1 January 2017 (Sunday) – Goldfish
Yesterday I was wondering what the future held… in my blackest moments I have said that the reason I haven’t jumped off of Ashford’s multi-story car park is that I’m intrigued to see what happens next in this life. And this year kicked off with surprise.
Usually I have a few beers at the New Year’s Eve party. This year I didn’t. A good friend had had some terrible news (I won’t go into details) but she found herself needing to get to Oklahoma (the place in America) at incredibly short notice. With taxis charging over two hundred pounds to drive to Heathrow I kept off the beer and left last night’s party as soon after the chimes of Big Ben as was practical.
I’ve dropped people off at Gatwick airport before and it has been heaving. On New Year’s Day at 2am, the drop-off zone at Terminal 3 of Heathrow was deserted. Apart from an empty police car there was absolutely no one or nothing there. It was rather spooky. As was Cobham services at 2.45am.
I got home at 4.30am and had a minor run-in with some rather drunk children as I walked home from parking my car. One child was screaming and shouting, utterly distraught that he’s lost his friend Kieron. He would not stop bothering me to help me find Kieron. Kieron then appeared having been sick in someone’s garden and became obsessed with trying to set me on fire even though his friend didn’t want to “arjue” (?) with me.
If any of my loyal readers know Kieron’s mummy they might like to have a word with her; I’m sure she would be utterly ashamed of the behaviour of her little soldier.
I thought about posting something about the incident onto one of the local Facebook groups but decided against it; it would only descend into squabbles.
I got home and checked my phone. For some odd reason the thing doesn’t make a noise when I get a message (despite having done all the settings so it should). I’d had a message that my mother had been admitted to hospital following a suspected stroke.
I got to bed at 4.40am. Perhaps it was the Starbucks coffee at Cobham, perhaps it was the news I’d had. But I didn’t sleep at all. I gave up trying to sleep at 8am and phoned Eastbourne hospital. Good news - mum had had a good night and was expected to be going home later.
The plan for today had been a geo-walk, but a combination of no sleep, ill mother and rain put paid to that idea. Instead I struggled with solving geo-puzzles for an hour this morning. Today’s walk had been one needing puzzle-solving. Those walking today would be given the heads-up. The rest of us would have to solve the puzzles the way God intended. So whilst I waited about for "er indoors TM" to leap into action I struggled (and failed) to solve geo-puzzles.
As I wracked my poor brain my brother and "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" both phoned and told me elaborations of what the hospital had told me two hours previously. We had thought about going to visit mum in hospital today, but as the morning wore on it became apparent she was going to be sent home, and that she hadn’t had much sleep, so we didn’t drive down.
Instead we spent the morning excavating the area surrounding the living room’s fish tank and resurrecting the tank. We then went to Bybrook Barn for some bits and bobs for the tank. But Bybrook Barn was closed, as was Dobbies, Tenterden Garden Centre and World of Water. We ended up buying what we needed from Pets at Home which is by far the closest pet shop to home. Why didn’t we go there first?
Once home we put the bits and pieces together only to find the fluorescent tube was still iffy. The new starter motor wasn’t the problem; it was the tube itself. So we had a rather late lunch then (thinking the rain had finally abated) walked the dogs back to the pet shop for a new tube. The dogs needed walking – the puppy was getting fractious. She’d had a bit of a run-in with Fudge earlier in the day and Fudge had definitely put her in her place. And "er indoors TM" had resorted to time-outs and naughty-step to no avail.
We thought the rain had stopped; the moment we started walking it started again. We got the new fish tank tube but we also got soaked into the process. I say “we”; "er indoors TM" had the sense to wear a coat and the dogs didn’t care about the rain.
Once home I got the fish tank finally sorted. It looks quite good; for thirty years I’ve kept tropical fish; I’m trying cold-water goldfish variants for a change. I’ve always fancied having some blackmoors.
I then had a message confirming my theory about the geo-puzzles I had been struggling with earlier, and with my theory confirmed I checked my sums and realised that seven minus four is *not* four. I had been right all along; I just can’t do arithmetic.
Within an hour I had plotted out thirty-odd puzzles all of which now look to be in plausible positions on the map.
"er indoors TM" put the washing machine on to scrub some coats. Whilst I plotted the washshing machine did its thing. Mind you I think it’s had a little mishap – I’ve never seen so much foam. "er indoors TM" is insistent she put in the right amount of soap. Perhaps the washing machine is on the way out?
That would be handy… !
2 January 2017 (Monday) - Visting Mum
I slept well last night. "er indoors TM" thinks it is because I had caffeine-free coffee last night. I’m not convinced; I rarely drink coffee in the evenings anyway, but it is a theory worth trying.
Over brekkie I had a look-see on the Internet. Not a lot had changed overnight, which was probably for the best. Other than Amazon trying to sell me that which I’d already bought there were no emails in my inbox. Several people were posting about the new year on social media. Some were hopeful for the future, some pessimistic. Much the same as ever really.
I was quite impressed with the fish tank this morning; spending fifty quid doing it up seems to have paid off (if you like that sort of thing). I quite like the plastic plants; I think I shall get some more, and maybe a few more little goldfish. "Furry Face TM" seems fascinated by the fish; he’s never shown any interest in the telly but an aquarium seems to be a whole different ball game.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" arrived with some KFC for her dad, and with KFC devoured we collected "My Boy TM" and set off to Hastings. We were all rather concerned having heard that my mum had had a stroke, and were rather pleasantly surprised to find she didn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects. I was expecting her to be in an armchair and looking incredibly frail; she was up and about having made a ton of sandwiches in readiness for our visit. We were expecting to make a flying visit as we weren’t expecting her to be strong enough for much; we stayed for a couple of hours. I told her off; we’d cancelled all of our plans as she was supposed to be on death’s door…
Mind you whilst there we did get news that my step father-in-law has been admitted to hospital as he could not breathe…
We came home and having dropped off the fruits of our loins to their various homes we popped in to Pets at Home. I got a few more plastic plants for the aquarium and "er indoors TM" wanted a coat for "Furry Shark TM". The poor little puppy does whine when we are on walks; I have a theory that she might be cold.
I got my new plastic plants into the aquarium, and then had a little fiddle about with the Wherigo writer. I’ve not made any Wherigos lately and I have a plan to make a GPS-SmartPhone adventure game based on the TV show “The Crystal Maze”. All I need is some ideas for games that are in keeping with the TV show that would work on a SmartPhone.
We settled the dogs and drove to the cinema where we met Jose and Maria. Jose had suggested watching the sci-fi film “Passengers”. I must admit I’m not a great fan of the cinema; the adverts are endless and you are lumped in with the burping, farting Great Unwashed. But sometimes it makes a change. It was quite fun tonight; I actually rather enjoyed the film but….
There is always a “but” isn’t there? The trouble with sci-fi (and all fiction really) is that there are no truly original ideas. I won’t give spoilers, but certain aspects of the film had been done better (years ago) by Allen Steele, Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and the crew of the Red Dwarf.
Also for a sci-fi film to be plausible, the “sci” aspect has to be plausible. A spaceship travelling at half the speed of light for only thirty years cannot cover thirty-six light-years. And even if it could, a sling-shot manoeuvre round Arcturus would take more than thirty seconds.
And why do the leading ladies in films these days have to breast quite so boobily? The costumes in which this film’s leading lady titted about left little to the imagination.
And having made great show of sustaining a severe physical injury, one would expect such trauma to leave a scar…
But as I said, I really did like the film…
I’m having an early night tonight. Can you believe it – I’ve got to go to work tomorrow.
3 January 2017 (Tuesday) - This n That
I had a surprisingly good night - no caffeine perhaps? Mind you I was still awake before the alarm. I came down and chivvied the dogs into a cold garden to do their "business" then they both charged upstairs to my bed.
Over toast I watched an episode of Thunderbirds and with a little time on my hands I watched an episode of Dad's Army. It was during this that "Furry Face TM" came back downstairs, and we sat together for a few minutes whilst I combed him. He likes that.
I set off to work rather earlier than I might have done. There was a lot of ice to be scraped off of my car, and when I could finally see out of the windows the street was totally blocked by traffic. Coming up the street was a dustbin lorry, and trying to go down the street was a load of traffic which didn't have the sense to take a thirty-second detour down the side road.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio had a new theory why dinosaurs became extinct - apparently their eggs took too long to incubate.
And there was lots of talk about the government's new initiative to provide cheap housing for first time buyers.
It struck me as very odd that a capitalistic party would be doing something quite so socialist, but what do I know?
I went to Morrisons for stuff; probably the last time I will be in there at 7.30am, and went on to work. I'd not been there for a while. Part of me was wondering if leaving was a good idea. Within eleven minutes I was convinced I should go.
I then spent much of the morning worrying about "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". Today was his first morning at nursery. It turned out he had a good time; I’d been worrying over nothing.
As I came home this evening there was an article about the author C.S. Lewis on the radio. Some pompous windbags were trying to read all sorts of blather into the books he wrote about Narnia. Apparently the lion Aslan was allegorical for Jesus. I recognised these pompous windbags as being *exactly* the sort of people who bend over backwards to spoil literature.
My English teachers at school were just the same.
Once home I walked the dogs round the block. It was an utter disaster. The puppy had her coat on and didn’t cry, but she was swarming all over the place and made a misery of the entire walk. For the last fifty yards I was dragging her home.
I then got my fishing gear together and was rather disappointed to find that the seat-box that "er indoors TM" had got me for Christmas was actually far too small to be of any use to me.
Being Tuesday we had planned to gather the clans, but all sort of unforeseen eventualities prevented that so we had a lazy evening in. I sorted out a Facebook event for the astro club’s next meeting.
I could have done a lot more… but I just slobbed about.
4 January 2017 (Wednesday) - A Day's Fishing
The alarm woke me this morning; that was a result. I got up and chased the puppy into the garden where she did what was expected of her. She then charged upstairs to terrorise "er indoors TM" and "Furry Face TM" whilst I watched another episode of Dad’s Army.
I’d loaded my fishing gear into my car last night, and there hadn’t been any frost overnight so I was able to make a quick getaway this morning. I picked up "My Boy TM" shortly before 7am, and we drove round to Rocky’s café for brekkie. Suitably stuffed we then set off to Shirkoak for a day’s angling. Bearing in mind the debacle last time we tried to fish there (no one was there to open up) "My Boy TM" had phoned them last night to prompt them to open the gates. We arrived about forty minutes after the official gate-opening time and only had to wait ten minutes to get in.
