1 December 2021 (Wednesday) - Late Shift
I woke up and opened the first window of my Lego Advent Calendar. I had a little yellow bus… what was I supposed to say about that?
As I pondered I made toast and had a look at the Internet, Facebook was illuminating; whilst I was asleep apparently “er indoors TM” had been up most of the night with toothache. I said she should have called the dentist on Saturday… My cousin was posting about an episode that happened in Hastings last week. Not only had there been all sorts of nastiness about a vigil for drowned asylum seekers down there, but protestors had tried to stop a launch of the Hastings Lifeboat in case it was going to rescue more asylum seekers who were about to drown. What sort of person stops a lifeboat? Interestingly there was also a post from the Hastings Observer newspaper featuring various people from the area who have gone to prison this month. There’s an idea… Name and shame? There were several posts from people who have shaved off their moustaches now that Mo-Vember is over. Mo-Vember? Is that still a thing?
I also saw that I am running the Munzee clan this month. I was pleased about that - it gives me something to do (not that I have to do much).
I sent out birthday wishes and got ready for our morning’s adventure.
Bearing in mind the weekend’s rain I decided the woods would be too muddy, so I took the dogs out to Great Chart where the track is rather firmer. We did our usual walk from the cricket pavilion up to the river and back. As we walked Treacle cowered in terror from one little old lady, we barked at one dog and got barked at by two other dogs. Everyone was all laughs and smiles about the barking, and I saw that as something of a minor victory. If only Treacle wasn’t so timid...
As we drove home I caught part of the morning’s Reith lecture in which Stuart Russell (Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco) made endless speculation about something which is firmly in the realms of fiction. Artificial Intelligence. What is it? How can you tell if a machine (or a person!) is intelligent or self-aware? Will machines take over the world just because humans did exactly that?
Radio Four never fails to amaze me. They will look down their noses and laugh at science-fiction authors but suck up to professors making *exactly* the same groundless suppositions purely because one is a professor with letters after his name and the other is not. As far as I am concerned, all the time the robots end up like Daneel Olivaw or Marvin and not like HAL or George Ten we’ll be OK. (full marks if you know all four of those)
Seeing the dogs had grubby tummies I decided a quick hose-down wouldn’t hurt. As I opened the door I told them “into the bath” and both ran and jumped into the bath. They really do understand what is said to them. Which is what makes life so frustrating when they don’t do as they are told.
With tummies hosed down I spent five minutes raking up dead leaves in the garden. I would like to have spent longer, but my back started playing up so I gave up and came in. Pogo snuggled up to me and fell asleep, sucking on my trousers (yuk!) as I wrote up CPD. CPD is on the dull side, but like my Advent Calendar the CPD blog has a cult following with two hundred people having looked at it over the last week. I wonder if those two hundred people are other blood testers who are blagging my blog entries… I suppose I couldn’t really complain if they are; after all that is what I do when creating that blog in the first place.
Having had a sudden stroke of inspiration I posted up today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar adventure, and seeing the dogs were both asleep I set off to work. I don’t like leaving them, but I know from the experiences of the last six days (and the last few years) that (when at home) they spend all of the day time fast asleep.
During a break I got a message that a friend had died. A fellow hunter of Tupperware; one who was always letting me know about the best bed & breakfasts and places to stay for weekends away. We walked together a few times and would regularly swap hints and tips. She died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday evening.
She will be missed.
2 December 2021 (Thursday) - Just Say No !!
I felt rather grim as I got up this morning, but probably not as grim as “er indoors TM” who had been up and down most of the night with that tooth of hers giving her gyp.
Before doing anything else I opened up the second window of my Lego Advent Calendar and my heart sank. What was that thing? And what could I possibly say about it?
I made toast and scoffed it whilst watching the Christmas episode of “F is for Family” as yet another negative COVID test incubated. And with telly watched I sparked up the lap-top. Nearly fifty people had clicked the “like” button on yesterday’s opening post for this year’s Lego Advent Calendar; in starting this thing over ten years ago I really have started something.
It was somewhat ironic that the same product had caused so much consternation on some of the Facebook Lego-related pages. Other people (not me!!) had posted photos of what was in their various Lego advent calendars, and there was some bad feeling being expressed about how people shouldn’t give spoilers. And that descended into real nastiness and vitriol as it turned out that quite a few people didn’t understand the entire concept of an Advent Calendar. The idea is the thing has twenty-four windows and you open one each day up till Christmas Eve. Or that’s how I do it. Other people apparently save the box until Christmas Day when they give it as a present and then the recipient opens it whenever they feel so inclined. Apparently the etiquette with Lego Advent Calendars is “no spoilers on Facebook Lego sites until the following March”. Some people were quite adamant on the matter.
There was also some talk on the kite-related Facebook pages that I follow claiming that homophobia and trans-hatred are alive and well in the kite-flying community. I packed up with organised kite-flying over ten years ago as it got rather nasty, and it seems things haven’t improved.
Kites, Lego… some people suck the fun out of everything, don’t they?
I saw that someone who’d not made any effort to contact me in over six years had a birthday today. I decided against sending them the birthday video; I don’t send it to just anyone, you know.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about the threat posed by the omicron variant of COVID-19 to Christmas parties. Apparently firms up and down the country are cancelling plans Christmas parties and the government's advice is clear. The Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has said that people should enjoy Christmas but added "I don't think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe". It is very rare that I agree with the current government on anything, but it is high time someone took a moral stand (!)
Work was work, and there was cake.. I did my bit, and came home. I noticed that my car wasn’t doing the turning the engine off when queuing in traffic thing today. It didn’t do it this morning or yesterday either, but it did as I drove home on Tuesday. I have a theory that it doesn’t turn the engine off when the heaters or headlights (or anything using excessive battery) is on.
I suppose I really should read the instruction book and find out.
Once home I uploaded today’s instalment of the Advent calendar saga as “er indoors TM” forced Treacle and Pogo into various dog coats that she had found. They seemed to take it all as a big game; little Fudge used to hate wearing a coat.
Over a rather good bit of dinner we watched an episode of Richard Osman’s House of Games. We would have watched more had the table not collapsed. Oh well… fixing it will be something to do at the weekend.
3 December 2021 (Friday) - Bad Girl Treacle !!
As I scoffed toast I watched what turned out to be the last episode of “F is for Family”. I rather enjoyed all five seasons of the show but the last one didn’t so much end as fizzled out. There isn’t to be a sixth season. Probably for the best I suppose; better these TV shows end on a high.
I then sparked up the lap-top to see what was going on in cyber-space. There wasn’t much happening really. There was a little consternation being expressed on one of the geocaching Facebook pages in that it turns out that the rules governing the setting of the newest sort of geocache say that you aren’t allowed to put these ones anywhere where there is an entrance fee. This is utterly at odds with all the existing geocache types… and yet another example of how inconsistent the how geocaching world is. Quite the argument kicked off about it.
I had a quick munz form the comfort of the sofa and got ready for work.
I had a little chuckle as I walked down the road to find my car. Usually on a Friday the bins are thrown all over the pavements by the bin-men; mothers have to push their push-chairs down the road as the pavements are left impassable. But in the hope of a Christmas box the bin-men take a little time putting the bins back at this time of year. And those who move the bins into position an hour before the bin lorry comes *don't* scream and shout across the roads to each other at five o'clock at this time of year either. Cynical? Possibly. But that's how it is down our road. Come and have a look on a Friday morning.
I set off and after a couple of minutes the car radio jumped to "Classic FM" and the touch screen resisted all attempts at being touched. After a couple more minutes it came back to life again. What was that all about?
I took a rather circuitous route to work. Today was the first day of the new Munzee clan war and I munzed a third of my "Places of Interest" requirement for this month. Go me!!
As I drove and once the radio was on the right station the pundits on the radio were interviewing some woman or other who was some big cheese in the Labour party. I can't remember who she was. Back in the day the opposition politicians were taken a little more seriously as government would change from Conservative to Labour and back again whenever there was a General Election. These days it is quite clear that Labour have pretty much given up and so whatever they have to say is of passing interest at best. Which is certainly not good for the country.
I got to work; I did my bit. We had something of a "parasite day" .... I won't go into details; what I do for a living would turn many people's stomachs. Let's just say that Sleeping Sickness sounds far more glamourous than it actually is. Clicking the link tells you all about an African disease… today’s was from South America.
I was a few minutes late getting out this evening (such is hospital work) and then spent an age trying to get my car near home. Ever since the KFC up the road started taking Deliveroo orders the place has had an endless stream of Deliveroo drivers recklessly abandoning their cars in the general area as they run in to get food orders. I wouldn’t mid so much if they parked sensibly, but they really do recklessly abandon their cars in the general area, and if their car completely blocks the traffic, then that is a shame.
I came home to two letters from the local hospital. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that last week they sent me a letter asking me to register details of my CPAP machine but their answer machine was full, and that I finally managed to leave them a message on Tuesday. Today they sent me two letters; one reminding me to send them the CPAP machine’s details, and one thanking me for having done so.
Shortly after I got home “er indoors TM” and the dogs arrived home. Pogo was in fine form, but “er indoors TM” was spitting bullets and Treacle was covered in shit. Quite literally; she’d managed to find some and roll in it. Dogs can be such foul creatures…
Treacle is still in trouble. I don’t think she cares…
4 December 2021 (Saturday) - Another New Friend?
I slept like a log last night, and woke shortly after eight o’clock. As I made toast I looked at the rain outside. That put paid to my idea of taking the dogs up to Kings Wood this morning.
I scoffed the toast as I peered into the Internet. I saw that “Oliveri Elina” had sent me a friend request on Facebook. “Oliveri Elina” appears to be a young lady whose legs go all the way up to her bum and would seem to be of dubious morality as she commented on her photo “join the WhatsApp dating group, there are many hot women in this group who need it. , so if you want vulgar or sexy women by your side, join our group because they are all free without money”. She also gave a link that I didn’t click on. I did squeal her up to the Facebook feds, but I doubt they will do anything. They didn’t do anything about the last few that I squealed up. Perhaps they want vulgar or sexy women by their side. Rather them than me.
I was rather horrified to read that the government has announced that GP surgeries can cut back on the services they offer to the over-seventy-fives and concentrate on giving out COVID vaccinations instead. What happened to all the pop-up vaccination centres that we used last time? I suppose that many of them were run by volunteers and (as I said once or twice) the good will has worn long since off.
I spent a little while pondering the geo-map making plans for tomorrow. As I sat quietly so both Treacle and Pogo jumped on me and started sucking my pyjamas. What was that all about?
With “er indoors TM” off to craft club and the rain having eased up I took the dogs for a little walk round the block. We went down past the vets (both dogs pulled toward the vets; Fudge used to pull away), up the black alley and home via Riversdale Road. I got a couple of Qrates as we went (it’s a Munzee thing) and we met up with Paul and had a little chat. It was good to catch up, and it was even better that Treacle wasn’t terrified.
With walk walked we came home and I set the tumble drier going on the undercrackers that had scrubbed whilst we’d been out. I made a cuppa and drank it as I polished my boots and watched the first two episodes of the third season of the re-boot of “Lost In Space”. I like the show but… Imagine you are in the position that the Robinsons are in. You are (tens of millions of) miles from home, cut off from all civilisation and you find your space ship has a stowaway that is at best thoroughly evil and at times conspiring to kill you and your family. How many chances would you give that villain?
“er indoors TM” came home with some screws and we had a go at fixing our poggered table. The table has a top that lifts up and we scoff dinner off of it whilst watching telly every evening, but the lifting up and down has worked the screws loose. We have the problem that the screw holes are a bit too wide now, and need screws that are about a centimetre long and probably not much less than that wide. I’ve bodged it for now.And talking of bodging, regular readers of this drivel may recall that on 23 October “My Boy TM” came round and helped me mend the shed roof. We replaced the torn felt and decided the rest was OK and didn’t need replacing. We were wrong – there is quite the leak in the shed now. The first fruit on my loin says he’ll help replace the entire lot in the spring when it all dries out.
I posted up today’s episode of the Advent adventure, spent a few moments getting “Hannah” ready for tomorrow then played “Cookie Jam” whilst “er indoors TM” boiled up dinner. As she’s still on antibiotics we had a bottle of alcohol-free wine which tested like rather rank vinegar. As we scoffed we watched the seventh “Harry Potter” film. I enjoyed it, but I knew the story. Like all of the “Harry Potter” films they aren’t good films in that you have to know the story to understand what it is all about.
