1 March 2021 (Monday) - Back To Work

 

 

With an alarm set, all hopes of a good night’s sleep went out the window. I woke at ten past one feeling raring to go, and then lay awake for much of the rest of the night stroking Fudge’s bony back.

 

I got up and seeing how today was the first of the month I allowed myself the privilege of a new razor blade. I’m a tad mean with the things and make them last a month each. They seem to do OK to the end of each month, but there is no denying that the morning scrape feels better at the start of the month than at the end.

As Sid snored I watched an episode of “Superstore” whilst my COVID-19 test cooked. It was negative, which was probably for the best.

As I then had my morning’s perusal of the Internet I realised that the appeal I set up for the goat sanctuary had raised two hundred and ten pounds. I was rather impressed. When I first read the message  from Facebook about setting up a birthday fundraiser I was rather sceptical about the idea, but I’m glad I did, and grateful to everyone who contributed.

I sent out some birthday messages. Two were advertised on Facebook; one wasn’t. The one whose birthday wasn’t advertised on Facebook was an old schoolfriend of mine. Of all the people with whom I am in touch (albeit intermittently) this chap is the person I’ve known longest who isn’t family. I first met him on my first day at primary school fifty-two years ago. We were in the Boys Brigade together for years, and after years working in banking he jacked it all in to become a minister in the Baptist Church. I can’t help but wonder if he hadn’t put his birthday on Facebook so that his flock wouldn’t find out – what is the etiquette for a vicar’s birthday?

 

And so I set off to work… I’ve just had a week off work. I worked on my nineteenth birthday in 1983 and it sucked, and I’ve taken the week of my birthday as leave every year since. And for the next thirty-four years (up until 2017) I felt physically sick at the thought of going back to work. But today – I’m looking forward to catching up with people. There isn’t one person that I would want to avoid.

 

As I drove up the motorway I listened to the radio. I've not heard the news for a week, and I'd not missed much. The vaccines minister was being interviewed this morning, and he managed to avoid actually saying anything in any answer he gave.

There was then an interview with Sandi Toksvig (who is always interesting). She is currently championing a scheme in which children have the subtitles on when they are watching telly. They subconsciously read the subtitles, during the course of a year they effectively read the equivalent of the "Narnia" series of books and the entirety of the "Lord of the Rings" books without realising they have done so. This also (obviously) massively increases their literacy, which is never a bad thing.

 

I got to work where we had cake. But not just any old cake. A colleague's friend is starting up a cake-making business and is trying to get her name put about. I was rather impressed with the cake; so much so that I didn't dare be the one to cut it.

Cake is good…

 

 

2 March 2021 (Tuesday) - A Day Off

 

 

I slept well with no alarm set. I had (another) day off today. The plan had been to have the day off for a dental appointment, but last week the surgery cancelled the appointment. I took the day off anyway.

The day started with a minor result in that as I made toast so Sid came bumbling past me in the direction of the back door. I opened the door for him – he went outside for his morning rake-out. That was *such* a result. Let’s hope it is the way forward.

I then peered into the Internet to see if much had changed overnight. I was amazed to read some of the posts from people whose children will be starting secondary school in September. Quite a few people weren’t happy because their child is not capable of taking a bus to school. Others felt the car drive to secondary school every day would be excessive… I walked a three-mile journey to secondary school every day when I was a lad. Admittedly I would get the bus home… but  most kids walked or took the bus back then. Very few were chauffer-driven to school.

I’m reminded of some of the parents of cub scouts who used to bemoan how hyperactive their children were but would only ever let the child out of the house for school or cubs. I used to roam for miles when I was primary school age. I’m told that the streets aren’t safe these days. Are there *really*  perverts, child molesters and rapists behind every bush? I saw a few back in the day in Hastings but nowadays the streets are far safer for children as all the weirdoes can get their kicks from the Internet.

I also had an email from the ombudsman about my ongoing issue with the power company to say they had received my email… Well, actually I had an email to say I had a message. I then had to call up their website, log in, find the messages section and then I saw the  message which said they had received my email. Too much unnecessary farting about, maybe?

And LinkedIn asked me if I might like to congratulate someone I used to know on their new job. This person is now senior chief whatever at the Department of Farting About, and is earning far more than me. But I was once a manager too. I might not get as much money now I’m no longer a manager, but I am far happier.

 

I drove down to Hastings to check in on my dad. It’s now two weeks since mum died. He seems to be managing well. I arrived to find him painting the inside of the under-stairs cupboard. We had a cuppa and put the world to rights, and I came home via Northiam.

Having seen Gardoo’s web site I thought I’d have a look at their garden sleepers. I arrived at their office… and that was it. An office. Bearing in mind their website offers “click and collect” I was expecting they would have some stock to look at. The chap behind the counter (rather rudely) told me theirs was an on-line business. I asked about the “click and collect”; the bloke repeated that they were an on-line business. I didn’t *actually* tell him to stick his on-line business up his arse.

I suspect they get their stock from the branch of Jewson which is next door to them, and sell it on at a profit.

I then went on to Wickes. They had pretty much nothing at all in their timber section. I asked the nice man there if they were getting a delivery soon. He laughed and said they’d just had one. Apparently everyone is starting their garden projects early this year. 

 

er indoors TM” and I took the dogs round to the co-op field for a little walk, then I drove round to collect “My Boy TM”. We had planned to get the timber for our garden projects on a mutual day off in a couple of weeks’ time. But bearing in mind what the nice man in Wickes had said we thought we’d get our shopping done before everyone else got it.

 

We went to B&Q and got my decking planks that I am going to use as lawn edging, and got decking for “My Boy TM”’s plan. We needed more stuff too, but bearing in mind that we’d already got a car full we loaded up the car, took our wood home, and then went back for the rest of what “My Boy TM” needed. In the forty-five minutes it had taken us to load the car, take stuff home and go back, the outdoor timber section of B&Q had done a roaring trade. There was enough stuff left for what we needed, but I doubt there would have been much left by the time they closed.

I came home and thought about making a start on my garden project. The first thing I need to do is to paint the planks I got today. I decided against starting that just yet and wrote up some CPD instead.

 

er indoors TM” then boiled up a particularly good chicken curry which we swilled down with some red wine. Usually after that we’d have cheese which I would share with the dogs, but bearing in mind that cheese is particularly bad for them, cheese is now on the “banned” list.

I tried to explain to the dogs, but they weren’t happy with the arrangement…

 

 

3 March 2021 (Wednesday) - Early Shift... Bit Dull

 

 

I was woken by the crash of Pogo falling off of the bed at three o’clock. That silly dog sleeps in the most precarious of places. I didn’t get back to sleep after that.

Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Superstore” and then had a little look-see on-line. Sky had replied to the email I’d sent them about their prices. A few months ago I moved my mobile and broadband to them as it looked like I was getting a bargain. I won’t say they lied to me, but I think I was misled, and their policy of not having telephone helplines doesn’t help anyone.

 

I set off to work through a very foggy morning. My phone had told me of fog warnings from the Met Office, and my weather forecasting app thought there might be thunderstorms in Maidstone. A thunderstorm in fog? That would have been exciting!

As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some woman or other who had bought a dog in lockdown. I have no idea who this woman was, but the implication was that having recently acquired a dog gave her the right to have a go at all other dog owners. This woman banged on about the importance of not letting your dog chase sheep. I would have thought that was patently obvious, but it would seem that dogs worrying sheep is an issue in the Peak District where sheep roam wild. I didn't know that happened up north. Mind you when on holiday in the New Forest (twice over the last few years) we met “Psycho Dobbin” and many of his equine associates roaming at will. And cows were loose on the streets too.

Where I live we have these things called "fields". "Fields" are areas enclosed by fences in which farmer-types put their animals. That way everyone can see at a glance where it is safe for a dog to be off the lead. Perhaps this is an innovation that might catch on in other parts of the country?

 

I got to work where a colleague was talking about her plans for her garden. What she has in mind isn't entirely different to what “My Boy TM” is planning to do. But she is paying someone to do what the first fruit of my loin will do for himself. And my colleague has been quoted nearly four thousand pounds for a job which “My Boy TM” will get done for a couple of hundred quid.

As I worked so I got a text message from the vet. I was glad they texted me - I'd written down the wrong time for Fudge's appointment on Friday.

 

As it always does, an early start made for an early finish. I came home, and once the car’s alarm finally stopped going off for absolutely no reason I walked the dogs round the block.

er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner (as she does), and with It scoffed I found myself dozing off in front of the telly. I wish I didn’t do that…

Today was a tad dull….

 

 

4 March 2021 (Thursday) - Another Early Shift

 

 

The noise of the rain rattling against the window woke me at half past one, and then a concerto of snoring kept me awake. I couldn't do anything about the noise of the rain, but I could do something about the noise of the snoring. I gave the snorers a little shake... and then a larger one. Eventually snoring and rain both subsided and I had a rather precious bit of peace until Sid started barking. Having been watching him "like a pork" (to coin a phrase) I have a theory with Sid. He knows when he needs a poop, but it is all rather immediate. When I "have the need to download" I realise this with quite a bit of notice. I have time to make my leisurely way to Trap One.
However with Sid, things are all rather more urgent. With no notice it is suddenly "It's in the bomb bay!!! ... Mr Brown is at the window!!! ... too late!!!" and the whole thing is over in about ten seconds. *If* you can spot the first one or two of those ten seconds and bundle him outside then all is (relatively) well, but that takes some doing.
Did I ever mention that I never wanted dogs?

 

Seeing we'd run out of granola I made some toast. And seeing we'd run out of jam I had marmalade on it. I scoffed toast whilst watching a couple of episodes of "Superstore" and then set off to work at about the time when most people would be thinking about getting out of their pits.

 

As I drove to work through another foggy morning the pundits on the radio were talking about yesterday's budget. As always, what the Chancellor gives with one hand he takes with the other. Short of actively attempting tax evasion there's not a lot I can do about his decrees, so there it was.

There was also talk about Prince Harry and his (let's be honest) total mistake of a wife. I would imagine anyone marrying in to the Royal Family would be in for a shock. I would have thought that the Duchess of Sussex might have benefited from  a little coaching for her role. It is quite impressive how she has taken Prince Harry from  a national hero to a national embarrassment in such a short space of time.

 

During a lull in proceedings at work I found an on-line budget calculator which told me that after the budget changes take effect I will be seventeen pounds better off each year. Oh well - it's better than nothing I expect. Mind you I suspect that it doesn't account for cars with dodgy alarms or small dogs with dodgy kidneys.

As I worked I had a parcel arrive for me. A colleague who works at Tunbridge Wells had contacted me last evening. Her husband's boss's dog didn't like the dog food they'd got for him. Would my dogs like it? Bearing in mind that Pogo would eat anything (and the tin it comes in) I said "Yes please".

 

As always an early start made for an early finish. I came home to minor disaster. When I parked this morning I used a little dodge to turn off the car alarm (that I had read on-line). That little dodge only turned the alarm off once. It didn’t work when I parked this evening. Fortunately the alarm stopped eventually.

 

With er indoors TM” running an errand for “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” I walked the dogs round the block, then tried to get them to pose for a photo. Put four dogs in line, put some food in front of them, take a photo. How difficult can it be? After fifteen minutes I got probably the best piccie I was going to get.

I then had a go at supervising dog dinner. This is usually a task that er indoors TM” does; I think I did well having it all pass off without a squabble.

I then tuned into the weekly geo-Zoom meeting whilst the dishwasher did its thing. 

er indoors TM” came home with KFC. We scoffed it whilst watching “Truth Seekers”, and then Sir Tony Robinson in “Walking Through History” in which Sir Tony walks here there and thither through Britain. Watching the show closely he’s got the right idea. He goes for a fifty-ish mile walk over a few days carrying only a day bag. He clearly has his luggage sent on ahead to his hotel for him. If I could get someone to do that for me, I could do some *serious* walking (once my knee is better).
It seems odd that Baldrick is now a “Sir”…

 

 

5 March 2021 (Friday) - Rostered Day Off

 

 

I had hoped for something of a lie-in this morning. I suppose I should be grateful that Sid started shouting an hour later than he did yesterday.