We got parked up and soon found a spot which was out of the wind and we set up our tackle. My plan was to do some quiver-tipping (it’s a fishing thing) and have my new fishing rod (what I got from Christmas) on the hunt for the occasional something big. Things turned out to be the complete opposite. The quiver-tip did hardly anything all day; the new rod was all action… eventually.
We started off with a minor disaster; we both set up our first rods and cast out. There was a crunch as our lead weights went through the ice, and then our end tackle was stuck fast. The ice wasn’t that thick, just thick enough to hold the fishing kit and not let us reel it back in.
It was at this point that "My Boy TM" had a stroke of genius. Using his catapult he fired maggots and bait pellets and bits of his sandwich in the general direction of the ice. This attracted hungry ducks which followed where the food was being fired. And these ducks were heavy enough to break the ice. Carefully directed by "My Boy TM"’s catapult, the ducks acted as icebreakers so we could get our gear back.
We then looked about the lake and cast out into an area where the lake *wasn’t* frozen. Mind you we did have a lot of false-alarm-bites from icebergs drifting into our lines.
We got fishing and I was soon getting bites. I had several carp of about four pounds in weight. But after an hour or so the rain started. To be fair the rain was pretty much as forecast, and we’d gone expecting the rain. But it still takes a certain mind-set to sit in the rain in January. And the wind changed direction to blow the ice back in our direction. But it was warming up slightly and the rain had cleared by mid-day. In fact by early afternoon there was a blue sky. It really was four seasons in one day; it was a shame that I ended up effectively camped out in a swamp.
But what do you expect when you go fishing in the first week of January?
There was a minor mishap at 3pm. I cast out my line and put the rod on the rest. As I put the rod down I saw the line streaming off of the reel. A fish right away? That had already happened three time today. But this wasn’t a fish. As I’d cast out I’d managed to put the line right over a duck which was immediately tangled by the line. I reeled him in right away; the duck wasn’t hooked at all; just tangled. We soon got him free, and we were amazed at just how tame the duck seemed to be. He didn’t struggle at all, so we took a few photos of him. In fact I took several photos whilst we were out today.
By 3.30pm out was getting rather cold so we came home. For all that it was the middle of winter we’d had a good day’s fishing; I’d had about twenty carp all big enough to need a landing net; the largest of which being a shade under six pounds in weight. Serious carp anglers wouldn’t be impressed, but having spent a lifetime tiddler-bashing anything over half a pound in weight is big for me.
For some odd reason "My Boy TM" hadn’t been anywhere near so successful. It was odd; we’d both been doing pretty much the same thing all day. I had been lucky, he had not.
Once home I took "Furry Face TM" for a walk. Just him; not the puppy. Me and my dog had a good walk; far better than yesterday’s shambles when the puppy caused chaos.
Mind you "Furry Shark TM" didn’t miss out. "er indoors TM" took her for a walk. To the vet’s – she was up for injections.
Once "er indoors TM" returned we had a rather good bit of dinner. I think I might have an early night – I’m on the early shift tomorrow…
5 January 2017 (Thursday) - Bad Day
I woke up shortly before the alarm was about to go off and looked out of the bedroom window. I was pleased to see the cars outside weren't iced up. I got up and tiddled the dogs. Because going straight from warm baskets to a cold garden is something of a shock I always go out with them. I didn't think it was that cold at 5.30am; certainly not as cold as it has been recently.
The dogs then shot upstairs to lay on my bed, and over some toast I watched a rather sad episode of "Dad's Army" in which Captain Mainwaring fell in love. I then got dressed, said goodbye to the three who were snoring on (and in) my bed and went out to find that during the previous hour my car had iced up quite impressively.
As I scraped the ice from my car I saw something quite remarkable. A cyclist. On the road (where he should be) and not on the pavement. And with hi-vis clothing and lights on his bike.
I set off to work and it wasn't long before I very nearly ran over some twit cycling dressed all in black with no lights. He came seemingly from nowhere; this near miss shook me up somewhat. I opened the window and shouted that he should be more visible. He shouted "F... off" and kept going - almost directly into another car; seemingly oblivious to the mayhem he was causing.
The pundits on the radio commented that today had been the coldest night of the winter so far. Admittedly it had got cold over brekkie but the coldest night?
I must admit to having had a wry smile over the next bit of news. The government's All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social integration has recommended that all immigrants to the UK should be able to speak English before trying to come to the UK, or should learn the language as a matter of urgency once having arrived.
Really? Who would *ever* have thought that this might be a good idea?
What really boils my piss about this is that this *isn't* news. This has been an issue for years. Regular readers of this drivel may recall my previous rants on this subject. On 30 January 2013 I complained about the recent census which showed that at that time there were one hundred and thirty eight thousand people in the UK who couldn't speak English. And that wasn't "spoke English badly" - that was "couldn't speak English at all". The number that spoke English badly was over seven hundred thousand back then. And on 12 February 2007 I mentioned that forty thousand long term UK residents stood to lose their unemployment benefit due to proposed government legislation in which the government was planning to cut benefits for anyone who was unemployed because they could not speak English and refused to take (free) English lessons.
Don't get me wrong - I'm all for immigration. After all, the countries hospitals would close tomorrow if not for immigrant labour. But surely the ability to speak English is a pre-requisite for coming to the UK?
(And for those who *are* against immigration I have a question from my own personal experience... You advertise a vacancy for a vital job in a hospital several times in various nationwide job markets. You don't get a single application from any UK nationals. Not one. How would you proceed?)
I stopped off at Morrisons petrol station on the way to work. Again the petrol in Canterbury is five pence per litre cheaper there than in Ashford. And then I went to work for my last early shift. And I also did far more than my bit. Because it needed to be done..
As I worked I found myself looking out of the window. Yesterday I took a day off and it rained for much of the time. Today the sunshine was glorious.
An early start made for an early finish. In all honesty I would rather have stayed at work this evening. I got home and took my dog for a short walk. The puppy stayed in her cage as she makes the walk too much of a misery. Once the walk was over I let the puppy out. Both dogs got *very* jealous of each other as I tried to fuss both.
I came out of the shower to find the puppy chewing my watch. It took an age to load the washing machine as the puppy kept running off with the clothes. It was fun at the start; the novelty of having a puppy has worn off…
Yesterday I had a really good day. Today was rather crappy…
The day started off with a potentially disastrous misunderstanding. "er indoors TM" phone rang. When she answered it the voice at the other end sounded like my mother in law. I heard the phrase “Frank’s gone” and immediately assumed my father in law had died. He’s been ill recently; he’s currently in hospital with serious lung problems. Just as I was pondering on how to break the news to the fruits of my loin "er indoors TM" ended the call. She didn’t seem that fussed that her step-father had died; if anything she seemed mildly pissed off.
It turned out Frank hadn’t died. It wasn’t her mother on the phone at all. It was my daughter in law saying “brakes gone”. The brakes had failed on the car she bought only a week ago (for several thousand pounds).
Once I’d figured out what was going on I had something of a sense of relief. Whilst there was a major disaster going on, it wasn’t my disaster.
Once I’d scoffed brekkie I took both dogs for a walk. I had this theory that seeing how it wasn’t dark we might walk round the park where the dogs could go off the leads and not be continually tangling me.
As we walked I got beeped. A rather foxy young lady was frantically waving and smiling at me from a black mini. I wonder who she was?
Once at Bowens Field I let both dogs off the lead. "Furry Face TM" immediately did his own thing; "Furry Shark TM" rather clung to me for the entire walk. I was rather reminded of many outings with the cubs where thirty-odd boys and girls would have the option to play and do their own things whilst one or two “special” ones would cling like a second shadow. "Furry Shark TM" also doesn’t seem to have the idea of doing a poop outside either. She baked it until we were home; but at least it was unloaded in the garden.
I settled both dogs and set off to work. As I drove to work "Women's Hour" was on the radio. The aggressive harridans on the show were banging on about the advantages of vitamin D supplements which should be taken by "young children, expectant and breastfeeding mothers and the over sixty-fives". When the woman expounding this theory announced that this included pretty much all of the radio four listeners I rather took offence. The women presenting this show (and interviewed on it) seem to hold men in such contempt.
I stopped off at the Chartham business park where I bought a couple of packets of hooks, a few weights, a couple of bobbins and two bags of bait. I had estimated a cost of fifteen to twenty quid; I was shocked to find it came to nearly fifty quid. So much so that I had to go into the garden centre for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake to calm my nerves. Fishing tackle isn't as cheap as it used to be when I was a lad.
Whilst in the garden centre I bought a double-ended elasticated dog lead. Each end attaches to a dog; the middle attaches to the lead that I hold. I'm of the opinion that I've got to get on with this puppy; shambolic walks and then sulking like yesterday won't achieve much. Sorting out the dog walks will.
With a double-ended lead FF can pick up much of the slack (in more ways than one).
I also stopped off at the Cheapo-Bargains shop for one last time. I wanted a sandwich box for the fishing baits I'd just bought. I stood in the queue and waited. And waited. There was some problem with what the woman at the head of the queue wanted to buy. The woman on the checkout tannoy-ed for the manager. And tannoy-ed again. And again. It never occurred to them to deal with all the other customers who were waiting in the queue which was growing.
After the sixth time of tannoy-ing I walked out, telling them I wouldn't be back. Which I won't.
And so to work for my last late shift. There was minor consternation at work as it turned out that one of the apprentices used to work at McDonalds where he was on several occasions mocked by Ronald McDonald himself. It would seem that this mocking has left a lot of anger. I did laugh. Mind you I might have laughed a little more had more than two people realised this was my last routine shift…
7 January 2017 (Saturday) - Tiring The Dogs Out
I’ve been sleeping a lot better recently; no idea why. But last night wasn’t a good night. However I blame my dog for that. "Furry Face TM" isn’t that big but he’d spread out over most of the surface of the bed and I didn’t have the heart to disturb him.
I eventually got up and as I boiled up my toast I watched "er indoors TM" refereeing the dogs’ breakfast. It needed refereeing. For all that "Furry Face TM" is a porky little barrel he’s not a greedy dog. He’s just opportunistic. However "Furry Shark TM" is greedy; she would eat all of both dogs breakfasts if she could, and then scream at me for my toast. Her scrounging at meal times is rather loud.
I then had a look on Facebook over brekkie. A *lot* of people were getting rather upset about a local landlord whose letter to his letting agent has been leaked. Basically this chap owns loads of houses and he’s being rather choosy about to whom he will and won’t let a house. He won’t accept any families with children, no one on low income, no plumbers, no one with pets… I’ll admit the chap is rather extreme, but after all is said and done it is his houses he is letting out and his business he is running. Let’s be clear here – this fellow isn’t providing social housing – he is making money by running a business. And the country has voted (several times) to have a government with a proven track record of bending over backwards to appease businesses. Over the last thirty years the electorate has decided that housing should be a financial commodity rather than a social necessity.
