01 May 2008 (Thursday) - Stupid People

01 May 2008 (Thursday) - Stupid Peoplemagnify

This morning’s news told us about “Operation Archway”. The City of London police are investing a lot of time, effort and resources into dealing with “Boiler room fraud”. “Boiler room fraud” is diddling people out of thousands (and sometimes millions) of pounds. The fraudsters phone the unsuspecting public, and apparently give the poor innocents the chance to make a fortune buying stocks and shares. Fooled by the quick-talking salesman, these people send off cheques for thousands of pounds only to find it was all a scam and they’ve lost the lot to an organised gang of international fraudsters.

How can these people be so stupid? Can you imagine it? The phone rings:

Hello, Mr Badger?” (in dodgy east European accent)

Yeee-eees?”

Would you like to be rich?”

Yeee-eees?”

Well, send me a cheque for twenty thousand quid, then

OK!

Apparently these dumb-asses have lost life savings and pensions. How stupid can they be? And it gets worse. Once these idiots finally realise it’s a scam, the fraudsters phone them back again. This time pretending to be an official body investigating the allegations of fraud. And they offer to retrieve the idiots’ money for only a modest fee. And guess what – yes that’s right. The stupid and the gullible shell out even more money to the fraudsters. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be hilarious.

The whole thing is only a disgrace because there is so much more the police could be doing with their time.

Meanwhile “My Boy TM” is building up his energies for tonight’s pool tournament. His team are playing the Duke’s Head. It’s in Sellinge or somewhere, apparently. And I can go and watch if I want.

 

02 May 2008 (Friday) - Exterminate !!!

02 May 2008 (Friday) - Exterminate !!!

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As a special treat I bought myself the Peter Cushing Doctor Who films on DVD. As a child I watched these at the cinema so many times. They were great. And now I have them on DVD. What a disappointment.

 LAME !!!!

 

03 May 2008 (Saturday) - Holidays

03 May 2008 (Saturday) - Holidaysmagnify

There will be a bit of a hiatus on my blog as I’m off on my holidays. I’ve had my inoculations, I’ve got my passport, I’ve got my phrasebook. “Ooooo-aaaaar”. One wonders what the currency is in Dorset, but I expect they take plastic.

But so my loyal readership won’t be bored, I see there are now eight episodes of the Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show on You-Tube. So surf to You-Tube and please to be crap hands and cheering for Tight Pants, Cownicorn, Bad Smell and the return of Lick Poop.

My Boy TM” has instructions to feed the fish and mow the lawn whilst I’m away. My hopes aren’t high. See you all in a week’s time.

 

04 May 2008 (Sunday) - Weymouth Kite Festival

04 May 2008 (Sunday) - Weymouth Kite Festivalmagnify

The journey down to Weymouth yesterday was an experience (!), and we were made very welcome in Auntie’s caravan. After a quick trip to the supermarket to stock up on essentials, a pleasant evening was spent ignoring the rain whilst watching Doctor Who and drinking various bottles of beer, many of which were new to me. We scoffed a wonderful spag bol, and then Auntie helped me demolish a bottle of port and some stinky cheese. We went to bed hoping for better weather, but woke up to be disappointed.

We had a lovely full English breakfast, and spent the morning reading the papers whilst listening to the rain on the caravan roof. By the time the clock reached 2pm we decided we could stay in the caravan no longer, and took the bus to Weymouth. Fortunately the bus stop was right by the kite festival. And we went out into the rain and saw half a dozen kites flapping in the rain. And, to be honest, I’ve seen those half dozen kites at countless other kite festivals. By one of those quirks of fate, the “usual suspects” one would expect to see at a kite festival were at a steam rally (!) in Canterbury of all places, but we met up with one old friend who was cold, wet and thoroughly fed up.

By now it was 3pm, a monsoon was blowing and we had six hours to kill before the firework display. If all else fails, there’s always the fall-back position of being a roving reporter for a certain pub-related website. I reviewed ten pubs before the fireworks started. And that was research, not a pub crawl!

 

05 May 2008 (Monday) – The South West Coast Path

05 May 2008 (Monday) – The South West Coast Pathmagnify

Another full English breakfast. I have certainly found an excellent friend in Auntie. Having done the washing up, another morning was spent doing crosswords and listening to the rain. But the very second that Auntie said goodbye and set off for home, the sun came out.

So we set off along the south west coast path. As a veteran of having lost footpaths and ending up lost so many times, I can say with confidence that he south west coast path is brilliant. Clearly marked out, clearly signposted – for the hiker it’s wonderful. And such scenic views over Chesil beach. The plan was to go from point A (on the map above) to point B via point C. On the way we found squirrels, assorted dicky birds (including tits!), two pubs, an ice cream stall, and a castle. We ended up at the harbour in Weymouth where we soon found that rare treat – a pub with five hand pumps. “The Boot“ is certainly now in my top five pubs – the Porter is excellent, and the landlord a really friendly chap.

And pausing only to realise that for four of us, a taxi is cheaper than a bus, it was back to the caravan to watch a Time Team special about dragging all sorts of artefacts up from the bed of the North Sea.

 

06 May 2008 (Tuesday) – Portland

06 May 2008 (Tuesday) – Portlandmagnify

Freddie was very naughty this morning. I never did find which of the many children in the surrounding caravans Freddie was, but I know that he was naughty because I was awoken at 7am by Freddie’s dad shouting at him. Apparently he needed to have a shower before he could go swimming.

