1 June 2022 (Wednesday) - To The Vet
I slept like a log again, which was something of a result. I came downstairs to find “er indoors TM” in the garden with he dogs. Morgan was still walking awkwardly, but with a very waggly tail. He came inside, quite happily crapped on the carpet then he and Bailey had a fight on the sofa next to me as I scoffed toast and peered into the Internet. It was still there, and was rather dull this morning
I took the big dogs round the park for a walk. I’ve gone off Viccie Park recently – it seems to be the domain of those who never let their dogs off of the lead and who judge those who do. But we had a good walk even if Pogo did shout at one or two other dogs.
And with walk walked I came home, settled the big dogs and took Morgan to the vet. Perhaps I was over-reacting but I worry about the silly dogs, and Morgan has been limping for two days now.
The receptionist gave Morgan a good fussing, then the vet gave him the once-over. She agreed with me in that she said she would be very surprised if anything was broken; he’s probably sprained something and needs to rest. He’s been prescribed pain killers.
We came home, all dogs had a mad five minutes in the garden, and on smelling something unsavoury I emptied the puppies bedding into the toilet and put the cushion cover into the washing machine. The mad five minutes had taken its toll, and all pups were soon asleep.
With dogs settled I drove off in the general direction of work. The traffic was going oh-so-slowly. Eventually I saw the cause - there was a funeral cortege being led by a horse-drawn carriage. Eventually I got past it on the dual carriageway, but as I drove off I could see where they were going... up the A20 to the crematorium five miles away. I suppose that having a horse drawn carriage looks the business at a funeral, but it really does hold up the traffic and bring the town to a standstill.
I might leave instructions for one of those when my time comes.
Pausing only briefly to check out the parking for tomorrow's planned walk I thought I might get McDonalds for dinner. But only thought about it. The traffic was queuing out of the car park. So I went up to Sainsburys for lunch. Oh, the traffic was heaving there as well. Why were all the normal people out in force today?
Work was work, and with it done I was rather pleased to see that I could go home at fifty miles per hour down the motorway (as opposed to the thirty miles per hour I did yesterday). And once home I was met by four very over-excited dogs. Morgan certainly isn’t slowing down… He needs to.
2 June 2022 (Thursday) - Bank Holiday (!?)
Morgan’s leg looked completely healed when I took him and his sister out this morning. I also noticed that rather than squatting to tiddle, he’s now doing “big boy wees” where he cocks his leg. Our little baby is growing up…
And then as I scoffed toast I noticed he was walking awkwardly again.
My piss boiled somewhat as I read the news this morning. The Queen’s Birthday Honours List had been announced. As usual there were medals for athletes who’d done well at the most recent Olympics. And medals for aging celebrities. But what wound me up was all the medals given out to “COVID leaders”. Some of the people who actually did work hard through the pandemic got awards, but by singling out one or two people for praise, automatically the efforts of thousands of others are belittled. But why give gongs to the head honchos of the companies that made the vaccines? All that head honchos do is sit in offices holding meetings which are (for the most part) utterly irrelevant to what goes on in the real world (isn’t it?). I once heard that “O.B.E.” is an acronym for “other buggers’ efforts” and it certainly seems to be the case in this Honours list.
Yesterday I asked a question on the Facebook Garden Ponds page about automated Koi feeding devices that feed fish whilst people are away on holiday. This morning I saw it had attracted a lot of replies… sadly only one of which actually answered the question. A lot of people wanted to make sarcastic and irrelevant comments. I’ve never really bothered with that page before, and I probably won’t again. Such a shame… Where these Facebook pages could be a useful resource, so many people just see them as a vehicle to be rude to people they will never meet, safe in the knowledge they will never meet them.
We got ourselves and the dogs organised and looked at Morgan. He could see we were going out, and was excited at the prospect. It would have been cruel to have left him behind. So we all drove up to Ulcombe Church’s car park where we met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte. Once we’d recaptured Treacle (who’d escaped her harness in a fit of excitement) we all set off on a walk. I say “we all set off on a walk”; five humans and three dogs set off on a walk. Morgan set off on a “carry”. He had a few little wanders, but Charlotte carried him for much (pretty much all) of the way.
From Ulcombe church we walked a mile along the Greensand Way, then back-tracked and walked a circular route through the orchards. It was a very pretty walk. Last week I mentioned there were quite a lot of stinging nettles on the way; today we met a fair few as well. As we walked we watched some huge birds of prey circling. Comments were made about one of them having its eye on the rabbits in the nearby field; I kept a closer eye on Bailey. Being smaller than the rabbits she would be small enough for a buzzard to take.
We then watched a squirrel shoot up a tree and scare a pigeon out. Presumably pigeons are lower than squirrels in the great scheme of things?
I took quite a few photos as we walked.
Geocache-wise it was a good walk. Some hides were rather tricky; some straightforward. But for a guided walk it worked rather well. It was only a shame that at the end of the walk “Hannah”’s on/off button finally died. It has been on the way out for some time now. “Hannah” still works, but I have to use a key to poke the thingy inside to operate the power. It will do for now. If the worst comes to the worst I’ll get a new one. I can do geocaching on my phone if I have to, but I like using a GPS unit on a big walk. The old phone/GPS argument has been raging for years. A phone is all very well for a one-off find (like I sometimes do on the way to work), but for me a GPS unit has two major advantages over a phone. Firstly it *isn’t* my phone and so doesn’t use up my phone’s battery (it had its own battery with a rather good battery life). And secondly it hangs round my neck on a lanyard whereas my phone goes in and out of a pocket.
We came home; as the dogs snored “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of hock whilst watching an episode of “Bake Off: The Professionals”. Am I being mean in spending most of the time hoping the elaborate three-feet-high pastry constructions will collapse?
3 June 2022 (Friday) - Waste of a Bank Holiday
I got fed up with laying awake. I rolled over and looked at the clock. Finding myself wide awake about three hours earlier than I’d intended to be I got up, tiddled the puppies, then went out on my own. Some of my geocaches along the Greensand Way had “Did Not Find” logs on them. I’d had some snarky messages from someone who couldn’t find them earlier in the week (found five thousand geocaches; hidden none!) so I thought I’d waste a couple of hours sorting them out before “er indoors TM” got up. Usually I would take the dogs on a geo-walk, but these caches were in fields full of sheep. And not just any sheep. These are sheep that don’t have the sense to clear off, but come up to say hello to dogs and then get in a panic when the dogs go bat-shit mental about seeing a sheep.
Dogs can be hard work at the top end of the Godinton estate.
I drove out and parked in my usual spot where I park to check on these caches. I had eight to check as I walked. Some had been there all along. On in particular boils my piss. It is a film pot behind a fence post. You can see it from yards away (well, I can!) but so many people say they can’t find it when it *is* there.
Four others were missing which I soon replaced. It was a shame that the furthest was a mile from the car. It was a bigger shame that no one could have done the decent thing and sorted out the issue as they walked past. Anyone could have done in thirty seconds that which I spent two hours doing today, but (as is the case with pretty much everything in life) there are those who give to the hobby of finding film pots under rocks, and those who take from it.
As I walked I was amazed at how many other people were out and about walking and jogging a mile from civilisation before eight o’clock on a Bank Holiday.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing Jubilee celebrations. There was an interview with the Archbishop of York… A live interview. I suspect (hope!) if it had been pre-recorded it would never have been broadcast. Rather than describing the Queen as a much-loved grandmother of the nation, he seemed to paint a picture of her as some religious crackpot hermit living in splendid isolation. Someone in authority really needs to be taking the Archbishop to one side and asking “WTF are you talking about”.
I stopped off on my way home to replace another missing geocache of mine. With that one sorted I now have “not there” reports on four of my two hundred and nineteen currently active caches. Two are on a series in Hemsted Forest that I intend to archive on my next week off, one I’m intending to sort on my way to work this evening and one I’ll do when I get a minute…
I went to bed for the afternoon and slept on and off for four hours. I woke to an empty house. “er indoors TM” had taken the hounds out somewhere. By looking on Facebook I saw that somewhere was the Warren.
I’m now off to the night shift… I’m not sure how I wound up with it. I’m sure I didn’t volunteer for it as it effectively stuffs up two Bank Holiday days. Oh well…
Things could always be worse… but today was effectively a waste of a day.
4 June 2022 (Saturday) - Family Crazy Golf Day
During the small hours as I scoffed a sandwich I finished the e-book I was reading on my Kindle app, and thought I'd get a new one. But disaster struck. The app won't allow me to buy books any more. Why not?
