1 October 2016 (Saturday) - Wingham Wildlife Park
The noise of the rain woke me in the small hours, and I then la in pain for an hour or so desperately trying to hold off getting up for the loo. I finally gave up at 5am, then went back to bed and slept for two hours. I say “slept”; “nightmared” might have been a better description. I seem to have so many vivid dreams these days. Perhaps I’m going a bit madder than usual?
Over brekkie I spent a few minutes on the astro club’s website. It needs tweaking from time to time. And with that tweaked we drove round to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and we then made our way out to Wingham Wildlife Park where we met the rest of our party. Eight bigguns and two littluns had a rather good wander round. We started off with the big turtles (otters), pink ducks (flamingos) and dogs with hats (stags) and moved on looking at crocingdiles, pontipines and ra-ras. (It is just possible that my smallest grandchild could improve his large vertebrate recognition skills)
They had a rather good dinosaur exhibition; it terrified "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We had to leave it. Mind you the nice lady giving talks about the big cats was really good. And I did laugh when a passing peacock stole one of our group’s sandwiches out of her hand.
I was especially impressed with the new chimpanzee enclosure. The chimps haven’t arrived yet, but their enclosure is probably the best animal enclosure I’ve ever seen in any zoo. I want to go back to see it when the chimps have arrived.
The weather was against us; it was exactly as it had been forecast. Heavy rain showers all day. The weather would go from sunshine to torrential rain and back again within minutes. But we made the most of it.
I took several photos whilst we were at the zoo. If any of my loyal readers are looking for a day out I can thoroughly recommend Wingham Wildlife Park. We were there for five hours today and didn’t see all of the animals.
We went back to "Daddy’s Little Angel TM"’s flat where the littlun’s birthday presents were unwrapped (and I had a little sleep). We had beans on toast for dinner, then "er indoors TM" went off to the Saturday film night. I was tempted to go along, but I would only sleep through whatever film was being shown, so I slept in front of my own telly instead…
2 October 2016 (Sunday) - Sighs and Sharks
I slept reasonably well, and after a spot of brekkie I took "Furry Face TM" round the block; he was getting rather fractious. And with him walked we packed the car and set off on a long weekend. We’ve taken to having an October holiday over the last few years, and this year we thought we’d try Oxford.
We’d heard various theories about how long it would take to get to Oxford; we left shortly before 9.30am, and it took us a shade over two hours.
We were soon at the Pear Tree park and ride. We were charged two pounds; I thought that was too good to be true. It was. Two quid was just for the “park” We had to pay for the “ride” separately. But the “ride” was less than three quid.
"er indoors TM" had found out about tours of Oxford; we found them totally by chance; and after a quick KFC lunch we set off on a guided tour. The chap running the tour was really good. He was a PhD student who brought the town to life. We went to the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bodlean library; even under the Bridge of Sighs. We found why Oxford didn’t get bombed during the Second World war (Hitler wanted it as his capital if he won the war). We learned about the Oxford Martyrs; the tour lasted two hours and the time rushed away.
At the end of the talk the chap leading the tour was rather embarrassed as he explained how he doesn’t get a wage; his only income is what people give him for the tour. I gave him a tenner; as did the other thirty people on the tour. That was three hundred quid cash in hand (quite literally). If he does two of those on a Sunday that isn’t a bad income…
We then popped into the Museum of the History of Science. It sounded as though it would be interesting. It was… I can only liken it to something I once read in Viz magazine when Gilbert Ratchet went to the Museum of Dull Bits of Broken Pots.
It was crap.
Its “lame to fame” is that it has a blackboard on which Albert Einstein once wrote.
We then went up to the Oxford Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaur footprints, and then made our way back to the bus and so back to the car.
Pausing only briefly to see a shark sticking out of the roof of a terraced house we went on to our home for tonight. For tonight only we’d booked into the Swan in Islip.
I must admit I could hear the banjos when we arrived. The place was once a pub. Now it is very obviously a closed pub. It still functions as a guest house, and for somewhere to doss down for the night I suppose it isn’t bad. We unloaded our gear, had a little walk round the village and then drove into nearby Kidlington where Google had suggested we might like to have dinner in the Jolly Boatman.
Google had made a good choice…
I took some photos whilst we were out and about today. Amazingly the wi-fi at our B&B was up to posting them.
I wonder what the breakfast will be like in the morning...
3 October 2016 (Monday) - Cotswold Wildlife Park
I slept like a log and woke refreshed and raring to go. It was a shame that it was 2.10am. I then saw pretty much every half-hour of the rest of the night.
I struggled to have a shave as the assembly which worked the bathroom sink’s plug-hole had me stymied. I *did* try to shave quietly but it was a feature of the establishment that the extractor fans in the en-suites set off the fire alarms. Three times.
Well… "er indoors TM" needed to wake up anyway.
There is a TV show on Channel Four called “Four in a Bed” in which owners of Bed & Breakfasts go round finding fault with other’s B&Bs. It is a favourite of mine, and having watched several episodes I found myself being somewhat critical. Surely a double room needs more than one chair? Admittedly there was some antique stool arrangement, but that was more for show than function? It would *not* hgave taken my weight. And the bed was *far* too low down.
My eyes kept returning to a typed notice leave by the management saying “For emergency phone Ming on …”. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were supposed to phone Ming if we were having an emergency, or if we wanted one.
The breakfast was… probably good when it was first cooked. However you can’t realistically re-heat a full English breakfast much as you might want to.
The Swan in Islip is on the brink of closure. The pub side of the business has long closed down. The B&B side is up for sale. It wasn’t a bad place to stay but the best B&Bs feel as though you are an old friend staying in someone’s house. Last night I felt I was spending the night in a disused pub.
We said our goodbyes and drove off. I was rather glad we weren’t going back.
We went on to Cotswold Wildlife Park. It was really good. We listened to the talks on penguins and lemurs. We saw giraffes and rhinos and camels. We even had a go on the little railway that runs through the place. I even got a photo to post up to CrackWatch.
My personal favourite was the green anacondas; three snakes all of which would have had no trouble in swallowing me whole; they were that huge.
I took loads of photos – I’d just skim the album at most. Over a hundred pictures in which you might be able to make out an animal if you squint.
We stayed in the park for six hours; the plan was to leave to get to hotel #2 before the rush hour traffic. It was a plan which worked. On the way we found a toll bridge. We had to pay five pence to drive over the bridge. Five pence – can you believe it. Buses had a toll of twelve pence.
We got to the Shillingford Bridge Hotel to find loads of old people queuing up at the reception desk to complain. They were whinging about all sorts of trivia, and the nice lady behind the counter was obviously getting stressed. Mind you she did laugh when I asked her for a room about which I could easily find fault.
The room she gave us was excellent. I say “room” – it was more like a small cottage. Loads of space; a four-poster bed and a wonderful view of the Thames.
I called up the geo-map. There were three geocaches within one hundred and fifty yards of our cottage. One of them was found easily; one was a tad like hard work, but the third… Maximum difficulty and maximum terrain. I’m a bit miffed that "er indoors TM" says I’m not allowed to try to get it. Having read the instructions I have worked out that it is in a plastic coca-cola bottle attached by a short chain to a bucket of concrete which is on the bed of the Thames some ten yards from the river bank. The instructions say scuba gear is needed, but reading the logs of people who’ve found it, many have just waded in. I say “waded” – apparently the water is shoulder-deep at the exact spot and then you need to mess about underwater. I’d be game – if only I was allowed.
We had a quick spruce-up, then went to the hotel bar. A pint of “Shagweaver” (!) and a half of cider psyched us up for dinner. Dinner was really good; it was just a shame that we were very obviously the youngest people in the hotel’s restaurant. Having said that I am 100% convinced we were the only ones who weren’t part of some senior citizens’ swingers club. Mind you, dinner was certainly well worth having. Might just eat there again tomorrow night…
4 October 2016 (Tuesday) - Thirty Years (!)
I’ve always wanted to sleep in a four-poster bed. Last night I did so; I have to say I don’t quite know what I was expecting from a four-poster but whatever it was that I was expecting, I was expecting more. I suppose I was somewhat disappointed to find that it was just a bed.
Having again seen pretty much every hour of the night I got up shortly before dawn and sat at our patio window watching the sun slowly come up over the mist on the Thames. As I drank my morning cuppa I could see where that underwater geocache was probably lurking. With "er indoors TM" fast asleep I toyed with the idea of nipping down to the river for a quick dip, but thought better of the idea.
Mind you as I looked out of the window I realised we had a balcony. I’ve always wanted a balcony. I could sit on it and flick peanuts at peasants as they walked by. This morning there was a marked absence of peasants.
