1 April 2023 (Saturday) - Family Day
Apart from nearly squishing Bailey when I rolled over in the small hours, the dogs weren’t a problem last night.
I got up, made toast and had a look at the Internet. There was quite a bit of April Fool’s nonsense this morning; more than I remember seeing last year. And I had another dubious friend request on Facebook. This one claimed to be in need of a serious relationship, and in her profile picture was taking her trousers off to reveal rather girlie undercrackers. It has to be said that undercrackers made of lace are rather more feminine than the leather and latex things brandished by the average dubious friend request I seem to get… but nice girls don’t show off their undercrackers.
We got ourselves organized and drove round to Dog Club. Despite the rain having stopped overnight, the field was like a swamp. The usual area in which we congregate was thick with mud, so we all milled around on higher ground… which was also thick with mud. As were many of the dogs.
Treacle had one or two grumps, but tolerated the other dogs reasonably well, and even went and sniffed one or two bums. It was a shame that Bailey and Morgan both escaped the field, but they were both eventually captured and returned.
We drove home listening to Steve on the radio and tried to work out the mystery year competition. From all the clues I had it narrowed down to either 1975 or 1976…It was 1979.
With mud washed from the dogs we settled them and headed off to Folkestone. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was having a driving lesson and we had to supervise the littluns. I sat with “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” who was showing me his pandemic simulator on the Play Station. He managed to survive one pandemic, but the second one (a tad more virulent) caused a total collapse of civilisation, which he considered to be “a pain in the glass”. “er indoors TM” was charged with supervising “Darcie Waa Waa TM” who was surprisingly noisy for one so small.
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” returned from her driving lesson, and I drove everyone round to McDonalds for McLunch. There had been talk of going to the Beefeater, but the grandchildren get bored. With Maccy D you’ve had your food, eaten it, and gone in less time than it takes for the waitress in Beefeater to come and take the order.
As it was almost next door we went to “Pets At Home” as “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” wanted more tropical fish… Here’s a thought. Is it my imagination or are there far fewer places selling tropical fish than there ever used to be? When we lived in Folkestone (admittedly a lifetime ago) we kept fish and there was no shortage of places to get fish within walking distance. These days there’s “Pets at Home” and that’s it.
We got dog food whilst we were there…
Dropping “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and her tribe off we came home. I spent a few hours working on my next Wherigo project: “Astronomy for Dogs”. After an age I’d created maybe two minutes of game play.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a couple of pizzas which we scoffed whilst watching the last episode of “Outsiders”. I quite liked that show. I wonder what we’ll watch next… It’s not like we’ve any shortage of stuff to watch.
2 April 2023 (Sunday) - Before The Night Shift
I slept for over nine hours last night. That was something of a result. I made toast and as I perused the Internet I saw that the geo-Feds have given the thumbs-up to my next Wherigo project, which was something of a result.
There wasn’t much else happening on social media really; had no one done anything yesterday?
With nothing on the agenda for this morning I went into the garden and started that ultimately futile pastime which is gardening. First of all (despite having done so yesterday) I harvested a bumper crop of dog turds, then mowed the lawn. A mowed lawn makes spotting dog turds so much easier. As I mowed I found half a dozen more dog turds that had evaded me earlier.
It is depressing thinking about what a large part of my life is devoted to dog dung.
I then got out the garden vacuum and sorted out the yard, and then got on my hands and knees and weeded the yard and the gravelled bits of the garden. Despite putting down the weed-resistant membranes, weeds still grow through them.
Next was the cordyline. Its leaves had all gone manky over the winter. Expert advice said to cut the top off and that a new top would grow again. I can’t say I’m convinced, but time will tell; it always does.
Pausing only briefly to hang washing out, I then turned on the pond pumps. There’s an issue with the pond filters in that one run far better than the other. I can’t see any obvious issue, but the slow-running one is the one with the piping from when we originally set the pond up all those years ago. Perhaps the piping needs replacing?
The palm tree looks dead. I shall give it until I’m convinced which way the cordyline has gone.
The monkey puzzle tree has got something of a ladybird infestation. Is this good or bad? Expert opinion is rather vague on the matter.
After three hours the garden looked just the same as when I’d started, but I was feeling rather knackered. I’ve got a list of all sorts of things still to be done in the garden, but they will keep.
I had a shower, and whilst “er indoors TM” took the dogs to the park for whistle training I went to bed for the afternoon and had a rather vivid nightmare (afternoon-mare?) in which all the controls fell off of the car as I was driving to work.
Let’s hope that’s not prophetic.
I spent an hour or so on my current Wherigo project, then “er indoors TM” boiled up a bit of dinner.
I’m off to the night shift in a bit. And again I’ve spent an entire day before a night shift with a sense of just killing time until I have to go to work, fretting abut having to go to work, and am going to work with a sense of having wasted a day.
3 April 2023 (Monday) - Bit Tired
I wouldn’t say that last night’s night shift was busy, but the work was constant. It was with something of a sense of relief that I saw the early shift arrive.
I drove home listening to the radio with sadness. There was an article on the radio about how some woman had lain dead in a flat for over two years, and somehow or other the death had gone unnoticed.
The saddest part of all this is that clearly the dead woman had no friends or family who noticed she’d gone.
I was reminded of one of my old school’s science teachers who went home from school at the start of the school summer holiday and dropped dead. It was only when he didn’t go back to school in September that anyone missed the chap.
How can there be so many lonely people?
I had a shave and a shower, and took myself off to bed. The puppies soon followed, and the three of us lay there for an hour. We would doze off, and after a couple of minutes Treacle would then have a barking fit for absolutely no reason whatsoever. After an hour I tired of this, got up, and walked the dogs round the block. What with today being the start of the Munzee Clan War I thought I might make a start. I got a QrewZee and a Qrate (which was a result).
We came home where I made a start on laundry. In between watching the last episode of “Downton Abbey” I loaded the washing machine, hung laundry on the line and ironed shirts.
Now I’ve watched all of “Downton Abbey” I wonder what I will watch next?
With the back door and all the windows wide open (to try to air the house through) I watched some episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which some restauranteur from the Peak District lambasted some pub landlord from the midlands for having a cobweb on their ceiling when his lavatory seat had bright yellow piss stains and his bog-brush had a turd on it. If you want to see hypocrisy in action, this is the show to watch.
During an advert break I had a message from my grandson “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” who (knowing his granddad is a biomedical scientist) was wanting to know how to create “friendly bioweapons”. I’m hoping this is connected with his pandemic simulator PlayStation game and not an early attempt at world domination.
I then spent an hour or so on my next Wherigo project. I’ve now got four out of six play zones completed.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner (as she does) which we scoffed watching the final of “Lego Masters: Australia”.
That’s another show we’ve finished watching…
I’m feeling worn out…
4 April 2023 (Tuesday) - Before the Late Shift
I woke feeling like death warmed up. I really ached;
what was that all about? Leaving “er indoors TM” and the
dogs fast asleep I got up, made toast and had my
usual rummage round the Internet. I had an email - my leccie
and gas bill was ready to view… so I viewed it.
They told me I was on the cheapest tariff (well, they would, wouldn’t they?), and they said that (based on current usage), next year they reckon I’ll spend thirty quid less on leccie and seven quid more on gas. I suppose that thirty quid a year less on leccie is a step in the right direction, but realistically two pounds fifty off of the monthly bill of two hundred quid is little more than pissing in the wind. The trouble is that (apart from the fish pond) we don’t really have very much which is leccie-intensive so there’s not that much on which I can economise.
I chivvied the dogs into the garden to do what dogs do, and had a look at the pond. The water level is pretty much what it was when I turned it all on two days ago. Last year I thought I had a leak, but I did wonder if the cascade arrangement (which has now gone) was somehow losing water through leaks or splashes. I think it’s safe to say that the water loss was because of that cascade I’ve now got rid of. Not having a leak is something of a result.
But there is clearly nowhere near enough water going to the right-hand pump, and I don’t think the ultra-violet light in either filter is working.
I spent an hour or so on my current Wherigo project, and then had a stroke of genius (modesty, eh?) about how to proceed with the next bit. But bearing in mind how long that will take, I turned the lap-top off. I’ll do that bit later.
“er indoors TM” and I loaded the dogs into my car and I set off to Penenden Heath. “er indoors TM” followed in her car... or so I thought. She overtook me on the motorway, but went to the wrong place so I ended up waiting for her anyway. I did chuckle.
As part of this month's Munzee Clan War our clan (between us all) has to scan five hundred of a certain sort of bar code stuck to a lamp post (it isn't anywhere near as dull as it sounds!) Looking at the map it seemed that Penenden Heath would be a good place to do this; because there were lots of bar codes to scan and because it was on my way to work. With “er indoors TM” being between jobs she was at something of a loose end, so she came along, and the dogs needed a walk anyway.
We had a good Munz session. It would have been better had Morgan not been pulling like a train the entire time. But we walked and Munzed for an hour; Munzing over half our Clan contribution for Greenies (as one does). As we walked and Munzed we met an inflatable Easter Bunny sitting in someone's front garden. We've had an Easter tree before (during lockdown), but never an inflatable Easter Bunny. I'd quite like one.; they are only forty-five quid on eBay.
Surprisingly no dogs barked at it.
We had a go at a geocache as we walked. It wasn't there.
With Munzing Munzed I helped “er indoors TM” load the dogs into her car, and as they went home so I set off for the late shift. The late shift was rather busier than I would have liked; the amount of work outstanding half an hour before the core shift went home was about what a day's work for the entire department was back when I first started this job. And the department (in the now-demolished Royal East Sussex Hospital) had about twice the staff too…
5 April 2023 (Wednesday) - A Glass of Hock
After one of the worst nights I've had for a long time (and that's up against some pretty stiff competition) I gave up trying to sleep. Over a brekkie of Slimfast choccie shake I sparked up the telly and put something new on Netflix... I say "new" - "Shameless" is nearly twenty years old. It is one of those many shows I've been meaning to watch for some time. The first episode was rather good. Here's hoping for the rest being in the same vein.
Pausing only briefly to scrape the ice from my car I set off on a mini-Munzee mission. I capped fourteen points of interest and then headed work-wards. As I drove there was loads of talk on the radio about the upcoming local government elections. Apparently the Green Party is looking set to do well across the country... presumably because public confidence in the Conservatives is on the low side (to say the least), the Labour Party has nothing to say for itself other than that they (probably) aren't as bad as the Conservatives, and the Dribbling Democraps had their chance and blew it big-time. Will the Greens be any good? Who knows. Locally they came in last place in the most recent elections, but with only a twenty-eight per cent turn-out, it is all to play for. Mind you, locally the Green Party isn't so much a political movement as something of a clique which you are either "in" or you are not. But as I've said before, we get the councilors we deserve. If I'm not standing for election, can I really complain about that which is done (or not done) by those who are making the effort to stand?
As I drove in to the works car park so some vicar was spouting utter crap on the "Thought for the Day" bit. She started off laughing at long-established science, and then tried to present her superstitious claptrap as a self-evident truth.