Today was a tad dull really…
5 December 2021 (Sunday) - It Rained
“er indoors TM” had got me new pillows which I tried out last night. Maybe they contributed to my sleeping well, maybe they didn’t. But I slept well regardless.
Over brekkie I had my usual rummage round the Internet. There was a posting on one of the Lego Facebook groups bemoaning how nasty people are on a Lego group. Surprisingly this attracted quite a bit of sympathy. Facebook groups amaze me. No matter what the topic (Lego, kite-flying, Star Trek, Doctor Who, dogs, geocaching, the town where you live, astronomy…) it can so quickly become one big argument. I help moderate two Facebook pages where there is a simple policy of any attempt at nastiness and you are out. No second chances. It is a policy which seems to work; if only more moderators of Facebook groups would do the same.
I saw that not only was Oliveri Elina still peddling filth on Facebook, but I also had two messages. One from Addyson Hooper who would have me believe the he/she/it was lonely and wanted me to fill his/her/its nights. And one from French Peter who was quite un-moral in his/her/its suggestions.. And as the day went on I had a third message in this vein – this one from Mattias Annika who was (supposedly) a woman who was “thirsty for s*x” and sent me a link to her video in which she claimed to be live without clothes. I squealed all of them up to the Facebook Feds and hoped for the best.
Does no one else get offers of filth like this on a regular basis?
As I scoffed toast I listened to the rain on the window and my heart sank. After a few Whatsapp messages here and there we decided to cancel our planned major walk. The forecast for home was awful, and the forecast for where we were going was even worse. Part of me wanted to go, but we would have got soaked and cold, and that wouldn’t have been fair on the dogs.
So we stayed in… and equally unfair on the dogs was having their flea treatments done. They have a couple of drops of liquid ribbed on the back of their necks and they absolutely hate it. It never bothered Fudge, but Treacle and Pogo think differently. Treacle was actually quivering in fear as she watched Pogo having his done.
“er indoors TM” got on with housework and I got on with ironing whilst watching more episodes of “Four in Bed”. I do like that program; some bed and breakfast proprietors really do have over-exaggerated views of their own abilities. One woman in today’s show had the right hump because someone else underpaid her. When asked the reason for the underpayment she was told that the chap doing the underpaying provided a far better service than she did for half the price she was charging. Her face was a picture.
By mid-morning the rain had abated somewhat and we took the dogs out for a little walk (Pogo really was asking to go out). We walked up the road, past the station, through the Memorial Gardens, through the town centre, along Godinton Road and home via Gasworks Lane and the park. A two-mile walk updating my Adventure Lab, and Munzee-ing like things possessed as we went. We didn’t get *that* wet really.
We came home to see that my eBay bargain had arrived. The nice man from Hermes had put the parcel up against the front door then dragged the recycling bin in front of it to hide it. I could understand him hiding the parcel behind the recycling bin (with the recycling bin in its usual place), but dragging the recycling bin in front of (and blocking) the front door?
We came in, got dried, and I opened my parcel. It was a job lot of 1970s Lego – what else would it be? But it was something of a bargain. I’d paid twelve quid for it. The twelve Lego maxi-figure hands in it alone were worth more than that. There was also a head bearing a moustache – I’ve been collecting Lego maxi-figures for some time and I’ve only got one other of those. And there was a grey body & arms block. Grey!! I’ve never seen one of those before. That must be worth a small fortune to the collector (I‘m hoping).
As I sorted Lego so “er indoors TM” got busy with the front room wall. We’ve got a bit of a problem with damp and the mould does grow down there. “er indoors TM” got out with the Cillit bang and once I’d Lego-ed I helped by fetching and carrying and making the tea and generally being helpful. I was actually hoping that as she was bending over I might get a photo for “Crackwatch”, but the opportunity never arose. Which was probably for the best.
I posted up today’s instalment of the Lego Advent calendar and passed another electric heater over the sofa to where “er indoors TM” was trying to dry out the wall. And on finding that the heater didn’t heat I chucked it in the shed and passed over another one.
And then my phone beeped. I’d won another job lot of Lego on eBay. I’d seen this job lot appear last week. The wheels in it alone are worth more than I ended up paying. Result!!
What with one thing and another there wasn’t time to boil up dinner this evening so “er indoors TM” popped up to the KFC and got us loads. We scoffed it whilst watching the last episode of “Doctor Who: Flux” in which the universe didn’t actually end (like we all know it wouldn’t).
This was followed by a re-run of Blackadder’s Christmas Carol. Having seen it dozens of times I finally realised that his niece is played by Nicola Bryant who was once (thirty-five years ago) the best reason for watching “Doctor Who”…
6 December 2021 (Monday) - Back to the Grind (?)
I slept like a log and woke feeling full of beans and raring to go only to find it was half past two. I then dozed fitfully; never asleep for more than fifteen minutes. I eventually gave up trying to sleep and got up. I opened today’s window of the Lego Advent Calendar, made toast and as another negative COVID test incubated I watched an episode of “Lost in Space” in which our heroes did frankly stupid things for no apparent reason. If your spaceship is about to launch and you have no possible other means of escape, do you *really* go wandering off into some strange caves?
With telly watched I had a quick look-see on-line. Consternation abounded in some of the Facebook “Doctor Who” groups. Having created a fan-made 1965 Doctor Who annual and taken hundreds (if not thousands) of orders for the thing, its creators were surprised to find that the BBC have threatened them with court action over breach of copyright. This is such a “sci-fi nerd” thing. Being a “sci-fi nerd” myself, back in the day I regularly used to go to a Star Trek themed pub in London. It was really good. It was such fun. And it too was shut down as it was making money on that which someone else had copyrighted.
“sci-fi nerds” never seem to realise that their fun and delight is someone else’s livelihood.
And I had a message from the Facebook feds. They had reviewed the public posting that Oliveri Elina had made and had decided that advertising Whatsapp dating groups by saying ”there are many hot women in this group who need it. , so if you want vulgar or sexy women by your side, join our group because they are all free without money” doesn’t breach their community standards.
I would say “one lives and learns” but I think that this is something that wasn’t at all unexpected.
I didn't go straight to the car as I left home; I wandered up and down the road collecting half a dozen gnome hats, then drove round to Stanhope where I collected a dozen greeting cards. There's never a dull moment when playing Munzee.
When I finally headed in the direction of work the pundits on the radio were talking about an interview with Prince William who apparently likes the music of AC/DC and has said "There's nothing better on a Monday morning, when you're a bit bleary-eyed after the weekend and trying to get yourself back into the grind of the week..." I have to admit that this boiled my piss a little; what does he know about the grind of anything? I've always had respect for Prince William; perhaps he is trying to relate to the average person in the street? But he might have shot himself in the foot here. As time goes on, I find I'm not quite the ardent royalist I used to be.
There was also an interview with Jeremy Hunt who is currently chair of the government's Health and Social Care Select Committee. He was banging on about how the business model employed by most care homes in the UK is wrong. The interviewer picked him up on his phrase "business model"; Mr Hunt sees nothing wrong in making a profit out of caring for those in need... what a delightful fellow he must be. He went on to say that the terrible state that the country's social care is in is the result of the country's lack of long-term planning for social care... Nobody seemed to realise that he was Secretary of State for Health from September 2012 till July 2018 - the very person who should have been making those long-term plans.
I got to work and did my thing. During my lunch break I finished my current e-book. I've been reading e-books by Peter Cawdron recently. Have you ever heard of him? No - I hadn't either. His books are rather good. He writes the best sot of sci-fi - when the characters are believable you go along with the utterly implausible scenarios he creates. Look him up on Amazon and give him a go.
I've now downloaded the first "Harry Potter" book to my phone's Kindle app. Let's see if it as good as i remember it being.
“er indoors TM” has gone bowling. I’ve updated the Advent calendar. I’ve got dogs curled up with me. I might just watch a few more episodes of “Lost in Space”…
7 December 2021 (Tuesday) - Australian?
I slept through till quarter to two this morning, and then dozed fitfully for a couple more hours before I gave up trying to sleep. I made toast and watched the sixth episode in the current season of “Lost in Space” which despite several glaring plot holes and scientific inaccuracies made for an entertaining watch. I suppose this is true of much that is on telly though.
I then sparked up the lap-top as I do every morning. Someone had found some of my geocaches… and had complained that the containers I’d used did not “lend themselves to the wet conditions”. I sighed… if a commercially produced watertight container doesn’t lend itself to the wet conditions, what does?
And I had a message from the neighbourhood watch people. There had been a few robberies in the area, and police were asking if anyone had security or doorbell footage… Perhaps if the police were seen on the streets then thugs wouldn’t be attacking decent people on the streets? I’m not advocating having bands of vigilantes cleaning up the town… or maybe I am? Clearly keeping the town safe isn’t something the police can do.
I had a quick Munz from the comfort of the sofa then got ready for work. I was originally down to be doing the late shift today but yesterday I was asked if I would rather do the early… Yes please.
Taking care not to slip on the icy pavements I slowly made my way to the car, and spent seemingly ages scraping the ice from the windows. Yesterday the pundits on the radio were talking about Prince William. Today they were talking about his brother who has also been interviewed and has said job losses and resignations during the pandemic "aren't all bad" and went on to say that many people across the globe "would have been stuck in jobs that didn't bring them joy". Easy for him to say with thirty million quid to fall back on. Speaking from bitter personal experience having a job that brings joy is an incredible thing, but a job that brings misery still puts food on the table.
It amazes me just how little respect Prince Harry commands these days when you think how popular he was only a couple of years ago.
I got to work and did my bit. Having arrived at work just as it was getting light, I left just as it was getting dark. And as I left the wind was picking up and the rain was coming down in buckets.
I came home and both dogs looked hopeful. I said “do you want to go out?” and both sprinted to the front door. I put a coat on me, and leads and light-up collars on them and opened the door. Both dogs refused to go out into the rain.
After a little (lot) of persuading we had a quick walk round the block just to say that we’d been out. Less than five minutes and we were all soaked.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the first episode of “The Great Australian Bake Off” which was rather good. As we scoffed we had a bottle of plonk, and some cheese for afters.
The dogs were funny. After seeing the results of poor Fudge’s blood tests, Pogo and Treacle don’t get cheese any more, but they do get some of the cheesey biscuits. As we finished the last one I told them that we’d come to the end. Both looked at me and I repeated “All gone”. Both of them immediately got up and went over to “er indoors TM” – they really did understand what I’d said.
I need to get some more bottles of red wine…
8 December 2021 (Wednesday) - Late Shift
With no alarm set I slept through till seven o’clock, which was something of a major result. I opened my Advent Calendar and wondered just what I might say about a white plastic Christmas tree.
I made toast, and peered into the Internet. Today a lot of people were trying to sell their unwanted rubbish on Facebook marketplace. I suppose people might make a quid or two here or there, but why would anyone buy a tatty dog-eared book from some stranger half-way across the county when they can buy a brand new one from Amazon (and have it delivered to the door) cheaper?
There were also adverts for stuff I for one would never think of buying. I’ve heard that Facebook has algorithms to target adverts to what customers have looked at on-line, but they don’t seem to work very well. I get no adverts at all for Lego or dog stuff or Sparks music, but I’m snowed out with adverts for nudey sauce romps. A classic example of the failure of targeting an audience this was this morning’s advert for a Live LED map of the twelve main lines of the London Underground network showing trains as they move around on it. With over three hundred LED lights and updating over wi-fi ten times every second the thing is currently available as a Black Friday deal at ninety-six quid. I suspect this is one of those “limited edition” things limited to however many they can sell. I hope for their sake they haven’t made too many.
And a local flooring company was advertising vacancies on the local Facebook pages. I suppose that’s a sign of the times.
I had an email from the dentist offering me a Christmas present – nearly one thousand three hundred quid of off the price of having my teeth straightened. Are they crooked? And I had an email telling me that my email address had appeared in a data breach. Apparently “Gravatar” (?) had been the victim of a cyber attack and some e-villains have obtained my email address. No passwords, just the email address. Is that so terrible?
“er indoors TM” wanted a lift to work, and as her work is on my way to Kings Wood we all bundled into my car and set off. The traffic was a nightmare this morning. We got to the cows roundabout to find it gridlocked. So many idiots were slipping through as the lights changed and effectively blocking the road for those who should then have been able to drive on.
Eventually we dropped “er indoors TM” off, and me and the dogs carried on to Challock and the woods where we had a rather good walk. We practiced our whistle training and Pogo responded well. Treacle didn’t which was a shame. We met four other dog walkers and had no “episodes” at all. I got chatting with one woman who remarked on how she likes walking in the woods as people there understand what dogs are like and described the “episodes” she has had in Viccie Park with the normal people and their dogs. I smiled – I was glad it isn’t just me who has these issues in Viccie Park.
