1 June 2023 (Thursday) - Pond and Stuff
I slept rather well again last night, which was something of a result. But I was still up early enough to watch an episode of “Shameless”. It’s a good program, but much of it being based on the amorous adventures of a piss-stained tramp does stretch credulity somewhat.
With a few minutes to spare I had a look at the internet. Last night I finally got round to updating the album of photos of my pond, and it had got quite a few comments.
I had two friend requests on Facebook this morning. You can see them here. Interestingly the profiles of these two contained identical photos. What’s that all about?
There was an interesting posting on one of the pond-related Facebook pages this morning. Interesting in two ways. Firstly because it sparked a polite conversation and not a bitter squabble. And secondly because of what it was about. Some chap had recently bought a house with a rather good pond in the garden. Or (to be precise) with what had once been a rather good pond in the garden. The thing had fallen into disrepair and this chap had posted some photos of the work he’d done transforming it from a silted-up mess back to a rather good pond. In the comments someone had asked how much people would be prepared to spend to pay a professional to sort the pond for them. The general consensus was “not very much”. The one who had asked the question then announced he ran a garden pond building/renovation business and had outgoings of seventy quid a day. He then asked if, considering those outgoings, would people be prepared to pay more for his services. Most people (politely) said “no”. The general consensus was why should we subsidise his expenses by paying for that which we would do ourselves for free.
My pond is my ongoing hobby/project. I don’t doubt I could make the thing perfect in a day if I paid someone to make it perfect. But where’s the fun in that?
As I drove to work I listened to the pundits on the radio talking about how the American senate has voted to increase their "debt ceiling". I'm no economist, but from what I can work out this means that although the American government already owes an absolute fortune, rather than paying back what is owed, they are just going to carry on borrowing more and more to keep going.
How does that work?
After ten seconds on Google I came up with this web site which told me that the American government started off in debt (back when it borrowed fifty million dollars from the French to finance the war of independence) and it has carried on borrowing more and more ever since. Now its debts have grown to over thirty trillion dollars... you'd think people would stop lending them money, wouldn't you?
I seriously worry about paying off my credit card each month. Perhaps I shouldn't bother?
And then I had a phone call from the most recent fruit of my loin who had found (well, Pogo had found) a dead seagull in her garden. What did I think she should do with it? My gut reaction was to ding it in the nearest public waste bin. She wasn't keen on doing that. She wasn't keen on doing anything which involved going anywhere near the dead seagull, but (as I pointed out) what other options did she have? Pogo wasn't going to leave the thing alone, was he?
I am reliably informed she stuffed it in the bin by Sainsbury's. It turns out that stuffing it in the bin by Sainsbury's is exactly in line with the government's formal advice on dealing with dead birds.
Can you believe it - my plan was right. Go me!!
I got to work and did my bit. And wasn't at all impressed when the early shift went home two hours earlier than I did. I like being on the early shift so I can go home early. I get to work far too early to avoid being stuck in traffic on the motorway so early shifts suit me. Yesterday I'd got home, walked the dogs round the woods, got home again and bathed Treacle before the time at which I drove out of the works car park this evening.
I came home to find my pond testing kit had arrived. I’d ordered one from Amazon yesterday; I had a theory that high nitrate levels (or something) were encouraging the green algae growth. But I was wrong.
Nitrate, nitrite and chlorine levels were fine. However pH was to the top end of what was good… Mind you the test kit gave the top end of pH as being 8.0, but expert opinion has it quite a bit higher. Carbonate levels and water hardness were a tad high too… but what can you expect living in Kent?
I suppose that not finding anything seriously amiss is a good thing, but (for some daft reason) I feel that a negative result was something of a waste of money.
2 June 2023 (Friday) - Cake and Chicken
“er indoors TM” went to the loo in the small hours. In itself that wouldn't have been an issue. I would have slept through that. But she was followed by a procession of dogs. And then the smallest one (who is too small to get off of the bed on her own) whinged because she thought she was missing out by not going with the others. Once she'd eventually settled, the toilet procession came back to bed quietly (!) There was then quite a bit of grumbling and growling as we all jostled for position. I say "we all jostled for position"; I just desperately tried to cling on to that small area of bed which I already had. And failed.
I got up, made toast and watched more "Shameless" in which the piss-sodden tramp was again the object of several ladies' attentions. Surely this isn't realistic? Do my lady readers seriously find piss-sodden tramps attractive?
I went out to the garden to see how the pond was doing. The filter's input was beginning to clag up again. Being made from clear plastic I can see when it clags. I unclagged it, and within seconds it clagged again. A second unclagging seemed to do the trick.
As I unclagged I had a stroke of genius involving what I might do with a rock. But rather than doing anything with a rock I decided to give the matter a little thought. I have plans for making a bog filter this weekend - that rock idea might be part of that.
I set off to work listening to the pundits on the radio interviewing some ex-civil servant about the latest ridiculous position the government has got itself into. The government has set up a public enquiry into its handling of the COVID pandemic and has given those conducting the enquiry full authority to investigate anything they consider relevant to the matter. But the government is refusing to hand over all sorts of documents that the enquiry wants to see; saying that those documents are none of the enquiry's business. How does that work? Why set up a public enquiry if you are then not going to let it enquire?
There was also talk about Slow Ways; a website of a national network of long distance footpaths. That looks like being something with which I might get involved. Possibly. I wonder how long it will be before it becomes one big argument?
I got to work and had an email from the dentist who wanted to tell me all about his "fair and ethical pricing policy". I would have thought that charging as much as the market could stand would have been the order of the day, but the link he sent went to a document which went on for many pages but without actually saying the price of anything. Someone's taken an age to produce this document. Isn't this just a sign of our times: endless meaningless paperwork.
Mind you at work I also had cake and barbeque chicken too, so the day wasn’t a bad one really.
I’ve now got a two-day weekend. I’ve not had many of those lately…
3 June 2023 (Saturday) - Busy, Busy
I was fast asleep when I my phone beeped at five o’clock this morning with a message about an Evri delivery. What was that all about? I don’t have an Evri account; I didn’t even know what one was until this message woke me. Apparently Evri is the new name for Hermes? The number the message came from is (apparently) a known source of scam phone calls.
Being wide awake I put some washing in to scrub, made toast and watched an episode of “Shameless” before kicking everyone else out of their pits.
With a bumper crop of dog dung harvested I had a look at the Internet. I had two friend requests on Facebook this morning. Both reminded me of a comment made by an eight-year-old cub scout who on seeing a pantomime dame for the first time described it as “a woman gone wrong”. I think I’ve got two of those here… The one on the right is having a serious chest malfunction.
There wasn’t a lot else happening on the internet this morning, which in some ways was a shame, and in others was something of a result.
Being Saturday we drove round to the Repton estate and Dog Club. As we turned into the estate so the dogs went frantic – they knew where they were going. Dog Club was good fun today. Morgan and Bailey had a whale of a time, Treacle allowed other dogs near to me and “er indoors TM”, and she even sniffed a few bums (Treacle, not “er indoors TM”).
As we drove home we listened to Steve on the radio doing the Mystery Year competition. Usually I have some idea (quite often a good idea) but today I didn’t have a clue. 2005 perhaps?
We got home, settled the dogs and zoomed out to Bybrook Barn garden centre. As we drove Steve was still on the radio talking about the latest Sparks album. He seemed quite keen on it; I’m still not sure.
Yesterday I mentioned needing a rock for something I had in mind. At the garden centre I got two, some pond plants (and containers for them) and cake. Billed as “Cherry Cake Seconds”, it was the edge parts of cherry cake at a fraction of the price of the normal cherry cake.
Mind you my piss boiled somewhat as I went round Bybrook Barn; I think it fair to say that I was the *only* person there with a trolley who was aware that there were other people shopping. Not one of the other trolley pilots were paying any attention to where they were going, or what (or who) they were crashing into.
We came home and I got on with today’s project. For some time we’ve had a little splash pool above the pond into which the filter empties. The water then goes over a little waterfall into the main pond which gets oxygen into the water. But the splash pool just breeds algae. So the plan was to turn this splash pool into a bog filter. I trimmed up the pond plant containers so they would be beneath the splash pool’s water level, got them all in place, then arranged stones over them to keep the plants sunk.
The plan is that all the nutrients in the water which feed algae will go into the plants, leaving none for the algae. Will this work? Time will tell; it always does.
“er indoors TM” sorted out coffee and cake for lunch. For all that the cake was “seconds”, it was rather good.
With a little time on my hands I made a start sawing up wood in preparation for tomorrow’s project (more of that tomorrow).
As I sawed “er indoors TM” took Treacle to the vets. Her belly was (and is) very red and had a nasty lump. The vet had a poke and a prod and announced it was a very nasty bruise. I can’t think of any accidents Treacle has had recently to get a bruise. The vet said to keep an eye on it; we will.
We then drove down to Folkstone to see the birthday girl. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was going out for her birthday, and we had been charged with the supervision of “Darcie Waa Waa TM”.
Leaving the most recent fruit of my loin heading off to the fun fair for the afternoon and evening we brought “Darcie Waa Waa TM” home, and had a rather full-on afternoon and evening. When she wasn’t terrorising the dogs (and snogging them) she was either playing bubbles or watching songs on You-Tube. We had a few tears as time wore on, but she perked up a bit for KFC for tea. Eventually she collapsed; she was so tired.
As was I.
I had the offer to go to Singleton barn this evening to see Jimbo’s band with friends, but I was worn out from the day’s exertions… and that was before granddaughter arrived on the scene.
I’m told the band is playing in Mersham in a few weeks’ time; we can see them then.
4 June 2023 (Sunday) - Recycling
I couldn’t get off to sleep last night; listening out for Darcie Waa Waa TM”, but she slept well. I was woken at five o’clock by Bailey who wanted to go out. I needed to get up as well, and when we’d both done that for which we’d got up we went back to bed. With “er indoors TM”, Darcie Waa Waa TM”, Morgan and Treacle all in the attic room, Bailey and I had some space.
I heard littlun jabbering away shortly after seven o’clock so I got up, shaved, dressed and did all those things that you can’t do whilst carrying a littlun around before “er indoors TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” came downstairs.
“Darcie Waa Waa TM” had banana and plum for brekkie and washed it down with half of her milk, throwing the rest across the kitchen. She does that. When she’s had enough of something she just flings it in any random direction. She’s her mother’s daughter (!).
I then carried littlun around whilst “er indoors TM” did her morning’ fiddling around. At one point I stood outside the loo with littlun and we both sang the “Nanny’s in the toilet” song; something I intend to teach to small grandchildren everywhere.
We settled the dogs and drove littlun back to Folkstone where we collected the rest of “Darcie Waa Waa TM”’s branch of the tribe and walked round to McDonalds for McBrekkie. McDonalds now do a super-duper brekkie McMuffin which is basically all of the different McMuffins rolled into one. And you get a choice of red or brown sauce. I had brown; big Jake had red. It was rather good. “Darcie Waa Waa TM” had a bit of everyone’s and flung it all in random directions.