What *really* boils my piss about this is that no one realises this. Quite a lot of the people complaining about this landlord are the same people who loudly and vocally voted for capitalism at the expense of common decency at the last election(s).
Democracy is *such* a good idea, isn’t it?
We got our stuff together and set off to somewhere in the back of beyond. About a year or so ago I solved a whole load of puzzle geocaches. The “Flashbacks Smile” were puzzles all based about TV and music and stuff from way back when. I *really* enjoyed solving them, and today we thought we’d go find them. As we drove we met Karl and Tracey (going the wrong way!) but we were all very soon with Aleta at the car park from where the walk was to start. With boots on we set off on our walk.
It was a foggy day but we made the most of it. As we walked we saw alpacas and a friendly horse. And (to our dismay) we saw a closed pub. We saw some rather beautiful houses; how can anyone afford these places? And the smallest member of our party even ate some poo.
Perhaps in retrospect the walk might have been a tad long. Billed as a walk of six miles “Hannah” (and "er indoors TM"’s GPS) both recorded the mileage as a shade over eight miles. Whilst my dog seemed to love it, "Furry Shark TM" was soon flagging, and after six miles she threw in the sponge and I carried her for the last quarter of the walk.
And (as always) I took a few photos as we went.
Geocache-wise we’d heard that this series of caches wasn’t really intended as a walk in the countryside. We’d heard it was really aimed at those who like drive-by caching and in all fairness that was one of the main reasons for choosing this series. As a walk it was probably right for today. Apart from a few stretches of main road (which was probably unavoidable) the vast majority of the walk was on country lanes and so we didn’t get that muddy really. I must admit that as a pedestrian hunter of Tupperware I felt the caches were a tad too spaced out; there were twenty along a route which could have had thirty-five. But the route was really intended for drive-bys - a different way of hunting Tupperware than that to which I am accustomed. And on reflection probably not a bad way to play this game in the winter
We had planned to pop into the nearby pub after the walk, but we’d heard they weren’t really dog friendly. And for all that the humans in the party didn’t get that grubby, it is a different matter when you are less than a foot tall. The puppy was exhausted and Fudge was filthy. So we said our goodbyes and took the dogs to the bath. It was probably as well we went straight home; after a good hosing down we probably had about as much mud as dog in the bath.
I then started loading up the washing machine with laundry (it don’t wash itself) and whilst the puppy’s coat got a good scrubbing I did the geo-admin. “Hannah” had some issues with GSAK (it’s a geo-thing). I’m hoping these issues are now resolved; the last thing I want is duplication (!)
After a rather good bit of dinner "er indoors TM" went off to film night and with both dogs asleep I set about several weeks’ worth of ironing. I got it about half-done before the dogs woke. Mayhem ensued as I tried to iron and sort out dog squabbles. And once the ironing was done the dogs both went to sleep again…
8 January 2017 (Sunday) - Hospital Visiting
I didn’t get out of my pit until nearly 9am this morning. That is quite unheard of. Mind you the nasal polyps which regularly block my right snozz had abated somewhat. It is amazing the difference that being able to breathe can make.
I had a look-see on-line over brekkie. There were some political rants about the state of the NHS on Facebook; the more militant of my colleagues were spreading the doom and gloom. I chose not to; the chap posting didn’t have any answers to the NHS’s problems. In fact when he said that the NHS should be reformed I couldn’t help but feel he’d rather missed the point. The NHS doesn’t need to be reformed. It has been reformed ad-nauseum. The NHS needs to be left alone so that the reforms can actually take effect. The NHS has had far too many reforms. And just as any specific reform starts taking effect it all gets changed again. Schools and all public services are much the same. Too much change and to little continuity.
Not much else had really happened overnight, which was probably for the best. I wasted ten minutes playing tug o’ war with my dog over a scrap of material (he likes that game) then we took both dogs for a walk to test the double-ended elasticated lead. It has been no secret that up till now dog walks with the puppy have been something of a disaster; both dogs operating completely independently has made the walk a chore rather than a joy. But having them on a joint lead so that they are only a couple of feet apart (at most) has improved walking beyond all recognition. Neither straggles anymore; the one which is moving onwards seems to drag the straggler with them. I shall use the double-ended thing more often.
We went round the park. Both dogs were released from the lead as soon as was possible, and the walk went well. The puppy still wants to jump up at people, but she is getting better. And she played nicely with several other dogs. I say “played nicely”; “didn’t run away in terror” might be a better description. but it is a step in the right direction.
We got the dogs home and settled, then drove down to Hastings. On the way we stopped for obligatory geo-reasons. There was only really one cache on the via-Rye route left for me that looked easy to get at so we stopped at what looked to be a suitable lay-by. The traffic did somewhat hare past us, but we found the cache. The co-ords weren’t quite as spot-on as they might have been but I saw the cache from some way away. I saw it some four feet up the tree when the given clue said it was only one foot up the tree. I struggled a little to get the paper log out of the narrow neck of the bottle, and something had stained the inside of the container green. I wonder what that was?
It wasn’t far from that lay-by to the village of Icklesham. There is a good pub there; The Queen’s Head. I’ve been there several times over the last few years and never been disappointed. We *could* have booked a table in advance, but in my experience if you just turn up at any pub at Sunday lunchtime they are very reluctant to turn trade away. Instead they will offer you a table on the understanding that they will need the table free within the next hour. That always suits me.
We had an excellent roast dinner, and a pint of rather good stout. Not many pubs do stout at all; let alone on the hand pump. The Queen’s Head is always good for a pint of beer. For what it’s worth they have been in CAMRA’s “Good Beer Guide” every year for the last thirty years.
With lunch scoffed we went on to Hastings and the Conquest Hospital. (I was once turned down for a senior management position there, you know). Father-in-law was still resident on one of the wards. We soon found him; he seemed rather chirpy and we spent a fun hour or so trying to get his portable telly-thing (provided by the hospital) to work. If it wasn’t broken when we started, it certainly was by the time we’d finished.
I must admit I chuckled at the old boy in the bed next to father-in-law. This chap had obviously seriously hurt his wrist whilst in hospital. The doctor was asking what had happened. The old fellow was insistent he had no idea what was wrong with it; it had just mysteriously swollen up that morning. When the doctor left, the chap’s son came in. The old boy then explained to him (very loudly) how he’d trapped his arm in the side of the bed when he fell over earlier, and how he thought the bone was broken, and how useless the doctor was.
It would have been good to have visited my mummy whilst we were in the area, but time was against us so we came home for the dogs. They got their tea; I got Christmas pud for my tea, and then I got left “home alone” with the puppy. Again…
9 January 2017 (Monday) - In The River
I had a rather restless night; my dog had made himself comfortable at the foot of the bed, and I spent much of the night trying to make myself comfortable around him whilst trying not to disturb him. I *know* I should have chivvied him out of the way; if it was the puppy I would have done. But "Furry Face TM" is a good dog.
Over brekkie I checked my emails. I had one from Mohammed Piazzolla who thought I might like to buy some gold. He’s got bars of the stuff for sale; each weighing thirty-two kilogrammes and each being ninety-five per cent pure. I decided not to take up this offer; what exactly does one do with such a huge lump of gold? If any of my loyal readers would like some I can forward his details?
I then had a look on Facebook. Not much was going on. Admittedly Monday morning can be a quiet time on social media, but more and more social media is becoming somewhere where people merely re-post other people’s jokes and politics. Less and less people actually say or do anything there. I wish more people would; being a naturally nosey person I like to see what is going on in other people’s lives.
I popped the double-ended lead onto the dogs and we walked out to meet "Daddy’s Little Angel TM"; "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" was at home with his Daddy having skived off of nursery with a dose of the two-bob-bits. We walked four dogs round to the park and into the river. Fudge loves playing in the river; Sid keeps well clear, and as for Pogo and Treacle… We chose a shallow part of the river and conducted an experiment. We didn’t know how the family’s two Hungarian Tripe-Hounds would get on. They are both brother and sister; a cross between a pug and a cocker spaniel. Cocker spaniels *love* the water whereas pugs sink. We thought we’d get them used to the stuff today. It turned out that they both loved playing in the water; However the water was only belly-deep. I think we shall play here a few more times before we try the “sink or swim” test.
Once home it was bath time… I bathed both dogs at the same time. It didn’t go that badly. Afterwards "Furry Face TM" immediately went to his basket and slept; "Furry Shark TM" charged around like a thing possessed. She was clearly very over-excited and very tired but was just like a toddler. Eventually she climbed behind my neck and slept as I went onto the Internet and advertised the upcoming astro club meeting on various local websites that no-one ever reads.
With both dogs settled I watched a couple of episodes of “Get Some In!” via You-Tube and ChromeCast. For those of my loyal readers who have never seen the show, “Get Some In!” was a sort of Dad’s Army – The Next Generation set in as RAF camp in the 1950s. It was where the actors David Janson and Robert Lindsey started, and made for mindless viewing to pass an hour before I took myself off to bed for the afternoon.
I could have slept better; despite having turned off both the wi-fi and the mobile data on my phone, it still seemed to get all sorts of on-line notifications. I wish it wouldn’t.
I’m off to the night shift now. Only four more of these to go…
10 January 2017 (Tuesday) - Between the Night Shifts
I left for work a little earlier than I might have done last night; shopping doesn't buy itself. Morrisons was nowhere near as busy as it usually is, so with time on my hands I wasted a few minutes looking round "Go Outdoors". They were having a sale, but in every case I mistook the reduction in price for the actual price of the item on sale. Stuff which would be far too expensive at twenty quid was actually merely twenty quid off the usual price and actually far more that I would ever pay. I was once a big fan of the place; I've gone off of it over the last few months. They seem to have two categories of goods; "cheap rubbish" and "vastly overpriced". I was looking at the fishing seats last night. What seemed to be a bargain was actually only a bargain as someone had put their arse right through the seat. There was a foot-long rip in the thing and still they wanted good money for it.
I went on to work and did my thing. As I worked the radio played in the background. And it also played in the car on my way home. In addition to the usual drivel was an article of interest - the Leas lift in Folkestone is due to close. Despite local consternation the thing's brakes are unsafe. Eighty thousand pounds are needed to make repairs. The chairman of the bunch that operates the lift was saying that if they aren't open they can't generate money to fix the brakes.
I wonder if they have considered on-line crowdfunding?
Meanwhile our old friend science has discovered aliens again. I really should go back through my diaries and find out exactly how many times aliens have been supposedly discovered over the last ten years.
