1 June 2009
(Monday) - A New Beginning
Today I wrote my one thousandth blog entry., I’ve been blogging like a thing
possessed over on Yahoo 360 for two and a half years. Who would ever have
thought I would have kept it going this long? Every day over the last two and
a half years, my blog got (on average) sixty three hits. That’s a
respectable number – one I’m rather pleased about.
I’ve been playing with the blog on
Blogspot for two days, and I’ve decided I like it. I must thank Andy for
finding it. Life is so much easier when someone else does all the leg-work
for you :o)
So far, I’m quite pleased with the new
layout, but I’m not sure that the blog section is wide enough. It’s funny –
on my last blog I didn’t have a choice of layout, but now that I do, I keep
fiddling with it.
I’ve installed a hit counter. I’m wondering if it will be as flattering as
the one Yahoo gave me. As I write this, it says it says I’ve had 22 page
views from 10 distinct different people. That seems promising.
I’ve had comments – that bit seems to work. Anonymous comments are fine, since I get the option to delete them before they
appear, but I would remind my loyal readers that you don’t need a blogger
account to comment – you can add your name to a comment should you wish to.
I can add links from this blog to fellow
bloggers. So far I haven’t added everyone, since most of my fellow bloggers
are also on Yahoo 360, and I’ll wait to see where people end up before going
through the thirty seconds of effort it will take to add a link that will
soon be out of date,
So here we are – on one hand we have the end of an era, and on the other,
it’s the dawn of a brave new world of spouting drivel
2 June 2009
(Tuesday) - A Funeral
One of the things I used to do with my old
blog over on Yahoo 360 was to save the pictures I used and once a year I
would compile them into a video show. Blogger does that for me automatically.
I say “automatically” – it took a few clicks to do, but I’m quite pleased
with the result at the top right of the screen. Or, that is I will be in a
few weeks time, once there’s some more piccies in
there; it’s rather repetitive at the moment.
I sat down to do the household accounts over a bit of brekkie this morning. I
have absolutely no confidence in EDF (who supply my gas and leccie). Regular readers of my drivel may recall that
a few months ago, despite my being in credit with the electricity they helped
themselves to a one-off payment of over two hundred quid. Today I see I’m
overdrawn on my gas account, but they want to reduce the monthly payment by
twenty quid each time. What on earth are they playing at? I phoned them to
ask them, and they weren’t happy that I’d dared to question them.
The morning’s post brought reminders (in separate envelopes) that the
service & MOT were due on the car I sold a year ago. That’s nice.
And so to Hastings
for a funeral. Dave Morley was
someone I grew up with. As the years have gone by, anyone who knows me knows
that I take photos of anything and everything. It bothers me that I don’t
have photos of Dave from those
halcyon years. As teenagers we went to Boys Brigade together. He was one of
those people who made the world a better place. He was head launcher for Hastings lifeboat. He
bowled competitively at county level. He was on the committee of the Winkle Club. He was secretary
of his local working men’s club. For years he’d been a leader at my old Boys
Brigade. And he was a good mate – not just to me, but to the world at large. He’d
do anything for anyone.
Funerals are funny things – at some I’ve blubbed
like a girl. But this one wasn’t about being unhappy about his passing. It
really was celebrating the fact that we’d all known a wonderful person. The
church was packed to overflowing. Not an empty seat in the house, and people
were standing at the back. The service started with Country & Western,
and ended up with a rousing chorus of “Land of Hope and Glory”. I just
hope that when my number is up, I get half the turn-out that he did.
It was quite humbling to see hundreds of people who’d come to bury my old
mate, and I didn’t know any of them. Eventually one chap came up to me.
Didn’t he know me from somewhere? Thirty years ago I’d messed him about
something rotten when he’d been a leader whilst I was twelve years old in the
8th Hastings Boys Brigade. Eventually I found three faces I recognised, and I
went to sit with them. If I was going to blub, it would not be in the company
After the service we walked through an honour guard from the lifeboat crew,
and were invited to tea and biscuits in the church hall. One of our number
felt he ought to go, but together with Rick and Kev, I went to the pub to
toast our old mucker.
Perhaps I’m an old alky, but you can’t say goodbye to someone you’ve known
for thirty years over a cup of tea. Especially not when in the company of old
friends you’ve known for even longer. A crafty half, and then Rick had to go.
We gave Kev a lift to his mother’s house, which by a strange co-incidence is
in Hastings Old Town.
Seeing as we’d just said goodbye to someone who’d been so active in the
social life of the area, we felt we had to have a pint in the Old Town
to remember him.
I slept all the way home….
3 June 2009
(Wednesday) - Birthdays, Web Sites, Magazines
I was up doing the family’s ironing at
5.30am. I really must love it. I had this idea to see the birthday girl
before I went to work, but she’d still not come home by the time I left. It’s
a scary thought that I no longer have teenaged children.
The morning at work was… well, odd, really.
In my old job I felt that I had the responsibility to do absolutely
everything and never had time to do anything. Now on the fifth week of my
secondment I’m getting through loads of the work I’m supposed to be doing,
but I still have this nagging feeling that I should really be doing hands-on
blood tests and all the other stuff I’ve left behind. It’s odd – I get this
feeling whilst in the hospital, but when working at Margate or working from home (like I did
this afternoon) I’m quite content doing my own thing. Today’s “own thing”
was some advice for students doing a post graduate qualification. I’ve put
what I’ve done here.
I’m soon going to run out of available web space. I suppose I shouldn’t
really use my own, but should use work’s web space. Perhaps that could be a
task for later in the week. Or if I reorganise my personal drivel, I could
put off having to bother I.T. departments for a few days.
Last week I attempted to buy a mucky magazine to send into the Chokey, but
failed miserably in my attempt to find a post office that sold such filth.
Today I found one – only to find that the post office counter bit had closed
down months (if not years) ago. Fortunately I’d already written out the
envelope and was able to quickly stash the offending publication out of
sight. As I walked into a functioning post office a couple of miles away I
was bearing a very innocent-looking plain brown envelope. No one would ever
know what I was sending through the post. Or that is they wouldn’t have if I
hadn’t told the world what I was up to. I was expecting to have to spend
pounds on posting the thing. It cost 76 pence. That’s not bad.
I hope he’s happy with it. Come to that - I
hope he gets it - I’ve not looked inside the thing so I’ve absolutely no idea
of how good, bad or indifferent the contents are. If it’s too saucy he might
not be allowed to have it. Oh well – he asked me for it, and I’ve sent it off
in the post. I’ve done my bit…
4 June 2009
(Thursday) - Democracy
I always vote at elections. I have this
vague feeling that if I don’t, I have no right to complain about the state of
the world. The trouble is, I know that it doesn’t
matter who gets in: they will do some things well, and make a right stuff of
others. I could stand for election myself, but I choose not to. And that I
suppose is what’s wrong with the world.
I had a choice of three candidates today for the local elections. And there was
nothing to choose between them. Back when I was a lad, there was a proper
choice at elections. You had self-seeking greed on the one hand, rampant
lefty socialism on the other and namby-pamby indecisive dithering in between.
And then they invented Margaret Thatcher. Everyone voted for her bunch
because we were all too scared not to. Once she jacked it all in, the
distinction between the political parties wasn’t quite so clear. The bunch
that once espoused rampant lefty socialism had taken a leaf out of the greedy
beggers’ book. And it worked. Tony Blair’s lot got
in. And so in order to curry favour, those who’d lost out abandoned their
policies of feathering one’s own nest and tried to develop a social
conscience. Meanwhile just as namby-pamby indecisive dithering was getting
its act together, the jingoistic nationalistic minorities came along and made
serious inroads into the floating voters.
So here we are today, with Labour and Conservative parties which seem to have
little to distinguish one from another, and the democrats squeezed into what
little space political remains, and fighting with the crackpots for that
space. There really isn’t much difference between any of the three main
parties. I had three candidates next to whose names I can put my vote. Each
represented one of the big three political parties. I went with the democrats
for the simple reason that they seem to be the lot who will do the least
Now the European election was a different matter. Normally I’d say that given
the choice I’d vote for one of the crackpot minorities. But there were some
serious crackpots there. The jingoistic vote was split between five different
candidates, there were two distinct flavours of hippies standing, and I’ve
absolutely no idea what another five were standing for. Which only left the
big three parties again.
One doesn’t so much vote for the party of one’s choice – rather against those
that really shouldn’t get in. It’s hardly a sound political position, is it…..
