1 February 2010 (Monday) - Plans...



This weekend is Dover beer festival. I see the beer list has been published. And again the beers are all “silly strength”, with nothing below 5% ABV. Two years ago I got seriously out of my tree on their beers. This year I’m going to be taking it easy. Whilst the kids sit at home watching telly I shall have a couple of beers at Dover, then take the train to Folkestone and have lunch at Chambers Bar. Maybe a crafty pint in the Guildhall and the Lifeboat, then back to a friend’s house where we can slob in front of the telly. Or that is the provisional plan. All I know for sure is that I intend to be on the 9.52am train from Ashford International to Dover Priory, and from there on in, all is flexible.

Talking of beer, it had been suggested that Feb 21st might be wasted at Wittersham beer festival. I see that the afternoon will be featuring Morris dancers. I will have to review my plans for that day. I can’t stand Morris dancing. What is this association between good beer and Morris Dancers? It’s hardly painting ale in a good light.


There’s been a minor change to the diary dates for the year – Dover kite festival (planned for late July) has been cancelled. It would seem the local council wasn’t prepared to fund it. I do hope that Kent County Council is prepared to continue funding the Teston kite weekends for this year.


Another thing which isn’t being funded any more is the American space program. Since money is tight, NASA’s budget has been substantially reduced, and the plans would be that rather than having space flight technology of their own, American astronauts will purchase tickets on other people’s space-going vehicles.

Let’s not be surprised when the Russians, Chinese and private enterprise decide they want all their limited rocket spaces for themselves.



2 February 2010 (Tuesday) - Other People's Beleifs


Today’s radio carried the news that the Pope has spoken against the British government. He doesn’t like our equality legislation. Which is entirely his right, and I admire the strength of his belief that he stands up and publicly says so.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t admire what he actually says - personally I think he’s talking rubbish (again). I myself have no problem with people of any shape, size, colour or sexual orientation. It doesn’t bother me if someone wants to have gender altering surgery. Good for them.

But it bothers the Pope. What particularly bothers him is that all this equality malarkey means that (in theory) his church may no longer be allowed to discriminate against employing people who follow a lifestyle that his religion says is wrong.


So the old “gay vicar” controversy has raised its head yet again. Surely this has been done to death? If you believe in what the Pope trots out, then you believe being gay is a sin. So you don’t do it. So there are no gay vicars. Q.E.D. End of discussion.

But there are gay vicars. These people, and everyone who claims to be Christian but feel there is a place for homosexuals in the church amaze me. The Bible says it’s wrong. That’s the end of it. Or can we pick and choose which piece of our sacred texts we are going to believe, and which we are going to ignore?


All of which has given an opposing bunch of crackpots a free hand to stir trouble. The morning’s news told of those who are openly gay and transsexual who are planning to apply for jobs within the church. And are doing so purely to get turned down, so that they can then mount costly legal battles. Why are they doing this? What do they really hope to achieve?


Meanwhile President Obama has cancelled the moon base, and no one cares.





3 February 2010 (Wednesday) - The News



One often hears the old adage “An Englishman’s home is his castle”. One rarely knows what it is supposed to mean. Mr Fidler of Surrey has converted his house into a castle, Knowing full well that he was breaking local planning laws, he hid his house behind a great big haystack for four years. Apparently if you build something that breaks planning laws but no one complains within four years, then you have got away with it. Those who have a cob about the whole thing claim that the haystack behind which he hid was an integral part of the building. Therefore the house “sans haystack” is now a different structure, and thus the four years have started again. It is a shame that some people don’t have something better to whinge about.


Perhaps their bile might be better vented at the tale of the pregnant nine year old child in China. Now I hardly claim to be an expert on matters oriental or obstetric, but I am somewhat perturbed to hear the nurse charged with looking after the child as saying “it was unclear how she had become pregnant.


And in closing, a word of caution to the cat lovers among my loyal readers. If your moggie is generally anti-social, but is being uncharacteristically friendly, expect the worst. Oscar, the house cat in an American nursing home is a cantankerous old moggie. However he seems to be amazingly friendly with those on their way out. Staff in said nursing home have used the cat’s behaviour to successfully predict the deaths of fifty of their patients.




4 February 2010 (Thursday) - Commercial Acumen?



Up with the lark (as usual), and after a quick episode of BattleStar Galactica (I’m now half way through season three) I set off to Tesco. Among other things, I needed a shoe polishing brush. I found the polish, but couldn’t see any brushes, so I asked a employee who was fiddling with a till. (Note I use the word “employee” and not “assistant”). I asked if they had brushes. She didn’t even turn her head when she brushed me off with a curt ”no!”. As she snarled her reply, so I saw the brushes I was looking for.

I shall go to Asda tomorrow.


And so to work, where I was asked to show round some visitors from a private healthcare establishment. Now this seemed odd to me. I’m sure that Sainsbury’s wouldn’t welcome a contingent from Waitrose and show them round. Let alone give them an in-depth spiel on their business practice. But what do I know? I must admit I’m feeling rather negative about work at the moment, and so I am likening myself to the biblical centurion – I am merely a man subject to higher authority.

And then we had a tidy up. Apparently we are getting a VIP visitor next week. That will be nice. I expect I will be giving my loyal readers updates on this as time goes by. In the meantime, let’s just say that I was surprised to find that this particular VIP is still alive. I thought he’d croaked a few years ago.

In between tidying and giving away commercially sensitive information we posed for photos. One of our number is speaking at a scientific symposium next week, and photos are always good at these sorts of thing. Especially if you are considering a career with International Rescue.


And then home again to hear some very odd noises and giggling. “My BoyTM ” had found his old yo-yo, and was up to his old tricks with it. I can remember him being particularly talented with it in his youth. A talent I never shared.


I blogged a few weeks ago about “Beer in the Evening” - what was once a wonderful website is now in ruins. There are errors and inaccuracies on Beer in the Evening that have been there for years. There is one (the duplication of St Leonards in Sussex) that I reported over two years ago that is still awaiting correction. I and so many other people have offered to give the bloke an hour of our time, unpaid, every evening to put right the mistakes and to clear the backlog of pubs waiting to be added. (A backlog of suggestions going back to November 2007)

This evening I had a look on the forum on Beer in the Evening. For all that I’ve been a firm advocate of that website, I’ve never really used the forum that much. Sadly it has been all but destroyed by concerted trolling action. There is a protected “regulars” section which isn’t open to the hoi-polloi, and finally the absentee owner of the site has deigned to make an appearance. The owner appeared to tell his critics to shut up. He is adamant that he doesn’t want any help, and was rather rude in his dismissal of such offers.

Oh well, it’s ultimately his loss. It seems an odd way to run a business. If someone who has been contributing to your commercial success for years offers to work on a more regular basis for free, wouldn’t anyone with commercial acumen take them up on the offer?



5 February 2010 (Friday) - Dull



Normally I get a good night’s sleep before a late shift, but I was rather restless last night. My back was playing up. Perhaps I need to go on a diet again? Now that (finally) all the left over puddings from last weekend have been eaten, a diet might be a good idea for a couple of weeks. Perhaps a diet and some exercise too. It’s been some months since I last took the pedal bike anywhere, and I’ve been feeling rather worn out and listless for the last couple of weeks. I shall start the new regime tomorrow with a brisk walk around some seaside towns.


The plan for the morning was to do the ironing, but by the time I’d had some brekky, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ll do it later.

Instead I went to YoVille, and tried to kiss Lisa’s mother (again). But no joy – the thing wouldn’t load. Having booted up to a blue screen of death and a message that Windows has had a serious error, I was a tad perturbed. Bearing in mind the PC still finds an unknown device every time it starts, I’m wondering if the thing’s days are numbered.


And so to work. The car needed petrol, so I went to the other Tesco. Ashford features two Tescos. Only one is open when I’m on early starts, so I went to the other one. The staff there weren’t anywhere near so hostile. I bought some shirts, and then to work. Which was dull. It usually is.


And then home to watch Shaun the Sheep on DVD. I like Shaun…

Today was dull…




6 February 2010 (Saturday) - Dover Beer Festival



I couldn’t sleep – probably the excitement of anticipation. Dover Beer Festival is one of the year’s highlights – last year coming in at position #5 against some pretty stiff competition. So I was up and ironing at 5.30am, and had watched three episodes of BattleStar Galactica before I finally kicked my beloved out of her pit.

