01 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Bridge over Troubled Water

01 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Bridge over Troubled Water

When not on a late start I never sleep well. Watching the clock gets rather dull after a while, and so I was up and doing the ironing by 6am. I must love it. Mind you, I needed to get up early – it took that long to walk to where my car was parked in William Road. The parking has got no better and the holes in the road aren’t getting filled in. In fact there is now a rumour circulating that the local road works will take even longer to finish because (allegedly) a foreman has been sacked for installing the wrong pipe. I wonder if it’s true.

In the early hours of 13th March I was called into work. Today I finally managed to get my time back and came home early. And spent the time mowing the lawn. I’ve decided my ozone-friendly, low carbon emission, go-green push-along lawnmower is rubbish. It’s time to get a proper electrical one that actually mows the lawn, rather than just gouging holes in the lawn every time you push the thing. I’ve also dinged out the pots and troughs of weeds. er indoors TM will probably have a cob-on about it, but she can have the front garden to do with what she will.

There’s speculation about a possible next garden project. The vague plan is to construct a subsidiary pond with a channel from the main pond, and a bridge going over the channel. Whilst I’m quite keen on the idea, the liner alone will set me back a couple of hundred quid. By the time I’ve splashed out another couple of hundred on the extra filtration and a ton on sleepers with which to edge the thing I shall be skint. The new layout will render the current decked area redundant, so I’ll need to get loads more shingle. And then I’ll need to find several more hundred quid for the bridge. And then it will be a game getting the water level of the two ponds the same. Perhaps we could have a second pond half way down the garden with a bridge over that…..


02 April 2009 (Thursday) - Ramblings

02 April 2009 (Thursday) - Ramblings

er indoors TM has got a cob-on because I dinged out her wallflower yesterday. All I can say is that it must have been a rather small and innocuous wallflower because I couldn’t see it amongst the weeds I was throwing away. I had every intention to go lawnmower shopping this evening, but when I left work I really couldn’t be bothered. Probably something to do with being up and about before 6am, I expect.

A phone call from cubs – could I get the accounts for the Alaskan trip ready for the auditors. I thought they were ready. Apparently not – there’s been an insurance refund. And some (but not all of that) of that has been divvied out as a refund. And there’s been more fundraising after the event. The books are finally ready now. And if there are any complaints, they can bog off. Whilst on the phone, I had a chat about how things are doing at Cubs - I’ve been asked to do the astronomy badge with them at the spring bank holiday sleepover. I expect I shall go along for that. I’d like to maintain a connection with the scout group, but chatting on the phone, it seems that nothing has changed – the “spanners” are still every bit as painful as ever they were.

Tonight’s Time Team was misleading. But then, isn’t the program always misleading. It follows the same formula every time - it kicks off with “Baldrick” announcing what they are looking for. “Clueless” does some geophysics and tells “Baldy” & “Yokel” where to stick their Trench One. And (as if by magic) five minutes later “the fit one” has dug up the lost treasures of the Incas, or whatever it was that “Baldrick” said they were looking for this week.

From bitter experience I have found that the reality of archaeology is somewhat different. Several hours of backbreaking digging will (if you are very lucky) give you a manky old bit of broken pot. Perhaps I should do like “Baldrick” does, and plant some finds in the hole the night before. In fact about the only thing the program has right is that there is a load of weirdoes digging a hole. If only I could persuade Baldrickand his chums that there’s Neolithic artefacts in the back garden, I might get my next pond.

Meanwhile in NeverWinter, I seem to have fallen in with some sailors. They’ve send me off on a mission to find an animal totem. I wonder what an animal totem is? I’m sure there’s more constructive stuff I could be doing with my time. Like digging my very own Trench Two….


03 April 2009 (Friday) - More Waffling...

03 April 2009 (Friday) - More Waffling...

There seems to be something wrong with Yahoo 360 – from my main page I can see that I’ve put in a new blog entry, but it takes a day or so until I can actually read that entry in the blog section. I wonder if my PC is on the way out, or whether Yahoo has gone west.

Three days late, I finally got round to archiving the last month’s blog entries. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it’s now fair to say that I do my blogging primarily for myself these days. It’s amazing how much I have done in the last few weeks that I have totally forgotten about. I couldn’t believe that I’ve only had my new phone for a month. It seems like ages. The fact that the new landlord of the Blue Anchor in Ruckinge had invited me down had completely slipped my mind. I wonder how many things I’ve done pre-blog of which I have absolutely no recollection.

We had a charity raffle at work today. People have for months been bringing in all sorts of unwanted tat to be raffled off, and today was the big day. With hundreds of prizes, and a draw taking over an hour to call, I won absolutely nothing. So, to cheer me up, one of my lads changed the wallpaper picture on my PC. Jamie Oliver with a fish. That was nice of him…

And so home. Everyone has shoved off and left me, so I settled down to a South-Park-a-thon which, if nothing else, wasted a couple of hours. But er indoors TM will be sorry she missed the guinea pigs.


04 April 2009 (Saturday) - Westfield, Hastings, Pub Quiz

04 April 2009 (Saturday) - Westfield, Hastings, Pub Quiz

To Westfield to see my father-in-law’s latest acquisition. A four bedroomed house. Whilst there’s a lot of work to be done to the house, both inside and out, it will be good when it’s done. There’s talk of going back next weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m busy next weekend. Whilst we were in the area we popped into the local pub. Scoring 8.5/10 on Beer in the Evening, it is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while. It’s another of those pubs that I’ve been driving past for years, and will continue to keep driving past in future. The ale selection was good, with two beers I’ve never heard of before. But the food wasn’t anything special, and I absolutely loathe what I call a “local’s pub”. The pub might not be busy, but the locals are all at the bar and make sure that you can’t get to the bar.

After a couple of pints and a burger it was back to the house for the carpet fitter, who quoted a small fortune to carpet upstairs. And then on to Hastings for the fourth weekend running. My nephew had a birthday in January, and we finally got round to delivering his birthday pressie today. We left girlie types yakking, and me & my brother popped out for a crafty half of shandy. Firstly to a pub I’ve never been to before – the Duke. A bit of a youth club, but they did Old Speckled Hen on the pump. And then to the mis-named Welcome Stranger. Very welcoming if you are a Chelsea football fan. We sat in the beer garden. And finally to the Clarence where we watched the Grand National. I had a horse in the works sweepstake. I can’t remember what one it was, but I don’t suppose it won. My brother had ten quid on a horse which fell half way round. I did laugh.

