1 March 2013 (Friday) - Out with Steve
Last night I slept a lot better than I usually do. Perhaps staying up till 2am had something to do with it? After a quick belt of brekkie I popped up to the town centre quickly. There were cheques to pay into the bank. And I wanted to have a look in the pound store.
None of that took very long, and I was soon back home. My plan had been to attack the laundry, but with the washing machine being bust I had to forego that pleasure. Instead I spent a few minutes doing my homework, and I then had a look at the monthly accounts. Could be better – could be a lot worse. And then I booked my car in for a service. That will make the accounts look a whole lot worse.
Steve called, and we got Fudge’s lead on him and drove round to South Willesborough. There was one (relatively) easy geocache to be found, one requiring a ladder to be got at, and one that someone (!) had deliberately thrown into a river to hide it. We found the lot, and I was able to do some maintenance on the one I’d hoiked in the river last week. Only one load of people have logged finding the thing (experienced cachers all) but the cache was in need of some serious maintenance.
We then went round to another relatively newly hidden cache. I won’t say that I wish we hadn’t, but we did nearly break our necks in the mud, we did nearly fall face first into the abundant dog dung that was everywhere, and the location did smell (really strongly) of tiddle.
On the way home we again failed to find the cache by the motorway, and leaving the car at home we took Furry Face round the park for a walk. Steve found half a dozen more caches whilst we were wandering.
By now batteries were flat and we were rather cold so we said our goodbyes. Furry Face has come to learn that after a good walk in the mud comes a bath, and I spent five minutes chasing him round the house before I was able to corner him.
And with "er indoors TM" off our with her mates, me and my dog had a rummage in the kitchen. We found chocolate sponge and fresh cream and ate far too much of it. I'm not sure that fresh cream is good for small dogs, but a little treat every so often won't hurt him...
2 March 2013 (Saturday) - Poly Tunnel
It is commonly said that variety is the spice of life. So with that in mind in a novel break with tradition I had jam on my morning toast rather than peanut butter.
Leaving "er indoors TM" in her pit I went round to Queen Street (I still snigger about the name!) and from there we made our way to Bilting. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that on 27 April 2008 I helped effect repairs to Robert's poly tunnel. He'd obtained a second one for his garden, and he'd got the framework together. but putting the poly onto the tunnel isn't something that can be done single-handed. Half a dozen of us got stuck in and made very short work of the job. Even including stopping for coffee and home made cake we were done in a couple of hours. I got to affix the doors. I think we did a very good job. There's photos.
We stopped and had lunch with Robert. Uncut bread and home-made tomato soup. Very nice! And then home to find things hadn't quite gone to plan. The idea was that we would go to Bethersden for a bit of a stroll. But "er indoors TM" wasn't back from getting her car tyre fixed. And to add insult to injury the washing machine repair man hadn't been able to fix the washing machine either. Apparently a wire has broken in its loom. He's ordered a new part which should be with us for next week. Let's hope so - I'm running low on smalls.
"er indoors TM" returned and after a quick cuppa we took Furry Face far a walk. Whilst out he ate far too much dung of assorted other animals. Which probably explains why he was sick when we came home.
My alarm woke me at 6.30am this morning. What sort of time is that to be getting up on a Sunday? I had a quick bite of jam on toast (again!) and then we set off before 8am. To Essex for a change. Earlier in the week some caching friends had said they were going on a series of geocaches around Hornchurch and put out a general invite to anyone who would be interested.
We met up at the designated parking spot (eventually) and nine of us (and two small dogs) spent a little while looking for a cache that probably wasn't there. But it wasn't one of the series that we had planned for the day, so not finding it didn't really matter. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
And then on to the main business of the day. The "Not Out" series is one of forty geocaches over eight miles of Essex countryside. It was one of the better walks in that there was no roads at all. It was all fields and footpaths. Along past rivers and across golf courses. Apart from eating poo and going in the river, Fudge behaved himself (mostly), and only barked occasionally at passing muggles.
At the second cache one of our number got his two thousand five hundredth cache, and as we went on there were quite a few other milestones passed, including my very own one thousand three hundredth cache find, and my most northerly find too.
We found a rather pleasant spot to have lunch, and I got busy. There were three puzzle caches on the way. I'd tried to solve them last night but had missed a vital clue. With that clue provided by a fellow cacher today I was able to get busy, and came up with some required co-ordinates. I had the same solutions as everyone else - it was a shame that all three of these puzzle caches were missing.
The "Not Out" series was good. Perhaps slightly longer that the usual caching walk; taking seven hours to complete. And the caches were rather more difficult to find than those on the average cache walk. And I did find that my gps was somewhat at odds with the cache hider. But with good clues, fine weather and good company we had a very good day out. Two small dogs slept well on the way home.
And so home where one of those small dogs went straight into the bath where we washed the fox poo off of him. And then with "er indoors TM" off out bowling I settled down in front of the TV with a very tired Patagonian Tripe-Hound...
I was up a little earlier than I might have been today. I was expecting a visit from the most recent fruit of my loin, but she had other fish to fry. Which was a shame. Seeing I was up and raring to go I got a lift to town from my beloved. I needed some fruit for lunch in the week and have decided to stick with Tesco. In theory the farm shop sounds a better idea, but over the last few months I’m afraid that the quality of stuff in the farm shop leaves a lot to be desired.
I also got some cheap sandwich boxes (from the pound shop) to use as geocaches on a series I plan to plant out over the next few weeks. They’ve gone up in price – once three for a quid, now I only get two for a quid.
Home – where I did more homework. And checked my emails. I saw that Friday’s blog received a comment. Was I unfair to whinge about the amount of dog turds that I found whilst out geocaching the other day? I think I was fair in what I wrote. I didn’t actually say where the cache was, or which one it was, so I’m not putting anyone off. And geocaching amongst the dog turds in the mud was quite a memorable experience. What’s a diary for if not to record such memories?
Mind you I welcome comment. It shows (if nothing else) that I’m not just shouting into the ether. And it makes me revisit how and what I write. I may (just occasionally) be rather opinionated in my rantings, but I do try to be reasonable and fair in my rantings.
Henry from UK cyber club phoned. He wanted to speak to the cable or satellite TV subscriber. He had to settle for speaking with me. Did I know that after an initial subscription period had passed I would be responsible for any repairs that might be required on my Sky-Plus box? I did know, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I have this theory that if I’m not too busy myself then by wasting his time I’m actually doing a public service. All the time I am stringing these people along they are not bothering anyone else.
So I told him that insuring the box is a waste of money. I told him that if and when it breaks I shall tell Sky TV to fix it for free or I will take my money to Virgin media. This clearly went beyond the limitations of his script, and rather flummoxed him. Which was probably for the best.
Furry Face needed a walk, and I knew where I wanted to take him. On Friday I’d looked at the map of local geocaches and seen that I’d found all but three of the two hundred and twelve that were within three miles of my house. On Friday afternoon I tried for two of them and got one. So today I thought I’d try for the one I didn’t go for last Friday.
I got the pestilential pup collared and leaded and we went off on our walk. I went the scenic way through the warren, and soon we were within striking distance of the cache we sought: “Around the Tees #1”.
With a bit of scrubbling about in the undergrowth I eventually found that cache, and we carried on with our walk. The plan was a circuit of the golf course and then home. We hadn’t got more than a hundred yards when my phone shouted that I had email. I couldn’t believe the messages – five new caches had gone live – three within a few hundred yards of where we were at that time. Amazingly from the map it looked like we’d walked straight past two of them on our way to where we were when we got this message, and a third new cache was directly ahead of us. So we carried on the route we were walking anyway and soon found the first of the new caches. “Around the Tees #4” was found for the first time by me and my Patagonian Tripe Hound at 1.50pm – an amazing nine minutes after it had been published.
We pushed on - “Around the Tees #3” was a cache we had walked past less than an hour previously, and after a very brief search me and Furry Face had another FTF at 1.55pm – fourteen minutes after publication this time.
Feeling particularly smug we followed our geocompass along a path we’d already walked once in the last hour as we made our way to “Around the Tees #2”. Was it too much to hope for three FTFs? Yes – it was. As we approached the cache we saw a familiar face was already there. “The Hurks” had also been caching in the general vicinity and, like us, had made the most of the opportunity.
I then came home and looked at disguising my sandwich boxes to turn them into geocaches. I don’t like the current fad of covering them in camouflage tape. I can’t explain why; I just don’t. I know a tame painter and decorator who told me that a dark gloss paint would do the trick. So having confirmed my theory about painting the insides of the boxes to make them more hidden in the shadows, I tried to find some dark paint. If any of my loyal readers have any dark gloss they don’t want…
Yesterday was a glorious day. So today it came as something of a shock this morning to find that the car was covered in ice. It soon scraped off though, and I was quickly off on my way to work. As I drove there was an interesting article on the radio by the country's most senior judge. Concerned about the spiralling costs of the legal system he was worried that "court justice" is no longer affordable to the man in the street.