5 June 2009
(Friday) - A New Front Door
Because I was on a late start this morning,
the idea was the nice man from the door company would arrive, make a start
and probably be finished by the time I left for work. No such luck. It was as
well ‘er indoors (TM) had taken the day off
work too – they didn’t show up until gone 3pm. They seem to have made a good
job of the door, but I haven’t inspected it that closely. Mind you, for all
that it’s a pretty impressive door, I must admit to a degree of
disappointment. It’s just a door. I was somehow expecting more from it. I
don’t really know precisely what, but something more.
“Daddies Little Angel (TM)” ain’t happy with
it either. Oh well, As long as the thing actually opens when we want it to,
and the letterbox flap stays on, it will be better than it’s
Some days in my life are rather exciting. Others not so….
6 June 2009
(Saturday) - Gardening
Something happened today that simply never
happens. I overslept. The morning was somewhat rushed getting together, and
pausing only briefly to get new shovels it was off to Sevenoaks to help with
some gardening. I use the term “gardening” somewhat loosely. There was a
vague plan to dig up a lawn which was established on a steep slope, and to
re-lay the whole lot as a flat surface against a brick wall. However, as I
have mentioned before, sometimes writing about these things in a blog is much
easier than actually doing them.
The soil surrounding the abode of “Chez Wakefield” is solid. Really
solid. In my back garden when I put a shovel in place and jump on it, the
shovel sinks all the way into the soil. Today when I jumped on the shovel, it
just bounced off the soil without making any impact whatsoever. I had been
warned of this, and I had been promised something amazing to deal with the
problem. I was a tad disappointed. Because of the hard ground, Bryan had borrowed a
Kango. I was under the impression that a Kango was some sort of
JCB/excavator/digger thingy. It wasn’t It was an electric shovel. And not
just any electric shovel, but a rather weedy one that gave up within half an
It has become something of a tradition that
no serious gardening can be done without a tool breaking. In the past we have
folded shovels, snapped spades and pick axes, to say nothing of strimmers
catching fire. Following in the wake of quite frankly spectacular gardening
failures, the death of the Kango was rather lame. It just started sounding
rather pathetic, before packing up and leaking some oil. We made do with pick
axes instead, but it was a bit more like hard work that way. After a few
hours the pick axes started making some clanging noises as they hit the
ground. Some six inches beneath the grass was a lot of rather solid concrete.
Eventually these turned out to be buried concrete fence posts, but they took
some shifting. By five o’clock we were all completely exhausted. I say five
o’clock – my arms had got into cramp spasms a couple of hours before this,
and for some time I’d been doing little more than dragging the wheelbarrow
CA had done us a smashing bit of tea of sossies
& chips, and as we ate, we broke the sad news of the demise of the Kango.
It transpired that the thing had been borrowed from a friend of CA’s friend.
And it’s not really good form to take the thing back broken. So we had a look
on eBay. The good news – a replacement could be bought. The bad news – for
about five hundred quid. It turns out the man over the road will have a look
at it. I offered to have a look at it, but it seems the man over the road
might be able to do more than just announce that he thing has died.
Home to find a letter had arrived from the chokey. Regular readers of this
drivel may recall that last Wednesday I posted some “literature” off to the
chokey. Today his letter says that it was all a joke and he can’t believe I
went out to get the stuff. I can’t wait to hear his reaction if the thing
gets to him…
7 June 2009
(Sunday) - Tea & Cake with Sir Patrick
One of the things the astronomy club was
thinking about for the International Year of Astronomy was a trip to
somewhere astronomical. There’s a planetarium in central London,
the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester. Some of the committee had been to the place
in Chichester before, where they had met Sir
Patrick Moore. Sir Patrick was very kind in giving the astronomy club signed
books, and he said to both Jason and Monica that if ever they were in that
part of the world again, they should call in to visit him at home. As
secretary Jason wrote to thank Sir Patrick for the book. Sir Patrick phoned
him back and renewed the offer to come to visit him.
We had a committee meeting. We would visit the planetarium in Chichester, to see if it would be suitable for a club
day out. And write to Sir Patrick taking him up on his offer to visit him as
we would be in the area. After all, if he was just being polite, someone like
him could come up with any number of plausible excuses for us not to call.
However Sir Patrick was overjoyed at the thought of us coming down, and so today the committee of the astro club set off for West Sussex.
Pausing only briefly to reverse into a carwash machine near Arundel, we made
good time until we found the A27 was closed. The plan was to leave home
early, a two and a half hour journey, a pub lunch
and then meet Sir Patrick at 2pm. What with delays and diversions we skipped
the meal, went straight to the cottage and arrived with four minutes to
spare. It was easy to find – it was the one festooned with UKIP posters from
last week’s elections.
Sir Patrick is a wonderful chap – I can remember him being on the telly over
forty years ago, and…. I won’t say he hasn’t changed. Physically he appears
rather frail. But mentally, he’s as I imagined him to be from what I’ve read
and heard of him. Whilst chatting over tea and cakes, he commented that he
hasn’t done a day’s work in his life. It must be wonderful to have done what
he has, and not consider any of it to be work. We mentioned about his meeting
Albert Einstein, and he chatted about Albert. We spoke of his rumoured
appearance on Big Brother, and he laughed about that. He said he’d rather be
found dead in a ditch. He spoke of his love for tennis and cricket. He’d played
cricket up until six years ago. We gave him a certificate of honorary
membership of the astro club. Compared to the
plaudits he’d already got, I would have thought this must have seemed rather
weak. But no – he was genuinely thrilled by it.
His housekeeper took us around his garden and showed us his telescopes. And
his house – it really was an Aladdin’s cave. Certificates and diplomas of
honorary degrees and memberships of all sorts of prestigious bodies, as you
would expect. But all sorts of bric-a-brac. Books everywhere, I saw his
typewriter. And there were a couple of Clangers next to his BAFTA award.
Sir Patrick gave us several books for the astronomy club, and whilst the others
were looking round his cottage, I took the chance for a quick five minutes
alone with the man. He’d given us a book about Neptune – exactly the subject
I’d spoken about at astro club a couple of weeks
ago. I would have liked to have seen his xylophone, but given the choice I
chatted with Patrick about the book he’d written. He told me to drop the
“Sir”. I told him that I would try, but asked him to forgive me if I felt I
We stayed for an hour. I could have stayed all day. The man was so welcoming,
and so interesting. And he was genuinely pleased to see us. He’s offered to
write for any future club magazine we may produce. But we didn’t want to
outstay our welcome, and so we left. Assuring him we’d return. As we left,
his housekeeper confirmed that he meant for us to return. He loves company.
After that, the South Downs Planetarium was something of a disappointment. I
slept through large parts of the show. Quite frankly for all that it’s quite
spectacular laying back and looking at the night sky projected above you,
we’ve done better shows on Friday nights at the astro
club. And as for the rest of the Planetarium… well, there wasn’t anything
else. I don’t think people would want to travel for three hours to see it.
Unless we can take the whole club to visit Patrick…
8 June 2009
(Monday) - A Day in the Life
“My Boy (TM)“ was out last night. One dreads
to imagine where. He came home quietly at about 5am, which was a shame
because for once I wasn’t wide awake at the crack of dawn. I lay awake for
twenty minutes listening to the entire house shake as he silently went about
whatever he was doing. From the level of crashing about, I would have
imagined he was doing something akin to teaching elephants to tap-dance. When
he eventually set off for work at 5.30am I went downstairs and got on with
To the post office to send off this week’s letter to the chokey. The
twentieth. I’ve sent off another crossword – “that which one does whilst
while watching a Spice Girls video. (3,1,3,4)”.
The answer being “zig a zig ahhh (!)” This will be the third crossword I’ve sent
him. So far he’s attempted five clues, and got them all wrong. But he says he
likes having a go. He admitted to being particularly foxed by last week’s 14
across – “a wrestling hold involving one hand, one eye, some sailors and a
funny-shaped hat”. Next week I might post in a copy of “Viz” to point him in the right direction.
The morning was dull, but then after the weekend I’ve just had, anything
would be dull. To Margate
for the afternoon, where there was something of a commotion. As I walked
through the car park up to the hospital, a little old lady was clinging to
the bus stop, screaming for help. She didn’t want to go home. I wasn’t
getting involved, and left the nurses to it. The old duck was as mad as
And then home – through pretty much every sort of weather imaginable. I left Margate in bright
sunshine at twenty two degrees. On the way home the temperature went down to
twelve, and back up again. The glorious sunshine gave way to a monsoon, and
went back to sunshine. Several times. I hope it cheers up for the end of the
I was expecting to come home to a message on the phone from the window people
to discuss finishing the work they started on Friday. No message, so I phoned
them back. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing they booked someone to come at
the earliest they could manage. In two weeks time. I’m not impressed…
9 June 2009
(Tuesday) - Another Dull Day
Another dull day. I did as much as I could
at work until I finally gave up.. I had this idea to update some training presentations
I made a few years ago, but every time I tried to look up anything on Google,
the PC would crash. So I decided to work from home, and got loads done.
