1 January 2020 (Wednesday) - New Year's Day
New Year… I suppose it is traditional to review what’s gone before. 2019 was a good year in some ways. A bad year in others. I had some rather good holidays with friends and family last year. I had a couple of bouts of sick leave (which weren’t good), and a couple of episodes which I’ve deliberately kept quiet. Here’s hoping for the future…
I woke feeling a tad grim, which wasn’t an auspicious start to the new decade. I programmed “Hannah” for the day’s adventure as I scoffed toast, then had a look at the Internet. It might be a new decade, but old habits die hard. Facebook was rather quiet (most people were still sleeping off yesterday evening) but I had an email which made me think. Geocaching HQ had sent out an email asking how I did geocaching-wise last year. I had many good times caching both in a few minutes before work, and for whole days (and longer) with friends. But in terms of numbers of finds this was my worst year ever. Purely because people aren’t going out and hiding the caches. I posted a whinge on the “Geocaching in Kent” Facebook page. It provoked a few comments, but no one could really argue with the underlying problem faced by the geocaching hobby which is that far more people like hunting for film pots hidden under rocks rather than actually putting film pots under rocks.
We got ourselves together (which was rather straightforward) and the dogs together (which took some doing) and drove up to Badlesmere where the traditional New Years Day geo-meet was taking place. Some twenty-five people and eight dogs met up and we had a rather good walk. It wasn’t *that* muddy (mostly). It was really good to catch up with friends. We walked for a couple of hours then ended up at the Red Lion in Badlesmere where we had a very tasty lunch washed down by a couple of pints of Christmas ale. (Hic!)
And I took a few photos of our adventure too.
Once home we all fell asleep in front of the telly; eventually waking in time to watch the first episode of the new season of “Doctor Who”. Had they done away with the three rather annoying hangers-on and allowed Jodie Whittaker to develop her own character (rather than doing yet another impression of Christopher Eclestone) then maybe it might have been good. As it was, it wasn’t.
We then watched the New Year Bake-Off episode which featured the cast of “Derry Girls” which was rather fun…
Not a bad day off…
2 January 2020 (Thursday) - Late Shift
I had a rather restless night. I eventually gave up trying to sleep and got up. I used up the last of the bread making my toast and sarnies; I expect "er indoors TM" laid an egg when she realised, then I had a look at the Internet as I do. Someone with whom I used to work was posting on Facebook about the excellent work that volunteer drivers do for the NHS. I suppose that they do what they do with good intentions, but having volunteer drives led to the redundancy of at least one chap that I knew of. And how far can we go with volunteers in the NHS? I’ve been led around an out-patient department by a WI volunteer who was *very* interested in reading my medical notes. Why not ask if anyone would volunteer to do the portering and cleaning? It is a very short step to getting all the NHS staff to go and get a proper job and have them all come back as volunteers. Interestingly the move (several years ago) to get retired ex-managers from industry involved was very soon abandoned. The NHS is never going to be funded properly (by any political party) all the time someone is offering to do the job for free.
I had a lot of emails this morning; quite a few people had been out looking for (and finding) the geocaches that I’d hidden over the last year. I was quite pleased to see “found it” reports on caches which (only two weeks ago) I had been assured were missing.
With some time to spare I took the dogs for a walk round the park. Despite all having been chivvied into the garden earlier to “do their business”, a surprising amount of “business” was conducted as we went round the park. Our walk went rather well; we only met one other dog. It was a shame that it had to be one of the local “pampered princesses”. The chap with this delicate blossom was being deliberately awkward. As we diverted to walk away from him and his pooch so he would change direction to still be where we were going.
Some people, eh? Mind you I found a Munzee – happy days (!)
We came home; I harvested a quite impressive crop of dog turds from the garden. Several people have commented on how we gather up the dog dung and flush it down the loo. It would seem that we are in the minority of dog-herds in clearing our garden of poop. When questioned other people have said that they just leave it there. Yuk!!
I then looked at my credit card bill. I really wish the bank could sort themselves out; the bank statement comes on the same day every month, but I am reliably informed that it is impossible to have a credit card statement on the same date every month. It is randomly generated at any time between the twentieth and the end of the month. I wish they’d get themselves sorted…
And having looked at the credit card bill I then looked at organising the geo-meet for February. I’ve volunteered to host it, and thought that the Red Lion in Badlesmere might be a good venue. After all, it’s tried and tested.
As I drove to work there was a rather interesting article on the radio about illegal immigrants coming from Sierra Leone. Apparently the vast majority of those who illegally leave Sierra Leone go back to where they came from because of the dangers they face on their journey elsewhere. The danger of death from the desert and ocean crossings is nothing compared to the danger of being captured and sold into slavery. And going home isn't an easy option. Everyone trying to escape the country has to pay to be smuggled out. The going rate is about three thousand pounds, and because those wanting out don't have a pot to piss in, they've had to steal that money. So they are going back to disgrace and a probable prison sentence.
And we in the UK always thought these illegal immigrants had it easy...
I spent a few minutes before work having a little geo-adventure. Interestingly the people who claimed to have found one of the film pots I found today *hadn't* signed the piece of paper. that's pretty damn serious in Tupperware circles.
I got to work, had a rather good lunch in the canteen... and then effectively that was it for the day. As is usually the case when on the late shift. I did the late shift; it was rather busier than I would have liked.
3 January 2020 (Friday) - Up The Pub
I slept well; just lately I seem to be tired all of the time during the daytime, so a good bit of kip is always welcome.
Over toast I watched another episode of “Flowers” (which was rather odd) then I had a look at the Internet. Not a lot had happened overnight, but I had a message from the nice people at Munzee HQ. A couple of days ago I was invited to join a Munzee clan. I’m now in the “Cup of Horlicks Clan” and apparently a clan war is kicking off today. I have absolutely no idea what any of that means; I expect I’ll find out.
I took care to let sleeping dogs lie (literally) as I got dressed then set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the American military has "taken out" some prominent Iranian general. "Taken out" being the American term. "Brutally murdered" was the term used by the Iranian professor being interviewed on the matter.
Here we are in the third decade of the twenty-first century, and the world is still one big fight.
The "Thought for the Day" bit of the radio show made me laugh. Some religious type was talking about the fires in Australia. They are rather horrendous, but this superstitious idiot as using them as a metaphor to illustrate her point. Her point being that everything good in the world is a direct act of her God, whereas everything bad is either pot luck or due to humans.
An odd viewpoint, but one which has been used by religion for centuries. It never fails to amaze me how many people go with this view of the world. You find ten pence - thank you God. You tread in a dog turd - these things just happen...
I got some petrol, then went on to Aldi where their centre aisles were something of a disappointment today. Usually there are all sorts of wonders to be had; today it was all sporting clothes and equipment. Perhaps they are looking to the "get fit" New Year's resolutions.
They won't get much mileage out of me on that front.
Mind you I got myself a new sandwich box. My old one must be five years old and has been quite seriously chewed by dogs over that time.
I did my bit at work and came home. "er indoors TM" had walked the dogs by the time I got home, and with them settled we went up to the local Wetherspoons for a post-Christmas catch-up with friends. It was good to chat over a pint or two.
Next time we’ll go somewhere where the beer isn’t sour…
4 January 2020 (Saturday) - Camer Country Park
As I scoffed my morning toast and peered into the Internet it occurred to me that I should really have taken a photo or two last night when we all met up in the pub. Judging by my Facebook feed we were probably among a very small minority of people who didn’t have an early night last night so as to be up early this morning to see the meteor shower. Mind you it would seem that those who were up to see the meteors ended up seeing clouds instead.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and were soon heading up the motorway where I helped out our Munzee clan as best I could by picking up the virtual munzees as I went. Mind you, I say “I helped out our Munzee clan”; I have no idea whatsoever how this Muzeee clan war thingy works, so I can only hope I helped out. I could well have been a hinderance.
We soon got to Camer park where we met Karl, Tracey and Charlotte, and we wet off on a walk. It was a tad cold as we started off, but it eventually warmed up. We’ve walked from the Camer Park car park before, but I don’t remember this route. It started off with quite a bit of road walking, but eventually diverted off across the fields. There was quite a bit of downhill, but oddly there didn’t seem to be that much “up”. There was quite a bit of mud, but I suppose that nearing in mind the amount of rain we’ve had lately that is really to be expected.
Geocache-wise the walk was something of a disappointment. Whilst there seems to be a definite lack of new caches going out I don’t want to be discouraging. But we hunted for sixteen caches along a five-mile route. There was space for at least twenty-five. And they weren’t easy finds. With iffy co-ords and one of the caches effectively buried we were out for at least an hour longer than we might have been. I’ve always said that some people who hide caches want them to be found, and some don’t. These ones aren’t supposed to be found easily.
With walk walked we adjourned to the nearby George Inn in Meopham where we had a particularly good bit of dinner. Fresh bread and rather spicy olives, beef and horseradish sandwiches… and decent ale too (unlike last night’s debacle).
I slept all the way home…
I took a few photos whilst we were out. Once home I showed them to the Internet as the dogs snored around me. I then perused the geo-map looking for somewhere for next week’s adventure. Dartford looks vaguely promising.
"er indoors TM" then set off to the Saturday film night. I ironed my shirts whilst watching episodes of the new season of “Lost in Space”. I stayed awake, so it must be good. Mind you, the dogs all snored all evening. I see that as a sign that they all had a good day. I’m pretty sure they did…
5 January 2020 (Sunday) - Brockhill Country Park
"er indoors TM" had been at the toaster this morning. Usually I have it at the “toast the bread” setting. She has it set to “slightly warm the bread”. When my toast came out still frozen I cranked up the dial to “toast the bread” and put it back in. The toaster however decided that it wasn’t going to muck about and incinerated the stuff.
As I ate my charcoal I had a look at the Internet. I sent out birthday wishes to friends having birthdays, and with very little else appearing on my Facebook feed I was very rude to some bunch of solicitors. An advert from this bunch appeared on my Facebook feed trying to get people to sue the NHS for medical negligence.
The whole “medical negligence” thing boils my piss to the limit and beyond. No one goes into the caring professions not to give a stuff. Accidents happen. Those having made the mistake feel quite bad enough about it without some legal-type sticking in the knife purely for what they can get out of it. Making a career out of others’ misfortunes in this way – how much of the compensation does the legal firm get?
I checked my emails. Several people had been hunting out my Wherigos yesterday. The ones I threw together in a couple of days got praise; the ones which took weeks to create didn’t.
"er indoors TM" was off to Margate today taking Sid to visit "Daddy’s Little Angel TM". I drove down to Hastings to see my mum. Not being able to visit everyone, we divided our forces. I was keen to see mum after her debacle in the hospital last week. I was not at all impressed to be told by the doctors that (having been in for five days) she’d been ill with “it was probably one of those things.”
As I drove I couldn’t help but notice that most of the cyclists and motorcyclists had helmet-mounted cameras. Together with ambulance-chasing lawyers, there’s another sign of our times.
I got to Hastings; mum and dad both seemed well. I spent a little while with them. I should do that more often really.
I came home to collect the dogs, then drove down to Brockhill Park where we met Cheryl and "My Boy TM". The first fruit of my loin went straight to the toilet. Cheryl told me that this was his thirteenth tiddle of the day, and it was only one o’clock. I immediately bit my tongue. Admittedly I might waste time hunting for film pots under rocks or scanning bar codes on lamp posts, but I’ve never made a pastime out of documenting the lavatorial habits of the family. Perhaps I should? I wonder if there is an app for it?
