1 May 2018 (Tuesday) - Floods
I had a cup of coffee whilst watching telly yesterday evening. More and more that is becoming a bad move. It's not the caffeine which keeps me awake; it's the needing a tiddle but not wanting to get out of my pit that is the problem. I lay in bed watching the clock for over an hour in the small hours. Had I got up and gone to the loo, that would have been an hour's extra sleep.
Over brekkie I watched the fourth episode of "Monkey - The Next Generation" as I've come to call it. It was rather good. As I watched I brushed up my walking boots. I'd left them covered in polish overnight. I saw that "er indoors TM" had done something with her boots as they weren't where I'd left them. I'd left them next to mine also smothered in polish. I wonder what she did with them, where they are, and what that polish is now smothered all over.
I set off for work and spent a few minutes trying to remember where I'd parked my car last night, and once I'd found it I spent a few minutes scraping the ice from it. Ice - in May? I can't remember the car being so frosty so late in the year.
I then went for petrol. As always I went to the filling station on the ring road as they do the cheapest petrol for miles around. When I came to pay I saw there was an epic queue at the till. I was ushered to the front of the queue so I could pay and get out of their way. The supposedly amazingly attractive grannie was busy fixing the coffee machine, and the assembled throng were all waiting for her to finish what she was doing. I felt rather sorry for the woman who was actually on the till; those waiting to pay made no secret that they were all waiting for her pal.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the House of Lords is voting against the Government's plans for Brexit. I *know* I keep saying it, but the entire concept of Brexit *really* needs to go back to the drawing board and to be re-thought out. OK - so the UK is leaving the EU. But how is it to be done? No one (least of all those whose idea it was) has the faintest idea. And time is fast running out Surely now is the time to put the whole thing on hold whilst some sensible propositions can be thought out.
There was also a lot of talk about "Monica" (not her real name). "Monica" was a member of one of those crackpot groups that infested the UK in the 1980s and 1990s. An undercover policeman was assigned to keep an eye on what her gang of crackpots was up to, they got too friendly, and "did the dirty deed".
Now "Monica" has found out this bloke was actually a copper she has got the hump because he was a copper and not a fellow crackpot. She's taking the line that she porked him under false pretenses.
Porking people is quite a minefield. "Monica" was quite happy to pork a crackpot, but not a policeman, and has legal precedent to back her position.
Perhaps if a few less people did porking and a few more took a moral stance, this world might just be a better place?
I did my bit at work, and once home I took the dogs round the park. Yesterday we had a short walk because of the rain; today we had our usual walk round the park. Mind you we did have to take a couple of diversions – the rain has caused one or two floods in the park.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and seeing how it was Tuesday the clans gathered. The dogs mobbed everyone, and we watched another episode of the National Geographic’s docu-drama “Mars”. It has one or two plot holes, but that’s what makes for the drama…
2 May 2018 (Wednesday) - More Weight Loss
Before brekkie I had my weekly weigh-in. I’ve shifted another pound in weight. I was rather pleased about that.
Fudge sat with me as I scoffed toast and watched last night’s episode of “Gotham”. It was rather good; Doctor Bashir (from Star Trek) makes a rather good villain.
I then had my morning look at the Internet and was a tad disappointed. There was very little happening on Facebook, and (apart from an email telling me of nine vacancies in Essex I might apply for) my in-box was equally uninspiring.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing the allegations that have been made against the Speaker of the House of Commons John Berco. He's been accused of bullying his secretary. Some rather damning things have been said about him and his bullying behavior. At the same time he's got half a dozen other long-standing employees all of whom (apparently) are saying what a brilliant boss he is.
I found myself thinking about this perhaps more than I should have done. Workplace bullying is *such* a difficult subject. At different times I worked under people I considered to be really nasty bullies. I felt constantly victimised and threatened by their conduct and attitude. However at the same time there were other people in the workplace who felt I was over-reacting and that these people were absolutely their best mates. Were these actual bullies who were really abusing their position of authority, or was it just a clash of personalities with no one actually at fault? I suppose it is all in the perception. What one person sees as a joke, another sees as harassment? Or should I have lodged formal grievances?
There was also talk of unrest in our universities. Several companies have set up to do the students’ homework for them. For as little as twenty quid you can get an essay written for you. For about a thousand quid you can get a dissertation. Plagiarism and cheating, or entrepreneurial spirit?
But recently this sad state of affairs has taken a rather nasty turn. Having paid someone to blag their homework for them, these students are now being blackmailed by the very people they paid to do their homework. Unless they pay the people who provided their essays, these people are threatening to expose them for the cheats they are.
What a sad world we live in.
I'd left home early this morning to do a little shopping. I went to Sainsburys where I bought shoe polish. I couldn't buy any brushes to use with the polish, but I got the polish. And I got coffee. I *could* have just got the refill packet rather than buying the stuff in the glass jar, but the coffee in the cardboard packet (that you use to refill the glass jar) costs more than a quid more than the stuff in the glass jar.
That makes sense !
With work done I walked the dogs. Bowens Field was flooded. As we walked from Bowen’s Field toward the park I found myself carrying a bag of dog poo (as I often do). Usually I drop it in the dog poo bin along that path. Not today though – the bin has gone. Completely gone. I wonder where?
Then the rain started.
It didn’t last long… my shoes are on the radiator. I hope they dry in time for work tomorrow…
3 May 2018 (Thursday) - Beer
Fudge decided to sleep at the bottom of the bed last night. He can be rather grumpy at night and was growling and grumbling every time anyone moved. Bearing in mind how restless the puppy can be, that made for a rather sleepless night. This was a shame; I had been hoping for a decent night’s sleep.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Monkey”, then spent a few minutes trying to find out where my blog photos go to. Every day I post one up. Somehow or other my ChromeCast seems to use them as a random slideshow; some of the photos are rather interesting (to me). I’ve been wondering for some time where the thing finds them; it turns out there is an archive.
I had my obligatory look at Facebook and sighed. Once there was all sorts of things going on; now people post less and less. Such a shame. Mind you I did find an advert for a local beer festival this weekend. There is a micro-pub not too far away that is having one. Being at something of a loose end on Saturday I wondered if I might have a day out there. Then I read about all the bands that are playing. Oh dear… They have chosen their target audience, and by having live bands they have specifically said that they don’t want me along. Some bands are half-way decent. Most are not. For myself I go to a pub to be sociable – how can how socialize when the din is so loud you have to communicate by text with the person who is only two feet away from you?
With no emails not destined for the bin I got myself organized and set off to work.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the ready availability of knives in the UK, and there was an interview with Sir David Attenborough, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Early in the drive had been the sports news. For all that they talk about all sorts of varied sporty things which are *really* interesting (if you like that sort of thing), I just hear “blah blah sport” and my mind wanders. After all, sport is to be done, not talked about on the radio.
I had a rather busy day at work, and once home I walked the dogs round the park. Yesterday I walked in front of Fudge and kept shouting for him to keep up. Today I walked behind him and chivvied and chased him and we got round in a fraction of the time.
Once home I had some diet dinner. These diet foods are only “diet” because you get hardly anything in the packet. I ironed shirts whilst watching more “Monkey”, then I then spent a little while on my latest on-line course. I’m spending a few weeks learning about the science of beer.
So far it is rather dull…
4 May 2018 (Friday) - Malt Extract
As I sat down in front of the telly to scoff my toast this morning my junk felt rather chilly. I had a little investigate (as one does with one’s junk) only to find out that somehow or other I’d ripped the undercarriage out of my jim-jams. They were a new set of jim-jams too. The moral of this sorry tale is don’t buy your jim-jams from the cheapo section of Aldi.
I watched an episode of “Monkey” in which Tripitaka got caught by the baddies. Getting caught by the baddies seems to be something of a theme in this show.
I spent a few minutes doing more of my on-line course “The Science of Beer”. I’m not impressed with this course. I’ve done lots of on-line courses before. With Coursera I learned about dinosaurs, exo-biology, astrophysics, psychology (human and canine). However they were all courses at the graduate level delivered by experienced lecturers. The course I’m currently doing is by edX and the presentations are given by patronizing students delivered at primary school level. I must admit that on more than one occasion I felt I was watching the Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show.
There was nothing of note on Facebook this morning, but I had an email which left me thinking “WTF”. Last year I signed up to Crosskeys mailing list. Crosskeys are the coach company with whom we went to Bruges for a day trip. Every day they email me with offers. Today they had an offer of a trip to Chester Zoo. The trip looked good; together with an overnight stay the outing would cost fifty quid… but then I read the small print. The travel costs weren’t included. What on Earth was a coach company doing selling tickets to the zoo but not to the coach to get you there?
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing some big-wig from the world of teaching. Not content with thirteen weeks paid holiday a year and rather short working days, teachers are to have the opportunity of a year’s paid sabbatical as a sob to keep them all from leaving the profession.
There are those who would feel I’m being uncharitable to teachers; many do work in the evenings after the kids have gone home, and in the school holidays too. (just like everyone else does). However many do not.
With time on my hands I went to Sainsburys in Aylesford. With the works bake-off only two weeks away I thought I might have a dummy run. I got most of the ingredients for my recipe but couldn’t get malt extract. (Malt extract is rather central to a malt loaf). I asked an assistant if they had malt extract. She had never heard of it. She called over two mates who also had never heard of it. One of them (obviously a smartarse) said it was a job for Google and smiled in a patronizing sort of way. I looked her in the eye, pulled out my phone and asked it (verbally) where I could get malt extract. It suggested Sainsburys in Aylesford. The smug smiles soon vanished. The assistants went and had a proper look but had to admit defeat.
My phone also suggested Aldi, but with no one working in the place whose first language was English made things rather problematical.
After a busy day at work I went to Waitrose as their website said they sold the stuff. Again I had a sea of blank faces when I mentioned malt extract, and I was also told that Waitrose’s website claims they sell a *lot* of stuff that they don’t.
I came home to find that "er indoors TM" had already taken the hounds out. I took the opportunity to put the butter I’d bought this morning into the fridge; it had got a bit squishy in the car during the hot day.
I shall see if I can get some malt extract tomorrow…
5 May 2018 (Saturday) - Smurfs. Malt Loaf
It *could* have been a good night’s sleep… but when I went to the loo in the small hours I inadvertently woke the puppy. She then spent an hour or so stomping about the bed, finally setting about twenty minutes after I’d got up.
As my toast cooked I spent a few minutes trying to find the cake tins I bought for the last cake-off that I was in. Mind you, bearing in mind that was on 20 August 2007 I struggled to find them.
They eventually came to light.
I then scoffed cold toast whilst looking at the internet. Not much had changed overnight. I had a wry smile when I looked; several people were asking if anyone had anything planned for the weekend. There had been the possibility of my working today, but in the end I didn’t have to. Being at something of a loose end today I too had been wondering if anyone had anything planned. During the last week several people had asked me what I had planned for the weekend. People often do that.
Perhaps I *should* have planned something.
Bearing in mind the park run kicks off at nine o’clock I put off the usual dog walk for a while. Instead I went into town to see if I could find malt extract. I went into Boots and couldn’t see any so I thought I’d ask. I stood at the counter and waited. And waited. After a while someone else joined the queue. Within seconds an assistant turned up and asked the newcomer if she could help him. I explained the English concept of queuing to them both, and took my money to Holland and Barrett where I actually got malt extract.
Have you ever been to Holland and Barrett? I went in and found several people were relating their various medical ailments, and some dopey-looking assistant was prescribing crackpot herbal cures as though she was a consultant physician. Did you know that magnesium is good for bad backs? Either in tablet or ointment form… apparently.
I got home shortly after nine o’clock. Still too early for the park. So (having now got all the ingredients) I got my malt loaf organized. The recipe is straight forward. Basically you chuck all the gooey stuff like malt and treacle and sugar and butter into a pan and get it all to melt. In the meantime you mix up all the dry stuff like fruit and yeast and flour in a bowl. Then you bung it all together with a pint of water and squish it all together. (It is at this point that you feel it has all gone west and consider flushing it down the pan)
After a bit of mixing you then slop it into the cake tins and leave it to rise for two hours… Two hours!?
