1 May 2021 (Saturday) - Building a Memorial
I was woken just before four o’clock this morning by the sound of Sid shouting. I came downstairs to find he was very comfortable on a bed, but he wasn’t in the living room. He was where we have lino, and he didn’t like that. I took him out to the garden where he had a little tiddle, then I sat with him for a bit as I watched the first episode of last night’s new series of “Alan Partridge”. I won’t say it was crap because it wasn’t. But it was just like the latest series of “Red Dwarf” or the last twenty series of “Last of the Summer Wine”. It was entertaining, but was nothing new. I felt I’d seen it all before. Steve Coogan is a talented actor – it really is time he moved on to something else. Or is it the TV producers are sticking with what has worked in the past?
I went back to bed and came down four hours later to see Sid had crapped and piddled. He’d crapped as he’d slept, and was sitting in the poop, but at least he’d got up to do the tiddle as that was on the lino. In my world that really is something of a result…
I cleared up, and being the first of the month I had a shave with a fresh razor blade (I change the blade on the first of every month), made brekkie, watched an episode of “Superstore”, then got on with the main business of the day.
Having got Fudge’s ashes back yesterday I had a plan to build a garden box to put them it. And I did. So simple to type, not so simple to do.
Having got all the ingredients for the box on Wednesday and having got the planks painted on Thursday and a second coat done yesterday, all I had to do today was saw it all to shape and screw it all together. Easy(!)
Matters weren’t helped by my measuring one of the cuts wrong. I maintain that the “6” and the “8” on my tape measure look very similar. It was only when I had got the thing half assembled that I realised that the entire box was pissed and needed to be taken apart and done again properly. And having the drill bit snap off in one of the planks was definitely “a pain in the glass” as “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” would say. But after four hours I had the thing ready. I put the box up by the pond, and we put Fudge’s ashes, his collar and his lead inside (all safely sealed in a waterproof plastic box). We both cried a bit. then put the lid on the box, and mounted it with a rather good statue from Whelans and some washed stones. If we move house it will be fairly simple to take his remains with us.
It is silly, but now his ashes are in the memorial that I had planned for them, I feel a lot better about Fudge.
As I was in something of a “garden” mood I then moved the concrete bench from the back yard and pressure-washed the area. That made a mess. And as I had the hose run out, I topped up the pond a tad, and then spent a few minutes sitting by the pond as my back throbbed. I had planned to paint the gravel boards and screw them into place, but that wasn’t happening today. Instead I sat and played “Candy Crush Saga” on my lap-top whilst the washing machine had a go at my grungy T shirts.
er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whist watching the first episode of “Intergalactic”. So far it seems to be the tired old story of someone falsely accused of crimes they didn’t commit, but with the novel twist that it is outer space… To be honest the twist wasn’t novel when Blake’s Seven did it forty years ago.
I shall watch another episode before dismissing it out of hand…
I hope my back improves – I’ve got plans for tomorrow…
2 May 2021 (Sunday) - A Hailstorm on Romney Marsh
I woke to the sound of Sid barking (for absolutely no reason at all), came down and let him out. He went up the garden, had a piddle, came back in and had another piddle… and then was utterly indignant not to be allowed anywhere near a carpet.
I watched the last episode of “Superstore” as I scoffed toast (I need to find something else to keep me occupied in the mornings now) then peered into the internet. Getting on for two hundred people had reacted favourably to the photo of Fudge’s monument that I posted on-line yesterday. Mind you I say “monument” – it sounds a bit pretentious, doesn’t it? I need another word for grave that sounds happy and not depressing.
In contrast to the recent trend of “dull” there was quite a bit of odd stuff on the Internet this morning. There was an hour long video posted from a psychic medium on the Facebook “Upstairs Downstairs” group and some rather dubious posts on the Facebook “Tomorrow People” group. The stuff on the “Tomorrow People” group often amazes me. Some bloke is constantly posting photos of the stars of a children’s TV show from forty years ago in various stages of undress, other people then make utterly inappropriate comments, and then the chap who originally posted the photos starts acting surprised because the Facebook Feds have threatened to close down his account yet again.
The nice people at LinkedIn wondered if I might like to chum up with someone claiming to be a “Commercial Archaeologist/ Historian and Musician”. I’m tempted to do so; if only to find out what a “Commercial Archaeologist/ Historian and Musician” actually does. I wouldn’t have thought that composing ballads about the dead Roman that you’ve just dug up would have had many commercial applications, but what do I know?
We got ourselves organised and set off for the church at Old Romney where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte and set off on a little walk across the Romney Marsh. We met up there once before; on 11 January 2020 when I wrote of one of the locals “As we got ourselves ready for the off we were very conscious of being watched by one of the locals. He was fascinated with us and was openly watching our every move. I had no idea that the sight of me putting on a pair of wellies could be so captivating”. That same fellow was again watching us as we arrived and got ready. His life must *really* be dull.
We set off on what promised to be a good walk. When we walked it last time (on 11 January 2020) it was rather cold, but today was rather warm as we started off. Being on the Romney Marsh the terrain was flat, and we made good time. As we walked we found a load of large ceramic pipes on which we sat and had dinner. As we scoffed so the skies darkened, the temperature dropped and the hail started. Fortunately the hail didn’t last long. Unfortunately it gave way to torrential rain.
But we didn’t get *that* wet really. I didn’t have to wring out my pants when we got home, and that is always a result. In retrospect I did get wetter on the last time I walked round the Romney Marsh, but that was because on that occasion there was a geocache under a bridge over a river and in my searching I fell in.
As always our route was laid out for us by a series of geocaches, and geocache-wise it was a good series. Some were trickier to find than others, but none really gave us that much trouble, which is always for the best when hunting the things out. Mind you we did break the rules a little. The official rules of geocaching say we have to sign the scrap of paper inside to show we were there. We signed the paper logs until the rain got heavy at which point we took photos to prove we’d been there (so as not to get the paper wet). After five photo logs the phone whinged that water had been detected in the works, so we just logged “Found It” and hoped for the best. Some cache owners are flexible on the point; some aren’t. There are those who understand that what we did was the sensible thing to do. There are others who really would want us to open up the geocaches in the torrential rain, sign the paper, and as well as logging “Found It” have us log “Needs Maintenance” as the thing would be wringing wet.
We came home to find there had been no rain in Ashford, and the mats we’d left out on the washing lines were nearly dry. Ho hum…
I took a few minutes to log the caches we’d found on geocaching dot com, and realised that I’d earned a couple of e-souvenirs on today’s walk. You can see them (and photos from today’s walk) by clicking here.
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sorted our dinner, and I then spent much of the evening fast asleep in front of the telly…
3 May 2021 (Monday) - Bank Holiday
Sid didn’t wake me by shouting in the small hours, which was something of a result. Having seen all of “Superstore” during brekkie for the last few months, I had planned to start watching something that “My Boy TM” had recommended, but the Sky-Q box couldn’t find “Hardy Bucks” as a series; only as a film. So I started watching the second season of “Bonding” instead.
With telly watched and brekkie scoffed I popped round to B&Q. The Internet said they were working their usual hours today so I drove round fully expecting the place to be closed. It wasn’t – they had opened at seven o’clock. As I was about to walk in some chap marched past; no face covering, one of those green “I’m exempt” lanyards and puffing away on a vape like a thing possessed. As I watched in frank disbelief the chap on the door smiled and said that yesterday three blokes had walked in with no face coverings, told him they weren’t wearing face coverings, and asked (threatened) him what he was going to do about it.
I had a little look around the shop. They had a large plastic barrel that I could have turned into a water feature, but at eighty quid I thought better of the idea. Instead I got five humungous rock tile/slabs and came home.
My current garden project is to beef up the area in front of the shed. There were two issues I sorted today. The way from the paved area to the lawn looked rather awful with the water feature cabling being rather obvious. And the paving doesn’t quite go up to the fence where the little bench sits, and when it rains all the dirt washes out across that paving. I sorted both problems by laying humungous rock tile/slabs. My original plan had been to incorporate the doorstep into what I was doing but having disassembled the doorstep I suddenly realised that my plan was a bit daft. It only took three hours to get the humungous rock tile/slabs level and then put the bench and the doorstep back.
I then had a stroke of absolute genius. Many
years ago “My Boy TM” had got me a water feature as a
pressie. Some time ago I’d replaced it with a water feature I’d made from a
whiskey barrel, and had planned to incorporate it into a rockery. But (to
be honest) I never really liked the whiskey barrel water feature.
In the end I plugged the hole with Blu-Tack.
I scrubbed up the stones from the old whiskey barrel water feature and used them on some bare patches by the pond, then scrubbed up the whiskey barrel and spent a few minutes staring at it. Ideally I would have taken it to the tip there and then. But these days you need to make appointments at the tip. And the thing was still useable, so I posted a piccie of the thing to my Facebook feed, asked if anyone wanted it, and half an hour later Lisa drove off with it.
My next garden-related job is to fix the cracks in the patio. Ideally that would involve ripping the lot up and laying a new patio. But that would involve moving/replacing the shed, and I wouldn’t know how to re-lay a patio, so I think I’ll just see it I can get some sort of a filler. Ideally not the one that I used earlier… perhaps I shouldn’t have thrown the stuff away in a fit of pique?
Are any of my loyal readers any good with holes in patios?
My plan was then to sit in the garden, but
the wind had picked up and it was rather cold. So I came in and geo-puzzled
until er indoors TM” boiled up dinner. It was a good but of
scran, but being a Jalfrezi it made me sit up and take notice.
My phone’s alarm woke me by telling me “Get your arse out of its pit” (as is does). So I got my arse out of its pit, came down and (taking care not to wake Sid) made brekkie. This morning the Sky-Q box found “Hardy Bucks” so I watched the first episode, It was OK. As I watched so Sid was barking in his sleep. I wish he wouldn’t do that, but rather that than turds.
Having done a COVID test (negative) I peered into the Internet. It was fairly quiet this morning. No one was arguing on Facebook for once. Mind you there was no space for arguments – my page was packed out with adverts for Conservative politicians. The Tories have certainly spent a fortune on their campaign. Oh well… there are some wards locally where only the Conservatives stand for election. Partly because they know they will get in round here anyway, and partly because no one else can be bothered. I know I certainly can’t.
I had one hundred and eighty emails telling me that geocaches I’d hidden had been found yesterday (and no “did not find” messages!). And I had an email telling me the vet insurance were going to pay for pretty much all of Fudge’s final vet bill. They weren’t going to pay for the top-of-the-range casket though. I suppose that was fair enough, but I’ve recouped a thousand pounds that I thought I would never see again.
Mind you I’d rather have my little dog back, but there it is.
I had a minor victory when I got to my car this morning. On Saturday evening a bird (slightly larger than a jumbo jet) had done a crap the size of a dustbin lid on the windscreen. Having planned to wash it off yesterday I forgot all about it. Fortunately the torrential rain overnight had washed it all away.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking all sorts of drivel, as they do. Bill Gates is getting a divorce. He was described as the fourth richest person in the world with a personal fortune of a hundred and thirty billion dollars. I wonder how much of that he will give up in the divorce settlement. Even one thousandth of one per cent of his bank balance is far more money that I will ever earn in a lifetime. Who would ever miss one thousandth of one per cent of what they've got? I'll sent him an email and ask if he might give me a bung.
There was also talk about how the cost of legally changing your gender has been radically slashed. You can now change whatever you are for less than a tenner. In years gone by I would be rather sarcastic about whether someone was male, female or hatstand; these days I just look on in frank amazement. There are (apparently) over fifty different sorts of gender and quite honestly I have no idea what any of that is all about.
I got to work and did my thing on a rather iron deficient sort of day (you can tell because of the hypochromia and the pencil cells), but being on the early shift meant I got to go home early. I collected Pogo and Treacle and drove them down to Orlestone Woods where we had a rather good walk. Rather good in that we went round the wood and the only other people we saw were about a hundred yards away and walking in the other direction.