I suspect that when aliens really are discovered no-one will take any notice; everyone will think it is yet another false alarm.
I had hoped to walk the dogs with "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" this morning, but she was busy getting another quote for Sid’s upcoming dental procedure. So it was just me and my two round the park this morning. As we walked I was approached rather aggressively by some old trout who wanted to know of the dogs were my dogs. I told her they were, and she walked off without another word. I wonder what that was all about.
Once home I got the dogs settled, had a shower, and was just about to go to bed when "Furry Face TM" had a mad woofing fit and woke the baby. She took an age to settle again.
A day was then spent asleep and I’m off to another night shift now…. It has been something of a lonely day…
11 January 2017 (Wednesday) - Bit Tired
I had a surprisingly busy night; in the small hours I didn’t feel that well. I wonder if I’m sickening for something.
As I drove to work last night a new geocache went live; I thought I’d have a look for it on the way home. It wasn’t in the best of locations; there was a rough gate area in which to park, and from what I could work out the cache had been drop-kicked into a hedge from that parking area. From the description it wasn’t a small cache, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe it has gone missing already. I messaged a friend who got the FTF last night; from their description I think it has gone…
I came home and took the dogs for a walk. We went up the road, and it was here that I found a problem with the double-ended elasticated lead. When they are pulling against each other the thing works wonderfully; one dog’s pulling counteracts the other. However they both saw the same cat. When they pull together the thing seems to magnify their efforts.
We went round the park, and the walk passed off mostly without any fuss. The puppy is seeming to be getting the hang of going for a walk. Mind you she does seem reluctant to “drop one” whilst we are out.
We came home, and I found why she didn’t want to “drop” anything whilst we walked; she’d already unloaded on the floor upstairs earlier.
I watched another episode of “Get Some In!” via YouTube and ChromeCast whilst I scoffed brekkie, then took myself off to bed. I slept for a couple of hours then someone phoned me. I have no idea – the number was withheld. I wish I knew who it was – I would “remonstrate” with them.
I tried to get back to sleep; it wasn’t happening so I got up, tiddled the dogs, and spent the afternoon slobbing in front of the telly. Perhaps a rather dull way to waste time, but after two night shifts I was a tad tired.
Eventually "er indoors TM" came home and boiled up a good dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching “Tattoo Fixers”. I am becoming more and more convinced I want another tattoo; I just don’t know what…
Today was rather dull… the day after two night shifts often seems like a day wasted.
12 January 2017 (Thursday) - Snow !!
As I was lurking round the toaster this morning "Furry Face TM" waddled past as though he owned the world. He walked up to the back door and gave me a look of utter contempt as if to ask why I hadn’t opened it for him. Two seconds later the puppy was also asking to go out. However there is a fundamental difference in the toilet activities of the two dogs. Fudge asks to go out *before* he takes a dump on the carpet.
Admittedly this is only the second turd I’ve had to clear up this week, but still it is two too many.
As I scoffed my toast I sparked up my lap-top and started off the process to delete my KnowHow cloud account. In theory it seemed like a good idea; the stuff on my laptop would be automatically backed up to a cloud drive in case of catastrophic failure. However in practice I already post photo albums to Facebook, and anything I do want backed up (there isn’t much) I email to my desktop or save on my Google drive. The Google drive is free whereas the KnowHow thing isn’t.
I suspect that deleting this KnowHow cloud thing won’t be easy.
I also saw that I had another scamming email; this one purported to be from one Marija Plavec who wrote… well, to be honest she wrote incomprehensible gibberish. There was some sob story about an uncle poisoning her father and an inheritance of six million pounds. The thing was written in terrible English; someone had obviously written in in another language and but into a semblance of English by Google Translate. I suppose people still fall for these scams or they wouldn’t do them.
The plan for today was originally a day’s fishing but the forecast torrential rain (giving way to snow later) put me off of that idea. It has rained hard on our last three fishing trips and we’ve had enough of it. Better a fine weather fisherman than a wet weather w…
Instead I had a morning of “Dad’s Taxi”. First of all it was "Daddy’s Little Angel TM"’s turn; I took her and Sid to the vet as Sid had a dentist appointment (under anaesthetic) there. We got to the vet’s, and dropped off Sid. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" was somewhat distraught to leave him there; Sid didn’t seem too fussed.
I took the most recent fruit of my loin home and then drove on to collect the first fruit. My favourite (and only) granddaughter had broken her bed and I was charged with delivering the wreckage of the bed to the tip. And whilst I was at it, "My Boy TM" had a load of other rubbish to take to the tip as well.
We had a good time at the tip; I quite like the tip for some odd reason. Whilst we were there we met a chap who was throwing away some folding garden chairs. There was nothing wrong with them other than that he’d bought some new ones, so I blagged one of them off of him. I’ve been needing a new fishing chair for ages and this tatty old thing will do the job perfectly. I wouldn’t want a new chair to get wet or muddy, but I won’t care about this old chair as it is already mouldy and muddy.
From the tip we went to the Kiln Café as it was only down the road. Having researched fry-ups I think the Kiln Café does the best and cheapest local fry-up. It is only a shame that it isn’t in the most convenient of locations. But it was handy for the tip.
From there we did a circuit of the local (and not-so-local) fishing tackle shops. "My Boy TM" got a few bits and bobs, and the money I saved on blagging a chair from the tip I then squandered on a new landing net.
Whilst we were out and about we also bought favourite (and only) granddaughter a new bed. We felt we should as that was the official reason that we were out and about.
I took "My Boy TM" home. I offered to help put the bed together but as he rightly said, he needed to check with Cheryl and Lacey that the bed was the right one. We both knew that it was, but if we’d put it together it would need to go back to the shop. If we *didn’t* put it together it would be the right one and he could then be in trouble for not putting it together.
I came home, and took the dogs for a very quick walk round the block. We didn’t go far; the forecast rain had started as we’d left the café and got heavier as the morning wore on. By the time we got home from our short walk it was rather heavy.
I skipped lunch; a fry-up does me for the entire day. As the dogs played “tug” with the remains of an old teddy-bear I et about the ironing whilst “Little Shop of Horrors” played on the DVD. Feed Me Seymour !!
With ironing and DVD done I found myself dozing on the sofa with my dogs, and all too soon it was time to pick up "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and go to collect Sid. The vet had said that she was going to have to extract some teeth, but couldn’t put an exact number on it until such time as she had him gassed and could have a proper look inside his mouth. I suppose that’s a fair assessment of the situation – have you ever tried to look inside the mouth of a dog that doesn’t want anyone looking inside his gob?
In retrospect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" did the right thing by going to the vet in Willesborough. Our usual vet had quoted ninety quid per tooth; the Willesborough vet said she’s do a job-lot for three hundred and sixty quid. In the end poor Sid had nineteen teeth pulled. He’s only got seven left. Mind you he seemed chirpy enough when we collected him.
I dropped him and "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" off, and I drove on to “Pets at Home” where my piss boiled. I walked into the place at half past six; at quarter to seven the staff were still gossiping round the till. If it wasn’t for the fact that there is no other fish shop within a convenient distance of home I would have walked out. Eventually I got served but on hearing I wanted fish, the assistant had to go to get his tablet and enter in all my details to check I was a suitable person to own a goldfish. I was getting a little impatient and asked how long they’d been doing this charade. The chap got quite supercilious with me and said it was a long-standing policy; fish are living things. I told him no one had gone through such a rigmarole two weeks previously. He replied that I must have had a negligent assistant, and he didn’t bat an eyelid when I told him that it was him who’s served me at the time.
I don’t mind having my details checked; I *do* mind the attitude and lies of the shop staff.
I came out of the shop some twenty five minutes after I’d gone in to find half an inch of snow on the roads and an inch of snow on my car. We’ve not had snow for years. Fudge doesn’t like it very much. I wonder what the puppy makes of it…
13 January 2017 (Friday) - Icy
I had a frankly terrible night’s sleep. When "er indoors TM" came to bed “quietly” she woke me up. Just as I was nodding off again so the puppy started crying so "er indoors TM" went down to her. I nodded off again just as the puppy was brought upstairs to run riot all over the bed. When the puppy settled, "Furry Face TM" decided to jump onto the bed and march all around it. And my phone was beeping with Facebook and email notifications all night long even though both the mobile data and wi-fi were turned off.
er indoors TM" got up when her alarm went off at 7.30am and I got half an hour’s sleep before "My Boy TM" phoned. Because of the snow they were walking Lacey to school (rather than driving); did I want to divert my dog walk to go meet up with them. They knew I’d be out with the dogs already because I’m always up early (!) They were twenty minutes’ walk from home, so I suggested they picked us up on the way past the house. I made up some story about not quite having set off on the walk; I didn’t want them to know they’d woken me up.
And so twenty minutes later we were walking up the road. Loads of people were walking too; as usual half an inch of snow had brought England to a standstill. Mind you for all that everyone says this sarcastically, I don’t. I realise that some of my friends are used to serious snow. In Milwaukee, Ohio and Goteborg there is regularly seriously deep snow for months on end. But we don’t get this in Kent. When I was first transferred to Canterbury in September 2011 I was rather concerned about driving in the snow. And in the five and a bit years that I’ve been working in Canterbury we’ve had snow once. When I was a lad we had snow every year; often several times. We *really* don’t get it any more and so the country is unaccustomed to the stuff.
We had a rather good walk this morning; however we hadn’t been walking for more than twenty yards when the puppy fell over after slipping on some ice. This worried me; if she fell over with her low centre of gravity (and four legs) what hope did I have? And then there was an almighty wallop as a passing teenager fell off of his bike as he hit a sheet of ice. We picked him up; he seemed OK. I didn’t say anything but what kind of twit tries to cycle on ice?
Dan had to get some shopping from the local corner shop; Cheryl and Lacey went on to school as time was pressing. This suited Dan as he wanted a sausage roll and Cheryl has told him that he’s on a diet. We devoured sausage rolls then caught up with the girls. With Lacey delivered to school we then took the dogs for a walk through the park. Rolo seemed to enjoy being with my dogs; apparently he shows off and is lippy with bigger dogs when he is with the family wolf-pack.
Viccie Park was quite pretty in the aftermath of last night’s snow. There had been enough to make the grassy areas appear white, and enough to make the paths icy. We stayed off the paths as much as possible, the little puppy again fell over on the ice.
Once home I popped both dogs in the bath and ran some warm water to wash their paws. The ice that they pick up can be gritty and salty and I didn’t want them licking it. And with paws washed both dogs were soon sound asleep.
