1 May 2010 (Saturday) - Off on Holiday




In a novel break with tradition, ‘er indoors TM didn’t drive us to Weymouth. As I had a new car to get used to, I thought I’d drive for a change. And as I’ve said before, apart from a sixth gear, it’s virtually identical to my old car. So I hope my loyal readership will forgive my surprise when I got out of the car at the Fleet services and was amazed to find I was driving a blue car, and not the silver which I’d got used to.


Fleet services were entertaining, featuring contingents of SuperTeds and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. I can only imagine there was a fancy dress contest somewhere along the M3. As we drove through the rain we listened to an annoying rattling in the car, which we eventually traced to the passenger side sun shade. I shall thump that later. We knew we weren’t in Kent any more – as we got closer to Weymouth we saw something that we’d not seen in Kent. They had “Vote Labour” signs. And lots of them too.


We eventually got to our home for the week – Auntie’s caravan in LittleseaHoliday Park, and having unpacked we set off for shopping. Assorted scoff, and just a few bottles of beer to wash down our steak dinner.

And then we watched a film – 2012. I say “watched a film” - I watched the film. Everyone else fell asleep.



2 May 2010 (Sunday) - Weymouth (kite festival?)




I was up relatively early, and as is often the case when I’m on holiday I got stuck into a crossword puzzle book. I rarely do crosswords, except when on holiday when I never stop. The puzzle book had an advert for something I might just add to my Xmas list. They were selling illuminated John Wayne Cuckoo clocks. A bargain at only one hundred and fifty quid.


A smashing bit of full English breakfast (with me on the kiddies table), and then off to Weymouth. Pausing only briefly to miss the bus we went into the caravan site’s Starbucks to pass the time until the next bus arrived. Over the years I have developed a suspicion that one or two of my loyal readers are Trekkies, and I’m sure they will be excited to learn that whilst in Starbucks we were served by a Trill. For those who aren’t sad geeky types, a Trill has the most amazing array of zits coming up the neck and around the side of (but not over) the face.

We arrived in Weymouth, and since (totally by chance) we were there at the same time as the kite festival, we thought we’d have a look. I must admit that I’m finding it difficult to be charitable to the Weymouth kite festival, mainly because it was rubbish. Perhaps I was there at the wrong time, but I never counted more than eleven kites in the sky at any one time. Billed asBritain’s biggest beach kite festival, it didn’t come close to any kite-related event I’ve seen before. Even weekend meet-ups of kite fliers in local fields have had more kites in the sky that this place had.

Local shopkeepers all told me the festival has steadily grown smaller over the last twelve years, and none of them seemed to think it did much for the area. The local kite shop owner told me she wouldn’t go as the organisers would charge her over a hundred quid to set up a garden-sized gazebo.

And from a purely personal point of view, I wasn’t overly impressed to be blanked by the organiser and (so-called) friends from White Horse Kite Fliers and Avon Kite Fliers. These people all want to add me as their friend on Facebook, but won’t even speak to me when they see me in person.

I’m finding myself very inclined to write a rather scathing review of the festival for Brighton Kite Flier’s magazine. I wonder if it will get published…?


And then we crossed the harbour and climbed the hill to the Nothe Tavern. I’d done my home work. It’s the sort of pub that looks very “Royston Vasey” from the outside, but is actually *the* place inb Weymouth to go for Sunday lunch. We hadn’t booked, but I smiled sweetly, grovelled, and they said that if we could be in and out in less than an hour they’d do us. That suited us – if the pub is in a hurry to get our table, they will be in a hurry to serve us our dinners. And so some rather excellent food (and rather excellent beer) was promptly served up.

We then mooched up to Nothe fort – a local fort which has been used to repel invaders for hundreds of years. As well as being really well done and interesting, they’d hidden toy mice all over the place in order to make it more interesting for the kiddies. I spent quite a bit of time looking for the mice. I found several. It was only on the way out that we were told we were supposed to count them.


Back to town, and into the Red Lion for a crafty half. They had a band playing outside who were doing all sorts of stuff from the fifties and sixties, and we listened to them over a pint of “Jurassic” from the Dorset brewery, before scoffing ice cream and making our way back to the caravan where, after a kip I wrote out some postcards, had a bottle of Oyster Stout and then amazed myself at scrabble where I played the justly famous “McDonald Move”. It didn’t help me….




3 May 2010 (Monday) - Portland




After a bit of brekky, some crossword puzzles and a morning ablute, we set off to Portland. Yesterday Weymouth was awash with posters advertisingPortland’s Bank Holiday boot fair, so we thought we’d have a look. To be fair there were more than half a dozen stalls, but we had seen the lot in twenty minutes. Having said that, I did get a waistcoat which I’ve been after for some time, and a silly holiday hat, so the trip wasn’t entirely wasted.


We then drove down to Portland Bill. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that two years ago we walked from Littlesea to Portland Bill. Having done this trip both on foot and in a car, I can confidently recommend the car. We played tourist and looked at the lighthouse and the monument until the wind got so cold we were turning blue, and then we adjourned for tea and cakes. It was at this point that I realised my watch had stopped. Having got a watch with hands on is something of a novelty for me, and earlier in the morning I managed to bash my wrist. My watch was stopped at that time. I took my watch off and clouted it on the table, and it started going again. So I set it to the right time and hoped for the best. I set about my tea and cake as quickly as possible before the resident spanner came to talk to me. Wearing a cycling helmet whilst cycling is a good idea. You look stupid, but being on a bike you get away with it. Resident spanner was wandering around in his cycling helmet, but with no bike. It’s the sort of thing I’d do to wind up the normal people. Perhaps he was on a wind-up. If so, it worked.

It was at this point that my new camera bleeped and asked me if I would like to update it’s firmware. I told it I would not. I have no idea how I might do so. Let’s hope I don’t need to.


And then back to Weymouth. The kite festival looked even more pathetic than yesterday. Admittedly we weren’t right up close, but from a reasonable distance we could only see two kites, so we decided not to bother with it. Instead we went to Asda for more supplies, and whilst we shopped, seemingly the world and his wife texted to ask why we weren’t at Hastings for Jack in the Green. Maybe next year…?


And then as the weather was clearing up we popped into Matalan for warm jumpers and then went back to base. Whilst Chip cooked a smashing roast dinner, I set about crosswords. After the washing up was done we photographed a glorious sunset and settled down to watch a film – “Master and Commander”. Again I watched the lot, whilst listening to everyone else’s snores….





4 May 2010 (Tuesday) - Abbottsbury




An hour was spent doing crosswords (it’s a holiday thing) before scoffing brekky and setting off to Abbottsbury – a nearby village with several attractions. They had a deal where we if we bought tickets for two of the things, we’d get the third one free. And we didn’t have to do them all on the same day. So today we went to the Swannery. We started off by playing around in the maze. There were six questions on posts at various places in the maze, and I reported back the answers. I don’t know if we won anything, but hope springs eternal.


And then to the swans. There were hundreds of them. Literally. I think we’d picked the right time to go. At any other time of year they swans would probably be doing what swans do – swimming about on the ponds. But today was part of egg-season, and the swans were all on their nests. About a hundred nests, and all built wherever the swans wanted to build them. Several being on the footpaths. Every nest had an upturned dustbin lid by it, into which the staff would pour food and water on a daily basis. Those swans were spoiled.

We made a point of going to feeding time, where one of the keepers gave a really good talk, and then we wandered back the long way to the café. I had the soup, which was served by a rather “special” looking chef (bless). I was tempted to have a bottle of the local beer with my soup, but at four pounds per bottle I thought better of that idea.


In the afternoon we went to the second Abbotsbury attraction – the kiddies zoo. This zoo was particularly good, with pigs, goats, budgerigars, rabbits, lambs and guinea pigs all available to be mauled by the children. I can only imagine this place must have a very high attrition rate, and must have regular deliveries of new livestock judging by the way some of the animals were being mauled. But Emily seemed to enjoy poking the rabbit in the eye, and I liked feeding the goats.


I think I caught the sun today, and on arrival back at the caravan I had a few minutes kip before tea. And with littlun asleep we settled down to watch “Beautiful Mind” – a really good film about a genius who was barking mad.



