1 July 2013 (Monday) - Busy
For some time I've been planning to put out a geocache or two near where I go tunnel-ratting. I've been having serious problems contacting the landowner. No one at Network Rail will reply to me. A couple of weeks ago someone else put out a series of caches in the general area so I asked them who their contact for permission was. As I checked my emails over brekkie this morning I got this reply "Hi David, sorry, can't help you with that I'm afraid. Obviously Network Rail will be your starting point, but having dealt with their H&S people before, I wish you success :("
How do I interpret that? Would it cause physical pain to give the name of a contact? I suspect that this reply means that the person who put these caches out has done what everyone else does and just put the caches out without any permission. Or the chap's just being awkward. I wonder which.
I scrounged a lift up to town; I had one or two bits to do. First of all I popped into the charity shop. I decided I would chase them for a refund for the shelf that they broke when delivering the unit last Wednesday. Any reservations I might have had evaporated when I spoke with the chap at the till. He oh-so-politely suggested that I hadn’t actually bought anything from them ever, and was rather taken aback when I produced the receipt. He even more politely hinted that there was nothing wrong with the unit that was delivered, and was rather shocked that I challenged him to ring the delivery people; even more shocked when he saw their phone number on my mobile, and was utterly devastated when the delivery chap immediately confessed to having broken the shelf. Notwithstanding his utter defeat he attempted sarcasm by asking how much of a refund I wanted, and found himself speechless when I presented the bill from the glazier.
As I left the shop he was blathering platitudes about how people try to con them out of money on a regular basis.
I then went round to the pound shop to get some magnetic key holders (I use them as geocaches). Not only had the pound shop sold out, they told me that they don’t do them any more. That’s a pain. They were fifty pence each in the pound shop and are two quid each on eBay. I then trolled round all the cheapo-bargain shops in Ashford but couldn’t find any that sold magnetic keyholders.
In the geocachical world opinion is divided on the use of magnetic keyholders as geocaches. There are those that dislike them because they are cheap, easy to hide, easy to find and easy to replace. Personally I love them for exactly those reasons.
And so home to collect "Furry Face TM" and to go for our walk. We went down to Park Farm. I’d had reports that two of my caches there had gone missing. I replaced one with my last magnetic key holder, and the other one is going to be somewhat trickier to replace. “Eye-Spy beginning with Y” was a yogurt drink container (Yazoo). I say “was” – it’s gone missing. Despite having washed the thing out thoroughly with boiling water I had received reports that it was a tad whiffy. I need to find something else beginning with the letter “Y”.
Whilst we were out Fudge was really well behaved, being off the lead and coming back when called. He was a perfect angel right up to the point where he found the biggest pile of fox poo you ever did see and having smeared most of it over himself he ate what was left over.
Home again where I washed the fox poo from my dog and put laundry onto the line. I then did the monthly accounts. I’m rather skint this month. I blame spending too much last month; we did go out rather a lot, I did buy far too much lego railway, and I think I spent too much on a geocache project that (so far) hardly anyone has tried to find.
I checked my phone’s answer machine. Whilst we were out I’d had a message from a Mr Syrett. It was with reference to Chelsea; he'd like to speak to Mark, and (apparently) I have his phone number. The message didn’t make it clear whose phone number I had; but presumably it was either Mr Syrett’s or Mark’s.
I then did the last of my on-line psychology lectures. There is still a little bit to be done with the assessments, and we’ve been promised a “thank-you-and-goodnight” video. To stop boredom and to keep the brain working I’ve signed up for another course – “Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy” which might be interesting. Time will tell. If nothing else, it’s free…
And then being at a loose end I played Candy Crush Saga for half an hour (or so)
2 July 2013 (Tuesday) - Cheap
The beneficial effects of the 5-hydroxy-triptamine would seem to have worn off. I went to bed at 11pm last night, woke at 1am and saw every hour of the night from then on. I finally got up at 5am and after my morning ablutions watched DVDs over a spot of brekkie. I quite like peanut butter and marmalade on toast for brekkie. Yesterday I scoffed the last of the expensive stuff - today we were back on to the bargain brand. And it never fails to amaze me that people claim that they can taste the difference. We didn't get the cheap stuff last time as it had sold out. We got the cheap stuff now. It tastes every bit as good as the branded stuff which is double the price.
I stopped off at the supermarket on the way to work. I'd got a voucher from them a while ago and wanted to spend it on a bottle of port. Tesco's won't sell port to me at 7am. I've tried, and they've told me to go away. Morrisons were only too happy to take my money. Port is another obvious area for economy in my world. I can understand that when one is being posh one might appreciate the finer things in life. However when one is roughing in it a tent, by the time the question of port is broached, one might as easily be drinking Toilet Duck.
Or is it just me...?
And so home. As I drove home I scoffed some strawberry bonbons I'd bought as a treat for myself. They were the cheap ones too.
On reflection not much happened today. And what did happen was cheap...
3 July 2013 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull...
I was sleeping like a log until 3am when all hell broke loose. Heaven only knows what happened - from what I could work out "er indoors TM" and "Furry Face TM" had some sort of a fight. I didn't dare get involved, and I then spent the rest of the night wishing that they hadn't had that fight. I had been sleeping peacefully up until then.
I had my brekkie, and set off to work. As is so often the case the pundits on the radio were sticking the knife in to the NHS. I wish they wouldn't. They were whinging about the latest thinly veiled witch-hunt in which all surgeons are to have their failures blazoned all over the internet. Apparently it's in the public interest. It may well be *if* the data is reliable.
I don't think it is. Take a local surgeon. This chap specialises in joint surgery. If he replaces your hip joint you are only half as likely to die compared with the national average. however if he does your knee you are twice as likely to die compared with the national average. How does that work?
There was also consternation about organ donation. Welsh law is changing so that rather than giving consent to have your unwanted offal recycled when you die, consent is now assumed. If you *don't* want your organs to be used then you have to say so. With three people dying every day for want of organ donation how can this be anything other than good?
And then my piss boiled. there was quite a bit of talk about computer models of the future when the sun expands and the Earth dies Microbes will be the last survivors on the planet, and even they will die off. Admittedly this won't happen for quite a while, but the story was being presented as though it was news. It's not. It's common knowledge and has been for some time. Don't the general public realise this?
After I'd done my bit at work I came home via the sweetie shop. White maltesers - oh yes! And so home. "er indoors TM" was off flogging candles and so I had intended to settle down in front of the telly and watch some DVDs. I say "intended" - instead I spent much of the evening trying to find the remote control for the telly. The next telly will be one *without* a remote control.
4 July 2013 (Thursday) - Cleaning, Walking
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived rather earlier than I was expecting, and after a swift brekkie we wrestled the leads on to the dogs and took them out. Down the back roads to Britannia Lane, across the fields to Chilmington, and home through Singleton and Viccy Park. For those of my loyal readers who aren’t familiar with the area the walk was one of nearly three hours and was probably about six (or so) miles. Both dogs were well behaved; even if Sid did straggle a little.
We got home shortly before lunch time, and as the Rear Admiral visited I mowed the lawn. The lawn mower is making quite a noise about doing its job, but it still functions (thank heavens!). With the back garden done I pulled the weeds out of the front one. That took some doing.
Over a spot of lunch I reviewed the essay I wrote last week for the on-line psychology course. The idea was that all ten thousand students wrote an essay, then we all marked the essays of six randomly selected other students (i) and gave feedback. Today the marks given to those essays were published. I’ve still got one more person to pass judgement on what I wrote, but the average of the first five assessments is 94%. I’m quite pleased about that. There were two multiple choice exams as well – I got 73% and 79% for those two. Although the final grades are still to be published, I think I can assume I’ve passed.
With "Daddies Little Angel TM" setting off to do whatever it is she does I drove the car round to park it outside the house, got a mop and bucket, and swabbed two years’ worth of bird turds off of the thing whilst my dog barked at me from his vantage point on top of the sofa. And still in a cleaning mood I ran round with the hoover (our hoover is a Dyson) before getting out the boot polish and buffing up a couple of pairs of shoes.
er indoors TM" came home, and we took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round Challock. There was a geocache up there I'd had my eye on for some time. Not the average cache; this one took some effort. Quite a bit of finding out and walking was involved. We probably took an hour from leaving the car to finding the cache. And finally finding the cache took some doing; in the end resorting to "phone a friend". It was somewhat frustrating to find that I'd been rummaging in the right place for some time only to have er indoors TM" find the thing in two seconds flat.
Perhaps we might have been quicker if we'd driven from point to point, but the idea was to give the dog a walk. He likes his walks - and so do I...
5 July 2013 (Friday) - Delays...
I find myself waking up with such a dry mouth during the night more and more just recently. I must be sleeping with my mouth open. Must stop that. Mind you it's amazing what happens when you are fast asleep. This morning I found a great big hole in the arse of my favourite pyjamas - what happened there?
