01 June 2007 (Friday) - Fog

01 June 2007 (Friday) - Fogmagnify

A lovely evening for a walk. Or so it seemed. We got to Dungeness and got sossige & chips and the mist rolled in. And it got thicker & thicker. Once visibility was down to twenty yards we gave up & went home the scenic route. Or as scenic as it can be in thick fog.


02 June 2007 (Saturday) - Travelling Hopefully ?

02 June 2007 (Saturday) - Travelling Hopefully ?magnify

A old Japanese proverb tells us it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. It was a result to be able to travel at all on the 297 bus to Woodchurch today. The bus driver….., how can I best describe him? – “He had the arse” comes closest. With a bus allegedly up to carrying forty seated and twenty one standing, having thirty-eight seated and twelve standing he announced he had a bus full and then left passengers standing at the bus stops as he was “full”. I really feel I should complain to the bus company about his attitude. Still, despite his miserable demeanour, we arrived at the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch with time to spare

Usually at beer festivals I tend to drink by the half pint, choosing the silly names. Today I drank by the pint, choosing the beers I know of old:

Rother Valley: Level Best

Whitstable Brewery; East India Pale Ale

Whitstable Brewery; Oyster Stout

Gadds: Seasalter

Goachers: Gold Star

Gadds: Dogbolter

Hereford: Perry

Rother Valley: Smild

Rother Valley: Summer Blues

The guzzling of beer was accompanied by (alternately) the squalling of the fit bird in fish net stockings,and Morris dancing. Twelve of us sat underneath the new gazebo until the 5.30pm bus set off for home. A crafty pint of Timmy Taylor in the Riverside, and then home.

Hic !

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03 June 2007 (Sunday) - Insomnia, Helpful Halfords, Washing...and a Birthday

03 June 2007 (Sunday) - Insomnia, Helpful Halfords, Washing...and a Birthdaymagnify

As is so often the case after a good booze up, I couldn’t sleep. Oh, after a skinful I’m usually unconscious for a couple of hours, but a couple of hours is all. Last night I lay awake until 2am, went for a tiddle, came back and lay awake until 4am when I gave up and went to watch a South Park double bill. Some time during the night the new crown I had fitted last week broke. Back to the dentist tomorrow.

The day since 5am has been rather dull. The day after a beer festival usually is. It’s now been two consecutive weekends without visiting Whelan’s – I think I’m getting withdrawal symptoms. I need another fix of garden ornamental stonework!! Instead I went round to Halfords as some git smashed the wing mirror off my car last Friday night. Halfords not only didn’t have the part I needed, but they refused to order one in either. Apparently they are moving into new premises in two months time, and ordering something I would pick up tomorrow would complicate the logistics of the move (!)

Back home to sulk and to carry on with the washing. It’s a hot day, and so the newly cleaned out washing machine is being put through its paces. It’s amazing that something as simple as cleaning out the muck trap has breathed new life into the gizmo, and I’m not complaining. The last time I gave the thing a serious overhaul I dropped it on my foot. And washing machines are heavy! I’m currently waiting for the fifth wash load to finish, then that lot can go on the line. I shall then give the undercrackers a once-over, and hopefully most of the clothes we’ll need for next weekend’s outing can then be packed. There are those that would say packing six days early is rather extreme, but I’ve always felt it’s better to find out you’ve run out of pants *before* you skid the last pair!

Oh, and it’s my little girl’s eighteenth birthday today.

04 June 2007 (Monday) - Missing Apparatus

04 June 2007 (Monday) - Missing Apparatusmagnify

Today has been one of those days when I can’t get on…. My tooth needs fixing. But the fangquack can’t see me until tomorrow. My car mirror needs fixing. Again – tomorrow. Everything – tomorrow. In the meantime I’m getting ready for the forthcoming weekend’s extravaganza, despite rumours of iffy weather. The tables are loaded into the back of the car, as are some of the tents. And ONE of the old gazebos. One (!) – the blue & white stripy one. As you can see from the photos, we used to have two others. What happened to those?

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05 June 2007 (Tuesday) - Stuff

05 June 2007 (Tuesday) - Stuffmagnify

Following on from yesterday – Car mirror fixed. Gob fixed. It all gets sorted out, but I HATE the waiting around to get these things done, especially when a knackered mirror can put the skids under loading up the car & going camping at the weekend.

Preparations for the weekend continue. I had this vague idea to fill up with a whole load of bright beer, but one brewery says they need two weeks notice to supply the stuff, and the other brewery doesn’t answer the phone. Still, Thursday morning – Biddenden Vineyards. They’ve got Rother Valley stuff by the case & possibly big bottles of Oyster Stout. One lives in hope. And if all else fails, I’ll try the FILO.

And so to cubs. We are currently doing the communicator badge. Part of which entails maintaining a correspondence with cubs in another part of the country. Tonight’s missive originates from Derby and is from Sheldon (aged 10) whose favourite sport is cricket, his favourite team being Man U. Sheldon has a younger brother who is a girl. Her (?) favourite food is strawberry toothpaste and she apparently sports a beard. Not to be outdone, my cubs then translated the F word into as many codes as they could in fifteen minutes.

The later part of the evening was spend bantering about Wombles and condoms (apparently Tomsk is prepared) and watching the “Milky Milky Tour”. That’s one video to replace with a DVD!

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06 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Getting Ready...

