01 March 2007 (Thursday) - Impressing a Potential Employer

It has been said that the possession of a university degree per se is no indicator of intelligence; it merely proves that the holder of said degree can fart in Latin. An old motto, but nevertheless still very true.

The University of Kent at Canterbury runs a BSc (Hons) degree in biomedical science http://www.kent.ac.uk/studying/undergrad/subjects/biomedical.html There are few practical applications for such a degree, but it is a useful starting point for a career in hospital laboratory work. Indeed soon the local hospital laboratories may have (between them) half a dozen posts for which the graduates of this course might apply. In the final year of this course (due to graduate this summer) are currently some fifty students.

Fifty students, six jobs. One would imagine competition for these posts would be fierce.

Today one of the local hospitals offered these students a guided tour of their laboratories. Students were divided into groups of six, and spent several hours with various lab staff learning all about the many and various functions of a hospital laboratory. “Yours Truly” imparted wisdom on the subjects of the human red cell and the processes by which blood clots. Other people told them about the wonders of kidney function, blood transfusions, microscopy, the endocrine system …

If you were one of the students visiting your potential employer today, how would YOU have tried to impress “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM”?

·         Listen politely and ask intelligent questions of “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM

·         Listen politely and ask how much “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM” gets paid

·         Waggle your pert arse (in a manner reminiscent of ”Lucy the Slut”) at “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM

·         Waggle your frankly epic arse (in a manner reminiscent of two fat children wrestling in a sack) at “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM

·         Waggle your pert luscious breasts provocatively at “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM

·         Waggle your frankly gargantuan breasts threateningly at “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM

·         Stand in the back looking bored and occasionally yawning

·         Announce to “The Nice Chief Biomedical Scientist TM” ‘s deputy how boring the whole day is, and ask who in their right mind would want to work in such a dump

If nothing else it’s made shortlisting for the next load of interviews easier.


02 March 2007 (Friday) - Wiiiiiiiiiiiiine

02 March 2007 (Friday) - Wiiiiiiiiiiiiinemagnify

There is an episode of “Red Dwarf” in which Lister extols the virtues of wine drinkers. “What do you want on your cornflakes?” “Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!” At lunchtime my colleagues were somewhat concerned to hear that I was going to a wine tasting, and the afternoon was spent coaching me for such an event. First of all was the art of “polite conversation TM” which (for those of my readers who haven’t yet mastered it) is just like “normal conversation” but without the knob jokes. Secondly was the comments I was to make about the wine I was to taste “full bodied” ”character”, “you can taste the vine” “saddlesoap”, “I’m getting oranges” and “f… my old boots, that’s rank!” were but some of the phrases I was to use.

I must admit that it is with this in mind that I set off to the wiiiiine tasting at a local Vineyard. The wiiiiiiiiiiiiiine tasting I’ve done before has always involved quite a wide and varied selection of wines, at the end of which you are expected to spend a small fortune on said wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Tonight’s was slightly different. You bought a ticket which entitled you to a meal there, and the wine tasting was really just a bit of entertainment to go with the meal. The evening started with a little talk on what the wine buffs are doing when they swirl the wine round the glass and sniff it. We then set about delivering our expert verdict on four locally produced wines and then ate an excellent locally produced meal.

All the wines were good wines, but I was glad there was no obligation to buy loads of the stuff this time. The first was, in my humble opinion, a passable wine, on a par with liebraumilch, but not as good as Niersteiner or Piesporter (see, I know wiiiiine!!). The second, a rose, was good, but a bit tart (aren’t we all!). The third, a red wine, was rather bland. The last, a sparkling wine, was good. As sparkling wines go. It has been described by wine buffs as better than Champagne, and (not that I’m any expert) I would agree with that. But I don’t like Champagne much anyway. Don’t get me wrong – they were good wines – there were those in our party that were very impressed with them. I could drink them all night long, but as most of my loyal readers know, I could drink Toilet Duck all night long too.

However as well as selling their own wines, the place also sold locally produced beers. Now they were talking my language…..

Whitstable’s “Raspberry Wheat” as an aperitif, Rother Valley’s “Blues” with the meal and a bottle of locally produced pilsner to wash it all down. They had beer from four of the best local breweries. They’d kept that fact a secret for far too long. At the end of the evening the off licence opened so people could buy anything they’d liked that evening. There’s not many people that go to a wine tasting and come away with nearly fifty quid’s worth of beer.

You Are 14 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

What Age Do You Act?


03 March 2007 (Saturday) - Another Day in the Life

03 March 2007 (Saturday) - Another Day in the Lifemagnify

The day started with “Er Indoors TM” packing an entire change of clothes just in case. For some agricultural husbandry related reason one of the calves at the farm was being bottle fed, and Tina wanted to have a go. The change of clothes was due to the fact I’d managed to persuade her that in the process of feeding the calf, she’d get covered in cow shit. Unfortunately she didn’t come away with any bovine turds. I shall hope for better luck tomorrow.

Normally on a Saturday we could play bow snarrows, we could go for long walks in the countryside, we could wander off to the nearest pub, we could fly a kite….. most of the usual plans have fallen by the wayside as the ground is so wet. In desperation for something to do we set off to Lakeside. But didn’t actually get there. We found the archery section in Decathlon where I bought some red arrows. (Not the ones above!) As we were browsing the “nice man in the shop TM” asked if we wanted a Decathlon store card. It would give me £5 off whatever I bought today as well as 5% off whatever I bought today as well. Armed with such a bargain I spent a whole load of money I wouldn’t otherwise have spent. A quick bit of scoff in Burger King was followed by a browse around a book shop that I’d never seen before where as well as a few books I picked up a couple of DVDs. BBC’s “Voyage to the Planets” is a favourite of mine, but some time ago someone borrowed my copy and it’s never come back. So I got another one. I shall watch that in a minute.

Tina then dragged me round some dull overpriced crappy furniture shop. By now I was getting a bit fed up with the local wildlife children. I know I moan about the cubs, but the Essex brats really were like wild animals. Despite every shop having posters up banning heelies, every brat was scooting round on them, doing whatever it pleased. And not a single parent attempted to enforce any control over their brats whatsoever. It was with something of a sense of relief that I then slept all the way home.