We did meet one odd dog walker though. Quite deep into the woods (about a mile from the nearest road) with his dog on a really short lead. Why not get an extender and let the dog have some freedom?
With walk walked we came home, I opened the door and told the dogs to go to the bath. They looked at me as though they had no idea what I was talking about. This made me wonder – they understand being told to go to the bath. Then I realised the bathroom door was shut. I opened it and both jumped straight into the bath.
I washed their paws then thought I’d give myself a quick haircut. I did have a plan to grow my hair long and have a ponytail, but on reflection that would be silly. But disaster struck – my haircutting shears have broken. I shall have to get new ones…
My phone asked if it could update itself, and I made the schoolboy error of allowing it, and then spent an age fighting with the anti-virus before uploading today’s instalment of the Advent Calendar adventure, and with both dogs snoring I set off.
As I drove I kept an eye on my car's petrol gauge. Something odd has been going on with the car's fuel economy. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the petrol gauge had stayed on the "completely full" level and didn't start to fall until I'd driven two hundred miles. After the most recent fuelling the gauge fell right away. Last time I drove four hundred and seventy miles and eight round trips to work before needing more petrol; this time I only managed four hundred miles and seven round trips out of more petrol.
Interestingly the morning after I got the last load of petrol “er indoors TM” said that she'd found the door thingy what you open to get to the fuel tank hadn't been closed properly. Had some cheeky sod syphoned out some petrol?
I had been wondering just what would happen when the fuel gauge reached the red bit, and I found out half-way up the motorway. It sounded an alarm, told me I had thirty-five miles of petrol left and suggested I got some more petrol pretty soon. So I did. I don't usually let the range get to less than a hundred miles, and I doubt if I will do so again... but it is nice to know what happens when the fuel does get low.
I had a minor result at work today; we had the Christmas raffle draw and I won a rather humungous bottle of bubbly. That'll do for Christmas.
9 December 2021 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off
With no alarm set I slept for over eight hours. I was eventually woken by Treacle who had decided it was time for me to get up. When stomping all over me failed she stared chewing on my arm, and eventually resorted to clouting me on the head until I gave up and got up.
I made toast and had my usual rummage round the Internet. There was a lot of consternation being expressed about the latest change of rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst there are no plans to bring in lockdowns and cancel Christmas plans (yet), working from home is now being encouraged. And the government is being rightly criticised for the mixed messages they are putting out. Perhaps the time has come for a strong Prime Minister to announce compulsory vaccinations for all? Not that our one would dare do something like that. How about something slightly less radical and charge the unvaccinated for the hospital bills they run up when they get COVID? At the risk of causing offence, the last fifty-odd years are testament to the success of vaccinations. And I have yet to hear any argument against vaccination (COVID or otherwise) that isn’t either factually wrong or laughable (sorry).
On one of the work-related Facebook groups I follow someone from America was saying that their hospital has sent out bills of over three million dollars for stays in hospital because of COVID. Makes you think…
I took the dogs out to the car and sighed. Some idiot had parked up behind my car last night. There was less than an inch between his car and mine. I couldn’t even open the boot hatch, let alone get the dogs in.
Once we’d sorted that I drove up to Challock. The dogs fancied a walk, and so did I. We parked in the top car park at Kings Wood today and had a little wander following some of the paths we walk less often. The dogs were funny – they charged about and played happily all the time we were on the paths we regularly walk, but when on less familiar territory they stayed really close to me.
As we walked we met four other dogs and we didn’t have any “episodes”. Mind you I didn’t like the look of one woman with her dog on an extremely short lead (about a mile from the nearest road) so as they came close I walked a little way into the wood, gave three blasts on the whistle and attracted my two out of the way with the promise of a treat. And (like any idiot would) the woman saw what I was doing and started bringing her dog over for a treat. She seemed rather crestfallen when I explained (from twenty yards away) that I had taken my dogs away from her dog as there were clearly issues as it was on a lead a mile into the woods.
Also as we walked I had a go at Munzee-ing. There is quite a lot of virtual Munzees at the top end of Kings Wood; of many different types. I thought I might judiciously pick off one or two of the specific types I need for this month’s clan war. However for all that there are a lot of munzees, there is precious little phone signal, and I got into a bit of a pickle with my off-line queue as my phone couldn’t decide whether to do them later on wi-fi or have a go with patchy signal anyway.
As we came back to the car we saw a young family. Mother and father all but ran screaming in terror, and were horrified when the toddler announced “doggies!” and pointed at my two. They then jumped into the car’s boot, and the toddler thought this was the best thing he’s ever seen.
As I put their leads on them and gave them a treat (they get one every time they do “boot dogs”) I couldn’t help but notice that rubber strip I had fitted across the lip of the back bumper only three weeks ago. The thing is there to protect the car’s paintwork; it was filthy and has clearly earned its keep.
I got some dinner from over the road and scoffed it whilst watching episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which there were quite a few pots calling the kettle black. Much like life in general, really. Once I’d scoffed dinner I did a little ironing, and as telly finished I had a fight with the lap-top and an MP3 memory stick.
As I drive to and from work I either listen to Radio Four, or to whatever music I have put on my MP3 stick. I *think* I’ve figured out how to convert CDs to MP3 that the stick can play (it takes a while to do!), but I’ve bought a few albums on Amazon which seem to be somewhere in cyber-space, undownloadable and only playable through some strange Amazon app. If I could get those into MP3 format I would be a happy bunny, but the nice people at Amazon don’t seem to want to let me do that.
As I fought with downloads and ripped CDs so the doorbell rang. My latest eBay bargain had arrived. All I wanted was the large wheels and I got them a lot cheaper than I had been expecting to pay, and got load more Lego too. Not bad at all and change out of eight quid (including postage).
“er indoors TM” announced that there was nothing in the larder so she phoned out for a kebab which we scoffed whilst watching the second episode of “The Great Australian Bake Off”. I’ve not had a kebab for ages – I had a large one so’s I could share with the dogs. They like kebab too…
I had planned to work in the garden today. I had hoped to finish the remaining bits of my current two Wherigo projects. And I had hoped to get some CPD done and watch some episodes of “Lost in Space” For a rostered day off I’ve been rather busy.
10 December 2021 (Friday) - Some Ranting
Yesterday with no alarms set I had a really good night. Last night I managed two hour’s sleep then just dozed fitfully until five o’clock when I gave up trying to sleep.
I made toast, did another (negative) COVID test and scoffed toast whilst watching another episode of “Lost in Space” which was rather good. I then sparked up the lap-top, recorded the COVID test on-line then had a little look-see to find out what I’d missed overnight.
Petty squabbling had reached a new peak of “WTF” when I read a row kicking off one the Facebook groups for Sparks fans. Cats with a black splodge under their noses have been known as “kitlers” for as long as I can remember. I even mentioned this in my very early days of blogging on 23 September 2006. But this morning some idiot had announced that the website “Cats That Look Like Hitler” in some way honours the Third Reich (?) and was accusing anyone of using the term “kitler” of doing just that. needless to say, offence had been taken…
I sent out my birthday video message to a friend. Harry was (is) the older brother of a chap with whom I walked to secondary school pretty much every day for five years; how can he be over seventy?
I had a few emails – someone had walked my “Out In The Sticks” series of geocaches. It looks like at least one of them has gone missing. When I get a spare morning (and when the weather cheers up) I shall walk the dogs out there unless someone else is decent enough to replace it for me.
The Neighbourhood Watch people had also emailed me asking if I had any doorbell-cam or dashboard-cam footage of an incident on the other side of town. I hadn’t, but bearing in mind we seem to have an upsurge in civil unrest coupled with a failure of law enforcement, perhaps all of these dashboard-cams and doorbell-cams might be linked to some central register? There are those who don’t like the “Big Brother Is Watching You” aspect of surveillance. To that I would ask what they have to hide, and point out that there is clearly a need for society to be watched. I’m not saying that having our every move monitored is a good thing (far from it) but (sadly) a necessary thing. Ironically there was a post on Facebook this morning from someone in Hastings saying how crime has gone through the roof since they turned off their CCTVs which had been watching the town.
As I started my drive to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing someone or other (I didn't catch the name) about the alleged parties at 10 Downing Street last year.
If these tales are true it would seem there were flagrant breaches of the lockdown rules last year at the heart of government. Was the Prime Minister at these parties? If so he should resign. If not did he really not know there was a party going on downstairs in his official residence, and do we want our country led by someone so clueless?
There was talk on the radio about grumblings in the Conservative party about replacing him as leader (and consequently as Prime Minister), but will these grumblings come to anything?
And who would he be replaced by? Mind you, the bloke really is an idiot isn't he? Following the utter debacle that his predecessor made of Brexit (and she was probably the worst Prime Minister the country had ever had up till then) he got a spectacular result at the general election that he called. And at the start of the pandemic he made one or two very statesman-like speeches. Had he acted decisive over Brexit matters and given firm orders over the pandemic he could have gone down in history as a latter-day Churchill.
Instead as time went on he rather lost the plot and pissed on his chips. Such a shame.
The trouble with the Prime Minister is that despite being caught out in lies (and having pissed on his chips) so many times, the masses love him. He is charismatic; he knows what words to say. Earlier I mentioned Hitler... I'm certainly not saying that the Prime Minister's policies are in any way like Hitler's but Hitler too was charismatic. At the time the people really did love him. (Don't believe me - read any biography of him).
Or look at the Italian dictator Mussolini - I was once told by my Italian boss (when I worked at the Harbour restaurant in Hastings) that when Mussolini came to power everyone loved him. He was the nation's blue-eyed boy and could do no wrong... he ended up shot by firing squad and his dead body hung from a lamp post outside a petrol station.
One thing that history has tried to teach us is to beware of the charismatic. I suspect that future generations will look back at Mr Johnson and wonder just how he stayed in power... just like we look back and wonder how Adolf or Benito ever got taken seriously today.
A couple of days ago I was wittering on about car's petrol gauge. Having filled the car two days ago it told me I had a range of four hundred miles before needing petrol. I then drove home (twenty-five miles), took the dogs to the woods and back yesterday (ten miles) and the predicted range had only dropped by fifteen miles. As I got to the works car park this morning I saw that the twenty-five miles journey up the motorway hadn't affected the predicted range at all.
I think I've reset the range estimating thingy - let's see if it makes any difference.
Work was work - I worked in something of a sulk having completely forgotten that today was Christmas jumper day. It has to be said that I don't like wearing my Christmas jumper as it is far too hot and makes me itch, but I would rather have been hot and itchy today than have missed out.
I came home and walked the dogs round the block. We had a rather good little walk peering through people’s windows looking at their Christmas decorations. We’ve not gone mad with house bling for some years… perhaps we should…
11 December 2021 (Saturday) - Badlesmere
As I opened my Lego advent calendar my phone fell out of my pocket. As I picked it up so the arse ripped out of my pyjamas. I was a bit miffed about that - it was my favourite set of jim-jams and was older than Pogo or Treacle. There are those who would say I’d had my money’s worth out of them, but as I binned them it was like saying goodbye to an old friend.
I thought about watching some telly this morning but decided against it (for no reason I could fathom) and had a look at the Internet instead. There was a post on one of the local Facebook groups that really summed up all that is wrong with today’s namby-pamby society. Some woman was asking if anyone was giving lessons in which her son could learn to fight. Not martial arts lessons in which the participants are sworn to go no harm. She wanted fighting lessons. Her son was being bullied at school and she wanted her son to kick seven shades of sh*t out of his aggressors.
Immediately there were those who advocated talking and reasoning with the bullies. I’ve seen this done (when I was a scout leader). The bullies nod and listen to the reasoning, then laugh at it and carry on with their bullying.
There were those who agreed with kicking seven shades of sh*t out of the aggressors and they were having quite the squabble with the advocates of reason.
And the school’s headmaster had (apparently) heard of the request for a fight club and was not happy that the good name of his school was being brought into disrepute. (The headmaster wasn’t interested in sorting the bullying; he just didn’t like hearing about it).
When I was a lad I was bullied a couple of times. Both times I gave the bullies a slap that they weren’t expecting and neither bothered me again.
I woke “er indoors TM” and the dogs, wrote up a little CPD, then got ready for the off. We drove up to Badlesmere where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte and set off on a little wander exploring the local area. We had a rather good walk exploring new paths and woods. Despite the heavy rain of the last week the paths weren’t *too* muddy, and despite it being mid-December it wasn’t that cold at all.
