1 November 2012 (Thursday) - Brabourne
I was rather late to bed last night. The plan was that I would be getting home from work shortly after 10.30pm. When about a mile from home my phone rang. Panic! Fudge had gone missing. So I drove to where he had last been seen to join in the search. I could see the torchlight looking for him, and I hollered his name. I could hear his collar tags rattling and sure enough within seconds he appeared. "er indoors TM" then appeared. She thought that the daft dog had somehow got trapped in a nearby garden because she could hear what she thought was him in that general direction. I had a different theory. The dog stank to high heaven. I think he'd found something foul to roll in and had been rather pre-occupied with whatever foul substance he'd been rolling in. By the time we'd eventually got home and bathed him I finally got my tea shortly after 11pm, and eventually crawled into my pit at half past midnight.
I lay awake for much of the night listening to the rain on the window. And wryly comparing it to was had been forecast. I got up, brekkied, and "Daddies Little Angel TM" soon arrived, as did Lisa. Despite the weather we set off to Brabourne. We have noticed that organised walks of geocaches are things which seem to be a long way away. There aren't that many locally. Lisa had a plan to set up a series, I'd offered to help, and "Daddies Little Angel TM" came along for the walk. Today was the first sortie - working out a circular route. We found a starting place, and started walking. After half a mile we realised we'd taken a wrong turn. And then the rain started again.
It was as well we'd got our waterproofs on. It was damp and the mud was deep. But our spirits were high, and we pressed on. Despite getting a poke off of the electric fence. Some of us pressed on more than others: Sid gave up at one point, sat himself in the middle of a ploughed field and refused to go any further. Fudge discovered the art of clambering through hedges and got himself onto roads a couple of times; that was worrying. Fudge also got himself onto a log floating in a pond which then promptly sank under his weight. That was rather entertaining.
But we achieved what we'd set out to do. A route was found along which a series of caches can be hidden. And we even slipped in a church micro for fun.
After four hours we found ourselves back where we'd started. We wrapped both dogs in towels and came home. "Daddies Little Angel TM" treated her old Dad to KFC and after a quick bit of "Bottom" on the DVD we went over some of her essays. A shame that two hours later we managed to lose all of the work we'd done...
2 November 2012 (Friday) - Stuff
I had a really good day yesterday but by the time the evening came I was feeling exhausted. I had the option of going to Folkestone with friends in the evening but I knew I would wilt if I went. So "er indoors TM" set off and I stayed at home. I watched Aeon Flux; a film I'd put on to the Sky Plus box a while ago. It was watchable but had quite a few plot holes. For example how can someone who's only just escaped form the chokey suddenly be wielding automatic firearms?
I found myself nodding off at 9am, and so decided that an early night would be a good idea. It turned out that I didn't get quite the early night I had hoped for; I would have if little Fudge hadn't kept barking. Ignoring his woofing was difficult, but he eventually quietened and I was soon asleep.
Perhaps I should have forced myself to stay awake; I had an early night but then found myself wide awake at 2.30am. I dozed fitfully on and off until 5.30am when I got up to find that Fudge had disgraced himself on the kitchen floor. "er indoors TM" had let him out last night when she'd come home, so he had no excuse really.
I wonder what that poop was all about. I can only imagine it was a protest as he hadn't wanted an early night last night.
This morning was cold. As I drove to Canterbury I saw that there was frost on the fields. I noticed berries on holly yesterday - another sign of winter. Which reminds me that I should shut the fish pond down for the winter.
The news on the radio was alive with the latest scandal about how last years' school exams had been marked. Apparently these days a lot of the children's exam results depends on the coursework that they do. As does the school's standing in league tables, and even the teachers' jobs. And this coursework is assessed by these very teachers working in these very schools.
The allegation has been made that course work is marked to generously by the teachers because it is in their interests to do so. It may well have been marked too generously. It might not have been. I don't know. But what twit devised a scheme with such a blatant conflict of interests?
As I drove home I heard that Freddie Starr had been arrested, subsequently released, and then recalled by the police following allegations of something that supposedly happened over twenty years ago. If he's guilty of molesting small girls then he should face the wrath of the law. If he's innocent then how is he supposed to remember details of an innocent incident from two decades ago.
How can justice be delivered from such a long remove in time? Not that the public wants justice at the moment. With the media having whipped up a mass hysteria over the entire Jimmy Saville debacle, what with Jim being safely dead the public want a scapegoat. I wonder if Freddie has been set up to be just that...?
3 November 2012 (Saturday) - Fireworks
A change to my normal routine this morning. No shave. I've been persuaded to do "Mo-Vember" with a couple of colleagues. I quite liked the mutton chops I grew a couple of years ago. Last November wasn't really a good time for me, but this year I quite fancy having another go. There's no denying that I quite like the morning shave - I always shave, even when camping. I shall miss it, but in my new mind-set of austerity I'm looking on it as another economy. I spent much of the day conscious of the fact that I hadn't shaved. The itching will pass after a few days.