A quick zoom round to Chris’s was next on the agenda. I was to load up a large wall unit into the Espace and take it to the tip. Forget the tip – it’s a good unit and it’s now in the living room downstairs. I expect we shall fill it with dragons tomorrow.


04 March 2007 (Sunday) - Bored

04 March 2007 (Sunday) - Boredmagnify

Yesterday I had “a browse around a book shop that I’d never seen before where as well as a few books I picked up a couple of DVDs.” One of the DVDs was priced at £9.99. Today when doing my accounts I see from the receipt I paid £19.99 for it. Also I bought one of the books because I thought that it was a sequel to a book I already have. It’s not a sequel – it’s the same book with a different cover and a different title. I’ve emailed the shop, but my hopes of getting a refund on a wasted £20 aren’t high.

I also bought a couple of pairs of trousers yesterday. If I want trousers that have legs that are the right length then I need to loose about two thirds of my body weight. Trousers that fit around the middle have legs that are about three yards too long. An afternoon was pleasantly spent watching William Hartnell see off some daleks whilst I cut several miles of material off the trousers and stitched them up nicely.

I’m fed up with this rain and being stuck indoors. There’s so much I could be doing, and I’m (again) sitting watching the rain run down the window. I’ve made some plans for the year – have a look at http://www.mankybadger.com/ and click on 2007 – it would be good to do something once this poxy rain stops.


05 March 2007 - A Personality Test

You Are A Mug

The Mug

You are a gifted artist or musician (though your talents are rarely used).
You enjoy spending your free time on others than on yourself, and you are good with animals and children.
Gentle, sensitive, and compassionate - you are good at recognizing people's unspoken needs whilst ignoring your own.

You would make a good doormat.

What's Your Personality Type?


How appropriate ! Or am I just getting cynical in my old age?

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06 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Concerto for a Rainy Day

06 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Concerto for a Rainy Daymagnify

I'm having a day off work for no other reason than to use up holiday. There is SO much I could be doing, and again it's pouring with rain. I though the chap below playing the first part of the "Concerto for a Rainy Day" rather summed up my mood lately. I'm very conscious I've been a right misery for the last couple of days. I must start smiling again, or I'll just take it out on the cubs tonight, and that's not fair on them. If I've still got the hump on Saturday I'll start taking pot shots with my new arrows.

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I'm off on Thursday too - hopefully this rain will stop and I can go fishing with "My Boy TM" now his car's been fixed. I only know one person whose car got stuffed by the dodgy petrol - and it was "My Boy TM". Quite ironic really as from what I can work out I filled my bus the day before the dodgy petrol was delivered to the filling station.

I've just been up to town - what is it with pelican crossings? I thought the idea was to press the button, and when the green man came on I was to walk across the road because the traffic had a red light. There are two pelican crossings on the way to town, and I nearly got mowed down on both going there and coming back. And one of the buses had the cheek to sound his hooter at me whilst trying to run me down. Cheeky sod!

Last month I raved about the bargain I got on eBay. Battlestar Glaktitter for a fiver!!! Today I'm starting the formal complaint procedure as it's not arrived. Mind you, I shouldn't moan (again!) - in four years of doing eBay this is the first time I've really had a problem buying stuff. Whilst up town, in between dodging buses I bought the Battlestar Glaktitter DVD boxed set, as mine vanished some time ago. That's £45 I've spent in three days replacing "borrowed" DVDs. (calm - remember the blood pressure) Most missing DVDs turn up in one of the kid's rooms, but I can't imagine either watching Battlestar Glaktitter. Whilst they are both out I must have a rummage for all the missing "Royle Family", "South Park" and "The Office" DVDs.


07 March 2007 (Wednesday) - Another Day in the Life

07 March 2007 (Wednesday) - Another Day in the Lifemagnify

Today was spent in Foot’s Cray discussing the Network Haematology DCW. A wonderful piece of software, or it will be when it’s done. Six Excel spreadsheets, each running into tens of thousands of rows and columns. I hope I’ve done my bit right.

Fergus related a tale of our times. He arrived at the railway station and overheard a mobile phone conversation. He found that the chap next to him in the taxi queue was trying to get to virtually the same place as he was. So they shared a taxi, but somehow the taxi driver got wind that they did not know each other and were sharing a taxi purely to share the expense. The taxi driver then “laid an egg TM” about how such diabolical taxi-sharing practices were taking money out of his pocket. And then went on to demand that each pay the full fare as though they had come in their own seperate taxis.

At dinner time I displayed my usual pub-finding skills. That is to say I think I did – difficult to tell as it was virtually empty, but the blob machine sold vibrators for a fiver. A bit of lasagne (well, it was a gay bar!) and a pint of Black Sheep’s Best Bitter helped me sleep through the afternoon’s session. A month ago I mentioned how much better Junction 10 of the M20 is now that the lights have been switched off. Today I hear that there’s a petition to keep the lights switched off. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/junction10/ - I’m the fifth signature.

And then the electrician came round – hopefully there pond will be wired up in a couple of week’s time. And then all those stones (see blog from Nov 3rd & Dec 4th) can be put in place. Anyone feeling unfit and in need of a workout?...... it’s your lucky day.


08 March 2007 (Thursday) - Fishing

08 March 2007 (Thursday) - Fishingmagnify

An early start – I’ve been planning to go fishing with “My Boy TM” for weeks (if not months) but the weather has always been against us. Armed with a good weather forecast we decided to go fishing today whatever the morning started off like.

At 6.30 am I was scraping the ice off the car. Cold, yes, but for once it wasn’t raining. We were on our way by 7am, and we soon arrived at a beautiful place to fish. The slowly rising sun was glinting in the frost and ice, and it looked so wonderful. As we walked round the pond to Daniel’s preferred spot the sun came out more and more. This was a bit of a problem because the sun started to melt all the ice and frost to expose the mud. Mud? To describe the quagmire as “mud” was something of an understatement. However, we were determined and we waded through the mud and set up. Within minutes of casting out the first rod to be set up, it bent over and line screamed from the reel. We were off to a promising start. Dan had hooked a sturgeon. I slipped the landing net into the water and prayed I wouldn’t stuff up my part of the process. Brandishing a landing net looks so easy when you see Matt Hayes or John Wilson on the Discovery Home & Leisure channel. But (like any skill) it takes practice and I’ve precious little skill with a landing net. Fortunately for both of us the fish decided to change direction and it swam straight into the net. I took no chances and once I saw what the fish had done, I hoiked net, fish and all out of the water and onto the unhooking mat.