Brekkie was scoffed to provide us with ”Walking Energy” (whatever that is!) and pausing only for a moment to get some sarnies at the shop, it was off to circumnavigate Portland. For those of my loyal readers who aren’t familiar with the area, Portland is a huge lump of rock some four miles long which juts out from the Dorset coast and is connected to the mainland by a causeway. There’s a footpath that goes all the way round the island, and that footpath was to be the route for the day. An hour and a half’s walking found us at the mainland side of the causeway. Another hour saw us across the causeway and into a pub. From the pub’s garden we could see the flaw in our plans. To get from where we were to the start of the footpath involved a climb of over 100 metres up, and that climb was steep. Over 45o for much of the climb, and we’d already walked over four miles to get to the start. Next time we’ll get a bus to the start of the walk. But in a triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense, up we went. Once at the top we stopped for our sarnies and enjoyed the view. I always know when I am up high. I can look down and se the birds flying beneath me. Quite a scary sensation. I had a smashing vantage point – I could see all around me – at the top of the cliffs I was King of the world. And, bearing in mind the local superstitions, I bellowed “RABBITTS!!!” as loud as I can. Because you’re not supposed to say that word – you have to call them “bunnies”. Apparently local folklore believes that the sound of the word “rabbit” will cause Portland to collapse into the sea. It didn’t – and I maintain that the landslide that happened later in the day is purely co-incidental.

There is a fellowship amongst hikers – you nod politely and make idle conversation with those you meet along the track. Whilst about to commence pleasantries with a couple of happy wanderers coming the other way, one of them gave a strangled squawk and fell face first into a muddy swamp. I honestly thought she’d dropped dead. But she hadn’t – she’d slipped. I know I should have offered help, but whilst her husband dragged her sorry carcass out of the mire, I zoomed around to the other side of a nearby boulder. Laugh – I very nearly wet myself. I know it’s really mean, but there is truly nothing funnier than someone else’s misfortune.

Watching the lobster fishermen in their boats through binoculars we soon walked the four miles to Portland Bill where (according to our maps and all the local knowledge) there was a pub. There as. It was closed. Perhaps if I hadn’t laughed at the “Happy Wanderer” the pub might have been open. We consoled ourselves with ice cream as we laughed at the pikeys at the tea shop. As we made our way back up the eastern coast of Portland, I think it’s fair to say we all began to flag. It was a hot day, and walking to the island (rather than getting a bus to the start) had been a mistake. At the three-quarters point we realised we’d already walked some eleven miles today and so we found a bus stop. After spending an interesting fifteen minutes watching the local constabulary haranguing a drunken tramp, we got the bus back to Weymouth. And then another bus back to the caravan. It was on this second bus that we were reunited with the pikeys from Portland Bill. They were recounting the day’s events to each other and reacting with surprise as though what they had done that day was news to them.

The evening was spent rubbing after-sun cream into various sunburned bits and watching “Gone in 60 Seconds” whilst scoffing fish and chips from Alf’s chip shop. If ever you’re in Weymouth, give Alf a visit. The food’s good, and he thinks Chippy & me are brothers.

 

07 May 2008 (Wednesday) – Corfe Castle

07 May 2008 (Wednesday) – Corfe Castlemagnify

We’d decided that although the week was to be a walking holiday, we would have one trip out in the car. And that was today – to Corfe Castle. Having parked up, on the way through the village I thought I’d found another first class pub, but I was wrong. If you’re ever in the village of Corfe Castle, pop into the Fox and see if you agree with me. It could be one of the select few pubs if only it made the teensiest bit more effort. They sell beer straight from the barrel. But it’s Old Speckled Hen and Abbott Ale, both from some two hundred miles away, and beer that you can get in any pub, or even in Tesco’s. What’s wrong with a local brew? And the beer was sour.

After spending five minutes telling the nice man at the entrance to the castle that I didn’t want to join the National Trust, we were soon wandering around the castle. There was a minor panic when I mistook the local cattle for bears (a natural mistake), but having got over the shock of seeing a “Moo-Bear” we carried on sightseeing. In retrospect the place would have benefited from having an audio tour. We kept meeting up with a school party – the best behaved children I’ve ever seen. I had half a mind to congratulate the teacher on how good the children were, but thought better of it.

The plan then called for some scoff in The Greyhound. Billed as Britain’s most photographed pub, it had a decent local beer, but the menu wasn’t cheap. We had some cheese toasties and then after a quick squzz at the gargles on the church it was back to the car. Some two miles away was one of the countries best pubs, according to BITE. So once Chippy “had Vicky on the way back to the car”, we programmed the Sat-Nav. And then promptly turned left where we should have turned right. And had a lovely drive around Dorset for the rest of the afternoon.

To console ourselves, we had coffee and cake, and went to a pub just up the road from the caravan for our tea. The Admiral Hardy is one of those pubs that does food, has a skittle alley, has a telly, and has an area away from the telly…. It tries to please everyone, but I can’t help but feel that a pub should decide who it wants for its clientele, and ignore everyone else. But we all had a good meal there, and spent the rest of the evening listening to Humphrey Lyttleton and stuffing port and cheese down our necks.

 

08 May 2008 (Thursday) – Langton Herring

08 May 2008 (Thursday) – Langton Herringmagnify

The day started with a musical theme. I think every bird in Dorset was outside the caravan to squawk along to the dawn chorus at 5.30am, and barely had our feathered friends shut their beaks than some of the locals started a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You”. I can’t help but wonder whose birthday it was.