He was concerned that as the legal system prices itself beyond the budget of the average person, then those people still using the legal system will represent themselves. Like I had to. Thereby doing expensive legal practitioners out of a job.
As I drove through Bilting I had a smile as I drove past a new and gleaming poly tunnel. I felt rather proud and smug about my small part in putting that together. And as I drive to work in the mornings in future I can look over that hedge and feel proud.
I took a little diversion on my way to work. A few months ago I hid a Chinese puzzle box in a geocache. Easy to get to, difficult to open. I'd had a message that someone had been unable to find the cache so this morning I thought I'd have a little look-see to check that all was well. All wasn't well. The thing had gone. Entirely gone. That was five quid down the drain. I shall order a new one, but if that goes then the cache will be reduced in difficulty and replaced with a bog-standard sandwich box. It would be a shame to do this, especially as there are so few caches in the Canterbury area. I can't afford to lose too many puzzle boxes.
And so to work where I did my bit. And then home again. Stopping off at Somerset Road for the weekly gathering. Insults were bandied, and we picked holes in the historical inaccuracies of "Merlin". I can cope with supernatural beings, magic and wizards, but get really riled by the historical inaccuracies such as sixth century soldiers wearing tenth century armour, or lenses being bandied about some three hundred years earlier than when they were actually first invented.
And in closing I shall gloat. Our old friend science has predicted two glorious comets this year. It's no secret that I don't believe a word of it. Comets never live up to the hype. If there is a comet visible to the naked eye this year I shall eat the astro club's raffle.
And guess what - "However, it might be difficult to see the object without binoculars or a telescope. It's going to be in the twilight sky and not as bright as we had originally hoped" says the science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph about the comet which is supposed to be currently lighting up our skies..
Oh, how I laughed on my way to work. At a rather narrow part of a busy side road the chap in front of me had pulled up. He'd thrown his car door wide open blocking the way, so I had to stop. He got out of his car at a leisurely pace, had a bit of a stretch, put his jacket on, looked around, scratched his bum and then started fiddling with his phone. All the time he was oblivious to the fact that he was standing in the middle of the road. After five minutes or so I beeped my hooter at him and he spun round in obvious surprise. He then had another look around and it clearly came as a shock to him that not only was he standing in the middle of the road, but he was holding up the traffic too. He went red when he realised he wasn't the only person in the world.
I hadn't been delayed *too* much so I popped into Canterbury's cheapo shop. With Mars bars at thirty-six pence I was impressed. Mind you their Rich Tea biscuits were three times the price of those in Lidls. You have to watch these so-called bargain stores.
It was at this stage that I made a point of leaving the shop. As a child I could remember my Grandmother knowing the price of every item in every shop in town, and every trip to town would involve hourly regroupings of her gaggle of mates who would all update each other on recent price changes.
I then phoned the washing machine repair people to chivvy them along a little. My required part has arrived and they will fit it tomorrow. At some point between 8am and 6pm. They seriously expect me to sit in and wait for them. If I want to be able to wash my smalls I have little alternative.
And home to find a recorded delivery letter. From the leccie company. Periodically they give out random prizes to customers. I've won two tickets for the London Eye - worth over seventy quid. That's a result.
Up with the lark, and once the washing up was done I got Furry Face into the car and we set off. With the car being serviced and MOTed on the other side of town I had a plan to drive over there, drop the car off and we could walk home. I would be walking him anyway, so this plan killed two birds with one stone. And an added bonus was that a new geocache had gone live not two minutes’ walk from the garage. Nice!
With that cache found we hurried home. Or as fast as we could hurry an hour’s walk. Washing machine repair man was due to call today. Yesterday they told me that he would call between 8am and 6pm; which was helpful. I’d tried to get the fruits of my loin to be about whilst I was out sorting the car service, and most recent fruit had volunteered, despite it causing her some serious inconvenience. So it really came as no surprise that I then got a text message from washing machine repair man to say he would call between 4pm and 6pm. Why couldn’t he have said that yesterday?
Once I was home "Daddies Little Angel TM" set off to big girls skool, leaving Sid with us. And finding I had most of the day free I was at something of a loose end. I couldn’t do the laundry because I had no washing machine. I couldn’t do the work I planned in the garden as it was raining. I painted the insides of a dozen or so cheap sandwich boxes in preparation for when it stops raining and when I can lay my next geocache series. I had the leftovers of last night’s tea for lunch (very tasty!) and sat down in front of the telly with the dogs.
My mobile rang – the car was ready for collection. Did I want them to come and give me a lift? I turned down their offer, and despite the rain I walked both dogs over to collect the car. Two hundred and fifty quid, and an advisory for two new tyres soon. Ouch! Still, what is money for if not to squander foolishly? I popped both dogs in the back of the car and we were home by 2.30pm. In plenty of time for the washing machine repair man. Or so I thought – he arrived five minutes after we got home. So much for 4pm – 6pm (!)
Still, mustn’t grumble. He had the thing sorted in a few minutes, and sold me some amazing jollop which de-scales, de-gunges and disinfects the machine. The washing machine company recommend I use this stuff monthly. I got the distinct impression that if I didn’t go with their recommendation then they might not be quite so inclined to send the man out in future, so I bought two years’ worth to keep them sweet.
Once the man had gone I gave bunged some of this cleaner in the machine and switched it on. The chap said once I’d done the cleaning cycle I should muck out the trap because this jollop loosens all sorts of crud which then gets bunged up in the trap. After the wash cycle had finished the trap seemed incredibly clean, but there wasn’t any crud to be seen. I wonder if that stuff did any good?
Monday had been a glorious day and the weather forecast had been for more of the same. Tuesday and Wednesday were also bright, but I was indisposed on those days. Thursday was wet and drizzly and I was bored. And this morning I woke to a grey and overcast day with a forecast of heavy rain later. It's a shame we can't choose our weather. It's one subject I have put on a growing list of things I'd like to discuss when I get to meet my maker. (If I'm brave enough)
Despite the grim-looking skies I put Fudge's lead on him and we went for our morning constitutional. We got as far as Singleton Lake before I finally gave in, admitted we were soaked and came home. I towelled Furry Face off, changed out of wet clothes, and took my car for fixing. Yesterday I was advised that new tyres wouldn't go amiss. In the past Road Runners had come up trumps. Today.... I was not impressed. They didn't actually say "F... off Baldy", but there was no disguising that was the sentiment with which I was greeted. So I took my custom elsewhere - to AllSparksTyres. These people seemed to want my custom, and were friendly and welcoming.
We had something of a shock. When they removed the rear wheels we saw that one of the tyres had a Stanley knife blade embedded in it. I can only imagine that this blade got impaled today - surely that would have been seen at yesterday's MOT?
And then home again. With the rain getting heavier I then spent most of the rest of the day catching up with the ironing. As the rain appeared to slack off at 3pm me and Fudge went for another walk. We got soaked as the rain came back with a vengeance, and so we came home again. I resigned myself to finishing the laundry.
A bit of a lie in this morning. Not really surprising after being up till 2pm on the port last night. We pootled for a bit, and then set off to Minnis Bay. It's a part of the north Kent coast I'd not visited before, and had been chosen as the venue of the Kent Cacher's monthly meet-up. I've not been to many of these meets, but I already feel at home at them. We soon found the place, and were welcomed by someone who'd found an astronomical trackable and wanted to pass it on to me. I was rather taken aback by the kind thought.
And then the word came that a dozen geocaches had gone live in honour of the day. I would have thought that the race would have been on, but no one seemed especially fussed about being first to find. I was, and three of us charged out. We managed four first to finds before we met a large group of cachers doing the walk in the opposite order to us. We swapped insults, and found we'd been caught up by a third group. We then carried on with the walk with those who'd caught us up.
As you go geocaching you see logs written by other cachers who've been to the caches before you. Loads of names. It was good to meet some of these people in the flash. "Far Away" and "Lardy Bloke" walked with us for half the route today. We had quite a laugh, and I did chuckle when we saw someone else had achieved a first to find and had left a gloating note for our benefit.
Being Mothers Day one would be forgiven for thinking we might have a leisurely start. No such luck. Off by 9am and so to Sittingbourne. The local geocachers had organised a day of do-gooding. Planting trees and building hedgerows and clearing thickets on an old land-fill site which is being reclaimed into a country park.
Over sixty of us turned out for a 10am start. I began to suspect the worst when the warden was like a stuck record expressing his surprise at the turn out whilst the organising were like a stuck record with "I told you so". Attendees had said that they were coming over a month ago.
We shivered through a ridiculously long winded health and safety introduction in which (amongst other irrelevant drivel) we were told what action was to be taken in the event that we should fall into a pond or see a dog, and in retrospect it was at that point that I should have given up and gone home...
Sixty-odd of us went on to start the tree planting: a job which probably would have been better done by ten at most. Sixty-odd of us got in each other's way. With the job done in half an hour the warden then expressed surprise at how well we'd done, and then he went off on the next phase of the operation - knocking in uprights for a fence. Only three could really help with this job, and three were chosen.