I was surprised that the BBC allowed her to present laughable nonsense as being more plausible than proven fact. But that's what vicars do, isn't it? It bothers me that today, in the third decade of the twenty-first century, people still believe in religious mumbo-jumbo which after only a moment's thought is immediately exposed as wrong in every respect. How is this possible?
I can't help but think that the righteous have persisted by being just that; "righteous". In claiming the moral high ground, the righteous have put their laughable fairy stories on a par with doing the decent thing. In the public perception morality goes hand-in-hand with religion. It is such a shame that the general public don't seem to realise that "doing the decent thing" is something which is proper and correct in its own right. It doesn't need to be done because of fear of retribution in a hypothetical afterlife, or out of a sense of sucking up to the Almighty.
Work was work. Something of a dull day I suppose. I regaled the trainees with tales of the Forssman antigen; antibodies to which are diagnostic of glandular fever . Both antigens are present on the red blood cells of horse and sheep but guinea pig kidney cells have only the Forssman antigen. Back in the day we used to mix human blood with mashed guinea pig kidney and horses' blood if we suspected glandular fever. How times have changed.
I spent much of the afternoon wondering about how the viewing of Dad's house was going. Two different people were going to have a look at it today. Dad's house hasn't been on the market for two weeks; am I being impatient in wondering why it hasn't sold yet?
With this in mind I found myself laughing at Kent Online. They don't have much of a reputation in the local Facebook newsgroups. They are now claiming that house prices are rocketing in coastal towns in Kent. They certainly don't seem to be doing that across the border in Sussex.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s Hock as we watched a few episodes of “Richard Osman’s House of Games”.
The bottle of Hock has compounded the poor night’s sleep. I’m knackered… But not as knackered as the shedder which “er indoors TM” has just poggered. The poor thing was making some very odd noises… it’s not making any noise at all now…
6 April 203 (Thursday) - A Rather Good Dinner
I slept better last night than I did the night before. However I again had to contend with what I can only describe as "The Treacle Issue". Treacle has figured out there is more room at the bottom of the bed than at the top, so she sleeps there. However where my feet warm the bed, so she oh-so-slowly gently pushes my feet over so she can get to the warm spot. And then as my feet warm up the next area of bed so she oh-so-slowly moves over a bit more, pushing my feet again. Eventually I wake as my feet fall off of the bed, when I shift her a yard or so to the left, and we start again.
I got up, had a shave and (armed with a Slimfast shake) sparked up the telly. Being silly-early there was nothing but hour-long adverts on. I found myself entranced by one such advert (I dare not mention the brand name in case the manufacturer gets the arse with me). Have you ever watched these "infomercials"? I find the things captivating. This morning there was some very enthusiastic bloke banging on about how good his food blender was; he was ably assisted by a grinning bimbo (who used to advertise car finance). I was fascinated... until the pair of them went into raptures about the health giving properties of kale (which they took pains to point out was a cruciferous vegetable). I suddenly realised (with something of a shock) that I'd been suckered in to their world, and took that as my cue to put on something less dire.
I turned to Netflix and watched an episode of "Shameless" instead. It was rather good, but... the plot hinged on someone or other getting from Manchester to Calais and back in one night. Thirty seconds on Google Maps shows us that such a journey is just a tad ambitious.
Driving through the rain I set off up the motorway listening to the pundits on the radio. There was a lot of talk about threatened shake-ups in the Metropolitan Police Force, and getting rid of coppers who aren't quite up to the required standard. It would seem that as well as loads of serving officers facing all sorts of allegations of sexism and racism, hundreds of serving coppers have got criminal records (serious driving offences and violent crimes were mentioned). No one (least of all the new Police Commissioner for the Met) seems to be sure how anyone with a criminal record got through the recruitment process, and thousands of appointments are to be reviewed, with "bad apples" getting the heave-ho. Mind you another report shows the Met is short of a thousand coppers as it has something of a recruitment crisis. It has been claimed that no one wants to be a rozzer, and (needs must) they appear to have been taking what few applicants they get. Perhaps if the Met paid more, then there would be more competition for jobs and there might be some decent candidates to choose from. Isn't this exactly the issue currently facing teachers and the NHS staff (all of whom are currently staging strike action for this reason!)?
Meanwhile my opinion of Michael Gove MP has gone up as he admitted to having made mistakes in government over housing policies. The exact details of what he got wrong are immaterial; we all make mistakes. As I tell the trainees at work, this is how we learn. Hopefully Mr Gove has learned something.
Sadly almost no air-time at all was devoted to the announcement that our old friend Science thinks it might have found aliens again. With coherent radio signals being detected only twelve light years away at planet YZ Ceti b, it is close enough to go visit... It would probably take quite a bit of time and money, but going to say "hello" isn't beyond the realms of possibility (is it?).
I got to work, and made myself comfortable at the microscope and made a phone call. I've got this theory that I might take semi-retirement. If I take my pension and continue to work two or three days a week I would be on pretty much the same money I am currently on for half the effort. But there are a couple of details on which I want clarification so I phoned the pension people.
Have you ever phoned any office recently. They all have the same answerphone message. Is there any telephone in the country that isn't "experiencing high call volume at the moment"?
I got through and asked my questions... I was promised a reply by email within four working days. I wonder if I will get the answer I want.
With work worked I came home. I supervised dog dinner, then “er indoors TM” and we drove round to the Swan and Dog where we met up with Heather and Andy and had a rather good meal in celebration of their wedding anniversary… Twenty-one years, eh? I remember that wedding vividly…
7 April 2023 (Friday) - Crap Friday
It was a shame that “er indoors TM” didn’t turn her alarm off this morning. I don’t often get chance for a lie-in.
She and the dogs went back to sleep, but being wide awake I got up. I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Facebook was crawling with all sorts of posters and photos and memes about not giving dogs chocolate or hot cross buns this Easter, and the religious and anti-religious were squabbling. But there wasn’t much else going on.
In a novel break with recent tradition a series of geocaches had been published. Forty miles away, but sadly that’s seems to be the best we can hope for these days.
As “er indoors TM” sorted her brekkie I put the finishing touches to my current Wherigo project. Most of my previous ones have been linear in that you start at the beginning and work to the end. This one has six zones which you can visit in any order. I’m quite pleased with how this one works, but then I was rather pleased with my “Crystal Maze” Wherigo which probably took more effort than all the other Wherigos I’ve written combined, and the public weren’t at all impressed…
I set off to work with something of a sulk. I didn't want to be working today. If I had my time again I would not work in a hospital, or anywhere that never puts up a "closed" sign.
I took a couple of diversions on the way.
First of all to B&Q which wasn't so much a DIY shop as a day-care centre for unruly brats. Don't parents do *anything* to control their children these days? Kids were sprinting wildly in all directions whilst shrieking like banshees. I managed to thread my way through them to get some lawn food and a new yard brush (the old one snapped when I was using it as a hammer), and I then joined the queue for the till. That's "till" and not "tills". Some woman member of their staff was trying to get people to use the self-service check-outs, but every time she tried, some chap in the queue for the one till with a human behind it replied (very loudly) that none of us work in B&Q. The chap's got a point. If they want me to do the job of the check-out girl they can either pay me her wages, or give me a reduction on what I'm buying.
From there I went to Biddenden Vineyard to get some beers for tomorrow. I got what looks like an interesting selection. Is it though? I will find out tomorrow (hopefully).
As I was walking out I was greeted with a cheery hello. A fellow hunter of Tupperware. I'd not seen Becky for ages; it was good to catch up. She'd recently walked the geo-series I'd hidden in Kings Wood recently and had quite a lot of good things to say about it.
I then stopped off at the shop in Sissinghurst for a bit of lunch. They don't give the stuff away, but it is usually good stuff that they are knocking out.
And so to work. There was so much else I could have been doing today. Especially as the Bank Holliday on Monday has rain forecast, and the weather today was glorious. I know it was - I could see it out of the window…
With work done I came home. Having been working at Pembury the journey home wasn’t the best. And sadly neither was tonight’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard”…
8 April 2023 (Saturday) - Not Too Shabby Saturday
I woke feeling rather grim; I’ve been doing that recently. I wonder why? I got up and did my usual morning farting about. The plughole in the bathroom was running rather better than it was last night; I would ask how does a bathroom plughole bung up so often, but perhaps the copious amounts of mud being washed off of dogs isn’t helping. It has been suggested that I hose them off in the garden, but that would just involve chasing three of them all over the place. Having them in the bath means they are captured for their scrub… even if the plughole is slowly filling with mud.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. People were quarreling about Lego, dogs, fishing, last night’s “Star Trek” episode… But one thing boiled my piss. The pub run by someone who was nice-next-door two neighbours ago was having a fundraiser. One of their regular customers had croaked, and they were trying to raise money for his funeral. Whilst I realise that funerals aren’t cheap, neither is drinking in a pub so regularly that the landlady feels obliged to fundraise your funeral.
Perhaps I’m in the wrong here? Perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered making provision for when I croak? After all I shall be dead then. Perhaps I should spend it all in a pub as well?
I chuckled as “er indoors TM” did dog breakfast. Treacle is funny. She doesn’t eat hers. She stands by it in a shallow attempt to convince us that she is eating, then when the puppies have finished theirs she stands back. When they come over to scoff a bit of hers so she moves forward and growls at them. She really does use her brekkie as bait to have a go at the littluns.
We loaded the dogs and ourselves into my car and drove round to Dog Club. The organisers were away for Easter and so I’d volunteered to be on the gate. I’d been told that all I needed to do was to unlock, but there’s been issues with dogs escaping before so I guarded the gate. I can’t help but think that it needs someone on the gate; not only to stop escapees, but to welcome people. Especially new people. There were quite a few people who turned up today who’d heard there was a dog club but didn’t know much about it, and so I was able to let them know what was going on. I didn’t scare anyone away, and all the newbies said they would be back again.
It was a shame that Treacle saw my being on the gate as a way to avoid all the other dogs by being with me, but we got her to socialise a bit. Bailey didn’t do her usual escape-artist trick, but did find a dead mouse to eat. And Morgan was just in the thick of it all.
As we drove home I had a minor sulk. Steve announced on the radio that the answer to the mystery year competition had been 1983. Had he run the competition early this week, or had we been late out of Dog Club? We hadn’t heard any of the questions, and driving home from Dog Club guessing the mystery year has become part of our weekly routine. Thinking about it, we did stay and chat with quite a few people as we came out of Dog Club today.
We came home and had a cuppa. As we cuppa-ed so we heard the sound of the letterbox. An invitation from the local Baptist church to their Good Friday service that had happened yesterday(!) Mind you the local Baptist church are an odd lot. When we moved to Ashford (all those years ago) we went to it every Sunday for six months. In that time not one other churchgoer so much as said hello to us.
We then got ourselves into the “er indoors TM”- mobile and set off to Sittingbourne. Yesterday I wrote “I went to Biddenden Vineyard to get some beers for tomorrow. I got what looks like an interesting selection. Is it though? I will find out tomorrow (hopefully)”. Well, the beers weren’t too shabby at all.
We all sat in Karl and Tracy’s back garden and put the world to right for the afternoon. Then sent out for KFC, then watched a few episodes of “Diddly Squat”. I can’t pretend to be a fan of Jeremy Clarkson, but this show was rather good.