If any of my loyal readers would care to support me in my efforts to raise money for research into prostate cancer please click here. Donations have already started coming in.
We then set off for a little outing. Fudge needed a walk, and there were some geocaches in a nearby wood that weren't going to look for themselves. We met up with Chris and The Hurks, and had a pleasant couple of hours wandering about. We lost Fudge twice. Once he managed to get himself stuck in someone's garden, and once he managed to hurt his foot. It was bleeding rather more than I would like to have seen. I carried him for a bit, and then tried to get him to walk. He wouldn't. I was worried. After a while he seemed to want to get down, and immediately ran up to another dog to play. Then he saw a squirrel, and it was as though there was never anything wrong with that foot.
And then round to Sarah and Steve's for the evening for the evening for fireworks. A wonderful time with lots of friends. The time flew past too fast. We had a wonderful time, and despite coming up the back passage to find that Steve was having problems with his sausage the evening flew past too fast. I suspect that could have had something to do with the success that was my attempt at banana beer (hic!)
We came home to find that Fudge's limp had got worse. I hope he's OK....
4 November 2012 (Sunday) - Stowting
I had plans for this morning. For some months I'd been thinking of being at Kings Wood at 8am to go on a deer-watching session with the tree huggers. But I woke to torrential rain. Having been out for seriously long walks twice this week despite the rain I really couldn't face it a third time. So we decided to stay in and sulk about the weather.
I checked Facebook over a spot of brekkie. I see my brother's doorbell has lost its ding. I might get him a new one for Christmas. A ding, that is. Not a doorbell. And then I did the ironing. I hadn't done any for a while, so it took a little while to do.
Fudge was still limping a little this morning, and didn't eat his brekkie. I was getting rather worried when "My Boy TM" came to visit. Fudge promptly went mad, charged around the room as though nothing was wrong with his foot, devoured his brekkie, and was promptly sick.
With the ironing done Chris arrived. We drove round to Cressfield for a quick spot of geocache maintenance (one of mine was leaking), collected Lisa and drove out to Stowting for a walk. The dreadful weather of the morning had given way to a bright afternoon.
Fudge seemed to enjoy the walk - his limp seemed to have gone. We walked for a few hours round the lanes following a series of Hallowe'en themed geocaches. Very well done - and with only nine caches in the series the walk took less than two hours. We then went on to Sellindge and Smeeth for a stroll (and four more caches). There was a dodgy five minutes when "er indoors TM" reversed her car into a large rock. The sound did make me feel rather sick. But on finding that very little actual damage appeared to have been done we carried on until falling temperatures and failing light meant it was home time.
There's something vaguely depressing about it being dark by half past five.
Whilst we were out my mobile rang. "Daddies Little Angel TM" and the Rear Admiral (patent pending) had been for a walk at Folkestone Coastal Park and had come back to their car to find a parking ticket. That's thirty five quid that no one has these days. They'd parked in the same place that they park every Sunday. There were hardly any other cars around, and the ticket was timed two minutes after they'd parked. The wardens had been laying in wait for them. I've suggested they write to the council and ask where the notices about parking restrictions are, as there certainly weren't any that they could see.
Whilst I must admit I did gloat somewhat at their misfortunes (that's why there are other people in this world) I can't say I'm happy with this state of affairs. There seems to be a growth industry in ticketing cars which aren't actually doing any harm to anyone. In the meantime cars are parked near my house seriously obstructing the flow of traffic for hours and they go unpunished.
In a novel break with tradition "er indoors TM" didn't go bowling this evening. Instead we had a glass of sherry, a rather good bit of tea, and we watched some telly. Tonight was the last episode in the current series of "Downton Abbey". I do like that show. Can't wait for the Christmas special.
And in closing today, don't forget to spread the word. Click here and feel free to spread the word. Post the link to your family and friends. Ask them to sponsor my face. I can remember that last time it itched a lot more than it does at the moment...
5 November 2012 (Monday) - Stuff
Today was a rather cold and dark morning. Even Fudge seemed lethargic. I spent much of the day feeling vaguely down for no adequately explored reason. However on the plus side the rain had stopped. Thank heavens for small mercies.
The news wound me up as I drove to work; much as it does every morning. The other day I ranted about the farce that is democracy. Nowhere is that farce more evident than in the upcoming American presidential election. The news was mentioning precious little else other than that ongoing battle. The American presidency is probably the most powerful elected position on the planet, and the vast majority of humanity don't actually get a say in that election.