A quick bit of brekky whilst checking the Internet. A quick visit to YoVille – I seem to be spending more time there than in NeverWinter these days. Probably because I get kissed more in YoVille.


Two days ago I mentioned about the rather nasty messages the webmaster of Beer in the Evening had been posting in the private forum of their web site. This morning I see that the chap has deleted the entire private forum. What a way to run a website.... they are utterly dependent on the good will of others to do endless unpaid work for them. And rather than thanking them, they insult their unpaid workers.


And talking of beer, to Dover Beer Festival. After a bit of fiddling about with trains, eight of us joined the queue outside the Maison Dieu in Dover. Attendance was noticeably down this year with a noticeable absence of the “Eurostar regulars” that I only ever meet once a year.

The plan was to only have a couple of beers and swiftly move on. As I have remarked before God laughs when we make plans. We started off sensibly enough on Larkin’s Porter. But then the silly names kicked in, and a half of “hung, drawn and portered” got guzzeled, followed swiftly by some “Dark Galleon” and some “Old Grumpy Porter”. A half of each was two pints, and I was ready to move on, but everyone else was still on their second ale. So I got some more tokens. “Grandma’s Rich Porter” slipped down very well, followed swiftly by “Old Stoatwobbler” and “St Mary’s Stout”. And then a “Belgian Double” which had both a saucy name and an 8% ABV.


And so, having had far too much to drink we left the festival. A breakfast roll at the station, and so to Folkestone where we suddenly realised how thirsty we were, and so popped into the Park Gate Hotel for a crafty half. We soon downed that, and wasted a few minutes playing silly beggars with the mobility scooter that was parked outside before wandering off.


We climbed walls, waved bottoms at passing cars and generally scared the normal people all the way to “the Lifeboat” where we set about more beer and some food. More beer and food is always good, especially when the pub is giving out free leek soup. And we cheered the England team as they played rugby. Or that is, most of our party cheered the England team. I cheered the chap in the blue kit. There were fifteen in white, fifteen in red and only one in blue. And he was charging all over the place too. What the blue team lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm.

Three pints later we staggered round to the East Cliff Tavern where we played darts and piano, though not at the same time, and after a few more beers we staggered off to get the 10pm train home.


I suspect I shall have a headache in the morning…





7 February 2010 (Sunday) - Painting Trellises



Yesterday I had four pints of assorted stouts and porters all over 5% ABV atDover beer festival. A crafty half (well, a pint) on the way to Folkestone harbour, and then a crafty half (half a gallon) in the Lifeboat. And one or two more beers after that. So in theory I should have been rather the worse for wear this morning. I woke feeling remarkably chipper.

The provisional plan for today involved travelling to Saltdean for a spell of kite-flying. But it looked to be a cold day, and I decided that I didn’t really want to drive for over two hours just to stand and shiver in a swamp. I suspect that in actual fact, things were nowhere near as bad as I suspected, and I probably missed a good day. Maybe next time.


A bit of brekky, and I then phoned my Internet provider. For all that I now have a connection three times faster for a third of the price of what it once was, as always things are never as wonderful as they might seem. My 5Mb connection is now down to only 2.7Mb. The nice man on the phone said that it fluctuates on a ten day cycle. This sounds a bit odd to me, but I shall check the speed for the next two weeks. I also asked about my router. A couple of days ago a new router arrived in the post from the Internet company. It would seem that whenever anyone changes anything on their broadband package, the nice people send out a new router just in case. He said I could carry on using the old one. I was glad about that – I didn’t want to fiddle about if I didn’t have to.


And then to the garden. For all that it was rather cold, next door’s clematis is already beginning to sprout, and if I don’t get the trellis painted in the next week or so, it will soon be too overgrown to actually get at. There are six runs of trellis that needed painting. I got five done before I finally succumbed to the cold.

From the warmth of an upstairs window I then surveyed the rest of the fences. Normally every spring I have a concerted fence-painting session. A good way to waste a month, if nothing else. But this year I might be lazy. The shed needs a lick of paint, but the fence panels themselves are (in the main) in a good state and don’t really need painting. There are one or two bare spots on the posts and the tops do look as though they need going over. I might just do those this year and leave the panels until next time. Having said that, there is one panel which is is a bit of a state. Next door has heaped soil up against the panel, and over the last few years the thing has seriously rotted. I wonder if there is a way of bodging a repair on my side rather than replacing the entire panel.


I then fell asleep whilst playing NeverWinter, before checking my emails. It’s been suggested that In a couple of weeks time we could go as a group to London to go on a guided tour of Whitechapel and visit some of the places where Jack the Ripper did his thing. Now when I say “guided tour”, it didn’t take too much effort to find several route recommendations on line. So we shan’t be joining an organised party, rather we’ll be doing our own thing. The (very) provisional plan is to do this on Thursday Feb 25, leaving Ashford at 10.15am to be at Whitechapel for about mid day (ish), walk the route with a beer or two on the way, and end up with a pizza somewhere.

If any of my loyal readers would like to come along, please let me know.





8 February 2010 (Monday) - Asda, Photos, Stuff



Yesterday I didn’t quite get as much painted as I intended. But being on a late start today, I planned to do it before work. But I couldn’t – it was snowing. I have painted the house in the dark before, but painting in the snow – I don’t think so.

So I suppose we again brace ourselves for the pundits who foretell the end of the world, even though the forecast has the snow all over and done with by tomorrow.


And so to work (via the blizzard). Last week I mentioned that I’d had enough of Tesco. Today I went to Asda. To be fair the pre-packed salads (yuk!!) were slightly more expensive. But they were a lot bigger. And I object to having to pay in their car park, even if it is refundable.

But the biggest difference was that Asda is welcoming. There was a chap positioned to meet you as you come through the door. He smiled, he said hello. I’m not daft – I know he is paid to do that. But in Tescos there is no smile as you go in. Instead there is a quick glare of suspicion from the surly chap openly watching your every move on CCTV.

One place welcomes you with a smile, one with distrust. Tescos have lost a customer.


After a dull day at work I came home to find I have been tagged on sixty photographs of various events in several different Facebook albums. I am a great believer in photographs – and especially putting up albums of special events on the Internet. You find you’ll forget so much of your life if you don’t take the trouble to make a record of what happened. (Not drinking by the gallon probably helps too!!)

Take for example today’s photograph – a charming little interlude of my life which would otherwise be forgotten. I am the one on the top. You can tell that from my red headgear. I’m not sure who is underneath me, but in my world that can be an occupational hazard.


In the meantime, back to reality. I shall alternately be visiting YoVille and NeverWinter, still at a connection speed of 2.7Mbps. Whatever that is…




9 February 2010 (Tuesday) - Beer, Fags, References



Beer is good for you – it’s official! But not just any kind of beer. Science has found that lager really is chemically conditioned rubbish, whilst the nectar that is ale and stout actually helps defend the body against brittle bones. Time for a crafty half, methinks…

Mind you science has also found that the nicotine from fags smoked years ago can still be harmful. Apparently once it’s stained the paintwork it sets off a low level generation of dangerous carcinogens. One lives and learns.


To work where I had a phone call from a potential employer. Not someone who might potentially employ me, but someone seriously considering employing one Akshi Hanu. (Who’s he? Or She?)

It would seem that Akashi Hanu has given me as a reference, because I employed him/her/it in my department in 2006. I have no recollection of this person, but I make a point of making a few notes everyone who could possibly ask me for a reference. My list made no mention of Akshi. The person wanting a reference became quite irate; they are busy people – could I not just give them the reference and stop wasting their time? The implication was that maybe I might make something up and put my name to it. They weren’t happy when I said no.


And then home again. A somewhat strange evening – Tuesdays are traditionally “the gathering”, but what with my beloved working this evening and being on a late shift myself I just went home. And didn’t get home till 8.45pm. The plan for the evening was to help out with college work, but “Daddies Little Angel TM  has still to collate her figures (!), so homework was put on hold.