As was the bottle of port we saw off whilst watching it.
9 April 2023 (Sunday) - Brekkie, Art, Gardening
I had another of those dodgy friend requests on Facebook this morning. I’m pretty sure that for all that the one sending the request had an impressive set of jubblies, it was actually a bloke. I can’t help but wonder why these people send out these friend requests. Obviously they are fake pictures , but someone somewhere is setting up fake accounts on Facebook… Why? What do they hope to achieve?
There were a few squabbles kicking off too. Once billed as the most poignant scene ever seen on television, the closing of the last episode of “Blackadder Goes Forth” was getting quite a bit of stick this morning. Apparently it was offensive to people who want to find things to be offended about. Sadly, some people are only happy when looking for offence and insult which simply isn’t there.
We settled the dogs and drove up to the town centre where we met up for brekkie with Matt, Bernie and Martin. It was good to catch up, and once we’d scoffed we went for a little walk round town following the Ashford Art Trail.
After seeing some of the sights we said our goodbyes, then got petrol and came home. My plan for the day was dull gardening (is there any other sort?)
I strimmed the lawn edges as Morgan tried to bite the strimmer. And then I mowed the lawn as Morgan tried to bite the lawnmower. With lawn sorted fortunately Morgan seemed to lose interest in what I was doing.
My next chore was to look at the pond’s filtration system. A week ago I wrote “There’s an issue with the pond filters in that one runs far better than the other. I can’t see any obvious issue”. I took the problematical filter’s pump apart and rodded the hose through. After half an hour’s struggling I stank of fish poo, but could see no obvious problem. I put it all back together and it worked fine. Whatever the issue was, it is now fixed, and that is really all that matters. I’m not convinced the ultra-violet lamps are working, but that is a problem for another day.
I then ran out the hose pipe and set up the pressure washer to scrub up the patio. As aways I forgot just how much mess that pressure washer stirs up.
I then repaired a poggered fence panel and the shed roof before deciding that I was worn out.
Four hours spent working in the garden and it looks just like it did before I started… We then sat in the garden, had a tin of fizz and a bag of crisps, and I read my Kindle for a bit.
As it was getting cold outside I came in and spent an hour or so proof-reading my current Wherigo project, then went for a shower… or tried to. Moving hurt. This gardening is all very well, but it really makes me ache.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly” which gave me an idea about how we might stop Treacle barking out of the window at passers-by.
Will this plan work?
Time will tell; it always does.
10 April 2023 (Monday) - A Birthday
I slept well, and woke to the miserable
morning that had been forecast. With so much that I could have been doing on
Friday I’d had to be in at work. And with so much else I could be doing today, it was pouring hard outside.
There were a few photos from people who were braving the weather. Lydden Hill Race Circuit was going ahead with what they had planned, despite the weather. As were the horse races at Aldington that had been our plan for today.
As “er indoors TM” sorted dog brekkie I drove round to B&Q. I picked up what I wanted (plant food and a new hose pipe) and walked to the tills. As I came to the till so a po-faced member of their staff pulled a barrier across the one till which had a person working on it, glared at me like I was the shit on her shoe, then she and five other members of staff (I counted!) sniggered with each other as they watched all the customers fighting with the self-service tills. I (rather loudly) announced that if I was going to have to operate the checkout myself, I would do it somewhere cheaper.
I drove round to Wickes. B&Q had been selling twenty metres of hose pipe for forty-eight quid. Wickes were selling thirty metres of the stuff for fifteen quid. And (as a bonus) the girl on the checkout smiled and was civil.
It pays to shop around.
I went on down to Folkestone where I collected “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. As we drove home through thick fog so “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” told me all about what fog is. He’s quite a bright lad.
We came home and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” put “Best Dubstep Mix 2020 [Brutal Dubstep Drops]”. Have you ever heard that? If not, click here to see and hear what you are missing. It is truly dreadful. After about thirty seconds it was turned off to his dismay. He was instead allowed to watch videos of “Geo Dash”; perhaps best described as a psychedelic version of Super Mario Brothers.
We then drove round to the Bybrook Harvester where we met “My Boy TM” and Cheryl. With pretty much everything possible for “Darcie Waa Waa TM”’s birthday being rained off, we’d booked a family dinner.
The last time I went to the Harvester was in August 2017 for another family dinner when a very small “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” screamed pretty much the entire time. Today both littluns were very good; I’d certainly take them both back again. And bearing in mind how much food “Darcie Waa Waa TM” dropped on the floor, I would try to smuggle in a small dog to clear up after her.
With dinner scoffed we walked over to the garden centre. When “My Boy TM” and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” were small we would go there on a Sunday afternoon armed with some bread to feed the fish in the outside pond. Everyone else wanted to feed the ducks; we would feed the fish.
The fish are still there; they are *huge*!
Whilst we were there we popped in to the shoe shop bit to say hello to Tracey. I got some new shoes too. The ones I got a month or so ago never fitted right and really hurt. Here’s hoping the new ones fit better.
We drove “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and littluns back to Folkestone, then slobbed in front of the telly for a bit watching “Dreamland”. According to Wikipedia it is a comedy. Whilst it was entertaining, I didn’t laugh. For me the attraction was that it was filmed in places that I recognize. We watched a couple of episodes; it might improve.
And in closing, as well as being “Darcie Waa Waa TM”’s first birthday, today marks one year since we got the pups. This time last year I wrote “The little boy seems quite amiable and friendly. The little girl seems rather frightened of everyone and everything and feels she needs her brother to protect her”.
Morgan is still very amiable and friendly, but Bailey has got too brave for her own good.
11 April 2023 (Tuesday) - Level One (Again)
I woke in a cold sweat following a nightmare in which I had tangled a power kite around pretty much everything it would be possible to tangle a power kite around. I haven't flown one of those things in years; what was that all about?
I got up and had a shave, despite the plughole still being bunged up. "Mr Muscle" and the like don't seem to have been tested on mud washed off of dogs, do they?. I then cracked open a Slimfast shake (I'm fast going off of those), watched an episode of "Shameless" and set off on a pre-work Munzee mission.
I often have a pre-work Munzee mission; today's was frustrating. It is possible to deploy virtual Muzees from a distance. Physical Munzees need bar codes to be actually stuck on to lamp posts by hand, but virtual ones can be done from thousands of miles away. You just call up the location on the app or website, press the "deploy" button and that's it. Job done. However the actual Munzing bit on these involves getting reasonably close to where the things have been deployed. In the case of the ones of the ones I was trying to Munz this morning, that was getting to within fifty yards of the location. This was rather tricky to do when the things had been deployed by someone from hundreds of miles away who had no idea that the locations they were deploying in weren't easily accessible to the general public. Very easily accessible to the people in whose gardens they were, but a bit of a mission for me.
Oh, how I chuckled. Other people have sensible hobbies...
As I headed up the motorway I listened to the drivel spouted on the radio. There was a lot of talk about this week's strike by junior doctors. The idea was that senior doctors would pick up the slack... according to the pundits on the radio a lot of them (the figure of twenty five per cent was quoted) are having prolonged Easter holidays. Are they, or is this BBC propaganda (shit stirring)?
There was a lot of talk about President Biden visiting Ireland today for the celebrations of twenty-five years since the ending of the troubles, but rather than covering anything of interest, the pundits on the radio had a ten-minute retrospective about some comedy show that was on Irish TV at the time. It was a shame that the accents in the clips played from that show were so broad that I couldn't understand a word that was being said.
And there was talk about how police have seized golliwogs from pubs in Essex. The Home Secretary has said she's told the police not to waste their time on such trivia. The police say she's said nothing. A "he-said-she-said" squabble ensued.
I got to work, and spent much of the day looking out of the window. The forecast rain wasn't happening. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time sulking about the weather these days. don't I?
As the day went on I had a message from the estate agent who is supposedly selling Dad's house. It seems there's been several people viewing the house... all of whom seem to think the house is a tad small for the asking price. Is it? I have no idea, but that certainly seems to be the consensus view. We've dropped the price. Will it sell? We'll find out...
My phone beeped. We'd hit the first target in this month's Munzee Clan War. Result(!)
And then I went in the loo and hid for five minutes as I had a total melt-down about my Fudge-dog who has been gone nearly two years now. What was that all about?
Being on an early I got home promptly and walked the dogs round the block before the forecast rain started (a tad later than it might have done), and then sat underneath a pile of sleeping dogs until “er indoors TM” came home.
Yesterday I mentioned that we started watching “Dreamland”; this evening we binge-watched the last four episodes. Supposedly a comedy it wasn’t really funny, but I like watching stuff filmed in places that I’ve been. If only so that I can get cross when the panoramic shot of the ambulance rushing along the sea front to the hospital is going the wrong way…
12 April 2023 (Wednesday) - An Afternoon Off
I didn't really sleep last night. I woke at twenty past two, and then found myself looking at the clock every fifteen minutes wondering what the time was. I eventually gave up with this rather tedious pursuit and got up.
As I shaved I filled the bath with water. I had this idea about hydrostatic pressure (science!). The theory was that if I filled the bath with water then gave the plughole a vigorous plunging, the weight of water would wash away any blockage. After a bit of farting around and backflow coming up the sink I eventually got a rather good whirlpool going on out of the problematical plughole.
Has it done the trick? Here’s hoping.
Not fancying a Slimfast shake I made toast and watched another episode of “Shameless” which wasn’t too shabby, if only because the leading ladies were “flopping them out”.
Call me an old traditionalist if you will…
I left for work a little earlier than I might have done, and took the opportunity to cap twelve jewels in Coulter Road (it’s a Munzee thing) before heading off up the motorway.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about President Biden’s visit to Ireland. It would seem that most people were waiting for him to say something utterly tasteless as he seems to have a talent for doing that.
Meanwhile ex-President Trump was telling anyone who would listen about his arrest earlier this week, and claiming that all the officials he dealt with were apologizing to him and crying because they felt he was the innocent party. I’ve mentioned before that I know very little first-hand about Donald Trump, but that which I do hear of him reminds me of some of the younger cubs scouts who I used to herd about.
Between made-up boasts and tactless comments, doesn’t America have a better choice for a leader?
I got to work and (yet again) found myself watching the weather. It was mostly glorious sunshine with blue skies, but every twenty minutes or so this was interspersed with black skies and torrential rain.
I’d booked the afternoon off as originally “er indoors TM” wasn’t going to be in for the pups today, but her plans changed. So I came home early and walked the dogs round Singleton Lake looking for locations for my latest geocaching Adventure Lab plan.
I had planned to then take the dogs with me and go for a rather epic walk whilst the car got serviced, but with the morning’s rain showers forecast to get worse, I let them be content with the walk round the lake and left them with “er indoors TM”.
I drove round to the Skoda garage and had a really good couple of hours. I just sat peacefully in the waiting area with no one else around. I read my Kindle for a bit, I dozed. I enjoyed the quiet.
And as I sat quietly I looked at the wind and rain outside. I was right not to have had a long dog walk this afternoon.
