1 June 2012 (Friday) - Gabrielle Birchak



A sad thought - - today was the day of the funeral of the man who designed the Chopper. Anyone who's of a certain age will remember *the* bike to have. Long before mountain bikes and BMX were the rage, the Chopper was the bike to be seen riding. It looked rather like a Harley Davidson, but without the engine. Mine was blue. I loved it. I'm amazed they have never made a comeback. But the designer died recently, and they buried him today. It must be wonderful to be able to leave something that was so popular.

I wonder if anything I do will be as well remembered when my number is up.


Today was the first Friday of the month, so in a novel break with tradition we had astro club. An excellent talk on the planet Venus, an excellent talk on the night sky. The club goes from strength to strength,


And talking of things astronomical leads me on to someone who used to work for NASA's jet propulsion laboratory - Gabrielle Birchak: actress, comedian, political commentator. She seems to be cropping up everywhere at the moment. The official Website of Gabrielle Birchak is well worth a look - it gives you a flavour of what she's about.Have you seen her on You-Tube? Gabrielle Birchak on YouTube is very good. Give her a try. Possibly not everyone's cup of tea, but then what comedian is?


I've come to be rather impressed by her. There's no denying that I'd rather gone off of stand-up comedy lately: there should be far more to it than just putting on a smug grin and leering at the audience. Just lately that seems to be the formula employed by most comics. But not Gabrielle Birchak.

Seeing her perform has restored my faith in the stand-up comic. With one or two more like her on Comedy Central the channel might be worth having again.



2 June 2012 (Saturday) - Folkestone Air Show



I woke this morning feeling physically drained. I didn't do much exercise yesterday, so why should I feel so tired? I ached all over. I wonder what that was about. I got up and had my "official" weigh-in: another pound gone since the last "official" weigh-in, sixty-five pounds in weight lost so far. And another inch has gone off of my hips over this last month.


After a quick bite of brekkie we went out and collected catalogues; and then set off the the Admiralty where the tribes gathered. The tribes scoffed bacon sandwiches, and then we set off to the beach. We'd planned to watch Folkestone air show, and we found a nice spot just by the sea. I had hoped to fit in a swim in the sea as well, but the weather had been rather cold so I didn't take my swimmies. I wish I had now.

We sat and watched the Red Arrows fly past. They were quite impressive. Then after a ten minute hiatus some other plane flew past a few times. Another break, this time for fifteen minutes, after which another plane flew up and down the channel. Klunk (from "Stop the Pigeon") flew past. As did the Twenty-Minuters (from "Blackadder") and the Crimson Haybailer (Wacky Races).


"Daddies Little Angel TM" announced that her nerves could take no more of this tedious ordeal and she went home to put the kettle on. I too was finding it rather dull. I must admit that I wasn't sure what to expect from the air show, but I was certainly expecting more than what actually was going on. All of the planes just flew up and down. I don't know what more they could have done; maybe taken a few pot-shots at the lifeboat moored off the coast perhaps?


So I lay back and closed my eyes for five minutes. And woke up seriously sunburned an hour later. There was a not-so-dull bit where a helicopter winched someone off of a lifeboat. But for me one of the highlights of the afternoon was slipping off to find the toilet. I came back to find most everyone else had slipped off too. The Bat and the Rear Admiral both came back looking green. They'd been on the fun fair and made themselves ill.

There's no denying that the Tornado jet which marked the grand finale of the afternoon came as a blessed relief, and we slowly made our way back to the Admiralty where we had a quick cuppa and watched "Crocodiles Eating Animals II" on the Discovery Channel. Those crocs certainly get through a lot of animals.


And so home where I slapped on the after-sun, and after a decent bit of tea we watched "Hairspray" and I did some on-line surveys. "My Boy TM" staggered home. He'd been out drinking all day, and came home to stagger about a bit before going out again. I hope he's OK....



3 June 2012 (Sunday) - A Birthday



A very restless night. A combination of very painful sunburn and torrential rain kept me awake for much of the night. We eventually got up shortly after 9am, and after a quick bit of brekkie went out cataloguing and delivering orders to the masses. They love it. A shame it was raining, but you can't have everything.


Back home, a cream cake for dinner (diet, what diet?) and then off to Folkestone to see the birthday girl. Where have the years gone? I remember her being born. I remember four hours of screaming on the first time we were both left alone together. I remember being called in to see the teacher after only three days at school. I remember the endless stream of letters of complaint from the school. But despite a shaky start she's not turned out a bad 'un.

She seemed well, and she made the tea. And after an hour exchanging insults we left them to it and set off on our way. Via Morrisonís to stock up on assorted shopping before coming home again. Once home I moved my car a few yards. People round our way have this obsession with being parked exactly outside their house. If they could park a few yards up or down then we could get so many more cars parked along the road, but not many people seem to be at home to common sense.


Bearing in mind I got sunburn yesterday, the weather today was odd. Continual rain and very cold was the order of the day. It shouldn't be this cold in June. I then spent a little while doing some editorial stuff to my on-going novel. After a couple of hours I got just over a quarter of the way through. In a week or so it should be ready for proof-reading. One or two of my loyal readers have volunteered for this task over the last few weeks, and I shall soon be in touch and smiling hopefully.


After tea "er indoors TM" went bowling. I was originally planning to go to a film night (on a Sunday for no apparent reason), but at the last minute I decided against going. I wasn't feeling on top form; I was decidedly cold and shivery, and the thought of being out until nearly midnight didn't appeal. Perhaps too much sun yesterday?

So I did some ironing and settled myself in front of Willy Wonka instead...



4 June 2012 (Monday) - Another Birthday



A better night's sleep, but still rather awkward as despite loads of after-sun I'm still sunburned. Over a brekkie of toasted teacakes (not bad) the first fruit of my loin came home for a shower. The hot water has gone round at the Fudgery. Which is a nuisance for all concerned.

But it was as well that he'd come round. I needed some heavy lifting doing, and he's a good lad for that. We got the seats out of my car in readiness for next weekend, and got the roof bars on to the car. We could have put the top box on as well, but that will keep for a while. Whilst we were doing this Alistair from two doors down came out to bandy insults with us, so we borrowed his ladder to muck out the guttering.

As "My Boy TM" set off on his way (his entourage had come round to collect him), I then cleaned out the fish pond filter. It had got blocked. Mind you it has been running for over a week; I was surprised it hadn't blocked up earlier.


I then played Tetris for a while to calm my nerves, then we set off to Singleton for a birthday. As is always the way, there were several events and parties we could have gone to this afternoon; a shame we couldn't be everywhere. But over a dozen of us gathered to wish Sarah a happy birthday, and to have a barby to celebrate the occasion. We had a really good afternoon sitting in the garden. The weather could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse. We enjoyed the sunshine when it came out, and we sheltered under the gazebo when it rained.

Kebabs, Key Lime pie, burgers, Eton mess, four bottles of beer. So much for the diet....


And then home where we caught up with watching episodes of Grimm. From what I could see from comments on Facebook the rest of humanity was tuned in to the concert to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And from what I could see from comments on Facebook I don't think many people were very impressed with it.

Personally as someone who's quite pro-Monarchy I'm rather concerned for Her Majesty this evening. Prince Philipís been taken to hospital. He's not a young man. I'm hoping for the best, but can't help but expect the worst...