I had planned to go for a substantial geo-walk today. I’ve got a garden which needs working on. And the shed needs a serious spring clean. But once I’d had a late brekkie I looked out of the window to see more heavy snow falling. So I abandoned all plans and slobbed about. I considered putting in a formal complaint to “Pets at Home” about the attitude of their staff last night, but what would it achieve? Instead, I put the telly on and watched an episode of “The Darling Buds of May” that I’ recorded on to the SkyPlus box. It is now twenty-five years since that series was first broadcast and I’ve never watched it before; I quite like it.
With the dogs still sleeping I then spent a little while working on my latest Wheri-project. I’m creating a virtual Crystal Maze game set in the co-op field. I got it mostly all mapped out before the dogs woke. I got myself a sandwich and shared it with the dogs. They both went back to sleep; I thought about going to see my mum, but the roads were still icy, so instead I watched more telly. Brideshead Revisited, Chariots of Fire, even more Darling Buds until "er indoors TM" came home. She said most of the ice and snow had gone. I hope so – I’m off to work early tomorrow morning…
14 January 2017 (Saturday) - A Day At Work
I had another restless night; or to be more precise "er indoors TM" and the puppy had another restless night and I had the knock-on effects. I got up ten minutes before the alarm was due to go off and came downstairs to realise I'd not cleared away the wreckage of last night's dinner. I heaved it all into the dishwasher then did my morning's ablutions. As I messed about in the bathroom I noticed the sink's plughole was draining better than it had been. Thank heavens for life's small mercies - the dangerous chemicals and boiling water I'd poured down in during the week had paid off. One never realises just how wonderful a drain is until it is blocked.
Over brekkie I watched a very old episode of "Dad's Army"; so old it had been made in black and white. Mind you it was still entertaining enough. Being a very early episode the characters were still being established and Corporal Jones *wasn't* continually bellowing about their not liking it up 'em.
That improved the show beyond all recognition.
I spent a few minutes scraping the ice off of my car; I'd been dreading the drive to work today (in the ice left over from the recent snow) but the only ice was on the cars from the overnight frost. Pretty much all of the ice on the roads (from the snow) had gone.
I went to work via Old Wives' Lees; a couple of weeks ago a group of half a dozen of us had failed to find a particularly fiendish geocache there. Armed with a rather substantial hint I went back this morning and despite it being minus three degrees and an hour before sunrise I soon had the thing in my hand. I must admit I don't like hunting Tupperware in the dark, but farting about with a torch was the only option for today.
I then went on to a rather empty Morrisons for some supplies. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing a sheep farmer who lived in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Whereas all the other farmers were whinging about tourists getting in the way of their sheep, this chap was making a small fortune by renting out his barns as holiday homes for the same tourists. I got the impression all the other farmers hated him.
There was also a lot of talk about the perceived pressures on the NHS; the government is pushing GP surgeries to stay open longer to take the pressure off of hospitals. This is a good idea in theory; in practice it will just take the workload from one overworked bunch and drop it on another. No one seems to have given any thought as to how the GPs will staff these extra hours. There isn't a pool of qualified GPs waiting to be employed. And didn't the country just vote against importing any more workers?
Do we want the existing GPs to work longer hours? Do we want to be seen by a GP who has already done more than a fair day's work? Or should we just strip doctors out of the hospitals.
The whole thing hasn't been thought out, has it?
I got to work and had a rather busy time of it. I sometimes describe my daily round as hours of deadly dull interspersed with moments of sheer panic, and that was certainly the case today. There are certain cases you only see once every few years; I had four of those today, and was glad when the night shift chap arrived.
I’ve got to work again tomorrow…
15 January 2017 (Sunday) - Seat-box, Cakes
I woke at 3.15am to find the puppy was chewing my nose. She meant no harm, but I didn’t get off to sleep again after that. I gave up trying to sleep, and watched an episode of “Dad’s Army” then had a look-see on-line. Just before I went to bed last night I read on Facebook that a cousin had been offered a place on the TV show “Come Dine With Me”; I clicked the “like” button and went to kip. This morning I’d had a message from her to say it was all some scheme and I was now supposed to post some nonsense on Facebook as a status update for “2017 autism awareness”.
What was that all about? Surely posting a direct link to “2017 autism awareness” would achieve far more? I googled “2017 autism awareness” and found nothing apart from an autism awareness week in a few months’ time. I wonder what that was all about.
The ice on my car was melting, so I was able to make a quick getaway this morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some religious farmers. These farmers had decided to take their children out of mainstream education and home-school them instead. Apparently their children didn't like going to school, and the logistics of taking the children to school every day was somewhat inconvenient for all concerned. So the parents felt the children would learn far more from working on a farm than from going to a school.
The parents didn't come over as being particularly bright and the children sounded rather thick. One child was explaining how their farm was breeding goats. The child then milked a goat (on the radio!) and made a great fuss about how he was getting goats' milk out. The way the child spoke gave the distinct impression that absolutely anything might have been coming out and I rather got the impression that the child felt that they were just trying for goats milk this time and next time they might go for apples or a double-decker bus.
The parents then waxed loquaciously about how much the children learn from working on the farm every day, and how they couldn't operate the farm without the children's input. It struck me that there is a very thin line between learning whilst helping on your parent's farm and conscripted child labour.
Being Sunday the pundits on the radio had the obligatory religious spot. They interviewed someone of some religion or other. I can't remember what flavour of lunacy this chap advocated but I do remember he started his diatribe with the phrase "my religion is my social interactions". He then gave a five-minute speech about the importance of friendships and a fulfilling lifestyle. He was quite compelling; I must admit I could relate to a lot of what he was saying about good citizenship and being a part of the community. But somehow (in a complete non-sequitur) all of this somehow proved the existence of his God. The argument went along the lines of "because the garden is pretty there must be magical pixies living in it".
This was followed by a news article in which all sorts of religious types have got upset. Recently a load of Muslims were invited to a service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow as part of some inter-faith thingy and all hell broke loose when it turned out that each side felt the other's beliefs were wrong.
I don't understand religion at all. People seem to ardently believe the most patently nonsensical gibberish.
I stopped off at the boot fair as I drove through Wincheap. Some people were still setting up their stalls but the chap I was hoping to see was already doing business. I went up to the second-hand fishing tackle stall. I was disappointed to see he had no seat-boxes, but when I asked he said he had one. He wasn't actually intending to sell it; he was using it as storage for other bits and bobs. That was exactly why I wanted a seat-box. When he showed me the box I offered him a tenner and he seemed very happy with the deal (as was I). Content in the knowledge that a fair exchange is no robbery I went on to work; arriving just as it was getting light.
I did my bit at work; it was busy enough to keep me out of mischief. And I didn't mind being at work today as I could see from the window that it rained for much of the day. And another good reason for being at work was that because today was the last day I'd be working with Luke, he'd brought in cakes. Several cream ones. Good lad !!
I came home to find the puppy had eaten one of my slippers…
16 January 2017 (Monday) - Crockham Wood
I slept through until shortly after half past seven this morning when I woke to find I was cuddling two dogs as though they were teddy bears. It was rather sweet. Admittedly one dog was chewing my wrist, but you can’t have everything.
Over brekkie I checked my emails. I got a little bit frustrated. I’ve been working on a new Wherigo – a GPS game to play on your phone. Basically you’d play out a simplified version of the TV show “The Crystal Maze” in the co-op field, and depending on how many gold tokens you get you would be directed to one of three distinct geocaches.
The local geo-fed liked the concept but yesterday he told me it was against the rules (I don’t think I explained the idea to him as well as I might). However he referred me to geo-HQ. I emailed them and this morning they emailed back to say they don’t answer Wherigo questions. However a two-minute search of the geo-map showed two Wherigos in the south-east which are *exactly* the sort of thing I have in mind and have been allowed by the geo-feds. I emailed back, and then got the dogs ready to go out.
With dogs leaded up we drove up to Crockham Wood; there is a series of geocaches there (would you believe it?) It was only a small series, but that suited me; I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with two dogs rather than just Fudge. We arrived, and very soon met up with Gordon and Mark, and three of us (and three dogs) went on a rather good walk. I got on fine with two dogs on the dual-lead; mainly because Mark took them for me.
The walk was a tad muddy in places, and there was still quite a bit of ice left over from last week’s snow. It must be said that there seemed to be an awful lot of up-hill and very little down-hill bearing in mind we ended up back where we started, but going out for a walk with friends is always good. I shall be starting the new job next week and the option for a mid-week walk won’t be there for some months so I was glad to be able to make the most of it today.
When we were about ten minutes into the walk I got a message that more friends thought they would do this walk today; but they were at least an hour behind us. It would have been good to have seen them… next time we will.
Geocache-wise it was an excellent walk. Just lately I seem to have done a lot of walks in which the caches are (seemingly) miles apart. The caches on this walk were (for me) ideally placed and all took just a little more finding that the average film-pot-under-a-rock would. Most were big enough to put swappable and trackable stuff into. There were three field puzzles to solve whilst we were out, and they were straightforward, and the puzzle to be solved at home was tricky enough to make you think. A two-hour walk over two and a half miles; in all respects it would be the ideal series for anyone wondering what all the fuss is about to have a go at.
We said our goodbyes, and once home I popped the dogs in the bath and hosed off their paws and undersides. Being longer-legged it was very noticeable that the puppy’s tummy was a lot less grubby than "Furry Face TM"’s. Once bathed both dogs went to sleep, and over a spot of lunch I watched the first episode of the drama show about Queen Victoria that had been on telly recently. It was rather good so I downloaded the second episode too.
I then got an email from the geo-feds. I *hadn’t* explained my plans for a virtual Crystal Maze as well as I might have done. Once I’d actually explained what I meant the reviewer was very happy with my idea.
Now I need to start work on it.
I’ll watch another episode of “Victoria” first…
17 January 2017 (Tuesday) - Last Rostered Day Off
After a good night’s sleep I was rudely awoken at 6.30am. Someone or something crashed into next-door’s railings which set "Furry Face TM" barking. I’ve never liked next-door’s iron railings; you only have to walk past them for them to make the loudest of crashing noises. Simply closing the gate sounds as though a lorry has burst through the railings.
Over a spot of brekkie I checked out the Internet. For once I read the morning’s emails from LinkedIn rather than just pressing “delete”. It was utterly dull; people I’ve never met had recommended me for skills and abilities that I do not have. And in the footnote of one of the emails they had the cheek to say “This is an occasional email to help you get the most out of LinkedIn”. In my world “occasional” is far less than two or three every day.
I also had a scamming email purporting to be from Axis bank. You have to admire the tenacity of these scammers.