After a couple of hours my car was done, and I drove home through the hail. There are those who say I pay over the odds by going to the main dealer… it has been my experience that the main dealers charge no more than the other garages, and on a couple of occasions the garages I’ve been to haven’t been able to do whatever it is that the main dealers do. And the smaller garages don’t seem to have the availability either.
I came home, and spent an hour or so putting together the words and pictures for my geocaching Adventure Lab project.
“er indoors TM” sorted a rather good dinner and bearing in mind today was her first day in her new job we cracked open a bottle of plonk…
13 April 2023 (Thursday) - Feeling Grim
Yesterday I mentioned that I woke at twenty past two… it was ten past one this morning that I woke. I then dozed fitfully on and off for the rest of the night. I eventually got up feeling rather grim. So grim that I did a ‘rona test. Fortunately it was negative…. Mind you I say “fortunately”; whether or not it was ‘rona made no difference to my feeling grim.
I made coffee and toast and watched an episode of “Shameless” which kept me entertained, then (with a little time on my hands) sparked up the lap-top. The internet was still there and, apart from one dubious friend request on Facebook, was a tad dull so early in the morning.
I set off to work on a rather bright morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were spouting their drivel as they do. Gossip about Prince Harry and President Biden took up a lot of air time; far too much really. Celebrity gossip overshadowed talk about a vaccine against malaria. Bearing in mind how many people this kills every year (over two hundred and forty million cases in 2021 with over half a million deaths).
I'd have thought more would have been made from the story. Am I being cynical in thinking that the BBC is playing to its target audience; the average punter being rather more enamored with celebrities than paupers?
But what stuck in my mind was the revelation that those who invest money in care homes made eleven per cent more profit from them during the pandemic than they usually do... whilst staff were all working loads of unpaid hours.
I got to work and realised I'd forgotten to bring anything for dinner... Just as well the works' branch of Marks & Spencer do sandwiches, eh?
I cracked on with work, feeling progressively more grim as the day went on. It was as well I was on an early. I came home and fiddled about checking that work have got my leave allowance for the next year right. I’ve emailed them a question. If leave years went from April 1 to March 31 things would be much simpler.
I then put the finishing touches to my Adventure Lab project. The thing will go live a week this coming Saturday as a little something for the punters (hopefully) coming to the geocaching meet I’ve organized for that day.
“er indoors TM” boiled up pizza and chips which we scoffed whilst watching Joe Lycett travelling to Iceland and Split. I’ve not seen him in “Travel Man” before; it was rather good.
I’m going to bed in a minute; I don’t feel at all well…
14 April 2023 (Friday) - Rostered Day Off
I had a far better night last night. With no alarm set and no need to be up early I slept right through till seven o’clock. It was only a shame that I woke feeling almost as grim as I felt last night.
I made toast, put in the washing that I’d forgotten about yesterday and sparked up the lap-top. It took some sparking. The Word file on which I type this this drivel (before copy & pasting into the blog) flatly refused to open, and when it finally did, was unresponsive for ten minutes. As was the browser window too. I’m sure the lap-top is doing all sorts of wonderful IT things in the background… but I’m reminded of a PC I once used to interface one blood test device with another computer. The chap who set it up was obsessed with antivirus software, and the PC was running six different antivirus packages. All of its resources went on running the six antiviruses, and it had no capacity whatsoever to do the job for which it was actually intended. Is my lap-top doing much the same?
Eventually the lap-top got going. This morning my Facebook feed was full of tales of dying and dead dogs. On the plus side were no scantily clad ladies pretending to want to be my friend.
I spent an hour or so sorting out the admin for my latest Wherigo project then I had a message. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” fancied McBrekkie so I drove down and took her and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” to McDonalds. You really can’t beat a sausage and egg McMuffin, can you?
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had an appointment in Aylesham so we drove there, and while she did whatever it was that she was doing, I took “Darcie Waa Waa TM” geocaching.
It has to be said that favourite youngest granddaughter wasn’t overly enamoured with the ancient and honourable pastime of rummaging for film pots under rocks. She whinged and whined for the first few minutes, then fell asleep. I found one geocache, and on seeing that the only other one within striking distance wasn’t buggy-accessible we went for a little wander through the village instead until “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was done.
I took them both back to Folkestone where “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” was soon to arrive, and came home to find that “er indoors TM” had gone shopping. Despite the drizzle I took the dogs up to Kings Wood. With my latest Wherigo project ready to go we went and hid the six film pots under piles of sticks. The dogs seemed glad for the outing, and came back to the sound of the whistle whenever they wandered off too far.
I would have liked to have explored a particular path I’ve had my eye on for some time, but once we’d hidden the last film pot under a rock we were three quarters of a mile from where I wanted to go exploring, and the drizzle had developed into light rain, so we saved that for another day and headed home.
I told the geo-feds about the new Wherigo project, and “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good load of fajitas which we scoffed whilst watching the latest episode of “Star Trek: Picard”. This season has been streets ahead of the last two, and this evening’s episode was particularly good… even if the new USS Enterprise looks awful.
I’ve had a rather busy day today. Mind you I woke feeling grim, and I’m going to bed feeling marginally less grim. That’s got to be a bonus.
15 April 2023 (Saturday) - Winchelsea Beach
I woke up feeling rather grim, and wasn’t happy to see the rain outside. I had plans for the morning.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. Lots of geeks were getting incredibly excited about last night’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard” (bless them); no one seemed to realize that what happened in last night’s episode was utterly at odds with what had happened in the last season of the show. I made the mistake of pointing that out on one of the Trekkie-Geek Facebook pages. Several Trekkie-Geeks had theories… it was clear from the theories that few had actually watched the show rather than having read about it on Facebook.
I then spent a little while struggling with a geo-puzzle that I’ve been fighting with for nearly two years. Can you get a longitude and latitude out of this? I certainly couldn’t until “er indoors TM” showed me how,
And then I had an email or two. The geo-feds had approved my latest Wherigo project. “Astronomy for (by) Dogs” was live.
Bearing in mind the rain outside was torrential I can’t say I was surprised the dogs didn’t want to go out. I can’t pretend that I did, but I’d offered to open up at Dog Club this morning. Bearing in mind the two hundred and eighty fifth Rule of Acquisition (no good deed ever goes unpunished) I put on wellies and set off to Repton where I expected to stand in the mud and rain. About half-way along Brookfield Road the rain stopped. I can’t say it was a bright morning but there certainly wasn’t any rain on the other side of town. Mind you the rain had put people off – attendance was noticeably down. And within five minutes the immaculately turned-out dogs were just sodden messes.
As I drove home I was rather disappointed that Steve wasn’t on the radio this morning. His stand-in wasn’t of the same standard.
I popped into the corner shop for croissants and pains au choclat which we scoffed whilst I struggled with more geo-puzzles. “er indoors TM” scoffed hers whilst she plugged her phone into her lap-top and immediately had a malfunction. Or so the technology told her. Oh I did laugh.
By late morning the weather had cleared up, so we loaded the dogs into the “er indoors TM”-mobile and drove down to Winchelsea Beach. As part of this month’s Munzee Clan War, between us all our clan has to munz five hundred of a certain sort of Munzee. A week or so “er indoors TM” and I went on a little mission in Maidstone where we got fifty between the two of us. We got another fifty between us today. We had a rather good walk from the car park up to the nature reserve and back; about three miles in total. It was a shame Morgan rather disgraced himself; sometimes he can play too roughly with other dogs.
We had an ice cream each from the ice cream van before we started, and one each when we came back. Have you been to an ice cream van recently? They ain’t cheap… Nearly three quid for a Whippy… but (strangely) only twenty pence extra for a choccy flake in it.
We came back via… I won’t way where it was… we came back via the top-secret location of the geo-puzzle “er indoors TM” had solved earlier. Having spent nearly two years trying to find the thing’s location, it was in my hand after maybe a five second search.
We chuckled as we drove home. On the way out the dogs were squeaking and whining and were really excitable. On the way home they just slept.
We came home and flushed with success of having found one fiendishly difficult puzzle cache I wasted a couple of hours getting absolutely nowhere with a few others, then spent a few minutes (best part of an hour) telling so many people about next Saturday’s geo-meet-up that I’m running.
I somehow found myself watching a documentary about Westminster Cathedral. It was rather interesting, but I found myself amazed at how completely out of touch with reality the Cathedral staff seemed to be.
“er indoors TM” boiled up fish and chips, and we scoffed it watching Joe Lycett travelling to Cyprus and Vilneus. It was rather good; I liked the way he told you how much all the touristy bits cost. When you (I) go on holiday I know how much the flight and hotel costs, but the rest is anyone’s guess.
I’m still feeling grotty… I’ve not had a cold for ages. This time last year I had Covid and didn’t feel as yuk.
16 April 2023 (Sunday) - Gardening, Tenyham
Again I woke feeling like death warmed up. I lay in bed for a while hoping I might nod off, but didn’t, so I got up in the naive hope that I might perk up.
I made toast; I say “made”, I actually burned the stuff. How did that happen? The toaster usually only warms the bread at most. But the lap-top sprang into action far faster today than it has done for some time.
I had a little look at the Internet. It was still there. This morning my Facebook feed was somewhat political. There was a lot of stuff about the ongoing NHS strikes with some of the more vocal people having no qualms at all about showing their ignorance. Extremely right-wing minority parties aren’t going to support strike action. Do union activists *really* not realise this?
And there were a lot of posts about the local elections. All from either the independent candidates (who have formed their own party!) or from the Conservatives who now go under the name of “local Conservatives” presumably to distance themselves from the national party? There has obviously been some squabbling behind the scenes though; my local independent candidate was the Conservative mayor the last time I looked. And an independent in a neighboring ward used to be as thick as thieves with the local Green gang.
For some reason neither the dribbling democraps or the Labour party seem to be making much of an effort on social media locally. Have they given up?
Being up far too early I left “er indoors TM” and the dogs sleeping and started farting about in the garden. First of all I got the old fluorescent tubes out of the two pond filters. That took some doing; the filters instructions say the fluorescent tubes need changing every year (which they do) but they give absolutely no guidance or instruction about how you actually get the things out. Getting the tubes out is easy; getting them out without destroying the filter is entirely a different matter.
I then took the old leaking poggered hose pipe off of the reel and pulled off the bit that connected it to the tap. Well… I tried to pull it off. It wasn’t going anywhere. Eventually a Stanley knife showed it the error of its ways. I attached it to the new hose pipe I got last weekend, run it out and set up my pond filter cleaning arrangement in which I suspend a humungous flowerpot over the drain and wash the fish poo out of the filters.
A minute to type; two hours to do.
By then “er indoors TM” was up and about so we installed dog-proofing into her car. Yesterday when we went out (and came back) we started with three boot dogs and ended up with only one as the puppies jumped the back seats. Now (to their disgust) they stay put.
We drove up to Tenyham to carry on the Munzee mission that we started yesterday, adding sixty to the clan total, and getting myself a “Beginner Cubimal Wrangler” badge whilst I was at it. With ten of us in the clan and five hundred “Greenies” needed between us, in theory that is fifty each. In practice our clan is world-wide and some are currently in sub-zero temperatures and understandably aren’t keen on scraping the ice off of lamp posts to find the bar codes to scan.