We went down for brekkie. In a B&B the food is (usually) cooked to order. In a hotel it is mass catering. But having said that the brekkie was rather good.
As we scoffed I couldn’t help but watch our fellow guests. There is a coach load of pensioners staying in the hotel. For all that they find fault with everything, they are extremely over-familiar with everyone. I’m convinced there is something dodgy going on. The old boy who accosted me over the toast was definitely a swinger.
After brekkie I sat at our patio window and watched the swingers club getting on their coach. They were all rather touchy-feely with each other.
With the swingers safely off on their way to whatever sordid perversions they had planned (!) we drove into Oxford and used the park & ride to get to Oxford Castle. What would have normally cost us twenty-three quid actually cost us one pound fifty pence thank to the judicious use of Tesco ClubCard vouchers. Oxford Castle was actually rather good. The tour guide was fun; it probably helped only having five people in our party.
From the castle we made our way to the railway station. There was a virtual geocache there. Those things are *rare* so it would be daft not to have a look-see. There was also a geocache there billed as “terrain 5 difficulty 1“; easy to spot; almost impossible to actually get to. I found it easily.
That sounds cocky, doesn’t it.
Let me clarify that… I found it easily enough. I scrambled under a bridge (with "er indoors TM" expecting me to fall into the Thames) and spotted the cache immediately. However that was as far as I could go. The thing was magnetically stuck underneath the bridge. I could see it from fifteen yards away but couldn’t see how I could get it without having the use of a cruiser-boat and a ladder.
We had a swift dose of McDonalds for lunch and then drove out to Wallingford to see the castle. What a disappointment. To my mind a ruined castle is a load of ruins. Stuff to see; exhibits and information. *Not* two rather small piles of rubble behind barbed wire fences. It was crap.
But we had a rather pleasant walk up the Thames (and back) whilst we were in the area.
We had planned to have dinner in Wallingford, but for all that the place was rather posh (it had a Waitrose!) most of the pubs looked like the sort of places that lager louts go to for a fight. So instead we drove out to a village called Brightwell cum Sotwell and parked up by the Red Lion. It was closed. But the sign on the door said they would open in an hour’s time, so we went for a little walk round the nearby countryside before coming back for a rather good bit of dinner. And three ales I’d not had before.
I’d taken a few photos whilst we were out. Once back at out hotel chalet I eventually managed to upload them; the wi-fi wasn’t quite as well behaved as it might have been. Or perhaps it was the chocolate porter (6.5% ABV) that was to blame…
Did I mention that today was my thirtieth wedding anniversary ?
5 October 2016 (Wednesday) - Home Again
Another poor night’s sleep. I gave up trying to sleep shortly before 7am and sat looking at the beautiful view from our chalet’s patio doors for a while as I guzzled a cup of coffee. All the time trying to be quiet so as not to wake "er indoors TM" and all the time being rather conscious of the fact that I was crashing around much like "My Boy TM" used to when he was in “stealth mode”.
She is very much an “owl”; up for most of the night. On the other hand I’m a “lark”; wide awake at dawn.
With coffee guzzled I had a look-see at what was going on in the world via the window of my lap-top. I struggled a little – the free wi-fi at the Shillingford Bridge hotel was a little flaky.
LinkedIn suggested I might congratulate Matthew Churchill on the anniversary of having worked in the same place for four years. I didn’t feel confident to do so. Not only do I not know where he works, I have no idea who he is either.
I then had another look at a message from the astro club committee. It has been suggested we approach an astronaut to come to give a talk to the club. One of the British astronauts was suggested, I won’t name her (that should give it away!) Although I’m not treasurer any more, I know how much money the club has. Whilst we’re not poor, we are hardly rich either. We could afford to pay reasonable expenses, and a night in a local hotel. The astronaut we approached had a manager who does all her bookings for her. Her fee would be ten thousand pounds. Ten thousand!!! Admittedly the fee is halved for “educational bookings” but even so she’d only have to get off her arse three times a year to live better than I do.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not implying she’s doing anything wrong. But there is no denying that I’d like to command such a fee. I know I could charge it; I doubt anyone would pay it though.
I wonder how many times this astronaut does got booked to give talks?
I also had an email telling me that exotic and refined Asian women were hot for me, which was nice. Whilst they too charged for their services I suspect they came in somewhat cheaper than ten thousand pounds.
As I tried to surf the net the chap in the next chalet walked past our window carrying a toilet seat. I did wonder if it was his own, or if it was the hotel’s which he was taking to reception to make a complaint, but I didn’t like to ask.
By the time "er indoors TM" emerged from her pit I was going stir-crazy. We went down for brekkie; the swingers’ coach was still in the car park but I hoped we were late enough to have missed them. However we didn’t miss “Mr Beard”. “Mr Beard” had a beard that was probably almost (but not quite) as large as his head. It was so immense that at every mouthful he was having to open his mouth to its utmost extent (like a young bird in its nest) to get food through the beard and into his mouth.
I watched for a few minutes then ate far too much brekkie.
We packed our bags and checked out of the hotel. I quite liked the Shillingford Bridge hotel – I’d certainly go back there again. I particularly liked the balcony; even if there was a marked shortage of peasants at which I might flick peanuts.
We made our way home along a rather circuitous route (for geo-jasmer purposes) but was at "My Boy TM"’s house before 4pm. We collected a rather excited "Furry Face TM" and pausing only briefly to unload the car we took him round the park for a walk.
And then an evening in front of my own telly. Big Bang Theory, Bake-off, Red Dwarf, Gogglebox… we had a good holiday, but it is good to be home…
6 October 2016 (Thursday) – Housework
Being in my own bed I slept a little better than I had over the last few nights. I woke to find I was cuddling my dog as though he was a teddy bear.
I got up and set the washing machine loose on the laundry we’d accumulated over our little break, then over some toast I looked at some geo-puzzles. There is a little series of caches round central London (based on Sherlock Holmes) that might be good for a day out. For each puzzle you have to go to a place, find out some facts then email an automated gizmo to see if your answers are right. So far I’ve blagged over half the answers from Google Street View. I’ll have to go to the places to get photos of myself there, but blagging from home proves I’m not wasting my time (entirely).
I organised a similar trip earlier in the year thinking we might get one of two takers; fifteen of us took part. I wonder if this might be as popular? It may well be something for the winter months.
"er indoors TM" set off to work. I have the whole week off, so I didn’t. I hung out some washing then took "Furry Face TM" round the park for a walk. He was in a very woofy mood today. And with the world woofed at we came home where I had a day of rather dull housework. More washing into the machine, hoovering, lawn mowing, more washing onto the line, ironing, sewing. I didn’t stop until "er indoors TM" came home again.
Over a bit of scoff we watched the new series “WestWorld
”. I shall watch at least one more episode before I give up with it…
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army”. The BBC broadcast an episode every Saturday evening; I had no idea there were so many episodes. They are all rather formulaic but they pass the time whilst I devour toast.
And then I had a look-see on-line and my piss boiled. There is a meme going about on social media in which people boast about how they have never used algebra since they have left school. What utter bollocks this is. There are only two reasons why this might be true. Either people are so thick that they cannot count, or they do not know what “algebra” is. If you go into a shop with a fiver and see the price of any object do you know whether you have enough money to buy it or not? If yes, then that is algebra in action.
I popped the lead onto my dog and we drove up to Crockenhill. Earlier in the week I’d had an invitation to go for a walk. Four of us (and "Furry Face TM") had a rather good walk The parakeets were rather noisy, and for some odd reason hundreds (if not thousands) of turnips had been dug up and just left laying on the fields.
As we so often do on these walks we hunted for errant Tupperware and escaped film pots as we went. Most of our quarry was easily tracked down but there was one particular geocache which proved troublesome. Having done a little puzzle to work out where to go we found ourselves looking at a thicket of brambles and stinging nettles. I ploughed in and after a few minutes discovered something large in the bush. I rummaged for a little longer before giving up. As Susan rummaged in my place I rechecked my sums. We were in the right place… or were we. I had a feeling we should be on the other side of the hedge. Not seeing any way to get to the other side I just pushed my way through. It took some pushing, and once there I decided I’d been on the right side after all. So I pushed my way back through the hedge ten yards further down the hedgerow (thinking what a good idea it had been to leave my dog on the right side of the hedge). As I stampeded through the undergrowth I discovered a second object buried under the brambles. Having narrowly avoided falling head-first through the thing I then discovered a concealed film pot lurking nearby. Result!!
