1 January 2019 (Tuesday) - Burham
I slept reasonably well I suppose. I’ve had worse nights. As I scoffed toast I watched Fudge sleeping. He didn’t seem to have that many cares. I looked at Facebook; it was surprisingly quiet. I suspect a lot of people who post on social media were still asleep. Mind you a good friend had posted up what I can only describe as “motivational bollox” – the sort of thing that managers are told to spout at management classes, and which fools no one except the person posting it. Mind you it made me think about the whole “New Year’s Resolutions” thing. I’m going to start the New Year diet in a week or so (once all the Christmas food is devoured), but other than that… I expect it will be business as usual.
(Mind you I have decided to be a lot less tolerant of the hateful racist rubbish I read every day on social media)
We got ourselves organised and set off to Burham where we met loads of friends. Every New Year’s Day there is a big meet-up of geocachers. We went on our first in 2014 when we walked from Kennington to Wye and back in torrential rain. In 2015 we had a rather good walk up and down Bluebell Hill. I ran the event myself in 2016 when I led a group of thirty-six people on a walk round Great Chart. We missed the last two years as rain stopped play. I say “rain stopped play”; the walks went ahead, we stayed at home because we didn’t fancy getting soaked.
I must admit I did wonder about the weather today. New Year isn’t famous for the wonderful weather it brings, but today was a rather bright morning. Ideal for a little walk up and down the North Downs. We got to Burham easily enough, and soon met up with friends. Over twenty of us got together and had a little walk along the local bye-ways. And then had a pint or two of lunch afterwards.
I took a few photos as we walked and afterwards.
Today was something of a milestone; Pogo was driven all the way there and all the way back without being sick. Good dog.
The original plan had been to have dinner with "My Boy TM" and his branch of the tribe, but with Cheryl being poorly we came home and dozed a little, then spent an hour or two solving geo-puzzles.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner and we scoffed it whist watching the New Year’s Day special episode of Doctor Who. I say “special” episode… I won’t give any spoilers but I will say that in many ways it was a re-make of a Doctor Who story which featured Christopher Ecclestone, and this re-make was nowhere near as good as the original.
I’ve been watching the show for as long as I can remember. I was *so* pleased when it came back to the telly in 2005 after a sixteen-year break. But most of the episodes since 2005 have been somewhat lacklustre. Maybe the BBC should get some writers who’ve actually seen the original. I could lend them some DVDs if it would help…
2 January 2019 (Wednesday) - Margarine
I would have slept better had I been allowed any of the duvet, but waking shivering every half-hour wasn't conducive to a good night. I got up ten minutes before the alarm was due to go off, and over a bowl of granola (no margarine for toast!) I watched an episode of "Bottom" (Skullcrusher Henderson - nursey jugfest) before setting off to work. For all that the cars weren't iced up it was a very cold morning.
As I drove I listened to the radio. They would seem to have dropped the "guest editor" idea and gone back to stories which don't seem to have someone's vested interests in mind. There was a rather worrying article about how the Foreign Office has been getting involved in stopping forced arranged marriages of British citizens who have been tricked into going abroad. Whilst what they have done is very laudable, it is something of a scandal for the Foreign Office to then send a bill to the poor people they've rescued.
To add insult to injury the Foreign Office claim told the people on the radio that you can pay the bill in instalments at a better rate of interest than that charged by many store credit cards.
It was announced that some lucky person had won over a hundred million pounds on the Euro-lottery. Whilst I don't need over a hundred million pounds, I certainly want it. I spent much of today pondering what I would buy with a hundred million quid. A large house with a fishery would be high on the list.
Meanwhile China has announced plans to annex Taiwan. That should be good for a fight...
The roads were noticeably busier than they have been for a week or so, but I made good time to Maidstone. With a few minutes spare I went to get petrol. Petrol is four pence per litre cheaper in Maidstone than Ashford. And when you factor in the Nectar points, I made a saving of about the price of half a pint of beer. That's better than a poke up the bum. It was only a shame that my credit card didn't work. The chip was playing up so I had to swipe it and sign the scrap of paper. How ten-years-ago!
Work was work; but an early start made for an early finish. I came home, walked the dogs round the road and put the kettle on. I fancied a cup of coffee and some malt loaf… until I remembered there was no margarine. Instead I had the last mince pie and looked at geo-puzzles until "er indoors TM" came home. She was a few minutes late having gone to get margarine. Apparently Treacle ate it all last night.
Over a rather good bit of dinner we watched the Christmas episode of “Bake Off”; I’ve missed that show…
3 January 2019 (Thursday) - Early Shift
I slept reasonably well all the time the dogs were sleeping, but when they became restless at three o’clock, so did I.
Despite now having margarine I decided against toast for brekkie and scoffed a bowl of granola as I watched another episode of “Bottom” (Spud-U-Like irregulars second eleven – Cannonball Taffy O’Jones).
I then had a quick look at the Internet to see what I’d missed overnight. I hadn’t missed much. A new geocache had gone live two miles away in some woods shortly after midnight. Bearing in mind it would still be dark for another hour or so I thought better of going looking for it.
My car was covered in ice this morning; my new ice-scraper got a workout. It did the job. I was amazed at the difference having a long handle on the thing made… A long-handled ice-scraper; what an exciting life I sometimes lead.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Chinese had successfully landed a robotic probe on the far side of the Moon. For once those presenting the news weren't showing their utter ignorance in an attempt to be sarcastic, which was something of a result for the BBC. Perhaps they've realised that for all President Trump talks about a US Space Force, the Chinese are clearly fast becoming the dominant power in space.
There was also talk of petrol prices. I've noticed that the stuff has got cheaper recently. Apparently over the last few weeks a litre of petrol has dropped in wholesale price by sixteen pence. However the pump price has only fallen by nine pence. That's seven pence per litre profit in someone's pocket. Wish it was mine.
It was still dark when I got to work at half past seven. Just as well I hadn't chased after that geocache. I was amazed that no one had gone out during the night though. Not that I'm advocating it; had anyone gone out when the thing was published and gone arse-over-tit they would have frozen to death by the morning. Having said that, the first person there got there whilst it was still dark and whilst I was driving up the motorway. I *could* have been first – if I’d tried I would have been there half an hour before them.
Work was a tad dull today (not that I’m complaining). But an early start meant I was leaving work in daylight; even if not getting home in daylight. Once home I walked the wolf-pack round the roads and put the finishing touches to a geo-project for the weekend.
I had a little look on eBay and had something of a result. There is a particular Lego kit I’ve been looking out for. It generally sells for about thirty-five pounds. This evening I got it and *loads* of other Lego for twenty-five quid. Providing the thing arrives (!) I’m rather pleased about that.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching the New Year’s “Bake Off”. I watch that show with an air of “I could do that”… I sometimes wish I’d followed up on the two years that I worked in a restaurant kitchen in the summers of 1980 and 1981…
4 January 2018 (Friday) - Pikey Lane
Another night spent fighting for a share of the duvet… still, being on a late shift meant that I got to have something of a lie-in when "er indoors TM" got up, and when she got up the dogs went with her.
I came downstairs to be greeted by Fudge and Pogo. Treacle was running round with the wrapper of her breakfast in her mouth; clearly very pleased with herself.
I spent a little while looking at the geo-map over brekkie planning a little adventure before work. I’ve taken to looking for caches which are up for resuscitation; over a year since they were last found. There are a *lot* which seem to be missing. I’m not keen to waste my time when ten other people have already said they can’t find it. And there’s quite a few up trees and in rivers in which very few people have shown any interest. But bearing in mind that new resuscitatable caches appear all the time, I keep looking.
I got the leads on the dogs, and we went on something of a disastrous dog walk. Treacle was crapping as though she was practicing to crap for England at the next Olympics. We walked out usual route in reverse in an attempt to avoid OrangeHead’s posse. We got as far as the co-op field where I realised Pogo and Treacle had the wrong collars on. As I swapped them over OrangeHead and her Chunky Little Friend came past (running late). And exactly that which I planned to avoid happened. Fudge ran off with her gang. He ignored all my calls. OrangeHead didn’t try to shoo him away until she was nearly at the road several hundred yards away. It was only then that he thought to look around to see where we were. I marched him (and the other two) straight home. Having been about an hour later than usual going for our walk I really didn’t have time for Fudge to be constantly trying to join another group. I was fuming; Fudge knew he’d done wrong.
My car was covered in ice when I got to it. Still iced up at mid-morning; that's cold. As I drove to work "Women's Hour" was on the radio. Some rather aggressive woman was banging on about how her mission in life was to promote the position of women in the legal professions; especially as barristers. It was pointed out to her that there are actually more women barristers than men, but that didn't deter her at all. She seemed to think that being on maternity leave was a bar to being promoted and had this idea that people on maternity leave should be eligible for promotions and get them, even though they are on extended leave. I wonder how that might work in practice (!)
I listened to her rantings for a while, but when the show turned to dead babies (as it so often does) I turned it off.
I drove out to the geo-target I'd set myself. Perhaps I should have looked at the area in Google Street-View before I'd left home; I did take a little while to find somewhere to park the car. I say "park the car" - "abandon by roadside" might have been a better description of how I left it. I soon found the footpath from the road to the cache. It started well, and got overgrown. I scrambled through a thicket, I ignored the footpath diversion sign, I climbed over a fence, and soon saw my prey from twenty yards away. It amazes me how cleverly concealed film pots can go missing after a week or so, but this was a rather large sandwich box which hadn't been found in eighteen months and it was just laying on the ground out in the open.
I did the top-secret geo-rituals, then hid the thing (rather than leaving laying on the floor) and braved my way back to my car.
I headed in the vague direction of work. I found another geocache. I also found the wonderfully-named "Pikey Lane". Who would want to live there? Presumably people pay good money to do so?
From Pikey Lane it was a short drive to work where I amazed myself at how quickly I found a parking space. I then went to the canteen for a rather good bit of cottage pie. The works canteen is rather good. I then did my bit at work. The late shift was surprisingly busy; I was glad when the night shift turned up.
I do like having the morning before the late shift to do what I want, but it does make for a late finish…
5 January 2019 (Saturday) - Not A Bad Day
Last night before I got into bed I pulled the duvet two feet in my direction. Not spending the night shivering meant I slept through till after nine o’clock.
Over brekkie I had my usual look at the Internet. Whoever it is that runs Facebook has been fiddling with it. As I perused I saw an advert for a sci-fi author, and a pop-up window appeared telling me how to report inappropriate stuff like that on Facebook. It seems odd that they suggest an author’s page might be inappropriate whilst they have previously told me they have no issues with graphic pictures of oral sex or of a fox being torn apart by hounds.
With no emails of note I spent a little while poring over the geo-map making plans for the next few weeks and months (as I do). I was rather surprised to see that one of my plans for a couple of weeks has gone west. I’ve got some time off work in a couple of weeks’ time and had planned to go find a particular geocache, but the person whose cache it is has archived it with the comment “I’m disabling my caches as I’ve become disenchanted due to the bickering, moaning, and criticising which now seems rife amongst the community”. Whilst there have been petty squabbles over the years, I’ve not had a geo-squabble anywhere near as nasty as ones I’ve seen on astronomical pages, reptile-keeping pages, real-ale pages… Bearing in mind that it only took a few seconds to see that whoever posted that has never been to a formal meeting of geocachers and that no one active in the local community knows them, I can’t help but wonder what provoked that little outburst.