And then home – and straight out again. Andy had organised a quiz for the evening. With three standard answers: Poirot”, “Oliver Cromwell” and “Escarpment” I steamed into an early lead, and eventually was pipped in the last round on some trivia about Hinge and Bracket. Next time I’ll do some revision…..


05 April 2009 (Sunday) - A Lot Less Bovver with a Hover

05 April 2009 (Sunday) - A Lot Less Bovver with a Hover

This morning I was awoken from my slumbers by the delicate tones of “My Boy TM” who gently whispered up the stairs to see if I wanted to go to the Koi shop. I suspect the people in the Koi shop (fifteen miles away) heard his gentle whisper too. But I was grateful for his prompting – for some time I have had this theory that there’s too much orange in the colouration of our fish, and we could do with some yellow in there. So we set off to get some Koi which were white and yellow. Fortunately for my stomach, Tenterden garden centre does a fried breakfast, and once that was scoffed, we were soon looking at the fish. There were some sweet little sturgeons there – only a few inches long. We asked a passing assistant the price of them. She went to find out, and came back with a list. A list of the prices of the Koi, Orfes, Shubunkins and Sarassas. It would seem that the poor child can’t tell the difference between a sturgeon and a carp. Bless her. But we eventually got the yellow Koi we wanted, and soon had them swimming round our pond at home.

And then we found that er indoors TM was unwell. She had made the unprecedented move of loading a ton of tat into her car and was taking it to the tip. Now for most people going to the tip is rather run of the mill, but to find her throwing stuff away is unheard of.

My Boy TM” then set off fishing (again) and “Daddies Little Angel TM” took over where he left off as we went in pursuit of a new lawnmower. Much as I dislike WyeVale (the place is a retard magnet) they were knocking out lawnmowers fifty quid cheaper than Bybrook Barn was. Home again, this time via McDonalds for some McDinner. Five minutes was spent putting my new flymo together, and then I mowed the lawn. In a fraction of the time it would have taken with the push-along thing. And the new one didn’t chew holes in the lawn, nor did it break my back to do the job.

And then I spent some time watching my fish. Just sitting there, watching them. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, one of the good things about keeping a blog is that you can look back and see what you did in the past. On 22nd October 2006 I wrote “we got four ghost Koi. Oh, they look so sweet, they are about two inches long, dark silver in colour, and are totally lost in the pond”. Two and a half years later these fish are now about a foot long. But still little sweeties.

Seeing as I’d been out with both fruits of my loin today, I thought I’d better spend some time with er indoors TM . She got out her rollerblades, and I left mine where they were. We had a pleasant roll/stroll up round the park. I didn’t realise that the fountain in Viccy Park had been painted. It’s amazing what happens when you’re not paying attention.

Home to be chased straight back out of the house. “Daddies Little Angel TM” was doing the hoovering and we were in the way. So I got out of the way and started on this week’s letter to the chokey. I’ve bought a nice pink folder to keep all my letters from HMP Slade. In his most recent letter he’s challenged me to hand-write a letter. I can’t see that happening somehow….



06 April 2009 (Monday) - Borrowing a Telescope

06 April 2009 (Monday) - Borrowing a Telescope

It’s not bad enough that everything these days comes with a remote control. The problem is that more often than not, the remote control is the only control there is. So when someone’s hidden/eaten/lost the remote control, then you are comprehensively stuffed. Having lain wide awake from 3am, I finally gave up and tried to put on a DVD at 5.30am. But couldn’t find the remote. Next time er indoors TM hides/eats/loses it, I shall kick her out of her pit so she can find it.

To work, which doesn’t change much, and then back home again. I was in charge of cooking dinner this evening. er indoors TM got it hot on the kitchen table, which was nice.

And then it was off to the committee meeting of the astro club. We met in Singleton Barn – a Neame pub, but with a decent selection of bottled ales. However the name is spot on – “Barn”. Oh the place was noisy, The slightest sound echoed. But we had a good meeting. Somehow or other I’ve got my hands on the club telescope and (more importantly) the instructions for the thing. I’m reliably informed you set the thing up, point it at two stars that you know the names of, and then it can find anything. It’s ideal for those who don’t know their Castor from their Pollux. I shall have a go – if I can figure it out, anyone can.

Mind you - the telescope's got a remote control too....


07 April 2009 (Tuesday) - I Wo-on - I Wo-on !!!

07 April 2009 (Tuesday) - I Wo-on - I Wo-on !!!

A lie in for me today – I didn’t wake up until 5am. Can’t be bad !!

It turns out that I had the horse that came third in the works Grand National sweepstake, Seven quid in my back bin was a result. This morning was a dull morning at work, and then to Canterbury for a meeting. I argued with senior hospital staff from all over Kent for an hour and a half about who has the most work and the least staff with which to do that work. “I’m busier than you with knobs on!” was the gist of our discussions. And then we all went back to our respective works to catch up with that which had arrived to be done whilst we were squabbling.

A couple of weeks ago I applied for a job at the hospital up the road. Last Friday I received an invitation to an interview tomorrow. I have spent the last few days in two minds as to whether I want to change jobs, or whether I even want to go to the interview, but today’s meeting has made up my mind for me. I can’t carry on wasting my time in meaningless meetings and lying awake fretting about how much work I have to do. I shall go to Chatham tomorrow and hope for the best.


08 April 2009 (Wednesday) - The End of an Era ?

08 April 2009 (Wednesday) - The End of an Era ?

I was awake and doing the ironing before 6am today. I had an early start – I didn’t want to be late for my interview. Having been to the Medway Maritime hospital several times over the last couple of years, today I took a wrong turning and got lost.

There is something odd about being interviewed by people you already know, and some of the people on the panel were understandably wondering what I was doing by applying for a job two grades below my current job. Fortunately there was one on the panel who knew exactly where I was coming from – she’d done the same herself. I felt the interview went well, and I was offered the job. There is a slight query about whereabouts on the pay scale I would be placed, and I will be told that on Tuesday, which is when I have to give them my decision. But I think I’m pretty much decided.