I took a few photos as we walked. Once home I popped them on-line, then had a look at the settings of the astro club’s Facebook page. We’d had a whinge that it was felt insulting that someone should have to have their postings approved before their postings went live. Personally I’ve always felt that this is a good way to keep the unwanted spamming advert off of the page, but in order to keep the peace I’ve turned off the need for approval. I hope this is appreciated; I doubt I’ll find out directly as the complainant isn’t one who generally acknowledges my existence.
After a rather good bit of scoff "er indoors TM" set off to flog candles to the masses. I did have a vague idea to have an evening on the beer, but instead I sat in front of the telly and watched episodes of “Game of Thrones” – I’ve only just realised that one half of Robson and Jerome is in that show. It’s amazing what you miss when you are not paying attention…
Over brekkie I had a look on Facebook as I do. A coach driver I know was “taking the God-squad” to various cathedrals. A sales rep was (again) calling his superiors idiots on-line. An I.T. consultant was having “a break from the muppets.”
Bearing in mind time is pushing on I had a quick look on-line for bonfire and firework related events. In years gone by the bonfire season was a large part of my life. Nowadays it has somewhat fizzled out. When I was a lad our Boys Brigade band marched in Ashford’s bonfire procession. There’s not been such a procession in Ashford for thirty years. The wonderful displays at Wye and Shadoxhurst don’t happen any more. There is an event in Northiam, but it is this evening (and I’m working). Mind you Rye is having its usual bonfire event in a month’s time; I may well just pop down to that.
I then spent a little while looking to organise a minor geo-walk around London, then took my little dog for a stroll. It was raining slightly as we left home, and the rain got harder as we walked. It was enough to keep most people indoors. Rather than hundreds of joggers infesting the park we only saw one, and there was only one other dog walker braving the elements.
I then spent an hour or so farting about with the astro club’s website. I’ve updated it with all sorts of info about what is going on in outer space for next year. I also updated it with what’s going on with the club for the next few months, and then (following a phone call from the bookings secretary) changed a few of those dates.
Perhaps I should have got the astro club involved with International Observe the Moon Night which was happening this evening. But I couldn’t have done anything for the event (being on the night shift). And it looks like it will be cloudy.
After a bit of cheese on toast I took myself off to bed for the afternoon. I dozed for a bit, and now I’m off to the night shift. As is so often the case on the day before the night shift I’ve wasted a day sulking that I’ve got to go to work later.
I did my bit on the night shift; as I worked I listened to the radio. In the small hours there was a discussion about the latest screening tests for Downs Syndrome (they said "latest" - blood tests have been available for some time). Some who'd had babies with Downs Syndrome were adamant that those who hadn't shouldn't be so set against people with Downs Syndrome. Others disagreed. Others with different congenital problems felt no pre-natal testing should be done on anyone. Others disagreed.
It was clearly a subject about which people felt strongly. For myself I know where I stand on the issue - it was a decision we made thirty years ago when considering having children. But it was amazing how the people on the radio could discuss the issues in depth without resorting to insulting anyone who had a different opinion to their own. If only more people could do that I’d have fallen out with far fewer people.
There was also a report from a national Star Trek convention that had taken place in Birmingham to celebrate fifty years of trekkying. Part of me wished I'd been there... part of me remembered the good old days when these things weren't blatantly profit-making events. I remember the halcyon days of fan-run conventions at the university of London with little Glenn the Ferengi. I was there for the Dalek races, I was at Page's bar, I was on the sci-fi channel, I was interviewed by Empire magazine.
As I drove home I listened to the church service on the radio. I do that after the Saturday night shift. Today’s service was coming live from the school at Battle Abbey and was commemorating the upcoming nine hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. As church services go it wasn’t too bad.
I got home in time; today was Ashford's ten-kilometre road race and much of the town’s roads were being closed for the runners. I hope they enjoyed their run; the morning’s weather alternated between bright sunshine and downpours of rain.
I then went to bed, slept for five hours and lay there for another hour hoping to sleep some more. It wasn’t happening, so I got up. "er indoors TM" had taken "Furry Face TM" to get her Earthcache, so I made some sandwiches for 4am and moped about for a bit.
Yesterday I mentioned a discussion I heard on the radio. I said "...it was amazing how the people on the radio could discuss the issues in depth without resorting to insulting anyone who had a different opinion to their own. If only more people could do that."
In the small hours this morning as I worked the radio was playing the "debate" between the two US Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. One of them spent the entire time slagging off the other; the other spent the entire time calling the first a liar. Petulant, immature name-calling far beneath the dignity of anyone aspiring to be the President of the USA. I'm glad I don't have to choose between them.
Again I was very pleased to see the early shift as they turned up at 8am. As I drove home I was saw that the Chartham Scarecrows had returned. There was a notice by them; I really should have stopped and read it.
I drove to the car fix-it shop where "er indoors TM" was waiting for me. She was having her car serviced. On the one had skipping car services is a false economy; on the other it costs money I don’t really have. But what is money for not to squander foolishly.
I didn’t sleep for more than a few hours; when I woke I had the horrible feeling of not knowing where I was, what the time was, or even what day of the week it was. I get that after night shifts; it soon passes.
Over a rather late brekkie (3pm) I watched the last episode of the current series of “The Last Ship”. I like the show; however it is a bit “A-Team” in that for all the bullets fly, our heroes always emerge unscathed.
"er indoors TM" then sent a message. Good news and bad news. One the one hand she’s scrounged a lift to the garage to get her car back (so I didn’t have to go fetch her). On the other hand her car’s steering was knacked to the tune of one hundred quid more than she was expecting. So having squandered money she came home and boiled up a rather good bit of scran and then she went bowling.
With my dog fast asleep on my lap I watched last night’s episode of “Poldark” then had a look at some geo-puzzles. They always keep the mind off sin… Perhaps Ross Poldark might benefit from doing some.
I slept like a log – amazing how a couple of night shifts do that. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army” in which our heroes were masquerading as cutthroats and desperadoes (as they do). One of the better episodes, but it did rather fizzle out towards the end.
I drove round to collect "My Boy TM". We took Lacey to school, then drove on to Rocky’s café for a spot of brekkie. Then it was only a short hop to Charlie’s Lakes. We’d thought about where to go fishing and decided to give Charlie’s Lakes a go. "My Boy TM" had been lucky there last week.
We had a really good day’s fishing. Loads of tiddlers on the float rods, and once I’d been taught how to “blob up my tag end” I was very successful with my quiver-tip (!) I had six fish big enough to need the landing net. Mind you "My Boy TM" had over a dozen needing the net including one that was almost too big for the net which was certainly twice (if not more) as heavy as anything I caught.
However before we’d started the first fruit of my loin had decided how success would be measured. It would be on species of fish caught. Throughout the day he caught roach, perch and common carp. I caught all of those and rudd, mirror carp and a catfish too. So I won. Happy dance.
Having received orders we came home via the shops. I took "My Boy TM" home, then came home to a very shouty dog. I took him for a quick walk, then spent a couple of minutes on the lap-top. I took several photos while we fished, and thought I would share them with the world. I do that. Whilst I suspect the world wasn’t overly fussed about fishing I know my mum likes to see that sort of thing.
Over brekkie I watched the last episode of “National Treasure”; a rather good Channel Four series in which Robbie Coltrane played an aging celebrity accused of sex crimes he had supposedly committed thirty-odd years previously. It was a rather good show; very powerful. Obviously based on the recent stories of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and the like, but it this case although the character was found “Not Guilty” and there was plenty of evidence in the story to show he was innocent of the specific crimes of which he was accused, you still wondered if he was guilty of something else.
I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk round the park. As we walked we met lots of schoolchildren who wanted to fuss him, and several other dog walkers who knew Fudge by name even though I don’t remember ever having met them. AS we started the walk I noticed a rather spectacular rainbow. I always thought rainbows came *after* the rain, so I was rather surprised when the heavy rain then hit.
I stopped off in Chartham on my way to work. not one hundred yards away from the pond shop is a fishing tackle shop. Yesterday I was whinging to "My Boy TM" about how there are no fishing tackle shops placed conveniently for me and how getting any tackle involves driving considerably out of my way. It turns out that every time I drive to and from work I drive right past Fat Fish Tackle. It is amazing what you miss when you don't pay attention. I popped in and the chap there took quite a bit of time to show me all about hair rigs. I spent twenty-five quid with him.
can now bring (lethal) hand-guns to lectutres and the University staff are
not allowed to even ask if they've got a gun, let alone ask them not to bring
it into the lecture hall. One student being interviewed said it was a good
move because if there are any bad people in the University then he (as a
good person) could defend the public... by blowing away anyone he
perceived to be a bad person.