"er indoors TM" was off out with Cheryl doing pre-wedding stuff this morning, so with two hours spare I took the dogs round the park. As we walked I saw a gaggle of people trying to do geocaching at one of "er indoors TM"’s caches. I stopped and had a chat; they had heard of me. Everyone seems to have heard of me; am I *that* notorious?
We carried on through the park and met several dogs from which Treacle didn’t run in terror, which was nice.
Once home I was rather disappointed to see that my malt loaves hadn’t risen much (hadn’t risen at all) but with an hour still to go I left them fermenting and mowed the lawn.
The lawnmower is knacked; there is something wrong with the dead-man’s-handle on the thing. I’d fix it if only I could get it open. But I managed to bodge through and get the lawn mowed.
And with time still on my hands I got out the pressure-washer and mucked out the front garden. It was rather grubby. As I worked nice-next-door came out. We had a chat. Her-next-door looks plump. I say “plump”; perhaps she has reaped the consequences of doing so much noisy sex. I didn’t like to ask.
As I was hosing down the front wall (as a prelude to re-painting it) some aggressive pensioner came up and started ranting about all the mess I was making. When the old fool finally shut up I pointed out I was still only half way through the job and asked him if he honestly thought I was going to leave it in such a state.
He had no answer for that. I considered giving him a blast with the pressure-washer but decided against it.
By now it was mid-day. I took a minute out of pressure-washing and put the malt loaves into the oven. I carried on squirting the garden, and as I did, I could smell a rather good smell wafting out of the kitchen.
I tidied the garden and tidied the mess I’d made when tidying, then I got the loaves out of the oven to cool.
Over lunch I realised I’d done all the stuff I had planned to do in half the time I’d planned to do it in. So (as I do when at a loose end) I put some washing in the washing machine. "er indoors TM" came home just as the second load was finishing, and we then took the dogs out again. There is a little geo-series near Doddington. Billed as a walk of an hour and a half, it filled the late afternoon quite nicely. It was a good walk, marred only by Fudge’s wilfulness. He ran off at one point as he so often does. After fifteen minutes I found him. I got to within ten yards of him and he looked me in the eye and ran off again.
When we finally caught him he went on to the lead for the rest of the day. I’m now seriously wondering if he should be allowed off of the lead. When we are round the park he straggles so slowly; when we are out and about he runs off on his own little missions.
I took a few photos of the walk. It took me three attempts to upload them; Facebook photos was playing up. But I’m not complaining; unlimited photo storage for free can’t be bad.
We took a little detour on the way home to see "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" at the new play park, and once home we tried the malt loaf for dinner. I was rather pleased with how it turned out…
I had thought that with nothing planned, today was going to be a tad dull. It wasn’t…
6 May 2018 (Sunday) - Before the Night Shift
I stood on the scales this morning. I’ve lost three pounds since the last time I did that, and just over a stone and a half since I started this most recent attempt at weight loss two months ago. I’ve often mentioned that losing weight is dead simple; there are two key points.
You bear in mind that the hole the food goes in to is far bigger than the hole it comes out of,
You realise that losing weight means you are constantly hungry.
A *lot* of people tell me that I shouldn’t be starving myself to lose weight… if I could find another weight loss plan that worked I’d be up for it.
Over brekkie I spent a little while doing my on-line “science of beer” course. I am seriously considering giving up with it. It is presented by very enthusiastic students who whilst obviously very keen do not speak English that well, and are pitching the course at the level of a rather thick primary school child.
I spent a few minutes solving geo-puzzles, then wrote up some CPD. I’m very good at actually keeping up to date with professional matters (even if I do say so myself), but I’m not as good as I might be at keeping my records up-to-date. I blogged half a dozen entries this morning; I’ve still got forty to write up.
"My Boy TM" and Rolo arrived, and we all drove round to the Warren where we met "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". There was consternation before we’d even started as Pogo had been sick in the car. Poor Pogo – he doesn’t travel well.
We had a rather good family wander round the Warren. "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" enjoyed playing on the rope swing, the dogs liked spuddling in the stagnant pond. And (bearing in mind yesterday’s debacle) Fudge was amazingly well behaved. I’d seriously considered keeping him on the lead for the whole walk, but that would have been mean. So I thought I’d give him a chance, and he was really well behaved.
I took a few photos as we walked. Once home I put them onto my Facebook page. Unlike yesterday it all worked fine on the first attempt.
We scoffed the last of the malt loaf for lunch, then I took myself off to bed for the afternoon.
I woke up to an empty house; "er indoors TM" must have taken the hounds for a walk. I hope they come home soon. I want my tea before I go off for the night shift…
7 May 2018 (Monday) - A Wonderful Walk
As I drove home I found myself reflecting on last night's night shift. I seem to have something of an issue with night shifts. Whenever I have a night shift I seem to spend a day or so on the lead up to the shift fretting about it. I spent all of Saturday whinging that I had to work Sunday night, and I spent a large part of Sunday feeling that all I was doing was waiting for time to pass so I could start work at 9pm.
I probably fitted more into Saturday and yesterday morning than many people fitted into the entire Bank Holiday weekend.
Mind you I'm not complaining about doing the night work. It gives me time free mid-week to do all sorts of things I wouldn't otherwise do. And I do like the sense of being trusted to get on with the job unsupervised; something that only five years ago I wondered if I would ever experience again.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking to Guernsey’s equivalent of Prime Minister. Guernsey’s equivalent of parliament is considering allowing euthanasia for very specific cases. Basically the suggestion is that anyone with less than six months to live and who is suffering is to be allowed to choose to end their pain. It seemed a sensible proposition with all sorts of controls. They then wheeled in some idiot woman who was billed as a cross party spokeswoman against euthanasia who asked what would happen if someone wanted to kill off their grannie for her money. The answer was obvious – the checks in the proposed system would not allow grannie to be gassed. She then posited all sorts of other ridiculous scenarios all of which were patently nonsensical and were all immediately dismissed. Not happy with this she then made all sorts of allegations about Guernsey’s health care system which were immediately shown not to be true.
Why do they have these idiots on the radio?
Once home I quickly got myself organized. I *could* have wasted the day in bed; instead we took the dogs out for a walk. There was a minor delay with fire engines blocking the road, but we were soon at a car park in Shoreham where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte, and we went for a rather good wander following the “wonderful walk” series of geocaches. There is a rather good walk along the river from Shoreham up to the Roman villa at Lullingstone (where we had ice creams), and back across the top of the golf course. There are some beautiful views along this route; I took quite a few photos as we went.
However compared to other walks we’ve done, this one was very busy. Perhaps it was the good weather, perhaps it was because today was a bank holiday, but the normal people were out in force. And it was rather worrying how unprepared many of the normal people were. Several of them were asking us for directions as they had no maps and no idea where they were.
The dogs seemed to enjoy the walk. They certainly enjoyed playing in the river. Perhaps the mid-day heat was a little too much for them, but quite a bit of the walk was in shady woodland, and we’d taken plenty of water for them.
After seven miles we were back where we started; we walked down to the Kings Head for a post-walk pint. After a few minutes the shrieking harridan left, and after a few more minutes the one chain-smoking on the next table also cleared off, and we had a rather good drink (or two).
We would have got home faster had there not been a sheep wandering in the lane. Once home we had a rather quiet evening as both dogs snored.
I should have an early night too…
8 May 2018 (Tuesday) - At The Vet's
The hypocrisy of some people never fails to amaze me… As I looked at Facebook over brekkie someone was posting onto one of the geocaching pages. The specifics of what she was talking about was irrelevant; it was the sort of thing that some people do with a clear conscience and that others frown upon. There was one chap who was lambasting her quite seriously, seemingly oblivious to how he’d posted about having done exactly the same thing himself (only much worse) only a few months ago.
People get *so* worked up about hunting for film pots under rocks…
As Treacle sat with me I pored over the geo-map looking at a rather epic walk that might be good to fill an otherwise dull Saturday in a few weeks’ time. I then put the leads on to the dogs and we had a slightly less epic walk round the park.
As we walked we met a rather odd woman in Bowens Field Wetland Park. We’ve met her before – she rarely walks her dog because he is so badly behaved, and the poor pup is never allowed off the lead. From what I’ve seen he’s not badly behaved, he’s just a dog. My two wandered up to him to say hello (as dogs do), and from the woman’s reaction you would think her dog was being terrorized by a pack of tigers rather than being sniffed by two small hounds.
We went on to the park where lawn cutting was going on. I’ve mentioned before about how well the council look after Viccie Park. The place was immaculate (as always). As we walked we saw OrangeHead’s posse standing about looking lost. Then I noticed OrangeHead marching toward them clearly intending to make a grand entrance. I and my pups headed off in the general direction of OrangeHead who said hello to us as we passed. Had she actually been with her posse we wouldn’t have got any response, but when she is “sans-posse” she can be quite civil.
Once home Fudge ate the breakfast he ignored earlier, and Treacle jumped into the bath to have a drink of cold water straight from the tap. She likes that.
I fed the fish to the delight and excitement of both dogs; they seem to like trying to snaffle the fish food before the fish can get to it, and again one of the larger Koi sucked Fudge’s nose.
Within minutes of getting home I realized both dogs were snoring. Perhaps yesterday’s walk had tired us all more than we realized. I made sure they were comfortable and set off on a little pre-work adventure.
I went to the vet's to collect flea and worming treatments for the hounds. I arrived to find a new receptionist was being trained. Having had some experience in training people I myself would have spent more time in training her to keep her chest under wraps. Taking a pet to the vets can be rather stressful, and the last thing you want is some young floozy's jubblies as a distraction. Mind you, I might be wrong here - perhaps the theory is that these might take one's mind off of the stress of the visit to the vet's. Call me old-fashioned if you will but I think she should put them away. There is a time and a place for epic norks and saucy bras, and that isn't at the vet's.
I then drove to Maidstone , and pausing only briefly for geocachical reasons I got myself some McLunch. Three chicken strips and some chips came in at just over six hundred calories. These days I give the milk shake and McFlurry a miss.
I then went to Aldi for some biscuits and came out with a fleece jumper and some garden lights. I *love* Aldi for that reason. You really do go in for a jar of jam and come out with a power-screwdriver and a lawnmower.
And then on to work. I had a rather good day. In a stark contrast for much of my working life over the last twenty years, most days at work are good now.
Mind you a late start made for a late finish. I missed the Tuesday bash, which was a shame…
9 May 2018 (Wednesday) - Various Rants
Last night I’d set my lap-top doing its update. The moment I emerged from my pit this morning I turned it on so it could finish the update. I had my ablutions, made a sandwich for lunch, emptied the dishwasher, generally idled about… it took over twenty minutes to finish doing its thing. And (as usual) despite what must have been a rather epic software update, there is no noticeable difference in how it works or in what it does.
As I scoffed my toast I watched an episode of “Thunderbirds are Go”. I must remember that this is a children’s show and as such it has several gaping plot holes. Today’s episode had one of these in which rather than rescuing people, International Rescue were playing at being James Bond.
I then had a quick look at the Internet. Some chap was running down the town on one of the various Facebook groups. He wrote “I was wondering have ABC’s lawnmowers all broken down ? While I appreciate that it’s been good grass growing conditions I have never seen so many uncut areas. Victoria Park which is normally kept cut is a shambles this year. If we want to encourage people to use green areas then we have to present them properly. Come on ABC get those mowers out and make Ashford look tidy”.
I know I shouldn’t get involved; social media can be a fight sometimes, but I couldn’t help but wonder what planet this bloke was on. I walked through Viccie Park with the dogs only yesterday. The council were out in force with lawnmowers keeping the place immaculate.
For once the majority agreed with me; as the day wore on, more and more people commented about what a good job is done in Viccie Park.