I cleared his turds (he’d only trodden in one of them) then over brekkie watched an episode of “Superstore” before having a little look-see at the Internet. My Facebook feed was filled with posts for some band called “Marylebone Jelly” – apparently I chose to follow them on social media some time ago. I wonder why.
And with no emails at all I got dressed, got the dogs together and set off.

My car alarm has been going off randomly. As “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM would say it has been something of a “pain in the glass” and today the garage was going to have a look at it. But not the usual garage. My usual garage is very good, but it has become a victim of its own success. Whenever I need anything doing with the car they can never see me in less than two to three weeks. er indoors TM” had been to Henwood garage recently had had been happy with them, so I thought I’d give them a go if only because they could do it today and I wouldn’t have to wait till the end of the month.

 

We arrived, I left the car with them, and walked the dogs home. We came home along the river and past the station… and there was nothing to report on the walk. We walked home. Such an uneventful walk is something of a result when out and about with three excitable dogs.

 

Once home the dogs scoffed their brekkie and I went into the garden and got a coat of ronseal onto those planks that I bought on Tuesday before making a cuppa. I thought about going back into the garden and carrying on with some groundwork, but I thought better of the idea. It was rather cold. Fudge had insisted on being outside with me and he had been shivering.

Instead I wrote up some CPD and filled out the form that I’m hoping the vet will complete and send to the insurance company for me. and in a moment of boredom I read the newsletter that the Geocaching Association of Great Britain had sent me. You can read it by clicking here if you want to. It wasn’t a bad read I suppose. 

I played a little “Candy Crush” on the lap-top, then took Fudge to the vet for a blood test. Whilst we were there we had a go on the vet’s scales. Fudge has put on a third of a kilogram in weight over the last week which I am seeing as something of a result. The vet said he seemed better, and took some blood. I handed over another hundred quid (well, ninety-eight) and left the insurance form with them in the hope that it might do my bank balance some good. 

 

The garage phoned. They’d had the car for seven hours and could find nothing wrong with it. They’d given it a good going over, and then opened it and locked it many times and were unable to get the alarm to go off. They were very apologetic, and didn’t charge me anything. To be honest I’d rather they had. For all that they didn’t achieve anything they’d clearly worked on the car.

I brought the car home fully expecting the alarm to kick off and sat listening for it for the rest of the day.

 

Then the vet phoned. Fudge’s creatinine level is up on what it was a week ago which isn’t what we had been hoping to hear. But the vet said that the weight gain was a good sign. We are to keep an eye on him (as if we don’t!), continue his medication and review the blood test in three months’ time.

As the vet spoke to us so Fudge snored on the sofa without a care in the world. He has no understanding of how unwell he is.

 

er indoors TM” boiled up fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching Sandi Toksvig and Prue Leith on holiday in some rather good holiday homes, and I then slept through two episodes of “Truth Seekers”; a show which doesn’t grip me.

I hope Sid keeps quiet tomorrow morning…

 

 

6 March 2021 (Saturday) - Before the Night Shift

 

 

I had a reasonable night’s sleep. It would have been better had one of the dogs  (Treacle?) not spent much of the night stomping about the bed and had er indoors TM”’s phone alarm not gone off randomly. Still – better her phone alarm than my car alarm.

Over brekkie I had a look-see at the Internet. There was consternation in a Facebook group about the TV show “The Tomorrow People” which is (was) a child’s TV show from nearly fifty years ago. The chap who had set the group up has spent a lot of time posting endless photos and screen shots and trivia, and with no warning at all Facebook pulled the lot. I suspected that it was because of what the Facebook bots perceived as a breach of copyright. Someone else (seriously) claimed “Facebook is doing a massive purge of "Liberals" in revenge for the Biden victory”.  The chap who set the group up says he’s had an argument with someone who has reported him to the Facebook Feds for supposedly using a fake name, and that’s why Facebook deleted pretty much everything. Oh well… Facebook is useful, but it isn’t perfect.

 

There were also several memes spreading on Facebook about how we should demand a pay rise for the hard-working doctors and nurses and how the current one per cent pay increase offer is unfair to nurses. As always the pharmacists, art therapists, physiotherapists, transfusion practitioners, cleaners, cooks, biomedical scientists, podiatrists, speech therapists, cardiographers, gardeners, dieticians, porters, secretaries, med lab assistants, biochemists, radiographers, O.D.A.s… got overlooked by the masses. Not everyone working in a hospital is a doctor or a nurse…

There are those who feel this is a petty distinction… Bearing in mind the lessons of history I wouldn’t be surprised to see the nurses get a substantial pay rise whilst all of the other groups get sod-all, and the public be ecstatic because “the angels” got what they deserve. It has happened before.

 

Despite it being rather cold I had a little pootle in the garden. I got the gnomes and things off of the gravelled areas and moved a potted plant. But this wasn’t any old potted plant; plant and pot together were probably heavier than me. They took some shifting. I shifted four tubs of dog dung, shifted dead leaves from gravel and then had a look at one of my water features. On 15 May 2007 (one use of writing a diary!) I dug out about a cubic metre of soil so I could sink an old oil-drum sized plastic tub which would act as a reservoir for a water feature. In the meantime I’d forgotten just how huge that plastic tub was. It was only when I’d pushed away all the shingle around it that  remembered, and when I remembered I realised my plan for today was a non-starter. I had thought to revamp the water feature with a much smaller reservoir above ground (which makes it easier to get to the pump). But getting out that underground reservoir would be too much like hard work. I put it all back as it was. If nothing else that water feature now looks better for having had a little tidy-up.

 

We came in to find the postman had been. We had a letter asking us to complete the census. That wasted fifteen minutes. There had been quite a lot of whinging on Facebook recently about how the census is done on-line. There was a phone number which people could use to request a paper version, but we are in the third decade of the twenty-first century…

 

I went to bed for the afternoon where I couldn’t get warm. I got up a while later convinced that I hadn’t slept at all, but er indoors TM” had taken the dogs to Great Chart and I’d missed that so I must have had some kip.

I’m off to the night shift now…

 

 

7 March 2021 (Sunday) - Bit Tired

 

 

The night shift was one of the better ones, but I was still glad to see the early shift arrive five minutes early. I told him about the malfunction I’d had (!) and set off homewards.

As I drove the pundits on the radio were spewing drivel (as they so often do). There was an interview with an army chaplain who utterly failed to reconcile the Christian ethic of peace with the soldier’s job of going out and shooting people. This was followed by a church service which was led by a “Yoof Worker”. I was reminded of my time in the Hastings Methodist scene forty years ago. Religious services focussing on the younger generation were frankly dire in the early 1980s and they haven’t improved much in the meantime. After five minutes I turned the radio off.

 

I got home, and went to bed for the morning. I woke at mid-day to find Fudge had slept with me. As I then scoffed toast so er indoors TM” struggled to get him to eat something. He’d not had any brekkie of his own and turned his nose up at much that was offered to him.

This was an issue in that about one millisecond after Fudge decided he didn’t want his food, Pogo then decided that whatever had been declined was fair game and he scoffed it. Pogo needs to be locked in another room when other dogs are being fed, and he’s not keen on that.

 

er indoors TM” took the dogs out and I cracked on in the garden. Many years ago when I put shingle up the sides of the garden I got edging blocks to hold the shingle in place. Over the years these blocks have sunk and fallen and now there are no two which are pointing in the same direction. Rather than straightening them all up (yet again) I had this plan to replace them with wooden edges. The wood might not last quite as many years, but being much longer, getting a straight edge is easier, and when any one plank rots it will be easier to replace. (I suspect a future blog entry will lambast that foolish statement!). So… I scraped back the shingle, hoiked out the edging stones and put the first plank in place. In a novel break with tradition I got the spirit level out and checked the thing was straight in all three dimensions before clearing gravel for the second plank and screwing that in place. So easy to type… To be honest it was a simple enough job to do, just rather time consuming. Each plank took about forty minutes to get into place. I got four done this afternoon.

 

As I pootled in the garden the latest person to take the title of “New Next Door” was revving his motorbike. I’ve been told that his motorbike is an ongoing hobby; he is apparently trying to get the thing going. It sounds like it is going to me, but I have to wonder if it is supposed to smell quite so bad.

Not-so-nice-next-door” came out into her garden for a bit. She studiously ignored me, and again when she went back indoors I had a little chuckle at the sound of all the locks being fastened. She must have half a dozen locks on her back door. Who does she think is going to break in?

 

er indoors TM” called me in for coffee and cake; she’d made a rather good honey loaf cake. And with that scoffed I tidied in the garden and got as ready as I could for tomorrow’s garden work. Tomorrow I’m hoping to sort out a shingle bed (bit like a flower bed but with stones) and that entails custom-cut lengths of wood.

I would have liked to have got on with that today, but having been up all night last night was taking its toll. And these garden projects are physically hard work. Just moving the old edging stones off of the lawn and out of the way seemingly took an age.

 

We had a rather good bit of dinner, and with the family Zoom quiz cancelled we Zoomed at friends instead. It wasn’t quite the same as sitting together shouting at Star Trek videos, but catching up was good.

I’m going to bed in a minute – I’m feeling the night shift I’ve just done, and (much as it sounds daft) I think I caught the sun whilst in the garden earlier…

 

 

8 March 2021 (Monday) - Very Tired

 

A combination of a night shift, an afternoon working in the garden and a bottle of plonk meant that I slept like a log this morning.

As I scoffed my toast I peered into the Internet. Last night’s broadcast of the interview of Prince Harry and Megan Markle by Oprah Winfrey had gone ahead. It was big news today, but will be lining the cat’s littler tray next week. This is just the latest tribulation that the Royals have had. The death of Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson, Princess Margaret’s lifestyle, the Abdication crisis… The Royals will weather the storm as they always do.

It would seem that in today’s scandal Ms Markle had an endless stream of gripes and whinges that the media were trying to blow out of all proportion. It strikes me that Ms Markle hasn’t a clue about how the Royal Family operate, but has seen Hollywood celebrities on the telly, and so was copying what Hollywood celebrities do. And consequently in a few years’ time she (and Harry) will be forgotten, and the Royal Family will be carrying on as they have always done. Perhaps had she been coached in being a Royal, things might have been different, but I suspect she didn’t want to be a Royal; she wanted to be a celebrity.

 

I had planned to take the dogs out immediately after brekkie, but it was too cold. Fudge came in shivering after having had a tiddle, so I postponed the walk until later and got on in the garden. I straightened out a curved edge, scraped back the gravel, got more wooden edges in, put the gravel back and generally tidied up. That only took three hours. It would have taken less had I cut the right length of wood; I made a stuff-up of subtracting forty from two hundred and ten. Using my degree in mathematics (I’ve actually got one!) I made the answer one hundred and ninety. Woops. Oh well… It didn’t take that long to saw off another twenty centimetres of plank.

I then popped round to B&Q to get eight more planks, some turf and other stuff. Getting those new planks from B&Q’s stockpile to my back garden took the best part of an hour. And as for laying the turf… fortunately I found my garden scissors so I could cut the thing to the required shape, but it took some doing.

 

It was at this point that I thought I’d take a break. It had warmed up quite a bit so I took the dogs out to Great Chart. This morning I’d had five reports that two of my geocaches along that path were missing. One was clearly and obviously visible from ten yards away. The other was missing; in retrospect I should really have taken a spare out with me. Oh well… I shall replace it on our next walk out there.

 

We came home. As the dogs jumped out of the boot I noticed how clean it was. When they’d jumped in there was quite a bit of soil that had fallen off of the turf. As they jumped out there was none. Where did that all go?