We had a little walk round the park. As is so always the case we had a good walk, marred only by other people. One family’s small children went hysterical at the sight of the dogs, and Rolo tried to pick fights with an Alsatian and a beagle. Rolo is the smallest dog in the family; he is usually as good as gold. But when he is with the other dogs (particularly when he is with Pogo) he kicks off at other dogs as he knows that the family dogs will back him up.
Fudge spent far too long in the river. I would have thought it was far too cold to go paddling, but he loved it. Whilst by the river we spent ten minutes absolutely entranced by a terrapin that was perched on a rock. It took us those ten minutes to realise it wasn’t a terrapin at all; just another rock. Whoops!
I took a few photos whilst we were out. I took a circuitous route home via a few munzees.
It wasn’t long after getting home before all dogs were fast asleep. I watched a couple more episodes of “Lost in Space” as the dogs snored.
"er indoors TM" and Sid returned, and we had a rather good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching today’s episode of “Doctor Who”. Having watched the show for as long as I can remember I feel I should keep doing so. Fiction of any sort, be it a TV show, a radio program, theatre or a book, only works if you can relate to the characters in the fiction. I can’t warm to any of the characters in today’s “Doctor Who”.
6 January 2020 (Monday) - He Who Would Valiant Be...
I slept like a log; the alarm woke me for once. In a novel break with tradition I scoffed granola for brekkie. There’s no crusts of that for Fudge, but just lately he’s been sleeping in the early mornings anyway.
As I scoffed I watched another episode of “Flowers” which (despite an appearance of “Fat Matilda”) has stopped being a comedy and is now just weird.
With nothing having happened overnight on Facebook, and no emails worth having, I took care to let sleeping dogs lie (literally) as I got dressed then set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some idiot who was banging on about how public holidays are wasted on the Great Unwashed. Apparently when the average bloke gets a Bank Holiday he just fritters it away by watching telly or taking the dogs for a walk or going down the pub. (As if!) A few hundred years ago the masses knew what to do on public holidays - they would go on a pilgrimage.
Yes - a pilgrimage.
There's a move afoot to get the masses going on pilgrimages again. Can you believe it? If you look on-line you can find starting points of holy trails. There’s loads kicking off from about seven miles from every cathedral in the country. You can spend the day walking (presumably in pious contemplation) to said cathedral where you can experience two hours of hypocrisy in sub-zero temperatures. And there’s shorter ones, or ones taking several days. The idiot singing the praises of these pilgrimages was rather vague about how you get back to where you left your car afterwards. Me - I think I will stick with what I usually do.
There was then talk of Harvey Weinstein's trial which was starting today. He's been accused of forcing women into non-consensual sex and a *lot* of concern was expressed that if he was found not guilty then he wouldn't go to prison and would be able to carry on forcing women into non-consensual sex. Personally I would have thought that if he was found not guilty then it had been proved that forcing women into non-consensual sex wasn't his thing? However the implication given was that he's a bit of a beast like that, and would probably get away with it. Is he a beast? I have no idea. But again the media have decided and declared this chap's guilt far in advance of anything any court might say.
I stopped off at Aldi to get some coffee, and when there I deployed a Munzee. Go me.
With Munzee deployed I went in to work. I don't dislike work, but I think it fair to say that the novelty is wearing off. Though (it has to be said) I might well have felt better about the day had I not had guts ache the entire time. I'm not sure what I ate yesterday to upset my innards, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't eat it again. Interestingly Pogo's been farting like a fruitbat too.
As I walked home from having parked the car I met "er indoors TM" walking all four dogs down the road. Signalling to her to keep quiet I walked straight past without a single hound realising it was me. but when I spoke they all knew who I was.
We had a good little wander round the roads then came home. "er indoors TM" helped me (did all of the work) to print off some Munzee stickers, then boiled up a rather good bit of scoff. We devoured it, then she went bowling. With her usual bowlers unavailable, "My Boy TM" had been dragooned to fill in. Odd how he gets asked and I don’t. Still, I’m not fussed; the telly don’t watch itself.
As the dishwasher dishwashed and the washing machine wrestled with my undercrackers I watched two more episodes of “Lost in Space” whilst chopping up the sheet of Munzees that "er indoors TM" had printed for me.
I shall deploy some more Munzees tomorrow…
7 January 2020 (Tuesday) - Late Shift
I lay awake for a while this morning listening to Treacle squeaking. I called to her, but she ignored me and carried on squeaking. Thinking she might need to go outside I got up; she immediately shut up and went to sleep in seconds.
Being up I made some toast and had my morning root around the Internet. I did chuckle when I saw an advert on one of the local “For Sale” Facebook pages. Someone was selling an “unwanted Christmas present”. How ungrateful. If I’d bought someone something only to have it appear for sale as an “unwanted Christmas present” less than two weeks later I wouldn’t be buying them anything ever again. Would you?
The nice people at Coursera had sent me an email; they thought I might like to take a course in semiconductor devices.
They thought wrong.
There was also someone posting on one of the local crime awareness pages. A local dog-walking company’s van had been stolen. The van was gaudily coloured; you’d see it immediately. Why steal something quite so obvious?
Amazingly the local police were also posting on that same crime page. A couple of their community support officers had been round last week. Doesn't it speak volumes that the police feel that having two PCSOs going out to do what the public expect of them is so exceptional that it warrants a post on social media?
I spent a little while adding a Munzee referral thing to this blog. If you scan the 2-D bar code thingy with your phone and sign up for Munzee I get points. You can immediately delete it all, but I still get the points, but why not have a go. It’s a harmless enough game, and you don’t have to rummage under any rocks.
As I pootled on-line I watched Pogo. He thought I wasn’t looking. He climbed into Sid’s basket with Sid, sat down, and started trying to push Sid out.
Pogo got told off about that…
Pausing only briefly to destroy Fudge’s bowl, "er indoors TM" supervised dog breakfast, and I then took all four hounds round the park. It was hard work. Pogo was impatient to get going, Sid straggled at his own dawdling pace. Matters weren’t helped by the voices in Pogo’s head telling him to kick off at another dog (twice). Some days the dog walk is a joy and a pleasure. Today’s was a chore.
With he dogs settled I set off to work. As I drove, "Women's Hour" was on the radio. Usually I turn this off, but I listened today. The claim was made that some eighty per cent of readers of fiction in the UK are women, and the implication was made that men don't read books. As an avid reader myself I found that hard to believe. It was then suggested that most men don't read because a *lot* of authors are female, and men don't want to read books written by women. Apparently this is why JK Rowling went by her initials rather than her name. Personally I'm well aware that one of my favourite authors (Julian May) was a woman, and using initials can work both ways - look at JRR Tolkein.
I've often felt that "Women's Hour" on Radio Four just tries to stir up divisions where none need exist.
I took a rather circuitous route to work today stopping off for four weapon munzees (I had to look up what they were) in order to meet my commitments to the clan. This munzee lark can be quite demanding, you know. And having satisfied the requirements for level one clan warfare (!) I went to work and wandered round the local pavements randomly sticking 2-D barcodes here, there and thither. I deployed a dozen munzees before work. Go me!! In a couple of days I shall meet the requirements for level two, and level three is looking possible.
If you thought that rummaging under a rock for a film pot was sad, that's just peanuts to scanning bar-codes.
I had a rather good cheesey thing for lunch, then cracked on with the late shift. I felt rather tired as I worked; if only Treacle had let me sleep earlier. And my innards still weren't right. I was glad when the day shift went home so that I could fart without having to keep leaving the room.
Perhaps that cheesey thing was a mistake?
8 January 2020 (Wednesday) - Another Late Shift
As a lad I was a member of the Boys Brigade. It was a major part of my life for many years; through it I made friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Just as I was about to go to bed last night I had a message from a friend of forty years. The chap who ran our Boys Brigade died yesterday morning.
I’m not going to get all soppy; everyone dies. But not everyone lives like this chap lived. He was a larger-than-life character who gave his all for others. He ran Boys Brigade activities on Wednesdays, Fridays and quite a few Saturdays. On Sundays he ran the Sunday School in the morning and was an active Church Steward in the evening. On Mondays he would often be helping with the Girls Brigade. On Tuesdays he was very active in the local table tennis fraternity (from where he earned the nickname “batslinger”). He didn’t do much on Thursdays – he deserved one day off each week.
He ran the Boys Brigade for years; for much of the time on his own with very little help and with no public recognition of his efforts. This morning as I peered into Facebook there were quite a few people who were sad at his passing.
I thought he’d moved to America ten years (or more) ago. It turns out he lived not far from my brother all along. Amazing how you can live so close to someone for years and never run into them.
I also saw that a good friend had posted on the local geocaching page. Having bought a load of geocaching containers he’d had been told exactly how he should be using said containers by people who’d not hidden a cache in years. And when someone who had hidden a cache recently commented, a squabble was threatening to kick off.
I took the dogs round the park. Yesterday’s walk was something of a disaster; today’s was a bit better. Pogo didn’t shout at quite so many dogs, but he did bark at one or two passers-by. I wish he wouldn’t. Sometimes I can see why he kicks off; other times I haven’t a clue.
As we walked we saw that the gardeners had been out. Fudge’s favourite bush is now completely gone. Such a shame. I have no idea what the fascination of that particular bush was, but he loved sniffing round it. Now it has been completely removed.
With all four dogs fast asleep I quietly left the house. As I drove, "Women's Hour" was on the radio. Today they were talking about over-protective parents. They were interviewing a teacher who was talking about an app that their school uses. When homework is set, the parents get a notification about that homework. However the school has had several complaints because immediately on getting the notification, some parents drop what they are doing to make a start on the child's homework. Some parents have even lost their jobs because they have been doing school homework rather than their job. I would have thought that the idea of this app was to let the parents know what was going on, *not* to tell the parents what they themselves had to be doing. Apparently in some schools it is now rather obvious that the parents have done the homework, but not that easy to prove.
The teachers were saying that it is far better for the children to do their own homework and get it wrong (so that they get used to the concept of failure) rather than having the parents get it all right for them, and when they do fail at something later in life, the failure comes as a serious shock.
Apparently for many children their first failure is the driving test, which is rather traumatic. It was claimed that the schools in Japan ensure that children regularly fail, and learn from their failures, and so failing isn’t seen as quite such a monumental disaster.
Funny old world…
I drove up to West Malling where I had a little Munzee adventure, and then drove to work where I put out a few more Munzees. I scoffed a rather good pasta thing for lunch, and then did my bit.
Work was rather distracted today; the boss was retiring. We had a little tea party, and I told whoever would listen that in one thousand five hundred and four days I would (hopefully) be looking to start semi-retirement.
The late shift was rather busy after that…
9 January 2019 (Thursday) - Before the Night Shift
I slept through until after eight o’clock this morning; something of a result. I made toast and peered into the Internet as I do. Pretty much nothing had happened on Facebook, and I didn’t have any emails that I didn’t immediately delete, but Prince Harry was in the news. He’s apparently decided to effectively jack in being a Royal. According to the BBC he’s said that he and his family intend "to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent". I suppose he’s looking to the future; with his brother now having three children of his own, and the future King openly wanting to scale down the number of people being “professional Royals” he’s probably wise to jump before he’s pushed.
I got the dogs organised and we set off for Orlestone Woods… Or that was the plan. I’m not quite sure what happened, but we walked right past my car and we were well into our usual circuit of the park before I realised my mistake. Mind you we had a relatively good walk; the rain kept most of the normal people inside; we weren’t bothered by anyone, and we didn’t bother anyone.
