1 February 2013 (Friday) - Astro-biology



A good night's sleep. A combination of a late night and no alarm being set seems to have done the trick. Over a spot of brekkie I checked to see what was going on in the world. It seems there's a geocaching camping event in September. I may well go; if only to see what it's like.

And then I sulked. Having just been indoors working for two of the most glorious days of the year (so far), today had started off with torrential rain. I had planned to take Furry Face on a serious walk today, but the rain was against us. So I spent an hour revamping my multi-march series of geocaches. Having spent the time preparing I was somewhat miffed to find I'd wasted my time. I've emailed the nice man at geocaching dot com to see if he can do what I was hoping to do. And then with the rain having slackened off to a medium monsoon I took Fudge out.

Our usual walk goes through the aptly named "Bowens Filed Wetland Park". It was completely wet today. Completely flooded. Even the bridge over the pond was under water. But despite the rain and the floods we carried on. And then home for a spot of lunch whilst watching Babylon 5 DVDs.

I remembered that I'd signed up to an on-line astrobiology course, and that the course had started on Monday. So I spent the whole afternoon catching up on the lectures. They were very interesting, but having studied and worked in life sciences for the last thirty years I didn't really learn anything new. But it was good to hear things from a different perspective. I'm now up to date with the on-line schedule, and have scored well over ninety per cent in the tests so far (engage smug mode"!).

And we spent the evening watching "Big Bang Theory". Can't believe I've taken so long to catch on to this...



2 February 2013 (Saturday) - The British Museum



I had a particularly vivid dream last night about pushing a pram around a council estate in order to find a janitor who might repair a gangster's broken doorbell. Were I unable to find the janitor, I and the pram would be "dead like curtains". Being woken by the alarm came as a blessed relief.

I went on the scales this morning. One week of dieting again has shifted a couple of pounds. I'm pleased about that. Twenty more pounds to go. I had a quick bite of brekkie whilst Fudge barked incessantly. A burglar could smash in the window and he wouldn't care, but he went mental because someone came out of a house a hundred yards down the road.


And so to the station where a dozen of us congregated, got tickets, and set off to London. It would have been nice to have had seats together, but we weren't that far apart, and we could holler down the carriage to each other. I had this idea to use my scrat-nav to see just how fast the high speed train did actually go, but the app didn't have a speedometer, so I mucked about downloading one. We reached a maximum speed of 139 mph. I was impressed.


At that speed it didn't take long to get to London, and from St Pancras (patron saint of abdominal organs!) we walked through Kings Cross and posed for photos at platform 9 3/4. I don't think we upset the normal people too much. And we then moved on to Cafe Oz in the Caledonian Road for a rather good bit of second brekkie. You can't beat a good fry up.

Once breakfasted we got on with the main business of the day. Geocaching! Well.... not exactly. We had gone up to London to have a look round the British Museum, but the route from Cafe Oz took up past two caches so it would have been rude not to have done them. And with logs signed we were all soon in the museum.

From experience we know that trying to do anything mob-handed is akin to trying to herd cats, so we agreed to all do our own things, and to meet up in the foyer at 2pm. I set off with Chip, the birthday boy and the Rear Admiral. I could have bought a guide book. But in a fit of inspiration I had a look on the app store and downloaded the free British Museum app. It was brilliant. A map of the museum, a guide book, detailed information on many of the exhibits. And didn't cost a penny. We used it to find where we'd been as we wandered round. We had this plan to do the ground floor before meet-up, and the rest after.

We found we'd done the ground floor stuff by 1pm, and Steve and the Rear Admiral fancied a fag. You can't smoke on the museum grounds, so they stood outside the Museum Tavern whilst me and Chip went inside where it was warm. And where they did beer. A pint of "Old Peculier" slipped down very nicely, and we then went back into the museum to see more exhibits.


At 2pm we met up, and Matt joined our contingent as we moved on to the Africa and Japan galleries. We had hoped to see the Roman stuff, but that was closed for renovation, which was a shame. Instead we giggled at the rather dreadful haircut sported by one of the curators, and sniggered at the ruder statuary until the late afternoon at which point we went back to the pub to meet Terry.

It was good to see Terry - we'd not seen him for ages, and we caught up over a couple of pints. We then moved on to Covent Garden. Some moved there directly; others (me included) went a little slower via three more geocaches. One of which was one of the best I've ever seen. But I can't spoil it by giving the game away here.

Whilst we were out we had a minor disaster. As we walked there were lots of people giving away free samples of their wares. I chose a lemon flavoured cube and to the horror of the merchant I scoffed it before he could stop me. I was not supposed to eat it. It was soap! Yuck! The poor chap giving out the samples was horrified, and his relief was tangible when he realised I thought it was funny. Fortunately the chap giving away samples of pizza saw what had happened and fed me well.


And so on to regroup with the rest of the party at the Essex Serpent for a crafty pint, and then we moved on to Ed's Diner; an American themed diner. Rather touristy, and rather cheesey. Some people would hate it, but I loved it. Peanut butter milk shake and blue cheese chicken-burger. Very nice.

Unfortunately, once we'd had tea it was time to say farewell to Terry. We then made our way to the tube and went underground back to Kings Cross, St Pancras and home.

I'd eaten and drank far too much today, but today was excellent. In previous years the first Saturday in February has been spent at Dover beer festival. Whilst I've enjoyed those events, today in London was better. Must go to the wicked city again soon...

And, as always, there are piccies of the day on-line.



3 February 2013 (Sunday) - Bedgebury



I was up with the lark today, and as I was pootling, "My Boy TM" arrived to collect his fishing tackle. I'm not quite sure why he keeps it here. Probably something to do with the foul smelling baits he keeps here.


We got ourselves organised, rallied the local troops, and set off on our travels. Bedgebury Forest is only an hour's drive away. On the plus side it is a lovely place for a walk, with about a hundred geocaches relatively close together. On the minus side the parking is ridiculously expensive. However if you know where to go, you can park for free. We found out where to park.

At the lay-by we met up with other members of the Kent Cachers, and a dozen of us set off on a really good walk. Old friends and new friends. I got chatting with a young lad who made a point of helping me walk Fudge. A really good lad. He'd never heard the idea of keeping quiet when you find a cache and watching others struggle, but he soon got the idea, and "smug moded" like a good'un.


Fudge was a little problematical at times. He did run off twice, and he wasn't at all impressed with the joggers and the off-road bikers, and had to go back on his lead a few times because of that. But those little episodes were the exception rather than the rule; he was mostly good.

And the caching was good. Some cachers seem to delight in hiding geocaches which are frankly impossible to find. This was not the case today. Some were tricky, but we found all that we went for, and found thirty two caches in the forest on a walk which covered eight miles and took us some five hours. One person found their seven hundredth, two (including "er indoors TM") reached their nine hundredth, and I got my total over the one thousand one hundred mark, ending the day with a cache total of one thousand, one hundred and thirty one caches. There's photos of the day on-line

. And loads more caches to be done. Must go back again soon.


And so home, where I slobbed in front of the telly. And made a start on the laundry. If I am going to iron it tomorrow I need to wash it tonight...



4 February 2013 (Monday) - A(nother) Walk



I woke with serious aches this morning. probably something to do with the serious walking I've been doing this weekend. Whilst I was shoving brekkie down my neck "Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived with Sid, and she promptly harangued Fudge and Sid about what "normal dogs" do. If "normal dogs" are like "normal people", then I'm not sure I'm interested.


We got the dogs leaded up and set off on a little walk. Through the park where Fudge seemed far better behaved than yesterday. He's probably terrified of his Auntie Kat though. Whilst walking we met up with Rachel and Misty coming back the other way. Did they want to come on our walk with us? Perhaps we should have told them what we had in mind. Having driven her car to the park because it's a little way from home to the park, we then dragged them on a three hour six-plus mile walk around the countryside south of Ashford.