I left for work a little earlier than I needed to this morning; I had shopping to do. I needed to replace the fluorescent tube starter for the fish tank. Regular readers of this drivel may recall the fun I had at the local branch of Pets at Home a few days ago trying to get such a replacement. I thought I'd see if B&Q had one - they didn't, which surprised me. So in desperation I tried the Canterbury branch of Pets at Home who had the very thing I needed and it was less than two quid. Let's just hope it works. Mind you I did have a little episode at the till in that shop. The twit in front of me in the queue was trying to buy half the shop's stock. He had more credit cards than sense, but couldn't remember the PIN to any of them. After trying about a dozen cards (three times each) he gave up, loudly cursed his bank, and went home having bought nothing. That wasted ten minutes of everyone's time.
As I was in the area I popped into the cheapo bargains shop. All I wanted was a packet of sweeties as a treat for my drive home later. Someone had asked for a Euromillions ticket (the cheapo bargains shop has taken to doing lottery tickets). The woman on the till couldn't operate the lottery machine, and promptly broke it. Paper was pouring out of the machine and was going all over the floor. It would have been hilarious if I wasn't running quite so late. All the customers then queued like lemons as all the staff milled about the lottery machine. The priority was clearly to mend the machine before the boss found it was broken rather than dealing with the paying punters.
So having lost twenty minutes my piss really boiled as I got stuck behind two different dustbin lorries on the last half-mile of my journey to work. The crew of the first one knew they were blocking a narrow road, and so waved me down a side street where I was promptly blocked by a second.
I made my lame excuses for my tardiness to the boss, and hadn't been at work that long when I got a message. "Daddies Little Angel TM" was in charge back at the ranch and had taken "Furry Face TM" for a walk to meet a friend of hers, and their dog Sarge. Sarge, being "on the other bus", is an advocate of "The Love That Dare Not Speak It's Name (oo-er!)" He took a fancy to Fudge, as only a dog which bowls from the pavilion end could. Apparently things got rather racy (as only dogs which are "good with colours" can) and Sarge got so over-excited that he was sick. All over Fudge. I gave instructions that all dogs should have a shower - Sarge's one should be cold.
Some days I am pleased to be at work...
6 July 2013 (Saturday) - Pluckley
In the morning's haul of emails was a request that I complete an end of course survey about the on-line psychology course that I've recently finished. I felt rather guilty telling them that there was far too much course material, so much so that I didn't have time for any of the optional extras they'd included. Mind you I didn't feel that guilty telling them that there was no place for all the pro-vegetarian propaganda they'd been forcing on to us during that course. In retrospect I wonder if it was really pro-vegetarian propaganda; it might have actually been some psychological game they were playing.
Either way I shall continue scoffing dead animals.
My phone rang. "Daddies Little Angel TM" was in panic. Sarge - the dog who bats for the other team had gone missing. The theory was that he had left home looking for Fudge and Sid. Working on this premise it had been suggested that I should take Fudge to roam the streets near where Sarge had last been seen to act as bait. Finding myself absolutely bored to tears waiting for er indoors TM" to emerge from her pit I thought I might help. find him by doing just that
We were just about to set off when the phone rang again. Sarge had been found - he had been handed in to the local vets by a passing little old lady.
And so out for a gentle walk around Pluckley. I was a tad disappointed that there were only three of us. I'd invited nearly thirty people. I understand that this was all rather last minute, and that many people had other plans, but I can't help but wonder if Facebook invites is the best way to try to rally the troops - over half the people I invited along never replied in any way, shape or form. Don't get me wrong - I'm not whinging - it's people's prerogative to reply or not to; I just hope that people are getting the messages. From the way people react with surprise when they hear where I've been (despite my inviting them via Facebook invite) I suspect there is a breakdown in communication going on somehow.
But er indoors TM", "Furry Face TM" and I had a good stroll about. We found a few geocaches on the way. But only a few. Someone had hidden five caches on a route which could really have been good for thirty or more. We found all but one of them. The missing one hadn't been found since last September, so I think it had really gone. Mind you the ones we found all needed a little T.L.C., and more than a little maintenance. The cache owner seems to have a history of having caches archived from under him. I wonder if he wouldn't mind putting these caches up for adoption; I could make quite the walk out of the beginnings he's made.
Yesterday I finally got the new starter for the fish tank's fluorescent light. The light still didn't work. That could only mean that the tube had gone west. So once home from our walk we went round to Pets at Home to get a new tube. My piss boiled when I saw starter units on their shelves; the very things they told me that they didn't sell.
But we've now got what we wanted - a working light on the fish tank.
I had lots of plans for the evening. A family wedding. The festival in the park. A friend's surprise birthday party. Instead I stayed home feeling faintly nauseous. Too much sun today? - in future I must remember to wear a bandanna...
7 July 2013 (Sunday) - Lydden Spout
I felt rather iffy last night and as the rest of the world celebrated at a festival in a nearby park, or at a surprise birthday party or at a family wedding I had an early night. I slept right through until 6.30am when "Furry Face TM" jumped onto my chest and started scratching. I wish he hadn't.
I got up, did my morning ablutions and checked the world via Facebook. It would seem that there is a youth theatre in Ashford. I never knew that. We regularly go to the one in Maidstone as they put on some excellent shows. Unfortunately the Ashford group's next showing clashes with something else in the diary. Such is life. I shall have to keep an eye on their website and look out for future productions.
Whilst I waited for er indoors TM" to emerge from her pit I played with the geocaching website. After yesterday's mission to Pluckley I have now found every cache within a radius of five and a half miles of my house. With the long summer evenings coming up over the next couple of months I might just start planning one or two evening walks just to widen that radius a little bit more. After all there are only six more to find to expand that radius of found caches to six miles. In fact I've planned one such walk for Wednesday evening. If any of my loyal readers fancy an evening's gentle stroll, do come along.
And talking of gentle strolls, Chippy arrived,and we set off (via Singleton) to Folkestone where the tribes gathered at the Admiralty before setting off for a spot of tunnel-ratting at Lydden Spout. Steve had gone on as an advance party and sorted out parking spots, and soon we were walking along the tops of the White Cliffs to our old stomping ground.
The sealed cover to the old plotting rooms had been ripped off, and we were soon down the ladder and noseying about in the old underground rooms. It never fails to amaze me just how quickly it gets cold and very dark in those tunnels. I really need to get a better torch, and I hadn't been down the hole for more than a few seconds when I clouted my head.
I came out of these tunnels earlier than everyone else to take over dog-sitting duties; it's not fair to attempt to take the three smallest of our party down the holes. And once everyone else had had a good explore we moved over to the old derelict gun emplacements. To the untrained eye there's not a lot to see now. However if you know where to look and are of a rather daft disposition there are about a hundred yards of tunnels just underneath these emplacements that can easily be entered and explored. And one of those sets of tunnels can easily be exited as well. There was another tunnel that I was told was too small for us to get into. Pah! It wasn't too small to get into at all. However getting out again took some doing.
We found the geocache which had been placed nearby in the last week, and ate our picnic lunch before embarking on the next mission. If you are prepared to do some scrambling and you know where to scramble, there are hundreds of yards of tunnels that can be accessed from the side of the White Cliffs. You need to go down a rather (very) steep slope for about a hundred yards, then clamber along a ledge for ten yards and heave yourself up a very steep incline. There is a rope to help you up the last part. When you get to where the rope is anchored you find a small hole into the cliffs. Anyone with any sense would look at that small hole and turn around. Mind you anyone with any sense probably would never find that small hole in the first place. On clambering into that small hole you'll find a rock fall which would persuade most people that they should turn back. But us tunnel-rats aren't like most people. And once we'd got over the second rock fall we were into a veritable warren of tunnels.
I had very mixed feelings when I when into these tunnels on the cliff edge. For some months I'd been planning to put a geocache in these tunnels. I would give the tunnel entrance as the starting co-ordinates, and would use a series of arrow painted with ultra-violet paint to lead the cacher deep into the tunnels and up a flight of stairs to where I would hide a cache in a rather tricky location. Scoring the cache as 5/5 it would have been rather unique. However I should have been quicker. The cache up at the gun emplacements might be fifteen minutes scramble away, but it was only sixty eight metres (as the crow flies). According to geocachical rules this is one hundred metres too close, and so my little scheme was scuppered. On the one hand I was a tad miffed that my plans had failed (I know of nowhere else where I might put such a cache). On the other hand I was rather relieved because cache maintenance would not be easy. And also I'd need permission to hide the cache on the railway's land. After several months the railway people had still not replied to my emails. Oh well; such is life. I shall just stick a cache up a nearby tree instead and see if anyone breaks their neck climbing after that one.
By now we were rather worn out, and little Sid was beginning to flag in the heat of the hot day, so we started to wander back to the cars. Or that is the drivers wandered back to the cars; everyone else wandered to the pub whilst the drivers brought the cars up. The Royal Oak in Capel is an odd place. When you walk into the place you get definite vibes of it being "a local pub for local people", but I've always found them to be friendly and welcoming. Take this afternoon for example. Little Sid is a chunky-monkey. Pugs aren't built for heat; and I was carrying him as he was worn out. The pub staff had seen us coming, and actually met us as we arrived with a bowl of cool water for the poor little pup. It's little things like that which make me want to go back there again.