Everyone else stood about whilst the warden set about clearing a thicket to get the raw materials to make a dead hedge. A shame that there was no announcement to this effect. I only found out that thicket clearing was going on by accident. Had an announcement been made then two thirds of the assembled throng might not have disappeared at this point.
Within an hour of sixty-odd willing volunteers turning up we were left with less than twenty. Twenty who were cold and dispirited. The rain slowly gave way to hail. And when the message came through to our thicket that everyone else had gone caching I very nearly went home there and then.
So much could have been achieved. Had the warden taken two minutes to organise the troops into teams and to assign jobs then we would have known what we were doing, and we could have done so much. Instead we had anarchy. I feel sorry for the organisers who had persuaded so many people to turn out on such a cold wet day only to have their time wasted.
Any future events like this will have to be organised better. I came along thinking that I could sort out such an event locally. I came away determined I would not want anything to do with such as this.
And to add insult to injury when we left at 1.30pm (we were the second to last car left in the car park) we were locked in and had to wait twenty minutes for the warden to be found to unlock the gate.
Home, and then round to visit the first fruit of my loin. Being Mothers Day he'd asked us round to dinner. Roast pork. Very tasty. Crackling - I chipped a tooth... But that can be fixed. After a cold wet afternoon it was good to be in the warm with family. Must do that more often...
On re-reading yesterday's rant it would seem I didn't have a good day of it. I think I've just about had enough of this winter. We had one good sunny warm day last week, and then it was back to freezing conditions.
I had something of a late night last night - not turning in until midnight. I slept soundly, waking feeling fully refreshed. I looked at the clock. It was 1.20 am. Eighty minutes sleep! And I saw every hour of the night from then on, finally getting up (feeling like death warmed over) at 7am.
As I drove to work I listened to the radio. There is consternation about how bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics. There is shock news that diseases which were once easily treatable may well soon be life threatening.
How is this "news"? This was certainly common knowledge back in the early 1980s. I can remember seeing posters about it before I moved away from Hastings; and that was in 1984. How can such an old story be treated so sensationally?
There was also uproar about the proposed bedroom tax in which council tax will be based on the amount of bedrooms a house has. Apparently there are plans to extend this tax to sting houses which have a dining room separate from a kitchen or lounge.
The radio presenter brought on some very silly people to discuss the matter. Apparently such a tax would be bad as it would discourage people from having formal family meals together. Again how is this news? Family meals were a thing of the past some fifteen years ago.
I found this out back when I was a cub scout leader. Before any camp we would have to tell the parents to actually have a sit-down family meal to teach the little brats table manners. And over the years I had quite a few mothers approach me to ask exactly what did I mean by "table manners" as they themselves had no idea of the concept. In my thirteen years experience as a cub scout leader having taken hundreds of children camping, not one child in twenty could actually sit at a table to eat with a knife and fork. Interestingly it was always my experience that (with very few exceptions) the more well-to-do the family, the more feral the child's eating habits. I distinctly remember one extremely well spoken boy named Guy (with millionaire parents) who was utterly incapable of eating any item of food which had not first been thrown through the air.
I stopped off at Pets at Home on my way to work today. Several of the tins in the last batch of dog food I'd got from them were dented - one tin was actually broken open. I took this burst tin to the lady on the till and whinged. This lady called the manager who was really helpful, and she gave me twenty per cent off of my next bulk load of dog food. I was pleased about that! So I squandered my saving on a rope tug o'war toy. He seems to like playing pulling on things. If I can get him on one end and Sid on the other then the two dogs will keep each other amused for hours.
And so to work. I did my bit. I didn't like not being out and about today, but I did like not being cold. Yesterday was really cold. Today was worse. And it snowed today. I've heard that the closest parts of France are expecting a foot of snow.
Over breakfast I read all the horror stories on Facebook about the terrible journeys people had last night on their way home. Trips which should have taken an hour at most had taken over six hours. Folkestone and Dover had been effectively been cut off from the rest of the world, and relatives only thirty miles away in Sussex had spent the night in their cars.
I left for work early, expecting the worst. I found my journey was fine - no delays at all. I arrived at work to find that I was lucky to have been able to get there. Others had not had such an easy journey. Dover was still cut off and traffic heading south on the M20 had come to a standstill. Snow can be so local.
People arrived as the morning went on, and we all did our bit before braving the elements on the way home. It looked to me as though most of the elements had melted, and wouldn't need much braving. But I didn't like to say anything.
As I drove home I listened to the radio as always. And my piss boiled, as it is wont to do. The weather forecast as delivered by BBC Radio 4 bore no relation to either the weather forecast as delivered by the BBC's own weather website, or to reality.
Here's an interesting question: it is acceptable to photograph your food when dining out? Apparently some restaurants are banning people photographing their dinner. I've often taken snapshots of what I'm scoffing - for blogging purposes as much as any other reason. Why don't establishments want their produce photographed? Are they afraid of bad publicity? I don't think I'd like to eat somewhere where I couldn't photograph my scoff.
Also on the news was the results of the recent ballot that took place in the Falkland Islands. The locals were asked if they wished to remain a British territory. 99.8% of them said that they did. Hardly surprising really, bearing in mind the threat of Argentinian invasion. Was that really thirty years ago? I can remember having a "Falk Off Argentina" T shirt. I probably still have it somewhere. And having lost some weight it would probably fit me again.
Talking of voting, the cardinals are all casting their ballots for another Pope. Here's a radical suggestion - I wonder if they might change the office in the same way they did that of the office of Poet Laureate so that the office is held for a fixed term, rather than for life. After all being the leading figure of a world wide organisation must be hard work, and does it really make sense to give the position to someone who's (usually) well over retirement age when they take up office.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived shortly after brekkie, and we took both dogs for a walk. For the last two days the south east has been in the grip of blizzards and sonw storms. Today was bright sunshine. We had a good walk along the river to South Willesborough and back through Frog's Island. We came back past the Shetland ponies; the word was that these small horses had got loose in the night. They seemed secure in their field, but there was no denying that there was fresh horse dung on the wrong side of the fence.
It would have been good to have walked further, but "Daddies Little Angel TM" was suffering. She's picked up a virus, and so we came home for a warming cuppa. I then spent a little time on the PC. A colleague has recently obtained some very old photographs of her home village in Nigeria and I'd offered to scan them into .jpegs for her. She seemed inordinately grateful when I volunteered a day or so ago. I was only too happy to help. It was easy enough, and was something I could do.
A quick sandwich for lunch and after bandying insults with the Rear Admiral (who had visited) I went to the dentist to get my chipped tooth fixed. As I walked so a hailstorm struck. It didn' last long, but it was vicious for the few minutes that it lasted.
My gob was fixed in less than five minutes and I then spent some time taking up the legs on a pair of trousers: a job I'd been putting off for months. I then did some ironing because no day off is complete without ironing.
And then I got an email. And my piss boiled just a little bit. Regular readers of this drivel might recall that over the last couple of months I'd ranted about how the organisers needed to confirm the event before people could commit to going. In the meantime many of the usual attendees made their own plans, and clearly hardly anyone was going to be along. So I decided to follow suit. With what seemed to be no apparent commitment from the organisers I set about making my own entertainment for that weekend. Today, months too late, an email came through "A decision was reached ... not to fund the June event at Teston.... after presentation of the costings and other factors were taken into consideration".
In retrospect the problem was that two particular people were claiming to be speaking on behalf of the organisers when in fact they were not. However the August event is still on the cards, and I've offered any and all help I can give to the thing.
Meanwhile we have a new Pope - the Argentinian Francis I. He's seventy-six years old. At the risk of appearing age-ist, is that a good age at which to take on such a demanding job? Still, time will tell. It always does.
I've been quite interested in the recent papal resignation and the appointment of the successor. In the past I've been rather noisy about my agnosticism. Now I'm not quite so sure. I'm (just possibly) beginning to see the logic in Pascal's wager...
I was woken this morning by my nose being licked. Furry Face had made his way upstairs. Cheeky pup!. After a quick bit of brekkie I got some bits and pieces together and ably (!) assisted by my dog I set off on a geocaching-related mission.
A few days ago someone had mentioned that they couldn't find one of my duck caches. I have set two of these - easy to find, not so easy to retrieve. they are tethered rubber ducks floating in rivers. Someone had said on the Facebook Kent Geocaching group that she couldn't find one of them. I'd explained that the thing should be immediately obvious. She'd said she couldn't see it. So we walked along the river and, sure enough the duck was where it was supposed to be. Floating in the middle of the river.