My mobile rang. “Louise Hold” from “Accident Solutions” phoned asking me about the accident in which I was recently involved. When I didn’t tell her to get knotted she transferred me to “Christopher Brian” and I successfully wasted ten minutes of his time. I took the line that I must have been in an accident recently as their records said so, and that it must have been serious as I’d lost all memory of it. It took him a ridiculously long time to realise I was taking the mickey.
We got the leads on to the dogs, and took them over to the woods near the Repton estate where we had a rather good (if cold) little wander. Pogo played nicely with other dogs, and the three of them didn’t get *too* muddy.
We came home via the co-op for Belgian buns, and once home "My Boy TM" and Cheryl came round. Apparently he had some dumbbells round here? We couldn’t find them.
I then spent a little while working on C.P.D. (it’s a work thing), and I also wasted an hour playing at being the geo-police. Over the last few months I’ve been hunting out “resuscitation geocaches” – caches that haven’t been found in over a year. There are a surprising amount of these on the map, and there seems to be three broad reasons why people haven’t found them.
The ones I seem to find are what I call” remote”; with no other caches nearby, few people go out of their way to look for them. There are also a lot which I call “inaccessible”; up trees or in rivers, needing ropes and canoes to get to, and most people who climb or canoe have found them years ago. And the third category is ones which aren’t there. Ones which have gone missing but no one has squealed to the geo-feds about them. Over the last few months I’ve come across many of these. Hidden ages ago by people who have long since found better ways to waste their time, and with several “did not find” logs from experienced hunters of Tupperware on each of them. So I spent a little while putting “Needs Archiving” logs on them. It might prompt people to go sort the problem, or it might clear a space on the map for a new cache to go out. Either is an improvement.
And then the doorbell rang. The women of Karl’s family had an invite to a girlie-night in Singleton. Being at a loose end they dropped him with us. We had a few beers and a bottle and a half of port, more cheese than sense, and we put the world to rights and planned for the future. When you consider how many Saturday nights I’ve spent doing the ironing this was a much better way to spend my time…
6 January 2019 (Sunday) - Late Shift
Bearing in mind the amount of ale and port I sank last night I work feeling remarkably chipper. I left "er indoors TM" and the wolf-pack snoring whilst I scoffed my toast. As I scoffed I looked at my Facebook feed and my heart sank. Family members who should know better were posting all sorts of anti-vaccination propaganda. Anti-vaccination nutcases boil my piss. On the one hand we have thousands of controlled repeatable clinical studies showing that vaccines actually stop children dying. On the other hand we have idiots who are frightened by the big words and don’t even try to understand them. Co-incidentally there was also one such idiot posting anti-vax drivel on a work-related Facebook page. To prove her (utterly fallacious) point she had written "It LITERALLY only makes sense if you DON'T think about it." These people so smugly ask “So, what happened before vaccines” to which the answer is so obvious. “Small children died”.
It bothers me that people like this are allowed to vote.
With a little time on my hands I thought I might get the old dining table out of the shed. I have a plan to use it as the basis of my Lego train set project. However bearing in mind that at the time I was just storing the table for some vague indeterminate future use it was right at the back of the shed. So getting it out meant stripping pretty much everything else out of the shed.
To be honest the shed needed a little sort-out.
I eventually wrestled the table out and got everything else back relatively tidily. I do need to have a chuck-out of stuff in that shed, but that will keep for another day. I put the table in the living room; I dusted it down outside but probably needs something of a scrub before I lug it upstairs. I left in in the way in the hope that "er indoors TM" might scrub it whilst I was at work.
We got the dogs organised and took them for a little walk. A few days ago a new geocache went live in Kingsnorth. It would be something to do this morning, and a little drive for Pogo is always a good thing. He needs to get used to the car.
We parked up at Kingsnorth village hall, and got well past the ongoing football match before letting the dogs off the leads. We didn't want them getting involved.
Amateur football leagues always make me chuckle; the players are constantly screaming abuse and profanities at each other. "F... Hell!!!" was clearly audible quarter of a mile from the pitch. Still, I suppose (if nothing else) they were doing football properly in that they were actually playing it and not watching it.
As the dogs pootled about we rummaged along the base of a fence looking for our geo-target. We couldn't find it. After fifteen minutes we gave up. I sent a message to the chap who'd found it the other day, and we walked our dogs round the fields. Those fields are a rather good place to walk the dogs. As we walked my phone beeped. A reply about that geocache. We had the right idea with base of fence, but we were told the given co-ordinates were a tad out. We went back. It turned out that I'd seen the thing. What I thought was a feather some thirteen metres from the given location was actually the string tying the cache to the fence post. Woops!
We came home; I picked up my sandwich box, and set off to work. The roads weren't overly busy; I made good time to Maidstone. A quick plate of broccoli cheese made for a good lunch, and then it was on with the work.
I suppose that bearing in mind how cold it was today, being at work wasn’t such a bad thing for a Sunday.
7 January 2018 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept like a log last night and woke feeling a tad grim. I wonder if I’m sickening for something? I hope not.
There wasn’t a lot going on with Facebook this morning which was probably for the best. I resisted the urge to be helpful – someone had asked on one of the local pages if there were any car-share schemes. Ten seconds with Google came up with several suggestions but just as I was about to post something I realised that this was just one short step from being embroiled in an argument about which I really didn’t care. Much the same happened yesterday when a friend asked for recommendations for local purveyors of second-hand cars. I related the terrible experience that "My Boy TM" had with a local garage, and suddenly everyone was looking for a squabble.
She can do her own Google search.
I had an email – the chap who’d helped me yesterday when I was struggling to find a geocache asked if I had any ideas with a puzzle that had gone live last week. I politely explained that in a situation like this he really needed to be careful with his wording… I had *lots* of ideas. However I’d tried them all, and none had worked. He did laugh.
I put some washing in to scrub and was just about to take the dogs out when "er indoors TM" phoned. She’d just driven over what she thought was a carrier bag outside the house. It was actually a great big rock in a carrier bag. I nipped out and fetched in the rock. I’m collecting rocks for a water feature project for over the summer.
I then walked the hounds round the park for what turned out to be a wonderfully uneventful walk. We met a few other dogs and played with them nicely. We didn’t run into any roads, we didn’t have any fights, we didn’t walk off with OrangeHead’s posse. If only all walks went this well.
We came home and I spent a frustrating five minutes trying to find something. A few weeks ago I set up my Lego train track to get some measurements of the board I need for when I set the thing up properly. I wrote those measurements down somewhere and have since lost them. My plan for today was to make a start on my Lego train set project, and phase one was to get a board organised.
So (with the undercrackers set to tumble-dry) I went to B&Q and guessed at board sizes. They had some boards which looked as though they might just be on the big side, and which were reduced from fifteen quid each to two quid each. I bought the lot. There was a minor dilemma in that they didn’t fit into the car, but with B&Q only being five minutes away I wheeled the things home on B&Q’s trolley, and then wheeled the trolley back. I don’t think they noticed.
I drove out to Boughton Aluph to hunt out a crafty geocache, and then on to Finberry for a second. "er indoors TM" has got a geocache near Finberry which has had several “did not find” logs. I was dispatched to prove the thing was there; it wasn’t.
I then drove round to Gina’s Fabrics in the Ellingham estate. Once my board is in place for the train set it needs some sort of green felt on it. The nice lady in Gina’s fabrics recognised me; her son was one of my cub scouts in years gone by. I can remember Danny very well. When building shelters at cub camp I told them all to wear their oldest clothes as they would get grubby; he wore his pyjamas (as they were his oldest clothes) and I didn’t notice until he tried to go to bed covered in mud and dirt. I remember all of the hundreds of cub scouts, but in my mind they are all still nine years old. Danny is now twenty-six and is serving on a warship in the Royal Navy.
We chatted for a while, and I eventually came out with a length of green felt.
I came home via the corner shop (where I got a sandwich) and I scoffed it whilst watching the first episode of season four of “Prison Break”. And with lunch scoffed I ironed for a couple of hours. No time away from work is complete without ironing.
And with ironing ironed I struggled and strained and got the board (for the Lego train set) into place. It is probably a tad too long and a tad too wide, but that is piddling details. I can soon get busy with a saw. Do any of my loyal readers have a jig-saw I could borrow? Or on reflection a safer question might be “can any of my loyal readers pop round and do some jig-sawing for me”.
"er indoors TM" did a rather good dinner. It included salad – is she trying to tell me something? And with her off bowling I sat and watched more episodes of “Prison Break” whilst the dogs slept. They will go mad when she comes home. They always do…
8 January 2019 (Tuesday) - Stuff
I made the mistake of not hoiking the duvet to my side of the bed last night, and so I shivered a little. I got up, and bearing in mind that Christmas is pretty much over I stood on the scales. Sixteen and a half stones – that’s a tad porkier than I’d like.
Over a brekkie of granola I watched another episode of “Prison Break” whilst Fudge sat with me and snored, then I sparked up my lap-top and peered into cyber-space. As usual people who should know better were posting all sorts of crap on social media. There is no algorithm which means you only see twenty-five people’s posts on Facebook, smart meters do not cause every illness known to science. I responded to these with a little meme of my own.
I had an email – Amazon was trying to sell me the very records I’d tried (and failed) to sell a week ago. And with nothing else of note on-line, I got myself organised and set off work-wards.
It was rather dark as I headed up the motorway this morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how recent reports have shown that the country needs three million new homes. There was also talk about how more and more people can't afford to retire as a pension isn't enough to pay the rent on the house they live in. Again the distinction was made between "homes" as an investment from which people make money, and "social housing" in which people actually live.
I can remember back in the 1980s when houses suddenly became a "commodity"; when we were trying to buy our first house they went up in price by a thousand pounds each month. A nice return on your investment for the rich... not so nice for people wanting somewhere to live.
There are those who blame Margaret Thatcher for that, and for all the wanton greed of the 1980s. Looking back I think I now blame the Labour party for deliberately making themselves unelectable for over ten years and creating the conditions for wanton greed to run unchecked. Amazingly the Labour party are currently again bending over backwards to leave the nation in the hands of a crackpot with no viable alternative government. History really does repeat itself, doesn't it?
And then the Brexit secretary came on the radio and managed to talk for ten minutes without actually saying anything. With no effective opposition he can say what he likes, can't he?
The "Thought For The Day" boiled my piss (again). Apparently it is all very well for science to look for answers to the "big questions" such as "why are we here", "what's life all about", "is God really real, or is there some doubt?". But religion would rather science didn't do that. It seems that the trouble with science is that it does its research on the basis of finding evidence and having repeatable results. Religion is apparently far better for the big questions because you can just believe in whatever old codswallop you like without feeling any need to prove anything. And then change your mind entirely next week.
I used to have religion back in the day. During the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was running unchecked...
I got to work, and had a rather busy day. I seem to be having quite a few of those at the moment. And with work done I came home to find that the dogs had eaten a tin of biscuits. Treacle is the primary suspect for opening the tin, but all are probably guilty of devouring its contents.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner. We scoffed it whilst watching “The Queen and I” which was something of a disappointment as I slept through most of it…
9 January 2018 (Wednesday) - Before the Late Shift
I slept like a log – last night I made a point of claiming some more of the duvet so that restless dogs wouldn’t pull it off of me. Mind you the dogs seemed to be rather settled last night – that makes such a difference.