Whilst we were at it we found ourselves walking past two puzzle geocaches that I’d solved ages ago, so we did the geo-thing with those.
As we walked we saw an aquatic shop so I got a couple of new fluorescent tubes.
We came home. The dogs went to sleep, and I installed the new tubes into the filters. Far easier to type than to do. After an hour’s fighting I finally got the filters going. They are leaking a bit, but the leaking water is dripping back into the pond.
I then relocated our humungous “Neptune” statue to behind the filters; I think he looks better there. And then it was time to mow the lawn and pull weeds out of the gravel.
After two hours this morning and another two hours this afternoon the garden looks pretty much the same as it did when I started.
I hate gardening; such an ultimately futile exercise.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst Bailey snarled at the telly. She really wasn’t impressed with “Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly”.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been quite so busy in the garden earlier. I’ve caught the sun, I really ache, and the cold has moved on to my chest.
I’m fed up with feeling grotty…
And today marks two years since my little Fudge died…
17 April 2023 (Monday) - A Pressure Filter ?
I had a better night's sleep last night. It would have been far better had Bailey not been trampling all over me. For a very small dog she is surprisingly heavy when she treads on your "flowers and frolics" in the small hours. But for all that I slept reasonably well, I was wide awake at five o'clock. I thought about phoning in sick, but I just don't phone in sick unless I really have to. I'm silly like that.
I got up and made toast. Recently the toaster has been incinerating the toast; today it came out floppy. Making a decent bit of toast isn't easy. If I was brave enough I'd kick “er indoors TM” out of bed to boil it up for me.
But I'm not.
This morning's episode of "Shameless" was spoiled for me by the casting. The actor who plays "Spudgun" from "Bottom" was playing a rather nasty debt-collector. Bearing in mind that "Spudgun" is an amiable idiot I really couldn't relate to him playing a nasty character.
I then had a quick look at the pond. The water level seemed pretty much what it was yesterday afternoon, which was something of a result. Mind you the pond didn't look very clear...
I made my way to where I'd left the car; weaving my way through the four epic holes in the pavement that had been dug a couple of weeks ago and set off to work. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing some opinionated woman or other who was seriously slagging off OFSTED. The body has no end of failings, not least of which (she said) was a shortage of experienced inspectors.
As I drove up the motorway there was also talk of the Prime Minister's scheme to ensure that everyone gets maths lessons until they are eighteen years old... regardless of the fact that there aren't enough teachers.
And the government was being criticized for the shortage of doctors too.
How do we address these shortages? Conscription? It worked in the navy two hundred years ago. Should the current policy of allowing people to choose their own jobs continue if people aren't choosing to do the jobs that the country needs? (!)
During a lull at work I phoned Kent County Council's highways department to have a whinge about the four epic holes in the pavement of our road that I'd walked past today. No one can dig a hole in the road without the say-so of Kent County Council; someone at the council had given Southern Gas Networks a permit to dig the holes because of "an emergency". This permit lasts from the thirtieth of last month until next Tuesday.
I was also told that if someone says they are having an emergency then the county council believes them and gives them carte blanche to dig whatever holes they want wherever they want. There really seems to be very little actual control of what is going on road-works-wise.
If I wanted to know more about the specifics of the holes in question, the nice lady suggested that I might contact Southern Gas Networks directly.
So I did. I sent them an email saying that I wouldn't mind so much if they hadn't obliterated a quarter of the street's parking spaces, but digging four holes in the road and leaving them unsupervised with no work being done for over two weeks could hardly be construed as an emergency.
I suspect that after a few days they will email me to tell me to get stuffed.
As I drove home I had a stroke of genius (I have those from time to time). I need to re-think the filtration system again; the two small filters that I installed last year just aren't doing it. I remembered that the people who used to be nice-next-door three neighbours ago once gave me a pond pressure filter. After a bit of a rummage I found it in the shed, and spent an hour looking it up on the internet and taking it apart and generally finding that the thing is actually fit for the dustbin. But after that hour I’d learned a lot. I asked opinion on the Ponds UK Facebook page, and people seem to favour pressure filters over the arrangement that I use.
A pressure filter? Could be the way forward with the pond? I bet they ain’t cheap.
18 April 2023 (Tuesday) - Out for Dinner
I woke about half past three and found both puppies snuggled up tightly against me. I moved them both back a couple of inches, and in their sleep they just snuggled back again. Bearing in mind there are far worse things in life than a sleeping puppy (or two) I let them be. I dozed through till five o'clock when I got up, had a serious coughing fit, made toast (cooked properly today!) and watched an episode of "Shameless" which was rather good. How did I ever miss it first time round?
I then had to make a decision. Was I going to phone in sick? Perhaps I should have done, but I didn't. In the past when I've phoned in sick I've moped and sulked t home, whereas if I go in to work I just get on with it and feel... if not better, perhaps not as grotty as if I'd stayed at home.
Fortunately I'd got a parking space right outside the house last night so I didn't have far to go to find the car. I set off, rolling my eyes at the morning news. Apparently power companies are going to face restrictions about exactly on whom they can force pre-payment meters; the implication being that you can't cut certain people off.
Whilst I don't think for one minute anyone should be cut off, *if* we are going to run what should be public services as profit making businesses then people have to pay for them. Why should one person be freely given that for which someone else (me!) has to pay?
Or maybe (in a better world) it is time to realise that selling off the nation's infrastructure for a quick profit was a silly idea (like we all said it was) and look at a better way of providing public services?
And following hot on the heels of his predecessor our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing all sorts of allegations that his wife is profiting out of government money being given to childcare firms. Perhaps it is time to re-think the way childcare is done in the country, and the money allocated to childcare is actually spent on childcare rather than on profits for the ultra-rich?
And then I rolled my eyes again as the pundits on the radio talked about moves afoot in Parliament to give officialdom the ability to snoop into private internet-based messages.
There are all sorts of reasons why this might be a good idea. Clamping down on criminals, stopping the sharing of paedophilic pictures... BUT (as the expert being interviewed pointed out), messages are encrypted, or they are not. You can't choose which ones are readable by MI5 and which aren't. The public wants a message service that can be guaranteed to be only read by the sender and the recipient.
And the tech firms aren't keen on this idea either. Will WhatsApp *really* pull out of the UK?
And then I found myself having a little blub about my Fudge-dog who died two years ago. What brought that on?
I eventually got to work. Two more miles of the M20 had been reduced to two lanes overnight. There are *miles* of slow lane cordoned off with absolutely no one at all working on it. If anyone tells you that "Operation Brock" isn't in use, tell them to go have a look.
I got to work and sent the night shift home. He was glad I'd soldiered in; he would have had to stay an extra hour had I not. As I worked I got an email asking me to take part in a competition for NHS staff and volunteers to share (through photos) their unique stories.
It wasn't that long since even mentioning on social media that you worked for the NHS was a disciplinary matter, as I have whinged many times before.
I had a good day, but was still glad when home time arrived. I drove home and dozed until “er indoors TM” was ready. We then drove down to Folkestone. Leaving “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” doing dull housework we took “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” out for tea.
First of all to McDonalds. You can’t beat McDinner (as I have often said). I’ve not been to the Folklestone town centre McDonalds in the evenings before. It was surreal. There were several tables of surly schoolgirls, the girls on each table all sharing one small bag of fries (and making them last!). Have these kids nothing better to do?
Rather than having McPudding we then went on to the Wetherspoons and had dessert there.
It filled a couple of hours and gave the most recent fruit of my loins a little break.
We shall do this again. Soon.
19 April 2023 (Wednesday) - Rostered Day Off
I woke at six o’clock feeling far better than I have recently. I went to the loo, went back to bed and was gripped by a coughing fit that simply wouldn’t stop. After a while of disturbing everyone I gave up on the idea of having a lie-in (which I probably needed), got up, made toast and had a look at the Internet. It was stil there; much the same as ever.
What with the union’s ballots about the latest NHS pay offer having been announced (and the unions not being in agreement) there was quite a bit of in-fighting going on on-line. I predict that within a few months the nurses will have their own pay scale and will get better pay offers than the rest of us.
I got the dogs into the car and we set off on a little mission. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about sciency-stuff, and in a novel break with tradition weren’t proudly showing their ignorance and taking the piss out of stuff they didn’t understand. They were talking about Elon Musk’s announcement that he too is trying to make an artificial intelligence. Some expert or other was wheeled on who said that anyone who fancies having a go at making an artificial intelligence really can just have a go. There’s more regulation over making fish and chips than there is over making something which could potentially wipe out humanity. Apparently it has been suggested that there needs to be international regulation of artificial intelligence *before* it runs amok and takes over the world.
I’d be up for that.
We got to Kings Wood, and parked in the lower car park… just like we always used to in years gone by. We went on a little walk exploring bits of the woods we’ve not explored before. As we went some of our number rolled in horse poo, and some played tug o’ war with the headless corpse of a dead squirrel.
As we walked down a very clearly marked path we’d not walked before we saw a sign nailed to a tree saying “Private Woods”. I thought that Kings Wood was open to the public, but not wanting to take any chances (especially with the dogs in tow) we retreated back the way we’d come. As we were on the way back to the car we met the chap with the moustache who walks half a dozen dogs. I mentioned about the “Private Woods” sign. He said that if you go far enough there’s an area where Kings Wood meets three or four other woods. Some are private, some aren’t.
I suppose there’s quite enough space for us in Kings Wood without needing to go further…
We came home and I spent a little while thinking about pond filtration. Despite cleaning out the filters at the weekend, the pond is still rather murky. I’d asked for opinions on the Facebook Garden Ponds UK page, and the general consensus was to get a pressure filter, with a lot of people recommending a particular brand and model.
I phoned “World of Water” in Rolvenden to see if they had one. They didn’t, and they said that they didn’t recommend pressure filters … presumably because they didn’t have any. They asked what filtration set-up I had, and they told me that what I had was woefully inadequate for the size of my pond. I thought about telling them that the filtration system I’ve got was installed at their recommendation, but sometimes it is better to just keep quiet.
I went on to All Pond Solutions website… The pressure filter arrives tomorrow. Hopefully.
After “er indoors TM” had sorted a bowl of soup for dinner I got out the ironing board and set about the laundry whilst watching episodes of “Four in a Bed” featuring bed and breakfasts run by British people in France. I do like this show, and this was a particularly good set of episodes; the contestants *must* have been actors; could they seriously have been real?. There was some old biddy (with a partner young enough to be her son) who was more French than France. There was a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative who had gone to France to “find his own piece of England”. There was a little Englander who had been running a B&B in France for over a year; proud of his ignorance of the French and proud not to be able to speak the language. And there was a particularly vindictive little fellow and his husband; the husband (quite frankly) deserving far better in life.
With telly watched I embarked on yet another Wherigo project. As we’d walked this morning I’d found potential final locations for five more geocaches. I’ve sent an email to the geo-feds to see if the locations are OK. Let’s see what they say.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a really good dinner, I cracked open a cheap bottle of plonk, and we watched two episodes of “Celebrity Hunted”. Have you ever watched that show? I find it amazing for two reasons. Firstly because of all the surveillance that goes on with each of us every day without any of us being aware. And secondly because you would have thought people going on that show would have watched previous episodes and might have some idea about all the surveillance that goes on with each of us every day without any of us being aware.