I see there are people digging in the holes up and down my road. Let’s hope
this is a good sign – I’m fed up with having to park several streets away
most evenings. After all, it’s only been six months – how much longer do they
want to leave the holes there for?
Meanwhile over on Facebook I’ve started a new game – “farkle”.
It reminds me of a dice game I once played with a Frenchman, the rules being
somewhat variable depending on who was winning at the time, but it passes the
odd minute or two.
And then a phone call
from the chokey. The mucky magazine I sent in last week has arrived…
10 June 2009
(Wednesday) - Yet Another Dull Day
An early start – to the petrol station to
refuel. I always go to the Tesco’s petrol station because I always have. But
I don’t think I will any more. The harridans behind the counter are always so
busy squawking gossip at each other, that they begrudge any form of
communication with the paying customer. It’s very clear that my spending
fifty quid in their shop is getting in the way of their conversation. I think
I’ll take my fifty quid elsewhere next time.
To work – where I spent a lot of the day looking out of the window hoping the
rain would stop. I tried phoning the chokey to confirm all is OK for next
week’s visit. The phone number for visits was permanently on answer machine
saying the office was closed. I tried the main prison switchboard, who couldn’t care less. That was helpful.
To the BatFarm to
load up with camping gear. It was only when I’d loaded up half the stuff that
I realised I normally took the seats out of the car first. Oh well, I’ll do
that in the morning. If it stops raining.
In the meantime I’ve added a caption competition to the blog. I’ll let it run
for a few days and see how much interest it sparks….
11 June 2009 (Thursday) - The Holiday
I can’t believe it’s a year since I got my
new car. I still think of it as the “new” car – even though I’ve had the
thing a year. I really should look in the manual and find out what all the
lights and switches do. I was up and loading the car up for the weekend
before 9am this morning. I think I’ve now loaded
everything except my own personal stuff, but I’ve a nagging feeling I’ve left
stuff behind. I can only find one burner. And since ‘er
indoors (TM) has decided to use the camping store as somewhere to hoard
rubbish, it’s tricky to find everything. I’m not sure why we need to keep a
broken DVD player, but what do I know?
The morning’s post brought a letter from HMP Slade. He seems impressed with
the bongo mag in several ways – with the effort I went to in order to procure
said literature, with the fact that he’s been allowed to have it, and with
the content. I’m told it’s a tad racy. I’m glad to hear it. Apparently
another inmate has asked to borrow it – he’s not so impressed about that. I
then spent an hour trying to phone through to the chokey to confirm next
week’s visit. After an hour someone finally answered. Unfortunately it was
the nice lady who was covering someone else’s lunch break. She admitted that
she didn’t have the faintest idea of what was going on, and all she could do
was to ask me to call back later. She seemed quite amazed that I wasn’t keen
to do so, but as I pointed out to her, it had taken me three and a half days
to get through, and I was reluctant to give up so easily. She took my number,
and someone did phone me back later to confirm all was OK for next week.
I then went into town for some shopping. I’ve lost my flannel, and my canvas
shoes are falling apart. They were easily replaced. But my bottle opener is
falling apart. Whilst you can get cheapo bottle openers easily enough, my old
one had a saucy photo of Kirsty Gallacher on it.
That wasn’t so easily replaced. And a holdall – the one I normally use is now
part of “My Boy (TM)’s “Operation Haddock” and so bears just the
faintest aroma of fish. A new holdall in Milletts
was sixty quid. So I went to Argos
and got something comparable for less than a tenner. It pays to shop around.
Whilst I was mooching about, I ran into Martin, and Pam & Di.
To the college to help “Daddies Little Angel (TM) home with her
sculptures. We brought those home in a taxi where we
found “My Boy (TM) mucking about in the garden with his new fishing “bivvy”. For the uninitiated, a “bivvy” is a tent that you take fishing. The only
difference between a “bivvy” and a tent is
that a “bivvy” is about ten times the price
of a comparably sized tent.
And lastly for the day was a trip to Asda. Whilst the catering staff did
shopping, I got in some essentials for the weekend’s camping trip. A couple
of gallons of ale, two bottles of port, fifty bags of crisps and some toilet
roll. What more do we need?
This will be the last blog entry till Monday – “My Boy (TM)" is
being left in charge at home. I can trust him with the fish, but if he wants
to do a blog, he can write one of his own.
12 June 2009
(Friday) – To Teston (Again)
To Teston Kite Festival. My fifteenth time, and the thirteenth at which I’ve camped. We set off
reasonably promptly and arrived at mid day. In years gone by, getting to
Teston at mid day meant that we used to be the first to arrive. Not any more
- we arrived to find several people already ensconced. Mind you, I maintain
that it pays to arrive early – I usually reckon on taking six hours to get
the campsite set up. Tents up, tables out, cooking gear unpacked, water
fetched, banners up… the list of jobs is endless. This time we did the lot in
two and a half hours. There was a minor hiccup with Tony’s tent – he asked me
where it was. I had no idea, and flippantly suggested it was where he left
it. He’d left it at the farm nine months ago, and was assuming I had picked
it up with the rest of the camping gear on Wednesday. Whoops.
A few beers later it was tea time, and a
smashing bit of tea it was too, despite my cooking some of the ingredients. A
few more beers, and things became pleasantly vague.
So pleasantly in fact that at one point I found myself having the difference
between boy-types and girl-types explained to me. That was a revelation. As
darkness fell, so the illuminated kites took to the skies and the port was
passed around. There’s something about camping that makes people want rice
pudding in the dark, and tonight was no exception. Sabrina had orders to be
in bed by midnight, so at 11.30pm the rice pudding was cooked. It was amazing
how many people wanted rice pudding.
Shortly after midnight there was an invasion from a neighbouring camp,
explaining how their next child was to be named “Teston Toffee” – “Teston”
after the location, and “Toffee” after the vodka she’d just got trollied on. When a nudey jog
around the field was proposed, it was time to call it a day, and go to kip.
13 June 2009
(Saturday) – A Busy Day
I got to bed at 2am last night. At 3.30am I
awoke for a call of nature, and at 4am one of the camper’s babies started
howling. Then at 5.30am there was a racket not unlike one that “My Boy(TM)”
made when he was two years old, and was playing the drums on his mother’s
saucepans. Once the clanging had subsided and I’d had another tiddle, I gave
up and got up at 7am. I pootled about quietly, clearing up the carnage of the
night before. I could understand there being beer bottles and plastic wine
mugs everywhere, but there was rice pudding over and in everything. We only
had two tins of the stuff. How could it have made such a mess?
Batty & Martin soon arrived, and breakfast was enjoyed by all. There was
talk of bikinis as the sun shone. There was also talk of elastic bands being
wrapped around elephants, which didn’t go down too well. Godchildren arrived,
and were left with us for the day. I took them over to the kite stall to buy
kites, and we spent a pleasant half an hour totally failing to fly them.
And then I suddenly found myself on my own. Those that hadn’t gone off for a
sail down the river were on the kite field. I took down one of the banners
and repaired it over a bottle of beer. It was one of those truly peaceful
moments when God was in his heaven, and all really was well with the world.
Terry & Irene
arrived to join us for the weekend, followed soon by Lisa, and then after a
quick sandwich I settled down to untangle a kite line. Last August I’d got a
line into a right tangle, and stuffed the thing in my kite bag. Today I
thought I’d better do something about it. First of all I had to separate the
broken reel of line from the broken line winder, which was a job requiring
brute force rather than finesse, and then the line had to be rolled onto a
separate reel, untangling as I went. I had planned to do this to quietly
occupy myself for the afternoon, but before long I had attracted a crowd of
helpers, so I sat back and watched people doing it for me.
Having sorted the line, I helped Terry fly a kite. I say “helped” – there
are those who might feel a more appropriate term might be “put the kite in a
tree for him”. Flushed with success at helping my fellow man, I then decided
to help my goddaughter. She’d asked if I could supervise her practicing doing
rowing in the rubber dingy. It wasn’t until she was in the middle of the
river, spinning in circles, screaming for help and heading towards the weir
that “Daddies Little Angel (TM)” together with a gaggle of assorted
cousins and friends came charging up the tow-path, shouting in panic,
demanding to know which idiot had let Thea loose in the boat, because even
the most feeble minded simpleton would know that Thea didn’t have the
faintest idea about oar control. Still, all was well that ended well. She
crashed the boat into the side of Teston Lock, and one of the passing normal
people pulled her to safety. We sent the boat back to camp, and I took her
paddling in one of the shallower bits of the river, amusing myself by
shouting “Look Out!!! Crocodiles!!!” at regular intervals.
