1 February 2018 (Thursday) - Back To Work
I slept well, however rather vivid dreams had me waking up more tired than when I went to bed. I came downstairs shortly before six o’clock to see the smart meter said we’d used fifty-eight pence worth of power. Usually we’ve used nearly a pound’s worth by the same time in the morning. I *really* should talk to the nice people at the power company.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs” then sparked up my lap-top. I had a notification about a vacancy at Hartswood hospital for which I might apply. “Hartswood hospital”? Google says it is in Brentwood in Essex. You’d think a job advert would tell you where the job is, wouldn’t you?
Barrie Neaves had sent me an email asking if he could join my LinkedIn network. Wondering who Barrie Neaves was, I called up his profile (as one so often does). Apparently he is a catchment co-ordinator at the Environment Agency with whom I seem to have absolutely sod all in common. If I were to do the LinkedIn thing I would accept his request, and then we would both perjure ourselves pretending the other has all sorts of skills when actually we have no idea whatsoever.
Not much had happened on Facebook overnight, which was probably for the best. I sent out some birthday wishes, chased up some messages for which I’d not had a reply, got myself organised, fussed my dog and set off to work.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing how the BT Openreach network is to be massively expanded over the UK. It all sounded really good until they wheeled on one of the organisation's executives who grudgingly had to admit that the UK's broadband capacity isn't a patch on the rest of the world's, and what we in the UK call "Super-fast" and "Ultra-fast" would be called "piss-poor" in any other country.
I'm not sure what else the pundits said... at 7.25am they have the sports bit, and I really did hear them repeating the phrase "blah blah sport, blah blah sport" ad nauseum, and I rather stopped paying attention.
I took a different route to work today. I didn't take the short cut through Pot Kiln Lane. I followed the A-roads and although I might have gone one mile further in distance it took no longer than usual (I timed it) and I felt much happier during the nine minutes it took.
I did my bit, and came home again. I got home earlier than "er indoors TM" as she was delayed getting her car. Yesterday she took her car for fixing and was quoted a small fortune for repairs. She then got a quote four hundred quid cheaper and the first garage price-matched. Probably just as well as the cheap quote came from a garage with a less than perfect reputation.
However now that the job is all done and the money is all spent, the world and his wife tell us they could have got the job done cheaper still. Isn't that always the way. Once you've spent out, everyone has a better deal.
Bearing that in mind, my car will need a new cam-belt (whatever that is) within the next few months. Do any of my loyal readers know where I can get that done for less than seven hundred quid?
2 February 2018 (Friday) - This n That
I slept well but did wake rather earlier than I might have done. Over brekkie I had hoped to watch the new episode of "The Good Place" that Netflix had promised me would be available this morning. Netflix had lied. It didn’t become available until 5pm.
Instead I watched an episode of "Plebs" in which Stylax got jiggy with a banana and was accused of being "thracist".
Earlier in the week I mentioned that the gizmo that connects the SkyPlus box to the Internet had gone west. I came home last night to find a letter from the postman saying he'd tried to deliver the parcel but it was too big for the letterbox. The nice man at Sky had said it would fit through the letterbox. He too had lied.
I drove up to the sorting office to get the parcel before work. Bearing in mind the traffic wardens hide in the garages near the sorting office (literally hide as if playing hide and seek) to ticket cars parking on the road, I went to the car park at the nearby sports centre. It is free to park there before seven o'clock.
I must admit I went in to the sorting office expecting to get attitude from the staff, and my heart sank when I saw a notice saying they couldn't guarantee being able to actually find any parcels, but for once they were helpful, and I was in and out in seconds. Mind you if they had their computer network running then just maybe they might have been able to spell.
I drove off towards work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the Prime Minister. She's not telling anyone what she's up to in the next round of Brexit negotiations, and the sensible money would seem to have her out on her ear before very much longer.
They were also discussing the rising costs of people making claims for medical negligence against the NHS. I *hate* that phrase; it implies hospital workers are negligent. Hospital workers are *not*; but with the best will in the world, honest mistakes happen. Perhaps a little more understanding and a little less opportunism from the lawyers? The pundits on the radio mentioned that in these cases it is not uncommon for the lawyers to get more money that those who’ve brought the claim.
As I drove through Goudhurst I saw a little cafe which had a sign up saying they did breakfasts. I was tempted but kept going even though I did have a little time to spare.
So, having a little time to spare I went on a little geocaching session. I went half a mile out of my way into Lamberhurst where I made a quick find and stopped off at Bo Peep corner where I failed to find a cache the other day. I *think* I could see where it was, but there was one of the normal people lurking about.
I'll go back another day.
I got to work and had a rather busy day. There was a lot of excitement at work today. the Minister for Health was visiting the hospital today. That was probably nice for him.
Once home I plumbed in the gizmo that connects the SkyPlus box to the Internet. I can watch more “Britannia” now…
3 February 2018 (Saturday) - Dover Beer Festival
I didn’t really sleep well last night. I wish the puppy would stay out of the bed. I can live with *on* the bed, but my skin crawls when she comes into it.
Over brekkie I sparked up the Internet. I’d had a few emails overnight… notifications of jobs about which I wasn’t interested, Amazon recommending that which I’ve already bought from them, crap from LinkedIn which I and no one else ever reads.
I had a particularly misleading email from Crosskeys travel. They’d offered a week’s canal boating for to hundred quid. And then I read the small print. What they’d said was actually based on a family of four going. The cost was actually eight hundred quid. Not two hundred. And that didn’t include petrol.
I spent a little while solving geo-puzzles in the Dover area (just in case) then took the dogs for a little walk round the roads. For once I remembered that on Saturday mornings the park is monopolised by the Park Run people. We had a relatively good walk; Treacle pulled like a train, and Fudge managed to stay away from the nasty dogs who were snapping and snarling at everyone and everything.
One home we settled the dogs and walked up to the railway station where we met Matt. We took the train to Dover with Jimbo joining us on the way, and we met Terry and Irene at the Maison Dieu for the Dover Beer Festival. We’ve not done this for a few years; it was good to go back. I do like the Dover beer festival. It started yesterday, but talking to the organisers only three beers sold out last night. We had a rather good session; Terry brought along crisps and pork pies. And I had a guzzle of:
As we poured the beer down our necks there was all sorts of stuff going on. There was live music in the background that *wasn’t* deafening, there was a tombola from which you could win Good Beer Guides from up to eleven years ago. I even transmitted live to the world – you can see the videos on Facebook and there’s an album of photos too.
After the fifth pint we thought we’d had an elegant sufficiency and we said our goodbyes. Pausing only briefly to look suspicious as we lurked up a footpath by the railway station for geo-reasons, we managed to miss the train by a couple of minutes. We took the opportunity for a cup of coffee at the station, but this didn’t stop us dozing off on the train.
It was just as well I woke just as we pulled in to Ashford.
Once home we walked the dogs round the block, had some KFC, and watched an episode of “Hunted”.
I really should have an early night… I’ve an early start tomorrow…
4 February 2018 (Sunday) - Wet Sunday
I had an awful night’s sleep. I went to bed shortly after ten o’clock last night and saw every hour of the night. I gave up trying to sleep at half past five, came downstairs and watched the episode of “The Good Place” that became available last Friday. Actually it was broadcast for the first time last Friday and I effectively caught up with the series just as it ended. It was such a shame that this end-of-season episode was perhaps the weakest episode of all of them. Mind you Wikipedia says there will be a third season.
As well as checking Wikipedia I also had a look at Facebook. I got a little frustrated when I read posts from people who claimed they didn’t know the beer festival was on yesterday. This happens all the time – I try to organise something, I send out invites, and reminders, and messages… On average maybe a quarter of the people I try to contact ever reply, and then people whinge when they feel they’ve missed out.
And with nothing else of note having happened in cyber-space overnight I set off to work.
As I left home the snow was falling. I walked up the road listening to someone's alarm clock going off. They had their window wide open so's everyone could hear the alarm. When I got to the car I had to dust the snow from my chest; it had laid on me.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were wittering about churchy things. they had the son of the evangelist Billy Graham on. He was ranting about how the election of Donald Trump was God's will, and how gay marriage was wrong. He *knew* this for a fact because God had told him.
Fundamentalist loonies are *so* dangerous.
There was also a lot of talk about the radical views of British Christians. There is apparently a growing body of British Christians who don't go to church any more. Calling themselves "Christian" it seems they don't agree with what their faith teaches, so their answer is to keep the label of "Christian" but not go to church just in case you might hear something you don't like.
Funny way to do religion?
As I had a little time I thought I might hunt out a geocache that I would be driving past. I couldn't find it, but I did (finally) track down the one at Bo Peep corner that had been eluding me over the last week or so. As everyone else said, I turned round and there it was. If everyone else was finding the same as I did, then the co-ordinates are a road width off.
I'd actually left home early to get a fry-up on the way to work. There is no McDonalds on my drive to Pembury, but there is a little cafe in Goudhurst that claimed it opened at eight o'clock. Since last Friday they've changed their opening time to half past ten. So on finding them closed I drove up the road to the pub which advertised "breakfasts". Now, call me old-fashioned if you will, but if your pub is advertising "breakfasts" in large letter then the place really shouldn't be locked and in darkness at eight o'clock, should it?
Fortunately the hospital's canteen came up trumps.
I did my bit, and came home again. When I was five minutes from the cache I couldn’t find this morning I got a message. A gaggle of friends would be at that location in five minutes. Did I fancy another look-see? We met up; I had another look-see and we found the thing in seconds. What had I been playing at earlier?
It was good to catch up and chat with the friends who’d been out walking. But I was glad I hadn’t been with them. The weather had been somewhat variable today; going from bright sunshine to torrential rain and back again within fifteen minutes pretty much all day long.
I then did a spot of maintenance on one of my own geocaches and had a little snigger. Someone with over seventeen thousand geo-finds had logged a DNF on one of my caches and had sent me to sort it out. I went along with a replacement cache to put out, but I found the original hanging where I put it out three years ago.
As I was in the vague area I went on to Angling Direct. "My Boy TM" had got me a voucher from them for Christmas. I treated myself to a new fishing catapult. My one has seen better days and has several knots in it where the elastic has snapped. As I shopped I tried to ignore the fishing bore that was trying to hold court at the counter. A lot of fishing tackle shops have a fishing bore who stands at the counter and regales the world with tales of the one that got away. No one listens to them, but that never stops them going on ad nauseum.