I then had a look on Facebook. I follow various pages connected with various interests of mine; astronomy, small dogs, geocaching, sci-fi, kite-flying, beer, fishing, nudey ladies… As usual there were all sorts of squabbles abounding, and as usual most of the squabblers don’t actually do the hobbies about which they are squabbling.
I popped the lead onto the dogs and we walked off to meet "Daddy’s Little Angel TM". "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" was at nursery; he doesn’t like going there, but seems to enjoy it when he is there. We walked wound to the park where the dogs were released, and the puppies played like things possessed. Fudge chased a squirrel up a tree, and Sid general plodded along at his own pace.
We met OrangeHead who was deep in conversation with a rival dog-walking posse. We knew everyone by sight (it’s a dog-walking thing) and everyone was keen to see the puppies; even more so when they realised that Treacle and Pogo are brother and sister.
We’d brought some bread with us to feed the ducks; we got to Singleton Lake to find it was mostly frozen over. I had thought about going fishing today; on seeing the ice I was glad I hadn’t. We had fun feeding the ducks; by throwing bits of bread an inch or two onto the ice from the water we managed to play duck-ice-breakers. We managed to cut off quite a large iceberg before the swans came over. Fudge barked at them as Treacle stood and started with a “WTF is that?” expression on her face. Pogo even jumped into the lake. It wasn’t deep but it was rather cold but he didn’t seem bothered.
Once home I settled the dogs and drove into town.. Or that was the plan. Yesterday when we came home from our walk I just opened the car door and took the dogs inside. I hadn’t noticed that Treacle had been travel-sick. Fortunately it was still rather cold; clearing up frozen dog vomit was much easier than cleaning up the molten stuff.
I needed new trousers for work. And nowhere that I could find makes trousers for the more rotund physique. However I had been told of one store that did. I had been putting it off, but it was time to bite the bullet. I went to Marks and Spencer. I didn’t want to; only old people shop there. But I got a half-way decent pair of trousers from them that fitted; even if they were twice the price of trousers in Matalan.
Pausing only briefly to call in to Tesco for a few bottles of beer I came home and spent a leisurely afternoon watching more episodes of “Victoria” interspersed with ”The Darling Bids of May”.
Jimbo arrived and I went down to Folkestone with him. We took his pup round the park for a walk then popped round to the chicken shop for some dinner and sunk a few beers before everyone else arrived for the Tuesday gathering. We had a rather good time playing on the ChromeCast game. Should do that more often…
18 January 2017 (Wednesday) - Before the Night Shift
This morning’s haul of emails had one telling me of a job vacancy where I’m going to start working next week. I had heard there were vacancies there; this advert was for a fixed term position covering a spell of maternity leave. And this position was for a grade above the one I’m going to be starting on. Maybe I might ask about it on Monday?
I also had an email which was supposedly from the United Nations Lottery Fund (?) which had as its subject line “improtant”. It didn’t seem “improtant” to me; it seemed to be more of a scam. I also had another email from the exotic and refined Asian women who are still waiting for me. I think they are in for a long wait.
I then got a little bit peeved with Facebook. I’ve signed up for the “#walk100miles” thingy and was reading its Facebook page. Some idiotic woman who clearly is very new to the Internet was having a rant at how people are posting photos of themselves and where they’ve been walking on-line. She was *very* concerned that muggers and rapists would see these photos of people out in the countryside and having identified potential victims, these muggers and rapists would know who to mug and rape and where to find them.
I couldn’t understand her point. I’ve (so far) never been mugged or raped when out and about. However if I was a mugger or a rapist I personally wouldn’t pore over social media trying to find a victim, then spend ages trying to identify which bit of the countryside the victim seems to frequent. I’d lurk around a nearby wood and take pot luck.
I took the dogs for a walk round the park. We did our usual circuit and the walk passed off pretty much without incident. But as we walked I had my SmartWatch and my phone recording the walk; I think I need to whack up my mileage if I’m going to actually complete this “#walk100miles” thing. Last year I measured our usual circuit (on my GPS unit) at a shade over one mile and it took about fifty minutes. I never really thought about it at the time, but on reflection that distance seems more than a mile, but fifty minutes did seem about right. Mind you I’ve always felt that “Hannah” overestimates distances.
At the end of the walk today my watch said we’d done one point six miles in forty minutes. However it had said we’d done point nine of a mile at what is clearly (from the map) the half-way point. At the end of the walk my phone said we’d done one point eight miles in forty-eight minutes. I’m going to assume my watch went doolally for the last eight minutes and take a distance of one point eight miles for our standard walk.
Once home I put some washing on to cook, and watched a little more “Victoria” and “Darling Buds of May” before spending the afternoon asleep.
I’m off to the night shift now. I saw "er indoors TM" fleetingly this morning; I will have a few minutes handover with colleagues at work in a bit, then I shall be alone all night long. These night shifts make for lonely times…
19 January 2017 (Thursday) - Between the Last Night Shifts
I had a surprisingly busy night at work last night; I was glad to see the relief arrive at 8am. As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the Prime Minister's decision to go for a "hard" Brexit as though that was in any way surprising. Having had a vote to leave the EU how could any Prime Minister consider any sort of Brexit which would leave us still beholden to European law.
Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen. Personally I have reservations bearing in mind the amount of “big name” firms that are relocation from London into mainland Europe, but time will tell. It always does.
I soon tired of the drivel on the radio; I'd been listening to it all night so I switched to my Roy Orbison CD that I'd bought on Morrisons last night.
As I drove I got a message from "Daddy’s Little Angel TM". She and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" were planning on walking down to Park Farm to collect the latest bargain she’d bought from one of these Facebook selling pages. Did I want to walk with her?
So I got the dogs and we walked down to Poppy Mead. Poppy Mead? – no we had no idea where it was either. Bearing in mind how successful our phones have been in sat-nav mode we thought we’d get them to guide us. Utter disaster. I’ve never used walking mode on my phone before and probably never will again. It didn’t help that the phone obviously didn’t know any of the cut-throughs round Park Farm. But if all else fails, ask passers-by.
We came home to find the postman had been. I had the annual mortgage statement. I must admit that getting the mortgage paid is my biggest worry. If all goes tits up (again) I would like to have the house paid off as a fall-back position (if you know what I mean). It turns out we now only owe a shade under seven thousand pounds. *Only*... I wish I could pay that off here and now.
Mind you I had a letter from the KnowHow people. They’d closed the account that I mentioned the other day and ever refunded me with eighteen quid. That was a result.
I spend the afternoon asleep, and now I’m off to the last night shift (and last of any shift) with my current employer. It feels like the end of an era… It also feels rather tired….
20 January 2017 (Friday) - End of an Era
I ‘m in something of a reflective mood; I've worked for the same employer for over thirty years; today felt odd. As I wave goodbye to the place I still find it hard to be objective about my time there.
I went for interview for my first job with them in August 1984. I went to the interview from the Boys Brigade camp which was taking place in Smarden in (as luck would have it) in a field adjacent to a farm which was to become such a large part of my life in recent years. I can distinctly remember going for that interview; and as I walked into the hospital I can remember a definite and strong feeling of "NO!"; almost as though God himself was telling me not to go for the interview. But I did; I was offered the job, and I started on September 10 1984.
I hated it. After a couple of months I was seriously considering moving back to Hastings. The job was OK ; I was just working with some rather nasty women. But as time moved on so did they, and they were replaced by people I quite liked. Success in exams got me state registered, and three years after that saw promotion to a supervisor grade.
For all that I grumbled from time to time I was in a job that I could do, and that I felt rewarding. Over the years I trained twenty-five people from appointment to state registration, and even got to travel the country to assess candidates on their suitability to be state registered. Admittedly the night staff would often (usually twice a week) call me in after midnight to sort various issues, but I didn't mind. In retrospect it was good to be able to contribute to the running of a hospital so intimately.
However years in a senior position had its drawbacks. As did being a naturally vocal sort of person. Looking back I should have kept my mouth shut and not argued with the bosses. But I've never been a "yes man"... In August 2011 I made a rather serious mistake (on a day when I'd been asked to do two peoples' jobs). During the investigation another error came to light for which I was given the blame.
After a rather nasty few months a boss who I had thwarted a few times gave me a choice: downgraded and transferred to another place of work or sacked for gross incompetence.
I was (and still am) rather bitter about this; years of service thrown back in my face. I had missed countless family get-togethers and children's birthday parties because I was needed at work. I would regularly give up plans (at a moment's notice) to cover shifts because of other people’s sicknesses and problems. None of this counted for anything.
Everyone with whom I worked at the time rather felt that my punishment was a massive over-reaction, I lost count of the senior managers who told me that they felt I had been treated shabbily, but only six of them felt strongly enough to write a letter of support on my behalf. Most people were frightened of what was seen as a tyrannical management. Mine wasn't the only dismissal at the time.
It was an odd time; there are lots of maxims and proverbs about "knowing who your friends are". I hope none of my loyal readers ever have to find this out. For me it was a serious eye-opener. People with whom I've never got on wrote the most wonderful letters of support for me. Other people with whom I had been close for twenty-five years totally turned their backs on me. I still see those who refused to defend me (when they don't seem me first and then hide); none of them have the courage to look me in the eye. One of them saw me at the railway station recently. He hid behind a pillar, and as I deliberately moved about so did he; clearly trying to hide from me.
My pride felt I should tell them to stick it; practicality made me swallow my pride. I took the downgrade as I needed an income. I spent two years job-hunting. I achieved nothing. After a while I managed to progress back up two grades, but I was (and still am) still saying "yes sir no sir" to people I'd interviewed, appointed and trained. The chance for advancement back to a supervisor grade came up last summer. I applied; I didn't get the job because at interview I "came over as myself". I've been told that for all that the people on the interview panel know me (one has known me since 1983), had I lied to them and pretended to be someone I'm not and spouted the correct management catch-phrases (that I despise) I would have got the promotion.
I'm not unhappy in my job, but I feel I could do so much more than I'm currently doing.
A vacancy came up at Maidstone. It is time for a fresh start.
21 January 2017 (Saturday) - Dog Reunion
It is *just* possible that I might have had too much to drink last night, I rarely get hangovers but I felt like death warmed up this morning.
Over brekkie I had a look-see on-line. A lot of people were grumbling about Donald Trump’s being sworn in at the President of the USA; there were calls to run the election again because obviously the wrong choice had been made. Others were defending the chap as he would be good for British businesses. Personally I’m of the opinion of letting him prove himself before condemning him out of hand. But I would say that for me he would have to prove himself in more ways that just being good for business. The greed for money is pretty much at the root of all the world’s ills.