Meanwhile my Internet connection is still running at 2.7 mega-newtons per cubic parsec. I wonder if I should reboot my router….




10 February 2010 (Wednesday) - Snow-maggedon



Up early to watch last night’s episode of “Survivors”. It featured Roger Lloyd Pack in a leading role. Fans of the genre will remember that Mr Lloyd Pack also featured in the original 1970s “Survivors” series, and so it was a nice touch to have him in the remake. And it’s good to see him playing a villain. For so many years he was the likeable idiot with Del Boy, but just lately he’s been the creator of the cybermen in Doctor Who, and now he’s… I won’t give the game away.

But again I was disappointed with the program. Why make two character bosom buddies when in last week’s episode they loathed each other? And I predict that the two remaining episodes will feature the team going off to rescue those remaining characters whose turn it is to be kidnapped for no adequately explored reason.


And then the forecast snow came. Flurries were clearly visible outside, some lasting for up to five minutes. The first inch of snow melted once there was a break in the clouds, but after dark the snow came back with a vengeance, and there is now a good inch of snow about, and so once moreEngland grinds to a halt. Some of my colleagues left work early, not expecting to return for some time. The radio carried the news that the entire town of Dover was cut off by as much as a couple of inches of snow. Seriously!! – Two inches of snow, and Dover is now officially inaccessible. It said so on the radio, so it must be true…


And I’ve lost my sledge.



11 February 2010 (Thursday) - More Snow



er indoors TM has found my sledge. It was where I left it. I considered using it to get to work today, as another millimetre of snow had fallen overnight. Mind you, for all that I laugh about the way that England reacts to snow in the way that Superman reacts to Kryptonite, I’m not keen about driving through the white stuff. So I left for work a bit early this morning. The plan was to avoid all the other people who (like me) are rubbish at driving in the snow, and I thought I’d have time for a brew and to read my book before starting. But the early shift phoned in to say they were snowbound. So with no one else available I started work an hour early. But I didn’t mind. I had this plan to go home an hour early to get my time back.


Yesterday I mentioned that two inches of snow had cut Dover off from the rest of civilisation. Overnight the entire Kent coast had a foot of snow, and so everyone on the late shift couldn’t get in to work at all. It’s a good job I’m generally wonderful. I started an hour early, did the work of three people, came home three hours late and didn’t complain once.


But I didn’t really mind – we had such a quiet day. So dull in fact the highlight was when we managed to flood the place. I say “we” - I’ll happily share the blame, but the culprit can do the mopping up. And I’ll get my time back at some point.


I came home to a treat. er indoors TM had cooked up some honey cake. A smashing bit of scran for tea, then coffee and cake. As “My Boy TM ”would say, “Nag, Nag, Nag!!!


I do feel a bit worn out, though. Having said that, I have always claimed that I would rather have longer working days. If I could do three days a week, each of twelve and a half hours, I could have four day long weekends. Surely that would be better than my current random pattern of early and late starts…



12 February 2010 (Friday) - VIPs, Sledges



Snow-mageddon would seem to have abated somewhat, and as I set off for work, the snow was giving way to slush. I got to work early today because (as I mentioned last week) our VIP guest was coming, and I needed to clean up the mess I made up the wall last night. Due to some lax pouring, I’d got blue stain everywhere.

After an hour’s serious scrubbing, we eventually got the sad news – our VIP wasn’t coming. I can only imagine he had found better things to do with his time. I was really disappointed. I’d bought a new shirt especially for the occasion, and I’d been practicing my curtsy all week.

Mind you, after all was said and done, the VIP guest was only Michael Howard (who?). He’s MP for Folkestone, and is retiring in a few months time. I’m not sure why he was coming round anyway. If I was retiring in a couple of months, I’d be taking it easy. But in my world, a retiring MP is probably as about as exciting as it gets.

We’d spent ages tidying up for his visit, and he didn’t show. I shan’t be voting for him again. Not that I ever have.


And then, having found my sledge, at lunch time we went sledging again. I say “we” – there was a general invitation to everyone at work which was met with polite amazement. The four of us who went had a great time. my sledge did quite well, but the Haemo-sledge (patent pending) snapped under the strain of it’s maiden voyage. Oh how we laughed. We nearly flattened the smokers who were having a crafty fag. And under the melting snow we found a frozen puddle that wasn’t quite as frozen as it might have been. And some of us even got snow in our cracks (not me, I hasten to add). And then when we returned to work, everyone seemed rather miffed that they’d missed out. They will be even more miffed when they see the video. As I told them, there’s always next time.


I spent the afternoon aching. It has been said that I am a big kid. It has also been said (only this morning) that I am too old to go sledging. Unfortunately both statements are (probably) true. I might ache (I do!), but I shall keep sledging for a little while longer.




13 February 2010 (Saturday) - Pinball, Wii, Eating Too Much



What with all the extra hours I put in at work last week, I didn’t have time to do what I’ve had in mind for some time. This morning I did it – a website of cycle routes. It’s very much a “work in progress”, but the idea is that eventually we’ll have a comprehensive list of cycle rides from central Ashford to various destinations of note all about an hour or so away. So far I’ve put down all the “primary destinations” of last year’s cycle outings. By that I mean the pubs we aimed for. On several (all) of the cycle trips we came home via other pubs, but at this stage I don’t want to overly complicate the thing. As the snow (hopefully) melts away we’ll be getting the bikes out again, so if any of my loyal readers have any ideas where we might cycle off to over the next few weeks, please let me know.

And then to YoVille where I’m trying to save up to buy a house. I blew some money at the casino. Normally I lose, but today I won twenty five quid before sneaking off for a crafty snog with Lisa’s mum. As virtual worlds go, it’s not bad. I can’t find any pubs in YoVille, but I shall keep looking.


To town for a quick bit of McDinner, and to take my ring to the jeweller’s. Last week I scratched it quite badly, and there’s a great big lump of metal sticking out where I actually tore the thing. It will be ready for fixing next weekend. We then got some supplies from Iceland, and then went to Chris’s where the clans were gathering for an afternoon of pinball and Wii. I was rubbish at pinball, and not much better at the Wii. But lack of ability has never stopped my from doing anything, and the evidence can been seen on You-Tube.


Home, and then round to Brian’s for dinner. Brian and Rachel had spent all day preparing dinner, and it was oh so good. We ate far too much, and I feel positively stuffed now…




14 February 2010 (Sunday) - Hello World!!!



Over the last year or so I have met so many people who, despite never having met me before, feel they know me quite well because they have seen their friends reading my blog, and they have started reading it themselves.

I have quite a few friends who I meet far too infrequently who, when we meet, comment on what I’ve been up to. How on earth do they know what I’ve been doing?

I write it here, and they read it. As do several friends and relatives across the world who keep up to date with what I get up to via my ramblings.


This blog has developed quite a life of its own, and during the last week, in a moment of curiosity I’ve tried out some tracking software. Whilst the blog’s hit counter gave me an idea of where in the world my loyal readers live, the scale of the map isn’t all it might be. So, bearing in mind that this software was free, I thought I’d plug it in and see if I could get a better resolution on my loyal readership. I expect (like so much else on the Internet) I shall lose interest in this toy fairly soon, but this morning whilst eating my breakfast I didn’t try to kiss people in YoVille. Instead I booted up the new software and clicked the stats button. I thought it made interesting reading and today, loyal readers, I’ll give a little insight into who else reads this nonsense with you.


Excluding RSS feeds, the blog is visited about a thousand times each month. Which is just over thirty times every day.

Over the last week eighty percent of people visiting used Windows as their operating system, fifteen percent were on Macs, some used their iPhone and there are two people who used Linux. (I think I know who one of you are!)

Did you know that of the last hundred people to visit my blog (up to 9am this morning), only sixty of my loyal readers were from people in the UK. Twenty four were from Canada, and eight were from the USA. And there have been odd hits from BelgiumQatarIndia and Malaysia.

Of these last hundred people who’ve read the blog, I know that someone inMilwaukee has regularly tuned in using a Firefox 3.5 browser running on Windows Vista. As has someone in Stony Plain in Alberta. Three of my most recent visitors are in Brighton, all using different browsers (Safari, IE7 and Firefox). There are even some people who wander all over the UK, keeping up to date on their iPhones. I can guess at who the people inMaidstone, Crowborough, Horsham and Kings Lynn are. But I am stumped as to the identity of my loyal readers in Liverpool, Rochdale and Flintshire. Do let me know who you are – you three have got guessing.