We said goodbye to the Folkstonians, and headed back to Ashford. The motorway was open on the way home (it hadn’t been on the way there). We popped into B&Q for a few odds and sods for today’s project. Yesterday I said of Bybrook Barn: ”I think it fair to say that I was the *only* person there with a trolley who was aware that there were other people shopping. Not one of the other trolley pilots were paying any attention to where they were going, or what (or who) they were crashing into”. The same was true of B&Q today.
But we got the drill bit and plants I needed, and came home and got on with today’s fun. A recycling project.
Last August Bank Holiday I built a cascade for the pond. The thing didn’t work, and a few weeks ago I removed it and disassembled it.
Yesterday I mentioned that I’d sawed the wood from it into shape in preparation for today. Today I took all the sawed bits and screwed them together into a box shape (with screws that had been in the way in the shed for years), lined it with weed-proof membrane (that had also been kicking round the shed for years), painted it (with wood preservative that has been in the yard for years) and filled it with soil and compost (that has been in the way in the garden for years). A minute to type: four hours to do. But it all went to plan; no hiccups or cock-ups or what I sometimes describe as “rustic charm”. I took a few photos of the recycling of what was old tat into something which is (as the first fruit of my loin would say) “not too shabby at all”.
And with the job done I sat back with an air of quiet satisfaction. I’ve never had any lessons in woodwork, but I really enjoy it. I wonder if the local adult education people do classes?
“er indoors TM” (quite literally) boiled up a very good bit of dinner (gammon is best boiled!) which we washed down with a bottle of Liebfraumilch. Amongst the stuff we watched on the telly was an episode of “Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly” which featured a middle-aged woman who had had some very strange plastic surgery and had a face which looked like it had been ironed. Why do people spend a small fortune on looking completely unnatural?
I really ache…
5 June 2023 (Monday) - Before the Late Shift
Every time I moved in the night I woke in pain. I overdid the physical effort building the planter box yesterday.
I got up just after seven o’clock and (hoping to miss the traffic) took the dogs straight to the woods for a walk. There were only two other cars in the car park at Orlestone which was probably for the best.
We had a good walk exploring the lower end of the woods; I don’t like to let Morgan get anywhere near the roads at the top. He only needs to chase one squirrel…
As we walked in the depths of the woods we heard a commotion. About fifty yards from us was a woman with two dogs. Both on leads; both about twice the size of the woman. She was shrieking at the dogs to stop dragging her about. Morgan and Bailey ran up to make nuisances of themselves, so I blew the whistle and they came straight back to me. “Why can’t you do that?” the woman screamed in desperation at her dogs. We turned round and back-tracked a few hundred yards before taking a bit of a detour; we wanted to keep our distance from that lot. We ended up walking further, but sometimes you need to avoid the normal people.
As we walked back towards the car park we saw another woman with her dog. Again the pups ran up to make nuisances of themselves, and again they came back to the sound of the whistle.
We got back to the car, did “boot dogs”, and my watch told me I’d already surpassed my daily step goal of six thousand steps…
Had I? When I got my new SmartWatch at Christmas I activated the step counter thingy out of interest, but in retrospect I think I activated it on the unspoken understanding that it was reliable. Yesterday it claimed I walked just under seven thousand steps; on Saturday it said over twelve thousand. Seriously? I don’t think I did very much different physically on either day.
As we drove home I had a wry smile. The pundits on the radio were talking about a scientific study done of sets of identical twins. One of each set of twins ate normally, the other followed a “healthy eating” diet. Each set of twins apparently ended up the same weight, but the ones on the “healthy eating” diet all claimed to be constantly hungry.
We got home, had a late brekkie and I checked out the Internet. I had two friend requests on Facebook from what I think were young ladies. It is rather difficult to be sure these days. Neither looked to be the sort of young lady I’d want to bring home to meet my mother, so I deleted both requests.
With a bit of time on my hands I went out to the car and pumped up the tyres. As we’d driven to the woods earlier the low pressure alarm had come up. Last year I was pumping them up every month; this is the first time I’ve had to do it this year.
And then I took the puppies to the vets. Mind you, at eighteen months old they are hardly puppies anymore. Even if Bailey only weighs three point eight kilograms. Morgan is chunkier at eight point two. The vet gave them each a once over. She could find nothing wrong with Morgan's back leg (the one he does the "hop" on), but Bailey needs her teeth brushing; whether she likes it or not.
Leaving the pups with “er indoors TM” I set off on a rather circuitous journey to work. First of all via the petrol station. I went to the Ashford one rather than Aylesford as the warning light had come on and I didn't want to chance being stuck in slow moving traffic on the motorway.
From there I went to Dobbies car park and had a little stroll up and down Munzing as I went. I deployed a Golden Carrot and got two Qrates; there's never a dull moment in Munzee. As I was there I had a little look at the pond stuff in Dobbies. I've always found the staff of their aquatic section to be very helpful, but their pond plants were rather expensive. A water lily in Bybrook barn costs me twelve quid; Dobbies want twenty-two quid for the same thing. Their pond marginals were twice the price I paid at the weekend. And the pond filter I got a few weeks ago was (literally) hundreds of quid more in Dobbies. It certainly pays to shop around.
I set off to work up the motorway; I was right to have got petrol earlier. I was only stuck in traffic for a few minutes but it could have been more.
As I waited for the traffic to move I remembered sitting in a traffic queue some years ago with my Fudge dog sitting on the passenger seat (he always sat up front with me) and I had a little melt-down.
They don't happen as often as they did, but I still miss that silly dog.
By the time I got to work I was worn out and rather fancied an afternoon with my feet up staring at the telly rather than doing work.
I really shouldn't do so much before a late shift…
6 June 2023 (Tuesday) - Intimations of Mortality
I slept like a log last night, but was still wide awake a couple of hours earlier than I needed to be.
I got up, made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" in which some young lad followed his base urges, did "the dirty deed" with a rather unmoral young lady but found himself biting off far more than he could chew and got porked to death (by the rather unmoral young lady).
The show then explored the moral implications of what do you do if you (albeit accidentally) pork someone to death. I suppose there are all sorts of things you might do; reporting it to the police being the most obvious. But instead, the rather unmoral young lady (and her equally unmoral pal) chose to roll up the dead body in a carpet and chucked it in a ditch. This turned out not to be the best thing to do with the corpse of someone who has been porked to death.
One lives and learns.
I stopped off at the co-op on the way to work. That place is quite odd at half past six in the morning; it certainly attracts a certain sort... Here's a question for you. Given a car park with only one other car in it, why would you park so close to that other car that its driver (me) can't get to the door of the car? And would you really be justified in taking umbrage when asked to move your car so that I can get to mine?
I drove up the motorway listening to the news on the radio (as I do). A major dam in Ukraine has been attacked and been blown up. Downstream there will be floods; upstream a nuclear power plant won't get cooling water. Obviously the Russians did it as part of the war effort. Obviously? It was implied that many international observers aren't convinced. Did a Ukrainian faction do it to frame the Russians and to garner sympathy from the international community? I don't know. Perhaps they did, perhaps they didn't. Perhaps I'm just old and cynical but more and more it seems this Ukrainian situation is just going to run and run.
There was also talk about how many nurses from overseas are being employed in the UK for the simple reason that the UK isn't training enough of its own. The Ugandan government isn't happy about the constant flow of their trained staff to the UK leaving them with massive shortages. The UK has no formal recruitment process from Uganda (unlike other African countries) but if a nurse in Uganda has no ties to where they live and can get seven times the wage doing the same job in the UK, what are they going to do? It's called "market forces"; the UK government would have us believe it's a good thing.
Certainly my line of work would come to a shuddering halt if the UK had to rely on home-grown staff. One thing (among many) that boils my piss is seeing the same old problem continuing year after year when it has such an obvious solution.
I got to work and did what I couldn't avoid. At tea break my phone rang. It was my brother. The chap who is (hopefully) going to buy Dad's house reckons he's found woodworm in the loft. He might have done, he might not. I have no idea. I don't think I've ever been in that loft and I have no intention of clambering up there any time soon.
Anyway, the (potential) buyer has asked his solicitor to ask our solicitor to ask our estate agent if we'd pay to get the woodworm sorted. I sighed. The survey on the house happened ages ago and it has taken weeks just to ask the question. I wonder how soon he will get the reply. This is why the sale of the house is taking so long, isn't it? Such a shame that the process doesn't allow him to give me a ring and we'd have it all sorted in a couple of hours.
I took a little diversion as I drove home after work. Hearing there was a lorry on fire on the bit of the motorway closest to work I drove through Aylesford where the traffic was very slow-moving. And then I saw why it was slow-moving. On the other side of the road was a fire engine in front of which was a land rover type car with the front stoved in and a huge tarpaulin covering all the windows. I’ve never seen that before – something horrendous must have happened there.
It really brings home how fragile life is, doesn’t it? Someone set off to drive round some back streets in Aylesford this afternoon and won’t be coming home again…
I got home and took the dogs down to the woods and enjoyed the simple pleasure of walking round. As we walked we had a minor episode. As I was posting up the obligatory photo to Facebook I was having a little difficulty and was concentrating perhaps too much on the phone. I was conscious of two black dogs to my right, and Bailey wouldn’t go far away. And then a voice said “hello”. I looked up and saw some woman puffing up the hill behind me on a pedal bike. It was then that I realized that only one of the two black dogs to my right was mine. Treacle had (quite uncharacteristically) found a friend. I said hello to the woman on the bike and to her dog, and commented that I’d obviously lost a dog.
The woman on the bike immediately went into a panic that would have made Corporal Jones (out of “Dad’s Army”) proud. She wouldn’t be told that Morgan wouldn’t be far away, and as she paced to and fro (frantically looking in all directions) I gave three sharp blasts on the whistle. Morgan appeared within seconds.
I meet these sorts of idiots all the time. Does no one else ever come across them?
Pausing only briefly to cap a SleepZee (it’s a Munzee thing) we came home to find “er indoors TM” had gone shopping.
She eventually returned, and we had a rather good bit of dinner and a bottle of plonk. You can’t beat a decent bottle of plonk… As I realized earlier life is too short not to miss the opportunity of a decent bottle of plonk.
7 June 2023 (Wednesday) - An Afternoon Off
I wish I knew how three small dogs can take up so much bed space. When in their baskets they curl up so tightly. When on the sofa with me there is plenty of space. When on the bed they seem to undergo some Doctor Who / Star Trek - like dimensional transformation to take up about a hundred times more space than is physically possible.
I gave up fighting for space, got up, and watched an episode of "Shameless" in which the rather unmoral young lady who porked someone to death in yesterday's episode was now trying to have her wicked way with a policeman. The policeman wasn't having any of it... because he was secretly having his wicked way with her younger (too much younger!) sister. There's a lot of wicked ways going on in that show...
I had a quick Munz from the comfort of the sofa and Munzed a virtual magnet which was a result.
As I drove off to work the pundits on the radio were interviewing one of the head honchos at British and American Tobacco whose profits are going up. It seems that either people aren't giving up smoking, or if they are then those still smoking are prepared to pay good money for fags. It was mentioned that the vaping division of the company was being run at a loss. Vaping doesn't seem to be any substitute for a fag.
And it was claimed that the Americans have captured a UFO though everyone quizzed on the matter was rather vague about what they were going to do with it.
