1 December 2011 (Thursday) - Advent...

My sniffle’s got worse – yesterday I went to bed a couple of hours earlier than usual and slept right through almost until till alarm clock time. I was tempted to phone in sick this morning, but in the end I decided that I didn’t dare.


Coming home from work was quite tricky – it had been raining all day, and the roads I drove along were more like rivers. I came home to find the world in uproar over yesterday’s strikes. No one seems at all bothered about the burning issues that were causing the controversy – instead the world was up in arms about what Jeremy Clarkson had said on the matter. Personally I think a lot of people might have missed the point here. Jeremy Clarkson isn’t the villain of the piece. He was clearly dragged onto peak time television to say something controversial in order to boost the ratings.

And in doing what was expected of him, he’s effectively (to coin a phrase) pissed on his own chips. Silly fellow.


And it’s December – and so I opened my Lego Advent Calendar. Today we start off with a tramp. Normally we would have something more festive – a reindeer, a snowman, but in these austere times, a tramp is all the market will stand.

Mind you, someone’s been foolish enough to give Harry Ramp the price of a cup of tea. He spent it on Brasso, but I suppose he’s happy. And being happy is the name of the game, really….



2 December 2011 (Friday) - Sinusitis


My sniffle’s now developed into full-blown sinusitis. I’ve had this before and it dragged on for months. So I made the most of one of the only advantages of working in a hospital by going to see the resident G.P. (hospitals have them now).

Before I could see the quack I had my blood pressure checked – 134 / 84. The last time I had this done it was 130 / 88. It would seem I’ve lowered my first number at the expense of the second number. I wonder what the numbers actually mean?

But I found this wonderful chart on the Internet which says my blood pressure is “high normal”. That’s good enough for me - I can live with “high normal”.


And then I got in to see the quack. He agreed that I have sinusistis, and prescribed doxycycline and beconase aqueous. Doxycycline is good stuff, and amongst other maladies, it can be used to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I’m pretty sure I have sinusitis and not Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but I suspect that the quack isn’t taking any chances. Apparently the stuff (doxycycline, not Rocky Mountain spotted fever) will make me sensitive to sunlight, so it’s as well I’m having it in December.

The doc also said to give my snozz the steam treatment as well. My mother used to do steam treatments when she was congested. I’ve had a go, but I don’t think it achieved very much.


And despite dying to death of disease, I spent the evening doing the ironing and sorting out the smalls. These long winter evenings just fly by….


Meanwhile in another (possibly better) plane of reality, Harry Ramp has found a Brasso Shovel (patent pending).

There are those, admittedly those who don’t drink Brasso, who would think that the device is actually some kind of catapult for launching tins of Brasso. But, as Harry would ask, why on Earth would anyone get rid of Brasso.

The logic is inescapable….



3 December 2011 (Saturday) - Harry Potter

Saturday is weekly weigh-in day. This week has not been especially different to any other week: I’ve not exercised any more than usual, I’ve not starved or binged. But for some reason I lost four pounds this week - it must be that I’m not very well at the moment.

With this four pounds shifted, I’ve now lost a total of three stone since I started dieting back in August. I suppose the on-going stress is probably the driving force behind the weight loss, and I only hope that the weight stays off. But there’s no denying that I have not been so thin for twenty years – my belt has now got to the stage that I need to make a hole in it as I’ve run out of holes on it. But realistically I’m still only half way along the weight loss journey.


We popped up to town for a bit of shopping this morning. The town wasn’t too busy, but I did get a little wound up by the people who seemed to be unable to walk in straight lines: so many people were aimlessly and randomly blundering here, there and thither. And then just stopping dead for no apparent reason.

There’s an art gallery which has opened up where GZ computers used to be. Their paintings aren’t cheap. Badger Original Landscapes can seriously undercut them.


I then slept in front of the telly for a while until Steve & Sarah came round. They had some money for the astro club, but it was good to catch up and chat for half an hour or so.


And then seeing how it’s Saturday night we popped round to Chris’ house for the Saturday night film-a-thon. Tonight we had a Harry Potter double bill – the last two films (Deathly Hallows Parts I and II). Much as I enjoyed them, they aren’t “good” films in that if you haven’t read the books you will have very little idea of what was going on. But it passed an enjoyable five hours.


Meanwhile, having heard reports of vagrancy, civil unrest and drinking sundry metal polishes for social reasons, the authorities have come to see what all the fuss is about.

Harry Ramp has run off. Mind you he’s left his Brasso, so I expect he’ll be back soon.

Meanwhile the officer of the law seems to have a strange fixation with his handcuffs. It might be innocent - we shall give him the benefit of the doubt (for the time being)…



4 December 2011 (Sunday) - Family Bash

Yesterday I wittered on about this and that. And the blog entry got a comment from someone called Neal who tried to advertise animal bedding. Needless to say I didn’t publish the comment.


And with the Kent contingent of the family gathered together we set off to Hastings for the family Christmas party. My brother and Nicky always put on a good spread, and this year was no exception. Wonderful scoff, table tennis, darts, pool, skittles to play. Great fun. We had “pass the parcel” in which little Lacey wound up with far too many sweeties. And then Santa visited. And little Lacey was made up with it: Santa gave her a wave as he came in, and she thought that was because Santa remembered her from having seen her at the reindeer farm a couple of weeks ago.