I went to the petrol station on my way to work. For once the apparently attractive grannie behind the counter had no admirers hounding her. As she took my money she was giving me a load of old flannel… perhaps that is the attraction. Perhaps she leads on the sad-acts that haunt the filling station?
As I walked out so two of here admirers ran in; each trying to beat the other to the till.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing some new musical stage show in London. I’m not sure what one it was; I wasn’t really paying attention. But I listened when the chap said that he was amazed that the masses love musicals but don’t like operas. He then made the point that the teaching of music in schools leaves much to be desired, and if music were taught properly then people might actually have an appreciation for operas.
Perhaps they might. I don’t know. But this theory struck a chord with me. I found myself thinking back to room “A” at Hastings Grammar School over forty years ago and our music teacher “Pa” Jennings. There’s no denying that “Pa” was a very accomplished musician. However he was also a snob that typified all that was wrong with my old school.
I was very much out of place at Hastings Grammar School. It made no secret that it had pretentions of being a public school for the elite. I just got in because I’m a genius (albeit a pauper genius). For several years “Pa” Jennings tried to brainwash us into liking classical music. If we didn’t actually like it, he would settle for our pretending to like it. Hastings Grammar School catered for the sons of the elite; the elite were the sort of people who listened to classical music.
Had he actually instructed us on the subject on its own merits I expect I may well now think differently about classical music.
Getting to work took a little longer today having been sent to Pembury for the rest of the week. I got to work to get a message from "er indoors TM". She was fuming. Having spent a lot of time and effort creating a series of geocaches she’d received a very patronising message telling of how what she had done wasn’t up to scratch. As is so often the case it isn’t so much what was said but how it was said. And as is also so often the case, those offering the sage advice don’t realise that an opinion is not ipso-facto correct just because it is *your* opinion.
She was fuming… I’ve had similar messages from the same source in the past. I’ve calmed down a little but even now (twelve hours later) I’m still spitting bullets. After all is said and done the hobby of geocaching is *supposed* to be fun. Why do people try to spoil the fun? What do they hope to achieve? It is no secret that the vanishingly small minority that take it on themselves to be the self-appointed geo-police have all made themselves social pariahs.
And in other news Pogo has got a rash. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" thinks it is from stinging nettles. She’s dabbing him with calamine lotion…
10 May 2018 (Thursday) - This n That
I wasn’t feeling on top form last night; a decent kip might have helped. It was a shame that the puppy decided to chew my elbow wanting to play at four o’clock. I lay awake fussing the puppy for an hour or so then got up.
Over brekkie I watched more of “The Mighty Boosh” then sparked up my lap-top to see if anything of note had happened overnight.
Yesterday I mentioned that some chap had found fault with the state of Viccie Park and had whinged about the matter on Facebook. The whinging was still going on this morning; it made for interesting reading, as does the entire Ashford Kent Today Facebook group. It is amazing how thick many of the people posting in that group are; reading the various posts it seems that all the wrongs of the world are directly attributable to Ashford’s council. Take the ongoing squabble about the lawn mowing in Viccie Park. The discussion carried on about lawns in general, and several people living in privately rented accommodation couldn’t understand that Ashford council have no responsibility for the upkeep of privately rented places.
And these people are allowed to vote…
I also had an email from Ambrose Thomas who (apparently) really liked the blog entry that I posted on the fourth of January this year. And then he tried to get me to advertise gas powered pressure washers.
He can go whistle.
I was pleased to see it was raining this morning; As I drove home yesterday I’d noticed that the car’s windscreen was rather grubby; I thought that the morning’s rain could wash it clean. And it did.
As I drove into Sissinghurst I saw that the rain had stopped, so I too stopped. There is a geocache there which is a little way off of the road, and with a few minutes spare I thought I might hunt it out.
The thing was called “Up the Garden Path” and it entailed a little walk through some rather pretty woodlands. As I walked I saw rabbits and squirrels, and heard loads of birds singing. It really made for a good start for the day.
The cache itself was a different story… Fortunately there was a good hint given as to where the thing was stashed; the given GPS co-ordinates were about twenty yards out. And the thing was filled with rain water. I sorted out the cache as best I could, but I can do nothing about dodgy co-ordinates. In a fit of foolish bravado I offered to take the thing on. But the person who originally hid it hasn’t logged into the geo-website for three years. Mind you the description did say she’d handed on the responsibility for the care of it to someone else (who hasn’t logged on for six years).
I found myself in something of a quandary. If I can make contact with whoever hid it I can take the cache over and make it good. If I can’t then it remains a leaking plastic sandwich box full of a sodden mess. But (on reflection) it would be a leaking plastic sandwich box full of a sodden mess which isn’t my problem.
I got back to my car and as I drove on to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing some woman. As I’d come into the interview half-way through I had no idea who or what she was. But she boiled my piss. She was expounding some theory that all email-sending apparatus should have some automatic device attached to it which delays sending any email posted after 11pm until the next morning (as she doesn’t like being woken by her phone when she gets emails in the small hours). The implication was that decent people would be in bed at 11pm and so wouldn’t be interested in sending or receiving emails.
I wonder if she’s ever heard of the concept of a night shift?
I got to work… had a rather busy day, and came home again (as I do). "er indoors TM" did a rather good dinner of sausages egg and beans (five hundred calories) then set off to craft night. I sat with my dogs and watched this week’s episode of “Gotham”. It was…
It was probably rather good; but watching the episodes one each week means I’ve completely forgotten all that was going on in the last episode by the time I watch the next one. I shall binge-watch it all on Netflix eventually… Mind you I was pleased to hear the term “undercrackers” used by Alfred.
11 May 2018 (Friday) - Cryptography
I woke to find both dogs on the bed, but by the time I was ready to shovel toast down my neck Fudge had decamped to the sofa from where he looked at me with a rather hopeful expression. Did he want a cuddle, or did he want toast? He got (and seemed happy with) both.
I watched the last episode of "The Mighty Boosh"; it was rather good. Another triumph for my Netflix subscription; "Still Game", "Red Dwarf", "Gotham", "The Good Place", "Lost in Space, "Star Trek: Discovery", "Monkey", "Peaky Blinders" and quite a few films too... not bad for under a tenner a month.
I wonder what I shall watch next.
Not a lot had happened on Facebook overnight for once; but I had half a dozen emails that wound me up a tad. I have several geocaches that I've hidden. I don't look after them as well as some people do; I rely on people to log on-line if there is an issue. This morning I had emails telling me all was well with six of my hides. But then I looked at the date of the finds. These emails referred to find which had been made last August, but which the finder had only got round to logging yesterday. This can be misleading. So... all was well last summer. Had they gone missing in the meantime a late log might trick me into thinking that there was no problem when in fact there was.
There are a lot of people who are behind with their logging, but a while nine months behind? The silly game of geocaching is about finding sandwich boxes in the woods and logging that you've done so. Why only do half the job?
Once I'd finished ranting (not that Fudge was listening to me) I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the latest conflict in the Middle East. They were interviewing some chap from one of the factions who gave a solid five minutes tirade in which he did nothing but spewed racist hatred harping on about grievances from lifetimes ago.
He was then followed by someone else with an interest in the area who said that "her country demanded blood".
I don't understand what is wrong in the Middle East, or any of the issues, but it *really* does seem that everyone there wants nothing more than a bare-knuckle fist fight with everyone else.
I stopped off in Sissinghurst for a little morning walk. There are two geocaches along a track I thought I might hunt out. One eventually emerged (literally); it had been rather seriously buried and looked as though it hadn't seen the light of day for some time. However (despite its interment) it was dry inside (unlike yesterday's find).
The other eluded me; I've asked for clues. I may well go back.
I got to work and did my bit. And came home again.
Last week I enrolled in a course "The Science of Beer". I've given up with it. The course was incredibly simplistic; having post-graduate level qualifications I found I struggled to be treated at the primary school level. Instead I've gone back to my old favourite for on-line education: Coursera. I've signed up for a month of cryptography. I've already got a degree in maths so that might help, and a *lot* of geo-puzzles are based on codes and ciphers. I wonder how this one will pan out…
12 May 2018 (Saturday) - A Bit Wet
Just before bed time last night I was reading my nephew’s drunken messages on Facebook. I got up this morning to find that he’d “blown” all over his mate’s kitchen at half past four this morning and that my brother had been deployed to assist in the clean-up operation.
Oh, how I chuckled when I read my brother’s posting on Facebook.
I was quite surprised at just how many other people were commenting on my brother’s whinge before six o’clock; it isn’t just me who is up early.
Other than spewing nephews, not much else had happened overnight in cyberspace. We got ourselves and the hounds together, and set off.
As we drove up the motorway we saw a Virgin hot air balloon. At one point it looked as though the balloon was on course for the motorway; it as rather low. And once on the M25 we were delayed slightly by an “incident”. But soon enough we were in West Sussex. With time on our hands we stopped off for McBreakfast. The plan had been to meet Karl, Tracey and Charlotte at Wiston; who would have believed that they too would be at McDonalds? And who would believe that "er indoors TM" had never before had a sausage and egg McMuffin? She liked it, as did the dogs.
We drove on to Wiston, parked up and set off on what was very much a walk of two halves. Our plan was to walk the “Wiston Rewind” series of geocaches (in reverse order); taking an early detour to walk the “Ashurst to Spithandle Lane” series (as it was on our way). It was probably a good plan…
It started well; we had a good walk. We saw pheasants (before the dogs did) and even deer in the distance. Treacle climbed ten feet up a tree, both dogs ate poo, we’d walked about six miles when we felt spots of rain…
I’d been checking the weather forecasts all day yesterday. The forecast for where we were had it as being dry until three o’clock, then a twenty per cent chance of rain. In theory we would have been able to have got round most of the walk in the dry…
At half past mid-day we were sheltering under a random tree waiting for the rain to pass. We then spent about an hour going from tree to tree in search of shelter.
Eventually the rain slackened off and we were able to get a move on. But it didn’t stop; it just slackened off. Even with coats on we got rather wet. We got to the pub at Steyning, and stopped to dry off. As my pants steamed we had a pint (it would have been rude not to).
As we finished the pint the rain outside turned torrential so I declared “Emergency Plan “B” (it’s a camping thing) and we had a second pint. And a third. By the time a large port had been sunk the rain had slackened off to a medium monsoon, so in a triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense we braved the elements and carried on.
Despite the weather I took quite a few photos as we walked. It was ironic that I’d bought some waterproof trousers just for this sort of eventuality and had left them at home.
We stopped off for a burger on the way home; what with one thing and another we were rather later finishing the walk than we’d intended and were hungry. And then we got stuck on the M25...
Everyone else had seemingly been watching the Eurovision song contest tonight. Once home and bathed we turned it on to see what we’d been missing. We turned it off after less than a minute; there was some woman who wasn’t singing – she was howling.
Still… everyone else seemed to like it…
13 May 2018 (Sunday) - In The Garden
I ached a little when I emerged from my pit this morning. Not really surprising when you bear in mind yesterday’s exertions.
I popped some washing into the washing machine then had a look-see at the Internet as I do. With not much going on I did half an hour on the cryptography course for which I enrolled on Friday, then looked at the geo-map to plan a walk for next weekend.
Realising that dull jobs don’t do themselves I went into the garden and hung out the laundry. Then I mowed the lawn… Oh how I chuckled… The strimmer’s cutter is utterly poggered and keeps breaking every minute or so. And the dead man’s handle on the lawnmower keeps cutting out. I eventually got the lawn mowed in about ten times the amount of time the job should have taken.
I then got the pressure washer out to scrub down the paving stones and edging stones. As I sloshed "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" arrived with the entirety of her branch of the tribe. The boys had fun with the fish; my biggest Koi is now called “Dragonfish” and one of the darker ones is called “Bob”. However to avoid confusion all of the others are still called “Dave”.