We then carried on across a ploughed field. And I let Furry Face off of his lead. As we walked we saw snowdrifts. I've blogged this week about how local the recent snow has been, and how I saw very little of it. As we walked today we found snowdrifts. Some a metre deep - and only an hour's walk from home. Fudge seemed to like the snow - he was jumping in and out of the drifts. He was fine being off the lead for quite some time, and suddenly he saw a pheasant. He doesn't like "F-birds" and he set off in pursuit. He saw this bird just as I was about to put him back on the lead as we were getting near some woods. It's always a bad idea letting him off the lead near woods. He shot into the woods, and that was it. By the time I'd got to the woods he had vanished. I could neither hear nor see him. I tried the whistle, I tried shouting for him. Nothing worked. All I could do was search.
After half an hour I thought I could hear a jangling sound. I could - it was coming from a bramble bush. I called Fudge's name and the jangling got louder. The idiot dog had got tangled in brambles and was completely stuck fast. By the time I'd untangled him and got him on the lead I'd completely lost my bearings. Using "follow the arrow" sat-nav I ploughed a straight line through the jungle to the nearest road. Carrying a very sheepish-looking small dog.
I found a rather scenic bridge over a small river. I might go back there with a rubber dingy and hide a cache under it at some point. Soon we were at Sevington, and we were able to start our walk properly. there were a couple of geocaches in Sevington, and half a dozen in Mersham a couple of miles away. I had this plan to put a couple of lines of caches from Sevington to Mersham and back again to make a little series of caches.
Furry Face went straight into the bath. He was filthy, with mud literally up to his ears. Once he was hosed off he settled down and was soon asleep. I checked emails and was fiddling about on-line when the first fruit of my loin came home. He was immediately on my case asking what I'd done to his dog because his dog was obviously knackered. I don't think he approves of my walking Fudge quite as much as I walk him.
After the dog had had a bit of a rest I took him for another walk. I had a plan to see the comet. I've made it known that I don't expect the current talk of a comet to come to anything. The pundits had predicted a bright comet. Now it seems the best we can hope for is something that you might (just possibly) be able to see for half an hour in the twilight. If you have binoculars, know exactly where to look, and if you are very lucky.
We weren't lucky - there was too much cloud cover. So we came home. As we approached home we could hear raised voices. A car and a bus were both refusing to give way, and traffic had built up behind both. Several drivers had got out of their cars and were shouting abuse at anyone they felt needed to be abused. There is never anything as amusing as someone else's petty squabble.
We settled down with a bottle of plonk, some port and cheese and watched "Forrest Gump". For all that he film is a classic, I'd never seen it before. It was really good. I wonder how many other things like this I've missed...
Yesterday I mentioned that Furry Face had got himself wedged into a bramble bush. Last night whilst stroking him he yelped and jumped up for no apparent reason. This morning we pulled a thorn out of his neck. I say "thorn" - "dagger" would be a more appropriate description of what was embedded in his skin.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived with Sid and once both dogs were fed we took them on a quick trip round the block. Through Stanhope to the environment centre and home via Singleton and Viccie Park. It took us a couple of hours, and the dogs seemed to like it. I braved Fudge off of the lead, and this time (unlike yesterday) he was as good as gold. Mind you it was still rather damp underfoot and once home both dogs got a shower.
As the dogs slept off their exertions me and "Daddies Little Angel TM" went to Tesco for various requisites. She then set off on a mission, and I sat down to write. I like writing, and the opportunity had arisen to do some. I like writing; I've found the occasional geocache. I've offered my services to The Geocache Tourist blog, and they seemed happy with what I spent the afternoon writing.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" then came home and turned the shopping we'd bought earlier into stew for tea. Very tasty! And with the arrival of the Rear Admiral, Martin and the first fruit of my loin we set off to Queen Street. Ten of us sat down for a game of cards. I haven't played poker for absolutely ages. I really should play more often. Even if I am always the first one to be knocked out...
I do not play poker in the traditional sense. I don't think many professional poker players have a victory dance for when they win a hand. Neither do they have trouble finding space for the cards on the table because of all the food that is in the way. There is no denying that I don't so much "play cards" as "have a feast whilst hoping for a flush". I don't think the Jaffa Cakes sat well with the lime & chocolate sweeties. The marshmallows together with the kettle crisps was (in retrospect) not a good idea. And heaven only knows what I was thinking of by washing the whole lot down with wasabi flavoured peanuts. Consequently my innards were something of a disaster zone this morning.
Talking of disaster zones I spent half an hour attacking the kitchen this morning. "Daddies Little Angel TM" made a wonderful bowl of stew last night. She also made quite a bit of carnage whilst she was at it. When we went out last night we left some of the stew in the pan for "er indoors TM" who then burned the stew into the pan. So I had my work cut out for me this morning - once I could actually see what I was doing. The starter on the kitchen light had gone west.
And then we got on with the business of the day. The Bat called, and we made our way to the station where we met up with Steve. We then got a group saver to Folkestone (costing £3.50 each!), and having found the Rear Admiral, we made our way to somewhere where we could have a fry-up.
Once fed we fancied a pint before going on to the main business of the day. With the Pullman not yet open we had a pint in the British Lion. A pint of ale and a pint of raspberry cider. And then a pint in the Guildhall over a game of pool.
Suitably refreshed we braved the monsoon and made our way down to the Leas lift for the beer festival. It would have been nice to have been able to have sat outside and to have had some space. But that wasn't going to happen, so we huddled in with the normal people. There was a dodgy five minutes when the antique door of the building fell off, and the owners weren't happy when I pressed a bell labelled "Do Not Press" (what did they expect?) The beer was good, and we posed for photos; our own and those of various official photographers, before deciding that we'd had an elegant sufficiency. Burp!
We did make notes of the ales as we went, but once home the notes didn't seem to make much sense; comments such as "Oh hello my little love puppy" and "Oh my!" probably made a lot of sense at the time. Still, if you know where to look there are photos of the event on-line.
And so on to the Chambers bar for a crafty half before finding a kebab on the way to the station for the train home. With er indoors TM" off on a mission for the evening I dozed in front of the telly for the evening. I've not done a beer festival for some time. I quite miss them...
Rather a grotty night's sleep what with needing to pop top the loo with annoying regularity. And just as my guts finally settled, "er indoors TM" came home at 4am. I eventually nodded off to find that Furry Face had sneaked up from his bed in the kitchen and was on my chest; fast asleep and snoring.
So I gave up trying to sleep and was up and about before 8am. The original plan for the day would have had us up and about on an early start tackling some rather adventurous geocaches. But illness and hangovers had put paid to that idea. So whilst "er indoors TM" slept I took Fudge round the block. He was raring to go even if no one else was.
Eventually my beloved emerged from its pit, and together with those who weren't feeling too ill we set off on an afternoon spent relatively locally. We looked for a couple of geocaches in Tenterden, and then had a stroll round some woods on the Isle of Oxney. There were four geocaches in those woods - including a puzzle cache with a real jigsaw puzzle and a letterbox hybrid. Both dogs got absolutely filthy, but both dogs seemed happy so the afternoon had been well spent.
Most Sundays I go on quite a serious walk - walking for several hours and many miles. Yesterday's walk was rather modest in comparison with what I am used to. So why on Earth did I feel so physically drained this morning?
We took the dogs out for a walk. Through the park and on to Singleton lake. I had asked the most recent fruit of my loin to come on a geocaching mission, and to my amazement she had agreed. But the area I was planning to search in was really wet and waterlogged, so instead we carried on up to the environment centre and walked across there. As we came in through the back of Singleton we saw an idiot walking his dog. From a distance of fifty yards he shouted that his dog was dangerous and that we were not to follow him. So we changed our direction. On seeing how we were now heading off at right-angles this twit ran with his dog to be in our way and again shouted to warn us off. So, obligingly, we again changed our route only to have this fool again double back on himself and shout at us again. This time I made a point of not answering him, but instead I loudly told the world at large that if any wild dog came near me and mine I would hoof it up the khyber. Surprisingly (or not) this idiot then beat a hasty retreat.
The rest of our walk home was relatively uneventful. Once home we popped round to see a friend who’d mentioned that she had a poker table she didn’t want. I thought it would be a shame for the thing not to be appreciated, so I’d offered it a good home. "Daddies Little Angel TM" and I popped round, fussed the cats, and came home with it. It’s a good table and there are quite a few poker chips with it. A shame Furry Face felt the need to eat some of it, but such is life.
After a quick bit of lunch the Rear Admiral visited. He seemed singularly unimpressed with the poker set. Which was a shame as I had a vague plan of installing the set at the Admiralty. Still, never mind. Instead I set about some laundry. At the weekend I found an old coat that my beloved had forgotten about. She’d asked me to wash it for her as it had collected quite a lot of dust during its months of neglect. Before washing it I emptied the pockets. Amongst the rubbish and clutter in those pockets I found two twenty pound notes. I don’t usually check pocket when I’m doing the washing. I shall from now on.
With "Daddies Little Angel TM" then going off on a mission I took Fudge out on another walk. I’d had a note from the postman to say a parcel was awaiting collection so I went to get it. Furry Face didn’t seem overly keen to go on another walk, and he merely plodded along by my side as we went; not pulling at all. That is quite unlike him. I hope he’s not sickening for something.