All too soon it was time to come home again, and with the Folkestonians departed Folkestonewards and er indoors TM gone bowling, I went home with  My Boy TMfor a cup of coffee and to watch a bit of telly. But I didn’t stay long – all the driving (and still being somewhat under the weather) had worn me out. I was feeling shattered, and so another early night really wouldn’t hurt.


Meanwhile the forces of law and order have captured Harry Ramp and banged him in the slammer (oo-er!). The charge of his having an unholy fixation on metal cleaning products is unlikely to stick, though.



5 December 2011 (Monday) - Stuff

Here’s some totally nonsensical news. It would seem that my home town is the least “green” town in the county; recycling far less than any other Kent town. Now when I read this news I frankly did not believe it. The tip in Ashford (which I’ve blogged about many times) recycles pretty much everything which is possible to recycle, and has notices up about the recycling rates. And the rates are good.

But apparently because that tip is run by the county council and not the borough council, figures for recycling there are credited to the county, and not to the town. Isn’t that silly!


er indoors TM is preparing to make a Christmas cake this year. She’s got all of the components ready for assembly, and much as I love Christmas cake, according to the instructions, each bit of cake is over three hundred calories. Seven bits would be more than my daily food allowance. I do hope my diet isn’t going to slip over the next few weeks.

And talking of er indoors TM and Christmas, she put the tree up today. This year I’m not really feeling the Christmas thing at all this year (which is quite unlike me), but it was good to come home to find the tree up.


Meanwhile it’s a quiet day in Legoland today. Malefactors are behind bars, and the forces of law and order find themselves at a loose end.

It wouldn’t be surprising if they start getting up to mischief themselves soon…



6 December 2011 (Tuesday) - Space


I had an email from the leccie company today. My statement was apparently available on-line. A shame that they had changed my password and not told me. So I tried to ring them. “Tried” being the operative phrase – the number took some finding. And once I found it I was on hold for over half an hour. I eventually got through to them, and found that I have to re-register everything with them. That’s a pain.


Today’s news is that the Kepler Space Telescope has discovered an Earth-like planet. It’s about six hundred light years away, and is probably double the size of the Earth, but from what information is available, this thing was discovered and confirmed about as quickly as it would have been possible to make such a discovery. The implication is therefore that there are a lot more of these planets waiting to be found.

And talking of other planets, tonight being Tuesday the tribes gathered and we started watching “Firefly” – I’ve not seen that for years.


Meanwhile the forces of law and order have got themselves an Xmas tree. How festive (!)

Mind you – do we see tins of Brasso laying round that tree…?



7 December 2011 (Wednesday) - Gas Bill


The other day I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling particularly Christmassy this year. I’m not alone in this – it would seem that members of the audience in a nativity play have come to blows.  I saw this sort of thing from time to time back when I was a cub leader – what on Earth possesses parents to resort to fisticuffs in front of their children?

And then just as I was checking my emails there was a commotion downstairs. Folkestonians had invaded. Apparently there was stuff to put on to a key drive. That was nice.


Following on from yesterday’s phone call to the leccie company, I eventually sorted out my log-in to find that there was no mention of my gas bill. Just the leccie. So I phoned them back to see what was going on. I knew it would be a mistake; but after forty minutes of waiting someone eventually answered my call, and explained to me what I could see on my screen. She said there was no mention of my gas bill because it wasn’t there (!)

The nice lady has offered to reverse my bill (!) and it should be sorted in the morning. Time will tell – it usually does.


Meanwhile in another plane of reality the Brasso has been removed from the Xmas tree and has been replaced by some nice presents. One wonders if this is because of Santa’s little helpers.

Mind you, there’s a skateboard laying around. And where there’s skateboards, there’s usually trouble…



8 December 2011 (Thursday) - Telly


I had a wonderful evening last night - I sat down with er indoors TM and we watched telly. We started with two episodes of Terra Nova. I do like that show. The plot now has more twists than a twisty thing. I've checked Wikipedia and there's no talk of the show being cancelled yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn't make it to a second season; if only because all good programs seem to get cancelled these days.

We then watched the first episode of the remake of "Charlie's Angels". It has to be said that the series in the seventies was rather rubbish, and the remake seems to be keeping true to the original. Following the theme of Alexi Sayle's classic film "Things Exploding", the show seemed to favour explosions and gun battles over the concept of a plot.


My phone vibrated today (I have it on silent at work) - I had a text from some random number telling me that following my accident they had arranged for me to get £2751 in compensation. That seemed a very precise amount for someone to come up with: especially bearing in mind that I've not tried to claim compensation for any accidents recently.

They said they would arrange for me to get the money if I replied "Yes" to the text. I suspect replying "Yes" to the text would cost me the best part of that £2751. I won't reply to them.

A colleague who was by my side when the text arrived told me he gets lots of texts like that. So far I haven't. I get plenty of spam emails, but not spam texts. I do hope this isn't the start of something....


And after work we were driven down to the Hoseys where, after a smashing bit of tea we watched more telly -  some episodes of “Burn Notice”: something I’ve not seen before, but something I shall certainly watch again. Hopefully at the Hoseys.


Meanwhile Harry Ramp has escaped incarceration and is, like so many professional vagrants, enjoying a cup of tea on the park bench.

We say “cup of tea” – all we know for sure is that it’s a cup of something. Perhaps he’s just become more cultured with time and no longer drinks Brasso straight from the bottle?




9 December 2011 (Friday) - Mr Christian !!!!


Today’s news is very popular with the average Englishman. With the European Union seriously considering having a proper union, England stands alone. Having made the decision to veto any changes to the E.U. treaty, the Prime Minister has never been so popular.