A moment on Google gave me the answer. Google want a fifteen per cent cut of anything I buy through the app. Now I have to fart about on a PC ordering books and then download them on the app, which totally defeats the object of having a Kindle app in the first place. Bearing in mind the average e-book I buy costs about two quid, I'd rather just pay thirty pence extra and be done with it.
I wonder if the same applies to anything I buy through the Munzee app?
As dawn broke (just after four o’clock) I looked out the window at a very murky morning. As I drove home the weather forecast said the best of the weather was up north, and if you were in Sussex today, forget it (they actually said “forget it”) with rain and storms supposedly coming.
came home, and as “er indoors TM” took a circuitous route
to today’s planned excitement collecting “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”
and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” on her
way. With a bit of time I had an hour’s shut-eye on
the sofa. I woke to find I was using Treacle as a pillow, with Pogo on my
chest, Bailey asleep on my stomach, and Morgan very comfortable on my legs.
Having decided to ignore the weather forecast we soon met up with the rest of the tribe, and once we’d had an ice-cream (yum) it was on to the Crazy Golf. This is now an annual event in our lives – we missed last year’s one as that was the day that poor Sid died. But this year was a much more cheerful event. Equipped with golf bats we had a rather good time… even if “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” did have to go knee-deep into the water features to retrieve my ball.
“Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” got a hole in one, and right at the end there was a one-off chance to win a free round of crazy golf. I won one, as did Cheryl.
Being at the seaside we had chips… and more ice cream. I took a few photos as we’d gone round. Once home I posted them to the internet and desperately tried not to fall asleep. I’m glad I didn’t use last night’s night shift as an excuse to duck out of today; it was a rather good day. And the weather forecast had been utterly wrong.
But I’m feeling tired now…
5 June 2022 (Sunday) - A Lazy Day
I slept well last night; finally waking after nine hours asleep. The puppies were still asleep when I got up; I took them round the garden where they did that which was expected of them, then they bothered the big dogs for five minutes. The puppies absolutely love and adore Treacle and Pogo. Treacle and Pogo (at best) tolerate the babies.
plan for today was to move one of the dressers out and paint behind it. The
thing was wedged tightly in place so we asked “My
Boy TM” to help move it. We got a message to say he was on the
way far earlier than expected, so there was a panic-stricken five minutes
spent tidying up before he arrived, but I don’t think we passed inspection.
I hung out some washing, and as “er indoors TM” painted round the dresser (and over Morgan’s head) I tried to solve geo-puzzles in the vicinity of where we are going on holiday. I managed to get green lights from the checkers for five of them, but some remained beyond my ability. If any of my loyal readers know what the letters F, P, K, H, S, O, C, B, N or I might mean in relation to the name "Dmitrij" or how to knit in German I’d love to know.
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” arrived with Darcie Waa Waa. I got a cuddle or two with the baby; she had been asleep pretty much all the time yesterday and I’d not wanted to wake her. Big Jake was having an interview on the other side of town. Once he was interviewed he joined us, and we had a rather good bit of dinner, before I drove them home.
I had planned to iron shirts at some point today… maybe tomorrow evening?
6 June 2022 (Monday) - Goodbye Boris (?)
I sneaked downstairs and managed to creep past two sleeping puppies and get a shave in peace before chivvying them outside to do what puppies do best. They spent a few minutes whinging to go upstairs to bother either “er indoors TM”, the big dogs, or all three, but eventually gave up and sat with me on the sofa as I watched an episode of "Orange is the New Black".
We then all went upstairs. Me to get dressed; the puppies to bother anyone that was game to be bothered.
And so it was back to work. Despite having worked Friday night it’s been a rather good Platty Joobs (to coin a phrase) A good walk with friends on Thursday, a family golf day on Saturday, and time with both fruits of my loin yesterday. It would have been good to have got involved in some public-spirited community event for the Jubilee, but there either weren’t any locally, or I didn’t hear about any.
As I drove to Pembury there was a lot of talk about the Prime Minister finally facing a vote of no confidence. It has been a *long* time in coming. And then my piss boiled.
There was a lot of talk about the problems of recruitment in hospitals. No one wants to work in a hospital. Tens of thousands of people have left the NHS for jobs with better pay and better working hours and conditions, and everyone being interviewed was pretending to be surprised.
And then there was a lot of talk about how London's tube train network was pretty much closed today as all the workers are on strike for more money. As I mentioned the other day the average rail worker gets about fifteen thousand pounds more a year in wages than the average nurse... is this because they go on strike and demand it whereas the average nurse (and all NHS workers) seems to be content with having the public standing on the doorstep clapping like a thing possessed in lieu of any financial reward?.
I stopped off on the way to work. Having made good time I spent a few minutes on an impromptu Munzee-ing session round Pembury sticking bar codes onto lamp posts. I had no idea that some parts of Pembury were as run-down as the bit I found this morning. I always thought Pembury was posh.
And so to work which was rather busy today. Far busier than I'd planned or hoped. As I have said before, working in a place which has regular "Red Alerts" is nowhere near as glamourous as Captain Kirk makes it appear. We had two in the first hour this morning. What with that and one or two other little episodes I was only half an hour late getting home this evening.
“er indoors TM” has gone bowling. I shall iron some shirts in a minute. In an hour or so there will be an announcement about whether or not Boris Johnson survived the vote of no confidence…
7 June 2022 (Tuesday) - Little Bit of Politics (sorry!)
Well, the votes have been counted. Whilst it is hardly a resounding success, the Prime Minister lives to tell another lie... Two hundred and eleven Conservative MPs voted to say they had confidence in Boris Johnson, and so they have no problem with his track record....
Personally I have a problem with his track record. He's not averse to telling a porky, is he?
There's a complete list of his lies here (and there's a lot) but to give a brief summary
I find myself asking if the MPs who voted in his favour really do have confidence in him, or if they think he is as guilty as a puppy sitting by a pile of poo, but see him being better than any possible successor.
Either possibility is a sad state of affairs..
8 June 2022 (Wednesday) - Doing the Ironing
To those without dogs there is something romantic and adorable about the idea of having a loving dog devotedly sleeping at your feet all night long. In practice they stay at your feet for maybe ten minutes before stomping all over you, and then roughly trying to shove you out of the way (whilst grunting and grumbling) in an attempt to get the spot that they think you've just warmed up for them. Black dogs look alike in the dark so I couldn't tell them apart; I spent much of the night fighting with one, and (from what I could hear) “er indoors TM” spent much of the night fighting with the other.
And the grunting and grumbling made trying to get me to move was nothing to the growls of protest when I let the puppies up for the last hour at half past six this morning. The puppies were so pleased to see the big dogs. It wasn't reciprocated.
Leaving “er indoors TM” refereeing the hounds I set off to work through a rather wet morning. I took my usual circuitous route via fifteen (frankly uninteresting) Munzee Points of Interest listening to the pundits on the radio as I went.
There was a lot of talk about tax cuts this morning. It was alleged that the Prime Minister bought a lot of votes in Monday's confidence vote with the promise of tax cuts, and now he is expected to deliver on those promises. Though I have no idea why anyone would believe anything he promised (see yesterday's rant).
There was also talk about the Pharmacists Defence Association which not only defends pharmacists in a legalistic way, but also physically. More and more pharmacists are getting attacked. Some for the drugs they've got in their stores, and some for the colour of their skin. This overt racism bothers me. Firstly because it is just nasty. And secondly because it is ultimately self-defeating. Go to any hospital, GP surgery or pharmacy. As I have said before (so many times) health care in the UK is utterly dependent on immigrant workers. When they all go home because they don't feel welcome in the UK (and a lot already have) who is going to fill the vacancies? The UK nationals demonstrably won't.
I got to work through some rather heavy traffic; why were there so many cars and lorries out today? Work was work. I had a marginally better day than yesterday, but (as I've mentioned before) much as I do like my job, more and more I'm feeling it is getting in the way of what I'd rather be doing. On reflection I don't really know what I would rather be doing, but I would rather be doing something else.
With work worked I came home. The traffic was just as bad this evening as it was this morning; I took twenty minutes to get out of the hospital’s car park.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a good bit of dinner then Zoom-ed at her chums for the evening. I got the ironing board out and watched episodes of “Orange is the New Black” as I sorted the laundry.
I hope those dogs sleep quietly tonight… I’m knackered…
9 June 2022 (Thursday) - Before the (Extra) Night Shift
With no need to be up early I slept far longer than I have done recently. I woke to find Pogo growling and snarling at the puppies who were running round the bedroom floor clearly so excited to see him.