With pints drunk we set off home. It seemed odd to be home before 4pm on a Sunday; but it was good to have a little slobbing about time; even if we did have to put up with next door clanging on the piano. I don't really mind them having a piano - as far as I'm concerned their piano gives me and my dog carte blanche to make as much noise as we like. mind you, it does seem odd that for all that they clang on their piano they never seem to show any improvement on the thing.
I checked my emails again. A new geocache had gone live on the other side of town. We rushed out in the vague hope of a First to Find - we were third. FTFs go fast in Ashford. And with er indoors TM" off bowling I settled down in front of the telly for an evening's DVD-a-thon. I needed to do something restful - I've had a busy day...
As always there are photos of our day on-line.
8 July 2013 (Monday) - A Sulking Dog
My silly dog has chewed the fur from around a patch at the base of his tail. I don't know why he does that. The Internet says they do that when they have an allergy to fleas. However he gets regular anti-flea treatment and he gets combed regularly. He doesn't have fleas. So until we can see the vet I put the bucket helmet on him to stop him biting himself. He *really* didn't like that, and started seriously sulking at me. So much so that he wouldn't share my brekkie toast this morning. Instead he made a point of jumping on my lap, making himself comfortable and then pointedly ignoring me.
My morning's haul of emails brought what I considered to be a minor victory. As I mentioned I've found every geocache within striking distance of home. I'm planning missions to clear up the map. As I go further and further from Ashford I'm finding caches marked on the map which were hidden by people who have hid the caches and given up with the hobby. Consequently the caches have long since fallen intodisrepair and have even completely gone, but the marker on the map remains. I've taken to emailing the people who hid the caches to get them to do something about them. One has replied and has promised action. Another hasn't replied, and so I've squealed them up to the geo-authorities who have taken action for them.
I'll get that map cleared up one way or another...
As I drove to work I listened to the radio. There was absolutely nothing of note. There was an interview with Andy Murray who yesterday won the tennis at Wimbledon. They asked him how he felt. He said that he was chuffed. And they dragged that out over half an hour. Dull - so dull. Sport is to be done; not watched. To add insult to injury the Prime Minister has suggested the chap be given a knighthood for winning the contest.
I've blogged before about the farcical honours system our country perpetuates...
On a more interesting note I see that the eagerly awaited Alan Partridge movie is to receive it's worldwide premier screening in Norwich. Where else?
I might just have to go to the cinema to see that one when it is released in a week or so...
And so home. During the day someone has taken the bucket off of my dog's head. He's not sulking now; as evidenced by the fact he helped me eat my pizza...
9 July 2013 (Tuesday) - At the Vets
As I scoffed my brekkie I had a text. The most recent fruit of my loin wasn't planning on visiting today. Which was a shame as I had some chores she could help me with (read "do for me"). Lacking a lackey I got on with the chores myself. I got the camping washing up bowls out of storage and cleaned them all. I swilled out the camping water containers. I dug out the camping cups and cutlery and got jiggy with them. I planned to wash up the camping plates and bowls but couldn’t find them. I am assured that they are in the shed. I shall hope that those who assure me of this can find them.
I then took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round the park. I let him off his lead in the Bowens Field Wetland Park, and apart from a minor incident with a dead slow worm he was as good as gold. Either I’m getting more tolerant of his little foibles, or his behaviour is improving with age.
I’d timed our walk to arrive at the vet’s just in time for his appointment so he wouldn’t have time to get fractious in the waiting area. On arrival he was weighed. Just under ten kilogrammes. Kilogrammes means nothing to me; in real terms that is a stone and a half. The vet then called us in. She spent a little while fussing him, and I explained about his bald spot. The nice vet explained about dogs’ anal glands, she put on gloves, lubed up, and made like Edward Plumb. (For those of my readers who don’t know the tale of Edward Plumb, just ask me – I won’t regale it here).
Fudge was remarkably cool with the concept of having a finger rammed up his bottom. Just as the vet was having a particularly vigorous rummage she asked if "Furry Face TM" had ever bitten at times of stress and worry. If I was going to shove a hand up an unknown dog’s chuff I would find out whether he was likely to bite me before I got busy, but that’s just me. For all that it didn’t seem to be an especially comfortable procedure, Fudge showed no signs of getting aggressive. I could understand if he had, but I would have been very surprised. He was as good as gold, and the nice vet lady squeezed all manner of unspeakable stuff from all manner of unspeakable places. With gloves off she gave "Furry Face TM" a biscuit, and the two of them were immediately the best of friends.
Mind you if she’d got equally gloved with me and then given me a biscuit I expect I would have felt much the same.
The nice vet lady said to leave the bucket on his head for a while, and gave me some cream for the bald spot. Down his glands are empty he shouldn’t worry his backside because of that, but he might have made it sore and he will worry it now because it’s sore. Whilst she was at it she had a look at his back leg; he does walk funny from time to time. Apparently Patagonian Tripehounds occasionally get dislocated kneecaps, but he seems fine at the moment.
I took "Furry Face TM" home and as he slept off his ordeal I drove out to Sevington to check up on one of my geocaches. It had been reported as having been muggled. It had been. When I hid the thing I’d dropped it down inside a metal post which supported a public footpath sign. Tied to the top by fishing line it had been fine for a few months, but I had a report at the weekend that all was not well. I arrived to find that it had gone missing. Together with the entire metal pole it was hidden inside, and the concrete in which the pole had been anchored.
I’ve put out a replacement cache – we’ll see how long this lasts.
After a spot of lunch I attacked the laundry. I sorted my smalls and ironed my shirts, and in the evening the tribes gathered in Somerset Road where I had some Iron Brew. I've not had that stuff before. It's not bad. And so home again where I applied cream to the bottom of a sulking dog. When we went out we'd put the bucket on his head to stop him from biting himself whilst we were out. He's managed to chew his bucket...
10 July 2013 (Wednesday) - Bonnington
I slept well, and after a spot of brekkie "Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived. We took the dogs for a walk. The two dogs were amazingly well behaved, and then we realised we had a problem. We had three dogs. Somewhere along the way we'd acquired a third dog. A small white Jack Russell was trotting along with us. There was no one else to be seen, so we re-traced our steps and knocked on front doors until we found someone who claimed our extra pup. I hope we found the right person; she seemed keen to take the dog but didn't seem overly worried that he dog had escaped in the first place.
Once we'd been to Park Farm and back we locked the dogs we were supposed to have in the garden and loaded the heavy camping gear into the car. And with "Daddies Little Angel TM" off on a mission for the afternoon I spent some time washing up the camping plates, bowls and stuff. It's amazing how long that job can take.
er indoors TM" came home and we took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. We drove down to Bonnington where we walked along the canal for a mile or so. It was a beautiful evening for a walk. And (would you believe it?) we found five geocaches whilst we were out. All unique in their own ways. Two of them receiving favourite points from me.
I like a mid-week evening walk...
11 July 2013 (Thursday) - Dull
Another decent night's sleep. "Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived rather early, and we got the dogs organised and set off on our morning's constitutional. Today we went into town. First of all to Wilkos for sun cream and the makings of beer. And then to Lidls where I had a shock. For those of my loyal readers who don’t know the shop, I have heard it said (somewhat unfairly) that Lidls keeps the riff-raff out of the pound-shops. Imagine my surprise when I saw what looked just like the wife of "The Man With No Alias" (patent pending) in there doing the weekly shopping. I looked twice, and a third time. On very close scrutiny I realised it wasn’t her at all, but the resemblance was uncanny.
We continued our walk into the park where we met loads of people. Orangehead was there with her chunky little friend and the rest of her posse. Steve cycled past and we chatted for a bit. And we met up with one of "Daddies Little Angel TM"’s school friends (from the days when she used to show up at school).
And so home. I had an early lunch, and then continued packing the car. I scrubbed the table covers and got them on the line to dry, then went through the food boxes. The rice and pasta had been moused over the winter. Perhaps from now on we won’t store food in the shed.
And with as much packed as I could pack I got the makings of the next load of beer in to brew, and then wasted much of the rest of the day playing Candy Crush Saga.
I wish we could go camping sooner...
12 July 2013 (Friday) - Off to Brighton
I was up with the lark raring to go, and was on Tony's doorstep before 8am. We did a quick trip to Tesco and then set off to Brighton. Over a spot of brekkie I'd checked my emails and had seen that (for no apparent reason) six new geocaches had gone live within striking distance of where we were planning to camp. As we pulled in to Stanmer Park I went for one of them. Having been published at 7.30am I wasn't expecting to be First to Find, but I was. The cache had remained unfound for nearly three hours. Wouldn't happen in Kent! I suspected that the other five caches were at that time still waiting for someone to claim FTF, but I was happy with one; I'm not greedy.
We had the offer of bacon butties with friends in Brighton, but reluctantly had turned the offer down. It takes quite a while to set up camp, and so we cracked on. The Rear Admiral arrived after only a couple of minutes (complete with "Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid), and we soon had our tents up. It wasn't long before the rest of our party arrived, and we soon had our camp together.
A spot of baguette for lunch, a quick kite-fly, and then I went for a little drive with Dave. He was going to look at buying a new car and there was a particularly tricky geocache nearby that was giving him grief, He wanted my expert skills (!) to help find it. I was no help at all, but Rhiannon (aged nine) came up trumps. Whilst we were out and caching I picked up another First to Find; this one some eight hours after it had gone live.