And so, back to camp where I had a bit of a kip – my nerves needed it. After
half an hour I was woken by shouts of derision aimed at nearby campers who
had brought along a wine cooler (oh lah-di-dah!).
Chip & Sam had also appeared whilst I was resting me eyes – it’s amazing
what happens when you’re not paying attention.
It was then time for me to perform one of
the less pleasant tasks of the camp. Having set up our camp as far as was
possible from the toilets, the ladies felt it was a
long way to troll up and down the field every time nature called. I didn’t
have a problem with tiddling into a hedge, but apparently it’s different if
you are a girly-type. So last year I’d invested in a camp toilet on the
strict understanding that it was a “dreadnaught-free zone” – tiddle
only. However someone needs to empty it, and that
someone was me. As I took the bucket out of the tent, I found a lolly stick.
Would you believe it – someone had been sitting on the thing scoffing an ice
After this, the subsequent erudite conversation came as a blessed relief. I
say “erudite conversation” because that is what I am reliably informed
was happening. I’m glad that this fact was pointed out to me, because I may
well have missed it otherwise. And then tea time – nearly twenty of us for
tea. Great fun, but that certainly generated some washing up.
Bat-hunting. Over the years it has become a Teston tradition that at twilight
we go down to the lock to see the bats. There weren’t any. I saw half a dozen
on the walk to the river, but none at the river. Over the last few years
there have been less and less bats at the loch at night. Global warming?
A few more beers, and then over to the
in-laws for cake & custard, and then back to base for more beer. And then
disaster struck. My nephew came wandering over. He looked as white as a
sheet. He’d been sick all over his sleeping bag. Or so he claimed. His mum
wasn’t well herself and was having an early night and I didn’t want to
disturb her, so I went to inspect the carnage. I couldn’t find any trace of
his having “blown”, and whilst we were all having a good laugh about the “Vom Hunter”, he blew again. Right in the middle of the
communal tent. I can’t help but think that he fact that he’d been up since
5am in a very hot day, stuffing all sorts of food and drink down his neck
might have had something to do with it.
And just as we’d settled him down for the night, had a few more beers and
were pleasantly settled ourselves, so the didgeree-
flipping – doo started. The didgeridoo is a traditional Australian music form
which is dwindling in popularity these days on account of when you play it at
1am, anyone who might be fool enough to try to be sleeping is sorely tempted
to ram said didgeridoo up the musician’s bottom. Sideways.
14 June 2009
(Sunday) – A Lazy Day
Despite (or because of) the antipodean
melodies which sang me to sleep last night, I was again up and raring to go at
7am. This time with no rice pudding to clear up. Having said that, it is
amazing how much washing up was generated during the evening, and I busied
myself with that until breakfast was ready.
I then spent most of the morning sleeping in my chair. Not so much sleeping
as dozing, phasing in and out of consciousness. It’s amazing what snippets of
conversation you hear when people think you are asleep, and you probably are.
Simon, for example, claimed to have obtained a four foot long “implement”
from his spam emails.
A quick sandwich and mid day, and then more dozing in the chair. At one point
some of the children (who had been playing “spies” all weekend) were doing
“Badger-Watch”. Having set up their vantage point behind a tree, they were
reporting my movements to anyone who was interested via walkie-talkie.
And at five o’clock the festival was officially over. People started packing
away. Some faster than others. We didn’t – whenever possible we stay on till
the Monday morning and pack away then. But since there were only going to be
four of us overnight we put away that which we could. Which
wasn’t much really. Another smashing bit of tea, served with wine (!).
And then we washed up, and made a start on the remaining bottles of beer left
in the beer box. In a novel break with tradition we had rice pudding at camp
in daylight. And as the evening wore on, we said goodbye to more and more
friends, until finally we were one of only three groups of people left on the
15 June 2009
(Monday) – Home Again
In previous years the field at Teston has
seemed rather spooky once everyone else has gone home. But there was
something different about last night. We all slept (reasonably) well –
there were no people walking about in the early hours this year. However, with
all the tents, caravans and campers gone, the place seemed noisier. The
trains were louder, I could hear cows in far away fields I’d not noticed
I got up at 7am, and did my usual pootle around, gathering washing up that
had accrued overnight. The field did look bigger, and felt somewhat empty
with everyone gone. Soon enough everyone was up, and with a concerted effort
we were breakfasted, packed and away by 11am.
For all that we’d packed away fast; unloading at home seemed to take for
ever. With road works still all along Beaver Road we lugged all the gear into
the front garden, and then from there into the back. We then ran Tony &
Brian home, and started putting the gear away. We have lock-ups in the garden
specifically for the camping gear, but they are full of…. well, I don’t know
what they are full of. There are two gazebos that we don’t use now we have
the folding one. I *think* they belong to someone else, but I don’t know who.
But neither has been used for over two years. And there are several white
plastic panels and metal poles, but I have absolutely no idea what they are
for. I shall sent an email to anyone who might have stashed the things in the
lock up, and if they are still there in a month’s time when we come home from
Brighton Kite Festival, I shall take them to the tip.
Whilst putting things away I wondered if we needed all the stuff we take
camping. I suppose we could take one or two less chairs, but then if we have
visitors, it’s rude not to be able to allow them to sit. And as for the rest
of the kit… I think we probably need it, unless we send out for take-away for
every meal. If we are going to cook, we need a cookhouse. And tables to cook
on. And gas burners, and crockery and all the tackle. Unless we go down the
caravan/camper van route. And with nowhere to park or store a caravan, I
think we’ll stick to what we’ve got. Having said that, “Brown and Smelly”
(our large cookhouse tent) is getting decidedly threadbare in places.
I can’t help but wonder how much longer the poor thing has left.
Whilst at the Kite Festival, there were rumours abounding that this year
might be the last of the Teston festivals. The organiser has been running
them for over twenty years, and we’d heard he’d had enough. My immediate
reaction was to offer to take the thing on myself. After all, how much work
could it be? Liaise with the council for the use of the field, smile at the
kite stall people to run a shop, speak to the civil aviation authority to get
height clearance for the day, scare up a burger van from somewhere and that’s
the thing organised. But then… there would be all the petty triviality of the
day. Chasing the power kites and stunt kites into the area provided for them.
Stopping the one-liners from getting in the way of the steerable stuff.
Asking the normal people not to play football right in the middle of a kite
festival. Stopping the pikeys from having a major rave in a corner of the
field. To say nothing of smoothing the ruffled feathers of the chap whose
kite-flying teddy bear was kidnapped for a bit of a laugh.
And then appeasing the chap whose kite was stolen by someone who wrongly
thought that he was the chap who’d nicked his kite flying teddy bear. Or
telling senior citizens that they can’t use a drainpipe bazooka to fire
potatoes across the field. Or politely asking people playing didgeridoos at
1am to shut up. I’ve since heard that the chap isn’t packing up just yet.
That’s probably for the best. On reflection I don’t think I want the job…
16 June 2009
(Tuesday) - A Day Off
I’d decided to take today as a day off
work, as everyone else seems to after Teston. I had planned a lie in, but “Daddies
Little Angel (TM)” was on the phone before 8am. Having run the
washing machine ragged overnight, I put out more laundry that I’ve got pegs
this morning, and then went to park my car outside the house, as we had been
faithfully promised the road works would have been finished. They weren’t. As
I wandered up to post this week’s letter to the chokey I saw quite a few
people in high-vis jackets leaning on shovels having a conversation with a
chap in a lorry, but not a lot else was going on.
I had a mooch up to town. To the Three shop to ask
about my mobile phone’s battery. Once charged, it lasts for about a day at
most. The disinterested bimbo wasn’t overly interested, and grumbled that
they didn’t sell batteries. When I asked her where I might get some she
muttered something about the dodgy mobile phone stall in the local market.
That was helpful of her (!) I then looked around HMV until they turned the
music on. I wish they wouldn’t. It doesn’t have to be so loud that it hurts,
does it? Then I got some pound coins for Thursday’s trip to the chokey, got
myself a McBananaShake, and mooched back home
again. The sun was shining; it was a baking hot day. And I lost count of the
amount of old men shuffling round clearly wearing vest, shirt, cardigan,
blazer and thick coat.
And so home where I ordered a new phone battery from eBay. And then I updated
the kite club’s website with the weekend’s adventures. I’m not really sure
why we still go through the motions of having a kite club web site. We only
ever formed a “proper” kite club to get kiting insurance, and we gave
up that policy about five years ago. For all that we still occasionally fly
kites and camp at festivals, the kite club itself
has been moribund for years. Still, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to keep the
website going. And then whilst surfing the net I found this picture
It’s an aerial photo of the Teston weekend I’ve just returned from. Can you
see me? …. No – I can’t either. I’ve been given the original – all 4Mb worth.