5 May 2010 (Wednesday) - Slobbing About




For a change I was the first one up and about this morning, and after the obligatory crossword session and some brekky and some telly we found it was mid day. We’d got so engrossed in CBeebies that the time just flew by. It’s quite amazing how kiddies TV has changed over the years. Gone are the days of Rosie & Jim and the Riddlers. Postman Pat now has an aeroplane. Thomas the Tank Engine has been replaced by Chuggington (good!!), and the whole lot is introduced by a unidextrous fit bird. Woof!


We wandered down to the campsite complex to have a look-see. The bar wasn’t offering anything I’d go mad over, but it was a decent enough place to be in, and after a bottle of brown ale we went swimming. There were rumours of a fit lifeguard, but every time I looked there was only a scruffy spotty speccy oik on the lifeguard podium. After we came out, I went back with my glasses on (so’s I could see) but was unable to find any fit lifeguards. I’m thinking it was all a wind up.

Whilst littlun had a snooze (swimming had worn her out) some of the bigguns walked along the footpaths to Chickerell where we got artistic with the cameras. On the way back we walked back to our caravan the long way, and had a good nose at some of the other caravans on site. I have this vague plan to get a caravan….


And then up to Alf’s chip shop to get some tea. Alf does the best chips for miles around, has won awards, and it’s worth visiting just to hear him arguing with Mrs Alf and the children. This evening his daughter’s mate was getting stick for not visiting the dentist. Alf was encouraging all his customers to reprimand the poor girl. I joined in – it would have been rude not to.


A minor bit of excitement – when we got there was a strange looking child outside our caravan. Said child was performing weird dances. But he seemed happy enough, so we left him to it and scoffed out cod and chips, before I wandered down to the complex to fetch ice creams.

Fish and chips and ice cream. Being on holiday is hard work….



6 May 2010 (Thursday) - Ponds and Gardens




I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a nightmare about being forcibly drafted back into the cubs to take command of the pack’s latest acquisition. A man-eating alligator. I’ve been told to blame this mental aberration on the vast quantities of port and cheese I devoured last night.


After brekky we set off back to Abbottsbury – on Tuesday we got tickets for the sub-tropical gardens, and today we thought we’d use them. On the way I made comments about sub-tropical being a cactus under a foot of water. If only…

Daddies Little Angel TM  sometimes describes her life as being “one tedious ordeal after another”. At the risk of being an old sourpuss, Abbottsbury’s sub-tropical gardens certainly qualify as a tedious ordeal. I’m sure that for those of a horticultural bent the place is wonderful. But I couldn’t tell one plant from another, and it was only finding a fish pond that saved the place (for me!)


Having played with the posh hand driers for a few minutes we went into the café. We laughed at the wierdie-beardie’s inability to pour out a bottle of beer. Mind you if I’d paid the four pounds they were charging just to get a glass of froth, I wouldn’t be very pleased either. We scoffed our jacket potatoes, and set off to Bum Point. Bum Point is the furthest extreme ofChesil Beach, and I was hoping to get a photo of me standing by a sign for the place, but the car parking was a tad expensive, so we gave up on this idea, and went to Bennett’s Water Gardens.

Billed as a series of ornamental ponds, I’d been looking forward to having a mooch around this place. And was disappointed. The highlight of the place was a rather tacky bridge which had been ceremonially opened by Paul Daniels. Clearly there was still a lot of work to be done on the ponds. And I consoled myself with the thought that the ponds were a work in progress and they would be nice when theu were done. On the way out there was a museum of the place. The ponds have been going for fifty years. They were rubbish. I’m sure that given a gang of volunteers I could have had the place looking far better in only a few weeks.


From the water gardens we could see a sign in the distance advertising a kite shop, so we drove over and had a look. And a chat with the nice lady. We came out with some kites. It had been rather windy all week, so we thought we’d play kites. As is always the way, at that moment the wind stopped, and did not blow again all weekend.


Back to the caravan site, and whilst the girls did girl things, we had a go at the crazy golf. I think I will use poetic licence to gloss over my score, but we had fun, which was the main thing. We again took a rather circuitous walk back to the caravan so we could have a nose at other people’s caravans, and then spent the evening watching Shawn the Sheep on DVD.



7 May 2010 (Friday) - Back into Weymouth




Again I was the first one out of my pit this morning. I switched on the news, and we spent an hour or so listening to the pundits speculating on the political situation. We decided that we were on holiday, and that no actual news would emerge for some days so we switched to CBeebies. Far more entertaining.


After a bite of brekky we left the girls cleaning the caravan (they love it!) whilst we took littleun shopping. Morrisons was scary this morning. A vicar was getting her shopping. I suppose vicars need to shop too, but in their vicar-ing costumes? Uncle Fester was sweeping the floor, and the bearded lady was operating the checkout.


Back to the caravan to collect the girlie types, and we then took the bus toWeymouth. Fortunately there was a major hold up on the road as a caravan was being delivered, and we caught the bus. If ever you find yourself needing to catch a bus in Weymouth, don’t rely on their timetables; our bus was leaving ten minutes too early. As we got off he warned us not to be late for the last bus (6.20pm) as that was the only bus he ever made a point of driving on time.


The plan was to have a decent meal for our last full day. But before we ate we thought we’d have a pint in The Boot. The Boot is a traditional old-style boozer, and I suppose (in retrospect) that turning up with a push chair wasn’t the brightest of ideas. I find myself in two minds over the episode. One the one hand I like having a traditional boozer. On the other, I didn’t like being told we couldn’t bring the puch chair into a completely empty bar.

We downed a quick pint outside in the cold, and made our way back to the Red Lion. We’d been there on Sunday, and they had heaters outside. So even if they weren’t bub-friendly, we’d be OK. And we were OK. I attempted to obtain their Doom Bar beer mat, but failed.


And then we decided we were hungry, and across the harbour we could see the Ship Inn. With a great big sign saying they did food all day. So we went into find the kitchen was closed. As was every chip shop along the sea front.

So we took the bus back to Littlesea and ate in the complex there. The food was surprisingly good. Such a shame their beer selection wasn’t up to much.

We spent the evening photographing the sunset, and watched various comedies on the telly until we managed to blow the fuse on the caravan’s lighting circuit. Woops!


8 May 2010 (Saturday) - Home Again




Up early to pack. Why do I always bring so much with me? What on earth was I thinking when I brought the shoe polishing gear? I probably wore about 30 – 40% of the clothes I brought along.


Auntie arrived, and we all sat down for a full English brekky together. I had this plan to get away relatively early, but by the time we’d loaded the cars, had brekky and washed up, we didn’t get away until after mid day. A rather uneventful drive soon had us back at Fleet services. I fancied KFC, and ordered some. The chap taking my order seemed relatively useless, but was still streets ahead of the girl at the next till who was hollering for “chicken borrox”. I dread to think what “chicken borrox” is, and can only hope that the recipient of this delicacy got what they were hoping for.


And so home to find the doorbell missing, dead fish in the fish tank, no milk, a kitchen full of mouldy bread and the laundry basket overflowing with other people’s dirty clothing. I then spent the evening putting the washing machine through its paces to sort out the holiday backlog.

The holiday’s over… a shame Facebook flatly refuses to take the photos I’ve been trying to upload. In the meantime, I hope my loyal readers enjoy the photo from the gents in The Boot….


9 May 2010 (Sunday) - Bluebells




I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a dog fan. I can’t see the attraction. Even dog owners don’t like other people’s dogs. There are some people who take the trouble to train their dog, but these people are few and far between.


I spent half an hour wide awake from 5am this morning listening to next door’s dogs screaming. They don’t bark – they scream. Eventually, from the grumbles I could hear through the wall, it would seem that the people next door also get fed up with listening to their dogs, and went to stop the noise. After some shouting and some whining there was silence.


The doorbell has returned. Apparently it fell off whilst “My Boy TM ” was lugging his fishing tackle out of the house last weekend. Rather than reattaching it (it’s cordless and has sticky patches, so it only needs to be pushed on the door frame), he put it in his car, and has been driving round with the thing all week. He claimed that with us being on holiday, if he wasn’t home, there was no point in anyone ringing the doorbell anyway. I suppose there is some logic to that.


He’s getting ready for his fishing adventure in France, and this morning we dug out his old rucksack (complete with his name spelt wrong), and I’ve lent him my old camera.

