01 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Lino

01 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Linomagnify

I had this stroke of genius this morning – I’ll get some lino for the floor of my new shed (when it arrives). I don’t want anything special – just an old off-cut six feet wide by ten feet long. “Lino World” didn’t have anything, but said they probably might in a few weeks (maybe a month or so, you know how it is…), and would I like to leave a deposit for something they can’t guarantee and that I’ve never seen. “Lino-R-Us” had some off-cuts that were probably made out of gold, judging by the prices they wanted. However they had some corporate promise that they would never be beaten on price, so I said I might be back. “Kentucky Fried Lino” had a wonderful lump of lino, just the right size and reasonably priced. So back to “Lino-R-Us” only to find out that their price matching policy only applies to linos that other shops haven’t got and can’t sell cheaper anyway. Apparently linos that are cheaper than theirs are exempt from the price-matching policy. Funny, that!

I gave thirty quid to the nice man in “Kentucky Fried Lino”, and wished I went there first.

In other news I’m reliably informed that if you write the letters F and U and turn them upside down, the resultant image is a good luck symbol. One lives and learns.

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02 April 2008 (Wednesday) - A Shocking Waste of Public Money?

02 April 2008 (Wednesday) - A Shocking Waste of Public Money?magnify

It could be used to carry out 188 heart by-passes, 272 hip replacements or even free parking for hospital visitors and patients for a year. But East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust has decided to use £1.6million to pay staff a bonus of £250 each. Too right !!! We deserve it.

Apparently it’s upset the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Folkestone who says "That £1.5m could have provided more nursing staff in the front line and taken pressure off the people who have really worked their socks off in the last year." We obviously need more nurses because everyone knows that nurses are the only people employed in hospitals, and more of them would obviously ease the job of the painters, cooks, cleaners, plumbers, physiotherapists, scientists, porters, microbiologists, secretaries, phlebotomists, pharmacists, dieticians and gardeners. Not that any nurse has ever done any of those jobs. All that non-nurse lot in hospitals are presumably either figments of the imagination or only known to those who’ve ever been to a hospital. One thing’s for sure – I’m not voting Liberal Democrat ever again.

But she’s not the only one to complain about the bonus. It’s been standard practice for years for companies to use profit sharing and shareholder schemes to encourage their employees to be more efficient. Why not offer some small carrot to those who’ve been working hard for years. Perhaps an annual bung like that may well pay for itself in increased efficiencies if the staff know they will see some benefit from working longer hours in increasingly difficult circumstances.

It’s a funny old world. No one thinks twice about paying a professional footballer 50k per week, but people are up in arms about a one-off £250 bung. And we have to pay tax on it as well! But it will go some way towards paying for the shed…..


03 April 2008 (Thursday) - Shed Wrecking

03 April 2008 (Thursday) - Shed Wreckingmagnify

After a dull meeting in Canterbury, it was back home to “sort out” the shed. With hammers and an axe. The theory was to carefully disassemble the shed so’s the component parts could be used to make shelving in the new shed. It has to be said that on one or two occasions, brute force did take over from carefully planned disassembly, but the shed is now in bits. I’ll salvage what I can, and the rest will go up the tip. Along with several empty Hooch bottles found underneath the shed. “Daddies Little Angel TM” claims to have no knowledge of how the Hooch bottles got there, but I’m not sure…

The hammers are still in one piece; however one is now re-fashioned at rather a rakish angle. You’d think they’d make hammers able to take a modicum of gently applied force, wouldn’t you?

The old shed took some taking apart – I ache! I was amazed how much effort it took to pull the thing to bits compared with other sheds I’ve destroyed in the past. (But probably not as amazed as the bent hammer was). That shed was built to last. Unlike my hammer (!) I rather suspect that the old shed would have outlasted any new replacement, but at only four feet by six feet it was just far too small. Mind you, with all the fishing gear and camping gear and a fridge and a lawnmower and now a mini-moto to go in the new shed, I wonder how much space I’m going to end up with….



04 April 2008 (Friday) - New Shed !!!!

04 April 2008 (Friday) - New Shed !!!!magnify

The new shed’s here!!! ‘Er Indoors took a day off work to supervise its installation. Mind you, from what I hear, getting the thing in the garden was a bit of a caper. When I ordered it, I explained to the nice man at the shed shop that there was a fence to go over. This didn’t faze him in the least – they’d put sheds over fences, over garages, to hear him talk you’d think they regularly put one half way up Mount Everest. But when it came to actually put the thing up, they were all of a twitter about the dead trees, and they took the fence down, and then they weren’t overly keen on going near the pond. Perhaps they mistook the Koi for sharks?

But the thing’s up. I’ve put in the lino, (and am awaiting comments about its colouration). I’ve run out some leccy so’s the fridge is working. I’ve put the water feature plugs in through the other side and will wire them up tomorrow. It needs shelving and painting, and then there’s a little area behind it where I can lay some gravel, and maybe even have a gargoyle water feature.

You just know you’ve hit middle age when you’re excited about a new shed…


05 April 2008 (Saturday) - Woodwork

05 April 2008 (Saturday) - Woodworkmagnify

I only found out yesterday that today was my Saturday to be working. I really should check the rotas I write out more often. It was too short notice to swap, so I popped into B&Q for some shed bits before work. It was there that I encountered “Epically fat woman”. So epically fat that the protuberance of her gut prevented her legs from coming forward in the manner of standard walking. Instead, she was forced to lumber from side to side as she waddled her enormous bulk around the shop. She had this knack of being exactly where I wanted to go. No matter which part of the shop I tried to get to, “Epically fat woman” was already lumbering about there. And to add insult to injury, once I was done in B&Q, “Epically fat woman” beat me to get to Tesco where once more she waddled under my feet for another fifteen minutes.