5 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Jubilee Day


Over a bite of brekkie I checked my emails. There was an advert for "local slags". How charming (!) And moral standards fell even more as the young lady who played the part of Hermione in the Harry Potter films has resorted to flopping them out.


I didn't want to go to work this morning. I would much rather have stayed at home with the rest of the world on this bonus Bank Holiday. But that wasn't an option, so off I went. In all honesty if I'd stayed at home it would probably have been a day wasted. Working today meant that I can take a day off later in the year when I actually need or want to do something with the day. And on a day when the rest of the world won't be off too.

But applying reason and common sense didn't stop me sulking about a day being at work when everyone else wasn't.


The roads were certainly quieter than usual this morning when I set off for work. Interestingly the chap on the radio was talking about a series of beacons that were lit last night in honour of the jubilee. It would seem that there were thousands of these things lit last night. Two were lit within a few minutes walk of my house. I had no idea that this was happening; I would have gone along to one if I had known. And rallied the troops to make an outing of the event. I would have taken photos and felt a part of a Jubilee which (quite frankly) has pretty much passed me by.

But no one told me about the beacons. I didn't know they were happening. How does anyone find out about things like this going on?


Being Tuesday the clans gathered. This time in Queen Street. I got there somewhat later than I would have liked, but such is life. Better late than not at all. We watched another instalment of "Being Human". Something else I missed (on it's first time round). For someone who puts a lot of effort into trying to lead an eventful existence,

I do seem to be missing quite a bit just lately...



6 June 2012 (Wednesday) - A Transit



Last night was something that's not going to happen again for over a hundred years - a transit of the planet Venus. For about six hours Venus was directly between the Earth and the Sun, and given the right sorts of telescope it was possible to see Venus as a small black spot against the brighter sun. It mostly happened at night; and seeing the transit here in the UK was only possible for the hour from sunrise to the end of the transit at 5.50am.

I had toyed with the idea of meeting up with the various astro clubs that were planning to meet up at Walmer castle this morning to watch the transit; Walmer facing east having probably the best view in the south east. But when I went to bed last night the constant rain made me think that the transit wasn't going to be particularly visible. I looked out of the window just before 5am this morning, saw the clouds, sniggered a bit, and went back to bed.


Over brekkie I checked the Internet. Twenty-odd brave souls had ventured to watch the clouds at Walmer Castle. They didn't see anything of the sun or of the transit at all; but the sun did come out on their way home. Which was nice.

There's not going to be another transit of Venus for over one hundred years.....


I then spent a frantic half an hour getting stuff together for the weekend. I've had the weekend's camp in my diary for months, but somehow just haven't got myself organised. I was loading up gas bottles last night at 11pm. And frantically wondering what I'd done with sleeping bags this morning. One thing's for sure - I don't know where my beloved's air bed is. She'll go mental if I don't find it.

I could have done with not working today; and I could certainly have done with not working till 10pm. But needs must. By the time I'd got home and had a bite to eat I found myself packing my smalls at 11pm.


And here's a surprise - Ray Bradbury died today. Author of "The Martian Chronicles", "Fahrenheit 451" and countless other classics. I thought he'd died years ago.....



7 June 2012 (Thursday) - Off to Camp



For the last ten years the second weekend in June has been Teston kite festival. But not this year. A greedy council was only prepared to run the festival in June if they could be assured to make hundreds of pounds profit. Attendance at the festival had been declining for the last few years anyway, and the decision to only have one kite weekend at Teston this year could well be the end of the event. Which would be a shame. A bunch of kite flyers had arranged a protest fly-in for the coming weekend, but that struck me as somewhat daft. The council has said that they won't pay for the kite festival so we put it on for free as a protest..... how does that work?


But we've got used to going camping during the second weekend in June. And so with Teston not happening we've arranged to camp out in Smarden. I was planning to be up at silly o'clock this morning, and to be loading stuff into the car. But I wasn't. I kept putting off getting up, and thinking I'd have another five minutes in my pit. I eventually finished packing the car just as the Folkestonians arrived, and together with Martin we set off to the farm. And rather than cracking on with the work we drank coffee. Eventually we got the camping gear out of storage and got it all to the camp site.

Last year "Daddies Little Angel TM" had labelled all the poles of our communal tent so that she would be able to put the thing up this time. It's all very well going camping mob-handed, but when only two of us know how the tent goes together there can be problems for the others. So "Daddies Little Angel TM" tested her labelling, and it worked very well. And with the communal "Brown and Smelly" in place we put up our personal tents. Not that we believed weather forecasts, but the good weather was supposed to give way to rain at 1pm. And as luck would have it we got the last tent up at 12.45pm, and the rain started at 12.50pm.


Finding that most of the day's newspaper had been used to line the guinea pig's cage (they come camping with us, you know), we salvaged what was left of the newspaper and did the crosswords over a cheese and bacon roll and a bottle of beer. And with little else going on we all dozed off. Apart from a minor episode when the Rear Admiral ran over his brolly with the car, all five of us were asleep for most of the afternoon.


During a lull in the rain "er indoors TM" arrived, and tea was cooked. Beef Stroganoff. We don't muck about when we go camping. Camping is about having an enjoyable holiday, not roughing it in a tent (!) And with the washing up washed up we played Jenga and drank blackberry liqueurs and port until the early hours.



8 June 2012 (Friday) - Wind



Not a good night - the winds were terrible, and I lay awake for most of the night listening for the sounds of tents blowing away. I eventually got up about 6.30am, did my morning ablutions in the rain, and went round all of the tents checking guys and peggings. And I raided some rope from the farm and lashed the frame of "Brown and Smelly" to our forty litre water containers just to hold the thing down a bit better - the winds were that bad.

Having run myself ragged I sat down for a few minutes, and woke an hour or so later. People started getting up shortly after 9am, and after a leisurely brekkie (which wasn't over until gone 11am) we moved some of the tents so that they would be less wind-battered; the wind was still blowing at seemingly hurricane force.


"Daddies Little Angel TM" then had a driving lesson. The car concerned probably now needs new suspension; it was bouncing about the field quite impressively. And as Lisa arrived I tried the first pint from the barrel that I'd brewed for the occasion. Not too bad, really. Quite successful for home brew really. It washed down a light lunch quite nicely. And then a particularly strong gust of wind brought the toilet tent down. Three guy ropes snapped. Fortunately the stuff in the bucket stayed contained in the bucket, but for a while it was all quite exciting.


To calm my nerves I had another pint, and the girls got the air rifles out and took pot shots at various inanimate targets until Irene and Terry arrived. With the wind still excessive, all hands were needed on deck to put their tent up. Irene was sporting a very demure "Hello Kitty" T-shirt and somehow this sparked the comment that "Tits are horny". It was as well for humanity at large that I was there to take a moral stance.

The last of the residential campers arrived, and we had a spot of tea - curry. Very nice. Very tasty. And with tea scoffed, washing up done and collapsed campers put to bed we had a little go at the Madeira; cake and wine. Very nice.


And so to bed shortly after midnight....



9 June 2012 (Saturday) - Bit Less Wind

I had a mild guts ache this morning which woke me rather earlier than everyone else woke. After my morning ablutions I sat in "Brown and Smelly" and felt quite at one with the peace and tranquillity of the world. Irene woke me two hours later.