And so: on with my life... Last Sunday I mentioned that I’d started the annual painting the fence ritual. I had intended to carry on with it during the week, but the snow put paid to that idea. It was probably too cold for fence painting today, but I carried on with it anyway. I’ve got all the trellises painted green now, and about half of the tops of the fence panels are done too. I painted for an hour, but it was a bit chilly, so I’ll carry on another time. I’ve a few tops of panels to finish, and then I think that will do for this year. The fences were first painted in 2007, and I’ve done them again every year since then. They’ll do till next year.


I then returned to Tesco. Three weeks ago I bought a memory card to go with a digital photo frame for my Dad’s birthday. The card didn’t work. Nor did it’s replacement, or that one’s replacement. So today I went to get a refund. I’ve moaned about the staff in Tesco recently. Today they fully met my expectations – the staff were (as usual) utterly disinterested.

Whilst we were out we also went to WyeVale in Ham Street. Which killed an hour or so. And home where I fell asleep in front of NeverWinter, YoVille and various DVDs.


Sundays are such dull days…



15 February 2010 (Monday) - Lieu Time


I did smile as I listened to the radio on the way to work this morning. The education minister was discussing a suggestion to make head teachers more accountable to their staff. The idea was that if a committee of teachers in a school felt that the head was not doing a good job, they could vote said headmaster out. The interviewer suggested that such a plan might be implemented across the entire public sector. The minister said it would be particularly impractical in hospitals because there are so many managers who would be summarily dismissed. And then he realised what he’d said and backtracked somewhat.


Last Wednesday I worked a lot longer than I should normally have, and last Thursday (what with the snow) I put in even more extra time. By the end of the week I’d accrued an extra six and one quarter hours. Today I took that time back. I went into work at 8am, and came home at 9.15am. It has been said that it was silly going in for the hour and a quarter, and it’s a rather sad fact that a few years ago I would have agreed. But under today’s management style, had I taken the whole day (as was suggested) I would have been reminded that I didn’t actually accrue a whole day’s lieu time.


So, being home at 9.30am I set the poor washing machine to full power and washed and ironed like a thing possessed whilst watching BattleStar Galactica DVDs. The household’s laundry was up to date at mid day, but I doubt if that state of affairs will last. I then spent the afternoon watching more BattleStar Galactica. I eventually turned the telly off after ten episodes. Half way through the afternoon the telly gave me an “Automatic Power Down” warning. Apparently the thing switches itself off after four hours if no buttons have been pressed. Or so it says on the Internet. The manual said nothing about it.


I see that two (more) of my loyal readers have joined YoVille. For a very silly game, it’s rather addictive. Today I discovered the bathroom in my Yo-apartment, and realised I hadn’t installed a toilet. Bearing in mind I’ll soon have enough cash to move to a bigger house I’ve decided not to invest in a W.C. Instead I’ve taken to going round the neighbours and using their facilities.

I then went Yo-fishing and caught a marlin and a coelacanth. These long winter evenings are just flying by…



16 February 2010 (Tuesday) - Tele-Sales

Up early to watch more DVDs. In less than twenty four hours I’ve watched the entire Season Four of BattleStar Galactica. Not bad going, really. To Asda for lunch, and then to work. Dull, dull, dull. Last year I was offered a job at Chatham. Although the money would have been substantially less, I wonder if I should have taken that job.


An early start meant an early finish (for once), and just as I was about to check my emails, the phone rang. “Desmond” from Home Security phoned to tell me about a wonderful bargain. I could be entitled to a wonderful home security package for just one pound!! Wasn’t I impressed? And he would arrange for a representative to contact me without delay. He was rather foxed when I didn’t hang up, didn’t take up his offer, but just said “please don’t”. His script obviously didn’t cover that eventuality. I asked him to be honest. I told him it wouldn’t cost a quid, would it? It would be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, wouldn’t it? He was rather taken aback by this, but the clincher was when I asked if he’d taken advantage of this offer. He mumbled that he hadn’t. I then asked him how he could possibly expect me to buy that which even the salesman wouldn’t have. He had no answer for that. Bless him.


And on closing, this Saturday I’m going to see an E.L.O. tribute band. Due to various mishaps and misfortunes there’s one or two (four) spare tickets. If any of my loyal readers are free on Saturday night, please get in touch…




17 February 2010 (Wednesday) - A Day in the Life



Whenever the postman comes I have a habit of sticking any boring-looking letters for myself into my letter rack. This rack gets very full – I don’t just put boring-looking letters into it. I put in all sorts of things I intend to get back to when I get a minute. Today I finally went through the thing. I found:

  • Six Doctor Who DVDs.
  • A book of short walks round pubs in Kent.
  • Numerous empty envelopes.
  • A bank statement for the astro club – better give that back to them.
  • The receipt for the front door.
  • A book of stamps I’d intended to post into the chokey.
  • Some passport-sized photos of myself. I wonder what I got those for?
  • An ISA I’d forgotten about. That will pay off the mortgage shortfall.
  • An insurance renewal proposal on the electric cooker. Fifty quid a year – I’d rather take the chance it won’t blow up.
  • A “with profits” policy from Scottish Widows. I wonder what that was all about?
  • Recent mortgage letters addressed to Miss Gardner, even though she’s been married twenty three years.
  • The chance for the bargain of a lifetime from the Renault garage. Shame the bargain offer ended a few months ago.
  • The receipt and guarantee for the pond filtration system (expired last October)
  • Confirmation of my ordering the shed (from 2008)
  • A note relating to the scout group’s Alaskan trip of 2008.
  • An invite to the Brighton Kite Fliers 2008 AGM
  • Urgent notice from the Environment Agency that my house is in imminent danger of flooding (Dated 2008)
  • My “thumbs up” from the CRB (dated January 2007)
  • My Norwich Union 2007 bonus pack
  • A woggle from a scouting event in 2007.
  • My old scouting warrant, which expired seven years ago.
  • Thirty one bank statements for the snake club (which folded over ten years ago)

It’s amazing what rubbish I’ve found. And I’m not the one who hoards stuff. I should have cleared out this rubbish yesterday – after all, the bin men came first thing this morning.


Mind you, I’m (once again) wondering what I should do about the snake club money. There’s over a hundred pounds in the account. I actually resigned as Treasurer of the snake club over ten years ago, and the new committee did nothing about changing the banking details. And then the club folded within a few weeks of my resignation anyway.

I’ve done some research into this in the past, and whilst I can arrange to donate it to charity, should any ex-club members appear they may well have a claim to some of the funds. I suppose it’s not my money, I’m just looking after it. I’ll leave it where it is for another few months.


And then to work, where I was the subject of some disrespect. Today’s news told the tale of baby Xavier who, despite only being six months old, can walk. My colleagues felt there was an uncanny resemblance. Bottoms will be spanked (!)

I then received a text from “Daddies Little Angel TM  who’d uncovered a painting I once did. I’d forgotten about that one. I’re put it ac today’s piccy. I’m rather proud of it.


And in closing, can I remind my loyal readers that this Saturday there’s still (possibly) one or two spare tickets for the E.L.O. tribute band. If anyone fancies a night out this Saturday night, please get in touch…







18 February 2010 (Thursday) - Some Ranting



In my more lucid moments I am a chartered scientist. In layman’s terms, the area of my expertise is the science of how the human body works. And despite all manner of qualifications and nearly thirty years experience in the field, human metabolism is still in many ways a mystery to me. Why is it that some days I will drink ale by the gallon and be fine the next morning, and then today I feel like death warmed up after only two glasses of wine last night?


Whilst on the subject of drinking to excess, I see this year’s CAMRA pub of the year 2010 has been chosen. I wonder what the place is like? The title of local pub of the year for my area has been awarded to the Red Lion in Snargate. I must admit that is a choice with which I’d agree, had I been asked. But I’m not a member of CAMRA, so I wouldn’t expect to be asked. However I was a member of CAMRA for ten years and no one ever asked me my opinion during that time either.