On that one I can make out the top box on my car and I think I can see Lisa.
Meanwhile over on Facebook I’ve uploaded an album of photos of the weekend at
I then had yet another call from someone from BT with a totally
unintelligible accent trying to sell me their Broadband package. They would
not take “Get Stuffed” for an answer, and I phoned BT to complain –
after all, I’ve registered with them that I don’t want telesales calls, and
here they are hawking their tat themselves. They had a rather convoluted
switchboard with umpteen different choices. Eventually I got through to a
totally uninterested Sonia, who maintained that I wasn’t a BT customer and
she hung up on me. So I tried again and got someone who assured me I was a BT
customer, and that the nuisance calls would stop. A couple of hours later BT
phoned again trying to sell me their Broadband. I think I was less than
polite with the chap.
I realised it was quiet outside – would you believe it – the workmen were
finishing up. I went out and chatted with the chap sweeping the road. The
told me that he contractors get more money for the more work that they take
on. They don’t seem to get paid on results, but on the promises they make.
Regardless of any ability they might have to keep those promises. He
apologised for how long the work had taken – and regaled me with a list of
the incompetence of the various teams who’d worked up the road in the last
six months. It would seem that very few had escaped being sacked for
incompetence. But my car is now outside the house. If only it could have been
there a week ago.
I then devised another twenty two clues for next week’s crossword to the
- A generously-proportioned lady who honestly just eats like a mouse but
whose glands scoff vast quantities of deep-fried spuds. (13)” I’m not
sure how many more of these I can devise…
17 June 2009
(Wednesday) - A New Toy
Last night I had a visitor – the chap who
started up the astronomy club. He remembered a conversation we’d had a while
ago about a USB pair of binoculars. He’d seen a pair in the boot fair and had
thought of me. And he’d bought them – was I interested in them for four quid?
It seemed like a bargain to me, and now I am equipped with a fully
functioning perve-o-scope. I can zoom in on all
sorts of nonsense, press a button and have a photo. The software that comes
with it is a bit clunky, but for four quid, it’ll do. I have a feeling that
if this doesn’t get me onto a “special” register, nothing will.
Since I was on a late start today, I spent the morning looking for something
racy in the distance to photograph with my new toy. In the end I settled for
a shot of the neighbour’s undercrackers. And then
to work. After a while I had to go to Margate
for a bit. I came home the scenic way via Ramsgate and Pegwell Bay as I was told I might see seals
there. Seeing as it was a hot afternoon, I had high hopes of photographing
something somewhat saucier. Eventually I settled for a photo of some normal
people taking their dog for a walk.
The book is somewhat vague on the actual magnification achievable. I think
that x2 would be generous. And the photos are only 640 x 480 pixels. But, as
I said, for four quid, it’s not bad. I shall play with it for a bit. I
suspect the novelty will have worn off by the weekend
18 June 2009
(Thursday) - A Visit to the Chokey
To HMP Slade for a visit. I met Chip at the
train station – we went on the train, because I don’t like driving round
towns I don’t know particularly well, and because if things were to get
particularly fraught and emotional, I’d rather not drive home in a “state”.
I’ve not blubbed on a prison visit yet, and I
didn’t today. But it can only be a matter of time until I do. It’s not a
particularly arduous journey, but had we driven there, the cost in petrol
would probably have been a third of what we paid for train tickets. And they
wonder why people don’t use public transport.
Before visiting the chokey we popped into McDonalds for some McDinner. Always a good move. I got chatting with a
toddler about tomato ketchup, and as I went to sit down, said toddler got a
severe talking-to from mummy about why she shouldn’t talk to strangers. Mummy
was probably right, but I’m not a stranger. I’m me(!).
Upstairs in McDonalds the “cool kids” were being cool, having their McDinner. Or most of them were. Sitting with them was a hairy
freak child who was eating the sandwiches Mummy had prepared for him. They
were in a Tupperware box; all wrapped in kitchen foil. I didn’t actually
point and laugh, but it came close.
And so to the prison. I last visited on 1st May – some seven weeks ago. In
the meantime I’ve learned to douse, done “Jack in the Green”, got my
car MOT’d and had my fence kicked down. I’ve been
on several cycle rides, and seen the new Star Trek film. I’ve acquired new
fish and mucked about with my pond. I’ve installed a new bird-friendly
waterfall, and induced flocculation. I’ve been to several pubs for food and
had the occasional pint. I’ve lectured at the Astronomy club. I’ve buried an
old mate. I’ve voted. I’ve had a new front door installed, and I’ve met Sir
Patrick Moore. I’ve been camping with friends and family….
Jimbo hasn’t. It was a rather sobering thought that
for him one day is just like the next.
We arrived, and were processed much faster that on previous visits.
Apparently the chokey was recently inspected and had the “thumbs down”
on how inefficient they were with dealing with visitors. We were thoroughly
searched, and on chatting with the fit guard who goosed me up it seems that
people regularly try to smuggle stuff in. We bought some supplies at the
prison shop – six tins of pop, six bakewell tarts,
three lumps of cake, three bags of crisps, six choccy
bars. And this time we managed to scoff the lot between us. He needs feeding
up – prison food’s not good, and he’s not eating properly.
Jimbo seemed in good spirits, considering where he
is. He’s now noticeably gone very grey, but despite not eating regularly he
seems to have put on a little weight since I last saw him. I mentioned about
the search I’d had on the way in, and that I was amazed how people try to
smuggle stuff in. Jimbo wasn’t. He told me that in
this last week, prison warders have confiscated two freeview
set-top TV boxes that had been smuggled in. Another prisoner had got a mobile
phone secretly brought in. This had been discovered when he was dumb enough
to ring Radio One to ask for a request for himself and all the other inmates
on his wing. It turned out that he denied having the phone, but it was found
on his person (or more accurately “in” his person) when he was
X-rayed. Interestingly, it transpires that prison staff
have the right to X-ray prisoners to find contraband. But having
determined that a prisoner has a mobile phone where the sun doesn’t shine,
they are not allowed to extract it.
We also heard that the prison is being fined by the Health & Safety
Executive because the razor wire lining the tops of the walls of the prison
is dangerous. But because it’s cheaper to pay the fine than remove it, the
prison pays the fine. Whilst we’re on the subject of the ridiculous it turned
out that he was allowed the mucky mag I sent in a few weeks ago due to
changes in rules from the Home Office. Such filth was banned in prisons a
while ago, but recently it’s been determined that denying sex offenders
access to grumble mags is impinging on their human rights. So sex offenders
are now allowed scruff.
All too soon the guards called time on us. Two and a half hours had flown by,
and we left him and went for a pint to calm our nerves. The pub over the road
from the prison looked to be swarming, so we adjourned to the Society Rooms –
the Wetherspoons by the Railway station. A pint of
Scorpio Porter, which was arguably the worst porter I have ever tasted.
Followed by a pint of Cromwell’s Hat. I say “pint” – I left half of
it. Next time we’ll brave the crowds at the pub by the prison….
19 June 2009
(Friday) - I.T. Issues
Thank heavens there’s a blog entry today….
Yesterday my PC decided to upgrade itself to Internet Explorer 8. Now, let’s
be crystal clear about this. I didn’t upgrade anything. The PC upgraded
itself. I had no say in the matter. I turned it on, went to prepare brekky,
and when I came back, it was already done. At least the machine had the
manners to tell me what it had done. There was a message on the screen saying
that it had installed IE8 and had restarted itself, and the implication was
that if I wasn’t happy, I could go whistle.
At first nothing seemed different. But then once I’d entered yesterday’s blog
entry, the explorer window then announced that it couldn’t find the very page
it was showing. And then it went to an error screen. Which
was rubbish. The website existed. The P.C. could call it up. It just
didn’t want to, and it wouldn’t. It simply couldn’t be bothered. Needless to
say, that was not going to be of much use to me.
A restart didn’t cure the problem, nor did half a dozen more restarts. Seeing
how this problem had only come about following the change to IE8, the obvious
answer was to go back to IE7. I say “obvious” – some things are easy
to say. But not so easy to do. “Flap your arms and fly like a bird”. “Strike
this match on that bar of soap”. “Go back to IE7”. Any twit can
say it – doing isn’t so simple. After an hour I concluded that it was
impossible to go back to IE7. So it was suggested I did a system restore. If
I put the P.C. back to how it was last night, that would
be the answer to my problems. So I pressed the System Restore button.
Oh how I laughed. I am never going to press the System Restore button again.