Once home I fed the fish, then saw my phone was telling me that my Amazon delivery was only one stop away. There was even a map showing the van was outside my house. I popped outside and met the chap just before he rang the doorbell.
There are those who look down on having stuff delivered by Amazon… today I got the food I needed for the pond fish. Having it delivered meant I didn’t have to make a special journey to go get the stuff, I didn’t have to put up with the rude and patronising attitude of the woman in the pond shop, and I paid half the price of what the stuff costs in the pond shop.
I solved a few more geo-puzzles, then er indoors TM” sorted a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the second episode of “Intergalactic”. I was all for giving up on the show, but er indoors TM” says to give it another chance… It might perk up…
5 May 2021 (Wednesday) - Guts Ache
Sid didn’t start yapping until half past six this morning which was something of a minor result. I came downstairs and chivvied him into the garden where he had a piddle, then as I tried to watch “Hardy Bucks” so he went outside another three times.
er indoors TM” emerged from her pit, and (with Sid securely away from any carpet) we took Treacle and Pogo down to Orlestone Woods where we had a good walk. We met the little old lady with the poodle half-way round, and passed the posh lady with the Labrador as we came back to the car park, but again we had a good walk undisturbed by the normal people. Mind you when I say we walk for ages and see no one, there is usually someone or other sitting in their car in the car park. Today when we arrived there was a middle-aged bloke sitting in his car (with the engine running), and after a half-hour walk we came back to the car park to find the same chap sitting in his car (with the engine running). Yesterday it was a young (twenty-something) woman. I wonder who it will be next time.
With walk walked I quickly sparked up the lap-top to send out birthday wishes, got dressed and set off to find where I’d left my car, pointed the car in the general direction of Hastings and set off. As I drove there was some program on the radio about the life and times of Kublai Khan. Eight hundred years ago he was Emperor of the largest (in area) empire the world has ever known, and I know pretty much nothing at all about the chap. This was followed by a mini documentary about the painter Hans Holbein the Younger (who lived at the time of King Henry the Eighth). I didn't know that was an older one.
I learned quite a bit from these two radio shows.
Looking back at my time at the Hastings Academy for Budding Geniuses it has to be said that the history lessons were an utter waste of time. Having us copy out the textbook (word for word) over the course of the year demonstrably taught us nothing at all.
Mind you I am reliably assured that our old history teacher was carried out of the school and taken away in an ambulance (apparently he went completely round the twist big-time), so I think things might have changed in the meantime.
I got to Dad's and had a cuppa with him. He seems to be doing OK. And from there I pointed the car towards Maidstone and work. As I drove there was some utter tripe being broadcast about tomorrow's forthcoming elections. The BBC had spent no expense to wheel on some students who called themselves "political commentators" (aren't we all!) who were offering their expert advice. Personally I felt their "expert advice" was a waste of the licence fee I begrudge paying, but what do I know?
Anyway... in tomorrow's elections...
Firstly look at the opinion polls. Obviously if it is pretty clear who is going to win the election where you live, then no advice was necessary. You vote for the winner - as the presenter said, who *doesn't* want to vote for the winner?
But if it isn't clear who was going to win, then the sage advice was to read the election materials published by all the candidates and vote for the one whose promises appeal to you the most. (A novel concept!)
And if you don't like the sound of any of them, then you should (apparently) vote for the Green or the independent candidate as they will come last anyway (!) and giving them a vote or two means they don't end up utterly disillusioned at the end of the day.
And people wonder why I don't believe in democracy.
As I drove I stopped off twice. Firstly at Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard where I spent twenty quid on one bottle of wine. It was perhaps a bit much, but I felt sorry for the place. The woman behind the counter looked as though she was about to cry. They had a sign-in sheet for customers to sign as they arrived (supposedly a COVID thing) and I was only their second customer of the week.
I also stopped off at a farm shop in Cranbrook in the hope of a half-way decent bottled ale selection and I wasn't disappointed. I would have got some bottled ciders too, but their cider wasn't cheap, and it was the stuff that was so strong that just looking at the bottle makes you fall over, so I passed on that.
I got to work, scoffed the sandwich and bag of crisps I'd got from the farm shop, and a bag of chocolate covered peanuts too, and spent the late shift with a rather grim guts ache. Peanuts do that to me; I had hoped that the chocolate covering might have offset the guts ache, but it didn't. I really should give the peanuts a miss – a shame I like them so much.
6 May 2021 (Thursday) - Election Day
My morning routine is so set in stone that today it was good to mix it up a little. Immediately on getting out of pit we took the dogs to the woods for a walk. The same chap who was sitting in his car there yesterday (with the engine running) in the car park was sitting there again today.
As we walked we saw what looked like animal tracks. Something rather large had scuffed up the leaf litter. Wild boar? Deer? As Pogo and Treacle ran through it we decided it was probably another dog.
With walk walked we came home, and I had a minor disaster. I went to trim the lawn edges and the strimmer fell in two. It still works if I hold it together, so I got the lawn edges done, then mowed the rest. It is amazing the difference mowing the lawn makes to the look of the garden.
I then walked up the road to the church hall to cast my vote in today’s elections. I had the choice of five candidates. There wasn’t much to choose from really, but then all the time I’m not prepared to get off my arse and do the job I can’t really complain. I looked at the ballot paper and didn’t really have much choice.
The Conservative candidate has put quite a bit of election paperwork through the letterbox an on-line recently. He talks a good fight, but much of his stated policies are *exactly* the opposite of those of the Conservative led county council and the Conservative national government.
The Green Party candidate is very active locally, but I am very wary of the Green party. I’ve heard it said before that people who vote Green are either tree-huggers or friends and family of the Green Party candidate. And locally there is a rather large “vote Green” clique (on the fringes of which I sometimes hover) who seem to treat political allegiance in much the same way as supporting a football club.
I’ve heard absolutely nothing at all from the local Labour or Liberal Democrat candidates.
I voted for the independent candidate purely because he asked me to. The chap lives a few doors down the road. He seems keen, and I suspect that living where he does, anything he votes in which boils my piss would also boil his piss.
There was also an election for the position of police commissioner. Bearing in mind that policing should be above party politics and also bearing in mind that not one of the candidates had made any effort to convey anything to me about their views I wrote “what a waste of time and effort” across the ballot paper. Spoiling a ballot paper was probably a far more considered political statement than casting a vote for one of three randomly selected nobodies.
I came home to find the Green party had popped their election promises through the door.
Over a much later brekkie that usual I peered into the Internet. It was much as it ever was, but I did have one email which was a minor result. The final payment from the vet insurance has been paid into my account. This one went in far faster than the first.
I then solved a few more geo-puzzles before getting ready for work, and realistically that was it for today. A rather busy late shift, a very late finish and a pizza dinner watching old episodes of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, and off to bed…
7 May 2021 (Friday) - Bit Tired
I had something of a restless night. Treacle had shoved up against me and had made herself comfortable by taking up probably two thirds of the bed space I had thought was mine. I suppose it could have been worse; it could have been Pogo (who is quite a bit bigger). Eventually I conceded defeat and went downstairs where I then had an ongoing battle with Sid who flatly refused to settle. Admittedly the reason he didn't want to settle was that he'd (quite literally) crapped the bed, but even with that sorted he insisted on a continual stream of squeaking and barking as I scoffed toast and watched "Hardy Bucks" which I'm slowly getting into. It's an entertaining show, but understanding the Irish accent takes some doing. I tired of Sid's noise, didn't bother looking at the Internet (for once) and got dressed.
I set off to work on a bright morning. There was a lot of political talk on the radio today. Whilst most of the council elections still haven't been called yet, the result of the by-election in Hartlepool had been. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Labour party. When you bear in mind the endless scandals surrounding the Conservative party (only the other week the Prime Minister's brother got a job with Dyson - the lot the PM promised tax breaks to), doesn't it speak volumes that the public still see them as preferable to the Labour party?
With all the talk of politics the row over Jersey was glossed over (the French are blockading St Helier's harbour and the Navy making threatening gestures - I have said before that there will be war with France in my lifetime!) Amazingly the French have got the contract to build some of the most important digital components of the next batch of frigates for the Royal Navy.
Does no one else see a problem here?
I popped to a rather busy petrol station to re-fuel (as I didn't have enough petrol to get home!) then went round to Aldi. I used to regularly call in at Aldi before work, but what with one thing and another I've not been there for ages. Mind you it hadn't changed much in the meantime. I got this, that, and more toilet roll than sense and headed in to work where I actually did nod off a couple of times.
Work was work; I came home to find er indoors TM” had taken the dogs out, so I dozed in front of the telly for a while. We scoffed a rather good bit of dinner whilst watching this week’s episode of “Taskmaster”. I stayed awake for that but I suspect I shall sleep through whatever comes on telly next…
8 May 2021 (Saturday) - Lazy Day
I was fast asleep when I got a text reminding me to do a COVID test… I’ve asked the people who organise these reminders not to send them quite so early in the day; if it happens again I shall block their number. These early morning wake-up calls are a nuisance.
The test was negative as I thought it would be.
Sid wasn’t overly keen to go out this morning, and nor was I. The predicted rain had arrived and it was rather damp outside. I set the washing machine loose on my shirts and scoffed toast whilst I watched the Christmas episode of “Hardy Boys” which featured Elvis the turkey who was described as “a bit raw” as he strutted round the kitchen.
As I waited for the washing machine to finish I peered into the internet and saw that the result of Thursday’s election for the county council is in… I was rather amazed to see that the Green party had won locally, but realistically the chap will spend much of his time pissing in the wind (stop me if I’m getting too technical); with the Conservatives having over seventy-five percent of the seats in the council they effectively have a free rein to do as they like.
The chap who I voted for (him who lives down the road) came in fourth out of five. I never thought he would win; realistically I considered him to be the least worst option. Amazingly the Liberal Democrats who won the local election last time came in last with only three point three per cent of the vote (my bloke got three point six of the vote, so suck on that Sir Ed Davey!!).
Mind you with only a thirty-one per cent turn out you have to question the validity of the election. Is any form of democratic government truly representative when sixty-nine per cent of the electorate can’t be arsed to vote?
I then spent an hour ironing (dull!) then geo-puzzled until I could geo-puzzle no more at which point we gave the dogs their flea treatments. It took some doing… The moment er indoors TM” went to the cupboard to get the stuff so both Pogo and Treacle ran away and hid. Fudge never minded the flea treatments, but both Treacle has always hated it, and Pogo now copies his sister.
Seeing the rain had stopped I got a few garden jobs done. I got the gravel boards onto not-so-nice-next-door’s rotting fence. It will give the thing a little more life before it finally collapses. I’ve tried talking to her about the fence recently. Whilst she now speaks (which is a major step forward since the silences of the last ten or more years) she is obsessed that the fence is perhaps four inches onto her side of the boundary line. I don’t mind bodging it as best I can, but the whole thing needs replacing and she’s not interested in that.
There were one or two more garden jobs that needed doing, but what with the morning’s rain I didn’t want to end up stirring mud, so I slobbed in front of the telly. Episodes of “Four in a Bed”, “Intergalactic” and some new thing featuring Johnny Vegas setting up a glamping camp site featuring a load of converted buses.
Unlike many of my recent weekend days, I had something of a lazy day today.
At times it was rather boring…
9 May 2021 (Sunday) - Blue Bell Hill
Waking two minutes before the alarm went off I came downstairs to find not a turd nor a tiddle to be seen. I later found out that er indoors TM” had dealt with Sid an hour previously.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Reading Facebook was something of an eye-opener this morning. There were several posts on various groups about people whose medical conditions had deteriorated during the pandemic. Looking for someone to blame, quite a few (seemingly uneducated) people were tearing in to health care workers. Public opinion is such a fickle thing. A year ago everyone was standing on the doorstep banging their saucepans supporting a frankly marvellous NHS; this morning it was “burn a nurse” with everyone wondering why all the money that had been donated by Captain Tom hadn’t solved every illness known to medical science.