I made some toast and had my morning delve into the internet. Nothing at all was kicking off on Facebook (for once), but I had one or two emails. Over a hundred in fact. A new cache series had gone live fifteen miles away. A hundred new caches. They look quite impressive on the map; each is a puzzle so the icon on the map isn’t where the cache is hidden. Together the icons make up a unicorn’s head. However because each is a puzzle I’ve got to go through quite a bit of brain-ache to solve them all. I’ve made this sort of geo-art in the past. Unfortunately not that many people hunt out series of puzzle caches (compared to series without puzzles) as it is too much effort.
I’ve looked at the first puzzle and given up (for now). I shall come back to them all when I’m bored over the next few days and weeks. The plan is that I have a few months to solve them (or barter for solutions) prior to a majorly long walk in May or June.
And no perusal of the Internet is complete until my piss boils. A week ago I bought what I thought was quite a bargain on eBay. This morning I got a message that the seller was going to post it soon. Is it *that* unreasonable to expect it to have been posted when I paid for it?
With "er indoors TM" having given me my orders I drove off towards St Leonards. I had a carpet to collect from Dunelm Mill. Bearing in mind I'd been sent on a little (bloody great) diversion on the way to work I'd looked at the geo-map and had targeted four caches to look for. None have had finds logged in over a year. A little geo-resurrective road trip would be something to do before work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were saying about how MPs are now getting death threats according to how they vote in Parliament. You would have thought that with such an outrageous bit of news they might have said more than just that a death threat had been made. Rather than following this up, they put on a half-hour load of tripe about piano sonatas. I turned the radio off.
I was soon at my first target. Having formed the impression that I was looking for a fake something-or-other by a pond I found nothing at all. I searched for fifteen minutes before giving up and going to Dunelm Mill where I was rather frightened by the assistant. He soon dished up the carpet, but I've seen less camp tents. Some men are macho, some less so. Some put on a deliberate act of being camp, and this chap was hamming it up to the limit (and beyond). I wonder why he was doing this?
I set off up the A21 to my second geo-target. Someone had logged a "did not find" on this geocache some time ago. Mind you the same chap had also logged a "did not find" on one near Westfield which I found right away, so I wasn't unduly put off.
I arrived, parked up, walked up to where my sat-nav said that I should rummage in the undergrowth, and saw what I was looking for laying on the ground. I did the secret geo-ritual, had a tiddle, and set off for South Maidstone.
At this point I thought I might try the radio again. There was some utter drivel about changing the lower age at which people become eligible to vote. Some total half-wit was trying to make the case for lowering the voting age to sixteen because "older people all vote conservative, and having younger voters makes it all fairer". I would have thought there was a case for raising the minimum IQ with which people are allowed to vote, but (as I have said many times) I don't believe in democracy.
I turned the radio off again.
My third target was one about which I wasn't hopeful. There had been a string of "found it" reports saying how easy the thing was to find up until about eighteen months ago. Nothing had been reported since. I rummaged very suspiciously in a thicket whilst people in the nearby riding school pretended not to be watching me.
After fifteen minutes I gave up.
As it was (vaguely) on the way to work I went into Wateringbury where I claimed another geo-resurrection before heading in to work. I soon parked up, and it wasn't long before I was in the works canteen. Chicken breast in korma sauce with spotted dick and custard for pudding.
And there was custard tarts for tea time. Not too shabby at all.
10 January 2019 (Thursday) - Before the Night Shift
Fudge spends most nights on the sofa which suits everyone. However last night he spent on the bed. For all that Treacle and Pogo fidget, Fudge grumbles. He growled every time anyone moved or farted or breathed heavily. If got so that I was laying utterly still for fear of disturbing him.
Over brekkie I peered into the Internet as I do. True to form a squabble was kicking off in there. Yesterday I mentioned that a lot of puzzle geocaches had gone live. Yesterday evening a load more went live. Some of them were challenges for which you had to fulfil certain criteria in order to be able to claim. People have gone to great trouble to create puzzles I can’t solve and challenges for which I will never qualify. Oh well… I shall have a go at the puzzles. I had this idea that the answer to the ones I can solve I will swap for the answers to the ones I can’t solve. That’s what everyone else does.
And the challenges will go on the “ignore” list.
Feeling suitably miserable I got dressed and took the dogs round the park. It was rather cold, but we had a good walk. Good in that we didn’t fight with any other dogs, and we didn’t either run off or straggle excessively. I did waste five minutes trying to get the hounds to pose for a photo, but they weren’t having any of it.
Once home I wandered the garden clearing dog turds (did I ever mention I never wanted dogs?) then decided I’d whinged enough. I sat down with the lap-top and systematically started on the new geo-puzzles. I tackled ten in two hours. Most have checkers which show not only if your answer is right, but also how many other people have also got a right answer. I felt rather smug that solved one that no one else has got right. Mind you I didn’t have a clue on the other nine. I thought I might try the rest later,
I got some lunch from the shop up the road. There was a “delightful lady” in the queue at the till who was making a ruckus that she had to spend a minimum amount of money to use her card to pay. Eventually the lady on the till relented and allowed her to use the card to buy the £1.25 fairy cake mix. It was rather embarrassing all round when the machine gave the card the big thumbs-down.
I came home and scoffed my sandwich whilst watching an episode of “Prison Break” then went to bed for the afternoon. I slept rather well until Treacle and Pogo had a fight on top of me. I wish they wouldn’t.
I got up and continued puzzling. I spent nearly three hours on a wordsearch. I put the answer I’d got into the geo-checker and got the same result that the “delightful lady” in the shop had had for her card.
That was three hours wasted.
I’m off to get some petrol, and on to the night shift.
11 January 2019 (Friday) - After the Night Shift
As I drove home from work the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Foreign Secretary. He was an odious little oik when Health Secretary, and with the Prime Minister’s credibility fast going down the toilet he clearly has his sights set on the top job. He was talking about what he saw as the very real possibility of the entire Brexit shebang being abandoned. Was this a serious political position, or just an attempt to undermine Mrs. May?
On Monday I mentioned I needed to borrow a jig-saw. Matt had one, and so I picked him up (and his tool!). We came home where the dogs set about him, and then we set about the wooden boards I’d bought on Monday. We carved it about, and put on some reinforcing struts, then got the green felt in place. I was grateful for Matt’s help. Not a difficult job, but so much easier with a second pair of hands.
I drove Matt home, then took a rather circuitous route home via Shadoxhurst. I found a geocache there not far from the village sign. I’ve now found all of them within four miles of home, and there’s only five that I haven’t found within five miles. I took a selfie and posted it to the local geocaching page.
Once home I took the dogs round the park. Today’s walk was somewhat problematical. It probably didn’t help that we started off badly by being accosted by a pair of drunks in Bowen’s Field. I say “drunks”; from the smell I think he was off his trolley on an unholy combination of toilet duck and brasso, and she was relatively sober but having a rather nasty fight with the voices in her head. Both wanted to fuss the dogs; no dog wanted anything to do with them. That caused offence.
Being two hours later with our walk than usual, we met several dogs we don’t usually meet. Pogo played nicely with most of them, only getting into one fight. We did have a dodgy five minutes when we lost Fudge, but on back-tracking we found him doing his own thing bimbling in a hedge.
With walk done I had a quick scrub, then went to bed for an hour or so. Over a rather late brekkie I watched an episode of “Prison Break”, then spent a very frustrating hour trying to solve geo-puzzles. I walked away from it before I got angry and set up the Lego train track on the board we’d organised this morning. Before I go much further with this project I will need some green base plates. And the motor of the train is somewhat temperamental. Perhaps I might have a look on eBay for another motor?
"er indoors TM" boiled up fish and chips, and we scoffed it whilst watching the first episode of the new season of “The Orville”. The writers seem to have toned down the frankly ridiculous aspects of the show and it was rather good. Let’s hope this continues…
12 January 2019 (Saturday) - Early Shift
Having done a night shift I slept like a log, finally waking one minute before the alarm. Over a brekkie of granola I watched this week’s episode of “The Good Place”. For all that I like the show, with only one twenty-minute episode once a week I’m finding it rather difficult to keep up with the plot.
I had a little look at the Internet. There was very little kicking off on Facebook (perhaps six o’clock was a tad early for that sort of thing). However Amazon had sent me an email: “based on your recent activity, we thought you might be interested in this”, and they then tried to sell me the Metallica album “Exit Sandman” on coloured vinyl. I can’t help but wonder what “recent activity” might have provoked that suggestion. I also had an email from Dunelm Mill asking about my recent experience at their store. I scored then five out of ten on every criterion for which they asked an opinion. It was a shop. What did they expect I would score them?. On the one hand no one told me "piss off baldy", on the other hand there was no topless maid service. So - 5/10. Average. I told them that as well. I wonder if I will win the prize daw offered to everyone who fills in their questionnaire?
Mind you these store questionnaires are rubbish. A colleague once told me that his girlfriend worked in SpecSavers, and anyone scoring less than eight out of ten on such customer feedback forms would get a rather nasty one-to-one with a manager.
I got myself organised and set off to work. Being on an early shift I was on the road well before seven o’clock. The street lights were all on, but they might as well not have been for all the illumination that they offered. The radio was broadcasting some utter drivel about farming so I turned it off, and sang along to my choice of music as I drove to work.
Work was much the same as ever; I did my bit and was glad when the relief arrived. As I left to come home I had a look at the geo-map. I saw that of the one hundred puzzle geocaches that went live a few days ago, one of the very few that I’d solved still hadn’t had a first to find claimed. I thought about chasing it, but it was already getting dark so I came home.
As I arrived home so "er indoors TM" was going out. The women of the family were all off out to the coast to see “little mix” (?) I did wonder if the dogs would want a quick once round the block, but they were all worn out. Whilst I was at work, they had all had an adventure on the beach.
I was pleased to see the job lot of Lego I’d bought on eBay had arrived. That had only taken nine days. Mind you I’m not entirely sure it was quite the promised bargain – some of those white, yellow and black bricks aren’t Lego but some cheap knock-off version. You can always tell real Lego as it’s got “Lego” written on it.
I gave the dogs their dinner, then foraged for mine. This evening I foraged in the general direction of the KFC where I had something of a revelation. I must have been in that place at least once a month for the last thirty-two years. I’ve never been served by the same person twice, and I’ve very rarely been served by anyone whose spoken English is remotely understandable.
I scoffed my dinner whilst watching more episodes of “Prison Break” and with dinner scoffed I did some washing and ironing. As I was carrying wet washing to the clothes horse I fell over Pogo. He did scream. I think he’s OK, but he’s never screamed like that before. We sat and cuddled for a few minutes until we both calmed down.
Did I ever mention that I never wanted dogs?
13 January 2019 (Sunday) - New Ash Green
Pogo seemed none the worse this morning having had me fall over him last night. Mind you I wasn’t in top form. Somehow late yesterday evening I managed to sit on my own “junk” and the experience sent a pain shooting up my right flank which was still there as I scoffed my brekkie.
Not much had happened on Facebook overnight, but I did receive an email this morning from Mrs Suzara Maling Wan (email@example.com). Apparently God had told her to contact me and to send me four million dollars for me to carry out “the good work of god, and also to help the motherless and less privilege and also forth assistance of the widows”. I did think this a tad odd. I wondered if I might discuss it with her, but she cannot take any telephone calls right now because “relatives (that have squandered the funds agave them for this purpose before) are around me and my health status also”.