With parcel collected I sat down to do some more writing. On Friday I wrote an article about geocaching in Ashford which was received well. I’ve started working on another article about caching elsewhere in the county. Let’s hope that this one will go down as well.
Over breakfast I watched an episode of Babylon 5. It was the episode I'd put on twice last night; I'd tried watching it only to fall asleep. And when I woke to see the end credits rolling I then put it on again only to fall asleep again. I hate that - I kept nodding off in front of the telly when I wanted to be awake, and was then wide awake at 2.45am this morning.
I finally got the episode watched on the third attempt this morning. It would have been nice to have had Furry Face for company over brekkie today, but he had sneaked upstairs (when he thought I wasn't watching) to sleep at the foot of the bed, and I didn't have the heart to fetch him back.
As I drove to work the radio was all a-buzz with the latest scandal about the new Pope. The last Pope was allegedly a Nazi sympathiser. This one apparently had ties with the military Junta which ruled Argentina in years gone by. I have no idea whether he really had any such connection or not; after all, this was all half a lifetime ago. I suspect it is all a ruse to sell more newspapers.
Talking of which I hear that several of the country's leading newspapers have decided to have nothing to do with the Government's recently set-up watchdog. They aren't keen about its remit to monitor exactly what they are spouting.
I would have thought that such a legally-established watchdog would have power over the press, and that the various tabloids wouldn't be able to opt in or out as the mood took them, but what do I know? Apparently legal advice is being taken, and there is a school of thought that the recently passed legislation is applicable to bloggers like "Yours Truly" but not to the national press.
Meanwhile Ken Barlow (out of "Coronation Street") would seem to have gone completely mad. He's said in an interview with New Zealand News that anyone who's been molested by a celebrity paedophile has got all that they deserved because of their sins in a previous life.
To work where we had a visitor. Someone with whom I used to work some thirty years ago. It was good to catch up and reminisce about old times. And then having done my bit at work my piss boiled as I listened to the radio on the way home.
There have been failings in various hospitals across the country. Sometimes quite serious. Occasionally potentially fatal. But hospitals are run by human beings. We fail from time to time. It's what we do. No one working in a hospital environment ever fails deliberately. And does it really help anyone by publicly pillorying medical professionals in the press when they have made a mistake? The realisation of having made such a mistake is horror enough without hounding these people in the tabloid press.
Could you imagine how you might feel having made an honest mistake which might have killed someone; and then having lived with the guilt of such a mistake for over a year before finally finding yourself in the dock being stared at by tabloid journalists who are treating your trial as some form of cheap entertainment?
I enjoyed my curly-wurly as I drove home. It would have been good to have gone to the Tuesday gathering, but I wouldn't have got there until nearly 9pm; it's not fair to expect everyone to wait for me. Instead I went straight home and took Furry Face round the block. He likes that, and he seems to be far more friendly with the Shetland ponies that live round the corner than he ever used to be. Perhaps he's mellowing with age...
I’d been expecting the most recent fruit of my loin today. She showed up eventually, and we set off walking the pups. As we do. Today we thought we’d try a different route. We usually go through the park, and we find ourselves making polite conversation with the nice Irish chap, trying not to fight with Mr Angry, and trying not to poke fun at "Orange Head and her Little Stocky Chum." (Patent Pending).
Instead we walked up past the station, along the back roads onto Hythe Road, and then totally mistaking right for left went a mile in the wrong direction. Oh how we laughed when we found the motorway rather than Arden Drive.
Whilst we were walking along the paths by the Stour Centre we met up with a gaggle of retired people coming the other way. One of whom waved at me, warmly greeted me, and asked after me. She clearly knew who I was, and knew all about me. I wonder who she was.
Eventually we made our way home, and leaving "Daddies Little Angel TM" to supervise the hounds I popped round to B&Q. My wellies had developed a major leak, and the kitchen light had gone squafty. B&Q had replacement wellies, but didn’t have fluorescent light tubes in the right size. In fact the nice man was under the impression that they don’t make light tubes that thick any more. So I thought I’d try Wickes – the old tube had their name on the side so I’d clearly got it from there. I asked the woman behind the counter if they had the tubes I was after. She clearly couldn’t care less. Fortunately a passing builder knew which tube I needed. I bought the tube on his advice; it would have been rude not to have done so. But I would be very loathe to shop in Wickes again after the attitude I received today.
It was with a sense of relief that I got the new tube into place and found it worked. Feeling I should have a break and a cuppa I was amazed to find it was mid-day, so I made myself a sarnie, and cracked on with some more writing – a review of the geocaching to be had on the Kent-Sussex border. I wonder if this article will be accepted. I hope so - it took long enough to write.
Meanwhile in another plane of reality there has been a budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said he won’t put up fuel prices in September. Whilst I’m pleased about that, realistically he needs to reduce the prices quite substantially. He’s also reduced the price of a pint of beer by a penny. That’s good of him. But all the time I can make the stuff for less than a tenth of the price of what it costs in the pubs, I don’t think he’s winning my vote any day soon.
Over brekkie I saw a trailer for the new Star Trek film. It looks absolutely dreadful. I do hope I'm wrong. I also saw that the article I submitted for publication yesterday has been accepted. I'm not sure the title is geographically spot on (as Rye is in Sussex), but other than that I'm quite pleased with how it's been turned out.
With my Ham Street Lover indisposed (best not to ask) I was at something of a loose end today. So to begin with I thought I'd do some exploring. A few months ago I found a way to get from South Willesborough to Park Farm going under the bypass. So far I'd only ever walked along as far as a footbridge and then turned off. Today me and Fudge followed the path all the way to the end where it joins a new housing estate. A route which is crying out for a series of geocaches...
We were out walking for a couple of hours. Once home I hosed the fox poo off of the dog and made a start in the garden. Normally I make a point of refusing to do anything in the garden before Easter, but this year I felt I couldn't leave it any longer. I scooped up all the dog poo and flushed it down the chodbin. In several flushes. I've been scurrying dog dung from the garden regularly these last few months and was amazed at how much I'd missed. I then mowed the lawn as it was getting rather long. Just a quick scalping to be getting on with - I'll make it look prettier next time.
Whilst I was mowing Fudge disgraced himself. He was not content with woofing at next door's dogs who were peering over the fence. He started hurling himself at the fence, and actually broke it. I went mental at him - and I could tell he'd understood that he'd been bad. He spent the next hour being incredibly clingy and with his ears right back he looked really sheepish and didn't react to next door's dogs at all fir the rest of the day.
I'm left wondering if he hurls himself at the fence every time when I think he's just outside having a download. Maybe he needs to be supervised when in the garden, or maybe we need to fence off the yard so he can't get further down?
With the gardening done I came in and had a cuppa. And found I had another problem. It would seem that my chodbin wasn't up to the excessive amount of Fudge's fudge I'd attempted to flush and I'd inadvertently blocked it. It was as well I had time on my hands, and I wasted five minutes clearing the toilet. It works now - thank heavens.
My mobile beeped during brekkie - a message. My Ham Street Lover had the two bob bits (charming!) and wasn't up for coming out today. That was a shame - he'd been wanting to go on a caching for some time. It was a shame he couldn't make it, but "er indoors TM" and I eventually wrestled Fudge into his collar and we set off to West Malling.
We parked up, and wandered about the town of West Malling - there is a series of caches hidden in various places. Being set out in no particular order we found ourselves doubling back on ourselves several times. Each cache we found had a letter code inside; the idea being that once we had all the codes we could solve the bonus puzzle. However the last cache we found didn't have a code. So for want of any better plan I sent off an email to the chap who's hidden the caches and we went off on another series of caches.
The Ryarsh Rural Stroll was a rather good walk featuring a dozen geocaches around some rather pleasant countryside. Shortly after we started on these my mobile beeped - an email. I'd had a reply from the chap who'd hidden the caches. It turned out that A = .... I won't say what A corresponded with; I'm sure the logs will be amended soon. As we carried on we found a pub. We sat in the beer garden and washed our sarnies down with a pint of Doom Bar.
We finished lunch, and very shortly after finished the Ryarsh Rural Stroll. We then made our way back into Malling where, equipped with all the required clues, we found the bonus cache, and one or two others as well. We then drove the car a mile down the road and took on a third series of caches - the Malling Rural Stroll.
A shame my knee had been giving me gyp mist of the day, and that Fudge had had an iffy paw at one point but we'd had a good day out looking for small boxes hidden in odd places. And we'd given the pup a good run out. As always there are photos of the outing on-line.
And so home. Earlier in the week we'd talked bout going out for dinner today, but having a dog in tow does make that difficult, so instead we had KFC's finest and watched an episode of "Continuum". The Sy-Fy channel has started re-running the show from the start and I'd wanted to give it a go. The first two episodes were good, but now I've seen the third I'm left hoping it's not going to be just another police drama with a difference; the difference being it's just the same as all the other police drama shows...