On the minus side is a lot less money – a basic pay which is only 75% of what I currently get. However being on a lower grade I would have the chance to do overtime to make it up. On my current grade, overtime is done unpaid. But then I spend too much money on beer anyway. I was hoping to work slightly flexible hours – the working day would be 9.30am to 6pm. So I would leave home later than I do at the moment, and probably get home earlier too. The travel will cost more than I do at the moment, but there is always the possibility of car sharing – something they seem to actively encourage.

But what made my mind up was the reception I had when I got back to work after the interview. I’d been gone for some three hours, and came back to placate a list of petty whinges, gripes and grievances as long as my arm. Were I to take this job, I wouldn’t have any of that sort of aggro. I will be doing the job I’ve trained for years to do – doing blood tests. All the worries about running the department, managing people and problems, staffing shortages and sickness will be somebody else’s worry, and that somebody else would be welcome to them. I’ve tried being the boss for nine years now. I’ve given it a fair shot, but I hate it – I’m not a manager.

I told my current bosses my news, and I think it fair to say that eggs were laid. Within minutes there was talk of creating a new post for me. It was suggested that I become a full time training officer. But were I still working at the same place, I would still be given all the problems that have me lying awake all night, every night. After all, in 2000 I was given a new role which lasted for six months before it was decided that my old problems were quite enough without the new role as well. I don’t have to make a decision till next week, and I shall sleep on it a few times, but I’m pretty much decided.

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09 April 2009 (Thursday) - Bills, Money and Men in Dresses

09 April 2009 (Thursday) - Bills, Money and Men in Dresses

On the one night I seem to still be asleep after 4am, I found myself awoken by a car alarm going off every few minutes from 4.30am onwards. As I was on a late start I played with the household accounts for a while. EDF have taken a one-off payment of over two hundred quid as they claim I’m not been paying enough each month. I phoned them and had a gripe. Apparently they’ve been doing my bills on estimated readings for some time. I have suggested several times they put the leccie meter outside where a meter reader can get to it, but to no avail. I read the meter myself and phoned them back, and they advised that I kept quiet as they’d underestimated my usage.

And then five minutes later they phoned back to say that the readings I’d given them were impossible. Would I check the meter again later because they thought the meter was broken. I’ve had a leccie meter go west before. I wonder why electric meters don’t like me.

I did some sums about what my money would be if and when I go to Medway. Provided I get put at the right part of the pay scale, I think I’d need to do a few weekend or night sessions or I’d be skint. I could live with that – but I can’t live with the current stress levels.

An email – “Mackenzie” (pictured above) wants to be my friend on Yahoo 360. He (!) says in his message “I took a peek though your profile and well, I liked what I saw.. :p I'm really new at this sorta thing, and don't know where to go. Maybe you could meet me later on this site I visit. Anyways, if you wanna chatting with me, you can check me over @ http://...” I seem to be attracting people who are pushing transvestite porn sites lately. I can’t help but wonder why.


10 April 2009 - Good Friday

10 April 2009 - Good Friday

It is traditional to go to Folkestone on Good Friday – seven off us set off to Chambers Bar where they have an Easter beer festival. Twelve ales and a selection of ciders and perries slipped down very nicely. There was a ginger beer, one which tasted like a strawberry mivvi, and one described as “a tad poky”. Samples of the various ales were poured over the tasting notes with a view to making a scratch ‘n’ sniff version to send into the chokey for Lukewarm. Hopefully he’ll appreciate that.

A burger and chips was scoffed, and we were joined by Hosey who had a crafty half too. We left Chambers early this time. We’d heard that the British Lion and the Guildhall were also running a beer festival. They were – sort of. The British Lion had a couple of extra beers on, and the Guildhall had a rather obscure selection on the hand pump. But then it always does. I was naively expecting them to have a wider than usual range of beers. Oh well..

From here we set off to the Lifeboat, which had Reverend James & Old Hooky – two beers you rarely (if ever) see, and it was here that one of the locals directed us to the East Cliffe Tavern. I can't work out why it's taken me so long to find this place – it’s an absolute gem. From the outside it looks like someone's house. Inside it's surprisingly spacious, and whilst they only had two ales on, Incubus and something obscure from Whitstable slipped down well. Definitely one to visit if you're in the area., which now gives Folkestone five must-visit pubs.

After this, the Park Inn by the railway station was something of a disappointment.


11 April 2009 (Saturday) - Stuff

11 April 2009 (Saturday) - Stuff

I woke up feeling a tad iffy this morning. I wonder if this is God’s way of telling me to go easy on the beer in future.

And then to work, which was dull. Very busy, very stressful, but dull. From there to Tesco’s to get an Easter Egg for er indoors TM . It would seem I’d left it a tad late as they’d sold out. Oh dear.

And then to James for a game of cards. Or not so much a game of cards as a feast with poker in between courses. Must do it again some time….


12 April 2009 (Sunday) - A Christening

12 April 2009 (Sunday) - A Christening

Best bib & tucker on, and so to church - a christening. When half way there my mobile rang – the police were just down the road from the church running a speed trap. A warning about that sort of thing is always useful, and we did smile as some plank hared past us and round the corner to where Plod was waiting for him.

We arrived at the church soon enough, and found that it wasn’t just a Christening service – we were mixed in with The Great Unwashed who were doing their standard Sunday god-bothering. The church was a tad packed out. An entertaining five minutes was spent watching the jailbait altar-girl adjusting her undercrackers before I took my pew in the back row. I was a bit too close to the organ for comfort – I wasn’t so much concerned about the volume of the thing so much as the creaking and grinding sounds emanating from it. The poor contraption was clearly in pain, had clearly seen better days and it can’t be long until it finally falls apart. I spent most of my waking parts of the service in mortal terror that the organ was about to collapse on top of me.