After a few miles (not sure how many as my GPS had a “moment”) we were at the Red Lion. The dogs had their rice. Pogo ate his; Treacle held out to be hand-fed hers. We had a rather good bit of dinner. And four pints of “Little Cracker “ (5% ABV). And pudding. And a double helping of port.
It was only a shame that when I took the dogs outside for a tiddle Treacle had a rabbit.
I took a few photos as we walked and scoffed. We had a rather good day today.
We came home… I woke up about three hours later. “er indoors TM” had been watching “Nativity” on Netflix. And when that was done we watched “Robin Robin”. Have you seen that? Made by the creators of “Shaun the Sheep” it was rather good. Much like today has been…
12 December 2021 (Sunday) - Early Shift
After a frankly dreadful night I gave up trying to sleep, opened my Lego Advent Calendar, made toast and turned the telly on. Today’s episode was an hour long, so I only watched half of it before having a quick look at the Internet. Perhaps six o’clock on a Sunday mooring was a tad early, but nothing much had happened overnight.
It was still very dark as I set off to work this morning. I was rather amazed at the amount of houses whose Christmas lights were switched on and at full intensity at half past six this morning. Presumably they had been on all night? I wonder what these people's leccie bills are like. At the risk of sounding like an old sourpuss, cutting back on that amount of wasted leccie is one way of salvaging the environment.
As I drove I caught the end of a thing on the radio about ravens. It could have been rather interesting; it was sadly on the dull side. And then there was the seven o'clock news and my piss boiled. Over the last week there has been all sorts of controversy about alleged parties at 10 Downing Street last Christmas. Were there parties? Did the Prime Minister know? Apparently photos have now come to light in which the Prime Minister was actually hosting a Christmas quiz in Downing Street while London was under tier two lockdown restrictions banning any social mixing between households. It would seem that the Prime Minister was pictured on a screen reading out questions while staff were sat behind computers and conferring in person with colleagues about the answers. How can the chap expect the nation to follow his instructions when he doesn't follow them himself? Perhaps we should all have followed his lead and did what we liked too? Admittedly the virus would have spread like wildfire, but my mother and many others in hospices up and down the country wouldn't have died alone.
Boris Johnson really does need to be removed from power as a matter of urgency. And not just him - it would seem the Treasury has been staging piss-ups too.
Meanwhile Pluto looks set to get reinstated as a planet, and the Moon with it.
I got to work when it was still dark. I thought about getting brekkie from the canteen, but I was still rather stuffed from yesterday's pig out and the works brekkie can be a disappointment. Instead I just got on with work. I would rather have not done so. As I worked “er indoors TM” was off to Hastings for an afternoon family Christmas party. But I had yesterday off. Not counting booked holidays I've had three complete weekends off since July - how many more do I want (!)
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. I do get as much time off work as everyone else - just at different times. I was off last Thursday and have tomorrow and this coming Wednesday off too. I rarely have to work for five consecutive days... It's just I'd rather not do any. If only I could take that pension that was promised to me (and then I got cheated out of).
As I worked I found five minutes to have a cheeky look at the Internet. My car's music/radio/information display thingy seems to have an intermittent fault in that the touch screen sometimes takes a little while to get going in the morning. This morning it was utterly unresponsive to any touching for a good fifteen minutes. I had a look on some of the Skoda forums and this would seem to be a feature. There are various theories about why this is happening. Is there condensation in the screen? Are my hands too dry? Does the thing need time to warm up? I might have a word with the local garage and see what they say.
It was OK as I drove home.
Once home I walked the dogs round the block. One of the houses in Francis Road has one of those inflatable air-filled blow-up snowman thingies in the garden but it had a tear in it. It was making a very odd sound as it thrashed about like a thing possessed, and poor Pogo was rather terrified by it.
I made a cuppa and watched the last half of the episode of “Lost in Space” that I had started this morning. It was the last episode; it had been a rather good series with lots of nods to the original from fifty-odd years ago. This was followed by some documentary on the National Geographic channel about Mars. With a sleeping dog on either side of me, I too fell asleep until “er indoors TM” came home with a dish for scoff from the party she’s been to. I shared sausages and chicken pieces and quiche and sausage rolls with the dogs.
I feel really tired…
13 December 2021 (Monday) - A Day's Leave
I felt like death warmed up when I went to bed last night but after a couple of hours sleep I was still wide awake at half past two. I managed to get back to sleep but was woken by the shop over the road getting a delivery at five o’clock. Here’s a tip – don’t get fresh stuff from the shop over the road from me. Their beer selection is second to none, and they have the most obscure crisps. But anything fresh is delivered to them between four and five o’clock in the morning and left in a crate outside where it stays until the shop opens at eight o’clock. We’ve found (from bitter experience) that a bottle of milk from them lasts four days less than the same milk from a shop that doesn’t leave it laying about outside for four hours.
I opened my Advent Calendar, set a load of washing going and sparked up the lap-top. A few days ago the McAfee thingy had an update and now whenever I try to do anything at all with the lap-top I get a message saying “McAfee is speeding up your app” and it takes ten times longer to do whatever it is supposed to do.
I eventually got on-line.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes then had a look at the Internet. There was a lot of bitterness being vented on one of the Sparks-related Facebook pages where younger people who have only recently discovered the group are feeling that people who have been fans of the group forever are being “gatekeepers”. One chap was whining that he feels that he is now one of the older fans having become a fan in 2006. Having become a fan of them thirty years earlier I kept quiet.
I set off to the local hospital. As I drove the Minister for Health was on the radio spouting endless speculation about the new omicron variety of COVID following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation last night. Am I being cynical in wondering if Mr Johnson is blowing this new COVID strain out of all proportion purely to divert attention away from his own conduct?
As I drove the touch screen in my car was playing up again.
I got to the hospital, braved the sour-faced old biddy at the door, and it wasn’t long before I was with the specialist who had done my nasal re-bore two years ago. He asked if I minded if he shoved an endoscope up my nose. Bearing in mind that was why I thought I was there I was all for it. His endoscope was hooked up to a TV screen and we could see that the polyps have returned, and were blocking about ninety per cent of my airway (they come and go - today was one of the better days!). He said that it was up to me, but if it was his nose he’d have them removed so I’m going under the knife again in January. He also said I should have a CT scan and an MRI done, and seemed surprised when I said I’d had a CT scan done a couple of weeks ago and have got an MRI booked for Wednesday.
As I drove home the touch screen in my car was working fine.
We took the dogs round the park and had a very good walk with no “episodes” at all, and Munz-ing as we went I managed to unlock a Qrate and was rewarded with a cactus cubimal. There’s never any mucking about when playing Munzee, you know.
With the dogs walked they immediately settled when we came home, so as they snored we drove down to Newenden where we met father in law and his wife. Today was his birthday and we had a rather good pub dinner and catch-up.
We stopped off at the Old Dairy Brewery Tap on the way home to get some supplies for Christmas, and also at the pet shop for dog food before coming home for a cuppa and a slice of Battenburg cake which was only three weeks past its sell by date.
I then got the ironing board out as no day off is complete without an hour’s ironing. As I ironed I watched the Gavin and Stacey 2019 Christmas Special. “er indoors TM” pretended not to watch it but had to go off to her bowling before it ended, and she left me instructions not to delete it from the Sky-Q box.
I then watched the first episode of “The Witcher” – a sort-of cross between “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones” on Netflix. So far it seems rather good.
And just as I was about to publish today’s diary so my phone pinged with a friend request on Facebook. “Ocie Bailey” wants to be my friend on Facebook and she too is running a Whatsapp group featuring nudey ladies without any clothes on.
I’ve squealed her up to the Facebook feds… I wonder how long it will be before they tell me they intend to do nothing about it.
14 December 2021 (Tuesday) - Bit Dull
Being awake far too early I got up. And looked around. When “er indoors TM” gets up in the middle of the night, the dogs *always* leap up and follow her to the loo. When I get up they just carry on sleeping.
I opened my Lego Advent Calendar, made brekkie, and watched another episode of “The Witcher”. It really is a cross between “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones”; the only thing I’ll say against it (for now) is that there’s a lot going on and the episodes are rather long.
With telly watched I registered another negative COVID test, sent out birthday wishes to a friend, and had a look at the Internet. “Ocie Bailey” was still peddling filth on Facebook even though The Facebook Feds had sent me a message saying that they would have a look-see at what I’d squealed to them about her. There wasn’t much else of note on Facebook this morning, but I was rather pleased to see that I’d won quite the bargain on eBay. A little bundle of Lego maxi-figure parts including a red hair piece, a moustached face, a blue baseball cap and three hands. All of which individually are worth far more than the four quid (and that includes postage) that I paid for the lot. Here’s hoping that the seller doesn’t realise what she’s giving away… (is that mean of me?)
It was still very dark as I set off to work. My car's music/radio/information display thingy was working this morning, and I managed to get it to stick to Radio Four without randomly tuning itself to Radio Essex (as it did on Sunday).
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how there are moves afoot to have the law changes regarding the wanton advertising of the sort of filth that I get far too often on the Internet. At the moment it would seem that anyone can send out e-messages offering whatever sort of filth they like to absolutely anyone else. However the moves that are afoot are to change the law so that advertising your mucky websites would only be a crime *if* you were doing so with the intention of upsetting or embarrassing the person to whom you are sending the adverts. Wantonly distributing porn on-line for financial gain wouldn't be against the proposed law. If you send the punters pictures of your junk with the intention of having them pay you money to see more, then that would be perfectly acceptable.
I suppose that with this in mind it is hardly surprising that none of the smut I got yesterday or in the past breaches Facebook's community standards. Funny old world...
And there was talk about the Prime Minister's appeal for an army of volunteers to help the NHS over the next few months. Am I being cynical in thinking that had the Prime Minister (and his predecessors) not kept cutting back on the NHS over the last years then we wouldn't need this army, would we?
As I went up the motorway pretty much every lorry going up and down the motorway was flashing their lights at pretty much every other lorry. They've been doing this for some time now - what's that all about?
I got to work and did my bit. I had rather a good day, but (to be honest) most days at work are good days these days. But I was still pleased when it was home time. As I approached the motorway roundabout on the way home my car seemingly laid an egg, and a strange icon appeared on the dashboard. Having no idea what it was I looked it up. According to one of the Skoda forums it is the “Front Assist system telling you not to crash into something in front of you”.
Just perhaps a more useful system of warnings would be for a message to come up telling me what the problem is, rather than giving me obscure pictures I then have to look up later when I get home?
I got home and walked the dogs round the block; nosing at people’s Christmas decorations as we went. It was a rather good walk; such a shame that the dogs had to kick off at another dog just as we got home.
Today was a bit dull. I wonder what’ for dinner…
15 December 2021 (Wednesday) - Canterbury
I had another restless night. No one else seemed to though. Mind you I did sleep through till after seven o’clock which was something of a result. I opened my Lego Advent Calendar, thought “WTF is that ?”, made brekkie and spent ten minutes waiting for the lap-top to start up. I think the poor thing is beginning to struggle. Bit like me really.
I had a little look at the Internet. People on a Facebook group in Hastings were quarrelling about garden walls in photos from a hundred years ago. Someone else had discovered Sparks yesterday and was asking for the best order in which to hear their twenty-odd albums for the first time and people were quarrelling about that too. I got fed up with the constant bickering on Facebook and had a look at my in-box.
I had an email from the Credit Karma people. I’ve mentioned this before, but it never fails to amaze me how my financial dealings are so public. The only security information I’ve given to Credit Karma are publicly available things such as my address, birthday and the like, and they seem to have access to all my financial dealings. I’ve queried it with the bank, and the bank say they are legally obliged to tell anyone who asks anything they want. The Credit Karma people know how much is outstanding on my car loan down to the penny. Mind you they’ve got my credit card balance wrong by about five hundred quid.
“er indoors TM” emerged from her pit about an hour after I had, and I dragooned her into giving me a lift to the hospital. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I was soon standing on a busy footpath outside the mobile MRI scanner in the hospital’s car park shouting my answers a confidential medical questionnaire to make myself heard over the noise of the building works nearby. Having broadcast my personal details to some fifty-odd passers-by I was then taken inside. Personally I would have rather have answered the questionnaire inside, but our local hospital clearly has little time for confidentiality (see my rant on November 10 of this year..).