I'd had a really good day out with my beloved and Furry Face yesterday. It must have taken more out of me that I realised because I spent most of yesterday evening nodding off in front of the telly. I hate that. And what makes it worse is that having wasted an evening being barely able to keep my eyes open, I went on to wake at 2.35am and then saw every hour of the rest of the night.
I got up before 6am and went downstairs to find a certain small dog was absolutely dead to the world. He too must have found yesterday draining. But he did drag himself out of his basket and sit with me over brekkie.
I popped myself on the scales - my weight is slowly creeping up again. I need to watch what I'm eating. I think having bought a job lot of curly-wurlies from the cheapo shop might be taking it's toll despite all the walking I'm doing. Mind you I can definitely see muscle definition on Fudge - the walking is doing him some good.
And so to work. The day was rather cold, and the radio had talk of snow. Which seemed odd as Ashford was clear. But as I drove to Canterbury I noticed that cars coming the other way had snow on them. Some had quite a heavy covering of snow on them. And the closer I got to Canterbury so the heavier the snow was - laying a couple of inches deep in places. I decided to take no chances and stopped off at the petrol station.
Whilst I drove there was some utter drivel on the radio. Apparently there are good and valid reasons why women shouldn't go to prison. I dare say there might be, but the pundits on the radio were making a very poor show of explaining the reasoning behind this latest crackpot scheme. As one of the pundits shrieked into the radio I could just imagine a picture of a stereotypical dungaree-clad shaven-headed aggressive-peace-protesting activist. She was ranting that women shouldn't go to prison because they are women. No more (apparently) needed to be said; the reasoning was something to do with the (so-called) fact that because this harridan had shrieked it, the statement was therefore a self-evident truth. Furthermore anyone who couldn't see the logic was either stupid or male. Or probably both.
Another twit on the radio was wittering about the success of the UK independence party. I say "twit" - the chap was actually talking sense. It's rather worrying that UKIP are enjoying serious successes in various elections when they don't actually seem to have any policies on any subjects at all other than the vague implication that they will be sending everyone who can't prove their Britishness back home on the next banana boat.
Even it's founder has been quoted as saying of the party: "It's got nothing to say on mainstream issues, nothing sensible". It's a very sad and worrying sign of our times that narrow-minded jingoism is a vote winner. Have we learned nothing from the lessons of history?
I did my bit at work, spending much of the day alternately looking out of the window and checking the weather forecast. Yesterday had been a bit cold, but it had been a fine day for being out and about. I would not have wanted to do the amount of walking we did yesterday in today's weather.
Mind you as the day wore on so the snow was washed away by the rain. I had been hoping for a respite from the rain - everywhere I walk in the countryside is thick with mud at the moment, and today's rains will just make it worse.
As I drove home this evening the radio had mention of the fireball seen across several states in the USA. It would seem that this was quite an impressive sight. And the pundits were right for a change - there are a lot of space rock thingies up there. Many are small enough that we won't see them coming. But big enough to make a dent.
Another space rock thingy that we haven't seen coming is Comet Pan-Staars. I am now going to formally declare that this comet has had its chance and has blown it. Originally billed as a "once in a lifetime; lighting up the sky" comet it got downgraded to "visible for half an hour at dusk with binoculars if you know where to look", and ended up not actually being seen by anyone. Which was a shame really. I'd make it publicly known that were there a bright comet visible to the naked eye this year I would eat the astro club's raffle. And two weeks after Pan-Starrs supposedly brightest is Easter.
I suppose that having had two nights of waking before 3am had given me something of a sleep deficit, so it wasn't unexpected that I might catch up on some sleep this morning. I woke at 5.30am, which wasn't bad, really. I got up and once abluted did the washing up. Dull.
Fudge woke and together we watched Babylon 5 over some brekkie. Or I watched Babylon 5. Fudge watched the tropical fish in their tank. Usually he ignores them, but from time to time something about the tank catches his interest. I wonder what it is.
And so to work. As I drove some opinionated chap was ranting on the radio about one of the Government's employment training schemes. Apparently some unemployed people are obliged to do various work experience schemes for a maximum of four weeks. In theory it's to give them work experience and to provide them with workplace training. They don't get paid for receiving this training and experience, and if they don't do it then they risk losing various benefits. Personally I can't see the harm in it, but what do I know?
Those who make a living out of claiming the moral high ground have likened this to slave labour. They've even got a web site, but if you read through their propaganda it's clear that they've lost their way, seeming to be favouring political publicity stunts rather than actually doing anything constructive. For example working when they would otherwise be doing nothing, like the people on this scheme might be doing...
The bloke ranting on the radio was lambasting the Salvation Army which would seem to employ such people on such a scheme. One of the leading lights of the Salvation Army came on to the show and told this do-gooder to wind his neck in. The Salvation Army wasn't in the business of making airy-fairy ethical judgements about the morality of such a scheme, nor was it interested in playing silly political games. It was trying to help specific individual people back to work.
From my experience of the Salvation Army (I was a member of their youth club as a boy, and did community service for them years ago) they are a really decent group of people. It was a shame this self-appointed bunch of do-gooders decided to have a pop at the Salvation Army. In doing so they merely made the Salvation Army appear better and made themselves appear themselves worse.
And then the bleeding heart loony leftie teachers came on the radio. It would seem that it is a hard life being a teacher because of the terrible behaviour of the brats in their care. Bad behaviour which is entirely down to the bad parenting skills of the feckless parents...
When the fruits of my loin were of school age I might see them for half an hour in the morning before I would leave for work shortly after 7am, and maybe for an hour or two in the evening (when I got home after 6pm) before they went to bed. I tried my very hardest to instil a moral compass into the brats during those short hours, but my efforts were actively and deliberately undermined and thwarted by the crackpot loonies who taught my children. Every day for six solid and constant hours both fruits of my loin were brainwashed by these teachers into knowing that they could behave as badly as they liked at school with no fear of retribution. The teachers of my children made it very plain that it was not their place to impart any discipline or moral guidance to their charges. When the brats mucked about in the class the teachers would send me a report of the episode and would expect me to discuss the matter with the offending child in a calm and reasoned manner (!) And one of the teachers - one Dr Sheppard (head of science) - actually told me that were I to do anything other than to sit down and reason with my children about their recalcitrant attitudes then the school would formally call in the social services.
Extremely seriously terribly bad behaviour at school was punished by exclusion. When the child was extremely badly behaved they were told not to come in to school the next day. Apparently that was a punishment. It was rather frustrating that only I could see that such a policy just encouraged children to muck about more and more. The stupid teachers honesty believed this was a punishment.
I maintain that had the most recent fruit of my loin been given the cane (just once) things would have turned out very different. Children don't respect reason and discussion. They respect a crack on the bum at the moment of bad behaviour. When I was at school if anyone mucked about they got caned. It didn't happen often. It didn't need to. One child had a sore arse for a couple of hours and one thousand children behaved themselves for eighteen months. Seemed a fair price to me.
Let's be crystal clear on this. Bad behaviour in schools is entirely down to the regime in the schools. Bad behaviour needs to be tackled at the time it happens. Excluding a child from school for bad behaviour is no punishment. It is a reward. Bring back the cane. You don't need to thrash every brat. Just make an example of the first miscreant and all the rest will fall into line...
As I've said before there are two types of people who do not agree with corporal punishment for children. Those with no children of their own, and those with the most ill behaved brats you ever did see.
Being Sunday the radio then had the Sunday Service. Today it was from Methodist Central Hall. Being an ex-Methodist myself I had high hopes for this, but I was disappointed. I don't listen to many Sunday services, but when I do, I want to hear old traditional stuff. Instead it's always modern happy-clappy drivel that frankly puts my back up.
I find that as the years go by I am seriously rethinking the aggressive atheism of my recent past and am beginning to wonder if all the platitudes I heard whilst in the Boys Brigade might just have a snippet of truth in them somewhere. Just possibly...
And so to work. I did my bit. Over a crafty cuppa I watched the weather forecast on the telly. As I'd driven in I'd seen that the fields that were white with snow yesterday were clear today. This had given me hope for getting out with Furry Face over the next couple of days. However the weather forecasters weren't so optimistic. Apparently there are winds coming straight from the North Pole for the next week which will make for yet more freezing conditions. I've had enough of being cold. And last Thursday I discovered a bridleway at the top of Park Farm I want to explore. I don't want to go off on a mission of discovery with a runny nose and a shivering dog who won't wear his coat.
I didn't mind being at work today. The last time I worked on a Sunday I missed a geocaching trip on which the protagonists ended up fighting the snow, and it tuned out that the same thing happened today.
With my bit done I came home to find my beloved was off at a conglomeration of candlemongers, so I spent a little while terrorising Furry Face. A week or so ago I bought him a rope ball tug toy thingy. It's all but destroyed now, but he seemed to like playing with it whilst it lasted. It would have been god if it had lasted longer than a week, but what can you expect from the pound shop...?