Was his decision the right one? Frankly I don’t really know, and I doubt whether one person in a thousand knows (or even understands the issues) either. But all that matters is that we as a country have told Johnny Foreigner to get bent, and that is enough for the vast majority of the population.

I would so like for us as a country to have grown beyond that stage…


Meanwhile back in reality life goes on. I was on an early today. An early start makes for an early finish, but finishing work early in Canterbury means I arrive in Ashford for the rush-hour traffic. Which is a pain.

Once home I got the ironing sorted, and after fish and chips (486 calories), er indoors TM went out. I stayed in and watched telly. The 1960s version of “Mutiny on the Bounty” – a classic!!


Meanwhile Harry Ramp has done a runner. And wouldn’t you with a mad axe murderer on the loose. One can’t help but feel that had the forces of law and order put more effort into catching mad axe murderers and less effort into lego Christmas trees, then the world might have been a safer place.



10 December 2011 (Saturday) - Not Much, Really


I was really late to bed last night, but was woken by “My Boy TM quietly coming down the stairs at 6.20am this morning. He managed to come down the stairs “quietly” several times this morning, but I never once heard him going back up.

This morning was my weekly weigh in: I only lost one pound this week. A bit disheartening, but then I didn’t do much exercise last week, and I had rather epic pig-outs on Sunday and Thursday, so I shouldn’t really be surprised.


We then wandered up to the town for a mooch round the shops: we didn’t stay long. It wasn’t especially busy, but no one seemed to be capable of walking in a straight line. Everyone was meandering all over the place. My nerves couldn’t be doing with that, so we came home and watched the St. Trinians film. I then got my paints out and did a landscape. It didn’t’ turn out quite as I might have hoped, but then, paintings rarely ever do. And the photo certainly doesn’t do it justice. I need to figure out a way of getting decent photos of my paintings.


The original plan for the evening had us going to Folkestone to see the lunar eclipse. But it transpired that the eclipse wasn’t visible from the UK. And because we’d planned to see the eclipse, we’d not got tickets to the kite club party. So after a super bit of tea we went round to Chris’s for the Saturday night film-a-thon. Tonight we had a triple bill – the Madagascar Christmas special, Love Actually, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. All good films. And then we came home through the frost.


And talking of frost, it’s a cold day in lego-land too. When it’s cold, most people don’t go fishing, but mad axe murderers are made of sterner stuff. And they set light to lego to keep warm.

He’s managed to catch a fish. Which is more than some of our loyal readers ever do….



11 December 2011 (Sunday) - Cold


An odd day,really. We didn't get up especially early, and when we did, the day was spent pootling. After a bit of brekky I checked my emails. For some reason I seem to be getting a lot less spam than recently. I iwonder what that's all about? I then did another painting. I'd been given some ideas featuring Kentish scenes, and so I had a go.

I think that scenes featuring mountains and/or water probably come out better (for me), but I came up with a view from a wood looking across fields to a misty forest on the horizon. I'm not overly pleased with the result, but then I rarely ever am. I can't help but feel that there's not a lot going on in the painting. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.


Whilst I painted, er indoors TM  made the Christmas cake. The smells were good. Something else which smelt good was my fried egg sandwich that I had for lunch. And after lunch we watched telly. It would have been good to have gone out and done something, but it was so cold. The thermometer in the living room said it was seventeen degrees: it felt more like minus ten million (!) So we stayed in and had a Star-Trek-a-thon. Four episodes of the Spoke and Jim show. Can't be bad(!)

Whilst the telly was on I got out the sewing box and effected repairs to the hole in my trousers, and then did something I've taken to doing lately - I mucked about on my laptop. For some reason I struggle to get on with the keyboard on my laptop; the keys are ever so slightly bigger than the keys on my desktop PC, and it seems to be taking a little while to get used to.


Meanwhile Harry Ramp has decided to squeal on the mad axe murderer. The mad axe murderer is feeling the cold, and is warming his axe on the fire. The forces of law and order are feeling the cold, and wish Harry Ramp would go away so they can close the door: it's letting the cold in.

The mad axe murderer wishes the forces off law and order would go away so he can show Harry Ramp that no one likes a squealer...



12 December 2011 (Monday) - Kindle

I’ve been spending a little time lately filling up my Kindle. If you know where to look, there are loads of free books on the internet. And legally free too. I downloaded about thirty or so to be getting on with. I’ve been told that free books equate with books that publishers don’t want. I’ve also got first-hand experience of books that publishers don’t’ want. And just because a book is published (and costs a fortune) in no way makes it a good book.

The only trouble with the free books is that not all of them are in a format that goes well on the Kindle – whilst Kindles can read pdf files, they don’t actually look very good on the Kindle screen. Mobi is better. (There you are – you’ve learned something!)


And that’s the news for today – something of a dull one, as my days go…


Meanwhile the forces of law and order have had an extension done, and are having a cuppa to celebrate. Harry Ramp would like a cuppa too. We suspect that the forces of law and order do not drink the same metal cleaning products that Harry does, though…



13 December 2011 (Tuesday) - Higgs Bosons


The rain was noisy last night. Torrential, and coming against the window with such force that the noise kept me awake most of the night. So it was hardly surprising that I wasn’t on top form today.