The morning was spent fretting about what I could be doing at home, and once I got home it was straight into the shed where I finished wiring in the water features. Chippy & Brian soon arrived and helped me convert the wreckage of the old shed into work surfaces for the new shed. I say “helped me” – “did the job for me” would be a better description of their efforts. I got to do some hammering with my new (non-bent) hammer, and my new work surfaces look really good. A quick coat of paint should cover any “Rustic Charm TM. Er indoors was doing some tidying up and she put the fear of God up Chippy with a Hallowe’en mask. Laugh – I nearly wet myself. Schadenfreude (happiness at the misfortune of others) – there’s nothing quite like it! It was shortly after this that Chip had to set off for home, and he was replaced in “Team Woodwork” by the Bat. Within fifteen minutes of his arrival we went down the pub.

And then home for an evening of Doctor Who. The new series started tonight, and for those of my loyal readers who’ve not seen it yet, don’t bother. That way you’ll save yourselves fifty minutes of your life that you could better spend on absolutely anything else at all. For those of my loyal readers who have seen it – wasn’t it awful? This was followed by half a season of William Hartnell re-runs on BBC4, through which I soundly slept.

I need to mow the lawn - there’s snow forecasted for tomorrow.


06 April 2008 (Sunday) - Snow

06 April 2008 (Sunday) - Snowmagnify

Far be it from me to disrespect the sterling efforts of “Team Woodwork”, but the bigger table was somewhat rickety when I loaded it up this morning. So I spent five minutes putting a couple more supports on it. And then more shopping.

First to B&Q for shelving and door stops and the like. No one told me that B&Q were staging national “keep stopping and staring into space” day. I could have screamed. No matter who was walking along in front of me, they would all just stop dead and stare into space for no apparent reason. I must have rammed a dozen people with my trolley, all of whom reacted in exactly the same way – I can only describe it as “waking up”. When I crashed into them they would then look around and seem to be genuinely surprised to find they were in B&Q.

And then to the Paul Simon Curtain Superstore – the shed needed net curtains. Paul Simon Curtain Superstore is a strange shop. The curtain people seem to be very friendly and helpful, but having mistakenly asked the carpet people for advice, I wouldn’t go there for carpets if it was the last shop on Earth.

And then the Espace needed filling with petrol. Whereas a year ago I could fill the tank for under £50, now it’s over £70. How on Earth can the government claim that inflation is at two or three percent annually when the work of two seconds shows me that my petrol expenses have gone up 40% since last April?

I then spent twenty minutes in the shed putting up the new shelves and curtains and then gave up and went into the warm. It was snowing! There was so many things I could have done this afternoon. I could have painted the new shed, mowed the lawn, wandered down to a meeting in Peacehaven, there was talk of a trip to Camping International, but as always when there’s snow, the country grinds to a halt. No matter how little snow, everything stops. Mind you, if we get more snow, I’ll get “My Boy TM” to make one of his speciality transsexual snowpersons……

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07 April 2008 (Monday) - The News

07 April 2008 (Monday) - The Newsmagnify

Having been told by “Daddies Little Angel TM” that the shed’s curtains are “gay” I suddenly realised that whilst I’ve been in raptures over my new shed, the world has kept turning. Did you know that whilst I’ve been in my shed:

The verdict on the Princess Diana case has finally been delivered. And contrary to popular opinion, she wasn’t murdered by Merovingian freemasons in an attempt to keep secret the thirteenth lost priory of Zion. Nor was she murdered by MI6 working under orders from HRH Prince Philip. Nor by aliens trying to keep the downed saucer in Area 51 quiet. Would you believe that it turned out she died because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and the driver of her car had been drinking and was driving at high speeds to escape the paparazzi. Who would have thought it? All I can say was that whole sorry inquest was several million pounds of taxpayers’ money straight down the toilet.

In more interesting news, did you know there are sea horses in the river Thames? Now the river’s getting cleaner there’s all sorts of wildlife to be found. It’s a sign of the times – it’s been years since any of my cubs have found a ribbed tickler when we do surveys in the river Stour.

And in closing, make the most of the Internet – it’s about to explode. With You-Tube using more band width last year than the entire Internet used in the year 2000 and ISPs more interested in providing “cheaper” rather than “more”, there’s an awful lot of porn kicking about cyber-space that the average punter is finding increasingly more difficult to access. Which is probably for the best….


08 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Rubber Gloves

08 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Rubber Glovesmagnify

The area around the scout hut is a bit of a mess, so tonight the cubs were put to work to clean it up a bit. My bunch were on litter patrol, and just in case of stupid Health & Safety legislation being branded at us by half-witted parents who don’t realize incredibly cheap baby-sitting when they see it, we equipped the litter pickers with rubber gloves for their protection. Me – I remembered other rubber items of protection from my youth, and a party piece a friend from Dartford used to do with such protection. It was some fifteen years ago since I last saw it done, but from what I remember a condom stretched over the head looks more impressive than a rubber glove.

Billy” and “Chris” found “something really interesting” to put in their dustbin. It looked like an old string bag to me. “Big Jimmy Spanner” just didn’t understand the entire “litter concept” and filled his litter bag with braches he ripped off of any hedges he could find.

And then on with badge work. The “Air Activities” badge is a favorite of mine, and tonight we made balloon powered jet rockets. These worked after a fashion, and so I led a brainstorming session on how we could improve them. We started with five minutes confusion as Gavin maintained that replacing the balloon powering the jet with a cub blowing as hard as he could wouldn’t actually be an improvement. We then speculated on tying lots of balloons together until Jason suggested we used a “machine”. He was rather vague on the details, but insistent that a “machine” would do the trick. Apparently if you use a “machine” and fill the balloon with carbohydrate(!) the balloon powered jet goes just like a real jet. One lives and learns.

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09 April 2008 (Wednesday) - An Afternon Off

09 April 2008 (Wednesday) - An Afternon Offmagnify

An afternoon off work. The plan was to get the fragments of the old shed to the tip, but there was a minor hiccup. The wall panels are too long to fit in the Espace. We managed to saw one, but it was a bit like hard work. So we loaded up the bits that did fit, and took them up the tip. I really shouldn’t go there – it does my blood pressure no good. One of the retards had taken its brat there, and they were squabbling on the edge of the skip about which broken toys should be thrown in and which broken toys should be saved.