I had an email with a report from someone who’s only recently taken up geocaching. He’d found one of my caches yesterday. It was broken. To be fair to the bloke he did the technically right thing in posting a “Needs Maintenance” log, but he could have replaced the broken one with a new one in less time than it took to post that “Needs Maintenance” log. I shall replace it when I get chance (which will be some time in mid-June).
The sky looked rather black this morning, but I took Sid out anyway. He needs a daily walk, and he will get one whether he likes it or not. He seemed to like it for the first ten yards, then the novelty wore off.
We took fifteen minutes to walk what any of the other dogs could do in two, but Sid’s legs aren’t what they once were.
And with Sid walked, we settled him and took the other two to meet up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. We had thought about walking on the marsh today, but the weather forecast was a tad iffy for there, so we went to Blue Bell Hill instead. We had a very good walk following the “Lock Down Loop” series of geocaches.
We started off walking a country lane, but the route took in bridleways and footpaths with pretty woodlands and some amazing views of the Medway valley.
As we walked we had to be careful of the cyclists – I’ve never seen so many of them out and about. Usually they can be rather self-obsessed with no road sense whatsoever whilst flying along at breakneck speeds, but today’s dozens of cyclists were going at little more than walking pace and were all friendly and chatty.
The bluebells were seemingly everywhere – so pretty. However it was a shame that the first stretch of the walk was so littered. People had clearly gone a long way out of their way to go fly-tipping. Such a shame – is it *really* that difficult to drive to the tip?
Geocache-wise it was an excellent route. Good hints and straightforward finds. Some more tricky than others but none so difficult as to need an age to find. Mind you one cache was odd – all that was left was the paper log of the thing. So (bearing in mind my rant of earlier) we popped that log into one of the small plastic pots that *we* carry for just such an eventuality.
I took a few photos as we walked today. As we came to the end of the walk we came past the Robin Hood pub… we were tempted to stop for a pint, but the garden was heaving with the normal people, and there was a long queue of people waiting to be assigned a table, so we came home and had a pint in the garden instead.
er indoors TM” woke me in time for dinner. We had a rather good dinner washed down with that bottle of plonk I got from the organic vineyard (for nineteen quid!) last Tuesday. Dinner was rather good; the bottle of plonk was quite frankly a disappointment. I’ve had a lot of bottles of plonk costing a third of the price which are three times as good.
As we scoffed we watched this week’s episode of “Lego Masters”. That was very good. I love watching it, but would I want to be on the show? No!! My Lego city is quite good (even if I do say so myself), but I do that for an hour here of there over years. Could I spend twelve hours continuously making a masterpiece?
10 May 2021 (Monday) - Watching Telly
I was woken about an hour before the alarm was due to go off. Sid was going rather frantic because he couldn’t get up. These days he has very little control of his back legs and sometimes he gets stuck in the sitting position. I helped him up and he struggled to get to the back door, but he got there and went outside to do what he had to do.
Over brekkie I watched the second episode of the new series of “Alan Partridge” which reprised “Cheeky Monkey” from nearly thirty years ago. As I said last week, in many ways this new series of “Alan Partridge” is just more of the same, but I’m quite enjoying it.
I then peered into the Internet to see what had happened overnight. As I’d slept I’d attained the dizzy heights of being a level one hundred and fourteen Munzee-er.
There was the beginning of an argument starting on a Facebook page about the 1970s TV show “Upstairs Downstairs” in which someone or other was claiming that the portrayal of the suffragettes was somehow reminiscent of the current push for Scottish independence by the Scottish Nationalist Party. Some people really will argue about anything.
I had quite a few (over a hundred) “Found it” logs on geocaches I’ve hidden. Most people seemed happy with my having hidden caches for them to go find, but I rolled my eyes at some of the reports on some of the Wherigo caches I’d hidden. I realise that not everyone wants to do Wherigo caches, but that is usually because people are fed up doing the same old generic ones that everyone else puts out. I don’t put out generic ones. I make them myself, and it can get a little tiresome having spent over fifty hours working of the programming to get told “that wasn’t as bad as I was expecting”.
As I walked to my car I met some woman walking her dog up the road. The dog wasn't on a lead. Whilst I'm all for dogs to be off the leads, I only advocate that where it is safe to do so. I've seen so many dogs walking the local streets off of the leads only to run off across the street to chase a cat or fight with another dog. I smiled and said nothing...
I found my car and set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the utter disarray that the Labour party is facing. Over the weekend the entire Shadow cabinet has been reshuffled and the deputy leader replaced. This morning some windbag or other was ranting that the position of deputy leader was an elected position and not subject to reassignment by Sir Kier. Realistically, who cares?
There was also talk about Scottish independence following the Scottish Nationalist's excellent (for them) result in last week's election. Another anonymous windbag was ranting on that the government in Westminster should respect the democratic process and allow another Scottish independence referendum. Personally I can't help but think that this anonymous windbag should respect the result of the democratic referendum that took place a few years ago, but what do I know?
I got to work; I did that which I couldn't avoid, and came home to find that er indoors TM” had taken Treacle and Pogo out to Great Chart, so I walked Sid round the block. He bimbled fairly well this evening.
er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, and as we scoffed it, she then finished off the last of that bottle of wine we started yesterday. It speaks volumes that despite costing about three time the price of what we normally spend on a bottle of wine, this was the first one that we didn’t finish in a single sitting.
As we scoffed we watched the first episode of the latest series of “SAS: Who Dares Wins”. I do like that show. It strikes me that being in the SAS isn’t at all a macho thing; it seems to be a state of mind. One of the contestants on this evening’s show was boasting how double-hard he was since he was bald and has tattoos. Since when has being bald and having tattoos made anyone double-hard? It doesn’t for me.
We then watched another episode of “Intergalactic”. A show which has something of an all-star cast. But despite the best efforts of Shaun (from “This Is England”), Demelza (from “Poldark”) and Mrs Hughes (from “Downton Abbey”), the programme is mediocre at best. Like so much TV sci-fi I want to like the show, but it isn’t helping me to do so…
11 May 2021 (Tuesday) - Before The Night Shift
I slept through till half past seven this morning – that’s unheard of. With er indoors TM” running short of time we skipped brekkie and took the dogs down to Orlestone Woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the latest fighting in Palestine so I turned the radio off. A few months ago the pundits on the radio interviewed representatives of both sides of the never-ending Palestinian conflict. Both of the people being interviewed kept harping back to events in 1948 (long before either were born), both openly agreed they could not let the past go and move on, and both all but admitted that decent people might as well leave the area, and anyone wanting a fight should move in as the conflict would never end.
This isn’t the future I expected.
We got to the point where we usually turn right into Branchett Lane only to find the road was closed. It was at this point that I remembered there had been signs up advertising this road closure for the last month. Whoops.
So we went to Ham Street woods instead. Getting there meant navigating Ham Street which has grown beyond recognition over the last few years, and the car park at the woods there is about a fifth of the size of the one at Orlestone. But we got there, and the dogs had a bit of a run round the woods. We only saw one other dog walker, but they were at a distance. That was probably for the best – I have serious reservations about people who have their dogs on leads deep in the woods. Why is the dog on a lead? Don’t they trust the dog not to run amok?
We came home, and over a late brekkie I got to peer into the internet. There are issues with two of my geocaches (apparently). I’ll sort those when I have a minute. I posted a little whinge about the matter on the local Facebook geocaching page, spent an hour or so doing dull CPD until I could CPD no more, then spent two hours geo-puzzling.
When er indoors TM” went shopping I took myself off to bed, and once Treacle settled so I managed to sleep for three hours, before getting up and geo-puzzling some more. With thirty correct answers my head was exploding so I gave up..
I’m hoping er indoors TM” will boil up some dinner before I set off to the night shift. The day before a night shift is usually dull and today was no exception.
12 May 2021 (Wednesday) - After The Night Shift
Last night’s night shift wasn’t one of the better ones; I had to do work and everything! It was with something of a sense of relief when the morning shift arrived and I could go home.
As I drove home my piss boiled as I listened to the news. There is supposedly now quite a bit of evidence that the ongoing global pandemic could have been avoided if people across the world had acted decisively when the COVID-19 outbreak was first announced. Could it? Possibly. Were world leaders reckless in not acting decisively? Not really. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?. At the time a lot of people (me included) saw COVID-19 as just another thing for the media to blow out of all proportion. I can remember when humanity was all going to die because of HIV. And then mad cow disease was going to wipe us out. And then zika virus, bird-flu, swine-flu, aardvark-flu (and every-other-animal-flu). If the sensationalist media weren’t so quick to cry wolf, people might listen to them when (just occasionally) they have something to cry wolf about.
I got home, had a shower and went to bed where I slept for two hours until a text message from the dentist woke me. They were offering me a wonderful deal – would I like to spend several thousand pounds on cosmetic dentistry? I resisted the urge to tell them to get knotted, and made some toast.
I peered into the Internet to see that a cousin had invited me to follow the ravings of some crackpot nutritionist. I signed up (because not doing so would be rude) and amazed myself at the frankly laughable conclusions that some people reach when they utterly misunderstand science.
I went into the garden, cleared the dog dung, then cleared the dung that the dogs did as I cleared the first load, then got the lawn mower out. Pausing only briefly to clear the dog dung I’d missed on the first two goes I mowed the lawn, then ran round with the lawn food I bought last night on the way to work. The lawn is looking perhaps the best it has ever looked and I’m thinking that the lawn food I’ve been using has had something to do with it. I got some stuff last night that says it sorts the holes made by dog tiddle, so here’s hoping.
I then shifted the shingle about to cover the bare patches (the dogs scrat it about), then took a few photos of the garden whilst I was out there. Having spent close on six hundred quid on the garden since March I thought I might make a record of how it looks.
Having mowed the lawn I got out the hair trimmers and mowed my hair, then settled in front of the telly spending the afternoon watching episodes of “Four In A Bed” as I so often do. Since I was watching it as broadcast I spent the advert time looking at geo-puzzles.
“Four In A Bed” is always amusing. The bed & breakfast owners all have such high expectations of others whilst failing on the most basic issues themselves. You have to laugh when they flatly deny dust on furniture and hairs in the beds when these have been video-ed and shown on telly. One rather opinionated chap in one of today’s episodes said “I hope the others will learn a lot from me” and then went on to come second from last.
With telly watched I took the dogs out. First of all I walked Sid up to Dan-Dan’s and back again. It’s a short walk which he seems to like. He sniffs at the sort of things that dogs sniff at, and tiddles in their general direction (directly tiddling on things is beyond him).
I then took Treacle and Pogo to the co-op field for a game of “fetch”. “Fetch” is a fairly new thing in our world. Fudge never got the hang of it; with him I would throw the ball, he would run off in a random direction barking, and I would fetch the ball. Treacle too has never warmed to the game. She plays her own version in which she chases after the ball, gets it, and then guards it jealously; walking round carrying it and not giving it up. Pogo however has mastered the game and quite enjoys it, but we have to take two balls; one for him to fetch and one for Treacle to guard. There was a dodgy moment when Treacle tried to have both balls, but that soon passed.
Whilst we were out my idiot magnet was clearly running at full power. We saw some woman making a phone call wearing her COVID mask as she walked up the road but was taking it off whenever she spoke. Mask on to listen, mask off to speak. Perhaps the virus only bites when you are silent?
As we walked up the alley to the path so some chap was coming out with two dogs. They started snarling, so I (with the promise of a dog treat) got my two dogs to sit nicely; my idea was that the snarling hounds would pass, then my two would get a treat. However this idiot announced his dogs would like a treat too, and brought them up for what nearly became a fight.