The sturgeon is the one pictured above. They are very rare in UK waters – not a native species; there are very few ponds that have stocked them. In fact this was the first sturgeon I’ve ever seen caught. Weighing in at 12½ pounds it was a personal best for Daniel, and it was the heaviest fish I’ve ever landed. A couple of photos, and we returned the fish to the water.

There are effectively two ways to do coarse fishing. Ledgering or floating. Ledgering has the advantage that it sinks a large bait to the bottom where large fish are more likely to find it. As it’s not very good at catching tiddlers, it’s the method of choice for most serious anglers. Float fishing involves much lighter gear and smaller baits, and is known (by ledger fishermen) as tiddler bashing.

After the excitement abated we set up the rest of the rods. Two each. Daniel had two ledger rods. I had one ledger rod and one float rod. I like tiddler bashing. You catch more fish than you would by ledgering (even if they are smaller), but there’s always the chance of a big one. After the sturgeon, things were quiet for a while, and then I caught the monster pictured above. Weighing in at “not enough to register on the scales” the leviathan put up an epic fight, after which I needed a bag of crisps from our packed lunch to calm my nerves.

It was about now that I realised we had a problem. Whilst our backs were turned dealing with my catch, the local ducks were having a rummage in Dan’s tackle box. He soon shooed them away, but they didn’t stay shoed for long. Apparently the “feathered f*ck*rs” will eat “anything they can get their greedy beaks around”. But then my float dived under again – another small rudd. Rudd are a small fish, averaging a few ounces in weight, but they have really pretty deep red fins. Float fishing seemed to work today: whilst the ledger rods stayed obstinately quiet I was hooking out tiddler after tiddler.

Dan had an idea that a different bait might help the ledger rods, so we reeled them in, re-baited and cast out. I need to practice my casting. Once upon a time, long ago I could hit a postage stamp at a hundred yards. Now I couldn’t hit a barn door at six paces. I cast onto the island in the middle of the pond. Woops.

Tiddler number twelve wasn’t such a tiddler, and it turned out to be a rudd of nearly a pound in weight. A personal best for me for that species. By now I was beginning to feel rather awkward. Ledger fishing does produce bigger fish, but not so many of them (i.e. none since the sturgeon). My float rod was averaging a fish every five minutes. I offered “My Boy TM” a go on the float rod, but “proper fishermen TM don’t fart about with tiddlers.

Old Man’s fish number twenty-one summed up the joy of float fishing/tiddler bashing. When the float dips, you gently raise the rod. Sometimes you miss the fish, sometimes you feel the little fish pulling on the end, and you let him swim about a bit before lifting him in and unhooking him. Very, very occasionally you feel as though the entire massed forces of the World Wresting Federation are on the other end pulling back against you. As the float slid under the water, I raised the rod. The rod bent over double. After a few minutes I was able to see the fish on the other end of the line, and “My Boy TM” soon got it in the next. It? – her ! A female tench. As tench go she was small, only weighing in at 2½ pounds. But I was pleased. Today was a good day to fish – my best ever rudd and my best ever tench. Dan had his best ever sturgeon.

Another bag of crisps all round, and the sun went behind a cloud. Whilst the sun was out the day was glorious. When the sun went in, it was quite chilly. We gave it until 1.30pm, but by then the cold had got the better of us.

It was an excellent day out. Whilst I didn’t catch the enormously huge fish that I had hoped for, I’d had two really good fish and a lot of reasonably sized tiddlers. To be honest none of my twenty seven fish really would class as a “tiddler”, but I’m not sure what the next size up from tiddler is. It’s a shame “My Boy TM” only had the one fish. But the one he had was huge.

We shall go back in a few months once it’s warmed up a bit. In the meantime there’s photos of today’s outing in the “Photos” section.

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09 March 2007 (Friday) - Justice

09 March 2007 (Friday) - Justicemagnify

Last Tuesday at cubs, some of the boys said they’d like to do the cycling badge. I told them that if they’d passed the cycling proficiency at school, then that was all they had to do. Show me the certificate and I give out the badge. The girl cubs then announced how easy it was. It’s cycling badges all round because in today’s world of nambie-pambie woolly minded do-gooding it’s not possible to fail the cycling proficiency. You get the certificate for just turning up. If you’re REALLY crap then they write your mum a polite letter explaining certain area of cycling that might need brushing up. But you still get the certificate.

It’s in this social climate that the Lord Chief Justice announced that murderers are spending too long in prison. At first I agreed with him. They shouldn’t be in prison at all. Hang them or electrocute them. That’s what I say. And if you get the wrong one, what a shame! If the scum know they’ll get strung up, they won’t kill in the first place. But that’s not what the Lord Chief Justice had in mind. He wants to let them go after only a few years in the pokey.


It’s not safe to walk the streets. A three year old child was abducted and assaulted, and the sicko responsible is eligible for parole in five years. When vigilante groups start hanging the scum from the lamp posts, I hope they string up the Lord Chief Justice with them.


10 March 2007 (Saturday) - Going for a Walk & The Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show

10 March 2007 (Saturday) - Going for a Walk & The Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Showmagnify

Having spent the morning working, I was keen to get out and about in the afternoon. Even thought it was sunny, most off-road places are still a swamp, so it was off to Folkestone for a walk along the beach as far as Hythe, a quick pint, and a walk back again. I'm hoping to go for another walk tomorrow and more next weekend in practice for a mega-hike in two weeks time. See www.mankybadger.com (click on 2007) for details.

On Thursday I won two eBay auctions. One of the items arrived today. The other - if you can be so inclined, have a look at eBay item 290088866682. It's a nice pair of goblets. I won these on Thursday for 99p, and the seller didn't like it. I won the auction at 99p and then I got a snotty email saying that yes, I'm the winner but the price is £35. She refused to sell at the auction price (and got herself some negative fedback & reported to eBay) ...... Am I missing something here? If she wants £35, then either she puts on a reserve, or starts the auction at £35? She put the goblets back up for sale with a starting price of £25 and a comment that she won't sell for less than £35, but since I complained, her auction's been pulled by eBay.