She then told me that God himself had ordered me to supply my banking details, passwords and logins and hinted that eternal damnation was waiting if I messed with Big G.
I suppose enough people fall for these scams to make it worth the scammers’ time trying them out.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and set off to New Ash Green where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. Our plan for the day was to follow the “Beating the Bounds” series of geocaches and picking up any others that were on our way.
We’d gone prepared for mud. As it happened much of the walk was around urban areas, and those parts of the walk which were in the countryside weren’t muddy at all. It was also rather warm bearing in mind the time of the year.
I’d been looking forward to a good walk… I must admit I was good to get out. It was a shame that we weren’t able to let the dogs run for more than a few minutes at a time, and that much of the walk was wandering round rather run-down council estates. But the earlier rain soon fizzled out, and we had a good time. We usually do… I particularly liked the tree climbing. Pogo is almost as good as his sister at going up trees.
Geocache-wise… I don’t want to be negative, but much of the problem with the geocaching around New Ash Green is that it is something of a mish-mash. There is a series of caches hidden by one person which goes in a circle (of sorts) but along this circle are caches hidden by others. There was quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing including one rather serious back-track of over half a mile.
And we had one of the highest failure rates ever. We’d seen that some of the caches had reports that they were missing, so in the week we’d contacted the owners of the missing ones to ask if they’d like us to do some maintenance as we walked round. We received no reply, so we didn’t. One of the missing ones was there all along. But (quite frankly) I wouldn’t have replaced any of the missing ones as they were all in areas where you would expect the normal people to find them.
With our walk done we found ourselves only a few short yards from “The Badger”. Billed as a dog-friendly pub selling a range of ales from the Wadsworth and Ringwood breweries we arrived to find it full of drunken thugs shouting profanities whilst trying to race toy cars around the bar. We walked in and walked straight out again.
Instead we drove for a few minutes to the Royal Oak where the locals weren’t shouting the “F” word as loud as they possibly could. We sat in the corner where the dogs wouldn’t try to guard the door. As we sank pints of Master Brew and Spitfire so the dogs dozed. I dozed on the way home; I blame the port.
I took a few photos whilst we were out. Once home I showed them to the Internet. "er indoors TM" then boiled up a plate of dinner and as we scoffed it we watched an episode of “Only Fools and Horses”. I found myself saying the script along with the characters on the telly. Much as I like the show, it is on telly far too much.
As I’m typing this, the terrible twins are both snoring. Fudge has already taken himself upstairs to the dog basket in our bedroom. I’m taking that as evidence of a good day…
14 January 2018 (Monday) - FTF, Fake Lego
Finding myself wide awake I got up and had my morning ablutions. I stood on the scales and saw I'd put on another pound since last week. Time to start counting those calories, maybe?
Over brekkie (granola) I watched another episode of "Prison Break" which is fast becoming a re-make of "The A-Team". It is an entertaining enough show if you don't think about it that much, and if you overlook the fact that people who are now best friends were shooting each other only a few episodes ago.
On Saturday I mentioned that I'd solved a geo-puzzle that no one else had. This morning I saw the First to Find was still up for grabs. So, finding myself awake far too early, I set off to chase it. It might make for a little adventure on what would be an otherwise dull day. I soon found myself within striking distance of where I was supposed to be, but it was still rather early and not quite fully light. So, rather than parking in a sensible place and walking across footpaths and fields, I drove up a private drive, and soon had the elusive prize in my hand. First to Find. Happy dance indeed.
I quickly drove off in the general direction of work before anyone saw me, and I had something of a rather problematical journey. What with road closures and road works, I travelled quite a bit further than I might otherwise have done. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing all sorts of people in the run-up to tomorrow's big Brexit debacle. Ex-minister Esther McVey was wheeled on and she ignored everything that was asked of her. Instead she just parroted a pre-written speech about how wonderful she was. And in the interests of political impartiality they brought on the Labour party's John McDonald who tried to persuade the public that Jeremy Corbyn isn't quite the disaster that he is making us all believe that he is.
I eventually got to work, and did my bit. During a break in the proceedings I managed to book my car in for an MOT. It isn't due until March; that's a month later than I was expecting. That's something of a result.
It was somewhat ironic that having been wide awake in the early hours this morning I fell asleep for most of my lunch break, but such is life.
Once home I got the dogs onto leads and as we walked out we met "er indoors TM" who was just parking her car. Together we all wandered the roads for a while.
Once home "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner and went out. I watched a little telly, then asked Facebook about the Lego job lot that arrived at the weekend. Having had a rummage through it, about a quarter of what I got doesn’t look quite right. It turns out they are some cheap knock-off version. Whilst I’m happy with what I got, I don’t want the cheapo imitation bricks. I’ll ding those… once I’ve solved some more geo-puzzles.
I’m about half way through looking at those one hundred puzzles that went live last week and so far I seem to be solving about one in every five. It seems somewhat ironic that one of the few I solved is one that demonstrably has everyone else foxed. I wonder if I might swap answers…
15 January 2019 (Tuesday) - Eddie the Eagle
I lay awake for much of last night listening to a strange clicking-dripping sound. Had we got a water leak somewhere? Was it the guttering? But it wasn't raining? Just before the alarm went off I realised it was one of the dogs smacking their chops in their dreams.
I got up, and over brekkie watched another episode of "Prison Break" in which much the same happened as in the episode I watched last night. With not a lot going on in Facebook, and with absolutely no emails at all I set off to work.
I got to the car to find it covered in ice. After five minutes I found what I'd done with my ice scraper and got scraping. I was soon on my way to work on a very cold morning. I turned on the heater and the windscreen immediately steamed up. Whoops. So I pulled over to the side of the road to sort it only to get into an argument with the chap who'd been driving behind me. Being far too close to the rear end of my car, he pulled up when I did, thinking there was some reason to pull up. He didn't like my telling him that he'd been too close behind. People often get precious about their frankly awful driving.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Labour MP Hilary Benn who had recently withdrawn his motion (!) because he thought that was the best way to comprehensively stuff the Prime Minister. Most of the talk on the radio was about today's vote in Parliament about whether or not to accept the proposed Brexit deal. On the one hand the deal sucks fish. On the other hand it's the only deal on the table. It strikes me that perhaps those who made the deal might have involved those who would supposedly agree to the deal a *lot* earlier in the process, but what do I know? Over the last few weeks it seems there are a lot of people in politics who are more concerned with stuffing the Prime Minister rather than doing what is best for the national interest.
I got to work whilst it was still dark. Early starts do seem rather early in the winter. The night shift was glad to see me, as night shifts usually are. However today kicked off with something of an emergency, and by the time I’d dealt with tropical diseases and oddities of the Kidd blood group system I was glad to see it was home time.
Once home I ran the dogs round the block, then puzzled for a while until "er indoors TM" came home. The original plan had been to go to the Tuesday gathering, but I was feeling rather run down, so we stayed in and watched something we’d recorded over Christmas – a film about the exploits of the ski-jumper “Eddie the Eagle”.
I think an early night might be a plan…
16 January 2019 (Wednesday) - Macaroon
I thought I was a tad under the weather yesterday; I slept right through until the alarm went off this morning. That rarely happens.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of "Prison Break" during which I realised something. In nearly four seasons of the show our heroes (and villains) have been able to withstand hails of bullets without being harmed, and on the very rare occasion when they are hit, even a bullet right through the brain is shaken off with no more than a plaster and a bit of ointment. However the minor characters and henchmen are felled stone-dead by nothing more substantial than a vigorous fart.
I set off to Pembury through a rather wet morning. As I drove, the pundits on the radio were talking about the utter political shambles following the Prime Minister's defeat in Parliament last night. Her plans for a Brexit agreement had been thrown out in the largest Parliamentary defeat in history. Unless a miracle happens Brexit either won't happen, or the UK will be subject to all the rules and regulations that Brexit was supposed to remove, and the UK will have no say in the EU decision-making (which is *exactly* what we are giving away by leaving the EU).
I'm not sure that was what anyone had in mind, but what do I know?
Interestingly the vicar who was wheeled on to blather platitudes in the "Thought for the Day" suggested that the politicians squabbling about Brexit might stop squabbling and be polite to each other. Whilst I agree with the sentiment it isn't going to solve the political impasse.. or might it be the way forward?
Also in the same vein was talk about how OFSTED (the schools inspectors) aren't going to put such emphasis on exam results in future. Instead they will be looking at how much effort children put in to their studies, how much or little bullying happens in schools, what pastoral care is offered, and all the sorts of things on which a school *should* be judged. Apparently the teachers are up in arms as this will mean more work for them. The poor things.
I got to work and did my bit. I'm on a two-day secondment to Pembury and (as is commonly said) "a change is as good as a rest". I got to scoff a macaroon at tea time. There wasn’t much of it.
With work done I came home (as one does). Over a rather good bit of dinner I watched the first episode of the current season of Channel Four’s “Hunted”. At the end of the show they ran an advert asking for people who would like to be contestants in the next series. I wouldn’t mind having a go at that…
17 January 2019 (Thursday) - The Mr Whippys
Again I slept through until the alarm went off. Unheard of!!
Over a brekkie of muesli I watched more "Prison Break" in which it turns out that the baddies were goodies all along. Even though they'd been shooting everyone and anyone. There is nothing like a TV show with a believable plot, is there? And this is fast becoming nothing like one.
I quickly checked the Internet. Looking at Facebook I saw that the details of the February geo-meet had been announced. A picnic at Greatstone... Have you ever been to Greatstone? It's a tad grim at the best of times. But in February? If the weather is iffy the plan is to withdraw to the Jolly Fisherman pub. I've been to the Jolly Fisherman pub. When I was there I formed the distinct impression that the reason that the fisherman was jolly was that he'd just won a bare-knuckle fist fight.
I don't think I shall be going to this meet-up...
With little else of note I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the Brexit shambles (as if they discuss much else these days). There has been a development in that there are now cross-party talks about the matter going on. It speaks volumes that Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to have anything to do with these.
There was also talk about the people who investigate complaints against police officers. They are under fire for failing to successfully prosecute complaints, and that seemingly far too many coppers are walking away from the tribunals. Perhaps these coppers walking away were falsely accused in the first place? Or is the accusation itself enough to prove guilt?
I got to work and did that which I had to do. As I worked I found my head was spinning with thoughts about phone numbers and odd shapes and strange pictures and jigsaw puzzles. Following a concerted bash at the geo-puzzles that went live last week the only ones remaining to be solved are (obviously) the fiendishly difficult ones. Mind you I also had one or two rather unwholesome thoughts about a certain celebrity in a unicorn costume too (there was a puzzle about that)...
With work done I came home to find "er indoors TM" laying an egg. One of the dogs had stolen and scoffed a box of choccies. Now I’m not pointing the finger here, but no dog stole anything until Pogo came to stay.
We walked the dogs round the block. Pogo had several bouts of what I can only describe as “the Mr Whippy”s, which I am taking as further evidence of his misdemeanours.
"er indoors TM" boiled up an incredibly good pasta bake which I scoffed with a couple of bottles of ale, and then I shared some cheese with the wolf-pack. We all like cheese…
18 January 2019 (Friday) - A Petition
I was awake before the alarm this morning. Not by much, but still awake. Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Little Britain" (go Netflix!). After all these years it is still funny. I got myself organised, and letting sleeping dogs lie I set off to work. Yesterday the weather forecast had told me there would be a hard frost this morning. There wasn't.