My phone rang - "My Boy TM" wanted directions to where we were camping, so I walked up to the road to find him. He arrived with a carful, and the four of them joined us for a spot of brekkie. Fudge seemed particularly excitable, and some dog-training lessons were started whilst some of us went off fishing. It would have been nice to have had a fishing pond on site, but there was one at the farm which was only five minutes drive away. We arrived at the farm to find a visitor had come to the wrong camp site; so we imparted directions and then had a pleasant couple of hours drowning maggots. "My Boy TM" eventually managed to catch two fish, which was two more than anyone else caught today.


With the novelty of standing by a pond fast wearing off we made our way back to camp where the O'Latas had arrived to visit. With our numbers swelled to over twenty on site we had an enjoyable lunch of cream cakes, and then got the kites out. The wind had subsided from yesterday's hurricanes to a mere tornado, and we played with power kites and delta kites and one lined kites and all sorts. The NASA power kite wasn't right. I had a theory, so we brought the thing down and measured the lines against each other. I was right: the lines had stretched. But all had not stretched equally. There was a good eight inches difference between longest and shortest lines. Ideally the lines should be no more than a millimetre different. We lined up the lines, re-strung the kite, had another go and again failed miserably. Untangling the bridling worked wonders, and I even went so far as to get my harness out to have a go with the power kite: it's been a while since I had my harness out. It was fun. "Daddies Little Angel TM" had a go with the kite and nearly knacked herself. It's easy to forget that power kites are not children's toys and they do bite.


Tea was excellent - chicken and bacon pasta. I am always happy to wash up at camp when someone else is cooking up such excellent food. And we spent a few hours playing Jenga whist drinking a wonderful orange-coloured passion fruit flavoured 25% abv jollop. Very nice. A drop of port would have been nice at that point. We had at least two bottles in the kitchen. After an hour we gave up looking they had vanished. Which was probably for the best as we staggered to our beds at midnight.



10 June 2012 (Sunday) - Hunting and ....



With the wind having subsided to nothing overnight it might have been possible to have got some kip; but for whoever it was shooting shotguns in the distance from 4am onwards. So I again got up, pootled, and fell asleep in "Brown and Smelly". I was woken by the sound of a car arriving at 9.15am. "My Boy TM" and the So-Fudge-Possee had come back for another day. I was really pleased that they had. I've been trying to convince him to come camping for years. Hopefully he's getting to see it my way now.


With most people emerging from their pits we had a spot of brekkie. In a novel break with tradition I did some of the cooking. And with washing up done, "My Boy TM" produced a tin of sweetcorn. He was feeling good about fishing - we could try again. So we did. We had a handful of tiddlers each; nothing special. And then the Rear Admiral caught a whopper. Four and a half pounds is probably not huge when compared to those that "proper carp anglers" go for, but for a duck pond that was only dug out ten years ago it was quite impressive.


Back to camp where we made sure that the pups were secured safely, and we spent a pleasant afternoon playing "Hunting and Killing with Jimbo and Ned". The girls supervised the air rifles; I tried (and failed) to look knowledgeable with archery gear. Eventually the rain put paid to our fun, so we retreated into "Brown and Smelly" where we played Hangman.

As the afternoon wore on so people had to leave us. There are so many people in my life that I don't see anywhere near enough of. Parting was sad; a shame that people had to go, but the next camping trip isn't that long away.


Tea - fajitas. A camp favourite. Usually on one of the first nights. For a change we had it on the last night. Very nice. And as the washing up was finished and the So-Fudge-Possee sailed off into the distance we got out the Blokus. And we found the missing bottles of port. It got messy. I went to bed shortly after midnight but was reliably informed that the party was still going at 2am...



11 June 2012 (Monday) - Home Again



Normally at camp I go fishing when I wake at silly o'clock. But with no pond on site this hadn't happened so far this weekend. The Rear Admiral had suggested that he set his alarm for 5am and that we got a couple of hours fishing in. I was game, and was dressed and standing waiting outside his tent when his alarm went off.

We were at the pond and fishing by 5.15am. We stayed for a couple of hours; catching a dozen between us. But the fishing was slow, and it was a cold morning so we went back to camp. Me to generally start packing away my own gear, the Rear Admiral to his bed.


One of the disadvantages of camping at organised events and festivals is that there are deadlines for getting off of the camping fields. At such a festival we would expect to be packed away and driving off of the field by 11am. Being on "home ground" we had no such urgency and were still cooking brekkie at 11am this morning. and as the rain started we realised another advantage of camping on our own turf - we can leave wet tents up indefinitely. There is no need to take wet canvas home to try to dry it later.


With the cars packed we set off home. Or tried to set off home. My car wouldn't start. I felt sick with worry; it's been a good car over the years. But a jump start did wonders. The consensus of opinion was that not having started the engine since Thursday and having been in and out of the car for all sorts of things, the internal lights had been on far too much and the battery had gone flat. I was reliably informed that the drive home would charge the battery.

I got home. Let's hope the car starts tomorrow.


In the meantime I'm missing the cows's constant moo-ing. There's photos of the weekend's camp here and here



12 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Change of Plan



Yesterday the weather forecast for today was glorious. So the plan was to go back to the farm this morning to do a little maintenance on the communal mess tent and to put away dry tents. There had even been talk of replacing gas canisters and rewarding ourselves afterwards with a fry-up or a cinema trip. But I woke to find it had been raining overnight and there was little chance of a break in the weather. So we left the tents where they were; still in the rain. Hopefully they will still be there in a few days' time.


And instead of sticking with the plan, I got on with the ironing, and did a few small paintings for the stall I shall be running on Sunday at the Psychic Fair. They aren't the best paintings in the world, but bearing in mind it's Father's Day this weekend there are a lot worse things you could buy for your old man than an original oil painting at knock-down bargain basement prices.


After lunch with the rain having slackened off to a mere monsoon I went out and delivered seventy catalogues full of bargains to an unsuspecting public. And whilst doing so I had a thought. Quite a few of my loyal readers are into camping and caravanning, and spend a small fortune on various accessories from camping and outdoor shops. If you click on the link above labelled "Stuff for Sale" and have a look at the first link there, you'll find all sorts of things which would be incredibly useful in your camp kitchens and for camping in general. And cheaper than you'd pay in the camping shops too (!)


And so home, where I got another five gallons of beer into the barrel ready for camping. (I suppose given notice I could supply beer for camping too!) This lot is in readiness for the kite festival in Brighton.... if I go(!)

Much as I do like the festival at Brighton, it looks like the availability of water might be a serious issue this time.


In the past we've got water from a toilet block a few hundred yards from where we camp. We have two forty-litre containers which we empty and re-fill several times each day. Each time involving a trip to the toilet block (easy enough) and a trip back up the hill to camp (hard work!)

Over this last year the toilet block had been burned down; this year water will come from about four times the distance away. And during the daytime there's no vehicle movement allowed on site (for obvious reasons). It's not fair to expect the ladies or those under the doctor with knacked shoulders to do the heavy lifting and carrying. Others of our contingent have refused point-blank to fetch the water because it's heavy. I've guesstimated that each water run will take me about forty minutes; and I shall be doing three runs a day. I don't fancy lugging water over the distances involved, but I expect I shall end up doing so. I'll dragoon the Rear Admiral into assisting.

We won't be doing all the washing up if that is the case though.... that job will fall to those who've turned down the option to lug water....



13 June 2012 (Wednesday) - Justice...?

The electronic age is wonderful. Through Friends Reunited, Facebook, ICQ, Yahoo, email and the like I keep in touch with people I've known for years. There are some people with whom I squabble daily, some not so often.