Back to base, and with most of the crew together we scoffed tea, and then went for a little wander. This was our twelfth year at Brighton Kite Festival, and we'd never before gone for a walk in the nearby woods. And we picked up one or two geocaches as we went. After all, they were our waymarkers. Without them we wouldn't have a walk.
Once more back to base where everyone had assembled. I cracked open the home brew. Quite good. We had a pint or two of the stuff, and then a bottle or two of port. I went to bed shortly after midnight feeling definitely the worse for wear.
13 July 2013 (Saturday) - Brighton Kite Festival
When at Brighton Kite Festival we always camp on the western edge of Stanmer Park. The views are rather good, but it does mean that the sun is on the tents from early in the morning, and it was rather hot and stifling by 6.30am. I was feeling a little under the weather, so I went for a little walk around the nearby woods to see if I couldn't clear my head.
We had a good spot of brekkie - we always do. I offered to wash up but we had a minor disaster. Not enough water. In previous years we've washed up in the shower block, but last year the shower block had burned down. However "Daddies Little Angel TM" had a solution. Apparently "Carnie Folk" know how to get water. For myself I had no idea what "Carnie Folk" are; let alone how they are born diviners, but I wandered down the hill with my empty water tank and eventually found a chap with a hose who was filling a huge paddling pool. I asked if I might have some of his water. I had absolutely no idea what he muttered in reply. It was certainly in no language I've ever heard before. But he handed over his hose and smiled as I filled my container.
I dragged water back to camp, washed up, and fell asleep in the sunshine. I woke at 12.50pm; ten minutes before I was supposed to be on duty. As always I'd volunteered to help with the kiddies kite making workshop. My forte is attaching the bridles, and we had a great time as I wound up the children explaining that kites are like birds in that they like to nest in trees. I told each kiddie to be sure to let their kite have a rest in a nearby tree, and when we'd finished I saw that many of the kiddies had taken my at my word and had put kites into trees.
Lisa and Earle left us - they were off to Gatwick and then on to sunny somewhere. We waved them off, and had fajitas. Very tasty. Then some beer. Then some more beer. Then a bottle of port. Just as I was going to bed I heard Dave's voice. So I got up again.
14 July 2013 (Sunday) - Brighton Kite Festivall (Still)
Another hot morning saw me out of bed and out of tent before 7am. This time I just sat in my chair and watched the world go by. The view from our camp was rather good. I dozed off and woke an hour later to find everyone else was up and about. In a break with tradition we didn't have our morning fry-up in a sandwich. Being Sunday we had brekkie from a plate. It was either out of respect to the baby Jesus, of from fear of being struck on the hinders with a frog. I'm not sure which it was.
As the shoppers went off shopping I wandered down the hill a little and spent some time chatting with the in-laws who were camping next door. And then it was time for the kiddies kite making workshop again. Some of today's kiddies weren't too keen on the idea of flying their kites into trees as they wouldn't be able to get the kites back. Apparently no one had told the children that before mothers are allowed to have children they have to get the gold certificate in tree climbing. When I explained that if their kites got stuck then their mothers would climb that tree as fast as a fish they all seemed more pleased with the arrangement.
With four hundred kiddie-kites made we then went and flew some kites of our own before helping with the site clear up at the end of the afternoon. And once sous-chef had done his thing with an onion we had a rather good curry for tea. We then got the Blokus out and had a good go.
More beer, port, Pimms... it al got very vague (so I am told), and so to bed at 2.20am...
15 July 2013 (Monday) - Jim'ard
Being the last day of camp we chop up all the leftover scoff and make omelettes for brekkie. Today as well as omelettes we had jim'ard. Jim'ard is basically all the leftovers that got the thumbs-down from the omelette maker. I quite liked it, even if it did give me wind.
And then we packed everything up, loaded it into the cars, drove it all home and put it all away. How easy it is to write that. Less than a minute to write; most of the day to do.
This year's Brighton Kite Festival was one of the better ones. Over the last few years I have felt that the attendance had been dropping. But this year's event was busy all the time. And it didn't rain. Not once. This is the first time we've not had serious rain at some point at Brighton. It was a really good weekend. I'm looking forward to next year's event. I'm very grateful to the organisers - if more people were like the people who run the kite festival the world would be a much better place.
Once home and unpacked I had a shower. Having lived in a field for a few days one appreciates the wonders of home plumbing. I fetched "Furry Face TM" from "My Boy TM", I put my weekend's photos on-line, and checked emails. All rather dull. The holiday is over, and it's back to the routine.
It's just as well my life's not that routine...
16 July 2013 (Tuesday) - Busy
I slept through till gone 7.30am this morning - the exertions of the weekend had caught up with me. I got some laundry going and had brekkie. Laundry went on the line, more laundry went in to wash, and I got the hose pipe to the pond to top it up a little.
With "Daddies Little Angel TM" about we took the dogs out for a walk. Through Newtown into South Willesborough and home through Frog's Island. We came home via McMunchies; the new burger van at the bottom of our road. "Daddies Little Angel TM" occasionally acts as runner for that establishment, fetching them various supplies as needed. They do a rather good cheese and tomato toastie.
Home again, where more laundry went on to the line, more went in to wash, and the beer I got into the bucket last week went into the barrel. Hoovering, tidying, and then I played Candy Crush Saga until "Dog Food Man" arrived. "Dog Food Man" is a chap I met at Shadoxhurst fete the other day. He gave out a free sample of his dog food which "Furry Face TM" yummed up. I bought about a hundred days worth of the stuff today for eighteen quid - and "Dog Food Man" delivered it as well.
My phone rang. Whilst playing Candy Crush Saga I'd seen an advert for life assurance. After a bit of thinking and a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I've taken out a policy. When I croak the policy should stump up enough to cover the costs of disposing of my carcass, and should have enough left over for a drinkie or two for anyone who comes to laugh at the funeral. If any of my loyal readers are thinking of taking out any such insurances please let me know - I'll give you the number of the bloke I spoke to today. Tell him I gave you his number and he'll give me vouchers to spend in the High Street.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. We watched the last ever episode of "Being Human". I liked that show. Mind you I did get the impression that towards the end they had rather run out of plot. Much of the story in tonight's episode did contradict what had gone before. But it was still good.
It was good to sit down and watch telly - I'd had rather a busy day...
Just before going to kip I checked my emails. At the weekend I'd heard from a lot of people that the kite festival in Teston in August was looking iffy because of ongoing building work. I'm reliably assured that the event is going ahead. Here's hoping...
17 July 2013 (Wednesday) - Bathing the Dog
Last night I thought that "Furry Face TM" seemed rather quiet and subdued. This morning when I came downstairs he was in his basket. He didn’t get up to see me, but his tail quivered slightly. By his basket was a pile of sick, and the poor pup looked terrified. When he realised he wasn’t in trouble he perked up somewhat.
I don’t know much about the people who had "Furry Face TM" before the first fruit of my loin took him on. I am told they were good people. But I can’t help but wonder how he was toilet trained. Did they mistreat him?
I’ve only ever seen him have a “potty emergency” once and when it happened he hid from me. When Sid has stayed overnight with us and has tiddled and pooped, Fudge has been equally mortified. Why is he so frightened every time there are bodily fluid mishaps?
I scoffed my brekkie, put more washing on the line to dry, and seeing how "Furry Face TM" was a bit more lively I got out his lead to see if he’d like a walk. He went mad. So we went on a rather circuitous meander. Over the weekend I had some “Did Not Find” logs registered on some of the geocaches that I’ve hidden. I wanted to see if they were not found because the caches had gone, or if it was “operator error”. The first cache (in the general vicinity of the park) has actually gone. I’ll replace that when I get replacements via eBay. Now the cheapo-bargains shop doesn’t do magnetic key safes I have to spend double the money and wait for a week to get them.
There are those in the geocachical fraternity who look down on magnetic key-safes as caches. These same people also don’t bother looking for the caches I hide that involve a lot more effort to produce, so whatever I do is wrong. Bovvered?
We then went down to Park Farm where I had reports of another cache being missing. This one wasn’t missing at all. I felt it rather ironic that I have loads of spare plastic boxes to be used as caches but it’s not those ones that disappear. It’s always the ones that involve effort to replace that go walkabout.
As we walked home we came past some more of my caches that I had a look at (just to be sure). As we walked along the river I let Fudge off of his lead. He had a drink from the river, and then… O.M.G. (!) Regular readers of this drivel may recall that on occasion I have mentioned that my dog rolls in fox poo. Nothing previous has ever compared to what he did today. Fudge is normally a mostly black dog with shades of brown, tan, and the occasional flecks of white. When he had finished his rolling this morning he was a uniform iridescent olive green; glistening in the sunshine and stinking to high heaven. And if ever a dog was smiling, he was smiling as he ate what small parts of the fox poo he couldn’t smear over himself.
It is as well that he can swim – I threw him in the river.