As I drove the pundits on the radio spewed their usual brand of drivel. There would seem to be a national shortage of medicines. The people being interviewed on the matter were crystal clear that Brexit was not to blame. Apparently pharmacies and patients and GPs are stockpiling them for fear of shortages after Brexit which has caused shortages now. But Brexit is not to blame.
Personally I'd lump "Brexit" and "fear of Brexit" in together, but what do I know?
Needless to say there was loads of talk about Brexit itself. Loads of talk, but no news about it. We've had all the speculation ad-nauseum; I think it fair to say we are all sick of it. It is now time to crap, or to get off the pan (to coin a phrase).
There was also talk about the age of the rings of the planet Saturn. There has been a marked change in the way that Radio Four deals with anything remotely scientific. Up until recently, anything vaguely science-related was treated with mild disdain and sarcasm. But that's changed, and it is reported no differently to anything else.
I wonder if I wasn't the only person who'd complained?
As I had a few minutes spare before work I took a little diversion to the petrol station. That stuff is seemingly getting cheaper every time I fill up (not that I'm in any way complaining).
Once at work I put in my choices for Bank Holiday shifts. As I've said before I get a *lot* of time off mid-week when everyone else is working. The flip side is that I work when everyone else doesn't. Easter Monday is (for me) a goner, as is (effectively) the spring Bank Holiday. But May Day and August seem to be good for me. Two out of four Bank Holidays off this year? I'll take that,
I did what I couldn’t avoid at work, then came home and walked the dogs round the block. We would have gone further, but it was getting dark.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of scoff as she does, then went out on the razzle. As the dogs snored I watched the first two episodes of this season of SAS: Who Dares Wins. In this season they are simulating alpine warfare up the Andes, and there are women taking part along with the men. Those ladies are double-hard; I wouldn’t mess with any of them.
I do like this show. I particularly like anything with Ant Middleton in it.
And I’m going to end today with a little request to all my loyal readers. Could I ask you all to sign a petition? You can see what it is all about by clicking here. In a nutshell, in order for me to be able to work I have to pay the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) ninety quid every year. This is a legal requirement, and if I don’ pay, I can’t work. Not content with my ninety quid, they want to put the fee up by another eighteen per cent. I’d rather they didn’t.
The HCPC is an independent self-financing organisation which is funded purely from the fees it collets from the likes of me, and all sorts of other medical professionals. Interestingly they spend five thousand quid a year for their works Christmas beano. Which is five thousand quid more than my employer spent on the Christmas beano, and is the equivalent of the annual contributions of over fifty registrants.
So please sign that petition…
19 January 2019 (Saturday) - Surprisingly Busy
I got up in the night and pulled the duvet two feet in my direction; it’s not "er indoors TM" that hogs it, fidgeting dogs drag the thing about. However pulling the thing back disturbed Fudge, who then spent the remainder of the night grumbling about every tiniest little disturbance.
I managed to stay in my pit until eight o’clock when I could take his whinging no more. I got up and sparked up my lap-top. As I mooched in cyber-space so Fudge came downstairs and lay on the sofa next to me. He was soon snoring. He sleeps so soundly on the sofa; nothing bothers him there. If only he slept so soundly upstairs.
I spent a little while fighting with the geo-puzzles that went live last week with varying success. I strained my brain until "er indoors TM" was ready, and we took the dogs round the park for a walk. What with no late shifts or night shifts this week and the dark nights I’d not been round the park for what seemed like ages. To be honest it hadn’t changed much, and apart from a minor fracas in the co-op field the walk passed off pretty much without incident.
We came home, settled the hounds, and drove down to De Bradlei Wharf in Dover. "er indoors TM" had got some boots reserved in the shop where Tracy works. We got the boots, some amazing gadget for taking boots off with, polish brushes, shoe horns, and chatted for a bit before moving on.
We had a good mooch about; De Bradlei Wharf is an odd place. I thought it was a shopping centre… it is actually more like one enormous shop with various departments not entirely unlike the old department stores of years gone by (like “Grace Brothers”).
Feeling rather peckish we popped into Cullin’s yard where we had a rather good dinner which was washed down with a pint of one of the best stouts I’ve ever had. A stout which they brewed themselves.
We came home via the carpet shop. The carpet in the hallway and up the stairs is looking a tad threadbare. It was old when we moved into the house, and we’ve been here twenty-eight years. The nice man is coming to measure up in a few days’ time.
Once home we had a cuppa, and I looked at the Lego set I’d bought over Christmas and the one "er indoors TM" got me for Christmas. With a little rummaging in my spares box I managed to get two complete houses together.
I need to get to the Lego shop for some base plates for the next stage of the project.
As "er indoors TM" pootled and tided I carried on battling with geo-puzzles. After some incredibly serious brain-straining and frantic emails and messages swapping futile ideas here and there I now only have two puzzles left to solve. Needless to say, these are the fiendishly difficult ones…
Having had a rather humungous lunch neither of us were very hungry this evening, so tea was a bag of crisps and a glass of lemonade whilst watching the first episode of season two of “Star Trek: Discovery”. I suspect that one day it will be a classic, but right now I’m not feeling it.
I suppose I should really program “Hannah” for tomorrow…
20 January 2019 (Sunday) - Tunbridge Wells
We had a terrible night with Pogo and Treacle stomping all over us pretty much all night long. I wish they would settle down and sleep in the small hours like I would if given half a chance..
Over brekkie I peered into the Internet. Yesterday evening I posted to Facebook telling the world I’d defriended someone because I was sick of seeing their constant posting of nasty hatred. Overnight twenty-odd people had sent messages of support. I was pleased about that; it is *so* easy to spread nastiness on the internet. Just one click and more hatred circulates. Is it *really* that difficult to take a few seconds to realise that just because someone wasn’t born within five miles of where you were born doesn’t make then a child-molesting anti-christ?
I spent a few minutes posting out birthday wishes to friends. Whenever Facebook prompts me that it is someone’s birthday I send them a video that I made. It is getting a tad old now; I really need to make a new one. Between clicks I saw that babies born in January and February are more likely to grow up to be rich and famous. Didn’t work for me…
With the dogs and ourselves organised we set off in the general direction of Royal Tunbridge Wells. For all that I have been working there (on and off) for the last year, I’ve not really explored any of the area. We thought we might put that right today. Pausing only briefly in Goudhurst to clear up dog vomit (Pogo “blew”) we were soon at where we’d been told was free parking. We’d been lied to; we had to stump up seven quid for a day’s parking. A tad steep? Well, we were in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
We soon met up with Karl, Tracy and Charlotte, and we set off on a little walk mapped out by sixteen or so geocaches. It was a really good walk; just right for a brisk winter’s day. Mind you it wasn’t that brisk that the dogs didn’t want to play in the stream. Pogo’s not overly fussed about water, but Fudge and Treacle love it. Treacle particularly gets over-excited in the water.
After a while we found ourselves back at the car. As we scoffed sandwiches we were approached by a passing vagrant. We could tell we were in a posh area. Usually the passing vagrants ask if you’d like a sip of their brasso before starting a fight with an invisible opponent and then pissing themselves. However this passing vagrant asked if we would like to buy some gin which he assured us wasn’t stolen. When we declined his polite offer he then offered razors or raisins (we couldn’t determine which).
With sandwiches scoffed and tramps politely off bothering others we walked up the hill to Wellington Rocks. There was a minor fracas when Fudge hopped on the back of another dog. Usually dog people laugh this off this sort of thing as being what dogs do. This dog’s entourage wasn’t impressed though; it clearly wasn’t what polite dogs did in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
We got to the rocks where there was an Earthcache for us to do. For the uninitiated an Earthcache is a bit like doing your geology homework. You go there, read the questions that have been set for you (on the app or website) and then email your answer (blah blah sandstone) to someone who gave up the whole idea of geocaching several years ago. Some of us did the geo-thing, others played on the rocks.
We made our way back to the cars along a route which led us past a few more geocaches, and then (once changed out of boots) we walked in to the town centre. As we walked we went past a geocache the instructions of which said it was up a tree. We thought we’d have a look. We looked and saw it pretty much right away. About twenty metres up. We decided not to bother with that one, and walked on to the Sussex Arms.
The Sussex Arms – what a find! No food nonsense. Just a proper pub selling beer. We sat in a corner on rather comfortable leather sofas drinking our favourite tipples. I had a couple of rather good pints before it was time to move on.
We fund time for a quick geo-resuscitation before heading homewards. As we drove Pogo was rather fractious. He wasn’t settling. We stopped in Goudhurst for him to have a little walk and to get some air, but he “blew” again just outside Bethersden. It is as well that "er indoors TM" had mats covering the back seat of her car; he “blew” rather impressively.
Once home I posted up an album of photos of the day, and then "er indoors TM" made some tea. We scoffed it whilst watching this week’s episode of “The Orville” which was surprisingly good. Both the TV show and the tea. The walk had worn out the hounds and it was good to eat tea without a furry audience…
21 January 2019 (Monday) - Week Off Day 1
There was an eclipse of the moon last night. Over brekkie I saw that several friends had got up early to take photos of it with varying degrees of success. Some had managed half-decent shots, some gave up because of cloud cover. I think the best photos were taken by my cousin who gave up with the moon and photographed a fox ripping up her neighbour’s bin bags.
As I looked at the Internet Fudge snuggled quietly on my left-hand side. After a few minutes Treacle jumped up of to my right-hand side and started to fight with me. This seems to fast be becoming a morning routine. She starts by hoovering up toast crumbs, then when she thinks she’s lulled me into a false sense of security she mounts a sneak attack. Eventually she conceded defeat and climbed onto the back of the sofa from where she snored directly into my right ear.
I suggested to the dogs that we might go for a walk. Whoever says that dogs don’t understand English is clearly wrong. They wanted to go out. We soon got coats and leads and set off. We had a minor incident in Bowen’s Field where some idiot tried to direct where we were going. He insisted we headed off towards the park. I said we might go that way, we might not. He said that if we walked away from the park we might get within a hundred yards of his dog. I asked if he was still in possession of a dangerous animal, and he quickly bumbled away. I’ve met this idiot before; he has this theory that according to British law only one person is allowed to walk their dogs in Bowens Field at a time. On a previous encounter he tried to say that he had to have sole use of the area because his dog was dangerous, to which I offered to contact the dog wardens on his behalf. He didn’t like that.
Other than that, the walk passed off without incident. It was a glorious morning for a walk. The sun was low and the sunlight glistened on the frosty grass, The co-op field wasn’t the usual swamp; the frozen mud made for very firm underfoot.
As we came home I found myself sniggering. Today (and winter in general) would probably warrant an entry in Oolon Colluphid’s best-selling book “Where God Went Wrong”. Such a beautiful time of year; such a shame it is *so* cold.
I settled the dogs and drove up to Bluewater. The journey there was rather uneventful. On arrival I looked at the geo-map; yesterday evening I’d got some solutions to geo-puzzles in the area. But on getting out of the car I realised it was just too cold to be messing about.
I went into the shopping centre and was soon in the Lego shop. I spent far too long looking at stuff I don’t really need, but eventually picked up a few base plates and a pint of small bricks and flowers.
Once home again I popped up to the shop for a sandwich. There was a minor ruckus kicking off at the till where a “delightful young lady” was getting rather angry because the corner shop doesn’t sell cabbages.