I came home, and together with "er indoors TM" we took the dogs round the park. Bearing in mind how the weather had been today, we went expecting to get wet, and we got wet. It was bright when we left home; we came back through rain and sleet. But the dogs like a walk.
Once home and dry again I solved a few geo puzzles whilst "er indoors TM" cooked up a rather good dinner, then with her bowling I sat with my dogs and watched a couple of episodes of “Britannia”. I might need to watch the whole lot a few times to really understand who is who and what is going on.
It’s been a surprisingly busy day today…
5 February 2018 (Monday) - It Snowed
I had a rather traumatic night plagued with vivid dreams in which I had been appointed vicar of the local church and was charged with conducting some arcane ceremony involving bags of salt and vinegar crisps. Rather nonsensical, but probably no more so than what goes on in real churches.
I got up shortly after half past five, and nearly tripped over Fudge who was on the bedroom floor. He’d managed to come upstairs, but the jump on to the bed was a bit much for him.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army” which the SkyPlus box had recorded for me (it is kind like that). Watching it passed half an hour, but as usual the show had no thought-out end. It just bumbled along, and after thirty minutes they just ran the credits.
I then sparked up my lap-top to have a look-see at the Internet. Very little had happened on Facebook overnight. More and more Facebook is becoming something that people just look at rather than actively contribute to, which is a shame.
And with no emails of note I got myself organised and set off to work.
There was a light dusting of snow on my car. As I drove closer to work the snow got thicker (not that there was *that* much of the stuff). As I drove I listened to the radio. Apparently there are calls for the NHS to be funded by a special tax. Money raised would be ring-fenced. At the moment all tax money gets chucked into a pot; the idea is that by allocating some to the NHS the public could see that their tax money gets spent on the NHS.
An odd idea… it wouldn’t raise any more money that is already paid in tax. And what do the public think currently funds the NHS?
The pundits then wheeled on Labour MP Hilary Benn who spoke about the latest Brexit plans. He spoke to ten minutes without actually saying anything at all.
And I got a little bit cross when Lauri Love’s father was interviewed. Lauri Love has criminally hacked into pretty much every computer in America that he shouldn’t (over a period of a year) and doesn’t want to face justice. His father was banging on about how terrible American prisons are, and what a delicate little petal Lauri is. I can’t help but think that American prisons are deliberately terrible to make sure that delicate little petals don’t act in such a stupid way that they will end up in one.
But what do I know?
I had a rather good day, but had something of a brainstorm. Thinking that going home time was what it used to be when I worked somewhere else, I shoved off rather early. Woops(!) I shall make up the time tomorrow.
Once home "er indoors TM" boiled up some scran, then went bowling leaving me “home alone” with my dogs. I watched a film I’d recorded last night. “Queen and Country” started well, but I fell asleep less than half way through…
6 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Droning On
Having slept for much of yesterday evening I was surprised that slept rather well last night. But I was still up half an hour before the alarm was due to go off this morning. Leaving "er indoors TM" and the hounds snoring I got up and over brekkie watched an episode of “Dad’s Army”. For all that I run the show down, I must like I as I watch so much of it.
I then sparked up my lap-top to stare into cyber-space. Not much had happened on social media overnight which was probably for the best. I managed to avoid most of the spoilers about last night’s episode of Star Trek. I was pleased about that.
However I had an email from LinkedIn telling me that Beth Lorraine has been working as a business development manager at Tangerine Search and Selection Ltd for ten years. I have absolutely no idea who Beth Lorraine is; apparently she is one of my connections on LinkedIn. I wonder who she is?
I then spent a little while perusing the geo-map. I then had a thought and did a little looking-up… four local hunters of Tupperware got a hundred First to Finds between them last month. One’s not hidden a cache for a year, one’s not hidden one for a couple of years, one not for five years, and one not ever…
As I drove to work I was amazed that there was no sign at all of yesterday’s light dusting of snow. I found myself stuck behind a very slow lorry; as I pootled along the pundits on the radio spent the entire time talking about today’s being the one hundredth anniversary of women finally getting the vote in the UK. However they totally glossed over the fact that up till that point the vast majority of men didn’t have the vote either.
I found the whole thing rather patronising and somehow offensive. The implication was that it was in some way my fault that women didn’t get to vote for much of recorded history.
I got to work; I had a rather good day getting to grips with the intricacies of feto-maternal haemmorages (as one does) and came home through several attempts at snow flurries. "er indoors TM" was already home and had walked the hounds when I got there; she’s been sent home early following a water leak.
It’s all right for some…
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. Today in Arden Drive. We bandied insults, we watched an episode of “Gotham”, Chris demonstrated his new drone. The drone was rather impressive – I’m not sure if it quite *that* many pounds worth of impressive, but I’m sure it could be fun.
7 February 2018 (Wednesday) - It Snowed Again
I slept like a log last night, waking shortly before the alarm went off. I woke to find I was cuddling my dog as though he was a teddy bear. He seems to like that.
It was cold when I got up, and today the smart meter said we’d used only fifty-four pence worth of power by half past five. Odd; it is sometimes ninety pence by that time.
Over brekkie I watched the last episode in the current season of “SAS: Who Dares Wins” in which a whole load of wannabe machos compete doing SAS training tasks. I realise the whole thing is one big macho contest, but does every third or fourth word have to be “f…”?
I then had a quick look-see on-line. Nothing had happened overnight on Facebook, but I had a few emails. Adverts about jobs for which I won’t apply, crap from LinkedIn I will never read, adverts for books I’ve already bought.
I got dressed and set off for work.
I needed petrol so I went to the petrol station on the ring road. Have you been there? You really should, Again the surprisingly attractive grannie was on duty; however today she only had two admirers. Both insisted I paid for my petrol before them, and as I paid both were (rather pathetically) trying to impress her. One was brandishing some sort of sash which was something to do with the British Legion, and the other was singing the praises of the late Margaret Thatcher. I don’t think the surprisingly attractive grannie was impressed by either. She never is, but she never does anything to discourage her suitors.
I drove to work through the snow. On Monday I drove through a white winter wonderland; yesterday the snow had all gone. Today the white covering was back. I stopped in Goudhurst to take a photo.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the release of convicted rapist John Worboys. It is no secret that he shouldn’t be released, but one of his victims was being interviewed on the radio this morning. When giving video evidence she was advised by the police to remain calm and factual. However the same police then refused to take her case to court because her video evidence was too calm and factual and consequently not plausible.
British justice… best in the world?
What with getting petrol I was ten minutes later than usual in leaving Ashford. That ten minutes meant I was half an hour later to work than usual; the A21 fills up so quickly.
I got to work, had a rather good day, and came home.
Once home I walked the dogs round the block. There was a bit of a disaster as Treacle’s illuminous collar has broken. Whilst she doesn’t *need* an illuminous collar, I like her wearing one as that way she can be seen. Very few of the normal people look where they are going and thy do tend to trip over her.
With "er indoors TM" off on a girls trip to the cinema I as left “home alone”. I thought I might forage for my dinner.. I foraged in the direction of the kebab shop. Me and my dogs enjoyed kebab; we devoured it whilst the SkyPlus box played episodes of “Britannia”. A good show, but such a shame about the theme music…
Yesterday I mentioned about the First to Find-ers… there’s a row kicking off on Facebook about it as I type...
8 February 2018 (Thursday) - A Day in the Life
I slept well again; but I was again awake long before the alarm. I got up and my dog was hankering to go out. You can’t not let a dog out… he didn’t bark *that* much, and with his woofing done he took himself off to my bed..
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs” on Netflix. Plebs” is one of those little gems that do many people have missed. There’s quite a few like that. “Still Game”, “The Good Place”… I wonder how many are still out there for me to find? I found a list…
I then sparked up my lap-top. I’d been asked to provide a weather report for a friend. At six o’clock it was clear, cold and icy. I sent the update and had a little look on Facebook. Squabbles continued to abound as they do.
I checked my emails. Yesterday’s blog entry received an anonymous comment. I thought I’d turned off the anonymous commenting? But I had a wry smile when I read the bit about “there was no row kicking off until you added you comment”… The entire concept of FTFs wouldn’t have been mentioned on Facebook and at pretty much every geo-meet in the first place if there *wasn’t* any such row. “anonymous” – clearly doesn’t lurk in entirely the same circles in which I lurk. The seemingly trivial issue of who is the first one to unearth a hidden pot has been *seriously* causing upset for some time because no one is given a chance to join in. And as for “everyone ended the evening happy” - did they? I was still reading bitter messages about it all in the middle of the afternoon.
I can’t help but feel that there are those who are missing the point of a hobby. The whole hunting Tupperware thing is supposed to be fun…
I had a notification about a job in Guys hospital (which I would rather not take) and a job in Chelmsford. Chelmsford? I suppose that it isn’t that far as the crow flies. But then a crow can fly straight across the Thames estuary, can’t it?
I had two emails from LinkedIn that I deleted without opening, and the nice people at the Environment Agency had sent me a questionnaire about the fishing licence this morning. I did chuckle when I read the question about whether or not the fishing licence is good value for money. Despite my prompting them, they never actually took any money for my licence last year. And they asked me if I thought the Environment Agency was responsible, trustworthy, effective or reliable. How would I know?
I do hope that fishing licence money wasn’t wasted on that survey.
I wasted ten minutes trying to find my sexy hat before setting off to work. As I walked to my car I met an ex-colleague who was walking her dog. We chatted for a bit; things are no better at ex-work than they were seven years ago. The one who made the place a misery years ago is still making the place a misery. My policy of putting her in a room of her own and leaving her alone all day every day (just to keep the peace) is still in effect. Management remains afraid to confront her, and her bullying continues unchallenged.
I scraped the ice from my car; the thermometer said it was minus six degrees as I set off. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the MP Jo Swinson about proposed changes in the Palace of Westminster to put an end to the institutional sexual harassment. Ms Swinson rather amazed me by saying that anyone who is accused of sexual harassment probably has a history of doing so. So much for evidence, eh? And she rather put one of the pundits on the spot by asking him about various unguarded comments he’d made about another BBC presenter. I did laugh; it was exactly the sort of thing he does every day to all sorts of guests on the show; he *really* didn’t like it being done back to him.
Work was work (as it so often is). I came home to find my sexy hat laying on the table where I’d left it.
"er indoors TM" had already taken the dogs out. The house seems empty without them home. "er indoors TM" then boiled up dinner and went off to craft club. Together with the wolf pack I watched the last two episodes of “Britannia”. I can’t help but feel that the whole thing was one big anti-climax. There were nine episodes in total, all setting the scene for something which never happened.