I got to work - the allocation of shifts for the next few months had been announced, and I spent a little while organising my diary and swapping those shifts that don't suit me. In all honest not many of them do suit for the simple reason I'd rather not do them. I've asked for a formal meeting to talk about taking semi-retirement. I wonder if I will get one.
I got as much as I could possibly get done during the morning and then slipped off. I had the afternoon off so’s to look after “Darcie Waa Waa TM” whilst “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had a driving lesson. As I drove to Folkstone so my phone rang. It was the most recent fruit of my loin. Where was I? On the motorway. But where I was wasn’t the important matter. The burning question was when was I. When was I? I was late, that’s when I was. I’d got the time of the driving lesson wrong. Fortunately, only by half an hour, so it wasn’t the disaster it might have been.
As “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” set off (with instructions not to mow down the proles) “Darcie Waa Waa TM”, Pogo and I sat on the sofa and watched sad singalong drivel on You-Tube. It passed an hour though, and littlun didn’t cry at all,
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” walked me back to my car… via McDonalds.
I came home and took the dogs to the woods. We had a good walk and went round the woods with no “episodes” at all. There was a minor incident when I lost Bailey. After five minutes frantically shouting and whistling for her I eventually realized she had been in the long grass at my feet all along.
With walk walked we returned home, and whilst “er indoors TM” boiled up some dinner I set about ironing shirts. Dinner was rather good, and after we’d slobbed about watching telly for far too long I suddenly realised that the council were coming for some bulky waste in the morning.
So we heaved “er indoors TM”’s old bike and a knacked carpet washer through the house into the front garden. I nearly lost a finger as we manhandled a dead fridge through the house. And I seriously considered dropping the old bedroom telly out of the bedroom window rather than breaking my back trying to carry the thing outside. That old telly cost me a fortune back in the day – it was a Matsui one and they went out of business thirteen years ago.
I had to laugh when two minutes later there was a knock on the door and a passing normal person asked if he could have the old bike. I told the chap that the bike has been at the back of the shed for over twelve years, the tyres had perished, the brakes had locked solid, the chain was seized up, it was poggered beyond redemption and fit only for the dustbin. But he seemed to be up for a challenge. He might fix it. He might get hours of entertainment trying to fix it. He might just chuck it in the river. But that bike is now somebody else’s problem.
Sadly we had to tell the council in advance exactly which four items of tat they were to collect or we would have put out something else in its place. If any of my loyal readers have a broken bike they want rid of, leave it in the front garden before seven o’clock tomorrow morning…
8 June 2023 (Thursday) - New Tyre
At the weekend I spent a few hours building a planter box for the garden. And four days later I woke up still aching and still in some pain. Is this normal? I know I'm not as young as I used to be, but am I really that decrepit? Bearing in mind that my Samsung health app says I'm walking more than eighty per cent of other people my age, perhaps I am? But the dogs want their walks, and if I was really overdoing it, I wouldn't be quite so fat... would I?
I made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" in which our heroes did the dirty deed with their pants still on. I don't want to see "nasties in action" but undercrackers need to be removed for realism, if nothing else.
I got dressed and set off. As I left the house I saw that overnight someone had nicked the carpet washer that we'd left out last night for the bin men. Perhaps someone might be able to fix it? I couldn't.
I found where I'd left the car and set off to work. There was a lot of Whinging on the radio this morning. The Ukrainian President was talking about the attack on the dam in Ukraine and was complaining that aid from the western countries wasn't coming fast enough. That bloke don't want much, does he? Not content with the western nations financing his war, he now wants us all to pay for the damage caused by fighting that war. And to hand over the money a sight faster too.
And Prince Harry was in the news again. This time over his appearances in court. Having been seeking publicity, he's now got the arse because he's got it. Does he want the spotlight or no? This morning it was claimed that what he is now saying is at odds with various records. I'm sorry, but Prince Harry has pissed on his chips, hasn't he. He could have been on the gravy train for life. Smile at the proles, open a few hospitals and supermarkets... he could have had such an easy life.
As I got closer to work the car's tyre pressure warning went off. The back left one. Again. That had gone off on Monday, and I'd pumped the tyre up. And it went off yesterday when I arrived at “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”'s place yesterday and I’d pumped it up again.
Obviously there was a problem, so I phoned the tyre places in Maidstone (as I didn't fancy driving about with an iffy tyre). ATS said they could fix it next Wednesday. The closest branch of Kwik-Fit weren't answering the phone and the next closest (who were really good the last time I went to them) said they were short-handed and they could do it if I was happy to wait longer than usual.
The boss recommended a place that I'd never heard of just down the road from work. They said they could do me when I finished work.
Having a quiet afternoon I slipped out a few (ten) minutes early and drove to the Maidstone branch of Formula One Autocentre. I parked up, went in and was immediately greeted by a very friendly and helpful chap. He took the car key and told me to take a seat in the waiting room. Within minutes I was told the problem – there was a nail the size of a javelin through the tyre. There was too much damage to repair – the tyre had to be replaced. And sadly they’d not got any of the cheaper tyres in. Did I want to go somewhere else for a cheaper tyre? To be honest I couldn’t be bothered farting around (with a nail through the tyre) trying to save a few pennies. I’d already phoned three other places to no avail.
They replaced the tyre and I was on my way in less than twenty minutes after puling up.
I was about an hour later home than usual when on an early shift. I got home about the time we would usually be returning from our walk… at about the time when “er indoors TM” was finishing for the day. She came to the woods with me and the dogs.
You can’t beat a walk round the woods.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a couple of episodes of “Richard Osman’s House of Games”. It’s a really good show, but could benefit from two changes.
Firstly there should be some sort of introduction of the contestants on the show – actors, soap stars, comedians, sports personalities… Who are these people? I’ve never heard of most of them.
Secondly those taking part on the show should have some sort of test before the program is filmed to check they aren’t entirely stupid; it’s not fair to publicly humiliate some of the thicker contestants (on national TV) who don’t get a single answer right.
9 June 2023 (Friday) - Stuff
I wasn't aching quite so much when I woke up this morning, but my left knee was still giving me gyp. It does that.
I watched another episode of "Shameless" which had far too many chests being brandished than was good for anyone's blood pressure, then set off for work. As I drove I saw what looked just like “er indoors TM”'s old bike. We'd arranged to have it collected for disposal by the council as it was poggered beyond redemption, but when we put it out a passing normal person asked if he could have it. We said he was welcome to it, but we pointed out where and how the thing was knacked. Two days ago I said " He might fix it. He might get hours of entertainment trying to fix it. He might just chuck it in the river". It looks like he just dropped it on his way home. I would have picked the thing up but there was nowhere to stop the car safely, and even if there had been I wouldn't have got it into my car.
As I drove up to the traffic lights by Matalan I had to swerve to avoid being run off the road by a rather lurid green car. Perhaps the driver didn't see me? Perhaps he had an urgent need to get somewhere in a hurry? Perhaps I'm doing him a disservice but he certainly looked as though he was in a race with a blue Honda Civic.
I drove up the motorway listening to the pundits on the radio. There is an old proverb (from a hundred and fifty years ago) about power corrupting people. It would seem to be true. That idiot Donald Trump has been indicted and is going to court next week. Despite being caught red-handed with thousands of documents marked "classified" and "top secret" in his house, he is adamant that he has done no wrong.
And that other idiot Boris Johnson has a couple of weeks to respond to the findings of an MP-led investigation into whether he misled parliament over Partygate (hint - he did). He too is proclaiming his innocence.
And only the other day I mentioned the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanding more and more foreign aid as though it is his right.
The trouble with a democracy is that it elects leaders who quickly forget they are leading a democracy, and not commanding a dictatorship.
I got to work, and during a lull in proceedings I finally got round to doing something I'd been meaning to do for a little while. Regular readers of this drivel may recall the problems I had trying to get to see a doctor when I was under the weather a few weeks ago.
Bearing in mind that I'd found that the surgery was crap (with a capital turd) I applied to be taken on at another GP surgery. They said "yes" within twenty minutes of me asking.
With work done I came home via the builder’s yard in Cobbs Wood. I got a bag of shingle for less than half the price the garden centre wants for the stuff. I bunged in in place, the I went with “er indoors TM” and the dogs to Ham Street woods as “er indoors TM” had geo-maintenance to do.
We had a good walk; Treacle was running about like a thing possessed, which is quite unlike her.
As we drove home I noticed that “er indoors TM”’s old bike was no longer laying outside the dentist. I wonder where it’s gone? But as I said a couple of days ago “that bike is now somebody else’s problem”.
10 June 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club and Cornhole
It was a shame that my phone decided to tell me its plans for today at ten to midnight. No matter how I set the alarms and turn them on and off, it just does whatever it fancies.
Shortly after that “er indoors TM” and the wolf pack came to bed, and Bailey set about licking my head. “er indoors TM” then went back downstairs for long enough for me to get back to sleep, then they all came back again and Bailey set about licking my head again.
Eventually the novelty wore off. I wonder why she has to lick my head; she only ever does it last thing at night.
Over brekkie I peered into the Internet. It was still there. There were some interesting arguments on the Facebook pages about garden ponds in which the opinionated offered no end of sage advice, and when challenged to provide evidence to back up what they were saying, they announced that because they were saying something, it was automatically correct. There’s a lot of arrogance in the garden pond world.
And there was a lot of unhappiness on one of the history of Hastings pages on which the chap who runs the page seems to devote his time between posting old photos of Hastings and taking offence for absolutely no reason that anyone can fathom.
Being Saturday we drove round to the Repton estate for Dog Club. It was a tad warm, but the dogs had a great time. Running, barking, playing… the dogs love it. And with dog owners who mostly seem to understand dogs, they can play to their heart’s content. There was one new dog along with a rather nervous daddy, but nervous daddy soon got the idea when he realized that no one else was pickin their dog up every ten seconds.
From Dog Club we drove east listening to Steve on the radio. We got a mention, and then another when I got the mystery year wrong (1976, not 1978). Sadly the radio reception gave out to Chartham.
Pausing only briefly for a Church Micro in Staple we were soon at the Black Pig for the monthly geo-meet. We had a rather good afternoon in the sun. Beer, sandwiches, Norfolk crunch (!), a game of “Cornhole”…
It was as well that I took a few photos… one minute I was drinking beer in the sunshine, the next I was waking up in front of the telly at ten o’clock
11 June 2023 (Sunday) - Bionic Burner
I had a very restless night. I blame “er indoors TM”'s snoring, the dogs, the heat.... in fact pretty much everything and anything except the excessive amount of ale I poured down my neck yesterday in order to maintain hydration. That's my story and I'm sticking to it (!)
I got up far too early, recorded yesterday's history, then made toast and watched another episode of "Shameless" which (now featuring a talking baby) is beginning to get a tad silly.
I got myself ready for work and set off. Some chap over the road was shouting a conversation at his mate in the street. Had the mate not been revving his motorbike (like a thing possessed) they could have spoken their conversation rather than shouted it. I did think that both the revving and the shouting were a tad keen for seven o'clock on a Sunday morning, but if I was up and about then no one else had any reason to be in bed, did they (!)
As I drove to work my piss boiled as I listened to the radio. The Church of England has apparently found out that some of its money has come from the slave trade, and has set up a fund of a hundred million quid to provide a "better and fairer future for all, particularly for communities affected by historic slavery".