I had planned to visit a caravan site in Rochester today. I’m getting very keen on buying a static caravan on a Haven Holidays site. The sites are open for nine months of the year, and you can use the thing during that time. And the site management will rent out your caravan for you when you’re not using it. Whilst you don’t make a fortune in profits, most people who’ve done this seem to think you cover your costs by hiring the caravan out to the normal people. You can do a reduced rate for family and friends, and you still get a weekend break half a dozen times a year.


The only drawback would seem to be having to stump up twenty per cent of the price of the caravan up front. With caravans being about thirty thousand quid, twenty per cent of that is a tad out of my pocket at the moment. However a little research showed me there’s other caravan firms that do similar deals on cheaper caravans. Within five minutes I found several within an hour’s drive of home that all look quite good.


I think I shall do a tad more research before committing myself to anything.

We then went to a friend’s wood to look at the bluebells, which are particularly spectacular at the moment. And then we joined said friends for a crafty half in the pub. After the obligatory Sunday afternoon in Lidls, I spent a couple of hours doing two week’s ironing, and then fought with Facebook. I’ve given up trying to upload more than a couple of photos there. Instead, I’ve put my holiday snaps here, and as the slideshow on the blog.

And then I went back to NeverWinter. I wonder what’s been going on in there….


10 May 2010 (Monday) - Back to the Grind




Back to work – it’s now exactly a year since I took a grade reduction, and in retrospect I feel so much happier for having done so. In the past, returning to work after a holiday filled me with dread. Now…


I can’t say I’m delighted to go back, but I went in today with more of a sense of “putting up with” rather than with actively despising the place. Ideally I should be more positive about work. There are one or two of my loyal readers who absolutely love their jobs, and I envy them. Me - I’m already looking forward to my next break. If any of my loyal readers have heard whether the Teston kite festival has been confirmed (or not), I’d be grateful to know.

Home from work, and then I mowed the lawn. A week or so ago I commented that “the trick to keeping a lawn looking like it doesn’t need mowing is to keep mowing it regularly”. And it would seem that by some amazing chance, for once I was right. I’d not mowed the lawn for eleven days and this evening when I got out the mower, the garden looked like a jungle. I dread to cast my mind back only a few years when I can remember only cutting the lawn three times all year.


And in closing today, I’ll see if I can’t prevail on the kind hearts of my loyal readers. The daughter of some friends of mine is going to Uganda to spend her three month university summer holidays working with the charity 'Soft Power'. She will be working on various community projects such as teaching in schools and helping refurbish school buildings. She is funding the trip with her own money, however the charity request a donation. She is aiming to donate £500, all of which goes straight into the community. Any and all donations would be greatly appreciated – you can donate on-line here. I did (!)



11 May 2010 (Tuesday) - Little Bit of Politics




Over the last few weeks I waxed loquacious about my postal vote. So I suppose that having bored everyone to death with the pre-election build-up, I should at least (if only in passing) comment on the aftermath.

In the past I’ve been rather cynical about the political process, mainly because of the low turnouts. But with nearly seventy per cent of the electorate voting perhaps the result of last week’s election should be taken seriously. And what was the result?

As I predicted, my postal vote counted for nothing. In my constituency we had a very high turnout, and the incumbent MP was returned with his majority increased by over three thousand votes. His total of votes received was four thousand more than all the other candidates’ votes added together. So my vote made no difference one way or the other.

In Westminster Mad Cap’n Tom raked in 84 votes, which wasn’t bad going. It’s quite easy to see who got how many votes locally, but from that point onwards it gets complicated.

From various conversations I’ve had over the last few days, it rather scares me that the general public simply don’t understand our political process (Take my nephew for example Or one of my colleagues who honestly thought John Major was still the Prime Minister). But I can’t blame the normal people for their ignorance of the system. For example: given that one party has raked in 36% of the popular vote, why should they then have 47% of the parliamentary places? And if that proportion is correct, why has the party in third place with 23% of the popular vote only got 9% of the parliamentary seats?

Or take the General Election in February 1974 where the party who came second actually got more votes than the party that won.


The system is clearly wrong. If nothing else last week’s election has demonstrated the failures of our current electoral system. I can’t help but feel that despite being widely regarded to have got third place, in many ways the only winner was the Liberal Democrat party, as the whole “Hung Parliament” fiasco has highlighted what they have been saying for years, namely that our system of electing a Parliament sucks fish.

Having said that, there have only been two hung parliaments since 1929, so the system only rarely fails. And it strikes me as somewhat amusing that the only way out of the deadlock it generated is to seriously consider an electoral reform in which hung parliaments would be de rigueur.


And what of our hung parliament? I have a sneaking suspicion that following the election results, the Labour party have tried to be rather clever, but didn’t quite pull it off. In the first instance they sat back and let the Tories and the Liberal Democrats totally fail to form a coalition government. I say “fail” – they may well yet succeed. But with a hung parliament having been predicted for some time, they seemed (and still seem) to be taking an awfully long time to come to any common ground.


So with no agreement in sight and with negotiations on the way for a new leader the Labour Party made a statesman-like attempt to come to an agreement with the Liberals. Had they pulled it off, then Labour could have claimed the moral high ground in forming a government where the Tories couldn’t, and for having saved the country from political chaos. But these talks are dragging as well.


Earlier I said that the only winner of this election was the Liberal Democrats. They are also the only real loser. They have known for years that their first chance of real political power in government would be in a power-sharing hung parliament, and now that it’s happened they have clearly proved themselves unprepared for the challenge.

I’ve voted Dithering Democrap for years. Never again.

And in the meantime, regardless of who eventually forms a government, we will eventually find ourselves dragging along with an “Alliance of Losers” until a serious effort at electoral reform has been made. Which could take months, if not years.




It’s now five hours since I wrote the above, and Labour have thrown in the sponge because those who came third in the election have (finally) decided with whom they are going to play nicely.

On reflection I stand by what I wrote….


12 May 2010 (Tuesday) - This n That




Last night I was rather perturbed to find a lump in my side. It was about the size of a pea, and was rather tender. This morning I found it was gone. Let’s hope it stays that way.

And then off to work early - I moved my car early because the council said they were going to be cleaning out the gutters. They said that a few weeks ago and didn’t. Again they didn’t. There’s now a sign saying they will do it on Thursday. Perhaps I should phone them to see what they are up to.


Before work I popped into Asda to launder some fake money. I say “fake money” – last night I put a magnet in my pocket (don’t ask) and was amazed to find it stuck to some of my copper coins. Some, but not all. A little research on the internet shows that “coppers” are actually made from copper-plated steel, and so should be magnetic. I wonder what my non-magnetic ones were made from? Or who made them? I took no chances and fed the whole lot into the self service checkout when buying my lunch this morning. After all, that’s where it came from in the first place.


I came home from work to find a very subdued next door neighbour. He asked me to apologize profusely to “Daddies Little Angel TM ” about the noise of his wife’s piano, and he told me how unfair it was of his wife to play the piano whilst people are trying to sleep after night shifts. From the way he spoke I formed the assumption that there had been some sort of ding-dong between him and someone in our house earlier in the day.

However on quizzing the troops, it would seem that no one of my tribe has had any dealings with next door for some time. Mind you, I can remember him telling me how anti-social the piano was whilst I was painting the house a few weeks ago. On reflection I can’t help but wonder if it’s him who’s got the hump with the noise of the piano, and wants us to complain for him.

I’m not grumbling. All the time the piano is tinkling day after day, they can’t whinge about anything we might get up to. And it’s not that noisy, really.


On going through my post I saw I had a letter from Sky telling us that our HD box wasn’t connected to a phone line. It blinking well is, or so I thought. On closer inspection I found the cable was broken. Ho hum – more expense.


I’d spent the day trying to organise a cycle ride for the weekend. The major sticking point was contacting the putative destination. If you use the internet to search for “Black Horse Pluckley” you’ll get ten thousand entries, all listing the phone number as Ashford 840256. And when you ring that number, it don’t work. So before going to the trouble of planning a route I thought we might pop out there this evening to see if the place has closed down. It’s still open, and over a pint of MasterBrew I got the correct phone number. I told them that the wrong number was plastered all over the Internet. They seemed to know all about it, and didn’t seem overly bothered.