Perhaps things might happen in the second season. If there is one?
9 February 2018 (Friday) - This n That
I slept well, but still woke an hour before the alarm was due to go off. Finding myself cuddling my dog I lay there for half an hour then got up before back ache set in.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs”; it is set in pretty much the same time period as last night’s “Britannia” and )from my “O”-level paralinguistic studies of the era I can’t help but feel that the comedy show is actually more historically accurate than the drama show.
I sparked up my lap-top for my morning’s catch-up in cyber-space. Facebook had nothing of note (which was just as well). But they did suggest I nominate a charity to which people could give on my birthday. I thought better of that. There are a *lot* of charities out there; what one person sees as a worthy cause, another sees as a waste of money. Personally I get very angry with charities taking over what was once funded by governments. MacMillan nurses and air ambulances come to mind. They are *never* going to be funded properly as long as people keep giving them the loose change in their pockets.
I did see an article about the sci-fi series “V” being re-made as a feature film. That could be interesting. However the series (from the 1980s) has already been re-made once.
There are few new shows or ideas; but lots of re-makes.
My email in-box was equally dull this morning. I had an advert about a job in Margate that I really wouldn’t want. I had an email about another of the world’s top one per cent of geocachers. Having hidden only one sandwich box in the last four years, and only having four active ones to look after, this chap has been singled out over tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people who have done far more and far better than they have.
I set off to work through rather heavy rain. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing how human eggs are being grown in the laboratory and how praying mantises can see in three dimensions. As always these science-related topics were treated with mild disdain and condescension. It never fails to amaze me how the people presenting the news take pride in their ignorance of science, but treat the soap-opera like antics of our politicians with such importance.
As I came to the end of the fifth week of me secondment to Pembury I discovered there is a Tesco not two minutes from work. I popped in there this morning. It was odd. I wouldn’t say that you could hear the banjos playing, but I’m sure that if listened carefully enough… There were a surprisingly large number of children using the entrance foyer as a skating/scootering/cycling arena. I got the impression that the area was some sort of a creche for the staff.
When I paid for my stuff I got one of those blue tokens. When you go out you put the blue token into one of three slots all bearing the names of various charities. The idea being the one with most blue tokens gets charity money from Tesco. I got to choose between a local tennis club and two schools.
Didn’t I rant about “charities” earlier?
Totally failing to find a nearby geocache I went in to work where we had a major haemorrhage protocol simulation. Or a dummy run at a brown alert, depending on how you care to phrase it. Either way I was glad for the practice.
Having done reasonably well in my dummy run I then skived as best I could until home time. As I told a colleague today, taking the work station nearest the door meant it was less distance to walk at tea break.
With skiving done I came home. I *hate* the drive home; do people really need to have their headlights on high beam all the time?
Once home "er indoors TM" boiled up some rather good scoff and we tried to watch this week’s episode of Star Trek. “Tried” being the operative word as the puppy was playing up. She’s usually so good for me…
10 February 2018 (Saturday) - Busy Day
The trouble with my little secondment to Tunbridge Wells is that in order to learn the new (to me) ways of working I really have to be there during core hours. I find weeks of five days of nine-to-five far more tiring than weeks of odd hours here and there. With no alarm set this morning I slept through for three hours longer than I have done all week and would have slept longer had nice-next-door not decided to do noisy sex at half past eight.
Here’s a tip for my loyal readers – should you feel the urge to “do the dirty deed”, do it quietly, eh?
I got up and made myself some brekkie. I had a look-see at the Internet. I had a bit of a chuckle… last night a new series of geocaches went live to the north of Ashford. I wondered if anyone would be stupid enough to go out in the dark and the rain to chase the First to Finds. In one of the FTF logs (timed in the late evening) I read “…thought it would be a nice opportunity to do some night-time caching as I feel that it brings in an entirely new experience to geocaching - especially when done alone, which can be rather exhilarating at times.”
So one idiot had gone out after dark in the rain and cold and mud to tramp round the countryside on his own. There had been warnings given earlier in the day about how slippery the terrain was. Had he gone arse over tit, this chap would have been dead from exposure by daybreak.
They say everyone does the hobby differently…
As we scoffed brekkie both of us got the same email. A new geocache had gone live nearby. We looked at each other, realised the dogs needed a walk… We were out of the house in ten minutes, ice scraped from the car after five more minutes. A ten-minute drive, ten minutes rummaging in the undergrowth and a joint happy dance.
There are those who claim I have an inconsistent nature to this FTF thing… They are quite possibly right.
With the First to Find successfully First to Finded we then carried on into the woods with the dogs. The idea was to take a circular walk. Whilst a route was clearly marked on the map, the map was at odds with reality. The clearly marked path simply didn’t exist. So we back-tracked and took another way through the woods. It was a good walk through rather pretty woods even if I did nearly go arse over tit in the mud.
We even found another geocache as we went. A rather huge one.
We came home via the co-op for rather disappointingly stale Belgian buns and I then walked up to the town centre. I popped into the bank, then went up to Skin Tec Tattoo. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that in December I got a tattoo done. I won’t say where I got that one done, but for those who know where I live, it was the studio up the road, and I wouldn’t go back there again. On the sixteenth of December I wrote “I wonder how long it will be before I can get a cover-up done?”
Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking with the nice people in Skin Tec Tattoo, and today they sorted it out for me (as best they could). The roses now look like roses, the cardinal points of the compass are now in the right place, and the compass now looks more like a compass and less like a pissed lifebelt.
Whilst I was in there I saw a design I’d like for my next tattoo… maybe in a few months – unless anyone would like to contribute to it as a birthday present. Maybe I could crowdfund it? These tattoos aren’t cheap, and especially not when they cost twice as much to put right as to have them done in the first place.
I came out of the tattoo studio to torrential rain. We’d done the right thing taking the dogs taking the dogs out this morning. I made my way home via Ashford’s tank and the milk shake bar which was open (for once). I fancied a crunchie and crème egg milk shake; they made me one. I drank it as I got wet on the way home.
We watched “Four in a Bed” on Channel Four; I do like that show. Four Bed & Breakfast owners take part and each in turn plays host to the other three. It amazes me how some places provide so much so cheaply, and others charge a fortune for so little.
The plan for the evening had been to go out for dinner, but unforeseen circumstances conspired against that. The plan for the evening also involved us dog-sitting grand-dog Rolo, but unforeseen circumstances conspired against that too. So "er indoors TM" boiled up fish and chips and we had a quiet evening in watching stuff on the SkyPlus box. We started off with this week’s episode of The Orville which wasn’t that bad compared to some of the other episodes of that show. Then we saw the last episode of this season o “Hunted”; I could do that show. I thought about applying, but if I did so I wouldn’t be able to blog about it (it says so in the rules) so I decided not to. We watched this week’s episode of Trollied which was good (as it usually is). And now we are watching Tattoo Fixers (for which I no longer need to apply)…
11 February 2018 (Sunday) - Early Shift, Heaving Bosoms
I was up with the lark today - out of bed at five o' clock. Half an hour earlier than usual. After my morning ablutions I had brekkie whilst watching an episode of "Plebs" on Netflix. Grumio had got the two-bob-bits after eating an apple he found in the toilet, and there was an epic battle between religion and medicine to cure him. In the meantime Stylax got chatted up by someone who wanted to be “firmly behind him” (result!) Not bad for less than a tenner each month, eh?
It was cold and wet and dark as I set off to work. The cold, wet and dark (added to the early hour) helped incredibly as I acted rather suspiciously near a lamp post in High Halden for geo-reasons.
As I then drove on to work the pundits on the radio were spewing rubbish. There is a fine line between reasoned spiritualism and patent nonsense, and this line was crossed a few times this morning which (to be honest) is unusual for any non-Christian on the radio.
After half an hour's exhortations on the benefits of gardening as a practical alternative to organised religions there was an article about the interactions of a merino sheep farmer and a surfboard-fashion designer in Devon which was actually far more interesting than it sounds.
I stopped off in Pembury to get the information I needed to solve a geo-puzzle. I thought better about solving the puzzle there and then; I felt a "potty emergency" on the way. I was glad to get to work; even gladder to get to the little boys’ room.
With twenty minutes to spare I went to the works canteen for a full English breakfast. Like last week's, it was rather good. However despite being like last week's in every way it was nearly two quid more. I can only imagine I didn't get the staff discount this time. But I didn't a have my staff ID on me, so I didn't quibble *too* much.
Work was busy. Often when I work at the weekends it rains. I don’t know what the weather was like today; I really didn’t stop long enough to look out of the window. I hope this isn’t the way of the future for me.
Mind you I came home through rain, hail and a few flurries of snow.
Once home we made the bed with just a little help from Treacle. Have you ever made a bed with a pug/spaniel cross trying to help? It was rather entertaining. I had a little look at my accounts, then "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner as she does. And with that scoffed "er indoors TM" went bowling and I got the ironing board out. Shirts don’t iron themselves, you know.
As I ironed I watched the first two episodes in the new series of “Jamestown”. I can remember the first series being rather good. This series… there’s no denying that Jocelyn’s bosom heaved. But that was probably about the only reason to watch the show.
I shall give it another chance when the next episode comes out. The show might improve. And the bosom might heave again… Hope springs eternal…
12 February 2018 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
When we made the bed yesterday I decided not to have quite so many blankets. I woke up rather cold at four o’clock and put the blanket back.
Over brekkie I saw my professional regulator had posted on Facebook on a subject that will haunt me for ever. They had released a statement on the case of Doctor Bawa-Garba who has been found guilty of manslaughter following a terrible incident in which a small child died. I see the Secretary of State for Health has also got involved and said that clarity is needed about drawing the line between gross negligence and ordinary errors. He went on to say that doctors should learn from - not fear – mistakes. Whilst no one can deny that the mistake that was made was awful, hospitals are rather full-on stressful places. And when a mistake is made, the consequences are far-reaching for those on both sides of the error.
Spending years to qualify for a job in which any mistake will land you in prison isn’t conducive to recruitment and retention of staff, is it?
Who of us can say truthfully that they have never once made a mistake at work?
(And again I felt physically sick as I mentally re-lived the summer of seven years ago)
I had an email telling me that a new geocache had gone live. Ten miles north requiring ropes and harnesses and tweezers.
They say everyone plays the game differently.