20 April 2023 (Thursday) - Another Early Shift
I woke about half past four following a relatively good night. Some might think half past four is ridiculously early, but as Albert once remarked, everything is relative.
Name dropping here? Having had afternoon tea with someone who once accompanied Einstein's violin by playing on the piano, I think I can claim first name terms...
I got up and was *so* relieved that the snotty nose had dried up somewhat. Or not so much "dried up" as "turned into an annoying cough". I made toast and coughed through another episode of "Shameless", then got ready for work. I'd had a message yesterday; could I do the early shift today? I get to work early anyway to avoid the traffic, so doing an early shift means I'm not there *that* much earlier, but what with the early finish and missing the traffic on the way home, I get home nearly two hours earlier. Result.
Having forgotten to sort lunch, I popped into the co-op to get a sandwich. As I was there I asked the assistant if they had any boot polish (as I'm getting low on the stuff). They didn't sell boot polish, but as I wandered off in the general direction of the sandwiches so some other random shopper kicked off a row about why the co-op (of all places) didn't sell something as vital as boot polish.
Whilst I was there I got some cough sweets. Hall's something-or-others. Back in the day I would have got a packet of "Tunes". Nowadays you can only get the cherry ones; and only from a pharmacy.
Or that is only in the UK. They still sell them in shops in Europe. I would suggest this was another triumph of Brexit, but in the interests of fairness, it seems that Tunes disappeared from UK shelves years before Brexit was even suggested. How have they been gone so long and me only just realising now? It's amazing what you miss if you don't stay alert.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were rabbiting on about what is surely a sign of our times. It would seem that complaints received by universities from their student have hit a record high in England and Wales for the fourth successive year.
One of the things that many complain about is the poor grades they are getting. Having stumped up the fat end of ten grand for tuition fees, the thicker students feel they have paid for a better class of degree than the ones they are getting. Back in the day the level of degree you got was dependent on how well your scores were. The perception these days is that because the students have to put their hands in their pocket, a 2:1 is the least they should expect.
Funny old world...
There was then recordings played from yesterday's "Prime Minister's Questions". Have you ever listened to them? In theory "Prime Minister's Questions" is an opportunity for Parliament to hold the Prime Minister to account for the actions of himself and his government. In practice various members of the opposition make up all sorts of rubbish (on the spur of the moment) in a shallow attempt to embarrass the government and humiliate the Prime Minister. And then the Prime Minister makes up all sorts of rubbish (on the spur of the moment) in a shallow attempt to make the government look good, and to humiliate the questioner.
Sadly the bickering rarely gets above the level of pettiness achieved by “My Boy TM” and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” in the early 1990s before they started school. It would be rather amusing *if* Parliament wasn't so important. There must be a better way to run the country.
I got to work and cracked on. During tea break my phone beeped. The geo-Feds are happy with the preliminary stages of my next Wherigo project. That was something of a result; it will keep me quite for the next few weeks.
And I had two friend requests on Facebook. One was from a "wipe-clean" young lady in tight latex. The other was from someone who had its chest under very firm control, and was trying to sell me “top quality” Koi. I suppose as marketing goes, that is a step in the right direction. I'm more likely to succumb to the wiles of someone flogging something for my pond than I am to the implied promise of a nudey sauce romp.
Not that I'm actually going to buy fish from random women who accost me over the internet.
Having been watching the glorious sunshine from the work’s window it was something of a shame that the heavy rain started just as it was time for me to go home.
With the dogs not keen on getting wet I worked on my next Wherigo project and got quite a bit done before “er indoors TM” boiled up dinner. As we scoffed it we watched two more episodes of “Celebrity Hunted” which has to be scripted rather than a reality TV show. Are the celebrities *really* that stupid? If I was being hunted on that show I would find somewhere in the back of beyond (like the New Forest or Wye Downs) and quietly hide. I *wouldn’t* go stomping through central London or central Birmingham grinning at all the CCTV and using my phone and credit card all the time.
Yesterday I mentioned I’d ordered a fish pond filter. I paid good money for it to be delivered today.
It hasn’t arrived.
21 April 2023 (Friday) - Eid
I went to the loo at three o’clock this morning, and then came back to a pitched battle with a small dog (I think it was Morgan) who had claimed the warm space I’d vacated and wasn’t keen on giving it up. I managed to nod off again, but woke in something of a panic after a rather vivid nightmare in which I’d been appointed the NHS’s ambassador to the Open University with a remit from the Minister for Health to “show those beardie weirdos who’s boss”.
I made toast, watched another episode of “Shameless” then decided against looking at the Internet too much. Spoilers for the last episode of “Star Trek: Picard” abounded.
I set off to work through the rain. As I drove the pundits on the radio had absolutely nothing at all to say about Elon Musk’s Starship; the biggest rocket ever made which blew up four minutes after launch yesterday. Instead they were wittering on about Elephant Seals which apparently dive three hundred metres down into the ocean to have a bit of a kip. Odd how a sleeping seal is more newsworthy than an exploding space rocket.
It was also claimed that the poor performance of
some part of the economy had been blamed on weather; persistent
rain in March had put people off of going to the shops.
I go to the shops when I need something. Whether I need something or not really has nothing at all to do with the weather (unless it’s wet weather clothing!) When I got to work I mentioned this. A colleague then piped up that he and his wife regularly go to Ashford’s outlet centre at the weekends and spend hundreds of pounds on stuff they don’t want. Apparently they find they have nothing else to do at the weekends (!)
I walked into the blood bank to find an envelope.
Labelled “FAO all blood bank staff and admin – find your name inside and
open” it contained a load of slips of paper. Each one was addressed to
one of us, and had a rather lovely few lines about
the person to whom it was addressed, all signed by “anonymous”.
There was a lot of speculation about who “anonymous” was, and what it was all about. The general opinion was that it was an “Eid thing”; we had samosas and spring rolls brought in today in honour of Eid.
indoors TM” sorted a rather good
bit of dinner which we watched whilst watching the last episode of “Star
Trek: Picard”. I was glad I’d managed to avoid most of the spoilers.
22 April 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club, Geo Meet
I slept better last night. The snotty nose has gone, and the coughing has pretty much subsided. Sadly, to counteract this all three dogs have taken to sleeping across the bed (rather than down it) in order to maximise space taken up.
I got up, made toast, and had a little look at the Internet. It was still there. There was some really bitter quarrelling about last night’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard” in some of the star Trek related Facebook groups. After nearly forty years involvement in Star Trek fandom, it has always been one big argument; it really does seem that every single person watching the show is watching something very different to everyone else. But these days the most vocal are those who play the video game “Star Trek On-Line” in which you make your own little space ship, and more and more people are getting angry that their little space ship isn’t the star of the show.
I had an email from the pond filter people. Bearing in mind the filter that arrived yesterday was a day late they refunded the postage fees. And they gave me a five per cent refund too. As they should(!) I felt their website was a bit cheeky in that when you logged in it gave you a code to enter at checkout offering a five per cent reduction, but when I came to use the code, it didn’t work.
Being a Saturday we drove the dogs round to Repton Manor. Normally we’d have listened to Steve on the radio, but he was on holiday. Last week his stand-in wasn’t that good, so we left the radio off and listened to my MP3 player instead.
We were early to Dog Club today, and had a rather good time. I like Dog Club in that the people who go know about dogs. Take a little incident today for example. Suddenly everyone’s heads flew round as Bailey started screaming. She was underneath two Great Danes who were bearing down on her. At first sight it looked like there was a tiny dog being savagely attacked by two huge dogs. However in reality Bailey had been playing chase with the two Great Danes, and the screaming on being captured was a total over-reaction. The big dogs then turned and ran off, and Bailey charged after them in hot pursuit. If she was in any trouble or difficulty she wouldn’t have chased them, nor would she have continued the game for the rest of Dog Club.
I can’t help but wonder how many people (who don’t know what dogs are like) see this sort of thing happening and immediately assume the worst?
As “er indoors TM” washed mud (and other foul stuff) from the dogs I popped to the shop for croissants which we scoffed with a cuppa, then I had a little measure-up of various buckets to find one to put the new pond filter into.
I then activated the Adventure lab series at Singleton Lake, and we set off to Singleton Barn for the monthly geo-meet-up which (for the sixth time) I was hosting.
It is difficult for me to be impartial, but I think we had a rather good meet-up. Despite there having been only a dozen “will attend” logs, I’m told there were thirty-five people along. It was really good to catch up with old friends and talk geo-stuff with new friends. And I got a hint for a geo-puzzle with which I’ve been struggling for nearly two years.
After a quick bit of shopping we came home, and despite the hint I was still unable to solve the puzzle…
23 April 2023 (Sunday) - Early Shift
Usually I am the first one to bed in the evenings, and so can secure a decent area of bed for myself before the onslaught. Last night I was last one up and by the time I went to bed everyone else had got themselves a space of their own. Still, “er indoors TM” and the dogs were comfortable last night even if I wasn't.
I made toast, watched an episode of "Shameless", set the dishwasher going then set off through the drizzle to work. As I started off there was "Farming Today" on the radio. Sometimes it can be rather interesting. Today's show had been recorded at a Jewish farm in Orpington and was sadly rather dull. Apparently the farmers didn't approve of any kind of labour-saving devices and made a point of doing farming the hard way and pretending they enjoyed it.
I listened for five minutes, and as the drizzle got heavier and heavier I exchanged listening to religious farmers for listening to Ivor Biggun. I know which one is more fun.
I got to work to find things weren't as peachy as they might have been, but after a couple of hours, relative calm had been re-established. So much so that I slipped out for a cuppa.
I turned on Facebook and saw quite the argument kicking off on one of the "Remembering the 1970s" Facebook pages. I am fully aware that things in the 1970s were far more sexist and racist that they are today. But those who go on to the various "Remembering the 1970s" Facebook pages specifically to take offence aren't actually those who were in any way offended at the time. I can't work out what their agenda is; they are all pretending to be outraged at a society which is now long gone.
One of them wound me up on the subject of corporal punishment in schools. I've ranted about this before. In my school if you got out of line the headmaster got out the cane and gave you two of the best. (Not six; two!) One boy had a sore arse for a few hours; a thousand boys behaved themselves for a year. Over the years it has been my experience that those who disagree with this either have no children of their own, or have the most ill-behaved unruly brats.
I also had a friend request from a rather saucy-looking young lady who had photos of her various toys on her Facebook page. Like mine, her toys were plastic. Hers, however... let's just say they weren't Lego.
As I cracked on with work so my phone made a rather strange bleeping and gave me a message. "This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK government service that will warn you if there's a life-threatening emergency nearby". The government were testing their nationwide emergency alert system. I can't help but wonder what sort of life-threatening emergency is going to sneak up on me unannounced. Crocodiles or tigers perhaps?
Personally my money's on aliens...