Over brekkie I had a minor shock. Apparently a large proportion of the country’s recent tax scams have involved an address in Folkestone not fifty yards away from where Jimbo lives. It is amazing what goes on behind closed doors.
My piss then boiled when I read about the sad death of Estelle O’Sullivan. She was expecting twins and had various complications of pregnancy. To cut a long story short she died despite the best efforts of all the medical staff around her. Don’t get me wrong – that is tragic. In an ideal world that would not have happened. But it did. Despite the best efforts of all medical professionals, having babies can be dangerous. And now the papers are looking to assign blame. “Bungles” and “blunders” are being referred to.
Do these journalists honestly think people go into health care just to bollocks-up people’s lives? Or do they think that by publicly hounding professionals (who have had to face a terrible experience) they are actually providing a public service? After all no one really makes that much of a fuss when the garage stuffs up your car during a service. When a solicitor takes far too long to do a conveyancing no one threatens to sue him. Everyone expects plumbers and builders not to turn up to agreed appointments. No one expects the trains to run on time. But healthcare professionals are not allowed to make a single mistake during their entire careers. (I know this from *very* bitter experience)
I took a deep breath and popped the lead on to "Furry Face TM" and we drove out to Brook where we met Kim and Matt. Earlier in the week a new series of geocaches had gone live out there and I’d asked if anyone fancied a walk today. I do that a lot.
We had a rather good walk. Being from Brook to Wye Downs we knew there would be some serious “ups”, but a good work-out is good for the heart. Or that’s what I tried to convince Kim. But once at the top of the downs the views were spectacular; I took a few photos as we walked. A shame it was rather misty toward the horizon.
Geocache-wise… The caches were mostly in good order however one was already broken (after only two days). One was twenty yards out on the GPS; using the given hint soon put us right. But "er indoors TM" had told me I would come home moaning… she was right.
Before we started we could see from the geo-map that there weren’t that many caches and that they were a *long* way apart. Don’t get me wrong; I am *really* grateful to everyone and anyone who hides these things for me to find; especially in a location as beautiful as today’s walk was in. I *really* don’t want to be negative. However, if I’d put a series of caches out on that route I would have put out ten to fifteen more. I’m sorry but (in my honest opinion) half a mile between caches is too far.
After five miles we got back to the cars. We said our goodbyes and me and my dog came home to find "er indoors TM" loading up her car with a view to flogging candles to the masses. Whilst she was doing whatever it was she was doing I mowed the lawn to stay out of her way.
Once she’d cleared off I scoffed the sandwich I’d carried all round Wye Downs whilst watching an episode of Game of Thrones. I was a tad disappointed with this one. It was a tad gory; there were several throats being cut. And when they were cut there was *lots* of blood. All very dramatic and all good for the viewing figures. But I didn’t believe it. It simply wasn’t realistic. Basic anatomy tells us that when you cut the front of someone’s throat blood isn’t going to gush out. Feel your own throat. Go on – have a squeeze. You’ll feel the front bit is hard. That’s your windpipe – the bit you breathe through. If you cut that it will sting a bit but won’t gush a fountain of blood. Feel round the sides of your neck. Go on – have a squeeze. The major blood vessels are right back there. If you want to get a really good gush of blood that’s where to cut.
I had this idea to do a bit more gardening. I got as far as the shed and got a little sidetracked. On Tuesday "My Boy TM" mentioned that he might have left some fishing gear in the shed before he moved out, and if there was anything in there I could have it. My shed is something of an Aladdin’s cave so I thought I might see what I could find. A cursory rummage came up with a new holdall-cum-seat, a new tackle box, a load of bite indicators and an unhooking mat. Result. I shan’t tell him; I shall just tuen up with them on our next fishing trip and see if he notices.
With "er indoors TM" off flogging candles I had to fend for myself for dinner. I fended in the general direction of the KFC and scoffed the contents of a “Mighty Bucket for One” whilst watching the film “Kick Ass II”. As films go it was odd. It didn’t really know what sort of film it was. Was it a comedy? Was it super-violence? It tried to be both and didn’t really manage either. A shame really.
Despite a rather late night last night I was wide awake by 6am this morning. Perhaps I might blame a fidgety dog, but an inability to breathe despite a CPAP device blowing a hurricane up my nose is probably closer to the truth.
I had an hour or so until "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" would be ready, so I spent a little while working on my next little project. I’ve decided to write a little guide to geocaching; if only to give me something to keep me out of mischief.
After a while I got dressed and we went for our walk. On the way to meet the most recent fruit of my loins I nearly had an altercation in the vets. I’d had a text message to tell me "Furry Face TM"’s flea treatment was due. So we went to the vets. A rather scary-looking thug (with an indeterminate animal in a basket) was trying to make an appointment. But rather than telling them what dates he could do he insisted the receptionist choose a date and he would then find out (using his phone) whether he could do that date. It would have made far more sense for him to say what dates he could do; and it was painfully obvious he couldn’t operate his phone. The receptionist was suggesting a date, and he would struggle with his phone for seemingly ages before he would say that date wouldn’t suit. After fifteen minutes they were into early November. I lost patience and walked out. The thug shouted after me asking if I had a problem. I turned and told him I did have a problem, and that I would come back later when he had sorted his problem out. It was like watching a balloon deflate; clearly this thug had never had anyone stand up to him before.
We met "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and walked out to McDonalds for McBreakfast before coming home. Sam had a dentist appointment and "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had to go with him, so I was on baby-sitting duty.
I then took myself off to bed for the afternoon but what with "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" prank-calling me from his mother’s phone and "Furry Face TM" declaring “Red Alert” and shouting the house down (for no reason) I didn’t sleep well.
I gave up trying to sleep after a while and spent a little longer on my Guide to Geocaching. I’ve probably spent about six hours on it so far and the instructions haven’t even got us out of the house yet.
I slept for an hour or so, then finding myself wide awake gave up trying to sleep. I got up and had a look-see on-line until "er indoors TM" and "Furry Face TM" came home, then we went off to the monthly county geo meet. I do like meeting up with friends, acquaintances, and anyone who is daft enough to hunt Tupperware on a regular basis. It is always good to compare notes. And meeting up in a pub means I get a half of weak shandy and the option of a ploughman’s lunch.
I thought today’s meet was especially good; but there is no denying that either the fifth pint, the third glass of port, or only an hour’s sleep was a mistake. I may well have overdone something. But nevertheless the meet was something of a milestone. In the geo-world whenever you do anything noteworthy your score goes up by one point. After I’d drunk myself silly my score was at seven thousand five hundred.
We did have a vague idea to go to Hastings tonight for the bonfire procession, but those things are never any fun in the rain, so I had a cuppa, then woke up three hours later to find "er indoors TM" had gone off on a ladies’ night. I watched the second of this week’s episodes of “Game of Thrones”. A good show; but I think I’ve again lost track of who is who and what is what.
I had planned an early night last night but I got watching “Bottom” on the telly, and I was far later to bed than I had planned. Which was probably for the best; what with my breathlessness and the CPAP machine there is a limit to how long I can stay asleep; realistically an early night just means an earlier wake the next morning.
I had a look-see on-line over brekkie. Other than an email telling me that hot Asian women were waiting for me not much had happened overnight. I did wonder where the hot Asian women had been waiting; it had rained overnight. I did wonder if they’d got caught in the downpour.
I then spent a little while fiddling about with my latest geo-project. Part of me wonders if I should actually bother doing it; I *know* that publishing my own take on “how to find Tupperware” is certainly going to cause an argument or two. But it keeps me constructively occupied, and those who don’t like it can write their own guide. Or get knotted. Or both (ideally)
I got to the stage where I needed a specific photograph so I stopped and spent a few minutes tidying my fishing tackle. Last Wednesday I got some stuff from Fat Fish Angling and rather than just chucking it in my tackle box I thought I’d have a rummage in that box and see what is actually in there. I had ten thousand hooks of assorted sizes. I’ve thrown out all the barbed ones. I had half a dozen boxes of BB weights; all three-quarters empty. I’ve condensed them into one big box. I had a load of ¼ ounce weights all loose; I’ve boxed them. I had two McDonalds spoons in the box for no reason that I could fathom.
"er indoors TM" asked if I wanted a cuppa. As I guzzled it something interesting popped up on my Facebook feed. I don’t know if it is true; I haven’t checked the facts but it asks an interesting question. The article claims that so many people who voted for Brexit have now changed their minds that if the referendum was run tomorrow we’d have a majority in favour of “remain”. If that is the case should we have another referendum?