But I think they enjoyed the walk. Bartlett's Lane, Long Length, miles of mud, carrying dogs over stiles. There was a dodgy five minutes when Fudge vanished under a fence and wouldn't come back. We blew the whistle to no avail, so "Daddies Little Angel TM" clambered the barbed wire to find him. After a couple of minutes Fudge came back, but "Daddies Little Angel TM" was stuck in the brambles and thickets and couldn't get back herself. Oh how me and Rachel laughed.


We hid two geocaches on our way to the disgust of "Daddies Little Angel TM". To keep her sweet I named one after Sid. It's only fair, Fudge has seven named after him. We came home via the pet shop where we got guinea pig requisites. Once home we did University work. "Daddies Little Angel TM" is doing media studies, and we watched the Noel Cowerd film "In Which We Serve". Well, that is I watched it. She and the dogs fell asleep.


Once awake "Daddies Little Angel TM" set off on a mission leaving me with two sleeping dogs which I let lie. I spent the afternoon doing the on-line astro-biology course. Again it was very interesting but I didn't really learn an awful lot of new stuff. Instead it seems to take stuff I already know and put it into a different perspective. Which isn't a bad thing I suppose.


After tea "er indoors TM" set off bowling and I checked my emails. Both geocaches that I'd hidden have been found. One within thirteen minutes of the cache going live. Thirteen minutes... (!)



5 February 2013 (Tuesday) - This n That



I always know I'm on an early start when even Fudge is still snoring and not disturbed by my pottering about. He eventually woke as I scoffed my cereals, and he sat with me as I watched an episode of Babylon 5 - the one I slept through last night. As the morning wore on so I seemed to develop a back ache. Probably something to do with the last three days spent on rather excessive walking. Having a non-physical day today wouldn't hurt.


And so to work. As always I listened to the radio as I drove. The Scottish Nationalists have released a detailed timetable of how they envisage Scottish independence will progress. Those world powers with nuclear capability are concerned that those without might be getting it.

As a child I naively had this idea that by the time I was old enough to know better, humanity would have risen above petty nationalism. One day we will (hopefully).


I heard that water bills are to rise. I can't find out how much my personal bill is to go up, so I can only expect the worst. The pundits on the radio were complaining about how it is unfair that water companies have a monopoly and the poor consumers cannot pick and choose the cheapest water company.

I can't see why not. I can change phone, internet, electricity and gas supplier at the drop of a hat without anyone touching the pipes and cables that come in and out of my house. Choosing whoever supplies those services is purely a paper exercise. So why can't water work the same way?


Once at work I remembered all the jobs at home that I didn't do yesterday. Ironing that doesn't iron itself, and five gallons of mild that needs to be taken out of the bucket and into the barrel. I had all good intentions of doing those jobs yesterday.

I forgot. I'll do them tomorrow.


And so home - or back to Ashford. being Tuesday the clans gathered. This time in Queen Street. I still giggle over the name of that road. We watched another episode of "Merlin". I do like that show, but it does require a serious willing suspension of disbelief. I'm quite happy to accept magic, wizards, dragons and mythical beasts. But I get very wound up by the historical inaccuracies in the episodes. Camelot would not have had magnifying glasses.


And in closing I'd advise my loyal readers to hang on to their pants. The world is going to end again. The next end of the world happens in ten days time when a huge asteroid crashes into the planet. Possibly.

Personally I'm not overly worried - I've seen the end of the world before. Several times. All of which were rather dull after the build-up we'd had for them. This one might be more impressive, but I somehow doubt it...



6 February 2013 (Wednesday) - In The Money



Over the last few weeks I've been blogging about the new series of "Yes Prime Minister". It started well, but hasn't really gone anywhere. We watched the fourth episode last night and I fell asleep. I don't think I can be bothered to carry on watching the rest.

"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived with Sid shortly after brekkie time, and as she did her college work I got the latest batch of beer out of the bucket and into the barrel. And then got another load of beer into the bucket to be barrelled next week.

I checked my emails. The leccie company told me it was time to give them a meter reading so I logged on and nearly tiddled my pants in excitement. My account with them was over five hundred pounds in credit. I've been in credit before, and they have been only too happy to give refunds. So I thought I'd give up-to-date meter readings, see what was what and then ask for a refund. So I read the leccie and gas meter, typed in the numbers, pressed "Enter", and five hundred pounds credit suddenly became thirty pounds credit. Oh dear.

We then took the dogs for a walk. Through Newtown, past the Swan Centre, and home through Frogs Island and past the ponies. Sid nearly got run over by a passing cyclist, and Fudge shouted at a Shetland pony. All things considered a rather uneventful walk.

With "Daddies Little Angel TM" off on a mission doing whatever it is that "Daddies Little Angel TM"s do I set about the ironing. It took long enough. As I ironed I watched my "Voyage to the Planets" DVD. I've been looking for it for a very long time, and it came to light this morning. I must have seen the thing a dozen times, but still I like it.

Then I checked my post. I got to vote in the election of governors for the local health authority. Or that is I got the chance to vote. I didn't take that chance. Faced with four candidates of whom I had never before heard, and all of whom seemed to be blathering the same platitudes in their campaign addresses I realised that I could not choose between them, and so did not attempt to do so.

I got a begging letter from ActionAid asking for money to help the world's poor. I wish they wouldn't use such emotional blackmail.

Despite having told them (countless times) that I don't want it, I got yet another offer to have the Sky Sports channel at half price.

BT offered me the cheapest broadband deal ever. And it did seem a bargain until I read the small print and saw that all these deals were dependent on paying a monthly line rental fee which put the total price far beyond what I am currently paying.

But the best letter was from the bank. Having seen so many adverts for mis-sold PPI, a colleague approached his bank a few months ago and asked if he was entitled to anything. They gave him money. So a couple of months ago I did the same. I phoned the bank, and asked if I was entitled to anything from mis-sold PPI I might or might not have had in conjunction with any loans I've had with them over the years. Today they wrote back and said that they were unhappy that I had complained. (I hadn't complained; I'd asked if i was entitled to a refund). They said that they did not support or uphold my complaint, and that I was not entitled to any refund. But as a gesture of goodwill they would refund PPI payments totalling over two hundred quid. Result!


After a spot of tea "er indoors TM" set off to a congregation of the Honourable Association of Candlemongers. I slobbed on the sofa with Fudge and watched episodes of Babylon 5. I quite like that show. I should watch more of my DVDs. I have enough of them gathering dust...



7 February 2013 (Thursday) - A Rant



It has often been said that I am a creature of habit. Very much so with breakfast. When working normal shifts (as "normal" for me as is possible) I have cereals for brekkie; otherwise it's toast and coffee. Always! Without fail! Today in a novel break with tradition I had toast and coffee even though I was working a normal shift. Sometimes I can be quite the rebel!


And so, once toasted, I set off to work. It was cold this morning, but not cold enough for there to be ice on the car. Also the morning was noticeably lighter than it has been. I'm grateful for that.

The news on the radio was all a-buzz about the report into the scandalous treatment patients had received in Staffordshire hospitals. Shocking! Disgraceful! Or so we would be led to believe. What actually happened? At this remove in time we'll never really know. But realism will never sensationally sell newspapers, will it?


However, whilst terrible things may well have happened, spare a thought for those working in those places. Or in any establishment where one has a professional duty of care.

Does anyone actually go into caring professions to victimise the vulnerable? Or to be deliberately negligent? Hardly! So why does the media act as though people do. Why does the media delight in spreading malice against health care professionals?

What message does the job hunter and the school leaver get from all of this? Why would anyone want to go into a job paying less than what one might get in the private sector? Add to that a job which needs to be done at all hours, day, night, weekends and bank holidays? And one in which the slightest error or lapse gives the press license to pillory the over-worked.

Not that I'm in any way bitter or twisted....


(takes a deep breath...)