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived shortly after brekkie and we took the dogs on a walk. Out through South Willesborough, under the bypass and off to the top end of Park Farm. It was cold, but surprisingly non-muddy. Fudge behaved himself off of the lead, amazingly un-fazed by the sheep in the next field. From Park Farm we investigated that bridleway I found last week. It turned out to be a disappointment.
As we came down Kingsnorth hill we saw a familiar face coming up – “The Man with No Alias” (patent pending) was having a day off and having taken his car for service and MOT was on his way home. We bandied insults for a few moments and then carried on with our walk. It would have been good to have followed a favourite footpath of mine across the south of Ashford and continued into Great Chart, but that would have been risking serious mud so instead we came home a rather more direct route.
Once home I did some homework, and did more household accounts. And seeing how many bank and credit card statements I had I thought that perhaps I might shred some of the older ones. In my enthusiasm I blocked the shredder. Unblocking it is a simple enough task – it comes apart once a few screws have been undone. In retrospect unplugging the thing from the mains might have been a good idea; I’d forgotten what an electric shock felt like.
Being short of r-swipe I popped round to Tesco to get some. For some inexplicable reason the cheapo brand r-swipe was the same price as the expensive executive brand toilet tissue. So I got the poncey stuff for a change.
Last week I bought a bottle of the cheap red wine. It wasn’t bad for £3.50 a bottle. Despite last week’s budget having put 10p on the price of a bottle of wine, today the same stuff was only £3.20. So I got another bottle of it.
Once "er indoors TM" came home we set about the dog. The vet had told us to brush his teeth periodically. I held him whilst she scrubbed. And he was as good as gold; just sitting still whilst we scrubbed his fangs.
An interesting interlude - whilst I was scoffing my brekkie some chap stopped outside the front of my house and started shouting. He got quite angry with whoever it was to whom he was speaking. On reflection I think he must have been having a conversation with someone using hands-free phone technology. I hope he was. But there was no denying that he looked like he was arguing with the voices in his head. "Hands-free "is great - it makes people look like nutters.
With "Daddies Little Angel TM" having arrived we took the dogs for their morning walk. They seem to like that. On the way up the road we stopped off to find a geocache that had gone live recently. It was on our way so it would have been a shame not to have gone for it. And once at the park we stopped off at the ladies following an unfortunate incident that I have been forbidden to blog about. Let’s just say it involved shrieking and dog dung and leave it at that…
We then walked on through the park past Singleton Lake and seeing that the floods had subsided we went looking for a geocache that last week had been in a swamp. Not quite a swamp now, but it was still rather damp underfoot. After a little mucking about I soon found the cache. And signed it for all of us. "Daddies Little Angel TM" will go mental when she finds that she might get mistaken for a geocacher.
We then made our way home via the Environment Centre. For some reason poor little Sid seemed to be having a hard time keeping up. Odd – he’s become used to coming on walks. Perhaps he was still tired from yesterday’s excursion.
Once home I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t start again. So I went straight into the garden where I had another go at the lawn; this time strimming. And then I hacked back some of the jungle pouring over the fence. In years gone by I got the garden looking quite good. Frankly I can’t be bothered any more. It’s too much effort to fight back the stuff which is constantly coming over the fence.
I could be FTF - the First To Find. There’s a lot of kudos in being the first to find a cache. But it had been live for half an hour and there are a lot of local cachers who rush out to find them first. And I had stuff to do. I decided not to go for it. Instead I popped into town for a large box I needed to replace a geocache of my own that had recently gone missing. Whilst in town I checked the new geocache’s record on my phone. No one had found it so far. I wondered if perhaps I might have gone for it; and decided that if it wasn’t too late when I first saw the email, then by the time I got home it certainly would be too late. So I consoled myself with a Snickers milk shake from the shake bar and went home.
The Rear Admiral was visiting for lunch and we bandied insults whilst I painted the inside of my box. I’ve taken to painting the insides of sandwich boxes to camouflage them. I then had a spot of lunch and wrestled with indecision. Surely this new geocache had been found. I’d received the email timed at 11.42am, and it was 2pm by then. It is unheard of for one to go unfound for so long in our neck of the woods. But I had nothing else planned for the afternoon, and it wasn’t that far away really. So I put Furry Face’s collar and lead on him and we set off to Kings Wood.
I’d seen where the cache was on the map – I knew vaguely where it was. There would be a short walk involved. Once parked up we started walking and I activated the GPS to confirm where I was going. I was mistaken about there being a short walk. The cache was just over two kilometres from the car park.
So we set off. The cache was where I thought it would be – deep in the woods is a milestone with directions. The first time I ever passed this milestone four of us missed it completely and went miles in the wrong direction. Ironically when we missed it we actually posed for photos at its location, and those photos still exist in which you can clearly see this milestone in the background.
As I approached the cache I could see where it was. But then I had a GPS unit telling me where to look, and the experience of one thousand three hundred and eighty six previous caches telling me what to look for. The average person will walk straight past this geocache with no idea that it is there. Which is as it should be, and for me is one of the marvellous things about this hobby.
I was first to find it. No one else had been for it, and I signed the log at 2.57pm. I felt rather smug as we walked back to the car. The cache owner had obviously been watching the listing, and we exchanged insults via Facebook all the time I could get signal to do so.
It’s traditional in geocaching circles to say “TFTC” – “Thanks for the cache”. I think this one needs a special thank you. Firstly it’s a cache on its own. The ones I’ve hidden are either on my way to work, or on routes I walk Furry Face along at least once a month or so. Today’s FTF was over two kilometres into the woods; a cache on its own and in isolation. Maintaining this one will take special effort. And secondly it’s on Forestry Commission land. I’ve toyed with the idea of putting geocaches on Forestry Commission land and abandoned the idea. It’s too much like hard work. When you hide a geocache you hide it, tell the moderators where it is and they do their thing and all is tickety-boo. But if it’s on Forestry Commission land you need formal permission from the Forestry Commission people. You have to write to them (actually write) saying where the caches are; giving latitude, longitude and grid references. If they are going to send anyone to work in the area they ask you to go and fetch the caches back. And they want you to formally apply for permission every year. I looked at putting caches on to Forestry Commission land and decided it was too much like hard work. So I can understand the effort that has gone into this one.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered – this time in Somerset Road. Once the obligatory squabbling was done we settled down to an episode of "Merlin". I was disappointed. Up till now they've been good, even plausible, Tonight's episode was just silly. Which was a shame...
I shouldn't listen to the news in the mornings. All it does is boil my piss. Like this morning's tale of Ms. Josie Cunningham who wasn't happy that the Almighty hadn't blessed her quite as much in the jug department as she might have liked. So she whinged to her doctor who prescribed breast enhancement surgery at a cost of over four thousand pounds to the taxpayer. Apparently not having an epic chest was making her depressed, and was something of an impediment to her ambitions to be a tit model. According to the news pundits she's happy now. And presumably about to flop them out for the delectation of the masses?
On a sadder note you can hire people to come and cry at your funeral. For the meagre sum of forty five quid an hour you can pay actors to pretend to be upset about the demise of either yourself or a "Billy-no-mates" relative or friend. They will do their homework and find out about whoever it is that died so they can fool real mourners into thinking that they actually knew the one getting buried. And they will cry real tears so people will think the deceased will actually be missed.
It's a sad sign of our times that people need to be bolstering funerals in this way. I can remember being very embarrassed at a funeral several years ago. Steve, secretary of the snake club, had died. Literally hundreds of us were waiting to go in to the chapel for his funeral; waiting for the preceding funeral to finish. When it did finish it was sad to see there were only four mourners in there. I'd like to think that when my number is up I'll get more than four people along to say goodbye. And if only four can be bothered, then I'd rather it was four who wanted to show up rather than people who'd been paid to turn out.
Yesterday I mentioned that I'd painted the insides of a sandwich box. It was to replace a geocache that I'd hidden which had gone missing. This morning on the way to work I went to put the new cache in place. Disaster - the new box is too big. I shall have to get another box.
And so to work where I did my bit. My legs really ached today. Yesterday whilst in Kings Wood I tried a bit of jogging with Fudge. I thought he might like it. He didn't show much interest, and now I wish I hadn't bothered. And then home again where I fell asleep in front of the telly...
I was still aching this morning – I’m not going to try running again unless the last bus or a tiger is involved. But exercise will sort out aching limbs, so in the absence of "Daddies Little Angel TM" I took Fudge out on my own. We had fun in the Bowens Field wetlands park. Once there I let him off of his lead. He charged off into the distance and ten seconds later there was screaming from the general direction in which he’d disappeared. I trotted round the corner to find Fudge playing nicely with another dog which was still on its lead. At the other end of the lead was a hysterical woman. It was clear that Fudge was causing her hysterics so I attached his lead. As I did so this silly woman explained that she’d never taken her dog out for a walk until it was six months old and because it’s such hard work to train a dog she had decided not to train the dog at all. Consequently she rarely walks the dog because it’s such hard work. And she went on to say that she didn’t like seeing other dogs because when her dog sees another dog he gets all over-excited and she can’t cope with it.