Charlie then helped me with the pressure-washing, and not wanting to be left out, "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" had a go and hosed down pretty much everything within a fifty-yard radius. The moment "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" went inside, both boys told me their new song. They’d learned it from You-Tube (or “Lube-Tube” as "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" calls it). It is a song with which I expect most of my loyal readers are familiar – “it ain’t very funny but it is very runny…. It comes out your bum like a bullet out a gun…” It was at the point when I was teaching them the verses that they didn’t know that "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" came back and caught me red-handed. She wasn’t amused.
We had a cuppa, and then I realized why the pond wasn’t as full as it might be. The filter was leaking. A leaking pond filter means it needs cleaning out. The most recent fruit of my loin knows all about leaking filters, and it was at this point that they all cleared off leaving me up to my elbows in Koi poo.
Eventually I was done in the garden. "er indoors TM" took a break from decorating the kitchen to serve up cheese on toast (I’ve become quite a fan of that stuff). I posted some photos of the morning onto Facebook then drove round to see "My Boy TM"; I’ve had his waders in my car for some weeks.
The first fruit of my loins made me a cup of coffee using his new kettle. As kettles go it is a nice kettle. It has programmable settings and is transparent and has L.E.D.s which change colour as the water gets hotter. I have a kettle in my kitchen which also boils water for eighty quid cheaper. I mentioned this; he too was aware of cheaper kettles and ideally would have had one himself. But Cheryl had said it was a nice kettle and who was he to argue?
Together we went to B&Q; I bought something with which I can bypass the poggered bit of my lawnmower, and to replace my broken strimmer I got a pair of hand-operated shears (just like my gran used to have).
Once home I fixed my lawnmower; it now works. Whilst "er indoors TM" carried on decorating the kitchen I took the dogs to the park where we met "My Boy TM" and his tribe. Rolo picked fights with three different dogs, all of which were twenty times his size. We played in the river, we had a good walk.
I came home and put some shirts into the washing machine and again reviewed the geo-map. The walk I had been thinking about for next time wasn’t a clearly marked walk. Someone had put out several dozen caches in an area so this morning I asked if there was a route to follow to visit all of them. The reply I received wasn’t encouraging; suggesting I made it up as I went along. Also seeing that the previous cacher in the area had been unable to find several I decided to look elsewhere, and spent a few minutes puzzling puzzles.
Despite having been decorating all day, "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good roast dinner, and as she went off bowling so I set about some ironing whilst watching “Happy” on Netflix.
I shall do some more of my cryptography in a minute…
It has been a beautiful day today – why couldn’t it have been like this yesterday?
14 May 2018 (Monday) - Before the Late Shift
I woke in something of a panic realizing that I didn’t wash the undercrackers yesterday evening. I’m not sure why such a trivial matter would have bothered me quite so much, but the washing machine chowed down on my shreddies as I scoffed toast.
I then had another fit of panic when I realized that where I’d parked my car becomes a “no parking” zone at eight o-clock and went out to move my car to somewhere legal (whilst still in my jim-jams).
I then looked at Facebook and my heart sank…
I can remember when I came back from a three-week holiday to Canada with the scouts. I came back to work to find a new trainee. That chap was cheeky, friendly, the life and soul of the party. He was a pleasure to work with and a delight to know. Over the years he’s progressed in the profession and as he’s progressed he’s changed. This morning his place of work is going live with some new way of working and he’d posted words of encouragement on Facebook using typical management-speak. The sort of thing a manager would do using the sort of phrases that managers say because they are expected to say them, but don’t fool anyone.
Whatever happened to that happy carefree lad of eighteen years ago?
I got the dogs organised and we went for our usual loop of the park. Over the last few weeks it has been fashionable to run down Ashford council on Facebook recently, but again the park was immaculate and there were council employees out and about keeping the place tidy at half past eight.
We did our walk; we played with other dogs. We came home and barked at the fish in the pond, then as the dogs settled I did some more of my cryptography course. Vigenere ciphers and the Enigma machines… all rather interesting if you like that sort of thing.
As I do when on the late shift I left home with time to spare. I drove down to the Ellingham industrial estate. There is a hand car washing service there; for some years they had a *huge* sign advertising "The best hand job in town". The sign is unfortunately long gone, but I am shallow enough to fall for such blatant advertising. I gave the nice man fifteen quid and they scrubbed my car inside and out. I came away with that "new car" smell. I don't get my car cleaned very often but when I do, I am never disappointed by the nice people in Ellingham.
As I drove toward the motorway "Women's Hour" was on the radio. Some woman was bleating on about how she hates being fat. So do I. However without wishing to be mean, us fatties have a choice to make. Some people are naturally thin. Some are naturally fat. I am one of nature's porkers, and as such I have a choice. I can either suck it up and be fat, or I can diet. And "diet" means eat a *lot* less food than I used to.
That's how it is.
The woman on the radio was banging on about trying all these diets... I've tried the lot. the only ones which work are the ones which involve eating a *lot* less food. And putting up with the hunger pains that go with it. I found myself getting annoyed by this woman who couldn't seem to realise that her cake hole was bigger than her bum hole, so I turned the radio off and sang along to my odd choice of music instead.
I drove up to Aylesford where there is a geocache (no surprises there!). Mind you I say "there is a geocache"... I solved the puzzle over a year ago. I've got the answer right - I've got the "thumbs-up" on the checker. I've found a location which agrees with the given hints (fir tree)... I can't find the thing. I've been there half a dozen times now, and *again* I met with failure this morning.
Mind you I did find the one by the river that I went for after my failure. It was a cache on its own; with none nearby it doesn't get hunted out very often, which is a shame. It is in a beautiful location just by the river.
I then went for some McLunch. Chicken select and McChips - six hundred calories can't be bad.
And then the late shift...
15 May 2018 (Tuesday) - Backed Up ?
I woke in the small hours with a rotten headache. It eventually passed, and I dozed off, waking one minute before the alarm was due to go off; that was good timing.
I found myself gripped by indecision as I organized my morning toast. Jam or marmalade? I wasted ten minutes finding myself utterly unable to make such a trivial choice. In the end I went half and half. I think I preferred the marmalade.
Rather than watching telly as I scoffed the toast I did more of my Coursera course. A fifteen-minute presentation on probability theory; it gave me flashbacks from my time with the Open University and I amazed myself that I managed to keep up with what were actually rather abstruse concepts.
I then did the next lecture on one-time pads and my brain nearly exploded.
To calm my overheating head I had a look at Facebook for five minutes. Not much had happened overnight except that Gordon’s holiday continued. He’s currently in New Zealand. This is the reason I *love* Facebook – you can be *so* nosey and keep up with what everyone else is doing.
With no emails not destined for the bin I got dressed and made the epic walk to my car - after finishing a late shift there is rarely anywhere to park which is anywhere near the house.
As I drove to work I had more "Open University flashbacks". The pundits on the radio were interviewing an ecologist from the University of Reading. I had three incredibly fun summer schools there when supposedly studying mathematics.
The ecologist being interviewed was talking about rabbit populations in the United Kingdom. The general feeling amongst those who count rabbits is that rabbit numbers are in decline. However there is uncertainty as to just how much of a decrease in lagomorphs we are seeing. Over the last few years various estimates of rabbit populations show a decrease of somewhere between ten and sixty per cent. There's quite a bit of variation in these figures; it seems that there aren't enough people whose hobby or profession is counting rabbits. So the nice people at the British Mammal Society have created an app with which the general populace (i.e. me) can assist by registering any rabbits I may encounter... or any mammal come to that.
Being a mammal myself I’m quite keen on the things, so I’ve downloaded the app. I wonder how it works.
There was also talk about the English cricket team who (following a surprise victory in New Zealand or somewhere) aren't now coming home. The chap they were interviewing was talking about how yesterday they were looking at getting tickets for flights home.
Do they *really* operate like that?
Surely they would book flights home for when the entire tournament was over?
I got to work where we had a good day. The boss was boasting about being pleased that she was backed up. I suggested all-bran. "Being backed up" means something entirely different in her world. Something to do with USB sticks?
The plan for today had been a late shift, but events had turned out so that I was wanted to do the late on Thursday instead. So I had hope to have time for us to walk the dogs and try out my new app. But… for no reason that I could see, my journey home took twice as long as usual. So with "er indoors TM" and the wolf pack already out when I got home, I took the opportunity to give my head the once-over with a pair of shears. I’m not really that keen with my hair style.. not that I have much choice. If I have any length of hair it will look like I’m trying to do a comb-over.
I wonder what’s for dinner…
16 May 2018 (Wednesday) - Petty Bickering
Over brekkie I did some more of my cryptography course. So far it is concentrating on the theory; the maths used to demonstrate the theories is rather complicated stuff. I can’t help but wonder how those without a degree in the subject are managing.
There is an internet forum for the course. I *could* go on there and ask, but I’ve decided not to. It would be one big argument. Just like the argument on Facebook I read just after I’d stopped cyphering for today.
A couple of months ago there was a *lot* of upset in the local Tupperware-hunting community about how some people are dropping everything to run out to claim First to Find on all local geocaches (and thus denying the fun to everyone else). The bad feeling has not abated at all, and the squabbles that started yesterday were continuing here and there on-line and in various messages.
The specifics of the arguments are immaterial, and realistically probably rather trivial. I prepared a bitter diatribe on the matter, and just as I was about to post it I stopped myself…
Hunting under rocks for sandwich boxes is *supposed* to be fun.
I’ve met some really good friends through the silly game. I’ve had some great times. I’ve got a long weekend in France organized through this game…There’s only a vanishingly small minority who are boiling my piss. I really should ignore them.
Why is it that *every single* hobby I take up (kite-flying, astronomy, oil-painting, snake-keeping, beer-making, scouting, sci-fi fandom to name but a few) has an active minority who want to do nothing but suck the fun out of what is going on?
Mind you, all this squabbling about geocaching might come to nothing after Brexit. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the European Union is talking about denying the UK access to the Galileo satellite navigation system.
The E.U.'s chief negotiator has denied the rumours, as you'd expect him to. I wonder what will come of it. Given the worst-case scenario our sat-navs will pack up and stop working. We will have to rummage under rocks using map and compass (as God intended), or I will just have to find yet another hobby which will immediately dissolve into petty bickering.
The radio's thought for the day bit then came on. It started off with an interesting discussion about the current month of Ramadan. It was interesting and thought-provoking and... suddenly as these religious arguments do it all turned to stark nonsense. The argument that was presented stated that simply because lots of people go to church, mosque, synagogue, temple etc and think their religion (and all its associated theories, teachings, traditions, theologies and crackpottery) is true, it must therefore ipso facto *be* true. After all, can so many people *all* be wrong? (!)
This so-called logic seemed to totally ignore that it had just proven that several mutually contradictory stances were all correct. Presumably this was the reasoning why the world was flat for many years (until this was discovered not to be the case)
I got to work and discovered someone had a geocaching travel bug on their car. Someone else who works where I do hunts Tupperware in the woods. I wonder who that is.? And I laughed out loud when I thought about blogging that I wondered if they would like to join in the squabbles.
With work done I got home at the same time as "er indoors TM" and we took the hounds round the park where I thought I might use my new app to register any mammals we might encounter. Unfortunately other than dogs, humans and the odd squirrel, Viccie Park is pretty much devoid of mammalian content. But bearing in mind that idiot enthusiasm usually trumps common sense I thought I would have a go anyway.
Having drawn a blank in the park, Treacle chased a squirrel up a tree in the co-op field. I’ve logged it. (The squirrel that is; not Treacle or the tree).
I might see if I can find another mammal tomorrow before work… I wonder how long it will be before I find myself embroiled in petty arguments about spotting squirrels?
17 May 2018 (Thursday) - Another Late Shift
As I switched on my lap-top this morning the Firefox browser announced it was going to update itself. After a while it was ready to go but looks and seems *exactly* the same as it was before. If it is going to mess about updating why doesn’t it have something to show for itself?
Facebook was relatively calm after all the arguments of yesterday, which was probably for the best. Pretty much every hobby I’ve taken up I’ve given up not because of the hobby itself but because of the toxic people I encounter whilst doing it. I actually enjoy rummaging under rocks looking for hidden boxes and I don’t want to be forced out of the game like I have been so often in the past.