06 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Getting Ready...magnify

Again following on from yesterday – beer sorted – several gallons of Crofters are on order and will be ready for collection tomorrow mid day. If anyone’s free tomorrow, would you like a drive to Hastings? If more than one person’s free, someone else will have to drive, as there are no seats in the back of the Espace. And after the trip to Hastings we can load up the rest of the tat into the Espace ready for an early start on Friday. We’ll need an early start for the amount of beer that’s coming with us. The disappearing sleeping bag has turned up, as has my missing pink cushion. And I think I’ve got a kite somewhere…..

And so to work – I quite like the late starts even if parking can be a bit of a game sometimes. Must put some petrol in the car.

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07 June 2007 (Thursday) - Packing

07 June 2007 (Thursday) - Packingmagnify

Several gallons of Crofters are packed ready for the weekend. There’s a LOT of other stuff which has also been packed for the weekend, but one needs to have one’s priorities right (!) The journey to Hastings and back took a couple of hours – on the way back I was followed from Hastings Old Town to Brenzett by a total twat who insisted on being less than five yards behind me whenever there was a 30 or 40 speed limit, but would then drop back half a mile whenever the national speed limit applied.

And then shopping. One or two little bits to get from the town. Imagine my surprise when my never failing bar-dar (bit like radar but for pubs) sounded a red alert in the County Square shopping centre. One of the shops was giving away champagne in a thinly veiled ruse to draw the punters in. I was offered a glass, but honesty got the better of me. I told the nice lady that neither Brian nor I had any intention of going in her shop and so it wouldn’t be fair to drink their booze. The nice lady was equally honest and said she didn’t want to be barmaid for the day, no one had asked her, she’d just been ordered to do it, and the sooner the stuff was drunk the sooner she could go home. Well, regular readers would realise that statement was akin to waving a red rag at a bull. It wasn’t the best champagne I’ve tasted, but I’d like to think that we’ve helped her get off home a couple of hours earlier.

And so home. Via the Swan which once used to be a half-way decent pub. It’s still got the original bar, but the rest of the place – it looks as though it will be good once the builders have finished, but the builders have actually long since gone. Only time for one pint - we both needed to pack for tomorrow. A quick sandwich and I found half a dozen things I forgot to put in the car earlier. I then realised I’d left the lawnmower out of the shed so’s I could mow the lawn later. So I gave the lawn a quick trim. What is it with lawns? If you mow them once every seven days it really doesn’t look as though you’ve done anything. If you leave it for ten days, it becomes a jungle. I think it’s fair to say I’ve mowed the lawn more this year than I have in the last five years. And then, having given the lawn a haircut, I treated myself to one as well.

I’d better get on with that packing. And then I’ll bung an extra handful of fish food in the pond. “My Boy TM” is in charge of feeding them whilst I’m away over the weekend, and he’s always been less than generous with the groundbait.

08 June 2007 (Friday) - Off to Teston

08 June 2007 (Friday) - Off to Testonmagnify

I woke up at 5am to the sound of the rain. It’s still raining now, and I am reliably informed it’s raining at Teston AND the motorway is closed. But the forecast gives it brightening up as the day went on. It rained yesterday morning, and the afternoon was hot. The car is packed, the beer won’t keep forever. I’ll chuck a tarpaulin in the car and we’ll have a go ! Lets hope for another triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense.

In the meantime until I return, here's some light entertainment http://www.weebls-stuff.com/toons/Big+Ass+Badgers


08 June 2007 (Friday Part 2) - Arrived at Teston

08 June 2007 (Friday Part 2) - Arrived at Testonmagnify

When going to a kite festival I always feel an affinity to Virgil Tracy and the job he does with Thunderbird Two. Driving the largest and slowest vehicle of the lot I’m charged with transporting all the gear from HQ to the camp site and setting up. Some might feel that I would get fed up with this, but to be honest it’s something I enjoy. I’m always a believer in getting where I’m going early, and if I fart around putting up a few tents early into the weekend, no one is that bothered when I don’t do any cooking or washing up later. The weather was iffy, so I had plans. On arrival, the first thing up would be the new gazebo which would be put over the back of the Espace, and a tarpaulin would go underneath. We’d bung out all that we needed to so’s we could get to “Brown and Smelly” (a tent!), and then put that one up. We’d then have shelter from which we could slowly put up the rest of the camp site. We arrived at Teston Bridge Picnic site at about 11.30am, and despite a couple of dodgy looking clouds, the weather was fine and actually improved as the afternoon wore on. When we arrived there were three other caravans spread out around the field, and we had our choice of location. So we chose our usual spot. I must admit that I’d wondered if the bad weather forecast had put people off; by the time we’d got all the tents out and set up my ninth camp site at Teston (that many!) there still wasn’t hardly anyone in the camping field. Brian cracked open the beer and we sat and enjoyed the afternoon. There is more I could say at this point, but I have been sworn to “shecreshy”. And in the twenty minutes from 3.20pm to 3.40pm the field filled up with caravans, camper vans and tents. This is why I’m so keen to take everyone’s tents with me and put them up early. The field can fill up quickly, and latecomers can easily find there’s no space in which to set up camp within fifty years of the rest of their group.

It wasn’t too long until our immediate entourage numbered over thirty, with more friends and families camped close. Friday night is traditionally fish & chips. My cod, chips and a pickled onion went down very well. All the better for there being no washing up to skive out of!