Work was dull, and then I came home again. I see that very little of note has happened in today’s news: the most exciting development is the possible discovery of the Higgs Boson. For those of my loyal readers who have no idea what the Higgs Boson is, I have no idea either; other than that the Large Hadron Collider was built (at a cost of a squillion quid) to discover it.

Presumably now the Higgs Boson has been discovered, the Large Hadron Collider is somewhat surplus to requirements. I wonder if they will try to flog it on eBay?


I came home to find a letter from the building society to say that when we paid off the mortgage they cancelled the house contents and building insurance. So I had to sort out new cover. That cost a fortune that I frankly haven’t got.


Being Tuesday the tribes gathered. This time at Chip’s house, where we watched some more Doctor Who. Good stuff…


Meanwhile the forces of law and order have got reinforcements. However this reinforcement would seem to have joined the ‘bules purely because of his love of amateur radio. He’s quite pleased with his “rubber duck”, and boasts of his “thunderstick”.



14 December 2011 (Wednesday) - Dull


Some days in my life are exciting and quite eventful. The news of the day might wind me up, or I might have had an encounter with a member of the Great Unwashed that made me chuckle. But today very little along those lines happened. Today was rather dull. Which was a shame.

But then, isn’t it a traditional Chinese curse that you would wish that your enemy lived in interesting times?


Meanwhile in another plane of reality a strange looking table has been found. It’s either got a magnifying glass or a saucepan on it. The assembled throng aren’t sure.

Mind you, when you consider that the assembled throng’s strong points are consumption of metal cleaners, homicide and an unholy fixation with aerials, perhaps it’s not surprising that they don’t have a clue what is going on.

(And in that respect they are in good company…)



15 December 2011 (Thursday) - Go Compare


Having a late start this morning gave me some time to fiddle about before work. Amongst my morning haul of emails was the news that I was being followed on Twitter. I have several followers on Twitter – I don’t know why as I rarely (if ever) tweet. Most followers I pick up these days seem to be porn-mongers. I did wonder if it was possible to remove them from my followers list – I thought that anyone who looks at my followers is probably going to get entirely the wrong idea about me. But when I looked at the list, I only see the non-porn-mongers. I wonder what’s going on there. (Not that I’m complaining)


The phone rang this morning. Someone who’s spoken English was rather poor immediately demanded that I turned on my computer and told him all the remote access passwords. Apparently my PC had a virus and had targeted his laptops. If this bloke could have access to my PC he could solve the problem. I asked him if he honestly thought that I would hand over access to any random stranger who phoned me. He said that most people did; which rather showed that he made a habit of this scam, and I hung up. I can’t help but feel that if this was a genuine call he would have phoned me back.


A couple of days ago I mentioned about my house contents and buildings insurance. Today I had a look on Go Compare – and managed to get a much cheaper quote. Had the building society not cancelled the policy without telling me I could have got it even cheaper. But such is life.

I suspect that everyone will now tell me that they could recommend a cheaper insurer. To those people I would say “please don’t”.


Meanwhile our friend the mad axe murderer has got a new car. I say “got a new car” – the new car was today’s offering from the advent calendar, and he’s taken it. After all, who’s going to argue with an axe murderer?



16 December 2011 (Friday) - Snow...


I could not believe my eyes when I read the news this morning. Apparently experts have found that it is vital for the functioning of a true democracy that a sizeable proportion of the electorate should have no idea of what's going on.

It would seem that a sizeable proportion of people with no grasp of the issues of the day can have a steadying influence on those who actually know what's happening. After all, heaven forbid that democratic decisions should ever be made with any knowledge of the issues or reason being employed.

Mind you, does anyone truly understand what's going on in the world? I certainly don't.


And so to the doctor’s. My appointment was for 9.10am – I got in shortly after 9.30am. I didn’t complain – the place was busy, and enough other people were complaining already.

When I saw the hospital doctor about my sinusitis (two weeks ago) he said to see my G.P. in a week or so, and so I did. They said to keep taking the medicine. Whilst there we had a chat about my general health (I knew him when he was only a corporal!). My cholesterol isn’t *that* high according to today’s doc, and we’ve agreed to check it again in a few months. My blood pressure is also down – now at 120/80, which is the best it’s been since the early 1990s. We put the improvements down to the recent weight loss. So I suppose this diet is a good thing: even if I do feel hungry most of the time.


And then to work – through the snow. Only a few flurries, but I don’t like snow if I have to travel. I still have memories of a journey to Whitstable. We drove there in under an hour, the snow fell, and it took five hours to get home again. There was a dubious few minutes on the way as I saw the snow was laying on some of the fields, but fortunately the snow turned to rain. Let’s hope it stays as rain.


Meanwhile overnight the mad axe murderer’s car has transformed itself into a vehicle of the forces of law and order.

The mad axe murderer is rather dubious about driving round in a police car: it may be a tad conspicuous. As if being a mad axe murderer isn’t conspicuous enough already.



17 December 2011 (Saturday) - An Evening Out


The weekly weigh –in: three more pounds lost. The weight is coming off nicely. If only I didn’t feel hungry all the time.


I wandered up town to get some makings of lunch for the week - carrots and apples from the market are good quality and are very cheap. Ant the walk is god exercise too. Strangely the town wasn't especially busy: not that I'm complaining.

And then home again. "er indoors TM" 's laptop was playing up, and "Daddies Little Angel TM" needed taking back to Folkestone, so whilst the girls set off to the coast I ironed my shirts, and then spent the afternoon watching the telly: a "Compo and Clegg show" marathon followed by "Dad's Army - the Movie".