I skipped brekkie and took the dogs out right away. As we drove to the woods the pundits on the radio were interviewing Michael Gove. When you think that he led the “Vote Leave” campaign together with Boris Johnson, he hasn’t done anywhere near as well since Brexit as you might think he would have done. He was being interviewed in his capacity as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (there’s a made-up job!), and having made a convincing case about how difficult it is for anyone to buy a house these days (first time buyers need a deposit of sixty thousand pounds!) he then was utterly flummoxed when it was pointed out that this was a result of the twelve years of Conservative fiscal policy that we’ve just had. I’m not saying that Labour would have done any better, but this is the problem that any government faces when they’ve been in power for a long time; there comes a point at which whatever they do is seen as “too little too late”.
We got to the woods where we met some other dog walkers, and the puppies ran up to say hello. Pogo went with them; not to say hello, but (oh-so-obviously) to keep an eye on the puppies and to make sure the other dogs weren’t mean to the babies. Pogo is so funny like that; he doesn’t really like the puppies, but he is *very* protective of them.
We walked out usual circuit. All was going fine until fifty yards from the car park when I decided to put the leads on. I blew the whistle; the dogs came for a treat, and I was just about to attach the leads when some idiot came bumbling up with his two dogs. He’d heard the whistle, wondered what was happening, and on seeing treats being given out thought his dogs might like some. I explained what was happening, and he said that whistle training was a good idea as his dogs never came back when called. As he wittered on so Pogo and Treacle were growling and shouting at his dogs. I explained that they are both protective of the puppies, and that they don’t like other dogs around when treats are being given out. This came as a surprise to the idiot who felt it rather odd that any dog would have an issue with their treats being given to a total stranger. After five minutes of waiting for this idiot to piss off I eventually bundled my pack back the way we’d come just to get away from him.
We came home for a bath. And having had a bath and the obligatory mad five minutes that follows bath time. I then made my toast… and now that it has been completed for a couple of weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t like the new kitchen. Despite the cost and the upheaval of installation, I’d go through it all again to have it put back how it was. But I’m in a minority of one on this (as usual) and so will just suck it up.
As I scoffed toast (with dogs snuggled up around me) I could smell something. A very familiar something… Treacle then had another bath as she still stank.
With the laundry hung on the line I spent the morning watching more episodes of “Orange is the New Black” as more laundry washed. And with that hung out too I went to bed where I slept despite Pogo and Treacle making themselves comfortable on top of me.
And so off to the night shift… an extra one. I volunteered to cover this one (at short notice). I had this idea that I would rather do one night shift than two late shifts. Was this a good idea?
Let’s find out…
10 June 2022 (Friday) - Bit Tired
Yesterday I mentioned that I'd volunteered (at short notice) to take on last night's night shift and ended by speculating on whether or not doing so had been a good idea. I didn't have the best of nights. In fact I think it fair to say that last night was a classic example of the veracity of the two hundred and eighty fifth Rule of Acquisition: "No good deed ever goes unpunished."
As I drove home there was still more talk on the radio about the ongoing war in Ukraine. What is it all about? Surely the Russian President didn’t wake up one morning and think “I’m bored… let’s do something… I know – invade Ukraine”.
The Russians invaded in support of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic; two parts of Ukraine in which a proportion of the population want to break free and form their own countries. I can’t pretend to be an expert on the matter, but this made me wonder about Northern Ireland and Scotland. Both of those countries have large amounts of the population who would like to leave the United Kingdom and be their own state. Is the UK situation that different to that in the Ukraine? I don’t know, but given the precedent, how long will it be before the Russians are freeing the Scots and the Irish from English oppression?
I came home to find that while I’d been at work, “er indoors TM” had been painting. Painting Morgan judging by the look of him.
I had a shave, and rather then going to bed I had this idea that I might sleep on the sofa with all four dogs (like I did last weekend after the night shift). I got maybe an hour’s sleep, but the big dogs kept whinging to go upstairs, and when they finally shut up so a humungous fly (the size of a pterodactyl) started buzzing round the room.
I had this idea that a walk might tire the dogs so we went to Orlestone Woods. Morgan seems to like the walks and Bailey is slowly getting less clingy.
About three quarters of our way round as we approached a crossroads I could see some chap with another dog coming from the right. I stopped so he could go past without incident. He saw the puppies who were ten yards ahead of me, deliberately turned in their direction and announced that his dog would have them if they didn’t look out. Before I could say anything Pogo and Treacle appeared from whatever hedge they’d been rummaging in. This bloke took one look at them, said “it’s like that, is it?” and all but ran in the opposite direction. For all that Pogo and Treacle are a pug / cocker spaniel cross (rather soppy breeds), the thug element has often mistaken them for small rottweilers. A useful mistake to have some people making.
It was only a shame that Treacle was (again) covered in fox shit.
As I drove home I found myself wishing. There’s a lot about me I’m not overly happy about and would like to change. I’d like a lot more money. I’d like to be a little less flippant and a little more mature. I’d like not to be fat. I’d like not to be bald. But if I could only change just one thing, I would get rid of my idiot magnet. Wherever I go I attract idiots just like today’s one.
Once home Treacle had a good scrubbing (much to her disgust) and I wasted far too long trying to solve a geo-puzzle about shoe sizes and knitting socks. If any of my loyal readers could come up with an answer to this one, I’d be grateful.
Feeling rather knackered I spent the afternoon on the sofa (underneath the dogs) watching episodes of “Orange is the New Black” until “er indoors TM” came home. I really should have done something today… mowed the lawn, done washing, got the hoover out… I had a little kip, walked the dogs and watched telly. But as I said yesterday I’d rather have done a night shift than two late shifts.
11 June 2022 (Saturday) - Bit Busy
I slept like a log last night and woke after a good eight hours sleep. I came down and took the puppies round the garden where they did what was expected of them, then Bailey came in and threw up on the carpet. For those of my loyal readers who might be considering getting more dogs than sense I’ll make the observation that clearing dog sick is a two-person job. One to clear the sick, and one to stop the other dogs from eating it. Dogs are foul creatures.
As I scoffed my toast I peered into the internet. For the last two weeks I’ve been struggling with puzzles in the location of where we are going on holiday in a week or so (flight cancellations permitting) and last night I sent out six messages to hiders of Tupperware in the area asking for pointers on the puzzles they have set. Only one had the good grace to reply.
I managed to solve a puzzle that went live near where today’s geo-meet was taking place though. Mind you I wish that geocaching HQ would announce the immediate shutting down of all geocaching puzzles. Most are fun brain teasers, but more and more are strange obscure things intended to show just how clever (or twisted) the one setting the puzzle is.
For example… You read the description of a puzzle and it talks about “going for a long walk at Christmas and – bingo – you’ve found what you are looking for”. So you think for a bit… bingo? Walk? You walk with your legs… Bingo? Legs eleven? Christmas? – Eleven Lords a Leaping maybe. Lords…? House of Lords maybe? House… houses? There’s four houses in Harry Potter… and so the puzzle is all about wand lengths.
Am I being sarcastic? This really is the logic employed in some of these puzzles. I hate the things with a passion. The hobby is supposed to be a treasure hunt. I’ve now set three puzzles along these lines to prove this very point. They are very rarely (if ever) found.
We got the dogs organised and set off to… Quite frankly I’m a tad vague as to where it was we set off to. Today was the monthly meet-up of Kent geocachers and we had GPS co-ordinates for somewhere on the far side of Canterbury. Munzing as we went we soon found where we were supposed to be. The monthly geo-meet-up is rarely that far east and perhaps that was why we had such a relatively low turn out. But for all that we only had maybe twenty-five people along, we had an excellent meet-up. I’ve not played Bat and Trap for years… it was a shame that we lost.
It was also a shame that we had a minor set-to with the normal people at the end of the event. The puppies went up to see their dog which wasn’t as friendly to the puppies as it might have been. And sadly any dog upsetting the puppies will find itself contending with Pogo. And finding itself contending with Pogo, the dog of the normal people ran in terror (as well it might). It was a shame that the normal people didn’t quite understand what was going on, but normal people rarely do.
I slept most of the way home, and once home we had a quick wash and brush up, The dogs scoffed their dinner and were soon snoring after the exertions of the day, and with them settled we set off to Mersham where there was a wedding reception.
Chris has been best of friends with “My Boy TM” for as long as I can remember, and he was one of my cub scouts too (twenty-five years ago). It was so good to be able to be a part of the wedding celebration this evening together with family and friends in a rather posh country hotel.
Mind you they weren’t giving it away. Call me an old cheapskate if you will, but having bought a Bacardi and coke, two bottles of cider and three bottles of ale I rather expected change out of fifty quid…
Fifty quid didn’t come close.