Personally I don’t think so. The majority voted out, and so out it is. The article implies that quite a lot of people voted out as some sort of protest, or didn’t actually realise what they were voting for. To me that doesn’t show we need another referendum; that shows a fundamental failing in the entire concept of having a referendum (about absolutely any subject whatsoever) in the first place.
We popped the lead onto "Furry Face TM" and drove out to Kings Wood where we met Karl and Tracey and the girls, and Aleta too. The weather forecast hadn’t been good so we thought a little wander round somewhere not too far from home might be a good plan. The BBC weather forecast said the rain would hold off, and it did. We had a rather good walk; for many years Kings Wood was a regular haunt. At one point we were even members of the tree-hugging “Friends of Kings Wood” group, and in the very early days of Fudge coming to live with us he vanished into those woods for a couple of hours. I’d not been there for some time; it was good to go back.
I took a few photos as we walked. Once we were home and my dog had been bathed I put the photos on-line. I fiddled about with the guide to geocaching website whilst "er indoors TM" dozed, then devoured some KFC whilst watching the first episode of a new series of “Yonderland”. I’ve missed that show; in tonight’s episode Jeff had gone feral, and Cuddly Dick has arrived on the scene. Don’t like him!!
I woke at 2.40am in desperate need of the loo, and didn’t really get back to sleep again after that. I dozed fitfully off and on, but never for more than fifteen minutes at one stretch. I felt like death warmed up when I finally gave up and got up.
Over brekkie I checked out Facebook as I do. "er indoors TM"’s cousin’s partner had posted something which annoyed me a little. He’d put up some notice to Facebook’s management saying “blah blah.. I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future. With this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law .. blah blah”.
It turns out that Facebook’s management have no intention whatsoever of doing anything with people’s photos or messages, but what winds my up is the ingratitude. I think Facebook is bloody marvellous. It gives me a wonderful way of keeping in touch with family and friends. It gives me all sorts of resources for so many hobbies. It gives me unlimited photo storage. It shows me when I’m missing out. And all for free.
If they want to use some of my photos then that is a very small price to pay for the wonderful service they give me (for free) every day. And as for secret messages, is there really *anything* up there that shouldn’t be there? Who would be daft enough to publish anything like that?
Bearing in mind I get bored easily I’ve signed up for another course with Coursera. I’m going to learn all about Dog Emotion and Cognition. They also suggested I sign up to dognition dot com. I may well find out something about what goes on in "Furry Face TM"’s head.
With that in mind I found myself watching my dog rather closely as we went for our walk. I’ve often noticed he relies on his sense of smell far more than any other sense. His hearing is quite acute, albeit somewhat selective. His vision is… odd. He sees other dogs fifty yards away but didn’t notice the squirrel than ran not six feet in front of him.
Once home I did the first couple of lectures in the course. The question was posed: how did dogs (our best friends) evolve from wolves bearing in mind that for the last fifty thousand years mankind had hated wolves. There wasn’t really any answer.
I stopped off in Challock on my way to work; there is a multi-geocache there where you find the first bit (easy enough) and it gives you six locations nearby to visit (all within a few miles). The idea is you drive to each place, answer a question based on what you find there, and from the answers you can work out the location of the final geocache.
Using the amazing cartographic power of NeonGeo (!) I could see that these six locations were rather spread out. I shall have a look at each of these locations on Google Street View in a minute and see if I can't blag the answer. I'm a great believer in blagging answers (given half a chance).
I went to Morrisons for this and that, and then had a look in Go Outdoors. I must admit to a slight disillusionment with that shop. A few months ago they had good stuff at good prices. Whilst there are still bargains to be had, mostly their stuff is either cheapo-bargain or ridiculously expensive. Take their woolly hats - what I bought last winter for seven quid was today up for sale at twenty-six quid. Or their trousers - either so cheap and flimsy a good fart rips them, or over fifty quid a go for a branded version of what Matalan does for fifteen quid.
I rolled in to work; having done a lot of night shifts recently where I am a lone worker, it seemed odd working with loads of people about the place. But company is always good. I told the boss I'd applied for a job at Maidstone hospital; as I said to her the recruitment bonus they offer of (effectively) two months' wages just for taking the job isn't to be sniffed at.
Another crappy night: I managed to sleep through till 4am before laying wide awake. I gave up trying to sleep and was in front of the telly by 5am. My SkyPlus box had recorded the first episode of the second season of SAS; Who Dares Wins. An interesting show in which various ex-SAS soldiers put on an SAS-style training program for the sorts of misfits who would never actually be accepted for real SAS training. Lots of shouting and swearing and macho posturing, and then it turns out that the biggest hardest recruits can’t actually swim. And then they start crying.
Having woken far too early I was rather bored by the time "er indoors TM" and "Furry Face TM" got up, so me and my dog found ourselves on our morning walk probably an hour earlier than usual. As we walked we met a dozen or so of the local Nepalese community at the Hubert fountain doing their morning exercises. They've long since adopted that place as their gymnasium; and politely greet passers-by as they do their squat-thrusts and star-jumps. My dog had a little spurt of exercise as he tried to chase a squirrel up a tree. The squirrel went up the tree easily enough; he struggled a little.
Being out and about early we encountered the schoolchildren who were out in force. One made me stop and stare. Her skirt almost (but not quite) covered her arse; revealing the sort of undercrackers a thirteen year old child should certainly not be wearing. Her face had been drawn on in various make-ups. As she teetered about on stilettos she was coughing on a cigarette she clearly wasn't enjoying.
Yesterday I mentioned I'd got hold of the various locations for a geo-puzzle. Last night I called up all the locations on Google Street View but couldn't get a sharp enough picture to see that for which I was looking. So having time on my hands before work I drove to six different places to collect phone numbers, post box numbers, and various other snippets. It took over an hour to get all that I needed to be able to solve the geo-puzzle.
The rest of the day was something of an anti-climax after that coffee and cake but I did come home to find the insurance company have finally paid up after Fudge’s illness. It only took them a month longer than their guaranteed longest wait.
Over the last two days I've been trying to solve a particularly difficult puzzle to help me locate a geocache. I set off to work via the location at which I'd calculated that geocache to be. Needless to say I couldn't find it. I did find the old (now archived) one that I knew was once at that location. I emailed the chap who hid the new one to ask for a hint, and set off to work.
I did chuckle as I drove. There is a new computer game in which you pretend to be the manager of a football club. To make the game more realistic it has been tweaked to allow for the effects of various possible Brexits on the hiring of international footballers. There were various gamers being interviewed on the radio who were ranting that politics should be kept out of their games. It was rather embarrassing that they clearly had no idea that Brexit really will affect the price of hiring a foreign footballer; it might even prohibit it. It was rather more embarrassing that they showed their ignorance on national radio.
There was lots of talk about the Schiaparelli spacecraft which was due to land on Mars this afternoon. Interestingly the pundits didn't mention the two Chinese astronauts who docked with the Chinese space station yesterday.
I got to work and did my thing until home time. It was nearly dark when I got home so "Furry Face TM" had a rather abridged walk. He then scoffed his tea whilst I had a shower, then over a cuppa I checked my emails. I had one in reply to the one I sent - I had stuffed up my sums slightly on that geocache.
Over brekkie I watched "The Secret Diary of a Call Girl". My SkyPlus box had recorded it for me. It is a strange device with (seemingly) a mind of its own. It doesn't record what I ask it to; it doesn't record what I'd like to see. But it does record random rubbish. I have recorded "The Secret Diary of a Call Girl" in the past so perhaps that is why it thought I'd be interested. Still, I'm not complaining. There are worse things to watch whilst eating toast than Billie Piper's stunt double running round in the nip.
I left home a few minutes earlier than I might have done so's I could have another look for that geocache which I so spectacularly failed to find yesterday. Despite what the cache's C.O. had emailed me, my sums weren't that far off. In fact I found it in *exactly* the place I'd looked yesterday.
I then went on to work despite a minor hold-up. There was a dead deer in the road. I say "deer" - it was clearly a stag (with quite spectacular antlers) laying sprawled across the A28. Poor thing. There were several cars pulled up and quite a few people milling about.
As I drove I listened to the radio. Despite their best efforts the scientists at the ESA haven't been able to contact the Schiaparelli probe which landed on Mars yesterday, and the Juno probe currently orbiting Mars has gone into "safe mode" following its second major hiccup in two weeks.