Oh well, such is life. In the meantime please to you for crap hands and cheering for mister lick poop on the Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show (Episode 1)

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11 March 2007 (Sunday) - Whitstable

11 March 2007 (Sunday) - Whitstablemagnify

Another glorious day, another walk along the beach. Yesterday was the south Kent coast. Today, the north – Whitstable. A gentle wander along the beach, pondering about the joys of owning a beach hut. I’d quite like one for no better reason than that I could sit on the veranda drinking beer and flicking peanuts at the peasants as they walked past. But the logistics of owning a beach hut made me wonder if it was worth while. No electricity, all the barbie food & beer needs to be dragged miles to the hut…. It might be fun for a day. Which is possible - eBay item 260094547105 is a beach hut in Bexhill. £25 for the day, £150 for the week. That’s probably a better deal than the £29 000 to buy one outright. £29 000 !!!!! That’s more than my first house cost!

As one walks from Whitstable past Tankerton towards Herne Bay one finds a slightly disconcerting sign (reproduced above) “Naturism is not condoned on this beach” WTF does that mean? Does it mean there’s pervies running round in the nip? Hope springs eternal. However a quick thump of a thesaurus tells us that “to condone” means “to excuse, forgive, ignore, wink at, pardon, overlook”. If they’d put up a sign saying “Keep Your Kit On” we’d all know where we stood. However there remains one important question. Why does the local council feel the need to tell people to keep their kit on? What immoral, illegal, sordid perverted practices take place on the Swalecliffe seafront? I feel a poll coming on….

Having found that we were in a hotbed of iniquity we hurried back to Whitstable where my “bar-dar” (bit like radar but finds beer) soon homed in on the bar of the Whitstable Brewery. Raspberry Wheat Beer and Oyster Stouts all round, and then it was back home for a late lunch.

Another walk next weekend?



12 March 2007 (Monday) - In The River (Not me this time)

12 March 2007 (Monday) - In The River (Not me this time)magnify

Saturday – Folkestone to Hythe & back, no problem.

Sunday – Whitstable to Herne Bay & back, no problem.

Today, still flushed with enthusiasm for walking I decided to walk to work. After less than a mile, I’ve got a blister. What’s that all about? Mind you, walking to work on a crisp, bright morning is good. Cutting round the back of Asda I walked along the river bank where I often see trout swimming in the water, or ducks happily quacking.

Today it’s someone’s discarded furniture taking swimming lessons. Why can’t people get rid of their unwanted tat properly? Surely the river should be the last place you’d throw it? But once it’s in the river, there it stays. I once thought I’d get the cubs to be really environmental by clearing out another stretch of the river, but the local tip refused point blank to take any trolleys we might fish out. Funny old world.


13 March 2007 (Tuesday) - “Big Jimmy Spanner”

Last week at cubs we were doing the “Creative” badge. My heart dropped when I saw that in the six cubs assigned to me were three “spanners” and a “gobshite”. Still, I decided to start as I intended to continue, so I announced loudly “You don’t know what’s going to happen so shut up and listen”. And would you believe it, they did. Well all but “Big Jimmy Spanner” who tried to relate some tale of utter irrelevant drivel. I gave him the option of shutting up or sitting in the corner. He shut up.

We were making kites – last summer a good friend gave us the ingredients to make our own kites. It’s really easy. What you do is:

·         Using the template cut out a kite shaped piece of paper

·         Colour in the paper with whatever design you want

·         Sellotape struts to the kite

·         Sellotape a bridle string to the kite

·         Sellotape a tail (of old VHS tape)

At this point we would normally then fly the thing, but it was dark and wet outside, and in my cynicism I thought that the above list was quite enough to be getting on with. I commented last week about what an old misery I’d been and that I didn’t want to be too mean to the cubs, so I told them about the German term “drachenfest” where “drachen” means both “kite” and “dragon”. Again to my amazement they all listened, worked well and produced excellent kites with really good dragon designs. That is, all except “Big Jimmy Spanner”. Whilst everyone else was cutting out their kite shapes he was beating his head very hard on the table. The following conversation went like this:

What are you doing?”

(Grizzle) – s’not fair I want to but Liam said and then (Grizzle) but then and well..

Let me rephrase that – what you are doing is obvious. Why are you hitting your head on the table

(Grizzle) – I can’t do it it’s too hard

But you haven’t even tried

(Grizzle) –I can’t because Liam’s got the scissors

With six cubs and three pairs of scissors, not everyone can cut at the same time. However I couldn’t see why this should be a problem for “Big Jimmy Spanner” as everyone else was finished with the scissors before he was even ready to start with them. I pointed at Liam (who was by now finishing his colouring in) and at the three pairs of scissors that “Big Jimmy Spanner” could use and asked again what was the problem. “Big Jimmy Spanner” looked blankly at me. And so it proceeded. Every single time he needed to do something, it was tears and hitting the head on the table because someone else might need to use a pen or sellotape as well. After half an hour of this, I put a chair in the middle of the scout hut and stood him on it. “Look around you” I said. “Tell me what you see.” He started blankly, then, to my amazement got it right first time. “People?” he asked in a hesitant voice. “How many?” I asked. I made him count. Not including himself, he counted thirty one cubs, eight leaders and three young leaders. I explained to him that there were over forty people in the hall, not just him. I don’t think he’d ever realised that before. I left the scout hut determined to jack it all in – my life is too precious to waste like that.

This week I turned up at cubs, psyching myself to tell the other leaders I’d had enough, but “Big Jimmy Spanner” wasn’t there, and what a difference it made. Without his continually acting like a two year old none of the cubs felt the need to “out-spanner” him, and the evening was fun for all. I was supervising the painting of the kitchen roll holders. A couple of cubs at a time, and they did as asked, and were a delight to be with. Is it too ambitious to hope we’ve seen the last of “Big Jimmy Spanner”? In the meantime, one of the “junior spanners” was formally invested tonight. Having persuaded him to actually do the ceremony rather than go to the toilet, he then proceeded to promise to help God and the Queen do their best to do their duty to help other people. One wonders what God and the Queen are going to help other people to do.