And finding myself telly-ed out, we went round for dinner with friends for the evening. Smashing food; smashing company. And after a truly wonderful chicken in white wine sauce followed by home-made cake we played the Logo game: a new one on me, but great fun. We really must do it again.


We eventually got home about midnight and then sat up playing silly games on the computer till really late.. I think that I might have overdone my calorie allowance for the day, but the occasional overindulgence doesn't hurt too much....


Overnight the “Old-Bill-Mobile” has become somewhat blinged. Which is more than can be said for the mad axe murderer.



18 December 2011 (Sunday) - Dull Sunday


We had a late night last night – we didn’t get in till midnight and then spent a couple of hours watching telly and playing computer games. So I wasn’t very impressed to be woken by the phone ringing at silly o’clock this morning. And even less impressed to find that the caller not only hung up before I could get to the phone, and that they’d withheld their number.

And so having been dragged out of my pit, I was up and about. So I had brekky and started playing on-line scrabble. I say “on-line scrabble”: the game isn’t actually scrabble because (as I understand it) copyright laws prevent the use of the name. But the game is as close to scrabble as makes very little difference.


Normally I’d do something with a weekend day; but it was cold. So we sat in front of the telly and watched all sorts of programs that had been recorded onto the Sky Plus box whilst playing on-line scrabble and Mah-Jong. Rather a waste of a day, but when it’s cold it seems as good a way of wasting the day as any.

As the afternoon wore on, I had a video call from the Rear Admiral. It would seem that video calling now works. That’s nice.


Meanwhile, whilst the usual suspects muck about with the blinged car, a new protagonist arises. He has a crowbar, and from his demeanour he doesn’t look like he would be afraid to use it…



19 December 2011 (Monday) - Bit Nippy


It didn't feel too cold when I emerged from my pit at 5.45 am this morning. Mind you I thought the day wasn't getting off to a good start when the "Discovery Shed" wasn't showing fishing programmes at 6.30am. And then off to work. And that *was* cold. Once I'd got through the ice on my car and got into the thing I saw from the thermometer that the temperature was minus five. That's chilly.

Pausing only briefly to skid on the ice in Wincheap I got to work relatively uneventfully, and did my bit. Coming home was equally dull: there was a dubious few seconds when I found myself on course to be heading north up the M2, but that was nothing that a swift lane change couldn't put right. Mind you, since when has it been possible to head north up the M2 from Wincheap?

Once home tea got scoffed,and with "er indoors TM" gone bowling, I activated my laptop and transmitted to the world from the sofa whilst watching "Rock and Chips" on the telly. For so many years I've taken myself up to the back room and mucked about on a "proper" computer. I quite like sitting in front of the telly with my laptop. I just need to get used to the keyboard...

Meanwhile, whilst the forces of law and order muck about with blinged cars, our new protagonist has jemmied open the safe and is about to make off with his ill-gotten gains.

Or has put his tool to use, and is about to spend his wad; depending on your personal perpective...




20 December 2011 (Tuesday) - Feeling Poorly

The plan for today was a meeting for the morning, and then would take the afternoon off. The meeting went west, so I spent the day at home. To be honest I wasn't feeling 100%: my sinusitis was playing up quite seriously today. I curled up on the sofa; pulled a blanket over myself, put "Survivors: Season 2" on the DVD player, and sulked for six hours.

I don't cope with illness very well.



And being Tuesday we went round to Chris's house. Rather than the usual TV, tonight we watched a film: "The Amazing Mr Blunden". I can remember watching this in the cinema when it first came out nearly forty years ago. I could remember it being a good film, and i wasn't disappointed. It has to be said that the ending was rather weak, but that can be said of a lot of films form the early 70s.

I was amazed to find that the film had been directed by Lionel Jeffries - he played the Grandad in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" - I had no idea that he was a director.



Meanwhile our newest friend has realised that preparation is everything: it's all very well blowing a safe (oo-er!) provided one has the wherewithal to make a quick get-away. Clearly a snowmobile lacks the boot space that a blinged police car might have.

It's amazing how upsetting a failed get-away can be - that crowbar is certainly not at a very rakish angle....



21 December 2011 (Wednesday) - Stuff



We had a late night last night, but being on a late start meant I could have a bit of a lie-in. Or so I thought. The dustmen were rather noisy with the bins this morning, and next door’s dogs sounded as though they were in full demolition mode as they crashed about.
A nuisance – I wasn’t feeling in tip-top condition and a lie-in would have done me some good.

Over brekkie I heard a noise at the door - a visit from the most recent fruit of my loin and Sid had come to visit too. That’s always good. I gave them instructions not to leave me a house full of washing up, and wasted the morning playing Mah-Jong before going to work.

Work was good - we had the Xmas buffet. In the past I've always taken crisps and peanuts: but at Canterbury people seem to make the food they bring in. I shall have to up my game plan for next time. We also had the "secret santa" draw. I got a decent haul of bottled ales. Very nice!

And then home to find the house empty and that washing up had been generated for me, but hadn't been done for me. So I left it in the sink and sulked. Either magical pixies will do it overnight, or I'll do it in the morning.

Yesterday the forces of villainy were contending with a snowmobile with a storage capacity that wasn’t up to transporting lots of ill-gotten gains. Today Harry Ramp would seem to have a trailer full of illicit Brasso that he is having difficulty in pushing.
Perhaps the two of them might come to some sort of arrangement? Or perhaps Harry Ramp might just end up having his trailer nicked?