With walk walked we came home, and I put away all the towels. I’d set the bathroom ready to deal with four seriously muddy dogs (expecting we’d be walking in the woods) but we weren’t that grubby at all. Just a bit damp.
I set the washing machine loose on some shirts, and I then ironed them. Ironing is always fraught; Fudge is frightened of the ironing board. Whenever I iron he glowers at the ironing board with fear and suspicion from the safety of his basket.
As I ironed I watched the last two episodes of the current season of “Lost in Space”. The first season was rather good; the second not so. With major plot inconsistencies and characters acting totally against established behaviours and random things happening for no adequately explored reasons the show was a bit pants. I got the impression that an awful lot that was in the writer’s minds never made it to the screen, and (like the Harry Potter films) you really needed to be told what was going on for any of it to make any sense.
Despite having popped up the shop to get a sandwich, I completely forgot to eat it (Something of a theme for the day?) and went to bed for the afternoon. I slept reasonably well; the dogs only kicked off once.
After a couple of hours I got up, and did something which happens only rarely; I sorted my letter rack. Despite getting my statements on-line, the bank persists in sending paper copies. I wish they wouldn’t. I found letters about hospital appointments from months (if not years) ago and quite a few of last year’s utility bills.
Amazingly I found a survey about GP services from only a couple of days ago. I wasted ten minutes completing that on-line.
"er indoors TM" should be home soon. Here’s hoping she’ll boil up some dinner and then I’m off to the night shift… The day before a night shift is always so dull…
10 January 2020 (Friday) - Mud, Vet, Tired
The night shift was hard work last night; and reports of a monster in the ladies’ lavatory just compounded the issue, as well they might. Mind you as I left work I captured a bouncer (it’s a Munzee thing) so that was something of a result.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were interviewing some of the country’s commercial fishermen. These people were clearly looking forward to Brexit; naively feeling that Johnny Foreigner wouldn’t dare come near what they saw as *their* fishing grounds, and God help them if they did. Their rabid inarticulate xenophobia was so clear in what they were ranting, and their utter inability to construct a coherent sentence (let alone answer what was being asked of them) made me quite ashamed to be British. It wasn’t that long ago that the Royal Navy had to sort out a piscatorial contretemps. I’ve said before (many times) now that Brexit is a reality, the United Kingdom (or what will be left of it) will be at war with Europe in my lifetime, and it will be the commercial fishermen who will start it.
I came home, and once the dogs had got over their excitement at seeing me, we all got into the car and went to Orlestone Woods. Unlike yesterday we actually went there. We had a very short walk; Sid wasn’t going very fast. He didn’t like the mud, and there was a lot of mud not to like. I went out with four small dogs and came back with four swamp-beasts. It was a shame that we arrived home just as a small dog-loving child walked past. He squealed in excitement at seeing four dogs (apparently he loves dogs and gets over-excited enough with just one) so like an idiot I took the dogs to say “hello”.
His mother was very understanding.
We scraped off the worst of the mud, and the rest will brush off when it dries. But the littlun was ecstatic at meeting, stroking and cuddling four dogs, and that’s all that counts really, isn’t it?
I bundled the hounds into the bath for an intensive scrubbing session, and with dogs scrubbed they were all soon snoring. I quietly got Fudge away from the rest, and we went to the vet’s for his check-up. What with the spondylosis and the kidney failure he’s actually a rather poorly pup (not that anyone could tell by looking at him).
He had a blood test, and while we waited for the results we walked around the pet shop where we peed up some cat litter. Eventually the results were ready, and we went back in to see the vet. His back isn’t getting any better; neither are his kidneys. But then, they won’t. Both his conditions are chronic and incurable. But they haven’t got any worse. And he’s put on weight which is a good thing.
I had such plans for the afternoon. I was going to do the ironing, I was going to watch telly… I woke up still sitting on the sofa several hours later with neck ache.
I had a little look at the accounts – spending close on two hundred quid at the vet on a dog that I never wanted (!) did make a dent in the finances, but what is money for if not to squander foolishly?
I programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow; for once it all worked on the first attempt, then I spent a little while learning more about Munzee-ing. For a silly game it seems to be rather fun. Is this to be the next great craze? I suspect that (like geocaching) it won’t be long before I’ve done pretty much all of the local ones.
"er indoors TM" came home and boiled up a rather good bit of fish and chips. I think I’m going to have an early night… I’m really tired.
11 January 2020 (Saturday) - Treacle's Turnip
I slept for over ten hours last night; that rarely happens. And my morning shave took some doing as I somehow forgot to have a shave yesterday. I suppose this is the aftermath of a night shift.
As "er indoors TM" fought to get the dogs to go “do their business” (no one wanted to go outside today) I scoffed toast and peered into the Internet. There was a mini-squabble kicking off about puzzle caches on the local geocaching page. Finding a geocache can be hard enough when you know the location. Some people further obfuscate the whole thing by hiding the location by use of puzzles. Some of these puzzles are relatively easy to solve, some are difficult. Some are just plain ridiculous. Some puzzles can only be solved if you have “insider knowledge” of the person who set the puzzle. And I know of one that doesn’t even have a solution – you have to ask the person who set it for the answer and he’ll tell you.
But even on the more simple puzzles, given that the puzzle which is about (say) six racehorses, do you need to know the Grand Nationals that they won, the starting odds, the year they won a given race, the year the horse was born…
Someone somewhere has published an on-line list of solutions to thousands of these puzzle caches. In fact there’s quite a few such lists. Unfortunately I can’t find any which are more that two years old. I wish I could. Personally I have no qualms in blagging the locations of a geocache in this way. The game is a treasure hunt; not an exercise in logic problems. However this has been seen as a bad thing by some. Several people were bemoaning the existence of such lists… many of whom I’ve given such answers to in the past. Oh well… people love a good moan…
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and drove out to Junction 10a on the M20 where "er indoors TM" capped a bouncer, and then went on to Ivychurch where allegedly there was a bouncer, but we couldn’t get close. (It’s a Munzee thing!)
With bouncers capped (or not) we went on to St Clement’s Church where we met Karl, Tracy and Charlotte. As we got ourselves ready for the off we were very conscious of being watched by one of the locals. He was fascinated with us and was openly watching our every move. I had no idea that the sight of me putting on a pair of wellies could be so captivating.
We were soon off for a walk. To be honest I had reservations about the Romney Marsh in January, but we’d been told that it wasn’t that muddy, and that some of the route would be seriously overgrown later in the year. It wasn’t at all muddy, and some of the route was bad enough today and would probably be impassable in a few months’ time. Mind you that wind was cold.
The route was rather straightforward apart from one point at which the footpath just disappeared into random marshland. But following the GPS arrow and ditch-jumping got us to where we were supposed to be. Eventually.
Treacle did her usual stick-carrying thing until about two-thirds of the way round when we walked through a turnip field. Much as she loves carrying a stick, it turns out that sticks are just rubbish when compared to turnips. She carried her turnip all the way back to the car.
The walk was possibly a bit too much for Sid; he got carried quite a bit of the way too.
Geocache-wise it was an odd route. Some finds were trickier than others. One involved a tree climb; one gave me a welly full of river water. I’m not complaining at all; nowadays fewer and fewer people are hiding series of caches. But I would have put out more caches on that route (particularly on the stretch where the footpath went iffy).
I took a few photos as we walked. I do that. Usually we’d go on to a pub for a pint or two after the walk, but time was pushing on. We said our goodbyes and came home. We narrowly beat "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" home.
She was excited to see her dogs, then she and "er indoors TM" vanished off as they do. I popped down the road where a bouncer had appeared (it’s a Munzee thing) then I foraged for my dinner. I’ve found that I have greatest success foraging for dinner when I forage up the road at the KFC. I got a mighty bucket for one, and a couple of extra crispy strips (for the dogs).
I scoffed dinner whilst watching a film on Netflix. “Suburbicon” was odd… I watched it with a sense of “what was that all about?”
I did some washing, I hung out laundry, I watched a very odd episode of “Flowers” then watched the first episode of “Schitts Creek”. Starring him out of “American Pie” it seems quite entertaining.
I could have been at a works booze-up this evening. I could have been at a friend’s party. But I’ve got an early start tomorrow…
12 January 2019 (Sunday) - Early Shift
Just as I nodded off last night so Treacle declared a "Red Alert" for no reason that I could fathom. She did it again an hour later. It was such a shame that my alarm didn't coincide with one of her barking fits.
Over brekkie I watched more episodes of "Schitt's Creek" (which seems rather good so far) as I scoffed granola. I then had revenge on the dogs by waking them. They all got sent out for what dogs get sent out for before they had their brekkie, then I set off for work.
By judicious scrutiny of the Munzee map (!) I was able to cap three bouncers on the way to work. Go me!
As I drove to work I did chuckle when the weather forecast spoke of a "dry morning becoming drier later". I would have thought that "dry" was an absolute state - a morning is dry, or it is not? Once dry, it cannot become drier… can it?
Mind you it was all rather academic as the morning wasn’t dry. It was pouring with rain.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing some nice people who seemed to be enjoying life farming sheep in Devon. I found myself engrossed in what they had to say; there is never anything as interesting as what someone else is doing, is there?
I got to work and had a day of two halves; the morning was dull, the afternoon was manic. I was pleased when it was time to go home. Doubly pleased when the Munzee map showed another bouncer not a million miles from the petrol station. What it didn’t show however was the motorway closure.
As I navigated the diversion the radio was broadcasting their book program. Apparently Radio Four is having a “Year of the Novel”. Being an avid reader myself I listened (rather than turning it off) and found myself wondering just what I was listening to. I read books for entertainment; to be told a story. The people on the radio were talking the same pretentious drivel that the English teachers at school used to spout, and any bits of the books that they read out were read in a fake American accent for no explicable reason.
I came home to find that a tasting had taken place; Fudge and Treacle liked raw turnip; Pogo didn’t. I was surprised; Pogo is a greedy dog who generally eats anything for fear that he might be missing out. But on the success of the tasting, "er indoors TM" made turnip stew for the dogs. All three scoffed it. It turns out that turnips are good for dogs with iffy kidneys, so yesterday’s turnip was a bit of a result all round.
Fudge came and sat with me on the sofa, and we both nodded off. When I woke, "er indoors TM" dished up a rather good Sunday dinner. As we scoffed it we watched today’s episode of “Doctor Who”; it would have been better if any of the lead characters had more personality that a lump of bread and butter pudding on legs.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" took Sid back yesterday… The house seems rather empty without him…
13 January 2020 (Monday) - This n That
I had a rather cold night. For no explicable reason I wasn't allowed more than six inches of the duvet and so spent the night huddled under what small amount I was spared. Eventually I got up hoping I might be warmer in front of the telly.
As I scoffed my toast I watched more of "Schitts's Creek" whilst Fudge snored on the sofa. I should follow his example; he's long established that you get a more restful night downstairs.
I set off to work rather earlier than i might; I'd seen on the Munzee map that four bouncers had appeared overnight in positions where I might get them on a (rather circuitous) trip to work. I set off hopefully.
As I drove the pundits were all a-twitter about Prince Harry's decision to jack in being a Royal. Personally I feel he has probably done the right thing in wanting to step back, but probably went about doing so in the wrong way. By not telling anyone before making his announcement he's just alienated himself. The media all seem to have decided against him, or specifically against his new wife. Apparently she wants to be a "celebrity", but not a "Royal". The implication being that a "celebrity" can do what they like, but a "Royal" has obligations and standards. Who wants those?