I got to work and struggled a little. I might grumble about night work, but when I'm doing night (or weekend) work I only do two consecutive shifts. Today was day four of five day shifts. I'm finding this far more hard work than doing two (admittedly longer) night shifts. Mind you I did slip off early; I had an out-patient appointment at another hospital.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall I had surgery to remove nasal polyps a couple of years ago (on Tuesday 4 November 2014). They've grown back. After ten minutes of my telling this to the specialist he shoved an endoscope up my nose. He then told me my airways are about ninety per cent blocked, and said the only real cure is to cut the polyps out again. I knew that already…
Perhaps I should have gone back to work but having endoscopes shoved up my nose wasn’t comfortable so I went home to sulk. I took "Furry Face TM" for a little walk; we came home after ten minutes soaked by the torrential rain. So I watched one of this week’s episodes of “Game of Thrones” whilst I did some ironing.
I then messed about astroclubsecretarying until "er indoors TM" came home. We had a rather good bit of scoff; now there’s a film on: “The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe”. Eustace has gone to Banania…
Last night I’d posted on the astro club’s website asking for volunteers to give talks to the club. I was rather disappointed this morning to see that out of a regular membership of well over fifty people I only had a single offer. Public speaking isn’t *that* hard. At the very least you might just read out a page from Wikipedia illustrated with what pictures you can find on Google images interspersed with a few knob jokes. After all that’s what I do.
I've often remarked that democracy is a stupid idea. One of its failings is that given the choice of voting for what you want *or* of voting for the winner, a *lot* of people would rather vote for the winner (that way they feel their vote counts. Go figure!) This is clearly what has happened in Witney. People felt they had achieved something when they could boast that they'd voted for the Prime Minister whereas voting for "Joe No-one" doesn't carry the same kudos (with no insult intended to Robert Courts).
Once home I was amazed to see "Furry Face TM" is learning a new trick. For the last few days I’ve refused to chase around after him as he barks in excitement prior to our walk. I’ve insisted he sits quietly to have his collar put on. This evening he was quivering and twitching but he managed to keep still to be collared.
We came home to find "er indoors TM" had gone to unload candles onto the masses. I fed my dog then had a look at the monthly accounts. Whilst I am far from bankrupt, I am also far from as solvent as I would like to be. Is it *really* so much to ask to want to have far too much money?
I got myself some KFC, then watched the second of this week’s episodes of “Game of Thrones”. Odious King Joffrey got his come-uppance tonight. But like the character or loathe the character you have to admire the actor playing him.
I woke up shortly after 3.30am and had a tiddle and then lay in bed wide awake. Realising I was thoroughly sick of laying in bed wide awake I got up and put on a DVD. The film “Evita” passed the time until "er indoors TM" got up. As I unloaded the candle stuff from her car I looked up at the clear sky and saw Orion and the Pleiades. I thought it was rather early in the year to see them, then I realised it was 6am. For all that they are winter constellations you can always see them if you are up early (or late) enough.
We got our stuff together and pausing only briefly to get a sandwich from the co-op we sent off to Essex. In all honesty I can’t be more specific than that. Back when we were planning the twenty-four-hour geo rally I’d seen the cat walk series in Essex on the map and had thought about walking that series for the rally (till I saw how the points were awarded). I then saw the cat walk series again when we walked round Hanningford reservoir. Bearing in mind the distance and that the nights are drawing in, realistically if we didn’t walk it this weekend we’d have to leave it till next year.
So we made our way to the specified start point which was somewhere in Essex. We were met by the nice lady who had hidden the cache series; whenever I walk a big series I generally contact the owner to see if there are any problems along the way. If there are, I am only too happy to replace logs or caches or do whatever is needed (after all, other people help me enough). I had every intention of doing any running repairs with the spares I carry, but the nice lady provided us with a bag of stuff for maintenance.
I started with a minor disaster with my camera; I’d left the card in my lap-top. But my phone made for a backup camera. The walk was a tad fraught at times – there were perhaps one or two too many pheasants for my Patagonian Tripe-Hound’s nerves. But we had a really good walk. We saw tree-elves, wagtails, kitty and a snake. My dog did quite a bit of digging. We took a few wrong turns on the way, but such is life. We did take a little detour to find the Nag’s Head where a pint of Abbott’s ale and a pint of Lindy Lou’s Tipple slipped down very nicely.
Cache-wise it was a really good series. The multis were imaginative, a few tree-climbs, there were quite a few fun caches, mostly straightforward finds but a couple made us think. There were ammo cans. And we didn’t have to do any maintenance whatsoever. Billed as a walk of about eleven miles “Hannah” measured it as being thirteen miles. The other two sat-navs thought it was twelve miles.
We got back to the cars just as it was getting dark; I slept for much (all) of the way home. Once home I downloaded the piccies from my phone – they weren’t too bad. I then put the card back into my camera ready for next time.
Over a rather late brekkie I had a look-see on-line. I spent a few minutes advertising the upcoming astro club meeting on various local Facebook pages. I have no idea if the club actually gets anyone along from these postings. Mind you I have no idea how to go about successfully advertising the club at all. Despite our best efforts I *still* get a couple of emails every month from people who heard about the club by word of mouth and seemed amazed to find there has been an astronomy club which has been a very active for the last ten years and is not five miles from their house.
I then wasted a little while looking to see what everyone else was up to. A good friend of mine was describing his car as being “fun to drive in an American style howdi doodly kind of a way”. I was rather intrigued as to how one might drive a car in an American style howdi doodly kind of a way. I Googled it but to no avail. I did consider asking, but decided against doing so; I didn’t want to show my ignorance.
We drove round to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". The most recent fruit of my loin was in a rather excitable mood. She’s set her heart on getting a puppy; some odd cross between a pug and a spaniel. Apparently in her world money (that she doesn’t have) is no obstacle. In her world idiot enthusiasm always trumps common sense. I have no idea where she gets that attitude from but I am told (by so many people) that she is her father’s daughter…
We then drove down to Hastings to see my mummy. She’s (understandably) a tad nervous about her upcoming heart surgery. But we had a good time; she’s got a new mobile phone that seems to be confusing her somewhat. She’d also prepared a rather good buffet lunch; mind you I was surprised that "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" wasn’t sick after the seventh (or was it eighth) Cadbury’s mini chocolate roll.
I must admit I slept quite a bit of the way home, and pausing only briefly for geo-reasons we dropped "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" in Kennington to go look at this potential new dog. "er indoors TM" went to see a candle-mongering associate and I walked home with my dog. What with all the sitting and driving about he (and I) really needed a walk.
Once home "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good jacket spud for tea, then she shoved off bowling leaving me to my own devices. I looked at doing a little more of my on-line course about dog psychology but I’ve done all this week’s assignments and next week’s are still locked. So I had a look at my novel.
I started writing it when my life took a rather unexpected turn five years ago; at the time I felt rather inspired, but I never quite finished it off. However following the success of having a couple of short stories published earlier in the year (yes… I’m a published author) I thought I might revisit it. I’ve not touched it in three years. It needs a little dusting off and polishing. Some bits need a complete re-write. But I might make something of it. It currently stands at thirty eight thousand words. Is that enough? How long does a book have to be?
As I edited my lap-top went dinlo. Have you ever seen a lap-top going dinlo? It is not a pretty sight. It was convinced that I had no antivirus or firewall software running. McAfee thought differently. So I rebooted the thing and did a scan. It now seems a lot happier than it was. Rather like me really…
Over brekkie I watched the episode of Dad’s Army that the SkyPlus box had recorded for me on Saturday. As I watched it I was rather conscious that its creator Jimmy Perry had died yesterday. Whether you love or loathe the show, you must admire the fact it is still prime time viewing forty years after it was made.
I set off to work. As I drove I listened to the radio. The pundits were making great show of a report from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges which lists forty unnecessary medical procedures. I listened with interest. Pre-operative assessments before minor and intermediate surgery is claimed to be a waste of time; I’ve got to free up an afternoon to have one in the next few weeks. However much of the rest is already standard practice in my experience. The report claims that fractures of the foot should not have plaster casts but orthopaedic boots. When "My Boy TM" knacked his hoof six (or more) years ago he had one of these boots. There were several other recommendations concerning blood transfusions and platelet transfusions which have also been S.O.P. for years.
Meanwhile in France the Sangatte refugee camp is being closed down. The closure would seem to be something of a disaster, and thanks to European freedom of movement there seems to be uncertainly as to where many of the refugees are going to end up. Probably in the back of lorries heading to Dover. Which is exactly what the French wanted all along.
I stopped off in Morrisons for various odds and ends, then had a surprisingly busy day at work. The burning question of the day was that given that you had saved the world (from what was unimportant), what reward should you expect. For myself I thought I’d quite like half an hour of duck-face (from Bake-Off)’s time and New Zealand. Some of my colleagues wanted various other rewards, but the consensus was (unfortunately) that if the rewards wasn’t good enough the world would not get saved.