22 December 2011 (Thursday) - More Stuff



Every year as we come into December the mornings are darker. It happens every year - but for some reason this year I'm finding it especially depressing. I really don't like leaving home in the dark. Coming home in the dark's not so bad, but leaving home in the dark is not good.

Thank heavens today is the shortest day, and so from here on in the days start getting longer again.


And so to work where I did my bit and came home again. I discovered a scar along the length of my forearm this evening - it's got quite a serious scab on it too. I wonder when that happened. And how.

And after a decent bit of tea which I had to cook for myself (home alone again...) I watched "The Wrath of Khan" on the Film4 channel. A classic film - is it really twenty nine years since that film was made?


I then mucked about with my laptop's settings. I'm hoping that the blog is a tad more readable today - for the last week I've been transmitting from my lap-top using Internet Explorer 9. But IE9 takes forever to boot up, and has issues in blog entry preparation, cutting and pasting. So I've downloaded FireFox as I've been running that on my desk top successfully for ages.

And as I mucked about I had a visit: "My Boy TM" and his good lady popped in to say hello. I quite like having visitors: I don't like being alone these days.


Meanwhile in another plane of reality, in a lame attempt to keep up with the opposition, the forces of law and order have obtained a snow-mobile. All they have to do now is find a rozzer who's able to drive the thing... or would rather drive it than drink tea or muck about with his thunderstick.



23 December 2011 (Friday) - More Star Trek



Much as I like my job, the shift pattern sometimes leaves something to be desired. On Wednesday I was on a late start: yesterday back on normal hours, and then another late today. On Wednesday I whinged about not being able to have a lie-in. Today was different, and I didn't get out of my pit until nearly ten o'clock.


A bit of brekkie, and off to work. Normally when I'm on the late shift the roads are relatively quiet as I leave Ashford. Today the roads were heaving: everyone was driving to town. Both in Ashford and in Canterbury. Presumably last minute shopping before the long Xmas weekend.


Work was dull: I could probably have come home three hours earlier than I did (for all that was going on). A shame it was pouring hard as I walked across the car park, but you can't have everything. And so home where, after a smashing bit of scoff, we watched "Star Trek - The Search for Spock". Or that is I watched Star Trek. "er indoors TM" wrapped Christmas pressies.


Meanwhile the forces of law and order have got a dog. Someone has given it a bone. The lucky thing....



24 December 2011 (Saturday) - Christmas Eve




It is something of a family tradition that on Christmas Eve, "er indoors TM" goes visiting various relatives and drops off pressies along the way. Usually I'm working on Christmas Eve, so I don't normally get to go along. This year with Christmas Eve being a Saturday I got to go along. As did the rest of the tribe; chauffeured by the Rear Admiral.


The first port of call was my mummy's house where we exchanged insults over a cup of coffee, then moved on to my mother-in-law for a glass of Bailey's. Very nice.

And then to the brother-in-law's house where his nearest and dearest were all watching him play "Grand Theft Auto" or some such game. Whatever it was, it looked interesting.


We then popped next door to the chip shop for some sustenance, then after getting some petrol we drove out to Westfield to see my sister-in-law. My niece wasn't feeling well, so whilst everyone "familied" in the kitchen, me and her watched "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in the living room. An excellent film.


Pausing only briefly for a flying visit to my father-in-law, we got back home with half an hour to spare before our lift arrived. And then the Bat took us to Folkestone where the clans gathered. There was a minor panic when we realised we'd forgotten the dice, but that was nothing that a quick phone call couldn't put right.

Usually we meet up for New Year's Eve, but this year was different, and twenty of us scoffed, watched films, played the parcel game, and had a wonderful evening.

I eventually got to bed shortly after 1.30am. Absolutely worn out. I'd had a brilliant day just meeting up with family and friends. For all that I've been getting rather self-absorbed lately I am very much aware of the wonderful people in my life.


In another plane of reality Santa has arrived. He's having trouble telling the difference between who's been good and bad. But when one has just come up the chimney, one is hardly in any position to take the moral high ground.


And here's a thought - it's not actually Christmas yet, but creme eggs have been spotted in the shops already...



25 December 2011 (Sunday) - Christmas Day



Waking up on Christmas morning without the kids being home is odd. The house felt very lonely this morning. Perhaps I'm getting soppy in my old age.

"er indoors TM" eventually emerged from her pit, and as a special Christmas brekkie we had croissants and coffee. I suppose that there are those who would wonder what's special about croissants and coffee - all I can say is that I like them.


"My Boy TM" then arrived, and we had a pressie opening session. I got quite a decent haul of goodies, and then we set off to my brother's house for the day. We arrived shortly before mid day and had a crafty pint. And then another crafty pint, and a third as well before going to visit Elaine and Roy. Visiting was thirsty work, so we took up the offer of another pint.

And then back to my brother's house where ten of us sat down for Christmas dinner. Far too much Christmas dinner. Oh it was good - but the diet certainly went out the window today. And after having reached the point of being able to eat no more we wandered up the road to the garage to get some cigars: after all it was Christmas.


From that point it all became rather vague. There were games on the Nintendo Wii. There was more food scoffed. There was Christmas pudding. There was a crafty hour's sleep. We had a really good time, but all too soon it was time to come home. Amazingly I stayed awake for the drive home, and seeing that the Sky box was recording Downton Abbey, we watched some telly. I'd been looking forward to the new series of Ab Fab. I was disappointed: it was rubbish.