On the way home this evening there was an interesting program on the radio about how high streets will be affected by the recent collapses of several big names shopping chains. I can't really speak for any other high street, but the one in Ashford has been (in all honestly) dying on its arse for some time. Having said that, the loss of the high street giants has probably been a good thing for me. With HMV and Blockbuster gone, CEX will take over with its cheap bargains. Woolworths... what did they actually sell? Nothing I can't now get cheaper in the pound shops. And I never ate in Pizza Hut anyway.

I've said before that I honestly think the entire concept of "high street shopping" is fast becoming an anachronism. Cheap pound-shops and the Internet have done for traditional shops. The pundits on the radio didn't entirely dismiss my theory out of hand...


And rather than going home I went to Sarah and Steve's for an astro club committee meeting where I almost passed a motion.



8 February 2013 (Friday) - Hic!



Fudge has discovered the fish tank. It's been in the living room far longer than he has, but last night he obviously noticed the fish in it for the first time and went mental at them. And today, periodically, he was woofing, barking and growling at them. It's rather sweet really.

The recycling binmen came today. This time they took the bin of tat. They didn't take the rubbish we put out on Wednesday because it was too close to the front door. They couldn't reach it from the pavement and (apparently) they aren't insured to walk the two steps from the pavement to where the bin was. It's interesting that the postman, milkman, those who deliver pizza leaflets, religious crackpots, trick or treaters and carol singers have no difficulty in traversing my garden path. Either they have more comprehensive insurance policies, are much braver people, or aren't quite so petty minded.


I took Furry Face for a walk. It was looking like being a fine day, and there were two geocaches on the other side of town that I fancied having a go at. As we walked along one of the paths past the station I let Fudge off of his lead. He was fine; coming back when called by his whistle. And then it all went wrong. He started in the general direction of some woman with a dog. As I called him back so she called him and waved her dog's toy to attract him. Of course that got his attention. As I walked up to put his lead on, so this stupid woman produced a second tennis ball (her dog was fetching one) and she hurled the ball which Fudge promptly sped after. I eventually got him back on the lead; having quite seriously offended the stupid interfering old cow by asking if she'd like to adopt him. She really couldn't understand why I didn't want her to call my dog away when I am trying to do whistle training with him.


With the pestilential pup on the lead we came along Hythe Road and down Cradlebridge Drive. One of the things that annoy me about Ashford is that between the railways and the motorways the town is cut into sections between which it is very difficult to move. Navigating to the first geocache of the day showed me a footbridge over the motorway which was new to me. I shall use this on dog-walks in the future. The first cache was just off of this footbridge. Apparently.

I couldn't find it, but a little later I had a stroke of genius and I think I know where it might be. I shall go back.

We followed the footpath on and soon found the second geocache. This one was relatively easy to find, and I got a trackable from it as well. The description of this geocache asked us to give a brief description of how we came by our cacher names. I use the same alias pretty much everywhere. If any of my loyal readers might be wondering, "Manky Badger" is an old C.B. radio handle. Back in the 1980s when C.B. radio was big, all of my mates had high powered names “Big this”, “Mighty that”, “Super this”, “Mega that”. I’ve never been “Super” or “Mighty”, and so I went with “Manky Badger”. It’s probably quite apt, and is a name which has stuck. I am “Uncle Badger” to many, and answer quite happily to Oi Manky!” Very few people would do that. And the world is full of Daves anyway.


We then followed Willesborough Road past the Batchelors factory and the Julie Rose stadium, and took a footpath round the back of the Little Burton estate where we met a nice lady walking her dog. Her dog and Fudge played really nicely for ten minutes, then we went our seperate ways. And just as I was about to put Furry Face back on his lead another twit dog-walker made a point of calling him away. And again took offence when I was less than orgasmic that he'd interfered with what I was doing with my dog.

I wish other dog-walkers would have some sense. To be fair, most have. But there is a minority. When i see other people doing dog training I don't interfere. I put my dog on his lead and leave them to what they are doing. I wish these busybodies wouldn't meddle when I'm trying to achieve something with my pup. He's getting there with his training but he's easily distracted.


Once home I spent much of the afternoon preparing presentations for the astro club. And then in the evening we went down to Folkestone where we walked the dogs along the beach and had a rather good bit of tea featuring (probably) far too much to drink. Hic!...



9 February 2013 (Saturday) - Dull



I had a rather good bit of tea as well as probably too much to drink last night. DLA does boil up a decent bit of scran when she puts her mind to it. I suppose that it's therefore no surprise that this morning's weigh in showed no weight loss. Mind you it showed no gain either. Realistically whist weight loss is good, no gain is probably what I should be aiming for.

I checked my emails and saw that a new geocache went live last night. It wasn't very far from where me and Fudge had our walk yesterday. That was a shame - if it had gone live earlier we might have been able to go look for it. Oh well - next week....


The car was covered in ice when I set off at 7.30am. Thick ice. It was almost as if a heavy rain had frozen on it. This was odd as it wasn't a particularly cold morning. In any event the ice soon shifted, and I set off to work. And then came home to collect my phone and lunch and everything else I'd forgotten.

I thought I'd have a look in Sainsbury's as it was (almost) on my way to work. Sainsburys - oh dear. I have heard it said that Sainsburys exists to keep the riff-raff out of Waitrose. I though that was a joke until this morning. Sainsburys don't give their stuff away, do they? The Ashford branch has been re-built since I was last there - I couldn't find what I wanted, and when I did find it I didn't buy it because I wasn't prepared to pay their prices. It wa a shame I'd spent a few minutes clearing ice from the car or I would have gone to Morrisons on the way to work. As it was I got to work with only a few minutes to spare.


A busy day, and having done my bit I came home. There was an odd play on the radio about the Spanish civil war. It was strangely interesting, which was more than could be said of the rest of today really...


Meanwhile down under an epically bosomed young lady is robbing petrol stations; using her "ample charms" to get close to attendants who she then threatens with a knife. It's sad that people are so shallow that they are taken in by something as simple as the waggling of a gargantuan pair of norks. I wouldn't fall for that... much...



10 February 2013 (Sunday) - Working...



I was shattered when I came home last night and fell asleep in front of the telly within a couple of minutes of sitting in front of the thing. I slept like a log, and rather than waking early to watch my DVDs before work, I had barely enough time to get myself organised this morning. It was as well the car wasn't iced up - I didn't have time to be scraping today.


As I drove I listened to the radio. Being Sunday the morning's discussions were of an ecclesiastical nature. There was an interview with a renown Christian journalist who has apparently resigned because he's not happy that the new Archbishop of Canterbury is against gay marriage. Well, pardon the Archbishop for doing his job and following the basic tenets of his faith! (Even if he and they is wrong)

I've done this argument to death, but it still winds me up. How can anyone have a religion, central to which is a book which lays down the law, and then picks and chooses what bits of this book that they agree with.


So-called "Christians" of my acquaintance try to wriggle out of this by claiming that (apparently) somewhere in the Bible it says that haircuts are bad, and would I advocate never having a haircut? (And then they have an obligatory self-satisfied smirk.) Well, were I to believe in that old twaddle, then yes, I would say haircuts were the work of the Devil. And if it does say somewhere in the Book of Emphysema that farting on a Tuesday is wrong, then you don't fart on a Tuesday.

Where do you draw the line? You don't! Rules is rules. You either believe in your religion or you don't. You don't take the bits that you like, ignore the rest, and then expect to be taken seriously. I don't call myself a vegetarian because I don't eat dogs and cats, but brush over the fact that I hapily scoff cows, sheep, pigs and the occasional horse.


After this interview there was a broadcast from a church service somewhere in Oxford. Some mornings the church service is bright and happy, sometimes spiritually uplifting. Today's wasn't. Today's was (quite frankly) dull and turgid. Which was a shame - I have taken to enjoying the Sunday service on the one Sunday in seven that I work.