We came home where FF had a bath. And another bath. I *think* I’ve shifted all of the dung. I had a quick spot of lunch and got the washing in from the line. As "Furry Face TM" curled up in the sunshine and slept I set the DVD machine going with a BattleStar Galactica extravaganza and ironed all that laundry I washed today, yesterday and last week. It only took three hours.
er indoors TM" came home and we put the lead onto the pup and we went for a walk. A geocaching walk of course. The Bethersden Pond Trail was a nice little walk, but as a series of geocaches it left a lot to be desired. Why on Earth put the things half a kilometre (or more) apart? The rules say the minimum distance is 161 metres, so where we found four there could have been fifteen or more.
My dog liked the Bethersden Pond Trail - he especially liked the "pond" part. When we came home I carried the smelly dripping dog through the house for another bath...
18 July 2013 (Thursday) - Dull
After a week or so off of work my holiday ended. And so (predictably) I was wide awake at 3am. I hate that. I got up shortly after 6am and watched BattleStar Galactica DVDs over brekkie whilst I combed FF. When we first got his comb he hated it, but now he's come to love it. I only have to pick it up and he will jump on my lap.
And so to work. I only listen to the news as I drive to work. I've not missed much.
The news was all a-twitter about the government's latest initiative; the inspectorate of hospitals.
On the one hand I can't help but feel it will be little more than another way to bully an overworked body of people who already have quite enough stress in their lives.
On the other hand I wonder if I might apply for a job with them.
Here's something to bear in mind. If you are buying a house beware. In the past I learned the difference between a valuation and a full structural survey. For those of my loyal readers who are unsure of the difference, the main point is that a valuation may find all sorts of problems with the house, (even if the house may still be worth the asking price) but the valuer is under no obligation to tell you about them. However with a survey you get told what's wrong. Just getting a valuation means you may end up with subsidence, dry rot and all sorts of problems for which you can't sue the surveyor. It turns out that if the house you buy is haunted, you similarly have no legal recourse.
I stopped off at Morrisons for some shopping before work. I've now been stopping off there for nearly two years. Today I realised for the first time that not only is there cashpoint machines there, they also have a quite substantial recycling centre too. It's amazing what you miss when you are not paying attention.
I've had a really good little holiday over this last week. In comparison today was rather dull...
19 July 2013 (Friday) - Complaining
Not working today meant that I slept like a log, finally emerging from my pit shortly before 8am. I checked the world (via the Internet) to see what was going on. I had a minor sulk. Today is Canterbury Beer Festival. In years gone by I would have led a dozen reprobates on a beer swilling mission half way across the county. But in these austere times I really can't afford to spend close on one hundred pounds just to make myself feel ill (and to put on more weight). I had the offer to go to the beer festival with my Ham Street Lover, and I seriously considered going. But I have to work tomorrow, and sense and sensibility prevailed.
Instead I went to see the doctor. I've had a rash on my bum for a couple of months. It's not getting any better; in fact it's got to the stage where I've been scratching it so much that it bleeds, and the blood makes my pants stick to my bum. (Welcome to my world!) I've been given antibiotics - we'll see how they go.
Mind you I'm not sure the quack gave my chuff the amount of attention he might have done - he spent as much time fiddling with his mobile as scrutinising my posterior.
I had a moan to the practice manager as I came out. I got the distinct impression that the quack was utterly disinterested in my malady. Whilst I can understand his disinterest at my bum, had I presented a more serious problem I don't think I would want a diagnosis from someone whose attention was on texting his mates.
I came home to see the recycling binmen had been. They had emptied every bin in the street. Except mine. I had a whinge to the council, and after a little sarcasm on their part they agreed to send the binmen back again.
We then took the dogs out. It was a hot morning, but the dogs like a run. We went through Newtown to Frogs Island and back; if only because that route gives the dogs somewhere in the river that they can have a paddle.
Skinhead and her Epic Chest (patent pending) came to visit "Daddies Little Angel TM". The epic chest was too much for me, so I went up town. Ostensibly to get a container for the job lot of dog food I'd got the other day. But whilst I was at it I thought I'd have a milk shake. It was a hot day. The spotty assistant in McDonalds ignored me and turned his attention to the epically breasted schoolgirls, so I took my money round to Chill Time and got a butterscotch shake. Very nice. I could have squealed on spotty to his manger, but I felt I'd done enough complaining today already
As I came home I saw another triumph of our bin men (!) Too lazy to but the recycling bins back from where they had come, the bin men had littered all the pavements with the bins. Young mothers were pushing prams and push chairs up the roads to get by.
When er indoors TM" came home we took "Furry Face TM" out for a walk. As always geocaching suggests walks to places we've not been. We went up to Hastingleigh and braved a jungle to find a cache. Bodsham Dragons was hidden by someone who has never actually logged finding a cache, and hasn't logged on to the caching website for over a year. Having listed the terrain as 1.5/5 (really easy, you doddery old great grannie could do it) it was probably closer to a rating of 3.5/5 as it was a kilometre's hike up and down some of the steepest hills and then through several dozen yards of chest high brambles.
After that mission, finding a sandwich box in the general vicinity of a church was a piece of cake.
Home for fish, chips, and a relatively early night... I have to leave for work by 7.45am tomorrow. I just know I will be awake at least four hours earlier than I need to be.
20 July 2013 (Saturday) - Dull
Working today, so predictably a bad night's sleep. I was wide awake by 3.30am, and lay tossing fitfully until finally getting up just before 5.30am. "Furry Face TM" watched me sleepily as I pootled about the kitchen doing the washing up, and he joined me as I watched BattleStar Galactica over a spot of brekkie. WIth brekkie scoffed I watched two episodes of Bat Glack whist combing Fudge. People have commented recently on how glossy his coat is. I've noticed it myself - it's down to one of three things; his new dog food, regular combing, or a surfeit of fox poo.
And following on from that, this morning's news had a story which struck a chord, Someone was fined for grooming her dog in public. Excess dog fur is litter apparently. I shall make a point of only grooming Furry Face at home.
And so to work, which was much the same as ever. I was missing the monthly geocacher's meeting today, but from what I could work out today's meeting was a P.R. exercise telling the denizens of Swale about the wonders of looking for sandwich boxes in the woods. Probably one of the meetings to miss (if given the choice), even if I did miss the chance to meet up with friends.
So I suppose I didn't really mind working. I've had a lot of time off recently which has had some glorious weather; today I looked out of the window several times to see a very grey and overcast day.
I did my bit at work, and then came home. er indoors TM" was out for the evening, so I settled down for more BattleStar Galactica and dog combing.
I'm getting through these DVDs at quite a rate. "Furry Face TM" doesn't seem to be complaining. Mind you there was a dodgy five minutes when he ate a spider...
21 July 2013 (Sunday) - Stuff
Some nights "Furry Face TM" sleeps on my bed. I wish he wouldn't; but I was reliably assured that last night I was fast asleep with my hand on his head. We (apparently) looked rather sweet. I can't see that somehow - I never wanted a dog (!)
Despite (or perhaps because of) the dog on my bed I was awake at 4.30am this morning, and was up and pootling before 5.30am. I had brekkie and a double helping of BattleStar Galactica. That show is going through a rather depressing phase at the moment.
I checked my emails. A new geocache had gone live only five miles north according to the morning's missives. The chance of an FTF would give me something to do on the way to work so I got ready quickly, checked the geo-map, and couldn't see any new caches. So I re-checked the email. Whoops(!)
Whilst away in Brighton last week I'd set up an email alert for any new caches within a few miles of where we were camping. And it would seem that message alert is still active. This new cache was in Burgess Hill; some fifty miles away. I'd better turn that alert off, hadn't I?
But filled with geo-enthusiasm I thought I'd pick up a cache on the way to work this morning. There was one I'd had my eye on for a couple of months. It was (and is) on my way to work, but involved parking the car along the A28 and walking cross country for half a mile or so (there and back). I parked up in the lay-by at Chartham by the caravan shop and walked down the clearly marked footpath. The footpath went past a house. As I came close to this house a grumpy-looking chap came out and asked if he could help me. I politely declined his offer and followed the footpath. This bloke folded his arms and watched me walk past. After a few seconds I could sense something; I turned to find I was being followed. When I stopped walking, grumpy-pants stopped walking. When I started walking, so did he. If I backtracked, he turned around as well. After a few minutes of playing silly beggars I stopped, stared at him and folded my arms. Eventually he mumbled and muttered and turned round and went off.
With him gone I soon found myself on the Route 18 cycle path which follows the river to Canterbury. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that a group of a dozen of us walked along this path earlier in the year. It's a rather beautiful place to walk. I soon found the cache, and having done the secret geo-ritual then made my way back to my car. As I walked past his house I sarcastically waved at Mr Grumpy-Pants who was glowering at me from his kitchen window.
I carried on with my journey. Being a Sunday the talk on the radio was on matters ecclesiastical. Today some bishop or other was attempting to appear modern and trendy by attempting to twist the meanings of certain obscure passages of the Bible to try to show that (in the eyes of his church) there is nothing wrong with being gay. I've mentioned this before so many times, but it always boils my piss. Personally I have no problem with anyone being gay, trans, intro, hyper or whatever. Whatever anyone wants to be, or is, is fine with me. but the Bible is crystal clear on the subject It says being gay is wrong. It actually says that very clearly in several places. Here's four of them for a start: Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13,1 Cor. 6:9-10, Rom. 1:26-28.