 

er indoors TM” boiled up bacon sandwiches, then I got a coat of paint (ronseal) onto the timber planks. I had intended to then start picking up the shingle from my biggest water feature as a prelude to sorting out the chicken wire later in the week. But it was getting cold, and I was fast losing the ability to move. After six hours of effort I was all-in.

Mind you between yesterday and today I’ve got a lot done. I created  a little album of photos which you can see by clicking here. Over the next week or so I hope to do the same to the other half of the garden.

 I really ache now… I shall be going to work tomorrow for a rest.

 

 

9 March 2021 (Tuesday) - Early Shift

 

 

I could have done with a good night’s sleep last night. It was a shame that Sid woke me at three o’clock. I have no idea what he was barking about, but he was certainly making enough noise. And once I finally got him settled, so er indoors TM” set about snoring as though it was going out of fashion.

I gave up trying to sleep shortly after five o’clock and seeing the granola had run out I made some toast and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “Superstore” with the volume turned up so I could hear it over the sound of Sid’s snoring.

 

I used my lap-top to send out birthday wishes. Four friends had birthdays today. All of them are far more sensible and mature than me; the oldest of them is seventeen years younger than me. How do they get to do that? And with little else of note on social media I got ready for work.

 

I eventually got my car out of the tiny space that the cars either side had left. I do wish the council would mark out parking bays as the locals seem utterly unable to park sensibly. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking with the Shadow Minister for Health who was banging on about how unprepared the government had been for the pandemic and how (if elected) he would stage "war games" (like the army does) in order to prepare for future disaster. However the chap rather embarrassed himself when he was forced to admit that influenza, SARS viruses, zika virus and COVID-19 are sufficiently different that all would require very different handling. He seemed to miss the obvious point that the pandemic was totally unexpected, and you can't expect the unexpected.

I'm reminded of a chap I knew twenty years ago who was seconded from a hospital's IT department for a spell in "Strategic Planning". I can remember him telling me how the hospital had been criticised for  being utterly unprepared for something-or-other, and so a task force had been set up to make contingency plans for all sorts of utterly unlikely scenarios. He told me he worked in “a strange land of make-believe where the might have beens play with the ifs”.  I can remember "Russian Invasion" being mentioned, and the chap wouldn't deny that UFOs  hadn't been considered. Eventually the whole thing was abandoned as a waste of time and money because demonstrably (as I just said) you can't expect the unexpected.

 

There was also an interview with that idiot Diane Abbott who was trying to express indignation at the ongoing row sparked by Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Megan Markle. Mind you I say "ongoing row" - there isn't a row.  Prince Harry and Megan Markle have had a whinge, and Buckingham Palace have risen above the petty bickering.

 

I did my bit at work; there was cake. And with bit done and cake eaten I came home. With er indoors TM” taking Pogo to visit “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM, I took Fudge and Treacle round the co-op field. Much as I like all the dogs, there’s no denying we’ve got too many. Walking two is so much easier than walking three. And with dogs walked I had a little look in the garden. But my plans had to be abandoned in favour of gathering turds. Having emptied the back garden of dog dung yesterday, the place was awash with the stuff today. How can four small dogs generate so much poop? Are all the local dogs dumping out there? 

With dung harvested I fed the hounds and dozed in front of the telly until er indoors TM” came home. She boiled up a particularly good bit of dinner which we scoffed, and then I carried on dozing in front of the telly…

 

 

10 March 2021 (Wednesday) - A Petition

 

 

Sid held off barking until half past five this morning, for which I was grateful. I would have been more grateful had he held off longer.

 

Over toast I had a look at the Internet as I do most mornings. It was still there, and I had received an email through it. One of my loyal readers had asked me to sign a petition. A year ago it was all the rage to stand on the doorstep banging the saucepans together and clapping like things possessed supposedly in support of the NHS. It didn’t really achieve much. So now there is a petition to give all NHS workers a decent pay rise. You can sign it by clicking here.  

If anyone is interested I wrote a little rant about the pay of NHS workers which you can read by clicking here.

I sent out some birthday wishes; with not much else going on on-line and rain forecast an hour later, I got dressed and took the dogs out.

 

We went up to the co-op field. As we walked we chatted with a young family the toddler of which was surprised that the dogs weren’t puppies but were fully grown. He was particularly amazed that the oldest dog (Fudge) was also the smallest. We did a circuit of the co-op field and as we walked out of the field we met OrangeHead on her way in. As we chatted the smell of cannabis was rather pungent. There are “dodgy cigarettes” being smoked in the nearby allotments pretty much every time I walk past. Do they grow the wacky-baccy in those allotments?

 

We came home. I cleared the garden of dog dung (again) and thought about making a start in the garden in readiness for tomorrow’s planned work, but the drizzle was getting a bit much. I had a little measure-up outside, then came in, made a cuppa, and wrote up a little CPD. As I wrote CPD so er indoors TM” scrubbed out the seals on my car's doors (whatever they are). She had a theory that dirt in there was causing the problem with my car's alarm.

 

And with seals scrubbed I drove round to B&M bargains. er indoors TM” had told me they had just the shingle stones I needed for tomorrow's planned garden work. I got there and realising that sixty kilograms of stones would pogger a standard trolley I asked the nice lady if they had any flat-bed trollies for customers to use (just like the empty one on which she was leaning). She answered "probably". She didn't actually say "f... off fatso" but she didn't actually need to do so; her tone conveyed the sentiment admirably. Just as I was about to tell her to get knotted she walked off leaving her trolley, so I grabbed it and made off with it. I got three bags of shingle - they were doing a bargain of three bags of any one type for twelve quid. Cheaper than B&Q but next time I shall pay the extra.

 

I popped back home to collect the sandwiches I'd forgotten, then set off up the motorway. As I drove there was a very entertaining play on the radio written by and starring Alexei Sayle. It was about a manager who would do anything at all but make a decision. I've met a few like that over the years...

 

I got to work, and as I walked away from my car so the alarm went off. It did that when I got home yesterday as well. The nice man at the new garage couldn't find anything wrong with it the other week. I've got an appointment with my usual garage for them to have a look at the thing... in three weeks' time.

I went in to work where I had a rather busy late shift which was complicated by antibodies from the Rh and Lewis blood group systems. Blood group antibodies are like buses - you wait for ages and a load come along at once.

 

Once I’d got back home and parked the car so the alarm went off again…

 

 

11 March 2021 (Thursday) - A Day's Annual Leave

 

 

I slept well, and came downstairs to find Sid had been released from the lino-ed area of the house. er indoors TM” had got up to him in the night. Twice.

I made brekkie using our new kettle and toaster. Yesterday our kettle and toaster had been replaced with two pink monstrosities. I prefer the old ones, but I’m keeping quiet. With toast made I had a look at the Internet to what I’d missed overnight. As always I hadn’t missed much. There was an email from the Neighbourhood Watch people. It would seem there’s been a spate of wheelie bins being stolen recently; it wasn’t just ours that had gone missing. Mind you it seemed odd that there was loads of talk of wheelie bins and drainpipes going missing, but not a word about the dead body which was found in Great Chart recently.

 

I got the dogs on to their leads and we went for a little walk. I thought about Kings Wood and Orlestone but in the end we just did a quick loop out to the co-op field and back again. Pogo barked at pretty much everything he could find to bark at, but other than that the walk was relatively uneventful.

 

With walk walked I drove my car a little closer to home so I could unload the bags of shingle I’d bought yesterday. And with bags unloaded I carried them out to the back garden (one at a time) listening for the car’s alarm which chose not to go off this morning.

I then decided to ignore the weather forecast and to crack on in the garden. Our old edging stones have shifted and moved over the years, and I decided to replace the lot with small sleeper-like planks of wood. Over the course of last Sunday and Monday I got the left-hand side of the garden done, and today I made a start on the right-hand side. Scraping shingle back, digging a little trench, putting planks into place, screwing them together, putting shingle and soil back… So easy to type; so much hard work to do. Whilst I was at it I gave the shingle around the biggest water feature a serious seeing-to. The chicken wire under the gravel was poking up in places and, not wanting the dogs to hurt themselves, I raked up all the gravel, put down some think grilles to hold the chicken wire down, and covered that all over too. I also had a stroke of genius which involved relocating all the red chippings from around the monkey-puzzle tree to make the garden look a tad more symmetrical. I would have liked to have got more done today, but by mid-afternoon I was at the stage where it hurt to move.

It only rained once whilst I worked, and that was for less than a minute. As I worked so Fudge maintained his vigil at the pond; he does love watching the fish.. It was warmer today; warm enough so that he didn’t spend the day shivering. And Treacle “helped” by tiddling on the new turf that I laid on Monday.

As I do, I took a few photos as I worked.

 

The next phase is very straight-forward (he laughed) and should only take about two to three hours. I need some more red garden chippings for that though. Perhaps a trip to B&Q on the way to work tomorrow? After that is sorted I need to clean out the pond filter and get that going again for this year. And I also need to look at the area behind the pond. I have no idea what I will do there, but I need to do something. I also need to do something with the gravelled area by the shed. There’s a water feature in a whisky barrel which is looking rather tired. I have all sorts of ideas to make a large cascade, but the easiest (and probably cheapest) option would be to simply replace the whisky barrel.

You would never believe that I actually hate gardening with a passion. 

 

er indoors TM” set off to visit “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM. I settled in front of the telly and didn’t move. Mainly because I couldn’t…

 

 

12 March 2021 (Friday) - Another Late Shift

 

 

Sid was silent last night which was a result. It was a shame that I had to physically fight with Pogo to get any bed space though. After quite a tussle I picked him up (which takes some doing) and put him on the floor. He trotted round to er indoors TM” side of the bed where he jumped up and sat on her. Having got myself a space of my own on which to sleep, I let them fight it out.

 

Although Sid had been quiet overnight, he’d been productive. I gathered his turds, flushed them, and made myself some brekkie – once I’d cleaned out the kettle. The new kettle generates an impressive amount of limescale. And the toaster… it seems to have two settings: “gently warm the bread” and “incinerate”.

I sat down with a cup of hot limescale and a couple of slices of charcoal and peered into the Internet. Five Facebook friends were having birthdays today; I sent a birthday video to most of them. There wasn’t much else happening on the Internet this morning, so I took the dogs out.

 

We went up to the co-op field and back again. As we walked Pogo was an absolute nightmare, snarling and growling at every other dog we met. Eventually I thought I’d try something I’d read on-line. If you have a dog which is being overly aggressive you flip him on his back and hold him upside-down. This is a submissive position for a dog to be in and the idea is the dog becomes submissive rather than aggressive. It probably looked terrible to any passers-by, but it seemed to work.

We came home where I gathered another bumper crop of dog turds. Yesterday the gravel had got rather grubby as I’d moved it about, but the overnight rain had washed it clean(er). I got the ultra-violet bulb out of the pond filter, came in and made a cuppa.

I wrote up a little CPD, and just as the hailstorm outside reached its peak I suddenly remembered I’d left the shed door open. Woops.

 

With utter drivel playing on the radio I turned it off and listened to music instead as I drove up the motorway. I got to Aylesford Aquatic centre where the new woman behind the till boiled my piss. I needed a new ultra-violet light bulb for the pond's filter. As I've had problems getting the right bulb in the past I always take the old one in, hand it over and say "can I have a new one of this please". With a face like a slapped arse the woman asked if the bulb was fifteen or twenty-five. I had no idea what the numbers meant; I told her so. She loudly sighed, looked at the bulb, and announced to the world that she needed her glasses. I too need glasses, and because of that I wear them. I thought better about saying so, though. The woman found her glasses, grimaced through them at the bulb and put a new one on the counter. In the past the nice man in the shop has disposed of my old bulb; I thought better about asking her to do so.

I would go elsewhere in future, but there aren't many pond shops conveniently located.

I drove on to Sainsburys which was rather busy, but I got a sandwich from them with no problems at all.