There is one old friend from school with whom I've been in touch over the net for some years now. Sometimes we message each other on a weekly basis. Sometimes years go past between communications. He had a hankering to be an actor; doing ghost walks in Hastings Old Town. He was in a Typhoo Tea TV advert playing the part of a dancing train guard. And on stage he actually has been the very model of a modern major-general.

Today that chap is the subject of gossip on my old school's Facebook page. I couldn't believe the news. He has gone to prison for five years; having apparently defrauded a local firm of the best part of a million quid. I remember the bloke in question very well. Even as a teenager he was a true gentleman. In many ways old before his time, he was a leading light in his local community. He was on the committee of the social club my brother goes to.

Surely that story couldn't be true.


So I did a little finding out. And saw that the damning report came from the police's own website. And, as is always the case, to coin a phrase "quis custodiet ipsos custodes

." A more balanced report of the whole sorry tale is given by the local newspaper. My old mucker had done wrong. A little wrong. A small wrong. He'd temporarily "borrowed money" from his employer to help out a friend who was in difficulties; with every intention of giving the money back. But people far more unscrupulous than he found out what he had done, and blackmailed him into stealing more money from that employer over a period of some years.

And so he got caught, and he went to prison. Interestingly neither the local newspaper nor the police website make any mention of what happened to the blackmailers.


I've blogged about miscarriages of justice before.... I shall drop the chap a line. Maybe not as often as I've written to prisons in the past; ink and stamps aren't cheap in this new world order.

But I shall send him a letter. And some stamps too. There's not much that I can do for him, but I can do that much.....



14 June 2012 (Thursday) - Stuff



On Monday I blogged that we'd left wet tents standing after the weekend's camp. On Tuesday I whinged that the rain had stopped us getting the tents dry. Yesterday the weather was wonderful; and today it wasn't bad. It's rather frustrating knowing that dry tents are sitting in a field and we're not able to do anything with them. Here's hoping they stay dry till the weekend.


Here's a thought.... I browse the web using Firefox. Because I like it. Other people use other browsers. I believe that this blog is readable in all of them. If it's not, then there's not a lot I can do about it. But as websites evolve, some of the older browsers are having trouble keeping up. An Australian on-line retailer has now started adding a fee onto all transactions made on its site using Internet Explorer 7. It costs them money to make their website work on antique browsers, and they want to recoup that money. Personally I'd rather have a website with a few less bells and whistles that actually works....


And I'll end today with an ethical dilemma. More and more carnivorous plants are turning vegetarian. Is this a triumph for the vegetarians in that less animals are getting scoffed; or a triumph for the meat-eaters like me who see a carnivorous plant going vegetarian as being akin to scoring an own goal...?



15 June 2012 (Friday) - Busy



Friday - recycling day. Oh - the binmen were noisy about it today. I had naively hoped for a bit of a lie-in this morning. It didn't happen.


I had made plans for my day today. I had all sorts of errands to do on the computer, and a stack of laundry to sort as well. The plan was to alternate between computer and washing line; getting all the jobs done before the forecast rain started at 3pm. A good plan; or so I thought.

I had all the on-line chores done and the last load of washing in the washing machine by mid-morning. And then the rain started. So I put loads of washing round the house wherever I could, fell asleep in front of the telly and woke a couple of hours later only to remember all the chores that I had forgotten about. Astro club finances, uploading the blog backup, having yet another re-write of my C.V., some promotional stuff for the stall I shall be running on Sunday. I'd been planning to do them all week, and had forgotten.


And just as I thought all the chores were done an agency phoned with a possible opening. Would I possibly be interested in.... The nice lady described *exactly* the sort of job I would like to do. So why did she wonder if it might only possibly be of interest to me? Probably because it's such a specialised job that even the specialists don't realise what's what.


I've decided I'm going to enter a writing contest. A short sci-fi story of between seven hundred and fifty words and one thousand five hundred words.... easy-peasy. I've chosen to write up humanity's fourth extra-solar mission. All I need to do now is to shave twenty five words off of the first draft.

I shall be tapping up proof readers in the next week or so...



16 June 2012 (Saturday) - Still Busy



The weekly weigh-in. My weight remains constant at about the fourteen stone mark. I suspect the major pig-outs at last week's camp did little for any possible weight loss this week. But I'm happy with my weight remaining constant. The overall trend is downwards. As long as weight's not going back on, I shall remain content.


The morning post brought a letter from the pension people. It would seem that my recent tribulations haven't affected my pension anywhere near as badly as I originally feared, and so gave me more cause to smile. The same post also brought a pile of business cards which I'd secured really cheaply from the Internet for tomorrow's stall at which I shall tout the merchandise of Badger-Original-Landscapes-Bespoke-artwork (dot com).


Yesterday I mentioned that I'd completed the first draft of a short story I've written for a competition. This morning I shaved some excess words off of it so it's now the correct word length. "Daddies Little Angel TM" had the honour of having the first read. I don't think it was an honour she fully appreciated as she fell about laughing over the opening line. I didn't think it was *that* sarcastic.


We popped to the bank this morning. It was good. There was an epically-breasted young lady with a rather revealing dress who was practising what I can only describe as a "these are my knockers" pose. I was impressed(!)

And then on to the farm. Last weekend we'd camped and left the tents up. Today they were (mostly) dry and a couple of hours' work got them taken down and packed away. The Rear Admiral's tent might need a little maintenance before it's used again; but then again, couldn't we all?


Home again, and we collected in the catalogues I touted out on Tuesday. Some interest - someone wants to work for us touting catalogues on a sub-contracting basis. That's nice. And then after a quick shower we set off to East Malling for Denver and Jo's wedding reception. The bride looked radiant; brides always do. The groom looked vaguely harassed. As is the way of the world.


Meanwhile I have the tune of "Suburban Homeboy" by Sparks stuck in my head.....



17 June 2012 (Sunday) - The Psychic Fair



I'd been planning for today for some time. I'd been offered the opportunity to run a stall at the local psychic fair where I could flog some paintings. And so (after a lazy morning) off I went.


What does one expect from a psychic fair? A clairvoyant helter-skelter? A carousel which foretells the weather with uncanny accuracy? A roller-coaster that gets messages from "the other side"?

My hopes weren't high when I saw Tony Lemesmer (from the "Alan Partridge" show) starring as one of the psychics. And my hopes fell lower when I realised that (at least) three of the psychics had stooges sitting with them to make it look like they were busy to entice the punters to form queues.

It wasn't just psychics at the fair. There was a lady flogging crystal healing paraphernalia. I thought it was rather ironic that she was on crutches, obviously in pain, and couldn't walk more than a few yards before needing to rest. And I actually laughed out loud at a particularly stout chap who was flogging a herbal weight loss product.

The spiritual healing was quite interesting. Young ladies got to lie on a couch, got covered with a towel, got touched up, got told what Arthur had felt, and got to pay ten quid for the honour. And the punters were just as bad. I was particularly impressed by the one with the word "colostomy" tattooed on her forearm. I was also warned about the vicar of the local spiritualist church who was trying to recruit psychics to his flock.

There's no denying that I went along expecting the worst.


But it's easy to be cynical. As the afternoon wore on the joss sticks had been lit, and there was gentle hippy music in the background. The place had a very soothing aura. It was so relaxing just sitting and watching the world go by.