I don't really mind working the occasional weekend. Especially when (like today) the weather was rather grey and murky. I was very much aware that I was missing a geocaching expedition today. Last week the weather was good and I enjoyed the stomp round Bedgebury. Whilst I would like to have gone out today (and would have done so were I not working), I didn't really mind being inside in the warm for a change. I can go out with Furry Face during the week when the weather might be better.


Whilst at work I had a nose bleed. When younger I used to have those with annoying regularity. I've not had one for ages. The worst thing about nose bleeds is other people...

Everyone else has a cure for nose bleeds that doesn't work. Over the years I've been subjected to keys down the neck, vice-like pinches of the nose, biting on wooden blocks... None of these cures work any better than shoving a tissue up my snozz and carrying on regardless. If any of my loyal readers find themselves having a nose bleed, then I would advocate shoving a tissue up your snozz and carrying on regardless. You'll find that the louder that itinerant first-aiders advocate their cures, the less personal experience they have had with nose bleeds.


I spent much of the day looking out of the window. The weather started rather grottily, and the initial dull overcast cloud had been predicted to give way to sleet by the mid afternoon which would become heavy snow by the early evening. I fretted for much of the day. I dislike driving in snow, and a heavy dose of the stuff today could well become a week of sheet ice everywhere when I would like to be taking my dog for walks.

And the sleet did come at mid day, and the snow was falling quite impressively at 4pm. I kept telling my colleague that with the ground being wet, the snow wouldn't lay. Neither of us were convinced, but we were both hoping that might be the case.

It turned out that the heavy snows didn't lay, but had turned into slush. That made driving home rather tricky. I knew that working in Canterbury meant that sooner or later I would have to drive through horrible weather. It wasn't *that* bad...



11 February 2013 (Monday) - Still Snowy



When I'm working (and not on a late finish) I get up at silly o'clock, pootle about, check my emails and go to work (usually in that order). This morning an email came in at 6.25am, which is just before I would have been checking emails, telling me about a new geocache which had been hidden on my way to work.

The description of the cache is one of those that tells you exactly where the cache is to be found. So, had I been working today I would have had the email, been on my way, and would have found the cache at (about) 6.50 - 6.55 am. And I would have been the first person to find it; beating the chap who was actually first to find who found it at 7.05am. But I wasn't working today, so I missed the chance for an FTF.

There is great kudos in the geocaching world in being the first to find a cache. And (quite frankly) being first to find one in Ashford takes some doing. There are several people locally who operate as teams (rather than as individuals as I do) and so can have one person regularly checking emails and phoning other team members who may well be closer to newly published caches. And there are those who work odd hours (like I don't!) who are able to be out and about when others aren't. And there are those who seriously delight in being FTF so much that they will abandon anything to fly out of the house at a moment's notice to be that FTF-er.

One of the caches I hid last week was found within twelve minutes of being published (!)


I had the realistic chance of an FTF today. I doubt I'll get another for some time. Interestingly when one goes thirty miles away into Sussex, no-one seems bothered about being first to find. A good friend's cache went three days before being found for the first time. That wouldn't happen here.


DLA arrived shortly before 8am, and I got up, brekkied, and we took the dogs for a walk. The overnight snow had laid, despite predictions. For all that there are those who ridicule the piddling amounts of snow that we have had, the amount we've had is a pain. Not enough to play in, or to be scenic, or to actually be worth having. But enough to make everywhere alternately icy and sludgy. Anywhere off tarmac was just icy floods and swamps today, and so we abandoned our plans for a decent walk and stayed on the dull paths instead.


Home, and as DLA vanished off to do her thing I did dull paperwork for an hour or so, and then spent another hour working on the presentation I'm doing for the astro club: Comets.

The word on the street is that there will be two spectacular comets this year; at least one of which will be bright enough to see in the daylight. Personally I am cynical. I would dearly like to see a daylight comet. My grandmother told me about the ones she saw - in 1910 there were five of the things. On average they happen (about) once every ten years so we are long overdue one. But every year the pundits predict great things from comets that never live up to the hype. I hope comets PANSTARRS and Ison live up to expectations, but I'm not holding my breath.


The Rear Admiral visited at mid day for a cuppa, and then as he set off I popped round to Pets at Home. They do the cheapest dog food for miles around. And then I sat down and did some proof reading. I've done it before for a published author, and was only too happy to offer my services to another literary friend. The book is... something I might discuss in future blog entries; but not just yet.


I had a phone call. Rather than trying to flog double glazing, or lie about computers spamming the internet, the latest ruse from India is to pretend that you are phoning from "a firm of solicitors" about a road traffic accident involving "someone in your household". The chap (who could barely speak English) was incredibly vague about which firm of solicitors he was phoning from, and was even vaguer about who in my household had been in said prang. However his information came directly from the "road traffic accident department" so its veracity was not to be questioned (apparently).

Sometimes I hang up on callers like this. Sometimes I string them along. I was bored when he phoned. I think he probably had a quota of suckers to con, but I had time on my hands. It was fifteen minutes before he realised I was deliberately wasting his time.


And the Pope handed in his resignation today.

Apparently he changed the rules so that it would be possible for an incumbent Pope to step down, and then he jacked it in. I can't say I blame him; it must be a thankless task. He's apparently not a well man and feels that someone a tad more sprightly might take the job on. Good luck to them - I bet the job goes to someone who will be at least ten years older than I will be when I hope to retire...



12 February 2013 (Tuesday) - Pancake Day



Sid stayed with us last night - we had something of a "dog sleep-over". Sid has never, ever been a problem. But at 3am last night something upset the dogs and started them off on a woofing fit. I went down to see what all the fuss was about and found myself chasing two small dogs round the house when I would rather have been asleep. "er indoors TM" slept through the lot. I wish I had done.


"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived shortly after brekkie and we took the dogs for a walk - Newtown to South Willesborough and back home through Frog's Island. It took us out for an hour. Fortunately for my nerves we didn't meet any other dogs (or their owners) on the way.

Home for a cupps, and then with the dogs settled I walked "Daddies Little Angel TM" to the bus stop. She was off to skool for the afternoon, and I had a mooch round town. Or what is left of the town. So many shops have closed down. I did have a sly smile in Wilkos where one pikey was asking another pikey what was the difference between honey and golden syrup. It transpires that the difference is that one is honey and the other is golden syrup. Dur!!


I met Cheryl and her family in the pound shop, and seeing they had no duck decoys (its a geocaching thing) I came home. Both dogs were asleep, and they woke, sat on my lap and went back to sleep. I watched some DVDs, then did more proof reading. I do like the story I'm giving the once-over to. And then I watched the lectures of week three of the astro-biology course.


By then it was 5pm. The Rear Admiral arrived and we set of to Folkestone for pancakes and chips, and once the tribes had gathered we watched "Firefly". I had stomach ache. I'd eaten far too much...

For all that I didn't really do anything today, today was excellent



13 February 2013 (Wednesday) - Back Ache



Many years ago (thirty-two, to be precise), whist working as a general skivvy in the Harbour restaurant in Hastings I tried to impress the waitresses by carrying far too many plates to the washing up. I impressed no one and only succeeded in putting my back out. Periodically that old injury plays up. This morning was one such instance. I could barely move; it was so painful.


I was determined not to let my iffy back stop me, so once "Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived we took the dogs round the park. "Daddies Little Angel TM" took both dogs and I hobbled along behind with my walking stick. Once home I had this plan to get some shopping. It took me ten minutes to get in and out of the car, and whilst in Tesco's I used the trolley as a crutch. We got shopping, came home, and then I gave up. My back was so bad that I realised that I had to give up; I had no choice in the matter. I sat myself in front of the computer and didn't move again. I proof-read a hundred pages of book and played "Worms" on Facebook for the rest of the day.

Let's hope the back gets better soon...