Having got a sniff of the readies, some bunch of bishops have come charging to the UK from Jamaica and are trying to shove their snouts firmly into the trough. One of these bishops was being interviewed; he kept on and on about how his grievance wasn't about the money, but at no stage did he intimate that he wouldn't take any. In a novel break with tradition the pundits on the radio wheeled on someone who actually talked sense. This chap claimed that many of the slaves taken to Jamaica had in the first place been enslaved and sold by various other African tribesmen; none of whose descendants are offering any apologies. He also pointed out that whist slavery was vile, it all happened a couple of hundred years ago, and how can anyone send an apology back in time. And he told the bishop being interviewed that bearing in mind the average Jamaican is far better off than the average African, any money being dished out should go to those who needed it most.
The bishop seemed to be unable to answer this with any meaningful words, but he seemed to think that it was only fair that if money was being dished out, then he should get some.
I'm not defending the slave trade at all. It was vile, and none of us can imagine what the slaves went through. Ripped from their homes, dragged hundreds of miles to the coast where they were sold and shipped half way round the world. But slavery in the UK was abolished a hundred and ninety years ago. How can anyone offer any sort of meaningful apology for something that happened so long ago?
I got to work and had the cooked breakfast from the works canteen. It wasn't so much "second brekkie" as medicine; I was still feeling rather fragile...
I did my bit and with work worked I came home; I was only working the morning today. As I’d parked the car this morning (at eight o’clock) my car had told me it was twenty-one degrees. As I drove down the motorway at one o’clock my car was registering thirty-one degrees.
I came home to a rather good smell (not that I can smell much after three nasal re-bores); “er indoors TM” had ben baking. We had fresh bread for lunch. Very nice. And then despite the heat I got on with various garden chores. I mucked out the pond filter, and whilst I was at it I cleaned out the pond’s fountain/aerator.
Flushed with success I then fixed a water feature (which had a blocked nozzle), and then disassembled some lumps of wood I’d screwed together last year (it seemed a good idea at the time).
And then I had a message. My Amazon delivery had arrived. I ran to the doorstep, opened my parcel and put the new toy together.
Every morning when I turn on the telly it is so early that the telly-shopping infomercials are on. If they ain’t flogging the octospring memory foam mattress they are extolling the virtues of the Bionic Burner. The Bionic Burner is basically an over-powered hair drier which burns weeds to death.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that every few weeks I go into the front garden and spend half an hour on my hands and knees pulling weeds from between the paving slabs. It is hard work and does my back in. But with a Bionic Burner I could blat the weeds from a standing position. Or so the advert said.
I must admit that the weeds up my path were far more impressive than the ones on the advert, but I gave them a serious Bionic Burn anyway. The instructions said to blast the weed with hot air for three seconds, and that more stubborn ones might need up to ten seconds. I gave each weed enough hot air to turn it black. The instruction said that once you’ve blatted the weeds to give them a couple of days, then sweep them all away. I shall see what happens on Tuesday.
Mind you the instructions also said that improper use of the device will result in hazards. I wonder how one might improperly use a Bionic Burner?
12 June 2023 (Monday) - Before the Night Shift (Dull!)
Another restless night; it was too hot. And having Treacle and Morgan kicking off because someone was talking next door at three o’clock didn’t help.
With a hot day forecast I took the dogs out for an early walk. As we drove to the woods the pundits on the radio were talking about the resignation of Boris Johnson over the weekend. Having seen the evidence against hm in the “Partygate” scandal he’s got the arse and feels everyone is ganging up on him. Are they? Possibly. But from a personal point of view my mother lay dying in the hospice and was only allowed one visitor at a time because of Boris Johnson’s COVID rules, whilst the that bloke had been pissing it up at work-based parties.
We got to the woods and had a good walk. As we went round we met a staffie and had a good game of chase… until it was Bailey’s turn to be chased when she collapsed in a heap screaming. She does that. She is very happy to go up to big dogs and chase them, but she screams in terror when she is chased.
The poor chap with the staffie was mortified; I had to explain that there had been no contact, his dog had done no wrong, Bailey was fine.
We came home for a late brekkie, and all dogs were soon fast asleep. I made toast and was rather miffed to see that although I’d loaded the washing machine before we went out, I’d not set it going. I pressed the “start” button and had a look at the Internet as my undercrackers washed, then spent a couple of hours pondering geo-puzzles. Some took more pondering than others. I’ve always said that some people who hide geocaches want their caches found, and some don’t. Some that I struggled with today were certainly in the second group.
An afternoon in bed (if not asleep), a little more geo-puzzling then I’m off to the night shift in a bit. Can’t say I want to go, but it could always be worse…
13 June 2023 (Tuesday) - Fetching My Bag
As I drove home from the night shift the pundits on the radio were spouting their rubbish as they do. I got rather angry (and rather jealous) when I heard that the UK Covid-19 Inquiry started today. Ostensibly it has been set up to “examine the UK’s response to and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and learn lessons for the future”. It reality it is going to take at least three years (three years!) to tell us what we already know.
To illustrate my cynicism let’s look at its “four key modules”:
Resilience and preparedness (Module 1) – well, the nation wasn’t prepared, was it. You can’t prepare for a once in a lifetime pandemic, and if you do you get accused of wasting money on a very unlikely event.
Core UK decision-making and political governance (Module 2) - Those in power took the piss. This is quite well illustrated by the current situation in which that idiot Boris Johnson now finds himself.
Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare (Module 3) – The NHS (and the entire care sector) did their best under less than ideal circumstances.
Vaccines and therapeutics (Module 4) – Is some political talk shop the best place to conduct scientific research?
Hopefully the standing on doorsteps clapping like demented sealions will be condemned as the insult it was seen to be, and hopefully vaccine deniers will be punished for the harm that they did.
That’s three years effort saved… how do you get a job on this gravy train?
I went to bed and slept as well as I could with the dogs using the bed as a battleground, but after three hours I was awake. I made toast, had a late brekkie and fought with a geo-puzzle which had been giving me grief yesterday. The chap who’d set it had sent me one or two pointers… but I was still struggling. After an hour I gave up, put on the “Filthy, Rich and Catflap” DVD and set about the ironing.
Ironing took all afternoon.
“er indoors TM” eventually finished work and we set off on a little mission. On Saturday we’d had a really good time at the county geo-meet, but in all the excitement I’d left my bag there. So we went to get it.
On the way we stopped off to pick up a geocache. The location of this one was found by solving a particularly fiendish puzzle. I’d had an idea of where the thing was for years (literally years) but bearing in mind we’d be not a million miles from it today, yesterday I made a concerted attempt to figure out where it was. I messaged the chap who’d hidden it; I’d got to within forty metres under my own steam (which I think was rather good). The chap who’d hidden it offered the final co-ordinates, but I thought I’d manage without. That was silly of me…
We got to the final location, found it incredibly overgrown so I sent a message asking for the actual location. I was glad I did. The cache hadn’t been found for over a year and took some getting at.
From there we drove on to Staple and the pub where we’d had such a good time on Saturday. I had a plan to have dinner there this evening in the garden, but their kitchen was closed. Instead we had a drink in the garden, and came home via the kebab shop.
I took a few photos of our evening. I’m quite worn out now…
14 June 2023 (Wednesday) - Another Hot Day
I slept well, waking feeling raring to go... at ten to midnight. I dozed fitfully after that,
Over brekkie I watched an episode of "Shameless" in which boobies of various shapes and sizes were shamelessly flopped out, then I had a quick look at the Internet. Apart from a dubious friend request from "MsMorrigan Hel Morrigan" (a "fiery UK Domina and film studio") not a lot was going on in there.
I set off to work listening to the radio as I went. Today is Donald Trump's birthday. He's seventy-seven. That's eighteen years older than me and he's hoping for another five years as President of the USA. Whereas I'm looking to retire. Mind you that idiot was in the news today with his ongoing court battle.
Is he right? are people conspiring to keep him out of power? As an outsider looking in it strikes me that he was President of the USA in much the same way that Zaphod Beeblebrox was the Galactic President in that Trump didn't so much wield any power as draw the attention away from those who did.
I got to work, sent the night shift home, and cracked on with that which I couldn't avoid. At tea break my phone pinged – we’ve reached Level Two in this month’s Munzee Clan War which was something of a result – if sticking bar codes to lamp posts floats your boat.
But an early start made for an early finish, and despite the heat I took the dogs to the woods. Pretty much all of our walk was in the shade, and after last night’s little mission I’ve now got the water bottle back.
We had a good walk. I managed to get all three dogs to sit together for a photo. Maybe not all looking the same way, and maybe (very much so) under protest. But it was a start – posing can come later. It was only a shame Morgan had to go sticking his nose into something (mud by the look of it).
We got home just as “er indoors TM” was setting off to blood donors. I fed the pups then started looking at another geo-puzzle. You can see it by clicking here. There’s pictures of people to identify, work out what they have in common, then assign a number to each of them… So far I’ve identified two thirds of them, and once I’ve figured out who the others are I think I know what to do with this puzzle next.
Do I? We shall find out.
“er indoors TM” returned with a job lot of KFC which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Richard Osman’s House of Games” in which so-called celebrities made no effort at all to hide their ignorance on national telly. We’ve been watching this show for ages; just lately they’ve wheeled on some right thickos.
15 June 2023 (Thursday) - McFlurries, Blackadder
It was a rather hot night but I slept better than I have recently. Not disturbing Bailey helps a lot in getting a good night; once she's woken she licks my head (like a baby sucks on a dummy) until she falls asleep again, and it is rather distracting.
I made toast, turned on the telly to watch an episode of "Shameless" and was faced with disaster - Netflix dropped the show yesterday, and Sky-Q doesn't have the All-4 app. So instead I watched the first episode of something which has been on my "to be watched" list for some time. "God's Favourite Idiot" was billed as a comedy. I was glad it was billed as such; if I hadn't been told I would never have realised. I'm told the show improves, but so far it is off to a rather lame start.
I then had a look at the internet where I saw a rather silly, childish and purile joke which had me giggling pretty much all day.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio told us they had changed their minds. Last week artificial intelligence was poised to take over the world. Now it seems AI won't enslave humanity according to AI 'godfather' Professor Yan LeCun.
Mind you bearing in mind Professor Yan LeCun is the leading expert of the parent company of Facebook, and also bearing in mind the core business of Facebook I can't help but think (to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies) "he would say that, wouldn't he?"
Meanwhile our old friend science has made synthetic human embryos from stem cells without needing sperm or egg cells.
I'll just make the observation that in this brave new world I doubt very much if the cloned slaves or the robot overlords will laugh at knob jokes, and the world will be a much sadder place...
With work worked I came home, and together with “er indoors TM” went to Folkstone to visit “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. We went for a McFlurry and a little walk along the Lees, then watched all sorts of You-Tube and then “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” demonstrated avoiding lava in Minecraft.
After an hour or so we came home. “er indoors TM” boiled up pizza and as we scoffed it we watched the “Blackadder” documentary and the previously unaired “Blackadder” pilot episode. With UK Gold having had pretty much nothing else on all week except adverts for these shows they were something of a disappointment. Bearing in mind how many famous actors were in four seasons of the show it was a shame that (other than Sir Tony Robinson) not one was wheeled on. And the unaired pilot was… probably best left unaired.