But being awoken early was a good thing – today we were going to a wonderful place. Whilst perusing the map I’d found marked the hamlet of Langton Herring. “Langton Herring” – you just have to visit somewhere of that name, don’t you? No? Well, we are on a walking holiday and a round trip to Langton Herring comes in just short of ten miles, so it fitted the bill quite nicely. The footpath set off though the army’s rifle ranges. Fortunately the red flags weren’t flying. After bullets, the next hazard was racehorses. The footpath went through a racecourse. It was about this time that my phone rang. “Daddies Little Angel TM” was after instructions about how to operate the washing machine. It speaks volumes that she asks me and not her mother!

After walking around the fifth or sixth cove the path went inland and up to Langton Herring. (I love that name!). We soon found the Elm Tree Inn. A strange pub that makes great show of only using locally produced ingredients for their food. I remarked on the huge sign listing their local suppliers to the landlord. As he beamed with pride I asked him that if he’s so keen on local produce, why does his beer come from hundreds of miles away? Not smiling so much now, he told me that was down to the brewery. But it’s a good pub. If ever you’re in the area, try the spinach and haddock soup!

A swift two pints (of Courage & Director’s!) and then back the way we came. And what had been a gentle sea breeze at our backs on the way there was now a roaring hurricane on the way home. Windburn added to the sunburn, but it was worth the effort for the views.

Taking a minor diversion through the caravan park to be nosy at the other campers, we soon arrived back at HQ where Chippy cooked a smashing bit of tea and we sank a few beers whilst watching the latest Disney – “Ratatouille”.

 

09 May 2008 (Friday) – A Lazy Day

09 May 2008 (Friday) – A Lazy Daymagnify

The plans for the week always involved having at least one day of inaction, and that was today. A late start, a late brekky, a bit of a ponder over crosswords, a ploughman’s lunch (very good!), a bit of a kip, and before we knew it, it was 6.30pm. On to the bus and into Weymouth for a meal.

We weren’t sure where to eat, so we wandered around a bit. We popped into the Ship Inn where they had three Badger ales on the hand pump, including “Hopping Hare” – a beer I discovered for the first time only a couple of weeks ago. We decided to eat in the George. A strange pub; upstairs it’s haute cuisine, a fine steak house. Downstairs it’s a fighting ring where the pikeys attempt to out-scumbag the chavs. But the food was good. We left as the band started. I say “band”….. They were awful. It’s been said I don’t like live music. That’s not quite true. I like live music in the same way I like beer. I like it lots, but I’m fussy about what I’ll have. There’s a lot of scabby beer that I won’t touch with a barge pole. The same is true of bands. So many try to cover up a lack of talent by increasing the volume. It doesn’t work.

We went back to the Boot for some of their wonderful Porter. I noticed that a lot of people were drinking what looked like orange squash. I wondered what it was, so went up to the biggest bloke I could find, and asked him what it was. He gave me a taster. Cheddar Gorge – a local cider. I had a pint. Half a pint was OK, but it got a bit sickly towards the end, so I went back to the ales.

 

10 May 2008 (Saturday) – Back Home

10 May 2008 (Saturday) – Back Homemagnify

Bearing in mind this last week I’ve been into twenty two pubs, to say nothing of the bottles of ale, stout and port I’ve guzzled in the caravan, I woke up today with the only hangover of the week. I blame the cider. All good things come to an end, and so back home it is. As I type up this entry the washing machine is on its fourth wash load, and it’s yet to have a go at my socks!

Whilst we were away there were loads of notices and signs about buying your own caravan. Apparently you can make up to six thousand pounds by buying a caravan and allowing the site owners to rent out the caravan for you. I picked up the free literature and, like so much in life, I’d been somewhat mislead. If I buy the caravan (second hand for about £18 – 20 000) and rent it out for some six months of the year I’ll probably make enough to cover the ground rent, water & leccie bills and council tax. But that would do me. I’d have the caravan for a week in May, a week in October and the odd weekend here or there. I could go there for a week with mates. I could let friends and families have cheap holidays. June, July & August would be the height of the season, and I’d rent it out then. I won’t get rich, but the thing will pay for itself. Or that is, it will pay its running costs. It’s up to me to buy the actual caravan itself. Where can I get hold of twenty thousand pounds?

 

11 May 2008 (Sunday) - Bored (and sulking)

11 May 2008 (Sunday) - Bored (and sulking)magnify

The holiday is over. Work rang before 7am with a problem so I told them a probable fix and tried to get back to sleep. And couldn’t, so I made a start on the laundry. By the time the third load was in the machine, work rang again. The fix I’d suggested hadn’t worked. So off to work to sort the problem. And then back home to do more laundry.

Er indoors had taken “Daddies Little Angel TM” to London to the Capoeira Batizado (she’s got the next grade belt now!), and “My Boy TM” hadn’t got home from his night in the wicked city. By the time I got back from work for the second time all the washing was done and dried, and whilst the rest of the world spent a lovely afternoon in the sunshine, I spent a lonely afternoon sulking doing two week’s ironing and watching episodes of “Space: Above and Beyond”. It’s actually rather rubbish! In fact both “Space: Above and Beyond” and ironing are rather rubbish.

 

12 May 2008 (Monday) - Dorset Knob (Fnarr!, Fnarr!)

12 May 2008 (Monday) - Dorset Knob (Fnarr!, Fnarr!)magnify

Dorset Knob is a savoury biscuit, or so it said on the tin. I thought it would be an ideal pressie to take back to work. If ever you’re tempted to spend money on Dorset Knob, don’t. Not so much a savoury biscuit as a very small, very hard stale bread roll. Money straight down the toilet!

In other news we find Britain’s tallest cow. Another Moo-Bear?