Meanwhile this blog has been nominated for an award. The Liebster Awards are given to bloggers who have less than two hundred followers, and are given as a way to increase readership in the blogsphere. I've been blogging regularly since September 2006. Two thousand three hundred and something daily reports. When I started blogging a lot of my close friends were regularly blogging. Since then, for a lot of people the regularity has dropped off. On the right hand side of this page is a list of the most recently updated blogs that I follow. Of a list of over fifty blogs less than ten seem still to be active, which is a great shame. I've very much a nosey beggar. I wish more people would witter on like I do. Liebster awards seem to be a way to encourage blogging.

The rules say that when you get nominated you have to nominate eleven more blogs. So here's my nominations:


Sue's Blog - Some Assembly Required (who recommended me)

Stevejay's World

The Man with no Alias

Elite Reclaimation

Cousin Bob's Blog

Newsless News

The Home of the Bizarre Rant


And I can't really recommend any more as no one else seems to blog any more. Which is a shame... Go on - blog again and I'll nominate you...



14 February 2013 (Thursday) - At The Quack



Normally I fidget quite a bit in my sleep. I woke in exactly the same position in which I dozed off last night, and spent five minutes trying to move, and another ten minutes trying to get out of the bed. One doesn't realise how good it is to have a back which works until one's back is agony. The rain outside was torrential, but today that didn't bother me; with my back how it was I wasn't going to be setting off on that epic walk I have been hoping to do.

I spent a little while trying to phone through to the quack. For the first ten minutes the call kept going through to the emergency doctor; for the next ten minutes the number was constantly engaged. I could feel my piss boiling - in the past getting an appointment has been nigh-on impossible and I was getting ready for such an argument with them. When I got through they gave me an appointment right away and I hung up with something of a sense of anticlimax.


"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived five minutes after I’d given up waiting for her and had fed Fudge. She didn’t seem overly bothered that I’d not waited, and after we’d exchanged insults I left her in charge and set off of the doctors. I felt rather useless as I hobbled from my car towards the surgery, leaning on my walking stick as I went. I sat and waited my appointment. I was only fifteen minutes late in being seen.


As is always the case at my surgery I saw a doctor I have never seen before and probably will never see again. The chap started off by making some incomprehensible statement, and that rather set the tone for the consultation. I *think* that during the ten minute appointment he made some jovial comment about my walking stick to put me at my ease. I’m pretty sure he said that there was no disc damage. And I could be wrong but I do believe that he said something about bad backs coming with advancing years.

He prescribed me some pain killers that I’ve had before – ones that send me to sleep. And he wittered something about having a hot bath. That would be no good – I couldn’t get out of a bath. I think he said that heat pads are as good as a bath so I got some of those as well.

I wonder if I shouldn't make a complaint - he's probably a good enough doctor, but I couldn’t understand one word out of every ten that he said.


And so home where "Daddies Little Angel TM" was hoovering because she knew I couldn’t with my iffy back. She made coffee and, with the rain having subsided, we then took the dogs round the park. Or that is she took the dogs round the park. I hobbled along behind them as fast as I could. There was a dodgy five minutes when we lost Fudge. He saw a cat a few seconds before the cat saw him. And then there was another dodgy five minutes when Fudge decided he’d rather terrorise other dogs than come back when called. This incurred the wrath of his Auntie Kat who went mental at him. He went straight back on the lead and immediately he had a very sheepish demeanour; he knew he’d been bad.


Back to base. I’d really wanted to go for that walk but it had taken a lot out of me (which was pathetic, really). So I collapsed in front of the computer for much of the afternoon. I finished proof-reading my mate’s book; all two hundred pages of it. I’ve proof-read before. It’s really good – to be able to take a world that has been created and to be able to suggest changes to that world. It’s also reminded me that a year ago I was writing a book. Must get back to that at some point.


Just before tea we got an email. A new geocache had gone live - not five minutes walk from the house. We had the chance for a first to find; and were beaten by a minute. In retrospect I shouldn't have gone for the cache - my back wasn't up to the exertion. It had been getting better...



15 February 2013 (Friday) - Sick Leave



I took one of my high-powered pain killer tablets last night and slept like a log. Despite all the fun and games I’ve had in my professional life over the last year or so, to my mind there is still something fundamentally wrong about phoning in sick. I know I’m entitled to sick leave. I know others do it. In the past I have blogged about others in various walks of life who do it with impunity. But I still don’t like doing it myself. Today I had no choice. After five minutes of trying and failing to get out of my pit I realised that fact.

I would be sick on the only day I’m supposed to work this week, and the last day before a week’s leave. It really looks like I’m taking the piss. I wouldn’t believe anyone else doing the same.


I spent a couple of minutes reviewing the “Teston Situation”: in the past there has been a kite festival at Teston Bridge Country Park on the second weekend in June. I’ve always gone there – mob-handed with up to thirty-odd other assorted reprobates. Last year there wasn’t one in June and we did our own thing. This year… Who knows? The putative organiser deputed someone to take soundings on the possibility of such an event via Facebook. Soundings were taken in the most rude way imaginable. Anyone who did not fully commit to the event was publicly harangued, regardless of the fact that we were not told the duration of the event, the cost, what we got for our money, what help would be expected of us whilst we were there, or even if the event was actually going to take place.


Many of the regular attendees have already arranged to go to other kite-related events planned for that weekend. With lots of other events clashing with this possible Teston; other events being definite and requiring booking, what can we do for the best? Realistically I doubt the festival will go ahead. So I rallied the troops and have planned for a different camp over the late May bank holiday instead. If any of my loyal readers fancy a bank holiday in a tent, let me know. I don’t know what Furry Face will make of camping – I expect I shall leave him in the tender care of the first fruit of my loin for that weekend.


Talking of Furry Face – he got shouted at today. With me being rather immobile, he took great delight in barking noisily at everything and anything that moved outside the house. I wish he wouldn’t do that. I took him for a little walk – he seemed to be asking to go, and I couldn’t say no. Our usual short walk is about three quarters of an hour, and both of us seem to feel that’s not enough. Today I walked him for half an hour – a trip round the block that would normally take me five minutes when blessed with mobility. And that nearly killed me.


Once home I made a point of not collapsing as I knew I would not be able to get up again. I hunted out an old hot water bottle and with that heated and shoved down the back of my pants I slobbed in front of the computer for much of the day, sending insults here, there and thither.

Rather a waste of a day. But about the best I could do in the circumstances. I hope this back gets better soon…



16 February 2013 (Saturday) - Cowboys, SingStar...



The voices inside Fudge's head told him to come up to my bed and have a woofing fit at 3am last night. "er indoors TM" then came to bed an hour after that, so the night wasn't quite what it might have been. I got up with only a moderate amount of pain this morning, and managed to walk Furry Face round half of what I consider to be "the short walk" before I came home and collapsed on the sofa. As I posted on to Facebook this morning: "Day one of a weeks holiday or day four of being unable to move without walking stick and support crew? Here's hoping.... " rather summed up my mood for today.


"My Boy TM" came visiting and we bandied insults for a bit before setting off on the day;s mission. I must admit I wasn't keen initially. Every month there's a meeting of the Kent Geocachers. Like any group of people, 99.9% of them are good, decent people. But there is the odd 0.1% who occasionally put me off. I really shouldn't let them do that. It turned out to be a good day. But then it's usually a good day in my world.


The Dancing Dog Saloon was an excellent venue - a themed Country and Western pub. It's somewhere I'd go back to; and we met up with many old friends. A couple of pints went down very well, as did a burger & chips with good company. I chatted with friends I'd made at Bedgebury a couple of weeks ago: they remembered me as "the chap with the dog that kept running off". Not impressed!

After a couple of hours we set off on a little mission to find six caches which had been hidden in honour of the event. Yesterday I would not have been able to have done this. Today - probably I over-exerted myself, but I got to them all.