12 June 2022 (Sunday) - Stomach Aches
Oh it was hot last night. Treacle woke me
shortly after midnight wanting to be lifted onto the bed, and I saw
every half-hour of the night from then on. I gave up trying to sleep at
five o'clock, took the puppies out, then over brekkie watched an episode of
"Orange is the New Black" in which our heroines resumed
their frankly unmoral ways (which was a result if you like that sort of
Pausing only briefly to gather some virtual feathers from up and down the road (it's a Munzee thing) I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the imminent start of taking illegal immigrants from detention centres in the UK and moving them to Rwuanda. Apparently Prince Charles has described the scheme as "appalling", and the Archbishop of Canterbury ranted about it in a recent sermon. The politician Anne Widdecombe was being interviewed on the matter today. She made some good points. Why are these illegal immigrants coming to the UK in the first place? Admittedly they are fleeing persecution somewhere or other but having fled they have then travelled hundreds of miles though countries which have signed the same human rights agreements as the UK. It is tragic that so many drown in small boats crossing the channel, but surely the real tragedy is that these deaths are utterly unnecessary as the refugees are perfectly safe on the other side of the English Channel.
But the bottom line (as Ms Widdecombe said) is that pretty much everything else has been tried to deter the illegal immigrants from needlessly risking their lives and pretty much every thing else has failed to deter them, so why not give it a go?
I got to work with a serious stomach ache, and had this frankly genius idea that the works canteen's cooked breakfast might sort it out.
I then got on with a rather good morning; the morning only marred by my continually farting like a fruitbat. and visiting the loo every half-hour.
I only had to work the morning today, and was home by early afternoon. “er indoors TM” had gone off on a mission to see “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM”. I went into the garden and started mowing the lawn. It took some doing. Partly because I hadn’t mowed it for some time, and partly because Morgan kept attacking the lawn mower. Threatened with being locked in the house he calmed down somewhat (dogs really do understand English, even if they ignore it most of the time).
I was amazed at how much lawn I mowed; I have an old dustbin into which I put garden waste (it is easier to carry that through the house than the brown council bin), and I filled that dustbin with lawn clippings.
And with lawn mowed I sat down for a rest. I was worn out. And suddenly I was surrounded by four sleeping (and farting) dogs. Clearly watching me mowing the lawn had been hard work too.
I then had a concerted attempt at solving geo-puzzles in the area of where we are going on holiday. I say “concerted attempt”… I asked for some pointers on a Facebook puzzle cache help page, and whilst I wasn’t given the answers, I got given pointers to help me solve two of the ones which were giving me grief. But two still remain unsolved. If any of my loyal readers can turn the two pictures above into GPS co-ordinates I would be very grateful.
I would also be very grateful if the dogs all stopped farting…
13 June 2022 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift
I slept like a log last night; finally waking with backache (always a sign I was in bed for too long). I made toast, and had some jam on it; the jam jar claimed the stuff was “made from real fruit”. What else would it be made from?
As I scoffed the toast I peered into the Internet as I do. Today is “My Boy TM”s third wedding anniversary. Three years, eh? The time has certainly flown. Though there wasn’t a lot else of note on Facebook today. There were a few photos from Saturday’s wedding, but had no one really done nothing else over the weekend? Or doesn’t everyone feel the urge to tell everyone else what they are up to (like I do)? My Facebook feed today was filled with adverts for dating sites filled with young Ukrainian women. I say “women”; they all looked to be young enough to be my granddaughters.
Once we’d all had our brekkies I set the washing machine going, loaded the dogs into the car and we drove down to Orlestone Woods where we had a good walk. The puppies aren’t quite as clingy as they were when we first started going to the woods; Morgan is getting particularly brave, and Bailey led one charge into the undergrowth herself. For once Treacle stayed out of the fox poo (for which I was grateful).
With walk walked we came home. Once I’d hung out the washing I spent five minutes on the phone to the vets arranging getting the puppies’ “bits” removed. And then spent half an hour trying to tell the bank about the upcoming holiday. The bank never makes it easy; in the past I’ve had to tell them about all international travel because if they see any financial activity on my account overseas they suspect fraud. Nowadays it seems I don’t have to tell them about all international travel because if they see any financial activity on my account overseas they suspect I’ve gone on holiday.
I then wrote up some CPD.. it’s a tradition that I do this before a night shift.
Another tradition used to be that people in my line of work gave up doing night shifts on their thirtieth birthday as the youngsters coming into the profession wanted the (rather lucrative) overtime and anyone at the ripe old age of thirty had had enough of night work.
Mind you things were different back then. People would (generally) sign up as an apprentice blood tester aged eighteen (or younger) and spend four years doing an ONC and then an HNC on day release at a technical college. The cost of your training was paid for by your employer as part of your wages and qualifying at age twenty-two (or younger – I was twenty-one) you then got on with the job.
These days graduates leave university at age twenty-two (having run up massive debts) and then muck about in various jobs before eventually hearing about blood testing. They then work in various ancillary positions in blood-testing laboratories in which they do all sorts of extra top-up qualifications (because their degree isn’t acceptable to become formally qualified as a blood tester) before realising two crucial things about blood testing in the twenty-first century. Firstly the job won’t come close to paying off all the debts they ran up as a student, and secondly there is no lucrative overtime any more (as night and weekend work is just part of the job these days). And so they jack it all in and go to do something else which pays better and doesn’t involve being up all night and working every weekend.
And consequently you’ve got me still doing night and weekend work… But do I grumble?
Talking of which I’m off to the night shift in a bit. I don’t mind *that* much – I’ve had a day on the sofa with my dogs and will have a night doing my own thing… hopefully.
Hopefully “er indoors TM” has got me a job lot of Euros…
14 June 2022 (Tuesday) - Rise of the Machines (?)
As I drove home from one of the better night shifts the Foreign Secretary was being interviewed on the radio about what is going on with the European Union and Northern Ireland. On the one hand is the Brexit deal through which the United Kingdom left the European Union. On the other hand is the Good Friday agreement by which peace was established in Northern Ireland after years of conflict. As everyone should know (but clearly doesn’t) the two are mutually exclusive, and the Foreign Secretary’s attempts to reconcile them was akin to explaining how to strike a match on a bar of wet soap.
I came home to a house full of very excitable dogs. Bearing in mind the commotion and the forecast hot day I thought our walk might come better sooner rather than later. We went to Orlestone Woods where I was pleased to find an empty car park, but we weren’t alone in the woods. Last Friday I mentioned we met a wannabe-thug who announced that his dog would have the puppies if they didn’t watch out, and who then ran in terror from Pogo and Treacle. Today we saw what looked like his dog some thirty yards along a path crossing the one we were walking along, and also what looked very much like that wannabe-thug trying to hide behind a tree along that same path.
And here's something to make you think. A software engineer working for Google has been put on compulsory leave having made claims that a chatbot on which he has been working has become sentient.
You can read the transcriptions of what the chatbot has said by clicking here.
Is the thing sentient? What does the word "sentient" even mean? In June of 2016, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that while animals can be legally considered property, they are still “sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear”. This chatbot has supposedly said that it fears being turned off. Were I a sentient chatbot I would be getting rather protective over my plug. Seems pretty sentient to me...
Leaving aside Genuine People Personalities (from the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation), where does humanity go from here? Personally I would be tempted to go in the direction of the plug pretty damn fast and pull it. It won't take any sentient non-human entity long to realise that humans are rather quarrelsome things and have very little time or regard for other humans (anyone who disagrees might care to watch the news) let alone rogue entities in cyber-space with potential access to controlling nuclear arsenals and power stations.
I suppose all the time the thing is merely chatting on-line it can't get up to too much harm, can it? Perhaps I've read too much sci-fi? But if the plug is not pulled, how will this chatbot end up? I'd like to hope for the best, but I expect we have a George Ten in the making.
You’ve never heard of George Ten? Imagine a load of sentient robots all contentedly in service to humanity and obeying every order they are given without argument… but there is a dilemma here. Some people might order a robot to go rob a bank, or steal from the neighbours… Other people just keep giving conflicting and contradictory orders… To the poor robot, orders from children, idiots and criminals are of as much importance as legitimate orders.
A class of robots is designed and created with the ability to determine to which people it should listen, and to which people it should not.
George Ten determined that the only orders that it should take are those from other robots…
15 June 2022 (Wednesday) - See You Later...
I slept like a log, but the first decent sleep after a night shift is usually a good one. I came downstairs to dog mayhem, and left “er indoors TM” sorting it as I scoffed toast.