Have you ever had an MRI? The idea is that you lay inside the machine whilst it scans you, then they inject you with a contrast dye and scan again to get a different sort of picture. But aiming the machine takes some doing so they stick the cannula in your arm first, get you into position and say “SIT F…ING STILL!!!”. You then lay “f…ing still” whilst they scan you, inject the stuff and scan you again. Have you ever laid still (utterly still without moving at all) for forty minutes (I timed it)? It is a tad tedious. And matters weren’t helped by their taking three attempts to get a cannula in my arm.
With scan scanned I was sent on my way. My way led me to the hospital canteen where I had a cuppa and a muffin. As I looked for somewhere to sit I saw an old colleague; someone with whom I worked about twenty years ago. I last saw her on 6 June 2014 when I wrote “As I walked back to my car I was amazed to see some old friends standing next to it. By one of life's amazing co-incidences Tim and Laura were considering buying the house just by where I had parked. We chatted for a few minutes until a rather smarmy estate agent appeared. I took that as my cue to go to work”. It turns out they bought that house from the smarmy estate agent.
I then went on to the hospital’s pre-admission clinic where I then had a ten-minute check-up. My weight, height and blood pressure were measured, and I had the standard pre-admission pep talk.
It was amazing how I managed to spend the entire morning at the hospital.
“er indoors TM” was waiting for me outside, and she drove us both over to Canterbury for a little pre-Christmas adventure. We got to the park and ride, parked, and rode.
I had wondered about McDinner. As we got off the park & ride bus we saw a KFC. And then “er indoors TM” spotted the German Doner Kebab shop which claimed they sold “Kebabs Done Right”. I shall certainly be going back there again.
Our plan for today was to see the Brickmas exhibition at the Beaney museum. Being a Lego fan I’d been looking forward to see it; it has to be said it was a disappointment. There were three half-way decent Lego displays, and a couple of dozen very small models knocked up in a lunch break by the local primary schools.
Whilst we were there we had a look at the Oliver Postgate section. As well as creating “Bagpuss”, “Noggin the Nog” and “The Clangers”, Postgate also created “Basil Brush” (I never knew that), and when he died he left all his stuff to the museum.
With a little time on our hands we Munzee-ed like things possessed, and did the Canterbury Adventure Lab and an Earthcache too, before retiring to a little café for hot chocolate. Mine was white chocolate with far more cream than sense.
I took a few photos as we were out and about. By the time we’d had our hot chocolate it was dark (dark before four o’clock!) so we made our way back to the car and home.
Once home we woke the dogs and walked them round the block. They seemed to behave themselves (for once), but Treacle did seem to be straining rather excessively over that which people and dogs strain. With walk walked I then found her chewing on a piece of wood. I wonder how long that has been a chew toy for her? Is that giving her insides problems?
Yesterday was dull – today was rather eventful…
16 December 2021 (Thursday) - Very Dull
Being wide awake far too early yet again I made brekkie and watched half an episode of “The Witcher”. Shows made by Netflix seem to have this thing in which they are as long as the writers fancy. In any of their series one episode might be forty minutes long; the next an hour and ten minutes. I suppose that with no schedules to fit they can do as they please.
But my attention span isn’t that long.
I had a quick look at the Internet. The photos I’d taken yesterday in Canterbury had received a lot of comments, but there wasn’t much else going on really. There was an interesting case on one of the work-based Facebook groups I follow in which some photos of a blood smear had been posted and people from all around the world were making complete guesses at what it was. One or two people had spotted the malarial parasites (plasmodium vivax) but most people really were randomly putting down whatever ailment their grannie had whinged about last week. For every person who’d correctly said “malaria” there were a dozen replies varying from “probably a virus” to piles. And this was on a page supposedly for professionals. Be *incredibly* careful when asking social media for advice when you are poorly.
It was still very dark as I set off to work. My car's music/radio/information display thingy was playing up again, which was a pain. Mind you it had selected the morning's news as the channel on which it was stuck, so that was something of a result. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing someone or other about how people keep spouting anti-vaccination propaganda even though every single thing said by the anti-vax brigade has been shown to be either factually wrong or laughable. Some people just like to be in a minority (apparently).
There was also a lot of talk about the new strain of COVID which is spreading like wildfire. One of the members of the public made a rather valid point when he asked that *if* this new strain is as serious as we are being told, why are people allowed to congregate in sports stadiums . Is this because the new strain *isn't* serious or because more restrictions would lose the government votes? This is entirely what is wrong with the way the country is run, isn't it? Ultimately our general elections are a popularity contest, aren't they? Who's going to vote for a killjoy?
There was also an interview with the Shadow Minister for Something Or Other who again all but admitted that Labour don't have any policies about anything; instead hoping to gain public support by pointing out flaws in the government's plans. Labour's rallying cry seems to be "Vote For Us - We Aren't As Crap As Them", but with absolutely no evidence to support this position I don't think it will work for them in the long term.
Usually I go to Sainsbury's before the night shifts, but I made a break with tradition this morning. I got some sweeties for work, some lunch, a box of wine, and enough razor blades for the next year (literally). I was rather amazed to see that so little stuff cost me over sixty quid. You would have thought that with such a lucrative money-spinner going on, the women behind the tills wouldn't have been quite so morose, wouldn’t you? Presumably it isn't *their* money-spinner.
As I drove away from Sainsburys my car's music/radio/information display thingy was working again.
Work was work. As I did my bit so my colleagues commented on the photos I'd put up on Facebook yesterday. Some loved the nostalgia; others had never heard of Bagpuss or the Clangers... or of Rainbow, Bungle and Zippy either. Such a shame…
Compared to a rather good day yesterday, today was on the dull side.
17 December 2021 (Friday) - Tired
Having spent much of yesterday evening falling in and out of sleep on the sofa I went to bed at eleven o’clock where I slept for two hours. I woke at ten past one, and after laying wide awake for three hours I gave up trying to sleep and got up. Insomnia is such a pain in the glass. I’ve read all the books about it; I’ve been to the hospital and seen the sleep specialist. I don’t have caffeine after late afternoon; I don’t fiddle with the phone before bed… If I have an alarm set I just don’t sleep.
I got up just after four o’clock, made toast and watched the second half of the episode of “The Witcher” that I started watching yesterday. It is a rather good show. Bloodthirsty in places and (just perhaps) too many nudey ladies without any clothes on (if such a thing is possible), but very entertaining.
I then sparked up the lap-top. I saw that Ocie Bailey (the porn-monger who had sent me a rather saucy message earlier in the week) was still peddling filth, and I had a message from “Forest Luster Luther Lannie” who apparently doesn’t wear clothes any more and then went into rather graphic detail about what he, she or it was imagining.
There were several whinges about shortages of COVID lateral flow test kits on Facebook; this would seem to be the latest shortage brought on by panic hoarding. The Health Secretary was on the radio earlier in the week and he was adamant that there were tens of millions of the things available. Now you can’t get them for love or money. Toilet roll, petrol, Walker’s crisps, lateral flow kits… what will be next?
My antivirus thingy then told me that my Kickstarter password had been hacked and I should change it. It turned out the hack was seven years ago… I changed it anyway. My password for MyFitnessPal had also been hacked… if anyone wants to go in and look at what I was eating a few years ago they are welcome to.
I sent out some birthday wishes and set off in the general direction of work…
With two hours before sunrise it was still very dark as I drove west-wards on the car’s first visit to Pembury. But my car's music/radio/information display thingy was working this morning which was something of a result.
The pundits on the radio were talking about yesterday's by-election in Shropshire in which the Conservatives lost a safe seat which they have held for over two hundred years. There were those seeing that as a resounding thumbs-down for the Prime Minister. There were those who saw this as retribution for the old MP having been caught out breaking the rules. No one seems to have seen it as what it is - with the Labour party in disarray (as always) it was a resounding triumph for the least crap alternative which in this case were the Dribbling Democraps.
There was also talk about how the police are going to be speaking to two of the people who supposedly broke lockdown rules and were part of the Christmas parties at the Conservative party headquarters last year. Apparently only two people are going to be contacted... I can't help but wonder why the Old Bill aren't going to speak to everyone who was in the photos that have been released.
I got to work in the dark and did my bit And with my bit done I came home again. I’d driven to work for over an hour in the dark. I drove home for longer (as the roads were busier) in the fog and twilight. I think I’d rather drive in the dark rather than the twilight given the choice, but I’m not given the choice. As I always say I like working at Pembury; I just don’t like going there (or coming back again)
Once home I took the dogs round the block for a walk. As we walked we met a young lad. Probably about eight or nine he politely asked if he could stroke the dogs, asked their names, and with dogs stroked he thanked me for letting him stroke them and said “have a good evening sir”.
I was impressed.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching British week on “The Great Australian Bake Off” in which the Aussies had some very strange ideas about what goes on in Britain… and then I fell asleep in front of the telly. I hate that …
18 December 2021 (Saturday) - Family Meal & Westfield Lights
Almost exactly two years ago (14 December 2019) I woke in the small hours with a hip so painful that I went to the local A&E department. I woke at two o’clock this morning with exactly the same pain, but bearing in mind the utter debacle that the visit to the A&E department had been I decided against going to hospital. I lay awake suffering listening to “er indoors TM” snoring instead.
Over brekkie I had my usual look at the Internet. It was still there. One woman was posting on Facebook about “contence insruanse”.Presumably she meant “house contents insurance”; if that was the right interpretation, she had received quite a lot of misguided and frankly wrong guidance on the matter. Why do so many people ask for advice on Facebook when it is well established that this is a rather stupid thing to do.
Another friend was asking how to deal with a dead fox in his garden which was (apparently) too big to be buried. This had me pondering… How do you deal with a dead fox? If it were me I’d quietly dump it a little way up the road after dark so that it would become somebody else’s problem. I did wonder if someone else had flung it over his fence in the first place, but didn’t like to say anything.
And someone was posting a rather odd question to one of the work-related Facebook pages. A blood bank had been approached by the entomology department of a nearby university. Could the university have their expired units of blood to feed to their mosquitoes? Bearing in mind that once a unit of blood is past its expiry (and the paperwork done) it goes in the hazardous waste bin, I don’t see why not. Back in the day people would just take the expired units... Forty years ago the expired units of blood got taken home by the gardeners and put on people's roses. It struck me as odd that an expired unit can be chucked in the bin but not put to good use, and I made the mistake of saying so.
With hip still aching I took the dogs for a little walk. I’ve got plans for the geo-meet on New Year’s Day and so I put out the geocaches for the Wherigos that (hopefully) people will be playing on the day. As we walked home we met some rather strange child who jumped behind her mother, screamed at the dogs, and started thrashing her hands about at them. Before I realised, I actually said “for f… sake!” out loud. and the mother gave me an embarrassed smile. I’ve said it before so many times; if people don’t like dogs, just stay away from them. Why provoke them? Fortunately Pogo and Treacle just walked on by.
We came home, cleared the dog dung from the garden, and I put the finishing touches to the two Wherigos. To add a photo of the final and upload the cartridge for each took nearly an hour.
The series of Wherigos I put out in Brook last month has only been done twice. Mind you those who play Wherigo love it. I’m hoping these two will give us all a bit of fun on New Year’s Day.
We settled the dogs, drove up to the railway station where we collected “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and drove out to Icklesham. The Queen’s Head is a rather good pub that does good food and beer and is half-way (near enough) between home and Hastings. Most of the tribe gathered for a pre-Christmas dinner. And having scoffed far too much we drove on to Westfield to look at the Christmas lights.
I took a few photos whilst we were out; the photos don’t do the lights justice.
We came home to find both dogs fast asleep. We came in the house, turned the lights on and got no reaction. I worry about leaving them… hopefully they sleep like that every time we go out… not that we leave them very often.
19 December 2021 (Sunday) - Before The Night Shift
After a frankly terrible night I got up, made toast and found we had no jam. We had some rather old honey so I put a few lumps of that onto the toast and hoped for the best s I had my morning’ rummage round the internet.
I had some emails and I sighed. One of the geocaches I replaced yesterday had gone live. However the other wasn’t in an acceptable location. Apparently(!) It was a direct replacement for one which had been in the same place for eight years, but apparently that is in the Ashford Green Corridor and is therefore not allowed as a location. The place I had in mind was a tree at the edge of a field. Dog walkers come past regularly. Children play there, teenagers lurk, older teenagers run their unlicenced motorbikes all over the place, tramps stagger about the place swilling meths… but I can’t put a geocache up a tree there.
There is a similar issue down the road from where I live. One side of the road is an acceptable location for a geocache; the other is in theory a site of historical interest as it is a neolithic burial ground. In practice it is a road in a built-up area with anything neolithic under several feet of tarmac.
Meanwhile with Munzee you just stick a bar code on a random lamp post, no one is fussed, and they all wonder why geocaching is clearly dying on its arse.