As I drove I found myself wondering if today was national "Drive Like a Cock" day; everyone was driving like cocks, with no one having any regard for anyone else.
Having capped all four bouncers (as you do) I drove on to Aldi where I deployed a Munzee in the bike sheds. It's been years since I deployed anything in a bike shed. I can remember it being somewhat more exciting that today's exploit was.
I then went and did a little shopping. Last week Aldi was full of keep-fit gear. Today it was heaving with baby clothes.
As I shopped I found myself following some woman who was bellowing into her mobile phone. Apparently she'd "told her that several times". I have no idea who she told, or what she's told them, but her conversation was certainly enthralling. I suspect it would have been less enthralling had I been able to hear both sides of it. But there is never anything as interesting as someone else's business, is there?
I went on to work where I did that which I couldn't avoid. With less than one thousand five hundred days to go until I can semi-retire, today I wasn't really feeling it.
Once home, "er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner then went off bowling. I made myself a cuppa, and in doing so realised that the milk went off five days ago. I made another cuppa, and watched last night’s episode of “SAS – Who Dares Wins”. I do like that show – sometimes it makes me wonder if I should have gone into the armed forces.
As that show finished I found myself watching a documentary about Peter Ball. When I was a lad in Hastings I was rather wrapped up in the church, and at the time everyone thought that Peter Ball was *the* man of the moment. It turns out that at the time he was a rather prolific paedophile…
We had no idea.
14 January 2020 (Tuesday) - Late Shift
I slept like a log, eventually waking to the sound of Treacle’s whimpering shortly before seven o’clock. I lifted her from the floor, and she soon dozed off laying next to me. When I got up I tripped over Pogo who was laying on the floor. Hopefully they will both stay off the bed again tonight.
As I scoffed toast Fudge lay in his basket until he heard movement upstairs. The very second he heard Pogo’s stomping about he got up and came and sat with me.
I had my usual peruse if the Internet. Someone was selling two large stone mushroom garden ornaments. She claimed to have had them valued at two hundred and fifty quid each, but only wanted two hundred and fifty quid for both. I suspect she did her own valuations - you can buy very similar items brand new at Whelan’s for fifteen quid each. Someone else was selling Disney-branded cushions (which she admitted were old and frayed), and another person was trying to flog worn clothes. Back in the day you would give your tat to the Boys Brigade who would run a jumble sale to raise funds. Nowadays you sell it yourself and pocket the profit. I see this as the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
I went into Facebook’s settings and turned off all the marketplace adverts. Perhaps I’ll see a little less of that sort of rubbish from now on?
One or two people were talking about Prince Harry’s desire to become financially independent; I say “talking about”; “laughing at” would be a more accurate description. Since having announced he wants to step down as a professional Royal he’s gone from being one of the most respected people in the country to being something of a national joke. Amazing how someone’s public image can change so quickly.
I had a Facebook friend request from someone with whom I used to work back in 1981.I’d not heard from him in years. I can remember him being rather disgruntled at being done for speeding on the Lewes bypass when the charge sheet said he was going at ninety-eight miles per hour and he was insistent he was going at over a hundred.
I took the dogs for a walk round the park. Now that Sid has gone home, the dog walk was *far* easier. Sid does straggle. Our walk passed off well. We had no “episodes”, we had no fights. We all played nicely with other dogs. We did tiddle up the wheel of the van of the nice people who were doing the landscaping in the park, but I think we got away with that.
I came home and harvested the dog dung from the lawn. I got a bumper crop.
As I walked to my car I got rather wet in the rain. The rain that wasn't forecast until after mid-day!
I drove off west-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewed a mother whose daughter had recently had plastic surgery on her nose. The child (aged fifteen) hadn't liked the shape of her beak so she'd turned up at some clinic or other and asked them to re-design it. The clinic did just that and sent the mother a bill for thousands of pounds. Mother was understandably furious. It turned out that the people at the clinic said that they thought the child was in her twenties, that they'd not asked for any identification, and they still wanted their bill paying.
It is (apparently) a legalistic grey area whether or not the bill should be paid.
A reputable plastic surgeon was then wheeled on who said this sort of thing happens all the time. It was claimed that anyone can set up shop doing nose jobs and botox injections. There is more control and regulation over tattoo studios than there is over these so-called cosmetic clinics.
There was then an interview with the supporters of the rival candidates for the post of leader of the Labour party. There was some consternation expressed when one of these people openly admitted that she'd nominated Emily Thornberry for the post but intended to vote for Sir Kiers Starmer. She felt that it was important to have a range of candidates on the ballot paper, even if she had already decided for whom she was going to vote. (!)
Yesterday on the way to work I capped four bouncers. As you do if you are that way inclined. On this morning's journey I only capped one, and failed miserably at three others. Ho-hum...
I got to work, and had a rather good bit of dinner. The vegetable lasagne was not too shabby at all. And at tea time we had sweeties. Fruit Salads and Black Jacks!! oh yes!!
I don't usually blog about work, but one thing was memorable today. We had a patient with diagnosis of senile dementia. This isn't unusual, but this patient was two years younger than me. That made me sit up and take notice.
As the day wore on "er indoors TM" messaged me to say that things were bouncing in Tenterden. Tenterden could be on my way home if I took a different route to that which I usually take. I took a different route.
It was a shame that the storm had brought down so many branches to block the roads. I was only an hour later home than I might have been, but I did get a bonus bouncer…
15 January 2020 (Wednesday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept through until after eight o’clock this morning. When the dogs sleep well, so does everyone else.
Being up later than usual I found I was sharing toast crusts with three dogs (rather than just Fudge) which made for a rather long and drawn-out brekkie. And when the toast was all gone, Treacle and Pogo scrambled all over me in a desperate attempt to get any crumbs which might have fallen. Pogo especially is incredibly greedy. Fudge isn’t at all. Usually when the brekkie toast is gone, then that’s it. Pogo and Treacle hoovered me for crumbs for a good ten minutes.
I had a look at the Internet as best I could whilst being mobbed by two greedy dogs. Facebook was its usual self; having set the thing so I wouldn’t see the adverts for the local selling sites I saw a lot less adverts. But there were still quite a few to be seen. The photos I’d posted yesterday of a fruit salad sweetie had attracted quite a few comments.
And then I saw something which boiled my piss to the limit and beyond.
A chap I’ve known since 1983 had posted something onto one of the medical Facebook groups. It was a PowerPoint presentation about the subtle intricacies of the ABO blood group system. The trouble with these medical Facebook groups is that for every one person educated to post-graduate level there are ten doom-brains without a failed GCSE between them trying to understand the results of their blood test. One such was failing to even open the PowerPoint presentation and was asking for help. Someone else (who I *know* is a genius) was saying how they couldn’t help, and they were boasting at being hopeless with IT.
Why do people do this?
Would you be so proud that you couldn’t read or write? This is the twenty-first century, after all…
I took the dogs for a walk. We hadn’t gone more than twenty yards when we had a set-to with a cat. There is a cat that lives up the road that deliberately tries to provoke fights with the dogs. This thing is fearless and will not leave us alone.
Once we were finally rid of the cat I had intended to walk round the park, but the rain was getting heavier, so we abandoned and came home. I towelled the dogs off, settled them, and drove out to Faversham where I spent an hour or so collecting bouncers in the rain.
With bouncers bounced I returned home, and spent a couple or hours ironing whist watching “Sense and Sensibility” on Netflix. As I’d been driving earlier there had been a lot of talk on the radio about Jane Austen, so it seemed a good choice of film. It wasn’t entirely different to “Pride and Prejudice”, “Northanger Abbey” and all of those films in which the heroine falls for the dashing young hero, the dashing young hero turns out to be a beast, and the heroine ends up with the bloke who was a bit of a cock at the start but turned out to be a good egg in the end.
By then the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. I took the dogs round the park where we had a rather good walk. Pogo did have an episode when he started barking at another dog that was on a lead. The idiot woman who was on the other end of the lead was apologising for her dog and saying that her dog only wanted to play. She was not at all happy when I suggested she let her dog off the lead and let him play.
We came home where I deployed a tree house then played Lego for a while. I fed the dogs, then with "er indoors TM" off out I fed myself and watched a film. “Alien Covenant” was OK I suppose, but it did go on a bit – like most films it went on for about half an hour too much. Mind you it was nowhere near as scary as the first two “Alien” films…
16 January 2020 (Thursday) - A Friend Request
"er indoors TM" spends some nights fighting with the dogs all night long. On other nights she forms an alliance with them so that together they capture the duvet for themselves and I shiver. Last night they all formed such an alliance. I shivered.
Over a bowl of granola I watched another episode of Schitts Creek. Not even Fudge got up this morning; just as well as there were no crusts to be had from a bowl of granola.
I then had a quick look at Facebook. I'd had a friend request from some young lady of whom I'd never heard. I had a look at her profile; am I being sexist in saying that in all of her photos she was brandishing the most enormous chest. I suppose she must be lonely to be sending out friend requests on social media to people she doesn't know. It's odd really - I wouldn't have thought that anyone with a chest that size would have been short of male friends.
I get these sorts of friend requests on Facebook from time to time. Women (young enough to be my daughter) with the most stupendous norks want to chum up with me. I wish they wouldn't.
I looked at the Munzee map and saw that there were two bouncers on the way to work, so I set off to Cranbrook. As I drove the pundits on the radio were saying that one in five people aged under thirty has never had a full English breakfast, with the younger generation preferring fruit and healthy rubbish. It was even suggested that the fry-up could become a thing of the past.
I got to Cranbrook and found my Munzee. I also realised that I was less than fifty yards from a geocache. But the Munzee I sought was accessible from the pavement; the geocache was in a swamp. So I left the geocache and headed on to Bewl Water.
As I headed west there was talk on the radio of yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament. The current Prime Minister seems to thrive at Prime Minister's Questions; like him or loathe him, Mr Johnson is a consummate showman. He seems to be fooling most of the people for most of the time by talking loudly and confidently. Take his latest hare-brained scheme "Bung a bob for Big Ben's Bong" in which he intends to crowd-fund half a million quid to get Big Ben fixed in time so it can chime to celebrate Brexit. With Australia on fire, NHS waiting lists growing, and more and more people dependent on food banks, the Prime Minister is trying to get the public to pay to speed up the repairs to Big Ben (which have already been funded) and no one blinks an eye.
I got to Bewl Water; I found my Munzee. I could have gone on for a geocache, but again I didn't fancy braving the swamp. Instead I spent a few minutes looking at the reservoir; it is rather beautiful.
Pausing only for a quick deploy in Pembury (it's a Munzee thing) I went on to work where I had a rather average day. Not good, not bad... just rather dull really. Mind you at tea break I did finish my current e-book. You can see what I thought of it by clicking here.
I’m glad I’ve recorded my reading since last March – there’s something of a theme to what I read… I really need to get some recommendations for non-sci-fi reading.
I came home to an empty house. "er indoors TM" had taken the dogs out. They all came back shortly after I got home, and we then had a fun five minutes trying to find where Treacle had hidden her bowl. Once she’s eaten her meals she hides her bowl. I wish she wouldn’t.
We had a rather good bit of dinner washed down with a bottle of shiraz. As we scoffed we watched “After Ever After” which wasn’t entirely unlike “Yonderland”. If you get the chance to watch it, it’s well worth a go.