The only communication I ever received from the local CAMRA bunch was a letter once a year reminding me about the beer festival they ran. And in retrospect that was probably to ensure attendance so that they didn’t run the thing at a loss. I’ve since found out they ran all sorts of events that they never publicised before the event. How can you credibly declare a certain pub is the local Pub of the Year when only a small minority of those eligible to vote know the selection is taking place? The local CAMRA committee took the trouble to write to me once a year, so why didn’t they include the year’s program of events… (I’ve done this rant before… so many times…)


Talking of pubs, it is rumoured that “The Crisps Shop” (The Six Bells in Woodchurch) has closed. If this is true, then this will be the end of an era. The Six Bells is somewhere we’ve cycled to many times. We went there for dinner to celebrate Brian’s return from the USA a few years ago. Whilst friends and family would watch “Woodchurch Wings and Things” I would take the children to the pub’s beer garden for crisps and a crafty half. (The half was for me, that is – not the kiddies!). That pub did such good beer, and good food. They can’t have closed!!

I shall have to investigate further. Possibly this weekend.


And then to Facebook. Last night I added another friend. My cousin Karen has found me. We were quite matey in the early 80s, often zooming roundHastings on our motorbikes. But over the years we’ve rather gone our separate ways, which was a shame. I’m glad she’s found me. I’ve since added another cousin as a friend on Facebook too.

I don’t really “do” family as much as perhaps I should. Over the years I’ve really lost touch with pretty much all but my immediate family. The in-laws are very big on family reunions. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of their book?



19 February 2010 (Friday) - Robbers and Porkers



This morning the blog’s hit counter passed the ten thousand hits mark. I suppose I should commemorate the occasion in some way, by posting something original, witty, erudite and yet somehow poignant. But I can’t think of anything so I’ll stick with my tried and tested formula of rambling out any old drivel which comes into my head. After all, that’s been mymodus operandi (latin!) since October 2006.

Since I relocated my blog away from Yahoo last year, I’ve been very impressed with the various features of Blogspot. Particularly the “Dates for the Diary” section. However following the launch of a rather original website, I’m left wondering if advertising when I’m not going to be home is a good idea.


This website, Please Rob Me dot com, claim that they are trying to point out the foolishness of advertising on Twitter that your house is empty. I suppose they have a point. But then, when I go to all the events I’ve listed on this blog, my house isn’t empty. If anyone wants to break in, they will find the fruits of my loin still very firmly ensconced.

But on a more general level, who follows this blog, or follows peoples’ twitterings? Are people really going to stake out their friends movements just to nick their telly? I can’t see it, somehow. In all honesty there’s probably more valuable stuff more easily nicked in my garden than there is in the house. And anyone can see when I’m not home by watching me drive off to work in the morning anyway. Surely watching me walk out of the house and turn round and lock the door is a better indication that the place is empty?


And having locked the front door this morning, I set off to work, where we (fortunately) didn’t get the patient who turned up at an undisclosed hospital today. The world’s fattest man has allegedly had a heart attack. This porker, who despite being only two years older than me is over double my weight. His personal healthcare sets the NHS back one hundred thousand pounds every year. The reinforced ambulance to drive him to hospital cost twenty grand.

It is easy to ridicule those of the more generous physique. I myself am one of nature’s porkers. It’s no secret I could do with losing some weight. But I’m not utterly unfit. I walk and cycle about. And I am very conscious that I have many friends who aren’t in such rude health as I am, and I for one am glad and proud that we as a nation have a health care system that looks after them.

But whilst this chap is in incredibly poor health, it is of his own making.Apparently

 he harboured an ambition to become the world’s fattest man, and so deliberately ate himself to the size he now is. He can only get his epic portions of food by sending his state funded carers to the shops for him.


I think I must be missing the point here. Surely the carers should leave him in his bed, and pass him the occasional bottle of water. If he’s truly hungry he will get out of his bed and go get himself some food. And if he’s too fat to get out of bed, then just perhaps that is God’s way of hinting that maybe he doesn’t need that cream cake…..



20 February 2010 (Saturday) - High on a Hill, in Eldorado



The holiday begins. I’ve been taking a week’s holiday in February every year for quite a few years. I can’t recall exactly how many, but I certainly remember having a week off at my thirtieth birthday and that was some time ago. Having this full week off work will be the longest break I’ve had from work since my February holiday last year. I feel I need it – much as I work with some really good people, I need a break from the place. And I can and will send my muckers some knob jokes via Facebook.


I see Lionel Jeffries died yesterday. I realise that’s not a particularly famous name – he played Grandpa in my favourite film of all time – “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. I must admit that I thought he’d probably died years ago, but it turned out that he was only forty-two when he starred in that film. Another useless fact about “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is that one of my colleagues had an uncle who was an extra in the opening sequences. I’m reliably informed that the extras got more money if they got dirty during the course of filming, so they would all roll about in the mud between takes.


Last Saturday I took my ring to the jewellers for fixing. Today we went to get it back, via one or two shops. We popped into the tattoo studio, where I saw a tattoo I am seriously considering having done. And then to the pet shop where they are selling albino hedgehogs as pets. By coincidence, the hedgehogs are the same price as the tattoo I want. And then some McDinner. You can’t beat McDinner.

I eventually got to the jewellers to collect my ring. It was fixed and they even polished the thing too. I’m really pleased with the result. Last week it was scuffed and scratched – now it’s as good as new. On reflection, I don’t think I have many possessions that have been with me as long as my wedding ring. I’m quite touched to see it as good as it was when I first bought it twenty three years ago. (I know – I’m a big softie!)


And then to Tenterden for the ELO experience. We’d started the week with a bit of a hiccup with four tickets too many. We shifted the spare tickets, and got there to find they’d reserved us one seat too few. But the problem was soon resolved, and we settled into our seats.

I first heard the music of the Electric Light Orchestra some thirty four years ago when an eleven year old Dave (now DoctorThornton introduced me to their excellent tunes.

I knew what to expect. “Daddies Little Angel TM  had come along for the evening, and her face was a picture when the cellos came out. But I think that she eventually enjoyed what happened. I know I did. They played most (but not all) of my old favourites, and I spotted their mistake in “Rock n Roll is King”. I had Milwaukee in mind as we squalled along to “Calling America”, I even remembered the lyrics of “Do Ya” and “Showdown”, and I hadn’t voiced those in over ten years. In fact I knew all of the words to all of the songs, and I sang them all. Rather loudly.

By one of life’s many happy co-incidences I found myself sitting next to a fellow member of the astronomy club, and so I felt that as we were all friends together he wouldn’t mind me singing. I have since apologized.


Same time next year….






21 February 2010 (Sunday) - Happy Birthday To Me



Some time in 1994 a group of about twenty of us went to Planet Lazer in Canterbury and had such a good time. We all came out on such a high that none of us could sleep that night. I can only liken last night to that evening in Canterbury all those years ago – I was awake most of last night with the songs of E.L.O. running through my head.

I eventually gave up laying awake at 7am, and got up for some toast. And then to my pressies and cards. I’d been intrigued by one envelope which had arrived some time ago, and was obviously from a loyal reader, as it was clearly labelled “not to be opened until 45 12/12”. I had a decent haul of pressies – I got the CD of last night’s band, a bottle of Leffe (oh yes!) and quite a lot of lego. Regular readers of this nonsense will know I quite like a bit of lego.


A medical emergency – whilst squirting my armpits this morning I caught the bar which pierces my left tit on the bottom of the can of deodorant. I was amazed how much blood that generated. Now it’s stopped bleeding I can see I’ve actually ripped the nipple. I can only feel grateful that other body adornments have (as yet) not been similarly trapped.


Off to deepest Sussex for lunch with Simon and Corinne. The Johns Cross Inn in Robertsbridge is somewhere I visited occasionally over twenty years ago. Today it’s under new management, and as well as the ubiquitousHarveys, they featured Castle ale from the Arundel brewery. A new one to me, so a couple of pints of that slipped down very nicely with a plate of spicy Persian lamb.