I couldn't help but be nosey and listen in to the reading which was going on next to me. Whilst I couldn't say that the chap had completely foretold his punter's life in every detail, he certainly had hit several chords. His punter was moved and impressed, and hadn't actually given away any clues. Another reading finished with the punter amazed and the psychic in tears.


There were quite a few people along this afternoon. Apparently attendance was down on the usual turn out because it was Father's Day. But those who were there went along knowing in advance what they wanted. The psychics and healers did a roaring trade, as did those selling crystals. I had a lot of people interested in my paintings, but time and again people said that they hadn't brought any spare money, and asked if I would be at the next fair. It would seem that the punters knew in advance what stalls would be there, and had brought exactly enough money for what they wanted. Quite a few people took my card and I had an in-depth discussion about a possible commission.


Financially I didn't get rich on the day. By the time I'd paid for my pitch I was actually down on the deal. But I'm not discouraged. As we were setting up I got into conversation with a chap who told me not to be upset if I didn't sell a thing, and if I took over two hundred quid I shouldn't expect that next time. Apparently (financially) some fairs are gold mines and others are deserts.

There's another one in a month's time. I shall be there.....



18 June 2012 (Monday) - Stuff


I set of to work this morning as usual. I was half way to Canterbury when I realised that I'd left my mobile phone behind. I rarely use the thing during the average work day, and maybe get an occasional text message coming in. But I've got used to the feel of the thing in my breast pocket, and I felt quite lost without it today.


Meanwhile in orbit Chinese astronauts have docked their spaceship with the makings of what will eventually be their own space station. One can't help but wonder why they didn't save a few quid and throw in their lot with the rest of the world on the ISS. Did they really need to set up a rival space station? Well - of course they did. National prestige is at stake. The Americans and Russians played that game forty years ago until they realised how much it cost. I wonder how long it will be before the Chinese realise the same. And, bearing in mind human nature, which country will then take over from the Chinese to go it alone at taking over the cosmos.


Mind you, it's not all beer and skittles on the ISS. It would seem that the international contingents there are planning to get competitive and join in with the forthcoming Olympics. That should be interesting.


Also on a futuristic theme, for many years the pundits have been banging the drum about catastrophic global overpopulation. With a finite load of resources and an ever increasing human population, something's got to give at some point. And now it would seem that the Malthusian doom-sayers have found something else to worry about. Your average porker needs more food to keep giong than do us skinny people (he gloated!) And with calculations showing that twelve Americans weighing the same as seventeen Asians, it would seem that western obesity is effectively reducing the available food resources as badly as adding an extra fifty six million people would.

Perhaps diets might be in order. Works for me (!)

Mind you, when you consider the latest gadget to hit the streets - automatic cake dispensers - is it surprising we have a world of chubbies?


And then I dropped my Kindle. For all that I love the idea of ebooks, an ebook reader with a knacked screen is no good to anyone. If any of my loyal readers could recommend a cheap ebook reader, I'm all ears...



19 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Busy


Finally getting a day of decent weather I got to catch up with some of the chores I've not been able to do. Following the minor flood from defrosting the freezer at the weekend I got the lobby carpet out on to the washing line to dry. I got to strip out my fishing bag to get that dry as well. Whilst I was at it, I had a tidy-up in my tackle box - a job which was long overdue. I then mowed the lawn. I had a bit of a sort-out in the shed and the garden lock-ups. (If any of my loyal readers think I'm looking after any of their camping gear, do let me know; because there's a lot of gear taking up space I can't spare).

And as the sky became overcast I went into cyber-space and had a little tidy-up on Badger Original Landscapes. I've re-worded some of it - it would seem that the masses are put off by words they don't understand. Like "bespoke" and "discerning". I've more to do on that website. I'll do it later.


With the first three reviews of my short story in, I then gave the thing a few minor tweaks (almost total re-write!) and then sent it off to Beckenham for more opinion. Writing for a short story competition is something of an experience. Writing to a word limit is something I've not done for years, and getting all of what I want to say said in three short pages is tricky. I'm very grateful to my volunteer beta-testers. Having proof-read myself for others in the past I know that it's very difficult to be critical of friends' work, but I am grateful for the criticism.

For example I know I start sentences with the word "and" from time to time. I do it in this blog. I know it's grammatically wrong, but I feel I can get away with it if I do it occasionally for dramatic effect. I seem to do it in almost every other sentence. Must stop that. Also I get "its" and it's" mixed up. And (I did it again!) I use brackets far too often.

I can get away with these idiosyncrasies when blogging. After all, like Bob (Ross) said about paintings, this blog is *my* world. And my loyal readers have come to expect this from me. But if I'm going to be writing stories, then I need to follow the rules to garner mass appeal.


Having been reviewed I then got to do some reviewing. One of my reviewers is also entering this same competition and, in a move akin to comparing homework notes, we've agreed to act as reviewers for each other. His story is..... well, it's something I'm not going to expound on here (it would be wrong to do so). But I will say that I liked the story, and couldn't find much at all about which I could be picky.


Talking of books and writing, my Kindle remains knacked. There is talk of replacing the screen, but for the cost involved i can't help but feel I might buy a Kobo ebook reader. I shan't buy anything just yet. I know that within half an hour of my buying something I will be told of a place, shop or person who could have sold me a better thing cheaper. So I'm holding out to find out what that better cheaper thing is before I part with my cash.


And whilst I did all of this, my mobile rang and rang. Job offers. Was I free to take up a post doing something I really didn't fancy next week? Was I available to start working for a double glazing firm the week after?

Whilst I'm not going to pursue those offers, it's heartening to know that there are possibilities out there.


Being Tuesday is "Being Human". The clans gathered in Somerset Road this time. We had another good evening; rounded off by a creme egg each. I rarely have chocolate these days. It was a very welcome treat, and less than two hundred calories too...




20 June 2012 (Wednesday) - Gone Fishing



I got up earlier than perhaps I might have done this morning. It was odd - my head was sweating; my feet were like blocks of ice. And so I couldn't settle to sleep. I had a bout of brekkie and then distributed over a hundred catalogues to the masses. Some of the masses weren't impressed.

I realise that most people don't even look at the catalogues I deliver - we only get orders from maybe one in every thirty that we hand out. But it's still depressing when people open their doors and give the thing straight back to me. Do they have to look down their noses with such contempt? But after all is said and done it is their loss really. There's some good stuff in those catalogues. Cheap too, and we deliver it to the door.

I suppose after a few months once we've built up a customer base which orders regularly we won't have to do mass catalogue drops to an ungrateful world.


I then popped up to town to the bank. Dull, but it needed doing. And then I had a look in WH Smiths to see their Kobo ebook reader. It does much the same as my Kindle used to, at a lot less cost than a new Kindle. And the hooky ebooks that are free to download don't need any re-formatting and converting before I can read them (unlike the Kindle).


Home again where I looked at the ironing pile and decided against it. I scoffed the last of the black pudding (left over from camp) for lunch. There's no denying that I've been somewhat flatulent of late. I suspect two week old black pudding has possibly had something to do with that. But the black pudding's all gone now. Hopefully my guts will start clearing up soon.


I checked the weather forecast for Sunday. I'm hoping to lead a walk through the countrside; weather permitting. Metcheck dot com predicts glorious sunshine; the BBC's weather website predicts heavy rain. One will be wrong. I wonder which.