Rather than offering to take the dog off of her hands I bit my tongue and walked Fudge along the path into Viccie Park where I let him off of his lead again. Other dogs were running riot there and I thought he might like to run riot with them. He did. I got chatting with the other dog-walkers. All of whom seemed to be in agreement with me; let the dogs play – if they have a problem they will sort it out amongst themselves. Fudge and two other dogs were having a great time when “silly cow” came past alternately dragging and being dragged by her dog which clearly had no idea of how to walk on a lead. Fudge and his friends ignored “silly cow” this time; which was a shame for her dog.
Once home my mobile rang. It was "Daddies Little Angel TM". Had she left her time sheet with me? Yes she had. Could I fax it to the agency? No I couldn’t. Who faxes anything these days? Rather than faxing I took the time sheet to the agency myself. The town centre isn’t that far away. Whilst there I actually looked around. Martin had said that the HMV was closing. It has gone – and so have a lot of the other shops in town. Ashford was never the best place for shopping, but now it’s becoming a ghost town – seemingly every other shop is closed and empty.
I spent the afternoon reviewing old haunts. I’ve not actually played “NeverWinter Nights” for over a year. How I’ve missed that place… And then we went down to Folkestone for the evening. Chinese for a birthday, then we watched "Rise of the Guardians" in 3-D. For once I could actually see thee 3-D effects in places. Quite impressive !
I had rather a late night last night. And then whilst dozing in front of UK Gold one of the programmes featured a child playing a recorder. Fudge immediately woke up and started howling. It was really sweet so with the wonders of Sky-Plus live rewind we played it again and he howled again. The second time we replayed it we recorded him, and you can see him on-line. We played about like this for quite a while and so it was gone 1am before I got to bed.
I got up just after 7am and looked out of the window. Snow. Not heavy, not laying, but snow. I got out the shears and gave myself a haircut, did my morning ablutions and found that the snow had given way to hail.
Many yeas ago I braved the elements to visit my brother who was fishing on Hastings beach in a monsoon. Soaked to the skin he announced he'd had a "flipping gutful". Only he didn't say "flipping". He said a rude word. Since then the term flipping gutful" has become family parlance for when patience runs thin. I think it's fair to say that I have now had a "flipping gutful" of this weather. Last year on Good Friday we went on a bike ride and a picnic. Today - snow and hail.
After a spot of brekkie I left er indoors TM" and Fudge both asleep and went off to Cheeseman's Green with Lisa. We found a bridge, assessed it as only geocachers can, and then came home again. I popped into the corner shop to see if I could get some hot cross buns. The chap behind the counter had never heard of hot cross buns. I explained that they were a traditional Easter thing. He smiled and said that he'd heard of Easter - it was an English thing (apparently).
Despite the snow we then took Furry Face for a little walk. We went down the road the the second hand furniture shop we'd found the other day. During the week they had one or two bits that might have gone well in the living room. Today they had nothing that suited us, so we came home. Via the bakery for a Belgian bun which made for a nice bit of dinner.
We then took Furry Face round to the park for some geocache maintenance, and then went out for an hour or so with Chippy and Morgan. Having turned them to the dark side we took them on a tour of some of Ashford's more unusual caches. There's nothing quite as much fun as watching someone struggle with a puzzle to which you already know the answer.
Being the last Friday of the month, tonight was astro club. As a committee we'd wondered about having it on a different night this month because of the Bank Holiday, but then that might have been confusing. So we decided to stick with the original plan. We had a surprisingly good turn out. And a good meeting too. The guest speaker was interesting, even if he did seem to jump from topic to topic with little theme in what he was saying.
The general consensus of the club was that this most recent comet has been a flop. But there is still enthusiasm for the next one due in November. I confidently predict that it too will not live up to expectations...
As I scoffed my brekkie this morning er indoors TM" went off for five minutes to move her car. There are parking restrictions between 8am and 6pm. She was gone for (as I said) five minutes, and Fudge sobbed for those five minutes. He was distraught - the dog actually sobbed. It was so sad I nearly cried myself.
As I pootled on-line I saw someone had posted on the Kent Geocaching forum asking about the virtues of hand held GPS units. I am utterly convinced I am missing something as far as GPS units are concerned. I geocache with a smartphone. I can download all the caches I want directly to the phone, and log all the caches from the phone. People using a GPS unit have to mess about going via a PC because the GPS units don't have internet connection. Admittedly the GPS units have longer battery life, but they seem to involve a lot of fiddling around; fiddling around which is (to my mind) unnecessary. However people with GPS units think the sun shines out of the GPS unit's USB slot. One of my geocaching mates posted a long list of advantages of her GPS unit over my smartphone - to my mind they all seemed to be things I can actually do faster on my smartphone without needing to upload or download anything via a PC.
Once the blizzard had stopped we took Furry Face out for a walk. Out through the park and on to Singleton Lake where we met one of our partners in crime. We fitted in a sneaky geocache find and then whilst er indoors TM" popped into the shops Hurksy swapped his bike for his dog and we walked out onto the Godinton estate for a little stroll. And a crafty cache as well. From there we made our way home via a rather circuitous route through Great Chart and the Environment centre. It was a good walk, and glorious when the sun came out. But it was cold.
And so home. The new series of "Doctor Who" started tonight. The story wasn't bad. Quite good in fact. I think I liked the fact that the villain was from the Patrick Troughton era. But I'm sure I would have liked it with someone else in the lead role. I've seen enough now to say I don't like Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor. Idiot or hero - which is it to be?
The clocks went forward last night. And even once on British Summer Time I was wide awake at silly o'clock. Being that bored I got Furry Face's lead on him and we went for a walk before 7am. As we walked up the road there was an official-looking woman (complete with clipboard) hammering on the door of someone's house. 6.50am on Easter Sunday was a very odd time for officialdom to come calling.
And as we came back from our walk we met a rather portly chap wearing a Santa Claus hat. It's amazing what goes on whilst everyone else is in bed. Mind you there is a lot to be said for everyone else being in bed - Fudge got the complete run of the park with no other dogs to distract him. It was good for him to run, but didn't help his socialization skills. Much as it sounds harsh it does him good to get (gently) duffed up by other dogs from time to time. Being a gobby little sh*te means that most dogs back down from him. Which isn't good for him.
As we came home the snow started again. It's Easter - British Summer Time has started, and its snowing. In previous years Easter Sunday is synonymous with Smarden Duck Race and a barbecue at a farm, but Smarden Duck Race involves a lot of standing about in fields and it's too cold for that today. So instead half a dozen of us set off to Chislehurst. Or that was the plan. My car wouldn't start. The er indoors TM"-mobile had a flat tyre. So we left the knacked vehicles at home in the snow and went in alternate transport rather later than planned.
On arrival at Chislehurst caves we had forty minutes until the next tour started. We knew there was a geocache in the grounds - it was a puzzle cache and we couldn't solve the puzzle. So instead we randomly searched and soon found it.
And then into the caves. Over the years I've heard a lot about Chislehurst caves. They weren't what I was expecting. I imagined they would be something like the caves at Cheddar Gorge. They weren't. They were all man-made caves - made from chalk mining. But they nevertheless made for a good hour of tunnel-ratting in the pitch black darkness. And (perhaps not surprisingly) it was warmer in the caves than it was above ground.
From the caves we went into Petts wood for a Wetherspoons lunch. There are those that look down on Wetherspoons. Not me - a couple of pints of stout, roast dinner, ice cream sundae and I slept all the way home.
Once home I called out the breakdown people who got my car going and confirmed my suspicion that the battery was knacked. Apparently car batteries are only good for about two years so it's due for replacing. I shall get that done over the next day or so. I've had estimates of cost ranging from twenty quid to a hundred quid. Depending on actual cost I may need to re-think some of my plans for the next few weeks. Economies might need to be made, which would be a shame.
Being Sunday er indoors TM" set off bowling. I spent an hour or so clearing the undead out of NeverWinter. And then having started a theme of "dark" with the caves earlier in the day, we went off night caching. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of night caching, but one had gone live that was specially designed to be found at night. Four of us parked up in the dark at Hothfield common and followed the GPS to the designated start. We shone our torches and, sure enough, we could see a reflector on a tree. And then another. We followed a trail quite a way into the wood where we eventually found a canister which gave us half of the required co-ordinates. We then picked up another series of reflectors and found the second half of the required co-ordinates. After a short walk and a short search we realised the importance of actually reading the instructions, and within five minutes the cache was in our hands. And we were first to find it as well.
It was a really well laid out night cache, a lot of time and effort had clearly gone into the preparation. As I have said I don't like night caching.... or that is I don't like going caching at night when you are scrubbling about in the darkness trying to find something which is hard enough to find in broad daylight. But looking for a cache such as this which is clearly designed to be done at night is different. It was great fun. It has given me some ideas for a similar project I have in mind...