 

I got to work. I'd parked the car twice this morning already without alarm issues. I parked in the car park, walked about fifty yards away from the car and waited for a while in case the alarm went off. After a minute or so I was accosted by the security people who wanted to know what I was doing. They'd received reports of a suspicious-looking bloke loitering in the car park. Proving my bona-fide took a while, but it gave me something to do whilst I established that the alarm wasn't going to go off. The security chap said he would give me a phone call if it went off during the afternoon. that was nice of him. Mind you (call me old -fashioned if you will) isn't it a sad indictment of our society that nowadays every hospital has a security team.

 

Work was work. On my last late shift I was plagued by antibodies of the Rh and Lewis blood group systems. This evening it was the turn of the Duffy blood group system ably assisted by the vagaries of the Cw antigen. Perhaps a tad esoteric, but if anyone ever tries to tell you that blood group O Neg is a universally compatible donor, don't believe a word of it.

 

My car is now parked outside Dan-Dan’s house. She says she’ll give me a ring if the alarm goes off. I hope it don’t.

 

 

13 March 2021 (Saturday) - Lazy Day

 

 

Sid started barking at half past six this morning. Most people wouldn’t have been impressed; bearing in mind the last week’s wake-up calls, I saw that as something of a result. Doubly so when I came downstairs to find the place was turd-free. I chivvied him outside, made some brekkie (as best I could with the new toaster) and watched a couple of episodes of “Superstore” before seeing what the Internet was up to. Pretty much nothing at all had happened on Facebook overnight. There was not a single squabble to be seen so I played Candy Crush for a while.

I popped up the road to fetch the car, then er indoors TM” and I (and a boot full of dogs) drove out to Wittersham. er indoors TM” had an errand to run there. As she ran her errand I waited with the dogs and tried not to start at the teenage girls walking past, Were they *really* walking the streets in they pyjamas?

The original plan had been to then drive on and walk the dogs along the military canal for a bit, but the wind was picking up. So instead we drove up to Appledore and had a little walk round Park Wood. Six years ago (8 May 2015) I walked round the woods with a load of friends and remembered it being a good place for a short stroll, so we had a look. There’s no denying it was on the muddy side, but the dogs liked the chance to have a run.

I took a few photos as we walked.

 

We came home. er indoors TM” set about scrubbing the dogs whilst I put the new bulb into the fish pond filter, then cleaned out the filter. Oh, it was rank. When I turned the filter off last Autumn I made the schoolboy error of not cleaning the thing out then, but leaving it to fester.

With filter scrubbed I reactivated the filter. I’m not sure the bulb is working – I shall have a look later. It is easier to see after dark. I did think about carrying on with the garden edges, but realistically even the preparation would have taken an hour or so and (quite frankly) I couldn’t be bothered.

 

I found myself falling asleep in front of the telly, and dozed until er indoors TM” boiled up some scran. I then had a minor disaster in which I managed to destroy a glass or two whilst getting a glass from the cupboard. Realistically we probably have between three and four times the number of glasses that we actually need.

Having salvaged one glass I poured out a pint of McEwan’s Champion (7.3% abv) and tuned in to the family Zoom bash. A game of Blankety-Blank and three rounds of bingo. Not a bad way to spend the evening…

 

 

14 March 2021 (Sunday) - Working in the Garden

 

Sid didn’t start shouting until half past seven this morning, and he “did his stuff” outside. I saw that as a minor victory. Yesterday er indoors TM” showed me the “defrost” button on the toaster – that was less successful this morning.

I sat down with my defrosted warm bread and peered into the depths of the Internet. I saw I had a friend request on Facebook from Susi Jackson who told me she is a “bondage mistress” and had some rather racy photos on her Facebook page. I reported her to the Facebook Feds.

Four friends had birthdays today; all got a birthday message. And that was pretty much all that had happened on the Internet overnight, so I sat and played Candy Crush Soda Saga for a while – Fudge was asleep next to me and I didn’t want to disturb him.

 

Eventually I ran out of lives in the game, so I got dressed and went out into the garden to finish off the edging project. I had what I thought was a rather straightforward bit to do, but what I thought was straightforward wasn’t. The existing shingled bed was fifteen centimetres adrift from one end to the other. That took some serious sorting. And matters weren’t helped by my having a stroke of genius. The battery on my electric screwdriver is past its best, so I had this (frankly brilliant) idea to stick the screwdriver attachment thingy into where the drill goes on my electric drill. Let’s just say there wasn’t any blood, but that was more through luck than judgement.

After three hours I put the final plank in place. I knew that starting at both ends and aiming for the middle meant that I was going to have an odd gap to fill, and I did. Thirteen centimetres *was* an odd length but I managed to get that into a corner which I will hide with something from Whelan’s.

I seemed to have several odd measurements this morning. I suspect my spirit level’s having acquired a second bubble hasn’t helped.

 

I got er indoors TM” to do me some toast for dinner. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on her lovely new toaster, but is toast supposed to be floppy? As I scoffed floppy toast I got an email from the nice people at Credit Karma. My credit rating has gone down four points this week. I wonder why? Perhaps running up that vet bill didn’t help. Mind you that is all on credit – I’ve not actually paid it yet.

 

I then drove round to see “My Boy TM”. He wanted my ladder out of his way, and he had some garden ornaments he was going to chuck out. I had those !

Needing some shingle I went to B&Q only to find they didn’t have any, so I drove on to the garden centre instead. I got a huge trolley, set off in the general direction of the gravels and shingles, and got into a squabble with one of the normal people. Just as I was minding my own business some twat stopped me and told me that I should be wearing a uniform. I commented that it was a long time since I’ve worn a unform. Ten years ago I had a scout leader uniform, and forty years ago I had a uniform when I was in the Boys Brigade. This idiot wasn’t impressed, didn’t like my attitude and wanted to know where my manager was. I told him that I had no idea, but (to the best of my knowledge) she has an apartment somewhere in Tunbridge Wells. Finally he realised that I wasn’t a member of the garden centre staff, and then (rather rudely) complained that I’d been wasting his time.

 

I came home and unloaded the car. That took some doing. The trouble with having a low-maintenance garden is that all the low-maintenance stuff is heavy.

I then got the pressure-washer out to clean up four slabs that I hope to use tomorrow. And in cleaning four slabs I turned the garden into a swamp.

And then I had a look at the pond filter. Yesterday I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if the new bulb was working. It wasn’t. When it works there is a glow that you can see when it is dark. There was no glow yesterday. So I took it all apart, put it all back together again, and there was a glow. That was a result, but there was also a leak. I took it all apart a second time. On the third time I got both glow and no leak.

 

At that point I’d been working for seven hours and decided it was time to stop. I had a cuppa and soe of the rather good cake that er indoors TM” had boiled up before taking the dogs on a little trip round the co-op field. Treacle walked. Pogo pulled like a train. And Fudge straggled so much it was like dragging a brick. 

We came home, had a particularly good bit of dinner and watched last week’s Celebrity Bake Off. We would have then watched more telly, but the Internet wasn’t having it at all.

 

 

15 March 2021 (Monday) - Sky Q

 

 

I slept like a log last night, and once I’d cleared Sid’s turds and made (floppy) toast I watched an episode of “Superstore”. Overnight the Internet had come back to life. It had packed up yesterday evening and having no Internet is a pain when pretty much everything on the telly is streamed.

I had used my mobile data to access Sky’s trouble-finding website which assured me there was no issues with their broadband even though it wasn’t working. This morning several people had mentioned issues with Sky’s internet connection which leave me wondering if they don’t know when their network has gone belly-up, or if they were lying about it.

I had an email this morning from the chap who is doing mum’s funeral this week. I shall think of a few things to send to him… and I shall find the contact details of the local Catholic  bishop and suggest he has his priests also do some research before conducting funerals. The last two Catholic funerals I attended (father-in-law and brother-in-law) were rather embarrassing in that the priest running the show got so many family details wrong.

 

The nice man from Sky phoned – he was delivering the Sky-Q box. He outside but couldn’t park his van. Part of me wanted to tell him to take the Sky-Q box back to the shop as over the weekend we’d been bombarded with texts and emails saying that he would deliver the thing and shout instructions though the window on how to set it all up. We’d already cancelled them two months ago as I wasn’t prepared to do this. Telling us that the chap was not allowed in the house with only two days’ notice wasn’t very impressive. But er indoors TM” said she didn’t mind doing it.

I got the dogs onto their leads and drove them out to Great Chart thereby creating a parking space for the Sky man, and left him and er indoors TM” to it.

 

I took the dogs out to Great Chart where we walked up to the river and back. The last time I was there I checked up on two on my geocaches. One was fine; the other one was missing. This morning I saw the supposedly missing one was hanging from a bush in plain sight (exactly where I’d put the thing last year).

Just as I got back to the car so er indoors TM” sent a text. The Sky-Q was all done; the nice man *had* come into the house and set it all up himself.

 

I came home, unloaded the dogs, and drove round to the paving shop by the tip where I got six bags of Scottish pebbles, and then came home and carried on finishing off the lawn edging. After two hours of (back-breaking) effort I’d got most of the edging project done, but the sky was looking black. Bearing in mind the garden edging project was something to keep me out of mischief for this week’s holiday, and also bearing in mind I’ve done most of the hard work already, at that point I gave up in the garden for today. Instead I set about ironing shirts and trousers. 

 

er indoors TM” sorted a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching stuff downloaded onto the Sky-Q box. We can run Netflix and Amazon all through that thing. Supposedly. The Amazon don’t work but will come with the next software update… or so it says on the Internet.

 

 

16 March 2021 (Tuesday) - Rainy Day Off

 

 

Sid had a barking fit shortly before three o’clock this morning. er indoors TM” had been down to him once; I came down and sat with him for twenty minutes. He soon shut up and went to sleep whilst I watched an episode of “Superstore”.

 

With Sid snoring I went back to bed, and slept through till eight o’clock. Cranking the toaster to full power I got non-floppy toast. It wasn’t overly crisp, but it was (at least) not floppy. As I scoffed it so I shared the crusts with Fudge.

Not much was happening on the Internet this morning. One or two friends had posted twee memes. These things annoy me. The people who post about “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” have rarely been handed lemons by life.

Two friends had birthdays today – I sent out birthday messages.

In between these, my Facebook feed was filled with adverts for some brewery in the Midlands who were asking about thirty quid (including postage) for five and a half pints of their beer. Tesco does a decent variety of ales and you can get more than five and a half pints for less than a tenner. I’m all for supporting small businesses, but only within reason. Perhaps if this brewery spent less money on the amount of adverts they put on Facebook they might be able to reduce their overheads.

 

The rain rather put me off carrying on in the garden. Instead I popped to Tesco to get a pair of black shoes for next week’s funeral. I didn’t have a pair of “posh” black shoes; I’ve been wearing trainers/walking shoes to work for a couple of years now.

Tesco was much the same as ever. Despite all the signs saying that people must shop on their own, pretty much everyone had taken a buddy with them, and the “children from hell” were out in full force. Had either of the fruits of my loin had screaming fits in the supermarket when they were small, they would have been given something to scream about. They knew it, and so rarely had screaming fits in supermarkets.

I also got a bottle of red wine; I took a while choosing. Have you ever read the tasting notes on bottles of red wine? “”Goes well with boef au poubelle”, or “the ideal accompaniment to poulet en diarrhée”. They *never* refer to anything that real people actually have for their dinner.

 

The weather forecast had predicted a two-hour lull in the rain at mid-day, and it was right. So I took the dogs out to Great Chart where we walked up to the railway line and back again. Or (to be precise) Treacle, Pogo and I walked up to the railway line and back again. Fudge bumbled along at his own pace and got maybe a third of the way there, and we collected him on our way back.