People are a problem… I’ve said before that people in general don’t know how to disagree. Given a point of view with which someone disagrees, they rarely seem to counter with “I disagree for the following reasons…”. Instead people generally seem to either rudely dismiss the point of view, or rudely dismiss the person expressing that point of view.
I was taught the basics of debate at school… wasn’t everyone? Clearly not.
Talking of school, over on the Facebook page for old boys of the Hastings academy for budding geniuses there were some rather harsh words being said about my old headmaster. And if you type “George Henshall Hastings Grammar School" into Google, the first result you get is a biography of the husband of the author Catherine Cookson in which Mr. Henshall is described as “violent”.
I can remember him as being rather strict and somewhat “old skool”, but the George Henshall I read about this morning wasn’t the one in charge of my old school.
I took the dogs for our morning walk. As we walked up the road Fudge tried to pick a fight with a double-decker bus. I wish he wouldn’t. As I pulled him away I suddenly found myself staring in shock.
There were a gaggle of young ladies walking by in what might jokingly be described as “school uniform”. They *might* have been going to school. Quite frankly they might equally well have been going to a pervert’s convention or to the filming of a fetish-porno movie. Now (call me puritanical if you will) but I’m somewhat old-fashioned. A schoolgirl’s skirt should be at least knee length. It shouldn’t be seriously struggling (and failing) to cover the bum. I’ve recently seen adverts on Facebook for Japanese sex dolls which were dressed in pretty much the same way as these young ladies were. There is absolutely no way that "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" would have gone to school dressed like that (not that she went much).
Eventually I calmed down.
As we walked through the park I had my phone poised ready to use my app to document any mammals that we encountered. (Strictly speaking all those (possibly) schoolgirls were mammals, but I thought it best not to photograph them). I was rather disappointed with the results of today’s mammal survey. Apart from a few schoolkids and my dogs there weren’t any mammals to be recorded in the park. Not one.
However when I took my morning photo in the Chinese Garden I realized Treacle’s bum was covered in paint. "er indoors TM" has been painting the kitchen; I wonder if she knows there is a dog-sized splat on one of the walls?
We came home, and I spent half an hour on my cryptography course. I’ve done quite a few courses with Coursera; this one is by far the most difficult. This morning we learned about how easy it is to crack the encryption on a DVD. I say “how easy”; with the high-speed computers of today cryptography has moved on leaps and bounds since the Enigma machines of the 1940s.
I settled my pups, and went off to get some petrol. Half way through refuelling "er indoors TM" sent me a message. Just as I answered it, so the petrol pump cut off. It just wouldn't work again. I went into the kiosk to see what was going on and the supposedly attractive grannie was really arsey with me. She'd deliberately turned off the pump because she didn't like people using mobile phones. When I asked why she seemed to think it was "obvious". She seemed blissfully unaware that the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) has done several investigations into the use of mobile phones in petrol stations and found that "There were no confirmed ignition incidents associated with mobile phones anywhere in the world."
I've told her I shall take my money elsewhere in future.
I drove up to East Farleigh where I had a little geo-adventure and finding myself some distance from McDonalds I treated myself to a pork and apple baguette.
And then I did the late shift… It was hard work.
18 May 2018 (Friday) - Bit Dull
Again I started the morning with more cryptographic theory. I’m struggling to understand some of the theory behind it all. As my brain overloaded so Fudge fidgeted about in his basket worrying his bottom. It was clearly time for another finger up the bum for that poor dog. Half way through the video lecture I was conscious of being watched. I looked up; Fudge was staring at me. When he saw he had my attention he trotted to the back door to be let out. I thought he wanted to “do his business”; actually he wanted to menace the koi in the pond. He does that quite a lot.
Ten minutes later he was staring at me again wanting to be carried upstairs. It is quite amazing how he can communicate what he wants.
This morning there had been mention on Facebook about the GDBR. The pundits on the radio were banging on about it as I drove to work. Following all sorts of scandals about breaches of personal confidentiality and data storage, next month a new law will make the consequences of failing to protect personal data for banks and others far more serious.
I can understand how banking data needs to be secure, but the consequences of this legislation means that it is questionable whether small businesses are going to be allowed to keep data of their customers. There was some woman being interviewed on the radio who was saying how much work she will have digging through her records and deleting all sorts of data which is actually already freely available.
Personally I like to keep in touch with a firm with whom I've had a good experience. What on Earth is the point of the silicon revolution if not to make keeping in touch easier?
The whole thing is a nonsensical knee-jerk reaction - look at the "scandal" about personal data that Facebook had allowed to slip. I went through alll of the data they had on me - there wasn't *anything* that was in any way personal or private. How much money will this cost us all?
And once all the useful data has been destroyed, nuisance phone calls will still continue...
My piss boiled some more when I heard about another change in the law. Following several horrific acid attacks there are moves afoot to change the law so that police can demand to know why anyone is walking around carrying vast quantities of corrosive substances. Can you believe that they aren't allowed to do that at the moment? If I choose to wander around carrying litres of concentrated acids, then I am quite at liberty to do so. But I can't carry a gun or a knife.
Similarly it is illegal for me to distill alcoholic spirits without a license, but I can make as much as I want by a freezing process.
Sometimes British law amazes me.
"er indoors TM" messaged me half way through the morning. She'd got an appointment slot at the vets and had taken Fudge along. The nice nurse had shoved her finger up his bum and sorted him out.
I doubt he liked that very much. Mind you he’d rallied by the evening.
As I ironed my shirts "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" came to visit. With "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" off at his auntie’s for the evening she’d been at the strawberry daquiri….
Some days in my life are fun…today was rather dull.
19 May 2018 (Saturday) - Twenty-One Miles Later
After a rather bad night’s sleep I had my weigh in. After my weight holding constant for some time, this morning I was down three pounds. I was pleased about that.
I gave Fudge breakfast in bed, then over my brekkie I had a quick look at the Internet. Yesterday I whinged about the coming data protection regulations; this morning my dentist had emailed me asking for formal permission to carry on emailing me. What nonsense - *of course* I want emails from my dentist.
Even though it was only half past five, me and Fudge set sail for Junction four of the M20 where we’d arranged to meet our lift. The plan for today was to go for a *lot* of geocaches. I’ve done a hundred (or more) six times before; on each of the three days of our Cornwall trip a couple of years ago, on our walk along the Chelmer and Blackwater navigation series in Essex in May 2013, round Crockenhill near Swanley in May 2014 and on a duck hunt in August 2017.
Knowing that going for big numbers takes a lot of time we set off early. Knowing that where we were going was rather hilly, "er indoors TM" had decided to stay home and crack on with the decorating.
We soon met Karl and Tracey; Charlotte was pleased to have Fudge in the back of the car with her. Pausing only briefly for McBrekkie we were soon high on a hill in the back of beyond. We put on boots and off we went.
We had a rather good walk. Two weeks ago the day was *so* hot; last week it was *so* wet. Today was ideal walking weather. As we walked we saw buzzards and slow worms. We even saw a deer that I logged using my “mammals” app. We also saw rabbits and squirrels who were too fast for us to photograph, and horses and donkeys who weren’t. (You can see the photos here) At the eighteen-mile stage, just as I thought Fudge was flagging he saw a pheasant and suddenly developed a whole new lease of life.
As we went I managed to cut my hand quite impressively (no idea how), we found no end of discarded farm machinery, and we even rolled in stuff (as dogs do).
We walked on high hills and low valleys; as we went we met quite a few cyclists. The day was only marred by the frankly awful music emerging from a farmhouse in one of the low valleys as we walked past high above. Why do people have to play such terrible noise so loudly? But we soon left that way behind.
At the fifteen-mile stage we found a pub. Usually when I am driving I will not drink at all. But with a few more hours walking ahead of us I thought I would make an exception to my rule; after all there was plenty of opportunity to walk it off. A pint (or two) was very welcome after fifteen miles; however having to get up and walk on took some doing.
Ironically from the pub to the car was all ever so slightly up hill.
Geocache-wise today was (for me) somewhat problematical. The caches were all relatively straightforward hides. If we hadn’t found them in five minutes then they weren’t there. We logged “didn’t find” on four. Two had (obviously) gone when a new fence had been installed over the last week or so; one was in seriously deep nettles, and one seemed to have dropped from its hidey-hole. I’ve found more caches in a day before (on four other occasions) but at a shade under twenty-two miles, today was the longest caching walk I’ve ever done. It was a shame that “Hannah” (my GPS unit) only had two thirds of the caches registered. Thank heavens for the ability to hunt Tupperware on a mobile phone.
We’d started walking at quarter past eight in the morning; we got back to the car half an hour after sunset at half past nine in the evening having walked over twenty-one miles and having found one hundred and ten geocaches. Having left home just after half past five this morning, Fudge and I struggled home at just after half past eleven.
We’d had a rather full day…
20 May 2018 (Sunday) - Family Barbeque
Surprisingly I didn’t sleep that well last night. After laying awake for some time I got up at six o’clock and spent a little while doing all the geo-admin for yesterday’s walk. Having had something of a GPS failure it took some sorting out. Eventually I found what had gone wrong with “Hannah”yesterday; I’d put my GPX file where my jpg should have been. I would suggest that my loyal readers take care where they stick their GPX files so as to avoid a similar calamity.
As I sat so Fudge came and sat with me. He seemed knackered after yesterday’s exertions.
I then had a look at my cryptography course. It was time for this week’s test… I’ve given up with the course. It was very interesting; but it was *very* difficult and today was the end of week test. I didn’t have the faintest idea what the questions were asking, let alone what the answers might be.
I shall go back to Netflix in the mornings before work.
With "er indoors TM" still asleep I got out my ingredients and mixed them all up (as one does). The intention was to make another couple of malt loaves as a final practice run for the works bake-off tomorrow. I experimented with soaking my sultanas and priming my yeast and left it all to prove (like they do on bake-off on the telly) whilst I had a go in the garden.
Last week I cobbled the lawnmower so that it wouldn’t keep cutting out, and it seemed to work. As I mowed Treacle came out to “help” me; having scurried up seemingly ten thousand dog turds before I started, Treacle then proceeded to lay what must have been her own bodyweight in dog dung. How can a small dog create so much?
I got the fence posts painted; regular readers of this drivel may recall that on 15 December of last year "My Boy TM" helped me (i.e. did all the work) to replace some fence panels. At the time it was too cold to fiddle about so I decided to paint the new posts later. I finally got round to doing it today. I then cut back the stuff flowing over the fence from next door, then had a little sit down; I was still aching from yesterday’s walk.
Once my loaves were out of the oven "er indoors TM" and I went to Tesco to get stuff for the feeding of the family. Tesco was heaving, but I met Dave Wickham – he used to be a cub leader with me all those years ago. His boys are now in their twenties – where does the time go?
We came home and got the garden organized, and soon the fruits of my loin and their tribes were with us. We had a rather good family barbeque. The morning had been overcast; we had thought about cancelling. But the sun came out, we scoffed ourselves silly, the dogs ran riot, and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" did his Morris dancing (!) and for an encore sang the diarrhea song (to the delight of his mother).
With everyone gone home (littluns have got school tomorrow) and "er indoors TM" off bowling I made the malt loaves I shall be taking to work tomorrow for the bake-off. Soaking the sultanas on the morning’s practice run worked so I did that again. The stuff is proving at the moment. Tomorrow will be the moment of truth. Though (in all honesty) whilst winning would be nice, I’d really be happy if people like the stuff and at the end of the day there was none left.
21 May 2018 (Monday) - Works Bake Off
Again I didn’t sleep well. A really long walk on Saturday; a full day yesterday… I wonder why I didn’t sleep? I really wish sleep was something we could control; wide awake for much of the night, nodding off at the most inconvenient times…
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Thunderbirds are Go”, Alan and Virgil were off rescuing people today, which is what the show should be about. As I watched so Fudge snored. He has no trouble sleeping after a busy weekend.