I’ve booked a table for mid day on Sunday. I’ve left the time deliberately vague, as my cycling speed is also deliberately vague. If any of my loyal readers fancy coming along, do let me know…


13 May 2010 (Thursday) - Loadasmoney




Did you know that there is such a thing as a 500 Euro note? I didn’t. Apparently there is, but you can’t get them in the UK. We’ve made a decision not to allow the things. On hearing this, my immediate reaction was one of wonder – why on Earth not? And then I learned something.

There was a chap on the radio explaining the matter. He described the gangster films in which people carry round attaché cases containing a million quid. I’ve always accepted this whenever I’ve seen James Bond and the like, and not batted an eyelid. But when you work it out, it turns out that it’s not physically possible to get a million quid into a briefcase. Using the largest denomination note (£50), you would need four attaché cases to fit it all in.

This bloke went on to say that the reason that we don’t have anything more valuable than a fifty quid note (and the comparable $100 note in the US) is to thwart the very gangsters we see idolised on the telly.

The higher the denomination note available, the easier it is to surreptitiously shift large amounts of cash. On the link I gave above there was a case of organised crime trying to launder 300,000 Euros. I say “case” – in actual fact the cash was in a cornflakes box. A similar value of pounds sterling would need a large suitcase.

As well as pounds sterling and dollars taking up (about) ten times the volume of a comparable amount of Euros, he also gave another reason why gangsters like Euros. Having got a huge value of cash into a very small volume, there are then sixteen different countries into which that cash can be laundered. One lives and learns.

It all makes my dodgy coppers (that I mentioned yesterday) seem very small change.

There’s been a new addition to my ever-growing world of friends. Molly’s not a well dog – she’s diabetic which has left her blind. And she has Cushing’s disease. But she has found some wonderful people who will look after her. And if any other wonderful people would like to give a quid or two to help cover the not insignificant cost of her medications, please click here.


14 May 2010 (Friday) - Not Feeling Well...




Something out of the ordinary has happened - I’ve got a cold. I can remember in the past I regularly got colds, but since one mega-cold in the autumn of 2006, I don’t think I’ve had so much as a sniffle. So being somewhat out of practice, I’m feeling rather sorry for myself today.


Whilst sitting at work yesterday I felt a breeze round my unmentionables – somehow the gusset of my trousers had given way under the strain. So I popped to Asda to get replacements. Six quid for a pair of black troosers. The last pair cost me fourteen quid. OK, these new ones are nothing special, but they are only for work, and I don’t like spending too much money on work clothes. For all that we have protective clothing, you never know what you might spill on them.


One of my colleagues needed a lift to the town centre at lunch time today. I was about to volunteer to drive him (being keen to show off my new car), but before I could offer a lift, he pre-empted me by offering to buy me dinner if I gave him a lift.

In the end a few of us drove up to town. I was hoping to have a look in the new Cex shop, but it hasn’t opened yet. I’ll go back later. But I got McDinner, which was a well deserved treat.


And then to Curry’s after work to get a replacement cable to plumb my Sky HD box into the phone line. A few months ago when I was looking at new tellies I mentioned about how unhelpful Curry’s were. I only went to them today because they were on my journey home. I wish I’d taken my money elsewhere. The young lady who helped me was pleasant enough, but it took some effort to pry her away from the conversation she was having with the other staff members.

When I’m just browsing, they are over me like flies round a dog turd. When I want their help – nothing.


And then home – a few days ago I mentioned that the council were planning to clean out the gutters. This is now the third time that this hasn’t happened. What are they playing at? Probably the same game that is being played at the DVLA. I came home to find two letters from the DVLA: one confirming I am no longer the registered keeper of my old car and that I have sold it. And another one demanding that I pay the road tax on said sold car.

Over tea we watched Doctor Who – none of this new fangled nonsense – proper Doctor Who as God intended. Or Sylvester McCoy at any rate, which would probably be Old Nick’s doing rather than the Big G. Someone’s decided she needs to watch fifty episodes of “classic” Doctor Who as a challenge for no adequately explored reason. Tonight we watched four, which leaves another forty six. I’ve had a count, and have another forty four episodes on the shelf (some quality, some not so), so perhaps this is fate telly me to buy more DVDs…


15 May 2010 (Saturday) - Watching Telly




As today was the one Saturday a month I work, I was up early. It’s become something of a tradition (i.e. expected) that I bring in doughnuts on a Saturday so I went via Tesco’s where I picked up a “Best of Roxy Music” CD for a fiver. I thought it might make better listening that the usual drivel on the radio. I was amazed to find that most of it was released years before some of my colleagues were born.


I had hoped to go fishing this afternoon, but an I.T. issue at work meant that by the time I’d got home and had a sarnie it was nearly two o’clock. So I popped “Day of the Triffids” on the DVD player, and slept through that instead.

And whilst still waiting for ‘er indoors TM to come home from flogging candles, I thought I’d watch a bit more telly. Superman IV was on the “Living” channel – I can remember going to see that film at the cinema all those years ago.

When it finished, I channel-hopped. Tommy Walsh was flogging a novelty paint brush on one of fifty shopping channels. I found half a dozen specifically gay-interest channels I never knew existed. I found the Renault channel and the Ocean Finance channel. And a hundred mucky ones.


Doctor Who was good tonight – possibly the best episode of the current series so far. And did you see the trailer for next week…. I want to say so much more, but there are those of my loyal readers who would kick me if I did.


And then I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve heard about the program “Over The Rainbow” – mainly through seeing trailers before Doctor Who. And seeing I was still waiting for my beloved to come home, I thought I’d see what I was missing…. Oh dear!

Have you ever seen it – please tell me you haven’t. It is truly the worst television I have ever seen. And I’ve been watching the thing for over forty years. Four wannabe-bimbos sing and dance, and four “sort-of celebrities” give their opinions of the wannabe-bimbos efforts whilst Graham Norton compares the thing. He might try comparing it to a real TV show.

It has been said that I am very intolerant of my fellow man, and that I have a low opinion of the general public. That may be the case, but I honestly believe that if the official viewing figures are correct, then over five and a half million people must need serious help. I have never seen such tedious, trivial and banal drivel masquerading as peak time entertainment. And for those who might use the argument that there is nothing else on, I would suggest that with a thousand channels available surely anything on any other channel would be preferable to that tat.


I laid down for a few minutes to calm my nerves, and then turned to BBC2. “Dad’ Army” in black and white was entertaining, and then I found a new “River Cottage” series. I do like Hugh Furry-Wellyboot. In tonight’s episode he was hosing out a cowshed with a view to turning it into a kitchen. His shows are witty, entertaining, and for the most part ignored by the general public. Why does something this good fail to attract an audience when Graham Norton’s drivel seems to draw in the viewers like flies to a dog dirt?

er indoors TM finally staggered home shortly after nine o’clock. Brandishing cakes from her sister, so clearly the day hadn’t been entirely wasted…


16 May 2010 (Sunday) - Tweeting from Pluckley




I joined Twitter this morning. I’m not quite sure why. I started a blog four years ago because all my mates were blogging. I was about the last to start, and I felt that by not having a blog I was missing out. I think I felt the same about Twitter – I was sure I was missing out on something. But now that I have an account and having had a look at the thing from inside, I’m not sure what I’m missing.

I’m not really that impressed with it. With a maximum “tweet” length of 140 characters, Twitter won’t come anywhere near to my requirements for a blog entry. It’s more comparable to Facebook, but for one-off silly messages I already have two hundred and twenty five people to whom I can transmit via my friends list on Facebook.


Having said that, I do find myself comparing Twitter with Blogspot, and recalling an email conversation (argument) I had years ago. I was bemoaning the rise of the graphic novel (read “comic book”). For those who’ve never read a graphic novel, they are novels in picture format for people who are too lazy to read a novel. I got the impression that Twitter is blogging for lazy people. However, the only people I know on Twitter (with one exception) all blog regularly as well as tweet (so much for that theory!). I understand you can follow the tweets of various celebrities, but I’d rather they had more to say than something which can be conveyed in the maximum 140 characters.

I can’t honestly see what Twitter does that other Internet sites don’t already do. I’m sure I’m missing the point of the thing somehow. Still, Twitter is definitely a child of the Internet – within two minutes of my joining, Twitter sent me an advert for a porno website.