As it is a *kite” festival I thought I’d join in with the theme, but zero wind made kite flying somewhat problematical. So an hour was wasted on an ”Air-Yo” (a sort of horizontal kite yo-yo) before resorting to the more traditional idea of drinking to excess. Pausing only briefly to have a go (and fail) with Paul’s telescope, excess arrived at about 1.30am, and off to kip we went

09 June 2007 (Saturday) - Underwear, Sailing and Astronomy

09 June 2007 (Saturday) - Underwear, Sailing and Astronomymagnify

The day started in the traditional way – a swift trek up the field to the loo for a quick tiddle. One might think this is too much detail, but this is relevant important detail. After a good scoff of sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms…. (the evidence is all down my T-shirt) it was on with the business of the day.

More kites. It has to be said that flying kites at a kite festival is something of a novelty for me, but the TV cameras had come to film something for the local news. Because of the continuing lack of wind I got out my ”Air-Yo” and together with some of the younger campers we attacked Colin with them until the wind picked up a bit. With a slight puff of wind (totally unlike my guts, but that’s another story….) those who specialise were able to get some Indian fighting kites up. Since the idea is to get in one big knot, I joined in and did surprisingly well.

As the day wore on it got hotter, and those of a more nautical bent decided to sail the seven seas. Which was a bit ambitious because all we had was a rather skanky river. But the three captains, Pugwash, Ahab and Hornblower did their best until Hornblower decided to attack everyone else with seaweed.

And then there was just time for a quick tiddle before tea time. Shocking! During the day the graffiti pictured above appeared on the wall of the gents. Several suspects immediately came to mind, but I was unable to find any suspect who was actually wearing knickers (I checked all likely suspects including innocent visitors to the camp site) or any suspect who could spell the word knickers. It pains me to admit that the perpetrator of this heinous crime has evaded justice.

The Saturday evening meal is another tradition – a barbeque. Lots of meat, salad (whatever that is) for the ladies, Jose cooked a really good pasta dish, and more beer. But not that much more. The box (see Thursday’s blog) ran out in the early evening, and so it was back to good old bottles. After a few bottles it got dark, and so we trotted down to the river to look for bats, which is always good fun. And just as the bat-watching was done and the litlluns put to bed, the fireworks went off and woke them all up again. Now I wouldn’t normally mind about that, but for some inexplicable reason I got the blame for waking all the kiddies up. Why me? – I just watched them, much like everyone else did. Still, I bit my tongue and smiled a lot. Which is usually my attitude to most of life as it seems to work most of the time. By now the party had moved into “Brown and Smelly” but because it was such a cloudless night and the fire jugglers had gone to bed I decided to be really boring and sit on my own and have a look at the stars through my binoculars. To be honest it was rather dull. One spot of light is much the same as another spot of light. I expect things are more impressive with a telescope. I hope so, or I shall knock this astronomy club on the head.


10 June 2007 (Sunday) - Board Games, You-Tube and Adjusting Tents

10 June 2007 (Sunday) - Board Games, You-Tube and Adjusting Tentsmagnify

At one point today’s entry looked as though it might be on the dull side. After what I thought was a rain shower but actually turned out to be a bottle of water being flown from a kite we scoffed a rather excellent brekkie. Once the washing up was done I sat down to a mammoth session of “Blockus” – a game which is so simple to play, but which had me in the chair from 11am till 3.30pm when I just had to go to the loo. I came back from the loo to find our site rather deserted. Where had everyone gone? And where had they gone without me? Just as I was about to sulk for being left behind, music blared from the back of Simon’s car and everyone’s teddies (including my cow who had come out for the day) leapt into action on top of the trailer performing a video worthy of You-Tube.

Unfortunately most people go home on the Sunday evening. One of our number was going to stay the night, having taken the family home first. As he drove off I commented on what a funny joke it would be to turn the inside of his tent around. Now, as you can see from the photographic evidence, it wasn’t me that did it.

Sunday night at June Teston is strange. There’s a lot of saying goodbye, and the evening meal is somewhat subdued. Whereas on the day before there’s over thirty people, on the Sunday there’s at most a dozen, and over half of them are going home that evening. In the event only five of our party stayed the night. There were two other groups in the field with us for the night, all widely separated so we could stage a raucous booze up, but by midnight I was falling asleep.

11 June 2007 (Monday) - Coming Home

11 June 2007 (Monday) - Coming Homemagnify

Chatting with the other people who’d stayed on at Teston, it transpires that there’s plans for a kite day at Brenzett next Easter. That could be a good day out.

One of the many reasons I prefer to stay on at the kite festivals is that if we leave on the Sunday night, we spend all day Sunday slowly packing up, and miss the fun of the day. If we stay on till the Monday we can make a concerted effort and pack it all away in a few hours and I can carry on drinking on the Sunday (hic!). On the other hand if we had packed it all away on the Sunday, it would all have gone away dry. As it turns out I’ve had to bring home a whole load of wet tents. Most are now dried out, with just the big one left. I shall spread the canvas of “Brown and Smelly” over the garden tomorrow before I go to work and hope for the best. Most of the camping stuff is now packed away. A lot of it will sit and wait where it is – it’s not too badly in the way, and it’s daft to heave it all up ladders just to bring it down again in a month’s time.

The afternoon features a trip to the Batfarm where I’ve begged barn space to store our tables. Four tables, each six feet long, are tricky to store. It wasn’t so bad when they were in the scout hut, but the scouts have got new tables, and I’d rather not ruin the new ones just yet.