And then the first fruit of my loin arrived and we set off for an afternoon's fishing. A couple of years ago a group of us organised a syndicate to obtain fishing rights to a small pond, and we went back for the first outing of this fishing season. Littlun wanted to come, and it made for an entertaining couple of hours. "Have you drunk all that lemonade?" "No.... but it's all gone". The fishing was so-so. I caught twenty-four; first fruit caught four. Which was rather embarrassing. And coming home was rather delayed when littlun announced that she wanted to say goodnight to all the cows in the world before we left.

It was good to get back to the pond. However the pondweed has got out of hand. I may well go back next week with a rake and hoik some of the stuff out.


This evening "er indoors TM" went round the scout hall for their committee meeting. I went round to meet her afterwards, and to meet up with some old friends. For all that the electrics have been re-wired and the place has got a new kitchen, it's the same old scout hall. I did feel a little nostalgic about the place. I do miss the scout group. But would I go back? If I could get a job which might allow me to do so, then I must admit I might be tempted.....



21 June 2012 (Thursday) - Stuff


After a bit of general whinging on my part, it came to light that there was a Sony PRS-600 ebook reader sitting about doing nothing. I've got the thing on approval, and am giving it a test run to see how I get on with it. If I like it I have the option to snap it up at a reduced rate.

Do I like it? Well, yes. It's OK. In many ways it's very little different to the Kindle. As an e-reader, it'll do. But.... (and there's unfortunately a big "but")

I've managed to get all of the books that were on the Kindle out, and I've put them through the converter to make them back into .epub format so the Sony device can read them. However anything that I downloaded directly from the Amazon store is unconvertible. Which is a pain. I've spent out quite a bit of dosh on ebooks that are now useless to me unless I get a replacement Kindle. Which won't be cheap.

Also the availability of free ebooks on the Internet isn't what it once was. The site from which I blagged every James Bond book known to science now has less than six of them available; and the mobile phone site which once was good for forty ebooks a day has been replaced by a legal notice saying that they got sued for breach of copyright for giving away all the books for free.

I have mixed feelings about this. As a writer I'm glad that my work is now being protected. As a reader on a budget I can't help but feel a tad miffed.

I watched a video: I had a phone call from a chap who'd been sent my C.V. by one of the agencies, and he thought i might be just the person he wanted. After he'd been talking for half an hour without actually saying anything he sent me a link to a video to see if I would be interested in his company. Basically he wanted me to shell out several hundred pounds to then sell Aloe Vera based products on his behalf. I'm already embroiled in one such scheme that (it has to be said) hasn't really lived up to the hype. I'm not going to start another.

And spare a thought for comedian Jimmy Carr today. He's all over the news, and ha admitted to having made "a terrible error of judgement". It would seem that rather than having his tax deducted when he is paid (like most of us mere mortals), he gets to pay his tax in a lump sum. And, like everyone, he doesn't want to pay more than he has to. So he took advice, and participated in the "K2 tax scheme". I have no idea of the details; suffice to say that it is all legally fine. But the Government didn't like it (presumably because it reduces the amount of money they have available to waste), the Prime Minister has declared it "morally wrong" (!) and poor Jimmy Carr is now running scared. If the Government don't like current tax laws, then they are ideally positioned to do something about them. If the Government want to change the law, then that is their prerogative. But to pick on an individual and make him the scapegoat for the failings of their own laws is surely morally wrong itself?

Perhaps Jimmy might squander some of his riches on a ticket to the moon? Those with (a lot more) money than sense have the option to buy tickets on a four-month trip to the moon and (hopefully) back again. The trip is being organised by some bunch who've got their mitts on some left-over Russian kit and are planning to set off in the next three years, but won't actually feature any trained astronauts because (apparently) it's not the sort of thing which might appeal to them. I would have thought that going to the moon would have been right up their street, but what do I know?



22 June 2012 (Friday) - More Stuff


A late start, so I had a bit of a lie in. Or that was the plan. I dozed fitfully from 4am till 7.30am. And because it was time to get up I fell into quite a deep sleep. Why couldn't I have done that at 4am?

I got up, and over brekkie I did an on-line survey about beer. Once a subject very close to my heart, it was surprising how out of touch with the stuff I have become. Which is probably for the best, and also probably why I'm only three quarters of the man I used to be. Talking of which - I had a look on the website that I use to count calories today. I have eleven people on their listed as my "friends". Only three of these people seem to log in with any regularity, and some haven't logged in for months. It's no fun doing this calorie counting on my own. (Mind you it's no fun doing calorie counting at all...)


As I drove to work I listened to Desert Island Discs. An odd radio show - everyone has heard of it; everyone knows the format (a celebrity chooses their favourite eight pieces of music), but few people actually listen to it. It's a program which can be as fascinating as it can be dull; depending who the castaway is. Today the program featured the Egyptian writer and commentator Ahdaf Soueif. I'd never heard of her. She would seem to be rather an interesting person: she was the first Muslim woman to be short-listed for the Booker Prize and her life has been divided between Egypt and Britain. I liked her choice of "Hotel California" as one of her discs and I can live with the Beatles, but her other six music choices..... oh dear(!)

Am I being racist in saying that it wasn't so much music as a truly dreadful howling? The wailing, added to the aftermath of two glasses of wine from last night gave me a headache which lasted all day. A headache complemented by the tune of "Hotel California". Which (I suppose) makes a change from having "Suburban Homeboy" running through my head.


On Monday I mentioned that I left my mobile at home and didn't miss anything. If I'd forgotten it today I would have missed out. An agency called with a possible job opening. A college called with an offer of a course I'd asked about. And I had a telephone interview.

The possible job opening is (another) non-started; being office based in Brighton. The college course is also pie-in-the-sky: whilst I wouldn't mind re-training as an electrician, fifty quid per week for a year is a bit steep. But the telephone interview was interesting. The position I'd applied for was selling stuff to hospitals; I liked the sound of it, and the bloke said that he'd already done ten interviews this morning in which the candidates told him that they weren't interested. So here's hoping...


A week or so ago I mentioned about an old friend who've been sent to the chokey. I mentioned that I'd like to write to him; finding where to address the letter takes some doing. The Home Office have finally replied to my email saying that they've received it. they will now try to locate the lag in question, ask if he's happy for me to write to him, and let me know. I've been told I should hear something in six weeks or so. 


Oh.. and I've found a photo from the last serious diet I did. I lost enough weight so's I could tuck "Daddies Little Angel TM" down the front of my trousers. She was a bit smaller in those days, but I've lost more weight this time. I wonder if she'd fit again.....




23 June 2012 (Saturday) - Shadoxhurst Dog Show



I had the weekly weigh-in. I say "weekly" - this week I've weighed myself every day. No more weight has come off. My weight seems to have stabilised somewhere between fourteen stone and fourteen stone two pounds. I suspect the key to further weight loss is to do more exercise. Not keen on that idea(!)


I got my bits and pieces together; Steve and Sarah arrived and we set off to Shadoxhurst. The astro club had been asked to run a stall at their fete and dog show. I'd gone along to help and had taken the "Badger-Original-Landscapes" stall; the idea being to raise a little cash and to sponsor the stall.

We arrived, found our pitch and set up. As luck would have it an old friend from my scouting days was setting up his photographic stall next to us. Jason soon arrived, and before long our stall was ready; as was the cake stall. We had a cuppa and a cake, and started up. The wind was against us for most of the day, but the sun didn't hide behind too many clouds. Doing an astronomy demonstration during the daytime has us rather dependent on the solar scope; after all there's only one star you can see in daylight. Mind you I did get rather fed up of explaining that last sentence during the day. "One star - what is that then?" "The Sun" "I thought you said star?" "The Sun *is* a star(!)" "No it's not - it's the Sun". Oh dear - I suppose that being rather interested in things astronomical one tends to forget that the general public know diddly-squat about space things.