An early start made for an early finish, and once home I took "Furry Face TM" round the park. As we walked I struck up a conversation with a nice man with a whippet. It was only after ten minutes that I realised he was chatting me up. Some would say that was a result, but it was getting dark and my dog was getting impatient.
"er indoors TM" did a rather good tea then went off bowling. I settled myself in front of the telly. The one-off Crystal maze was good, and then there was episode two of the documentary about the SAS. All good telly but I’d made the mistake of watching it as it was broadcast. So many adverts…
Not a bad night’s sleep really; even if it was plagued by some rather vivid dreams. I woke up to disappointment; there is a geo-puzzle I can’t solve. Key to the puzzle is the riddle “What do you call an elderly man that isn't drunk?” The answer is one of two words. The first word is “old”, the second word is sis letters long, the second and third letters are “O” and “B”, first and last letters are the same and there is at least one “S” and “R” in there. I’d posted the riddle on my Facebook page late last night hoping someone might throw me a clue; instead I got all sorts of odd comments.
As I’d got it up on my lap-top I carried on having a look at Facebook over brekkie. It suggested I might like “The Beano”; a comic I used to get many years ago. So I followed the link only to find it was selling “Dennis the Menace” T-shirts which were starting at twenty one quid. Starting at !!
I then had a minor fight with my lap-top. The thing seems to think there is no firewall active even though there is. I blame the weekly software updates. Something different goes screwy after every one.
I popped the lead onto "Furry Face TM" and we walked round the park. As we went the nice men from the council were replacing the wood chippings surrounding the play areas. There are those who run the park down; I’ve always found it to be a rather good place.
We had a minor incident on the way home; there were some of the scum element swigging cider (at 9.30am) outside the KFC. They had two bull-terrier type dogs. One wasn’t on a lead and it tried to attack Fudge. Fudge snarled and held its own whilst one of the scum women started shrieking. She managed to drag her dog away, full of apologies that it would never happened again, but at the same time adamant that the dog didn’t need to be on a lead.
As I hoovered I suddenly realised the answer to the riddle “What do you call an elderly man that isn't drunk?” I had to admit it was a rather crap answer (I won’t say what it is here – that would be a spoiler) but I tried the answer and got the thumbs-up from the checker.
I went to work via Matalan with a view to getting myself a new pair of trousers for when I'm out and about; the last few pairs having been a tad on the flimsy side. I took a pair of the largest size they had to the fitting rooms. Whilst I did squeeze into them, it was a bit of a struggle; they certainly did not cater for the more rotund gentleman. I decided against getting them. They did have a sign saying larger sizes were available through their website but they've had their chance and blown it. I shall cut out the middleman and have a look on eBay later.
As I carried on to work "Women's Hour" was on the radio. I've mentioned before that I find the aggressive stance of some of their interviewees to be rather off-putting. Today they were ranting that the average woman earns less than the average man because more women choose to work part time. This was definitely seen to be a crime by all men everywhere, so at that point I turned the radio off.
I was wide awake for much of the night, but was fast asleep when my alarm finally went off. I considered phoning in sick if only to try to get more sleep, but thought better of it. I was then rather shocked to find a spider the size of a raccoon on my towel when I went for my morning ablutions.
I watched last week’s episode of “South Park” over a bit of brekkie to calm my nerves. As always the show was amusing enough, but you’ll miss most of the jokes if you aren’t up on American current affairs.
I had a little look-see on Facebook; not much had happened. More and more people seem to be using Facebook and other social media as something to read rather than somewhere to do stuff. Reading it is all very well all the time someone’s actually putting stuff up there to read.
After yesterday’s failure at Matalan I had a look-see on eBay to see if they had any trousers I might like. I was rather amazed to see that so much stuff for sale on there was offering free postage if you collected your stuff from your local branch of Argos. That’s new.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing various average American voters. They were all rather hacked off about the upcoming Presidential elections in that they all felt they had to choose between two candidates neither of whom they really wanted.
He then started banging on about the bit in the bible where Jesus turned water to wine. In the Book of Emphysema it says that there was some big party in bible-land where they'd run out of booze and Jesus turned water into wine (as you do if you are able to do so). From what the Bible says and from what the archeologists have discovered it seems that Jesus knocked up enough wine for each of the party-goers to have four pints each (and that was after what had already been quite a booze-up). The vicar seemed to think this was allegorical of something or other, and somehow proved that Jesus doesn't approve of drinking to excess. All I can say is that if he's going to give me four pints of wine once I'm already out of my tree, I'm off to church.
All the talk of wine gave me a hankering for the stuff, so I popped in to Morrisons for a bottle. I also got some new socks and pants (as many of mine are getting a tad threadbare). And there's nothing worse than undercrackers with no elastic.
Once home I ran "Furry Face TM" round the block then with "er indoors TM" off to the scout group AGM I pootled about the house. Part of me wanted to go to the scout group AGM; it would be good to see what has been going on. After all I was a leader there for thirteen years. However I knew full well that if I showed my face I would be emotionally blackmailed into helping out again. Been there, done that!
"er indoors TM" spoon-fed "Furry Face TM" his brekkie this morning. He’s not ill; just being rather fussy. He seems to have gone off of the Pedigree Chum dog food pouches we’ve been getting for him. It is odd; I can’t get used to the idea of a dog that isn’t greedy. Previous dogs would eat anything and everything; but if Fudge doesn’t like something he’ll go hungry rather that eating it.
Over a spot of brekkie I found a really good cover of a Sparks song on Facebook. I tried to find out more about the band that had done this cover and then all sorts of windows popped up and my lap-top told me it had found malware and that Windows Defender was removing it. So much for the seemingly constant messages I get about Windows Defender being switched off.
Mind you immediately after this I got an invitation to join the Romney Marsh Morrismen. Windows Defender failed utterly there. As if I would be interested in that… Morris Dancers boil my piss. Morris Dancing on the Romney Marsh is *not* part of a tradition going back hundreds of years. In some parts of the country it may well be, but the first Morris Dancers in Kent appeared in 1946. They all have the sort of pewter tankard that your aunt buys you for your eighteenth birthday, they wear smocks, and when you talk to them they put on a West Country accent for no apparent reason.
Once I’d calmed down I popped the lead onto my dog and we set off to Wrotham. There is a series of geocaches in the area based on Anne Boleyn. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I walked it on 1 March 2015 when I blogged “For a hike it was ideal; for a geo-series... the hides were great, but (not wishing to be critical) in all honesty I did feel that they were rather spread out. There were twenty eight caches in the series; there was probably space for over forty along the way”.
The chap who’d hidden the caches read that and at the time sent me a rather nice email saying that he thought people didn’t want too many caches, but others had also intimated that there was room for more caches, so he added a few more. And in the meantime a Church Micro and a Village Sign cache had appeared in the area. And when I was there last I solved a field puzzle to collect when I was next in the area.
We had an excellent walk. The weather was glorious. It is nearly November and we were all walking in T-shirts. Fudge behaved himself perfectly and was off the lead for much of the walk. We saw squirrels and rabbits and buzzards, and after meeting some very friendly horses we had a rather frightening experience with a pigeon.
There’s no denying that the walk was a tad hilly. Perhaps parking and starting at the highest point was a bad move; it meant we had to climb all the way up when we were at the end of what turned out to be an eleven mile walk. And “Hannah” said that from where we’d started we actually descended over three hundred metres to the lowest point of the walk. And as we walked round we had one or two other serious ups and downs too. I was rather aching by the time we got back to the cars. Gordon’s sat-nav was a tad worse for wear by that point too; the power-off button had fallen off somewhere along the way. Woops!
I’d underestimated how long the walk would tell, so once home I very quickly fed Fudge. He was hungry for once and scoffed his tea whilst I zoomed about. I then settled him and sped round to Steve and Sarah’s. Arriving with five minutes to spare, we had a rather good fish supper (from the Fish Inn) then had an astro club committee meeting.
On Tuesday I ordered some new trousers from eBay. On Wednesday I got a message to say they’d been posted. This morning I got an email saying they didn’t have any in the colour I’d ordered and would I accept navy blue instead. I wonder what (if anything) they posted on Wednesday.
Me and my dog then walked round to meet "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" . We went into town to the e-fags shop, then walked a rather circuitous route out to Singleton Lake and back.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" is still harping on about wanting a puppy. She’s set her heart on some cocker spaniel – pug cross, and much of the walk was devoted to choosing names for the dog. I’d actually narrowed the name to a shortlist of three (Doreen, Princess or Spasmo) but I’m reliably informed that none of the names are suitable because the dog is a boy. The obvious suggestion (“Dave”) was immediately rejected. She wants a name that doesn’t start with the letter B; has two syllables and ends in -o. As I said, “Spasmo” fits the bill but she wasn’t having any of it.