On going into the back garden I found that “My Boy TM” has managed to melt a bucket whilst we’ve been away. Apparently there was a mishap with a barbeque (!) The fish seemed pleased to see me – they all came to the surface, but I suspect they were after food rather than expressing affection. There was a moment of panic when I saw the filter wasn’t working, but there was no real cause for concern – a hose had come loose. Nothing that “My Boy TM” couldn’t put right with a jubilee clip and a faceful of water. And then the PC got turned on - 1641 emails since Friday. Of which two were of any interest to me.

Must put up some photos and cut & paste this blog into http://www.e-l-f.org.uk

12 June 2007 (Tuesday) - Teston Flashbacks

It's amazing what you can get bluetoothed to your mobile phone. It's a shame Windows movie maker doesn't take .3gp files. If only I could convert them to .mp3 (NOT 4) or .wmv. .....

To view this multimedia content, please click here.


13 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Banned

13 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Bannedmagnify

I used to keep large snakes as a hobby. You can see them at http://www.mankybadger.com

At first sight you might think it's a dangerous thing to do, but you would be wrong. No one in the UK has been eaten by their pet python.(though in fairness I believe there have been instances in the US - four in ten years I think) Nevertheless there were those who sought to ban snake keeping, and over the last years have pretty much succeeded. Where in 1999 I was spoilt for choice for a pet shop, there is now no pet shop with an hour's drive of my house that supplies snakes, equipment or food. In 1999 there were four reptile societies within an hour's drive of my house. Today there are none. Why did those opposing the hobby win?

Because we snake-herds didn't believe the hobby could be banned?

Because we snake-herds found out too late that we were wrong?

Partly. But the main reason was that because we snake-herds were divided. In reaction to the attempts to ban snake-herding several national bodies formed. In retrospect it was a remake of Monty Python's "Life of Brian". Have you seen it - the Jews are under Roman occupation and the Jews form anti-Roman resistance movements that quickly forget about the Romans & start fighting amongst themselves. Snake herding went the same way. Endless in fighting & bickering as pet shop after pet shop closed & club after club packed up. Personally I feel the anti snake brigade would have done far more for public safety by banning those big dogs with a proven track record of killing small children, but dog keepers are organised in the Kennel club. Similarly the spread of toxoplasmosis by cats is protected by the cat's protection league, psittacosis is still OK thanks to the pigeon fanciers, and salmonella is OK thanks to the fish keepers. All were in organised groups, unlike us squabbling snake herds. The anti-brigade abandoned common sense in favour of being seen to ban something & succeeded.

And then I took up something else that might (by the stupid) be misconstrued as a dodgy hobby. How many people have been killed by big kites? Not many, but some have. Large kites are being banned in more and more places these days. Has the kite-flying fraternity got together to do something about this? (he laughed bitterly)

In years gone by I used to enjoy a bottle or two of beer with the picnic we would have in Kearsney Abbey. Now the do-gooders have declared “no alcohol zones”. When pissed I enjoy a cigar. That’s going in a couple of weeks.

But for the time being I can still pour beer down my neck to destroy my liver, and eat to excess to give myself heart disease. I wonder how long it will be until the do-gooders wise up to these?


14 June 2007 (Thursday) - Archaeology

14 June 2007 (Thursday) - Archaeologymagnify

It’s Thursday, it’s lawn-mowing day. When you consider how much work’s been done in the garden recently and how many time’s the lawn’s been mowed recently, I’m somewhat amazed to find a plastic toy tiger sitting on the edge of the lawn. It was somewhat mud encrusted and has been there for at least ten years. I wonder how many times I’ve walked over it before finding it today? And I wonder how many other artefacts are awaiting discovery?

And following on from yesterday’s rant - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6749037.stm - the fat police are on the case!!


15 June 2007 (Friday) - More Ranting

15 June 2007 (Friday) - More Rantingmagnify

Yesterday afternoon was a total waste of my time. I went to Margate for a meeting. It started with the overall project manager randomly spouting management catchphrases. For the first few minutes I thought he was giving out the words for a game of "buzzword bingo", but he wasn't. He was serious! Among other stuff he announced that "we as a forum had a handle on the migration archive restrictions". I do hope that the "migration archive restrictions" doesn't go the way of the Network Haematology DCW !

Then his boss spent half an hour in a monologue about what the name of the afternoon's committee should be before asking if anyone present had any suggestions as to how we might proceed. I had a couple of bluesky brainstormers I thought the group might like to run with before putting them on a back burner to stick up a flag pole to see it the cat would suck them off, but I managed to restrain myself. This talking rubbish is addictive. As everyone else was doing it, I wanted my five minutes of spouting drivel too! However with monumental self control I restrained myself to pointing out to the chairperson that it was already 3.25pm and I was expected to be doing "proper work" in Ashford by 4.30pm. This caused some consternation as apparently the first hour and a half was just a pre-amble. We hadn't got to the main substance of the meeting yet. Knowing my nerves couldn't take any more, I made the radical suggestion that I would back to Ashford at that point, the meeting could continue without me, and tomorrow I could be given a list of things to do. To my amazement this suggestion was grasped in the way a drowning man would grasp a lifebelt, and I drove back to Ashford and did a day's "proper work" in three and a half hours.

I do not have time for this crap. http://www.deathclock.com tells me I have some twenty seven years left of this life. I'm well over half way. I want to use my remaining time productively. Why do we waste our time in meetings?