My Boy TM” believes he knows where he can lay hands on an electric saw to deal with the bits of shed that are left. That should both save some time and provide some entertainment. Failing that, I’ll have another go with my B&Q value 99p saw.

And then to the dentist to repair the broken tooth. Having shoved every dental implement known to science into my gob, a trainee dental nurse nearly drowned me in the chair with the hose pipe attachment. I wonder how many people have drowned in the dentists? Having put in a temporary filling last time, he’s now put in another temporary filling with a view to doing something a bit more substantial in a couple of week’s time. I can’t help but wonder why he don’t just do the proper fix first time and be done with it.

And then something I rarely do – I watched telly. I spend £37 a month on Sky TV, and everyone else watches it. But tonight I watched the SpongeBob SquarePants episode in which he finds a wig, and then the Rab C Nesbit Xmas special. How can anyone watch telly these days? A half hour programme is stretched to fifty minutes with four advert breaks. I can’t be doing with that…..


10 April 2008 (Thursday) - In The Garden

10 April 2008 (Thursday) - In The Gardenmagnify

I had to go into work for an hour last night, so I got to shove off early today. As it’s Thursday I thought I’d revive the tradition of Thursday being “mow the lawn “ day. There was a minor problem with this plan in that I couldn’t remember where I’d stashed the lawnmower. It eventually came to light together with four more of “My Boy TM” ‘s tyres. How many wheels that don’t fit your car does anyone need? There’s also some bicycles that are rusting away I need to speak to him about (again).

But the lawn got mowed, and more stuff got bagged up for a tip run tomorrow (I am NOT going to get over-excited at the tip!) and I even found a space for the lawn mower in the new shed. I’m reliably informed that we’ll have the use of an electric saw at the weekend, so possibly by Sunday the garden will be half-way tidy again.

If only we can lose all the tyres and rusty bikes we’ll have space for another water feature…..

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11 April 2008 (Friday) - The Barometric Pressure has.... ?

11 April 2008 (Friday) - The Barometric Pressure has.... ?magnify

I was on late shift today, which gave me the morning to do my fannying around. To the tip to lose the rubbish. Surprisingly few retards there today, but those that were there were all in the same car. Several brats were running their own riot inside their car whilst (presumably) mother unloaded the rubbish. Unfortunately she'd got a car full of rubbish, but only one bag. The car was full of loose rubbish which she would scoop into the bag, carry the bag to the skip, empty it, and then take the bag back to the car to scoop more rubbish into it. Having finally emptied her car she then spent ten minutes on the mobile phone to tell one of her cronies what an arduous morning she'd had. And then a further five minutes was wasted whilst she tried to persuade the brats inside the car to unlock the doors and let her in. Now my life is too precious to waste in this way, so why did I waste it watching "The Retard Show"? It's simple really. The Retard-Mobile was parked in the exit to the tip, so no one could get out of the place until she moved it. Which she couldn't all the time the brats wouldn't let her into the vehicle. I'm going to put my rubbish out for the dustman in future - it will be a lot less stressful.

And then to Bybrook Barn. Whilst having a look round the outside bit it started to rain. I was alone in being the only one of their customers who didn't start screaming about the rain. Rain's hardly an unusual occurrence, but the swarms of the general public reacted as though Martians were invading. They screamed and ran. But they didn't (specifically) run for cover. They just ran round screaming. Once they randomly found cover they stopped running and screaming and then started animated conversations about how amazingly unusual and surprising rain is. But there were several who took an age running all over the place until pot luck brought them into shelter.

It was therefore with a sense of expecting the worst that I set off to WyeVale, which usually is home to super-retards of such an impressive standard to which your average retard could never hope to aspire. But (thankfully for my nerves) there was absolutely no one there. Which was a shame - I could have used some help in lifting my latest acquisition - a railway sleeper. More about this to follow in later entries when it stops raining.

And now- a trip to the lights of London? A few days ago one of my loyal readers spotted that the best band ever is playing in Islington for three weeks over the next month or so. Does anyone fancy a trip to the wicked city to see them? Let me know if you're up for it.

(This is the winning entry for the sparks animation contest and is a totally legal and legit You-Tube video)!

To view this multimedia content, please click here.


12 April 2008 (Saturday) - Sawing, Bingo, and Pompeii

12 April 2008 (Saturday) - Sawing, Bingo, and Pompeiimagnify

I couldn’t sleep last night. Too excited. “My Boy TM” brought home the power saw, and we were up an hour earlier than planned to sort out the last remaining shed fragments. What would take an hour with a hand saw was done in seconds. Power saws are great. With a hand saw you can make a pencil line to saw along, you then take great care and after twenty minutes’ effort you’ll still find you’re a few millimetres out. With a power saw you make the same pencil line but it only takes a couple of seconds effort to be eighteen inches out. We had cuts more p*ss*d than I was at Dover beer festival. It was great.

And then we cut two inches off of the railway sleeper and laid another gravelled area. I think it looks a bit bare. It needs a certain something. I’d like a sundial, but the rest of the tribe is unanimous in not allowing me one. Apparently sundials are “gay”. They are cheap at Whelans. £14 last time I looked. I feel a trip to Whelans coming on – maybe next weekend?

We then loaded the last of the shed fragments and five rusty wheels into the Espace and then had something about which I have hitherto only dreamed. A trip to the tip which was retard-free. And just as we dinged the last of the scrat, it started raining. Which was probably for the best – the yard at home needed a good wash. Does anyone have a jet-washer I can borrow?