You can follow me on Twitter if you should feel so inclined – look for http://twitter.com/manky_badger. The underscore is important. Someone called Martin Lyne has already grabbed the “mankybadger” name. And is doing nothing with it. Probably much the same as I will – I can’t see myself becoming Fireman Fritter…. But I’ll give it a go before dismissing it out of hand. I’ve rigged it to receive input from my mobile and to transmit my tweets to a panel further down this blog. So far I have tweeted half a dozen times. I might find a use for it yet, but somehow I doubt it.


Back in reality, once the Marsh Link train service finally got its act together to collect Steve (half an hour later than it should), five of us set off on a voyage of exploration. It’s only a year since we started going on cycle rides as a hobby, and already we’ve pretty much completely investigated all pubs in a radius of six or seven miles around Ashford. Today was effectively our last foray into unknown territory – via back lanes to Pluckley.


There was a slight altercation in Viccy Park – last Sunday I was somewhat disparaging about dogs. Perhaps I was a tad harsh, but today we met a dog owner who spoils it for all the others. Her dog was running wild, totally ignoring any and all instructions. And due to its insistence on doing its own thing, two of us (independently) very nearly flattened said mutt. Had it been on a lead, or trained….


Eventually we got into the countryside where we found the flaw in my route planning. Despite finding the aptly named “Bears Lane”, there was an awful lot of “up” involved in getting to Pluckley. But faint heart ne’er won and all that drivel, and despite being overtaken by Clyde in the Bulletproof Bomb at one point (really!), we arrived at the Black Horse in Pluckley three seconds later than I’d estimated (we timed it).


There are some pub websites that have slated the Black Horse in Pluckley, and last week some good friends of mine warned me about the place, but we thought we’d give it a go. And I’m glad we did. The service was friendly, and the food was excellent, and plenty of it. There was only one ale on, but MasterBrew ain’t a bad drop. We got our breath back from all the hill climbing, tweeted, and all too soon it was time to set off home again. I did have a sneaky snigger at Steve’s bum. During the week he sells padded bike seat covers. Today he could have done with one.


What was up on the way out was down on the way home, and allowing for pausing for a crafty half in Great Chart, the journey home was fifteen minutes quicker than the trip out. We were glad to get home before the rain, and sat down with coffee and cake (CAKE!!!).

Next weekend’s cycle ride will be on the Saturday, and we shall be going to Bethersden. Do let me know if you’re up for it….



17 May 2010 (Monday) - Bit Dull, Really




I think something’s gone awry with the blog software. According to my Blogger dashboard (some high-tech thingie I use behind the scenes), yesterday saw my three hundred and sixty fifth blog entry. However bearing in mind that I started blogging here at the beginning of June last year, I wasn’t expecting that landmark until the end of May. Odd!

I see I might have been wrong about the new government. They’ve announced there is to be no redundancies in the NHS. I had a sneaking suspicion I was up for the push.

They have also announced that they aren’t going to go along the ludicrous route of performance related pay in which staff run themselves ragged to finance their manager’s bonuses. Now I’m assured that savings won’t go in managers’ pockets, I shall be more inclined to make some.

Still, it’s not quite the second week of the new governmental alliance yet. Let’s see how things progress; it’s still early days.


Being on a late start I then spent a little time working on my CPD project. In order to stay State Registered, I legally have to do a certain amount of educational and training activities in my own time and at my own expense (it sucks!). So I’m completely revising and revamping a training website I devised a year or two ago. If nothing else, it’s something to do when I’m bored.


On April 26 I blogged about cashing in the service plan on the old car, and I said how difficult getting the money back was proving to be. It’s not gotten any easier in the last three weeks. Alex at the finance company said it’s up to the garage to reimburse me. Sue at the garage said it’s nothing to do with them. Neither seemed as though they could care less. After all it’s not their money.

Eventually the finance company admitted they’d refunded the money to the garage. Which seemed odd as the garage insisted that the policy was between me and the finance company.

But after some more to-ing and fro-ing the garage said they’d post me a cheque. Let’s hope so – it might just cover my phone bill for this morning’s argy-bargy.


Twitter update: I’ve tweeted three more times today. I think it fair to say the novelty is fast wearing off…


18 May 2010 (Tuesday) - Stuff




Last Friday I mentioned I bought new work trousers. Yesterday evening I found another pair of new work trousers that I must have bought at some point and forgotten about. Oh well – I shall keep them in reserve until I burst out of the new pair.

I phoned Kent County Council’s highways department to have a whinge about the lack of gully cleaning. On three separate occasions over the last month the council has banned parking up our road so’s they can do gully cleaning, and then not actually cleaned the gullies. I’m not bothered about the gullies, but it’s a pain having to park three streets away only to find they’d wasted my time (again). When I phoned them this morning there was an automated reminder that they might record the phone call for “quality and training purposes”. I hope they did.

First off I spoke to Adrian who didn’t have a clue. He asked me if gully cleaning was something that the council did. And then he put me on hold to find out what gully cleaning was. He then transferred me to Betty who also put me on hold for ages. She eventually came back to say that she’d spoken with Janice who was trying to find the paperwork, and when they found it she would phone me back. I asked when that might be. She had no idea. Paperwork would seem to be elusive stuff.


Over on Facebook I read something which made me chuckle. Two Facebook-ers are complaining about someone who they’ve added to their Facebook friends list because of a presumed mutual interest in kiting. However it seems that having added this person, they’ve found he doesn’t fly kites, and they have no idea who that person is. And now they are suspecting he’s a Russian gangster or worse.

I find it rather ironic because both of the people involved in the whinge both added me to their friends list because they saw I had friends on Facebook who flew kites. Even though neither of them have ever met me, or have any idea who I am.

In the meantime do the names “Gareth James” or “Allen Taylor” ring any bells with my loyal readers? I’ve Facebook requests from both, and I don’t think I know either of them.



19 May 2010 (Wednesday) - In The Shed




After a rather grim day at work I came home to mow the lawn. And then wrestled with the contents of the shed trying to put the lawnmower away.

I wondered if space would be an issue when we got the shed. But I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem as “My Boy TM ” was going to be getting a smaller shed for his fishing gear. Oh so he said, all those years ago. The current shed arrived on April 4, 2008 and his fishing gear has been “temporarily residing” in it ever since. Despite having no expenses other than beer, he never has any money to buy himself a smaller shed.


Tonight I’d had enough, and stripped out all the tat that littered the shed in an effort to get some space back. How many fishing bivvies can anyone use? I found three. And despite a huge rod bag there were several loose fishing rods: some of them mine, some I think might be mine - I don’t know (!) And then I found the “hench beast”. I mentioned about the “hench beast” in a blog entry in June 2008. It's a metal thing which “My Boy TM ” had plans to screw on his car somewhere and it would make a noise. Or so he claimed. Two years later it’s still in the shed.

I also found a push-along lawn mower. If any of my loyal readers want a push-along lawn mower, do let me know, or it will be going up the tip shortly. And in the meantime perhaps I might spend some time looking for a bike locker so’s I can get the bikes out of the shed…


20 May 2010 (Thursday) - Bike Lockers




This morning I woke up and I ached so much. I wonder what that was all about. But I still got eight shirts ironed whilst watching “On The Buses” at silly a.m. They don’t make telly programs like that any more. Thank God!!


Yesterday I mentioned that I could do with a bike locker, so after work I went to B&Q. When they were based up the road from me, B&Q was (in my mind) synonymous with “useless”, but since they changed premises a few years back, they’ve been so much better. Until tonight.

Earlier in the year they had wooden bike lockers – exactly the sort of thing I’ve got in mind. But I couldn’t find any. So I asked the strange looking assistant, who told me she was busy with the plants. I asked if I should wait, which confused her. She muttered something about looking in the catalogue. I turned to a nearby catalogue chained to a stand. She snarled at me that I was looking at the lawnmower catalogue and stomped off towards a nearby computer. Not knowing what else to do, I followed her. She rummaged in the cupboard under the computer and found a dog-eared catalogue which she thrust into my hands, then snatched back and looked up bike lockers herself. Finding the one I wanted, she called it up on the computer. From the computer screen it looked to me like they had twenty three of the things in stock. However she announced they didn’t have any. She claimed there’d been a fire, they’d lost a lot of their wooden products, and hadn’t got round to updating the computer.

I thought I’d give Halfords a go. I wasn’t hopeful, but you never know – they might have had something. However when I got to they bike section there was a weird looking freak having a conversation with an inner tube, so I gave up and went home.