 

13 May 2008 (Tuesday) - A Sob Story

13 May 2008 (Tuesday) - A Sob Storymagnify

“Dennis” has the sort of life story that you hear about on the TV adverts for the NSPCC, and then after hearing it, you cry. His parents are but a distant memory. He is passed from one set of foster parents to another, never staying long enough to feel anywhere is home. I can imagine my loyal readers picturing this poor unfortunate with a tear in the eye.

Come along to cubs next Tuesday. Within thirty seconds of meeting the child you would quite happily strangle him. He is a thoroughly nasty boy. He comes to cubs with the intention of ensuring that not only is he going to be first in the queue, but that everyone else will have a miserable time. Tonight most of the leaders were finishing off a craft activity with a few cubs, and I took the majority (20+) outside for a game. After twenty minutes, I gave up. “Dennis” made it crystal clear that the game was not to take place, but we were to watch him tonight. He would disrupt the game, steal the ball from other children, hang on to the ball to stop others playing, assault other children who were looking as though they might do well, stuff grass down the clothing of those with hay fever (actively searching out those with the allergies)… All attempts to reason with him were met with a blank stare, and then he’d turn his back to demonstrate his contempt.

I rather lost my rag tonight. Either he goes, or I do. The child might have a sob story, but why should one spoil it for twenty? Am I being too harsh? If I am, then I think I really do need to go….

 

14 May 2008 (Wednesday) - Stuff

14 May 2008 (Wednesday) - Stuffmagnify

Because I had to go into work over the weekend, I had some time owing and came home early this afternoon. The plan was to mow the lawn, but I only got half of it done as I ran out of the stringy liney thingy stuff in the strimmer. Now I’m not saying the strimmer is old, but it’s older than “My Boy TM”, and I’m pretty sure the last lot of stringy liney thingy stuff I bought was obtained from the hardware shop that used to be opposite the KFC (which is now the tattoo studio) – and that’s going back some years. It’s been a bookie’s and the HQ of the UK Independence party since then. I’m just hoping I can get some more stringy liney thingy stuff from B&Q or I’ll have to bodge something with some fishing line.

I then learned how to get an egg for my dinner. Having had half a dozen eggs sitting on the side all week, I pickled them. So without an egg in the house, ‘er indoors laid one when she found what I’d done with them. I’ve now got two loads of pickled eggs on the go, and am perusing eBay to get some pickled egg receptacles. Pickling eggs! - My life is a non-stop whirlwind of excitement these days.

Meanwhile, in other news (and probably just as likely) following on from the success of the Anglo-French “March Futile” (what do you mean you’ve never heard of it!), the latest European co-operative venture involves producing the first Euro-Naut into space (without American or Russian assistance) within ten years. Whilst I’m all for it, I can’t see it happening somehow….

 

15 May 2008 (Thursday) - Pub of the Year

15 May 2008 (Thursday) - Pub of the Yearmagnify

I see one of my favorite five pubs in the world has won the title of Ashford, Folkestone and Romney Marsh CAMRA Pub of the Year.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is an independent consumer organization, whose main aim is promoting real ale and the traditional British pub. It is now the largest single-issue consumer group in the UK. With a national membership of over 83000 people, every year nearly 4000 of its members vote for local, regional and national pubs of the year….?

That’s less than one out of every twenty members get to vote. I’ve been a member of CAMRA for seven years. I’ve never been asked my opinion of any pubs, “of the year” or otherwise. It transpires that voting for “pubs of the year” happens at branch meetings. I hear from my local branch once a year – they write to me to tell me about the Woodchurch beer festival. But they have meetings I could go to. There’s several over the next few months. In Woodchurch, Wittersham, Elham, Appledore, Ivychurch, Snargate and Tenterden. Not the most accessible of places on public transport. And (call me old fashioned if you must,) but driving to a booze-up seems to defeat the object of the exercise.

I must admit that in recent weeks I’ve been rather vociferous about the local hostelries that have won the title of CAMRA “Pubs of the Year”. Now I realise that with less than 5% of CAMRA’s membership voting, the title is meaningless.

 

16 May 2008 (Friday) - Cats, Aliens and Stanhope

Today’s news tells the sad tale of Rosemary Horton who wanted a cat. Rather than going through the newspapers to find kittens needing homes she thought she’s re-home an unwanted cat. But the RSPCA turned her down as unsuitable. Because she lives in Stanhope. I didn’t realize it’s legal to discriminate against council estates.

In other news, the Vatican announces that it won’t burn people at the stake for speculating on the possibility of there being aliens. That bodes well for my talk on Monday night. Just a shame it’s in Stanhope, really!

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17 May 2008 (Saturday) - Saltwood Castle

17 May 2008 (Saturday) - Saltwood Castlemagnify

Er indoors was keen that we went to Saltwood castle today. For some inexplicable reason we went via rather a circuitous route that called in at Snargate on the way. A crafty pint at the Red Lion is always a good move. (Well, the girls weren’t ready to go and so we thought we’d meet them somewhere along the way). And Moses needed to be shown the nectar that is a pint of mild and a pickled egg.

And then to Saltwood castle. A private residence for most of the year, today the place was opened to the peasants and riff-raff in order to raise money for the NSPCC. There were various stalls, and some tortoises to look at. Hot dogs were scoffed by all, there were some impressive Koi in the pond, and there was something I’d never seen before: a peacock up a tree. Quite a long way up the tree. Presumably it had flown up there – I can’t imagine one climbing up so high. Mind you, I can’t imagine a peacock flying, either. A good stomp around the grounds was enjoyed by all – but I must admit to a degree of jealousy. Who can afford to own and live in a genuine Norman castle?