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14 March 2007 (Wednesday) - A Crafty Pint

14 March 2007 (Wednesday) - A Crafty Pintmagnify

Monday’s blister has subsided, but after today's walk I’ve got pains in my left thigh. Personally I suspect a thrombosis. Keep checking back for medical updates.

It’s no secret I like a pint, but where to go? My unerring bar-dar usually finds the gay bars. I’ve found a great website http://www.beerintheevening.com where you can rate pubs and see what other people have found. They slate some of the places I like, but for a nationwide web site, there are three local (ish) pubs in the top twenty. The Red Lion at Snargate comes in at number five, somewhere in Bodiam I’ve never heard of comes in at number seven, and the subject of a recent blog entry comes in at number 11.

I feel the urge to become a roving reporter for that website.

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15 March 2007 (Thursday) - Revenge of the Network Haematology DCW

Another meeting. I took notes....

We started with a discourse on the importance of the S.M.E. It transpires that the local C.A.G. can be overruled by the network C.A.G. (which is a bad thing – the over ruling, not the network C.A.G.) Apparently C.R.S. will affect implementation. Implementation of what, I’ve no idea! There are issues with S.N.O.W.M.E.D.C.T. (would you believe it?), and Event 2 tasks are compounded by the event set hierarchy’s F.J. testers.

On the bright side D.P.M. is responsible for C.R.S., and the de-duplication into a P.M.I. thank the lord there is to be a separate workshop to discuss A.Z.I.Z. and R2B

Oh - and my leg still hurts.


16 March 2007 (Friday) - Poxy Red Nose Day

I hate comic relief.

For 363 days a year the vast majority of the UK sits about with a "sod you I'm all right" mentality. On Xmas day there's a vague sense of goodwill to all, but as most people are at home soaking up the Xmas spirit, they usually keep themselves to themselves. Red Nose Day is different. The world and his wife expect me to give them vast sums of cash because they look stupid.

I don't mind stumping up for a good cause (and I don't for one minute suggest the idea behind Red Nose Day is anything but laudable) but there is a definite limit as to how much I can give to "charidee". That limit being how much I have in my pocket. I'm afraid that by the time the fiftieth bunch of "zany do-gooders" came demanding money (and I hadn't even got out of bed by then) my pocket was well and truly empty.

But the combination of implied guilt and hype keeps the phenomenon going, year after year. But enough of this rant - let's get into the comic spirit of things with episode two of the Gay Daleks.

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

And stuff comic relief - if you've got any money, please donate it to our cubs for the Euro Disney trip!

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17 March 2007 (Saturday) - William Tell Day, mmmmmmmm

17 March 2007 (Saturday) - William Tell Day, mmmmmmmmmagnify

Er Indoors TM has finally got her sat nav to work, so we used it to navigate from home to the farm via the Biddenden Vineyard off-licence. Supplies of “Blues” were getting low. However the sat nav is programmed to “Yoda” voice. “At the next junction, right you must turn, mmmmm”. And it goes the absolute shortest way possible. Taking the back streets to Gribble Bridge Lane is not something I’d recommend to the faint hearted; it looked like we were going to take a cycle path at one stage, and we must go back at some point and collect the half of the exhaust pipe that got scraped off. To add insult to injury the off-licence had sold out of Oyster Stout.

At the farm, Batty had already set up for bow snarrows, and we had a go at playing William Tell. The apple got spiked, but so did the victim. “Hairy Gonad TM” (one of the less well known of the Merry Men pictured above) was disqualified for his between the eyes shot. "Sir Wanxalot TM" actually hit the apple. Joining in the sprit of choosing “Merry Men” names I chose the sobriquet “Tryer F**k”. Brian amazed the throng by simultaneously unstringing his bow and propelling his arrow into cow poo all in one seamless motion, leaving us with a dilemma. What should his “Merry Man” name be? It was decided that you, the loyal readership should decide, so below is a poll.

After a quick blast of cake & coffee, it was home again. To the dulcet tones of Yoda again. If I ever get told again that “At the next junction, right I must turn, mmmmm” I’ll scream.

Shortly after arriving home I was struck by divine inspiration. God told me that they’ve got Oyster Stout in Asda. It must have been the Big G – I wouldn’t normally go to Asda. But he was right – I’ve two bottles downstairs ready for tomorrow. Whilst in Asda we stocked up with their Chinese & Indian take outs and we had a really good family tea. Must do it more often…….


18 March 2007 (Sunday) - Mother's Day

The morning was spent preparing for inspection. Mum gets upset if the house is a mess (!) As dutiful sons my brother and I took our mother out for Sunday lunch. Say what you will, but you can’t beat McDonalds. Quarter-Pounder with cheese all round can’t be bad. (It was her idea – who am I to argue?)

And then we spent a fun half an hour in the play park at the outlet centre with my nephew. A good way to clear the place is to bellow out the name of the play apparatus you are currently using. “SLIDE!!!” “SWING!!!” seems to shift most of the normal people, but you do attract the rogue element that thinks it’s fun to be associated with the fat nutter.

And then all came back home. Rather than poncey flowers or chocolates, we got mum the latest Maeve Binchey novel on the understanding that if she hadn’t got it, we’d change it for something she had. In deference to the “laaaarrrrrger” drinkers, I’d got in some “Pilsner” from the Whitstable brewery. As a lager, it’s really good. For myself I had a “stout afternoon”. “Blues”, an old favourite is good, but is possibly not quite as good as “Oyster Stout”, but the jury is still out on “Admiral Porter”, a thick, dark, heavy stout that tastes of cider (!) And the assembled throng played on the trampoline, boinging skywards in defiance of common sense, common decency and gravity. That is until such time as gravity decided to take no more of the insolence and brought it’s wrath to bear on my brother’s shoulder. Oh how I laughed. Anyone who’s seen “Avenue Q” will be conversant with the term “Schadenfreude”, a German term for "happiness at the misfortune of others". There’s nothing like someone else’s pain to make you smile, is there?

Roll on Father’s Day!