Fudge is a serious worry at the moment. With his spondylosis, chronic renal failure and recent pancreatitis he isn’t a well dog. But assessing how ill he is takes some doing. Was he going so slowly because the walk was far too much for him, or was he going slowly because he wanted to bimble about at his own pace rummaging in the hedgerows? Take his brekkie this morning. I was worried sick when he turned his nose up at two different bowls of food, but he then scoffed the crusts off of my toast and yummed up a bowl of “Cesar”. There was no lack of appetite; he was just being very fussy.

 

We all came home, and I had a little look at the accounts. I’ve revamped my Excel spread sheet with which I count my pennies. And being a particularly mean sort of person I like to account for every penny.

As I fiddled about so the postman delivered the council tax bill for the next year. It has gone up by five per cent. Interestingly I’m (supposedly) only getting a one per cent pay rise this year since the Minister for Health says that is all the country can afford. I might just tell Ashford Council that they can piss off as one per cent is all that I can afford…

 

er indoors TM” set off to spend a couple of hours with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM. Rather than getting in their way I spent a couple of hours seeing to the ironing. It took some seeing to.

er indoors TM” came home with Chinese which we scoffed whilst watching Celebrity Bake-Off. It was rather good, and I had actually heard of two of the so-called celebrities on it. 

Hopefully it won’t be raining tomorrow….

 

 

17 March 2021 (Wednesday) - Another Rainy Day

 

 

I got up to Sid at about three o’clock, and watched an episode of “Superstore”  whilst I was up. Actually doing something when I am awake in the night seemed to give me better sleep. Strange!

 

I got up shortly after seven o’clock, and today the toaster cooked the bottom half of the toast, but not the top. What was that all about?

The internet was rather dull this morning; mind you I was bombarded with adverts from a brewery in Wakefield who were knocking out tins of stout at over a fiver a tin. I suppose these micro-breweries must get custom from their adverts on Facebook. I find I can get the beers from many of the micro-breweries from local shops on the way to work, or from the off-licence in Tenterden, or from the breweries own shops. But (quite frankly) all the time they are charging three times the price of comparable beers in Tesco I’m not going to be very inclined to spend money with them.

 

I took the dogs for a little walk. We went out to Great Chart again, and unlike yesterday Fudge kept up and we went a lot further. As we walked we met a young mother with one child in a papoose-carrier, one in a push chair, one toddling about, and a dog the size of a horse pulling like a thing possessed. In order to avert chaos I blew the whistle to get my three hounds out of her way. And (as is always the case when it works) the whistle training was rather impressive to see. However it rather upset the young mother. She was obviously near the end of her tether when she asked me how I got my dogs so well trained. Her dog (so she told me) was a nightmare. It turned out that no one had told her how to train a dog. It is easy - play on their greed. Blow the whistle and make them sit when you give them a treat and it doesn’t take long for them to come to you and sit when they hear a whistle. They are expecting a treat, and as long as they keep getting treats (most of the time), the whistle-thing works. Or that is it works all the time they want a treat. However if whatever mayhem they are causing is more enjoyable than a treat, then you are stuffed. I didn’t tell her that last bit.

 

We came home, and I spent half an hour moving the old garden edging slabs through the house. Having laid new lawn edges I was left with forty-eight redundant stone edges. Wayne and Lyn had said they could use them, and I was glad that the things would be getting a new home. Moving them through the house and then into their car was one of those jobs that was far easier to write about than to do.

It only took an hour or so.

If any of my loyal readers would like some topsoil I’ve got some of that going free to a good home as well…

 

Pausing only briefly for a cuppa and a chocolate muffin I then got some ronseal onto the sawn edges of the planks I’d put down over the last week or so. That was only the first item on a frankly mega itinerary of stuff I had planned to do in the garden today. But just as I was finishing that job so the heavens opened. So much for garden, eh?

 

As I pootled on the Internet (over a cuppa) I read that er indoors TM” was now eligible for her COVID-19 jab. The NHS website offered her an appointment in Alton and gave a postcode that was ninety-six miles from home. But clicking on the “map” option of the website gave a location in a field four miles away in Brabourne.

Equally ridiculous was the conversation I then had with the pet insurance people. I’d downloaded all the forms to claim for Fudge’s recent illness and had left them with the vet on Friday 5 March. The people at the vet’s were going to complete the forms and post them on. The pet insurance people had no record of any claim… and said they weren’t likely to have one either. Apparently they only accept claims via their on-line portal or via email. I shouldn’t have used any forms, and they were at a loss to explain what the forms were doing on their website. I got an email address from them and asked the vet to email copies of the claim forms to them.

Let’s hope they stump up, eh? 

 

I then spent the rest of the day (about eight hours) sitting on my bum watching the Sky-Q’s offerings. All rather entertaining…  Hopefully my phone will be working by the morning – it would seem to have packed up.

 

 

18 March 2021 (Thursday) - To Whelan's

 

 

Sid was quiet in the night, but Fudge woke me whimpering at half past six. I helped him off the bed and he ran downstairs having something of a “potty emergency”.

 

I watched an episode of “Superstore” then on seeing that my phone was still not working I spent a very frustrating half an hour trying to contact Sky. Looking back I wonder if I made a mistake going with Sky. They are fine all the time things work. But  when there are issues they are utterly uncontactable. Websites about contact numbers just take you round and round in circles through the same unhelpful help pages. They seem to have made a corporate decision that all their help will be via help pages and that they don’t want you talking to them.

Eventually er indoors TM” hit on the idea of phoning the “we’re leaving you” number. It was a shame that they were closed. They opened at half past eight. I eventually got through to someone who was actually rather helpful. After a little messing about the chap suggested he send out a new sim card and wondered if I would like a new phone. They had a rather good offer and bearing in mind my current phone is five years old and has (quite possibly) had it I thought that maybe a new phone might be a plan. If all else fails I can phone the same number I phoned this morning. In theory the new phone should arrive tomorrow. I wonder if the new sim card will too? 

I drove round to collect “My Boy TM”. We both wanted to get stuff from Whelan’s. Their garden ornaments are rather good, rather cheap (compared to other places) and rather heavy. Today was the only day we could both be able to help each other.
We went via McDonalds in Bobbing where (once we’d got our McBrekkie) we had to sit in the car to scoff it. I scoffed McBrekkie; “My Boy TM” fed much of his to the sparrows. It was quite fun watching them. 

We got to Whelan’s. The first fruit of my loin got a rather impressive tea light holder, a totem pole and some paving slabs. I got some ornaments, a badger family, a little something to cover up the bit where I bodged the garden edging the other day, and a hedgehog. I had this inkling that Karl and Tracey might like the hedgehog, and as we were almost going past their house on the way home I thought we might drop it off. My plan was to quietly park up and using ninja-like stealth I would pop the hedgehog on their lawn and slip away like a shadow leaving them wondering where the hedgehog came from.

I think it fair to say that my ninja-like stealth needs some work. I got caught red-handed.

We came home where we unloaded all of my bits into my garden, then took the surplus garden edging planks and “My Boy TM”’s stuff round to his place. Perhaps we might have pushed the lock-down rules a tad today, but those garden ornaments were on the heavy side. I would certainly have struggled on my own. 

I came home via B&Q where I got some stuff to affect a bodge to not-so-nice-next-door’s shed. Yesterday I’d noticed that the fence panel laying on their shed had all but rotted away, and when I gave it an experimental prod it collapsed exposing a rather knackered door laying up the side of their shed. “My Boy TM” gave that door a prod as we unloaded today, and that door collapsed too. There was another rotten door laying sideways behind that which looks as though it might stand up to a fart being passed in the general vicinity… but only just. However that rather flimsy rotting door concealed a hole in the side of the shed big enough for me to climb through.

I cleared up most of the collapsed rotten wood and bodged a fence panel into place. It will hold the last remnants of sideways door in place for a little while. I can’t really fix it any better without hammering some sort of sheet into place over the hole, but I don’t dare hammer anything into their shed without her say-so.When I next see not-so-nice-next-door I shall ask her if she wants me to repair the shed. I wonder if she will answer me. 

With the hole in the shed bodged I painted up the frog ornament who is going to hide my plank-measuring mishap, and then took the dogs round to the co-op field for a little walk. I had planned to then carry on in the garden, but (yet again) rain stopped play.

 

Using the Netflix bit of our new Sky-Q box I watched a film. “Juliet Naked” was a British film, much of which was filmed in Thanet. I recognised quite a few places that I’ve been to. I do like that in a film. However familiarity with the location didn’t really help to prop up a rather predicable plot which has been done to death many time before in other (and frankly better) films.

 

We’ve updated the software on the Sky-Q box. According to the instructions this would allow us to watch Amazon Prime stuff through the thing.

It didn’t work…

 

 

19 March 2021 (Friday) - New Phone

 

 

I slept like a log. I woke shortly after half past six which (for me) was a rather good night’s sleep. I came downstairs and stopped at the bottom step from where I conducted a little survey of all of Sid’s turds before gathering them up.

I chivvied Sid outside, had a shave then made some toast. Even at full power and with the “defrost” button activated, the toast only comes out lightly browned, and the top inch was just warm bread. I had a minor altercation with er indoors TM” on the matter. She is adamant that the new toaster stays because it looks pretty. Its ability to toast bread is very much secondary to its ability to look pretty.

I watched an episode of “Superstore”, then there was a knock on the door. As is always the way when there is a knock on the door, all the dogs went absolutely bat-shit-mental. It was the delivery man with my new phone. In all the excitement of getting the dogs away from the door I inadvertently found a turd that I had missed earlier, and with phone signed for I then spent a few minutes swabbing up trodden-in pug poop.

 

Using er indoors TM”’s phone (after a little while) I got through to the nice lady at Sky who talked me through setting up the new phone. Or tried to… The chap I spoke with yesterday had an Indian accent and I had no problems understanding him. The nice lady I spoke with today was a Geordie and I understood maybe one word in five. But I was glad for her help. I don’t think I would have managed without. Mind you it was rather worrying to have the phone announcing “Just a few minutes” whilst nothing was seemingly happening. With the nice lady’s help I got the thing working at a rather basic level, set it doing some re-organisation, and took the dogs round the block and up to the co-op field for a walk.

We had a good walk; we met absolutely no one at all, and consequently had no episodes at all. Just the way we like it.

 

With walk walked I then sat on the sofa and spent a couple of hours updating apps and entering passwords on the new phone. I have a list on my lap-top which has all my passwords for “fart simulator” and “dalek voice changer”, but unfortunately not the passwords I need for Amazon or Google or Facebook or anything even remotely useful.

I eventually got the phone to the stage where it wanted to update its software, so I left it to it and went into the garden.

It seemed ironic that he only day this week that didn’t have rain was the one day I had something other than gardening to be doing.

 

Have I ever mentioned that I hate gardening? Today was a good example of why. With not-so-nice-next-door’s fence having collapsed there was no effective border to the shingle at the far side of the pond. I have some huge concrete cores that were anchors for the fence posts in years gone by that are far too heavy for me to move on my own. I heaved three of them the entire length of the garden and used those to mark a border. I then levelled up shingle and put out some of the garden ornaments, and then had a look at one of our potted plants.

We have three potted plants in the garden. (I’m not counting er indoors TM”’s  weeds). Together with pot and soil, each of these probably weigh more than I do. Two of them make a nice surround to the largest water feature; the other just drops its leaves all over the shingle and makes a mess. So I heaved this one off of the shingle, and spent a little while dragging it here, there and thither until I found somewhere that it looked OK.

I then had a stroke of genius. On 7 September last year I went to Tesco in Pembury where (to quote my good self) “I also got some grey flower pots which might well be ideal for a rockery project I have in mind”.

I have absolutely no idea what that rockery project might have been; those flower pots have been kicking round the garden (in my way) for six months. So I used those, the left over bags of shingle from Monday’s trip to the stone merchant, and two of the small garden ornaments I got from Whelan’s yesterday to make a couple of garden rock-pot-thingies. I thought they looked OK.

I then had a bit of a tidy-up and a sweep-around and felt knackered. Several hours of hard work in the garden and for all that the garden looks OK, I would have to point out the changes that have taken place over the last week.