16 June 2023 (Friday) - Bonus Early Shift
Ironically on the one night I was sleeping like a baby I had a rather vivid nightmare in which "International Take Your Dogs To Work Day" coincided with "International Don't Let Your Dogs Crap All Over The Place Day". Against my better judgement I had been convinced to take part in the first and consequently had fallen foul of the second. And then (in a rather unexpected turn of events) I was faced with a colony of dung beetles spitting fireballs at all and sundry from their home in a nest of dog turds which was blocking up the works of a rather crucial piece of blood-testing apparatus.
I suppose this must speak volumes about what is going on in my subconscious.
I got up, made brekkie and turned on the telly. Yesterday I mentioned that Netflix had dropped "Shameless". This morning it was back and at the top of my "continue watching" list. So I continued watching it. The baby has stopped talking, and two of the rather foxier young ladies became rather lesbidacious. However when "doing the dirty deed" they both kept their pants on. Does this happen when foxy young ladies "do the dirty deed"? I'm (thankfully) rather vague on the subject.
With telly watched I had a little look at the Internet. It was much the same as ever. Sadly what was once a rather good site for getting advice on garden ponds has been taken over by the keyboard warriors. I could do with advice on my lilies (one has croaked, one has gone rather manky) but I'm not going to fuel some sad sack's need for self-aggrandisement .
There was also talk of hose pipe bans locally. I can't help but think that rather than ban hosepipes, South East Water might like to fix the leak just down the road from me that has been flooding the pavement for months, and also sort the leak in Brookfield Road that has been flooding the junction by the traffic lights for weeks. Both (and plenty of others) have been on their "Report a Leak" website for ages, and they've done nothing.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about Boris Johnson (as if they ever talk about much else). The report on whether or not he deliberately misled Parliament is out and had come to the obvious conclusion (as if it could realistically come to any other conclusion). On Monday MPs have to vote on whether or not to punish him. It seems that quite a few MPs are keen on letting him get away with it; feeling that when (not if) he returns to high office he will remember those who looked out for him. I suppose they've got a point; which of our MPs aren't in it for anything other than self-interest?
The poor (current) Prime Minister was getting stick for not being seen to take a stance on Boris. The poor (current) Prime Minister is in a no-win position, isn't he? If he does nothing he is accused of tacitly condoning Boris's misdemeanors. If he takes a firm line he is accused of being vindictive.
I got to work. Yesterday afternoon the boss had sent me a message asking if I would do the early shift today. I was quite happy to do that. I get to work super-early to miss the traffic anyway, and being on an early means I get out (nearly) two hours earlier than I otherwise would.
So getting out early meant I got home early, and I took the dogs to the woods. We arrived to find the car park completely empty, and had a rather good walk. Mind you we did see another group of dog walkers. A young couple with three dogs; the young lady of which was wearing a suit of bright blue skin-tight lycra which was about three sizes too small. She really might as well have been walking round the woods in the nip for all that her clothing was keeping secret.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the first episode of the new season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”… or that was our plan. As the program wore on it seemed more and more familiar. I’d started the show right from the very first episode. Oh well… there’s only ten episodes in that first season. We watched two of them, and we’ll watch the rest so that when we get to the new episode we’ll have some idea of what’s going on.
Or that’s the plan.
17 June 2023 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift
I slept right through until after seven o’clock this morning wen I woke up with backache. Backache is usually a sign that I’ve been asleep for a long time. It’s a shame that I have one or the other – no sleep or backache. It’s a shame I don’t have a choice.
I made toast and saw that my lap-top had finally sorted itself out. It said it wanted to update itself last night so I left it to it and gave it all night to do so. The poor old device does struggle with this sort of thing; it is now seven years old, perhaps I need a new one?
As I scoffed toast I rolled my eyes at a post on one of the Hastings-related Facebook pages. The boardwalk of Hastings pier is covered in seagull shit. The reason is that being on the seaside there are tens of thousands of seagulls crapping all over the place. It always used to be like that when I lived there; the boss in the restaurant where I worked had two cars – a good one he kept at home (where it would stay clean), and a knacked old runabout which he would use to get to and from the seaside restaurant and which would get covered in seagull crap. Twas ever thus. But now it seems the influx of DFLs (“Down From London” - the term used by the locals for all the people moving to the coast from London) are up in arms because they apparently had no idea that seagulls crap all over the place. There was quite a good argument going on in which everyone was claiming that everyone else was responsible for something that was nothing to do with them.
Being Saturday morning we drove over to Repton for Dog Club. As we turned into Repton so the dogs started squeaking; they knew where they were going. We had a rather good turn-out. Even though Moose, Scout and quite a few of the other regulars weren’t there we still had one of the highest attendances ever. The dogs charged abut and played; Treacle looked on at them in much the same way that God might judge a dubious creation… They loved it.
All too soon it was time to come home. One the way up we’d listened to Steve on the radio doing the lyrics quiz. Given a line from a song you have to work out what song. I’m hopeless at that. But I’m marginally better at the mystery year quiz we listen to on the way home. Steve said on air that one of the clues would give it away for me… it didn’t but it made me think. In which year was “Star Trek The Next Generation” first broadcast on UK television? I got it wrong. The answer was 1990, but I went for 1987; the year in which the show was made. I saw it then as I got the videos as they came out. Looking back the videos came out in the UK years ahead of the TV releases. Compare that to today when the new episodes of Star Trek are available (on the pay-for Paramount Plus channel) world-wide on the day of release.
We came home for a cuppa and a dried-out Belgian bun from the local bakery, We do like a Belgian bun on a Saturday morning and (sadly) the local bakery down the road makes far-and-away the worst Belgian buns for miles around (the co-op do the best ones!).
As we cuppa-ed and bun-ed I pondered a geo-puzzle. Feeling rather smug about having solved this one and this one I made a start thinking about this one. Do have a look at it; billed as rather easier than the other two, I’m rather struggling. Looking at the description I *think* I need to work out a physical location somewhere on the Romney Marsh which is in some way connected to someone called “Nancy” who is frightened of something (possibly skipping). And having determined who Nancy is, it should then be a simple task to convert the series of letters FCFY, GYC, BSUL and BLYD into numbers.
I’m struggling with this one.
I hate geo-puzzles. To show how much I hate them I created one last year to prove the point that no one can solve them. Only four people have found the thing in a year. And another I hid three years ago has also only been found four times. So why do I strain my brain on them? So that I can gloat when I’ve solved the puzzle.
As we'd driven home from dog club the traffic had been horrendous. It turns out that the main road south from Ashford (the A2070) had been closed and the diverted traffic had reduced the town to gridlock... Whenever I'm stuck in traffic in Ashford I'm reminded of driving round Hastings where there are endless ways to get from one point to another. In Ashford the motorway and the train lines cut the town into segments. There are very few ways to get over the motorway or railways, and if one of these choke points is poggered, the whole town seizes up.
Like it did today.
It strikes me that this is a very good example of incompetence on the part of the highways department of Kent County Council, the head honcho of which gets a hundred and nineteen thousand quid a year.
Perhaps we might all write to our county councilors?
“er indoors TM” s driving app told me it would take forty minutes to get from home to work. Far be it from me to disrespect her phone, but I took no chances, left early and took an hour and a half to do that journey.
I got to work and did my bit. As I'd driven up the motorway so there had been a couple of rain showers and I'd felt a slight sense of satisfaction; I don't mind working at the weekends when it is raining. But the rain soon dried up and I spent much of the shift looking out of the window sulking at a glorious afternoon.
At least “er indoors TM” sorted McDonalds for dinner…
18 June 2023 (Sunday) - Busy, Busy
I woke in the night (that’s nothing unusual) and lay awake listening to the sound of the rain on the window. On the one hand the garden needs the rain (you know you are old when you think that!); on the other hand it can make for a messy dog walk.
I got up, put washing in to scrub, made brekkie and had a look at the geo-puzzle I mentioned yesterday. I’d asked a friend for a pointer… I won’t give away anything about the pointer I was given, but I will say that the ideas I had been working on were as much use as the broadcast dates of episodes of “Batman” would have been to a puzzle based on the colours of the rainbow.
And then I had a little look at the Internet and today’s petty bickering was about the carbon footprint of Ron and Russel Mael who (as “Sparks”) are currently touring Europe. Some people really do go through life looking for stuff to quarrel about.
I’d been meaning to look for T shirts on Amazon for some time. There were some nice ones on there for only six quid… with eight quid postage. Twelve quid’s worth of T shirt would have cost me twenty-eight quid. So I tried eBay. T shirts billed at a fiver each suddenly jumped to a tenner when you selected the size I need.
Much as I’d rather not, I think I will try Matalan.
I then had a totally unprovoked melt-down about my fudge-dog.
Having had a rather productive (if also frustrating) week solving geo-puzzles it was time to go find the caches… Together with “er indoors TM” we took the dogs to the Romney Marsh for a little walk before it got too hot, and we then took a rather circuitous drive home. The dogs seemed to like walking somewhere different; I won’t say too much about where we walked or the route we took home though… It’s a geo-secret (!)
Once home the dogs were soon fast asleep, and with them settled we drove down to Folkestone where “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was getting a tattoo done and so we were in charge of supervising “Darcie Waa Waa TM” (“Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” being with his Dad).
We took favourite youngest granddaughter (and Pogo) for a little walk along the Leas, There were a few spots of rain, but it was a warm afternoon so we braved the rain. I was glad we did. As we walked we saw a brass band playing on the bandstand. A brass band – on a bandstand at the sea front. How “fifty years ago” was that? As we walked past they were playing “Moon River” rather well. I found myself stopping and listening. And then I realized that little “Darcie Waa Waa TM” was having a boogie to the band’s music and Pogo was staring in utter fascination.
We sat down and listened to the band (in the drizzle) for about twenty minutes.
“Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sent a message; her tattoo was done. It looked rather good I thought. She was hungry, so we had a very late McLunch, then came home.
Being Father’s Day “er indoors TM” set off to see her dad. I didn’t go. I’d felt rather iffy when we’d driven down to the marsh earlier, and after the day’s exertions I felt decidedly iffy.
I spent the evening staring at the telly feeling progressively more and more grim. I can only compare it to a day in Greece and a day in Turkey when I was decidedly under the weather. Heat stroke?
19 June 2023 (Monday) - Rostered Day Off
I slept for eight hours last night which was something of a result. I got up five minutes before “er indoors TM”, put some washing into the machine, made toast and had a look at the Internet. Some chap had posted pictures of his garden pond on the Garden Ponds UK Facebook page. He’d devised a method of controlling the algae by filtering the water through pipe insulation and duvet covers. Whilst it was an effective way of keeping the pond clear, it looked awful. Some keyboard warrior had suggested throwing in a supermarket trolley to complete the look… the chap had a point, but really hadn’t needed to say anything. I suspect he just made the nasty comment to provoke a reaction – and he got one.
I went to have a quick Munz from the sofa and my phone told me that from my recent Munzee activity I’d earned fifty Zeds. That’s about thirty pence to spend on in-game stuff. Not a massive amount, but better than a kick up the chuff, eh?