"er indoors TM" went off to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We then all drove up to the fields by the rugby club for something of a family reunion. There had been a meet-up arranged for the puppy’s mother, father and some of her brothers and sisters. There were lots of people, and even more dogs. We had a really good time, but looking back not a lot really happened. We all stood around whilst various dogs did “dog things”. Other dog-walkers joined in, and we spent over an hour generally having canine mayhem. Eventually it got too cold to stand about so we came home for a warming cuppa. Once home I made a video out of the photos I’d taken earlier. It didn’t take long; I moth do that more often.
I had a rather lazy afternoon. "er indoors TM" then set off to the climbing afternoon that had been planned. I could have gone along but I didn’t. I could also have gone to an astro-observing evening. I didn’t. Instead I spent the rest of the day watching rubbish on the telly and feeling ill. Much as I like a booze-up I have to question the logic of spending a fortune just to make myself feel ill. I still felt rough at 8pm…
22 January 2017 (Sunday) - Cold Day
Over brekkie I had a look-see at the world via the Internet. It would seem that whilst I moped about feeling ill yesterday people all around the world were having protest marches about the inauguration of President Donald Trump. There was even one such march in London. From what we read in the press it does seem that the American people haven’t made the best choice, but that is democracy for you. A scheme which goes with majority rule as its only criterion rather presupposes that the majority aren’t as thick as two short planks. An unscrupulous politician offering the world on a stick (and rubbishing any common sense which might be said by their opponents) is going to get the votes of the masses.
Perhaps a concerted effort to increase the educational level of the human race might end up with a few less patently ridiculous election results?
Bearing in mind I start driving up the motorway to get to work from tomorrow I spent a few minutes playing with the dash-cam I’d got for Christmas. However I soon hit a major problem; all of the menus on the thing are in Chinese. (I say Chinese; it is some incomprehensible hieroglyphic).
If any of my loyal readers speak Chinese or incomprehensible hieroglyphic I’d be grateful for any assistance.
Usually Sunday is “serious walk day” but January is cold. And today there was a geo-meet planned nearby by a chap visiting the area from Colchester. So we drove up to Wye Crown where quite a few people were congregating. It was good to chat with old friends, and to put faces to names I’ve read on geo-logs all over the place. The meet was scheduled to last for thirty minutes; we stayed for an hour.
But for all that today was cold, our dogs did need a walk. So we drove out to Lyminge where there were three multi-geocaches. Each of which involved going to a given location, getting some information, solving a puzzle and then making out way to the final geocache. If nothing else it involved walking about; which was what the dogs needed. And we found the final caches of two out of the three.
Mind you if I’m going to achieve this #walk1000miles thing I need to be walking more than I have been. When I first heard about it I thought it would be easy. After all I walk a lot. But… basic maths tells us that to achieve it I’ve got to walk a shade over two point seven miles every day. Our average dog walk is coming in at one point eight miles which gives me about a mile to make up every day.
Like everything else there is a Facebook group for the #walk1000miles. And like all Facebook groups it is causing squabbles. There is apparently a lot of discontent about the people who are complaining about other people who are telling the world how far they have walked so far. So far I’ve only read stuff from that page. I’ve got enough arguments that I never started already.
I dozed for quite a bit of the afternoon, and during the evening with "er indoors TM" off bowling and both dogs snoring I watched the first two episodes of “Taboo”; an odd show but I didn’t nod off so it can’t be that bad…
23 January 2017 (Monday) - New Job
I had a headache which lasted most of last night; over brekkie I suddenly realised it had gone. As I scoffed my toast I had a mooch on-line. I’d had an email from Sarah Jehi who was asking me for a donation for God’s charity work. Or so I thought originally. It turned out she was actually lying about giving loads of money away if only I would send her all of my banking details first. These scams are never-ending.
Facebook was full of warnings about the bad weather, so I set off to Maidstone (not Canterbury any more) hoping for the best.
The warnings were right – thick fog and minus six degrees temperature made for a rotten journey. But going up the M20 was better than going up the A28 would have been. As I drove the pundits on the radio were ranting about how eating burnt toast gives you cancer. They wheeled on an expert on the subject, and were rather dismayed when the expert said that eating burnt toast *didn’t* give you cancer.
There was also consternation about a Trident missile test which allegedly went wrong last year. The Prime Minister had been asked about the matter on live TV and had refused to comment on the matter. And rightly so. A missile test not going to plan is the very reason why they test missiles in the first place. And what kind of a twit would broadcast the details of a possible missile failure to the entire world?
I got to Maidstone eventually; there is no denying that today’s journey wasn’t an auspicious start for what (hopefully) will be the next fourteen years.
I started my new job and…
I rarely blog about work, and I’m not going to do so today. Suffice it to say I quite like the look of what I saw and I fully intend to go back tomorrow.
The journey home took exactly the same length of time as driving home from Canterbury used to…
And with "er indoors TM" out for the third night running, the puppy has just shat on the carpet.
24 January 2017 (Tuesday) – Harpoons
"er indoors TM" couldn’t sleep last night; the puppy was just a tad restless. I did consider reminding her that having a puppy was her idea but thought better of it; I wanted to get *some* sleep. I didn’t get much.
Had I not started a new job yesterday I would have phoned in sick today (if only to get some shut-eye); it was a shame that all the restlessness stopped about ten minutes before my alarm was about to go off.
With nothing on the SkyPlus box to watch over brekkie I did a little channel-hopping and found some fishing shows on the “Quest” channel. Henry Gilbey is always entertaining. He swears an awful lot on the telly; the bleeping makes for entertaining viewing.
However I wasn’t sure about “Off The Hook; Extreme Catches”. To my mind you either catch a fish to safely release it, or to eat it. However this show featured some American wrestler (that I’d never heard of) who was doing all sorts of macho posturing and then set off to see how many fish he could harpoon. He then zoomed around on water skis with a garden fork trying to stab fish as he went past. That wasn’t fishing; that was cruelty. I was surprised that this was allowed on the telly at breakfast time.
And so to work. Today wasn’t icy, and I set off hoping for a better journey that I’d had yesterday. It probably was better. As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing Israel’s plans to build houses on some disputed land. This has caused all sorts of consternation. They wheeled on someone who had an axe to grind on the matter. I don’t know what side of the argument this woman was on; it was irrelevant. All this woman could do was harp on about perceived injustices which happened in the year 1948 as a “tit-for-tat” for some other perceived injustice. It was very clear that both sides were far more interested in keeping old grievances alive. There will never be peace in the Middle East all the time this mentality persists.
I got to work; at lunch time I heard the news that the government needs the say-so of parliament before they can enact any Brexit. Doesn’t this just illustrate what a shambles the entire Brexit referendum was? And to add insult to injury the Scottish Nationalists don’t like the result of the Brexit referendum so they are threatening a retaliatory independence one of their own.
Once home I walked the dogs round the road. The puppy pulled like a train the entire way; once home she wanted to go to the garden where she did both “businesses”. Perhaps if I send her in the back garden before we walk, the next walk will be a little less of a route-march.
Being Tuesday the clans would normally gather, but I cried off. I didn’t sleep much at all last night. I think an early night might be a good idea…
25 January 2017 (Wednesday) - Crisis of Confidence
I think I’ve developed a cold; I didn’t sleep well at all last night (again). I was breathless for much of the night.
Over a rather early brekkie I watched an episode of “The Darling Buds of May”; it was rather predictable, but passed an hour. I then had a look at the Internet; pretty much nothing of note had happened overnight so I set off for work. I was glad that the car hadn’t iced up, but it was foggy this morning. And as I drove I realised how grubby the windscreen had become. I suppose that can only be a result of forty miles of motorway driving every day. I shall do something rather rash – I shall wash my car this weekend.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing President Trump. The chap is apparently going ahead with his plans to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. And he is also apparently adamant that the Mexicans are going to pay for it. Interesting times…
I got to work... It is still early days and I’m still learning what lanes to be in at what stage of the journey, and where is the best place to park in the hospital car park. I had a minor melt-down when I got to the car park this morning. It actually took a major effort of will to walk into the place today. For all that I can come over as a loud extrovert, like all loud extroverts I’m actually rather shy. I’m the new boy in the place; there is probably about thirty to forty people in the laboratory where I work and I’m probably one of the oldest three there. Everyone knows everyone else, and I don’t know anyone.
Have I made a terrible mistake in leaving all that I knew and venturing into the unknown? Possibly. Who knows… Time will tell. It always does. But there is no going back - my old job has gone as a cost-saving.
In the meantime I shall carry on treating the whole thing as a big adventure. Which it is.
From work I went straight to Steve and Sarah’s where we had a rather good bit of Chinese, followed by an astro club committee meeting. All sorts of plans made for the future. I wonder how I’ll arrange my working life around them?
26 January 2017 (Thursday) - The Fags Mystery
I slept for a few hours last night; I would have slept better had the puppy not kept mounting commando raids on me.
Over brekkie I watched more “Darling Buds of May”; I kept wondering if I should send a formal apology to Catherine Zeta-Jones. At the time when the show was first broadcast I maintained she was only a celebrity for getting her tits out, but on finally watching the show I can see she’s actually a rather good actress.
Today’s episode also featured Denis Lill; an actor who I first noticed in my favourite show “Survivors” and consequently seems to have had bit parts in pretty much every TV show of the last thirty years. It also featured “Bernard” from “Yes Minister” playing an alcoholic ventriloquist.
I was pleased to see no ice of the car; I was mystified to find a packet of fags on the passenger seat. Where had they come from?
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing Dick Van Dyke about the recent death of Mary Tyler Moore. She died yesterday; Danny Kaye of “Allo Allo” died a day or so ago. Last year social media was alive with crocodile tears every time a celebrity croaked. This year no one cares.
Dick Van Dyke was being ribbed about his appalling cockney accents in films in the 1960s and 1970s. He laughed; he admitted his cockney accent in those films was awful. He also said that not one person he worked with at the time said a word about it; had they done so he would have found out how cockeys really speak.
There was also the shocking news that one out of five UK children live in poverty. I’ve read so many posts on social media recently lambasting socialist ideals and saying how the country is so much better under a Conservative government… clearly not better for everyone.
I made good time on my way to work today. Once there I got talking with colleagues; it turned out that one of the chaps with whom I work actually used the website I designed for trainees a couple of years ago. I was pleased about that.
I also got my payslip. I’ve only been there four days and I got paid. And I didn’t pay a penny in tax. Knowing that the tax man always gets his bit I queried this and was told that according to my tax code I don’t get taxed on the first thousand pounds I earn in any job I start (regardless of how much I’ve earned in the rest of the financial year). The nice lady ion the payroll department was crystal clear on the matter; I could start another new job next Monday and the first thousand pounds would be tax-free.