I got the leads onto the dogs and we went out. As we walked out we met nice-next-door who was scraping the ice off her car. She fussed the dogs and I tried not to snigger. I can’t look her in the eye; whenever I see her all I can think of is the porn-star squeals and screams she seems to delight in performing.
We went on to meet "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We had rather good fun stomping on the ice on the frozen puddles as we made our way to McDonalds. The McDonalds on the orbital park is ideally placed; it is far enough out for a good dog walk there, and there is a play park on the way home. Having filled up with sausage and egg McMuffins at McDonalds we then went “Granddad-fast” on the roundabouts. No one was actually sick, but next time we will do the roundabouts first.
I took a few photos as we walked. Quite a few…
With dogs walked we said our goodbyes (by high-fiving on the swings). I came home and seeing it was dry (ish) and not *too* cold I spent half an hour working in the garden. I continued filling in the holes round the new fence posts which had settled (as "My Boy TM" said they would), and I got some bags of rubbish together. I then had a minor road trip.
I drove out to the Renault dealership. I’ve bought my last two cars from there; whilst my current car (hopefully) has some miles left in it I wondered if I might just see how much replacing it would cost. It will cost far more than I was expecting. When I bought it on 30 April 2010 I paid eight thousand pounds for it. The Office for National Statistics says the annual inflation rate is currently two point seven per cent. Allowing for an over-estimate of three per cent, I would have thought that a similar car today from the same supplier would cost me ten thousand pounds. They wanted fourteen thousand.
I have said before that the quoted official inflation figures bear no relation to reality.
Being somewhat taken aback I drove down to the tip where I unloaded the garden rubbish then went to Matalan. There was a young mother shrieking impotently at a hoard of children through which I had to force my way to get to the menswear section. As I found the shirt I wanted I heard a rather loud smashing of crockery and glassware behind me.
I didn’t quite laugh out loud, but it was close.
Once home I spent the afternoon washing and ironing whilst watching “The Crown” on Netflix. So far it is rather good; it features Matt (Doctor Who) Smith as a young Prince Philip.
"er indoors TM" came home, boiled up a very good plate of scoff and went bowling, and I watched more of “The Crown” whilst trying to stop the puppy licking my arm. Like many people I rub the haemorrhoid ointment “preparation H” onto new tattoos to help them heal. Treacle seems to like the taste of the stuff….
I was off work today since I worked yesterday. Today was supposed to be my day off.
It was rather busy…
13 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Shark's Liver
Having slept well for a few nights I did that thing last night where I woke full of energy and raring to go, only to find it was only a quarter past one. I then saw every hour of the night and gave up trying to sleep at half past five. I wish I didn’t do that.
I got up and watched an episode of “Plebs” as I scoffed my toast. A couple of years ago Fudge would loiter hopefully for toast crusts at brekkie time; nowadays he just snores on the sofa. I thought about watching a second episode of “Plebs” but decided against it. I sparked up my lap-top instead.
Not much had happened on Facebook overnight (which was as well), but I’d had a few emails. As well as baffling emails about virtual rewards, and notifications for jobs that I don’t want to apply for, I had an email from LinkedIn saying I might congratulate Alan M Rubins on his work anniversary. I *might*… if I knew who he was. Is it possible that I’m somehow attached to someone else’s LinkedIn profile? I don’t seem to know any of the names that crop up on the emails they keep sending me.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were discussing the sort of things that should and shouldn’t be on social media. The head honchos at Facebook are up in arms following Unilever’s announcement that they are taking their custom elsewhere. There was some executive from Facebook being interviewed; she kept wittering on about how proud they are at Facebook of their “community standards”, but was stymied again and again as the pundits on the radio had example after example of where their community standards are breached, the breach reported, and nothing done (as as been my experience).
There was also talk about a constitutional crisis with the Commonwealth. It turns out that there is uncertainty as to who will take over as head of it when the Queen dies. Whilst the smart money is on Prince Charles, it’s not guaranteed. There was talk of the member states having a vote… this would be rather ironic as several member states don’t let their own citizens vote.
I could tell it was half-term week; the roads were very quiet this morning. I got to Pembury twenty minutes quicker than usual. So with a little time on my hands I hunted out a geocache by one of the churches. It was broken; I replaced it with a new one. I’m kind like that.
I went in to work and had a busy day. So busy I was rather late out; I’m usually very prompt out of the door at home time.
Once home I ran the dogs round the block, and (seeing it was a Tuesday) the clans gathered at our house. We watched the videos of the launch of Elon Musk’s humungous rocket, and then watched the third episode of “Mars”. We got thoughtful as we do… For all that Elon Musk is the way of the future for space exploration, is leaving something this important to a private individual a good idea? If I was him, in ten years I would be on my little colony on Mars. In twenty years I would be running my rather huge empire on Mars. And there would be nothing that any Earth-based government could do to stop me…
And in closing yesterday I mentioned that Treacle liked the taste of the preparation H that I put on my healing tattoo. Did you know that one of the ingredients of the stuff is shark liver oil? This answers the question of why she likes licking it off of my arm; she *loves* her cod liver oil tablets.
However this does raise the question of whatever was anyone thinking when they tried alleviating the pain of their haemorrhoids by rubbing a shark’s liver on their arse…
14 February 2018 (Wednesday) - Stuff
I slept well, but I was still awake and watching “Plebs” before six o’clock. Marcus was having problems with an old school chum who had done much better in life than he had. Isn’t that so often the way?
I then had a look-see at the Internet. Facebook had one or two things going on. One of my old school chums was complaining about how the power cut at his home was still ongoing and his phone was about to run out of battery, so not everyone is doing *that* much better than I am.
I’d been thanked for saying nice things about the chap who was standing down from running a work-based Facebook page.
And squabbles abounded on the hunting Tupperware forums about… well… the specifics of the pettiness don’t matter. But triviality was blown out of all proportion. And (as is so often the case in every hobby I’ve ever taken up) some of the most vocal about the trivia don’t actually do the hobby anymore.
In that respect Facebook fulfils an odd function in allowing anyone to appear to be an expert in anything about which they actually have incredibly little experience.
With no emails of note I got dressed, taking care to let sleeping dogs lie. As I left the house I was a tad miffed to find a huge parking space outside; last night I’d had to park three streets away.
It was a foggy morning as I set off to work. So foggy that I nearly didn't see the idiot cyclist (all in black) who thought that red traffic lights didn't apply to him and cycled straight through the red light at break-neck speed as I was turning out of Beaver Road. There are those cyclists who bemoan their lot; some of them do get a bad press. But this prat was a prat indeed. No lights, all in black, and going at top speed through red lights. There *really* should be some regulation of cyclists.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing how the government is hoping to change the process by which people can claim disability benefits. Apparently those charged with assessing the validity of the claims aren't any too bright; one such interviewer asking an applicant how long they had had Down's syndrome, and from where they caught it (!)
There was also talk of Boris Johnson's upcoming speech in which he is supposedly going to try to reunite the country after the Brexit schism. The pundits interviewed the Swedish ambassador who, whilst resigned to Brexit being a done deal, did ask what the British people were thinking of. There was also a lot of talk about the fate of EU nationals who have been living in the UK for years. This needs sorting out. Soon.
Again the roads were quiet; again I got to Pembury with quite a bit of time to spare. So I hunted out that geocache the clues for which I picked up on Sunday morning. And finding it was just up the road from another I ended up with two geo-finds his morning. Something of a result (if scrubbling in the undergrowth for damp plastic pots is what does it for you).
And having driven through a murky foggy morning I got to work just as the fog lifted and it brightened up.
Work was good; but the bright day gave way to a wet evening. It was pouring hard as I drove home. "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good dinner and we watched the final episode in this current season of “Star Trek: Discovery”. Now the first season is done, I must admit I’ve been rather disappointed with it. Which is a shame.
After that we watched Trollied, Tattoo fixers, and all sorts of stuff.
I found some cheese in the fridge. By rights we should have eaten it six weeks ago…
15 February 2018 (Thursday) - Another Day in the Life
I was woken just before three o’clock by my phone telling me I had an email. Despite having mobile data and wi-fi turned off, the thing still manages to get on-line. I wish it wouldn’t do that. I dozed off again but was then plagued by rather vivid dreams about horrific camping trips with the Boys Brigade.
I blame that past-its-best cheese I had last night.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs” that I don’t remember having seen before. Stylax finally got to do some chariot racing, Marcus finally got to “do the dirty deed”, and our heroes ended with plans for a group hug once they’ve washed off the blood, shit and vomit.
As TV comedies go, it is rather good, despite the blood, shit and vomit.
I thought I should really see what emails I’d been woken for in the small hours so I got the lap-top going. I was pleasantly surprised; Monday’s blog entry had received a comment. Someone claiming to be called “Humuan Kabir” had written “What a great post. I’m really like it! Very, very dgdeeac good!” and then gave a blatant plug for his business which was all about selling flat Earth maps.
Unfortunately the flat Earth maps weren’t very dgdeeac good at all.
I had a notification about a job in Woolwich, and a notification about a job in the hospital in which I used to work which is not four miles from home. I actually considered the job for about two seconds. On the one hand I wouldn’t have to get up until two hours later every day, and I would save nearly a hundred and fifty pounds in petrol every month… on the other hand I could carry on working where I’m happy. I’ve only been in my current job for just over a year and being happy in my workplace is still something of a novelty for me, so I shall stick with what I have.
I had an email telling me that someone had particularly liked the geo-series I’d put out near Great Chart.
And with little of note on Facebook I set off to work.
I needed petrol so I went to my usual place on the ring road only to find it was closed. They were getting petrol. So I went to Sainsbury’s where the stuff was two pence more expensive per litre. A full tank of petrol cost me a pound more than it would have usually have done. And I thought that the women on the tills were rather rude; they were so wrapped up in their gossip about whatever rubbish they’d been watching on telly last night they weren’t actually speaking to the customers at all.
Narrowly avoiding impact with a lorry from Weddell-Smith which went straight through a red traffic light at full speed I then set off in the general direction of work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the resignation of ex-Premier Jacob Zuma who is no longer the head honcho in South Africa. He’s had the heave-ho in favour of someone not quite so corrupt. Not that I’m defending him in any way, but for all that he probably has had his hand in the till for years, I can’t help but remember an ex-colleague Sylvester who harked from that general part of the world. He told me that when he applied for his passport he had to give an official the equivalent of twenty quid not to throw his application away. When he wanted a day’s leave, the boss wouldn’t grant it unless he got a twenty quid bung. From what Sylvester told me, corruption seems to be embedded into society there. Getting rid of it is so necessary, but will probably take years.