“er indoors TM” gave the dogs their brekkie: I’d rather Morgan ate his brekkie than the bird poo he’s taken to scoffing. And with everyone fed I took the dogs to the woods for a little walk. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the House of Commons is talking about what actions they are going to take against Boris Johnson today. Being sick of hearing about him I turned off the radio and sang along to “Ivor Biggun” songs for the nine minutes it takes to get to Orlestone.
We had a good walk, but the bottom of the woods were rather muddy. Over the winter months we don’t go to Orlestone as it is too muddy, and one day of rain had turned the bottom of the woods to a swamp.
I came home and had a little blast round the front garden with the “Bionic Burner”, then as I was hanging out laundry I had a stroke of genius. I pulled out my phone and booked a slot at the tip for half an hour later. I then spent the intervening half-hour getting much of the rubbish out of the shed and into the car. As I loaded nice-next-door waved out of the window, so I took some odds and ends of hers too.
I stopped off at Matalan on the way to the tip and got a job lot of T-shirts. Since I was last there they’ve taken to having someone on the checkout. Only one person, but that was better than the last time I was there. They could have had more on the tills had four members of staff not been gossiping about how smelly the beach had been at the weekend.
There were an equal number of staff gossiping at the tip too. With a myriad of receptacles of every sort of rubbish known to humanity you need a PhD in recycling to navigate your way round the place. But seeing how they were all too busy chatting to be bothered with the likes of me, I took pot luck and bunged my tat where I thought it was supposed to go and hoped for the best.
I got some floating plant pots from Bybrook Barn, had a quick shop in Sainsburys then came home where “er indoors TM” was rather pleased to scoff the apple & cream turnovers I’d fetched home for lunch.
With lunch scoffed I then carried on. More laundry onto the line, then I launched my watercress. Having been looking all over the Internet for advice on keeping a pond clear, time and again I see the same advice – chuck in some watercress. So many people claim they bung in a bag of supermarket watercress and it clears the water, grows like a thing possessed, and if it overflows the thing it is in, the fish yum it up.
So I stuck a bagful of watercress into a floating plant pot and set the thing afloat in the pond. If it all goes west I shall just get a proper water plant from the garden centre but I have high hopes for my watercress; if only to gloat at “er indoors TM” should it turn out not to be the unmitigated disaster she has confidently predicted.
I then got out the lawn mower and mowed. And immediately stopped mowing and chased the dogs inside. Morgan has taken to attacking the lawn mower, and Bailey copies everything her big brother does.
With lawn mowed I let the dogs out again and got out the garden vacuum. Amazingly the pups showed absolutely no interest at all in the garden vacuum.
It was at this point that my phone pinged with the notification of the confirmation of the morning’s booking at the tip (!)
As I tidied the garden tools away I noticed Bailey was limping. We couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with her leg. She let us touch it and maul it about, but she was definitely limping. She must have strained it somehow.
I really needed to get into the front garden to clear up after the morning’s session with the “Bionic Burner” but I was beginning to ache, and whatever it was that had made me feel grim yesterday was still giving me gyp, so I sat down, cranked up the lap-top, and set about looking at geo-puzzles in Suffolk in readiness for a few weeks’ time.
And with “er indoors TM” off bowling I settled in front of the telly with the dogs and watched episodes of “Shameless” as the dishwasher dishwashed and the washing machine showed my undercrackers who is boss.
I’ve done more today on a rostered day off than I do when I’m working…
20 June 2023 (Tuesday) - Before the Night Shift
There was a frankly amazing thing on Facebook this morning in which some religious crackpot has posted up the story of some woman who had been born into slavery, but the wife of the woman who owned her had taught her to read the bible. Because she’d learned to read the bible, this was presented as clinching proof of the existence of a loving God.
How does that work?
And then I read a couple of somethings on one of the Hastings related Facebook groups which sums up our society.
Someone was griping about hosepipe bans, and the observation was made that the South East desperately needs water and power. Hydro-electric power was an obvious answer, and people were asked which parts of the region should be flooded… Everyone wanted everyone else to be flooded out, and people were getting rather nasty. No one seemed to consider fixing all the leaks or building desalination plants on he seaside as a practical alternative; everyone was too keen on the argument.
And there was also a lot of talk on that same group about what “they” might do with Hastings pier to improve it. No one had the faintest idea who “they” might be; no one seemed to realized the thing was privately owned.
But these two squabbles are Facebook groups in a nutshell, aren’t they? No way does total ignorance of all the facts stop anyone from having an opinion.
We had an entertaining five minutes doing the dogs’ flea treatments and worm tablets. It was far easier to type than to do. All three dogs ran away; we had to close all doors out of the living room to contain them, and still they took some capturing.
The plan was to then do dog brekkie and to go to the woods, but the torrential rain then hit. So instead of going out there and then, I settled down to write up some CPD. And as I sparked up the blood transfusion simulator so the thunderstorm started.
After an hour or so the rain had subsided a little so I wandered up to the pond to see how my watercress experiment was getting on. I was amazed; in less than a day the stuff was sprouting. I was impressed.
I then asked the dogs if they wanted to go out. They took one look at the rain outside and went back to sleep. I had a look at the puzzles on the Suffolk geo-map instead.
After an hour or so it had seriously brightened up outside so I put on my boots. The dogs saw this and all ran to the lead box. They were happy to go out in decent weather. Bearing in mind that Kings Wood would be less boggy than Orlestone I thought we might go there. Sadly autopilot kicked in, and we were a few hundred yards from Orlestone before I realized I’d gone to the wrong woods.
I wasn’t going to go all the way to Kings Wood from there, so we carried on and walked a route avoiding the worst of the mud; even if we did need our bellies rinsing when we came home.
“er indoors TM” boiled up cheese on toast, then I went to bed for the afternoon where I got three hours sleep. For me that was something of a result.
“er indoors TM” is hopefully boiling up dinner soon, but before we scoff that it is time for the dogs to have their teeth brushed. This will make the earlier worming seem like a walk in the park. And then I’m off to the night shift…
21 June 2023 (Wednesday) - National Dachshund Day (after the night shift)
Last night’s shift was one of the easier ones… of these days. Back when I first started night shifts were far easier though. We would be called in to work from home for emergency cases, do our bit and then go home again. I can remember my first ever night shift in August 1985 when my last call ended at half past midnight and I then lay awake all night waiting for calls than never came. I didn’t count the work last night but there were far too many blood samples to be called about each individual one. With no more than fifteen minutes (at most) between each time I had to do something last night, I probably had over fifty blood samples between midnight and the arrival of the early shift, and got a break (for a sandwich at three o’clock) by just walking out for ten minutes.
And back in the day I would have worked a night shift (from five pm until nine am) having worked the previous day and having been expected to work the subsequent day too.
How times have changed.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the latest inflation figures that have been released. They were far worse than anyone had expected. Two (so-called) experts were wheeled on. The first explained the pickle the country is in, and outlined the measures needed to lower inflation. The second then explained (in great detail) how the first was wrong and expounded a complete opposite approach to the first. The first then effectively said that the second was talking out of his arse and the “discussion” went downhill from there.
There was also talk about how the world has been asked to bung even more money at Ukraine. When you consider just how many wars are raging across the world at the moment you have wonder about why the conflict in Ukraine get pretty much absolutely all of the coverage.
Because the West wants a fight with Russia?
I got home and went to bed. The puppies came with me and we all dozed for three hours after which I got up for a late brekkie. As I scoffed, Facebook told me about friends who were having birthdays today. One of whom was twenty-eight today… Twenty-eight!! I remember visiting him on the post-natal ward at the hospital on the day he was born.
Where do the years go?
“er indoors TM” had lunch break and we all went to Orlestone Woods for a little walk. We had a good walk; but (it has to be said) we could have done without the wallowing chest-deep in stagnant swamps. So with walk walked we came home and as “er indoors TM” carried on working so I scrubbed dogs.
No day after a night shift is complete without ironing, and as I ironed I watched three episodes of “Shameless” before falling asleep on the sofa.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit od scran which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” which was also rather good.
I quite like night work in that I get time at home during the week like I had this afternoon… if only it didn’t leave me quite so tired.
Oh – did you know that today was National Dachshund Day? I didn’t.
22 June 2023 (Thursday) - Pond Stuff
Having done a night shift meant I slept well but was still wide awake before five o'clock. I made toast, watched an episode of "Shameless" and then checked the Internet. Some half-wit was expounding the tired old theory that octopuses are actually space aliens. The article I read started off factually wrong. When it said "Here's why scientists believe octopuses actually came from space" what it actually meant was "Here's why half-wits believe octopuses actually came from space". Why do people do this when less than thirty seconds on Google shows that the entire theory has been exposed at the crackpot bollox that it is?
Taking care not to wake “er indoors TM” or any dogs I got dressed and had a little look in the garden. The pond is something of a worry at the moment. Not because of alien octopi, but because of plants.
Having spent years not wanting any plants in it, I've become a great believer in the theory that a pond will support so much plant life (whether I like it or not), and if you don't bung in plants, it will grow its own algae. After all, that's what's happened every summer since I (well, “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “My Boy TM”) dug it sixteen years ago.
Certainly with the new filter and the bog I've planted the water is clearer than it has ever been in any June. The watercress is thriving (even if it is on only on its third day), but the water lilies haven't been the roaring success I was hoping for. I think it fair to say that the water lilies were thirty quid down the pan. One is as manky as any manky thing I've ever seen, and as for the other... I found the root tuber floating on the surface. All the stems had gone; I suspect the fish ate them. I've weighted the root tuber into a pot on a shelf three feet under water and am currently hoping for the best whilst (in all honesty) expecting the worst.
As I drove to work I was listening to "Yesterday in Parliament" and I chuckled. Apparently MPs are not allowed to call each other liars. That is a total no-no. One of them got told off for doing so by implication (by the Speaker of the House); apparently accusing someone of having learned from Boris Johnson was taken as an accusation of having told lies.
I got to work. Originally I was down to do the late shift today but a colleague had asked me if she could do the late instead (as she had errands to run in the morning). That suited me fine.
I cracked on with that which I couldn't avoid. At tea break my phone beeped. The estate agent had been to Dad's house and taken the final readings from the gas and leccie meters.
So I phoned British Gas and spoke to what must have been the work experience boy. After fifteen minutes he managed to take the meter readings I was trying to give him. After another ten minutes he said he'd be in touch with the final bill in a couple of weeks. He could probably have gone slower and spoken in a tone which inspired less confidence if he'd tried, but he would have had to try very hard.
British Gas then had the cheek to send me an automated text asking how they did. I would have told them had their system not rejected all attempts at input.
I then phoned Southern Water to close up the water account. That was painless in comparison.
With work worked I came home. I loudly said “shall we feed…” but before I could say “the fish”, all three dogs had sprinted to the pond. Feeding the fish has become something of a ritual in which the fish and the dogs compete to see who can get most of the fish food down their necks. Morgan and Treacle have to stand to my right and Bailey to my left (or she won’t get any because she is too slow).