As I walked back down the road I chuckled at passing cyclist; busy fiddling with his phone he was wobbling all over the road which was seriously boiling the piss of those in cars.
I scoffed my sandwich whilst watching an episode of “Prison Break” then loaded the washing machine up with undercrackers. Whilst the washing machine chewed my smalls I spent an hour sorting out my Lego. Having bought a couple of job lots I thought it might be a plan to sort the stuff to find out just what I’ve got. I do need a few more Tupperware containers for the stuff; I might get those tomorrow.
Whilst I sorted Lego my phone beeped. I’d had a friend request from “Anita Wright” who sports a rather impressive chest, and who wanted to know if I would like to “do the dirty deed” with her. Just so that there was no misunderstanding of exactly what “doing the dirty deed” entailed, her Facebook profile had some rather graphic (and rather unhygienic) videos of what she had in mind. I reported her to the Facebook feds for posting inappropriate things; let’s be honest, if a video of someone taking a pork sword up the dung funnel is not inappropriate, what on Earth is? (Please don’t answer!)
With dinner scoffed and "er indoors TM" off bowling I watched a film on Netflix. Io was a complete load of rubbish. Ninety minutes of my life wasted. Such a shame…
22 January 2019 (Tuesday) - A Rather Busy Day
Both Fudge and Treacle made themselves comfortable on the bed taking up much of where I intended to sleep last night. But both were quiet and still, and it made for a better night than some I’ve had recently.
I sparked up my lap-top and used it to peer into cyber-space as I scoffed my toast. A rather bitter fight was raging on one of the work-based Facebook groups that I follow. Someone (from America) had posted a case he’d encountered in his place of work. A family with blood groups: father: O Pos, mother AB Neg, child AB Pos. What’s going on here? Everyone knows this isn’t possible… or that is everyone who hasn’t studied blood group serology at the post-graduate level thinks this isn’t possible. It is actually quite possible, and the reason why has been fully understood for over fifty years. It was rather worrying that people posting on a professional page were rather loudly showing their ignorance. If they’ve never heard of cis AB (which is an interesting if harmless serological quirk) what else haven’t they heard of which might be rather more important. (People tend to forget that in my more lucid moments I’m actually a genius – I’m told I hide it well!)
And then I remembered that being on holiday this week means I don’t have to worry about blood groups next week.
I took the dogs round the park. Yesterday morning was glorious; today was rather drab and overcast. Pogo tried to fight with two other dogs, both of which were some distance away. But other than that, the walk passed off reasonably well.
As we came home we saw friends pulling up outside the house. They’d come to do the secret geo-rituals to the great big box in my front garden. We chatted for a bit, putting the world to rights.
Then, with walk walked, I settled the dogs and drove round to B&Q to get some more boxes for Lego. And as I was out, I drove over to Wye. Having found all geocaches (that I didn’t hide) within four miles of home I wondered if I might push that out to five miles. I found both my targets; both were out in the open and rather exposed. That now leave me with three unfound caches within five miles of home.
As I drove home I popped into Perry Court farm shop. I wondered if I might get something special for lunch. As I walked in some odd-looking woman glared at me, and ran to the till where she made a point of talking incessantly at the woman on the till whilst periodically giving me the evil eye. Quite clearly this was a local shop for local people, and I was intruding.
Odd really as there are no houses within half a mile of the place.
Once home I cleared the rubbish from the top of the fish tank (there was loads) and spent a while cleaning out the fish tank. It is a job that takes a while as much of the cleaning involves syphoning the gunge from the bottom of the tank, re-filling, letting settle for half an hour and syphoning again. This took much of the afternoon, including a quick trip to the pet shop when I found my air-stone was bunged up. Once back from the pet shop I put on a film, and I would watch twenty minutes of the film, then fart about with the fish tank, then watch twenty minutes more film, and so it went on.
“Genesis: The Fall of Eden” was perhaps one of the worst sci-fi films I’ve ever seen.
And with fish tank cleaned and film watched I looked at the few remaining unicorn puzzles. I printed out some playing cards and… I won’t say what I did with them, but after a little fiddling about I figured out what I was supposed to do with them.
Apparently the traffic was rather bad this evening, but once "er indoors TM" got home she boiled up a very good bit of dinner. We scoffed it with a bottle of plonk whilst watching the latest episode of “Hunted”, and then I shared a lump of red Leicester with the hounds.
I find myself more and more thinking that I would make a good contestant on “Hunted”…
23 January 2019 (Wednesday) - Little Chart
I came downstairs and had an idea that our smart meter had gone doolally. Usually our combined leccie and gas usage is about seventy pence when I get up. Today it said forty-two pence. By the end of the day it usually gets up to about four quid; last night it didn’t get as far as two pounds fifty. Feeling rather pleased that I was quids in I was rather disappointed when I saw the thing was only showing the price of the leccie. When I switched it to dual fuel it was at one pound nineteen pence. I swore about that, but not as much as when I saw it was over a fiver this evening.
Over brekkie I was rather pleased to find that yesterday’s squabbles on Facebook had died down. Facebook also reminded me that two years ago today I started my new job. I must admit that at the time I was rather nervous about moving to a new place but looking back I wish I’d done it years ago. I quite like working somewhere where I’m not greeted every day with a list of my failings and shortcomings.
With brekkie done it was dog walk time. We *could* have gone round the park again, but instead I loaded the hounds into the car. Treacle and Fudge jumped into the boot; Pogo refused. He had to be lifted in. He doesn’t like car journeys. We drove out to Little Chart. Pogo dribbled a lot, but he wasn’t sick. Once at Little Chart we went on a little geo-wander. There is a little run of geocaches there. Originally it was me that put them out nearly for six years ago. About three years ago in a fit of pique I adopted them out to "er indoors TM". At the time I felt (and still do) that they had run their course and seeing that they are found less than once a month I really wanted to archive the lot and replace them, And also archive the entire series of which they are a part and replace the lot with something new. But I was outvoted, and I sulked.
But they made for an ideal little walk this morning. We walked from the car for two and a half kilometres, only seeing one other person (and no other dogs) while we were out. The only real down side to the stroll was that being a linear series of geocaches, when we got to the last one we had to come back along the route we’d taken.
I took a few photos as we walked. As you can see on one of the photos someone had set up some sort of shelter not five yards from one of the caches. Clearly they had no idea it was there.
Once back at the car, all dogs hopped into the car’s boot; Pogo had no issues with the journey home. Once home I brushed the mud off the dogs, put some shirts into wash, and waited for the carpet fitter to arrive. We’d arranged for him to come and give us an estimate today. He was due at mid-day; he turned up at half-past one having completely forgotten all about us. Whoops. Mind you his estimate for carpeting the hall and stairs was about half of what I thought it might be, so it wasn’t all bad.
Once he’d gone I got on with the ironing whilst watching episodes of “Prison Break” until the next appointment of the day. The carpet man had been over an hour late; the plumber was over an hour early. The radiator in “Trap One” had been dripping recently. After five minutes with a spanner the nice plumber-man said that he thought he’d sorted it and suggested I keep an eye on it.
"er indoors TM" boiled me up a pie with some chips then went off on a little mission of her own. I settled down in front of the telly. “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, “The Good Place”, “Prison Break”, “Little Britain”… I’m a bit bored with the telly now…
24 January 2019 (Thursday) - The Beacon of Disrepair
The dogs were rather restless in the night. And being rather restless made them all rather quarrelsome. There were several squabbles in the small hours.
I eventually gave up with trying to sleep, and instead had a look at the Internet. LinkedIn wondered if I knew Magda Kilby who apparently studied with the Open University at the same time that I did (thirty years ago). I don’t.
Leaving "er indoors TM" and the wolf pack I set off out on today’s little adventure once I’d scraped the ice from the car. The dashboard thermometer claimed it was minus five degrees when I left home.
First of all I went to Teynham where I failed to find a Wherigo. I say “failed to find” – I found it, but I couldn’t actually extract it from its hidey-hole. After ten minutes I stomped away in a bit of a strop.
Once back at the car I then made good time to Swale and the Kings Ferry bridge. So good that I had time to stop and hunt out a geocache that I was passing. Just as I pulled up, Aleta called out to me. She too had arrived with a little time to spare. We hunted out two caches, then drove up the road where we met up with quite a few friends. There is a geocache on the marshes there which I’ve fancied going after for some time. It has a rather unusual difficulty/terrain rating: difficulty one, terrain four and a half. Which (for those whose boats aren’t floated by film pots under rocks) means it is dead simple to find, but a pig to get to. I’d only found four other such caches in over ten thousand finds, and the D1/T4.5 rating was spot on. The cache was a very obvious container tied at the top of a disused beacon tower.
Fortunately Brian and Pam had brought a ladder which helped us get to the first platform, and from there it was a simple climb up another ladder.
“A simple climb” … How easy it is to type this in the comfort of my living room with a dog cuddled up on either side. The reality of being rather high up on a bitterly cold day with intermittent snow flurries was somewhat different. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. You can get a taste of what we did by clicking here. I love days like today; with a little adventure in mind, someone posts onto the “Geocaching in Kent” page to see if anyone would like to go along, and you get to have such a great time. The normal people have no idea what they are missing.
Walking out to the beacon had been easy enough; walking back was somewhat tricky. Despite the snow, the temperature had warmed up enough for the mud to melt.
Once back at our cars we said our goodbyes. Since it wasn’t that far I thought I might visit the Lego shop at Bluewater to collect that which I didn’t get on Monday. “Wasn’t that far…” I told the sat-nav to aim for Bluewater, and all was fine until we got to the M2 motorway when it announced: “continue for twenty miles”. Twenty miles!
I got to Bluewater; I got what I needed. As I was walking out through Marks and Spencer I thought I’d get a posh sandwich for lunch. Oh, how my piss boiled. The idiot woman in the queue in front of me watched every item of hers being scanned (supervising the scanning of many items) and waited to be asked to pay up before taking an age to search her capacious handbag and myriad of pockets trying to find some means of payment.
I came home to have all three dogs shouting at me. They knew it was time for a walk. We went round the park and home through the co-op field with absolutely no “episodes” at all. It was a delight to walk them all. Or (to be precise) it was a delight for me. I’m sure that there are several squirrels who would disagree.
With walk walked I dozed in front of the telly until "er indoors TM" came home. She boiled up a rather good dinner, and we scoffed it whilst watching “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. I say “watching”; I gave up half-way through. This was the crappest Star Wars film I’ve ever seen, and being a Star Wars film it is up against some pretty stiff competition.
25 January 2019 (Friday) - Dentist, Brekkie, A Walk, Lego....
A terrible night; I suspect Treacle had taken her bone to the bed and was guarding it. She had two rather serious squabbles with Pogo during the night in which poor Pogo had done little more than move in his sleep.
I gave up trying to sleep and went downstairs a couple of hours earlier than had intended and found Fudge asleep on the sofa; he knew where to go for a bit of peace. As I scoffed my toast I read something that made me roll my eyes. There is a serious outbreak of measles in Portland; an area well known for its anti-vaccination sentiments. In extreme conditions measles can cause blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and all sorts of secondary infections which have been known to be fatal.
Peter J. Hotez, (professor of paediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston) was quoted as saying “This is something I’ve predicted for a while now. It’s really awful and really tragic and totally preventable.”
Why would anyone not vaccinate their child? Apparently prominent people in the anti-vaccination brigade are asking what we did before vaccinations. The answer is simple; we watched children die.