There was also an interview with the president of some group or other who claimed to be representing the interests of small and medium-sized UK businesses. Apparently most of the people he claimed to be representing have got the hump. Having been convinced that European regulations were hamstringing their businesses they’d all voted for Brexit. Now they realised that in or out, if they want to deal with Europe they will still have to abide by those regulations. But having left the EU they will have absolutely no say in them whatsoever whereas before they had some (if very limited) input.
I’ve said before that we really should vote again on the whole Brexit thing but with a clear understanding of exactly what is being voted for.
Last Friday I failed to find a geocache near work. I went back today and taking my life into my hands I scrabbled under a road bridge on the Pembury by-pass section od the A21 where I found the wreckage of what I was hunting. There is only so much of a happy dance one can do under a road bridge but I had a go at one.
And as I drove into work I saw that petrol at the petrol station closest to work was eight pence per litre more expensive than I usually pay for it.
Work was amazingly busy; I had no less than three “brown alerts”. If I were ever asked to offer career advice I would suggest working somewhere that doesn’t have brown alerts on a semi-regular basis.
I came home only to find "er indoors TM" had taken the wolf-pack for a walk. Hey weren’t out long, and once home she boiled up some slop as she does so wonderfully. We scoffed it as we watched the first episode of “Bliss”, a new series which has some promise. Then two new episodes of Big Bang Theory as I scoffed an entire box of Thornton’s chocolates.
I feel sick now…
16 February 2018 (Friday) - Money Down The Drain
I didn’t sleep that well last night; I lay awake for much of the night thinking about the professional emergencies with which I dealt yesterday. I wish I didn’t do that quite so often; worrying about work-related matters is a habit I’d like to get out of. Mind you I might have slept better had the dogs not been sprawled across the bed in wanton luxury as they so often do.
Over brekkie I watched the first episode of the third season of “Plebs” in which our heroes were sacrificed in the arena. I spent much of the day giggling at Landlord’s line of “Shit the bed! – It’s a lion!”. However I recognised the actress who played Marcus’s gaul-friend. She once played the part of a lesbian robot in the show “Humans”.
I had a quick look-see at the Internet. There was little of note on Facebook, but the power company had sent me an email. Thanks to my wonderful new smart meter they’ve changed the amount I pay for leccie and gas each month. But despite the meters saying that the amount of leccie and gas I use each day is now costing far more than it used to be, they’ve decreased the monthly direct debit payment by one quid each month.
What’s that all about?
I smeared some Preparation H onto my tattoo, and taking care not to wake "er indoors TM" or the dogs I set off work-wards once I’d scraped the ice from the car. It was cold this morning.
As I drove out of Ashford the pundits on the radio were interviewing some idiot or other from the Religious Education Council of England and Wales who was banging on about how paying maths and science teachers more (because those subjects matter) means there is a shortage of teachers for the school subjects which really don’t matter. Like R.E. The twit being interviewed seemed to think that the ability to spout platitudes and having imaginary friends was on a par with knowing how to add and subtract.
There was then a *lot* of talk about the latest school massacre in America. For the twenty-eighth time this year there has been a massacre in an American school. The obvious answer is for the American government to bring in proper sensible gun laws. However all the talk coming across the Atlantic is that the FBI were negligent, that the teachers should be armed…. Why do our American cousins *need* weapons?
I’d taken a rather circuitous route to work… I picked up a geocache on the way and took a detour to Tesco to get loads of doughnuts to take in to work.
I had another busy day, but with the doughnuts at least I was Mr Popular today.
I came home (as I do) and once I’d walked the dogs, "er indoors TM" came home with fish and chips. We scoffed them whilst watching an episode of “The Orville”. That show is finally ditching its ridiculous aspects and becoming watchable. Mind you there has only been a dozen or so Orville episodes so far. With over seven hundred episodes already, pretty much every story that the Orville does has already been done by Star Trek.
Tonight’s episode featured a guest appearance by Robert Picardo, but the story was done far better by the Star Trek episode “Elementary, Dear Data” and the Red Dwarf episode “Back to Reality”.
As we watched Fudge sat with me chomping on a bone. We thought Treacle was also chomping on a bone. She wasn’t. She was chomping on a twenty quid note.
17 February 2018 (Saturday) - Geo-Meet
I slept like a log last night, and would have kept sleeping had Treacle not decided it was play time at eight o’clock this morning.
I got up just as "er indoors TM" was going out. Months ago I’d agreed to run the monthly geo-meet today, so the family went and organised a mass in honour of father-in-law who died a year ago. Part of me would have liked to have gone to the mass, part of me can’t help but wonder what it was all about. It would have been nice to have been there, but I’d already made other arrangements.
As I scoffed my toast the dogs squabbled in the background. It is easier for me to have brekkie whilst they are still asleep. If they wake up first, by the time I get up they are rather fractious. They certainly were this morning. One would bark at a shadow, and the other would bark because the first had. And then the one that hadn’t barked first would woof for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and the second would copy.
As this went on I managed a quick look-see at the Internet. There were no emails of note; I wondered if I might get emails about new geocaches as last night "er indoors TM" had hidden some new geocaches locally for today’s event. I had thought she’d left it too late for them to be published today. It looked like she had.
Mind you I had a couple of spamming emails which made me smile. Something for nothing as a marketing ploy probably worked once. Free beer was being offered. Free beer my arse! When you read the small print, the deal was that they sent you a case of beer (for which you paid the postage) and then they send you a case of beer every month for which you pay twenty-five quid. That’s something for nothing, isn’t it?
I also had a deal from Pieroth wines in which I was being offered six free bottles of wine… *if* I first spent three hundred quid with them. I actually sent them an email saying they could send me just the free wine. I bet they don’t.
I saw I had some new e-friends on Facebook, but other than that nothing new had happened there overnight.
Totally forgetting it was a Saturday I took the dogs round the park. Fortunately we missed the park run which had taken place an hour earlier. We had a good walk; but there was one little incident in which Fudge set off following OrangeHead, and we had to back-track about three hundred yards to retrieve him.
With dogs walked I watched an episode of “Plebs”, settled the hounds, then we went on to the day’s main event.
Every month the local hunters of Tupperware meet up; today it was my turn to host the meeting. My friends at the Windmill had allowed me to use the room on the first floor, and we had a rather good meet-up. There were people there who turn up to every meet; there were those who were at their first ever meet-up. There were over thirty people along all told. I was rather pleased with the turn-out. I even took a few photos of the event.
In honour of our having the meet the people at the Windmill had arranged to have a barrel of Razor Back on the hand-pump as Karl likes the stuff (as do I). In one of life’s ironic twists it was today that Tracey was taken poorly.
We had booked the room till two o’clock; we stayed until four. I was rather pleased at how well the meet went. "er indoors TM" drove us home; we walked the dogs round the park…
I’ve just woke up. It is ten o’clock. Where did the day go? – It is a long time since I’ve had a gallon of ale…
18 February 2018 (Sunday) - Family Dinner
I slept reasonably well. I would have slept better had Treacle not spent much of the night stomping about as she so often does. Over brekkie I had a look-see at the Internet. Yesterday’s geo-meet had received favourable comments; I was pleased at how well it went. There were people at their first meet ever, there were people who had just completed their twenty thousandth geo-find. There were people from eight to eighty years old. I’ve now organised seven official geo-meets, and I’ve been rather pleased with all of them.
My plans for a leisurely brekkie were thwarted by Fudge who wouldn’t stop squeaking at us until I’d taken him out. So whilst "er indoors TM" hoovered and tidied, I took the hounds round the park.
As we walked along the river I saw a beautiful sight. A heron was gliding gracefully through the air, gently coming down to the river, where it hit the ice like a sack of spuds. It wasn’t expecting that! The poor bird picked itself up with a most indignant expression. I did laugh.
Mind you I didn’t laugh at Fudge. He goes oh-so-slowly forwards, and when he sees another dog he goes running off at top speed in the wrong direction. After retrieving him for the third time he went back onto the lead.
There was a minor incident when a cyclist screamed in terror as we crossed the road, but I don’t think we can be blamed for that. We were crossing the road (as you do) when some idiot woman did an emergency stop on her bike and shrieked. We were far too far away for her to be realistically shrieking at us, but there was nothing else at all shriek-worthy to be seen. I wonder what that was all about?
We came home, settled the pups and pausing only briefly to collect my car from where I’d left it yesterday we went round for "My Boy TM". Together we all drove out to the Queen’s Head in Icklesham where we met my mum and dad and we had a rather good Sunday roast. I quite like the Queen’s Head; the food is good, and they have an award for being in the Good Beer Guide for thirty consecutive years.
It was good to catch up with mum and dad. Should do it more often really…
We came home via Ham Street garden centre where they were selling all sorts of stuff for double the price that everyone else sells it for. And after a little scrubble round the flag-pole (for geo-reasons) we came home and walked the dogs round the park.
I geo-puzzled for a bit, then with "er indoors TM" off bowling I settled on the sofa with my dogs and watched an episode of “The Crown” on Netflix. It was rather good… I might watch another one in a bit…
19 February 2018 (Monday) - Raining
I slept well, but woke up with a nagging sense of guilt. I have no idea why that should have been. As I pondered what crimes I might have committed I watched another episode of “Plebs” in which Stylax had his wicked way with a vestal (virgin no longer), then I peered through my lap-top into cyber-space.
For once I’d had no emails overnight. Facebook was almost as quiet, but here was an announcement from one friend that he’d made his last posting there for the foreseeable future. That fellow has done that several times, as have so many other people. I’ve lost count of the amount of dramatic exits I’ve seen from social media only to have the very same people turning up a week or so later.
I looked out of the window again… it was still raining. I had such plans for this the first day of a week’s holiday. Together with my dogs I was going to take the car for its M.O.T. From the garage we would walk out through the Finberry estate to Captain Kid’s wood and come home through Park Farm. Once home I was going to spend a few hours pootling in the garden.
It had been raining overnight and everywhere was sodden. I took the dogs with me to the garage and we walked directly home through Frog’s Island. I let the dogs off of the leads as much as possible; dog walks are becoming a chore. It is not so much walking my dogs as being harnessed to a train going at full pelt whilst dragging a sack of potatoes.