And so home for a quick sarnie. As I drove one of the fruits of my loin phoned asking how its middle name was spelled. I won't embarrass said fruit by revealing which one it was, but I did have a snigger. And then a dozen of us went round the corner to see my Ham Street lover who was staging a SingStar birthday party. I've not played SingStar for ages. | thought my performances were outstanding, and were of such quality that they could not be measured in simplistic terms such as a score.

Oh - Lidls cheap beer, Woo Woo and SingStar didn't help my back much...



17 February 2013 (Sunday) - Hartfield



I woke feeling surprisingly chipper this morning. Having had an elegant sufficiency of Hatherwood's bitter last night (Asda's finest - pissed and change out of a fiver) and a surfeit of Woo Woo I was up and moving about with only mild pain at 7am.

I got on the scales - I've put on weight again this week. Which isn't surprising bearing in mind what I've been scoffing.


And so into the car, and off to collect one man and another dog. It would have been good to have collected more people, but the excesses of the demon drink and the demon SingStar had taken their toll. Pausing only to avoid colliding with the Redemption Bus (the god-botherers get everywhere!) we sparked up the sat-nav and set off to Hartfield in deepest Sussex. We soon found Dave and Tracy, and off we went.


Today my beloved was charged with supervising Furry Face as my back was still tender. I hobbled along with my walking stick instead. Fudge only ran off once; he wasn’t given a second chance – it was straight back on the lead after that. The mud was thick and deep – probably the worst mud I’ve seen in many a walk. At one point one of our number got stuck in the mud. Actually physically stuck. We didn’t snigger much.


As we walked I was pleased to see catkins and pussy willow. And snowdrops and daffodils. Spring is definitely on the way. Bearing in mind that last Sunday it was snowing, today was a glorious day. A really good day for a walk. Through fields and forests, paths and lanes. We enjoyed our picnic in the open, and even saw two loads of deer.

And no walk is complete without finding one or two geocaches. We found all of the twenty six that we hunted for today. I only left my walking stick behind once!


In retrospect today’s walk was probably a tad ambitious for me. Usually on any walk I am charging away at the front; today I was bringing up the rear. Perhaps eight miles was too much when you consider that only three days ago I could barely move. Finding the pub at the end of the walk was a very welcome sight. As was the pint of Harvey’s. There are piccies of the day here:

Beautiful scenery – there are many other series of geocaches down in that part of the world. We shall certainly go back there soon.


Home again. Dave and Tracy came with us, and once home the troops gathered for an impromptu session. We solved the mystery of the stuck compass, we drank beer, and even saw off a bottle of port. I do like having a houseful. It was a shame that being a Sunday people couldn’t stay that late and have more beer…



18 February 2013 (Monday) - Ashford Caching



"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived early this morning and cooked brekkie for everyone – bacon and eggs went down very nicely. Once brekkied we took the dogs round the block. Dave was keen to see some of Ashford’s geocaches and I knew of a series that would give us a nice little stroll. Whilst out I did a little cache maintenance – not far from my house is a geocache of mine named “luvaduck”. I’d had a “did not find” logged on it recently and had found that the cache had gone. (I have a theory as to why that might have been). I’d organised a replacement cache and so this morning I took the replacement duck (and anchor) with us, hoiked the lot into the river, and watched it all promptly sink. I have a theory that the excessive flow of the river is what’s causing the duck to be submerged, and that it will re-surface soon. But in the meantime I shall scare up more replacement ducks just in case.


We then made our way to find Lisa, and wandered on to find more caches in the local woods. The dogs got a good run, and it was all exercise for my slowly healing back.

After a quick cuppa with the Rear Admiral at lunch time I took Dave to find half a dozen of Ashford’s more unusual caches. Tombolas and Ker-Plunk and tape measures. Good stuff.

All too soon Dave and Tracy had to set off home. It's a shame Brighton is so far away.


I then spent a little while playing with my phone – I squandered two quid on a new geocaching app that I have seen used with ordnance survey maps. But I can’t see how to get OS maps onto the app. I’m sure I’ll get there in the end.

Eventually I gave up with maps and slobbed in front of the telly. It doesn't watch itself, you know...



19 February 2013 (Tuesday) - Quiet Day...



A relatively early start bearing in mind I had no burning need to get up early. I spent a couple of minutes re-scheduling a couple of planned walks, and then had a bit of brekkie. With no sign of the most recent fruit of my loin I spent a little while playing with the new geocaching app on my phone. I can now geocache in ordnance survey; which is something I’ve been keen to do for some time.

I suppose it’s more truthful to say that I think I can – I shall find out tomorrow when I test the thing properly.


I did this week’s on-line lectures in the astro-biology course. The course started well, but this week’s lectures weren’t as good. There seems to be a lot of speculation in what’s being said. I suppose that’s the nature of a subject which is (at the moment) entirely speculative.


"Daddies Little Angel TM" eventually arrived, and we took the dogs out. A short walk as my back is still not what it once was. On the way there was an embarrassing incident. One of the passing normal people took offence when Sid was summoned. Having been taking his own sweet time and having fallen quite a way behind us, his attention was attracted by his mummy shouting “Oi – Bell-End!!” The passing norm thought that it was he who was being insulted. Oh how I laughed.

And then, being Tuesday, the clans gathered. This time in Queen Street where we listened to Steve on the radio. A rather good 1979 (ish) retrospective, and then an episode of "Merlin". And having bandied a few insults we came home. A cold night, but clear. I thought about getting the telescope out, but soon thought better of that idea. Instead we had a cuppa and watched the latest episode of "Yes Prime Minister". I can't help but feel that each episode of this series has got progressively worse and worse. I wasn't impressed with tonight's one. And bearing in mind that several good TV shows have been cancelled, I'd be very surprised if this one gets a second series.



20 February 2013 (Wednesday) - Birling



Just after I’d scoffed a rather late brekkie Steve arrived and pausing only briefly to collect Lisa we set off to Birling. Over the last few days I’ve been fiddling with a new geocaching app and I thought I’d try the thing out properly today on a series of twenty geocaches.


We soon arrived in Birling and we had a really good walk. Fields and footpaths, hills and dales. We even had a picnic al-fresco. I liked that. The geocaches were good; some dull, some trivial, two of them actually were missing; we’d found them on 23 September last year but as we were passing we thought Steve might as well do them. These two weren’t there to be done.


And we did two extreme caches. Geocaches are rated on a scale of terrain/difficulty. Most caches I hide are 1.5/1; not quite wheelchair friendly but dead simple to find. Today we did two extreme caches: a 4/5 and a 4/4.5. Both required a serious amount of scrambling up very steep slopes. On the second slope we tied Furry Face to a tree at the bottom for his own safety and left him there. We knew he was fine as we could hear him whining. Just as we were at the most dodgy part of the dodgy climb his whine turned to a snarl and then he went silent. I hollered and had no response from him. Expecting the worst I flew down the sheer cliff face like greased lighting. I had visions of someone having dog-napped him.

Imagine my relief when I found that the silly dog had merely barked himself to exhaustion and was having a breather.


Fudge ran off twice during the outing. I say “ran off” – I maintain he hadn’t run off. I am sure he knew where we were at all times and was actually rather close. It was just that we couldn’t see him. After the second time it was back on the lead for him, and there he stayed.


The crafty half we had in the village pub was well deserved: friendly service and three beers from rather obscure breweries. As for my new geocaching app: I love it. It does all that the other apps do, but easier, simpler and quicker. And it uses ordnance survey maps too. Can’t be bad.


And over a decent bit of tea we watched "Flight Plan"; a film I'd not seen before. It wasn't too bad really; I didn't see what was coming. Fudge spent the evening fast asleep on my lap. The poor dog was exhausted...



21 February 2013 (Thursday) - Happy Birthday To Me



It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that yesterday's extreme caching might have just been a tad too ambitious for my back. It's only a week since I went to the doc because I could not get out of a chair, so mountaineering to geocaches yesterday might just have been just the teensiest bit too keen. I was suffering today.