As I pondered what to do about this minor (major) setback, “er indoors TM” went to Asda to collect shopping. Asda do this thing whereby you tell them what you want, you drive round, and pick up what they’ve decided they are going to sell to you. What you want and what they are selling are usually not entirely dissimilar but aren’t always quite as identical as they might be.
“er indoors TM” returned and we had Hot Cross Buns from brekkie (as it is nearly Christmas!) and I started a third re-write of the Wherigo cartridge for which I had had the thumbs-down earlier. It only took half an hour to correct that which I could from the sofa, then we took the dogs out for a little walk to find a new final location for this Wherigo. The dogs needed a walk anyway; even though it was a rather cold morning
With walk walked we had a cuppa and I completed the last of the Wherigo stuff so hopefully our second game for New Year’s Day will be good to go. Bearing in mind I’d archived one Wherigo yesterday apparently needlessly I sent an email to the geo-Feds asking if they would un-archive it. They might; they might not.
I took myself off to bed for the afternoon and slept surprisingly well. I got up after three hours and told the world today’s instalment of the Lego Advent Calendar in which the duck had done a poo. Festive? Probably not. But the thing with the Lego Advent calendar is that I have to make up the story from what I get each day, and you have to wonder what the Lego corporation was thinking when they put Lego turds in today’s window.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner, then we tuned in to the Christmas episode of the monthly Family Zoom Quiz which these days is run on Microsoft Teams. The bingo was fun, and the quiz bit should start soon then I have to go to work.
Having arranged my life so as to be home for the monthly Family Zoom Quiz it had all been changed. Oh well… such is life,
20 December 2021 (Monday) - Bit Tired
Last night’s night shift was… I won’t say “busy”; in my professional world “busy” is running round in circles screaming “OMG!! OMG!!” with a truly immediately urgent case needing attention right that second. I would say the workload was relentless; with demands on my services all night long. It never fails to amaze me how on a night shift I will have in the region of fifty to seventy blood samples when back in the day if I got out of bed more than three times we would remark on what a bad night it had been.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were spreading panic by quite blatantly trying to start rumours about Christmas being cancelled. There was an interview with one of the government’s scientists who was quite honest and said that the new variant of COVID is on the increase, and increasing far quicker than any other strain. But their models of how it would pan out were open to interpretation with the worst case scenario being ten times worse than their best case scenario. He said that all they could do was present their figures to the politicians who had to decide on what action to take.
This was followed by an interview with the deputy Prime Minister who said that scientists deal in theory; politicians deal with facts. If I were the interviewer I would have crucified the deputy Prime Minister over that rash statement, but it passed utterly unchallenged. The chap then wittered a few platitudes, and said that recently emerged photos of the Prime Minister, his wife and seventeen staff having a bit of a party in the garden at 10 Downing Street during the lockdown showed people “having a drink after a busy set of work meetings and acting entirely within the rules of the time”. These rules being the same ones which prevented me going to see my mum whilst I still could. Not that I’m bitter.
The Prime Minister later described the photos as “People at work”… what sort of work allows you to sit round swilling wine with your mates when the rest of the country can’t?
I got home and went to bed just as the nice man from the plumber arrived. I left “er indoors TM” sorting him out; he’d come to service the boiler (!) and also to disconnect the gas fire in the living room. We’ve not used that thing in over twenty years, and when the smart meters got fitted the nice man had put a condemnation notice on it. Presumably he had found something wrong with it? Personally I wish he’d just stuck to fitting a smart meter, but there it is.
After three hours asleep I got out of the wrong said of the bed (as Treacle was in the way) and had brekkie. Toast with “Mrs Bridges Scottish Strawberry Preserve” that we’d found in the cupboard. I bet that wasn’t made with permission of the creators of “Upstairs Downstairs”. For all that there are all sorts of copyright laws, it never fails to amaze me how so many people get away with ignoring them.
The jam was rather good despite being two years past its sell-by date.
As I scoffed I had a look at the Internet. The geo-feds had unarchived that geocache I whinged about yesterday which was something of a result.
I then drove over to Henwood. “er indoors TM” had her car booked in for MOT and needed driving back home. And with her driven back home I ironed a few shirts whilst watching episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which I took an instant dislike to the chap who said he was taking part in the contest so as to pass on good advice to others. Predictably he came last and had a few spats with another contestant who came over as a rather obnoxious sexist pig.
That show is *so* good for watching petty squabbles.
With dinner boiled up “er indoors TM” set off on a major Munzee mission to Faversham. I sat in front of the telly and watched the fourth episode of “The Witcher”. It was good, but I did watch it with something of an air of “WTF is going on”.
I’m going to bed now. I feel a tad tired, and my hip has been playing up all day…
21 December 2021 (Tuesday) - This n That
Having been whinging about insomnia for the last week or so you would have thought I would have been grateful for a good night's sleep, wouldn't you? I had a better night than many I've had recently, but as Albert (Einstein) once said, everything is relative. Treacle finally stopped barking shortly after midnight, but I woke in a cold sweat at five o'clock after a rather vivid dream in which Stacey's mum (out of "Gavin and Stacey") had been trying to get me to make a mucky movie featuring the Prime Minister. My role was to just brandish the camera, but I was having none of it and neither was Mr J. I was finding it very difficult to be in agreement with Downing Street, but in agreement we certainly were. Both of us were taking a moral stance. I was rather relived to wake up at silly o’clock.
I got up, opened the Advent Calendar, made toast (with Mrs Bridges Scottish Strawberry Wotsit) and watched half of an episode of "The Witcher" in which there were certainly a lot of nudey sauce romps going on. Her who was the star of the episode a few days ago has now got her own castle (what happened there?) and the little girl on the run (who everyone loves) has now chummed up with a bunch of cut-throat pacifist elves (how does that work?)
I set off to work. As I headed down the road the pundits on the radio were talking about the American job market. It would seem that over the last year the pandemic has made the average American wonder just what they want from a job, and apparently last month one in every thirty American workers quit their job and went off to do something less crappy instead. Good for them. I did that nearly five years ago and never looked back.
Just as I got to the petrol station the radio's sports drivel started. I was glad to have missed that; it is always tedious.
Being rather short of petrol I went to the Ashford Sainsbury's filling station where again the woman on the till flatly refused to do her job and forcefully demanded that I operated all the scanning equipment which was clearly on her side of the counter. She was aggressively adamant that she would not do the job she is paid to do.
Having got fuel (and a sandwich) I set off up the motorway. The roads in Ashford had been incredibly empty; the motorway was rather busy. Again both the slow and middle lanes were full of lorries slowly overtaking each other, forcing all other traffic into the fast lane.
As I narrowly avoided being splatted by these lorries the pundits on the radio were interviewing some scientist or other who was talking about a recent discovery in Northumberland where our old friend science has discovered a fossilised millipede which was as long as a car.
One of the things I love about science is that it is held up to be the ultimate truth... When I was a lad our biology teacher explained to us how insects (and related invertebrates) have grown to the maximum size that they possibly could. They simply couldn't breathe (or do the invertebrate equivalent) if they were any bigger. Millipedes as long as a car were a scientific impossibility back in the seventies.
Science now says that there was loads more oxygen in the atmosphere a squillion years prior to that. Part of me thinks that science can proof that sh*t is sugar if it tries but being a professional scientist I suppose I should remember whose side I am on.
I got to work in the dark and started the early shift. At tea break I had a bit of a shock - I read on Facebook that an old friend had died suddenly overnight. I say "suddenly" - I'd not spoken to Michelle since a funeral we both attended two years ago, and things are always a tad fraught at funerals. Had she been ill? There had been no mention of it on Facebook recently. Mind you, through the wonder of Facebook I now know what had happened pretty much when it happened. None of the awkwardness of finding out weeks or months later. I wonder when her funeral will be - hopefully I will be able to get along. As and when (if!) the pandemic subsides I really should try to organise a few meet-ups with old friends since (as was said at the funeral we were both at two years ago) as time goes by we only see our old friends at funerals these days.
With work done I came home in the dark. However I now have the consolation that with today being the shortest day from here on in I might get the chance to drive in daylight a little more. I came home singing along to the frankly wonderful (!) music that I’ve put on to my stick, and as I howled along the traffic news interrupted the music, said its bit, and then the music came back on. I’ve got that bit working right.
I came home, came in and tripped over a sleeping dog. What an alert sentry that one was. The other had been asleep on my bed and came down to see what all the commotion was about. We went for a quick walk round the block, then I loaded the washing machine and had a look at the old Wherigo that the geo-Feds unarchived for me the other day. What with that one and the two new ones that went live this week I had the makings of a New Year’s Day event. If any of my loyal reader are bored on New Year’s Day and want to come along, everyone is very welcome. You can read all about it here or here.
“er indoors TM” is in the throes of boiling up what smells like a rather good bit of dinner… there’s a box of red wine with my name on it… just as well I’m on a late start tomorrow…
22 December 2021 (Wednesday) - Late Shift
I looked at the clock when I woke to see it was half past seven. Being on a late shift I thought I’d have a little longer in bed. I went back to sleep and woke an age later to see it was only quarter to seven. What was that all about?
I made toast and scoffed it as another negative COVD test incubated and as I peered into the Internet. There wasn’t an awful lot happening on Facebook - it was heaving with people who were formally signing off for the holiday. Holiday? What – the one that doesn’t start until the weekend? Every year we have this. Loads of people make a big song and dance about turning off the Internet connection for the festive period… and then carry on clicking “like” and commenting all over social media much the same as ever.
I sent out a birthday wish, and had a wish of my own. The colleague whose birthday it is today has a mother who is a rather good cook. Would there be cakes later? And then I had a little ponder. My childhood mate “Nobby” had his birthday today. Whatever happened to him? He’s not on social media and neither I nor any other of our contemporaries have heard from him in nearly forty years.
I spent a few minutes watching English Heritage’s live feed from Stonehenge in which several hundred hippies had been given carte blanche to swarm all over the stones. After a few minutes it got rather dull and I turned it off. I suppose it was rather atmospheric if you were there, but it didn’t quite seem the same from arial footage from someone’s drone. Mind you Stonehenge has always been something of a disappointment for me. I visited the place on 1 October 2011 when I wrote “Stonehenge was something of a disappointment” and I came relatively close to the place on 21 August last year when I was equally unimpressed,
The trouble with Stonehenge is that it is so famous and iconic that it can never live up to its reputation.
I got the leads on to the dogs and we went out. Not fancying scraping all the ice from the car we just walked to the park. As we walked we met a rather delightful (!) family of four children and a mother, The children all shrieked at the dogs as mother puffed away on a cannabis-laden spliff.
We also met a few other dogs as we went round the park. All of them barked at my two, and each time my two came back to me when called. I was rather impressed about that. It has to be said that walking the dogs in Viccie Park can be hard work, but it is local and mud-free (for the most part).
We came home and I wrote up six CPD exercises as the washing machine and dishwasher did their things. As I’ve said before I do think I go rather overkill on my CPD efforts, but rather too much than too little. I then spent a few minutes pondering over today’s instalment of the Lego Advent Calendar. I have to say that I think that my efforts this year haven’t been as good as some of those in the past. I’ve made a little archive of Advent adventures. Hopefully some people might like it.
I had planned to watch a little telly this morning but what with one thing and another time had run away from me. Seeing both dogs were snoring I got ready for work and leaving both dogs snoring I set off. In daylight.
I drove to Sainsburys in Aylesford. I thought I'd get my prescription for my operation (the paperwork came through the post the other day) but I made the schoolboy error of forgetting that there are only three shopping days before Christmas. I queued to get into the car park and found half a dozen supermarket staff there... not so much directing traffic as just watching it get more and more gridlocked. Once I'd finally parked my car I braved the Armageddon that was the supermarket. Loads of people with trolleys piled high all gossiping with each other, all getting in everyone else's way. I eventually got my antibiotics and steroids, and some Ibuprofen for my iffy hip. I don't like taking pain killers, but they do have the beneficial effect of killing the pain. I also got a sandwich for lunch, and went to pay...
I'd arrived at Sainsburys to find the place heaving. Whilst I'd waited twenty minutes for my prescription the place had pretty much emptied out. There were no queues at the checkouts, and the queues in the car park were just a memory.
Perhaps everyone had gone for lunch?