On reflection, there’s a space between the shed and the bathroom window where I could build my own bike locker. I might just have a measure up and see if I can’t make something myself this weekend.


And so home, to find the fish poo filter was bunged up again. Those Koi don’t half generate a lot of turds. I suppose the down side of having a clear pond is having very regular filter maintenance. It’s an easy job, and you soon get used to the smell of fish poo.

On Monday I mentioned that I’d chased the garage for the refund for the service contract. They had told me there would be a forty quid administration fee. But my calculation shows they only charged twenty seven quid. I shall spend the saving in the pub later….


21 May 2010 (Friday) - On The Beach




Again I was up with the lark and was watching “On The Buses” at silly a.m whilst doing the ironing. A few days ago I got a text message from “Daddies Little Angel TM ” telling me that “the printer has kicked the can”, so I went to Tesco’s to get a new ink cartridge. Or that was the plan – they didn’t have one for my printer. Staples did – they never let me down.

As it was a nice evening, ‘er indoors TM suggested we went to the beach for a walk. We tried our usual haunt of Dymchurch, but were disappointed. The council is in the throes of building sea defences which have made the beach non-existent at high tide – the sea came right up to the new sea wall.


So we went to Greatstone, and suitably armed with a portion of sausage and chips each, we walked to the beach. There were a gang of girls playing some sort of ball game, and we watched them whilst we scoffed our chips. Then we walked down to the water and paddled whilst watching the antics of some student photographers. One was brandishing a camera, the fit one wasn’t wearing much, but was pulling all sorts of stupid poses in varying depths of sea water, and two others were wielding reflective surfaces in order to increase the amount of light falling on the fit one.

I kept an eye on their antics for ten minutes, purely on the off-chance that the fit one might “flop them out”, but when it became apparent that “they” were staying within the confines of her blouse, we walked off through the waves down the beach. An entertaining half an hour was spent watching the cockles. As the tide went out and the sand on which the cockles were sitting started to dry, so the cockles would bury themselves.

I say “entertaining half hour” – the novelty had worn off within two minutes, but I am given to understand that there will be videos of cockles on the Internet before too much longer….


22 May 2010 (Saturday) - Bethersden




With no reason to be up early, I was still up and about by 8am this morning. If I stay in bed too long I get backache. God’s way of punishing sloth, perhaps?


I spent a few minutes over breakfast going over the financial transactions of buying my new car, and was glad that I did. There’s so much fiddling about with road tax, insurance, MOTs, registered keeping and stuff that it’s easy to lose track of what’s going on. And if all seems well with this myriad of paperwork, it’s very tempting to leave it all alone and to let sleeping dogs lie. I’m glad I didn’t. I thought that I overpaid on the loan on my old car, and it would seem that I had, and I’ve not been refunded for that. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I was assured the money would be refunded by the end of the week. I shall chase them if it isn’t.

But I’m left wondering if this isn’t a profitable little sideline? – I doubt if many people are completely on the ball with all of the administrative details that goes with selling and buying a new car. I’ve found two refunds to which I was entitled, both of which I’ve had to chase up. I wonder how many people don’t realise they might be entitled to money they don’t know they are owed?


And then the tribes gathered, and six of us got on our bikes and set off via the back roads to Bethersden. There was considerably less “up” than on last week’s trip to Pluckley, and the journey out was relatively uneventful – we only scared two normal people. Bless them – two young ladies weren’t expecting anyone else to be using the back lanes, and were busy doing their singing and dancing routine, and didn’t hear us cycling up behind them. They did scream when they saw us, and screamed even more when we joined in with the dancing.

What was supposed to be an hour’s cycle ride only took forty five minutes, and very soon we were in Bethersden. We’ve walked and cycled past the George before but never called in; always being en route to somewhere else. Bearing in mind this pub is at the top of a large slope we thought we’d stop our journey here today before we got onto this hill. The whizz down the hill is fun, but it is a serious slog to get back up.


Whilst sitting in the beer garden we exchanged pleasantries with some people who’d walked to the pub from Ashford, and were on their way walking to Biddenden. That’s some hike!!

With four ales on the hand pump and the best steak and kidney pudding I’ve had in a long time, The George is somewhere we shall certainly be coming back to.

After a serious bit of dinner we looked at our bikes and decided that we didn’t fancy cycling. But we’d seen the bus go past ten minutes earlier, so there wasn’t much option but to cycle home. We came back via the route that Batty suggested – whilst it looked slightly longer on the map, the roads were much quieter, less hilly and five minutes faster. We stopped off at the Hooden Horse in Great Chart for a pint of DoomBar, as it would have been rude not to, and then home.


Whilst girls went off doing whatever it is that girls do, the blokes found an ice cream van, got some cakes and mooched to the tattoo studio to kill the time waiting for girlie types. And when girlie types found us in the tattoo studio we went home and spent time in the garden drinking tea and coffee and eating cake.

I like our weekend days out on the bikes….



23 May 2010 (Sunday) - The Bike Locker




Our neighbours on one side have dogs; on the other side they have a piano. Today was the first Sunday in ages that the dogs weren’t screaming from the crack of dawn onwards. However the piano was going from 8am to compensate. Oh well – I won’t complain about either noise. It strikes me that with all the racket generated on either side, I can make as much din as I like and no one can really complain. After all, I wouldn’t want to live next door to me.


A few days ago I blogged about how crowded and cluttered the shed has become, and mentioned about how I might build a bike locker this weekend. It would be easy enough; just build a great big wooden box to stick bikes in. Simples!!

If only it were that simple. There was a space between the shed and the bathroom which would be ideal for a bike locker. But at the front of the shed the space is thirty seven inches across. At the back it’s forty two inches. Building a crooked box seemed a bit tricky, so I had this plan to attach battens to the wall about six inches above handlebar height, and put a roof on the battens. The bikes could then sit under said roof.


How easy it is to type these words. First of all I had to fight my way round B&Q to get my first load of ingredients. B&Q was particularly problematical today. It seemed to be “bring your problem children to B&Q day”. There was an endless sea of misbehaving brats running wild, with parents utterly failing to instil any control whatsoever. One chap, obviously close to tears, was attempting to stop his brat ramming a display with a trolley by bribing him with promises of McDonalds. The brat wasn’t interested, and was intent on wreaking destruction. Personally I can’t help but feel that a slapped arse goes a long way, but what do I know?


Home with the battens, and in a novel break with tradition I dug out the spirit level to help get the battens in place. There was a dodgy five minutes when the drill bit broke, leaving half of itself embedded in the bathroom wall, but I’m hoping I’ve got away with it. Time will tell – it always does. It was during the drilling that “My Boy TM ” appeared on the scene, and it was just as well he did - I was at the point where I needed his assistance. We scrounged a lift back to B&Q and after a quick sausage baguette we got the wood for the roof for our bike locker. I’d seem the bits of wood on my first visit and decided I’d need help. The flat lumps of wood came in two sizes – matchbox or football pitch. I thought that we might get a larger lump of wood and cut it to shape. But first I would need help getting the thing home. We carried it between us. Again, how easy it is to type those words. The two of us staggered home from B&Q with a lump of wood eight feet long, four feet wide and weighing several tons.


Having got it home there was a problematical ten minutes whilst we wrestled the thing through the house and into the garden. By now it was mid day and we decided that we’d do more shopping at this point to avoid working in the hottest part of the day. We’d had this plan that we might felt the roof we were building, but B&Q didn’t have any tacks, and we thought their roofing felt was expensive. So we drove over to Wickes where the same amount of felt cost twelve quid (as opposed to twenty eight quid).


By now we were on the final stage of the project. Cut the wood into shape, felt the thing and all would be done. I must admit to a wry smile at this point. On this blog there is a link to other blogs. Over on the “Ursus Volans Parachute Company” Guy is converting a VW Crafter LWB panel van into a Motorcaravan. He’s been at it for a couple of months, and I’m really enjoying keeping up with what he does. An excellent conversion job, with painstaking attention to detail. And then there was us two with our bike locker, sawing away with rusty saws using a rickety picnic table for a saw-horse, pausing only to apply plasters to various injured extremities, with “rustic charm” as our watchword.


We soon realised that the roof was too heavy, and having got the thing sawed into shape, we then chopped it in half. It will be easier in future to deal with two smaller bits than one heavy bit. And we even managed do bodge a door out of the off-cuts. Admittedly the door is a bodge, and I’m not sure how long it will last. But what would have cost over one hundred and twenty quid if bought from the shop cost us less that fifty quid when we made our own. We can only get three of the four bikes into it, but you can’t have everything.