And as we walked home we were at the roadside doing “sit” waiting for the traffic to pass. Some idiot woman drove up and parked directly in front of us, got out of her car, and then pretended to be surprised when she saw us. I smiled sweetly, and might just shove a dog turd up her exhaust pipe the next time I see her car…
I really should have an early night. I bet I don’t though…
3 May 2021 (Thursday) - Feeling Rough
I slept through until six o clock this morning when my phone told me to “get your arse out of its pit”. A good night’s sleep is usually the consequence of a night shift followed by a bottle of red wine.
Over a spot of brekkie I watched another episode of “Hardy Bucks” (which was rather crap) then peered into the Internet to see what I’d missed overnight (as I do most mornings). I had a friend request on Facebook from one incredibly dodgy looking young lady who was “looking for friends to be her slaves”. I deleted her friend request and squealed her up to the Facebook feds. If I don’t take a moral stance, who will?
I saw that an old schoolfriend of mine has just moved back to Hastings (from somewhere in Surrey). He’s apparently retired to his old home town. Retired!! He’s only a month older than me.
And there was an amazing row kicking off on one of the political groups I follow. Some amazingly jingoistic chap whose business has been decimated following some regulation change or other due to Brexit has had to lay off over half his workforce. The chap chose who he made redundant by giving the elbow to those who he thought voted “remain” in the Brexit referendum. Can he do this legally? Of course not. Can it actually do it? He already has.
I turned off the lap-top and got ready for work.
As I headed to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how there are plans afoot to change how foreign languages are taught in schools as (apparently) it is incredibly difficult for the teachers to predict how well students will do in their exams. From my experiences with the teaching of languages there is certainly a need for change. Neither of the fruits of my loin left school with the ability to speak any foreign language (and their English can be iffy at times!).
Years before that, the way I was taught French frankly didn't work. At primary school Miss Kavanagh would stand at the front of the class and make all sorts of strange noises, and would then look at us in a quizzical sort of way. We would then make strange noises back at her (in imitation of the noises she'd made). Sometimes she was pleased with us, sometimes she wasn't. None of us in the class ever had the faintest idea of the meaning of any the noises she had made, or what her reaction might be to whatever odd noises we had made in return.
At secondary school we learned to read and write in French with a fair degree of success, but actually speaking the language wasn't encouraged.
I can remember a conversion on the subject I had many years ago with one of my old French teachers (who by the time had become a good friend). My old teacher and friend told me that we were taught to pass an exam, *not* to actually be able to speak in French. A rather damning admission, but an honest one. (Mervyn was nothing if not honest).
I got to work, picked up a new box of COVID tests, and did my thing. As I worked I struggled to shift the earworm I had somehow acquired, but to no avail. The Russell Crow "Fighting Round The World" song from South Park was firmly stuck in my head.
Work was rather busy, but not as busy as home had been. er indoors TM” had hired a carpet-washing gizmo and was having a good scrub at the carpets today. I am reliably informed that even after six scrubs the water was still coming out black.
The living room is still in uproar as we don’t want to put rugs and furniture back onto a damp carpet. Maybe we’ll do it tomorrow. Or maybe I might have a rest tomorrow – I’ve felt really rough all day. If I don’t improve overnight I’m thinking of calling a sickie.
14 May 2021 (Friday) - Feeling Bleaugh
I felt rough when I went to bed last night. I had a rather restless night, the dogs had a rather restless night, and having eventually nodded off I was woken at half past two by a spamming text message about an order which was to be “deliveyed” (!), and then at half past five the bin men again woke me as they “quietly” came crashing and shouting up the street.
I made toast, and watched the first episode of the new series of “Motherland”, then sparked up my lap-top. Four friends were having birthdays this morning so I sent out messages, then peered into the internet to see what I had missed overnight.
Ivor Biggun has announced a new album which will be released soon. I shall certainly be getting that. And after that revelation, all of the trivia that fills the morning on social media palled into insignificance.
I thought about phoning in sick, but I wasn’t really sick this morning; I was just suffering from a combination of feeling “bleaugh” and not being arsed. I get that some mornings; it usually passes. I got ready for work and set off.
Before driving off I fetched our bin from where the bin men had tossed it. That was one less bin for everyone to slalom round as they made their way up and down the street. Would it cause the bin men physical pain to have a care about what they do with the green bins? You can regularly see young mothers pushing push chairs up the road on Fridays as the pavements are impassable once they've finished.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing the woman who had found a meteorite on her driveway. Apparently the thing missed the guinea pig cage by inches (for which I suppose the guinea pig was grateful), and she has now donated the bits of it to the Natural History Museum (presumably the bits of the meteorite which broke up on impact, not bits of the guinea pig cage). When asked if she'd kept any of the bits she said she hadn't, but the Natural History Museum had sent her a photograph of all of the bits, and she was just pleased to have seen something "which was older than the universe".Those interviewing her weren't openly taking the piss, but some people just don't come over very well on the radio.
I got to work where the day went a tad better than yesterday, even if I did spend much of it farting like a thing possessed.
During the afternoon tea break my phone beeped. I had a friend request on Facebook from Guerini Khadimat who invited me to join Whatsapp sex group 00864. Presumably there are (at least) eight hundred and sixty-three other Whatsapp sex groups? I squealed her up to the Facebook feds. I bet they do nothing about her porn-mongering. They never do…
I came home and spent most of the evening asleep in front of the telly… Perhaps I should have phoned in sick today.
15 May 2021 (Saturday) - It Rained (Hard)
I slept like a log last night, and was finally woken by Pogo chewing my nose at half past eight. Clearly it was time to get up.
I came downstairs to find that er indoors TM” had just chivvied Sid into the garden. He had a little bimble round, came back in and crapped on the lino. I wish he wouldn’t do that. With turds cleared I made brekkie, saw there was nothing kicking off on Facebook (even though yesterday’s pornmonger was still active), and with no emails of note I got Pogo and Treacle onto their leads and went out to do a little geocache maintenance.
We drove to Park Farm, and had a quick walk round the series of geocaches I’d hidden there a while ago. Sure enough, two of them were missing, so I replaced them. As we walked we met two other dogs. One wasn’t on a lead, and all was fine. One was on a lead, and mayhem ensued. I got chatting with the chap whose dog was off the lead; he too found that having dogs on leads usually causes far more problems than it solves.
I realised it was raining when we started walking, but it was only a gentle fine rain. You know the sort of rain – the one that gets you absolutely soaked even though it doesn’t look like anything to worry about.
We came home to an empty house. er indoors TM” had gone off to help Cheryl prepare for a funeral. I cleaned the dogs (they always get grubby), and as the rain got worse so I solved geo-puzzles. Lots of them. As I puzzled I found myself looking out of the window. Blue skies out of one window, black skies out of another. Glorious sunshine, rain heavy enough to drown out the sound of snoring dogs, and back to glorious sunshine all within five minutes.
After a few hours er indoors TM” came home, with a thunderstorm hot on her heels.
I made a start on my next Wherigo project… and that was the day. Fiddling about on the lap-top whilst watching the weather violently swing from one extreme to the other…
I suppose I got a lot of puzzles solved, and I got a lot of Wherigo writing done, but it really did seem like a wasted day… the forecast for tomorrow is much the same.
16 May 2021 (Sunday) - Still Raining
New-next-door’s radio woke me at six o’clock this morning. I wonder if we wake them when er indoors TM” fights with the dogs in the small hours? I dozed off but it wasn’t long before Sid was barking. He was stuck in the sitting position and needed help to get up. I took him outside to a bright morning and sulked. I really look forward to our weekly weekend walk, and we’d cancelled today’s walk because of the frankly dreadful weather forecast. And here we were with glorious sunshine.
I made some toast and peered into the Internet where I asked a question. There is a Facebook group following a certain series of sci-fi e-books that I follow. I say “e-books”; everyone posting on that page talks about the narrator saying this and the narrator saying that. Does everyone have the “audible” version of the books in which someone reads it out to them, rather than read it for themselves? I was reminded of the rise of the so-called “graphic novel” (in the 1990s) in which books were produced in comic-book format because people found reading a proper book to be too much like hard work and looking at the pictures was so much easier.
By eight o’clock the rain was louder than Sid’s snoring, and by ten o’clock I’d lost count of the times we’d changed from rain to sun and back again. During a lull in the weather we got the leads onto Pogo and Treacle and ventured out. We had a little walk up through the co-op field where I was pleasantly surprised to see an organised game of football going on. There are those who wouldn’t want that on prime dog-walking territory, but I see the footballers as allies in a future battle when someone or other tries to build houses on the co-op field. Sadly I can see this happening in the not-too-distant future.
Pausing only briefly to replace a missing geocache we carried on into the park. The bad weather had kept everyone indoors today – the park was pretty much empty. By the time we’d got to the park we’d had two showers, and as we came down our road so the heavens opened. When we got home we were soaked to the skin.
I then settled down to the Wherigo project I started yesterday. As I struggled with my inputs and my media so I had a message. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had been to church. I am reliably informed that God is planning on making a comeback some time soon, the end of days was luke warm, and some giants were fighting. One lives and learns.
Trying not to worry too much about the adventures of the Almighty I carried on with my where-programming, and I amazed myself by getting a rather basic thing programmed. Matters were complicated by the simulator crashing far too often, but I’ve got it to the stage where it is ready for field trials.
er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with an incredibly good drop of plonk. A week or so ago I spent nineteen quid on a frankly disappointing wine from twenty miles down the road. Today we spent three pounds fifty pence on a bottle of pinot noir which had been shipped from Chile which was far superior. As we scoffed and guzzled we watched the last two episodes of “Intergalactic”; a series which did improve as it went on. Even if Blake’s Seven did it better forty years ago.
Yesterday I said that the day seemed to be something of a wasted day. Much the same could be said for today.
And today marks a month since my dog died. Yesterday was the first day that I didn’t cry for him (but that didn’t last). Despite having three other dogs in the house I still miss him. Which is exactly why I never wanted a dog…
17 May 2021 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept well… up to the point where er indoors TM” had a full-blown fight with her pillow. I lay quietly not daring to make a sound in case she bashed me up too.
We skipped brekkie and took the dogs out early today. Bearing in mind the rain of the weekend, Orlestone Woods would have been a swamp, so we drove up to Kings Wood. Much (but not all) of the paths up there are solid enough for the forestry workers to drive their land rovers around so we thought we’d all get a lot less grubby there.
It was a plan which worked.
We had a good walk around. As we went we met a few other dogs, all on leads. I wondered why until they all started snarling and growling at us. I wasn’t impressed, but I suppose Pogo probably sounds rather intimidating to those who don’t know him. As we walked we replaced one of the geocaches I’d hidden up there. It had been broken for months, but no one had pressed the right button on geocaching dot com which would have told me about the problem. But it’s all fixed now.
We came home via er indoors TM”’s work (she had to collect something or other) and over a late brekkie of Belgian bun I peered into the Internet. The geo-fed have given the thumbs-up for my planned series of Wherigos. I won’t say where it is as some people really have followed my postings here and on Facebook in order to get to the caches before they are published in order to be first one to find them (You really couldn’t make it up!).
Yesterday I posted on the Facebook group of a series of books that I follow asking if I was the only person who actually reads the books (as opposed to listening to them). Overnight that posting had generated quite a lot of hostility; people thought I was being judgemental. Was I? Possibly, but not intentionally.
I then went into the garden for a bit. Having been feeding the lawn recently it has grown far more than ever before. My plan was to strim the edges then mow. And as I worked I would have the water features doing their thing (as I like water features). On the Bank Holiday two weeks ago I’d created a new water feature out of the wreckage of an old one. This morning it wasn’t working. I had a look – it was empty. I’d filled it only the other day, and it had rained hard all weekend. It has clearly got a leak and is fit for the bin.