And there isn't really much choice for those who do get a vote. Two candidates are chosen by various alliances of big businesses (who are the only people who have the money to pay for presidential election campaigns) and the electorate gets to either select the candidate they think will do the better job, or (which is probably what really happens) vote against the one that they think will make a bigger hash of it.
Does anyone get to choose the candidate they actually want? Of course not!
How can this be considered "democratic"?
In other news (less designed to boil my piss) I see our old friend science has had another look at the Fermi paradox, and is coming up for another reason why there aren't any aliens. The Fermi paradox is something I've lectured about in the past. The basic premise is that given the vast scale of the universe, and the (probably) extreme likelihood of life evolving elsewhere, there should be aliens all over the place. However demonstrably there isn't.
Science now conjectures that for any solar system to come up with life, it needs to have an asteroid belt. Asteroid belts would seem to be something of a scarcity in outer space; hence no aliens. One lives and learns. Personally I suspect that it will only be a matter of time until asteroid belts are found to be ten-a-penny. What will science say then?
Talking of aliens, it would seem that flying-saucer-crackpot-ism is on the decline. Fewer people are reporting seeing UFOs, and crackpot UFO research groups are closing down due to lack of interest. Apparently with the immediate availability of expert advice over the internet, mis-sightings of Chinese lanterns, weather balloons, geese, military aircraft and Martians are being explained away before any crackpot stories can be attached to them. The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena has called a crisis meeting to address the decline in UFO sightings. They see it as a bad thing. But then their president once claimed that King Arthur was an alien. One cannot help but wonder what opposition he faced when he was elected.
Mind you, personally I see the decline in UFO-ism as a bad thing. The world is a better place for having harmless nutters running about the place blaming it all on aliens.
And so home to find Fudge waiting for me. He was asleep. For a dog that is always bouncing about whenever anyone else is looking, he does seem to sleep a lot when he gets the chance. I was toying with the idea of a walk, but it was late. We'll get a walk in the morning I expect.
Meanwhile my face fungus goes from strength to strength. It's almost ready to be pruned into shape. Yesterday I mentioned it wasn't itching. It's beginning to itch a little now. Which is even more reason to get sponsoring.
6 November 2012 (Tuesday) - Golf
I slept surprisingly well last night, nor waking in the night, and staying in my pit until gone 8am. That very rarely happens. The face fur was really itching this morning. It was around the neck which itched the most, so I got pruning. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but the shape of the mutton chops is now there; it just needs to grow some more. Which my loyal readers could help with if they were to get sponsoring the thing.
I put some laundry into the washing machine and took Fudge for a little walk. Through the park to have a third go for a geocache I failed to find twice previously. I found it this time. And then on to another cache on the other side of the town. Whilst it passed an hour or so, solo caching was rather lonely.
In retrospect most of the hobbies I seem to take up are taken up for the social aspect far more than for the hobby itself.
Whilst out my mobile rang. An employment agency with a possible job opening. I am trying not to get my hopes up, but it would be exactly the job I want to do.
Home, where I ironed some shirts and sorted my undercrcakers. Never a dull moment. And with undercrackers sorted I went round to collect "My Boy TM" and we went to the driving range for an hour's whacking golf balls about. I can hit a golf ball maybe a quarter of the distance that "My Boy TM" can clout them, but today was only my third attempt. Actually making contact with the ball takes some doing. But I shall get there eventually.
Being Tuesday the clans gathered. After listening to the AHBS show we watched "Merlin". The show hs promise, but there is a definite theme to the program. I cannot help but wonder which of the leading characters will be taken ill next week...
7 November 2012 (Wednesday) - This n That
I set off to work with a heavy heart this morning. It didn't help that I had a slight twinge in my back - I blame yesterday's session at the driving range for that. Mind you I expect it was more to do with a twinge of jealousy about those of my loyal readers who at the same time were on their way to a kite festival in the Canary Islands. I've sent a little geocaching trackable with them, but there's no denying that I'd rather be going with them myself.
Mind you, they have all arrived safely. Contact has been made. It will be warm in Grand Canaria. It was cold in Kent this morning. Doubly cold as I appear to have misplaced my astro club woolly hat. I'm sure it's somewhere safe, but that is no use when my head is chilly and I need the thing. I have loads of woolly hats which are all over the place in the summer, and are all missing in the winter. I wish I knew where they all went.
As I drove to work this morning the news was of the American elections. President Obama has been re-elected. I am sure that on a global scale this is of major importance, but in my rather insular frame of mind I cannot help but wonder what difference it will make to me. The radio was broadcasting his acceptance speech. How can anyone speak for so long without actually saying anything?