 

I came in and carried on fiddling with the new phone. Whilst I fiddled I put an advert on Facebook to see if anyone wanted any of the soil I’ve accumulated. Over the years I’ve acquired quite a lot of soil into buckets and pots. I’ve no use for it, and I’m told that the local tip charges if you want to get rid of soil.

Within minutes I had a reply from someone who wanted soil. He arrived within the hour and took a dustbin full of the stuff, and I’ve put a load more into the front garden in the hope he will come back for more.

How easy it is to type that…

 

I then spent nearly two hours transferring the mobile banking app to my new phone, and an age connecting my smartwatch.

The new phone doesn’t seem to be charging...

 

 

20 March 2021 (Saturday) - Driving Planks of Wood About

 

 

After the exertions of heaving stuff round the garden yesterday, the excitement of the new phone and a bottle of red wine it is hardly surprising that I slept like a log.

 

I tried to make some toast, and as I scoffed warm bread for brekkie I peered into the Internet. Not a lot was happening. The (so-called) “Purely 70s” Facebook group was filled with people saying “Good Morning” as it is every morning. That is an odd group – there is very rarely any mention of fifty years ago (which is the group’s subject) but there is a lot of “Good Morning” every day.

There was a mild squabble (but only a mild one) simmering on one of the Sparks Facebook fan pages. Some chap had given a review of the album “Whomp That Sucker” and it came as something of a revelation to him that this album is now forty years old. He seemed surprised to find himself corrected by people who had bought the album (and listened to it many times) long before he was born.

I then played “Candy Crush” until I got bored with it.

 

I took the dogs for a little walk round the co-op field where there was a little episode. My three hounds got into a little squabble with another bigger dog. I blew the whistle and they all came running back to me. As is the case when I blow the whistle, they get a treat (that’s how the whistle works - as Pavlov worked out over a hundred years ago). Seeing my three were getting a treat, the idiot woman with the other dog marched her dog up to us in the hope he too would get a treat.

 

We came home. After a little to-ing and fro-ing I got through to Sky on the phone and got them to remove the Sky Kids bit from my TV package. Apparently I got the Kids package when we first got Sky TV twenty-odd years ago, and I’ve never thought to remove it in the meantime. That will pay for half the extra cost of my new mobile.

I tried to speak to the dog insurance people about the claim for Fudge’s ongoing expenses, and also to the house contents insurance people about the new phone, but both of them only work Monday to Friday, and only nine till five on those days. Can you believe it? 

 

I then popped round to help “My Boy TM”; he was completing the end of his garden project but needed some more planking from B&Q. Having the longest car in the family it usually falls to me to transport the long stuff about. And whilst I was at it, I helped with some of the heavy lifting in his garden.

He’s put up a little platform using decking planks. That’s given me an idea for sorting out the frankly dreadful area by the shed in our garden…

 

 

21 March 2021 (Sunday) - Last Day of Holiday

 

 

Having been clouting er indoors TM” every twenty minutes throughout the night I gave up trying to sleep shortly after seven o’clock and made myself some brekkie. I scoffed it whist watching an episode of “Superstore”, did a COVID-19 test (negative) and carried on struggling with geo-puzzles.

There’s no denying that I’m getting cross with these particular geo-puzzles. There is a series of puzzle geocaches near where we are planning to go on holiday (in Lincolnshire) in a few months’ time. Before we can actually find any of the film pots we have to solve a puzzle to work out where each one is. Over the last few mornings and evenings I‘ve had a go at all of them. I’ve solved four, one is a crossword that isn’t working, one (I think) is a griddler, and I’m on the point of giving up on the rest. I’m just wondering if we might be better off finding somewhere else to go for a walk whilst we are on holiday. There are two sorts of people who hide geocaches; those who want them found, and those who do not.  The person who hid this lot is definitely in the latter group.

After two fruitless hours I gave up. (er indoors TM” spent all afternoon working on them  to no avail).

 

We drove round to the abode of “My Boy TM”.  er indoors TM” and Cheryl had surplus flowers to return to the florist, and the first fruit of my loin was buying more heavy shopping. Whilst the girls did flowers, I was driven to Wickes where we got a job lot of compost. Compost is surprisingly heavy stuff.

 

With compost composted I came home and loaded a whole load of rubbish into my car in readiness for tomorrow’s tip run. With the remains of rotted fences, flower pots that have rusted through, garden recliners that haven’t reclined for years and all sorts of tat I now have a dustbin lorry rather than a car.

It only took an hour and a half to load up.

It was a shame that er indoors TM” came home and caught me when I was having a lazy five minutes at the pond with the dogs. I rather enjoyed having five minutes at the pond with the dogs. They are very funny when at the pond – they all shout at me until I feed the Koi, and then they go frantic trying to get the food for themselves.

 

We then took the dogs up to the co-op field where Fudge utterly disgraced himself. Despite being incredibly ill, he found the energy to chase after other dogs and play “dog piggy backs”.

I wish he wouldn’t.


er indoors TM” made a light lunch of coffee and the beer-bread she’d baked yesterday (which was rather good) and we scoffed it whilst slobbing on front of the telly watching a “Four In A Bed” extravaganza. I do like that show. Today one of the B&B proprietors were constantly banging on about their corporate background, wouldn’t stop spouting management catchphrases and SWAT analyses… and their B&B was frankly crap. I can’t help but feel there is a place for management-catchphrase-spouting-types and that is in cloud-cuckoo land.

 

I then had a look at the credit card receipts in my wallet. Being a rather mean sort of person I account for every penny that I spend. Regular readers of this drivel will know that over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working in the garden quite a bit. It came as a shock when I worked out that in the last three weeks I’ve spent almost four hundred quid on the garden.

I really must chase up the vet insurance people to see how much (if anything) I can get back on the (over) nine hundred quid I’ve spent on Fudge’s pancreatitis. But what is money for, if not to squander foolishly? If I didn’t spend money on garden and dog I’d only buy more Lego.

 

 

22 March 2021 (Monday) - Late Shift

 

 

I slept like a log last night, finally waking after nine hours asleep. I made some brekkie, watched an episode of “Superstore”, got dressed quietly, and then shouted “who wants to come for a walk?”. Three dogs came thundering down the stairs, and we went for an early lap of the co-op field. As we walked there we met several young families on the way to school. One young mother was sensible and was jogging alongside her cycling child. But I felt sorry for all the other cycling children. It is difficult to cycle slowly. Very difficult to cycle at walking pace. And incredibly difficult to cycle at the pace of a young mother who is busy fiddling on her phone as she waddles oh-so-slowly up the street. So many mothers were periodically glancing up from their phones to shriek at their children who simply weren’t able to cycle slow enough.

We got to the co-op field, had a little bimble, and came home again.

 

I did have an idea that a walk before brekkie would give the dogs (and particularly Fudge) a bit of an appetite. Pogo and Treacle scoffed well; Fudge didn’t really.

By then the insurance companies had opened their phone lines. I tried chasing up the insurance claim for Fudge’s recent episode. As always the given phone number took me through to entirely the wrong company. I got transferred and put on hold for a few minutes.  And as is always the case with pretty much every company I phone, the recorded message wouldn’t shut up about a web portal which was utterly useless to me. I eventually got through to someone who said they had no record of any claim from our vet.

I phoned our vet who checked their records and told me they had emailed it all on the seventeenth.

I shall try again later in the week.

 

I then phoned the house contents insurance people to see if my new phone was covered on the insurance. I navigated their “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” and as I waited for a human to answer the phone the recorded message kept on about how I could do pretty much anything I wanted to do via their website. I had a go; I couldn’t.

In the end it turned out that my phone wasn’t covered, and if I added it, the excess I would have to pay wouldn’t be worth it.

 

I then popped round to the tip for my booked appointment. The place was something of a shambles, to say the least. With cars queuing back far too far up the street, the place could probably have taken triple the amount of trade at any one time. And to add insult to injury I was told to park about as far as was possible to park from where most of my rubbish needed to go.

I came home, grabbed Fudge, and popped him to the vet to go on their scales. His weight has held constant over the last week, which surprised me.

I then wasted ten minutes trying to get phone insurance elsewhere, but failed. No one seems to have heard of my brand of phone.

 

I set off for work, and drove up the motorway. I say "motorway"; with this Operation Brock being a permanent fixture there isn't a motorway between Ashford and Maidstone any more; it is just a dual carriageway. And a rather slow one at that.

I took a little diversion to the petrol station where I got lunch, and had a little laugh at one of the normal people. Some idiot had driven past my car to use the petrol pump in front of mine, but was edging their car to and fro since they couldn't actually get their car anywhere near the pump. I drove round them, and as I passed I watched her drive right back to where my car had been, and then drive forward. Her impatience had achieved nothing. As I drove past I could hear the row being shouted between her and her partner.

And so to work where nothing much had changed in the week since I was last there. In fact the most exciting part of the shift was tuning my new phone into the works wi-fi.

It is a really dull day when the highlight is a trip to the tip and setting up wi-fi. But (at least) there was cake.

 

 

23 March 2021 (Tuesday) - Second Jab

 

 

Last night er indoors TM” told me that setting five on the toaster gave her the perfectly cooked slice of toast. This morning setting five on the toaster gave me a slightly warmed (but utterly untoasted) piece of bread. I ran the warm bread through the toaster again. And again. Eventually it developed a brownish hue, and realising that was the best I was going to get I cut my losses and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “Superstore”. As I scoffed Sid sat with me. Sometimes he wants attention, but mostly he just sleeps.

I then sparked up my lap-top, but with absolutely nothing having happened on Facebook, no one having a birthday, and no emails at all I got dressed and set off on my pre-work mission.

 

I drove round to “My Boy TM”'s house where Cheryl was waiting for me. I picked up the flowers for tomorrow's funeral and drove them down to Hastings. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some General or other about proposed changes to the Army. I have no idea about whether or not the chap was any good as a General, but he would make a marvellous manager.  Apparently the "nature of war" has remained unchanged over the years but the "culture of conflict" is fluid.

What does any of that mean?

There was also an interview with the Minister of Health who also talked a load of rubbish; relying on catchphrases rather than saying anything of note. And then they wheeled on some top scientist who was rather excited because quarks aren't behaving as they should. My dogs don't behave as they should, but I get pissed off rather than excited, and no one puts me on prime time radio.

 

I stopped off at my Dad's; I had some paperwork he needed for insurance stuff. We had a cuppa, then I drove on to the undertakers where I dropped off the flowers for tomorrow's funeral. The undertakers had a sign in the window proudly boasting that they were in the "Good Funeral Guide"

There really is a "Good Funeral Guide" - can you believe it?

 

I then headed in the vague direction of work and stopped off in Cranbrook. There is a geocache near the car park. You need to solve a puzzle to know where to look for the thing. I'd solved the puzzle months ago but hadn't had chance to go looking for it. After a few moments hunting, it was soon in my hand. I haven't found any geocaches for a while - I need to get back into that game.

I then wandered up to the co-op for some shopping. My piss boiled when I realised I had to put a pound into the trolley before I could be trusted with it. It wasn't that I didn't have a coin (I did); I just find it insulting that I can't be trusted with a supermarket trolley.

I went into the co-op, got lunch and stuff... and completely forgot to get the jam which I had specifically gone there to get.

As I drove away I couldn't help but think of the last time I parked my car in Cranbrook (Feb 10th) when I needed the help of a passer-by to push my car off of the ice.

 

I got to work and did that which I couldn't avoid for an hour or so, then slipped off for my second COVID jab. I must admit to being amazed at the efficiency with which the jabbers were operating. With loads of people being seen today (I think the total ran well into the hundreds) I was in and out in about seven minutes.

I had been warned of possible side effects, but they warned me of those last time and I didn't have any. I know of several people who have been ill with the second jab. Will I be poorly tomorrow?

Time will tell - it always does.