It has to be said that the fish cheat by splashing the dogs…
23 June 2023 (Friday) - End of an Era
For the first eleven and a bit years of my life I lived in Grove Road in Hastings. In late 1974 my mother became incredibly restless and she and my father started looking to move house. I don’t know how many houses they looked at, but they bought a house quite literally round the corner from where we were living. I wouldn’t say it was only a stone’s throw away, but you could hit one house with a stone from the other if you used a catapult.
I can’t remember exactly when we moved in, but I can remember going to primary school in the morning from Grove Road and coming home to Winchelsea Road in the afternoon. Because it was primary school and not secondary it must have been some time in or before July 1975.
At the time I was rather bemused by the move. We’d gone from a relatively spacious terraced house to a (quite frankly) small and poky semi-detached house. But my dear old mum was always something of a snob (bless her); semi-detached was definitely a step up in her mind; even if the new house was half the size of what we’d moved out of.
I suppose being a smaller house was something of a boon for my father. Whereas in my world I am constantly walking the dogs, ironing and fiddling with my pond, my Dad was always decorating. Just like the Forth Bridge, once he’d finished decorating the house he would start again.
Having moved in to the house in Winchelsea Road, my mother, brother and I immediately decamped a mile down the road and spent a week living at my grandmother’s house whilst Dad bashed down internal walls in the new house. The kitchen was so small you could stand in it and touch all four walls without moving. Combining it with the back room gave a little more space (but not much).
Despite being a tiny house (compared to what we had been used to), about half of the available downstairs floor space was wasted. The front room was set up as an immaculate shrine into which special visitors would be welcomed. Sadly no visitor that I can remember was ever deemed important enough for them to be allowed into the front room though. I only ever saw that front room being used on a Christmas morning (as it was a special celebration).
Amazingly despite the room’s never being used, the pristine furniture was changed for new stuff on a yearly basis.
Sadly this keeping the front room as a shrine for the important visitors that never came was maintained right up until my mother had to have a downstairs bedroom only five short years ago.
Whilst knocking down internal walls, Dad also installed a “back boiler”; a frankly ridiculous system whereby all the house’s hot water was heated by a coal fire. Consequently the house was constantly far too hot with a coal fire roaring at all hours of night and day. In the height of heatwaves a coal fire would be going non-stop. We had one on the go all through the legendary summer of 1976.
I moved out in 1983 after we’d been there for eight years. I’m told that when my brother moved to the other side of Hastings my mother was keen to move house, but my father wasn’t having any of it. Despite all his family having moved away, he wanted to stay close to where he’d been brought up.
After forty-eight years in our family we finally sold that house today…
Something of an end of an era…
24 June 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club, Badlesmere, Beer Garden
Having been wide awake for the best part of an hour I got up at ten to three. I watched an episode of “Shameless”, had a shave and went back to bed where I then got another three hours kip. I saw that as a minor result. I’ve done this in the past; when insomnia strikes I’ve got up, watched telly and then gone back to bed and slept.
Perhaps I should do it more often?
Once up for the second time I made toast and did my usual peer into the Internet. I follow Facebook regularly in the desperate hope that people who I rarely actually meet might be doing something interesting and so I feel that I can (in some small way) keep in touch with them. The reality is somewhat different. There are six hundred and twenty seven people on my Facebook friends list of which maybe thirty or forty post anything with any regularity (“regularity” being posting anything more than once a month). Overnight very few people I know had posted much at all. But people I’ve never met were flooding all sorts of specialist interest Facebook pages with sarcastic memes about the submersible that went down on a trip to the Titanic during the week. And for every one posting the memes were a dozen pretending to take offence. From what I can work out from the news articles some incredibly rich idiots paid a ridiculous amount of money to take a trip in a home-made submarine (which had passed no safety checks at all) down to the Titanic, and the thing not being fit for purpose imploded on the way. And now everyone is shedding crocodile tears and pretending to be upset about it. I can’t help but think that the sad thing here is that there are people rich enough to each spend over a hundred thousand quid on this sort of nonsense.
Being Saturday we got our stuff together and drove out to the Repton Estate for Dog Club. The chap who runs Dog Club had asked if anyone had a paddling pool the dogs might play in. He’d been given one, and had set it up. Within five minutes the clean water was filthy, and within ten minutes a bundle of dogs had broken it.
But the dogs had a great time. Bailey was everyone’s friend. Morgan got a bit boisterous but soon met his match in a lovely Rottweiler puppy who wanted to play but wouldn’t take any of his nonsense. And Treacle was tolerant of the other dogs too.
From Dog Club we drove up the A251 listening to Steve on the radio and trying to work out the Mystery Year. When did Michael Jackson sing “Rockin Robin”? I thought 1974… I was wrong. 1972.
The radio signal gave out just as we passed Challock, and five minutes later we were in the car park where Karl, Tracey and Charlotte were waiting for us. And Jess was along too. I’d not seen her for ages.
We walked out along the footpaths to Lees Court and back again. Perhaps a tad warm, but the dogs had regular water. And if they *really* had been too hot, Treacle would have used her mouth to pant for air, not to continually carry a succession of sticks about.
With our walk done we found a table in the beer garden of the Red Lion and set up a little beach shelter for the dogs. Partly to give them shade from the sun, and partly to stop them seeing what was going on in the rest of the beer garden (so that they wouldn’t bark at it). We had a very good bit of lunch. And pudding. And even a little cheese with the port and mild. Have you ever had mild with port and cheese? It goes rather well.
I took a few photos whilst we were out. I do that.
It would have been good to have stayed longer in the beer garden, but the last time we did that, things became rather vague and I ended up waking up on the sofa six hours later with no idea of what had happened. So we said our goodbyes, brought the dogs home and settled them (they immediately settled) and drove down to see “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. It was good to see them, even if I did just spend the hour asleep on the sofa next to “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM”.
We came home for a lazy evening sitting by the pond. And then a very light tea watching more “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”. A rather good show. We were right to have started watching the show from the beginning again; I don’t remember tonight’s episode at all.
25 June 2023 (Sunday) - Brekkie, Family, Garden
I slept through till half past six this morning, which was something of a result. As I lay awake I had a stroke of genius (I have those from time to time). With another hot day forecast I thought I might get the garden chores done before it got too warm. So I ran out the hose to top up the pond, put a load of washing in, ran out the waste hose for the pond filter and cleaned that out. I spent a few minutes harvesting dog dung, pulled weeds out of the gravel and thought better of getting the lawn mower out. At half past seven I decided to stop as I was dripping sweat.
I made toast and had my usual look at the Internet. Facebook took an absolute age to load again. It starts up, and then hangs on a “Facebook from Meta” page; “Meta” being the parent company as if anyone cares at all about that. These companies have a vastly over-inflated opinion of themselves, don’t they? Look at the start of any film you might watch on the telly or at the cinema. “A Bizz Tiddly production in co operation with Wazzo films made by a grant from the arsebiscuits corporation… “
No one cares.
Eventually the Internet got working and I saw that I had another dodgy friend request this morning. Every few days I get a friend request featuring either aggressive -looking women or effeminate-looking men all of whom are peddling porn. Today’s one claimed to be “your abuser or your saver” and had written “Address me as Mistress Super Villainess, elegant bully & Financial sadist”. I suppose they somehow make money out of it. They won’t from me though.
Interestingly this one’s left foot appeared to be on its right leg and appeared to be missing a toe. I expect that could be a conversation starter at those socially awkward moments.
I then hung out washing, rolled in the hose pipes and cleared more dog poo… as I was hanging out the washing three small dogs had seen that the garden was devoid of dung and had rectified the situation.
We settled the dogs and went out for a little mission. Bearing in mind the epic adventure they had had yesterday and how hot the forecast for today was, a quiet day would do them good.
We drove up to the town centre and met old friends for what is becoming a regular catch-up over brekkie. We scoffed and chatted and put the world to rights for an hour, then went on a little shopping spree. To “The Works” to get jigsaw puzzles. Personally I can’t stand jigsaw puzzles, but mother-in-law is rather keen on them.
And having got a couple of jigsaw puzzles we set off to visit mother-in-law; today was her eighty-first birthday. She seemed well.
As we chatted I noticed my Dad’s sister walking past the window, so I ran outside and bellowed “HELLO AUNTIE LINDA” up the street, Some of my earliest memories are Auntie Linda saying how she hates being called “Auntie” so I never turn down a chance to do so.
Having caught up with family members I see far too infrequently we set off homewards. We’d taken a rather circuitous route to Hastings because of the road closures, but it turned out that there hadn’t been any road closures. Oh, how we laughed when we found out.
We took the direct route home, pausing only briefly at the farm shop. Once home we woke the dogs, and alternated between sitting under the parasol in the garden and telling Treacle off for randomly barking for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I wish Morgan (and all of them) would drink the clean fresh water we put down for them, and not drink from the pond…
Soon be dinner time… some rather good scoff from the farm shop and cherry cider from the farm shop too.
26 June 2023 (Monday) - Before the Late Shift
I slept reasonably well I suppose. It was a tad hot at night though. I got up, had brekkie and had my usual root around the Internet. In amongst the petty bickering and name calling several people seemed to be rather impressed with Elton John’s appearance at Glastonbury last night, and I read the rave reviews with something of a sense of jealousy. Not jealous that I’d missed it, but jealous that I had (and realistically still have) absolutely no interest in wanting to see it.
Live music, football, Love Island… there is so much that so many other people find so amazingly wonderful that are of the utmost indifference to me.
Sometimes I get fed up being in the minority.
I got the leads onto the dogs and we set off to the woods. As we drove there was a lot of talk on the radio about the ongoing war in Ukraine. It would seem that the Russians are beginning to rebel against their leader who has got them into a war that no one wants.
We got to the woods and walked our latest “usual walk” round. I would say it passed off without episode but when we got back to the car Morgan was covered in some strange sticky yukky substance. When we got home he got a bath and the water ran brown.
Dogs is foul creatures.
I phoned Saga to cancel the house insurance on Dad’s house; that was painless. I then phoned Hastings council to tell them of the sale of the house. The automated system told me there was a waiting time of over an hour and that I should set up an on-line account to do it all quicker. Setting up an on-line account took some doing, and I couldn’t find any way of telling them we’d sold a house. Fortunately I’d kept the phone ringing and eventually someone answered, took all the details and said they’d send me the refund…
Refund? When I asked last year I was told there wasn’t any refund due.
I set off to work earlier than I might have done... but I was on a mission.
As I drove up the motorway I had a phone call claiming to be from the "3" mobile phone company. Did I want a new mobile phone? Bearing in mind that the scammers have been active recently I thought I'd have a laugh. I asked what were they offering. They asked what phone I currently had. I answered honestly - a very basic phone which was two and a half years old for which I pay twenty quid a month. The bloke made a great show of fussing about and eventually offered me a state-of-the-art top-model Samsung phone with unlimited calls and data for only fifteen quid a month. Fifteen quid for what I'd expect to pay fifty? That sounded like a very good deal... too good to be true. So I asked him just how silly did he think I was. Clearly not speaking English very well he offered to throw in a free tablet too. I laughed and said that no matter what he offered, he wouldn't get access to my bank account. He offered it cheaper. I told him that by wasting fifteen minutes of his time I thought that I had done a public service by stopping him from scamming other people, and I hung up.