I started strimming, and the strimmer fell apart. Quite literally. It fell into three pieces. That too is fit for the bin. I toyed with the idea of leaving it in the front garden and hoping someone will take it. It worked for the old toaster and kettle, but who is going to be dumb enough to take the fragments of a garden strimmer? Oh well… I only paid twelve quid for it, and it has lasted two years so I shouldn’t complain.
I got the lawn mowed, I pulled weeds out of the shingle, I fed the fish. It was as I was feeding the fish that I felt the first spot of rain. By the time I’d walked to the back door the rain was heavy and I had heard the first rumble of thunder.
I made a cuppa, and had a look on Amazon. Within minutes I had ordered a replacement strimmer which will (hopefully) arrive tomorrow. Ordering stuff on Amazon is so easy; if only I could send the rubbish away so easily. I tried to book a slot at the tip and there are none available at all. They are booked up until the end of next month, and aren’t taking bookings after that yet. I am tempted to drive up to the tip and walk in with a load of rubbish and see what the staff do. You can understand why fly-tipping is on the rise.
I spent a little while building Lego, and a little while longer repairing it after I dropped it. I then got the ironing board out, and as the rain became torrential I watched a few episodes of “Four in a Bed” as I ironed. I do love “Four in a Bed”. People with the crappiest bed & breakfasts try to big themselves up and fool no one but themselves. Take the proud Yorkshireman in today’s episodes. If he was a tenth as good as he thought he was he would have been ten times better than he actually was.
With telly finished and ironing done I saw the rain had stopped. The weather forecast gave me an hour until the hailstorm was due to hit, so I walked Sid round the block. As we walked we met Dan-Dan and Bella. Little Bella was rather taken with Sid; she had never met such an old dog before, or one with so few teeth.
er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching last night’s episode of “SAS: Who Dares Wins” (which is always good viewing).
Bearing in mind that today was the third day of slobbing about not really doing much, today seems to have been something of a better day.
I’m hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight – I’ve got an early start tomorrow…
18 May 2021 (Tuesday) - Early Shift
Another restless night. er indoors TM” and the dogs seemed to finally nod off just as I needed to get up. So I got up and put some toast in to cook and chivvied Sid round the garden whilst the toaster did its thing. Sid didn't hurry himself, and eventually I sat down to a breakfast of cold toast.
As I scoffed my cold toast I watched an episode of "Motherland"; an enjoyable show in which two mothers and a father suffer the indignities of being second-rate parents whilst standing round the school gates waiting for the children to finish school. It has been some time since I last stood at school gates waiting for children (most recently five years ago waiting for Lacey I think), but I remember what it was like; obvious "in-crowds" of mummies sneering at others who weren't in their cliques.
With brekkie scoffed I had a very quick look at the Internet. It was much the same as ever.
Taking care to let sleeping dogs (and wife) lie, I got ready for work and set off on a very bright morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how pubs had re-opened yesterday, but despite the build-up and hype, the grand re-opening hadn't been the massive success that the hospitality industry had been hoping for. With some people still terrified by the hype of coronageddon and others simply unable (or unwilling) to pay the prices that pubs charge, there was speculation about whether many pubs would survive.
There was also an interview with Russia's top spy who denied Russian involvement in the latest hacking scandal. Well, he would, wouldn't he?
And Nigel Farage has fallen flat on his face on his lecture tour of America.
I got to work for the early shift and had something of a good day, managing to score full marks on my in-house training for our new computer system. However the day was slightly marred by the weather. Having been at home for three days of rain I was rather miffed to have spent much of the day looking out of the window at glorious sunshine, only to leave work just as the rain was starting.
As I drove home down the motorway I drove out of the rain. It didn’t look like it had rained at home, so I popped the leads on to Pogo and Treacle, grabbed a couple of tennis balls and a ball-chucker and we went up to the co-op field. I had this idea that if we were quick we might beat the rain.
We got to the co-op field just as the drizzle started. But as we were there we walked round it once. As we walked I chucked one tennis ball for Pogo to fetch whilst Treacle carried the other one around. Perhaps half the time I threw the ball both dogs would chase it and Treacle would get there first and guard it. With two balls she was determined that Pogo wouldn’t have any. Poor Pogo – he so loves fetching the ball, and he looked so upset every time Treacle stopped his game.
After one circuit of the field Treacle had ripped one ball in half and folded the other in two (quite literally) and we were all soaked, so we came home.
We got home to find that the postie had been. The geocaches for my new Wheri-series, my new strimmer, and the latest edition of “Viz”.
er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner. As we scoffed it we watched Adrian Edmonson in a show in which he travels round Britain. In this evening’s episode he was in Gloucestershire talking with eel farmers and perry brewers and shin kickers and pig farmers. This show is now ten years old – how many other gems have we missed?
19 May 2021 (Wednesday) - Another Early Shift
For once we all slept peacefully last night. I did hear new-next-door's alarm go off at four o'clock, but better that sound than the sound of noisy sex that his predecessors used to make.
I was awake before Sid this morning, and bearing in mind yesterday's cold toast, despite the rain Sid went out when I told him to rather than when he felt like it.
I scoffed warm toast as I watched this morning's episode of "Motherland" in which one of the protagonists openly and blatantly exploited the good nature of those around her. The show's writers so accurately portrayed those who sit back and let others do everything for them; we've all met them. It's a very good program.
As I drove to work the pundits were talking about how the Public Accounts Committee has expressed doubts about the practicality of the government's scheme to phase out petrol-driven cars within the next nine years.
They have concluded that electric cars are far too expensive, and that there are nowhere near enough charging points, nor will there be in time. It was mentioned that the government plans for there to be at least three charging points at every motorway service station. Three ! When you think how long it takes to charge a car (compared to re-fuel), and then look at how many cars are in the petrol stations at any given moment, it doesn't take a genius to realise that the Public Accounts Committee have got a point. However does it really take a genius to realise just how much money is wasted by having the Public Accounts Committee poncing about at tax payer's expense to point out the bloody obvious?
There was also talk about how the nurse who nursed the Prime Minister through COVID has resigned over the frankly piss-poor pay increase which the government is giving the NHS.
There was also talk about how the "duty of candour" isn't working. According to the latest political theory governing the NHS, the NHS has to be open and transparent about mistakes. Which is a good idea. But there is a world of difference between "open and transparent" and "having a cover-up" and "fuelling a witch-hunt". Concern was expressed that some failings in the NHS aren't being shouted from the rooftops quite as loudly as they might be.
Seriously? Is anyone surprised about that?
I stopped off at the petrol station on my way to work. Two minutes there is far quicker than twenty minutes charging my hypothetical electric car would be, and gives me three times the hypothetical range.
As I tried to pay I was very conscious that I was interrupting the gossip of the harridans behind the tills. They were *not* happy about having to deal with the paying customers.
Work was work; at tea break I had a message. A few days ago I whinged about the unavailability of any time slots at the local tip. Last night I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had booked a slot and (if so) could they shift some of my rubbish? This morning I was told that things at the tip had changed, and rather than being fully booked until the end of June, they now have appointments available next week. Result!!
Mind you I also saw that most other tips in the country are still operating a "turn up and chuck out" policy. I wish our tip was.
I did my bit; I came home. It was a glorious evening and I was fully intending to take the dogs to the woods when I realised I was struggling to park the car. With much of the parking spaces in Bond Road having been coned off (I wonder why) parking was going to be at a premium this evening. I decided that having parked the car I would be daft to move it again. And er indoors TM” had already taken Pogo and Treacle to Frog’s Island at lunch time. So instead I walked Sid round the block and then disassembled the water feature which had sprung a leak. I spent few minutes sitting with the dogs by the pond feeding the fish (it isn’t the same without Fudge on guard- he loved that pond) and vaguely wondered just how I might disguise the pond’s filter. It fulfils a very vital role, but it does look awful. I phoned my Dad and had a little chat with him whilst I was at it.
If I had taken the dogs to the woods this evening, at about the time when we would have been furthest from the car so the heavens opened. I was right not to have gone to the woods this evening.
er indoors TM” is having a scout group committee meeting via Zoom in a minute, and then we’re having a late dinner. There is talk of KFC…
20 May 2021 (Thursday) - Uruguayan Red Wine
A good night’s sleep was a very welcome treat last night, as was warm toast for brekkie. I scoffed it as my COVID test incubated (negative again) and as I watched another episode of “Motherland”.
I sparked up my lap-top to see how the internet had fared overnight. I had an interesting email. About ten years ago my life took something of a nose-dive. Money became incredibly tight and I found myself trying all sorts of ways to make ends meet. One of my many strokes of genius was to sign up with View Ranger. They promised me the Moon on a stick. Billed as “your ultimate adventure guide” they made the proud boast that “ViewRanger is your digital guide to the outdoors with downloadable route guides, outdoor maps, and powerful GPS navigation features.”. Taken in by the hype, I published one or two walking routes on their website on the strength of their promise that people would pay to download them, and the money would just keep rolling in.
As the years passed I rather forgot about them, but this morning they sent me an email. The nice people at View Ranger aren’t selling routes any more and so are settling all their accounts. In ten years of having people downloading my suggested walks I have earned the frankly disappointing sum of one pound fifteen pence.
I’ve donated the lot to View Ranger’s favourite charity (mountain rescue).
I also had a message from “Kaitlyn Olivia” who was “seeking for serious submissive slave that will be dominated by me”. Much as I do like much that Facebook gives me for free, it does bother me that dominatrices can openly tout for trade with impunity, but complaining that they are doing so breaches the Facebook community standards.
I also had a string of “did not find” emails about several of my geocaches which was rather frustrating bearing in mind that the caches *are* there.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Welsh First Minister about the proposed trade deal the UK is negotiating with Australia. Welsh sheep farmers are up in arms about the matter as it was alleged that it is cheaper to ship a joint of lamb half way round the world to my dinner table than it is to drive one down from Cardiff. It would seem that the Brexit we've got isn't the one that the Welsh sheep farmers voted for. At no stage did they ever seem to want to contend with market forces in which the British public would buy the cheapest thing on the market rather than what they were selling.
There was also talk about the reunification of Britain's railways and a rather amazing admission that the break-up of the nation's railway system really had been a mistake after all.
With a few minutes spare I stopped off at Aldi. I've not been there for a while. It was much as it ever was. I went in for jam and biscuits and nearly came out with Lego and pyjamas. But they didn't have pyjamas in my size, and the Lego was cheaper on-line (and I didn't want Harry Potter Lego anyway). But I did get a bottle of Uruguayan red wine.
I got to work; I did my bit. As I worked a colleague was arguing with his insurance company. He's got a new car. The insurance company were happy to either change his existing policy to cover the new car, or to have him start a new policy. However they were utterly unable to explain why changing the existing policy was three hundred pounds more expensive than starting a new one.
He started a new policy.
This might be something to bear in mind when getting a new car; I often wonder just how much longer my one is going to run for. It gets me to work (and home again) every day, but we are doing sixty miles every day and the thing is now fourteen years old. I've always said that I shall run it into the ground, and it can only be a matter of time before my car finally throws in the towel.
The plan was to walk Sid round the block this evening as er indoors TM” would take Treacle and Pogo to the co-op field. But the heavy rain put us off of that idea.
er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we devoured whilst watching Adrian Edmonson in “Ade in Britain” at the highland games. We washed the dinner down with that Uruguayan red wine. It was rather good… the three glasses of amaretto that followed it might (just possibly) have been a mistake…
21 May 2021 (Friday) - Feeling Rough
Yesterday I finished by saying “We washed the dinner down with that Uruguayan red wine. It was rather good… the three glasses of amaretto that followed it might (just possibly) have been a mistake…”
I think it is safe to say that they were a mistake…
I woke feeling like death warmed up when Sid woke me with a barking fit at half past six. I wish he wouldn’t. Once he’d been out into the garden (where he did nothing at all) I made some brekkie and scoffed it whilst watching an episode of “Motherland” which was something of a disappointment. If you are going for a weekend break with a couple of your mates, you don’t invite the people in the rival clique that you hate and who hate you. Do you?