The service itself – what can I say? Not very much as I slept through great swathes of it. But, as with any event, the ambience of the occasion is set by the chap running the show. I am told that today’s vicar was one of those characters that people either love or loathe. He seemed to me to be rather typical of a Church of England vicar. I have a problem with the Church of England. When you go into a Catholic church there is a sense of grandeur. They want you to feel that you are going into the presence of the creator of the universe. You should be suitably awed and impressed. Which (in my humble opinion) is really what you should feel for the creator of the universe. (If there is one, but that’s another rant). I might not believe in what the left-footers preach. I might not agree with it. But I certainly admire it. With the C of E, it’s different. When the bloke running the show doesn’t take it seriously, how is anyone else supposed to? The service started off with a nervous joke from the vicar, and a plea for cash. He then glossed over a couple of spelling mistakes in the printed order of service. One amusing, one not so. And then on to the actual christening itself. As an ex-god botherer myself I know a thing or two about what the service of baptism signifies. Having the vicar freely making fun out of chucking the holy water here and there all over the congregation for a bit of a laugh wasn’t actually amusing. It just undermined the solemnity of the occasion. What should have been one of the most significant ceremonies of the church was reduced to little more than a farce. And any remaining respect I might have had evaporated as the vicar gave out sweeties as we left the church. The Catholics have a sense of respect for their faith. The C of E seems to be vaguely embarrassed by theirs.

And then it was off to Godmersham Village Hall. An amusing two minute drive was spent mostly waving to people who’d driven straight past the place and were going round the block the wrong way. On arrival at the hall we loitered around exchanging insults before wandering in for a bunfight. An interesting interlude in the gents – whilst having a tiddle a noise I can only liken to a depth charge went off inside the cubicle behind me. And then the sweetest littlest voice you ever did hear announced proudly “I done a poo!” I did laugh.

A smashing bit of dinner, a decent belt of pudding(s), sitting around chatting with friends, dozing comfortably having scoffed far too much. A really good afternoon. And then to the kitchen to help with the washing up. There were those who thought it was unusual for me to be so helpful. But they had overlooked one vital fact – the beer was kept in the kitchen. A good laugh was had over the washing up, tables and chairs tidied away, and once er indoors TM had finished all the profiteroles, all too soon it was time to go.

Home the scenic way via Brenzett to spend some time with those camping at the kite festival. Our suits raised some eyebrows – not the sort of attire one normally sees in a field. But we had a good laugh with old friends. I shall be back there tomorrow dropping off the house guest….

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13 April 2009 (Monday) - A Bank Holiday

13 April 2009 (Monday) - A Bank Holiday

The “Dave” channel has made a new three part “Red Dwarf” story which was shown over the Easter weekend. We recorded the lot onto the SkyPlus box and watched it all in one sitting last night. And I was vaguely disappointed. I can’t help but think that over eight seasons, the whole premise of the show had been done to death. Last night’s special was obviously just trying to milk more money out of a tired formula. Whilst it was watchable, it reminded me of the latest movie version of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. “Red Dwarf – Back To Earth” was OK, but I’d seen it all before. There was nothing new or original about the thing - it was just yet another tired re-make. It speaks volumes that the second episode on Saturday got less than half the viewing figures that the first episode on Friday got.

Whilst mowing the lawn this morning I listened to the people next door shouting at their dogs. It’s got so’s I can’t set foot in the back garden without next door’s dogs going mental, and then the people shouting at the dogs to stop them barking and to bring them inside. I can’t see the attraction of a dog. They need constant attention, they crap everywhere, they smell, and make the house smell. On the plus side…. Well, on the plus side is nothing that I can see really. I suppose there must be a plus, because so many people have them.

And then to Tesco’s. Last Thursday I popped in to pick up the latest South Park DVD. I played it this morning – it didn’t work. There was a great big scratch gouged into the disc. I went along this morning prepared to argue and squabble with them, but they changed it without a word. And then the new one refused to play because of an almost identical gouge in the thing. I’ll take that back tomorrow and see what happens.

A walk to the town was next on the day’s list – on the way I posted the latest missive to the chokey. I’m keeping all the letters I get from Jimbo in a nice pink folder I hope he appreciates it. Whilst printing off this most recent letter, my printer went west. So I included the test page the printer did in with the letter I sent. I’m kind like that.

On Friday Matt had told that “Pikey World” was knocking out solar powered garden lights at a quid each. Our current ones have finally packed up. I bought them three years ago from Folkestone market on Sunday June 4th 2006 (it’s amazing what you can look back to in a diary) for a fiver each, so I suppose I got my money’s worth out of them. But talking of money, three years ago the things were a fiver each. Today only a quid each. We had some McDinner, and the bargain voucher on er indoors TM’s chips entitled her to a free sundae. The bargain voucher on my chips entitled me to a free portion of fruit. Oh how she laughed. But the bargain voucher on my milk shake gave me a quid off any DVD in HMV priced over nine quid. So we went to HMV where I struggled to find a DVD I was prepared to spend more than a fiver on. I eventually settled on “Pride and Prejudice” and got angry about the price of Star Trek DVDs. Something I’d spent thirty quid on some time ago (Tuesday October 2nd 2007) was today available for only seven quid.

A quick mooch round B&Q to have a look at their doors, and to Halfords to look at girlie bikes, and then home to install the garden lights. They look really nice – that is the seven out of ten that are working do….


14 April 2009 (Tuesday) - Doctor Who, DVDs and Having a Kip

14 April 2009 (Tuesday) - Doctor Who, DVDs and Having a Kipmagnify

When I start my new job at Chatham I won’t be bothered after 9pm on my days off to be told there’s problems covering the next day’s shifts. Nor will I have to abandon my own plans to cover those shifts. Nor will I have to put up with the unpleasantness of having to have words with the person responsible.

I found myself doing an unexpected early start today, so I was awake at the crack of dawn. Instead of waiting for the alarm to go off, I thought I’d watch the latest “Doctor Who” we’d recorded on Saturday. In retrospect it wasn’t that good, but I enjoyed it at the time. I think that following the absolutely pathetic crap that was the Doctor Who Xmas special I was expecting it to be bad, and I was therefore pleasantly surprised. The new girl was a bit rubbish – after all, we’ve all seen “Tomb Raider”, but it was better than some of the more recent offerings. I can’t help they’ve made a mistake with the new format of having Doctor Who stories which are one episode long. Half a dozen half hour episodes were a much better way of doing the show.

To Tesco to change the broken South Park DVD. I couldn’t change it - they had sold out, so I got a refund, and went to Asda where, after a minor contretemps with the retards employed there I eventually got the thing. I’m not sure if it works – I put it on and fell asleep. And re-started it and fell asleep again. And again.

I get fed up with this. I’m currently reading a book at dinner and tea breaks that I’ve been waiting for months to read, and I keep nodding off. I wish I could sleep when I am supposed to be asleep…..