These scammers boil my piss. They sound so plausible and decent people lose a lot of money to them. These scammers are thieves; there's no other word for it. Clearly the police aren't doing anything to stop them so (yet again) I'm finding myself not being at all surprised that vigilante groups start up, and wanting to join them.
Rather than going straight to work I came in to Maidstone from the south. I parked up on an obscure little lane and went for a stroll here and there along the course of which I found two geocaches. Yesterday afternoon as it became too hot to sit in the garden I'd gone indoors and puzzled. I solved two geo-puzzles and this morning I went to get them. One was a straightforward find, the other not quite so easy but it was in the general area of where I thought it might be, and a helpful hint meant I soon found what I was looking for.
And then on with the main business of the day. I'd come into Maidstone from the south to go to Morrisons as they sell good pants. Or... they always used to. I got lunch and some T shirts... but no pants. They had sold out. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I drew a blank with pants in Matalan last week, and I can't pretend to be over-impressed with what Sainsbury's had to offer. All else has failed. I shall have to check Amazon.
Mind you shopping on-line must be a step up from Morrisons. Hundreds of people blundering about the place; not one in fifty actually aware there was anyone else in the shop, let alone looking where they were going.
And so to work for the late shift, which was rather hard work.
27 June 2023 (Tuesday) - Before Another Late Shift
Yesterday as I perused the Internet over brekkie seemingly everyone was raving about how good Elton John had been at Glastonbury. This morning Glastonbury was all the talk again, but this time Sparks were being accused of lip-syncing rather than singing live. Some people who claimed to have seen it were adamant that you could clearly see the lip-syncing, and others were adamant that you could not. It soon became clear that whether or not the song was live or a pre-recorded tape was irrelevant to those who just wanted to argue.
I also saw a friend’s son had had a grading at karate and had received a green belt. I did karate for a few months back in the early 90s. I can remember it being fun, if hard physical work, but looking back other than the two workmates with whom I went, I don’t think that any of the thirty other attendees spoke to me, or anyone else come to that.
I took the dogs to the woods. As we drove down the pundits on the radio were talking about the recent failed coup in Russia. The consensus of opinion was that the coup failed because the one leading it was seen as a worse option than the chap he was trying to depose. And so Putin stays in power.
I once read a biography of Hitler which made the assertion that Hitler rose to power because he was the least worst of several bad choices of leader. All the time decent people can’t be arsed to stand for office, so history repeats itself.
We got to the woods and had an “episode”. The dogs ran up to some weirdo who was lurking in a thicket brandishing a camera. I have no idea what he was trying to photograph, but from his reaction I can only suppose their excited woofing scared it off. I tried to apologize, but the chap had a face like a smacked arse. His attitude was such that we had a little bout of whistle training as we walked away. If anyone had asked I could have explained (quite plausibly) that we were working on our recall…
Is it so unreasonable to feel that if a weirdo is lurking in a thicket for photographic purposes then that weirdo might put up a sign so that passing dog-herds don’t balls up what he is doing?
As we walked so “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sent a message. Bearing in mind the awful reception in the woods I was amazed it got through. Was I still OK to look after “Darcie Waa Waa TM” tomorrow while she takes “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” to the dentist? I was glad she’d sent the message; I’d been wondering why I’d booked tomorrow off work.
We came home. I hung out the washing, popped to the corner shop for a sandwich for later and pastries for now, and did a little CPD whilst the dogs snored next to me on the sofa.
I had to wake Morgan at one point as he was getting rather agitated in his dreaming. And then a few minutes later he was wagging his tail so much in his sleep he woke himself up.
And so to work… and as is so often the way when on the late shift the best bit of the day was all done by noon…
28 June 2023 (Wednesday) - A Day Off
Being wide awake far too early I thought I might take the dogs for an early walk. It has to be said they weren’t keen on the idea. With leads on, rather than going to the front door, all three tried to go back to bed.
But we set off to the woods. There were more cars in the car park than usual, and we met a few people as we walked…
We met a Great Dane who was terrified of the puppies. Showing fear to Morgan is never a good idea. Then we had a shouting match with two greyhounds. And on the uphill bit we met a Labrador who wanted to play with Bailey. All was fine when the Labrador was being chased, but whenever anyone chases Bailey she screams like a small child who is being murdered. The woman with the Labrador was terrified, and then Morgan flew out of a hedge and started sticking up for his sister. All very noisy and no one was in any way touched, let alone hurt, but all arse-ache that I didn’t need.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about how water bills look set to soar. It is no secret that ever since the water companies were privatized their priority has been making money and they’ve made no investment in looking after what is their sole reason for being. Which is delivering clean water and taking away used water and sewage.
Some idiot from one water company or other was trying to say the public should pay to fix the knacked infrastructure and got rather aggressive when asked what was the point of having water companies if not to do the job of a water company.
I then popped into town. Peacocks had pants. They also had a broken escalator. The nice lady said the escalator had been broken for five years (which shows how long it is since I was last in there) and added that the escalator company doesn’t make the bit that was broken any more, so it will never be fixed.
From there I went to the bank. I was rather concerned that all the money from the sale of Dad’s house was just sitting there. Having had no end of problems with the bank over the years I went in fully expecting to close the account and take my money elsewhere, but they were incredibly helpful. I set up a savings account and an ISA with them.
I came home, and over a croissant and coffee had a look at my bank account on-line. I sent a bung to “er indoors TM” and to my mother-in-law, and having spent the thick end of a squillion quid the bank then flatly refused to allow me to send Cheryl a tenner.
I had a little doze with the dogs on the sofa, and then “Darcie Waa Waa TM” arrived. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” was taking “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” to the dentist. Littlun slept for a bit, and once she woke we went for a bit of McDinner. McDonalds was the quietest I’ve ever seen it. Littlun likes dipping chips in ketchup, it kept her occupied for the best part of an hour.
We then came home. I sang along to “Down by the Bay” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” snogged dogs until “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” returned. “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” seemed a tad woozy; I blame the sedation.
As we’d been singing “Down by the Bay” the post had arrived with dad’s final water bill. Eleven pounds and nine pence. With Southern Water’s automated bill-paying system poggered, paying the bill took some doing. Perhaps they need to invest in that part of their infrastructure too?
I slobbed about watching an episode of “Shameless” until “er indoors TM” finished work, then we got the dogs onto their leads. Despite the road closure at Bilsington we made our way to Dymchurch for this evening’ geo-meet. It was good to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
We came home via the chip shop – they don’t give it away these days, do they?
29 June 2023 (Thursday) - Looking to Retire...
I woke feeling rather grim. Lethargic and headache and generally what I call "too much sun"; not that I was actually out in the sun much yesterday. Adding that to the constant aching I seem to have these days and my totally poggered left knee I considered going back to bed and pulling a sickie whilst sulking but thought better of doing so.
I had brekkie, made a sarnie, watched some telly and set off to work. If I went to work I would have something to take my mind off of feeling grim. If I'd stayed at home, “er indoors TM” would soon have got sick of my whinging.
As I drove up the motorway the pundits on the radio were saying that sickness absence in NHS staff is at an all-time high.
Perhaps I should have phoned in sick and gone with the flow?
There was also even more talk about that idiot Boris Johnson. Having had a committee formally decide that he was telling lies all along, all his old mates have now been accused of deliberately trying to subvert justice by attempting to thwart that committee's investigations. Some of them have even been named and shamed.
Democracy, eh? All of these people have been voted into office, you know.
And fourteen years after the Russians did it, the Americans have set up a simulator in which four people will act out a mission to Mars. I can remember back in the day (22 October 2009) when the Russians were looking for volunteers for their Mars 500 mission I actually got permission from work to take a year or so off if my application had been successful. Not that I applied. Not speaking Russian would have counted against me.
Meanwhile our old friend science has found a fifty million year old fossilised insect with an intact knacker. Personally I would have expected better things from science, but what do I know?
I got to work, had a cheese scone, and cracked on with that which I couldn't avoid. And (sure enough) I perked up as the day went on; even if I did still ache all the time and the knee wasn't what it once was.
I managed a chat with the boss; she's happy for my plans for semi-retirement. So (hopefully) next February I go part-time but stay on the same money... Here's hoping.
And we achieved our Munzee clan goal today as well.
Mind you I spent an inordinate amount of time on the works chodbin today... as did “er indoors TM”. I blame that fish and chips we got last night. Twenty quid to be farting like a fruitbat? (to coin a phrase).
I suppose better the works one than my own?
Some days in my life are rather good; other on the dull side… But if nothing else the countdown to retirement has started…
30 June 2023 (Friday) - Antivirus
I woke still not feeling on top form. Mind you I woke to the stench of someone else's (Treacle?)'s fart so no matter how iffy my innards, someone else's was worse. I made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" whilst sorting undercrackers and sorting my phone. My phone needed sorting. Yesterday I'd had an email from the antivirus company saying they had massively overcharged me for a year's subscription and also charged me for a VPN that I didn't want. I've had a VPN before; all it does is stop me uploading to mankybadger.co.uk.
Last night I phoned the antivirus people. The first woman I spoke to had a phone that kept cutting out. The second sent me a link that didn't work, and then sent me an email saying he'd resolved my issue when he clearly hadn't. The third one simply didn't speak English (that's not being in any way racist, that's just a simple statement of fact). So I uninstalled their product, got something far cheaper, and started the onerous process of getting a refund.
This morning I set about the phone's anti-virus, updated all the phone's apps and software and AVG-ed it all before setting off to work. That took a lot longer than it might have done.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the NHS's "fifteen year plan to boost the NHS workforce"
As always there was a lot of talk of doctors and nurses, a single mention of midwives, but absolutely sod-all mention of arts therapists, biomedical scientists, chiropodists, clinical scientists, dietitians, hearing aid dispensers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, paramedics, physiotherapists, podiatrists, practitioner psychologists, prosthetists, orthotists, radiographers, speech and language therapists, cooks, cleaners, porters, gardeners... There rarely is.
I got to work and did my bit. At tea break I had a look at the internet through my phone (which seemed to be working every bit as good as it used to be). The local chip shop was getting some stick on one of the local Facebook groups. Yesterday I'd had a dodgy stomach all day (as had “er indoors TM”) and I'd written on here "I blame that fish and chips we got last night. Twenty quid to be farting like a fruitbat". It would seem quite a few other customers of that chip shop also had iffy innards yesterday.
And talking of iffy innards some woman was asking on one of the Facebook pond forums what was the best way to get vomit out of a pond; her teenaged child had blown into hers.
At lunchtime “er indoors TM” told me that hers and Treacle's appointment with the TV cameras had gone well. Their fifteen (more like two) minutes of fame will hopefully be the subject of a future blog entry.
Being on an early I got out of work early (no surprises there!) and took the dogs to Orlestone. We had a good walk; we met no one else. As I walked I had a minor melt-down missing my Fudge-dog as I remembered him walking round those woods. Back when the family’s three dogs were Treacle, Pogo and Fudge, three was too many. Pogo could be hard work, and Fudge used to straggle so. But with Pogo’s and Fudge’s spaces now filled by Morgan and Bailey things are just generally so much easier.
We came home, and scoffed sausage and chips whilst watching the first season finale of “Star Trek: Brave New Worlds”. And having AVG-ed my mobile this morning I need to AVG the laptop this evening. I wonder how long that will take…