In the meantime the bus is in the garage for fixing. The speedo hasn't worked since Teston. At first I suspected sabotage but as the "usual suspect" (!) hasn't made any innocent phone calls so far, I would seem to owe the "usual suspect" (!) an apology for suspecting him. I had this idea that whilst the bus was in for fix, it would be too soon to do the MOT as it's not due for a few weeks. So I checked, and found the MOT runs out in five days time. So it's having an MOT at the same time. And while it's in the garage, it might as well have its annual service. Which this year includes (among other things) replacing the cam-belt. To be honest I was formally advised to have the cam-belt replaced two years ago, so I suppose it needs doing. It's at times like this that I wonder what a cam-belt is. Wikipedia says… to be honest I really can't be bothered to put what Wikipedia says on the subject of cam-belts. Suffice it to say it is as comprehensible to me as "migration archive restrictions". All I need to know about my cam-belt is that if it's not replaced, it will go, and then I would be sorry! Even sorrier (so I am told) than I will be when I get the bill for this spell in the garage.

In the meantime, let's have a look on You-Tube (not me this time) - ten points if you can identify all the Star Trek episodes featured:

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

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16 June 2007 (Saturday) - A Picnic, in a Thunderstorm, at Gilwell

16 June 2007 (Saturday) - A Picnic, in a Thunderstorm, at Gilwellmagnify

After a late night I was up with the lark and, together with fifty-odd other member of the scout group, was waiting for the coach by 8am. As always there were last minute stragglers, but having waited till 8.30 for them, we decided that was enough. Every trip is the same. This family is late – we phone them. They are all in bed, and we wait another half hour for them. Not this time. We went without them!

Donated to the scout association in 1919, Gilwell features open fields, woodlands, conference centres and is recognised as the worldwide centre of scouting. Today the cubs and beavers could have a go at archery, fishing, pioneering, abseiling, climbing, zip-lines, grass toboggans, the fun fair, Robogeddon (robot wars), face painting and all sorts of other stuff. We arrived at about 10.30, set up a tent as HQ, told them what was going on, told them to come back to the tent for dinner at 1pm and let them loose. They all came back for dinner, scoffed, and went off for more of the same in the afternoon. Us leaders spent the afternoon watching the medieval jousting show, booing the frenchies and cheering the one with the feather in his helmet. The only problem was the weather, going from glorious sunshine to thunderstorms back to glorious sunshine every ten minutes but, as I explained to a bunch of sulkers from Dorset, the weather wasn’t stopping the activities. The youngsters could still join in with all the stuff as they all had coats. Or they could sulk about the rain. Some chose to sulk, which was their loss. The vast majority joined in regardless of the weather.

All things considered, a good day out. As a group we lost three raincoats. But on the other hand we found a pair of trousers (!) How anyone can lose their trousers is beyond me, but someone managed it.

17 June 2007 (Sunday) - Father's Day

17 June 2007 (Sunday) - Father's Daymagnify

By the time I’ve hung out two loads of washing, driven a round trip of over sixty miles doing the “family thing”, got in two loads of now dry washing and put out a third load of washing, there’s precious little of the day left. Father’s Day…… same as any other day !

Back on the ranch “My Boy TM” and “His Bird TM” were painting gnomes. I am reliably informed that the gnomes will eventually feature a politically correct ethnic diversity. That’s nice!

18 June 2007 (Monday) - Doctor Who

18 June 2007 (Monday) - Doctor Whomagnify

A late start. By 9am I had the ironing done, fetched the bus from the garage and as it was raining I thought I’d leave the lawn alone. With the house to myself I watched Saturday’s Doctor Who. So far this season has been iffy. A good start with a new companion, and a couple of good episodes with Macra and Father Dougal as a cat, but then the series took a turn for the worse.

Evolution of the Daleks” must be the worst ever Doctor Who story in the forty years history of the show. And that was up against some pretty dire competition from the Sylvester McCoy years! “The Lazarus Experiment" had been done better on Blake’s Seven twenty years ago,”42” was every awful episode of “The Outer Limits” I’ve ever watched, "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" had plot holes so big you could drive a bus through.

In fact I’d got to the stage where I recorded the show on the SkyPlus and watched it if and when I could be bothered. But then - last week’s episode with the statues – Brilliant!!! And this week’s episode.…. I realise that many of my loyal readers haven’t seen the episode yet, so I’ll shut up.

With only two episodes to go, it’s got really good again.



19 June 2007 (Tuesday) - Something for Nothing

19 June 2007 (Tuesday) - Something for Nothingmagnify

Here’s a good wheeze. You and your mates go out for a slap-up meal and someone else pays the bill. Really! http://www.mysterydining.co.uk/

Mystery dining – people go out for a meal and then afterwards write up a report on the meal, the service, etc, and get their money reimbursed. It’s not entirely like what I’ve taken to doing for another website http://www.beerintheevening.com, but when I’m reviewing the pubs, it’s at my expense. Mystery dining is something that costs nothing. Shame they’ve got no vacancies in the South East!

Never mind. I see that the #1 pub on http://www.beerintheevening.com is near Maidstone. Anyone fancy a day out this Saturday?


20 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Wasting Time

20 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Wasting Timemagnify

Some two months ago we advertised some vacancies at work. We had applications, so we shortlisted, weeded out the unsuitable and called six to interview. I arrived at Margate this morning ready to spend a morning interviewing. Our 9am phoned to say she was stuck in traffic, so we waited patiently. The other five never turned up, and our 9am arrived in Canterbury at 10.30am (!) Eventually we started our first and only interview at 11.55 am. With so much in Ashford I could be doing, the morning was wasted.