And I then tried to stay awake whilst Michael McIntyre's Christmas special was on the telly. I didn't quite succeed.



26 December 2011 (Monday) - Boxing Day



This morning was spent in a flurry of activity: with the fruits of our loin coming for dinner we needed to get the living room tidy. Or if not tidy, at least under control. A couple of hours effort reclaimed the room, and soon after the family gathered. My grand-dogs were pleased to see each other (as only boy dogs can be), but they soon lost interest in podgering each other.

Seven of us sat down to dinner: something new - a four bird roast. I quite liked it, but I think we made far too much. But then we usually do. Dinner was washed down with my latest home brew which was quite a nice drop of stout (even if I do say so myself).


Feeling quite stuffed we then sat down for a few hands of cards, a few games of "Downfall", and some sitting in front of the telly. "Oliver Twist", "The Borrowers", "Michael McIntyre", "Ab Fab"... I dozed through the lot, periodically waking and nodding off again. I think where I went wrong was having some of the evening buffet: I was still stuffed from yesterday and still I ate far too much.


I finally gave up and went to bed about 1am.




27 December 2011 (Tuesday) - Telly Christmas



A rather restless night - up for the loo several times during the night. I blame yesterday's over-indulgence. We finally got up at 10am, and after a light breakfast we waved goodbye to those who'd stayed over for the night.

The original plan for the day had us going out and doing something, but unfortunately for reasons of economy that wasn't possible, so we stayed in.


So, after a flying visit from Fudge and his entourage, we had a catch-up session with what we'd missed seeing on the telly over the last few days: Sky-Plus is a wonderful thing.

First of all we watched "Charlie's Angels". An entertaining enough program which really would benefit from the addition of a plot. Today's show featured our heroines being locked up in a Cuban jail. And having been locked up for quite some time, our heroines all still had immaculate make-up.


Then we watched the Christmas "Doctor Who", which started off as an episode of "Things Exploding" and carried on in much the same vein until about twenty minutes after I'd (quite frankly) lost interest in the show. And just as the show started getting to be worth watching, it turned silly again. If I'd been watching it on my own, there's no denying I would have missed the best bits because I would have turned it off after the first fifteen minutes.

Much as I've always liked "Doctor Who", over the last few years the program seems to be becoming far more comic and slapstick that ever it used to be. The Doctor never used to be a comedian. In all honesty, these days I find myself watching the program out of a sense of feeling I ought to watch it rather than because I actually enjoy the show any more.


Over a lunch of cold meat, pickles and home-brewed stout we then watched the Christmas episode of "Downton Abbey". In retrospect I could have done with reading up on what had happened during the last season as there was a lot of continuity from the last episodes that I couldn't remember, but the program was well worth watching.

Even if the nobs did wind up laughing and the servants wound up in the chokey. But such is life.


A slice of "er indoors TM"s' home-made Christmas cake, and then we did some catching up with "Terra Nova": somehow we'd managed to get three episodes behind. I do like that series; and with believable characters you can forgive it the occasional plot hole. (Like meteors going upwards).

We've now seen all of season one of that show - I hope they make a second season - however it says on Wikipedia that no decision about a second season will be made just yet.


And being Tuesday the tribes gathered and we watched "A Christmas Carol": the Disney version from two years ago. Normally I'm not a fan of things Disney, but this film was quite enjoyable. For all that we don't have a single blu-ray disk, the blu-ray player comes in useful from time to time...



28 December 2011 (Wednesday) - Stuff



Ideally I would like to have visited my mother today: she'd been taken into hospital on Boxing Day following a fall (she's home now and all is well), and today was her birthday. But (seemingly unlike the rest of the world) I was back to work today. So I contented myself with a phone call. It seems as though I always go back to work on Mum's birthday.

Work didn't go well today. Well to be honest, work went much the same as ever, but I spent most of the day in a bit of a sulk purely because pretty much everyone else was still on holiday (or so it seemed).


Tonight was arky-ologee club. We didn't go. My sinusitis was giving me gyp, and realistically I've very little interest in the arky-ologee club. Some of the talks are interesting enough, but the core business of the club (scrubbling about in holes in the dirt) leaves me yawning. Next month is when we will be expected to renew our membership: I don't think I will renew.


Meanwhile there has been a celebrity death. "Cheetah" - star of many "Tarzan" films died today aged eighty Fond of Christian music and finger painting, when irritated "Cheetah" was not averse to flinging dung about. Or so early news reports claimed. Later reports claimed that the monkey who died today not only wasn't the film star monkey, but was nowhere near eighty years old.

Apparently if the monkey that died was the real McCoy, then he would have been the oldest monkey ever. The news reports seem to imply that somehow the public have been duped into accepting an imposter monkey. I can't see what anyone stands to gain with substituting one monkey for another.



29 December 2011 (Thursday) - This and That



I was woken by the front door slamming rather noisily at 3.10am. So I went downstairs in case the worst had happened. Needless to say it was only the first fruit of my loin coming home quietly. He looked rather smart - he'd been to a casino (in Margate) to lose forty quid. I tried to hint that he could lose forty quid more constructively by giving it to me, but for all that my lad might be a bit daft, he ain't stupid.


Mind you, I wish he'd come home even more quietly: once I'm woken I have terrible trouble getting back to sleep again, and having exchanged insults with him and having had a quick tiddle, I then lay in bed until 9.30am.