With work worked I drove home through the rain. I suggested the dogs might like to help me feed the fish. The girls came up to the pond with me and had the occasional scrap of fish food; Morgan wasn’t coming out in to the rain.
I then settled in front of the telly, and as David Attenborough harped on about the wonders of zoology so I snored for an hour or so.
I hate doing that…
“er indoors TM” boiled up some steak and mushrooms which we scoffed whilst watching Richard Osman’s house of games, and whilst the dogs watched us.
I really should have an early night…
24 April 2023 (Monday) - So Dull...
I woke feeling rather grotty. Having shifted one cold I seem to have acquired another.
I made toast, watched an episode of "Shameless" then thought about phoning in sick, but decided against it. Perhaps I should have done so?
I set off cross-country to Pembury; have you driven along the A28 out of Ashford recently? You wouldn't believe the amount of new houses that have been built recently. Mind you talking to young colleagues, they all want a new house. No one wants to buy an old house these days.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about "Storm Ulysses”; a storm from 1903. Researchers have taken meteorological observations from that time , plugged them into the computers, used this data to make weather forecasts of what might have happened after Storm Ulysses nd compared it with what actually happened. And (would you believe it?) found there is stuff to be learned from looking at the historical record.
Is this so amazing? If you are going to try to guess the future based on the past, surely you need as much historical information as you can possibly get? Ans trying to predict what actually happened is probably a rather good way to test your theories. It strikes me that the only question here is why has it taken so long for weather forecasters to realise the patently obvious? I would say "are they thick or what" but bearing in mind their demonstrable failure to do their job...
There was also a lot of talk about the political situation in Sudan with about a thousand British citizens stuck in a war zone. Mind you it would seem that Sudan has quite a history of coups going on.
I wouldn't want to go there.
And it would seem that vaccination uptake by UK teenagers is at a low with more and more people subscribing to crackpot anti-vax theories rather than to proven fact.
I got to Pembury and popped into Tesco for some odds and ends. Tesco there has succumbed to the self-service checkout craze. It was a shame that the machines simply didn't work. If I can find another supermarket that is in a convenient location, I shall start taking my money there... or my credit card as Tesco’s self-service checkouts don't seem to like cash.
Work was too much like hard work for my liking, but an early start making for an early finish is rarely a bad thing. I drove home through torrential rain. The dogs flatly refused to walk up the garden with me to feed the pond fish, so I took tat as a walk being out of the question.
Instead I downloaded bank statements and had a look at the monthly accounts. For some reason the payment for the puppies’ healthcare plan wasn’t taken out last month. I chased that up with the vets; all seems to be in order at their end. I wonder what’s going on there?
“er indoors TM” sorted dinner then went bowling. I settled in front of the telly and tried not to fall asleep…
Some days in my life are really good (like Saturday two days ago), and some (like today) are just dull.
25 April 2023 (Tuesday) - Taking A Sickie
I woke feeling like death warmed up, but I do that quite often. But by the time I’d coughed through an episode of “Shameless” hawking up green muck I decided enough was enough and phoned the person on at night to warn them that I was going to take a sickie today.
Whilst I waited for the GP to open up I had a look at the Internet. A couple of my genuine female friends had posted that they have been receiving friend requests on Facebook. Their friend requests were all from macho army-type blokes. I thought that rather ironic that the friend requests I received today were obviously blokes who had photo-shopped their heads onto women’s bodies.
I had a look at my GP’s website. Seeing they opened at eight o’clock I thought I’d get there promptly and form a queue; you hear these horror stories about trying to get an appointment. I got there at half past seven and the receptionists told me that they don’t actually do appointments any more. It is all done by telephone consultation. I wasn’t sure how someone could hold a stethoscope to my chest over the phone, but there wasn’t really very much else I could do but go home and wait patiently for someone to phone me back.I came home via the bakery where an ex-cub’s mum was behind the counter. She didn’t recognize me.
Just as I got home my phone beeped with a voicemail message. The doctor had phoned and gone straight to answerphone. I phoned the surgery and on finding I was forty-ninth in the queue I thought I’d pop round to tell them I was still up for a consultation. However the surgery I walked to this morning doesn’t see GP patients any more. I have to go half-way across town for that. So I drove across town and told them what had happened. The receptionist assured me I was still on the list to be phoned and suggested I went home and waited.
I drove back to the surgery and explained there was clearly an issue with my phone. Phoning me simply wasn’t an option. They asked what I suggested. I suggested that as I was there the GP might physically see me. They told me the GP worked remotely. I suggested that the GP might phone me on a surgery phone. The receptionist then told me they didn’t have any phones even though I could see two. The receptionist asked if I might borrow a friend’s phone. I pointed out that I was coughing up green gunge and that she was actively stopping me getting medical attention. She said she’d ask her manager, and disappeared for about ten minutes.
I was then invited in to a consulting room where a rather angry GP lambasted me about how crap my phone was, brandished a stethoscope and asked to listen to my chest. I was tempted to ask how she might have done that over the phone, but kept quiet. After a couple of minutes I walked out with the prescription for amoxycillin that I knew I needed all along.
I got home, and feeling worn out after the episode with the GP (let along feeling ill enough to take a day off work sick) I spent eight hours working on my current Wherigo project.
“er indoors TM” boiled up dinner which we scoffed whilst watching episodes of “Richard Osman’s House of Games”; a good show somewhat spoiled by the winning contestants clapping for themselves like demented sealions.
A pet hate of mine is people clapping for themselves.
I feel like death warmed up… my stomach really hurts from the constant coughing. I’m going to bed.
26 April 2023 (Wednesday) - A Day's Leave
I woke at one o’clock and had something of a coughing fit, but after that I dozed on and off until “er indoors TM”’s alarm went off at half past seven. I got up, blew my nose until it bled, then made toast.
As I scoffed I saw that there was a photo on one of the Hastings-based Facebook groups that I follow that made me think. When I first met “er indoors TM” her mother and stepfather ran the Corner Café by the railway station in Hastings, and there was a photo of the place. Quite a few people had posted memories of that café; no one I’d ever heard of though.
Someone had posted a photo of his ticket for a “Sparks” concert on one of their many fan pages. The ticket specifically stated: “Not suitable for under-5s”. You have to wonder what sort of a society we have where the patently obvious has to be so blatantly pointed out.
Despite the coughing I loaded the dogs into the car and we set off to Kings Wood. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about instances in which your life changes in a moment. They wheeled on some woman whose life had done just that, but ironically after two miles of driving they were still droning on such a long-winded introduction that I turned the radio off and sang along to Ivor Biggun instead.
Just as I got to the woods I had a message. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was distraught as “Darcie Waa Waa TM” had been shitting black and blue (quite literally) and she was trying to get an urgent doctor’s appointment.
Five minutes later she messaged asking if I thought that the ten thousand blueberries my favourite youngest granddaughter had eaten yesterday might have had some bearing on her dung.
We walked round the top of the woods today. I found two more final locations for geocaches. Treacle found the mud. She really is a swamp monster; if there is muddy water, she is in it. I blame the spaniel part of her heritage (she’s half spaniel).
We had a shorter walk than usual today; as we came back to the car we met Sam and Lyn who were off Wherigo-ing. It was good to catch up.
Once home I popped to the corner shop for supplies. Specifically something to blow my nose into. Having eco-friendly bogroll delivered once a month is all very well all the time I’m not blowing my nose through it like a thing possessed. Bearing in mind what the stuff is used for I got the Happy Shopper stuff at half the price of the posh brand.
I would have got some boot polish if they had any, but I was the first person to ask for it in the memory of anyone in the shop. I got some pastries instead. Once we’d scoffed them with a cuppa I went and had a look at the pond.
I felt grim, but I made a decision. I could sulk, or I could crack on and see what happened. I heaved Neptune out of the way, and raked up loads of shingle so’s I could get to ground level. Taking great care not to slash myself I used a Stanley knife to cut the weed-proof membrane then got digging. I excavated a hole big enough for the large bucket in which the pressure filter would sit.
My plan for the day involved me getting that far, then wasting the afternoon watching episodes of “Four In A Bed”, but finding that I had perked up somewhat I cracked on. In a novel break with tradition I read the instructions of the pressure filter and decided to see if I could get the thing in place. First of all the old filter boxes came out, I re-plumbed the hoses from the pond pumps so both would feed into the new filter. I bodged the now redundant second in-pipe to become an out-pipe, tightened up all the jubilee clips and turned it all on.
I’m reluctant to tempt fate here, but I will say I’ve had far less successful turn-on of pond filters. There’s a minor issue with the electrics, but that can keep till another time.
I then raked shingle back to from where I’d raked it earlier, and then got out my spirit level (“My Boy TM” would be so proud of me!). I organized a flat area and heaved Neptune back into place. I then heaved the garden rocks about to make it all look rather scenic.
“My Boy TM” then arrived to help me move my soil bin. This morning I had a dustbin half-filled with soil. The soil from the hole I dug had gone into the bin and filled it, and I couldn’t move it. Together we shifted it.
Whilst I was in the garden I started mowing the lawn… then stopped and frog-marched Morgan inside. He simply would *not* stop attacking the lawnmower.
I looked at the filters I’d taken out and decided against cleaning them today. I wasn’t on top form and I’d already spent five hours in the garden making it look substantially the same as when I’d started.
I shall clean the filters another day and then see if I can sell them. They are only a year old and the ultraviolet bulbs are only a couple of weeks old. Sell them… or swap them for ornamental garden rocks.
“er indoors TM” sorted a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching this week’s episode of “Celebrity Hunted” in which so-called celebrities really did seem to be trying their hardest to make themselves obvious to those hunting them.
Mind you, it is easy to be disparaging from the comfort of my sofa. I wonder how I go about applying to go on that show?
27 April 2023 (Thursday) - Before The Late Shift
I felt rather better when I got up this morning, which was something of a result. I went straight to the pond and was very pleased to see the water level was where it was last night, and that the water was noticeably clearer than it has been.
I wasn’t pleased to see the amount of dog dung in the garden though. Having cleared it all yesterday afternoon, how could three small dogs have generated quite so much?
I made toast, took another antibiotic, and had a look at the Internet. There were squabbles on Facebook about dustbin collection, hospital management, parking at the post office… Everyone is so keen to rant on-line. So few want to stand for election to do anything.
I had two dubious friend requests on Facebook. One seemed to be having difficulty keeping its chest under control, and the other was called “John”.
With a few minutes spare I took the dogs out. I wondered if Orlestone Woods might have dried out a bit; it is quite the swamp during the winter, so we went there to have a look. Kings Wood is bigger and drier, but over twice the journey away.
We got to Orlestone and walked out usual route without seeing a single other person. It was a bit boggy in places, but it could have been a whole lot worse. The dogs behaved well; last year I rather went off of the place as Morgan would run riot when we were there, but he was as good as gold today.
As we walked I was amazed at just how many trees had been cut down. I realise that the place is a working woodland and that the trees are cropped for wood, but it was rather sad nonetheless.
We came home and the dogs had a bath. Some needed it more than others. I then set off in totally the wrong direction for work; I needed petrol. I drove past the place in the town centre which prides itself on having the cheapest petrol for miles around and drove to Sainsburys who were knocking the stuff out at two pence per litre cheaper.