She also told me (ranted) about a job interview to which she had been invited. And this was a sad tale of our times. The job was working for a major supermarket; her job would have been to prepare consignments for people who’d done their shopping over the Internet. But she’d done her homework. Earning a wage meant she would lose a lot of benefits. Taking on this job would have put her out of pocket. In fact any job which pays less than twenty six thousand pounds per year would leave her with less money than she currently has.
As we walked I videoed "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" and the dogs. Once home I made a little film-show. It is amazing what you can do with an app which come free on your phone and another which comes free with the PC.
While the video uploaded to YouTube I had lunch whilst watching the first of this week’s two episodes of “Game of Thrones”. This episode (unusually) featured more willies than boobies. For all that I like the show it can be a little too explicit. If a character has to have a piss isn’t it enough for them to turn their back to the camera? Do we *really* have to see the stream of urine coming out of their (on-screen) cock?
I then did some astro-secretary-ing. Minutes of committee meetings don’t write themselves. It is amazing how long it takes to type up notes onto a couple of pages of A4. And then I did a little more of my on-line course about dog psychology. I’ve got a few experiments to perform on "Furry Face TM" when he wakes up. I don’t think the course allows for dogs that are fast asleep.
I had planned to tidy out the shed and do a tip run. I had planned to go upgrade my phone. But time ran out. I got my bits together and walked to where I’d parked the car last night. It took a little while.
I went to the vet’s to collect "Furry Face TM" flea treatment and worming tablet, They got rather sniffy that my dog had never had any vaccinations whatsoever. I got rather sniffy that he had; and that he’s been with that vet’s for at least five years and they had clearly lost his records. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing it turned out that when they *finally* changed the information on his medical records earlier in the year they didn’t actually change anything. They just archived all that had gone before and started again from scratch.
I then drove to McDonalds to meet Jimbo, Stevey and "er indoors TM". We had a rather good scoff. Then it was on to astro club. Stevey gave an excellent talk on galaxies. Drew gave a rather spectacular Space Engine demonstration. And I got two offers of talks. The program looks good until next summer.
indoors TM" inadvertently woke me when she came to bed at
2.30am; I lay awake for a couple of hours; finally dozing of just as the
alarm sounded. Over a rather early brekkie I watched the most recent episode
of South Park. Whilst it was entertaining enough I watched it with an air of
"WTF is going on?"; there were all sorts of
references to American current affairs and the upcoming election which went
right over my head.
I then went on to Canterbury. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some rather odd woman who claimed to live in a home-made shack in the woods somewhere. She was banging on about how the world is a better place when you live in a home-made shack in the woods. She was most adamant that when the thing falls apart it is far better fixing it yourself than paying a professional to do the job properly. Personally I would rather pay a professional to do the job properly. That way it won’t fall apart again. But that's just me.
I expect living like that is fun for a day or so. Camping certainly is. But you soon miss the creature comforts of running water and flushing toilets. This odd woman said she wouldn't live in a proper house if you gave her a million pounds.
The clocks went back last night which meant an extra hour in bed. Most people actually read that as an extra hour asleep; but for me it was "an extra hour in bed" - laying breathless and wide awake. Nights boil my piss; I can't breathe, I can't sleep. And during the day I nod off because I'm constantly tired and everyone takes photos and posts them all over the Internet as though it is a great joke. Would people do the same of someone having a fit? This second nasal surgical re-bore can't come quick enough.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" that my SkyPlus box had decided to record for me. As I watched it I found myself comparing it to "Game of Thrones". One show which many see as based on the children's game of Dungeons and Dragons is incredibly sexually graphic. the other, (based on the autobiography of a prostitute) is not.
I then spent a little while working on my current academic project. Have I mentioned I'm doing a course in dog psychology? This morning I read a chapter of the text book recommended for the course. It explained how over a relatively short period of time cave-men type people wiped out pretty much all of the large predatory animals in Europe. Sabre-toothed tigers, humungous hyenas and even a second species of humanity all became extinct. However a few predatory animals survived this onslaught. Wolves were one such creature. Interestingly wolves were one of the biggest problems for our ancestors; and today's lesson was addressing the question of how did our greatest enemy become our best friend.
I set off to work on a very foggy morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about helping people recover from drug addiction. Because it was Sunday they were approaching the matter from a religious perspective. Those being interviewed (social workers and ex-addicts) all felt it helped to approach rehabilitation from a spiritual aspect, even if the "spiritual aspect" was completely nonsense. Some addicts really did feel they were recovering because of "The Force from Star Wars". Others felt tremendous benefits from prayer even though they said they didn't believe in any gods. One chap said that he felt he was "probably only praying to himself".
It seems odd that people can have such faith in something that doesn't exist, and that such nonsensical faith demonstrably helps them. It is probably akin to how I can use divining rods even though they are clearly rubbish and can't possibly work (even though they do).
As I drove past the Park and Ride I saw a boot fair was in full flow. Well, actually I saw the fishing rods on one of the stalls which were sticking up into the air. So I stopped off for a few minutes. I've not been to a boot fair for years. There were a few people unashamedly selling "proper boot fair stuff" - the sort of rubbish which would have been better off in a dustbin, but I was amazed at how many professional stalls were there. There was one chap flogging mobility scooters; with a dozen on display. Mobility scooters - at a boot fair!
I went on to work where the chap who'd been on was glad to see me I'd arrived a few minutes early; the clocks going back meant he's worked an extra hour. I've done that in the past. That extra hour drags.
I did my bit at work; over a break I saw this news article: "How to turn your blog into a brand - Learn how to turn your passion for blogging into a career ." It looked interesting. There was an address given where I would be told how to turn this drivel into a brand. And it would only cost me ninety nine quid.
I was again up rather earlier than I might have been; over brekkie I did more of this week’s course on dog psychology. Today we were talking about experimentation – actually watching dogs to learn from them. As I learned and strained my brain my dog was fast asleep and gently snoring. I learned quite a bit from him this morning.
I loaded my fishing tackle into the car and set off to collect "My Boy TM". I had a shock when I got to his house. Lacey was having dress-up at school for Hallowe’en and she was going as Little Dead Riding Hood. It put the wind up me!
We left the girls and drove round to Angling Direct for some maggots. After five minutes waiting we realised they opened at nine o’clock. Not eight. Woops. But it was only a twenty minute detour to Invicta Angling, and soon we were at Shirkoak Lake.
The first fruit of my loin was soon fishing like a thing possessed. I thought I’d use my new rigs and unfamiliarity with them did slow me somewhat. In fact the fish score was 4:0 to Dan before I’d even got my bait wet. But when I did…
We had a rather good day; with six species of fish each (and so a draw) we both lost count of the fish we’d caught. I must have had twenty big enough to need the landing net including a personal best roach.
There is a lot to be said for fishing during the week; all the normal people are at work. There was only one other person fishing today, and he was on the other side of the lake. With an island in the way we couldn’t see him; we effectively had the lake to ourselves.
It would have been good to have stayed longer but with the clocks having gone back it gets cold and dark earlier, so we went home. I quickly got changed and put my fish-slimed trousers through the washing machine before "er indoors TM" could lay an egg.
I then took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. We went via the vets; he was overdue for boosters. He was overdue because the vet had stuffed up. Whilst their veterinary care is excellent, their record keeping does leave much to be desired.
Taking him to the vets is odd. We walk past at least once a week. We go in and sit in the waiting area to get him used to the vets. Never a problem… except when he has an appointment to see the vet. He *knows* and he flatly refuses to go into the building, and once there he cowers in terror under the seats.
Today’s visit went well. He’s put on weight – he’s nearly eleven kilogrammes. He has no fleas (I knew that) and his teeth are in excellent condition. He has a wonky kneecap and his back is still not right, but all things considered he’s probably in better condition than I am.
We took a rather circuitous walk home past the railway station, and once home I put "er indoors TM" pumpkin outside. Last year I was very disappointed not to get a single Trick or Treater; no one told me that a pumpkin outside the house is the sign that they are welcome. But now I know.
We had loads of visits this evening; all small children (supervised by mums), all wonderfully dressed up. "er indoors TM" had left a tub of lollipops in the kitchen which I guessed were for the Trick or Treaters. The tub was empty by the time she came home from work so I started handing out the cakes that we don’t like. "er indoors TM" came home and pointed out that those cakes went past their sell by date over a year ago. Oh dear…