My morning rummage round Facebook was rather disappointing; overnight I had not received a single notification. Not one.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had posted that she was off to do jury service today. I’m not sure that is the sort of thing she should be posting on social media (or I should be mentioning here)… but then again, why not? If someone wanted to nobble a jury they are far more likely to watch who is walking in and out of the courtroom rather than hope to find some obscure reference somewhere in the Internet. In many ways it is like all the “don’t put pictures of your children on the internet in case in attracts the paedos” theory. How does that work? Is some freako-type *really* going to randomly find a photo of (say) "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and then go searching for him? Really?
I only had one email of note this morning. The nice people at Untappd told me about a Belgian beer festival in London: “…Upon arrival, you will receive a glass and off you go, no need to purchase any tokens, all the brewers will serve you an unlimited number of tasting doses of their own creations…” It sounded good; I wondered how much it would cost to get in. The email didn’t say. Nor did the event’s web page. After quite a bit of Googling I found a ticket was over forty quid. Perhaps that was why they kept it quiet; twenty-five quid is a *lot* to spend at a beer festival.
And so to work. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about…. To be honest I didn’t really listen. As I got in the car so the sport bulletin started. As I have said before I really did hear “blah blah sport - blah blah sport”, my attention wavered, and I didn’t really pay attention again.
I got to work to find that colleagues were setting up the tea room for today’s bake-off competition. I laid out my malt loaves in the “bread” area. I was up against some chocolate and hazelnut pastries and some cheese twists. In all honesty I think the other two did better than me, but having said that, I was quite pleased with my effort. The categories had been given at random – looking at the tray bake, savoury and layered cake categories I think I was lucky to have been put in the “bread” section.
It was ironic that at ten past nine I was asked to go work at Tunbridge Wells for the day. However I got to snaffle some of the various cakes before I went. And seeing how I’m supposed to be on a diet it was probably as well that I was sent away from the cakes.
I had time to photograph some of the cakes before I left – they looked rather good. We’ll have to do it again – after the diet’s finished…
22 May 2018 (Tuesday) - Before the Late Shift
Finally a decent night’s sleep!! Over brekkie I saw that the album I’d posted onto Facebook with photos of yesterday’s works bake-off had received a lot of favourable comments. I was pleased about that
There were also quite a few comments about the Grenfell towers tragedy (the formal inquest started yesterday) and several memes were circulating about how the council could afford a Royal wedding last weekend, but wouldn’t pay for fire safety on a tower block.
Oh how my piss boiled. So many people have no idea how the world is financed.
“The council” (whoever that might be) weren’t responsible for Grenfell Towers – that was the responsibility of The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation which has four council-appointed members out of a total of fifteen members. The only cost to the taxpayer for the Royal wedding was the security, most of which will be recouped in the tourist trade. The cost of the security wasn’t that much more than is spent on the average major football event. Bearing in mind all the anti-social behavior which goes with football, a better case could be made for banning football events…
I checked my emails and saw I had one from Geocaching HQ telling me that today is “Thank a Volunteer Day” when we all show our appreciation for the volunteer reviewers who do so much for the geo-hobby.
I have mixed feelings about this… Whilst the volunteer reviewers do a wonderful job, the way geo-HQ involves volunteers leaves a *lot* to be desired.
There are about a dozen or so volunteers who operate across the UK who check the suitability of new geocaches before allowing them to be published. But because there are so few of them to cover such a large area, all the “reviewing” is done from the home by people working independently using Google street view, no local knowledge, no idea of how the other reviewers are interpreting the rules, and (seemingly) no memory of what they did last week. All of which leads to the rules not being applied consistently.
Some hides are turned down because there is a school a hundred yards away whilst others are allowed which are within arm’s reach of the playground.
One person is not allowed to hide sandwich boxes because they are too lackadaisical with their maintenance; another person with *exactly* the same track record is.
Some formal events are deemed too close together at a day apart whilst others are allowed to be one minute apart.
What is rudely turned down in one area is warmly welcomed only fifty miles away.
Perhaps if there was a lot less secrecy about how one joins the select band of reviewers and a lot more people were invited to help, with more than one person adjudicating on each possible hide or meet then the rules might be applied consistently. And my piss wouldn’t boil as it did only the other day when I saw that someone else had been allowed to use an idea which I was told was totally and expressly forbidden.
I took the dogs for a walk. Fudge shouted at pretty much everything in Beaver Road. I wish he wouldn’t. he was such a quiet dog when he first came to live with us; I can remember the first time I heard him bark. I thought it was *so* sweet.
As we turned in to Bowen’s Field wetland park we saw some goldfinches. (I say “we”; I doubt the dogs were interested). I’ve not seen them in Bowens Field before. Come to that I don’t think I’ve seen them in Ashford before. I wonder if they are moving in to the area. Let’s hope so.
I also saw a squirrel before the dogs did, and logged it with my “Mammals” app. So far I’ve logged three mammals (two squirrels and a deer), but I suppose it is still early days. Mammals would seem to be a lot more obscure than you might think.
I set off for work and (loaded up with a heap of rubbish for the tip) I headed down the road to my car. Then I turned round and went up the road. Then I stopped and had a little ponder... where *did* I park the car last night?
Eventually I found the thing and set off. Firstly I went to Matalan to get some new trousers. As I queued up I couldn't help but overhear the chap in front who was demanding a refund on some item or other which his wife had bought for him. But the assistants couldn't give him a refund - they could only refund the credit card which paid for the goods - his wife's card(!) This chap was adamant she couldn't come into the store herself as she was housebound, but he was at a loss to explain how she'd got into the store to buy the thing in the first place.
I went to the tip to get rid of some garden rubbish, then I went to Leeds. Leeds - the one near Maidstone; not the one that everyone has heard of. A few weeks ago I solved a geo-puzzle there just before the rain started. Today I thought I'd actually find the cache. I found it using skill and expertise (!) - the GPS had the actual cache being some forty yards away from where it should have been. Bad initial co-ordinates, poor calculating on my part, or my phone being doolally?
My phone was spot-on at the next geocache I hunted out at the motorway services.
As I drove out of the motorway services I had a little incident. Some idiot in a black Audi (registration GJ16 RTZ) flew out of the services behind me going far too fast, and finding himself in the wrong lane cut me up so badly I had no alternative but to either swerve off of the roundabout or crash into him. This twat then drove round the next roundabout as though he was the only person on the road.
I went on to McDonalds to calm my nerves. There was another twit there; this chap had clearly never been to a McDonalds before and was making rather hard work of it. Eventually he was given his tray and he then blundered about getting in everyone's way with it. I didn't *quite* laugh out loud when a young mother told him "sit down, eat your food, fuksake!"
And finding there were no long-handled secateurs in Aldi I went to work.
I do like the late shifts, if only for the morning adventure...
23 May 2018 (Wednesday) - Another Late Shift
Treacle is a very nervous and timid dog… when we are out and about. At home she is rather more confident. She showed this by declaring “Red Alert” twice in the small hours of last night.
I looked at Facebook with a twinge of jealously this morning; Sparks’ UK tour started in Glasgow last night. There were several videos of the show being posted up; it looks like I missed something special. Bearing in mind they are based in America and are both in their seventies, I really should get a ticket for one of the shows before it is too late.
I had an email from the nice people who run the “Mammals” app. It seems they don’t accept any old rubbish and review the mammal sightings. They have accepted my deer sighting which I submitted on Saturday. It is good that they actually check the sightings. However what is to stop me reporting the same mammal several times? I suspect this will happen in Viccie Park – how many squirrels can there be in one park?
I also had emails from Orinta Murasovaite and Robyn Steel asking if they could join my LilnkedIn network. I can only imagine that my LinkedIn network must be something special - *so* many people want to join it.
I then took the dogs round the park. I’ve mentioned recently how there are those who take everyopportunity to run down the council’s care of Viccie Park. Again the lawns were being mowed before half past eight. Again the park was immaculate.
We walked round the park and home through the co-op field. Today we didn’t meet anyone else, there were no fights, nothing happened. As walks go it was a tad dull.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that me and "My Boy TM" went to B&Q a couple of weeks ago when I bought some shears to (hopefully) replace the garden strimmer which is poggered. I tried them out at the weekend - they were worse than useless (the broken strimmer does a better job), and so I took the shears back to B&Q this morning. I went up to the refunds desk and asked for my money back because the shears don't actually cut anything. I was expecting a fight; the utterly disinterested assistant handed back the money without batting an eyelid. That went a *lot* easier than I had expected.
I then drove out to Ulcombe for a little geo-adventure before work. There is a very old geocache there. Five years ago we walked within five hundred yards of it, but thought it too far off of our route to visit. On reflection it probably was, but these older caches usually are on their own with none around them.
I parked up in a church car park five hundred yards away from my target (this being the closest that I could park) and walked along a rather overgrown footpath. After a while I came to a swamp. Fortunately the path went by the side of the swamp, and not through it. The first four hundred yards of the walk to the cache were a bit uninspiring, but the last hundred yards were rather pretty. I soon found the fifteen-year-old sandwich box and signed the log. A recent finder of this cache had written quite an essay in the log book, including a little bit about how Bill's son was a "hottie". I couldn't help but wonder who Bill was, or just how much of a "hottie" his son was.
Pausing only briefly to act very suspiciously round the village sign I then drove up to the church at Broomfield where (carefully avoiding the ramblers) I found a gravestone, solved a puzzle, and soon found a film pot behind a rock up a tree. As one does in my world.
When I walked back to my car I saw an elderly couple who were having a picnic in the church garden. We all looked at each other and all realised we were sniggering about the ramblers. I got chatting with the couple - they showed me their plan for a six mile route round the area starting from Leeds castle. I might just walk it and see if I can't find some rocks along the way under which I might put some film pots.
I then drove up to McDonalds for some lunch, and then popped into Aldi. Aldi - what a shop! I went in for biscuits and came out with a pair of secateurs and three pairs of underpants.
Work was work; as I drove home, the Mael brothers (them out of Sparks) were being interviewed on the radio. It was something of a disappointment.
24 May 2018 (Thursday) - A Rather Dull Day
Over brekkie I read something on one of the work-based Facebook pages I follow which struck a chord with me: “Feeling discouraged...I’ve been in a toxic work situation for quite a while now. I’ve finally decided I need to change companies after years of trying to make it work out. Sometimes I think I’ve made the wrong career decision. However I’ve been in the same position for 10 years, so I know I haven’t experienced much variety out there. Could use some words of encouragement or advice.”
I found myself having flashbacks. I worked with a toxic person for years, She was obnoxious and a bully who delighted in giving out personal verbal abuse. Eventually things got so she would do her work in a room on her own which suited everyone; she hated everyone else and everyone else hated her. On one occasion a trainee went to her for help; she told him her door was closed for a reason, and slammed it in his face.
Successions of managers tried to work with her and jolly her up, but she resisted all attempts to get her to stop being such a nasty person. But what *really* got me was that for all that everyone else would grumble and whinge about her, not one would formally complain. So when I eventually formally complained I was told that it was only me who had a problem with her.
I hear she is still a serious problem for the place’s current management.
I also read a post on Facebook from someone who still works in that place who was complaining that the hospital’s ultrasound machine was out of action, and was being rather disparaging about the matter. I see people who work there running the place down every week on Facebook. I once posted a selfie from the place in the small hours of a night shift, was told I was bringing the place into disrepute and received a formal disciplinary warning.
I’m convinced I would have had a case for constructive dismissal. But on reflection I am very glad to be away from that environment.
I got dressed; that is I got dressed once I’d retrieved my new pants from Treacle. I bought some new pants from Aldi yesterday. I wonder if they would be as keen to exchange them as B&Q were to refund my money on those shears yesterday? The whole idea of pants is to hold your “junk” in place. These new pants seem to be for decorative purposes and just let it all slop about. I shall wash them and give them to Treacle as a toy; she will think she is *so* clever running around with them.
Alternatively I shall let the gnomes have them – if they have finally figured out what to do with them.