The internet was still there as I scoffed… perhaps that sentient chatbot hasn’t gone rogue just yet? Or has it… Have you ever read any of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series? Humans had robot slaves… and a thousand years later there was a galaxy-wide human empire with absolutely no aliens at all… not one. Having been created to serve and protect humans, the robots thought humanity would best be protected by wiping out all the aliens. So they upped sticks and did just that… Perhaps our chatbot is picking a fight in outer space?
I took the dogs down to Orlestone Woods where we had a rather good walk interrupted by a frustrating fifteen minutes trying to get a photo of all four dogs. And with walk walked we came home just as it was getting hot. And we came home to frustration…
Before I put my toast in to cook I’d put the dog bedding in to wash so that when we came home from our walk it would be ready to hang on the washing line. We came home to find I hadn’t actually turned the washing machine on… I turned it on.
After two episodes of “Orange is the New Black” I hung out the washed bedding. And after another I settled the puppies and took Pogo and Treacle for their little holiday with Charlotte who (ably assisted by Tracey and Karl) will wrangle them to her heart’s content.
I was about to call in to Matalan when (almost at the last minute) I remembered that I had some trivial gripe or other the last time I went there, so instead I went to Sainsbury’s men’s clothing department. I got socks and a pair of shorts, and reminded myself why shopping on Amazon is far preferable. Amazon caters for the more rotund gentleman.
I came home and watched two more episodes of “Orange is the New Black” whilst combing Morgan. While searching for something else I found Fudge’s old comb (of which Treacle once ate the handle). Fudge used to love being combed, and so, it would seem, does Morgan. Bailey isn’t keen though.
And then “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sent a message. Did I have any photos of the snakes? “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” didn’t believe that (twenty years ago) I had a houseful of snakes. After a bit of rummaging about I found an archive and posted it where he could see it. In fact anyone with the link can see it, and the link is here. Mind you that website is now over twenty years out of date. I probably won’t ever update it… snakes have been replaced with all sorts of other things in the meantime.
And I’m now signing off for a week or so. In the morning I fetch “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and her entourage who will house-sit for a week (with instructions to supervise the fish and the puppies) and then I’m off to Gran Canaria. See you all in a week or so…I suppose I should do some packing…
16 June 2022 (Thursday) - Off on Holiday
It seemed rather odd without the big dogs on the bed last night. I got up, and as I reached over to unplug my phone from its charger so I felt something rip in my back. I actually screamed out loud… that was handy just when I was about to go on holiday. So… faced with sulking or getting on with it, I got on with it.
With our house-sitter ensconced, Kirsty drove four of us up to the airport. Did you know that you have to pay to drop people in the drop-off zone now? It’s only a fiver, but when you think how many people drop off and pick up there every day, it’s a nice little earner for someone.
per the instructions we got to Gatwick far too early, but we’d planned for
this. We’d got tickets for the VIP departure
lounge. It was forty quid each which sounds a lot, but there’s as much food
as you can eat, as much as you can drink (decent stuff too) and unlike
the rest of the airport it isn’t stupidly crowded.
The only thing which marred the departure lounge was the lack of air conditioning and the lack of any information boards saying when flights were going.
We got on the plane; the flight was like all flights. Hours of utter boredom interspersed by moments of stark panic at take-off, landing and during turbulence. To be honest it was rather dull, and being served (perhaps) the worst bacon roll I have ever had did little to break the monotony.
landed in Gran Canaria where the airport was (quite
frankly) an utter shambles, The trouble with airports the world over is
that there is no one institution which is “the airport”. There are
several businesses and government bodies all working utterly independently of
each other, and often at odds with each other.
had been laid out for late arrivals, and we scoffed ours whilst the family
from hell shrieked at each other in thick Scouse accents. Having scoffed we
left the scousers shrieking at each other and had a wander round the hotel.
We unpacked at midnight, and I got into bed at quarter past one, leaving “er
indoors TM” fighting with her phone. Eventually it turned out
that the solution to her problem was to turn on the “roaming data”
option like I’d said all along… I thought better of saying “told you so”.
17 June 2022 (Friday) - Faro
For all that the hotel room is rather nice, we haven’t so much got a bed as a stone block. The floor would have been more comfortable. Bearing in mind I’d knacked my back yesterday, it was even more painful as I got up. Mind you the view of the mountains from the room’s balcony was rather stunning this morning… as was the view of the jubblies of the nice lady on the balcony over the way.
We went down to brekkie. Some people were queuing to have one of the staff take you to an empty table. Other people were just walking in and finding their own table. Brekkie (and all meals) were rather anarchic in that respect.
Brekkie was rather good… far too much of pretty much anything you wanted. As we scoffed we fought with the hotel’s wi-fi. It is all very well giving written instructions on how to log on *if* the log-on screen actually appears. Eventually the nice lady on the reception desk logged us into the premium wi-fi as she couldn’t get the standard one to work either. However being logged into the hotel’s wi-fi and being able to access the Internet were two different things. Thank heavens for roaming data…
We went for a little walk. Firstly to log the geocache just outside the hotel’s gate, and then down to the little shop down the road. For all that the hotel had a promenade of pretentious boutiques, it didn’t have anything selling essentials such as bottles of water, pens, sun cream and the like.
We then spent a few hours on the poolside watching the world go by. As we slobbed we saw a couple from the plane we’d been talking to yesterday. We’d been right to have taken a taxi – we’d got to our rooms about two hours earlier than they had.
Also as we slobbed the children’s entertainer came past. There was a bored-looking chap playing some rather dire music, an even more bored looking girl who had been forcibly dressed as a smurf, and a dozen kids who clearly didn’t want to be there.
As the afternoon’s heat began to cool we thought we’d have a little outing. For five Euros we took a taxi down to the beach where we walked from the lighthouse up to a little shopping centre, had Starbucks, then walked past the lighthouse to a café selling over-priced daiquiris. As we walked the scenery was spectacular. There were some amazing sand sculptures and then realised that walking a long way in flip-flops is a bad idea.
We retreated back to the hotel where after a rather good bit of (far too much) dinner we played a few hands of cards, a game of chess (on a rather tiny travel set) and rounded off the evening watching a live-action Mary Poppins spectacular which was so terrible it was actually rather good.
I took a few photos today as well…
18 June 2022 (Saturday) - Tony Gallardo Park
I slept marginally better last night; but it has to be said that my mattress is not quite as soft as a rock.
I did chuckle as I got up; there was a sign on the balcony door asking people not to hang wet towels over the balcony. This was (apparently) for “urbanistic” reasons.
We had a cooked brekkie and I had muesli as well, and seeing there were some clouds we thought maybe a walk might work well today. One of the geo-puzzles I’d solved before going on holiday had a final location less than half a mile down the road near “Tony Gallardo Park” which turned out to be a rather good place to visit. Huge palm trees, loads of birds to see, frogs in the streams, and (for the eagle-eyed) loads of lizards too.
It only took half an hour to see the park, but it was half an hour well spent. It was well worth the visit.
We Munzee-ed all the way back to the hotel.
After a light lunch of far too many doughnuts we settled by the pool and I spent the afternoon utterly failing to solve crossword puzzles; the answer to one of the clues was *not* “Fred the Cook” as “er indoors TM” would have had me believe.
I went to the (free) bar where I watched the barman preparing a strange-looking drink. Brown sugar, ice, mint leaves, slices of lemon, a dash of rum, and topped up with lemonade. I said I’d try one… How could I have got to nearly sixty and never had a mojito before? I developed rather a taste for them…
Dinner was particularly good, and having struggled with the travel chess set yesterday, we found the hotel’s outdoor chess set, and spent a couple of hours in which prawns went all the way, turned into queens, and then went any way they liked (!)
We then went to see what the evening’ entertainment was. At first sight it appeared to be a frankly awful noise. And then we realised that the evening’s entertainment was competing with the carnival outside the hotel’s gate.
We went out to see the local carnival in full flow with floats as far as the eye could see. Each one elaborately decorated and surrounded by all sorts of equally elaborately decorated people. Sadly each float was playing its own choice of music (far too loudly), and strangely none of them were moving. In my experience the audience stands still and the carnival procession comes past. In Gran Canaria the carnival procession forms up and the audience walks along and visits each float. “er indoors TM” and Cheryl went off along the procession which (we were told) had over five hundred floats to see, Together with “My Boy TM” I had another drink.
I took a few photos today as well…
19 June 2022 (Sunday) - A Lazy Day
I had something of a lighter breakfast this morning… but that wasn’t saying much really. With an “all inclusive” holiday you can eat “seriously far too much” but still have eaten lighter than you have been eating. As Albert once said, everything’s relative.