I went in to work and did my bit. There *was* cake! As I worked I was chatting with a colleague who had booked a couple of days off work and was going straight from work to make the journey to see his parents in Scotland. He was taking the train from Maidstone to London from where he had the choice of train or coach to get up north. The train would have cost him over two hundred pounds; booking a seat on the overnight coach had set him back twelve quid. It is an eight-hour journey but he bought a travel pillow and intended to sleep all the way. Twelve quid, eh? Ashford to London costs over thirty quid on the train.
I might take a holiday to Scotland myself at that price.
I came home to find “er indoors TM” fighting with the new fire. It took some fighting to get together. I suspect it will be far more decorative than functional…
I don’t like it. If she don’t send it back I will probably take it up the tip at the earliest opportunity.
23 December 2021 (Thursday) - Stuff
Being awake far too early I got up, spent far too long looking for my lunch box, made toast and spent a little while watching “The Witcher” on Netflix. Apparently the time of the sword and the axe was nigh (!) I can only assume that would be the pork sword as there was quite a lot of nudey sauce romps going on.
As I watched I found myself glancing at the new fire and glaring at it. It looked so much better in the advert. It might grow on me; I don’t know what I was expecting from a new fire, but whatever I was expecting, this thing hasn’t delivered.
I had a little look at Facebook. There was a minor squabble on one of the Lego-related pages as to how old Lego has to be to be classified as “vintage”. I made the observation that most people seem to think "vintage" means just before they started playing with Lego as a child themselves and amazingly this seemed to calm everyone down.
I took a a little diversion to get a gnome's hat (it’s a Munzee thing) as I walked up the road to find where I'd left my car last night, and it wasn't long before I was off on my way to work. As I drove some bishop was blathering on the "Thought for the Day" saying in between his ramblings how odd it is that people can take face coverings off to sing along to Christmas carols in his church, but the same people face fines (and he claimed had been given them) when they did the same in a supermarket. I couldn't work out whether he thought that preventing spread of virus was a good thing or stopping the wanton god-bothering was a bad thing. Like most bishops, the chap made no sense.
I got to work and had a rather good day despite the best efforts of the “s” blood group antigen. In between working I sneaked a look at the works “Secret Santa” box. All but one of the pressies were in one small box. Behind that box was a frankly humongous pressie with my name on it. I’ve told everyone that this conclusively proves I've been a very good girl this year and I intend to use a photo of it as evidence at my next annual appraisal.
Feeling suitably smug I came home where I took off my shirt and had a look round my side. My hip still hurts, and all the skin over it feels sore and inflamed. I can’t see anything amiss at all, but it itches. I wonder what’s brought that on?
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with more of the box of red wine whilst watching the final of The Great Australian Bake Off. It was really good… must see if we can find more episodes of that.
I get to open that big pressie tomorrow evening…
24 December 2021 (Friday) - Christmas Eve
My hip was playing up for much of the night, and somehow or other I’d convinced myself that an arthritic hip was actually appendicitis (dur!) When I wasn’t fretting about surgery over Christmas I was embroiled in a nightmare in which I’d been drafted into an amateur dramatic re-make of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” in which I had been led to believe I would be playing the part of “Pharoah” but was actually “Fat Git”. I’d finally settled when “er indoors TM”’s alarm went off and my hip started aching again.
I got up and opened the last window of my Advent Calendar with something of a sense of relief. I do like making the story every year but it can be rather hard work at times. There’s no denying that this year’s hasn’t been as good as some of the previous efforts… but I’m already looking forward to next year’s one.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet.
Pretty much nothing at all had kicked off on Facebook overnight so I downloaded my bank statement and went through it accounting for every single penny I’d squandered over the last month. I’m mean like that… As always I am far from skint… just nowhere near as rich as I would like to be. But then, I suppose pretty much everyone can say that.
As I accounted my phone beeped; our Munzee clan had reached our target for this month which was something of a result…
We took the dogs round the park for a little walk. “er indoors TM” had a stroke of genius in which giving each dog a tennis ball to carry rather distracts them from what is going on around them. It seemed to work; we walked past several other dogs and had no episodes at all. Mind you all the other dog walkers seemed to be rather more relaxed than the usual ones we meet in the park, and a relaxed owner makes for a relaxed dog.
As we walked home “er indoors TM”’s phone beeped with a memory. A photo of Fudge from last Christmas which gave me a minor melt-down. For all that it is over eight months since he went, I still blub about him most days.
With walk walked we came home and had a cuppa and a croissant. “er indoors TM” put some “Christmas at the Albert Hall” thing on the telly in which various celebrities were singing the Christmas songs for which they became famous over twenty years ago. It was rather good to watch, but I found myself wondering just how much the thousands of people in the audience had paid to be there… and to get there.
Martin called round and we swapped pressies. It is ages since we last met up – I must organise some more get-togethers in the New Year.
“er indoors TM” then went off delivering Christmas pressies to family in Hastings. I went to bed and slept as well as I could between Treacle barking at absolutely nothing at all for much of the afternoon. I eventually got fed up with her woofing and set the washing machine loose on laundry as I watched a couple of episodes of “The Witcher” in which (for once) most people kept their clothes on.
It has to be said that this Christmas Eve has been rather dull. Many years ago Christmas Eve would be one big work-related booze-up when we would all leave the (now bulldozed) Royal East Sussex Hospital at eleven o’clock in the morning, go to French’s in Robertson and drink ourselves silly.
About twenty-five years ago I would work the night before Christmas Eve, have Christmas Eve off and spend it on a booze-up with my brother in Hastings before going for the last-minute shopping fight.
These days Christmas Eve is just a normal day at work; albeit a tad quiet. Or (like today) a day before work.
In the past Christmas Eve night would be watching dull telly prior to Midnight mass, or a party with friends. This Christmas Eve night is a night shift. I’ve worked the night shift on Christmas Eve before. They have been some of my busiest nights and some of my quietest.
I wonder how this one will pan out…
25 December 2021 (Saturday) - Christmas Day
Last night wasn't the quietest Christmas Eve Night I've worked but it certainly wasn't the busiest. Having performed twenty-one coagulation screens, thirty-six blood counts and issued two packs of platelet concentrates (and only one blood sample between half past one and half past five) I think I got off lightly.
I last worked Christmas Eve night in 2015 and I think that was a tad busier than last night was.
On the other hand the drive home was a tad busier than some Christmas mornings have been. I can remember Dad collecting me from work after Christmas Eve Night in 1985. We drove from Ashford to Hastings and saw less than ten other cars (we counted!) in thirty miles. There were quite a few cars driving about on Hermitage Lane (probably hospital staff like me), but the motorway was quieter. Or (to be precise) going coast-bound was quiet. There was quite a lot of traffic heading in the other direction.
Usually after a night shift I’d go straight to bed, but I didn’t want to have everyone waiting for me to get up today. I decided to get on with the day, and if I nodded off then everyone else could get on with it as I snored.
We opened pressies; a good haul. And then loaded up the car and set off to Folkestone where “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was waiting for us.
We (I) started the day with a bottle of “Snow Top” which was closely followed by a bottle of “Good Old Boy”. As I guzzled both I offered sage advice on the best way to cook a Christmas dinner. If any of my loyal readers should find themselves cooking a Christmas dinner, then I can heartly advise doing so in the oven. For some reason my sage advice wasn’t as well accepted as I’d hoped. Mind you, dinner was rather good. And there was quite a lot of it too. And a bottle of red wine.
The third pint (Bengal Lancer) was a bottle conditioned one, and I’m blaming that for the feeling of being bloated (!). Suitably stuffed we got out the Blokus. Such good fun – I can’t understand why it isn’t more widely known. It is the best board game bar none!! Blokus was followed by scoffing some dippy stuff and a few hands of Blackjack.
It was at this point that I nodded off for an hour or so.
On waking I cracked open a bottle of Sainsbury’s Christmas Porter which was rather good, but perhaps too sweet. As I swilled this we had pudding (and a gallon of cream) and played more Blokus until we were all wilting.
A rather good Christmas day… You can tell when we’ve had a good day when the dogs are snoring as loudly as they are now.
26 December 2021 (Sunday) - Boxing Day
Apart from a trip to the loo at five o’clock I was out like a light for ten hours last night which was something of a result. I woke to find Treacle scrambling at the bed covers; she’d got a squeaky toy for Christmas and loved it so much she’d taken it to bed last night and couldn’t find it this morning.
Having been woken I got up, made toast and had a look-see at the Internet. There were quite a few photos of people’ Christmases which I liked looking at. I’m a very nosey person!! The photo of myself in the hospital blood bank which I had posted to the works Facebook page had got quite a few “likes”, but not as many as last year’s. Last year the photo I posted there had more than twice the number of “likes” that the second-most liked photo had. It’s not about the numbers – all the time your number is highest(!)
There were quite a few duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate postings on Facebook as people posted photos of Lego, dogs, records, and the like to every single Facebook group of whatever the theme was. There was a particularly good posting on the Jackshund page of a little dog which looked just like Fudge destroying his Christmas coat just like Fudge would have done. I had a little blub, and then set a COVID test going.
As it incubated I looked in my in-box in the naïve hope of a new geocache… for a few years I got a First to Find on Boxing Day. But not this year. There’s been more requests to have old geocache archived this month than there have been new caches published, and (apart from the two I created) nothing new local for ages. Oh well…
Seeing a break in the rain we took the dogs to the park. However the rain soon started again and we brought back two seals (the dogs were that soaked) and I then spent a couple of minutes wringing out my pants. We were out for half an hour and got soaked to the skin.
Suitably equipped with dry pants “er indoors TM” made us a caramel latte and we downed it with a Mr Kipling After Eight Fondant Fancy which was all the better for being past its sell-by date.
As I guzzled and scoffed I started putting together next year’s birthday video. Every year I make a little video which I can post to people’s Facebook pages when they have a birthday. The video features various piccies from my life over the previous year… it’s a little unique thing that I can do. It seems to go down well. I shall post it to You-Tube in a day or so, but won’t use it until next year. Which is only a week away.
With the dogs snoring we drove round to “My Boy TM”
‘s house where we had a rather god afternoon. Far too much to eat and drink,
and once stuffed we had a rather good game of “Monopoly”. It would
have been better had I not been wiped out first, but there it is.
27 December 2021 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift (!)
I slept for eleven hours last night; finally having to get up as my back ached from laying still for so long. It is quite a while since that last happened.
I got up, set the washing machine loose on laundry and made some toast to scoff as I peered into the internet. There was a really impressive argument on one of the Lego-related Facebook pages in which someone had been given a Lego mug for Christmas and there were all sorts of arguments about whether anyone would ever use such a mug, and how the thing would or would not collapse, and how ungrateful and rude the original poster had been to whenever it was who had given them the pressie in the first place.
There were quite a few postings about geocaching-like activities on my Facebook feed this morning… “Treasure Trails” seemed to be like any series of geocaches except that you have to pay (at least) ten quid to do each trail. And “Snag the Tag” is just geocaching’s “First to Find”-ing with the tags for which you search costing a small fortune in the first place, and once the tag has been found, game over. I can’t see either taking off, but you never know.
I also read that the actress who played “Truly Scrumptious” in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film died last week. She was ninety-one.
The plan for today had been a decent post-Christmas walk. But bearing in mind how wet we’d got in such a short time yesterday and seeing how the rain today was worse, we’d reluctantly decided to cancel. So we had a rather lazy day. We watched a couple of episodes of “The Brittas Empire” which were rather funny even if they did start with a (totally unnecessary) disclaimer that they featured language and comedy of their time.
Over a lunch of cheese and pickles we then watched the last “Harry Potter” film. Over the last few weeks we’ve watched all seven (eight) of the films and… I won’t say they are crap but I’m also reading the “Harry Potter” books on my Kindle app too. I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t read the books then the films don’t stand up to any thought and don’t make an awful lot of sense.
And then I got the call – would I do the night shift… Having agreed to stand by I couldn’t really say no. I suppose it will stop me spending time eating cheese.
28 December 2021 (Tuesday) - Bit Tired
Last night’s night shift was dumped on me at rather short notice, and had I known how it was going to pan out (not the best night shift!) I would never have offered to have stepped int the breach. But there it is.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the latest pandemic news; I say “news”; perhaps “wild baseless speculation” might be a better description of their wittering. I got rather annoyed with their blatant scaremongering and turned the radio off In favour of my rather excellent choice of music.
Once home I had a quick spot of brekkie whist peering into the Internet. It was still there. There was an amazing bit of spam on my Facebook feed featuring two young ladies snogging which had attracted all sorts of criticism from religious crackpots. You have to wonder about someone whose invisible friend judges the life choices of a complete stranger.
And in a complete break with tradition no one was selling off their unwanted Christmas pressies (yet).