I do wish today's church wouldn't try to twist the meaning of the Bible to try to make themselves look politically correct. Totally ignoring their scriptures can only undermine their credibility.
The next chap on the radio drivelled about the sanctity and wonder of music in worship. To hear him speak was wonderful; he seemed so credible and articulate. It was a shame he chose some of the most dire organ music I've ever heard to fail to illustrate his point.
And so to work. I don't mind working at the weekends; it gives me time off in the week to do what I like. But I did have just the tiniest sulk today that for the second year running I'd missed the Pirate Day celebrations in Hastings.
And that got me thinking about the old home town. When I moved away from the place in 1984 it was going downhill fast. And now nearly thirty years later the place has changed beyond recognition. Earlier in the year I went back there for the Jack in the Green celebrations. Today I'm missing the Pirate Day. I always miss the pram race and the carnival. Later in the year I shall go back for the bonfire parade.
Talking of which, I really should start sorting out dates for bonfire parades...
22 July 2013 (Monday) - Hot Day
I had a reasonably good night's sleep until my little dog bounded up the stairs and started scratching himself at the foot of the bed at 6.30am. I took that as God's way of telling me to get up so I did, and had brekkie. DVDs over peanut butter might not be the best way to start the day, but it's the way I do it. I checked my emails - nothing of note.
The phone rang. "Daddies Little Angel TM" was distraught. One of the guinea pigs wasn't well. What can you do with a little animal like that? Which is the very reason I never wanted a dog.
And talking of dogs, I put "Furry Face TM"'s collar and lead on to him and we set off before the day got too hot. Down through South Ashford and out the back of Park Farm to look for a geocache (what else would I be doing?)
There's no denying that I went down all full of cockiness fully expecting an easy find. I couldn't unearth the thing. I searched and searched. My phone beeped - Lisa was ready to go out. I should have found the cache and been home by that time. Instead I suggested that Lisa met us there. I carried on searching. When Lisa arrived I'd been looking for nearly forty minutes. She found the thing in less than one minute. Oh how I laughed (!)
The day was getting rather warm - it was a good job she'd driven down. We scrounged a lift home, and I left FF at home whilst we drove out on a geo-maintenance mission. The trouble with hiding small plastic boxes fof everyone else to find is that periodically these boxes go missing. It would be easy to shrug my shoulders and take no notice; and many cache hiders do just that. But we don't. there is a school of thought that if you put out a geocache you should maintain it or close it down. So the rest of the morning was spent on maintenance. Between us we maintained four caches; two each.
The first one was one of Lisa's caches was tucked inside a plastic pidgeon. I particularly liked that cache as I was the first one to find it very early one Bank Holiday morning in May. We found what was left of the cache. Some of it was hanging from a nearby tree; some scattered all over the floor. It looked as though someone had blown it away with a shotgun. Both of the next two were missing. And the last one just needed a new log book. That was easy enough.
Home at mid day. I felt peckish and had a look in the fridge. I found a chicken tikka wrap and left over KFC. I hope no one wanted those. If they did, they could look on this little episode as being God' way of telling them not to leave stuff in my fridge when I'm hunting lunch. I then did the monthly accounts. There's no denying that I would like to have a lot more money in them, but that's probably true of everyone. I have enough to be getting on with, and if there's not enough for me to be able to afford to waste a hundred quid at a beer festival on a regular basis then that's probably a good thing in the long run.
The doorbell rang. Postie delivered my supply of magnetic key-holders which I will use as replacement geocaches. In fact I put "Furry Face TM"'s collar and lead on him and we put one out there and then.
And with er indoors TM" off bowling and me feeling rather worn out from the day's heat I settled down for an evening's DVD-o-thon. Can't be bad...
I found today's piccie on Facebook. I *really* didn't want a dog...
23 July 2013 (Tuesday) - Wasp Sting
There was quite some storm last night. I spent much of it listening out for "Furry Face TM". On the one hand I was worrying about how he would react. On the other I've heard that it's best not to fuss dogs during storms or they get the idea something is wrong. I needn't have worried. "Furry Face TM" slept through it. Unlike most of humanity if the morning's reports on Facebook are anything to go by.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived and wasn’t happy. Sid has had the thumbs-down from the vets. He’s officially a porker and needs to lose weight. Bless him. Lisa then arrived and we all set off. "Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid were dropped off on the way to visit Sarge – the Jack Russell who “bakes a moist sponge and is good with colours”. Lisa and I went on to take Fudge for a walk. First of all round Westwell to check that her series of geocaches were all well. They were. We then went on into Hoads Wood for one last check. It was here that the heavens opened. We got soaked. We were all dripping when we got back to the car. But as we were already wet we thought we’d continue. Up into Charing where we walked along the North Downs way for a little bit. We found three geocaches and a wasps nest. Unfortunately I got to claim ”smug mode” on the wasps nest. When geocaching one often rams one’s hand into all sorts of crevices. Perhaps I’ve got too blasé about doing so. I got stung off of a wasp.
By the time I’d got soaked by ferns (which were seven feet high), and stung, and marched up and down the North Downs we decided to call it a day. So we went home. "Daddies Little Angel TM" was fast asleep on the sofa. I kicked her awake and sent her to bed, had a shower, and watched some DVDs. And then I checked my emails.
Regular readers of this drivel may realise that I regularly go on walks of series of geocaches. Such walks often have their distances published. I’ve commented from time to time that these published distances are usually seriously underestimated. I made such a comment about one such cache series in this blog a little while ago and the person who owns those caches has taken offence. Those in our party with hand held GPS units measured the walk in question as being just under nine miles. Two independent measurements made as we did the walk came up with that figure. However I have been told (rather rudely) by the person hiding those caches that the actual distance was just over six miles (as measured on a map from the comfort of someone’s living room). Furthermore I have been challenged to provide details of our exact route to explain how we came up with such a clearly inaccurate figure (!)
I don’t mind people taking issue with what I’ve written. I welcome people commenting and challenging. If nothing else it shows me that someone’s actually reading this drivel. However there is a world of difference between a tone which implies “I disagree with you for the following reasons…” and one which all but says “you’re wrong dogbreath, sort it out!”
I found this little episode rather vexing as it was from the same person who doesn’t respond to my emails about problems with their caches, and who feels I am wrong to log trackables in a timely fashion.
I can just see where this is going. I have responded politely, explaining that we took the obvious route according to ordnance survey maps, but I just know that was a waste of time. Some geocachers get very uppity when you dare to suggest anything might be awry with co- ordinates or distances. I can see I am going to be formally ordered to amend logs or blogs or face log deletion.
I might as well start amending the logs in question now.
I like geocaching. It’s a fun walk in the countryside. But the administrative recording of what you’ve done is nothing but hard work. Whatever you write as a log is wrong. If you don’t write enough, people complain. If you write too much, people whinge. If you don’t express ample amounts of undying gratitude that someone has hidden a sandwich box in a gorse bush you never hear the end of it. Up until now I have always logged a standard platitude with a link to this blog. From now on it will be “TFTC and be flipping happy you got that much!” (to quote the Rear Admiral).
Whilst I was composing my reply to my fellow aficionado of Tupperware, Fudge went mad. Last Friday the recycling bin-men left our recycling bin whilst doing every other one in the street. I was promised they would collect it yesterday. They didn’t. They finally came back to day at 4.30pm, emptied it, and left it blocking the pavement. When I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk yesterday afternoon we couldn’t get up the pavements in Christchurch Road because of the abandoned garden waste bins.
Ashford council’s idea to recycle more waste is very laudable, but the implementation is leaving a lot to be desired.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered - this time in Queen Street. A crafty pint, some badinage, and then I dozed through an episode of Merlin. I like the Tuesday night thing...
My hand is really swollen now. That wasp sting didn't hurt much at the time.
24 July 2013 (Wednesday) - Stuff
A reasonable night's sleep. I say "reasonable" - I slept through till about 4am, then dozed fitfully before coming downstairs shortly after 6am to a sulking dog. "Furry Face TM" seems to know when I'm working. He seems to have a sulk with me on the days when I'm not going to be home with him. I'm sure he would rather I stayed home with him - he likes having "Fudgey Adventures". I'm not altogether sure that having a Fudgey Adventure is something of which I should be boasting, but there it is.
Today wasn't a Fudgey Adventure Day and so he blanked me at every opportunity. He sat on the back of the sofa and made a point of ignoring me whilst I brekkied and watched my DVD.
I set off to work and listened to the radio. There was a really interesting article about plans for manned exploration of the planet Mars involving sending out automated factories to make the fuel for return journeys from Mars out of ice and stuff in the Martian regolith. It rather boiled my piss that the news commentators treated the whole subject as light releif; almost worthy of ridicule.
Even more so when the next item was the banalities of sport. The antics of vastly overpaid footballers was treated as a matter of the utmost gravity.