17 January 2020 (Friday) - Boom Boom
Despite a rather vivid dream in which I was sunbathing in the light of an exploded Betelgeuse (it’s a star!) I had a rather good night’s kip.
Over a bowl of granola I watched an episode of “Extreme Catches” on the Discovery Shed channel in which some gung-ho American bloke was trying to catch a Goliath Grouper (it’s a fish) by sticking a rather enormous other fish on a hook on the end of a length of rope. The implication was that fishing rods were for puffs. From the experience of being the sort of puff that uses a fishing rod all I can say is that I don’t get the sort of rope burns that this chap got. And for all of the fellow’s trash talking he ended up with a fish which was about a quarter of the weight that he was bragging that he was going to catch.
"er indoors TM" got up (half an hour late!) and capped four bouncers out of the tree house in the garden. (it’s a Munzee thing – you don’t get this from a film pot under a rock!) and then proceeded to message me about it from the toilet.
I then had a little look at the Internet and found myself embroiled in a squabble on one of the geocaching pages. Some woman was saying how a GPS unit is far superior to a phone’s GPS abilities, and was also saying that there was no discernible difference between the two devices. When I pointed out the fallacy of this standpoint she told me that we should agree to disagree. When I pointed out that I wasn’t sure what we were disagreeing about she got arsey.
I took the dogs for a walk. We hadn’t got far when the heavens opened, but for no explicable reason I decided to continue with the walk. As we went through Bowen’s Field we met some idiot teenager. Rather than just ignoring the dogs she waved her arms about then froze like a statue in a very strange posture whilst making an odd whimpering noise. Of course the dogs were rather upset by this and barked, which just made the girl worse. I shouted at the dogs and they walked on, shouting over their shoulders as they went.
What is it with children and dogs? Don’t schools teach them to just ignore them? If they don’t like dogs, why do they act in such a way as to provoke a reaction?
Having been upset by this little episode, Pogo then had a barking fit at the next dog we saw.
By the time we came home there was glorious sunshine.
I watched an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” then with the dogs settled I set off vaguely work-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the death of Derek Fowlds and mentioned his roles in "Yes Minister" and "Heartbeat". Oddly no one remembered him being in the Basil Brush show. I first saw the chap on telly as Basil Brush's sidekick "Mister Derek", and after remembering this I spent the rest of the day with the song "Bulldog Basil - the Secret Service Man" stuck in my head.
Making better time that I thought, I would I had a few moments to spare and so had a llittle Munzee adventure on the way. Munzees are stuck on lamp posts and street signs and consequently lend themselves to little pre-work adventures far more so that geocaches do (which are usually stashed under rocks in swamps at this time of year). I had my little adventure (as I do), then went in to work.
I got to work; I had fish and chips for dinner. The work's canteen is rather good. And, as is always the case when on the late shift, the day was effectively done by mid-day…
18 January 2020 (Saturday) - In The Mud
I slept like a log; it was nine o’clock before I was sitting eating toast. As I scoffed I was intently watched by Fudge and Pogo. Treacle (on the other hand) was intently rummaging in "er indoors TM"’s handbag.
I had a look at Facebook; despite having had a serious fiddle with the settings I was still being bombarded with adverts that didn’t interest me.
It was at this point that Karl phoned. We weren’t due to meet until later, but with his morning’s plans having gone west, they were at a loose end, so we got our arses into gear and got a move on.
We got ourselves and the dogs together in surprisingly good time, and set off. As we drove so Treacle was squeaking and whimpering. We stopped as soon as we could (there are surprisingly few places to stop on the A28) and all three dogs tiddle like things possessed.
It was at this point that we realised that we’d left "er indoors TM" boots behind…
We came home for boots, and then headed back west-wards. As we drove we found ourselves stuck behind a succession of people who (quite frankly) could have gone faster had they got out of their cars and pushed them. We eventually got to where we’d agreed to meet Karl, Tracey and Charlotte only forty-five minutes later than planned.
We got boots on, we set off in the wrong direction, we came back again and set off in the right direction. There was a minor hiccup as we tried to determine whether the designated start point was where we thought it was or whether we’d just found a random hole in a hedge. But we took a chance, and we had been in the right place. We had a rather good walk through the woods to the south of Bedgebury forest, our route being dictated by a series of geocaches. Being in the woods and inland there was nothing like the wind we had last weekend. It was a tad cold, but not *that* cold. Mind you, with all the rain we’ve had recently it was muddy. *Very* muddy. So muddy that three miles of walk felt much more. We had planned to carry on walking after this route, but at the end of it I was worn out.
Geocache-wise I can’t praise this walk highly enough. There were some very clever hides, and most were plenty big enough to put in geo-tat and trackables (if that sort of thing floats your boat).
Once back at the car we scraped the mud off of the dogs (and ourselves) and took a short drive up to the A262 and the Peacock inn. This is a place I drive past every day when I am working in Tunbridge Wells, but had never previously visited. The place is seven hundred years old and was very welcoming. We were able to sit the dogs in a corner out of harm’s way whilst we had half a pint of weak shandy. The pub was serving “Bishop’s Finger”; you very rarely see that on the hand pump.
You can see photos of the walk and the weak shandy by clicking here.
We came home (with me snoring for much of the way) to find "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" waiting for us. We were to look after Sid overnight whilst she went out with her mates.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a film on Netflix. ”Edie” was a rather good film about a little old lady who, following the death of her husband, wanted to climb a mountain. Possibly like "er indoors TM" might well do when I croak…
19 January 2020 (Sunday) - Unexpected Day Off
The original plan for today had me working the early shift, but a colleague asked me if he could work today instead of me. I was only too happy to oblige. So instead of driving off to work at half past six, I didn’t get up until half past eight.
Finding some hot cross buns in the kitchen I toasted a couple of them for brekkie much to Fudge’s disgust. Raisins are poisonous to dogs, and so he got none of my brekkie this morning. Mind you he didn’t seem hungry; he sat next to me and made strange whining noises. I think his back was hurting him again. I quietly fussed him.
As I stroked my dog and scoffed hot cross buns I peered into the Internet. Some of the people who post on the vintage Lego pages were selling stuff. I probably spend too much money on Lego which is forty years old, but there is a limit. This morning people were talking about Lego sets which were bought when I was ten years old and have sat unopened ever since. One particular Lego train set was being discussed; someone claimed to have sold one of these last year and said he’d got six thousand pounds for it. Six thousand pounds!! You can get the same thing far cheaper, but you pay far more if the box is unopened.
Toys in unopened boxes always command a higher price than toys which have been mauled about, but how does anyone know what toys are going to be worth a fortune in years to come, and what toys will just be forgotten?
Being at something of a loose end I gave myself a haircut, and then played Lego for a bit. My figure-of-eight train track took up a lot of space, so I took out the middle section and now have quite a bit of table free now. I’ve a vague plan to move the houses forward and build some rather bigger ones to go at the back. I shall have to give it some thought.
Did I ever mention I have a Lego town in the attic?
"er indoors TM" dished up some cheese on toast for dinner, then we went down to Rye to walk the dogs and to do a little Munzee-ing. The walk could have gone better had Pogo not tried to pick quite so many fights; it was with a sense of relief when another dog would start the barking.
Rye is an odd place. Not one person in a hundred was looking where they were walking. The pavements are far too narrow, the cobbled streets are (frankly) dangerous, the shops are run by arrogant supercilious twerps and are all selling vastly overpriced rubbish. I really can’t see why the place is so popular. On the plus side we got over one thousand five hundred Munzee points each, so the afternoon was a good one.
We came home, and I did a little geo-puzzling. After some brain-strain and some Google street viewing I came up with five final locations for geocaches that looked promising.
"er indoors TM" drove "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" home, and I ironed shirts. As I ironed I watched the last episode of “Flowers”; a series which started really well and ended as being just weird. I then watched several episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” which were all rather good.
"er indoors TM" then came home and boiled up some pizzas which we scoffed whilst watching tonight’s episode of “Doctor Who”. It was one of the better episodes but bearing in mind the very low standard of that show over the last few years that’s not saying much. The writers could improve the show beyond all measure by getting rid of the Doctor’s hangers-on and replacing them with characters that aren’t as dull as ditchwater.
20 January 2020 (Monday) - Cold
I didn’t sleep well last night. Perhaps if I got up and went to the loo rather than laying awake not wanting to get out of bed I might sleep better?
I made some toast and shared the crusts with Fudge and Pogo. Treacle didn’t seem fussed about them. As I scoffed toast I peered into the internet. Despite having turned off every notification setting I could find about adverts I still found several on Facebook. I also saw a lot of political squabbling. The pro-remain brigade are still posting all over Facebook talking about legal ways in which Brexit can still be blocked and posting up all the disadvantages of leaving Europe. The pro-Brexit brigade were posting “we won, suck it up” as though narrowly winning a misinformed referendum was all the justification they needed to gloat. Some chap living locally asked an interesting question on the subject though. Bearing in mind the Prime Minister promised the nation savings of three and a half million quid a week from Brexit, why is he trying to crowdfund repairs to Big Ben which (according to what he said) could be paid for in ten days after leaving the EU?
Someone else was asking if anyone knew of a sci-fi based museum. I was reminded of the Museum of the Moving Image where I once took the fruits of my loin when they were small. I thought I might revisit the place but thirty seconds on Google showed me that it closed over twenty years ago.
It’s amazing what happens when you aren’t paying attention.
I took the dogs for a walk. It was a cold morning, but being cold had the advantage that the mud was frozen and we were able to walk through the co-op field which is usually a swamp in the winter. As we walked we could see that the gardeners had been busy in the park again. You can see from the fountain right through to the flats; another of the overgrown thickets has been cleared out.
Dog-wise the walk went well. There was a minor episode when Pogo barked at a passer-by, but I blame the passer-by entirely. If you don’t like dogs, just ignore them. If you start waving your arms around and shouting and all-but-breakdancing at them then the dog is either going to be frightened or think you are playing a game. And the dog will react accordingly. All three dogs had a bark shortly after that, but two other dogs had already started a shouting match, and my three were just some of the dogs that were joining in.
We came home; I went round the garden with a bucket and spade to harvest the dog dung. Harvesting dog dung is much easier when the stuff is frozen. Though having been speaking with quite a few people it would seem that we are in the minority in harvesting the dog dung from the back garden. Several people have mentioned that they just leave the dog poo out there in their gardens. Eeewww!!!!
I watched another episode of Schitt's Creek whilst the dogs snored, then I set off. First of all to B&Q. We needed fuses. I couldn't find any so I asked the staff. "They're over there" said one disinterested old biddy whilst waving her hand vaguely. Pretty much all the other people supposedly working there were busy having conversations on their mobile phones. No one actually said "Get knotted, baldy", but the sentiment was most definitely there.
I eventually got the fuses, and went for petrol; the staff at the petrol station couldn't have cared less either.
As I drove to Pembury "Women's Hour" was on the radio. Someone or other was talking about global overpopulation and how people shouldn't he having quite so many children. Some aggressive harridan agreed with her entirely and was utterly unfazed when it was revealed that this shrieking harpie had three children. She ranted on at length to explain that if you are a vegan you can have as many children as you like. This idiot woman was seriously maintaining that global overpopulation was a meat-eater thing and that breeding no end of vegans wasn't contributing to global overpopulation at all.