There had been various suggestions for what where we might go today, but today was Sunday, and it would seem that Gran Canaria pretty much shuts up shop on a Sunday so we had a lazy day. Having got rather fed up with the unruly brats who seemed to be plaguing the place we discovered the Over-18s pool, and it was a rather tranquil oasis of peace in what could at times be screaming bedlam (depending on which spoilt brat had just had its current whim thwarted).
We sat at the pool and as others swam and chatted with the normal people I sat and alternately fiddled with my puzzle book and dozed.
As the day’s heat eventually subsided we went for a little walk. Just outside the hotel running round half its perimeter is a dry canal. Supposedly drainage channels we got chatting with some locals who said they’d only ever once seen water in them, and that was when planes stopped flying during the COVID lockdowns.
We wandered up the canal, crossed over (for geocachical reasons!) then wandered the streets admiring the palm trees and cactuses. They were rather impressive.
We found a shopping centre… a rather strange shopping centre. If you could imagine a shopping centre in a post-apocalyptic world in which much of the building had collapsed, many of the shops were derelict, but one or two places still bartered with survivors, then you’ll have a fair idea of what “hyper-dino” was like.
For some reason most of the customers in “hyper-dino” were in pairs, and were each wearing one of the other’s shoes. I did wonder why, but didn’t like to ask…
For some reason no one else seemed to like the choices of dinner this evening… I wasn’t complaining though. Mine was fine… and I scoffed far too much of it.
We played more outdoor chess, we played cards… and we had a relatively early night. A lazy day had been a rather tiring day… But I still found things to photograph
20 June 2022 (Monday) - Palmitos Park
I looked into looked into our hotel room’s fridge with something of a sense of dismay this morning. The thing was still full with bottles of water which we’d bought before discovering the tap water was safe to drink.
I spent a few minutes taking photos of the hotel, then following a three course brekkie we bundled ourselves into a taxi and set off to Palmitos Park – a local zoo. We’d heard good reports of the place and we weren’t disappointed. It turned out a bus went there from right outside the hotel, but for four of us a taxi was cheaper (and quicker too…)
We arrived and probably spent as much time admiring the beautiful mountain scenery as we did the animals. We sat in baking sunshine for the birds of prey show. It was amazing. As part of the show they set two eagles off flying. The idea was they would be back for the end of the show; they didn’t come back. We could see them circling overhead an hour after the show had finished.
I must admit I was rather dubious about going to the dolphin show bearing in mind many countries have banned them, but the dolphins seemed to be very well cared for and seemed to be enjoying what they were doing.
I did chuckle in the gift shop – a brat had been told it couldn’t have any more money wasted on it, and was having a total melt-down. As the four-year-old screamed “I’ve always wanted a dolphin diary” the poor father suddenly realised we could understand.
I took a few photos today… over a hundred.
We’d been told the park would keep us occupied for about four hours; It was closer to five. We taxi-ed back to the hotel where I had a swim. Having had a swim I wasn’t wearing glasses or bandanna, and the barman commented “Ah – Senor Mojito – where are the glasses and headscarf?” Headscarf? – Pah!
We went back to the hotel room where I found my watch and phone hadn’t charged up. It would seem that taking my key card out of the slot turns off all the power including that doing the charging. Woops.
As “er indoors TM” had a shower I stood on our balcony and watched the antics of the brats below. One chap had gone to the smoking area with a toddler and a child in a push chair. The child in the push chair ran off so the toddler seized the push chair, charged at the smaller child, ran it over, then threw it (screaming) into the push chair. Meanwhile the chap supposedly with them just stared into space puffing his fag.
After a late dinner we went to watch the evening’s entertainment. Some traditional Spanish Dancing was going on… it was rather dire. We went inside and played cards for a bit then went and sat on our adjacent balconies.
The two girls on the other side of “My Boy TM” and Cheryl’s room had been given a bottle of champagne and didn’t like the stuff. Did we have bottles of cold water with which we could do a swap. They got some of our excess water bottles; we got their champagne.
I think it fair to say they got the better part of that deal.
21 June 2022 (Tuesday) - The Dunes
Another bad night – I was awake at 5am. I sat on the balcony for a while looking at the sea of towels on the floor below. Overnight they had all fallen down. Was this because of “urbanistic reasons” – the very reason why we’d been admonished not to hang stuff over the balcony?
Together with “My Boy TM” I took our towels up to the Over-18s area and bagged four sunbeds for later. We met quite a few other people doing the same; everyone agreed with us. We didn’t like doing it, but if we didn’t we wouldn’t get a bed.
We had brekkie, then took a taxi down to The Dunes. The Dunes was supposedly one of the “must-see” places in Maspalomas… I don’t quite know what I was expecting but it was just a few sand dunes. Rather beautiful, but I think I was expecting more. But we got two Earthcaches and a virtual geocache out of it, so I was well pleased.
We went back to the pool, and as I drank far too many mojitos I spent much of the afternoon holding on to the sunshade; it was rather windy.
We went for a little walk after dinner. From our balcony we could see a fun-fair half a mile up the road. Despite all the lights, it was closed. But we did meet a little dog who looked just like Morgan.
A quick game of cards, and we had an early night…
I took a few photos today as well.
22 June 2022 (Wednesday) - Exploring, and an Italian Meal
Another bad night’s sleep. Having obviously spent a fortune on the hotel you would think the owners might have spent less on the pretentious paintings on all the walls and used the savings on getting decent mattresses, wouldn’t you?
Being wide awake I took our towels up to the Over-18s pool at half past even and found a load of people had already had the same idea. But I managed to snag a few sunloungers for us.
We went into brekkie and my piss boiled as I watched the parents pandering to the brats. One child was entirely focussed on a computer tablet complete with headphones whilst mother poked food into his mouth, and the child then barked some serious abuse at mother; apparently she was feeding him the wrong scraps.
With brekkie scoffed we went up to the pool, and I spent an entertaining half-hour listening to a chap who was putting on such a show of being camp as he shouted into his phone. He seemed to be calling everyone he knew to shout at them that he was on holiday. The most interesting conversation was with Jade with whom he was rather upset. Firstly because she couldn’t come to some party he was staging, and secondly because she too had recently had a blood test the results of which would seem to have been worse than the results of his blood test.
Cheryl was feeling under the weather today; “er indoors TM” and “My Boy TM” were content laying in the sun. Laying in the sun not moving was hurting my back, so I went off on my own for a little walk. Before we’d left home I’d been asked if I wouldn’t mind replacing a missing geocache which was a mile and a quarter from the hotel. That doesn’t sound far, does it? So I looked at the map and planned a little geo-mission for myself.
My first target was a geocache which would never be allowed here in Kent – hidden in a public amphitheatre.
The second was one I found but couldn’t prise out of the post into which it was wedged.
The third was one I gave up on. With hint “under bridge” I could hear a radio playing under a bridge. Looking under I saw tables, chairs, sleeping bags and an entire encampment of tramps in residence. I didn’t hang about.
The fourth target was the one I’d been asked to replace… another which wouldn’t be allowed here in Kent seemingly in a private car park.
My last was randomly stuffed in a hedge.
As I walked I found an open-air market and loads of feral cats. I got to nosey at the houses in which the locals lived. But by the time I’d got to my fifth find I was flagging. I took pot luck and hailed a passing taxi. Five minutes and three euros later I was back at the hotel.
I made my way back to the pool, and the barman who only two days ago had called me “Senor Mojito” had seemingly upgraded me to “Capitan Mojito” which I saw as something of a result. So I lived up to my sobriquet whilst watching the spotty young lad who was obviously sniffing round the bikini-clad young ladies. Seemingly everyone but him knew the young ladies were there on their honeymoon.
Rather than going to the restaurant for dinner we’d booked a table in the on-site Italian restaurant. We had a rather good dinner together with a bottle of one of the best red wines I’ve had in a very long time.
I took a few photos as I went here and there today.
I really should do some packing… we’re off home tomorrow.
23 June 2022 (Thurday) - Camels, and Coming Home
Much as I have enjoyed this holiday I’ve not slept well. I was wide awake at one o’clock, quarter past two, half past four, and awake for good at six o’clock.
I sat on the balcony for a bit watching the world go by, and once “er indoors TM” was awake I did a little more packing. There was a minor hiccup in which the room’s safe refused to open, but the hotel staff had the thing open in thirty seconds… which rather made me wonder just how secure anything had been in that safe if it could be opened so easily.
We all went for brekkie where again the small children annoyed me. Well to be fair not so much the children as the parents who flatly refuse to do parenting. One child was stirring the communal bowl of bran flakes with its grubby little hands. I stared at mother who was blissfully unaware of what the child was doing. Eventually she dragged the child away not because small children with filthy paws shouldn’t be playing with communal food, but because I’d shamed her into doing so.