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15 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Dull

Following on from last week’s episode with my electricity meter, I phoned the nice people at EDF today with a new reading. It would seem that they’ve overestimated my day usage and underestimated the night. Apparently if I give their computer a day or so, it will get back to me. I’m hoping for the best here, but as always am expecting the worst.

Following on from earlier this week, I see that I’ve now got nine out of ten solar lights working. But I did see condensation in several this morning.

Some days in my life are eventful. Others not so…..


16 April 2009 (Thursday) - Leccie, New Jobs (and Cheese)

16 April 2009 (Thursday) - Leccie, New Jobs (and Cheese)

Today’s burning question at work: What is the difference between a cheesewright and a cheesemonger? And which of the two is the most up-market? Is it better to “wright” or to “mong”?

EDF’s computer has had time to ponder over my meter readings. It would seem they’ve got my day rate mixed up with my night rate. They asked why I gave them the wrong figures. They never once considered the possibility they may have stuffed it up themselves. They then wanted to know why I have an “economy seven” meter. And weren’t impressed with the answer of it was the meter they installed a few years ago. They then went off with red herrings about on-line meter readings and fixed rate electricity. Eventually I got them to tell me my account balance. It would seem that I’m over three hundred quid in credit with them. That upset them, and they went away to check the figures. They came back and asked whatever possessed me to make a one-off payment of two hundred quid last week. Somewhere along the line they seem to have overlooked the fact that my current dialogue with EDF started because they took that two hundred quid last week. Eventually they said they’d refund it, and muttered about how daft I was to make a payment only to claim it back again. If it wasn’t for the even worse experiences I’ve had with other leccie suppliers I’d shop elsewhere for my volts.

Another job offer. On the one hand I can go to Chatham and do the job for which I’ve trained, but it would cost more in petrol, I would take a pay cut and have to do night & weekend work to make up the money. On the other hand I can take a new job with my current employer overseeing the trainees in my line of work across all three hospitals in east Kent. For the same money and they’d pay my travel costs. If I could have some assurances that I’d leave my current problems behind with my current job I’d leap at it.

Perhaps I won’t be off to Medway just yet.


17 April 2009 (Friday) - Current Affairs

17 April 2009 (Friday) - Current Affairs

Apparently some woman went missing a month ago, Police have announced that a body found in a nearby river isn’t hers. There would seem to be consternation and uproar about what has happened to the missing woman (and rightly so), but there seems to be precious little interest in the body that has been found.

This isn’t an isolated event. I remember a similar case many years ago when a beloved grandmother went missing in the vicinity of Winchelsea. People were most upset that neither of the two bodies found in the river were hers. But nobody seemed particularly keen to find out who they were. And there was the case in the newspaper a while back in which a foot was found on Dover beach. A foot which went unclaimed. One can’t help but wonder how many more stiffs there are lurking around waiting to be found. Isn’t anyone concerned where they are coming from?

This evening over a fish supper we watched “Britain’s Got Talent” – not something I normally watch, but for once I felt I owed it to myself to be up to date with the latest sensation. When Susan Boyle came on screen, everyone laughed. The entire nation expected the dumpy, frumpy little woman to get booed off. But everyone sat mesmerised by possibly the best singing talent of a generation.

Which speaks volumes about how we judge people by their appearances. I’m not very proud of myself right now – I should know better…..



18 April 2009 (Saturday) - A Day at the Zoo

18 April 2009 (Saturday) - A Day at the Zoo

Let’s hope this blog entry appears – previous entries have taken a while to show, and some haven’t appeared at all until I’ve taken out all the hyperlinks….

I was shattered when I went to bed last night. I slept soundly till two o’clock, and that was it. After an hour wasted laying awake I gave up, got up, did laundry, washed up and watched DVDs for over an hour. I went back to bed shortly after 4am, but didn’t really sleep.

To Sellinge – specifically the zoo park at Port Lympne. One of my favourite zoos. But then I would say that as I’m a member of the Aspinall Foundation. I’ve been a member for a few years, and one of the perks of membership is every so often I get free entry to one of the zoos. To be honest it’s a perk I’ve never taken advantage of before. I’m happy just to support the charity, but the latest magazine said free entry anyone who turned up and brandished it. They let both me and er indoors TM in for free. That saved me twenty four quid. Much as I like the place, it ain’t cheap. Even with four quid off (each), the Wennesseys and the Hakefields stumped up about thirty quid each to get in.

We exchanged insults with some tigers and watched some newts in the pond, and then we found the face painting. I’m a sucker for face painting. It’s a shame no one else is. During the whole day at the zoo I didn’t see anyone with a painted face who wasn’t part of our group. And then we found something out of the ordinary. Some of the cameramen from the BBC’s natural history unit were giving a talk on their experiences. We wondered how the younger ones in our party would fare with the lecture, but we all sat entranced for an hour as they explained how they took weeks to get minutes of camera footage. They showed clips from the Masai Mara, the Arctic and Norfolk. There were lions eating wildebeest, tortoises fighting, salamanders getting jiggy, chicks jumping off cliffs. It was brilliant. And then we realised half the day was gone.

Back to the cars for scoff, then onward to see the aminals. Harry explained the difference between a aminal and a exhibit and off we went. In some ways I prefer Port Lympne to Howletts because there’s a wider selection of animals and they aren’t so widely spread out. But on the negaitive side, the place is built on a hillside. The “down” isn’t too bad, but there’s an awful lot of “up”. I managed to compare the meerkats, but failed utterly to distinguish between buffalo and bison. Feeding time for the gorillas was fun, but then my mobile rang. Problems at work. So as everyone else watched the silverbacks, I frantically phoned around to see if anyone else was available to assist. They weren’t. So I phoned back and said I’d be there when I got there.

We mooched around more apes, and then spent time at the ornamental pond outside the manor house. I must admit to a degree of disappointment here. If I had a lake like that, with Koi like that, I’d have a far better filtration system. But a lovely time was had by all sitting in the sun.

Pausing only briefly to scrub my face, I was soon off to work. Seething resentment. It would have been nice to have carried on somewhere after the zoo, but duty called. I consoled myself with the fact that it won’t call for much longer. An hour at work, and then home to realise my face was burning – I’d really caught the sun today. Perhaps that might mean I’ll sleep well tonight….