19 March 2007 (Monday) - A Morning Walk

19 March 2007 (Monday) - A Morning Walkmagnify

I walked to work again today. It’s good exercise, and quite scenic. I’m always amazed by the dogs I see. Those that are in gardens are straining at the fences to rip the throats out of passers by. Those that are out on their “walkies” are straining at the leads to rip the throats out of other dogs also on “walkies”. And why is it that no one seems able to obtain a dog which is less than double their size? In the three or so miles I walk to work (and home again in the evening) I’ve yet to see an owner walking the dog. There are plenty of dog owners being dragged along by the dog, but an owner in control of the dog? No such thing!

Walking through the graveyard of Willesborough church I was suddenly conscious of a dark blue object hurtling toward me at great speed. I managed to leap onto a grave to get out of the way of the cyclist. My first reaction was surprise – the kids on bikes usually stick to the cycle paths. But it wasn’t a kid. It was a policeman. With typical police arrogance expecting everyone to get out of his way. I could see other pedestrians leaping out of the way of the police cycle patrol. On the one hand I suppose it’s a good thing that the police are back on the streets. But on the other, again the police seem to be bending over backwards to give themselves a bad name.



20 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Cub's Mums

20 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Cub's Mumsmagnify

Many years ago we knew we’d be rather short of leaders for cubs one week, so we asked for parental help. Owing to the quality of volunteer, I suggested we all go swimming. Oh, that bikini – there wasn’t much of it. That mum might as well turned up in the nip for all that it covered. Happy days. I liked doing cubs back then!

We had a “Mums’ Night” at cubs tonight. Sadly the standard of “mum” has declined somewhat since the halcyon days of yore. However, one mum did give me the eye. She could probably have given me the eye quite literally as I think it was glass. Anyway, I digress….. We had a go at indoor curling. Everyone (mums & cubs) is given a number, numbers are called randomly, and when your number is called, it’s your turn. How difficult is it to remember a number? Obviously very difficult……..

On the plus side “Big Jimmy Spanner” never showed up. On the minus side, “Timmy!” did his best to step into the idiot seat. “Timmy!”s mum claims he is autistic. He’s not autistic, he’s just bloody rude. Every week is the same with him. You try to give him some instruction. He looks you in the eye, folds his arms and then turns his back on you. And ten minutes later he cries as all of the other cubs are doing/building/making/playing something and he’s left out because he’s chosen to ignore the instructions. Tonight he did his usual ignore of the instructions for the curling game, and instead started having some sort of fit in the middle of the area where over sixty other people were trying to do the game. I thought I’d let his mother deal with him. She just left him to do his own thing. I gently hinted that she might like to move him out of the way. She gently hinted she had no intention of doing so. So I told him to go and throw his fit somewhere else, anywhere else, as long as it was out of my way. He looked most indignant about being told this, but went to the other end of the building where he fitted to his heart’s content. His mother had brought his brother and sister along tonight, and very soon the entire family were doing their own thing at the other end of the hall. Mother watched them in the same way that I would watch something mildly entertaining on the telly.

As I was walking home, I could see this family walking home in front of me. Having left the scout hut some half an hour before me, they’d only got fifty yards down the road as “Timmy!” and his brother and sister were wildly running in, across, up and down the street. Mother smiled at me as I walked past and she commented to me (in amazement) how her children had no road sense. I agreed, and made the observation that some children have to learn road sense by being left to get run over.

One wonders if “Timmy!” will live to see cubs next week.


21 March 2007 (Wednesday) - Budget Day

The budget is a load of old rubbish – it really is. Every year is the same. The government (of whatever political party) has got to raise however many billion quid it costs to keep the country going. The total cost is pretty much the same as it cost last year plus a bit for inflation. So they do the same old tired stunt – they raise the tax on fags & booze & petrol by exactly the same amount they put income tax down by. The specific details are pretty much irrelevant – have a bash at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/business/budget_calc/html/budget_calculator.stm, plug in your numbers and you’ll see what it does for you. Me - “Next year, the indications are that you will be no better or worse off.Which is about right for a government in mid term. Immediately after elections I’m worse off as they don’t need my vote for a few years. Immediately before elections they buy votes with tax cuts. Mid term, it’s a case of “same old same old”.

About the only change of importance to me is that the threshold level for inheritance tax has been substantially raised. And that is quite a depressing thought.


22 March 2007 (Thursday) - Back To The Pond

22 March 2007 (Thursday) - Back To The Pondmagnify

When I arrived at the dentist’s there was quite a commotion going on. Some silly cow was screeching at the receptionist about how she was going to complain to the British Dental Association about the incompetence of one of the dentists. Apparently her oldest brat still had six of its’ baby teeth. How was that possible? And the smaller brat was in tears because (having opened it’s gob to bite the dentist and then keeping its’ gob firmly shut) the dentist refused to give it an “I’ve been good at the dentist” sticker. It was an interesting tirade, and I was sorry to be called into the surgery whilst it was still going on. My fangs are (apparently) in good nick, and I was back in the waiting room in time to see the pikeys shriek their last and set off. I marched up to the counter and announced in a loud voice that I’d not had a sticker either. Staff and patients fell about laughing.

And so home – I’d had a text to say the electrician had arrived, and another to say he’d drilled through a mains cable. We now have leccy to the pond, and at half the cost I’d expected. However when folding in the wing mirror on my Espace, it snapped off, so any saving I might have made has already been spent.

When I got to the pond, Dan was on the wet side. He was keen to get on with the pond, and in his enthusiasm he’d managed to put the fountain on “tsunami” setting. When you bear in mind that the pump shifts 9000 litres of water in an hour you get some inkling of how wet he was. We’ve rigged the filtration system into a waterfall, and left it running. The next phase of “Operation Pond TM” involves removing all the rubber pond liner on land, finishing the landscaping, replacing the arch, laying down permeable membrane, laying down slabs and loose aggregates and varnishing all the fences. Dan’s booked the week after Easter off work to make a start, and I might just do the same. He tells me it will be thirsty work. Takes after his Dad !

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23 March 2007 (Friday) - Nothing happened Today

23 March 2007 (Friday) - Nothing happened Todaymagnify

Yesterday there was all sorts of things to report on. Pikeys in the dentist, broken car mirrors, leccie to the pond, pond pumps….. Today is best summarised by one of the songs from one of the best albums ever:

Someone told me, "nothing happened today."
I woke up late
I had a headache
I went back to sleep
Go back to sleep
I stood there waiting
Waiting for something
There wasn't a thing
Not even one thing

Someone told me, "nothing happened today."