 

 

24 March 2021 (Wednesday) - Mum's Funeral

 

 

I was wondering how I would react to yesterday’s jab. My arm was rather sore, and it woke me every time I moved overnight, but other than an iffy arm I seem to have got off unscathed.

I ran some bread through the toaster (twice) in a futile attempt to turn it into toast, then had a look at the Internet. Joshuasmuma Banditband (!) had sent me a message on Facebook. He was trying to push a website about nudey ladies without any clothes on. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense. Not much else was happening on the Internet, and it was at this point that “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” came downstairs in her Pug onesie. She’d stayed overnight so we could make a prompt start this morning.

 

We all got dressed, and set off for Hastings. Immediate family gathered with my Dad at his house. And a small drink to calm my nerves became four whiskies.

The undertakers soon arrived, and off we went. The funeral passed in something of a blur. The undertakers were incredibly professional. The celebrant (ex-TV celebrity Jonathan Mendenhall) led a short but well-planned service which was really well done. He’d taken the trouble to contact family members and gave an address which was personal and all about my mum. I couldn’t help but think of my brother in law’s funeral a few months ago when a bored priest just stood and read out the standard funeral service from a long-outdated church service book.

We were allowed thirty people at the funeral; there were thirty there. I chatted with aunts and family members for a bit, then Mum’s immediate family (our tribe and my brother’s tribe) went back to Dad’s where we had the sort of buffet that Mum would have put on; really good food to scoff, and far too much of it.

 

I slept all the way home…

 

 

25 March 2021 (Thursday) - Back To The Garden

 

 

What with COVID jabs and the stresses of the funeral yesterday I slept well. I would have slept better had er indoors TM”  not been fighting with one of the dogs for much of the night, and had another dog (Treacle?) not tried to make herself comfortable on my head in the small hours.

I warmed up some bread.in what passes for a toaster in our house, then peered into the internet as I scoffed it. Not much had changed overnight. Nothing had. In fact all that had happened was that I got an email from the Geocaching Association of Great Britain telling me about their latest newsletter. Their newsletter had a link to click if I was interested in becoming a “Friend of the GAGB”. I asked to become a “Friend of the GAGB” about eighteen months ago and had heard nothing so I clicked the link and was told: “To become a GAGB Friend, please contact friends@gagb.org.uk OR simply join the Facebook group. It's that easy!” So, as I have suspected for years, the (so-called) Geocaching Association of Great Britain really is nothing but yet another Facebook group.

 

I took the dogs for a little walk up to the co-op field. As we walked up the road we saw a chap with two dogs (that we see from time to time) getting into his car. We smiled pleasantly as we do, went to the co-op field, and as we were three-quarters of the way round we saw that chap and his two dogs coming round the other way. As we walked home we walked past his car at the end of the path to the co-op field. This chap had driven his dogs a distance of (at most) two hundred yards.

 

With walk walked I popped round to B&Q. The fence between our garden and not-so-nice-next-door is poggered (to say the least). There is one panel by our backdoor which is bowing in and really needs attention. I thought I’d bodge it today. I got a trellis and a couple of battens and spent five minutes trying to get them into my car. After five minutes I gave up, carried the trellis home, then went back for my car.

Oh, how I laughed.

 

And then it was relatively easy. I sawed the battens to length, drilled pilot holes, went back to B&Q because the drill bit snapped, screwed the fence back together as best I could, screwed the trellis in place, painted the lot. That took less than a  minute to type, and just under three hours to do.

With fence sorted I then painted up two garden boxes I made a few years ago out of some off-cuts of wood. It was a shame that the bottom had rotted out of them, but such is life. And then I emptied out the two garden lock-ups, dragged them forward, painted the fence behind them, put them back, and sorted the tat which is kept in those lock-ups. I’ve (sort-of) sorted the lock-ups into one for stuff we use (chairs, tables, etc) and one for stuff we don’t (kites, tents, etc) It would seem we’ve lost one of the steering bars to the kite-buggy. I wonder where that went?

I then had a little sort out of the stuff that I’ve stuffed down the side of the shed, and bodged a broken fence post (one of not-so-nice-next-door’s) in place with a very heavy tub of soil. My long term plan for that fence post was to bodge it in place with a huge potted plant. Let’s see if a pot full of soil does the trick.

 

At this point I thought it best to stop whilst I could still move. I was rather pleased with progress. So far the second phase of this year’s garden project is going to plan. I have a theory that everyone’s garden has a “frankly dreadful bit” where you stash the broken lawnmowers and dead potted plants and stuff you are going to take to the tip. Many people get to hide theirs, but unfortunately our “frankly dreadful bit” starts at the back door. I have a plan to push ours back and restrict it to a very small section of dreadfulness down the side of the shed where no one sees it, but it is taking some doing.

 

I came in, made a cuppa and phoned the vet insurance people, They *still* claim to have received nothing from the vet. The vet assured me they emailed it all up a week ago, and they said they would email it all again.

As I fumed I had a look at my monthly accounts. They could be a lot worse; I really shouldn’t grumble. I just need to stop spending money on dog and garden.

 

I ache – I might have overdone it today…

 

 

26 March 2021 (Friday) - Rather Dull

 

Sid woke me with a woofing fit just after five o’clock. I rushed downstairs to let hm out, only to find he was still in his bed, fast asleep, and barking in his dreams.

That dream passed, and as he snored I scoffed a bowl of granola whilst watching an episode of “Superstore”. It was probably as well that I was up super-early; the bin men were going up the road and they don’t do anything quietly. The bin men have a new system where two of them go up the road (in advance of the main posse) putting rubbish into piles and screaming profanities across the road at each other as they go. Twenty minutes later the dustbin lorry follows them with half a dozen of them making as much noise as they can. The principle is something along the lines of “if they are up and about at six o’clock then so should everyone else be”.

 

I sparked up my lap-top and Munzeee-ed like a thing possessed; I’ve rather lost interest in Munzee recently. There wasn’t much happening on-line this morning, no squabbles at all, and with no birthdays today I had no birthday videos to send out.

 

I made my way up the road to my car; navigating a course round the bins which had been randomly scattered buy the bin men. As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were trying to make something out of China’s recent imposition of sanctions on the UK. China is doing something that the UK doesn’t like. Judging by the way the Chinese economy and international influence is growing, it won’t be long before the UK won’t dare to mess with the Chinese.

There was also an interview with Max Woosey; an eleven-year-old boy who has spent every night of the last year sleeping in a tent to raise money for his local hospice. His mother wouldn’t shut up about how she doesn’t sleep at night because she worries about the lad in a tent in the garden. The boy described how he has cred himself to sleep because his tent leaks and he is regularly soaked to the skin. One of them was telling porkies.  

Personally it bothers me that hospices are dependent on this sort of thing to keep going. I really do feel that if we stopped fundraising like this then the government (of whatever political party) would be forced to fund hospices properly.

 

Pausing only briefly to pop into Sainsburys (to get the jam I didn’t get on Tuesday) I went into work, did my bit, and came home.

er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed watching “Celebrity Bake Off” and washed down with a rather iffy bottle of plonk.

I shall have a headache in the morning; I wonder if I will still ache from yesterday’s gardening.

Today was dull…

 

 

27 March 2021 (Saturday) - Early Shift

 

 

er indoors TM” inadvertently woke me at two o’clock when she started fighting with the dogs. It would seem that she also woke my phone as it then started beeping with messages for the rest of the night. My old phone used to randomly connect to the Internet when it wanted to, and it would seem that this new one does too.

I dozed between beeps, finally giving up trying to sleep at about half past five. As I watched an episode of “Superstore” I scoffed a bowl of granola. er indoors TM” had bought a bag of the stuff the other day; I don’t know where it came from but it was a rip-off. One bag was good for about three servings of the stuff.

 

With Sid snoring by my side I had a quick look at the Internet. Our Munzee clan has reached Level One – that took some doing. And on seeing nothing else at all had happened overnight I sent out some birthday wishes, loaded the dishwasher and set off to work desperately hoping I’d feel better when I got there. Last night’s bottle of red wine had given me the headache from hell.

 

It was a rather bright morning as I drove to work, but very cold. As I drove the pundits on the radio were getting rather over-excited about the launch of another Scottish Nationalist Party. This one is taking its name from the Gaelic for "Scotland" to prove it's bona fido (!) There was an interview with one of the leading lights of this new party. I didn't understand a word the chap said; everything that came out of his mouth was in a rather monotonous unintelligible drone.

I've said before that some people really shouldn't be on peak-time radio regardless of how important they might be. You'd think the radio presenters would do a sound check with these people, and either tell them how to make themselves understood or tell them "no chance" *before* going live, wouldn't you?

 

I suddenly braked sharply to avoid being pushed off of the road by a lorry of "R.J. Surfaces" which was wandering across all three lanes of the motorway between junctions seven and six. When I eventually came past it, I could clearly see that the driver was quite blatantly fiddling about with his mobile phone.

I wish people wouldn't do that.

 

I got to work; the night shift were keen to go home. I did my bit, and when the late shift rolled in I was equally keen to shove off.

I came home (via the works branch of M&S) with iced buns. Once they were devoured I popped to B&Q where I spent over forty quid on tomorrow’s planned garden project. I had this idea that B&Q would be far quieter late in the afternoon today than they will be tomorrow morning. And bearing in mind they don’t open until ten o’clock tomorrow the day would be half-gone by the time I would have got the stuff.

 

er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner. We might have taken a chance with the seafood sauce that (supposedly) expired two years ago, but it was tasty stuff.

 

We joined in with the family Zoom bingo/quiz night. After only two bingo numbers had been called we had to pause proceedings. With no warning at all Sid was suddenly screaming in pain and/or terror and all the other dogs were mobbing him. After a few minutes of confusion it transpired that he’d got a claw caught in a blanket (he *hates* his paws being touched) and his screaming had upset the other dogs who wanted to see what was wrong.

The excitement was over as quickly as it started. Bingo resumed, and just as the dogs started snoring so there was another pause to the bingo. The sound was muted so that one of the younger members of the family could have a poo.

Kirsty then ran the quiz. A general knowledge round, a history round (guess the year) and twelve catchphrase questions.

Family zoom-quiz-bingo is going to continue after lockdowns are but a memory. He on-line bit means that we can meet up without worrying (too much) about the dogs being on their own. Others can join in without worrying about little ones’ bed times.

I do like the family zoom-quiz-bingo sessions. Even (to be honest) if I do lose a *lot* more than I win.

 

 

28 March 2021 (Sunday) - Cordyline

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised not to find a single turd when I came downstairs this morning, but what with daylight saving I was up an hour earlier than usual… or was I?.

As I scoffed brekkie Sid marched over, turned his back to me and sat down. That is his way of saying he wants to be picked up and plonked next to me on the sofa. So as I devoured toast, Sid sat next to me making odd guttural noises as he does.

He’s a funny little thing.

As I perused Facebook I was (yet again) presented with posts about the latest antics of ex-James Bond actor George Lazenby. For years Facebook has bombarded me with the antics of incredibly unmoral nudey ladies without any clothes on, but just lately the Facebook advertising bots seem to think that my life won’t be complete without a daily fix of George Lazenby. I thought the chap died years ago.

I sent out birthday wishes to all three of my smallest nephew’s Facebook accounts. (Smallest, but not youngest). He is twenty-two today; where have the years gone?

With nothing much else happening on Facebook I checked emails. B&Q have started emailing me copies of receipts for stuff I’ve bought from them. What’s that all about?

 

I decided to get my arse in gear, and made a start in the garden. I sawed the trellis and battens (that I got from B&Q yesterday) to size, got a coat of paint (ronseal) on them then popped round to the garden of the first fruit of my loin. He had stuff he wanted out of his garden. He was getting rid of two sleepers (which will form the basis of the next phase of my garden renovation), a cordyline (which I needed for today’s work) and three buckets of shingle (always useful).