As it was raining I didn’t feel that an afternoon’s Bingo at the scout hut was a waste of an afternoon. For some inexplicable reason I got to be the caller. It’s great – I know all the sayings “Legs-11”, “Two little ducks - 22”, “Ethel’s ear – 83”, “the Brighton Line – 59”, “Egg and Chips – 48”, “Parsnips and custard – 34”,”2 and 3 – 5”, “On it’s own – 78”, “Gran’s been at the sherry – 15” . And if I don’t know the right saying I just make one up on the spur of the moment “Brussels Sprouts – 45”. It’s all a load of old tosh and over half the audience isn’t listening anyway. Half way through I got to take the rise out of the raffle prizes. And I even won with my pink ticket. A cuddly toy seal. I shall put that on the dashboard of my car.

I then came home to do the ironing, slept through “Upstairs Downstairs” (the one where Mrs Bridges gets arrested) and soon it was time for Doctor Who. Which was a great improvement on last week’s episode and featured a baddie that I’ve met before in NeverWinter. And for any of my loyal readers who’ve met Caecilius before “canis in via dormit. Grumio in culina est”. For those who haven’t, it doesn’t matter. Which was what I said to Mr Hooper (my Latin teacher) in 1977. I’ve got an “O” level in Latin, you know….

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13 April 2008 (Sunday) - A Walk and a Pub Crawl

13 April 2008 (Sunday) - A Walk and a Pub Crawlmagnify

As is often the plan on a Sunday, a walk is the order of the day. As “Er Indoors” had arranged to meet her father in Battle for some “business deal” today, a gaggle of us wandered around the woodlands of Sussex (braving rain, mud and hail) before being told that we could wait in the pub for her. That suited me down to the ground. Battle is somewhere that I’ve been planning to do a pub survey for some years, so ably assisted by some of the more knowledgeable pub-o-philes, I set about some of the local hostelries. But it has to be said, for such a historic and touristy place, the pubs are (at best) average to poor. I’m glad I’d been driven there. I’d resent the two hour train journey for pubs of such a poor standard.

Ye Olde Kings Head

Billed as Battle’s premier pub, I found the place somewhat mediocre. Five hand pumps but only two beers didn’t impress me at all. We struck up a conversation with the barman about the smoking ban in pubs, but at no point did he cotton on that the entire place was being gassed by the fumes from his dying open fire. Mind you, the same chap maintained the recent rise in beer prices was due to the brewery – he’d never heard of the budget or the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The 1066

Four hand pumps and only one beer. But that beer was on offer at £2 per pint, which (to me) raised the place slightly higher than the last in my estimation. Other than that, there was precious little to choose between them. Apart from the fierce looking barmaid, but one needs to maintain a degree of objectivity.

The Chequers

Four ales and Biddenden cider and pickled eggs. And smiling bar staff. This would seem to be the number one place to visit in Battle. A pint of “Director’s” was swiftly followed by a pint of “Summer Lightning”. If I had to choose one pub in Battle, this is the place. Head and shoulders above the rest. But in Battle, that ain’t saying much….

The Senlac

Billed as Battle’s worst pub, but to my mind this place came in at Battle’s number two pub, if only for the Bowling Green next door, the choice of pub games and the wonderful Victorian toilets which smelled so strongly of chlorine.

And then we set off for home. But feeling somewhat peckish we stopped for dinner in Newenden at the White Hart. They serve “Level Best” (the world’s best beer) there, you know…..



14 April 2008 (Monday) - Tired

14 April 2008 (Monday) - Tiredmagnify

I had an early night last night. Can’t think why. But I woke at 3am and lay awake until finally giving up and going to watch “Upstairs Downstairs” at silly o’clock. And by the time I arrived at work I felt like death warmed up and could quite easily have gone back to kip.

The plan for the evening involved generally tidying up around the shed and garden, and even more fence painting. But the torrential rain and hail put paid to that idea. So I smurfed the net and found out that he who brought “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain” to the UK audience is no more. Scratchy is dead. Following the death of his fiancée in dubious circumstances earlier in the year, Scratchy’s body was found today (having seemingly hung himself several days ago). It’s said that the life of celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But I wouldn’t mind giving it a go…..


15 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Cubs

15 April 2008 (Tuesday) - Cubsmagnify

Apparently the new “hip thing to do TM” is to point at someone and shout “SQUISHY!” Having been pointed and shouted at, you then must retaliate in like manner. Or you can point and shout “SQUISHY!” at someone else who then must also similarly reply. Pointing at people at shouting “SQUISHY!” would seem to keep people occupied for hours. Those long winter evenings must just fly by.

One of the boy cubs thought he’s start picking on the girls. He got a swift punch up the bracket for his troubles, and little Suzy told me to tell him what I always say about girls. She was hoping I’d say “don’t fight with girls – you will lose”. Unfortunately for her I replied with “Girls are very ugly and smell of fish”. That wound the girl cubs up a bit.

Terry” told me about his Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Apparently he’d seen some aliens during the week. They looked like they should have been in Stargate Atlantis, but he didn’t know what species they were – he didn’t ask. It’s amazing what goes on in South Ashford these days.

And then, as part of the “Air Activities” badge, we made kites. Which was easy enough. And then we decorated them. One of our cubs thought he’d do a tribute to his favorite You-Tube star. Obviously a cub scout of impeccable taste…..


16 April 2008 (Wednesday) - Meetings and Gardens

16 April 2008 (Wednesday) - Meetings and Gardensmagnify

To Canterbury for an I.T. meeting which was chaired by someone claiming to be the “business change lead at domain process office”. I wonder what being one of those entails? In any event she kept talking about the new I.T. systems planned for parrrrrthology (as opposed to “pathology”). Until anyone tells me differently, I’m working of the principle that parrrrrthology is the scientific study of bridleways, back passages, pedestrian routes and thoroughfares.

We were then introduced to Caleb who wanted to know whether we wanted to use his package. We need to make that decision very soon, but we won’t have a “demonstration of its functionality until the latter stages of the process”. Apparently remedial action is to be taken, and Caleb then identified a gap to be filled.