While I’m wasting my time, do you remember all that hot air I expelled on the future of kite flying and fighting the bans? – Another waste of time as the kiting at Camber is up for the chop. http://www.seka.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=6025

And just to top it off, one of the pond fish has died.



21 June 2007 (Thursday) - Yellow

I have been described as a creature of habit. It's Thursday, so I mowed the lawn. Life keeps on getting better !

And so to work. A meeting! I love it ! Just when I thought it was safe to go to the toilet, I learned that the DTAs are all created, and Alan is the focus. That's nice. One wonders who Alan is. Apparently Alan will be charged with retrospective rule generation, and I am to highlight things in yellow if they are in the Network. I wondered specifically what things I should highlight but time was pressing so I just nodded in agreement. Over the next few days and weeks I shall randomly highlight things in yellow and hope for the best. If you find yourself highlit in yellow it probably means you're in the Network. Or that you've got jaundice. If it were me that was yellow I'd hope to be in the Network. That washes off.

And then..... how can I best describe my shock? When you're watching Doctor Who, can you picture the way that whenever the Doctor feels all is going swimmingly, a possee of Daleks mince out of the shrubbery and then he shits himself? Well that was the sort of surprise I had when Fergus announced that the Network Haematology DCW has risen from the grave and that five more Network Haematology DCWs were soon to follow !


22 June 2007 (Friday) - Another Excellent Pub

22 June 2007 (Friday) - Another Excellent Pubmagnify

Got up, went to work, did work, came home, DULL !!!!

Having programmed the SatNav, which is easier said than done, we set off for Oare creek. A scenic part of the world near Faversham where a colleague of “er indoors TM” moors his boat. Apparently he spends £100 a month to moor his boat there, and then spends every waking hour puttering about on the boat. On holidays and high days he even has tea and light refreshment on board. Personally I can’t help but wonder if this fellow has ever contemplated on the alternative offered by a shed. All of the advantages of a boat, but in your own back garden and without the expense of mooring fees. OK, so you can’t (easily) sail a shed, but looking at some of the wrecks that litter Oare creek, I think it’s fair to say that many of the boats there haven’t been sailed for years.

But it’s an incredibly scenic place for a walk around. And after a walk around, where better to recover from your exertions than the Shipwright’s Arms? A smashing pub, with a “fit barmaid TM” and no less than five different ales poured straight out of the barrel. One of the ales, Goacher’s Shipwright is brewed specifically for the pub, so a pint of that slid down quite nicely. Whitstable Brewery’s East India Pale Ale was really good, and even the Ruddles ale was OK. I didn’t have time for the Goacher’s Mild or Goacher’s Original. I’ll try them next time.

All things considered, there are only two pubs of my experience (and that’s a LOT of experience) to rival it, namely the Red Lion in Snargate and the FILO in Hastings. I’m reliably told by the “fit barmaid TM” that it’s possibly to park the car in Whitstable and walk across the marshes to the pub in less than an hour. There’s an activity for a Sunday morning over the next few weeks!!


23 June 2007 (Saturday) - A Day in the Sun

23 June 2007 (Saturday) - A Day in the Sunmagnify

The weather forecast was a bit iffy, but if I stayed in whenever there’s an iffy weather forecast, I’d never go out. Five of us set out for an exploratory voyage around Winchelsea. Winchelsea is somewhere that I’ve been passing through over the last forty years, but never actually spent much time in. The place was great for a lazy day. We mooched around, admired the views, had a look at the art exhibition, refused to pay to go into the museum, hurt our genitals in the kiddies play park, spoke with the sheep, went to church and even (shock horror) had a crafty pint. But all too soon the day was racing away and we were hungry. So it was off to Winchelsea Beach to a chip shop I remembered from years ago. It transpired that the chip shop had closed down years ago, so it was off to Pett to a pub that I’ve been meaning to visit for years. The Two Sawyers is part of an august company of pubs that brews it’s own beer and is renown for its good food. We arrived to find the place closed down due to flood damage.

So we decided to head home via the scenic route. The scenic route first took us via Rye where we had a spot of dinner http://www.simplyitalian.co.uk/. Lasagne and ice cream slipped down very nicely. And then on to the Black Lion in Appledore for a pint of afters. The junk shop had a small man trap. I was very tempted to buy it for “My Boy TM” who is getting quite irrational about “Daddy broke my mousetrap”. I didn’t break it – I was just testing it with a wooden spoon when it exploded. But when I went back to the junk shop, they’d closed. Which was probably for the best.

And then home to find that whilst we’d been out in glorious sunshine all day (so much so that my face is glowing & Sam’s got sunburn), Ashford’s had thunderstorms and torrential rain. And so I sat down with Martin to watch Doctor Who. For a series which hit a very low patch a couple of months ago, it’s getting really good again. Loads of continuity references back to the good old days as well. Can’t wait till next week’s episode.


24 June 2007 (Sunday) - A Day in the Rain

24 June 2007 (Sunday) - A Day in the Rainmagnify

The day’s plans originally had a trip to Eastbourne pencilled in, but getting out of bed far too late put the kibosh on that. Yesterday we were lucky with the weather. Today it’s raining. I hate rainy days, not so much because of the rain, but because I tend to sit indoors and sulk about the rain and waste the day. So I was determined to do something with the day. “er indoors TM” announced that she was off out shopping, so I mentioned to “My Boy TM” that yesterday I’d seen a new Koi place signposted. Within five minutes we were off out.