Harry Hooper living in No. 10
Bought a toupee and glued it to his head
"It looks very natural," everybody said.
But then his wife said "Toupee, isn't that a French word?"
And Harry said, "Ole." She said, "That's a Spanish word."
And he said "O.K., can't tell the difference these days."

They don’t write ‘em like that any more – thank God !!


24 March 2007 (Saturday) - Graham Murphy and the Elements

24 March 2007 (Saturday) - Graham Murphy and the Elementsmagnify

Today had been planned for some time, and we arrived at Great Chart in plenty of time. So much time in fact that our “Gallant Explorer TM” got a bit cold and felt the need to shelter from the elements. The elements were (apparently) our constant companions for the day. Ubiquitous, but elusive, are elements. It was a shame the pub was closed, but if it was open, we’d probably never have gone any further. A gentle stroll through Great Chart, and then we turned right into a farm track. I’m not sure what animals they had in that farm, but if I were the farmer I’d call out a vet who specialises in dodgy gut complaints. Oh, did they stink!

It was as we were walking along this track that “Gallant Explorer TM” asked if the track was tarmac. I answered that it was. Now, that was an honest answer to the question. Now if he’d asked the question he actually meant which was “is the track tarmaced all the way” I would have given a different answer. However I waited until he was ankle deep in mud, and then when he complained that I’d said it was hard standing all the way, I merely commented that I’d lied. By now we were being subjected to two elements. Myself, I would have chosen dysprosium and erbium, but apparently the elements in question were wind and cold. I learned something at this point – what I’d always thought was “bracing” was actually “f*****ing cold!

Pausing only for a blackcurrant and liquorice sweetie, we were soon at a regular port of call for our walks – a point on the map known as “Daniel’s Water”. I hesitate to call it a village or hamlet, it is actually a couple of shacks by a swamp where they still have three figure phone numbers. One truism about “Daniel’s Water” is that whenever we pass through the place, it starts raining. Today was no exception. But the rain wasn’t heavy, just enough to make me get my coat out, decide I didn’t need it, put it back, change my mind, put it on, take it off, think again about it….. untilEr Indoors TM” told me to stop faffing around. So I wore the coat. For about ten yards until I got hot so I took it off again. “Er Indoors TM” had some mint sweeties, so we set about them.

The plan for a walk in the country originally had more use of footpaths but the local landowners hadn’t made clear where the footpaths went. The thought of blindly wandering around in mud convinced us that the best idea was to follow the country lanes. It was along one of these that we found the aptly named “Mannering Green Farm”.

We soon arrived in Bethersden where the local teenagers were clearly auditioning for the role of “Village Idiot”. They were trying to scare pedestrians by dancing to the strange tunes in their heads. They didn’t scare us, but they did do a nice little dance for the camera, as can be seen in the photos section.

We arrived at “The Bull” rather earlier than planned, and I soon demolished a pint of Masterbrew whilst perusing the menu. It all looked so good, but I plumped for fish & chips which I washed down with a pint of Bishop’s Finger. Other meals on the table included the pie, the liver and the pork. An opportunity was taken to train “Gallant Explorer TM” in vegetable recognition. A passion fruit pavlova was accompanied by a pint of Spitfire, and I noticed Sam was looking out of the window. “What’s out there” I asked. “Graham Murphy” she replied. I didn’t like to show my ignorance and ask who “Graham Murphy” was. Probably a friend, or a local celebrity. It turned out it wasn’t “Graham Murphy” outside at all; it was “grey and murky”. All too soon it was time to move on – what is it with Shepherd Neame pubs? They have this terrible reputation, but are generally clean, friendly, smart places serving excellent food and beer. OK, they generally only serve Shepherd Neame ales, but they all have a choice of at least three ales (and good ones at that). I’d certainly go back there.

And so we braved the elements again (this time krypton and fluorine and rain) and started to make out way back. However before we’d even had time to grapple with caesium, we’d found another pub. It would be rude not to go in.

How can I describe “The George”? On the one hand they had four ales from different breweries, and real ciders and a perry. On the other hand, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the kind of pub that you’d find in Royston Vasey. Definitely a local pub for local people. Mind you, next month they’ve got a beer festival on for St George’s Day, so we might just pop back and give them another chance. Stranger things have happened. I downed a pint of Harveys, and we set off on the return journey. The afternoon was definitely becoming “Graham Murphy”, so a quick squint at the map gave us a way to avoid the mud and the stinky farmyard and one or two of the elements. Pausing only briefly to take a short cut that wasn’t (if it really was any shorter, it would be called “the way”!) we were soon back at Great Chart where we’d left the cars. It was tempting to pop into the pub for a crafty pint, but we were wet. It wasn’t raining hard, but a fine rain that had left us soaked. So home, for a warm bath, a quick kip, and to plan our next meeting with Graham Murphy and the Elements.

In the meantime, photos of the day are availabe in the “photos” section.


25 March 2007 (Sunday) - A Fish Called Larry

25 March 2007 (Sunday) - A Fish Called Larrymagnify

Gripped with “pond fever”, ably assisted by “My Boy TM” we set off for WyeVale as last year they were flogging some rather sexy pergolas. This year they weren’t. In fact one of the “doombrains” employed by that august establishment said that no one (least of all the staff) knew what they were selling any more as they were under new management. We abandoned that place and set off for Bybrook Barn where (unfortunately) another “doombrain” lay in wait for us. Whilst they didn’t have any pergolas, they had a lump of decking which was ideal for what I had in mind. Their “doombrain” said it wasn’t for sale, so “My Boy TM” asked to speak to management so’s we could haggle. Haggle we did and the lump of decking will be delivered in the next week or so. However their stocks of Koi weren’t very impressive, so we thought we’d have a look at Grafty Green.

Grafty Green’s Koi supply went (literally) from the sublime to the ridiculous. Fish were either less than two inches long or more than two feet long. There was nothing in between. Now what? – Hawkhurst!

Hawkhurst has a wonderful Koi centre, but their selection was also somewhat reduced. They were expecting stock in soon, but at the moment there was nothing less than “huge”. Some of their fish were up for sale at over three thousand pounds.