If I have a meting at Canterbury in the morning I try to take the afternoon off work, and today was no exception. I’d arranged that both “Fruits of my Loin” would be home to help with a bit of fiddling about in the garden. But when I got home, “First Fruit” was nowhere to be seen. I expect he was at the old folks home, or at the zoo. “Most Recent Fruit” looked at the clock, said something about it being late, and vanished. Funnily enough once I’d done the heavy lifting myself (and knacked my back) they both appeared. But at least I’ve not had to lug the breeze blocks to the tip, and (finally) I’ve used up the last of the brindle chippings.

And then a lick of paint on the fence, a quick voom round with the lawn mower and the afternoon was gone. I think I’ll see what’s happening in NeverWinter…..


17 April 2008 (Thursday) - Healthy Living

17 April 2008 (Thursday) - Healthy Livingmagnify

Did you know that eating healthily is bad for you? It Is! Research has shown that far from being beneficial, taking vitamin supplements can actually shorten your life expectancy. Mind you, it’s no surprise. Polar bear liver killed off plenty of Arctic explorers because of vitamin A overload. Too much vitamin C gives you the squitters, too much vitamin K gives you jaundice, and too much vitamin E can give you lung cancer. In fact it would seem that too much of any vitamin will do for you. Science says so!

Fortunately excessive (?) alcohol consumption inhibits vitamin absorption, so I’m all right. If we were meant to eat this health food rubbish God would never have invented deep fat frying. Furthermore statistics demonstrate that more people are run over by buses and lorries whilst out jogging than whilst they are eating crisps in the pub.

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18 April 2008 (friday) - Swanning About

18 April 2008 (friday) - Swanning Aboutmagnify

For the last few days the evenings have been lovely, so I thought I’d make the most of it and me and er indoors went for a walk along the beach at Dymchurch. I must admit I became a bit dubious about the whole idea when I saw all the sand on the road, and we gave up the whole “walk idea” after ten yards because of the hurricane. A quick sossige and chips and back to the car.

Taking the scenic route home we found a footpath alongside the canal, and so we had a little stroll until we found a rather ferocious-looking swan protecting his “bird” on the nest. But it was a smashing place for a walk – out of the wind! A shame about the sub-zero temperature, but you can’t have everything. We’ll go back over the summer and take a picnic.

And then home to find a shock in the papers. A very dubious looking pair has won the local bowling league……



19 April 2008 (Saturday) - A Wet Weekend

19 April 2008 (Saturday) - A Wet Weekendmagnify

Insomnia struck again, and with no need to be up early, I was doing ironing before 6am. Ironing and listening to the rain. Today was supposed to be digging with the arky-ologee club. I can’t say I’d been looking forward to it. It’s hard work doing the digging; “interesting artifacts” look just like dull rocks, and when you’re done, you fill the hole back in. Any sensible person would be happy to have a ready-made fish pond. But I’d had my orders and, pausing only briefly to buy er indoors some wellies, it was off to Trench One.

Trench One was a metre long, a metre wide and about six inches deep. Three very cold-looking conscripts were scraping away at subterranean gravel. The “nice man TM” explained that the subterranean gravel was variously a wall base with a support for a wooden wall, a flint floor, a vegetable garden, a chalk floor, a ford over the river, and a compacted clay floor. Or something. What with all the maps and the resistivity and variable depth ground penetrating radar and geophysics, I got somewhat confused. The “nice man TM” was happy for us to open up our very own Trench Two, but the weather and temperature was against us. So we didn’t. Thank Heavens.

Instead, whilst er indoors was seconded to a top secret mission for the afternoon (!), to celebrate the anniversary of my discovery of Whelan’s Concrete Requisites I loaded up the Espace with muscle (well, Batty, Brian and “Daddies Little Angel TM). And we went to collect some concrete requisites of our own. I got my sundial at last. Just wait till “My Boy TM” finds out. He’ll lay an egg! There’s a minor problem with setting the sundial to the right time, but I’m reliably informed that taking the batteries out will re-set the thing. I also got another concrete bench for the patio. (Note how what was once “the back yard” has become “the patio”!). The only problem with concrete requisites is that they weigh a ton, and we had to park the car miles from the house and lug them. Funnily enough once the lugging was over, all the cars parked outside the house vanished. Strange, that!

And then episode three of the new Doctor Who series. Best so far, but that’s not saying much. I’m still undecided about Catherine Tate as the new assistant. I can’t help but harp back to the days when the role of the assistant was to run away from Daleks with hardly anything on screaming a lot. Bring back the epically chested Nicola Bryant!!


20 April 2008 (Sunday) - Gardening

20 April 2008 (Sunday) - Gardeningmagnify

Bearing in mind I’m usually wide awake and bored by 4am, today I didn’t stir from my pit until 11am. I can’t remember the last time I slept more than a few hours. And as the sun was shining I spent some time in the garden, and reminded myself why I hate gardening.

Firstly I cleaned out the pond’s fish poo filer. It was rather full, and rather fish-poo-ey. Then the fountain in the pond needed cleaning out. Not so much cleaning out as unblocking – it was solid with gunge. And then the pump powering one of the water features needed cleaning out. It too was gunged solid. As was the entire water feature. And then I noticed that a lot of the cables needed re-burying, and that weeds were growing around the edges. In all, about three hours was spent shifting gunge and fish poo and stones. And at the end of it, the garden looked exactly the same as when I started. In fact the only difference was that at the end I bore the unmistakeable odour of fish poo. Mind you, I was probably pretty ripe at the start.

And then shopping. Tesco’s for razor blades and jam. (My life is one non-stop rollercoaster ride of excitement and adventure!) and then to the fish shop at Tenterden for some goldfish. They look nice swimming in one of the water features. Or, they do when they aren’t hiding (which is what they do most of the time). We also got some cherry barbs for the tank in the living room, and on the way home we stopped at some really lame planty-type shop. I wasted good money on some assorted triffids that er indoors will allow to dry out and die over the next few weeks. Whilst waiting for her to choose between various seemingly identical plants (that are only going to die anyway) I perused the trees. The voices in my head are saying that I should have a mega-flower pot in the front garden with a tree in it. That will need some soil! It’s a feature of my life that I have great ideas like this only a week or so after giving away several tons of soil that were cluttering up the front garden. Mind you, I could take some soil from a hole I might dig in the back garden - I feel my garden needs a water feature and I saw a really good one in Whelan’s yesterday…..