We were soaked when got home; I was towelling the dogs off when "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" phoned. She was going to Tesco so I went along for the ride. Just as we walked into the place my phone rang. My car had failed its M.O.T.; it needed a new headlight bulb (pence) and some wotsit on the suspension (hundred quid).
We bought cakes in Tesco, took them home and had them with a cuppa. As we chatted the garage phoned; they couldn’t find the wheel-nuts for taking the wheels off of my car. If they couldn’t find them, then I had no idea where they were…
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and Sam then set off home, and I looked at the garden. My plan had been to repair the damage done to the gravelled areas when we fixed the fence at Christmas, mow the lawn, and generally make good. But it was obvious that anything I did would very soon degenerate into stirring the lawn into mud. So I got out the ironing board and spent the morning doing the ironing. I have always said that no time off work is complete until I’ve ironed, so at least that is out of the way now.
As I ironed I watched a few episodes of “The Crown”. After the first episode the garage phoned again to say that they hadn’t located the oil leak; could they take the top off the engine to see it they could find it.
What choice did I have? With a fifty-plus miles round trip to work every day I need a car that I can rely on. And (to be fair) over the last eight years the car has been rather good to me.
With ironing done I had a spot of lunch, then decided to brave the elements and so some gardening. I gave it five minutes before giving up. Gardening in the rain is no fun. So I geo-puzzled and watched more Netflix until the nice man from the garage came to give me a lift to collect my car. They weren’t entirely sure that they’d sorted the oil leak, so they’d cleaned it all out and suggested I drove a hundred miles and took it back. So pausing only to find the two geocaches "er indoors TM" hid along Hythe Road I drove up to Maidstone, down to Folkestone, and home again. I shall take the car back to them later in the week.
I’ve had my dinner, I’ve programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow… I shall watch some Netflix and have an early night…
20 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Jack the Ripper
I didn’t sleep well; seeing pretty much every hour of the night. But that wasn’t really surprising. I never sleep well when I have something of a busy day planned.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs” (which featured Miriam Margoyles) before sparking up my lap-top for a quick look-see before getting on with the business of the day. Some time ago Gordon and I had started looking at geo-puzzles in the Whitechapel area of London, and we’d arranged to go up to London to collect them. We’d asked if anyone would like to come along, and five of us set off towards London.
There’s no denying I had a little trouble with getting there. I bought my ticket, and within seconds of getting on to the platform there was an announcement over the tannoy. There was apparently problems with trains coming from London to Ashford this evening; the station would be closed. There was to be a bus service, and for more details I should ask the station staff. The station’s office door was open so I asked the chap sitting at a computer what was the deal with the trains this evening. He sighed, rather dramatically and asked me if I knew what tonight’s winning lottery numbers were, and went on to say that he wasn’t a f…ing clairvoyant. I smiled and told him that the announcement over the loudspeaker said I should ask station staff. The chap sighed again. Apparently the station staff at f…ing Orpington have control over the loudspeakers at Ashford and they just f…ing male stuff up.
Mind you, the guard on the train was rather more helpful. I say helpful; he had no idea about any problems, but he went away and found out, and didn’t swear at me. He suggested I put in a formal written complaint. I would if it might achieve anything.
I eventually got to Whitechapel tube station only to find that my sat-nav had lost all the information I’d put into it last night. Oh dear. Just as well my phone can double up as a sat-nav.
I met Gordon, but everyone else was running late. Gordon and I made a start. First of all we followed a series of virtual puzzles around the various parts of London in which Jack the Ripper had done his thing. We had a rather good walk, and were soon joined my Martin, Nick and Sid… but as a “Jack the Ripper” tour it was a disappointment. The trouble with any “Jack the Ripper” tour is that since Jack did his thing the area has been flatted and rebuilt, bombed bulldozed and rebuilt, and so the area now bears no relation whatsoever to what it used to look like.
We completed the “Jack the Ripper” bit by lunch time, and stopped for a bite to eat. A latte and a beetroot & cheese panini went down rather well. We then found a few geo-puzzles on our way to Bishopsgate. There is one particular puzzle which is one of fifteen stages. We’d figured out as far as stage twelve, and now it was time to put this puzzle to bed. With a couple of dozen clues to juggle, the puzzle took some solving, but eventually we were doing the happy dance for this one.
By now it was getting dark. We made our way to St Paul’s tube station and crossed town to Tottenham Court Road from where we picked up a few caches whilst making our way to the geo-meet which was happening this evening. Geo-meets are usually good; but I must admit to a degree of disappointment with this one. I blame the venue entirely; it was so noisy.
I was pleasantly surprised to find I had no problems getting a train back to Ashford. I wonder what that announcement was all about this morning. Perhaps the station staff at f…ing Orpington really do just f…ing male stuff up?
I took quite a few photos today. Once home I uploaded them. Today was rather good… but I already have plans to go back to London…
21 February 2018 (Wednesday) - Happy Birthday to Me
I slept well; I say “well”. I slept for eight hours, but had some rather vivid dreams and woke feeling rather more worn out than when I went to bed. I had a quick bite of brekkie then drove my car to the garage. On Monday the nice man at the garage had said to drive it a bit and take it back and maybe they might be able to identify the oil leak. I got there, left the car with them and the nice man gave me a lift home.
As I opened my birthday cards Fudge got told off. He’s been chewing a large plastic chew-toy. When Treacle chews anything like that there are plastic fragments everywhere. When Fudge chews the same sorts of thing there are never any plastic bits. He must swallow them all. He found himself facing a lifetime ban of plastic chewy things. The dogs got given a rawhide chew each instead. Fudge started chomping his; Treacle immediately scrambled behind the sofa and under the wall units looking for somewhere to hide hers. Eventually she crawled out from under the shoe boxes without her chew. She’d stashed it somewhere under there. She never eats her chews right away; she always hides them for a bit first.
Bearing in mind “Hannah”’s failure yesterday, I had another go at my GPS unit. It worked perfectly. I wonder what went wrong yesterday? I programmed her up for the Romney Marsh (as one does from time to time) and "er indoors TM" and I took the dogs out. First of all to Great Chart. Yesterday I had a message through Facebook from someone who had just walked my new series of geocaches near Great Chart…
Originally I had planned to have the route going across a footpath, but with dogs loose on the other side of a stile I decided not to use that footpath, but I hid a cache under the stile. Someone found the cache and showed it to the people who live in the house just up the road, presumably thinking that locals would be as impressed with a sandwich box as they were.
I was a tad concerned as it has always been my experience that people don’t want geocaches near their houses. I suspected this one would soon go missing if it hadn’t already. But I was wrong. It was still in place this morning.
We then drove down to the Romney Marsh where we hunted out three special geocaches (or as special as a wet sandwich box on a marsh can be). “Hannah”’s field trials seemed to go well. It was a shame that Treacle had to paddle in stagnant water, but what can you expect from a dog on a marsh in February?
As we drove home my phone rang. It was the garage. Having scrubbed the outside of my car’s engine on Monday and having driven a hundred miles (well, ninety-six) they had given the thing a good going over to see if they could work out where the oil leak was coming from. But there had been no leaking at all. I was rather pleased about that. We’ve agreed to monitor the leak. I say “monitor”; I don’t know a crankshaft from a big end. I’ll ask the nice man at the garage to have a look when I next have to go back, or I shall wait for the engine to explode.
Seeing as it was my birthday we went to the Beefeater and had a rather good dinner. A rack of ribs and a lump of chicken, chips and a trifle. Not all on the same plate, but I wouldn’t have minded.
From there it was only a short hop to the cinema to see the latest Aardman film; “Early Man”. I won’t say what happened, but I can thoroughly recommend the film.
And then a quiet evening in… In years gone by I would have been out on the lash for a birthday… I’m getting old.
22 February 2018 (Thursday) - Road Trip
I slept well; I would have slept longer had Fudge not started barking for no reason shortly before seven o’clock. I got up and was disappointed to see the cars outside weren’t covered in ice; we’d decided against a day’s fishing today as the forecast said it was going to be cold.
Over brekkie I was pleasantly surprised to see that between Facebook and other messaging apps I’d had a hundred and fifty birthday wishes yesterday. That’s quite a lot. Someone with whom I used to spend a lot of time made an announcement that they were leaving Facebook earlier in the week. Such a shame. The platform might not be perfect, but it keeps me in touch with so many people so easily. That’s one less person from whom I will ever hear again.
Other than birthday wishes there wasn’t an awful lot happening on social media which was a shame. Mind you I had a wry smile at something I saw on one of the work-related groups I follow. Someone had seen something odd down his microscope and asked the world what it was. Now I’m no expert but I recognise a megakaryocyte fragment when I see one. I thought everyone would, but reading the postings on the subject it was clear that few on that group did. Why would anyone sign up to a blood science related group and not know what they were looking at? But then isn’t this social media all over? Blood-testing, geocaching, kite-flying, trekkie-ing, snake-keeping, fishing… the most vocal people on social media about any given topic seem to be those with the least practical experience in that topic. It seems that these days one takes up a hobby not so much to do it as to argue about it on social media.
I had an email from LinkedIn telling me that it was never too late to change career. Perhaps it isn’t, but doing so is a major upheaval. Bearing in mind that my original life plan had me retiring in only three and a half years (ain’t happening now!!), I might have left a major change just a little late.
I walked the dogs round the park. Our walk was relatively uneventful for once. We met a chap with a dog which looked just like a furrier version of my Fudge. This chap was adamant that his dog had no dachshund or Jack Russell in his heritage, but was a cross between a cocker spaniel and springer spaniel. When I remarked that Treacle was half cocker the chap told me I’d got that wrong. Perhaps dog breed recognition isn’t his strong suit?
With the dogs settled I drove round to collect "My Boy TM" and we went on a little road trip. We emptied a car full of his rubbish at the tip, then rather than going fishing we went to check out some lakes about which we’d heard good reports with a view to future fishing trips.
Our first stop was Hawkhurst Fish Farm. The place’s website describes it as “one of the most beautiful fisheries in Kent and Sussex”. Well… it ain’t. For me a large part of the pleasure of fishing is the surroundings; the scenery. There are several lakes at Hawkhurst fishery. Together they look as though several huge holes have been scooped out of the ground and filled with water. There is no surroundings or scenery. The place is ugly.
