. Very little was happening over there. In fact I’d go so far as to say “absolutely sod all”. With the exception of one wedding anniversary video and a couple of posts from a cousin I saw nothing but adverts of stuff for sale in local selling groups. I have over five hundred and fifty people on my friends list; I wish they would all post more stuff. I am incredibly nosey and like to see what others are doing.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, and then had a look at my emails. Linkedin had found a new friend for me. My potential new buddy is a skilled business development manager at senior level within both the private and public sector. He has proven operational and product delivery experience with broad commercial expertise in all corporate functions His specialties are business development, bid writing, economic development presentation and communication… blah blah blah.
Does *anyone* take this bollox seriously?
I wondered what on Earth possessed the nice people at LinkedIn to chum me up with this bloke. Apparently it was because we had one contact in common. This one contact was also someone else I don’t know. I’m rather choosy about who I have as a friend on Facebook. Perhaps I should be equally picky on LinkedIn?
I got the leads on to the dogs and we went for a little drive. With only two unfound geocaches within seven miles of home I thought I might hunt them down today.
I must admit that I approached the first one with a degree of cynicism. It had been hidden in the name of a scout group by someone who had only ever found twenty-six of the things, and clearly hadn’t taken the time to re-read the cache description before submitting it for publication. If they had they might have re-written the thing into grammatically correct English and corrected the spelling mistakes. Am I being pedantic? Not really. Reading a cache description which reads as though the hider couldn’t be bothered to put in any effort hardly paints the hobby in a good light. And any kind of word processing package will point out the grammatic and spelling errors for you.
I found the cache easily enough. It looked like an old bit of rubbish flung into a hedgerow. As an ex-scout leader myself, I really wish scout groups wouldn’t get involved with geocaching.
The second cache involved a little walk but was easily found. It was a rather better hide, but was a tad mildewed. They often are.
I now have only twelve unfound geocaches within eight miles of home. I’m not sure if I want to go get those or not.
We came home. The weather wasn’t that special today. Mind you (on the plus side) this time last year I’d been stranded in the snow overnight at work, and today Pogo had had another drive out without being sick. Once home I got out the pressure-washer and gave the front garden something of a scrub down. It needed doing. I also hosed the fence between our house and not-so-nice next door. Most of the paint came off. That will be something to put right in the not-too-distant future. As I hosed the postie delivered the bill from the power company and the landing net I bought from eBay on Monday.
I did have a plan to carry on pressure-washing the back garden too, but my back gave me one or two twinges so I gave up.
I drove up to the post office; I had a parcel to collect. Lego is always good. However collecting parcels not so. The sorting office is a little bit too far from home to carry bulky parcels back. Unfortunately there is nowhere convenient to park. I parked up by the sports centre and walked up having paid one pound fifty for ten minutes parking. As I walked up to the sorting office I watched the traffic wardens ticketing the cars that had parked on the double yellow lines outside. The road there is plenty wide enough for cars to park; you really would think the traffic wardens might be able to find a more constructive use of their time.
I stopped off at “Pets at Home” to get a new light tube for the fish tank and got home to find it broken. I went back to “Pets at Home” for a replacement. They didn’t actually accuse me outright of having broken the thing, but the implication was there.
Over a sandwich I watched the first episode of “Titans”; another Netflix thing which seems good so far, then as the dogs snored I looked at my new Lego. I thought it was rather good – if you like that sort of thing. Personally I do.
With Lego house built I then had a look-see at the letter from the power company. They were putting the bill up by about a hundred and fifty quid a year, but told me I could make savings by going to a different tariff. I phoned the nice lady at the power company, agreed to all the nonsense words she said, and I’m now paying four pounds a month less than I was yesterday for leccie and gas. Isn’t it ridiculous? I’m still using the same amount of the same stuff, but because I’ve done some purely nonsensical paperwork-mentality exercise it is all now cheaper.
With "er indoors TM" off out with her mates this evening, me and the dogs had kebab for tea. Or (to be precise) they had their usual tea then helped me eat my kebab. As I scoffed I watched more episodes of “Titans”.
It’s got promise…