We took the dogs to Orlestone Woods which was rather muddy, but we got a good walk done, and didn’t have to contend with anyone else at all. That was something of a minor result.
We came home, and I walked Sid up to the corner shop and back again. Whilst in the woods we walked about a mile and a half in half an hour. The corner shop is about two hundred yards away; there and back took us twenty minutes. Sid does like a bimble, but it is getting a bit much for him.
Once home er indoors TM”
got on with working from home (she seems to like that very much)
whilst I had a look at the Internet (whilst feeling grim).
I made a cuppa for us both, and settled down to writing up CPD. Rather dull, but one day I might be grateful for it. I am legally required to not only stay up to date with developments in blood testing, but also to provide evidence that I do so. Hopefully that blog will be evidence enough.
Looking back I should really have phoned in sick and spent the day sitting on the sofa feeling rough. But instead I went in to work for the late shift and spent the day working whilst feeling rough.
Hopefully I’ll feel better in the morning…
22 May 2021 (Saturday) - Stuck in Traffic
One of the sadder things about getting older is that I find I can drink less and less. In years gone by, blog entries here would regale epic sessions “on the sauce” from which I would stagger relatively unscathed.
I woke to find I was still suffering from half a bottle of Uruguayan red wine and three amarettos two days later.
Over a subdued brekkie I peered into the Internet and was frankly amazed. Yesterday I mentioned how the pornmonger’s attempt to peddle filth was quite acceptable to the Facebook Feds. I asked them to review the matter, and they have changed their minds. Inviting random strangers to “do the dirty deed” does go against Facebook’s community standards. I suppose this is a minor victory in the ongoing battle against “nudey prod games”. Another minor victory happened when I received a message of filth from a scantily-clad “Williams Sophia Amanda” this morning, reported it, and saw his/her/its profile had been deleted by the Facebook Feds by the time I got to work.
Facebook’s number one problem is that it is a victim of its own success. It is not possible for there to be any human regulation of what goes on (as the website is so huge) and the algorithms they use to keep out the filth just don’t work as well as they might.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, then set about solving geo-puzzles. I got a few done on a series that we may well walk before the year is out. But quite a few of the puzzles on this series are on-line jigsaws. Some of them being over a hundred pieces. Oh well… it will pass the time otherwise wasted on Candy Crush games. As I puzzled so Pogo and Treacle sat with me. Treacle chewed on my pyjama trousers (she’s a bit “special”) and Pogo snored… except for when the postmen came with parcels; we had full-blow “Red Alerts” for those.
After two hours I’d solved fifteen puzzles (and passed on five jigsaws). By then the paracetamols had kicked in. I don’t like taking any drugs at all if I can avoid it, but sometimes needs must.
I set off for work far earlier than I might have done. Partly because my car was parked so far from home (I had to park a ten-minute walk from home last night), and partly because I fancied a cheeky McDonalds on the way to work. I headed up the motorway, and joined a frankly epic queue of stationary traffic after a mile. Literally a mile - I could see the "Ashford 1 mile" sign on the coast-bound carriageway opposite me.
After a few minutes I realised nothing was coming down the coast-bound carriageway, so I had a look at the internet. After a little fiddling about (in an incredibly poor signal area) I found out that a lorry had burst into flames about two miles up the motorway from where I was. After telling the world my plight (via Facebook) I learned of the "Highways England app" which I eventually downloaded. If you are ever inclined to download the "Highways England app", don't bother. It's crap. It started off by telling me (at one o'clock) that the motorway was closed and would re-open at three o'clock, and it updated me at regular intervals, each time putting back the re-opening time of the motorway. The final update before traffic started moving (at half past two) claimed a seven o'clock opening. But no matter how far into the future it claimed the motorway would re-open, the thing was insistent that being stranded on a closed motorway would only add ten minutes to my journey time. "Motorway doesn't open for five hours - this will delay you by ten minutes." How does that work?
Having been still for three hours the traffic finally started moving, but at a snail's pace. We took half an hour to drive two miles as we had to slowly slalom round half a dozen different cars which had broken down in different lanes. Here's a tip - if you are stuck in traffic with the engine off, don't use all sorts of things which will flatten the battery.
Needless to say being just over two hours late for work I didn't go for that cheeky McDonalds
Work was work, and I came home to a broken telly… Oh well…
23 May 2021 (Sunday) - Back To The Romney Marsh
Sid woke me with his barking at six o’clock this morning. He rarely barks because he needs the loo; he usually barks because he is stuck and can’t get up; he has pretty much no control over his back legs any more. I helped him up, chivvied hm outside (much to his disgust), made toast, and spent a couple of minutes watching the telly. I didn’t watch any TV shows; I just watched the telly. Playing a TV show is beyond it. It seems to have lost the ability to recognise what is coming down the HDMI cables (poor thing).
Instead I put some washing in to scrub and tuned in to the Internet where consternation was rife. We didn’t get a single point in the Eurovision Song Contest last night. Mind you when I say “we” I mean the song that was entered under the flag of the UK didn’t get any points. That song had absolutely nothing to do with me (I have never even heard it) and I suppose I should really say “they” or “it” didn’t get a single point in the Eurovision Song Contest last night. From what I can work out the scoring was the usual stitch-up in that judges representing each country voted for those with whom their country is traditionally chummy, and seeing how the UK has been bending over backwards to utterly alienate itself from Europe over the last five years, can anyone *really* be surprised at the outcome?
Imagine if everyone was as passionate about the blatant corruption and unfairness in our politics (which appears in the news daily) as they are about that which they feel is rife in Eurovision…
I then spent a few minutes looking at adverts for new tellies. Some cost just over a hundred quid; others cost thousands. They all seemed to have amazing write-ups, but they all seemed to be competing to deliver a quality of picture which is far beyond the human eye’s ability to discern. If any of my loyal readers have any suggestions about a good telly, I’m all ears. Otherwise I will just buy the most expensive thing that the sexiest assistant talks me into (which is what usually happens when I go shopping).
I posed that very question on Facebook, and then looked at the geo-puzzle series I’m currently working on. I got ten more sorted before er indoors TM” and the dogs came swarming round.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and set off to Romney Marsh where we soon met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte, and we set off on a wander round the marsh following one of the “Trails of the Unconfirmed” series of geocaches.
We’d been checking the weather forecast all week, and had been rather relieved to see a dry day was predicted for today. We reminded ourselves of that less than an hour into the walk as we huddled under a tree sheltering from the deluge. Even though the BBC’s weather app assured us that there was only a nine per cent chance of rain where we were. But the rain soon passed. The rest of the day was dry and warm, but everywhere was wet. I was glad I’d put my gaiters on. The thick grass was rather wet, especially on some of the less well-trodden paths (and there were a few of those).
As we walked we met some of the locals. They seem to be an odd breed on the marsh. As we did the sums for a field puzzle which was based on the weight limit of a bridge, so one of the locals came out of his house and openly stared at us. And when we found an ideal sheltered spot for lunch, a passing local made comment about what an odd choice of picnic site we’d made. We smiled sweetly; I like our picnics. We choose our spot well, the dogs have home-prepared special rice and seaweed sticks for afters, the ladies have fruit cider, and I get some good beers.
Geocache-wise it was a good walk. Perhaps a tad too many field puzzles? But people have told me that I don’t put out enough? Each to their own. Someone (I know who he is!) had taken the time and effort to lay out a guided walk for me, my friends and my dogs for today and it was a good one.
I took one or two photos as we walked.
As we came home so we could tell something wasn’t right. Both dogs were agitated, and becoming more and more frantic. We *think* that they’d both trodden on stinging nettles as we’d walked, so once home we pinned them both down and rubbed cold aloe vera on their paws, and then covered them with soothing cream. Eventually both dogs settled, and er indoors TM” set off to see her mum. I wasn’t happy to leave the dogs so I stayed with them. er indoors TM” was keen to see her mum who had just been released from hospital having fallen off of a ladder. The burning question is “what is someone closer to eighty than seventy doing up a ladder” but it will take a brave person to ask it.
Whilst she was out I got my shirts and trousers ironed and got twenty more geo-puzzles looked at (if not solved).
Bed time soon. Treacle has perked up, but I’m a tad worried about Pogo. He is incredibly quiet and subdued. I will probably lay awake worrying about him.
Which is *exactly* why I never wanted dogs…
24 May 2021 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
Sid woke me with a strange howling noise at half past six. He’d got into a sitting position but couldn’t get up. I helped him up, took him round the garden (where he did nothing) and he bumbled back in and went straight back to sleep.
I made toast, set my COVID test going, and peered into the Internet. Five Facebook friends had birthdays today. I sent out five birthday wishes and stared in frank disbelief at the photo of one of the friends. I can remember him being born. He how has a beard big enough to hide a badger in. Where do the years go?
Facebook also presented be with a begging advert for a charity trying to raise money for sick children. They had a feature on a child with “an undiagnosed blood condition so rare only one other person in the UK has it”. Am I missing something here? If the condition is undiagnosed how does anyone know if it is the same ailment as the other child has? I don’t doubt that either child is ill, but is this bunch the best one to help them?
There were one or two people posting gloating comments at others whose foreign holidays had been scuppered. Mind you I did find myself wondering. Germany won’t let anyone from the UK in, Spain is welcoming UK residents. And both are EU residents. So EU member states *do* have control of their borders? You would be forgiven for thinking that the “Leave” campaigners lied to us all those years ago.
After half an hour I recorded my negative COVID test on-line. It told me that my reporting performance was eighty-nine per cent. Eighty-nine !? I have done a test every four days (without fail) ever since I was told to do so. I call that one hundred per cent (and I’ve got a degree in maths!!)
With Pogo seeming to have perked up from his episode yesterday, I then took him and Treacle up to the co-op field. I took a couple of tennis balls and a ball chucker. The closer to the field we got so the more excited the dogs got. They were both literally squealing in excitement as we walked past the allotments, and we had a good time playing “Fetch” and/or “Stop Your Brother Getting The Ball” depending on which dog got the ball first. I would have liked to have played longer, but the tennis balls had been chewed to destruction and the rain had got rather heavy.
The rain had stopped by the time I got home, and I spent half an hour loading the car with all sorts of rubbish to take to the tip. As I loaded so the postman arrived with my parcel. I’d ordered the five-CD “Compleat Works (misprint) of Ivor Biggun”, and wasted no time telling the Internet about it. Have you ever listened to “The Pharoah of Filth? He might be a tad risqué, but he makes me chuckle.
I then went to the tip via Asda. We needed dog food and whilst I was at it I got beer and cider for our next weekend walk, a bottle of red wine, and some non-chewed tennis balls. The checkout staff in Asda made me chuckle. All were wearing face coverings, and all took the coverings off whenever they had anything to say.
I also went via the home of the first fruit of my loin. Cheryl had loads of stuff to take to the tip as well, and I had orders to collect it all and take it with me.
With tip tipped I collected er indoors TM” and we set off to Argos. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that on Saturday someone (wasn’t me so it don’t leave many other suspects!) poggered our telly. Having done quite a bit of reading up on-line we decided to get the biggest telly that would fit in out telly alcove. There’s no denying I’d been dreading getting the new telly because of all the aggro involved in setting it up, but so far the most difficult thing was attaching the stand. It now does all the stuff that the Sky-Q box throws at it. I suppose I should really plumb in the DVD player, but I’ve got this theory that if I leave it, er indoors TM” might sort it out. Mind you the last time she sorted out the telly we ended up needing a new one…
Bearing in mind we got the last telly on 16 January 2010, I’m wondering if this new telly will also do us for another eleven years.