Ever. All it did was to utterly trash any internet exploring ability
whatsoever. Up to this point I could surf the net to a limited extent. Now I
couldn’t do anything at all. I resisted the urge to cry.
Over an hour later I eventually figured out how to undo the system restore.
That seemed to solve my ability to look at my blog once I’d uploaded an
entry. But I wasn’t taking any chances, and I’ve downloaded Safari web
browser as an emergency backup just in case. I say “emergency backup”
– at the moment IE8 doesn’t display my blog’s slide show or the hit counter
at the bottom of the page, but Safari does. And Safari looks sexier. I might
just change to it permanently. Once I can figure out how to make it the
default browser. I’ve heard good reports about FireFox.
I tried it out - it’s not as good as Safari.
I suppose one good thing about all this aggro was that I’ve found a better
web browser. But there’s no denying that there were a very fraught few hours
last night. And I lay the blame firmly at the feet of the I.T. community. Why
does I.T. need constant updates and upgrades? Why does it have to be like that?
Nothing else in the world is.
Take my car, for example. It’s a good car. I like it, I’ve got used to how it
works, and where the controls are. One of my colleagues has a newer version
of the same car. It’s slightly different to my car in several trivial ways,
but at no stage has the manufacturer tried to impose those changes on me.
I’ve bought a car, and the only time it goes to a garage is to keep it in the
condition that it was in when I got it. It will stay like that for another
three years. I intend to do my car’s next upgrade in May 2012. And I have the
details of that all planned. I will get shot of the car entirely and get a
new one. And then that hypothetical new car will stay as it is until it too
Not so with the P.C., though. The whole thing is intended to be constantly
upgraded and updated. And whenever such an “improvement” occurs, there
is then a period of a week trying to repair the damage that the “improvement”
has done. I’m never going to “upgrade” again….
20 June 2009 (Saturday)
- Cycling, Pubs....
Just as I’d been singing the thing’s
praises, Safari crashed twice this morning. I suspect Firefox has never
crashed once in its entire history. But Sarari does
look sexy. I’ll give it another chance.
We got the bikes out for the first time in
three weeks and set off to Wye. Back to the Tickled Trout – the place we went
to on the first cycle ride of the year back on 10th January,
and I think it’s fair to say that today’s trip was somewhat less traumatic
than that first ride was. We followed National Cycle Route 18 out to Wye. It
was rather scenic alongside the river up toKennington
Road. Then it became a tad hairy as traffic flew by at breakneck speed. But
soon the cycle route followed country lanes, and not only was it a lovely
ride through the countryside, there was a whole lot less “up” than many of
our cycling excursions have had lately.
To the Tickled Trout for stilton ploughmans and a couple of pints of afters. For the
surroundings, the pub is difficult to beat, but although there were five ales
on, none of them were anything out of the ordinary, and the food was average.
It was good food, but nothing to make it stand out from what we’ve come to
expect from pub grub.
‘er indoors (TM ) borrowed a
puppy from the normal people so’s they could eat
their dinner in peace, and whilst we were there, about twenty women appeared,
one of whom was wearing a poncy flowery head dress.
The one with said hat was marched up to the river, and she chucked her hat in
the river. All the others then sang some really lame folk-y type song, and then
they all shoved off. They were probably a harmless enough bunch of nutters,
but I felt the whole thing somewhat intimidating. The bar staff then came and
asked us what that was all about. We had no idea, but we felt less scared now
that they had gone.
Meanwhile back on the ranch, “My Boy(TM)”
has been teaching the fish to perform tricks. They now eat from his hand.
It’s a good job they don’t have teeth or they would eat his hand. They are
greedy things, so teaching them anything food-related isn’t that great an
achievement, but he’s been wanting to have the fish
eating from his hand for some time.
On another note, the chodbin
has gone west. It doesn’t flush. For myself, I’ve found a bucket and I will
flush it with that until ‘er indoors (TM )
fixes it. I’m taking the line that she installed the flushing mechanism in
the first place, so who am I to interfere.
And then to the Star – a strange pub. I
must admit I’ve never really taken to the place. It specialises in live
music, but with a huge chimney breast in the way, it isn’t the venue it would
like to be. Today was a charity fundraising day, and loads
was going on. Bouncy castles, kiddies fun,
face painting. But for all the effort going on around the place, the bar
staff were hopeless (to be generous to them). We went up to watch
Brian’s band. They were good, but fraught with technical problems. To say
nothing of blown speakers and failing microphones. Whilst there, a lad
approached me. Did I remember him? – a cub from ten
years ago. I did remember him – he was the one with the foxy mother. The foxy
mother was also there, and still just as foxy….
21 June 2009
(Sunday) - Another Shed...
The chodbin would
seem to have fixed itself. Thank heavens for small mercies. On the other hand
the tumble drier is making a racket. I realise that tumble drying isn’t the
ozone-friendliest of activities, but there is a limit to how many socks one
can peg out.
Shed shopping with “My BoyTM ”.
I “had words” the other day because I couldn’t get in or out of the
garden shed because of his fishing gear being strewn everywhere. I “suggested”
he might like to invest in a small shed of his own for his fishing tackle,
and surprisingly he agreed. We set off first to the garden centre in Bethersden where we once bought a shed (many years ago).
They don’t do sheds any more. We tried Tenterden garden centre, for no better
reason than that he could buy me breakfast. After a full English brekky we
found that they didn’t have any sheds either. They would also seem to have
doubled the price of their Koi. Then to Snargate
where we bought a shed only last year. The place had a large sign saying they
were open on Sundays. The place was closed. Which was a shame,
because we could see the exact shed he wanted. Ham Street was next. There was a
shed shop there where the nice man could build him a shed to order. For three
hundred quid. “My BoyTM nearly
laid an egg there and then. They had a cheapo plastic storage box for eighty
quid, but it was too small. But I was happy because I got a “sold as seen”
water feature for fifteen quid (reduced from fifty).
By the time we’d done Homebase and WyeVale we were “shedded
out”. But a quick squzz at eBay shows sheds not
unlike what he’s after for about a hundred quid.
And so home, where “Daddies Little
Angel TM ”
had scrubbed the back yard. It looks so much better for having had a clean
up. I mowed the lawn and played with my new water feature. I’ve got to decide
where to put the thing. Power, as always will be an issue. The power boxes at
the end of the garden aren’t the easiest of things to mess with. I’ve half a
plan to buy a small shed like “My BoyTM ”
wants, put it up near the pond and run the power out of that….
22 June 2009 (Monday) - Wind
I am regularly asked how my new job is
going. And I always answer with the response that I don’t really know myself.
Today, on the start of the eighth week of my secondment I finally had a
formal review of progress. Regular readers of this drivel will recall I took
up my current job when I applied for (and was offered) a job at the
hospital up the road, but the bunch I was with made me what seemed to be a
better offer. And then once I’d turned down the job up the road, the better
offer became a six month secondment instead. And then it got downgraded
further to a three month project with the possibility of an extension. Today
I was told that the possibility of an extension had been withdrawn. For all
that management wanted to keep the project going, extending the time period
beyond three months is “something we dare not do”. One can’t help but
wonder why. I took on a three month project to supervise a cohort of
trainees, who will start work just as my secondment ends..
In a similarly inexplicable vein, over on
HMS Bulwark, (one of the Royal Navy’s Albion-class amphibious assault
warships), the Captain has unilaterally
banned Brussels sprouts. Which is a shame, really.
I like sprouts.
Back on the shed front, a little research
has come up with several sheds that might do for me. Some in Enfield,
and some in Margate.
I plan to go toMargate tomorrow anyway – I’ll
see what it looks like…
23 June 2009 (Tuesday) - Fixing
Today’s photo is one I found whilst
browsing through my PC. “Ugly Sheep” lives on the BatFarm,
and no one has told the dozy beast that he’s supposed to run away from
people. When you walk into the field, ten thousand sheep charge away from
you, and one charges toward you. I like Ugly Sheep. I need to go visit him
Well here we are into the fourth week of
being on Blogspot, and I have to say, I love it. Where I used to blog was a
dull website in comparison. Over on 360, I could change the desktop theme,
and that was all. I can fiddle with so much more here. Whereas I would make
up a slideshow of my pictures and put that on You-Tube once a year, Blogspot
does it for me as I go along. I can make obvious links to friends’ blogs, and
Blogspot arranges it so that the most active blogs are the most prominent.
People don’t need to sign up to anything to leave comments, unlike where I
used to be.