We then went eight miles up the road to Biddenden to have a look at Greenacres Farm Fishery. Now that place has the potential to be rather pretty. At the moment it was rather muddy and swampy, but what can you expect by a pond in February. We’ll probably have a go there in the summer. But we were both put off by the half-dozen huge notice boards outlining the rules of the place. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. I suppose some rules are needed, but it isn’t so much having the rules as how you shove them down people’s throats that matters.
Sam’s Lakes in Smarden was next on our list of places to visit. We rather liked what we saw, and as we walked round the top lake we met a chap in a row-boat who was tidying the lake up. We got chatting, and from what we heard we decided that regardless of how cold it might be, we’d have a day’s fishing tomorrow.
Having just found a geocache as we drove back toward Ashford I suddenly found a car on the wrong side of the road coming head-on at me. It was driven by some halitosis-ridden thug employed by Len Webster Caravans who ordered me off of the road so that a rather huge caravan could get past. I suppose the thug had a point; by driving my car onto the lay-by I avoided getting it smashed up by the caravan which was going far too fast down a rather narrow lane. But it isn’t so much ordering people off the road, but how arrogantly you do it and how much your breath stinks to high heaven when you are doing it that causes the offence.
We drove to McDonalds for a spot of McLunch. Much as I really did like the meal in the Beefeater yesterday, we went in McDonalds, were served, eaten and out quicker than it took the Beefeater to come up with the meals yesterday. And at less than half the price too.
As it was just down the road we stopped off at Angling Direct where I spent my birthday voucher on fingerless fishing gloves, and we got some supplies for tomorrow.
I dropped "My Boy TM" home, then came home myself. I loaded up my tackle for tomorrow. Some of it looks chewed. Have we got mice in the shed again? And then (at Fudge’s insistence) I took the dogs round the park again. Treacle wouldn’t mind if we didn’t go out at all, but Fudge shouts and hollers if we don’t go walkies at least twice every day.
We went the long way round the park. There was a minor altercation when Fudge was straggling. I sent Treacle to go fetch the errant hound, but a passing normal person took umbrage. He thought my “Get him Treacle!” was an instruction for Treacle to attack him rather than to fetch Fudge.
Just as we were about to leave the park we met Rolo. Cheryl and "My Boy TM" were just round the corner with Rolo when he had heard us. Apparently his ears pricked up when he heard me shouting to my dogs, and when I called them by name he shot off to find us.
I had planned to fart about in the garden doing all the stuff I hadn’t done on Monday (to say nothing of doing something with two planters I’d stopped "My Boy TM" chucking in the tip) but by the time I got home it was four o’clock. So instead I drank coffee and ate cake and watched “The Crown” on Netflix whilst the dogs sat on the back of the sofa and barked at shadows.
"er indoors TM" came home and made a rather good bit of dinner, We scoffed it whist watching the Peanuts movie on Netflix. It was rather good…
23 February 2018 (Friday) - Perch Fishing
Yesterday I mentioned that I was disappointed to see there was no frost on the cars when I got up. Today I was disappointed to see that there was. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs”; I’ve seen them all now (for the third time); I shall have to find something else to watch.
I got dressed (five layers), got my defrosted prawns, scraped the ice off of the car and drove round to collect the first fruit of my loin.
We agreed that as the temperature was minus two degrees it might be as well to wait a little while before going fishing. So we went to the Brookfield cafe even though "My Boy TM" is on some sort of diet. As I scoffed my full English breakfast he just had beans on toast. I think his diet is a new thing; he had a Big Mac Grande yesterday. We crossed the road to the co-op for sandwiches, and seeing that the temperature had gone up to only minus one degree we set off for a day’s perch fishing.
For those of my loyal readers who are not of a piscatorial bent, perch are small predatory fish which are relatively common in Britain. The average one weighs in at a few ounces but they do get bigger. The heaviest one caught in Britain weighed in at just over six pounds. Yesterday we had a recce at Sam’s Lakes. We were told there were perch in there up to five pounds in weight, so a day’s hunting perch was the plan.
I am reliably informed that perch like prawns, I used my brain here. (Have I ever mentioned that I am a genius?) My plan was to have one rod with a prawn on the lake’s bottom. With another rod I would float-fish using maggots as bait just above the prawn. I would periodically chuck in a handful of maggots to attract fish. So I would be catching fish on my float-fishing rod which were being attracted to the maggots, and the fish attracted to the maggots would in turn attract the predatory large perch. We both agreed that it was a very good plan…
In retrospect I should really have explained the plan to the fish.
After four hours effort and only one tiddler caught I abandoned my genius idea and went back to my standard way of fishing for carp with flavoured pellets. That worked reasonably well.
When we arrived at the lake at eight o’clock the mud was still frozen. By mid-day the mud had melted and we found ourselves in something of a quagmire. Despite five layers of clothing and my new fingerless fishing gloves I was shivering, and "My Boy TM" wasn’t looking that warm either. We gave up at half past two.
I took a few photos of our fun. You can see them here. We had a good day. We will most certainly go back to Sam’s lakes. But it was oh-so-cold. And I could have probably coped with the cold if we hadn’t had the mud as well. I couldn’t stand up without feeling that I was about to fall into ether deep mud, the lake, or both.
As we drove away we saw from the car’s thermometer that the temperature was a balmy three degrees.
With only a brief stop for geo-reasons we were soon home. I unpacked and took the dogs round the park. I’d warmed up on the drive home; it was freezing as we walked round the park. I was glad to get home for a warming cuppa.
As I unpacked I saw I’d not eaten the sandwich I’d bought at the co-op. Bearing in mind that the temperature outside today was colder than the inside of my fridge I popped the sandwich into the fridge. It will keep.
"er indoors TM" went off out to her mate’s birthday party (or something). Together with my dogs I slept in front of the telly for much of the evening.
24 February 2018 (Saturday) - Family Dinner
I wasted a little while this morning whilst my lap-top had an update. Last night I told it to “update and shut down”; totally forgetting that “update and shut down” actually means “do half the job” as half of the update is done on the re-starting.
Once the thing was up and running I sat with my dog and had a look-see at the Internet as I scoffed my (now cold) toast. I had yet another message about the geo-puzzle I’d set a few weeks ago. Most geocaches give you a set of GPS co-ordinates to which you have to go. This one doesn’t. Instead there is a puzzle you have to solve to obtain the GPS co-ordinates. Having solved the thing there is an automated on-line checker into which you put your answer, and it tells you if you are right or wrong. The puzzle is based on (shamelessly stolen from) a puzzle in London. I won’t say what you have to do, but several people have asked me for hints. The conversations go along the lines of “I’ve found the theme but can’t get numbers that fit”. The themes supposedly found so far include Chinese New Years, Morse code, breeds of dog, Chinese restaurant menus… None of which are correct.
A chap had messaged me late in the evening yesterday telling me how I had made a mistake in my sums when I created the puzzle. He had a rather convoluted idea which was something to do with the theory of mathematical matrices (which was utterly wrong), but apparently this was the only possible way in which the puzzle could be solved. Having had his solution get the thumbs-down, the chap had then looked at the list of people who had actually cracked the code and logged that they had made a find. On seeing that the only finders are all very good friends of mine (!) the implication was made that the only way to get the right answer for the puzzle was to be part of the “in-crowd”.
I explained in words of one syllable how to solve the puzzle (by doing something a child of five years old could do and probably does on a regular basis). This morning I had a message to tell me that this puzzle was *incredibly* difficult if you didn’t know how to do it.
I took a deep breath.
Isn’t this what puzzles are all about, be they geocachical, logic, jigsaw or crossword? It is called a puzzle because it gives you something to *puzzle* over. They are *all* difficult when you don’t know the answer.
I then had a look on Facebook. The Facebook feds had messaged me. Last night I had a friend request from someone whose profile picture was brazenly waggling their rather ample tits and they were offering sexual favours. I reported this to Facebook who told me that this didn’t breach their community standards.
My tits are rather humungous, and as a bonus they are furry and tattooed as well. If anyone fancies a “portion”, now’s your big chance…
I went out on a little shopping trip. First of all into town where I had a cheque to pay in to the bank. I popped into Boots as I was passing. They often have film pots which they give away. They are always useful for stashing under a rock (as is popular in certain circles), but today they had none. I then went on to the fishing tackle shop. New line, a few bits and bobs… twenty quid. Ouch!
With shopping shopped I took the dogs round the park. As we walked we met a young family. “Look Mummy – doggies!” exclaimed the oldest toddler. We then had a fun five minutes as two small children fussed the dogs. It is the little things which make life such fun.
Once home I helped "er indoors TM" as we struggled to beat our living room into some semblance of order. We were having a tribal gathering. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM", "My Boy TM" and their respective entourages soon arrived, and we had a rather good afternoon together. Scoffing far too much, salt on our raisins, having a crafty drinkie or two, and a few hands of cards too…
25 February 2018 (Sunday) - Green Chain Circular
I felt a tad rough when I woke this morning. Perhaps quite so many pints of “Snow Top” at 6% ABV wasn’t such a good idea.
As I read Facebook over brekkie I saw an old colleague had died. I first met Alan in the year 2000. I can’t pretend that we hit it off right away. But for ten years there was a mutual acceptance. In 2011 I had one of those episodes when (to coin a phrase) I found out who my friends were. People with whom I’d worked for years sharpened the knives and stuck them in my back. Alan didn’t. He surprised me. He looked out for me. I knew he’s been ill, but he’d only been retired a few years; he deserved a little longer really.
Facebook is useful for finding out things like that.
However on the more negative side one of the committee members of the Geocaching Association of Great Britain was stirring shite on a national Facebook forum, and those who should have known better were fuelling the squabble. I also saw that an ex-friend (who has fallen out with several people) was giving the arrogance to a local Facebook page.
Why do people delight in these arguments?
We got ourselves and the wolfpack together, and drove into London. We wanted a decent dog walk, but this time of year so many places will be mud and swamp. We’ve had our eye on the Green Chain Walk for some time. It’s a linked system of open spaces between the River Thames and Crystal Palace Park supported by the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. There’s all sorts of tarmac-ed footpaths linking loads of different public paths, and some decent fellow had hidden over fifty geocaches on a circular route along the way.
In the week I posted on the Internet to see if anyone would be up for a walk. There were people who wanted to come along, and by one of those co-incidences which make life such fun, we met two fellow hunters of Tupperware just as we were starting.