And then off for a pint of lunch at the Botulph’s Bridge Inn. A very enjoyable pint of lunch. You don’t see Hobgoblin everywhere. The Bat had a spot of proper lunch, but I wasn’t impressed. Two slices of black pudding and some mashed potato. All of which would have fitted in the palm of my hand, and it cost over a fiver.

We continued Moses’s education at the County Members where they served Harvey’s best. They had Hobgoblin as well. I’ve only ever seen this beer on the hand pump four times. Once actually in The Hobgoblin itself, and twice today. By now we’d cottoned on to the need to seat “Daddies Little Angel TM” before ordering her a Malibu & coke. Even though I know she’s nineteen in a few weeks’ time, no one behind a bar ever believes that. The County Members is a decent place to drink, but like a lot of these country pubs, they aren’t giving it away.

And then home. The plan was to come home via the Good Intent in Aldington, but due to the vagaries of my on-board bar-dar we ended up at the Farriers Arms in Mersham instead. This place had spicy pickled eggs for some, and coffee for others who by now were beginning to wilt. And a round of drinks with three added pickled eggs and crisps came in cheaper than what we spent for less down the road.

And then more Doctor Who – this time with Agatha Christie. And Catherine Tate didn’t spoil this episode…..

 

18 May 2008 (Sunday) - A Sponsored Walk

18 May 2008 (Sunday) - A Sponsored Walkmagnify

Today was KMFM’s sponsored walk for local charities. This was one of those (many) things I’d agreed to without really taking any notice what I’d signed up to. Together with thousands of other locals, four of us were rearing for the off at 9.15 am. All the verbals about the day promised a bacon roll before we started. It was lies. There was no bacon! But there were complementary balloons and windmills to those who wanted them

Pausing only briefly to burst my balloon in a passing hedge, we made good time to the first checkpoint where again I’d been lied to. OK, technically I must admit, yes. The checkpoint was at a pub. But at 10.30am the pub wasn’t open. I was swizzed!. However it was here that I feel I made my mark on the day. Having queued for ages to get into the loo, I came out and announced to the world that if I were them, I’d give it ten minutes. 90+% of the assorted throng pretended to play deaf. Some people are so humourless!

And then onwards. Much of the route was pointed out by the army who were marshalling the route. It’s funny, but if it were the police I would have felt distinctly uncomfortable, but for some strange reason I was reassured by the military presence. The second checkpoint was a few toilets on the side of the road where we ate our sarnies, but I liked the third checkpoint. It was a pub. I shall have to go back there later when they aren’t so busy. Four local ales and wonderful views. Maybe next weekend, or the weekend after? The “normal people TM” excelled themselves here. Imagine the scene. It’s the lunch stop on a sponsored walk for thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people. I must admit I went with the pre-formed conception that I would be lucky to get a beer here because I was expecting the place to be so busy. It’s as much as the pub can do to keep up with the drinks orders. There’s a hog roast outside for those that want food and haven’t brought a pack-up. The “normal people TM” wanted to buy sandwiches at the bar. They’d walked nine miles and deserved their sandwiches (!). And then had a right cob-on that the pub was far too busy to do sandwiches. Once they’d shoved off (in high dudgeon) I did laugh. And then had a pint from the Whitstable brewery as well!

It was tempting to stay here. If normal rules were applicable, this would have been a four-beer pub, because they had four local ales on. But it was a sponsored walk and we needed to press on. Which was more than the army did – “Sarge” was shoving roast hog down his neck like it was going out of fashion. I’m sure there’s something in military law which prevents soldiers on duty from filling their faces. There’s no denying the squaddies down the road weren’t happy when I told them what they were missing.

Now we were on the final stretch. Up a bit, down a bit, exchange some badinage with some fit soldiers, bish-bosh and twelve miles of sponsored walk was but a happy memory. (Writing about it in a blog is so much easier than actually doing it). At the end we met up with one of the event’s major sponsors: Shepherd Neame. There was a complimentary pint of Masterbrew for everyone who’d walked the route, and then further pints were available at the reduced rate of only £2 a throw. I had six. On the way out of the loo here, I met someone who refused to go in after me – he remembered me from the first checkpoint.

It was at this point that we met the “feeky chucker” (spoonerism). As I was getting in the fourth pint, this little squit just walked up to the bar, took one of our beers and wandered off. I wasn’t standing for that. I told the barmaid what had happened and that I wasn’t paying for his beer, and she gave me a replacement. I then walked over to the little twat’s group, told him and his pals that it was my beer he’d stolen, and that I would be outside if he’d care to buy me a replacement. He and his cohorts went white.

Because I drink like a fish (it’s a talent!) I was ready for pint number five before anyone else in our group. So I bought two and took one over to the little pikey and told him and his mates that as he can’t afford his own beer, he could have another on me. Within five minutes their entire group were seen leaving the site. Sometimes, being a big fat tattooed skinhead has its uses.

And the afternoon was spent sitting in the sunshine, pouring beer down my neck, with a decent band playing in the background. And the army dancing to the band. Heaven on Earth! And, to top it all off, it was abundantly clear that the bar wasn’t recycling the plastic glasses, so when I went up for the sixth pint, I worked my charm on the fit barman, and we’ve now got enough disposable pint glasses for the foreseeable future.

But, as is always the case in life, whilst I’m OK, others aren’t so good. During the day we were receiving regular updates from the hospital where Heather is currently residing. More news when I get it myself…..

 

19 May 2008 (Monday) - Pikeys, Lectures and Life

19 May 2008 (Monday) - Pikeys, Lectures and Lifemagnify

I thought I’d take some biccies along to the astronomiminiy club tonight. Whilst in the local shop, I met the pikey’s pikey. They don’t come much scummier than this lowlife. On the knuckles of its right hand was tattooed the f-word. Spelt with no “c” but with two “k”s. And the knuckles of its left hand had the word “offf”. Presumably the bonus “f” had a purpose, but what that purpose could have been was beyond me.