We then popped next door to the camping centre – not so much to buy anything as to get some ideas as to what’s new in the world of camping. Having said that, my sleeping bag has seen better days (I bought the thing for the Canada trip of four years ago). And our tent is getting a bit threadbare in places. I might go backas the camping season gets nearer. I also got a photo for “CrackWatch” purposes.

All things considered, it was a good afternoon out – shame the rain didn’t let up at all.


And then home for a lazy evening in front of the telly. After the band last night I’m quite worn out….



22 February 2010 (Monday) - On The Beer



A lazy morning spent firstly with a bit of BattleStar Galactica and then exchanging insults on Facebook. At first sight the weather seemed against a trip to Maidstone, but then if I stayed in every time it rained, I’d never leave the house.

To Maidstone, which for no adequately explored reason had been chosen as the venue for this year’s February pub crawl. Three of us met up at Ashford railway station and shook off the rain. A relatively uneventful twenty minutes saw us at Maidstone East and having met up with Terry we were off to pub #1


The Druid’s Arms is a Greene King pub, and in drinking circles it is traditional to be scathing of Greene King. I don’t know why? I’ve never understood this attitude. The Druids Arms was a fine pub. Six different ales on the hand pump, including two I’d never seen before. As this was early in the day’s drinking we just had one here – a pint of “Flanker’s Tackle”, chosen for the rude name. The only criticism I’d make of this place was that the service was a tad slow, but the chap did apologize for this.

It’s a good town centre pub – ideal for popping into whilst er indoors TMdoes shopping. In the final analysis this place the place scores 8/10.


Up the hill to the Rifle Volunteers, which isn’t somewhere you’d find by chance. We had to search it out – it’s a pub which I had been told that I would either love or hate. A Goacher’s pub, with three fine Goacher’s ales on. I had a pint of the stout, and then another pint of the stout. Others of our party had the mild and the light ale whilst we waited for the late comers of our party to catch up with us.

I think it fair to say that “Daddies Little Angel TM ” did feel a little out of place in there, but this traditional old boozer reminded me of the pub where my Dad used to drink over forty years ago. It’s stormed into that hallowed group of pubs to which I award 9/10, and I can’t help but think I’ll be going back soon.


And then round the corner to the Swan. Because of its location inMaidstone, this is a pub I’ve visited before. One of the very few Shepherd Neame pubs that actually has an ale selection, and it did seem odd having the autumn seasonal (Late Red) in February, but the ale is well kept, and a pint of Kent’s Best slipped down as well. The sandwiches here are excellent – you can’t beat a ham butty. I’ve visited this place before and have previously scored it 8/10, and today’s visit confirms that score.


It was at this point we said goodbye to some of our number, and we carried on to the Flower Pot. I had intended this to be the highlight of the day, and the ale selection was wonderful. And the staff seemed friendly. But the barmaid waited until “Daddies Little Angel TM  popped out for a cigarette, at which time she came over and announced (rather rudely) that she wouldn’t be serving her any more drink.

Why is it that so many pubs that obviously make the effort to attract the real ale drinker have such attitude? Blakes in Dover is just the same. I walked into the place scoring it 9/10, and walked out scoring it 0/10. In all honesty I feel I must recommend the serious pub-o-phile visits the place, but I won’t again.


By now we’d had an elegant sufficiency. And I’d had a gallon of ale as well, and so we staggered back to the train station smoking our cigars. That’s two cigars I’ve had this year, which is a lot for me. And then we spotted theWhite Rabbit. This wasn’t on our original list of destinations, but it had started raining again so we popped in to dry off over a pint of the Harvey’s. It’s a rather posh place with lots of nooks and crannies. Whilst pleasant enough, it’s not really my cup of tea, but I’ll score it 7/10 which is (on my scale) better than average.


We then said goodbye to Terry who was in pursuit of chips and took the waiting train home, via the KFC. The original plan for the day was to be home some time in the late afternoon. We got home at 10.30pm, with us seriously wondering where the time had gone.

I do like my February pub crawls – same time next year….?




23 February 2010 (Tuesday) - My Seventeenth Tattoo



I woke this morning feeling just slightly less than 100%. Can’t imagine why that might be. I watched the last BattleStar Galactica episode over brekky. Having got the box set for Xmas, it’s taken me just less than two months to watch all five seasons of it. It was just as good the second time round, but it did get a bit metaphysical towards the end. I’ll say no more in case any of my loyal readers haven’t seen it yet. Mind you, I only realised yesterday that the show’s arch-baddy was played by the actor who was Captain Apollo in the original 70s show.


I then spent a little time putting yesterday’s exploits into an on-line pub crawl that the normal people could call up and maybe try for themselves. And you might notice that I’ve put that on-line crawl onto the Pubs Galore website, and not that of Beer in the Evening. I won’t give a hyperlink to Beer in the Evening, because I don’t want to crash anyone’s PCs. I tried to post there this morning, and the site is riddled with pop-up windows. Even with my pop-up blocker on, I still found eleven pop-ups within twenty seconds.


I was feeling peckish, so I popped to the corner shop to get a sarnie for diner. The corner shop is opposite the tattoo studio, and two days ago I mentioned that I’d seen a tattoo I liked. The studio looked empty, so I thought I’d pop in and talk about the tattoo – specifically where it might fit. I had this plan to put it on the back of my left calf. It looked like it would fit perfectly. The people in the studio admitted (in a rather embarrassed way) that the price they’d quoted at the weekend was rather a lot less than the going rate. Whilst they would honour what they’d promised, they couldn’t hold that price indefinitely. I wondered about appointments - they had no appointments booked that day, so I drove to the cashpoint, got some money, came back and lay down on the tattooing couch.


Have you ever visited a tattoo studio? Or had a tattoo? These places are worlds unto their selves. They all have large signs saying (rather forcefully) that if you are in a rush, go away and come back when you are not. Tattoo artists (quite rightly) won’t be hurried. And the music – they all seem to play the heaviest heavy metal you ever did hear. And the pikeys and normal people that come into the studios. You would think that the hoi-polloi would be discouraged: it’s no secret that tattoos aren’t cheap. But there was a never ending stream of people coming in with the most idiotic questions – the best being from some half-wit who said his daughter didn’t like her belly button piercing, and seemed to think she could swap it for a tongue piercing?


Having traced the outline on my leg, the artist (Dan) laid me on the couch at mid day and,made a start. Just lately I’ve been rather embarrassed about going to a tattoo studio, because wherever I go it’s quite obvious that I have had tattoos done somewhere else. This wasn’t an issue today – it turned out that I had my first tattoo done in the year before Dan-The-Tattoo-Man was born. We chatted on and off during the afternoon, stopping hourly for a fag break, and for me to have a fidget. Whilst the tattooing hurt (!), by far the worst part was the pain in my back – laying face down for protracted periods was both oh-so-boring and at the same time incredibly painful. Every hour as I struggled to get up I would tell Dan and his assistant never to get old as I agonisingly heaved myself off of the couch.

I’d been told me that the tattoo would take about two to three hours. I’d booked an appointment from mid day to three o’clock. The time dragged, and at quarter past five Dan asked if I wouldn’t mind coming back another time. As with all tattooists of my acquaintance he was something of a perfectionist, and he didn’t want to rush the job. He then coughed a bit and made a confession. He was so pleased with what he’d done we wanted to take his time over it, and put a photo of the finished thing into his professional portfolio. He then took six photos of the progress so far.

I realise this might sound like I was being given “soft soap”, but today was my seventeenth tattoo, and only once before has a tattoo artist photographed their work on me.


I’ve got to go back in a few weeks for another couple of hours work. I like having tattoos on my body. I’m not so keen on the actual mechanics ofhaving the tattoo put on. I am *so* not looking forward to two more hours under the buzzing needles….





24 February 2010 (Wednesday) - Another Day's Holiday



Yesterday Dan-The-Tattoo-Man warned me that when I woke up I may well have a dead leg. He wasn’t joking. When I got up I was hopping about for several minutes as there was no sensation whatsoever in my tattooed leg. Eventually the thing came back to a semblance of normality, but it really has been tender today. It’s OK all the time I’m moving about, but when I stop, the thing tends to seize up. It will get better eventually, I suppose. And when it does I shall go through the entire process again to get the thing finished. It poured hard with rain pretty much all day today as well, but I was determined not to let petty things such as wet weather and the inability to move about stop me enjoying a day’s holiday.