Seven of us (and my two small dogs) had a rather good walk. Bearing in mind how cold it was, Fudge didn’t have a choice about his coat. For once I stood up to the little pup and he wore it(!) There was very little up or down compared to our usual walks. There was incredibly little mud, but I managed to fall over in what little there was. As we walked we saw squirrels and parakeets, and even an urban fox shamelessly going into someone’s garden. As we walked through one woodland area we found a bra and knickers laying on the ground. Things must get racy in Downham. Because the route went through public parkland we were able to find a table and benches for our picnic lunch; that made things easier, even if Treacle did insist on climbing all over the table.
There are a few photos of our walk here.
Geocache-wise this was an excellent walk. Having fifty-plus caches at minimum distance apart clocked up the numbers. And the hides weren’t “another-film-pot-under-a-rock” but a mixture of caches, some of which were rather challenging. Usually I wouldn’t consider so many targets on a winter’s day (wanting the longer summer’s days for this) but this route was ideal for today. We found all but one of what we were looking for; and a quick email correspondence with the chap who’d hidden them made it quite plain that the one that had eluded us has gone missing.
This walk really is what geocaching is all about. We met new friends, and who would think you could walk nine miles in countryside in the suburbs of London?
The plan for the evening was to go down to the Festival of Lights in Cheriton, but by the time we’d got home, had a shower, fed the dogs and fed ourselves, time was pushing on. It had been cold whilst walking today; my nose had only just stopped running. I didn’t want to get it running again. My hip was a tad painful from where I’d taken a tumble earlier, and with an early start planned for tomorrow, a night in front of the telly was in order…
I wonder what’s on?
26 February 2018 (Monday) - Back to Work
I slept rather well last night. Probably not surprising after that walk. Mind you I was still wide awake at five o’clock.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army”; the SkyPlus box had been saving them up for me. In today’s episode our heroes had been chosen for “special duties”. And with their special duties done I had a quick look at the Internet. There was little of note on Facebook. People were posting all sorts of political stuff, but very few people were posting anything of interest. And with no emails worth mentioning I got dressed. In years gone by I would have had a serious sulk about going back to work, but not any more. I quite like not feeling physically sick at the thought of going to work.
It was very cold as I set off this morning, but there was no frost on the car. Too cold for frost? Usually I'm scraping the ice when the thermometer reads minus four. I went to the petrol station on the ring road to re-fuel. I would need petrol in a day or so anyway, but with the forecast snowmageddon I was taking no chances with the #beastfromtheeast which is the phrase for the coming snowstorm.
I hate hashtags.
The opinion expressed on the radio by several people was that Mr Corbyn was more interested in defeating the Prime Minister than he was in delivering a sensible policy. Isn't this true of all politicians - they get so wrapped up in playing silly beggars with procedural matters that they lose sight of actually running an effective government.
There was an interview with another politician who publicly described those who disagreed with her as "swivel-eyed-loons". And we vote for these people.
I got to work and spent much of the day looking out of the window at a bright winter’s day. The snow started on my way home. Will it lay? The BBC’s radio forecasters say there will be up to ten centimetres of the stuff by the morning. The BBC’s website is far less scaremongering about it. I wonder how it will go? Time will tell – it always does.
27 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Snowmageddon
Yesterday the pundits on the radio said to be generous to ourselves and keep the heating on continuously during this cold snap. I followed their advice and got up at half past seven to find (from the smartmeter) that since midnight we’d used over two pounds worth of gas. Is it hardly surprising that people freeze to death in their homes?
I turned the thermostat down a few notches.
Over brekkie I smiled at Facebook. The people who were complaining that “Facebook has become the Weather Channel” were the very people posting updates about the snow that had fallen overnight. And, other than the snow, nothing had happened on social media since yesterday.
Fudge had his coat put on him, and I got dressed whilst he got over his sulk. Treacle made no fuss over her coat. We then went for our usual circuit of the park, but it looked rather different with four inches of snow. I took quite a few photos; why not? Everyone else had done.
I saw a sign of our times as I walked round the park; the park was alive with children sledging and making snowmen and generally playing in the stuff. One snowflake and the schools all close, but the little darlings can make their way to the park to play. Over the last ten years schools have taken to closing at the slightest hint of inclement weather. I wish they wouldn’t do that. After all, this just teaches the kids that the world stops when the weather is less than ideal. I can vividly remember a work experience girl being rather indignant that our place of work doesn’t have “snow days”.
Just wait till they hurt themselves in the snow – everyone expects the hospitals to keep going.
Once home I watched a little telly, packed a little overnight bag (just in case), and set off to work with far too much time to spare (just in case). I spent a couple of minutes sweeping the snow off of my car, and set off to work. As I drove there was a dull documentary on the radio about the Nutella riots in France earlier in the year. As I drove there was no denying I was feeling rather blasé about the snow. The roads in Ashford were clear. I'd turned on the traffic notifications on the radio and periodically the drivel about Nutella was interrupted with horror tales of snow. I was a tad concerned about rumours of the A21 being closed. But there were only vague unsubstantiated rumours. Surely the travel news people would know what was going on? Don't they talk to the traffic police?
As I drove through High Halden toward Tenterden and Biddenden the roads were clear, but I saw one or two cars that had skidded off the roads into ditches. But when I got to Sissinghurst it was as though I'd driven into another world; suddenly the roads were covered in snow and ice. I got to within two miles of Goudhurst when I met a queue of traffic. It was at this point that the radio told me there was a six-mile tailback there. That was handy; why couldn’t they have said something five minutes earlier? I turned around and went via Staplehurst where I met another tailback. A woman walking past told me that two lorries had come off the road and a tractor was pulling them out. As she was talking to me so a tractor came past pulling a lorry which looked about twenty times too big for it to pull.
I waited patiently for the tractor to go back. After half an hour I was moving again. The sat-nav was insistent on sending me through Goudhurst and the six-mile tailback so I used my own sense of direction, interspersed by asking passers-by it I was on the right road. Amazingly I was, and eventually joined the A21 at the Matfield roundabout where the A21 was shut southwards. I was rather pleased that really skillful navigation and total pot-luck had allowed me to avoid the blocked bit.
Having left for work rather early I arrived with minutes to spare, having taken two and a half hours to do an hour and a quarter's journey.
As I worked I alternated between looking out of the window at the snow which was supposed to have stopped, and looking at contradictory on-line weather forecasts. The boss thanked me for making the effort to get to work, and when I jokingly said I had brought my overnight bag he asked if I would like overnight accommodation. I looked at the blizzard out of the window, and bearing in mind my horrific journey in to work I took him up on his offer there and then. I didn’t want to be driving home through the snow and ice at ten o'clock at night.
I did my bit at work until the night shift came in, then (leaving my car in the snowy car park) walked half a mile up the road to the accommodation that had been secured for me. I'd had a look at the place on Google Street View; but there is a world of difference between Google Street View and reality.
I found the hospital accommodation, dumped off my luggage, and walked a little further up the road. I’d been told that the Black Horse was a half-way decent pub. I got to the place and it seemed welcoming enough. A tad “local pub for local people”, but aren’t all pubs like that to one degree or another? They had what looked like a pub-specific ale on the hand pump, so I had a pint of “Black Horse ale”. I could be wrong, but I rather felt it was the beer that Goacher’s make for every pub but give it a unique pump clip it so that it looks unique.
The nice man behind the bar handed over a menu. I didn’t quite choke on my pint, but some of the things on the menu were nearly thirty quid. I went for scampi and chips for the simple reason that at eleven quid it was the cheapest thing on the menu.
With dinner scoffed I made my way back to the accommodation. I arrived and suddenly I recalled one of the most miserable times of my life. When I first moved to Ashford in 1984 I lived in hospital accommodation or two weeks. It was horrible. There were half a dozen people there who really did like living like spoilt children, and everyone else was (like me) there for as little time as possible.
As I walked up the path to the front door of my bed for the night, two people were shrieking as they made a rather pissed snowman whilst “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” blared from a speaker hanging from a window.
I went up to my room which unfortunately was just above the snowman. But thankfully the music stopped after an hour or so. As I’d scoffed my dinner earlier I was having fun transmitting to the world via Facebook; I carried on doing so from my room. For all that there was noise outside, I was having quite the adventure…
28 February 2018 (Wednesday) - Home At Last
When I packed my emergency overnight bag yesterday I’d forgotten to pack my CPAP machine, and so I didn’t really sleep that well. I saw every hour of the night, but finally got to sleep properly just after six o’clock and slept through to half past eight.
I got up to find I’d also forgotten to pack toothpaste and a razor.
I had a quick look at the Internet via my phone before I got up. I saw this blog had received a couple of comments. Someone claiming to be called Bindu J was saying nice things about what I’d written on June 12 2017 in a thinly veiled attempt to advertise her washing machine shop in Hyderabad, and someone using the name of Charles C Hagaman had waxed loquacious about my rant on 4 January of this year as he tried to plug his car servicing business.
I wish these people wouldn’t waste my time.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" texted me… what was the weather like? I didn’t know. I’d not looked out of the window. Yesterday’s overnight stay had been something of an adventure, but I didn’t want to do it again. Yesterday had been fun; the first night in over thirty years that I’d been stuck at work because of the snow. But the novelty had worn off; I wanted to go home. Or, to be more precise, I wanted to *be* home. I didn’t want the journey.
Had it snowed more overnight? From Facebook it looked as though it was cold everywhere, but no one had mentioned more snow. I had a look-see. Lots of snow, but probably no more than there had been last night.
I fiddled about a bit, then got myself together and waddled off in the general direction of work. As I walked there were endless children going to and fro, all looking forward to a snow day. Part of me was grumping that they should be at school. Part of me thought they should make the most of the snow.
I had fancied brekkie in the nearby Notcutts garden centre’s restaurant. But the place wasn’t open. All of the staff were clearing snow from the car park. Unnecessarily I thought. They’d cleared enough to be getting on with; shouldn’t someone go cook breakfast? Fortunately the hospital’s canteen came up trumps.
I got in to work a couple of hours earlier than I needed to. But I was at something of a loose end. With nothing else to do I wrote up some CPD before getting on with that which I couldn’t avoid. I spent much of today alternating between looking out the window (no more snowing) and looking at Kent travel websites trying to work out the best way home. In the end the decision was made for me. Having decided that I would take the A228 to the motorway and then home the chap on the night shift came in to say there was a five-car pile-up on that road. The only option was the way I found was blocked yesterday.
Despite having been very worried about the drive home, it was fine. The roads were not blocked. There was some snow on the road near Goudhurst, but I got home in the same time that I usually do.
I’d been away for thirty-six hours. It was good to be home again…