I then set off out again; this time to the local hospital. I had an annual follow-up appointment after the nasal surgery I had in October 2019. Only six months late…
I arrived at the counter of the ENT clinic where a receptionist (who was wearing her face covering as a necklace) totally failed to make herself heard over the shrieking of the other receptionist and one of the nurses. I actually told her that I couldn’t hear a word she was saying because her mate was shrieking too loudly, but the sarcasm was wasted on her.
Eventually I got in to see the specialist who stuck an endoscope up my nose and told me that although the polyps had returned, there was no sign of the cancer having come back. I smiled sweetly. Not having cancer is something of a result. Mind you, I didn’t know I’d had it in the first place… One lives and learns. Or dies of a cancer one never knew one had.
I suppose can only agree with the Care Quality Commission who say that the hospital requires improvement.
I took my prescription to the local chemist – it should be ready for tomorrow. Then (what with today being pay day) I had a look at our monthly accounts. I suppose that having shelled out on a new telly today they could be a whole lot better. But this is life, isn’t it? Just as the bank balance starts chirping up, someone detonates your telly…
But it could always be worse. In the words of Ivor: “Be brave and wipe the tear-drop from your eye…”
25 May 2021 (Tuesday) - Towel Day
I was sleeping like a log when my phone beeped at half past one. Apparently the Post Office had just tried to deliver a parcel but couldn’t due to an unpaid shipping fee. At half past one in the morning? When you bear in mind the spelling mistakes in the message, the scammers had done a rather poor job. It was just a shame they had to wake me up quite so early.
Over brekkie I watched the last episode of “Motherland” on our rather good new telly, then peered into the Internet to see if I had missed much overnight. I hadn’t really, but I did see that today was “Towel Day”. Something I’ve vaguely heard of before, this is all about remembering the life and work of Douglas Adams. As well as writing “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” he wrote quite a few stories for “Doctor Who” as well.
Bearing in mind the debacle on the motorway on Saturday I checked my “Highways England” app and seeing all was fine I trusted it and set off to work.
The app worked - there weren't any delays on the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the cost of a university education is now effectively beyond many people. Some universities are now trying to increase their bursary schemes; effectively doing away with student loans and going back to the days of student grants. What goes around comes around. I'm all in favour of this - *provided* the student actually gets something out of university at the end of it all. I can't help but think back forty years (when student grants were a *thing*) and the attitude of my old headmaster. If you didn't intend to go to a university then you had no business being at a grammar school. And going to a university was seen as an end in itself, not a means to a completely different end.
There was also talk about how some local councils have got the hump because the UK government have enforced local lockdown restrictions without involving them.
My piss boiled at that - isn't this why we have a national government?
As I drove through the busiest bit of my journey so I had a van of the DMA group about six feet behind me for several hundred yards. At the first opportunity this van flew past me and slalomed through the traffic at breakneck speeds. Ironically it could only slalom for about half a mile or so; with all the other drivers going in different directions I found myself directly behind this van at the first set of traffic lights we met on leaving the motorway. Driving like a loon didn't get him anywhere any faster.
As I have said before (many times), if you are going to drive like an idiot, best not to do it in the works van.
I got to work for the early shift; I did my bit. And an early start made for an early finish. I came home to find “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” in residence. She came to the co op field with me and the dogs and ranted about all sorts of things. We then came home where she announced she wants our old broken telly. Talking of which the price of the new telly on the Argos website is ten quid more than what we paid yesterday.
Meanwhile “My Boy TM” is talking about a day trip to London. He wants to go to Kew Gardens and to Buckingham Palace. I think Buck House is out the window – they charge sixty quid admission. Mind you, they must get people paying that price or they wouldn’t charge it. I’m reliably informed we can get a coach trip to Kew Gardens for under forty quid, but the first fruit of my loin flatly refuses to do a coach.
er indoors TM” boiled up some dinner which we scoffed whilst watching some narrowboating TV shows. Having visited friends narrowboating last year I wonder if a little holiday sailing along the canals mightn’t be a bit of fun…
26 May 2021 (Wednesday) - Jam Shed
I felt a tad rough when I went to bed last night, and I saw every hour of the night. I got up (feeling like death warmed up) at five o’clock, made brekkie and scoffed it whilst watching last week’s episode of “Alan Partridge”. Whilst entertaining enough, it really wasn’t much different to what he was doing thirty years ago. As I’ve said before, Steve Coogan is a very talented chap; it is a shame he keeps doing the same old stuff. I suppose the BBC (being risk averse) stick to a winning formula.
Facebook was rather amazing this morning. For some time I’ve been following a Radio Four based Facebook group. Like all groups it has its ups and downs. Yesterday there seems to have been a full-blown civil war on that page, and the losing faction had all upped sticks and set up their own rival Facebook Radio Four page (to which I had received an invitation). Some people really will quarrel about anything.
My eyes also rolled when I opened my email in-box. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I’ve had all sorts of aggro with the power company over the last year. After a *lot* of to-ing and fro-ing the ombudsman ruled that the power company must provide me with a functioning gas meter. Overnight the power company had sent me an email welcoming me to the contract which actually started fourteen months ago. To be fair to them, they also sent another email to say they were coming to sort the gas meter. It is a shame they aren’t coming for another six weeks, but there it is. I have needed a new gas meter for some time, so this must be a victory of sorts.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the government's latest tweak to the lockdown restrictions. Yesterdays’ decrees to the areas with high prevalence of the latest strain of COVID are no longer decrees. Today they are suggestions. Concern was expressed that people don't know the rules from one minute to the next, and bearing in mind the formal official guidance has changed at least once a week over the last year that would seem to be a valid concern.
Meanwhile far from gracefully retiring, that idiot Donald Trump is back in the news claiming that the entire COVD-19 thing was some huge Chinese conspiracy., the Chinese Mars rover is driving about the Martian surface, and our old friend science is looking for aliens (yet again)
I got to work and made a start on the early shift. Today was a good day if we draw a veil over the vagaries of the Lutheran blood group system. You would be amazed how much problem you can get out of something about which probably only one person in ten thousand has heard of.
Once home I took Pogo and Treacle up to the co-op field where we tried to play “Fetch”, but it wasn’t a success. Being faster than Pogo, despite having a ball of her own, Treacle could get to the ball being thrown first and would then jealously guard both balls. Poor Pogo soon lost interest.
I then took Sid for his bimble in which we took a far longer time to walk a far shorter distance.
er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good but of diner which we scoffed whilst watching “Lego Masters”, and then I fell asleep in front of the telly. I do that. I blame the red wine…
27 May 2021 (Thursday) - Before the Night Shift
Google wouldn't seem to be accepting photos today...
er indoors TM” has developed a new trick where she manages to squawk her pillow so it sounds just like Sid’s bark. I got up a couple of times for that. Eventually Sid did bark for real so I got up, saw to him and made brekkie.
As I scoffed toast so I watched “Hardy Boys” in which our heroes ran into another bunch of half-wits. As they trash-talked each other our heroes were warned that “you might have a black belt in Cluedo, but if you dance with the snake, you are going to get slithered at”. Sage advice indeed; I sniggered at that for most of the day.
er indoors TM” emerged from her pit, and we took the dogs to Orlestone Woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Dominic Cummings latest bombshell about Boris Johnson in which he claims…. Well, let’s be honest. What Mr Cummings tells Parliament will make no difference to the Prime Minister will it? Despite having been sacked for lying from pretty much very job he’s had, and websites reporting his ongoing litany of falsehoods, the public continue to love him.
We got to the woods and walked our usual circuit without getting *too* muddy. The dogs loved being able to run, and we only met one other group of walkers; our friends the little old lady and her dogs.
With walk walked we came home and I set about the lawn. It is ten days since I last mowed it, and in that time it had become a jungle. I gave my new strimmer its first outing, and it worked rather well. I did manage to block the lawn mower (twice), an act of “operator error” in which I rather amazed myself.
Pausing only briefly to hang my latest garden gecko I made us both a cuppa. I did a little CPD, then looked at more geo-puzzles whilst the dogs randomly barked at whatever was bothering them at the time.
er indoors TM” set off to collect a new DVD player and I went to bed for the afternoon. I slept for three hours before spending a rather frustrating hour fighting with the new DVD machine. On powering up it didn’t sound like a helicopter suffering a catastrophic failure (which put it streets ahead of the one we sent back yesterday) but it didn’t want to talk to the new telly. After trying it on four different HDM cables with no success we eventually got the thing to play via the “Back AV” channel. Part of me thinks I might throw good money after bad and buy a fifth HDMI cable, and part of me thinks I should give up whilst I am still ahead. Looking on-line it would seem that other people have struggled to get DVDs and tellies talking, but no one seemed to have an easy fix. I thought these things were all “plug and play”.
There are those who wonder why we need a DVD player in this brave new world of streaming… Have you ever tried to stream “Upstairs Downstairs”, “Auf Weidersehn Pet”, “You Rang M’Lord” or any of the other classics? They are called “classics” because no one but me wants to watch that sort of crap.
With any luck er indoors TM” will do some dinner in a bit and then I’m off to the night shift…
28 May 2021 (Friday) - Uploading Photos Again
With work done I came home. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about yet another proposed shake-up for the NHS. However in a seriously radical change of direction, this one made some sense. The suggestion was that some hospitals be designated “emergency centres” and some not. Those that are “emergency centres” would deal with all the emergencies that occur, and those that are not “emergency centres” would deal with the ongoing planned workload of the NHS. These hospitals could get on with it without having to be cancelling out-patient appointments and planned surgery (on a daily basis) to deal with emergencies. Backlogs could be cleared, waiting times would reduce… and having worked in both environments can I be the first to apply for a job in a non-emergency hospital. If only the Minister for Health can find enough people prepared to work in a place in which the concerted stress has deliberately been condensed, he could be on to something.
There was also an interview with Brian Nash (who was once famous in “Frankie Goes To Hollywood”). The chap is almost a year older than me, and it was interesting listening to his story. Being a pop star might have brough fame, but it didn’t seem to have brought that much fortune. The chap was saying how when his band took off he didn’t jack in the day job, he took a planned sabbatical. And when the band had run its course he went back to it, and is still working as an electrician. I was reminded of an interview (many years ago) with some pop mogul or other who was something to do with the Cheeky Girls. When challenged about why they were on the television seemingly constantly the chap explained how fame is a transient thing. This chap claimed that the average pop star remains famous for eighteen months at most, and if they want to remain in the music industry they have those eighteen months to make a lifetime’s wages. Or they need to jack it all in and find some other way of paying the bills. Is that true? It sounds realistic.
I got home and went to bed where I slept as best I could with Pogo on top of me. Over a brekkie eaten when most people would have lunch I peered at the Internet. There were adverts for “Snag The Tag” on Facebook. Quite a few of them. Ironically on the geocaching pages. Have you heard of “Snag The Tag”? It is not unlike geocaching, but the prizes you seek in this game are worth having.
When geocaching effectively stopped for the pandemic, a lot of hunters of Tupperware went over to the dark side of Munzee. And now many are playing “Snag The Tag”. Will geocaching survive if and when it comes back properly? I expect so. But I suspect it will sorely miss the most active cachers who have found something else to do in the meantime.
We took the dogs to the co-op field for a little walk, then I spent the afternoon ironing. As I ironed I watched a DVD (because I could). “Last Orders” is a good film with an all-star cast which follows the memories of a group of friends taking a dead friend’s ashes from South London to scatter them at Margate.
I always like seeing films set somewhere that I’ve been because I feel I can relate to it better. But… Why have the main characters getting incredibly breathless walking up a hill to the military monument in Chatham when you can drive right up to it? And when driving eastwards along the A2, how did they turn off onto the A251 using the exit on the westbound side?