Before long more club members arrived, and the telescopes were doing a roaring trade. It was a lovely day to be out in the sunshine. We sampled the wares of the home made ice cream stall, saw the hawk and the llama, and even looked at the beer tent. In years gone by I would have probably based myself there. Not any more.


All too soon the afternoon was over and it was time to pack up. As a club we'd had a successful day - a lot of interested people. A lot of people who didn't know about the club who now do. From a personal and mercenary point of view the day wasn't a success - I had hoped to sponsor the stall from the profits of the sales of paintings. I didn't sell anything. But then I had been watching the other stalls. Cakes and ice creams had been selling, but the photographs hadn't, not had the bicycle parts or the home made cushions. And the dog accessories stall hadn't really done a roaring trade either.


Home, and then round to the Fudgery for tea. We had a couple of beers, a smashing bit of tea, and spent the evening watching films and chatting and dozing before staggering home shortly after midnight. A really good evening - must do it again...



24 June 2012 (Sunday) - Rain Stopped Play


I was up relatively early this morning. The plan for the day was a walk in the countryside, but the rain had rather spoiled that plan. It was torrential. Which was a shame - I'd been told that we probably had about twenty people (and half a dozen dogs) lined up for today's planned event. It was only fair to let people know that rain had stopped play. Some would be coming from a long way away where it wasn't raining (like Folkestone). I've re-scheduled the walk for the end of July. Here's hoping the weather perks up by then.


Over a spot of brekkie I browsed the Internet. I saw the Kent Kite Festival was on today. That was kept quiet. You'd think that the organisers would have published and advertised the event. Mind you the same people who are doing this event run a kite festival every year in Tonbridge that I always hear of after the thing has happened. It's a shame because I wouldn't mind doing more kite-related things (if only I knew when they were happening).


The phone rang - Chip fancied going for a wander regardless of the weather (which was starting to clear up). Did we fancy a stroll round Kings Wood? We went along, and picked Fudge up on the way. We had a good mooch round the woods, but on reflection were probably right to have cancelled the planned walk. It was very muddy in places in Kings Wood: our planned walk would have taken us through several swamps. And would have had us rained on a couple of times as well.


We returned Fudge to the Fudgery (with instructions that he might need a bath) and went on a catalogue collection. Oh, how frustrating that can be sometimes.

When I deliver the catalogues I make a note of the houses we don't deliver to: those with signs up asking for no junk mail, or if the householders say they aren't interested. That way we know where not to collect from. "er indoors TM" made a mistake today and knocked on the door of a house where the chap living there had specifically told me that they weren't interested. The nice lady living there said she didn't remember seeing the catalogue (because I hadn't left one), asked for one, and made an order. I wonder how many other orders we are missing by not delivering to every house on the planet.


And as "er indoors TM" set off bowling I slobbed about in front of the telly. I was rather miffed to see what a lovely evening it was outside. I had half a mind to go out and do something. I wasn't sure exactly what I might have done though, and then it clouded over (again). So I stayed with the telly. There was a drama about King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson which was relatively entertaining...(!)

I have so many channels on the Sky box. I wonder if a Tivo box has anything better on it?



25 June 2012 (Monday) - So Dull...



Some days in my life are eventful, some days there's all sorts of things going on in the world around me. Today was remarkably dull. About the most exciting thing to have happened in the world recently was the naming of the world's officially ugliest dog. Funny looking thing really (!)


I came home this evening to find that some blog entries had received some comments. The post I made on 20 April 2010 attracted the this little missive "Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read? Stop by ..." and then it went on to plug a web site about decorating.

The post I made on 30 April 2010 got this epistle "Currently it appears like Expression Engine is the best blogging platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog? My web-site..." and then it went on to plug another web site about decorating.

And 6 March 2011's witterings got this "This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks! check city Also visit my webpage ..." and it tried to sell cheap loans.


Dull, so dull...



26 June 2012 (Tuesday) - Keeping Busy



I had planned for today. First of all I got the washing on the line, which was easier said than done. Next doorís obsession with roses means that his plants are now (in places) over six feet onto our side of the fence. In the past Iíve cut them back, but unless Iím out there trimming on an almost daily basis I canít keep up with it. And Iím left with having to get rid of all the trimmings.

And having the washing on the line just upset the dogs on the other side and set them off yapping (again). A couple of years ago I spent a lot of time and effort and money on making the back garden half-way decent. Now Iíve all but given up with it.


I went through my letter rack: I hadnít done that for some time. There was some old drivel in there. I started with a ballot paper to choose members of the council of governors for the local hospital. I was asked to choose between various people Iíve never met (and probably never will) to sit on a committee the job of which is rather self-evident. i.e. running a hospital.

There was a letter from Virgin Media. Did I want a Tivo box? Not yet, but when my mobile phone contract is up I will probably look at consolidating TV, Internet, phone, mobile phone, shopping, gas, leccie, and everything. Iíll worry about that later.

I had a new bank card. That was nice. And a letter from the Aspinall Foundation telling me what they have been up to lately. Capital One offered to lend me money. WyeValeís Gardening Club had written to me. It would seem that the demise of the entire WyeVale chain has in no way affected the output of their gardening club,

There was a reminder that my subs to the kite club are due. I might have to let that lapse this year.

The astro clubís bank statement had arrived. And to the correct address as well. Itís only taken them a year to stop posting it to the wrong place. I hate to think whatís going on at that place now that the news tells me that their computers have gone west. I had an interesting ten minutes trying to reconcile the bank statement with my records until I realised where Iíd gone wrong. Itís nice when the figures agree.

My own bank statement had also arrived. Those figures agreed too. Not as healthy as they might have been, but they agreed. I shall content myself with the thought that it could be a lot worse.


I then spent a little while updating my calendar for the next few months. Iíve already got a lot of stuff planned, and Iíve added to the schedule. What with one thing and another I have something planned for every weekend up until the end of September.

Following on from last weekendís successful stall, Iíve added the astro clubís stall at Challock Goose Fair. Following on from my whinge about not knowing about kiting events Iíve added the one day kiting event at Capstone Country Park.

And in a serious bit of wondering where the year has gone I found myself pencilling in bonfire parades: I have the dates of the parades in Hastings and Rye, and have established that there (probably) wonít be one in Shadoxhurst this year. It would be good to have one or two more bonfire events planned, but they are predominantly a Sussex thing; and as such necessitate quite a bit of driving to and fro.


I realised that Iíve not regaled the world with any video nasties recently, so in a spare five minutes (whilst waiting for my laundry to dry) I put a little video together. It features various blog piccies from the last few months (copyright me!) and a track which is a particular favourite of mine and which was freely available to download from the internet, so hereís hoping that the nice people at You-Tube wonít find fault with this one and delete it (like they did the others!)

With the laundry dried I then cracked on with the ironing. It only took four hours to do. And whilst I was in a laundry frame of mind I sorted out the smalls; something which is easier said than done.


Tuesday - the usual suspects met up at the Chrisery where we played with the trains and watched another episode of "Being Human". Didn't see tonight's twist coming - it's getting good again....