There was then half an hour spent talking about the fate of Dunford Hall. Apparently this ancestral seat had been bequeathed to the YMCA many years ago, and despite their best efforts, the YMCA couldn't do anything with the place that didn't end up costing them money so they were trying to sell it. Some descendant of the bloke who'd given the place to the YMCA had the arse about his as he felt the YMCA were being really ungrateful and seemed to think that he was doing the right thing by obstructing the sale.
It was amazing just how much effort this chap had expended to thwart the sale. You'd think that people would have had better things to do with their time. I did chuckle when the chap eventually raised enough money to buy the place and the YMCA then sold it to someone else.
I took a little diversion on the way to work to seek out a Munzee in Brenchley, but I couldn't find it. The thing hadn't had a find logged since it was first putout six years ago, so I suspect it is long gone.
Pausing only briefly to deploy a Munzee in Pembury I went into work. With a few minute spare I went to the canteen for lunch and had a rather mediocre curry which gave me a guts ache which lasted for the entire late shift…
21 January 2020 (Tuesday) - Kings Wood
I slept through till after eight o’clock this morning. I would have slept longer had the dogs not been barking for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I came downstairs to the smell of sausages; "er indoors TM" was cooking herself a hot cross bun. Since when have they smelled of sausages? The dogs all got over-excited when they saw me; Pogo and Treacle staged a game of tug-o-war with a cushion to celebrate. I wish they wouldn’t do that.
I made some toast and shared the crusts with three dogs whilst peering into the internet.
I couldn’t believe one thing I saw on-line. I generally don’t do Twitter, but June Mummery MEP (Brexit party) had tweeted about the EU “The big question now is, who will be here to hold these people to account while they still control Britain’s waters, but the UK has no representation?” Obviously fisheries are very important to her. Ms Mummery is also the managing director of BFP Eastern Ltd, fish market auctioneers who operate in Lowestoft. … has no one told her that *she* as an MEP was holding the EU to account, but as a Brexit party MEP *she* had decided not to do so.
Some of my loyal readers have claimed not to understand politics, so I’ll spell this one out. Someone who has been elected to the European Parliament with the single policy of having the UK leave it!!! was making the point that the UK’s membership of the European parliament was a good thing.
Is she right or wrong? Don’t know and (at this stage) don’t care. But here we have someone shouting “BLACK”!!! but voting white.
Have I ever mentioned that I don’t think democracy is as good as it is cracked up to be?
I scraped the ice from the car, got the dogs on to their leads, and drove up to Kings Wood. The lower car park was full, so for a change we went to the upper car park and walked the part of the wood we’ve not walked for ages. It was very pretty, the mud was still frozen (which was for the best), and we had no “episodes” with the few other dogs that we saw at all.
As we walked I found one or two footpaths that might form the basis of a new series of geocaches… I could probably get a series of fifty or more caches out, but then again so could someone else. Maybe this could be a project for next year?
We came home; the dogs were snoring within seconds. I had planned to have a go at the broken bathroom heater, but "er indoors TM" sent me a message to say she’d bought a new one. So I had a sandwich and went off to bed for the afternoon.
Sleeping in the afternoon is odd; my feet are always cold and it takes an age to get warm, so I have a hot water bottle. But the dogs find the hot water bottle and sleep on it so I can’t get near the thing. I fought a little with Treacle, and then hit on the idea that if I put the hot water bottle where "er indoors TM" usually sleeps, at least I wouldn’t have dogs swarming all over my legs. It was an idea which worked. I got a few hours sleep, which is more than I often do in the afternoons.
I got up, and watched some more of “Schitt’s Creek”. "er indoors TM" will be home soon. She’s (hopefully) going to feed me, an then I’m off to the night shift.
22 January 2020 (Wednesday) - Next Door
As I drove home from the night shift the pundits on the radio were interviewing one of the candidates for the upcoming election for the position of leader of the Labour party. Lisa Nandy would seem to be a consummate politician as she spoke eloquently and forcefully for some time without actually saying anything at all.
Once home I got the dogs onto their leads. I did have a vague idea to go up to Kings Wood again, but today there was no frost. With the frost yesterday the mud was frozen. With no frost today the place would have been a swamp.
We went round the park instead where we only had one “episode”. Some jogger came past, but rather than jogging, the fellow was running sideways whilst flapping his arms up and down and puffing like a steam engine at full thrust. He frightened me; he terrified the dogs.
With walk done I went to bed where I slept for a while until the dogs had a barking fit at the postman. I then slept a little longer until nice-next-door went out crashing their gate as they went (they have got the noisiest gate in the world!!). I dozed off again only to have someone phone me up to try to sell me something or other.
I eventually gave up trying to sleep and got up just after mid-day. I had a humungous bowl of granola for lunch in a shallow attempt to convince myself I was doing healthy eating, then watched episodes of Schits Creek whilst doing the ironing and wondering about next door…
We've not had much luck with our neighbours since we moved into our current house in the autumn of 1991. When we moved in we had a rather vicious nasty woman and her hen-pecked weasel of a husband in the house next door (going down the road from us). This was years before the bypass had been built, and (being obsessed with peace and quiet) they were constantly angry that they had moved on to what was then the busiest street in the town. They also never forgave us for moving into the house where their friends had once lived, and they made no secret of the fact that they despised children in general and ours in particular. I can distinctly remember having to pretend to reprimand "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "My Boy TM" (aged about six and seven at the time) for standing in the back garden loudly singing (to the tune of the Australian soap opera “Neighbours”) “Neighbours… we hate the f… ing neighbours”.
After years of her constantly complaining about trivia they finally moved out and were replaced with an odd pair who I often refer to as “not-so-nice-next-door”. I honestly believe he is clinically insane; she looks at me like I am the sh*t on her shoe. Neither have hardly said a word to us since I had a solicitor write to them over ten years ago when they didn’t seem to realise that I don’t need their permission to lead my own life.
He hasn't been seen for over two years, and I am wondering what is going on. I suspect he might be in a secure mental unit, but I could be wrong. I've asked the police about him; they assure me he is still alive but refuse to tell me where he is.
The house going up the road from us is a different matter. No one ever stays there for any length of time. Over the years, as well as the house being empty for over a year (twice) there has been in residence:
This house is now up for rent as the current incumbents are moving to take on a pub. When they moved in I told them that they wouldn't last. They assured me they were there for keeps, but eighteen months later and they are going. There is something about that house; no one lasts more than two years in there. Mind you, I wouldn't want to live next door to me.
And now we get new neighbours again. I wonder who we will get this time... and how long they will last?
I was amazed to see that they are asking for nine hundred pounds per month rental for the house, and that doesn't include ongoing bills. Nine hundred quid - I've half a mind to move out and rent out our house!!
The night shift is taking its toll – I think an early night is in order…
23 January 2020 (Thursday) - Three Years Later
I woke feeling rather rough. Was that the aftermath of the night shift, or the aftermath of the bottle of red wine that we guzzled last night?
Over a bowl of granola I watched another episode of "Schitt's Creek". I'm really getting into the show, but one thing about it bugs me. One of the leading characters in it is called "David", but because the family is supposedly posh and well-to-do, they all pronounce his name as "Defud". I wonder if I should be known as "Defud" (in a thinly veiled ruse to enhance my social standing).
Remembering the amount of traffic I saw queued back on multiple sets of road works on the way to work yesterday I set off earlier than usual. I made a quick diversion (for Munzee purposes) and was soon on my way to Tunbridge Wells. I was right to have left early; I found myself held up in five separate delays.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were transmitting from Davos (in the Swiss Alps) where world leaders were meeting as world leaders do. Donald Trump had been on the stage a day or so ago and had been telling everyone how wonderful he was. Whenever I hear him talking I am reminded of my days as a scout leader when some of the more "special" and "simple" cub scouts would witter on about whatever banal triviality was going through their heads regardless of whatever the topic of discussion was at the time. Donald Trump would make a perfect "special" eight-year-old cub scout.
Today's radio also featured a lot of talk of environmental issues. Reducing eating meat was seen to be a priority, but those being questioned had no answer to the proposition that eating a cow bred in the UK has a far lower carbon footprint than eating an avocado which has been flown half-way round the world.
There was also a lot of talk about the maternity services at my local hospital. It was alleged that over the last few years there have been several unavoidable deaths. Perhaps there were? The trust's mortality rate for stillbirths and those babies who die within a month of being born has been consistently higher than the UK average for every year between 2014 and 2017, and in 2017 (the last year for which figures are available) its rate was the highest in the country. But do these figures mean anything? Bearing in mind the morning's news mentioned seven deaths in the last five years, and when you consider just how many hundreds (if not thousands) of births there have been in that time, is seven a high figure? Really? It's a very sad fact that not all small children do survive. Is this really a case of investigative journalism, or is this the BBC just shit-stirring to (yet again) knock the NHS?
However I will say that ten years ago the local hospital was voted best hospital in the country, and now it is in "special measures" and its failings are headline news on national radio. How that place has gone downhill.
Ironically today marks three years since I left that NHS Trust and went to work elsewhere.
It's not been a bad three years... Personally I wish I'd made that move years ago.
I got to "elsewhere" and did that which I couldn't avoid. During a lull in the work I had a little look at my professional regulator's website; specifically the bit about the recent hearings that have been held when people have made the sorts of mistakes that today made my local hospital headline news. I won't lie; I was wondering if anyone from that hospital was up before the regulator.
I didn't see anyone from there, but I did see one case which made me sit up and take notice.
One chap had been accused of not paying the car park fee for the car park at his place of work. He was found guilty, and was struck off the state register. That's not only sacked, but sacked and unable to work (in that profession) in any hospital in the country. Makes you think, doesn't it?
Driving home was every bit as delayed as driving in to work had been. Eventually I got home, and took the dogs round the block.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of scoff which we devoured and washed down with the last of the Christmas stout. As we scoffed we watched more episodes of “The Dog Whisperer”. We are watching *loads* of dog training programs on the telly… some of what we learn works on Pogo.
24 January 2020 (Friday) - New Star Trek
I woke feeling full of energy and raring to go, only to find it was half past midnight. I dozed fitfully for the rest pf the night seeing every hour. When five o’clock came I gave up any attempt at sleep, got up, and over a owl of granola watched the first episode of the new series of “Star Trek: Picard. This is my sixth first episode of a new brand of Star Trek, and probably the best first episode of any of them. There’s a lot of nods to what has gone before, but subtle. It’s not “fanwank” as it could well have been.
I’m looking forward to the next episode.
I then had a little look-see at the Internet. Judging by what I saw on Facebook it would seem that not many other people had been up watching Star Trek in the small hours. Or if they had, they hadn’t told the world about it.
Remembering the amount of traffic jams I got stuck in on multiple sets of road works on the way to work yesterday I set off earlier than usual. Despite a couple of diversions (for Munzee purposes) I made good time; better than yesterday. Do less people *really* travel on Fridays? - it certainly seems so
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtum who is the bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England's lead on climate change. Apparently the Church of England aims to be carbon neutral by the year 2045, and all sorts of environmentally-friendly ways of heating cold churches are being planned. I would have thought that asking God to get involved might have been high on the list of suggestions, but this wasn't mentioned at all. Odd - I was always led to believe that the Almighty was a dab hand with a thunderbolt which might warm things up. Or is it "him downstairs" who does the fire and brimstone?
Though, on reflection, I can't help but think that the Bishop was somehow missing the point; surely church is all about hours of hypocrisy in sub-zero conditions? I would have thought that being cold would encourage a pious outlook?