And then, with the bike locker completed, “My Boy TM ” set off. Places to be, people to see. I mowed the lawn, did some pruning and cleaned out the drains. I now stink, but that’s nothing new…



24 May 2010 (Monday) - Stuff




A late start today, so I had planned a bit of a lie in. I thought I deserved it after the weekend, but I was up and fixing the hole in the bedroom ceiling before 7.30am. Regular readers of this drivel may recall my leak. The outside damage was fixed a month or so ago, and the inside bit has dried nicely, so I thought I might pull off all the dried flaky stuff, rub down, fill the hole and then paint over. However there was a minor hiccup. Having made three journeys to D.I.Y. shops yesterday, I totally forgot to get any filler. Still, I got the dried flaky stuff off and rubbed down, so I’ve made a start.


I then Hoovered up my mess. I say “Hoovered up” – I switched on theHoover and listened to it make Hoover noises, and watched it utterly fail to suck up anything at all. So I took it to the back garden for a little bit of maintenance. For some utterly inexplicable reason, all of its innards were bunged up with straw, small turds and assorted guinea pig detritus. It sucks now, which is probably for the best.


There are those who would think it somewhat keen to be cracking on with D.I.Y. projects before brekky. I suppose that following an especially hectic weekend, I’m still “all circuits go”.

I make a point of trying to have busy weekends – there’s nothing I detest more than having wasted a day doing nothing. But this weekend seemed particularly busy. And it could have been even busier. I never did get down to Peacehaven which was possibly on the cards. Or get to the camping session to which I’d been invited either.

On Friday I received the dates when the Kite Weekenders are having informal camping sessions in West Sussex. Regular readers may remember that I went to visit the camp one Saturday last September, and was really impressed with it. But of the five weekend dates I was given, I’ve got plans for all but one of them.


I’ve updated the diary dates on the blog. And I think I need to add some more. In the past, cycle rides, walks, outings have all “sort-of-just-happened”, but I’ve half a plan to schedule some – particularly some more adventurous walks or rides, or trips to the better local pubs. If any of my loyal readers might like to let me know their availability over the summer, I’ll start making plans for the weekends that are still free.


And in closing, if any of my loyal readers have started following my Twitter stream, you’re in for a disappointment. My mobile phone statement arrived. Every “Tweet” I sent to Twitter from my phone costs me eight and a half pence. Having tweeted fourteen times from my mobile, I am now £1.19 down the Suwannee. I think I shall knock that game on the head.



25 May 2010 (Tuesday) - Rather Dull


I now have the filler, but I lack the motivation to use it to fill the hole in the ceiling. Oh well - the hole has been there for some time, and isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. It will be there waiting to be filled when my motivation returns. I also need to find motivation for another tip run. Various garden projects have left me with a collection of timber fragments which I really need to take to the tip. Sometime over the next week or so I shall be needing to put the top box onto the car, and once that’s on, it stays in place till September. And with the box in place, I can’t get under the barrier at the tip. So I need to do the tip run this week, or it ain’t going to happen.


Having knocked Twitter on the head yesterday, I thought I’d see if I could get free Facebook on my mobile. In fact I thought I had it already. Eventually I managed to log onto the 3 website (which was easier said than done). Like most websites these days the thing was big on style and appearance, and rather lacking in information. So I phoned the mobile phone people. Kamal praised and thanked me for managing to phone him up (!), and eventually told me that if I wanted to access the internet from my phone, I could pay for it. I thought I was doing so already. My mistake. Oh well, I never really wanted to get on line with my phone anyway.

Some days are eventful, others rather dull...



26 May 2010 (Wednesday) - Filling the Hole




Whilst driving home there was an article on the radio about being left handed. People who know me know that there are certain things that wind me up, and in the past I was once very intolerant of those who favoured the Devil’s hand, until the most recent fruit of my loin turned out to be a leftie….


The article was fascinating. Historical research has shown that about a hundred years ago only some two per cent of the population was left handed, and that estimate allows for the fact that in days gone by, children would have their left hands tied behind their backs to force them to use their right hands. Today about ten to fifteen per cent of the population is left handed. The radio commentator was of the opinion that if left handedness was as prevalent a century ago as it is today, society would have been more tolerant of Southpaws. However they had no idea as to why being left handed is on the increase. Interestingly cack handers are generally more intelligent that right handers, and it would seem, end up being better paid too.

So in years to come “Daddies Little Angel TM ” will have no excuse for not financing her old dad…..


Yesterday I mentioned that my hole-filling motivation was lacking. Today I forced myself to make a start. The hole is probably too big for decorative filler, but if I do it with small amounts and leave them to dry, it will either work or it won’t. I can always pack the hole out with newspaper if need be – after all, what is a job if not a bodge job?

I’ve realised that I shall need some more Artex too. Or any kind of textured ceiling cover, come to that. So another trip to B&Q is on the cards. I’ll go during the week – I can’t face a trip there at the weekend again.


I fed the fish this evening. Or that is I went up to the pond to feed them. Usually they swarm at the sight of me, and come up and feed from my hand. Today they glanced at me with disinterest, and weren’t hungry at all. Either they are sickening for something (let’s hope not), or an offspring has already fed them. I shall ask.


And so, with a heavy heart, to arky-ologee club. The talk tonight promised to be interesting: a talk on Roman Turkey and Ephesus, but bearing in mind previous disappointments I went expecting the worst, but hoping for the best. After all, last month’s talk (“Victoria’s Uncles”) might not have sounded that riveting, but was really good. Interesting, and loads of scandal about disgraced Royalty too!

Tonight’s meeting started as well as might be expected. An entertaining ten minutes was spent watching a slide projector being precariously balanced on a chair on a table, only to find that no one could see the slides because of the chair and table being in the way. Some announcements were made concerning the club’s future plans (including a dig by Mossop), and it was announced that Avis had recently had a result. Thankfully details of said result were not given. The evening’s talk was better than expected – holiday snaps from a trip to the Bay of Figs made some thirteen years ago. I must admit to a wry smile as (once again) the bachelors of the club sniffed around the (relatively) fit new bird.

But it’s easy to chuck rocks at the arky-ologee club. Actually doing something for the club is harder. So I’ve volunteered to give a talk at a club meeting next year. After all, in the past I’ve lectured on such diverse topics as malaria, reptile husbandry, the planets Mars, Venus Uranus and Neptune, thalassaemia, and the Drake equation. It can’t be that difficult to rustle up something of historical interest, can it…?



27 May 2010 (Thursday) - Another Pond




There is a pond somewhere near Warehorne which for some years has been the purview of a small angling club. However this club has packed up, and Matt and his father in law have a plan to form a syndicate to acquire the rights to fish this pond.

After work, together with “My Boy TM ” and Matt, I set off to investigate it. It’s not big, and isn’t home to any leviathans; I can’t see the great hunter that is the first fruit of my loin getting involved in this venture. But having had a look-see, I’m up for it. Whilst I don’t fish as often as I might, this pond’s only a few minutes away, and I might go there on the odd evening over the summer. And it might be fun tidying up some of the overgrown swims on the pond as well.


Talking of ponds, I’m glad to report that the Koi would seem to have regained their appetites. However their pond’s water level has dropped a tad. I shall top that up at the weekend. I blame evaporation. Thank the lord I don’t have to contend with elephants.

And in closing, the beer list is up for the weekend’s festival. If any of my loyal readers would like to treat me to a pint, drop me a line to find out when I shall be there.



28 May 2010 (Friday) - Sellindge




I was up with the lark as usual, and whilst I sorted the laundry I watched my latest favourite program – “Man v Food”. It’s the video diary of a greedy beggar who is making his way around America, eating the biggest meals he can find along the way. Whist it’s simply pure gannetry, he might give some gannets of my acquaintance a run for their money. I don’t think I could have managed the 72 ounce steak and three pounds of chips he ate in half an hour…


On my way to work I stopped off at Asda for lunch and various other bits of assorted shopping. Or that was the plan. Asda don’t sell Alpen. Why on Earth not? And then I had this plan to take doughnuts in to work. Asda came up with some as a personal favour to me – whilst telling me that they don’t normally do doughnuts before 8.30am. What’s that all about?