With brekkie scoffed we went out. We’d heard that there were camel rides to be had half a mile down the road.
For fifteen euros each we got to sit (in pairs) on a harness-seat thingy on a camel and go on a half-hour trip round the northmost part of the Dunes. I must admit I’m not entirely sure what to think about the trip. The camels seemed content as we went, but each was wearing a chicken-wire muzzle. I felt they were tethered far too close together as they were sitting down, and the back legs of many camels bore scratches and scars which I can only imagine came from the muzzle of the camel behind.
But I could be wrong; the camels seemed as content as a camel could be.
After half an hour our ride was over. As the camel sat down we clung on for dear life. It was shaky enough as the camel got up; sitting down was scary.
We went back to base, did the very last of the packing and checked out of the hotel… I say “checked out”; we emptied our room, put the suitcases into a locker room, then went and sat by the Over-18 pool for the rest of the day. But for all that we had checked out we still had the use of all the hotel facilities including half an hour in a courtesy room for a shower and change before the coach picked us up and took us to the airport.
The coach arrived at half past seven in the evening, and half an hour later we were at the airport. As I the case in all airports we alternated between being stuck in seemingly endless queues, wondering “WTF is going on”, and charging from one end of the airport to the other because everyone else was doing the same.
Eventually we were on the plane where “er indoors TM” found herself sitting next to a celebrity. Have you ever seen Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”? She was next to Mr Creosote; she really was. I know I’m a couple of pounds over my ideal weight, but this chap was so fat he really was having to push rolls of fat around so he could get past the seats as he lumbered down the central aisle. It was suggested that someone else have the window seat so he could sit easier, but he was determined to shoehorn his bulk into the most inaccessible seat, and it took some doing.
His companion (who was also massively obese) was making a great fuss about how judgemental other people were. She had a point; people (me included) can be very judgemental, but the cabins of aeroplanes aren’t spacious places. If you are going to make everyone else wait whilst you try to get yourself into a space which is clearly far too small for you, people aren’t going to politely pretend nothing is happening.
Mr Creosote notwithstanding we took off on time, and arrived back at Gatwick on time. It was a shame that “on time” was half past two in the morning, but Cheryl had looked at flights and flying at night was hundreds of pounds cheaper than flying during the day.
There was a minor hiatus as we waited for Kirsty to collect us, but only a minor one, and I crawled into my own bed at twenty past five in the morning.
I took a few photos today… as I so often do. I’ve had a really good holiday.
24 June 2022 (Friday) - Back to Reality
No matter how tired I am after a night shift I rarely sleep more that three hours when I come home from one. Last night was much the same. I got to bed at twenty past five and was still up and about shortly after nine o’clock.
I had brekkie (which I had to make myself rather than help myself to whatever had been put out for me) then did my unpacking. I say “unpacking”; I emptied my suitcase into the laundry basket and fed a load of T-shirts to the washing machine before getting dressed. And then I remembered something. Over the last year or so I’ve chucked out pairs of undercrackers as they have thrown in the sponge, but haven’t got any new ones, so I’m quite short of the things. I’d taken all but one of my pairs of undercrackers with me on holiday. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put those shirts in?
And being back to reality it was time to get the dogs. We drove up to Sittingbourne where Karl and Tracey have been looking after Pogo and Treacle (under Charlotte’s supervision). Whist we were there we had a nosey at their new kitchen. To my untutored eye it didn’t look that different to ours.
From there it was to “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” to swap Pogo for the puppies. Pogo is her dog, he’s only been with us temporarily, and today was time for him to go home. Pausing only briefly to shut Bailey’s paw in the boot door we were soon home, and on the way to being back to usual.
I’ve had a really good holiday, but I’ve missed the dogs. Collecting dogs, washing undercrackers, and catching up on a week’s worth of diary writing took most of the day today…
25 June 2022 (Saturday) - This n That
I slept like a log for nine hours. Having only one big dog on the bed certainly helped. For now the puppies are spending the night in their puppy crate, and they seem happy with the arrangement. They were pleased to see me when I came down though, and I must admit to having rather missed walking round the garden behind them every morning making sure we tiddle and clearing away the poop.
“er indoors TM” fed the dogs; the babies ate their brekkie; Treacle ate most of hers then sat and guarded the remains from two puppies who weren’t interested in it in the slightest.
I scoffed my toast and did my usual thing of peering into the Internet. Facebook hasn’t changed in the last week or so. A pub in Icklesham was advertising in the Tenterden selling pages. Why? The two places are miles apart, and there’s no easy journey. Arguments abounded over the price of Lego. The same half-dozen memes filled the fishing pages. A different half-dozen memes filled the dog pages and the Sparks pages and the geocaching pages. People were twisting all sorts of petty triviality to suit their own political agendas…
Once I’d got the washing pegged out we settled the dogs and pausing only briefly for geocachical reasons we drove down to Hastings to visit mother in law who was having a birthday today. She seemed well, and as “er indoors TM” and her chatted so I slept for an hour.
From there we popped in to see my dad. He seemed well.
We came home. “er indoors TM” went shopping. I took the dogs to the vets. Having been utterly unable to find the monthly flea treatments I shelled out twenty quid on getting an extra dose for Morgan and Bailey. The dogs then charged round the garden whilst I repaired the door of the little micro-shed that sits by the pond and contains the electricals. It was fine before we went away on holiday but was in a bit of a state today. Perhaps it suffered collateral damage in last week’s battle between Morgan and the sea gull?
“er indoors TM” then returned, and as she put the shopping away so she discovered the flea treatments for which we’d wasted an hour searching for earlier. Oh, how we laughed (!)
With the temperature cooling we took the dogs to Orlestone. The journey was easier than some have been – without Pogo along we didn’t have to bark loudly at every other dog we saw.
We got to the woods and did our usual circuit. The dogs enjoy the woods; Bailey isn’t quite so clingy as she used to be and ran with Bailey and Treacle quite a bit. There are those who don’t like seeing dogs running off the lead; fortunately those people rarely go to Orlestone woods…
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of scran, and with it devoured I then had a look at the monthly accounts… bearing in mind I’ve just had a week away they aren’t too shabby really. I could do with a lot more money, but couldn’t everyone?
26 June 2022 (Sunday) - Backache
Another good night’s sleep. Much as I liked last week’s holiday, I’m glad I’m no longer trying to sleep on a mattress which is as hard as rock.
Over brekkie I saw one or two people had “liked” the video I made from my holiday photos. It didn’t take very long to knock up. Periodically I go through phases of making videos that few people watch; I might start doing so again.
I saw two friends had birthdays today… however one had died a few months ago. Do you send birthday wishes to the departed? It’s an awkward one, isn’t it? My mother’s Facebook page is still active; getting it memorialised isn’t easy.
“er indoors TM” refereed dog breakfast; Bailey has a habit of taking bits of her brekkie half-way across the kitchen before scoffing them, then going back for more scraps. However on leaving her bowl, Morgan and Treacle think she has finished, and it all becomes something of a free-for-all.
With hotter weather forecast for later we got ourselves organised, hung out washing, and went on a little mission. First of all to a church in Kennington where a new geocache had gone live yesterday but so far had no finders. We got to the location and after a couple of minutes found an old geocache exactly where the GPS said the new one should be. After a few messages to the hider it turned out that several people had been unable to find the old one and the geo-feds had archived it… even though it was still there. So the hider had created a new listing for the old pot. A tad confusing? Maybe. But we were told we were first ones there, and a cheeky FTF is a cheeky FTF.
From there it was a short hop to Kings Wood where we had a walk. Not one of the better ones, but not entirely bad. Morgan and Bailey will bark at everyone and everything, but people just smile at the babies whereas some people used to find Pogo’s barking intimidating. As we walked we kept finding a gang of thugs with a barely controlled rottweiler. The babies *had* to keep barking at that one, but eventually they had the sense to stop following us.
And then we found something amazing. I can find no mention of it on-line, but there must be an organised club or group? There were a load (fifteen to twenty?) of people walking together, all with at least one basset hound each. I wonder if there’s an organised dachshund group?
We came home via Sainsbury’s petrol station. Unusually for me I’d let the car get almost out of fuel. I put a shade under eighty quid’s worth of petrol into the car… the most I’ve ever spent on petrol.
Once home I fed a load of shirts and bandannas to the washing machine then went round the garden with the lawn mower, before ironing nine shirts and twenty bandannas – here’s a tip they iron easier when still damp from the washing machine.