And so to astronomiminiy club, where my lecture on extra-solar planets went down very well. I spoke for over half an hour, and then there was a good twenty minutes discussion afterwards. As well as Matt, Stevey came along for the first time, and has offered to present talks at future meetings. This club is moving on in leaps and bounds. Whereas a year ago the thing was almost dead before it started, now we’re getting somewhere. Next month we’re voting in a small committee. I really don’t want to play the committee game again, but I just know that I probably will. We really need to actually start doing some telescoping as a club, but I expect we’ll get round to it eventually.

And then home, to find the house in uproar. Several thousand girls henna-ing each other in the living room, and “My Boy TM” preparing for tomorrow’s fishing trip in the kitchen. How can making a few sarnies generate so much washing up?

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20 May 2008 (Tuesday) - Hockey

20 May 2008 (Tuesday) - Hockeymagnify

Tonight the cubs were playing hockey. That was nice. I offered to be linesman. I don’t know if hockey has linesmen, but I thought it might help. The rules were quite straightforward: no fighting, no spitting, no swearing. In retrospect we should have added that two falls, two submissions or a knockout would decide the winner. First blood was nearly mine as a hockey bat sailed past my ear. A fourth rule was added. Hockey bats must be below waist height. Things then took a turn for the worst as not one of the protagonists had realized that you could tell which team was which by the colour of the hockey bat. Or that was the theory. A yellow team, and a red team. But what with not having enough red or yellow bats, a third of each of the red and yellow teams were equipped with white bats. For a dodgy few minutes we had three teams with only two goals, and white team in the enviable position of having a choice of goals in which to score, and no goal from which they could concede goals. Red team went into an early lead following their first public warning, and it went downhill from there. One of the lads had a broken thumb, and he was getting stuck in like a thing possessed, but watching Julian zooming about waving his hockey bat from his wheelchair was a sight to behold.

The little chap who wound me up so much last week came up to me tonight, and very meekly asked if I’d tie his shoelace. I told him I wouldn’t, but I’d show him how to tie it for himself. So I put my foot on a chair, and asked him to do the same. He did. I showed him how I tied my lace. He then tied his perfectly. It turned out that he wasn’t asking me to do it for him because he couldn’t. He was asking me to do it for him because he couldn’t be bothered to do it himself….

 

21 May 2008 (Wednesday) - Drivel

21 May 2008 (Wednesday) - Drivelmagnify

To the dentist. Whilst waiting, I was perusing “lame celebrities magazine”. Some epically breasted bimbo is porking some footballer. Some pop star with a stupid haircut is porking another footballer. Some non-entity from Big Brother XXII has failed to pork a footballer. Who cares? Really – who cares about this drivel? Are people’s lives so empty that they spend money on such rubbish? Surely they must realize that the only reason the has-beens and the also-rans and the never-weres pork footballers is just so’s they will get into “lame celebrities magazine”.

After a five minute rummage in my gob, the dentist took some X-rays and sent me home again. It’s a lovely morning, and “My Boy TM” has nothing to do on his day off. Having been watching utter drivel on the telly, he spent time griping about the futility of teaching six year olds to spell “myrrh”. One wonders what’s been rattling his cage. Suffice it to say there are probably thousands of six year olds who can spell “myrrh” whilst he cannot. Perhaps he’s jealous?

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22 May 2008 (Thursday) - Stuff

The Network Haematology DCW gave me grief today – after retirement I shall say why

And then to the scout hut where ‘er indoors was running a candle party as a bit of a fund raiser. When you tot up all the Beavers, cubs, scouts, young leaders, leaders and committee members the scout group probably has about a hundred members. Any and all of whom could have enticed their family along tonight. We had about twenty people all told. The evening was enjoyable, but like all the fund raisers we do, it’s the same old faces who turn up….

 

23 May 2008 (Friday) - Dull

Last week my garden strimmer ran out of stringy liney thingy stuff. I went to B&Q to get some more. £4 for a roll of the stuff. £11 for a whole new strimmer.

I’d better get strimming early tomorrow – the weather forecast predicts rain from tomorrow afternoon for the entire bank holiday weekend…..

 

24 May 2008 (Saturday) - Another Day in the Life

24 May 2008 (Saturday) - Another Day in the Lifemagnify

The weather forecast gave hurricane force winds for today, but I awoke to find everything still. So (to quote the silicates) some of us took a chance, and took bow snarows to a certain farm where we fired them at a cyberman for half an hour until the hurricane became too severe to carry on launching projectiles. At this point we thought we’d have a nice stroll through the local countryside. Our first port of call was the Chequers. A year ago this place was “the bizz”, but now under new management we stood and waited for ten minutes just to be served. So it was round the corner to the Flying Horse. Whilst normally a Shepherd Neame pub is never high on my list of approbation, this place did both pickled eggs and a mild. And, being next to the church, we got to laugh at all the weirdoes going to the wedding.

And then back to the farm. On the way we were menaced by cattle. I say “menaced” – whilst the did herd came charging up to us, once they got within a few yards they all chickened out and then ran away in terror. We then spent a few minutes watching the antics of a fox in the grass, and then off to pub number three. The Dering Arms is somewhere I’ve meant to visit for some time, and I must admit to a serious degree of disappointment. We pulled up at 4.10pm to see people drinking in the beer garden. Only to be (rather rudely) told the place was closed until 6pm. So either the people in the garden have eked out their drinks for over an hour, or I'm being lied to, or the barman doesn't like the look of me? Pub number four was the Swan at Little Chart. Like so many local free houses they had Shepherd Neame beers on. I can get that anywhere! But they did do a decent pickled egg.