A quick bit of brekky, and then I hobbled to the car. First of all to HMV in Ashford – I’d been promising myself a CD for some time. Specifically E.L.O.’sEldorado”. If you’ve never heard it, it’s a concept album following someone whose life is so dull and mundane he spends most of his time in imaginary fantasy adventures. I listened to the thing (several times) as I drove off here and there during the morning.

Firstly to Hawkhurst Koi centre. I’d heard they’d re-opened, and twenty five miles later I found that I’d heard wrongly. The place remains closed. From there I made my way home, firstly via Rolvenden’s World of Water where I picked up a new fluorescent tube for the pond’s filtration system. It’s still too early to turn the pumps on, but I thought I’d best get the tube whilst opportunity permitted. I got some blanketweed jollop whilst I was at it. I can’t wait to get the pond going again.

And then to Swallow Aquatics, if only for a look to see what fish they had. They’ve now got a huge catfish (four feet long) in a tank, but their Koi ponds were empty. Not just empty of fish, but empty of water too.

During the week “My Boy TM ” had mentioned about getting a shed for his fishing gear. As it wouldn’t be too far out of my way, I came home via Snargate to call into Bespoke Sheds. A strange place – the gates were wide open, there were signs warning of guard dogs and saying that customers entered at their own risk. I drove in and stayed in my car. And there was no one there – neither person nor guard dog.

Daco timber products in Brenzett were very helpful, or as helpful as someone with no sheds could be, and I eventually tracked down a shed sale in WyeVale in Ham Street. A strange shop. Whilst WyeVale is (in my experience) a bit of a retard magnet, the Ham Street branch is unique. It has an aroma all of it’s own. Well, not so much an aroma as… there’s no way to put it tactfully, the place stinks. Something, or several somethings have died somewhere inside the building. It reeks. But the chap in the shed section had the ideal shed at half price.

It was rather a shame to come home to find “My Boy TM ” wasn’t interested.


A sarnie for dinner, and I watched the last episode of “Survivors”. Utter tripe. Having seen the lot, that’s six hours of my life I want back. I then settled down to watch “Caprica” which I’ve been recording onto the Sky Plus box for a few weeks. It’s supposed to be a prequel to BattleStar Galactica, which I enjoyed immensely. I got three episodes of Caprica watched this afternoon. Did I like it? I slept through most of it, and found myself constantly waking up, rewinding what I’d missed and nodding off again. I shall give it more of a chance before I dismiss it out of hand, but I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen so far.


Being the last Wednesday of the month it was then off to Lenham for the arky-ologee club. Things started well with a fit bird turning up and wanting to join. But things soon went downhill.

Tonight was the Annual General Meeting which (I think it’s fair to say) exceeded the expectations of even the staunchest critics of the society. Despite having a written agenda, we managed to take all of the items in an utterly random order. Having done an agenda item to death we would then return to it two minutes later. The chairman’s report was done three times because the chairman kept forgetting bits. Even though the report was written down, and all the chairman had to do was read the report. The committee was elected. Twice. Chip got to be on the committee. Because he’s now “The Grand High Pum-Bar” (patent pending) he gets extra biscuits.

Once the A.G.M. part of the evening was officially declared closed (for the third time) we got on with what I’m reliably informed that some people thought was the interesting part of the evening. All I can say is that some people are easily pleased. Mavis had a slide show of Lenham’s Medieval fete of 1981, and she announced that she’d got her gizmo to work properly to complement the slide show with tasteful background music. I didn’t have the heart to tell Mavis she should take her gizmo back to the shop. Still, Mavis was an old trouper – the show must go on. And despite the abject failure of her gizmo, she was prepared to do an encore. She had a slide show of six minutes of Lenham in the snow during the middle ages.

Fortunately for my sanity, time was pressing on. Mavis’s second act was politely deferred until next time so that one of the new people could do“show and tell”. A normal person had turned up with some artifacts he wanted to share with the society. "Artifacts" (!) I know a bucket of rubble when I see one. Whilst several people had seen this bucket of rubble for what it was, I was the only person brave enough to say so.

I must admit, I haven’t enjoyed a meeting of the arky-ologee club so much for ages….



25 February 2010 (Thursday) - Jack the Ripper



Two of us set off early this morning for a spot of breakfast before the day’s main event. We’d heard that The George in Ashford opened at 9am to do a cooked breakfast. They advertise the fact on their website, and in their window. They don’t. They open at 10am. We had McBreakfast instead.

We popped into Timpsons and had some badges made up – you can’t beat a good wind up, and then once we’d met Matt we set off for the High Speed Train. In two years time this train will be known as “The Javelin”, but not for two years. Or so I’m reliably informed by those who know about trains (bless!) But it’s worth taking the high speed train – if there are three or more of you, you get a discount so’s you can go on the thing and have unlimited underground travel for twenty quid. That’s cheaper than the slow train.


Forty minutes (or so) later we met up with Terry and Irene (St Pancras station is HUGE!!) and we all took the tube to Whitechapel where we started the day’s challenge. Matt had downloaded an on-line tour of the area in which Jack the Ripper had struck over one hundred and twenty years ago. There are organised tours, but they aren’t cheap (and we had Matt) so off we went. Turning right as we left Whitechapel tube station we totally failed to find the first point of interest. Having walked up and down the road a few times we found the “small dark alley” described in the guide. On the other side of a locked gate…

We found a way to get to the other end of the alley (which was similarly barricaded) and then we tried to follow a route anticlockwise around an old school house. Only to find another locked gate. Clockwise, we decided, would have to do, and we set off and walked straight past the site of the first murder. It wasn’t long before we were finding all sorts of street names that didn’t appear on our instructions. And it was at this point that were approached by the “normal people” who’d overheard us talking of Jack the Ripper, realised what we were doing, and asked if they could book to go on a tour themselves. I was *so* tempted to give them Matt’s phone number.


We re-traced our steps, and within minutes found ourselves at the site of the first murder, and from then onwards we carried on without any problems or mishaps whatsoever. We proceeded through a rather dodgy council estate to the site of the second murder. There is now a brewery there, and we adjourned for ten minutes to the Pride of Spitalfields for a pint of lunch. Then onwards along Brick Lane, which would seem to be curry heaven. This place is running a curry festival in September – I shall be going back.

The third murder took place in what is now a school’s playground, and after a ten minute diversion for McDinner we found the aptly named road of “Batty Street” where Doctor Francis Tumblety used to live. Francis Tumblety is credited with being one of the likely candidates to have been the Ripper. I though it was the Marquis of Granby, but it turned out that was a pub. I’d got confused with the Duke of Clarence who’d long since been exonerated of any possible involvement with the murders. And with the Marquis of Granby, I expect too.


By now it was three o’clock, and the rain had started. By one of life’s happy co-incidences we happened on The Dispensary, a building which was a hospital at the time of the Ripper’s murders, and so it is likely that Francis Tumblety worked there. An ideal place to shelter from the rain – the building in which the Ripper possibly worked seemed to be rather apt. The fact that the place is now the CAMRA Pub of the Year for the local area had absolutely nothing to do with our decision to stop there.

After a pint of “Old Chestnut” (dark and thick) we decided that the rain wasn’t going to ease off. And we had two choices. We could carry on with our planned outing, or we could hide from the rain. We decided that carrying on with the tour would be the manly thing to do. Irene was a tad vague about doing “manly things”. I explained that it consisted of two main points. Firstly making sexist comments at girlies that you thought you could probably run away from, and secondly standing up to do a tiddle. She seemed happy with the explanation, and no one realised that I actually failed on both counts.


We carried on with the tour. On to Mitre square, the scene of the fourth murder, and then round to the Ten Bells where the fifth victim was last seen alive. A rubbish pub – no ale(!). We then spent five minutes in a car park looking at the lowered kerb. The lowered kerb being the only indication of where the last murder took place.