I popped into Morrisons to get an apple, and then went round to Pets at Home. That was an experience. I was five minutes early so waited with the rest of the Great Unwashed for them to open. At two minutes to nine I could see movement inside the shop. A hoodie-wearing unshaven oik had appeared inside the shop. He pulled up his hood, put on some sunglasses and went up to the tills. He fiddled about for a few moments (I couldn't really see what he was doing), then came to the doors, forced one door open, pushed past me, got into a rather beaten-up J-registration Ford Esort and flew off at high speed. I commented to the world at lage that I hoped that "Thugbert" hadn't robbed the tills. The assembled throng looked at me with blank expressions. Out of the half-dozen people waiting to go into the shop, I was the only person to have seen this little episode. No one else had seen this happen, and everyone was peering into the distance in amazement watching traffic swerve as the old car jumped the traffic lights.
I would have mentioned what had happened to the staff in the shop, but when they finally opened the shop (five minutes late) they all seemed so disinterested that I couldn't be bothered to put myself out.
And so to work. I did my bit. As the day wore on so my hand got more and more sore. Yesterday I mentioned that I'd been stung by a wasp. As today went on so my hand swelled up more and more. It didn't initially hurt other than a mild itch, but it got more tender as the day went by. Perhaps I need anti-histamines, or even ointment...
25 July 2013 (Thursday) - Cranbrook
This morning over brekkie I watched the last episode of BattleStar Galactica. It's only taken a month or so to get through that lot, and I'm feeling at something of a loose end. What series can I watch next over brekkie?
With brekkie scoffed I was in the town centre by 8.30am. The optician had texed me to remind me that I had an appointment, and had told me to be there at 8.40am. I was rather miffed to find that they didn't open the door until 8.50am, but there were enough other mardy old gits complaining that I felt I didn't need to join in. In fact by sympathising with the nice lady doing the retinal photography I think I got on their good side.
The nice lady who did my eye test was a strange one; alternately shouting and singing at me. After a bit of fiddling about it seems I have no diabetic damage to my eyes. (Just as well, as I'm not yet diabetic). My short sightedness has improved, but my close up vision has got worse. The practical upshot of all this was I need new specs. Two hundred and thirty four quid's worth of new specs. As a sweetener they threw in a free pair of prescription sunglasses. I had to watch them with that one. First of all they tried to charge me for adding polaroid lenses to the free prescription sunglasses (for an extra sixty quid). When I didn't want that they tried to add some other gimcrack for eighty nine quid. They seemed rather miffed that I told them that I would like a free pair of prescription sunglasses that was free, and didn't actually cost me anything. I had to spell out what "free" actually meant.
I collect the new bins in a fortnight.
Home again, where I collected "Furry Face TM". In a novel break with tradition I drove today. We collected Lisa, and then went on for HSL1. Four of us set off to Cranbrook for a walk. Regular readers of this drivel will no be surprised to find that the route of our walk was marked out by geocaches. The Cranbrook Stroll was a nice little walk through the countryside. It took us just under two hours to get round. If anyone's reading this to get the low-down on the Cranbrook Stroll, two hours is longer than you should take to get round. We didn't park in the recommended car park, we did take in two extra caches on the way, and we did stop for an extended picnic lunch.
It was a nice little walk. However, at the risk of being critical, I would suggest to those of the hand-held GPS unit wielding fraternity that you might like to take along an ordnance survey map. Without such a map the route may be a bit unclear in a couple of places.
We got back to the car, and the day was still young. We'd seen another little walk marked on the map, so went up to Angley Woods. The first cache of the series was one I knew we wouldn't find. I've been struggling with the puzzle for some time and have no idea of how to proceed. If any of my loyal readers would care to throwame home me a bone, I'd be more than grateful. But the other four caches of the series... I won't give any spoilers other than to say that until today I have only ever once given a favourite point to every cache in a series. Now I've done it twice. There weren't many caches in that series; we found four out of five. Each one was in inspired work of genius.
We then made our way homewards, stopping off as we went to pick up other caches here and there. If nothing else a certain small dog appreciated being out and about.
We got home at just the right time. My shoes were starting to rub. I bought a pair of walking shoes from Decathlon several years ago, and wore them for the first time today. They rubbed round the ankle. Longer socks next time I thought.
Next time was only an hour away. er indoors TM" came home and we went for a walk across the Romney Marsh. It was a really lovely evening, a really picturesque walk.
Guess which dog fell in the river...
26 July 2013 (Friday) - This n That
Another reasonable night's sleep. I slept through till about 4am, then lay awake until 5am wondering if the geocaches which had been published last night had yet been found. Two had gone live in Park Farm (one on a path along which Fudge and I walk regularly - usually at least once a week). Both went live at 11pm last night. I could have gone looking for them then, but going geocaching leaves you looking suspicious enough; scrubbling about in the darkness is just asking to have the police come along and arrest you. So I got up at 5am, had some brekkie, and on seeing no one had logged anything on-line I went to have a look before work.
I parked up in Park Farm just after 6am, and as I got out of my house some dopey loking bloke came out of his house and told me that he lived there. I smiled sweetly, and he repeated himself. I looked up and down the street whist he repeated himself a third time, and then I had an idea. Did he want me to move my car? He did. I drove the car five yards up the street whilst dopey watched me. I then got out and asked if he was happy with my new parking place. He said he was, so I went off, had a quick nosey about a fence, and then found the cache. It had a blank log. No one else had been. I was first to find. I wondered about going on to look for the second new cache but thought better of the idea. I had plenty of time, but I thought that I would content myself with just finding the one. Someone else could have the fun and the kudos of that FTF; I'm not greedy. It transpired that the other cache wasn't found until 7pm in the evening. They aren't usually left that long.
I drove to work feeling rather smug. As I drove I listened to the news. It would seem that the Archbishop of Canterbury has scored something of an own goal. Having taken a leaf out of his own book (the Bible) he's decided to declare war on the money lenders. He's probably got a point. For thousands of years people have got rich by lending money (at extortionate rates of interest) to the poorer elements of society. The bishop has decided that such actions are immoral and he's taking a stance. He's publicly declared war on one such company and named it; Wonga.
I've often lambasted the hierarchy of the Church of England for not following the teachings of their Bible. Al credit to the bishop for doing what his Bible tells him is the right thing to do. For what it's worth I agree with him. It's a shame that no one told him that the Church of England has been investing heavily in that company for some time. Whoops!
And so to work where I did my bit. And then came home a little earlier than usual. I'd booked a couple of hours leave so's I could go to the astro club. Astro club was good, as it usually is. It was only a shame that Stevey and the rear Admiral weren't along. I spent the evening worrying about where they were. It turned out that they were at the hospital with the most recent fruit of my loin. She's hurt her hand. Again...
27 July 2013 (Saturday) - Rain
I slept very well last night; not waking till nearly 8pm. Mind you I've had a couple of very busy days and i wasn't feeling especially well towards the last part of yesterday. As I listened to the talk at astro club last night I wondered if I was sickening for something. Let's hope that whatever it was, a good night's sleep has fixed the problem.
Brekkie, then I had a look at the astro club's accounts. Not too shabby, really. With really dreadful weather forecast we hadn't planned anything for the day. So we went up the road to a new white goods shop which had recently opened and had been advertising locally. We've been thinking about a dishwasher, so we thought we'd have a look. We got there - the place was closed. So we went home with a French stick for lunch.
Mt piss wasn't boiling, but was certainly simmering. The weather forecast was for torrential rain all day. We had glorious sunshine. So we put "Furry Face TM"'s lead on him and drove up to Badlesmere for a little walk. A round trip of a few miles; about two hour's walk. It was somewhere we've driven past many times; in future we shall stop off now we know there's a walk. We had a very good walk; and just as we were a couple of hundred yards from the car so the heavens opened. We had torrential rain for ten minutes, then it was back to full-on sunshine. So much for that weather forecast.
We came home via a McFlurry. There was talk of going to the beach for an evening stroll, but a thunderstorm put paid to that idea. So we stayed in and caught up with watching some of the stuff we'd recorded onto the SkyPlus box. We watched the most recent remake of "Gulliver's Travels" with Jack Black. It was actually a really good film. Might have to get it on DVD at some point. Then Little Britain, Big Bang Theory, Come Dine With Me. We've recorded so much stuff. It took ages to get through. Watching it all made for a change. Mind you I couldn't watch so much telly all the time.
A lot of people do though...
28 July 2013 (Sunday) - St Margarets
I've been following a hand held GPS unit in eBay. It sold today. I feel I've missed out on not winning it, but I don't know why.
I'd quite like one for geocachical purposes if only they were actually any good. Over the last year of watching other people's GPS units I've come to the conclusion that I must be missing something. The maps on GPS units let them down. On the one hand I have my phone which shows me all the footpaths across the countryside. On the other hand I can spend out good money on something which doesn't show any footpaths or bridleways at all and cannot tell what side of a river we are on. (I'm told that by saying so I'm being unfair to GPS units...) Logging finds is the work of five seconds on my phone, but is another fiddle-about at home with a GPS unit.