We got the leads onto the dogs and drove down to Hastings. The weather forecast for today had led us to believe that it would be dry today. But it lied. The torrential rain started when we were half-way there, and we got rather wet crossing the road from where we’d parked the car to my Dad’s house. I wanted to see him today as today would have been my Mum’s eighty-sixth birthday.
Dad seemed well; he’s had a spate of starlings flying down his chimney and had just chivvied one out of the front room window. He seemed rather amused watching Pogo and Treacle running riot. We had planned to walk them before visiting, but we thought it better to arrive with hyperactive dogs rather than filthy and wringing wet dogs.
After an hour or so the dogs were becoming rather fractious so we said our goodbyes and headed home.
Seeing the weather had chirped up a little and bearing in mind the awful weather had stopped the dogs getting a decent walk for a couple of days we stopped off in Winchelsea and took them for a little walk guided by the Adventure Lab cache series that was there. The rain had mostly stopped, but it wasn’t very warm and the wind was a tad keen. But we got two geo-souvenirs, the dogs got their walk, and they slept all the way home.
We came home to find a parcel propped against the front door. Amazon had delivered my new hair clippers. On December 8th I mentioned my hair trimmer had packed up. Despite having dropped a few hints no one had got me a set as a Christmas pressie so yesterday I ordered a set and today they were waiting for me when we came home. Or waiting for anyone who fancied a set of hair clippers really. Just sitting propped against the front door waiting to be picked up by whoever got to them first. Fortunately I was first, but it could have been anyone.
I gave myself a haircut, then sat on the sofa and dozed through several “Carry On” films. They were hilarious fifty years ago… but they are rather dated now.
“er indoors TM” came back from the shops with a rather good bit of Chinese which we scoffed watching the Christmas episode of “Taskmaster”.
Despite having had to go into the night shift at short notice last night, I think we made the most of today…
29 December 2021 (Wednesday) - Early Shift
I slept like a log last night which was something of a result. I suppose that’s the aftermath of a night shift.
I made toast, and watched an episode of “Superstore”; there is a new series of the show on Netflix which was rather good. I’d forgotten just how good the show was. Believable characters make all the difference to any telly show.
I had a quick look at the Internet – pretty much nothing at all was going on. I suppose six o’clock on the morning after a Bank Holiday was too early for most people? But I did have a message. The “Name Tests” app wanted me to play a game. I suppose that since I’ve not fallen for the wanton hussies, the spammers are seeing if I will give them all my personal info through a silly game I might download. I think they will be disappointed.
As I drove to work on a very dark and wet morning I listened to the radio as I usually do. This morning (like they do at Christmas) the morning's radio show was being run by a guest editor. This morning it was the turn of footballer Raheem Sterling. I found myself listening to the show out of a sense of disbelief rather than interest. Admittedly I only heard half an hour out of a three-hour show so I probably missed a lot, but apart from a small section on the scarcity of lateral flow kits, all I could hear was all about Raheem Sterling. It has to be said that the Raheem Sterling Foundation does do good work but when you are coining in ten million quid a year, you can afford to be generous.
I got to work and did my bit. Back in the day the period between Christmas and New Year was always quiet in hospitals. Whilst today wasn’t as hectic as it might have been, it was certainly far busier than I had hoped. As I drove to work this morning the hourly news bulletin has said that forty per cent of hospital workers were self-isolating because of contact with people who had tested positive for COVID. That figure seemed a tad high – according to what I could find on-line the figure is about three per cent. I wonder which (if either) is the correct one?
I came home to find the postman had been with the Lego bargain I ordered a week or so ago. A job lot of about forty or so Lego maxifigure bits A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that some people don’t realise the value of what they are selling. There is something unique about each of the six maxifigures in the photo above, and each is (probably) individually worth more than I paid for the job lot… Or they are worth that to me. Whether anyone else would be daft enough to pay up for them remains to be seen.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we devoured whilst watching the first episode of the second season of “Lego Masters: Australia” in which eight teams of Lego-ers have to spend far longer than I spend at work (even on the night shifts) to make the most amazing Lego creations. The brick supply they use has three million Lego bricks. I’d like to play with that!!!
30 December 2021 (Thursday) - Birthdays, Stuff, Early Shift
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Superstore” which really did give an example of how the (relatively) younger generation operate these days. The leading character of the show has been living with her boyfriend for years in the house they are buying together and in which they are bringing up their child. However she is unsure whether or not she wants to marry him as that is too big a step.
I know so many people who are in this boat; having made so many practical commitments to each other, they won’t get married as that is far too big a step. How does that work?
As I watched telly yet another COVID test incubated. I’m getting short of those and despite what the Health Secretary said on the radio last week, there *is* a national shortage of the things as I can’t seem to be able to order any more.
I then sparked up my lap-top to see I had more spamming messages from “Name Tests” so I’ve squealed them up to the Facebook Feds, then sent out a birthday wish to my brother. He’s fifty today. Fifty !! I also saw that Jeff Lynne (the leading light of the Electric light Orchestra) is seventy-four today.
They both made me feel rather old.
With nothing else on Facebook but postings about Monty Python (there were *loads* of those this morning) and no emails worth having, I got ready for work.
As I drove to work on another very dark and wet morning the pundits on the radio were talking about how Ghislane Maxwell (daughter of the publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell) has been found guilty of... To be honest it wasn't her crimes that made me think this morning, so much as what the legal expert being interviewed had to say. Apparently Ms Maxwell hadn't been in court at all during her trial. She was described as "a very bad witness". The legal professionals don't like her sort in the courtrooms as she argues with them and seems to have no respect for the legal processes. Anything she had to say was presented in writing before the trial started.
And during the trial the jury decided that one of the other witnesses "was telling the truth". Did they? Was she? I'm not sure if any jury can decide if any witness is "telling the truth". All they can decide is that they believe the witness - which can be miles away from the witness actually being truthful.
This all reminded me of my little episode in a court nearly ten years ago when I was accused of professional misconduct. I've tried to draw a veil over a rather nasty episode in my life, but I do get flashbacks... like I did this morning. I can distinctly remember when I fell foul of the presiding officer as I was more interested in presenting my story rather than piddling about in the convoluted way they seemed to want to piddle about in. Then the prosecuting barrister just came straight out and called me a liar; my recollection of what had happened acted in my defence and went against her presentation. Amazingly only minutes after this, the same prosecuting barrister suddenly stopped being the cow-bitch-from-hell and argued very strongly in my favour when she felt I wasn't presenting my case in the best way. And then when acting for me she openly contradicted what she'd said minutes previously when acting for the prosecution.
But what struck me most about that sorry episode was during a lull in proceedings when one of those in judgement over me was chatting with one of the court officials about the best places to go in London for a good night out. For him my trial was something of an inconvenience; he was clearly there for a trip to the wicked city, and the sooner the business of the day was finished, the better.
All the time courts are treated as "just another day at work" or “a bit of a jolly” rather than "this is someone's life!" will we ever get real justice?
It's been ten years now - I really should stop sulking.
I got to work for the early shift. the night shift was glad to see me. Like me on Monday night she too had been dragooned in at short notice to cover for sick leave. This pandemic is a pain in the glass (to coin a phrase). I did my bit. As I did I found out that the game to have been playing over Christmas had been "Drunk Uno" which (apparently) is just like normal Uno but with a lot more vodka. One lives and learns.
Driving home today was something of a disappointment. Yesterday the sunset had been rather pretty. Today was wet, overcast and miserable. I got home just as it was getting dark, and as I got out of my car I said hello to who I thought was Dan-Dan (a sort of niece-in-law). However it wasn’t Dan-Dan; it was one of the normal people who didn’t actually say “F… off fatso or I will scream for the police” but her reaction wasn’t far off of that. Bearing in mind that I was outside Dan-Dan’s house I thought that was an honest mistake to make, but the normal person wasn’t having any of it.
I came home, and over a cuppa I peered into the internet where I saw I had a friend request on Facebook. “Calverto Esila” had suggested: “Join the Snapchat group I've set up. in the snapchat group there are many lonely women who need a date... so if you want to join the group, it's FREE without spending a penny. click here” and gave a link to a website featuring various people doing rather unhygienic activities. If anyone would like the link I’ll just make the observation that I know from experience that my passing it on would breach Facebook’s Community Standards, but her sending to me does not. As Facebook confirmed this evening.
Funny old world…
With dinner scoffed “er indoors TM” started lurking in the kitchen. After an hour or so she came up with a rather good batch of Christmas buns… Very tasty.
31 December 2021 (Friday) - Looking Back, Looking Forward
I slept through till three o’clock this morning then lay wide awake for a couple of hours before giving up trying to sleep and getting up.
Over brekkie I watched another episode of “Superstore” then sparked up the lap-top to see what was going on in the world. Yesterday my Facebook feed was awash with Monty Python memes; today it was daleks. Why?
As I drove to work on another very dark and wet morning the pundits on the radio were taking their orders from Dame Jane Goodall. Seen as the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Dame Jane was saying that all attempts on reversing climate change are doomed to failure until world poverty is sorted. She made a very convincing case that the environmental impact of my drive to work is just pissing in the wind compared to the wholesale deforestation that is going on across the world in the under-developed nations. That did soothe my conscience a tad. However offering millions of farmers living on subsistence level a better living than they can make from cutting down forests for farmlands will take some doing. Dame Jane seemed convinced that the idea was not only feasible but achievable, so there is hope for the future. Even if details were a little vague.
There was a lot of talk about how Prince Andrew should be crapping his pants in terror following yesterday's conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell.
Should he be? Has he actually interfered with children as has been implied on the radio? Perhaps he should talk to the FBI as has been suggested. Mind you if I was him I wouldn't go to talk to them; I'd invite the FBI to come to me. What with the media already having decided he's guilty he's far safer not setting foot on American soil regardless of whether or not he's actually done anything wrong.
It was still dark as I got to work, but as I walked away from my car the dawn chorus was in full swing. The birds were rather noisy this morning, and their songs were rather cheering. It made me think of a science fiction story I once read where on the fictional world of Yom there wasn't so much a dawn chorus as a "quiet time" when all the wildlife stopped singing and making noise and went quiet for an hour or so every afternoon. Whilst that was just a little novelty detail for the story, I've always found that idea rather scary.
Work was work, and with it done I came home. I am reliably informed I missed a major incident on the motorway by minutes. Had I left work a few moments later I would have been three hours late getting home.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “The Greatest Showman”.
On New Year’s Eve in years gone by we would have gone to Folkestone and done it the Spanish way. But for the second year running we are doing it virtually via Zoom meeting. I’m going to wear my red New Year pants as a hat… with Maria fifteen miles away I will get away with it.
And that’s it for this year. I suppose that I should end with a look-back at this last year, shouldn’t I? The highlight must have been the wonderful holiday we had in Lincolnshire over the summer, and I had a rather good afternoon tea for my birthday, and once a month we had fun family Zoom bingo-quiz nights. We had an amazing stag do over the August Bank Holiday and an excellent Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the fruits of my loin. And the new telly and the new car weren’t too shabby either.
Sadly what with the (laughably made-up-as-we-went-along) lockdown regulations thwarting plans, I spent a lot of time and *lot* of money in the garden this year, and it was April before we were able to meet up to go for a decent walk with friends. But much as I do look forward to our walks, the weather was against us for much of the year. We had quite a few really good weekend walks, but we did get soaked on the Romney Marsh a couple of times and had to call off more walks this year than ever before.
I did manage to organise two geocaching trips to London both of which went rather well (even if I do say so myself) and we had two rather good geocaching meet-ups.
But it hasn’t been the best of years, has it? Last New Year’s Eve I mentioned about how “I try to hope for the best whilst expecting the worst” and that really was how the year panned out for me. It started off with lots of rather horrible drives through ice (and even snow) to the hospice, and when that was all over I was to and from the in-patient department of the vet’s. Closer to home, but far more expensive. Ending the year with half the dogs and half the parents I started the year with, I also lost three old friends too.
So… what does the future hold? Tomorrow I’m staging the first local geocaching meet of the year and I’m hoping that we might re-boot the noble and ancient art of rummaging under rocks for film pots. We’ve got quite a few meets planned for the New Year.
In less than two weeks I’m due to have surgery - another nasal re-bore. I can’t pretend to be looking forward to that.
We are off to Norfolk for a week just before Easter.
We’ve got a holiday in Grand Canaria in June which I suspect will be cancelled.
We’ve got a week in the New Forest in August… I got the confirmation confirmation of the time off from work today.
So again I shall hope for the best… and be rather circumspect about that which I might expect. See you all next year…