I brought them home and carried on. Today’s project was to sort out the poggered fence between our garden and not-so-nice-next-door. There is a broken fence post which flaps about dragging two fence panels with it. One of the panels is OK; the other has had it. For some reason the broken fence post only flops in our direction; there is something holding it up on the other side. My plan was to bodge the broken panel back together using the trellis as a truss, and to wedge the whole lot in place with a flipping great flower pot.

It was a good plan (I thought)

 

I’d got the battens attached to the fence panel and was about to attach the trellis when I heard the sound of not-so-nice-next-door unlocking the myriad locks she has on her back door. Bearing in mind the fence is hers I thought I’d better let her know what I was doing. She seemed a bit dubious at first, but when she realised I was doing her a favour by fixing her fence she was all smiles.

I got the trellis in place, and was just about to screw it down when I snapped the charging cable of the electric screwdriver I bought only the other day. Oh, how I laughed (!) but there was enough electricity in it for what I needed, and after a while I hit on the (frankly genius) idea of charging it with the USB charger that I use for my SmartWatch. That seemed to work.

With trellis in place I painted around the immediate area, then the hard work began. I moved the new humungous flower pot into place, half-filled it with some of the spare soil I have kicking around, hoiked in the cordyline, filled round with more soil, bunged in some plant food, popped in some weed control membrane and topped the thing off with some stones that I had left from last year’s new water feature.

I then rammed the filled pot up against the flapping  fence post. That ain’t going anywhere(!)

 

My nose twitched. There was a delicious smell coming from the kitchen. Cake? Bread? No. er indoors TM” was baking sweet potato and carrot dog biscuits. The dogs loved them. I had one – it wasn’t that bad.

er indoors TM” then took the dogs for a walk. I carried on painting fence panels before mowing the lawn and having a bit of a tidy-up.

After seven hours I stopped; mostly because I couldn’t move any more. I had a little rest sitting by the pond and watched the Koi. Two of them appear to be quite heavily pregnant.

 

Sid became rather agitated as the day went on. Small pugs don’t understand daylight saving; to him, dinner was an hour late. Once the dogs had been fed. er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner. What with all the garden work I’d forgotten to eat anything since brekkie; the clocks going forward had rather confused my stomach.

As we scoffed we watched the  first episode of the new episode of “Taskmaster”; it was rather good. 

I’m thinking early night… I ache…

 

 

29 March 2021 (Monday) - Sausages

 

 

 

My phone’s clock has several alarms. I’ve given them all a name so I know which is for Fudge’s tablet, which is for when it is time to get up… I had no idea that my new phone reads out the alarm name when it goes off. What with the clocks having gone forward yesterday I was still asleep when the alarm went off this morning. As well as a beautiful tuneful melody playing, a sexy woman’s voice announced: “Get your arse out of your pit”.

I got my arse out of my pit, made toast (by running it through the toaster twice) and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “Superstore”. As I watched I also did another COVID test. Again negative, which was probably for the best.

With a couple of moments to spare I popped on-line. I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, and got ready for work.

 

As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were saying that the huge container ship blocking the Suez canal has nearly been moved out of the way, and soon the canal will be open to shipping again.

In the meantime a lot of ships are going the long way round Africa because that will probably be quicker than waiting for all the queues at the canal to disperse.  However a lot of shipping companies are worried about piracy which is rife around the African coast. Piracy - in this day and age !! Personally I can't help but feel that the container ships should be equipped with torpedoes, and when the pirates tell the ship to be prepared to be boarded, then the container ships’ crews might tell the pirates to prepare to be torpedoed. Or when the pirates are climbing the ladders to board the container ships, those being boarded might shoot the pirates. After all a pirate climbing a ladder is a rather easy target.

The entire episode could be live-streamed to the law enforcement agencies to make it all above board, and would it *really* cost that much extra for these container ships to carry one armed police officer? Pirates only go pirating because they get away with it. How many pirates would we have to blow away before the rest got the message? It's a bit like when I was at school; the headmaster had a cane. There were never wholesale thrashings. Instead one boy had a sore arse for a day, and a thousand boys behaved themselves for a year.

 

I got to work. After I'd been there a while my phone beeped. The geo-feds have allowed new geocaches to be published as of today, and quite a few had been published this morning half an hour after I’d got to work. Several were within a very short distance of home. If I'd been at home I would probably have chased out to try to be the first to find one of them.

Comment was made on the local geocaching Facebook page about hypothetical "Found it" logs from the first people who might find these new caches. So often these reports start off with the phrase "I just happened to be in the area…" I quite like a cheeky FTF, but I rarely "just happened to be in the area" whenever I got one. Usually I saw the thing being published as I scoffed brekkie, and flew out of the house, desperately hoping no one else would beat me to it.

Why does hardly anyone else admit to this? For quite a few people, being first is an obsession, and a true log would read “I just happened to be pressing the "refresh" button on my in box like a thing possessed when I saw this cache go live so I drove at breakneck speeds down several miles of narrow lanes in absolute terror that someone else might beat me to it”.

In all honesty this has been true of me on occasion.

 

At the stroke of nine o'clock I phoned the pet insurance people who said they still hadn't received the paperwork for Fudge's illness. When I quibbled they put me on hold for an age, and was eventually told that a manager had just checked the in-box and they had received the vet's email last Thursday after all. I suppose that is one step forward.

 

I did my bit; I came home. As I drove home I tried out my new charging cable in my car. I won’t be doing that again; the thing got red hot. Are you not supposed to use fast charging cables in cars?

I popped to B&Q to get a plank of wood for tomorrow, then came home and walked the dogs round the co-op field. As we walked we met two young ladies having a picnic. Before I realised what was going on, Pogo and Treacle had gone over to say hello. The girls fussed the dogs, and before I could stop them, they offered the dogs a sausage. The sausage got yummed up immediately, then (being a lump) Pogo barged the ladies out of the way so he could scoff the rest.

I’m hoping that those girls have learned from this, but I doubt it…

 

 

30 March 2021 (Tuesday) - Rostered Day Off

 

 

I was woken at half past three by an odd wheezing coughing whimpering sort of sound. Fudge was clearly poorly and er indoors TM” was already up with him. I moved him (and his bed) onto the foot of our bed and lay with him. After a few minutes he stopped making the strange noises and went to sleep. I lay awake in the dark worrying until half past six when my phone told me to get my arse out of my pit.

It (quite literally) does that. Ain’t technology wonderful.

 

I scoffed some brekkie, I watched a little “Superstore” then taking care not to disturb anyone I got dressed and tried a little experiment. I picked up the dogs’ leads. Instantly Fudge came charging down the stairs having recognised the jingle sound they make. He wanted to go out regardless of whatever had been wrong in the night.

 

Pogo and Treacle soon followed him, and we all went out. We drove over to the garage. Over three weeks ago I’d taken my car to Henwood garage as my usual garage was too busy to see me. Henwood garage could find no reason why the car’s alarm intermittently goes off whenever the mood takes it. My usual people managed to fit me in today, so I left the car with them, and we walked home.

 

We had one or two “episodes” as we walked home. One child (being dragged to school by his mum) ran up to Pogo and screamed at him. Before I could say anything the child’s mother apologised profusely and asked the child what (the f…) he was doing. The child started crying , and in between tears, he admitted he had absolutely no idea why he’d run up to a strange dog and screamed at him.

And then we met a child who was supposedly frightened of dogs. If I was frightened of dogs and saw three walking along the path I would just step to one side and let them pass. Wouldn’t you do the same? This child didn’t. He started jumping up and down, waving his hands in the air (like a demented windmill), and then ran in circles screaming like a banshee.

As I told his irate father, the dogs joined in and copied him because thought this was some sort of game. I could see this father’s brain slowly working it out, before he agreed that if you are frightened of dogs, then seeming to be asking them to play is a frankly stupid thing to do.

I was glad to get home.

 

One home I gardened. I took that lump of wood I bought yesterday, cut it to size and painted it. Whilst it dried I painted two fence panels, then used the dried painted wood to bodge a broken fence panel, and with it bodged I could screw it firmly into place. I then painted that panel, and sawed the sleepers that I’d got from “My Boy TM” on Sunday. Have you ever sawed a sleeper? It takes some doing. I got the sawed sleepers painted too.

 

As I worked so the garage phoned. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the car at all, and thought they might just try locking it and walking away to see if they could get the alarm to go off. Seeing how they are the experts I didn’t know what else to do but agree. They phoned again later  the alarm didn’t go off for them once.

I’d still got plenty more to do in the garden, but having (again) reached the stage where it hurt to move I decided to pack up. As well as aching I was rather warm too. There had been frost on the grass as we’d walked home through Frog’s Island earlier; I caught the sun today in the garden 

I phoned my dad to update him - he’s quite intrigued by whatever is wrong with my car. And I wanted to see if he was OK – today would have been his sixty-fourth wedding anniversary.

 

er indoors TM” set off to Folkestone to see “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM. I sat myself in front of the telly, activated Netflix, and fell asleep for probably about three hours longer than I wish I had.

This gardening lark is hard work.

 

 

31 March 2021 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull, Really

 

 

With so many dogs in the house, a full night’s sleep rarely happens. But last night was better than most. Fudge and Sid stayed downstairs and (apart from a minor spat at one o’clock) Pogo and Treacle were far more settled than usual.

I got up when my phone told me to, and made toast which I shared with Fudge. He is becoming quite a worry with his fussy eating. He can be incredibly hungry, but still turns his nose up at stuff he doesn’t like, so finding something he will eat is something of a bonus.

 

I sparked up my lap-top and peered into the Internet. Pretty much nothing had happened on Facebook, but I had an email from the ombudsman about the ongoing issues with the smart meter. The problem is rather straightforward – the thing can’t be read remotely and since the website was set up to reject the readings I’d given it as being unfeasible, and also seeing how other companies can deliver the same amount of power cheaper, is the meter actually working at all? It strikes me that the whole “ombudsman thing” is doing very little but generating paperwork and making a mountain out of a molehill.

I saw some new geocaches had gone live overnight which were sort of on my way to work, but what with the car still being in the garage I would have to leave those for another time.

 

Talking of the garage, er indoors TM” drove me over there where my car was waiting for me. The nice men at the garage hadn't found anything wrong with it yesterday and so hadn't charged me. That was decent of them. Even though they'd not found a fault, they'd spent time on it and I was prepared to pay them.

I got into the car, and the dashboard display immediately announced "Parking Brake Fault". I went back in to the garage, and after twenty minutes they put it right. There is a known issue with the parking brakes on my car's model. When you apply the brake you pull the handle and it comes on. When you want to release the brake you just drive away and it releases. If you use the manual release button, then the "Parking Brake Fault" error comes up and has to be re-set by the garage. The nice garage men know that...so why did they use the manual release button?

 

As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were saying that some impartial review has shown that racism is actually and officially in decline in the UK. This can only be a good thing. The chairman of the board that found this out was interviewed at excruciating length on the matter.  This was such a waste of a golden opportunity; what could have been delivered in an upbeat couple of minutes was dragged out over a seeming age. It was presented in such a dull way that I lost interest, and before long all I could hear was "blah blah blah" on what really is far too important an issue to be reduced to "blah blah blah".

 

There was also talk about the "Seaspiracy" documentary on Netflix. Are commercial companies massively over-fishing the oceans? Possibly. But several experts were wheeled on who showed that the "Seaspiracy" documentary was factually wrong in several respects. Oh well... I suppose it makes for good telly.

 

I wasn't *that* late to work, but as I arrived I realised I'd left my lunch at home, so  I thought I might treat myself to something special from the branch of Marks & Spencer at work. A bottle of pop, a posh bag of crisps and a poncey sandwich only cost six quid, and to add insult to injury they weren't that good. I shan't be treating myself to that again. 

 

It is rather sad, but a disappointing sandwich was the highlight of a rather dull day today. With work done I came home, scoffed a rather good dinner, and gave myself a stomach ache…