(And these people are allowed to vote… but that’s another rant.)
I went down the road to the dentist; I was only ten minutes late being seen. Today’s appointment was with the hygienist. She basically gave my gob an incredibly good clean out prior to the dentist herself having a rummage next week. The hygienist was good, professional, and looked as though she wouldn’t be out of place as a member of my grand-daughter’s gang. I’m getting old.
I then drove round to Brookfield café where I’d arranged to meet "My Boy TM" for a spot of brekkie. The place was full so we went round to The Forge where we couldn’t even get into the car park. They were queuing out the door at Rocky’s café too. Why was every café in Ashford so busy this morning? We thought we might try the French Connection, but they’d stopped doing brekkie by the time we got there.
So we had McDonalds.
From McDonalds we went to B&Q. I needed some more boxes for Lego, and the first fruit of my loin wanted shelving. He’s got this plan to chuck out all the rubbish in the cupboard under his stairs and keep his fishing gear in there. I can’t see Cheryl standing for that, and I am now in something of a dilemma. Not only will she unleash a can of whoop-ass on "My Boy TM" when she finds out about it, I too will be in the firing line for helping him. Realistically I should squeal him up; if only for self-preservation.
I fussed Rolo for a bit, then left them to it. I came home and collected the dogs. Despite the drizzle it was time for a walk, and I had a little hike in mind. Just recently I’ve been hunting out all the geocaches which are relatively close to home. With only two left that are within five miles I thought I might get one of those two.
I must admit that I didn’t expect to find today’s geo-target. Three years ago the Brabourne scouts put out fifteen geocaches. Like all geocaches put out by scout groups they weren’t maintained. Of the original fifteen, twelve have been archived because the person who put them out has lost interest. On 22 August last year I took Fudge and Treacle out to look for two of these. Although I found them, at the time I said “One was thirty yards away from where it should have been, the other forty yards away.” One of the caches within five miles of home was put out by this scout group. Bearing in mind that the things aren’t maintained and that (from experience) I know that the GPS skills of the hider are rubbish, my hopes of a find weren’t high.
We drove out to Brabourne, we walked for a kilometre across fields and woods, I rummaged unsuccessfully in a hedgerow and we came home again. The dogs had a good walk, Pogo had another car ride… it was good to get out.
Once home I wrote a “needs archiving” log. I toyed with the idea of contacting the Geocaching Association of Great Britain to suggest that they formally contact the Scout Association to ask them to withdraw the geocaching badge. Having been a scout leader myself I know exactly how the geocaching badge would have been done; at the time it was “this month’ fad” and by now would be a very distant memory. But I decided not to push it; it would just be another argument.
Instead I played Lego for a while. I intended to sort the job lots I’d bought into the boxes I’d bought, but I didn’t. I built a Lego church; “St. Gutsache’s”
"er indoors TM" boiled up fish cakes and chips, and we scoffed it whilst watching the latest episode of Star Trek. Much as I quite like Star Trek: Discovery, USS Discovery (NCC 1031) is probably the ugliest space ship in sci-fi.
And then we watched yesterday’s episode of “The Orville” which featured the actors who played the doctors in Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. After a shaky start “The Orville” has improved beyond all recognition.
26 January 2019 (Saturday) - Dad's Birthday
For once we had a really good night. No fidgeting, grumbling barking or scrapping. I was *so* grateful for that.
Over toast I had a look at Facebook. Quite a few people were posting about having had Burns night celebrations last night. A couple of local pubs were advertising Burns night events tonight. I can’t understand this obsession with Scotland that so many people in my circles seem to have. Living less than ten miles from the coast as I do, it is difficult to get much further from Scotland whilst staying on the same island. If Scotland is so wonderful, why live so far from the place?
And on a less grumbling note Facebook sent me a message – I’ve been on Facebook for twelve years now. What did I ever do before I was on that website? And talking of Facebook I had a message. An ex-cub had commented on the same Ashford-related group as I had, and he had got in touch with me. He’s nearly thirty now – was it really nineteen years since we went to Canada together?
With a few minutes spare I tried to log on to my bank account. In order to do so I have to use a little gadget to generate a security number. I told the bank I thought it was a stupid idea years ago, and today the thing didn’t work at all. I wasted twenty minutes as the nice lady at the bank helped me install an app on my phone which would generate that security number. Eventually I got to see my bank statement, and I had a look at my accounts. Could be better… could be a lot worse.
We settled the dogs and went out. First of all to the post office where I had a parcel to collect (Lego roof tiles), then on to Tesco’s cash machine for money. As I withdrew cash the cheeky machine asked if I was going to buy anything from Tesco today.
Pausing only briefly in Winchelsea for geocachical reasons we were soon at the Queen’s Head Inn in Icklesham where we met Mum and Dad and brother. Today was dad’s birthday. Rather than buying him a pressie that he doesn’t want we thought he might like dinner. He did. As did we all. It was good to catch up – should do it more often. I took a few photos, (but not that many) and then slept most of the way home.
We came home to mayhem. One of the dogs had pulled the bin out of the kitchen cupboard. There was mess strewn everywhere. We cleared the mess and wondered who was to blame. The most likely suspect is Treacle as she’s often had the living room bin over, but it could have been Pogo. (It couldn’t have been Fudge; he can do no wrong.)
The dogs needed a walk; we drove down to Aldington where we had a go at a geocache there. To find it we had to solve a puzzle based on the war memorial. We didn’t so much “solve it” as “blag it”, but eventually we found it. And after five minutes fighting we extracted it from its hidey-hole and did the secret geo-rituals. I’ve now found all the caches within five miles of home (except two which aren’t there and are up for archiving). There are now only five that I haven’t found within seven miles of home.
We then walked the dogs round the village green; after all that was why we’d gone out. The weather wasn’t good though. The dogs don’t seem to mind, but I’m getting too old to be cold and wet.
Once home we had a cuppa to warm us up, and I carried on looking at the household accounts. I need to think about the breakdown policy on the washing machine. We have this policy that when the thing packs up, the nice man comes out and fixes it. Which is all very well all the time the thing is breaking down. But bearing in mind it didn’t break once last year, that was over two hundred quid down the toilet. I’m tempted to cancel the policy and put the money aside each month, and when the thing finally gives up the ghost, get a new one. I could also do with downgrading my mobile phone contract, and seriously reconsidering my dentist standing order.
The six-monthly payment for Viz magazine was taken this month; that’s one thing I’m not cancelling.
As I pondered which policies to cancel and which to continue I kept sniggering at Pogo’s stomach which was making rather impressive gurgling noises while he slept.
I then went upstairs to unpack the Lego parcel I’d collected earlier. Pogo came with me, and once we were at the top of the stairs he was sick. I thought his stomach had been gurgling.
After a rather big dinner we weren’t feeling hungry so we had some pancakes whilst watching this week’s episode of “Hunted”. Some of the contestants on that show really are stupid. And then I went up to the attic and played Lego for a while. It was all going rather well until all three dogs came up together to help me…
27 January 2019 (Sunday) - Forty-Two
As I scoffed my toast I watched an episode of “The Young Offenders” in which our heroes obtained a duck, and then an episode of “Rocket City Rednecks” in which the rednecks made a drone capable of lifting a person. It didn’t lift anyone very high, but if made for entertaining viewing.
I then had a look at the Internet and saw that the place where I used to work now has its own Twitter account, and was cross-posting onto Facebook. How times change… it wasn’t that long ago that just mentioning it on social media was grounds for a disciplinary hearing. As I was handed a written warning I was told that this was the official policy, and any mention of the place on social media was actually bringing it into disrepute. Not that I’m bitter…
The plan for today had been to walk around the top of Bluebell Hill. But the weather forecast hadn’t been good, and so we’d cancelled our little scheme. Waking to torrential rain made me think that perhaps this was for the best. I’d nearly fallen over (several times) in the surface mud on a ten-minute walk round Aldington’s village green yesterday and the overnight rain would only have made things more slippery.
Such a shame.
I braved the wind and the rain and went out to the garden to harvest the dog turds. A grim job, but when you have dogs which crap as much as mine do, it is a job that needs doing. I raked in three toilet-fulls. Some would see that as a result. I didn’t.
We settled the dogs and drove out toward Margate. As we drove so the rain stopped and the sun came out.
We stopped off in Birchington for geocachical reasons. On Friday a new geocache had gone live there, and this morning still no one had logged a First to Find. We found the cache; two other people had found it yesterday, but no one had actually logged the thing on-line. There is a school of thought that feels you shouldn’t log a new cache right away as this gives people the idea that they might be First to Find and so people chase out after it.
There is another school of thought which disagrees. I can see both sides of the argument.
We drove on into Westbrook where we spent the morning with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM". I spent much of the morning being ignored by "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and trying to find the phone of the most recent fruit of my loin. She’d lost it. It turned up where she’d left it, as it so often does.
At mid-day we said our goodbyes, and as we drove away so the sky turned grey and the rain started again. Feeling peckish we stopped off at McDonalds in Whitfield, then drove up the A20 towards home. We got to Sellindge during a break in the rain, so we had a little look for a geocache which hasn’t been found for over two years. I must admit I’d had something of a prompt on this one, so I had an inkling of where to look. I won’t say it was buried, but… We found it. Another geo-resuscitation. Since I started hunting out these old caches over the summer, I’ve now resuscitated over thirty.
We then drove on to Tesco for some odds and ends. We thought we might try their little gadget with which you scan all your shopping as you go; saving a lot of farting around at the tills. It was a shame that they chose us for a random check to make sure we’d scanned everything we were taking out of the shop. It was even more of a shame that he implication was that we were the scum of the Earth who couldn’t be trusted with the scanning gadget. I can see that people might abuse this way of shopping, but I’ve never once had my purchases checked at a self-service checkout. The principle is the same, and offence has been taken. I’ve emailed Tesco’s complaints department to tell them so. I wonder if they will reply? I suspect they might see this as the shallow attempt to get some free money-off vouchers which it probably is.
We arrived at Pets at Home just as the heavens opened again. Pausing only briefly to get the dog food we’d forgotten at Tesco we came home. Once the rain eased up we took the dogs round the park. Needless to say, the rain didn’t hold off.
Pogo disgraced himself a couple of times on our walk. If he wasn’t trying to pick a fight, he was trying to “do the conga as only a dog can”. I wish he wouldn’t do either.
With walk done we came home to dry out. A cuppa and a hot cross bun, then I took myself up to the attic for an hour to add a graveyard to the parish church of St Gutsache. I had a rummage round my minifigures trying to find a character who looked vaguely vicar-ish. Over the years I’ve collected a lot of Lego minifigures, but all are specific characters. There are very few “average people” characters. I found one all in black that looked rather ecclesiastical, but on reflection it looks like Severus Snape out of Harry Potter.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good pizza for tea; we scoffed it whilst watching the 2005 re-make of “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I’ve seen it before; it’s not a bad film. Actually it’s a really good film. But being a film version of a TV series which was an adaptation of the book of a radio series, I’d seen (heard and read) it all before…
28 January 2019 (Monday) - Back to Work
As I crawled out of my pit this morning "er indoors TM" announced that when she went to Trap One during the night she’s blown all the lights in the house. Oh, how I chuckled.