I’m taking this to be a little bonus.
If only I didn’t feel so grim. I rarely get colds, but when I do, I suffer…
27 January 2017 (Friday) – Pulsars
I wonder if I might work out some way of sleeping sitting up? I manage to nod off when sitting at all times; I really need to work out a comfortable way to do it all night. I slept till 4am thins morning but woke very breathless and congested and feeling grim. Much of which passed when I’d been sitting up for a few minutes.
Over brekkie I watched more “Darling Buds of May”; it is quite a good show. I’m amazed I never picked up on it before. I then had a look-see on-line. I had two emails from the Royal National Institute for the Blind which I didn’t read. I had three emails from LinkedIn who somehow know I’ve changed my job recently. How did they know that? I also had an email from the building society asking how I wanted them to send me all the info about their upcoming AGM. Personally I have no interest in their AGM at all.
I had a few minutes spare and seeing the car wasn’t iced over I thought I’d wash down the windscreen. The car wasn’t icy but the pavement was. I nearly (but not quite) went arse over tit on the ice, and was amazed to see some idiot zooming past me on a skateboard on a pavement which was sheet ice.
I set off for work; the pundits on the radio were speculating about today’s meeting of the newly appointed President Trump and the British Prime Minister. The general feeling was that the two probably had absolutely nothing in common whatsoever, but Mrs May would suck up to Mr Trump (like all British Prime Ministers do to all American Presidents) and Mr Trump would let her.
I made good time to work. I’m of the opinion that for all the journey is longer, being on the motorway and given a clear run, the journey to Maidstone takes almost exactly as long as the journey to Canterbury used to.
Work was good; for all that I had a minor meltdown a couple of days ago I’m thinking I might have made the right move. So far no one has formally reported me for supposed misdemeanours of trivial insignificance.
During breaks at work I had a look-see on-line. There was some minor consternation with the astro club’s event planned for this evening for which I was (as usual) to blame. Those who delight in making mischief had taken umbrage that I hadn’t sent them a personal invitation to the evening’s meeting. Now (leaving aside the fact that the person in question delights in publicly blanking me) I’m taking the line that everyone who is connected with the astro club knows that meetings are the last Friday of every month, and I can’t invite anyone to anything via Facebook when they’ve defriended me.
In the past I’ve sent out generic emails reminding people about these events, but toward the end of last year a few people made comments about receiving an email telling them what they already knew, so I rather gave up on the idea. Perhaps I might start sending those emails again. But only to those who acknowledge my existence.
I’m sorry, but my piss is boiled here. And if it boils again I shall write to the club secretary (even if the secretary is me).
I finished work, and spent a few minutes trying to check out the best place to get petrol. And once petrolled I went on to astro club prepared for a fight (verbal or physical). But the day’s squabbles came to nothing, and Charlotte gave a frankly excellent talk on pulsars. She got a tad technical in places; as I pointed out I am a genius and I struggled to understand. But she was keen to explain in all sorts of details.
Not a bad night really.
Bed time now. My nose is bunged up and I keep coughing. I wonder how long I can sleep sitting up?
28 January 2016 (Saturday) – Brenchley
Last night I wrapped myself in my alpaca poncho, attached an inflatable neck pillow and my CPAP machine and had a go at sleeping sitting up. It was a partial success; I didn’t sleep any longer but when I woke in the small hours I didn’t feel anywhere near so rough. As the world slept I watched an episode of “The Crystal Maze” and an episode of “Star Trek” then went back to sitting-up sleep. I got another couple of hours of shut-eye and again woke snotty, but not as grim as I have been these last few mornings.
Over brekkie I had a look-see on-line. John Hurt had died overnight. He’s one celebrity of whom I had heard. He was in “Alien” and “Doctor Who” and all sorts of things over the years but I got the news via the news channels. Unlike last year, only a few people had picked up on it on social media. Hopefully last year’s mass hysteria about the death of celebrities has run its course.
I also saw that the Spanish government wants to start talks with the British government about trade deals as soon as possible, regardless of the fact that legally they can’t.
I’ve always felt that we *shouldn’t* have a second Brexit referendum as the decision has been made, but more and more I’m coming to the conclusion that everyone involved needs to start again and decide exactly *what* is involved with Brexit. It certainly seems to be being made up as things go along.
We got the leads on to the dogs, and drove out to Brenchley. Today was the monthly geo-meet, and a little series of geocaches had gone live in the area. A general invitation had gone out to anyone who fancied a walk, and a dozen of us met up in the pub car park and went for a stroll.
I must admit I’d been wondering if I should have cried off; this cold has rather taken it out of me, and the weather hasn’t been good this week, but I was glad that I went. The sun shone and it was a bright warm morning. Geocache-wise the walk was excellent; a well-marked route of a couple of miles with a variety of caches and hides. Being the first bunch out our group got several First to Finds, and I got three of them myself.
We got back to the cars, changed out of muddy boots, and went for a beer or two. The Halfway House in Brenchley had eight ales on; all poured from the barrel. Not too shabby. I had four pints with my ham and eggs, and slept much of the way home, and slept for much of the rest of the afternoon.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a pizza and went off to film night. I ironed shirts and felt ill. I might have another early night…
29 January 2017 (Sunday) - Feeling Rough
I had another night of two halves; spending an hour wide awake watching telly in the small hours. The first series of “Chewing Gum” was rather good as I remember it. I watched the third episode of the second season at 3am this morning and it was a disappointment. I’ve always maintained that a good TV show doesn’t need to get the star’s tits out, and when the tits do come out then the writers are clearly struggling.
I struggled to get comfortable last night; for all that I can breathe better when sleeping sitting up, it does hurt my bum. I eventually got up at 9am; for all that this might sound a lie-in I had been coughing pretty much constantly since 6.30am.
"er indoors TM" boiled up some hot cross buns for brekkie, and then I spent a few moments writing up my CPD (it’s a work thing). In a previous life I used to do that on the night shifts, but I won’t be doing those for a little while.
I submitted reading for my leccie and gas meters; the power company had asked for them. And then we took the dogs round the park. We did our usual circuit; what with working days and dark evenings we’ve not been round the park for a while; I’ve quite missed the place.
We came home, and slobbed about for a bit. I played “Gems and Genies” whilst "er indoors TM" played some game which involved banishing a “rascal penguin”. The "Furry Shark TM" dozed, and "Furry Face TM" randomly barked at anything which took his fancy. We made a flying visit to the tip, then went round to see "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". We watched all sorts of nonsense on the telly, the dogs ran riot, and Sam cooked up a rather good roast dinner. After dinner we had muffins baked by my grandson. He makes a good cake.
It was only a shame that I felt so grim; but I think we’ve all got this bug.
Today was very much a lazy day. I didn’t really do very much at all and still I feel worn out.
30 January 2017 (Monday) - "Love Mondays !!"
Bearing in mind that I’ve spent over an hour wide awake in the middle of the previous two nights I deliberately didn’t have an early night last night. Perhaps I should have done? I wasn’t wide awake for over an hour at any point, but I probably did see every hour of the night as the puppy spent much of the night alternately marching over the bed and burrowing under the covers.
Over brekkie the Darling Buds of May kept me entertained, then I had a look-see on-line. It took a little while to get on-line; I had to re-boot the router as nothing seemed to be happening. Having worked faultlessly for months; I’ve now had to re-boot the thing twice in one week. I do hope it is not going the way of the old one which was unreliable to the point of being useless.
I eventually got into cyber-space to find I had an email telling me that the beautiful and refined Asian women were still waiting for me. Judging by the amount of emails they send it would seem that they have been waiting for me for quite some time.
With little else of note happening on the internet I set off to work; it was good not to have to scrape ice or constantly be wiping condensation from the windscreen. I stopped off briefly at Asda for vital supplies (bumwipe doesn’t buy itself), and then got cross as I listened to the radio on the way to work. President Trump has banned all travel to America from several Muslim countries supposedly on the grounds that they are responsible for all the world’s ills. Leaving aside the utter arbitrariness of this decision, what boiled my piss was the attitude of the pundits on Radio 4. Having spent years never once saying a good word about Muslims and spreading so many bad things about them, today they were accusing President Trump of doing exactly what they did.
I got to work, and hid a geocache. I wonder who will get FTF on it. As I walked in to work I found myself thinking of the Reed Employment Agency’s slogan “Love Mondays”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love Monday. And I’m sure that with the passage of time my opinion will change. But today I was rather looking forward to going to my new job. Last week I found that the people were friendly and I learned quite a bit of new stuff. Today was another good day.
I expect that in the fullness of time I will find fault with the place and find someone to dislike, but that is for the future…
31 January 2017 (Tuesday) - Kindle Format
Another terrible night thanks to a restless puppy. "er indoors TM" went downstairs with that baby dog at about 4:30am, and it was shortly after that when my dog started having nightmares. I gave up trying to sleep and went downstairs myself and sent "er indoors TM" and the puppy back upstairs.
I scoffed brekkie and in between fits of coughing I watched David Jason in “The Darling Buds Of May”. I can’t help but wonder if he was cast as “Pop Larkin” for reasons of karma; surely Pop Larkin is just a successful version of Del Boy?
I had a good run to work today; as I drove the pundits on the radio were discussing the news that Peter Capaldi is leaving the role of “Doctor Who”. In an interview he said that he feels it is time to move on. He’s done the job for three years and he’s never spent more than three years in a job. I can relate to that – having effectively spent over thirty years in one job I’m really enjoying doing something different.
I stopped off at Aldi in Maidstone this morning; it is on my way to work. There is a pound-shop and a pet shop next door to it, but they don’t open until 8.30am. I might have a look at them if I come past later one morning, but I’m a bit loathe to be chancing the rush-hour traffic.
During tea break I finished my latest read on my Kindle app. “The Mote in God’s Eye” is certainly one of my top three books. My original paperback version (bought in 1982) fell apart from over-reading. I’ve got another paperback which is similarly falling apart. I got the Kindle version last week. I pity anyone who tries to read it. The editing is piss-poor; there are no paragraphs at all. A break in a paragraph would indicate a change of scene. The reader doesn’t get that break. I’ve read the book so many times that I know what is going one. A first time reader would have no idea what was happening.
Such a shame.
I had another good day at work; and made good time home. Once home I took the dogs round the block. I can’t wait until the longer nights when I can take them round the park.
We scoffed a rather good bit of dinner whilst watching normal people totally losing in The Crystal Maze, then Martin arrived and we drove round to Arden Drive for the Tuesday evening gathering. We got Alexa (Chris’s computer thingy) to tell dirty jokes and then watched an episode of “Gotham”. Good stuff…