Over brekkie I opened my mail and checked emails. I had a decent hail of cards; and over seventy birthday wishes through Facebook. Forty-nine, eh? Where have the years gone. Forty-nine is old. Seriously old. I don't feel old though.


Setting off only half an hour later than planned we picked up Cheryl and Lacey and went to the zoo. To Howletts as we all had either free passes or season tickets. At over twenty quid admission I wouldn't go otherwise. But it was good for a day out - monkeys making toast with grillers, Chicken-Eagles, all the usual. We had a picnic and was there for three hours. It would have been nicer to have been there longer, but it was far too cold really.


Home via Tescos for a bit of shopping. Me and Lacey played silly beggars with the checkouts. It had to be done. I also got my replacement duck for geocaching purposes. And then the clans (or some of them) gathered in the County hotel. An old friend was over from Guernsey and a crafty curry and a celebratory pint was in order.




22 February 2013 (Friday) - Hawkhurst, Pluto...



I woke this morning with quite a lot of pain from my back. It's been playing up for over a week now. It should stop hurting soon, shouldn't it? Over a spot of brekkie I checked my emails and caught up with the world.


Something on Facebook made me smile. A distant family relative is standing for political office in Hastings, claiming to be "already working hard for his home patch". Other family members assure me that he considers his "home patch" not to be where he lives, but to be where he seeks said political office. His aunt has publicly described him as "a little shit". I did snigger.


Lisa and Earle called round. The Lisa-mobile was due a service near Hawkhurst this morning, and whilst the car was having things done Lisa was planning to pick up some caches in the area. Did I fancy going along? I did.

Leaving Furry Face at home (for a change) we made our way to the garage where we left the car (and Earle) and set off into the wild blue yonder. Hawkhurst is somewhere I’ve driven through many times, but rarely (if ever) stopped off and had a nosey round. Parts of the area are quite scenic. We found some rather nice back alleys, one of which featured a geocache several yards from where I thought the designated coordinates should have been. We found the end point of a multi-cache just as the snow started falling.


We found ourselves following a clearly marked footpath into private land, and then after a scramble we made our way onto a disused train track. The rails had long since gone, but the old train route was clearly visible. A little way along this route was an old train tunnel. There was a geocache hidden in this tunnel. In the dark, in mud that was knee deep in places.

Having found that cache and eventually having got back onto recognised rights of way (as opposed to random woodland) we used the ordnance survey function of my phone (woo!) to get to Bedgebury. We’d been there a few weeks ago and hadn’t done half of the geocaches in those woods. We’d spotted an obvious loop of ten caches that we thought we could do in an hour. And we did. It was at his point that I found my 1200th cache. 1200 in just over six months is rather good going.


By now it was mid-day and we made our way back to collect the car. There was a minor hiccup. The car was in bits and needed a vital component; one that none of the local auto-suppliers had. So with the promise of one being available on Monday we left the fragments of the Lisa-mobile in the garage and scrounged a lift to Staplehurst where we took the train back to civilisation. Apart from leaving cashpoint cards on the train the journey home was relatively uneventful. Once home I fussed the dogs (Sidney was in residence) and watched an episode of Babylon 5 over a boneless Banquet from the KFC. I felt I deserved a treat.


Being the last Friday of the month I set off to astro club. There was quite a bit of talk of space rock thingies. I rather suspect that the masses have forgotten the origin of the term "space rock thingies". I just might need to post "patent pending" on the Facebook page,

The main talk of the evening was on Pluto. I learned quite a bit. Obviously a lot of time was spent on Pluto's recent demotion and it's having lost it's "planet" status. On reflection I can't help but feel the whole "planet"/"dwarf planet" argument is daft. It's not at all about science; it's about definitions.

It don't matter how you dress it up, Pluto is a planet. Always was, always will be...



23 February 2013 (Saturday) - Cheriton Festival of Lights



My back has been bad all week. I woke in serious pain today, and soon gave up on the idea of a lie-in. I attacked the astro club’s accounts and got them in order. A job which didn’t take too long. I spent a little while attacking Furry Face (he loves it) and then we collected Lisa. With her the fragments of her car being some miles away she was without transport so we popped to the post office so she could collect a parcel that could easily have been put through the letter box. And then we went on a minor geo-mission. Maintenance of my series of six caches in Park Farm. One had vanished completely, and two needed the logs replacing. I replaced my “luvaduck” cache - a rubber duck in the river with a geocache up its bum. The last one had gone missing. I then hid another duck cache. I say “hid” – I tied the duck to a brick and lobbed the lot in the river. Whilst out we found the ideal location for a cache, so came back home for a ladder.

Rather a productive morning; three caches checked and OK. Two maintained, two replaced, three new ones hidden. And we even managed to find one as well.


Home, and once the Bat arrived we made our way to the Admiralty. A quick cuppa, then to Cheriton where the clans gathered for the Cheriton Festival of Light. I'd seen this advertised a week or so ago and hadn't been too sure what to expect. Was I disappointed? Not really. As night had fallen there were all sorts of light shows taking place up Cheriton high street. There's no denying that there could have been more going on, and it would have been improved beyond all recognition by having the street lighting turned off. But it was a pleasant twenty minutes.


And then back to the Hoseys where (after some McTea) we watched the latest Bond movie. Not too shabby, really. I'd like to borrow the DVD and see it again...



24 February 2013 (Sunday) - Catsfield



I woke perhaps a little earlier that I might have done this morning. After a spot of brekkie I put Fudge's coat on him. He wasn't happy, but it was a cold day. We collected those of the troops who were up for a walk in freezing temperatures, and made our way to deepest Sussex where it really wasn't that cold.


Catsfield is my old stomping-ground. When in the Boys Brigade I used to hike round the area a lot. So today we went on a geocaching mission there. The "Catsfield Catastrophe" was described by the originator as an "amble around Catfield countryside following the 1066 route. Just remember it will be a catastrophe if you don't bring the appropriate toolkit! " The required toolkit being two 17mm spanners, string, magnet, and a litre of water, Some of the caches we found were rather traditional; even dull. Some were more interesting. Some were frankly works of genius. Whoever had put the series of caches out had clearly put a lot of effort into planning an excellent country walk, and in making some of the most interesting geocaches I've ever found. Floating logs from tubes, unspannering logs, solving co-ordinates from anagrams. Pure genius.


Or... (at the risk of appearing negative), it was a work of genius when it was first made. Geocaches by their very nature are exposed to the elements. Some of the paper logs in the caches we found were wet. That is unavoidable and a rather trivial criticism. Some of the cleverer caches were broken, which was a great shame. Some of them were missing. Actually missing - we found obvious parts of them.

In several cases we read on-line logs reporting these problems a few months ago. I'm hoping the cache owners have merely not seen these logs and haven't abandoned the series - it was one of the best loads of caches I've seen.


As we wandered round a fourth member of our bunch joined the "1000+ club"; having found his 1000 cache. Fudge and Suzie didn't squabble once, and the snow only flurried occasionally. An excellent day out.

We finished our stroll with daylight to spare, and a quick perusal of the map showed a series of caches nearby designed for winter caching - to be done as drive-bys. So we picked up those ten, and a few others while passing.

By the time we got home both me and Fudge were looking forward to putting our feet up. Him more so than me - he has more feet.


And my back would seem to be getting better. Two weeks of agony, and it's better in time to go back to work. Ho hum...



25 February 2012 (Monday) - Bit Dull



Relations with one of my next door neighbours have been rather strained these last ten years ever since I asked a solicitor to write to him. However things have been rather quiet of late. Or they were up until yesterday evening when he started clobbering the party wall. I think he's doing some D.I.Y. project. The bashing made rather a nice counterpoint to the frankly dreadful violin which was being strangled by someone else next door. Still, I'm not complaining. All the time he's making a racket he can't find fault with what I'm up to.