On passing through Icklesham the rain wasn’t getting any easier and the carvery advertised outside the local pub looked appetising, so we popped into the Robin Hood for a crafty pint with dinner. I’m glad we did. So often when you go out to eat you sit and wait SO long for food. We went into the place, were seated, order taken and were eating within five minutes. The food was good, and with four ales on I could have stayed all day. But the lure of a new fish shop could not be resisted.

Icklesham Koi is rather out of the way. In fact if they hadn’t put the sign on the main road I’d never have known it was there. They’ve got some good fish, and quite a few accessories. As it’s on the way to Mum’s house I’ll pop in again.

Having dropped off a birthday card with the mother-in-law, it was time to wind up my nephews. When visiting, some people knock on the door. “Uncle Fat Bloke TM” doesn’t hold with that. The best way to announce your presence is to open the letterbox and bellow “Little piggy, Little piggy, Let me come in!!” Half an hour was spent winding up the toddler, and then it was home via World of Water in Rolvenden where I’ve possibly identified the next garden project….


25 June 2007 (Monday) - Astrinomonomonomy Club

The fourth meeting of the astronomy club. A very interesting night – a luminous star map thingy was put on display and one of the blokes who actually knows about astronomy gave an impromptu talk about the zodiac, the ecliptic, all sorts of things. I learned loads. We had an attempt to formalise things – the chap who runs the club intends to milk Stanhope Parish Council for £100, but to have the money we need a bank account. To have a bank account we need signatories, we need committee…. but it’s not really on to have an ad-hoc election with only half the membership there. So next month we’ll have a major push for everyone to turn up (You know who you are !!!). We will have a quick AGM, we will agree the constitution that will be circulated, we will vote Drew in as Chairman (as he knows what he’s talking about), we will elect a treasurer and a secretary, and after the quick AGM we will listen to the speaker. We’ve planned three months of talks:

Monday July 23rd : “The Fermi Paradox

Monday August 20th : “The Autumn Sky

Monday September 24th : “Astronomy in Hawaii

Saturday September 29th : Star Party

I expect a good turnout for the talk on the Fermi Paradox as I’ve promised them a lecture beyond their wildest imagination. I suppose I’d better find out what the Fermi Paradox actually is. I’ll look it up on Wikipedia. It can’t be that hard. After all, I took on the Network Haematology DCW with no knowledge of what it entailed, and it didn’t turn out too bad.

In the meantime has anyone got an old fish pond, paddling pool, bathtub or other watertight receptacle I can have for the next garden project……


26 June 2007 (Tuesday) - A Goodbye

26 June 2007 (Tuesday) - A Goodbyemagnify

We had all the beavers, cubs and scouts in tonight to say goodbye to our scout leader. There are those who would say having 65 kids in at once was ambitious. I would say it was an utter waste of my time.

We divided the kids into smaller groups and they went round activity bases, ten minutes on each. I was doing simple origami. Very simple, but even then they wouldn’t (not couldn’t, but wouldn’t) follow basic instructions. How difficult is it to fold a piece of paper in half? One brat had six folds in his paper, another just stared into space and cried when I wouldn’t do it for him. Most Tuesdays follow the same pattern now. I rush home to get to cubs where I waste two hours on brats who flatly refuse to listen to a word that’s said to them, and I get so pissed off about it I’ve got the hump for when we have a load of friends round. I’m now probably 99% decided to give up this scouting lark. It really is little more than a waste of my time nowadays.

When I’ve said this before I’ve been swayed by arguments that it will be such a loss for the kids. But it won’t. There might be the odd child who for five minutes notices there’s one less leader. But the majority will carry on screaming, shouting and lashing out at each other whilst being totally oblivious of what the leaders are trying to do for them. We’ve a day out to the zoo & pop concert with the cubs on Saturday. I’ll see how that goes…….

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27 June 2007 (Wednesday) - Contemplation

As I write this, I see from Google News that there are 501 stories about Tony Blair jacking it all in and Gordon Brown taking over. What difference will it make? Absolutely sod all. If Gordon has actually got any radical new ideas he should have presented them to Tone years ago. How can he possibly present major change in policy and claim any credibility?

In the meantime, today's lunchtime lecture was on semenology - the scientific study of knob snot. Knob snot is scientifically studied in path labs (NOT my one !!!) for a range of reasons, infertility being a main reason. But did you know that many cases of infertility don't require scientific intervention? A major cause of infertility is that people are doing "it" wrong. They are poking the wrong thing(s) into various wrong orifices, and even going so far as to attempt fertilisation by releasing wrong bodily fluids into said various wrong orifices. Apparently five minutes with the doctor and an explanatory video cures infertility for nearly 20% of infertile couples.

The mind boggles. If any of my loyal readership has ever poked the wrong thing(s) into a wrong orifice, please feel free to share this with me. The closest I’ve ever come (!) was in an episode of “Find out with Fiscal” when I advocated poking metal forks into electrical sockets in an attempt to demonstrate…. I forget what I was demonstrating now, but I’m sure that if you poked a metal fork into an electrical socket you’ll find out what I was on about.

And talking of poking things into orifices, I could do with some scran to poke down my cake muncher. “Er indoors” has joined some archaeology club. What they don’t show you on “Time Team” is who does the cooking!


28 June 2007 (Thursday) - Yellow Alert

28 June 2007 (Thursday) - Yellow Alertmagnify

CCN has caused R1 to skip so Miles had no alternative but to move the project to amber status. R-zero needs to be wiped clean, and Dartford are facing the unknown. June and July fall around December, and the CRS needs to be tied up. We will have this regardless of whether or not it can be done. On the other hand the KAG is virtual.