21 April 2008 (Monday) - Stuff

21 April 2008 (Monday) - Stuffmagnify

The last time I went to the dentist I was nearly drowned in the chair. The time before that, the clutch on my car went west. It was with a sense of foreboding that I went back to the dentist today. But apparently he’s happy with the state of my trap-hatch and I can shove off and come back in a few weeks’ time for a general check-up. That’ll give me something to look forward to!

I’ve volunteered to help to re-skin a poly tunnel this weekend. I can’t help but wonder what a ”poly tunnel” is, or how one goes about re-skinning such an article. I expect I’ll find out – if all else fails, I’ll look it up on Wikipedia. I’ve been promised a pint for doing the re-skinning so whatever it is, it will have its good points.

Meanwhile someone other than me is doing the washing up. That’s to be encouraged. Whilst doing the washing up “Daddies Little Angel TM” and Moses were having a domestic about the X-Men. Moses maintains that the X-Men are allegorical of the civil rights movement in America, whilst “Daddies Little Angel TM” maintains that the X-Men are lame. Much as it pains me to agree with her, I think she’s right.

Back in NeverWinter I’ve reached the second level of the UnderDark. I should spend more time there – it’s cheaper than in the shed. And whilst I’ve got an axe in the shed, there’s (currently) far fewer orcs and trolls. However I have yet to use a lawnmower as a weapon in NeverWinter. I expect my chance will come….


22 April 2008 (Tuesday) - More Stuff

22 April 2008 (Tuesday) - More Stuffmagnify

The good thing about an early start at work is having an early finish. Being in need of a map of the Weymouth area, I thought I’d have a wander around town this evening. I don’t go up to Ashford very often. People keep moving it around and changing it. The cake shop has gone. So has the sweet shop. Colourscope Cameras is now Jessops, and there’s an arts college where Dog World used to be. Half of Waterstones is gone – there’s a passage through where half of it used to be. Cheesey Computers looks half-way decent for a change. And there’s a stonking great Debenhams where once there was a car park. It’s amazing what you miss when you don’t stay alert.

Ken James Cycles is gone. That’s now a reptile shop. I had a nosey round. They had the sweetest Carpet Python you ever did see, and a rather miserable looking Boa. Outside the shop they had a sign advertising when snake feeding time was. It’s one thing to show snake feeding to a select audience, but to advertise it to every Tom, Dick and Harry just seems wrong. I suppose it’s one way to drum up trade, but the snake-herd in me can’t help but look down on doing that.

And then home . To find “Daddies Little Angel TM” doing the hoovering. She washed up yesterday. I can’t help but wonder what she’s up to.


23 April 2008 (St George's Day) - Silver Wolves

23 April 2008 (St George's Day) - Silver Wolvesmagnify

Not a Tuesday, but seeing as it’s St George’s Day we had the entire scout group meeting tonight. From the youngest Beaver not long past his sixth birthday to our now-retired ex Group Scout Leader (but still active in the Scout Fellowship).

Di Packman has been involved with scouting at the 6th Ashford for over fifty years. I remember her husband Vic once telling me about their fund raising efforts to build our scout hut. Tonight we were joined from ex-scouts and leaders from far and wide as Di was presented with the Silver Wolf – there are not many awards a leader can get and this one is the highest. It can only ever be presented on the personal recommendation of the Chief Scout, and there’s never been one before in Ashford in living memory (and Vic’s now in his mid eighties!)

I must admit I was originally somewhat sceptical about tonight. Whilst I was hoping for a good show for Di’s presentation, I could imagine the kids getting really bored really quickly at a dull presentation and even duller speeches. I’d got my best uniform on. And as I arrived I saw that so had all the other leaders. Even our hip young leaders were washed and scrubbed and uniformed, every scout had their scout shirt on, buttoned up. And there wasn’t a single cub without a neckerchief. It was going to be so dull…..

But I needn’t have worried. It was great. We must have had close on sixty kids there aged from six to sixteen. We played “Dragon Boat racing” and made toy dragons in memory of St George’s day. We all made scout promises. And we all shut up and listened to the County Commissioner when he made a speech. And he wasn’t dull and boring like I was dreading. He was great. The kids loved him. As did the fifty-odd leaders and friends who’d come to see Di get her award. And then we all had CAKE!!!! A special CAKE with a Silver Wolf on it.

There are times when I feel that scouting is nothing but a waste of my time. And then there are times like tonight when I’m reminded that I’m a part of something really special….


24 April 2008 (Thursday) - Traffic Wardens

24 April 2008 (Thursday) - Traffic Wardensmagnify

Last Tuesday some of my friends got parking tickets for having one tyre on the double yellow lines. The tickets were issued at 9.15pm. Some little Hitler was on overtime, I expect.

We bought a car on Maundy Thursday once. Realizing that we couldn’t get road tax on a bank holiday I contacted the traffic police at the Ashford police station to obtain clarification on the matter. I was assured that, provided we obtained the road tax certificate at the earliest opportunity we could park the car outside our home in the meantime. On the Good Friday, Traffic Warden PA 15 came up Beaver Road. I realize that at the time of the incident the car was not taxed. However his manner leaves much to be desired. While I cannot remember the entire exchange, one or two of his better comments have stuck in my mind.

“It’s tax evaders like you that make the road tax so expensive”

“I’m just reporting your criminal activities”

“I’ve brought my children up to be law abiding citizens”

He made a point of ignoring the documentation we tried to show him and of not putting a similar ticket on a car less than ten yards away, which had been abandoned for some weeks and was growing mould. In fact when I tried to push the point of the other untaxed cars, he crossed his arms, turned his back and walked off. I wrote to the local council and the Highways department to formally complain. But nothing was done.