27 June 2012 (Wednesday) - New Phone



Up with the lark, and I was distributing catalogues to the masses before 9am. Let's hope the masses know a bargain when they see one. I shifted one hundred catalogues in just over an hour, came home and went up town. I got the makings of some beer for the kite festival in Teston in a few week's time, and had a squabble. The beer kit was clearly priced at six quid. They charged me eleven. I argued it, but they were adamant. The six quid price referred to something else. They were vague about exactly what else this might have been, but were insistent that the price was eleven quid. Even at eleven quid it was still less than half the price of the home brew shop, so I handed over the readies.


I then went to the mobile phone shops. First of all to my current mobile phone provider to have a gripe. One of their people phoned me the other day to try to sell me another mobile phone. I told her I wasn't happy with them. She told me to phone someone else. I told her that I was telling her, and that in a few days she could phone me back with a solution to my complaints. Needless to say no one had phoned me, and when I went into their shop today they had no record of my complaint. They listened to what I had to say, namely that their signal was rubbish and that the Nokia N8 hadn't lived up to their promises. They said that if I'd like to come back in a month's time and give them money to buy out the remaining contract, they'd think about what I had to say then.


So I went to the mobile phone shop run by the people who do my home broadband internet connection. They were keen to talk to me. And they did me a good deal in which I got a better phone and a better package at five quid a month less than what I was currently paying. And they even gave me enough money for my old phone to pay off most of the outstanding contract on that old phone. And as an added bonus the new phone even doubles up as a Kindle.


Home; where I spent most (all) of the afternoon getting to grips with my Samsung Galaxy Ace 2. The nice lady in the shop had already copied over all of my contacts from the old phone. In retrospect that might have been a mistake. When I synchronised the phone with my Google and Facebook accounts the thing went mental. Pretty much everyone that I know has multiple accounts all over the Internet, and all of them are now duplicated and quadriplicated on my phone. "The Man with No Alias (Patent Pending)" appears on it five times. I shall have to do something about that. I then copied over all my sound and music files. I'm having trouble getting a customised message tone to work on the thing, and the battery life seems rather non-existent at the moment. But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. On the plus side the Kindle app seems to be working fine.


Being the last Wednesday of the month, it was arky-ologee club. We met up at the chip shop in Lenham for a spot of tea, and then went on to Harrietsham where we met up with the recently formed Harrietsham Historical Society, and together over fifty of us set off for a stroll. We walked round what was supposedly an ancient hill fort. From one angle it looked hill fort-ish, bit only from one angle. I wasn't convinced.

But we had a good wander in the countryside on what would otherwise have been a dull evening. Might have to go back to that part of the world for another stroll at some point...



28 June 2012 (Thursday) - Gardening



I think last night's walk must have been more arduous that I realised - I didn't get out of my pit until gone 9am this morning, which is unheard of. I spent a little while applying for jobs I know I will never get, and then I mowed the lawn. First round the edges with the strimmer, then back over the lot with the mower. And then I raked the trimmings up. That lawn gets worse, but these days mowing the lawn is all the gardening I do. I then scrubbed out the pond's filter. A physically hard job, and smelly too. But it needed doing.

A bite of lunch, then I made up the beer kit I bought yesterday. It takes about six weeks to do, so it should (hopefully) be ready for the kite festival in Teston which is by some strange co-incidence in six weeks time.


I then spent a little while obtaining a PAC code. Having got my new phone yesterday and having started to tell the world my new number, I didn't realise just how widespread word of my old number had spread. To say nothing of having had all sorts of publicity material made up for Badger-Original-Landscapes-Bespoke-artwork (all of which had the old phone number on it). So I came to the conclusion that keeping my old number might be a plan.

I phoned my old phone provider and asked for the PAC code. They didn't want to give it to me. They wanted to keep my custom. Funny how their attitude had changed since yesterday. But I was adamant; they'd had their chance to deal with my complaints and hadn't done anything. After half an hour's insisting they eventually gave me the code I needed. I told that code to the new people, and the great number switch-over will now (in theory) happen tomorrow. Here's hoping.

If any of my loyal readers haven't got my mobile number, just drop me a line (or send a comment to this blog entry) and I'll send it through. If anyone's unsure, as of tomorrow the number will be one number less than "er indoors TM" mobile number.


I then did three on-line surveys. I don't get rich doing these surveys, but a few pennies here and there pays for little treats - like a bottle of port for camp. I scoffed a plate of salad for tea, and as "er indoors TM" set off to the gym I kept up the healthy theme by cycling to the astro club's committee meeting. Twenty minutes on the bike was good. We had a productive meeting - all sorts of things planned. I even had an idea for a talk I might give to the club later in the year, and I had a really good cycle home again afterwards.

Must get my bike out more often...



29 June 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club



I must have been overdoing it this week - I woke with backache this morning. A backache which lasted all day long.


After a spot of brekkie we set off to Smeeth. The "er indoors TM" -mobile has got a problem. The boot doesn't open. Experts have had a look, and it would seem that the locking mechanism is knacked. We found a scrap yard from where we got a replacement. All that remains now is to fit the replacement part. I'm sure that will be easier said than done.

Whilst we were out we thought we'd replace the tyre with a slow puncture. Or that was until we saw the queue at Road Runners. We'll go back another time, eh?

To Tesco's for some shopping. We also got Belgian buns for a spot of lunch. Not that I'm any expert, but Co-Op do make a better Belgian bun. And they do them cheaper too.


The afternoon was rather dull. With my phone number back to what it should have been all along I then updated my updated information with several employment agencies, and applied for more jobs I don't have a chance of getting. And then with the Folkestonians in tow we set off to astro club where we had a really good evening. We had over fifty people along - lots of new people, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Astronomically we could have done with a darker evening, but the dark winter nights will come quickly enough,

We've also borrowed the solar scope, so that should put paid to the recent spate of good weather...



30 June 2012 (Saturday) - Swimming, Embezzling...



Having had a few days when I had no need to be up promptly I slept well. Needing to be up in time for a 9am start at work today I was wide awake from 4.30am. I am now certain that my insomnia is related to having set an alarm. So I lay waiting for that alarm, nodding off five minutes before it went off.

And when it did, because of my unfamiliarity with my new phone I couldn't turn the thing off. "er indoors TM" did laugh.

Over the last couple of days I mentioned that I have backache. It continues. It's a pain. Literally. I hope it gets better soon; I have all sorts of things I need to be doing, and having a back which isn't up to scratch won't be any good to me.

Whilst scoffing brekkie I sorted out the astro club's accounts. Last night was quite lucrative - I shall have to make a journey to the bank before much longer. But whilst we have some cash to hand I shall have to embezzle enough to pay for a colour print cartridge; constellation game sheets don't print themselves.


As I drove to work there was an interesting article on the radio - as from tomorrow swimming is banned in the River Thames. Apparently too many boats are having prangs having had to swerve to avoid swimmers. One can still swim in the Thames however; all you need to to clear it with the Port of London Authority and get their written permission. I would imagine that they wouldn't give it without an argument, though.

And having obtained it, if challenged, who would be able to produce such written permission from their bathing costume?


Regular readers of this drivel may remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was entering a short story competition. I wrote the story, circularised the first draft for critical review, re-vamped it, and then sent out the second draft to Beckenham for more comment. Comments have arrived, and I spent a few minutes re-writing today, and the third draft is probably ready. I shall sit on it and re-read it in a day or so before doing too much more with it. It's very difficult writing to a word limit, but it keeps me out of mischief (mostly)...