The Church was also in the news today with some out-of-touch vicar or other saying that it was God's holy plan that "doing the dirty deed" was only to be done inside heterosexual wedlock. When challenged about this, the vicar giggled a little, and said that the church is very slow to move with the times, and then blathered platitudes.
Surely the church *shouldn't* move with the times. What it teaches is eternal truth, or it is not. Or does God's holy plan change with the times too? I know that mine does, but I'm not running the universe (nor do I want to!)
I stopped off at Tesco to get some screen wipes (as my car's windscreen is a tad grungy). They didn't have any, nor did any of the staff appear in the slightest bit bothered that they didn't have any. Customer service, eh?
Work was work, and with the exception of some basophilic stippling (it's a red cell thing) the day passed off relatively uneventfully.
I came home to a letter from some do-gooder who is trying to start up a neighbourhood watch. I think I might join, if only to wind up the racist xenophobes who tried to start one before. The last attempt died when the nasty bloke trying to run it realised that being Polish *wasn’t* a criminal offence.
I sent an email to the email address that was given on the letter – it bounced back as “undelilverable”. I shall give them a ring tomorrow…
25 January 2020 (Saturday) - Badlesmere
A cold night; a shame that not much of the duvet was over me, but such is life.
As I got up and said hello to Fudge, so Pogo started licking Fudge’s nose. All the experts feel this is a sign of submission and respect from Pogo. Odd, as usually Pogo charges about and knocks Fudge flying; perhaps he is feeling sorry for his past misdemeanours?
I made myself some brekkie and immediately had a furry audience who watched me eat every mouthful. Fudge is just hopeful; Pogo is plain greedy. He would eat everyone’s breakfast and come back for more if he could.
As I scoffed I had a look-see at Facebook as I do most mornings. Most of the posts this morning seemed to be equally divided between a traffic jam some forty miles away, and the possibility of Britain’s re-joining the European Union. A couple of days ago my daughter-in-law deleted her Facebook account because she said she was wasting too much time on it. I can understand her sentiment.
But I did use Facebook to send a couple of birthday wishes. Three people on my Facebook friends list had birthdays today. One was someone with whom I went to college some thirty-five years ago, and one was a distant relative. They got the birthday video. The third.. I’ve no idea who he is. He didn’t get the video.
I had a look at my emails. I had a dozen emails all of which got deleted. I did snigger at the one in which Amazon suggested I bought the e-book I actually did buy yesterday.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and set off to Badlesmere where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. As part of the geo-meet I’m staging there in three weeks’ time, "er indoors TM" is putting out a series of geocaches. We had a preliminary look at the route today. We had a good walk; we found a route that was less than three miles long but still had space for over a dozen caches. And as an added bonus there were no stiles to climb over and pretty much no hills at all. It was a good walk.
After less than two hours we were back at the cars. We took off muddy boots and went over the road to the pub for a crafty pint or three as we put the world to rights. You can see photos of what we did by clicking here.
We came home, and "er indoors TM" settled me and the dogs and went off to visit "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM". I got busy with the ironing whilst watching a film. “Darkest Hour” was about Churchill’s first few months as Prime Minister, and as films go it was rather good.
I really should have an early night as I’ve got an early start tomorrow… But I might just watch an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” first…
26 January 2020 (Sunday) - Early Shift
Last night was odd; I couldn’t get to sleep. I usually have no trouble at all getting to sleep. Staying asleep can be an issue, but I usually am out like a like the moment my head hits the pillow. Last night I gave up trying to get to sleep after an hour and came downstairs to see if watching a little telly might help me nod off. However the dogs thought that my being up meant it was playtime, and minor havoc ensued.
I went back to ben half an hour later when I did nod off, and was woken by the alarm four hours later when I felt like death warmed up.
I watched another episode of “Schitts Creek” then had a quick rummage round the Internet to see what had happened in the few short hours since I last had a look. Absolutely nothing had happened; everyone else had been fast asleep.
As the dogs snored so I quietly got dressed and set off to find where I’d left the car.
I found my car eventually despite the street lighting. This LED street lighting that the council have installed doesn't live up to what was promised, and it isn't fit for purpose in that it doesn't actually light the streets in any way.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about schadenfreude - laughing at the misfortunes of others. Some brain scientists wired up loads of volunteers and found out that there is something deep-seated in the human brain which makes us all happier when we see others doing worse than we are. This is (so it was claimed) why sport is so popular; for all that fans of any given sporting team like seeing their team do well, they actually get more enjoyment out of watching opposing teams lose. It was claimed that most people didn't actually realise this, but it was nonetheless true.
I wonder if the fact that I don't really like watching sports means I'm a better person? Somehow I doubt it.
There was also talk of how more and more dairy farmers aren't selling the milk they produce, but are using it to make skry which is some sort of Icelandic cheese which is often mistaken for a yogurt. And in saying that I summed up in one sentence that which Radio Four took half an hour to explain. Mind you they did make the life of a skyr farmer seem much more interesting that my life.
I got to Pembury in a fraction of the time it look during last week (even allowing for one diversion for a Munzee crossbow - Munzees have weapons, you know); it is amazing how few people travel about at half past six.
I parked just as it was getting light; I had a rather busy shift. I've often mentioned that I don't mind working at the weekends; I didn't mind working at all today; it was raining outside.
I did my bit on a rather busy day and got rather damp walking to my car. Once home I did some CPD (which can be rather dull) whilst "er indoors TM" boiled up some scran.
I might try for another early night tonight…
27 January 2020 (Monday) - Another Early Shift
I have a vague recollection of "er indoors TM" and Treacle having an argument in the small hours, but apart from that it wasn’t a bad night. I woke a couple of minutes before the alarm was due to go off, and over toast watched another episode of “Schitt’s Creek” before having my usual look at the Internet.
I saw that half a dozen friends had said they were going to next week’s funeral of the chap who used to run our old Boys Brigade group. It will be good to catch up; such a shame it is for such a sad reason. Perhaps I might organise a happier reunion later in the year? Before long the only time I will be meeting friends from the old days will be at funerals… a sad thought.
Another early shift meant for another early and dark start. Being back at Maidstone I set off up the motorway and was delighted to see that the silly and utterly unnecessary "Operation Brock" barriers had gone, and we could drive on three lanes at the national speed limit. However this just gave free reign to the idiot drivers. It never fails to amaze me how stupidly some people drive when they have their company name emblazoned all over their vehicles. One employee of ISS logistics clearly didn't care what the motoring public thought of his company as he drove like a cock.
As I drove (*not* like a cock!) the pundits on the radio were talking about how some workplaces have banned talk of sporting events in the workplace. It was suggested that talk of sport is very divisive; the followers of the teams that won gloat at the followers of the team that lost. The followers of the team that lost are resentful towards the followers of the team that won. And those who couldn't care less about sport feel excluded either way.
As someone who couldn't care less about sport I often feel excluded...
I drove up to the petrol station to re-fuel. I re-fuelled my car, but couldn't re-fuel myself. Having run out of crisps at home I thought I might get some at the petrol station, but they too had run out of crisps.
Whoever heard of a petrol station running out of crisps?
Pausing only briefly to deploy a Munzee (as one does) I went in to work. I had a very busy day, but an early start made for an early finish. As I drove home through the torrential rain I was amazed to see petrol was one pence per litre cheaper in Ashford than it had been on Maidstone; Maidstone is usually four pence cheaper than Ashford. On the plus side I did get Nectar points, so I wasn't entirely out of pocket on the deal.
I got home, and immediately took the dogs for a walk. I wasn’t keen on getting wet, but the dogs insisted. We didn’t go far and we all got soaked.
With walk done I did something I rarely do; I downloaded a podcast. Gordon told me that the head honcho at Geocaching dot com had been interviewed, and he felt that this chap and I have been saying the same things recently. It only took a few minutes to get the podcast working, and I listened to it as I pootled about.
The chap wouldn’t use one word when ten would do, but he said some interesting things… Based in Seattle geocaching dot com is struggling to get IT proficient people as they are competing with the head offices of Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and the like. He also admitted that their IT is about fifteen years old, and that most of their expenditure goes on administrative legal nonsense rather than their core business. This explains a lot…
But the chap’s view on the future of the hobby was interesting. He wants to “refresh the gameboard” and wanted rid of the older caches that everyone has found and replace them with new ones. He said he was worried that he hobby could face “global saturation” and he felt the game would benefit from getting rid of the old and replacing with the new.
I was pleased to hear this last bit; it’s no secret that for me geocaching has pretty much run its course in that I’ve done most of the series of geo-walks that exist locally. If people don’t get rid of the old and make new, then I’m just going to be one of many people hanging up my GPS.
"er indoors TM" boiled up some scran and then went bowling. I watched last night’s episode of “SAS: Who Dares Wins” with my thoughts equally divided between “I could do that” and “you must be joking”.
I think I would like to have done the SAS training, but I don’t suppose it would have been much fun at the time…
28 January 2020 (Tuesday) - And Another Early Shift
Over brekkie I watched the episode of “Schitts Creek” that I slept through yesterday evening before sparking up the lap-top to peer into the depths of the internet.
I saw that my favourite music group “Sparks” are coming to the UK – they are playing a gig in London in October. I’ve been threatening to go see them live for years. I might just go this time. Tickets aren’t available yet; I suspect they won’t be cheap. If any of my loyal readers fancy a day in the wicked city followed by an evening of rather obscure music, do let me know.
I also saw talk of Paula White. This woman is “Special Adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” There was ain interesting little video of her preachings that you can see by clicking here. She commands satanic pregnancies to miscarry, and fights against the marine kingdom and the animal kingdom… she takes the phrase “bat shit crazy” to another level, but the worrying thing is that the American establishment (including President Trump) listen to her rantings.
Usually I leave everyone fast asleep when I go to work, but I left the house in uproar. "er indoors TM" had been convinced to got to some pre-work fitness thing with her mates, and the dogs thought that being up silly-early was a great game.
Another early shift meant for another early and dark start. Fortunately the rain which had been so loud as I scoffed brekkie had stopped.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the Government's need to make a decision about whether or not to let the Chinese tech giant Huawei get involved in the nation's 5G network. The government would seem to be keen on the idea, but President Trump has said that they mustn't. Perhaps that mad religious nut warned him about the godless communists?
First of all the radio came out with a load of talk about what a 5G network actually is. Some specialist was wheeled on; I think the radio show's producers had gone out of their way to find the nation's most patronising person to deliver this bit. 5G is (apparently) very complicated and far beyond the understanding of us mere mortals.
One of the ex-head honchos from MI6 then came on and explained how the Chinese don't let any non-Chinese nationals get involved in their country's communication technology, and how pretty much no other country in the world has let Huawei into their networks because they aren't stupid, and the consequences of doing so are monumental. Heaven forbid that someone in Beijing might find out what I had for brekkie or see the photo I just took of my dogs.
Almost as an afterthought they then interviewed someone who seemed to know what they were talking about. This chap explained that Huawei technology is already in place in pretty much all of the nation's infrastructure. He went on to explain how it would cost a fortune to replace it, and how Huawei's stuff is better and cheaper than the competition. He also said that no one seems to realise that Huawei's stuff is pretty much all sourced from American suppliers in the first place anyway.
I suppose that with three days to go, the Prime Minister has to choose whether the UK is to be a vassal state of China or the USA... Not a decision I'd like to have to make.