Another time at 6.30pm I parked my Espace partly on double yellow lines to load some tents into the car for Cub Camp. I was actually parked there for four minutes and I got a parking ticket. When I drove to the scout hut, unloaded and came back there was another car parked exactly where I’d been - partly on double yellow lines. That car didn’t move for eighteen hours and wasn’t ticketed. I wrote to Parking Services at the local council, but nothing was done. I wrote to the local councillor who then did nothing.

Chatting with locals it turns out that the local traffic wardens operate in pairs. How it can take two of them to ticket a car, I don’t know. They are rarely seen after 7.30am or before 6pm. Commuters can park, go off to wherever on the train and come back safe in the knowledge they won’t be ticketed. I’m told that quite enormous lorries park illegally in the Denmark Road area. Locals have been told by traffic wardens that the wardens have orders not to ticket these lorries. And the wardens are selective. If there are three cars on a stretch of double yellow lines, they won’t ticket every car; rather they’ll select one at random. And nowadays they ignore the untaxed cars (abandoned for so long that they are now growing mould). I’ve staggered home after a few beers to find traffic wardens ticketing cars at 12.30am on a Saturday morning.

It could be argued that they are just doing their job. Which begs the question “What is their job?” Surely their job is to ensure that traffic keeps flowing. To achieve this they should be doing their job whilst there is most traffic moving during the day? But they don’t. They come around at night and at Bank Holidays when they are on overtime rates. And what do they achieve? By victimising decent people they merely raise enough income to pay for their overtime-enhanced wages.


25 April 2008 (Friday) - Family

25 April 2008 (Friday) - Familymagnify

I’m going to wring my mother’s neck! She clucks and fusses when she hears that I’ve done the most trivial things without telling her. And I’ve just found out that she’s been in hospital in Eastbourne all week without telling me! Family !

And on that note – family !! I’ve often wondered about my ancestors. I remember my grandfather telling me he originally came from Ashford, and all the rest of the family telling me he didn’t. His mother was “auntie Granny”, and I can remember shouting “Shut Up!” at her in the street when I was very young. It transpires that “auntie Granny”’s maiden name was “Sparkes” – how appropriate! My great grandfather was something of a mystery. My Dad and aunts and uncles all remember him as being a “very private man” and apart from an apocryphal story about his being in the bath when a German bomb blew the door off during the war, no one seems to know very much about him at all.

Yesterday I made email contact with someone I originally thought was my Dad’s sister. She wasn’t - it turns out that she’s actually the wife of…… I lose track of second and third cousins and how many times removed they are. But I will think of her husband as “uncle Revill” (until otherwise advised). He’s an artist. He paints too – but far better than me. His paintings are today’s picture. Anyway, uncle Revill’s grandfather (Ernest Styles 1861 – 1949) is my great-great grandfather.

And she's given me acess to the family tree. The recorded family tree goes back to my five-greats granddad – Thomas Styles who was born some time around 1760 and died in 1837 in Latton (in Essex). (1760 ! – that’s when King George III came to the throne.) Tom’s seventh child John (born in 1802) was my four-greats granddad who got married on Christmas Day in 1823. His second son (Thomas – my three-greats granddad) married Emma who (from what I can work out) was not only his wife, but also his cousin!

I’m well impressed. That’s nine generations back from “My Boy TM” and “Daddies Little Angel TM”. And the next time there’s a trip to Lakeside I shall leave people shopping and make the short hop to Coggeshall to find my roots!


26 April 2008 (Saturday) - A Day in the Life

26 April 2008 (Saturday) - A Day in the Lifemagnify

I’m getting really hacked off with this insomnia. No matter how late I go to kip I never seem to wake up any later than 4am. Again I was up and doing ironing hours before any half-way sensible person would even have considered getting out of their pit. And then when I’ve stuff to be getting on with, I spend the rest of the day feeling shattered and falling asleep.

My sundial’s running slow. It would seem to have lost an hour in the last week. The finger of suspicion is pointing at “My Boy TM” as he seems to harbour a grudge against the unfortunate chronometer. He’s just jealous that he can’t tell the time with his “Nusham card”. You might wonder exactly what a “Nusham card” is. I do. I wish he’d speak up and stop mumbling.

The morning’s flurry of emails brought the opportunity to “Extend your copulation organ with infinite inches”. That’s nice. Mind you I can see one or two disadvantages to having an infinite nasty, but I suppose one would learn to live with it.

And then to Folkestone for a surprise birthday bash. Bearing in mind it would be rude to turn up empty-handed we took a slight detour to Tesco’s for wine, beer and cake. A smashing afternoon, even if I’ve now got a sore throat from my over-enthusiastic rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham”. Or was it the latest marvel to hit You-Tube? - Click on mankybadger.com and follow the You-Tube link. I daren't paste it here in case they close me down.

Home in time for episode four of Doctor Who. From a rather lame start, this season’s picking up nicely. I do like the new-look Sontarans, even if they have all lost a couple of feet in height. And I can’t help but wonder if Bernard Cribbens will make some comment about Daleks – after all he did meet them forty years ago.

I’ve acquired some cheap eggs and have pickled them. I wonder what they will turn out like. Tune in next bonfire night to find out….


27 April 2008 (Sunday) - The Poly Tunnel

27 April 2008 (Sunday) - The Poly Tunnelmagnify

Up again at silly o’clock. At least I had some of the latest episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” to watch. Chip soon arrived. I loaded my trusty shovel into his car, climbed in and asked where Andy was. And then I nearly had a heart attack as Andy said hello. He was sitting right behind me and I hadn’t seen him!

To Boughton Aluph to mend the poly tunnel. I had been under the impression that a poly tunnel was a subterranean thoroughfare for parrots. But it’s not. It’s a huge greenhouse, and Robert’s had a hole that needed fixing. Quite a sizeable hole. But easily fixed. All that we had to do was dig out trenches along the sides of the tunnel, chuck a roll of polythene over the top, pull it all tight and then bury the ends of the polythene in the ground.