And the hit counter… it doesn’t count my
own return hits whenever I’m continually tweaking. Did you know that the most
popular time for my blog is between 1 – 2pm. Lunchtime reading
? And I get most hits on Mondays and Thursdays. And I’ve had hits from
the USA, Ireland, and Canada. Most of my loyal readers
are using Windows XP. About a fifth are on Windows
Vista. And there are hits from Mac users and even from one person who’s still
on Windows 98 (who *is* that?). IE 6 & 7 are
the favourite browsers, with Firefox in third place.
And it’s even got a fish tank too…
Meanwhile back in reality, the chodbin’s packed up again. It won’t flush. I would have a
go at fixing it myself, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t have a clue how to go
about it. I suspect that it would be better just not flushing, than having
had me fixing it.
Something I could have fixed myself, but
refused to was the coving in the hallway. Over two
weeks ago the people installing the new door scuffed up the coving whilst
putting the new door in. Some chap from the firm who’d installed it came
round today, and tried to say that the problem was the material that the
coving was made out of. I suggested the problem was that when they were
installing the door, they’d clearly put the door through the coving by
mistake. And bearing in mind how substantial they claim the door to be, the
coving would need to be made of armoured steel not to have been scuffed. The
bloke grudgingly conceded defeat, and fixed the damage.
Something else I couldn’t fix was my car’s wing
mirror. Despite having folded the thing in last night, a blue vehicle has
clearly scraped along the mirror at some point. I’m suspecting a bus, but of
course I can’t prove anything. I can probably scrub the blue paint off at
some point, but the mirror glass was shattered. To the Renault garage where I
spent over thirty quid on a replacement. I was expecting it to be a fiver at
most, but these mirrors come with a built in heater for when they ice up at
winter. I’m just hoping it lasts long enough to get iced up. I suppose I
should be grateful they fitted the thing for free.
And so to work. I’m not sure what was going
on at the hospital at Margate
today – it sounded like they were having a “Red Alert”. All sorts of
sirens and klaxons were going off. My first reaction was that it was the fire
alarm, but since no one at all seemed to be in any hurry to leave the
building, I rather assumed it wasn’t. I can’t help but wonder what all the
noise was about.
I didn’t pop in to Margate’s shed shop on the way home today –
I bought exactly what I wanted cheaper off of eBay. Lets
hope it arrives. The mobile phone battery I bought off of eBay last week
didn’t. They sent me an email last Tuesday saying it was in the post, then on
Sunday they refunded my money (with no explanation at all). I’ve asked
them what they are playing at. I shall give them a negative feedback for
lying about posting the thing, but bearing in mind their feedback is in the
eighty thousands, I doubt that they would care….
24 June 2009
(Wednesday) - The Lady of the Woods
My new shed was delivered today. I say “delivered”
– I came home to find a note to say they’d tried to deliver it, and had taken
it back to Tonbridge. That’s handy. It’s not as if I can get to Tonbridge and
back in less than half a day. They say they will try to redeliver it
tomorrow. Let’s hope so. Otherwise I will be taking Friday afternoon off.
To B&Q to buy a contrafibulating
galactivator for the chodbin. ‘er indoors TMhad
emailed me with specific instructions of what to buy from
B&Q. She is now bleating that the thing is too tall. Well, I bought
it on her say-so, and it’s up to her to fit the thing. I’ve done my bit – I
went to the shop.
Whilst there, I also looked at electrical
fittings for my new shed. It’s funny how you see the same old thing in the
shop, year in year out. You have this idea that one day you’ll get that
specific thing for a specific purpose. Or that is, you have this idea until
you actually need it. Then they don’t make them any more. Electrical fittings
are like that. B&Q have had a waterproof six way jobbie on the shelf for
years. It would be ideal in the new shed. But have they got one? No. Does
anyone working there have any idea what I’m talking about? No.
Last Tuesday I had words with BT because
they wouldn’t stop phoning me to sell me their latest deal. This evening some
spotty oik from BT turned up on the doorstep trying
to sell me their latest deal. I am seriously not impressed.
And so to arky-ologee
club. This time for a three mile walk around the countryside, starting with “The
Lady of the Woods” – a tree which has been carved into the shape of a
praying pregnant woman. The thing has been in the woods for at least sixty
years – there are reliable reports of it being in place in the late 1940s. No
one knows who carved it – the local opinion is that it was done during the
mid 40s by a prisoner of war, but there’s no evidence to confirm or deny it.
And then on to where chalk was once
quarried and shipped to London.
We thrashed (literally) our way along a disused railway line and found
old railway things buried in undergrowth. We braved swaps, and scrambled up
the slope to see the newly dug badger set. Twenty five of us ventured out on
the trip, with ages varying from ten to eighty-six. I just hope I can scramble
up slopes with the best of ‘em when I’m
25 June 2009
(Thursday) - 1000 Blog Hits
I see the new Speaker of the House of
Commons is taking
a firm line. Apparently he thinks Parliament sounds like a rabble.
It’s amazing it’s taken this long for any of them to realise.
Two weeks ago I added a caption competition
to the blog. I think it’s fair to say that this didn’t catch the interest of
my loyal readers, and I’ve replaced it with a “forthcoming events”
section. I’m quite impressed with my ability to blag script from other web
sites. I must remember to keep updating the thing.
Whilst pegging out the washing this morning
(it don’t get better than that!) I noticed that the fish poo filter
was leaking water out of the top. That lasted three weeks since I last mucked
it out. Either the new filtration medium is a tad keen, or they are pooing
too much. Perhaps I could be less generous with throwing in the scoff.
Turning off the power to the pond was quite difficult, having to climb
through endless clutter filling the living room to get to the switch. If I
had a switch down by the pond, it would have been so much easier. I shall
make that my next project.
Whilst I extracted the fish poo from the
filter, I ran a hose pipe down to the pond – a gently trickle to top up that
which had leaked. Once I’d finally cleansed the fishy faeces, and then
cleansed myself, and been off shopping and done this and that I suddenly
remembered that I’d left the hose running. It’s a good job that “Daddies
Little Angel TM ” was on the case. The pond
hadn’t overflowed, but it was quite full….
Some days my life isn’t overly exciting.
Today was one of them. And in twenty five days of blogging on this new site,
the hit counter hit four figures. That’s a very respectable average of forty
hits a day….
26 June 2009 (Friday) - I'm Worn Out...
Yesterday evening I received a rather
snotty email from the people from whom I’d bought my new shed. Basically they
were demanding to know why I didn’t accept delivery of the thing. On
Wednesday I’d spoken with the delivery people (BusinessPost),
who were unhelpfulness personified. They would not leave the thing with a
neighbour. They would not deliver it to my work. They would not phone me when
they got to Ashford so’s I could come home to
accept delivery. They would charge a further five quid if they were going to
try to deliver it again. And I couldn’t collect it from their warehouse in
the evening because they close at 7pm. Morning collection is different,
however. They open at 1.30am (!).
So I took a day off work to make a hundred
mile round trip to collect the thing myself. Despite the best efforts of the RAC’s route planner I eventually found the depot in an
obscure retail park near Tunbridge Wells. The car park was full of arrogant
lorry drivers who resented anyone else being on what was clearly seen as “their”
ground. And the office staff were surly at
best. Had I phoned them to arrange collection in person? Was I sure that I
had? Did they say they had the parcel? I’d driven fifty miles to their
office. “Mr Helpful” resented walking ten yards into the warehouse.
Eventually he dragged my parcel out and had a really nasty grumble at me
because the sender had claimed the package only weighed one kilogram. I could
see it weighed far more than that, but I hadn’t posted it. I told him to take
it up with the sender, but that just made things worse. Their firm are fed up
with the people who sold me the shed. Apparently they always underpay the
And I got the thing home to find it was
rather cheap quality, and broken in two places.
Before I could get too angry with it, the phone rang. “Daddies Little
Angel TM ”
wondered if I would buy her a new dress for tonight’s exhibition. On the way
home from giving her a small fortune to buy her own dress, I stopped off at
the builder’s merchant. I have this idea of a slab stone on which the new
shed will stand. I had no idea how many shapes, colours and designs of slab
stones there are. (There’s hundreds) Or how heavy they are.
Home to wrestle the shed together. “Wrestle”
being the operative phrase. Seeing as one of the corners of the back section
had been smashed, I needed to build the thing so that the damaged corner
would be hidden. However, having done that, none of the pre-drilled holes
were in the right place. I would have sent it back if the delivery firm hadn’t
been so awkward. Eventually I bodged it all together. It’s had a lick of
paint, and it will last for a year or so: I may need to replace it after
This evening was an evening of art and
culture. The college had an exhibition featuring work by all the students,
including some by “Daddies Little Angel TM.” I didn’t
realise how much went on in the college. There were exhibits over four
floors, featuring all sorts of art. Sculpture, painting, photography,
collage, videos, dressmaking. There was a particularly excellent painting of
the “Heath Ledger” Joker from the Batman film. There was even
complimentary wine, and most of the students had dressed up for the occasion.