Replacing the fuse wire is an easy enough job, or it would have been. The fuse wire comes on a strip of cardboard with three loops of different strength of fuse wire (strength, flavour… I don’t know). The idea is that the three sorts are in separate loops, but somehow all three had been intricately woven together, and untangling them by the light of my phone’s torch was quite a performance.
With light restored to the house I had some toast. As I scoffed my toast I peered into Facebook as I do. Rants and knob jokes abounded in equal amounts. A friend was ranting about people getting paracetamol on prescription; apparently this costs the NHS more than four times the cost of buying the stuff from Tesco. The obvious answer here would be for the NHS to buy paracetamol from Tesco, wouldn’t it?
Facebook suggested I might like the “Secret Boutique Lingerie” page. It’s an interesting part of the Internet featuring rather foxy women in rather skimpy undercrackers. There are those who like that sort of thing. I can’t say I’m averse to it, but if I don’t take a firm moral stand, who will?
And I had a message about a geo-puzzle I’ve been looking at for some time but was unable to solve. Some geo-puzzles are fun, some are cryptic to the point of being ridiculous. Take the one for which I got a hint this morning. There was a list of obscure words laid out in the form of longitude and latitude co-ordinates. I’d figured out that the words were types of gin but was stuck. Apparently to solve the puzzle you have to determine the year in which each gin’s distillery was founded and add up the digits in that year to give you a number for each stage of the calculation.
How on Earth are you ever supposed to figure that out? And so many puzzles are like this. Utterly impossible to figure out. I’ve half a mind to put out a puzzle cache with a picture of Alan Partridge playing Ker-plunk. The theme will be types of cheese. Because if you take the letters in “Alan Partridge” and “Ker-plunk”, add some letters, take some letters away and shuffle them about, you get the names of the cheese.
You might think I’m taking the piss here, but this really is the sort of thinking that goes into some geo-puzzles.
I took the dogs round the park. We had a minor altercation with a small thug and an Alsatian. Now I sometimes struggle with three dogs, but none of them is stronger than I am. What kind of idiot goes out with a dog which is so strong that the only way he can stop it is by grabbing a lamp post as he is dragged past it?
Just as we got home so my phone beeped. It was the boss. There was a minor calamity at work; could I possibly get in earlier than usual for the late shift? I wasn't overly keen on the idea; I had planned a little geo-mission for this morning, and I was under orders to get more fuse wire, but that will all keep.
Bearing in mind the thirty-third Rule of Acquisition (it never hurts to suck up to the boss) I settled the dogs and set off to work.
Work… I’ve had a good week off. Mind you I had planned to do so much more. I was going to get the pressure-washer out and scrub out the front and back gardens. I was going to hose down my new rocks with a view to preparing for a new water feature. I was going to give the lawn its first mowing of the year. I was going to paint the front of the house…
Oh well, I can do it all later, I expect.
Despite idiot lorry drivers ignoring signs saying that the A262 is not suitable for lorries I got to work, and parked far quicker than I usually do at that time of day. Once at work I did my bit, and being on the late shift I had dinner in the works canteen. Fish goujons, chips, rhubarb crumble with custard, and change out of a fiver. Can't be bad.
It is just a shame that a rather early start followed by a late finish made for a rather uneventful day.
Mind you I had quite enough excitement for the whole day when the fuse blew...
29 January 2019 (Tuesday) - Bit Tired
Restless dogs made for a rather restless night. I wish they would settle. When I am at home with them during the days they will sleep for hours without moving a muscle. At night they can’t go more than five minutes without having to stomp about and quarrel. I spent much of today yawning, and fell asleep over lunch. I hate doing that.
Over brekkie (granola and alpen) I watched the latest episode of “The Good Place”; a show which started incredibly well, but now isn’t going anywhere really. And then I sparked up the lap-top for a quick look at the Internet. What with a late finish yesterday I didn’t really have time to check my email last night. On Sunday I mentioned that I complained to Tesco about their checking up on my self-service shopping. They’d replied. Apparently they check everyone for the first ten times that they shop unsupervised. I suggested that the people from the complaints department went into a Tesco store and watched these checks being made. I suggested that they looked at the contempt on the faces of the other shoppers watching the people being checked. If they thought I am going to endure being treated like a shoplifter another nine times they are sorely mistaken.
I told them to stick their self-service where the sun doesn’t shine.
I walked up the road to my car. As I turned the corner I saw a huge lorry parked on the double yellow lines by the tattooist studio. The driver was fast asleep in the cab. This boils my piss. Local people can't even pull up on the yellow lines to unload without traffic wardens giving them a ticket, but lorries often park up for the night and no traffic warden wants to know. I know that the traffic wardens would have seen him as they often roam the streets in the small hours; I've seen them after midnight many times.
I posted a piccie of the lorry onto a local Facebook group in the expectation that it might cause a petty argument, but so far there's been no reaction at all. I would whinge at my local Councillor, but the last time I had dealings with her she came over as worse than useless.
Perhaps I should put my money where my mouth is and stand for local office myself?
I went to the local Sainsbury's to get some petrol. I was pleased to see that there were no queues there. The people on the tills made me chuckle. Oh, they were miserable. Had they smiled, their faces really would have cracked.
As I drove to work I became convinced that forty years ago I made a serious mistake when choosing what to do with my life. The pundits on the radio were talking about Nick Clegg. Three years younger than me, he became leader of the Liberal Democrats by generally being non-committal and blathering platitudes. He then became deputy Prime Minister by just saying "yes Dave" (to David Cameron) five times a day. That got him a knighthood, and now he has a six-figure salary working for Facebook (what does he know about running a social media giant?).
Perhaps I should have done something like that with my life?
I got to work; I had a rather good day. I came home again. Once home I was greeted by the wolf-pack. Pogo and Fudge were pleased to see me; Treacle showed me the latest thing she’d stolen from the dustbin.
Once I’d had a scrub I looked up train times for the weekend. It’s Dover beer festival on Saturday; if you’re keen on beer which is far too strong to be sensible, I’m aiming to be there for the start at ten o’clock.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and with nothing recorded on the SkyPlus box we took pot luck on Netflix. “Swimming with Men” was perhaps one of the best films I’ve seen for a long time. If you’ve not seen it, it is well worth watching.
I should really have an early night; if only to get some sleep before the dogs declare war; all the battles of which will be fought on my bed.
30 January 2019 (Wednesday) - Snow
There were a few squabbles in the night but being able to retain some of the duvet meant that I had a better night than some I’ve had recently. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “The Young Offenders” in which our heroes stole a tuna. As the criminal element does (apparently).
I hen had a look at the Internet. There was an argument kicking off on one of the vintage Lego groups that I follow (someone was accusing someone else of selling something?). Is there nothing that doesn’t eventually descend into petty bickering?
As I let home I was rather glad to see that the forecast feet of snow hadn't fallen overnight. I scraped the ice from the car's windows and set off toward Tunbridge Wells. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Brexit (as if they talk about much else these days). Preparations aren't going well at all; in fact those whose job it is to implement is seem to be living in cloud-cuckoo land.
With the Prime Minister having spent two years coming up with a deal for leaving the European Union that no one wants, Parliament has told her to go back to the EU and re-negotiate. Amazingly the fact that the EU have said they aren't re-negotiating (under any circumstances) doesn't seem to bother anyone. The Labour party are talking a good fight, suggesting everything whilst committing to nothing. Everyone knows what everyone doesn't want; no one knows what anyone wants.
It amazes me that Brexit is going ahead. I really would have thought that it was time for humanity to pull together and be thinking about a world government rather than splintering into petty nation-states. Mind you the United Nations has declared that this year is the year of indigenous languages ... What utter rubbish. Surely it would make far more sense to have everyone speaking the same language rather than delighting in being unable to understand each other?
When I got as far as Cranbrook I found (as always) there seemed to be some sort of natural barrier there, with snow to the west of the A229 and no snow to the east. There was talk on the weather forecasts on the radio about how large swathes of the country had come to a standstill because of the snow.
In some parts of the world life goes on despite six feet of snow. Presumably this is where they have foreign snow, rubbish, pathetic, weedy, ineffectual snow. One inch of solid dependable British snow is all it needs to bring the UK to a halt.
I got to work, and heard that the chap on the late shift had already phoned in sick. I kept my head down and hid from those who were looking for volunteers to stay late. Presumably someone else was co-opted as I walked out on the stroke of home time, and no one said anything.
As I got home my phone beeped. "er indoors TM" had a better offer for the evening, so once I’d fed the hounds I foraged for my dinner up at the KFC, and spent a rather dull evening in front of the telly. “Prison Break”, “Little Britain”… all good stuff…
31 January 2019 (Thursday) - Cold
I went to bed a little earlier than usual last night and slept like a log. I woke full of energy and raring to go at quarter past two. I then lay awake for the rest of the night whilst Treacle and Pogo played this game where they would sleep for five minutes, then fidget and knock one or the other off of the bottom of the bed. Whichever had been knocked off would then jump back on the bed and walk all over me to get comfortable only to knock the other off the bed five minutes later. And so it went on. I finally got more than five minutes sleep shortly after five o’clock, not long before getting-up time.
Over muesli (I prefer granola) I watched an episode of “The Young Offenders” then had a quick look at the Internet to see if I had missed much overnight. I hadn’t. There wasn’t anything happening on Facebook. LinkedIn was pleased to have found me a connection. Would I like to chum up with Emma Ardley-Batt? Ms Ardley-Batt is a cross-functional marketing professional. Or so I am told. One can’t help but wonder what a “cross-functional marketing professional” is. The longer I live, the more convinced I am that I haven’t the faintest idea what is going on in the world around me.
It turns out that LinkedIn suggested that I might like to befriend Ms Ardley-Batt because she has some connection with Noel McGrath. I have no idea who he is either, but he is something to do with one of the people with whom "er indoors TM" goes bowling.
Once I'd scraped the ice off my car I headed off to work. The thermometer said that the outside temperature was minus seven; it fell to minus eight by the time I' d left Ashford.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing one of the big-wigs at the distillery where they make Johnny Walker whisky. They aren't afraid of a no-deal Brexit or of export tariffs of forty per cent; any extra costs incurred by taxes and tariffs will just be passed on to the customers. Selling seven bottles of whisky every second means they feel that they can do so.
Personally I can't stand whiskey, but I wonder how many other firms will pass their increased costs on to the general public?
They then wheeled on some Rabbi who blathered platitudes on the "Thought for the Day" section. This chap had come up with what he thought was an amazing idea. Why doesn't everyone try being nice to everyone else for a change?
It's a good idea; you would think someone might have tried it before, wouldn't you?
And then there was an interview with the Foreign Secretary. He didn't inspire much confidence when he was Health Secretary, and as Foreign Secretary he is exceeding the expectations of even his staunchest critics. This morning he was banging on about how some technological gadgets may well make a soft border in Ireland possible (and so save Brexit). The devices he was talking about were purely in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy; it is well established that what he was talking about simply doesn't exist. But to him that was just a piddling detail. In his mind the fact that something doesn't actually exist is no reason not to use it...
I think I would be very good at being Foreign Secretary.
Work was work; I did my bit. As I walked to the car park this evening I saw that it wasn't quite dark. The evenings are getting lighter. You know that you are old when you notice the lighter evenings.
I came home, as did "er indoors TM" who then boiled up a rather good pasta bake which we washed down with a bottle of red wine (and some amaretto) whilst watching the Shaun the Sheep movie. Have you ever seen it? It alone is worth this month’s Netflix subscription.