One of the good things about blogging is that you can make the most arduous and difficult tasks seem so easy. What you’ve just read sounds so straightforward, doesn’t it?

The digging was problematical in that my shovel wasn’t up to the task. Chucking polythene over something which must be at least twelve feet high was tricky. And then we found that the new polythene wasn’t square, and we had to re-vamp the existing polythene to avoid ending up with gaps. But a couple of hours mucking about saw the thing fixed. It’s an amazing greenhouse. The day wasn’t overly hot, but inside the poly tunnel it was 42oC!

All things considered it was a morning well spent. Good exercise in the countryside. And on the way home we were going past the Flying Horse in Boughton Aluph and Robert insisted we stopped for a pint. Or two. Much as I’m a fan of the ale, there’s nothing quite like a beer after you’ve been doing heavy work. There’s a real sense of deserving that beer. Even more so than I deserve beer anyway. The Flying Horse has a wonderful view of the cricket square- I plan to sit there and drink and watch the cricket one afternoon over the summer.

And then back home - the weather forecast gave rain for the afternoon, but as I was caked in mud already, the lawn got mowed and the fence got painted whilst I waited for the downpour forecast for 1pm. It came at 5pm. Just as well I didn’t trust the BBC…


28 April 2008 (Monday) - More Ranting

Er indoors came home from bowling last night and announced that traffic wardens were coming down the road. I ask you! – 9.30pm on a Sunday night. What purpose do they think they will serve by coming along that late (other than to crank up their overtime payments)? People park on the yellow lines because the council deliberately won’t make enough parking spaces. And the wardens target the locals because they know the firms owning the lorries that cause congestion during the day won’t pay the fines. Anyway, I went out into the street and bellowed to the world at large that traffic wardens were coming, and that anyone whose car had a tyre on the yellow lines might want to move their cars. I had half a mind to follow the wardens around, bellowing my public service announcement as I went, but thought better of the idea. I expect there’s some by-law against it.

Meanwhile up north, an innocent young girl is murdered because some local thugs don’t like the clothes she’s wearing. Some of the thugs involved with the murder have been let off with only four of five years in prison.

I get so angry. Decent law abiding citizens are harassed by officialdom, and thugs are put up in prison at a cost to me and you of nearly £25 000 a year per thug. They should be executed. They really should. No second chances. If they do something this despicable, they should get put down like the rabid animal that they are. I’d pull the trigger myself, I really would. And then leave the corpse hanging somewhere obvious as a lesson to the other scratters. You wouldn’t need to blow away that many scumbags until the rest of the scumbags learned to toe the line.! I blame these bleeding heart human rights lefties. There are too many rights for the scum, and not enough human rights for the decent law-abiding citizens.

(Takes a deep breath…..)

And so to astronomy club. After a very shaky start, this club is now getting somewhere, with fifteen people in attendance tonight. We had a very interesting talk on the various features of the spring sky, and where to see them (in the sky, dur!). After the talk we had a questions and answers session. One of the new chaps asked how the influence of the spring stars was different from that of the other seasons. I could be wrong, but Venus might have been in Uranus. He then seemed to want a comprehensive explanation of exactly why astrology is a load of old “Castor and”. And then he asked what came first, the world or the universe. Drew, being the decent chap that he is, answered very politely and respectfully. Me – I was there when Sir Patrick Moore called Stevey a crackpot, so if this twonk heckles me next month, well I’ve learned from the best. And talking of next month, make a note in your diaries – Monday 19th May – extra solar planets by me!!!


29 April 2008 (Tuesday) - It's Tuesday !!!

29 April 2008 (Tuedday) - It's Tuesday !!!magnify

I thought I was in for a good meeting today. The boiler running the show had a skirt split up to her armpit, fish net stockings and rather impressive “vital organs”. But she announced herself as a “solution consultant who would drive the scenarios”. She went on to “demonstrate functionality in the play domain”. She advised me that CRN didn’t change the DOE screen, but was uncertain as to whether it would require a CCN. However she didn’t have a discharge. (Which was probably for the best) And then my heart sank when Fergus bumbled in. He had a “De turd scenario” and also had some auxiliary synonyms for the CCN.

I’m told my snoring was quite loud. We were given feedback sheets for the day. I’ve had enough of this. I said that it was a complete waste of a day – all that I got from it was some quotes for the blog, and (at best) I understood 10% of what they were talking about. Let’s hope for better for tomorrow.

The cubs were on fine form – apparently the aliens who looked like they should have been in Stargate Atlantis two weeks ago have returned, and have either broken or mended a computer.

And our usual Tuesday night sci-fi session became a bit of a booze up for some reason. Can’t think why. But Lisa and Brian did get to spit over a birthday cake. And there’s a lot less port now than when we started. But what’s booze for if not for pouring recklessly down a neck. I’ll only sleep it off during tomorrow’s meeting.



30 April 2008 (Wednesday) - William IV

30 April 2008 (Wednesday) - William IVmagnify

The “solution consultant who would drive the scenarios” was dressed somewhat more demurely today. Not so much opportunity to “observe functionality in the play domain”, but it has to be said I copped a crafty shufti at her undercrackers when she bent over. Oh yes!

Unfortunately the DCWs have emerged from the grave, but most of them would appear to be dead in the water. Let’s hope so. Today’s meeting was dull – the highlight being when my snoring became so loud as to drown out the speaker. Or so I’m told. I was asleep.

But not asleep this evening at the archaeology club. It’s strange that the last few meetings have been about really interesting subjects: the Knights Templar, medieval Canterbury, all of which have bored me to sleep by such dull speakers. Tonight’s talk didn’t seem overly impressive – the private life of King William IV. But the speaker brought the subject to life. Bill the fourth was a right beast! And his mistress was an amazing woman. And his illegitimate offspring went on to produce the current Leader of the Opposition and Adam Hart-Davies (of TV fame).

And then to the pub. The Bowl in Charing, which seems to specialise in barmaids with interesting undercrackers. Tonight’s had quite impressive “vital organs”. I’m certainly going back…