The only advantage of a hand held GPS unit that I can see is that it has a better battery life. On the one hand there is something I have for free (well, £2.50) which does the job but eats batteries. On the other there is something which is utterly inferior in every way (other than battery life) and will cost me £100. However I am the only person who can see this. I am clearly missing something vital. I wish I knew what it was.
And so on with the business of the day. Troops rallied, and seven of us (and two small dogs) met up behind Dover Castle. We walked down to the White Cliffs then along to St Margarets. As we walked we looked out for some tunnels we'd been told about. First of all to Langdon Bay where we found the tunnels we failed to find last year. Going down into the deep shelter was a tad slippery, but once down we had a really good time exploring. I scrambled into the underfloor spaces and got as far as I possibly could until the crawlspaces got too small for me to get any further. I then had to crawl backwards for about twenty-five yards. I always thought I was claustrophobic. I don't think I can be.
A spot of lunch overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and then on to Fan Bay. Our sources had assured us there was another deep shelter there. GPS technology failed us entirely, but we did find two nearby magazine stores. One of our number had a nasty slip on the wet ground. No harm was done; it's easy to say that when someone else falls over. But it was a reminder that tunnel-ratting isn't the safest of pastimes.
We then went on to St Margarets. Last year we found a wonderful deep shelter there; hundreds of yards of tunnels to explore. Today we found then sealed. Officialdom can be a real killjoy sometimes. So we pressed on to other underground tunnels we'd found before and found them (mostly) accessible; even if I did clout my head in one of them. I banged my head on an old ventilation shaft. It did echo.
We got to the bus stop to find we'd missed the bus back to Dover by ten minutes. The next bus was in one hour and fifty minutes time. Over the road from the bus stop was a pub. As often happens in my life, we activated Emergency Plan "B". ("B" stands for beer). One pint of Shepherd Neame's "Whitstable Bay" and two pints of MasterBrew slipped down very well. Whilst we were drinking beer in the sunshine our phones beeped. Email. A new geocache had gone live in Lydd. We'd not been on a caching mission today, but had picked up a few caches as we'd walked. With the tunnelling done for the day and us on the way home (albeit waiting for a bus which was still an hour away) we thought we'd go for a First to Find. There's no denying that with having to wait an hour for a bus, a bus ride into Dover and a twenty mile drive meant that our hopes weren't high. But we were lucky - we got the FTF.
As always there are photos of the day on line. I think I caught the sun - I feel rather tired. Or was that the beer...?
29 July 2013 (Monday) - Some Ranting
would have had a good night's sleep. But because it was a hot night we had the bedroom window open. The people finishing their shift in the factory down the road came up the road at 2.05am. Rather than walking next to the person with whom they wished to talk, conversations were bellowed across the street. I was rather restless after that.
Over a spot of brekkie I watched a drama I'd recorded onto the SkyPlus box. It featured Victoria Wood in a tale about the tribulations of a member of the WRVS during the last war. It was quite watchable; it was only a shame that they had to make a point of one of the characters having had a gay lover who died. This seemed to have been done for no other reason than to make a politically correct point. It added nothing to the show, and rather niggled me for no reason that I could see.
As I listened to the morning's news I heard something else politically correct. This one boiled my piss.
In parts of the country there is a campaign to encourage illegal immigrants to return to their countries of origin. Messages are being broadcast in a variety of ways to do this. However many eminent politicians don't like the message "In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest". It's apparently offensive to people who are in the UK illegally and therefore face arrest.
Perhaps we should give them bigger houses and more dole courtesy of the tax payer to sooth their hurt feelings? You couldn't make it up!
Mind you the next bit gave me a wry smile. There was an article on survival rates after testicular cancer. The rates are good, and are improving. However the pundit on the radio was advocating that men should "have a rummage" regularly to feel for odd lumps and bumps on their junk, and was at something of a loss as to how to convey instructions concisely.
It was apparently a matter of some concern that many of the lower orders don't actually know what the word "testicle" means; in certain circles the word "testicle" is as likely to refer to a breast or a buttock as it is to a clockweight.
The chap from the cancer institute being interviewed was saying that they have endless complaints because their literature features terms such as "kn*ck*rs" and "b*ll*cks". Those of us that aren't pond scum find such terminology offensive in official literature; however not using the vernacular presents a difficulty for the scrattering orders who (apparently) don't understand any other words for the "flowers and frolics".
It's another world, isn't it?
And so to work where I did my bit. I spent much of the day alternating between staring out of the window at the glorious sunshine and staring at tomorrow's weather forecast predicting heavy rain. I hope the forecast is wrong again. I want to do stuff tomorrow...
30 July 2013 (Tuesday) - In The Rain
Yesterday I mentioned that the weather forecast for today wasn’t good. The best part of the day was supposed to be happening early, so to take advantage of the lack of rain I took "Furry Face TM" for his walk rather earlier than I might have done. We had a good walk, marred only by the antics of the normal people. One rather odd looking woman stopped as she saw my little dog coming along the path. She watched him intently, and when he got within a couple of yards of her she started screaming. Fudge looked at her with contempt as he trotted past, as did I.
We carried on with our walk, and all would have been well had not some silly old cow called my dog over and started fussing him. I wish people wouldn’t do that; he’s easily distracted without people encouraging him.
Home; and I settled Fudge down. With the forecast rain I didn’t want Fudge along today as he’d just get wet and cold. Lisa arrived and we set off to Ham Street for Steve. With everyone together we set off to the Medway towns for a spot of “Extreme Geocaching”.
We arrived at our destination just as the rain was starting. It was raining – we put on coats. Our first cache was… how can I say it without sounding rude? Regular readers of this drivel will know that I am a reasonably experienced tunnel rat. The first cache of the day was in a tunnel. It was dark, a little bit cramped, but (not wishing to sound rude) it didn’t really compare with the tunnels I visited on Sunday. Having said that, it’s not as though one can choose one’s tunnel. I’ve been hunting for a decent tunnel for geocachical purposes for some months now with no success.
The second cache of the day was billed as "being up". It’s not giving anything away to say that it was up a tree. Or, that is to say, one would get that impression from reading the logs. We sent Lisa up the tree, and when she just got slightly higher than the clouds I saw something on the ground. It was the cache. Iy must have fallen down. We opened it, and saw it was a replacement cache. Presumably the original had gone missing. And then Steve saw something. Another cache – the original one. It was as well (for Lisa) that Lisa was the driver. Me and Steve had done the find, performed our secret geocachical rituals and were ready to move on; leaving Lisa up the tree.
The third cache was a multi-cache, and was in many ways a work of genius. I will say no more about it than that; to do so would be to give away too much.
We would have liked to have carried on caching, but by now we were all soaked; the rain hadn’t let up. So we made our way back to the car, scoffed lunch and came home. I fussed my dog, the wet clothes went into the washing machine along with a load of shirts, and I spent a little while ironing. Dull, so dull.
With ironing done I did some more of my latest on-line course. The "Introduction to Psychology" course is but a happy memory. Results were published today - I scored seventy five per cent, which was a comfortable pass.
Now I'm finding out all about mathematical philosophy. As an introduction we have been looking at the infinite and logical paradoxes. So far it's not making a lot of sense. In fact I got as far as different sized infinite sets and stopped in case my brain exploded.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered - Arden Drive this time. Insults were bandied, and I stayed awake through a whole episode of Merlin. I like that show - I wish I'd stop nodding off during it...
31 July 2013 (Wednesday) - One Year On...
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that the other day I mentioned that I'd watched the last episode of BattleStar Galactica. Before that I'd been watching Babylon 5. Following along my shelf of lame DVDs the next series to be watched is Blake's Seven. I started on that yesterday afternoon and continued this morning. I'd forgotten much about the show. It's truly wonderful, with sets wobbling as actors walk about. You can even see the strings on the spaceships. So to counteract the poor effects they had overacting and a plot. After two episodes I'm rather enjoying it; even if the baddies are wielding the same guns used by Doctor Who's cybermen of the early 1980s.
As I drove to work the news gave me a wry smile as it so often does. Today marks the start of exploratory drilling for oil in parts of picturesque West Sussex. If they find oil, which they probably will, then it is possible that large scale fracking work will be done to get the oil out. Fracking has an interesting history; having been blamed for earthquakes on the North East. Apparently any fracking to be done is Sussex will not be subject to anywhere near as much legal scrutiny and environmental control as a hypothetical wind farm in the same place would be. The allegation was made on the radio that sources close to those high in the government have vested financial interests in firms involved with fracking, but no one of any consequence has invested in wind farms. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but it speaks volumes about our society, doesn't it?
And today is something of an anniversary. It's a year to the day since I found my first geocache. Since Steve took me to Kingsnorth Church I've found two thousand two hundred and ninety of the things. It's a hobby which has kept me constructively occupied and given me a route along which I can walk my dog every weekend. I've had some good times playing this game, and met a lot of new friends.
Something which I didn't actually realise was that it has marked the limits of my travels. From the logs I've written I can see that in the last year I've been no further east than Ramsgate, which is about as far east as you can go. But my most northerly explorations of the last year haven't gone further than Chelmsford, and the most westerly and southerly I've been is Brighton. It's odd; or all that I am always out and about I don't actually go very far away from home.
I wonder how many caches I'll find in this next year...