19 April 2009 (Sunday) - Samphire Hoe

19 April 2009 (Sunday) - Samphire Hoe

For the first time in weeks I didn’t spend half the night wide awake. So today would be the day the poxy church up the road clangs its infernal bell at silly o’clock this morning. I wouldn’t mind so much if they had a set of bells which sounded half-way decent. But they have only one bell, and that sounds like a rusty tin bath being walloped by a club-hammer.

We started the day with a pub dinner at the Royal Oak in Capel le Ferne. A strange place. The clientele were all well over sixty, the juke box was playing stuff from the 80s far too loud, and I got definite vibes of “Royston Vasey”. Whilst the locals were very welcoming, I did feel an intruder there. Especially when “Jack” came in. I don’t know who Jack was, but everyone else in the pub did, and made great show of welcoming him. Scary ! But the food was OK. Two Sunday roasts, and drinks for thirteen quid. Can’t be bad. The place had a meat raffle for those who like that sort of thing. I understand some of my loyal readership appreciate such niceties.

And then on to Samphire Hoe. If you were to compare maps of Kent from twenty years ago to today’s map, you’ll notice a difference. Nowadays there is a great big lump of land between Folkestone and Dover where only a few years ago was sea. Whilst digging the Channel Tunnel, the contractors found they had a spare five million cubic metres of chalk, soil and assorted rock. I remember having a spare one cubic metre of soil and being rather stumped as to what to do with it. Anyway, they bunged it all at the bottom of the white cliffs and created a park. It’s a tad desolate, but ideal for a walk. We mooched about for a couple of hours, investigated rock pools, found crabs, and laughed as I got a text from 3 telling me how cheap international calls were now that I was in France. I didn’t realise we were that far south. And then er indoors TM ‘s phone set itself to French time for no apparent reason. We must have walked a few miles up and down, to and fro before making our way back to the car.

I had this idea that from the Lighthouse Inn we could look down onto the Hoe. I was wrong. We couldn’t. So we sat on the decking and sniggered at the pikey family sharing out Easter eggs instead.

We needed some shopping, so we stopped off at Tescos which has improved beyond all recognition. Today would seem to be “flaunt your jubblies” day. I’m going back later.

And then home. Where I had a load of chores waiting for me. Washing up, laundry, ironing, lawn mowing. I expect those jobs will all still be there tomorrow….


20 April 2009 (Monday) - Another Dull Day

The highlight of the day was a discussion at work as to precisely how lame sushi was. A discussion decided by one of my blokes going to Tesco’s to get some for his lunch. The fact that he was intending to have “lunch” and not “dinner” probably speaks volumes about the lameness of sushi, but what do I know? I was told that sushi was “very nice”, but there was no denying the chap had also bought a meat sandwich as an “emergency back-up lunch”.

I came home early from work to mow the lawn. er indoors TM has bought me a load more of the solar powered lights. I really should put them out in the garden. And I really should think about unblocking the pond filter before it clags up again.

Sushi, lawn mowing, fish poo. Today has been dull…..


21 April 2009 (Tuesday) - Barbecues in the Dark

21 April 2009 (Tuesday) - Barbecues in the Dark

A late start, and what better way to spend my valuable few remaining years (26 ½ according to the Death Clock dot com) than doing everyone else’s washing-up and laundry? I must love it. Perhaps it’s a hereditary thing – my mother actually does love doing the housework, and I had an aunt who lived alone and spent most of the day out of the house, but still hoovered twice a day. I’ve been muttering for years about employing a cleaner. Perhaps I should?

And then to NeverWinter whilst my health still holds up. I see that the star of stage and screen Matthew Perry has knacked his hand on computer games. I say “star of stage and screen” – he’s not actually been in anything I’ve ever watched. I thought he was “Inspector Gadget”, but that was Matthew SomeoneElse. What do I know?

After work I was dispatched to collect “Daddies Little Angel TM” from Wye College. A huge place, utterly deserted. Every light in all of the buildings was out - except one. There were two women sitting in a room, chatting and deliberately ignoring my knocking on the door. After half an hour’s thumping I gave up and walked back to the car only to hear a shout from behind me. I’d been in the right place all along. Had either of those two women not been so bloody rude as to have ignored me for half an hour and if either could have been bothered to have gotten up off their fat arses to see what I wanted….

Home to a barby which was being held far too late. I had this idea to have a barby straight after work, but by the time I’d been messed about in Wye it was well past 9pm. Next time we’ll start at 7pm and collect people afterwards….


22 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Head Bangers

22 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Head Bangers

About a month ago I emailed Yahoo 360 about the rumours of their closure. Today I got a reply. An automated reply which utterly failed to answer my question. So I replied straight away and got another equally useless reply. Still, getting a reply is better than nothing. I could do with a reply on the job front. For all that I am supposed to take up a new role in ten days time; I’ve still to have any written confirmation.

A passenger to keep me company on the way to work today – “Daddies Little Angel TM” went for a once-over. Following an altercation with a brick wall last night, and a morning of dizziness and vomiting, it was decided that a trip to the hospital might be a good idea. Medically she’s been given the thumbs-up, but she wasn’t happy to be given a leaflet about head injuries in children.

And in the news I see today was budget day. Those who understand such things disagree with the long term viability of the Chancellor’s decisions. From my rather naive perspective it seems more of the same – stick more tax on booze, fags and petrol and tax the rich even more. It’s odd that every year the Chancellor (whoever it is each year) needs more money so he does the same thing. Booze, fags and petrol are easy targets – people keep on buying them so taxing them is easy money. But taxing the highest earners? Does that help the country? In the first instance in brings in some bunce, but in the long run it’s counter-productive. Why should people go out of their way to work so hard to lose half their money in tax?

But what hacks me off is the new car scrappage scheme. If I’d hung on to my Espace for an extra year I could have had 25% off of the price of my current car. I shall sulk about that….