Together with the dogs I got a lift half-way to "er indoors TM"’s work. We walked home through the new estate. I like the look of some of those houses there; how do people afford them?
Failing to find a geocache there (I promptly emailed friends for hints) we came home and I trimmed the edges of the lawn with that poggered strimmer. It trims well enough, but the cutting bit has had it. I am currently bodging it by using old washing line as the strimming edge; having to have three changes of washing line for each time I cut the lawn’s edges.
As I was finishing so the sky got rather black. I shall mow the rest of the lawn tomorrow.
Over a spot of lunch I put on a DVD. I’m sure I’ve watched “Interstellar” before; after an hour or so I felt myself getting tired. I do that before the night shift. I’m sure it is all in the mind, but just after min-day I get very sleepy. I went off to bed for a few hours, then watched the end of “Interstellar”. In many ways it was very like “Avatar”; the sort of film I thought I would like, and probably would have done had it been an hour shorter. Leaving aside the glaring plot holes, I was just waiting for the film to finally end. It had clearly modeled itself on the film “2001 – A Space Odyssey” and that film went on far too long as well.
(on checking it seems I watched the film on 8 May last year whilst doing the ironing – I didn’t like it then either).
Once "er indoors TM" has boiled up some dinner I’m off to the night shift…
25 May 2018 (Friday) - Next Door
As I drove home from work this morning the pundits on the radio were talking about how the planned meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un has been cancelled. I can’t help but feel that an actual meeting is the last thing either of them want. The promise of a meeting which is forever on-again off-again would be far better for them – it will keep the public’s attention for ages.
There was also talk about the latest estimates of the cost of Brexit. Whether or not it was the right decision is irrelevant; the decision has been made. But it was an expensive decision especially when you bear in mind that it was sold to the masses as a financial saving. The Governor of the Bank of England says it has left households nine hundred pounds worse off, and there will still be twenty billion quid extra to find each year. In the lead-up to the referendum the leaders of the “Leave” campaign were crystal clear in their promises that Brexit would save the country money. Would it be *that* unreasonable for the government to bankrupt Boris Johnson and Nigel Farrage as a punishment if for no better reason than to make politicians accountable for making promises that they clearly cannot keep?
I took the dogs round the park; Treacle ran in terror from other dogs, Fudge humped and picked fights, OrangeHead’s posse were civil… a rather dull walk really.
As we walked I spoke with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" on the phone. She’s been discharged from jury service. Apparently this isn’t the same as being expelled; it turns out they don’t need her. She was told that the courts don’t take on much work over the Bank Holiday period. It struck me that criminals work round the clock every day of the year and take maybe a couple of minutes do perform their nefarious acts. The courts on the other hand only work weekdays, have short working hours, clearly don’t put themselves out at weekends, and take ages to deliberate.
We came home to see nice-next-door loading up their removal van. Today was their moving day. Such a shame…
We've not had much luck with our neighbours since we moved into our current house in the autumn of 1991. When we moved in there was a rather vicious nasty woman and her hen-pecked weasel of a husband in the house next door (going down the road from us). This was years before the bypass had been built, and (being obsessed with peace and quiet) they were not happy that they had moved in to what was then the busiest street in the town. They never forgave us for moving into the house where their friends had once lived and they made no secret of the fact that they despised children in general and ours in particular. I can distinctly remember having to reprimand "My Boy TM" and "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" (both aged about six and seven) for standing in the back garden singing (to the tune of the Australian soap-opera “Neighbours”) “Neighbours… we hate the f… ing neighbours”.
After years of her constantly complaining about trivia they moved out and were replaced with the current neighbours who I often refer to as “not-so-nice-next-door”. I honestly believe he is clinically insane; she looks at me like I am the sh*t on her shoe. Neither have hardly said a word to us since I had a solicitor write to them over ten years ago when they didn’t seem to realise that I don’t need their permission to lead my own life.
He hasn't been seen for over a year, and I am wondering what is going on. I suspect he might be in a secure mental unit, but I could be wrong.
The house next door up the road from us is a different story. No one *ever* stays for any length of time there.
When we moved in there was a little old lady who kept herself to herself.
She was replaced by the mother-in-law of the other neighbours. We got on well with her to the disgust of the other neighbours.
After her it is all something of a blur. I can't remember the exact order, and I may have forgotten some ...
There was the drunk Irishman who would play crap music at 2am.
There were two young Australian ladies who would sunbathe in the garden in the nip (I liked them).
There was a Nigerian family who would never pull the blind in their toilet.
There were two young lads who were great fun.
There was the Nigerian fellow who would regularly have a "crafty Joddrell" into the toilet in the evenings; the shadows of which on their bathroom blind were rather entertaining
There was the odd couple who tried to blame the flood from their upstairs bathroom on my downstairs washing machine.
There was the young family who ran away owning thousands (we had the debt collectors asking after them for months).
There were the people with three dogs each of which was the size of a cart-horse.
There was the nice couple who moved round the corner to Francis Road.
Then there was the lot who did noisy sex and who moved out today.
On Sunday 13 November 2016 I wrote about the most recent neighbours: “As we pulled up so our new neighbour was coming out of next door. We chatted for a few minutes; he seems pleasant enough. Here’s hoping”. Chatting with him I got the distinct impression that he feels that I had let him down. He’s moving to one of the new housing estates where he hopes there will be a sense of community that he feels is lacking in Beaver Road. I suspect he was hoping that when he moved in next door to us, his neighbours would also be his best friends; we were never home long enough to get chummy. Personally I subscribe to the “Good fences make good neighbours” philosophy. I’m an old misery-guts in that respect.
I suspect he is hoping to find a ready-made group of people to be his friends. Such groups are out there; you just have to find them… I *think* he is hoping that by moving house such a group will find him. I *think* he will be disappointed. Especially if she carries on screaming quite so impressively when “doing the dirty deed”.
That's a dozen sets of people who have come and gone next door. In between some of these, the house has been empty for over a year on two occasions. This last lot lasted eighteen months next door to us… that’s probably average for our neighbours. In the past, getting new neighbours has been a matter of great trepidation for me; now I can’t help but wonder just how transient this lot will be.
I took myself off to bed; I managed four hours sleep, then lay awake for a while. Eventually I realized I might as well use the time constructively so whilst the dogs snarled at the window at nice-next-door who were *still* moving out. The first time we moved house we did it ourselves; it was horrific. The last time we moved we paid professional movers and it was *so* much easier.
As the dogs grumbled I got the lawn mowed and then looked at the monthly accounts. Whilst I am far from skint I just wish I had a *lot* more money. Realistically I don’t need it. I just want it.
"er indoors TM" will be home soon. The trouble with night shifts is that I don’t really sleep much during the day and I get rather lonely. Perhaps if I was more chummy with the neighbours… ? I’ve met the new people – by an odd coincidence they have a jack russell and a spaniel. We’ve got a jack russell and half a spaniel.
As I said on Sunday 13 November 2016 “here’s hoping”.
26 May 2018 (Saturday) - Wadhurst
I downloaded a new book onto my Kindle app last night during a tea break an hour before dawn. Over the last year I've been reading all sorts of sci-fi from authors of whom most people have never heard: Wilson Harp, Ken Loz, M R Forbes, Marko Kloos... e-publishing has given a break to a whole load of authors. And because an e-book is far cheaper than an actual book, I don't mind taking a chance on an author of whom I've never before heard
This morning I thought I'd try something different. I downloaded "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George RR Martin. It is the book that the rather good TV show "Game of Thrones" is based on. And after half an hour's reading the book there is a *lot* of the TV show which suddenly makes a lot more sense.
As I drove home I lost count of the amount of Ford Anglias driving down the motorway. Was there a rally today?
I got home and had a quick brekkie. I packed the sarnies that "er indoors TM" had made, we got the dogs organised, and set sail to Wadhurst, stopping for geocachical reasons twice as we went.
(Going straight from a night shift was perhaps a tad ambitious. But the weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t good and I’m working on Monday. If I’d just gone to bed then the entire bank holiday weekend would have been a write-off).
It wasn’t long before we were all poised in the car park ready to go, and seven of us (and two small dogs) went off for a rather good walk.
As we walked I felt rather guilty; bearing in mind the route was along the side of a reservoir I’d told "er indoors TM" that it would be flat. I was surprised at just how hilly it was. But for all that there were hills, it was a rather pretty walk; the scenery was lovely. We had such a good picnic by Bewl reservoir; it was such a shame that Treacle felt the need to fight with every passer-by. On reflection she only got belligerent when we were sitting down for dinner. She had no problems with others when we were moving. Did she see us as “her pack” and was she guarding us as a dog would? Was it her canine instincts? Or am I just making excuses for her having been a pain in the arse?
Having up-hill-ed and down-dale-ed for six and a half miles we found ourselves back where we’d started. We’d started near the Greyhound pub, and so it would have been rude not to have used the facilities there. Three pints went down really well in the afternoon sunshine.
Geocache-wise it was an ideal walk; straight-forward finds sensibly spaced out along a (mostly) well-marked route… mind you I did have reservations about some of the paper logs that had been custom-made for that route. Bearing the legend “if logbook is full do not replace it instead contact…” some had already been replaced.
I was rather baffled by this though. If a logbook is full on one of my caches and someone replaces it, I would thank them profusely. The last thing I want to do is give up a large part of my day to swap over bits of paper.
And I had some serious concerns about the last cache hide. We had a go for it and gave up as we looked suspicious. We phoned a friend, got detailed instructions, and went back. It *really* was up a private drive hidden in someone’s hedge. But whose hedge? If it was the hedge of the person who hid it, then the description should say so. If t wasn’t then it shouldn’t have been there.
After a good rummage in that hedge we were approached by the neighbours who weren’t impressed.
I took a few photos as we walked. I do that…
Having come out straight from the night shift this morning I slept like a log all the way home. Once home we watched “Young Sheldon” and “Plebs” over dinner.
I think I shall have an early night…
27 May 2018 (Sunday) - Busy, Busy...
I was feeling all-in yesterday evening. Was it a day in the sun followed by three pints? Was it two night shifts with little sleep? Either way I was out like a light for nine hours last night. Mind you I can vaguely remember listening to torrential rain at some point in the night.
Eventually the call of “Trap One” couldn’t be denied any longer and I got up. Once I’d “lost some weight” in there I stood on the scales. I haven’t been quite as diligent with the diet over the last few days, and certainly a night shift means I have an extra meal at 3am that usually I don’t have (because I am asleep) but I was pleasantly surprised to see my weight had held constant at what it was the last time I weighed in.
Over a cup of coffee I looked at the Internet. The photos I posted yesterday had raised quite a bit of interest. I also saw that others had been out and about in the sunshine yesterday too. Some had been camping, some up trees, some flying kites, some drinking beer… And most of humanity had been up all night watching the most impressive thunderstorms. (I thought I heard rain!)
Social media is great if only so that I can be nosey about what others are doing.
With "er indoors TM" out with her mates at Southend for today I drove round to collect "My Boy TM". After a spot of McBreakfast we went up to the Detling showground where the Kent Garden Show was on its second day. Bearing in mind that thunderstorms were forecast for the early afternoon we felt we’d better get in and out quickly. I’d not been to the Kent Garden Show before. As well as there being loads of plants for sale there were all sorts of stalls selling all sorts of stuff too. The first fruit of my loin came out with a foxglove and some other triffid; I came out with sausages, a new shower head, tin geckos and tin dragonflies, and a membership of the Kent wildlife trust. We listened politely to the boring old bloke from the acer club who droned on about his eighty-year-old pal who goes up Mount Fuji for him to get acer seeds. We nodded in agreement as the woman on the Everest double glazing stall told us about her mate’s divorce. We were amazed to find that the ice-cream van didn’t have monkey blood.
After a couple of hours the crowds were getting thicker and thicker. We had been right to get there early.