And then home for a bit of a kip, fish & chips and then out again. It was 8.15 pm and the traffic wardens were about. They really are the scum of the earth. I despise them with a passion. When they could actually do something constructive about keeping traffic flowing they are nowhere to be seen. But when there’s overtime to be had on a bank holiday they are out in pairs ticketing cars that aren’t hurting anyone.

Anyway, we collected Brian and then off to the Star where Jez was singing everything from the Who to Mica via ELO and the Darkness and Chas n Dave. Quality! – I must find out when he’s on again. And then home. In the rain. And I wasn’t allowed a kebeb because we needed to go straight home because it’s raining. And having got home, ‘er indoors announces she likes walking in the rain and has gone off on a jaunt in the rain. She owes me a kebab!

 

25 May 2008 (Sunday) - Dull

25 May 2008 (Sunday) - Dullmagnify

Today was (in all honesty) a day wasted. I really must stop taking any notice of the weather forecasts. Far from being wet all day, I woke up to find a glorious day, so I made a start on mowing the lawn (and found the frog pictured above). And then I thought I’d tidy out the shed before the rain came, and then as it hadn’t rained yet I scraped the weeds out of the cracks on the patio and various concreted bits, did a run to the tip and then cleaned the fish poo out of the pond filter. And spent the whole day doing this and that before the rain came. And the rain never did.

Dull, so dull. The only thing to break the monotony was when my mate next door started ranting about how he doesn’t throw things over the fence and how he’s going to take out an ASBO and how he so hates the “typically English”. I do hope this isn’t going to lead to another load of unpleasantness with him again.

I filled the bus with petrol. Expensive stuff. For the first time it cost over £70 to fill the tank from empty. And then having dropped “Daddies Little Angel TM” back in Canterbury (She only came home to cook Sunday roast!) it was all round to the Chips’s to meet up with Andy for an update on Heather. Things are looking up – and he’s talking about fitness-oriented things. I sense a couple of recruits for my Rye to Hastings walk….

 

26 May 2008 (Monday) - Wet Bank Holiday

26 May 2008 (Monday) - Wet Bank Holidaymagnify

NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander landed at the north Martian pole today. It’s the first American landing on Mars since 1976 that hasn’t used airbags and bouncing on landing. But in less than a day after landing, it’s not news any more.

The forecast rain came today. So I spent the morning in NeverWinter. This afternoon we set off to Decathlon at Lakeside. I’ve given up on ever finding my hiking boots again, so I got a new pair. I’ll wear then to work for a bit to walk them in. I was quite tempted by the fancy new tent they had, but my current tent isn’t two years old, and I’ve another in the lock-up which is perfectly serviceable. And what with the car being serviced on Thursday (to say nothing of needing to be replaced before too much longer) I couldn’t really justify forking out £150+. They had some decent two-poled shelters which would be ideal for camping. They would be far better than the gazebos which aren’t very sturdy in the wind. But on reflection they would probably be just another object that the kids would deliberately trip over and tangle bikes into. So I thought better of that idea.

We were then going to have a look at other shops around the Lakeside retail park, but seeing how it was a wet bank holiday, the rest of humanity was also having a look round the shops too. So we gave up and went to Bluewater which wasn’t quite so busy. And after a good mooch at the shops and a crafty steak sarnie & McFlurry it was home again.

“My Boy TM” was already home enjoying a bowl of cereals. He was certainly making enough noise about it. He’s got to feed himself up – he’s feeling “gattered” (?) after his “double whammy” at the weekend. Let’s hope he’s not planning a repeat performance. Morally, that boy can be a disappointment, sometimes…..

 

27 May 2008 (Tuesday) - Never A Dull Moment

27 May 2008 (Tuesday) - Never A Dull Momentmagnify

Another few hundred emails. By the time I’d chucked out the adverts to increase the girth of my nasty, the offers of free mortgages and the solicitations of loose ladies of the night I was left with a knob joke from Chippy. I’m sure this isn’t what the silicon revolution is supposed to be about.

Talking of silicon, “My Boy TM” and “his Posse TM” (mostly grown-up ex-cubs) are planning to go out on the beer dressed as the Spice Girls. “My Boy TM” intends to go as Baby Spice (whichever one that is). Apparently he’s lined up a sparkly dress and a wig. They are planning to do this in Brighton. I think I preferred it when he had two girls on the go in the attic……

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28 May 2008 (Wednesday) - More Dull

As I folded out the offside mirror on my car this morning, something inside went crunch and now the thing just hangs floppily. Such is life! Added to that, it keeps losing power and the radio keeps cutting out. Perhaps it’s time to get a new car? I’ve taken it for a service and MOT and then I’ll see what I can get for it and start worrying about a new car in a few days.

I then got home to find “My Boy TM” and “Daddies Little Angel TM” had formed an unholy alliance. For once they were getting on without squabbling and were eating pancakes together. Apparently they had formed a joint consensus that if they didn’t shove the eggs down their own necks, I’d pickle them (the eggs, that is).

Following a decent tea of Xmas pud & custard it was off to Lenham for the archaeology club. As people arrived they were being asked if they had a laptop they could borrow for the evening. The promised speaker (who was to talk about Jack the Ripper) had cried off, and his stunt double gave an interesting and informative talk about the delightful village of Otford. In fact, if the talk had been any more enthralling I might have stayed awake. The only good point about the evening was going up the pub afterwards, and that turned out to be full of undesirables. Odd, for a pub out in the sticks.