A really good evening out. I’m looking forward to next year’s show...
27 July 2009
(Saturday) - Leccie
Up with the lark doing another pre - 6am
ironing session. I must love it. I work about one Saturday morning in five –
today was my turn, so I went via the Willesborough
Tesco to get doughnuts for everyone. People seem to like them, and they are
I left instructions with “Daddies Little
Angel TM ”
about which areas of shingle to scoop up. I had major plans for the day,
and moving the shingle alone would take a couple of hours. It would be so much
easier if I could come home and find that bit done. I was amazed to get a
phone call at mid day to say she’d shifted it, and would I fetch home some McDinner. (You can see what she did below) Once McDinner was scoffed, I took over in the garden. I dug up
the electrical cable at the end of the garden, and arranged it so it came out
of the ground about ten feet closer to the house. I then laid the slab for
the new shed and got it level. Well.. I say “level”.
The spirit level wasn’t quite as central as it might have been, but what’s a
garden without a bit of “rustic charm TM ”.
After re-shingling (which took some doing, I then made a hole in the back of
the new shed and poked the leccie cables through.
And then re-plumbed all the cabling into a Koi-specific junction box. A
Koi-specific junction box is much the same as any other junction box apart
from two major differences. Firstly you buy it from the Koi shop, and
secondly it’s about ten times the price of a normal one. Then I painted up
the fence where the old leccie boxes were. Whilst I
was at it I’ve taken the light out of the pond. This is the second one that’s
packed up after a couple of weeks. I’m not going to bother with any more.
They aren’t cheap, and there’s plenty of other pond-related tat to waste my
money on. Whilst I was at it I’ve installed the new “high-tech
blanket weed deterrent TM “. Blanket weed is the
horrible stringy green stuff that we sometimes get. In the past we’ve used
dangerous chemicals to get shot of the stuff, but the chemicals aren’t cheap,
and I’m not keen on chucking that sort of stuff in with the fish. The nice
man in the shop says that the “high-tech blanket weed deterrent TM “ will
sort out my problems. The gadget comes with a cable that I wrapped round the
water inflow to the filter box. This cable (allegedly) zaps the water
going to the filter with pulses of radio waves and so by the wonders of
science this prevents blanket weed formation. The thing cost thirty
quid, but then the dangerous chemicals are twenty quid a go. I’m hoping it
will be a saving in the long run. I’m not sure if I believe the thing will
work, but then again, I don’t believe in dousing, even though I can do it. I
suppose it works on the principle that because I listen to Radio Four in my
car, and the car doesn’t have blanket weed, it must be true. Time will tell –
it usually does.
It’s amazing how long it takes to just
fiddle about with a few wires. Before I knew where the day had gone it was
6pm. The pond does look better without the mess of wires behind it. I’m not
sure if it was worth the Ł150 I spent to get rid of the mess of wires. If
nothing else, it will make switching off the filter that much easier the next
time it’s clogged with fish poo.
At first sight it doesn’t actually look
very different. When “My Boy TM ” came home I thought I’d
see if he could spot the difference. He did, but then he knew what I’d been
planning. He’d been fishing, and had had some whoppers. Mind you, he’d been
gone for over a day and had only had six fish. Now if we are just going on
numbers alone, I would have had that many in less than five minutes.
And then – disaster. “My Boy TM ”
announced that none of the leccie sockets in his
attic room were working. I very nearly cried when I heard that. I really
hoped all the problems with the attic were behind us. I went up and had a
look. The lights were working, but none of the sockets were. I eventually
remembered where we’d installed the spur, so I pulled the mains and had a
look. I couldn’t see anything amiss, but when I powered up again, the power
was restored again. I’m hoping that this is a one-off, but I shall be
worrying about this for weeks, now…
28 June 2009
(Sunday) - Vaccuum Bags
For once I wasn’t wide awake and raring to
go at 6am. I was woken by a phone call at 6.30am. From Bethersden.
Someone clearly didn’t realise he’d phoned me, and was having a lively
discussion about selling shedloads of comics. It’s always amusing when
someone’s mobile phone makes these calls. There’s nothing quite as
entertaining as being a fly on the wall, even if it is at the crack of dawn.
I eventually nodded off again, and didn’t wake up till nearly eleven o’clock.
“Daddies Little Angel TM ”
had a plan. She’d seen vacuum storage bags on QVC and wanted some. So off we
went to Argos.
These bags are quite impressive. You stick all your winter clothes in them,
and seal the bag. You then attach your hoover to the nozzle and suck all the
air out. It’s amazing how small the bags squash down to.
While she was hoovering away her winter
clothes I made a start on the laundry. Whilst deciding what clothes could go
into vacuum storage, quite a bit of washing had been generated. Even with the
washing machine on “warp drive” setting, it took all afternoon to get
through the stuff. I must admit that today was a dull afternoon, just sitting
by the pond reading my book, intermittently hanging out washing and loading
more into the machine. I suppose it was a job that needed doing, but dull –
I wonder what else I can put into vacuum
29 June 2009
(Monday) - Celebrity
(A bit of a rant – I’m sorry!)
It’s been three days since Michael Jackson
died, and the outpouring of grief is….. well, at the
risk of giving offence, it’s farcical. All the plaudits and accolades being
laid at his feet by those in the public eye are somewhat at odds with
crackpot image the same pundits were painting not so long ago. People are
rushing out to buy his records. You can’t hear anything but Jacko on the radio, and children who have never heard of
him are changing their Facebook status to join the lemming-like rush.
It was the same when Princess Diana died.
Up until the moment she croaked, the media would have us believe she was a
self-centred absentee mother getting rich on a gravy train. A sudden death
and she became a “candle in the wind”.
Or Jade Goody? There was no one who
attracted moiré ridicule, until it was announced she was on the way out. Then
we all loved her.
My personal “favourite” example of
the treatment of celebrity is the furore over Susan Boyle’s recent spell in a
clinic for exhaustion. Following the revelation that she was finding it
difficult to cope with fame, and this was possibly due to some learning
difficulties, the reaction of the media was that surely any wannbe-celebs should be vetted to check that they are up
to having ridicule thrown at them before embarking on such a career.
What is it with celebrities? Why do we as a
society seek to undermine those in the public eye, and then sob
uncontrollably once they are gone? Perhaps it’s part of the general aversion
people seem to have to death. It always is billed as a great surprise that
someone can be mortal as well as famous. Why? Surely it’s the one thing we
can be sure of in this world? Just because someone’s famous doesn’t mean they
are going to live forever….
30 June 2009
(Tuesday) - The Dentist
It’s too hot. I was awake with the heat at
3am. By 5am I’d given up any chance of sleep and was doing more ironing.
Work was dull, and I slipped out early to
go to the dentist. My dentist winds me up. I’ve been seeing various dentists
in this same surgery for over twenty years because it’s handy being just down
the road. But I’ve never been happy with them. The first dentist I had was more nervous than I was, and when he left to set up on
his own I breathed a sigh of relief. I then transferred to another chap who
was good, but he too left after a while. The third chap had a portable TV in
his surgery, and spent more time watching telly than rummaging in my gob. And
the chap I’m with now…. He’s a good enough dentist. When he’s there. Every
single appointment I make gets cancelled because he’s never there. And when I
re-schedule... Take today for example. An appointment was booked a week ago
for 3.55pm. They phoned yesterday to leave a message that the appointment is
now at 3.15pm. If that is inconvenient, tough! They operate a policy of
billing if you cancel with less than a day’s notice, so I’ve just had to put
up with it.
I suppose I could find another dentist, but
it’s convenient having one that I can walk to. Especially if I’ve had a
traumatic time there. I remember once as a child coming home from the
dentist. On a bus, my mouth packed out with some sort of bandages, and
wanting to spit the blood out. Being close to home is handy.
I hate going to the dentist. Pretending to
be interested in last year’s “Take a Break” magazine for varying times in the
waiting room. And then my heart drops when my name is called. At least they
seem to no longer confuse me with a chap of the same name, but twenty years
older. And then, when I’m in the seat, the contents of my gob are discussed
with a varying number of dental nurses. A good root around takes place, and
the dentist calls out various codes. C2, B5… I think he plays dental
battleships. Every time I go in there he prods some old fillings and says
that next time he will replace them. He’s been saying that for years.
In the end, I couldn’t have been in the
chair for more than two minutes. All is apparently well, and I’ve booked
another appointment for January 5th. I mentioned that there wasn’t
a lot of point booking a specific date, as he’ll only cancel, but I think
that one went over their heads somewhat….