I got to work and found there was a special Munzee lurking in the works car park which was an unexpected bonus (if you like that sort of thing). I went in to work, and did my thing. Over lunch as I checked the Internet on my phone I saw that Nicholas Parsons had died. Famous for "Sale of the Century" and "Just a Minute", few remember that he was one of the better narrators of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", or that he appeared with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson.
I came home whilst it was still light (I liked that!) and walked the dogs round the block. Not a good walk, but not a bad one either. If only all three could walk at the same speed, things would have gone so much better.
With walk walked I had a cuppa and a biscuit… or that was the plan. I had the cup of coffee, but Fudge stole the biscuit and scoffed it as quickly as he could. I would expect that of Pogo, and possibly Treacle (if it was a favour she liked), but Fudge? I’ve always said that my Fudge can do no wrong, but he wolfed that piece of shortbread in double-quick time.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a (quite frankly) rather rank bottle of plonk. As we scoffed we watched “Dogs Behaving (very) Badly”; a rather engrossing TV show which makes training dogs seem to be oh-so-simple.
The reality isn’t quite that easy though…
29 January 2020 (Wednesday) - On Chesil Beach
I would have had such a better night had Treacle not got off the bed in the small hours. She has a habit of umping on to the floor, then crying and whinging. Eventually she got back on to the bed and settled, but not before she’d woken everyone up. She then curled up and was snoring whilst I lay wide awake.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” before sparking up my lap-top. I did roll my eyes when I saw one argument kicking off on Facebook. Apparently the Welsh government have banned the smacking of unruly children by parents.
One childless woman of my acquaintance was crowing about how this was a positive move for humanity, and she was being backed up by her equally childless friends. However her other friends who have had children have come to realise the amazing corrective properties of a crack on the arse. It has always been my experience that there are two groups of people who advocate against corporal punishment; those with no children, and those with the most unruly, nasty and ill-behaved brats. The most badly behaved brats at cubs were the ones whose mothers were so proud of never having smacked their child. I can remember that the headmaster at my school had a cane in his office. He rarely wielded it, but when he did, one boy would have a sore bum for a day, and a thousand other boys would behave themselves for a year.
Another early shift meant for another early and dark start. I spent five minutes scraping the ice from my car before setting off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Americans have got the arse because Britain has ignored them and is going to use Huawei technology. Apparently the British government asked the American government what they might use instead of Huawei, but no answer was forthcoming. Dominic Raab (whatever he is these days) was on the radio ranting about how few hi-tech companies there are to choose from, and that there should be more.
There's a novel idea... where might they come from? Has no one told him what capitalism is all about?
There was also talk of the corona virus which is seemingly rampant in China. I suppose it is easy for us to be blasé about a plague which doesn't bother us. I suppose the attitudes will change when Brits start dying.
There were also rather interesting interviews with some big-wig from the Scottish Nationalist party and the Polish Ambassador. Apparently Scotland wants to have its own immigration policy after Brexit because all the skilled workers who are EU nationals are going home, and the average Brit is too thick or too lazy to do skilled work. But because much of the skilled work doesn't pay enough, many of these jobs don't qualify for the Government's immigration policy (like the job what I do). And so there is a shortage of skilled workers...
I can't be the only person who saw this one coming...
I got to work, deployed a Munzee, then got on with my daily round. It wasn't a bad day really. And I got to leave early, which was something of a result. I came home to find that a fellow scanner of barcodes had been up our road and had scattered Munzees here and there, for which I was grateful.
I took the dogs for a walk; having watched the dog training show last night I thought we might have a good walk this evening. The dogs had to sit to have leads put on and had to sit every time we crossed a road. Amazingly it was Pogo who was always first to sit. Treacle was rather hit-and-miss, and Fudge was rather recalcitrant (as he often is).
With walk walked we were home before it got dark. I had a cuppa and biscuits. Bearing in mind yesterday’s debacle I watched Fudge like a hawk, and I got to have all of my biccies. As I had a cuppa I looked at the messages I’d had from Facebook. There was quite a bit of talk on the Munzee-related Facebook page. What with the end of the month coming up people are seeing how well they did in the monthly “Clan War” competition. Both "er indoors TM" and I did rather well (I thought) and consequently we’ve both been gone up into the next league. We’ve been promoted from the “Horlicks Clan” into the “Cocoa Clan” which I see as something of a result.
It’s not just scanning a bar code stuck to a lamp post, you know
With "er indoors TM" off out with her mates I put on a film I’ve been planning to watch for some time. “On Chesil Beach” appealed to me purely because of the title (having had two really good holidays on Chesil beach), but the film was rather good. Sort of in the same vein as “Brideshead Revisited” really.
I’d quite like to go back to Chesil beach…
30 January 2020 (Thursday) - A Day Off
Having had four early starts this week it was good to have a bit of a lie-in this morning. I slept until eight o’clock when I was mobbed by the dogs who thought that since they were up, so I should also be up.
I made myself some toast and scoffed it as I had my usual morning’s rummage round the Internet. There wasn’t much going on at all really, but I did smile on one post I read about geocaching. Without going into tedious detail, someone in Belgium was impressed with something that happens in the UK and was asking “why don’t we…” Usually it is “why don’t you…” A subtle difference, but one that achieves results.
Another friend had posted a photo; she’d been doing the “10 day scouting leader challenge”; the idea being that every day for ten days you have to post a photo of why being a scout leader has been such a good thing for you. I was a scout leader for thirteen years; I started because "My Boy TM" was a nine-year old cub at the time, and they needed help. I must have enjoyed some of it; I’ve been told (many times) by the now grown up cubs that they had a whale of a time under my care. But looking back most of what I can remember is it being an endless chore in which I herded ungrateful brats who would rather just fight with each other or blankly stare into space rather than do any of the myriad activities that we’d spent hours planning for them. I admire those people who can see past the bad behaviour of the little horrors and make fun for the children.
I also had an email from Amazon which rather confused me. Amazon wrote “Based on your recent activity, we thought you might be interested in this” and tried to sell me murder-mystery hardback books. I wonder why they thought I would be interested in murder-mystery hardback books when my recent activity on Amazon was buying sci-fi e-books, looking at vintage Lego and watching Star Trek.
As I peered into the Internet so Pogo came and sat with me. He was making a pest of himself until I realised he just wanted a cuddle. All the books say that dogs don’t like being hugged; mine seem to enjoy it.
I put the leads on to the dogs and we went out to the car and drove to Challock. For those of my loyal readers who don’t know the area, Challock is substantially higher than Ashford, and some days you really do drive up into the clouds. Today was one such day; light drizzle in Ashford; mist and fog not five miles away. We went on to Kings Wood where usually you get the less-doombrained dog walkers, but we found a right one today. We hadn’t got away from the car park and the dogs were still on their leads when an idiotic woman loomed out of the mist. Pogo started barking at her dog so I walked to one side. Idiot woman turned to carry on walking at us. I turned ninety degrees and walked (and dragged Pogo) twenty-five yards away. With an idiot grin, this woman followed us and remarked that Pogo was rather noisy. When I (rather curtly) explained that I was trying to get out of her way but she wouldn’t stop following me she was rather taken aback, and walked off to a car that was nowhere near where she had been walking.
What was that all about?
We got into the woods, and (after I deployed a Munzee) I let the dogs run. Usually Fudge straggles terribly in Kings Wood, but he kept up relatively well today. There was a minor incident with the forestry people; one chap driving a tractor (with no lights) flew round a blind corner far too fast, saw us and swerved off the track. He gave us a wave and an embarrassed smile. I was tempted to give him the V-sign but smiled in a sickly fashion instead.
I took a few photos whilst we were out. Once home the dogs had a bath, and I spent half an hour trying to find what I’d done with their leads. Eventually I realised that I must have thrown them in the washing machine with the grungy towels with which I dried the dogs off after their bath. Imagine my surprise half an hour later when I realised their leads weren’t in the washing machine at all.
The leads eventually turned up where I’d left them…
I had a little look at the household accounts. I’ve still not been charged for two e-books I bought in September, which is something of a result. I watched a little telly, and with the dogs snoring I quietly slipped out and drove up to the local hospital.
I got to the hospital and parked up. As I walked through the doors I felt odd. I worked in that place for nearly thirty years. My children were both born there… the place has been such a major part of my life, but no one but me knew any of that.
I made my way to where I was supposed to be and sat with the Great Unwashed. As I sat and waited there was a young mother amusing her small child. The mother was doing a good job; the child was quiet and well behaved. It was a shame that there was some mad old biddy giving a running commentary on the child’s every movement.
Today was my follow-up appointment with the ENT surgeon following last October’s nasal rebore. I was called in ten minutes early; the surgeon was friendly and positive. He got out an endoscope and had a look up inside my nose, then showed me some rather gruesome pictures of exactly what he had pulled out of my beak last October. He’d sent the lumps off to the lab, and it turns out that what he’s extracted was a schneiderian papilloma. He took great pains to assure me that it wasn’t malignant, but it could well recur in a few years’ time (like it has done once already) and so he wants me to come to see him in the ENT clinic next year. Bearing in mind how long it takes to get an ENT referral, I’m very happy with that. He also said that if the thing does recur, then next time we (he) might like to consider more radical surgery which would involve drilling through bone. I wasn’t too keen at the sound of that, but after all is said and done, he is the expert.
I came home expecting to have the dogs demand a second walk; they greeted me, then all three went back to their beds and back to sleep. The morning’s walk had worn them out. I ironed some shirts andfell asleep in front of the telly until "er indoors TM" came home. She boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we scoffed whilst watching “The Dog Whisperer”. Bossing dogs about looks so easy on the telly…
31 January 2020 (Friday) - Brexit Day
Finding myself wide awake at half past four I gave up trying to sleep and got up. Us Fudge snored on the sofa I watched yesterday’s episode of “Star Trek: Picard” which was OK. At the moment the show is still getting started, but I watched it with a distinct sense of waiting for something to happen. I must admit I don’t like the “one episode per week” which has characterised television for as long as television has been going. In this new era of streaming it is a shame that the people who made the show couldn’t have released the entire series in one go.
I then had a little look at Facebook and saw that there would seem to have been a re-launch of “The Wombles”. What’s that all about?
I headed work-wards through a rather dark morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about today's finalization of Brexit. Will it be a success? I hope so. Several so-called experts were wittering on the subject. After an hour's being bored senseless on the matter I ended up with the impression that it will be a qualified success for England. Scotland would seem to be jumping ship at the earliest opportunity, Northern Ireland would seem to have already been abandoned to the EU, and the jury was still out for Wales.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was wheeled on who blathered platitudes about how his faith in Jesus would sort everything out and reunite the country. I for one can't help but feel that Jesus has left it a little late.
Interestingly the consensus of opinion was that Brexit won't be good for the Prime Minister. Having been advocating it for so long, with a newly elected huge parliamentary majority firmly behind him, the Labour party in disarray and now no European Parliament to blame anything on, if he stuffs it up he only has himself to blame since his blundering buffoon act has effectively run its course (if it is actually an act). Will he stuff it up? Time will tell... it always does
Having left home rather early I took the scenic route to work via Rolvenden, Cranbrook , four special Munzees and a half-hour traffic jam on the A21.
I also went to Tesco for supplies but didn't get all that I was hoping for. With their shaving gel being four times the price of the stuff in Aldi I decided to stick with what I know.
I did my bit and came home. "er indoors TM" was staging something of an “at home” in a thinly veiled ruse to unload candles onto the masses. Quite a few of the masses stood in the kitchen drinking with me…