By this stage I’d made enough notes for the day’s blog. The meeting could now serve no further purpose for me, so I went to sleep. I woke myself with my own snoring a couple of times. I really must stop going to these meetings. I would stop, but apparently I’m the logical choice to take on a role in the back office facility. One wonders what I would do in this back office. Make the tea, perhaps?

And so home. It’s Thursday – I mowed the lawn. I see the axe is out. I am told that “My Boy TM” saw a mouse in the shed, and rather than replacing his broken mousetrap with one that works, he had a go at the mouse with the axe. Fortunately for mouse-kind he missed. And who gets to put the axe away?

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29 June 2007 (Friday) - Floods and Daughters in A&E

29 June 2007 (Friday) - Floods and Daughters in A&Emagnify

As parts of the country vanish under the rising floods, I'm left somewhat ambivalent. Whilst on the one hand I do feel for these people, on the other I can't help but wonder what possesses anyone to build a house on a flood plain. Take for example the Park Farm estate. There are pumps running all day every day to drain the land. Take the estate out in the road to Shadoxhurst where the cub with the amply bosomed mother lives. All the houses are built with moats for drainage. As I looked out on the garden this morning the pond was almost overflowing (must rig the pump so's it can empty the excess water!), and my road wasn't so much a road as a river, with water covering the entire road and both pavements in places.

And so to work, where the dull routine was disturbed by a phone call.

My Girl TM” has got something in her eye the G.P. don't like the look of, so she was been sent for an opthalmological opinion. I left her in A&E looking for caravans in the Adscene (don't ask!), and I went back to work.

An hour later she came to find me, ably assisted by her mother. Once the girls had shoved off, a college commented that she didn't realise I had two daughters. “Er Indoors TM” will be so pleased to hear that.


30 June 2007 (Saturday) - Go Wild

30 June 2007 (Saturday) - Go Wildmagnify

As I couldn’t get out of working this morning I was late getting to the zoo. Some three thousand beavers, cubs and scouts descended onto Port Lympne Zoo Park for a fun day followed by a pop concert in the evening. I arrived to find wall-to-wall scouting, made a quick phone call and arranged to meet my bunch by the elephants. As I was walking along, one of the smallest beavers you ever did see announced at the top of his voice “Christ, my butt hurts!!” and then before his leader could react he turned to her, pointed into an empty cage and announced “it was the tiger!” I’ve been giggling about that all day.

I soon found my lot scoffing, and I sat down with them and munched my scoff whilst the cubs told me what I’d missed in the morning. There had been a fight in the gorilla house, apparently won by “the big silver bugger”. There was also some incident appertaining to a lion’s genitals, but details fortunately weren’t forthcoming. We divided into smaller groups for the afternoon, and fourteen of us wandered around. I explained the natural history of the Patagonian Chicken-Eagle and Hungarian ants, the difference between buffalo & bison (you can’t wash your hands in a buffalo) and explained why the fishing cats use maggots as bait (their paws can’t open the tins of sweet corn & luncheon meat). But there was one attraction the cubs really wanted to see. Was it the lions, the tigers, the ocelot, it’s smaller cousin the ocelittle… After an hour my nerves could no longer stand the repetitive chant of gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, gift shop, and so I relented and we went to the gift shop.

I resent taking the cubs to these shops. It is grossly overpriced plastic rubbish which, if it isn’t broken by the time it’s left the shop, it is broken by the time it’s got home. However on the plus side, they were flogging off gay pride umbrellas for a fiver, so that was a result. Particularly as the rain had set in. We trudged round the rest of the zoo in monsoon conditions, and then gave the cubs and scouts the option to go home rather than staying to the pop concert (the beavers weren’t staying). Some cubs opted to go home, but some wanted to stay, as did all fifteen scouts. So we trudged through thickening mud to the concert field where “Sad and the Acts” were on stage. “Sad” was rather dire, despite “the Acts” best efforts. They came off to be replaced by an even sadder bunch of bible bashers. As the “alleh – flipping – looyah” brigade waved their hands in rupture, Baloo and I wandered off to see the stalls that had set up to separate the kids from their money. It has to be said that I did buy arguably the sexiest hat on the planet. However many of these stalls were…. How can I describe it? Taking the piss probably comes closest. £4.50 for a tray of chips & a miniscule sausage. Meanwhile “The Trevors” were on stage. They too were on the crap side, so we played stomping in the mud. Until the “nice man” told me off. Eventually Ben Mills (?) came onstage for half an hour. Apparently he won X-Factor (?) He wasn’t too bad, as singers go. And then we waited. And waited.

There was obviously some upset backstage because the SugarBabes took an absolute age to come onstage. All the scouts (hundreds of them) were chanting “hurry up” and the smaller ones were shivering in the cold and wet as the evening went on. By the time the SugarBabes eventually graced us with their presence, many of the smaller cubs were too tired to enjoy their show – at one point I had four cubs propped up against me, half dozing. To be honest when they finished it was greeted by the cubs with a sense of relief that the ordeal was over. The SugarBabes weren’t THAT special. Far from being the foxes that had been promised, I thought they looked rather porky (speaking as one who knows what porky is!). And that was from fifty yards away.

And so home. My shoes have been washed and are drying on the radiator. My coat & waterproof trousers are still covered in mud in the car. I shall worry about them tomorrow.