If all else fails, stick to what you know. “World of Water” at Rolvenden came up trumps for us with a range of fish sizes at less than a million pounds per fishy. We’d taken along a plastic dustbin to fetch the fish home, but it wan’t big enough. As you can see from the above piccie, the principle of fish transport is much the same as bringing home a goldfish from the fair. As well as getting fish, we got an extension to the fountain so we could move the pump to the deepest part of the pond.

And so home. With the bag of fish on my lap, the journey home was quite entertaining. Having let the temperature of the water in fish bag & pond equilibrate, the entire family gathered to watch the fish be released into the pond. And then (over a bottle of Blues) we watched over the fish to check all was well. There is a minor dilemma in that the little orange & white fish is “being a bit of a Larry” but we are hopeful that this is just a passing phase. Should any of my loyal readers have experience of dealing with a fish that is a “Larry”, please let me know…

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26 March 2007 (Monday) - The Two Hundredth Blog Entry

Two hundred entries. Eight and a half thousand hits. I’m impressed. Often in moments of boredom I find my mind wandering onto such strange topics as “who would win in a fight between “three spanners and a gobshite” and “Graham Murphy and the Elements”. Now thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can use the internet to find out. http://www.googlefight.com is the place to be. And (here’s a tip) – put your money on Graham Murphy.

OK – off to astronomy club. Let’s see how it goes…..


27 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Home of the Toast King

27 March 2007 (Tuesday) - Home of the Toast Kingmagnify

At astronomy club last night we all agreed to (were told to) try something new (astronomically speaking) so here is my effort – astro-photography. Can you work out what it is?

Cubs was entertaining. The local Ghurkhas came in and gave a presentation about the history of the Ghurkha regiments, the Nepalese culture… it was quite interesting. All the cubs sat quiet and listened. And at the end of the evening when they all went home all the leaders were asked to stay behind. Our scout leader is leaving in two months time. And one of our occasional helpers announced she’d be cutting back on her commitments as she was studying for a course. And another said he was moving to Gillingham in a month. “Would anyone else like to resign” we were asked. Well, actually…..


28 March 2007 (Wednesday) - Quality Management

28 March 2007 (Wednesday) - Quality Managementmagnify

I rarely blog about work but... Last November new government legislation meant that I and my colleagues are legally obliged to continually update our professional knowledge and skills. So we organised a series of talks. Every Wednesday dinner time one of us picks a topic and gives a talk to the rest. Today was “Quality Management” – a dull subject, but today I learned something. I’ve always though that getting a success rate of 99.9% was pretty good.

I’ve learned that it’s not. If we agree that doing things right 99.9% of the time is an acceptable rate then that means...

·         It’s OK for the Post Office to lose 3,500 pieces of mail per hour

·         Having your tap water give you the shits for an hour once a month is OK

·         Somewhere in the UK two newborn babies would get dropped by midwives every day

·         Only having ten planes crash on landing every week at Heathrow is a good thing

·         No one would mind about 2000 incorrect drug prescriptions being made across the country every day

·         Having a car crash once every three years would be about right

·         And I could stuff up at least one blood test every hour

Makes you think……


29 March 2007 (Thursday) - At The Garden Centre

This afternoon I had a meeting in Canterbury. I left Ashford a few minutes early as I wanted to have a look in the Canterbury WyeVale. They had a really good pergola that would go really well in the back garden. Unfortunately the standard of assistance was somewhere between “spanner” and “retard”:

I opened with a polite: “That’s a nice pergola

The Spazzy Assistant stared at me as though I was an axe murderer

I tried another tack: “How much is the pergola?

This foxed the Spazzy Assistant: “dunno

So I smiled sweetly: “There’s no price tag….

The Spazzy Assistant looked at me as though I’m stupid “No….

I continued to smile sweetly: “So it’s not for sale?

The Spazzy Assistant wondered why I should ask her about the pergola “It might be.

An awkward silence……

I decided to try again: “Have you got any other pergolas?

The Spazzy Assistant was obviously out of her depth: “Probably

Another awkward silence……

I decided to try yet another tack: “Oh well, never mind, Bybrook Barn sells pergolas

The Spazzy Assistant heard blasphemy: “I’ll find the price

The Spazzy Assistant then waddled off at what (for her) was probably quite a speed. Not sure what to do, I followed her. She mumbled something about “Steve knows” and trundled in the general direction of a spotty vagrant which whom she exchanged several pleasantries about his family, pets and the weather. After a while of this I interrupted her waffle to say that if she could find out the price, I’d come back later. I’d spent twenty minutes on what should have taken thirty seconds. How do these people stay in business?


30 March 2007 (Friday) - Long service awards

30 March 2007 (Friday) - Long service awardsmagnify

A day for reflection. Today at work three of our people retired. With a combined service to the NHS of 98 years we threw a party. Many of the “old hands” came back to visit, incuding my old boss who is also the grandfather of one of my cubs. I plan to retire soon. I’d like to go when I’ve completed forty years in the NHS, which would be in fourteen years time.

This evening was a family get-together. My mum & dad had their wedding anniversary today, Fifty years. Good God!!! I won't have done fifty years until 2036..



31 March 2007 (Saturday) - Fencing

31 March 2007 (Saturday) - Fencingmagnify

I woke up this morning with a bit of a headache (can’t think why!) to the sound of torrential rain. Rain would scupper the plans I had for the day, so I went back to kip. I woke up later to find the rain had stopped, so over a quick brekky I pointed the webcam down the garden and left it running whilst I got on with painting some fences. I’m told that some of my loyal readers found watching me painting was quite entertaining. Can’t think why – it was rather dull.

Dan arrived home just as I finished the red bits and we went to B&Q for some yellow paint which I dobbed on whilst Dan fitted the secondary power box and installed sub-aqua illumination before he went to bed. He’s got a headache too. (can’t think why!) The filter has worked wonders in the pond, and you can see right to the bottom now. The decking we bought last weekend has arrived, so now the end is in sight:

Paint the washing line pole

Remove the old arch & rose bush

Lay down the membrane

Put down stones & decking

Nearly there. As you can see the fence looks a lot better now. Things will really start to take shape once we get all the mud covered over.