After work we popped in to Sellindge where preparations were well in hand for the weekend’s steam rally. I have often said that one year I will actually go to see Sellindge steam rally. But from what I saw being set up this evening, I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon. Apart from a few steam powered traction engines, a fun fair and some army trucks, there didn’t seem to be much else going on. And they charge seven quid to get into the event.

Some friends had set up camp there for the weekend to put on some kite displays. It was good to meet up with some old friends. It came up in conversation that Dover kite festival has been cancelled. I’ve amended the blog’s diary dates accordingly. It’s just possible that we might go up to Sumner’s Ponds that weekend instead. But bearing in mind that is the day after Canterbury beer festival, I’ve not making any firm commitment just yet.



29 May 2010 (Saturday) - Beer & Eurovision




For some time my computer has been finding unknown hardware every time I turned the thing on. This morning, using skill and expertise (ahem!), I managed to update the appropriate driver and cure the problem. From what I could work out, my PC didn’t seem to realise it had a video card. I wonder how it was displaying anything on the VDU – using the mouse as a backup, perhaps?


However, I would still seem to have problems with my SM bus controller (oo—er!). It was disabled and was giving me a code 22, which the internet tells me meant that the thing was disabled. It said on the screen that the thing was disabled too, so I don’t know why it bothered having a code 22 alert as well. Probably to make me waste ten minutes looking up what code 22 meant. The obvious solution was to enable the thing, but when I did that I got a code 28 alert which (after another ten minutes on the internet) I discovered meant that there were no drivers installed. Which again was what it said on the screen. I clicked on the reinstall software button to no avail, and after half an hour I gave up and disabled the thing again. I hope that an SM bus controller isn’t vital to the computer’s function – it doesn’t seem to be (so far!). If any of my loyal readers have a spare SM bus controller they don’t want, I’m your man.


And then on with the business of the day. As the girls set off to Lenham to see an art exhibition, the bloke types set off to the town centre for a fried breakfast before walking to Willesborough for the beer festival. I’d been looking forward to sitting in the sunshine dinking beer for some time. In the event we spent the afternoon huddled under a tarpaulin shivering whilst hiding from the rain, with our faces painted. The nice lady had made such an effort to set up the face painting stall, and for most off the afternoon the only customers she had was fairy princess badger and Bat-Smurf. But once Enger-lund! had a go, so the punters started joining in too.

And I all tried fifteen ales on the beer list, ranging from “Yeah, woof! That’ll do” (for the Nine Gallon Guzzler) to “F*!* dreadful!” (for the Bateman’s G.H.A.), and as the rain slackened off to a medium monsoon, so the band started playing “Here comes the sun”. And seeing how they were making such an effort to make the most of the afternoon, it would have been rude not to encourage them.


And then to Andy & Heather’s to cheer on the UK in the Eurovision song contest. I say “cheer on the UK” – my vote went to Avon (from Blake’s 7) and a Gary Glitter look-alike who were squalling for Albania. After all was sung and done, the UK came last and a rather awful song from Germany won. I’d been scoring the lot, and in my humble (!) opinion the German song only got three points out of a possible thirty.

But a good evening was had by all. Was it really three years since the last time we had a Eurovision party…?



30 May 2010 (Sunday) - Lazy Sunday




A rather disturbed night – my guts were somewhat unsettled (can’t think why), and my beloved was in full “warthog snorting” mode for most of the night.


A while ago I bought a belt on eBay. Naively I thought a belt billed as “size 42 inches” would fit a forty two inch waist. I was wrong. A belt billed as “size 42 inches” is actually forty two inches long, and so doesn’t come close to what I need. Bearing in mind the overlap one needs when wearing a belt, I should have ordered a forty eight inch belt. However the belt itself was good enough, and I’ve given it as a gift to “My Boy TM ”, who seems to appreciate it, and I consoled myself with leaving a neutral comment on the eBay feedback.


I spent a little while this morning in an interesting email correspondence. It always amazes me that eBay sellers who flatly refuse to answer emails suddenly are all over you when you post them neutral or negative feedback. The people who supplied the belt have offered me a refund if I agree to withdraw the neutral feedback I’ve given them. Which to me sums up the fallacy of the entire eBay feedback system. I’ve also got a DVD ordered on eBay which hasn’t arrived. Perhaps I might do the bad feedback on them to prompt a response.


Whilst I mucked around in NeverWinter “My Boy TM ” was preparing for a day’s fishing. His mate has swapped his car for a boat, and was intending to go for its maiden voyage today. Currently moored in Faversham creek, this chap’s never sailed it before. I must admit to having had visions of the thing being shipwrecked before the day was out. In the event it would seem I was prophetic.


And then to the seaside for Sunday roast dinner. One of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time – good food and good company. We ate far too much, and then sat down to watch yesterday’s Doctor Who episode whilst dinner settled. Not a bad Doctor Who really, but if they are going to bring back an alien from the bad old days, then I can’t help but feel that the alien should bear at least a passing resemblance to how the baddies used to look.

I then came third in a game of scrabble. I would have done better, had my word “fawny” been allowed. After scrabble we had fruit crumbles and custard, and then our team won in the “Little Britain” DVD game. I then dozed through the end of “Carry on Cruising” and a documentary about Frankie Howerd before we said our goodbyes and came home.


Just as I got home I had a message from two miles off shore. Having been exchanging text messages all afternoon with “My Boy TM ”s fishing expedition, it turns out that after an afternoon’s fishing, HMS “Pride of Beaver Road” has suffered a catastrophic engine failure, and even as I type this entry I am reliably informed the lifeboat can be seen speeding to the rescue…



31 May 2010 (Monday) - Bank Holiday




For those of my loyal readers who were wondering about “My Boy TM ” and his antics on the high seas yesterday, never fear – he is well. The lifeboat arrived to rescue him at 9.05pm last night, and deposited him and the crew of HMS “Pride of Beaver Road” on Whitstable beach shortly afterwards.


The fact that their cars were some ten miles away in Faversham is probably best seen as a piddling detail, bearing in mind that HMS “Pride of Beaver Road” is still floating at anchor some two miles off of Whitstable. One wonders how the vessel’s captain will retrieve the ship, or even if he intends to.


Ahab” and “Sinbad” have made their way on to the BBC news, and on to the RNLI website, both of which have made me smile. I realise I shouldn’t take the mickey quite so much…

I had plans for this morning - to finish off making good the ceiling which was damaged by the leak. To put the top box back onto my car. To spend some time pootling round the garden. In the end I wasted the morning in NeverWinter.


The plan for the day was to visit the in-laws who were doing a boot fair in Icklesham. I quite enjoy looking at all the tat which is touted in boot fairs. For no adequately explored reason I felt the urge to buy something with maritime connotations – a life jacket perhaps? But leaving later than planned, together with serious traffic hold-ups in Rye meant we arrived just as everyone was packing up. Which was a shame. In the end I bought a hip flask fro a quid, and together with the relatives we went to the New Inn in Winchelsea for dinner. I’ve been there before – June 2007, to be specific. Back then I felt this pub was OK, but only OK. The place has gone up in my estimation. But only a bit. It’s a clean and tidy enough pub with reasonable food at a reasonable price. But the garden is spoiled by the licensee’s children and their friends - you get the distinct vibe that you are intruding on their play area.

With only two ales on the hand pump (Greene King IPA & Abbott) the ale selection isn't up to that of many other local pubs. (Only five minutes drive away is a pub with nine ales). The New Inn is a good enough pub. In some parts of the world it would be top banana. But in this part of Sussex it's up against some pretty stiff competition.

Together with my niece I ran riot in the beer garden, ripping holes in my new T-shirt and eventually scaring off the resident gang of kiddies who had been treating the place as their own private domain. As they left they gave me the pub’s cat, telling me that they’d had enough of said cat, that it was rubbish and that I could have it. The cat didn’t seem too bothered at being given away, and the daft animal was purring as I carried it around like a baby.


In-laws had to leave after dinner – boot fair tat doesn’t put itself back into the garage, you know. We then came home the scenic route along the coast. I had this plan to call in at the visitor centre at Dungeness lifeboat station to buy a souvenir. We missed their closing by ten minutes, and so contented ourselves with a tacky sailor ornament from Dymchurch tat shop.

I hope he’ll appreciate it. I somehow think he won’t.