With telly watched I then set about solving geo-puzzles. I’ve now solved all the Spongebob geo-puzzles except the jigsaws they will take some doing… I’ve got one with two hundred and sixteen pieces in progress at the moment. I wonder how long that will take…
29 May 2021 (Saturday) - Late Shift
I suppose that having done a night shift it isn’t surprising that I slept till nine o’clock this morning. I got up and saw that Sid hadn’t done anything so I chivvied him outside where he did. He did lots. It was at this point that er indoors TM” appeared from her pit and we ganged up on Sid. His claws needed clipping; they were really long and curling over. He has had serious difficulty walking and so they needed doing. But… He hates having his paws touched and clipping claws is incredibly stressful. Wee-ing and poop-ing ourselves has been a feature of previous clippings. So with him empty I bundled him up in a towel and we extracted each paw from the towel in turn to clip it. Whilst this avoided any “potty accidents” it was incredibly traumatic. If you heard any horrific screaming early this morning, that was Sid.
I’ve never seen him move so fast as when we released him from the towel.
I made toast and scoffed it whilst peering into the Internet. It was much the same as ever. Trivia abounded, as did people desperate to take offence at the trivia.
I also had a message about next month’s Munzee clan war. I think I might give Munzee clan war a miss next month. The requirements are so hard that it turns what is supposed to be a fun game into a (rather expensive) chore. And it is rather upsetting that someone has set up a memorial Munzee for Fudge. It is six weeks since he went; I’ve got rather upset several times every day about that silly dog and being reminded every time I turn on what is supposed to be a fun game isn’t helping.
I took Sid for a little pootle. We did our usual circuit up to Dan-Dan's house and back again (with me watching him like a hawk). Was it my imagination, or was he *really* walking better with his claws clipped? He only stumbled once where he usually has several little falls, and there's no denying that the short walk that normally takes us twenty minutes only took fifteen today.
That gave me five minutes to stand in the garden and stare into space whilst pondering on my next garden project. I have an idea for a new water feature...
Pausing only briefly to top up the oil in the car I was soon on my way. I drove straight up the motorway (unlike last Saturday!), and was soon at McDonalds... where I took one look at the immense queues (both for walk-in and drive-through), turned around and drove to the Subway near work. In the past Subway have done rather good toasted rolls. Today they didn't toast anything; I was just given something cold and unappetising. I asked why they didn't toast them any more. Everyone behind the counter mumbled and muttered and looked at each other; not one said anything I could understand.
I dropped their (frankly dreadful) offering in the bin and got a sandwich elsewhere instead. Looking at their reviews on Google it would seem that their output can be variable.
Work was work. I saw that my shifts for July through to September have been published, and I updated my diary accordingly. I might need to swap one or two of them, but where some people might grumble, I quite like the variety. Early, late, night... it could be a whole lot worse. And only a few short years ago I worked somewhere where it was a whole lot worse.
It was a shame I was on the late shift today though; I missed the family bingo night. I also missed the Kent garden show today. I had intended to pop in on the way to work, but had forgotten every word about it. Oh well... the last time I went to it I just spent a small fortune on stuff I didn't really need.
I’ve programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow… time for bed.
Today has been rather dull.
30 May 2021 (Sunday) - Brookland to Snargate (and back)
I woke with a bit of a headache this morning. I wonder what that was all about? As I took Sid out so “not-so-nice-next-door” sprinted up her garden and into her house. I must admit to a wry smile at the sound of her fastening all the locks. She’s got a pretty chunky door anyway – the sort that cost a couple of thousand pounds from the double-glazing people. And somehow she’s added quite a few additional locks. Bearing in mind there’s pretty much no way into her back garden, who does she think is going to come along?
I made toast and peered into the Internet. It was much as I’d left it last night. People were posting the same tired memes to pretty much every Facebook page they could. Back in the day people would post photos of what they had done either to their own Facebook page or to a page about whatever pastime they enjoyed. Nowadays no matter what the hobby there are endless competing Facebook groups for that hobby; all of which carry pretty much the same content. For example if you want to go geocaching near where I live you’ve got a choice of half a dozen Facebook groups.
After ten minutes of scrolling through the same few things I gave up with it.
In readiness for going out I took Sid into the garden where I was accosted by “not-so-nice-next-door” who started shrieking at me. When my house was painted a few weeks ago we painted along the line that the previous paint job had taken. Partly because that was where the previous paint job had been, and partly because the old paint was rather tatty and needed making good. “not-so-nice-next-door” was furious that we had painted on her wall and demanded that I should have put it right by now (despite the fact we’ve just had the wettest May on record). She also ranted that she doesn’t like my dogs running round her garden. That confused me – there is no way they can get into her garden. She told me that they might. She then started a tirade that (quite frankly) I couldn’t understand. She then (in a very thick Japanese accent) asked if I didn’t understand English. I tried to placate her, but she wasn’t having any of it. What do you do with someone like that? Having blanked us for the best part of twenty years she is now doing her utmost to be disagreeable.
We got the dogs and ourselves organised and set off to Brookland Village Hall where we met Tracey and Karl. Charlotte was feeling under the weather which was a shame; we missed her today.
We set off on a little walk guided by some more of the “Trails of the Unconfirmed” geocaches. The walk started perhaps not as well as it might; walking through head high wet crops meant we got rather damp. But the crops soon dried (as did we) and we had a good walk. I was rather intrigued by the closed road we found. What was once a country lane is now quite literally collapsing. Rabbits and badgers have dug their burrows under it, and the tarmac has pot holes like you’ve never seen before. There were buzzards in the sky, sheep and cows in the fields, and I’ve never heard so many frogs in the ditches.
We also saw half a (very large) tree being burned in a bonfire on the side of one of the lanes. I would have thought there were rules against that sort of thing. And we found another geocacher’s mobile phone that they had dropped a couple of weeks ago. We shall post that back to its owner.
Our walk did take us past the Red Lion in Snargate – a veritable time-warp of a pub. The place does beer straight from the barrel, no food, no lager… but it was closed. Such a shame.
Geocache-wise we hunted out just over forty targets, finding all but two. Some were easier than others; most were rather smaller than I would have put out myself and perhaps more field puzzles than I would like (the dogs get impatient), but it was a good walk. One I would recommend. You can see photos of it here.
We came home and I spent a couple of minutes moving the lock-up so that when I get some paint (tomorrow) I will be able to crack on painting. As I moved stuff about I heard “not-so-nice-next-door” unbolting the myriad locks on her back door, fiddle about and then bolt herself back in again.
With the dogs snoring we then popped round to visit “My Boy TM”. er indoors TM” spent the evening in his hot tub. Stuff that – they are only “hot” all the time you are in them. They are decidedly cold when you get out.
31 May 2021 (Monday) - Bank Holiday
Finding myself wide awake about three hours earlier than I had hoped I got up and made brekkie. Peering into the Internet it would seem I was up rather late (half past six) compared to many people who had been posting about going to boot fairs a couple of hours earlier. I’ve quite liked the few boot fairs that I’ve been to, but why do they start so early?
Ironically only a few hours later my cousin posted to Facebook from a boot fair saying: “People smoking in my face and sheep shit” so perhaps I hadn’t missed much.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that at the last Bank Holiday I discovered that B&Q keep their regular hours, so I was round there at seven o’clock this morning to get my bits and pieces; the ingredients for a new water feature and a tub of magnolia. Yesterday I mentioned that not-so-nice-next-door was ranting about the colour of a strip of wall that she can only see by leaning over the fence. Faced with the choice of keeping her sweet or telling her to get knotted I’ve opted to keeping her sweet. For now.
I came home, and as er indoors TM” set about defrosting the freezer I got the first coat of magnolia onto the wall, then mowed the lawn, pulled weeds out of shingle, and cleaned out the fish pond’s filter. As I have said before the fish pond filter is a job best done regularly; the temptation is to let it ride and suddenly (with no warning) you find yourself faced with a half-empty pond where the filter has blocked up. In the past I’ve cleaned the filter only to block the bath with fish poo, but nowadays I bodge a huge flowerpot over the drains, upend the contents of the filter into that huge flowerpot and hose the whole lot down. This way I am only up to my wrists in Koi poo and not (as I used to be) up to my elbows in the stuff.
Pausing only briefly to wash off the Koi poo I put a second coat of paint on the wall. er indoors TM” took a break from the freezer, and we had a lunch of bread rolls that she had found encrusted in permafrost.
Having pondered my plans for the new water feature I realised I hadn’t got enough timber, so I popped to B&Q for more. There was a minor altercation kicking off as one of the normal people wanted some postcrete, but there is a national shortage of the stuff. In a very helpful (!) way a passing normal person told the one wanting postcrete that if he wanted postcrete he shouldn’t have voted for Brexit. Is there a connection? There is with quite a bit of stuff, but I don’t think there is in this case. Is there? I left them squabbling, and armed with the timber I needed I then went round to B&M Bargains for the decorative trellis that B&Q had sold out of.
B&M Bargains had the stuff I wanted, but they also had itinerant half-wits too. One was at the tills, loudly telling everyone that she “shouldn’t have said that”. I have no idea what it was that she shouldn’t have said, and neither I nor anyone else cared. But it didn’t stop her rattling on like a stuck record. She took serious offence when the chap in the queue told her to shut up and get a move on.
I came home and had a look at the far end of the garden. Not-so-nice-next-door had ranted about that yesterday as well. The fence panel that runs alongside her shed fell apart years ago. Over the winter it finally fell into a thousand rotten sodden bits. Once I’d cleared the wreckage I found two doors propped against her shed. One fell apart into a thousand rotten sodden bits as soon as I looked at it. The other was in a sorry state but was covering up a hole in the shed big enough to climb through. I had cleared the mess and bodged the remaining door in place with a trellis, but yesterday she ordered me to move it off of her land. I explained that what I’d done was doing her a favour, but she wasn’t having any of it. She told me she would rather have the shed collapse than accept my help.
I ran some battens from my fence to the little cupboard by the pond, used them to secure the old trellis, and put up the new one over the top. The new one has plastic ivy on it. It looks a bit tacky, but it looks far better than seeing the sight of her rotting shed. Ironically as I was doing this job I saw that her fence had seriously damaged the felting on the roof of the little cupboard by the pond. Fortunately I had the stuff to repair it with; the fix only took me half an hour.
It was at this point that my arms started cramping so (after ten hours working) I packed away all the odds and sods and came indoors where er indoors TM” was still fighting with the freezer’s glaciers. My diary doesn’t record freezer defrosts but judging by the expiry dates of what was recovered from the permafrost we think the thing was last defrosted about four years ago.
I’m left in something of a thoughtful mood today. Having carried out not-so-nice-next-door’s orders I wonder what will come next. She has been in the garden on and off today. I know she’s inspected the paintwork; I wonder if she’s seen how I’ve disguised her shed. Have I passed inspection? Hope so. If not…
As I typed this up so she started clanging the piano. I’ve said before that if I’d been playing the piano for so long and not having made any improvement whatsoever I would pack it all up. But…
I cyber-stalked her and found her LinkedIn profile. Can you believe she claims to be a professional organist and offers piano lessons? I can’t help but be reminded of the old maxim: “those who can do; those who can't teach”. Am I being petty… possibly. But what do you do with a neighbour who is determined to be difficult, has spent twenty years being deliberately rude? I had hoped that her starting speaking was a good thing. I think I prefer being blanked.
er indoors TM” has formally declared the freezer defrosted. Hopefully that means our dinner I defrosted too. I think I’ve deserved dinner today. I shall be going to work for a rest tomorrow.
And in closing today can I offer an apology to my loyal readers. I didn’t realise that this blog appears differently on mobile devices as opposed to on laptops and PCs. I’ve tweaked backgrounds and fonts and hopefully it should be a little more readable now…