We came home. "My Boy TM" wanted to get his plants into the garden before Cheryl found where he’s been. I thought I just had time to walk the dogs before the forecast storms would hit. When we were half way round the park I checked the weather forecast on my phone. The forecast storms had been held up and weren’t expected until late afternoon, so I took the dogs swimming. That filled up some time.
With the walk done I fed the pond fish. Fudge and Treacle both got rather over-excited about it.
I then got out my electric screwdriver and put out the garden ornaments I’d bought. They look quite good. Whether they will in a year or so remains to be seen. And with the weather still fine I thought I’d do something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I got a pair of secateurs and trimmed up the grass around the paving stones that go up our garden. A simple little job – trim away the excess grass, tidy up, and then blast the lot with the pressure washer. Simple!
It took over two hours to do.
I checked the weather forecast again… the storms were having a rather bad time of it and now weren’t expected until late evening. I seriously considered taking the dogs down to the beach for a run, but I wasn’t feeling that well. Too much sun perhaps?
I went up to the kebab shop and got a large chicken doner and chips which I shared with the dogs for our tea. I think it fair to say we all enjoyed it. I also think the dogs had had too much sun as they both went to sleep for the evening.
Bearing in mind I’d not done any ironing for weeks I then had a three-hour marathon ironing session. I finally finished just after nine o’clock.
I then tried out my new shower head. It is pretty good !! it has dangerous chemicals to remove the limescale and soften the water and really fine nozzles to give more pressure. I just hope "er indoors TM" likes it. Oh well… if she don’t it could only be God’s way of telling her not to leave me unsupervised.
The original plan for today had been a long walk. We’d cancelled that because of the weather forecast and I had resigned myself to today being a dull day. It was a busy day – I didn’t stop. I shall be going to work for a rest tomorrow (I hope!)
Oh – and the storms are now expected to put in an appearance at four o’clock tomorrow morning. I must admit to some disappointment with the BBC’s weather forecast. Usually they are reasonably good. But as I always say, the BBC’s weather forecast is definitive. It is correct. In cases of discrepancy it is reality that is at fault…
28 May 2018 (Monday) - Fry-up, High Halden
Did the storm eventually show up last night? I don’t know – I was asleep.
Over a cup of coffee I watched a disappointing episode of the new series of “Thunderbirds”; Lady Penelope was in a desert car race and the baddies were trying to steal the engine of the fastest car. Bearing in mind that they were in a car which was clearly far faster, I couldn’t help but wonder why.
As I drove to work I listened to the news on the radio. There was a *lot* of talk about the recent referendum in the Republic of Ireland in which they decided to overturn the archaic anti-abortion laws. And about time too.
The "Thought for the Day" bit was then given over to some vacuous windbag of a vicar who tried to do a complete about-turn on the Catholic church's long-standing policy purely to appeal to the popular opinion. I can't understand how religious leaders do this; they will completely reverse their viewpoints just to curry favour with the masses in a shallow attempt to reverse the ever declining numbers of bums on pews. Mind you I suppose the reason is self-evident. They are completely reversing their viewpoint because they want to reverse the ever declining numbers of bums on pews.
There was then an interview with one of the Democratic Unionist Party's MPs. They are dead against abortions and are adamant that what has happened in the Republic of Ireland has no bearing whatsoever on what happens in Northern Ireland. And bearing in mind that the Prime Minister's slender majority rests on keeping the DUP sweet, they will get their way. Because what the DUP wants is what the DUP gets.
British democracy really is a farce isn't it? The DUP has ten MPs but effectively has *far* more influence on policy than the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats combined who together have nearly thirty times as many MPs.
I got to work, and went to the canteen for a fry-up. I might have been working on the Bank Holiday, but I thought I would make the most of it. And suitably replete I got on with the morning's work. It wasn’t long before I was on my way back home.
Once home I looked at the internet over a spot of lunch and my piss boiled as I read the Facebook Geocaching UK page. Today’s squabble was incited by those who have been hunting Tupperware since the very beginning who have dedicated GPS units and who resent those who are new to the game. These old lags seem to have a *major* problem with those who use Smartphones to play the game. Particularly because one of the many ways in which a Smartphone is superior to a GPS unit is that it can log trackables instantly (and a GPS can’t). The ability to log a trackable instantly isn’t something to be sniffed at (!)
Today there were those who were saying that by expecting people to be able to log a trackable instantly I was discriminating against the less well-off who can’t afford a Smartphone.
What utter rubbish.
With eighty-five per cent of the nation having Smartphones (and this not being the stone age) I can’t help but think that some people should stop being so petty and argumentative.
That Facebook page is just one big fight; those with nothing better to do just to stir up bad feeling and arguments because they can. I’ve unsubscribed from that group.
I dozed off… when I woke up it had cooled down outside and was cool enough to take the dogs out. "er indoors TM" and I took the hounds down to High Halden where we had a rather good walk. Perhaps shorter than we often walk, but a rather good wander nonetheless.
It was a shame that Treacle deliberately escaped her harness to chase the sheep, but she was soon recaptured.
I took a few photos as we walked.
Once home the dogs shouted at new-next-door’s dogs. New-next-door had visitors – someone with whom I used to work for over twenty years. Hopefully he’ll be a frequent visitor…
"er indoors TM" is boiling up some dinner… Suddenly I’m very hungry…
29 May 2018 (Tuesday) - Sink Hole
Over brekkie I finally got round to watching the episode of “Gotham” that was broadcast a couple of weeks ago. I wish I could remember what was going on in that show.
I quickly sparked up the lap-top to have a look at the Internet. Not much had happened overnight which was a bonus. Dull is preferable to squabble.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing some official from the government of Rwanda. The UK government gives them sixty-four million quid a year in foreign aid, and they are now giving half of it to Arsenal football club to buy advertising for their tourist industry on the players’ shirts. The Rwandan official got rather aggressive when it was pointed out that market research had shown that the sort of person who looks at Arsenal FC football shirts isn’t the sort of person who would consider a holiday in Rwanda. She took the line that their money is theirs to spend how they like, and the fact that we gave them the money in the first place was a matter of the utmost indifference to her. She got very aggressive when the interviewer asked about her government’s record on human rights, and seemed to imply that Radio Four would be better all round if the interviewers lived under the fear of torture if they should offend their betters.
Up till this morning I was all for foreign aid…
I got to work; I skipped a tea break to have an eye test. Having an eye test at work is far more convenient than going to SpecSavers and it saves quite a bit of cash too.
My eyes are unchanged since my last test. And I’ve had mt prescription emailed to me. I won’t lose that quite so easily as I lost the paper prescription.
Getting home from work was a nightmare. A huge sink hole has opened up in one of the roads in in Maidstone and seemingly every car in the Maidstone area was on the M20 this evening. It took me as long to drive the three miles to junction eight as it usually takes me to drive the twenty miles to junction nine.
And when I got to junction nine the traffic was queued back half a mile up the motorway.
I drove on to junction ten and arrived there at the same time as the thunderstorm.
I was forty minutes late getting home; "er indoors TM" was over an hour late.
The plan had been to go round to Arden Drive for the gathering of the clans; but several people had cried off, "er indoors TM" was running late, and the storm had unsettled the hounds. I didn’t want to leave them.
I wonder what’s for tea…
30 May 2018 (Wednesday) - Bit Dull
I was sleeping *so* well when Treacle decided to stage a woofing fit at half past five this morning.
I got up and over brekkie watched last week’s episode of “Gotham”. I was mildly disappointed. Like with most fiction I find I can accept the most implausible of plots and situations *if* the characters are believable. But with two of the major players being utterly at odds to how they had behaved in the last three seasons of the show, today’s episode didn’t do it for me. Particularly so when the continuity was so bad that the scene outside the old courthouse went from broad daylight to darkest night in the time it took to speak a sentence.
With my Fudge fast asleep on my lap (he’s been very soppy these last few days) I got my lap-top to have a look at the Internet. Not a lot had happened on Facebook overnight really. I had a few emails though; Hayley Murphy and Finn A Barrett both wanted to join my LinkedIn network. (I wish I knew what the attraction of my LinkedIn network was). Two more of the worlds top one per cent of geocachers had been (seemingly) randomly selected. I had notifications of jobs for which I would probably never apply, and Amazon were again suggesting I might be interested in stuff I had already bought from them.
Where would we be without the Internet (!)
As I headed through the rain up the motorway the pundits on the radio were lambasting Roseann Barr. Having been brought back to the telly after many years, she's suddenly been dropped following her having made racist slurs on Twitter.
She's very apologetic (isn't everyone after the event) and is now claiming the whole thing as an obscure side effect of the sleeping tablets she's been taking. The pundits on the radio were saying that the real victims of the piece were the hundred or so people employed to create her TV show but who now have gone down with her.
Personally I never thought she was very funny. In my experience people liked her show because they felt everyone else liked it. I've always felt that Woody Allen is much the same. I simply don't find him funny at all, and the only people I know who find him amusing do so because they till me he must be funny because he is so well-known.
I've never understood the lemming-like way in which people choose their TV viewing. I can remember being a fan of the Garry Shandling Show many years ago. A chap with whom I used to work watched it once and hated it. But a few months later he started liking it. The TV critics in the Guardian newspaper had given the show a favourable review, and so because they liked it, so did he.
I did my bit at work, and again struggled to get home; the traffic was so bad. "er indoors TM" was home before me and had taken the dogs round to the park already.
Over a rather good bit of dinner we watched the first episode of the new season of “Humans”; Trying to explore issues that pulp sci-fi thrashed to death over fifty years ago it isn’t a bad show… but could be so much better.
Today was rather dull…
31 May 2018 (Thursday) - This n That
Again finding myself awake rather earlier than I might have been I was watching “Gotham” at six o’clock. Not a bad show really…
I then sparked up my lap-top and looked at Facebook where the world and his wife were seemingly shouting “look at me - I’ve got fibromyalgia”. What is it with sufferers of fibromyalgia that they seem to want to tell the world that they have it?
I had the usual haul of emails too. Again someone of whom I’d never hears was asking to join my LinkedIn network. This time I actually had a look-see at this person’s profile. This person had “a demonstrated history of working in the market research industry” and claimed to be “skilled in Online Moderation, Focus Groups, Market Analysis, Ethnography, and Brand Equity”.
What does any of that mean?
My piss boiled as I listened to the morning news. Apparently the National Health Service has over-spent by about a billion quid over the last year.
The reason for this overspend wasn't inefficiency or waste, it was "increasing demand". And so consequently we don't have an overspending health service; we have an under-funded one. Mind you I say "under-funded" - the funding is farcical really, isn't it? People just turn up and (pretty much) get what they want, don't they (we)?.
For example, my left leg gives me gyp from time to time. At some stage in the next ten years I will wander up to the nearest hospital and get a new knee joint put in for for free. Or that is it will seem to be free to me. It will actually cost me and all the other the tax payers tens of thousands of pounds.
Free health care for all isn't free at all. It is rather expensive. Perhaps the time has come to fund the NHS by some sort of national insurance (!) or health insurance. Or decide *exactly* what will and what won't be funded?
But not until I've had my aching joints replaced though, eh?
I stopped off at Sainsburys in Aylesford for some petrol. It has gone up in price tremendously recently, and the stuff is now four pence per litre cheaper in Aylesford than it is in Ashford. Probably just as well bearing in mind I am boycotting the filling station on the ring road.
Work was OK - there were rice Krispie cakes this morning. I like those. And we had a full-blown tea party this afternoon for a colleague who is retiring.
As the day wore on I got a text from my dentist. They had just had a cancellation - did I fancy an appointment tomorrow morning? I would have done had I been able to. But I wasn't. Getting texts about cancellations from the dentist is a new thing. I wonder what other revelations my new dentist has in store - and I've not even had me first appointment with the new fang-quack yet.
Once home I walked the hounds round the park. Some walks are uneventful; today’s could have gone better, but we were seriously delayed with seemingly everyone wanting to stop and fuss the dogs. Treacle wasn’t having any of it, but Fudge lapped it up.
Oh – and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" has gone down with chickenpox…