With our tour complete I found myself somewhat reflective. I’d enjoyed the tour – but then I enjoy any day out with my friends. But I felt somewhat disappointed. The first murder site was a rather dilapidated flower bed. The second is now underneath a brewery. The third is underneath a school playground. The fourth is another flower bed and the last is under a car park. None of them are marked in any way. I was expecting to see plaques commemorating the deaths. Jack the Ripper is an integral part of British heritage. We’d walked a good three miles along a route which is obviously followed by many people interested in Jack. We even met an organised party on our travels. But we didn’t see a single sign, notice or marker relating to this episode from history.

And the tour itself did require an awful lot of application of imagination. The murders took place in 1888. Admittedly a very long time ago, but not *that* long? I think it’s fair to say that my house was built then. As was large areas of current day Ashford. I was rather disappointed to find that pretty much all of the areas we’d visited had been completely demolished, bulldozed and rebuilt during the last one hundred and twenty years.

But having done the trip, I’d certainly do it again.


We then made our way to Liverpool Street, and after a quick half in the Railway Tavern (too noisy!) we said our goodbyes to Terry and Irene. We then made our way to Covent Garden for Happy Hour in Pizza Hut, and then went shopping in the rain, finally getting the high speed train to be home for 9pm. A tiring day, but I’d do it again…



26 February 2010 (Friday) - Stuff



The end of the week, and there is still so much not done. Things planned for the week included mucking out the pond filter in readiness for spring and painting the tops of the fence panels and the shed. I’ve two astronomy presentations I need to complete, and I’d even intended giving the front of the house another coat of paint. But it has to be said I’ve had a busy week, so having a day slobbing about wouldn’t be that bad really.


I say “slobbing about” – I got up at 8am and after a belt of brekky I started on the ironing. I’ve not done any for some time, so that took a couple of hours. Then to sort the underwear. Easier said than done. Bearing in mind that everyone in the house but me takes their undercrackers straight out of the undercracker basket, how does it get so full? That wasted another hour. And then I went through our video collection. Videos – remember them? I found over twenty videos that we’ve replaced with DVDs over the year to I boxed them up for the tip. There are those that might think it wasteful, but yesterday I asked in CEX (the recycle-everything shop) about whether they took videos. They weren’t rude, but neither were they interested. Charity shops are full of videos they can’t sell, and I remember there being cases and cases of videos in the scout hut that are in everyone’s way.

Whilst slobbing about, I watched the entire series of Cranford – a BBC costume drama I’d borrowed on DVD. I’d mentioned at work that I’d liked “Pride and Prejudice”, and was told that I’d probably love Cranford. I did.


A holiday isn’t a holiday without a run to the tip. I got shot of a couple of bags of tat and the videos and then went to the college to collect “Daddies Little Angel TM  who’s being doing sketches. And then I completed my homework. A friend has written a book, and I’ve been invited to read it, and make constructive comments. It’s a good book - what happens is… No – I won’t spoil the plot. But I enjoyed it immensely. And what I especially enjoyed was the power I had whilst reading it.

Recently I commented on how much I disliked the recent second series of “Survivors”, because of so many inconsistencies. To have the power to point out any such problems before they appeared to the general public was quite awesome.


Earlier in the week I got quite a bit of lego for my birthday. Today I put the smallest kit together. I’m looking forward to doing the rest – once I can scare up some space to do so.


And then seeing as how it was the last Friday of the month I set off to the astro club. I did my usual thing of putting out the chairs, and managed to knack my back lifting a chair. How silly is that? – One chair and I could hardly move. Interestingly the raffle proved very popular tonight, with people wanting to buy their tickets at the start of the evening, rather than at tea break (which is customary). I saw that as a thinly veiled ruse to stop me shouting at tea time, but it didn’t work. I still hawked the raffle as loudly as ever.

The talk was on telescopes, and then after tea we collimated, and adjourned outside to where a dozen telescopes had been put out. We saw Mars and Saturn, and the M3 (which didn’t go to Basingstoke!). A really good time was had by all.

It’s just a shame I’ve done my back…





27 February 2010 (Saturday) - A Bad Back



Yesterday I mentioned I’d done my back. I had this naive idea that a good night’s sleep would put it right. It didn’t. I woke needing a tiddle just before 4am, and took half an hour just to get out of bed, falling heavily back onto the bed twice. I was rather dubious about going down the stairs, but eventually made my way to the loo. This journey was far more arduous that usual, and so I thought I’d watch telly for five minutes until the pain eased somewhat, before negotiating my way back to bed. This was a good idea in theory, but in practice there was a snag. Having sat down in front of the telly, I couldn’t get up again. I found myself stuck on the sofa. Not just stuck, but utterly immobile. After an hour I eventually got myself standing, and decided that enough was enough. I struggled back upstairs and using my walking stick I poked er indoors TM awake.


She dressed me, and we arrived in the A&E department at 5.45am, to find the place all but empty. There was only one other patient in the waiting area. I explained my tale to the receptionist, and after five minutes a nursey-type took me into a side room and (for want of a better term) gibbered at me. In retrospect I think I probably understood one word in three. She however seemed to understand me better. She offered me the choice of pain relief - a suppository or an injection in the bum. I went with the injection, and was given a rather strong pain killer tablet as well. She then left me in a side room on an empty ward and muttered something about a doctor. I then came over rather light headed and nauseous. Had I eaten breakfast before coming to hospital, I’m pretty sure I would have been sick at that point.

It was as well that er indoors TM was there with me, otherwise I would have been completely alone in an empty ward. I later saw from the medical notes that I got the injection at 6am. We sat and waited, and waited. Despite sending out to see what the hold up was no medical person was anywhere to be seen until the doctor came round shortly after 7am. She then asked all the questions that the receptionist and the nurse had asked, and reacted with surprise when I told her that I’d been given pain killers in tablet and injection form. She then poked me about, and found that I hadn’t broken my back, but that all the muscles in my lower back were in spasm. I could have told her that. In fact I had done. At 7.15am I was discharged with a prescription for a fortnight’s worth of painkillers, which we collected from Asda on the way home.


Perhaps I should have gone to bed when I got home, but I didn’t want to risk becoming stuck again, so I ensconced myself in front of the telly and watched Annabel Croft (woof!) doing “Interceptor”. Such a shame that program got cancelled. And whatever happened to Annabel Croft? I then watched a double helping of SpongeBob, and slept through a morning of “Only Fools and Horses”.


My Boy TM ” staggered home from the pub at about 11am, and asked what was up with me. When I told him, he fell about laughing, and was still sniggering half an hour later. I staggered upstairs – the chair at my PC is probably the most comfortable one in the house for me at the moment. So I sat there for a few hours working on my presentation for the next astronomy club’s meeting before dozing off.


And then to Gillingham. The original plan was for two hours’ ice skating, but what with my back, that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I got to sit and look after the coats. Sofia has a dodgy ankle and Jack a broken arm, so we formed the politically correct association of “Crips United” and spent a pleasant evening laughing at the normal people falling over on the ice...





28 February 2010 (Sunday) - Backache, Saturn...



As would seem to be standard for Sundays this year, the day was wet. Sundays are so inappropriately named. “Rainday” would be far better. So I sat in front of my PC and finished off my presentation on the planet Saturn for the astronomy club. And having got the thing all ready, I discovered that the Cassini probe is all set to make its first close flyby around Saturn’s second largest moon in two days time. Perhaps I’d better include a section on what the thing finds there.

I then slept for most of the afternoon. I did this in my reclining chair, and didn’t feel *too* painful afterwards. I wonder if I should sleep in a sitting position until my back is better.


I spent some time in YoVille and NeverWinter this evening. Surprisingly, for the first time in nine days. I’ve been very busy this last week. I’ve actually done so much every day. All things considered, it’s been a good holiday. It will be a shame to go back to work tomorrow. If my back is up to it…

My back’s still playing up. I woke in pain every time I tried to move in the night. It seems to have got slightly better as the day’s gone on. It’s got to be better for tomorrow as I’m back to work. I really can’t phone in sick after a week’s holiday. Mind you, with the new management ethos, I rather feel that I really can’t phone in sick at all. Perhaps if I’m still immobile tomorrow I might take the bull by the horns and ask my trade union rep to make the phoning in sick phone call for me. As they say, a good defence is a strong offence.

One good thing about the backache is that the back pain has taken my mind off the healing leg tattoo….