And then I headed for work. Having made careful note of the time I'd left home and the time I got to the A28 I think it fair to say that getting petrol added half an hour to my journey. Half an hour(!) - I would have thought ten minutes at most.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were presenting an incredibly dull documentary about Frank Zappa so I turned the radio off and sang along to Ivor Biggun as I drove west through the -hursts and the -dens. Much as I grumble about the journey to Pembury, when I get a clear run (like I did today) it is a pretty drive, even if it takes (almost) twice as long as the run to Maidstone.
As I drove through Pembury I saw the garage which usually sells petrol at ten pence more per litre than the garages in Ashford had changed its policy. Today they were knocking it out at a penny less than the price charged by the supposedly cheap place in Ashford. It pays to shop around.
I got to the work's car park, ate my lunch as I read more of my Kindle, then got on with that which I couldn't avoid. And as is so often the way on a late shift, the day was effectively over by the early afternoon.
28 April 2023 (Friday) - Before Another Late Shift
With the coughing and the snotting finally receding to manageable proportions I was sleeping better than I had done for a long time when the bin men woke me at silly o’clock. The bin men won’t collect bins that aren’t put onto the pavements for them, and on bin day they send an advance party to move each bin about a yard or so seemingly just to make a noise at five o’clock.
I wish they wouldn’t, but what can anyone do? Complaints about the bin men won’t be acted on. As the chap at the council said, we must all “appease the contractor”.
I made toast and sent out four birthday wishes. One to a munzing friend. One to a cousin. One to a real friend. And one which had me pondering. There was a chap who was such a large part of my life for many years. We would go on cycle rides and camping trips and pub crawls. Some rather decent Christmases… and about this time last year we heard (third hand) that he’d sold his house and moved to Scotland and no one has heard anything from him since.
I wonder how he’s doing.
As I perused Facebook this morning there was a post about a “Gofundme” campaign on one of the pages I follow. Someone who also follows the page needed money. Being American she had no access to any NHS-type freely available healthcare and had chosen to pay for cancer treatment rather than paying the electricity bill, but ended up not having enough money for either and found herself owing tens of thousands of dollars.
Bear that in mind when you (I) whinge about the NHS.
Despite the mud yesterday and the overnight rain we went back to Orlestone for a walk today. When time is at a premium it has the advantage over Kings Wood of a twenty-minute shorter driving time. Morgan seemed reluctant to go, but he seemed to enjoy himself even though the mud was as bad (if not worse) than I feared.
As we walked there was an odd incident… at just over the half-way point I could clearly hear someone whistling a cheery tune. I looked around wanting to nip any potential “dog episode” in the bud. But no matter in which direction I looked I couldn’t see anyone. Even though I could clearly hear the whistling.
And then at the end of our walk (was it connected?) not fifty yards from the car park we met two police officers tiptoeing through the mud. Morgan and Bailey ran up to them to say hello. The policewoman asked if we’d seen anything suspicious in the woods. I mentioned the strange whistling sound, and the two coppers exchanged glances. The policeman asked exactly where I’d heard the whistle, and his face was a picture when I said about half a mile away. He looked at me, looked at the policewoman, looked at the mud and repeated “half a mile?” in a rather disbelieving tone. He had no idea how big Orlestone Woods are. Our standard walk is just under two miles, and we don’t go anywhere near the southern or eastern parts of the wood except in the height of summer.
I would have thought that police would have been issued with wellies if they were going to be sent on missions into woodlands…
We came home and the dogs had a serious scrub. They were filthy. Especially Treacle; she really is a swamp monster.
I then had a little look at the pond. The new filter has certainly been doing good; I can clearly see the pumps on the bottom of the pond which I couldn’t two days ago. All I need now is to think about filter cleaning. That will involve a pipe long enough to go from the filter to the drain. I got out a tape measure and even using the hose I salvaged on Wednesday I’m still going to need twenty metres of the stuff.
Good old Amazon!!
I hope the stuff comes on some sort of reel.
We'd had a good walk earlier, and I'd had a few minutes in the garden. As I headed off to work so the rain started. With little more than tripe on the radio I turned to Ivor Biggun songs and set off to work thinking about something that “er indoors TM” had mentioned. Six years ago (27 April 2017) “My Boy TM” and I had emptied her mate's pond and shifted a *lot* of small fish into our pond (forty-six). Bearing in mind there were quite a few fish already in the pond when those forty-six went in, there is nowhere near that amount of fish in the pond now. Where have they all gone?
The drive to work today was rather slow. As I crawled at a snail's pace behind a huge lorry I saw that the pub in Biddenden was up for sale. Another pub gone; I can't imagine that one re-opening.
And then there was quite the hold-up in Bethersden as three huge lorries tried to negotiate the chicane for which they were clearly far too large.
I got to work and as I sat in the car park scoffing a sandwich my phone rang. It was the estate agent who had just turned down an offer on Dad's house as they thought it was too low. I can't help but think that by this stage of the game, any offer is worth having. With every single viewer saying they can get bigger houses cheaper in the area, I was giving up any hope of selling it.
A little while later she phoned back to say the buyer had upped his offer, and we've accepted it. Perhaps not as much money in my back bin as I would have liked, but (in all honesty) far more than if we'd held on for a price we'd never have got.
Now we've got all the arse ache of solicitors...
29 April 2023 (Saturday) - And Another Late Shift
I slept reasonably well I suppose, but was awake earlier than I might have liked. I made toast, and as always looked at a rather dull Internet. Pretty much nothing at all had happened overnight, which was a shame. No squabbles or petty backbiting… all rather dull.
However I had an email to say that the twenty metres of hose for cleaning out the new pond filter had been dispatched. I must admit I wasn’t happy. I ordered through Amazon because Amazon will deliver it to my door. However the seller (that *wasn’t* actually Amazon) had posted it using Royal Mail, and from bitter experience I know that Royal Mail aren’t averse to driving past the house, claiming I wasn’t in, and expecting me to go to some obscure depot miles away. But in readiness for when the hose arrives, I watched some You-Tube videos about cleaning the filter. It looks straightforward enough… here’s hoping.
Being a Saturday morning we took the dogs round to Dog Club. There was a rather good turn-out, but everyone stayed at the top of the field; no one ventured down into the swamp. I took a few photos as I do.
We came home, had a cold cross bun and a cuppa, and then I set off to work a little earlier than I might have done. As I'd scoffed my cold cross bun I'd seen a photo on the Facebook Garden Ponds (UK) group which had given me an idea. I was planning to do a bit of landscaping round the pond tomorrow anyway, and having seen this piccie I needed (wanted) some flattish rocks.
I thought I'd have time to pop to Bybrook Barn to get some.
The roads were heaving and what I thought would be a five minute drive took me half an hour. I got to Bybrook Barn and ended up asking the staff to make an announcement over the loudspeakers. In all honesty there couldn't have been more than three or four people in the place who actually realised that they weren't the only customers in the place. People were blundering about, randomly stopping for no reason whatsoever, and crashing head-on into other shoppers as though they were invisible. The chap on the counter agreed with me; they really did need to be told to open their eyes and look at the world around them. But (he admitted) he wasn't brave enough to tell them.
And then when I got to the tills there was some chap who was trying to push in at every till despite his wife telling him he had to join the queues like everyone else had done.
There's no denying that my piss was boiling as I drove out of the car park; it cooled as I sang along (very loudly) to Ivor Biggun songs.
Pausing only briefly in Sissinghurst for a steak and stilton pasty I was soon at work.
There’s no denying that I sulked as I worked today. I had planned to go to the Kent Lego Show in Medway today.
And failing that I could have rallied the troops to go to the London Calling geocaching event.
I could have spent time swimming with the grandchildren.
Instead I was working.
30 April 2023 (Sunday) - Badlesmere, Pond
I woke to find “er indoors TM” sleeping at the bottom of the bed. Apparently she too had had problems claiming bed space from sleeping dogs. It’s unlike her to take any lip from the pups, though.
I got up, put a load of washing on, made toast and had a look at the Internet. I had two more friend requests from rather dubious young ladies. The first one didn’t say anything at all about herself on her profile. I expect she was letting her chest do the taking. From a purely objective point of view, she had a rather impressive chest, If I had one like that I too would brandish it with similar wanton abandon.
From a chest perspective the second one didn’t come close, and (to be fair to her) she wasn’t trying to compete. However she had a whip so she meant business. She was also wearing waders. My father had a pair that he used when he went shrimping.
I sent out some birthday wishes, and then sighed. Someone had posted a photo from a bookshop in Hastings. A book I once had (in the mid 1970s) was up for sale for a hundred and fifty quid. There were quite a few people posting “how much!!!” but I had a look on eBay and on collector’s sites. It is ironic to think that something I once had and chucked out is now worth a small fortune.
Also in Hastings (well, a Hastings-related Facebook group) were photos of the Memorial. If you’ve ever driven through Hastings “the Memorial” is the pedestrian area with all the traffic lights where up until 1970 there was a memorial to Prince Albert. It was demolished in 1970 after a fire. One or two locals were demanding the demolition of the pedestrian area and the re-building of the Memorial. Hastings-based Facebook groups are full of spur of the moment complaints about the local council coming from people who wouldn’t dream of getting off their arse to do anything themselves.
We got ourselves and the dogs organized and drove out to Badlesmere where we met Karl and Tracey, and wandered round “er indoors TM” series of geocaches. She sorted out any issues; I took a few photos. And with walk walked we had a rather good pub dinner and I slept all the way home.
Bearing in mind the weather forecast for tomorrow wasn’t overly good, I got busy in the garden. First of all I ran out the hose pipe, set up the fish pond filter cleaning arrangement and scrubbed out the two filters that I took out on Wednesday.
I then buried the cable for the new filter under a paving slab, and landscaped a rockery behind the pond’s splash pool..
And then I dismantled the cascade I built last August Bank Holiday.
With jobs done I looked at the pond and had a little think and reviewed the situation with the pond. A year ago I had a rather huge filter box that wasn’t really cleaning the water, looked awful and was far too heavy for me to clean out without knacking my back. So over last summer I replaced it with two smaller filter boxes. That was over three hundred quid on something which bunged up with fish poo really quickly. looked even worse than that which it had replaced, and didn’t clean the water either. So I got a load of paving slabs and landscaping to hide the new boxes and built a cascade. Four hundred quid on something which looked frankly dreadful and leaked.
The filter I installed last Wednesday (together with the cleaning hoses) was the two hundred quid I should have spent in the first place.
I’ve now got the pond clear, which was the object of the exercise. The area above the splash pool is far from perfect, but is a vast improvement on what it was. I can tinker with that over the next few weeks. It needs more big rocks, but at a fiver a throw I might wait for a while. Especially as I have effectively wasted seven hundred quid on that pond over the last year.
Now that the old filters are scrubbed out I really need to look at selling them (if I can).
If an of my loyal readers have got any rocks they don’t want…
I really ache now… rather than taking my time, this afternoon I did everything on my list for tomorrow. I really should slow down when it comes to shifting heavy rocks about.