23 April 2009 (Thursday) - St George's Day

23 April 2009 (Thursday) - St George's Day

Today is St George’s day. England’s national day. I mention this because it’s passed off largely unnoticed. Whenever there’s some sporting fixture, the Great Unwashed are out hollering about “Ing-Ur-Lund” and waving the flag of St George. Surveys have shown that most of the Swarming Hoardes thing that it’s the flag of London that they are waving, but that’s another rant. However, on our national day – nothing. Compare this to St Patrick ’s Day – Guinness Frenzy all the way. And did you know that on Facebook there is a SuperPoke for celebrating St George’s day. I received that poke once. From an Australian. Oh well – it’s clear that nobody cares, so why should I? (Goes and lays down until the red mist clears…)

I started the day with a Facebook wotsit – “The First Five Cars I’ve Owned”. I can’t help but wonder about the word “first”. I’ve only ever had five cars. And (in all honesty) four of them were heaps – which is probably why I’m so ecstatic about my current vehicle. But it’s made me think – how many cars has the average person had by the time they reach their mid-40s?

To work – where I was a little concerned. It’s no secret that when I go into the loo I take a copy of Viz with me. There’s nothing like good literature, and Viz is nothing like good literature. Someone had left their reading material behind in the works cludgee. Grant’s textbook of Anatomy. I can only hope they weren’t using it for instructions on how to drop a mud shark….


24 April 2009 (Friday) - Astro Club

24 April 2009 (Friday) - Astro Club

Everyone at the astronomy club has their role. There’s a nice lady who buzzes round welcoming people, chatting with people and making everyone feel welcome. She’s good at it. There’s a chap who stands at the front and is “the public face” of the club. Friendly and knowledgeable, respected by all. Me – I shout a lot whilst selling raffle tickets, and count the profit afterwards. And there’s this chap called Jason who does everything else. And I mean “everything”. It’s not until someone like that goes on holiday that you realise just what they do. At the last committee meeting I blithely announced that since he would be away, I’d set up. So I was well on the way to Woodchurch before I even considered the concept of needing milk & biccies. Getting into the hall is a caper. You collect the keys from the caretaker. Or specifically from a biscuit tin in the caretaker’s front garden. I couldn’t believe it – how trusting is that? You don’t even speak to the caretaker. Just help yourself to the keys in the tin, and put them back when you’re done.

I parked up, put the water (for tea & coffee) on to boil, put out chairs and tables, and stuck up a few posters. How easy to type – it took half an hour, and I worked up quite a sweat. And then a nerve-wracking wait. Having spent half an hour preparing, I had this fear that no one would turn up. And then panic – raffle prizes. Where on earth were they? Normally they are just “there”. As if by magic they are normally in the corner and I just hawk them to the punters. I found some astronomy books in with some posters. I hope they were the raffle prizes, because it was those books that I hawked out.

Eventually people arrived, and (as always) a great time was had by all. The results of the photography competition was announced. er indoors TM won. Fix!!! A talk about radio astronomy (I learned loads), one chap brought along his new telescope which took three of us to carry it, a great laugh with the raffle (which I won – and did the victory dance) and fun looking at stuff in a very clear sky. Clearing away didn’t take long, and then home via a biscuit tin in a garden, and then via Folkestone with Stevey.

In the past I’ve turned up to a hall already set up, and gone home leaving it behind. Now I have an inkling of what Jason does every month……

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25 April 2009 (Saturday) - Worn Out

25 April 2009 (Saturday) - Worn Out

I was awoken at about 8pm by an electronic bleeping. er indoors TM had a text message. Five minutes later the bleep went off again. Another text. And then another. And another. By 9.30am I was getting fed up with this. And then I realised it wasn’t her phone getting texts – it was my phone with a flat battery alarm. Oh how I laughed.

And then we wandered down to Ellingham industrial estate. There’s a bike shop there. I never knew that. We acquired the er indoors TM – cycle. I see the archaic art of bike rides being resurrected in the near future. I wonder what happened to my padded shorts?

And then to Brian’s garden. It had gotten a tad overgrown in the months since we’d last worked on it, Whilst I dug the borders, Brian strimmed and mowed until smoke came out of the strimmer. Quite literally. I must admit I’d thought I could catch whiffs of burning every now and then, and suddenly there were clouds of blue smoke coming out of it. After we finished laughing and the poor thing had cooled down, Brian carried on strimming. It doesn’t seem to be any the worse for its ordeal. I then found a tree stump that needed to be removed. I dug round it and then carefully applied a measured and calculated amount of gentle force. The pick axe snapped. They don’t make them like they used to. It has to be said that Brian’s garden is hard on the tools. To date it has won the fight against two shovels, two strimmers, a lawn mower and a pick axe. I’m not sure how I’m going to get that stump out of the ground, but it can’t stay there. That would mean the garden had won, and we can’t have that.

He’s slowly coming round to the idea of a water feature. Softly, softly catchee monkey….

And then having spent all day on physical labour and when I was on the point of collapse, the pond’s fish poo filter needed cleaning out…..


26 April 2009 (Sunday) - Another Busy Day

26 April 2009 (Sunday) - Another Busy Day

I wondered what the time was when I woke up – and found the alarm clock flashing. For some reason we’d had a power cut this morning. All the clocks had been reset sometime around 8am. I wonder what that was all about?

The provisional plan for today was arky-ologee. However, after yesterday’s gardening I could barely move, so that idea was swiftly knocked on the head. After a quick bite of brekky we set off to Decathlon. Apparently they do the sexiest cycle helmets there. I couldn’t see what was wrong with the one in the shop down the road, but what do I know? Whilst we were at it I bought er indoors TM a padded saddle. It’s a kindness in the long run. I also spent quite a bit of time looking at their pop-up tents. They had one which was over six feet high when popped up. Very easy to pop up, but I’m a tad dubious about putting the thing away afterwards.

Home via a new Koi shop I found on the Internet – well actually we found it somewhere near Gravesend. The fish were nice, but they weren’t cheap. Fish that I can buy locally for fifteen quid each were being knocked out at forty quid. They also had some HUGE Koi for sale at five thousand pounds each. I got chatting with the man behind the counter. He told me that they regularly sold such fish. I contented myself with a tub of blanket weed remover.

Fortunately for me the Koi shop was next door to a pub. Manor Farm Barn did a decent Sunday roast. A shame the place was a Shepherd Neame pub – their beers are somewhat predictable. There was also a farm shop where I picked up some goose eggs to pickle, and then we had a wander round the duck pond. On the way home we drove past two other aquatic shops and several pubs. One claiming to offer twenty cask ales. Perhaps we might revisit the area in the near future.