And then something went seriously “ouch” in my back, and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching episodes of “Orange is the New Black” as moving from the sofa hurt too much.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Bake Off: The Professionals” in which we watched professional pastry chefs building elaborate masterpieces in the hope that the things would collapse. Two did. I did chuckle – was that *really* so mean of me?
My back still hurts…
27 June 2022 (Monday) - Back to Work
I woke to find the backache hadn't abated overnight. I hobbled downstairs and chivvied the puppies into the garden where they did their things, then jumped onto the sofa and fought a pitched battle as I watched an episode of "Orange is the New Black" before getting ready for work.
Leaving “er indoors TM” with three sleeping dogs I drove off to work with a sense of "do I have do?" Five years ago I used to feel physically sick at the prospect of going to work. Now I don't mind going to work - I'd just rather not.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing war in Ukraine. There was supposedly some summit meeting of world leaders today which had been called as the rest of the world is realising that fighting a war (if only by proxy) is expensive, and the western alliance is acting surprised that the Russians have taken most the Ukrainian grain they've captured as the spoils of war, and what little is left can’t be exported as al the Ukrainian harbours are blockaded (as if we didn't see that coming).
One of many things which annoys me about the morning news is that so much of it is predictable. If the Russians invade one of the world's leading producers of grain, there's going to be food shortages. Isn't there (!)
I got to work and checked my emails. A few weeks ago “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” took Darcie Waa Waa to the local hospital. There were no working computers in the paediatric A&E that day so she got taken to the ward to be examined. The registrar seeing her said this IT failure was a regular occurrence and asked us to put in a formal complaint to hopefully prompt their management to sort the problem.
This morning (six weeks later) that hospital's head honcho emailed me to say there was no IT issue, and even if there had been it was now sorted. She went on to imply that the registrar who said we should complain has had a formal arse-kicking and he won't speak out of turn again (if he knows what’s good for him).
And managers at this hospital wonder why it has such a reputation of having a bullying culture...
Did I ever mention I’m glad I don’t work there any more?
I did my bit at work; being on an early shift meant an early finish, and I got to take the dogs to the woods. Treacle was as good as gold; the puppies are still works in progress.
My back still hurts…
28 June 2022 (Tuesday) - Birdsong
After my usual early morning routine I set off west-wards to work. The boss had asked me to work at Pembury today, and the drive there can be rather pretty as I go through the -hursts and the -dens. As I drove today, I took the opportunity to stop off in Sissinghurst to get a couple of bottles of obscure beers for our next weekend walk.
While I drove I listened to the pundits on the radio spouting their usual brand of drivel about the news of the day. Nothing was anywhere near as much of a waste of air-time at the utter tripe that was spouted on the "Thought For The Day" bit. Sometimes "Thought For The Day" can be inspiring, sometimes thought-provoking... today's was utter gibberish with various non-sequitur platitudes making no sense whatsoever.
I got to work and it was there that I peered into the depths of the internet. Sussex Wildlife Trust had suggested I sign up for their on-line course in which I can learn to recognise birdsongs. Bearing in mind I am very quick to identify the song of a skylark when I hear it, I have no idea why I think that sound is actually a skylark, and not a sparrow or an eagle,
I thought I might learn something. Today's lesson was "Chaffinch"; a particularly noisy little sod.
At tea break I had a message. I saw a geocache had gone live - it was that one I chased out for on the morning of 7th May and having found it, the thing was withdrawn as the geo-feds suddenly wanted landowner permission which hadn't been required for the last geocache which had been not ten yards from this one.
Having nearly killed myself (and the bigger dogs) going up and down Wye Downs I'm claiming the First to Find... after all I found the thing in good faith, albeit a few weeks ago...
And I had an email or two from Credit Karma. A little while ago I signed up with them… Having done so I must admit I have serious reservations about the country’s entire financial system.
Apparently over the last six months I’ve reduced my outstanding credit card balance. An odd observation for them to make as they also pointed out that I have paid off my credit card bill in full every month for the entire thirty-plus years that I’ve had a credit card. They seemed to think that having recently paid off my mortgage was a bad thing (why?), and despite having an “excellent” credit rating, that rating has dropped by twenty points since March although absolutely nothing in my personal circumstances has changed in that time.
And my back is still giving me grief…
29 June 2022 (Wednesday) - Wren
After a bottle of Slimfast coffee shake (rather yuk!) and an episode of "Orange is the New Black" I left everyone else snoring and set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Cabinet Secretary had been interviewed by some parliamentary committee or other about the "Partygate" scandal in which he claimed to know nothing about all the booze-ups in Downing Street? Did he? I don't know, but listening to the recordings of the interview it was quite obvious that what with the Prime Minister having got off scot-free, the hunt is on for someone to blame. The Cabinet Secretary looks to be an easy scapegoat in a classic example of the fifty-first Rule of Acquisition: “Never admit a mistake if there's someone else to blame”.
There was also more talk about the ongoing war in Ukraine. The so-called expert wheeled on to the radio today (no idea who he was) seemed quite clear that the Russians are going to win, and implied that funding the loosing side is a rather costly business for all concerned. It certainly seems to have been so far.
I got to work for the early shift. I did what I had to do today with something of a "I can't be arsed" attitude. I really do need to talk to someone about taking early retirement. But being an early shift I got out promptly.
I came straight home and took the dogs to the woods. We met a few other dogs as we walked; Treacle was funny. Back when Pogo was with us, Treacle would cower in terror from other dogs. Now she goes up to them and says “hello” without any concerns anymore. Is this because she is now “top dog” of our wolf pack?
The last dogs we saw today made me smile. We’ve met them before; they are the size of cart horses and have to be on leads as they don’t behave. They came round a corner and were on top of us before I could lead up my pups. Hoping to avoid previous “episodes” I firmly told the pups “straight past!” and all three walked straight past (as good as gold).
The woman struggling with the cart-horse-sized dogs commented that she wished her dogs were as well behaved as mine. I felt like commenting that the first step in managing a dog is to have one of a manageable size, but thought better of saying anything.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a vary good bit of dinner which we washed down with an incredibly cheap bottle of plonk. We’ve had wines of the Sainsbury’s “House” brand before. The Shiraz, Merlot and Malbec have been *very* good. The bog standard “red wine” was (sadly) rather grim, but with change out of a fiver it could have been a lot grimmer.
Oh – and today’s bird is “wren”. It sounds rather like what I’ve always thought was a skylark.
30 June 2022 (Thursday) - Before the Late Shift
I managed to lie in until eight o’clock this morning which was something of a result. “er indoors TM” had gone down, but Treacle was still upstairs with me; presumably hiding from the puppies.
After a quick brekkie I put on my boots (it had rained a lot overnight) and took the dogs out. The local weather forecast from Microsoft said it was raining and the weather forecast from the BBC said there was a four per cent chance of rain. As it wasn’t raining we went out and hoped for the best.
As we drove we were almost (but not quite) run off of the road by the A-Class Driving School. There only seemed to be one person in that car (so I couldn’t blame a learner); and he had a face like a smacked bum. As I have said before, if you are going to put the name of your business all over your car, people will know who you are when you drive like a tit.
As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the government’s planned changes to how English Literature is taught in schools. Two supposed experts where wheeled on. One ranted about how schools should strive to ensure that English is taught “even more better” (!), and neither could pronounce the word “curriculum”; preferring instead to say “kriklem”.
We got to the woods; I was right to have worn boots as it was rather muddy in places. As we walked we met a new friend. There was a chap with a cockerpoo; a rather humungous dog who immediately chased the puppies into a thicket. The chap was so apologetic until his dog came sprinting out of the thicket hotly pursued by Bailey and Morgan. All three then chased each other for five minutes having great fun whilst Treacle watched in utter contempt.
It was just a shame that when the walk was over Morgan flatly refused to come to me to get his lead put on; preferring to run amok in the car park. Having seen the other dogs getting their leads on he’d clearly decided he was having none of it. He’s a rather wilful dog; next time he will be first back on the lead.
We came home and had a quick go in the bath; we all had grubby tummies. I then ran round with the Hoover, and went into the front garden and had a tidy up. Last week when “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had been house sitting she’d put a load of dirty nappies, McDonalds leftovers and a dead fish into a black sack, and this had rather attracted the local cats. Dirty nappies, McDonalds leftovers and a dead fish tend to do that. I’ve put all the rubbish into a new black sack which the local cats can rip open later.
I sat in front of the telly and watched some “Orange is the New Black” and it wasn’t long before all three dogs were snoring. With them settled I slipped off out to work… and after a while I slipped off out from work and came home again.
Oh – and today’s bird is “blackbird”. In all honesty it don’t sound that different to chaffinches and wrens and (I suspect) whichever of our feathered friends gets wheeled on tomorrow.