What with rostered days off, sick leave, and a few days holiday I'd not been to work for two weeks. As I drove there today I listened to the radio. I make a point of listening to the news as I drive because if I don't I have found that I get very cut off from current affairs. I'd not listened to the news for nearly two weeks, and realistically absolutely nothing of note would seem to have happened during that time.

This morning trivia abounded. The latest newly discovered victimised minority group was being interviewed on the radio this morning. Apparently today's society is very discriminatory against the ex-gay community; those who were once homosexual but aren't any more. Personally I can't see their problem. Does society really care about whether someone has announced that they have changed their sexual orientation? I for one don't care either way.


Which is more than can be said of the average otter. It would seem that there has been a marked decline in otter goolies over the last twenty years; both in quantity and quality. Science sees this as a bad thing. Science clearly is overlooking the advantages of a firm moral stance, and obviously approves of those with an unholy interest in otter goolies.

Hardly any way to claim the moral high ground.


And so to work. Despite my back being bad these last couple of weeks I'd tried to make the most of my time, and have been out and about quite a lot. And it has been very cold. Being warm today was a welcome change - it was good not to have my nose constantly running.

Having done my bit I came home via the petrol station. I go to the cheapest one for miles around and still felt I was paying way over the odds. Petrol's expensive stuff...



26 February 2013 (Tuesday) - More Dull



Insomnia has returned with a vengeance. Yesterday I woke at 1.30am and lay awake for most of the night. Last night I managed to sleep until 2.20am before waking. As I looked at the clock I noticed that Furry Face had sneaked up to lie on the bottom of the bed. Normally I would have marched him downstairs, but he was still and quiet, so I left him there. He's not been himself these last couple of days; seeming somewhat timid; almost afraid of something. I wonder what's up with him?


And so to work. As I drove there was talk of one TV company buying the rights to televise some football league. I don't know the details, and don't much care. But apparently this company's acquisition of the rights to screen these football matches means that thousands (if not millions) of people will change TV supplier. Personally I couldn't care less, but I know I'm in the minority here.

I stopped off at Pets at Home on the way. Furry Face needs dog food. I thought I'd get some collar barrel name tag thingies (for geocaching purposes). Pets at Home didn't have any. In fact they didn't have much of anything at all. The chap in the shop said they'd recently had a spate of shoplifting. Shoplifting! - it looked like the locusts had been; the shelves were that empty.


The last part of my journey to work is usually a drive of five minutes. It took twenty today. I found myself stuck behind a twit driver who was randomly doing emergency stops for no reason that I could determine. He would stop and hold up the traffic for extended periods because there was a mother with pram fifty yards down the road (on the pavement), someone coming the other way was turning left so he stopped whilst they did so. Oh my piss boiled.


I did my bit at work and came home where I tried to park. If only people would look at where they can and can't park, and park closer to the ends of parking bays, and not be obsessed with parking squarely outside their houses then there would be space for about a dozen more cars up my road...



27 February 2013 (Wednesday) - Holly Hill



For two nights I have lain awake most of the night. I slept like a log last night. I am convinced that insomnia is related to work days. I can't see why - the stresses of the workplace are nowhere near what they once were.

Over brekkie I checked out the Internet. There is an ongoing squabble in the geocaching world. When one finds a geocache one logs the fact on-line. And one is required to write a log about the visit. Personally I put a link to this blog which usually sums up whatever I was feeling at the time. Some people write their entire life history as a log. Others write "TFTC" (Thanks for the cache). Cache owners are not happy with the reports they are getting. Some demand formal essays of glowing praise. Others don't want people waxing lyrically.

Oh the trivial things people find to argue about. But, as Jerome once said, "it is in the petty details..."


I got Fudge and myself ready for the off, and we went round to find Unky Steve and drove down to collect one of his pups. After a minor dog scrap both dogs settled down and pausing only briefly at the post office we went up to Holly Hill. Late last year whilst I was working one weekend, the usual suspects did the Holly Hill loop, and Steve, me and a brace of dogs went round it today.

A lovely walk through some lovely countryside; picking up over thirty geocaches as we went. Steve got his four hundredth cache – I got my one thousand two hundred and fiftieth. And to think it was Steve who got me into this treasure hunt in the first place. We also got a ton of mud.

We experimented with Fudge on and off of the lead. He came back when called most times. Well, he came back every time, but sometimes he did take longer than others. On those two occasions when he returned late it was at a sprint looking rather sheepish.

As we pootled along we saw several other dogs. One of which was exactly the same shape as Fudge – another Jackshund. You don’t see many of them I was quite impressed. Fudge wasn’t and tried to pick a fight.


Once home I hosed the mud off of Furry Face and did the last lectures on the course I’ve been doing in astro-biology. This week we covered the subject of extra-terrestrial intelligences. A lot of speculation, absolutely no information whatsoever. But then that‘s the nature of aliens. Now the course is done I think it was a good course; an interesting course. If it’s run again I’d recommend that my loyal readers give the thing a try.


And then I went to empty the washing machine of what I’d put in it to wash. The stuff was wringing wet. The drum’s not turning. I would cry, but I pay good money on an insurance against the thing going tits-up, so I phoned the insurance company only to be told that their fix-it department was closed. They told me to try again in the morning. I will do that. I expect I shall be ranting about that tomorrow.


Being the last Wednesday of the month tonight was arky-ologee club. I’ve not been for months and had been looking forward to it. But I think that having been out and about during the day with a constantly running nose was a bad idea – I think I might have developed sinusitis (again). An evening home in the warm was a much better idea. And tonight was their AGM. The chairperson has been looking to stand down for a couple of years. It was probably as well that I wasn’t there; I tend to volunteer when perhaps I shouldn’t...



28 February 2013 (Thursday) - Maps



It's my habit to play "Draw Something" on my phone just before I go to sleep every night. The game needs an active internet connection. Last night I forgot to turn that connection off on my phone. I was woken at 3am by my phone shouting "Oh my God - You've got Mail!" because someone had sent me an email about penis extensions. Oh how I laughed.


After a swift Babylon 5 DVD I set off to work. The morning's news had something noteworthy for a change. There is to be a manned mission to Mars in five years’ time. Well, not so much "to Mars" as "swinging past Mars". It's going to be funded by the American billionaire who was the first space tourist. He plans to send a manned capsule to Mars, and use Martian gravity to slingshot the ship back home again. There won't be a landing, but it's nevertheless a bold venture. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

The organisers are looking for a married pair to volunteer for the journey. I'm game. I wonder if my beloved would be up for it?


I rarely blog about work, but for once I will make an exception. A colleague retired today. We had a little party in honour of the occasion. And something of a cake-a-thon. So much for the diet.

A few years ago I would have looked on in envy as the chap retired. Now... I'm not so sure. If all goes to plan (and it rarely does) I shall be retiring in just under eleven years. But then what will I do? There was an article on the radio a couple of days ago claiming that life expectancy is increasing by five hours every day. This got me thinking so I had a play with a life expectancy calculator

According to that I still have thirty seven years left. That's not bad - I only have to work for thirty percent of the rest of my life.

So after (planned) retirement I will have twenty six years. I wonder what I might do with them?


I did my bit at work and came home again where I spent some time messing about with Facebook maps. The thing seems to be rather hopelessly flawed. From what I can work out the software randomly adds places on to the map based on what it thinks is the name of the location. It guesses this from what you actually write when you are at that location. And sometimes it randomly positions you anywhere on the globe for no reason other than that it can. For example according to Facebook maps I have been to forty two places in Australia, fifty four places in South Africa and thirty nine places in Merseyside. I've never been to any of those places. Furthermore the same mapping facility puts my mothers house somewhere in the west Midlands (She lives on the Sussex coast), and it puts Folkestone Beach in central London.

I wonder how I can turn the maps off...