Home to find “Daddies Little Angel TM” had completed her time-line. She had a project based on the history of art, and the time-line goes from the front door, along the hall, up the stairs and through the back room. I’m impressed. And then to mow the lawn. I think in retrospect yesterday’s strimming of Brian’s garden was too much for the poor strimmer. To say that the thing overheated this afternoon would be an understatement. I’ve put its (still smoking) carcass out for the dustmen, and will get a new one soon. I also popped the blanket weed cure into the pond. The pond has now gone completely murky. But it did say on the packet that this might happen. It should clear in a day or so. We shall see.

And then we applied the padded saddle to er indoors TM ‘s bike and took our bikes for a quick spin around the park. I think she needs to work on “gracefully alighting” as opposed to “falling off in a heap”. Perhaps it is a skill that will come with practice….


27 April 2009 (Monday) - Dull

Again I was up and ironing before 6am. Still, if nothing else it gives me some time when I can watch a DVD in peace and quiet.

Yesterday I took a photo of my push-along lawnmower with a view to putting it on eBay. I was going to do that this evening, but I can’t be bothered. Maybe later, but not today. I also need to work on my presentation for the astronomy club’s next meeting, but again I can’t be arsed. Apathy rules, today. I expect it’s a subconscious reaction following a rather busy weekend.

An early start at work meant for an early finish, and so I came home via B&Q to pick up a new strimmer. Earlier in the year they had some for about a tenner each. Now when I actaully want one, they start at twenty quid. I also bought five metres of springy plug hole unblocker. And brought both home, only to have to leave them in their boxes. It’s pouring hard with rain outside. I shall spend some time in NeverWinter….


28 April 2009 (Tuesday) - More Dull

On booting my PC today it found new hardware – a “multimedia video controller”. It asked me to insert the CD that came with the device. I had no CD as I hadn’t actually installed anything new. I wonder what that’s all about? And then my email password check failed. Either one of the fruits of my loin has been at the computer, or the thing’s on the way out. It has started making random beeping noises for no adequately explained reason. Perhaps it’s taking a tip from the strimmer.

Meanwhile the road is still dug up outside, and now smells rather strongly of gas. Despite having phoned the gas board, no one’s shown up, and it still smells four hours later. I wonder if the road will blow up overnight….


29 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Assorted Rambling

29 April 2009 (Wednesday) - Assorted Rambling

Things are looking up for next Monday – “Jack in the Green” in Hastings. I’m not entirely sure what goes on. I think there’s a procession and Morris Dancers (!) but my sister-in-law raves about it, so it will probably be a good day out. Family and friends, processions and beer, can’t be bad. I expect I shall have a crafty half at some point during the day - the FILO has put on a special ale for the day, as have the Shepherd Neame brewery. The fact that a Kent brewer has made a special beer for the occasion seems to have upset the locals. What a shame. I shall be drinking it.

Meanwhile, as far as I am concerned, the recession is officially over, and the British economy is booming. How else would the Government be able to afford to leaflet every house in the UK with information we already know about the latest flu outbreak.

On Facebook I’ve made a quiz all about me. Go on – tune in and have a go. I’ll give you a clue – none of the answers are “Yorkshire”.

And then to the arky-ologee club. Tonight’s talk was on the amorous exploits of Horatio Nelson. He was a saucy beast, you know. One of the club members is in the Horatio fan club and has managed to get some of the letters he sent to his floozie. Racy stuff!!! I’ve also half-agreed to go digging with them this weekend. Apparently as well as geophysics, you can find artefacts by dousing. I’m up for that – all I need is a dousing stick. I’m reliably informed that a metal coat hanger would do the job. I’ll see if I can find one in the next day or so, and then I’ll march across the fields waiting to get a twitch. If nothing else it will be something to look forward to…



30 April 2009 (Thursday) - A Busy Day

30 April 2009 (Thursday) - A Busy Day

As always I was up with the lark today. I’ve been watching my DVDs of the TV series “Auf Wedersehn Pet” over the last few weeks (all five seasons), and this morning I finished watching the last one. It’s not everyone’s favourite programme, but I like it. The burning question is which DVD set should I watch next.

To work for an early start. As I drove down the road, so the rain started. So much for putting the washing out this morning. After an hour I then adjourned to Canterbury for a meeting. I love meetings. Everyone comes out with the same tired old grumbles about everything. We’ve heard it all before, and we’ll hear it all again. I then chatted with my boss about my new job. It’s funny how things change in a week or so. Originally having been offered a new post supervising the trainees, now I’m on a three month secondment project to see if there is a need for such a post. And if there is, I can then apply for it along with everyone else who’s keen to do the job. If that had been made clear a few weeks ago, I wonder if I might have taken the job at Medway after all….

And then home via WyeVale in Canterbury. Having been told they had new Koi in, I thought I’d have a look. As always, WyeVale was retard central. It never fails to amaze me how rude those in the retail sector can be. When a prospective customer asks the price of something expensive, you’d think the staff member would have the good grace to at least turn its head in the right direction before snapping out an answer. I shall take my money elsewhere.

I’d decided to take the afternoon off. I had this plan to have a few hours’ peace and quiet, but came home to find “Daddies Little Angel TM” and her mate already there. Apparently they’d done with college for today – it’s a consolidation week (whatever that might be). So I sent them up the KFC for our scoff. And then an hour later “My Boy TM” came home wondering where his KFC was – utterly oblivious to the fact that he let me watch him eating his KFC last week without a care.

To the scout hut for the AGM. As I walked in I realised I quite missed the place. But then they played a video of the year’s activities. In the background of every picture were one or two surly miserable-looking little spanners. That reminded me I’m best off out of it. Again the subject of the paper collection fundraising was brought up. One of the more outspoken parents pointed out how farcical it was having ten tons of newspaper being gathered up by the disabled, the ill, and the pensioners. Where were all the parents who every month are asked to help? Clearly parents don’t want to fundraise, so why not charge more subs? And again the concept of putting up the subs was shot down on flames by those who want to run themselves ragged fundraising to subsidise people better off than themselves. It was pointed out that the subs haven’t been raised in over ten years. The weekly sub is £1.50 for two hours. Compare that with any other after school activity which is a fiver an hour. But why should I get involved – not my problem.

The treasurer is looking to step down. Perhaps that’s something I could do – I can count the money….