Yesterday I mentioned that I was in a sulk at work. I was doubly sulking today. Having thought that I was on an early start, I found out yesterday (at almost the last minute) that I'd been reassigned to the late shift. I don't mind the late start because I go to work in daylight, but the later lunch break (2pm at the earliest) is too late for comfort, and the last few hours of the day do seem to drag.

I really don't like the way we have a seemingly random shift allocation. I would far rather do a week of late shifts rather than have an odd late midweek after which I do not get home before 9pm, and know I have to be out of bed at 6am the next morning.


And being on a sudden late shift really stuffed my plans for the evening. I'd been invited to a game of poker, and I missed the first half hour. Mind you, despite turning up late, I still managed to win. I did the victory dance to celebrate....



30 December 2011 (Friday) - Great Expectations



Having played cards last night I was rather late to bed. I dropped off immediately, but was woken by "er indoors TM" coming home an hour or so later, and that was it for the night for my sleeping. When I go to kip I drop off right away, but once woken I have serious trouble getting back to sleep. Exactly the same thing happened the night before when "My Boy TM" came home quietly.

Over the last two nights I don't think I got more than five hours sleep, and bearing in mind that the ongoing sinusitis has me more bunged up than a bunged up thing, I wasn't feeling in tip-top condition today.


So this evening I did something which was quite out of character: I sent my apologies to the astronomy club. To be honest I wasn't overly fussed about the planned activity for the club tonight: the film society was going to play the film of Apollo 13 and charge us four quid each for the privilege. Much as I would like to have met up with everyone tonight, I wasn't really feeling up to it.


So instead I stayed home and did the ironing. Whilst ironing we watched the BBC's latest adaptation of "Great Expectations"; quite watch-able, even if I had no idea what was going on for most of the time. That Miss Haversham was as mad as trousers....



31 December 2011 (Saturday) - A Wedding



With no reason to be up early we had a bit of a lie-in, and then I got out my shears and gave my head the once-over before having a bit of brekkie. I noticed the room was dark, so I opened the curtains. Or that is I tried to open the curtains: I couldn't get to the window because of all the clutter in the way. Much of which was other people's clutter. Amongst the clutter there is a tent which has been under my window for a couple of years now. It's not my tent: we seem to have brought it home from one of our camping trips, and someone or other seems to be content that I'm looking after it. If anyone thinks I'm looking after their tent could they please reclaim it as it is seriously in my way.


I had the Saturday morning weigh-in. What with the holidays I've put on three pounds this week. I suppose that's only to be expected, but I must admit that I was rather disappointed about it.


We then turned on the telly and spent a few hours watching episodes of "Come Dine With Me" which we'd recorded onto the Sky-Plus box over the last few weeks and months. If you've never seen the program, it's well worth giving a go: the show takes four or five random people all of which (over the course of a week) have to put on a dinner party for the others. Some of the people are decent bods, others are complete planks, others are utterly arrogant. Sometimes they all get on really well, sometimes it's arguments all the way. I suspect that like most reality TV it's all rather staged, but it passes the time whilst we play on-line scrabble.


With time passed we collected "My Boy TM" and his entourage (minus Fudge) and set off to Westfield for my sister-in-law's wedding. I say "wedding" - the actual wedding was during the morning: we were going to a blessing of the wedding in the local church. It seemed somewhat odd to me that a wedding be done in a registry office, and then blessed in church. Why not just have it done in the church in the first place? (But what do I know?)

The service was somewhat "Typical Church of England" in that it was rather unique. When you go to a Catholic or a Methodist or a Baptist church, generally you know what you are going to get. With the C of E these days you seem to get anything from several hours of hypocrisy in sub zero temperatures through to false bonhomie happy clappy, and everything in between. I can;t help but feel that the C of E needs to choose which area of the religion market it is aiming for, and stop trying to cover all of the bases.

But the service passed off rather well, I thought. There was a dodgy five minutes when the vicar seemed to imply that she was unaware that both protagonists had been married before, but I think that we got away with it, and after half an hour we set off to the bunfight.


The wedding reception was at the rather posh Leeford Place, and after half an hour of mingling we sat down for dinner. In a novel break with tradition speeches were made before we ate, and were well received. The food was good - I shouldn't have gone for a second helping of the curry; it didn't sit well and gave me gyp for the rest of the evening.

And then torment - a disco. I hate, loathe and despise discos. They are far too loud, noisy and intrusive. But everyone else seems to like them (so what do I know?). The assorted children and teenagers seemed to like the disco, and after meeting one of my loyal readers (hello Dickie - good to meet you!) midnight came oh-so-quickly. Auld Lang Syne was swiftly followed by fireworks. And then I realised that I am getting old when I found myself grumbling about how tiresome drunk teenagers are. I stopped myself whinging, put on a smile, and consoled myself with the thought of the copious amounts of vom said children would be generating on their journeys home. (That would be nice for someone...)


And talking of journeys home, we then made ours. I wasn't entirely sure of the quickest way home, but I was sure that it wasn't the way my sat-nav would have me believe. So "er indoors TM" activated her sat-nav which generated different (but equally implausible) instructions. But having found Broad Oak I knew the way home from there, even if sat-nav did keep trying to send us many miles out of our way to Rye.

Having dropped off the family, we eventually got home shortly after 2am, and then spent a while mucking about on the computer.

I must admit I quite missed our traditional New Year celebration, (we usually do a Spanish New Year), but as family events go, tonight was rather good There's photos of what happened here.. Must do the family thing more often...