With four days to go until I have to pay for antivirus software, I’m open to suggestions for what’s good. I’ll probably just start paying for AVG. And in the wider world, nuclear submarines are being pranged and Terry Wogan is set to pull out of the farce that is Eurovision, and there’s the low-down on what’s set to replace Windows Vista. All of which pales into insignificance as the world’s favourite chuff hits the big 4-0…..

 

29 May 2008 (Thursday) - Car Problems

29 May 2008 (Thursday) - Car Problemsmagnify

The car’s passed it’s MOT but there’s something squafty about the steering that needs fixing so I won’t get it back until next week. There’s also potential squaftiness with the brakes, windscreen wipers, HT cable, fan belt and the central locking. As well as the mirror being floppy and it keep losing power. Much as I love my bus, it’s time to get a new(er) one. After all, the poor old thing is twelve years old now.

So, time for a quote – engage smug mode(!) When I bought my bus I got a loan from my bank. Pretty much the entire universe told me how expensive my bank was and which building society was cheapest. But even though my bank has a higher APR than the cheapest building society, because I’m such a valued customer (!) the bank’s quote for the repayments was £50 a month cheaper than the cheapest building society. Good old Midland, that’s what I say. And if I do my insurance with them they’ll give me a £50 bung.

So, where to buy a new bus from? Shadoxhurst motors would be the obvious choice as they are the seven seater specialist. One minor hiccup – they closed down two years ago. I’ve had a look on line but they don’t seem much cheaper than what the Renault dealer is quoting. Decisions, decisions…

In the meantime I’ve sorted out a new free anti-virus. I say “I’ve sorted out”. What I mean is I’ve downloaded what Chippy said. Will it work – the only way to find out is to surf some specialist websites of extremely dubious morality as a way of testing the system. But, as it says in the song, that’s what the internet is for……

 

30 May 2008 (Friday) - Looking

Rather a stressful morning – it transpires that any rumours about the resurrection of the Network Haematology DCW have finally been put to rest. The company responsible for them have pulled the plug permanently.

To calm my nerves I took the afternoon off work. A bus from the hospital to the town centre cost £1.80. £1.80!!!! And (to add insult to injury) it was full of pikeys, scumbags, vagrants and undesirables. I had a quick mooch round the town - Waterstones were doing three maps for the price of two, so I bought some. And then a wander down through Godington Road. The vet’s has gone – I bet that’s been gone for some years. And on to the Renault shop – they’ve got a five year old Espace that I liked the look of. The sales guy wasn’t at all pushy – far from it. I’m going back next week to talk and see what they’ll offer me on my old bus. I’ve heard it said not to go to a dealer, but they are giving a year’s guarantee on all the bits that won’t break (bits that do break excluded). I’m very tempted. If there’s nothing else planned for tomorrow I might just go back and get it…

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31 May 2008 (Saturday) - Twelve Miles

31 May 2008 (Saturday) - Twelve Milesmagnify

Well, I should have known something was amiss when the timetable I looked up on-line said the train from Ashford to Rye would take forty minutes. The reason – no train - it was a bus. But undaunted by such triviality we bought return tickets to Hastings. But only took the bus half way there. That was when we got out and walked.

How easy it is to type that! Pausing only briefly for a pie and an ice-cream it was off past Camber Castle via a somewhat scenic route to the seaside, and then we employed Herculean self control to bypass a pub and an ice cream van. We watched the shrimpers at Pett Level, and after a couple of hours we found our dinner stop. Whilst fully expecting the same old beers you get everywhere, I had been foolishly harbouring a vain hope they might have something special on. And they did - Dark Star mild. Oh yes !!! You don’t see that very often. So we had a couple of these and then the fun bit started.

In the picture above on the left you can see the pub in the distance along the road, and then you can see the firehills in the haze above. In the picture next to it you can see the same bit of beach, but looking down from the top of the firehills. Going UP did hurt, and that second pint didn’t numb the pain as much as it might have. But once we were up, the views were smashing. I then took a five minute detour to revisit the disused quarry where I used to play as a child, and then it was a straight line to Hastings Old Town. (Typing that doesn’t hurt at all!)

I phoned my brother to tell him it was his big chance to buy me a pint. As luck would have it, he was on Hastings beach at the time, and he claimed he could see us at the top of the cliff. I couldn’t see him though. I’ve since learned that “My Boy TM” was also in the area. He could have bought me a pint as well.

And then to our second checkpoint. The place that does (arguably) the best beers in the world. They had brewed a special beer in honour of our walk today. Well, not of out walk, but of the day – its twenty years since the current landlord took the place over, and they’d brewed a beer especially for the day. And they were knocking that beer out at only £2 per pint. (Of which £1 went to charity). I poured quite a bit of that mild down my neck.

We stayed there for too long – we seized up, and forcing ourselves to walk to the chip shop hurt. But fuelled with chips we made our way to the train station to find we’d missed our bus by five minutes. So we killed some time winding up a gaggle of chav-ettes from Bexhill whist waiting for the next bus. And so home – I’d been looking forward to a bit of a kip on the bus home, but we spent the time chatting with the driver – an amiable sort of chap who told us that what with driving coaches for the railway he’ll be working till gone 3am. Stuff that!! Which is exactly what he said about walking from Rye to Hastings.

Next time…. (Yes, dear readers. Next time. Today was in many ways but a practice run) Next time we might start at Hastings and whilst it would involve missing the FILO, it would get the serious hills out the way first, and have a decent pub near the train station on the way back. I’m thinking of some time in September/October. I mention this so’s my loyal readership can start increasing their walking distances……