In the national news there are now calls for a seriously major review of British society to look into the child protection failures by which the likes of Jimmy Saville (allegedly) got to have his wicked way with small children. The chap on the radio was calling for a serious over-reaching inquiry encompassing everything which ever happened in the UK over the last thirty years. Whilst a lot happened that was wrong, a lot happened because that was the society in which we lived at the time. "Groupies" were a common phenomenon - morally wrong, but they were a sign of those times. We can learn from the mistakes of the past, but can we go back and sort them out? Hardly!
If we could I would seriously like to know how. I have one or two boo-boos of my own I'd like to go back and put right.
I did learn that it is currently British Sausage Week. - part of which is the pledge to give more thought to pork, and the pork promise. Both of which (I suspect) will turn out to be disappointments.
More importantly locally is the fact that the National Trust is buying up a large stretch of the White Cliffs. The bit they are taking on goes from the port at Dover round to the South Foreland lighthouse. It's a stretch of coastline that I walked earlier this year. April 1st as I recall. No one believed that I actually did see a small whirlwind that day. I can remember the outing vividly, if only for the fact that grand-dog Sid was eating horse poo as we went, and the most recent fruit of my loin went mental when she found out.
I'm hoping that the National Trust buying up the land will be a good thing. However I suspect one of the first things they will do will be to close off the tunnels along that stretch of coastline. Closing them would be a shame - they should make a feature of them - a tourist attraction even.
And Clive Dunn died today. He was ninety-two. I think it fair to say that most people thought he died years ago.
The mutton chops are now in shape. However despite many pledges the total actually fundraised so far leaves a lot to be desired. Please click here and give whatever you can spare. I read yesterday that most moustaches don't survive past the second week. I need a good reason to carry on looking silly (or sillier than usual).
8 November 2012 (Thursday) - Democracy, Space....
A relatively late start today being on a late shift. I came down and set the washing machine to do a spin cycle and it set itself off on a wash cycle. I checked what I'd done and it wasn't operator error. I do hope that machine isn't on the blink. I don't need that. Thank heavens for service plans.
I then spent a few moments sitting on the sofa with Fudge sprawled across me. The silly pup made himself comfortable and dozed off. It seemed a shame to wake him really. For someone who doesn't in any way claim to be a dog-lover, I've become quite attached to that little dog. Which is why I never wanted a dog in the first place...
And so to work. I like the early starts - it means I get to miss the rush hour. However the late start has me facing busier roads than I usually do. In reality not that busy, but certainly more traffic than I've got used to seeing. I stopped off at the farm shop for an apple whilst I was on the way - they are closed when I go past on the early start. Their fruit's cheap, but some of the other stuff they do (like the cakes and cheeses) go for silly money. But they seem to keep knocking them out to the punters. I expect there are those who like paying over the odds. In retrospect I suppose that I used to do that. Still, I don't want cake and cheese any more -there are calories in those.
The other day I ranted about the farce that we call "democracy". The radio had more on the subject today. A week or so I ranted about the upcoming elections for the role of police commissioners, and how the idea wasn't anywhere near as democratic as it claimed to be. This morning's radio programme proved my point entirely. It featured an interview with a candidate for one of the police commissioner roles that are soon to be up for grabs. This lady was standing as an independent candidate. Independent of any political party; and she was griping about how unfair it was that candidates of political parties had the political parties to help them. Financially as well as practically. Apparently this woman had shelled out seventy two thousand pounds of her own cash on election costs so far. I would like to have half that amount to squander on something so irrelevant to my daily life. Another of the pundits being interviewed admitted that funding such an election campaign was expensive, and he said that he felt that (somehow) the costs of such campaigns should be capped in such a way that they did not exceed one hundred thousand pounds (!)
How can democracy claim to give the people a voice when the average bloke in the street can't afford to stand, and is dependent on someone else to foot the bill. And how can politicians claim to be impartial and independent when they are so clearly beholden to their backers?
Mind you, as usual important news doesn't get mentioned. The first potentially habitable super-Earth planet has been discovered. And it's only forty two light years away. I say "only" - it's considerably further than the nearest chip shop and is certainly beyond the reach of any current technology. However at the rate that this planet is getting stuffed up it's useful to know that such places exist. Humanity needs a fall-back option. All we need now is the technology to get there. I'm sure it can be done if only we were to try hard enough. Which reminds me that I once wrote a short story on this very subject. I wonder how long it will be until the copyright on that yarn reverts back to me?
And there's no denying that I had a sly snigger at this article about windy Uranus !
The sponsorship for my chops has doubled, for which I am grateful. If any of my loyal readers would like to give a bit, there is still time. As always, please click here and give whatever you can spare.
In three weeks I can shave the thing off. Those three weeks can't go quick enough...
9 November 2012 (Friday) - Beauty and the Beast
In a novel break with tradition "er indoors TM" was off work on one of my rostered days off. Last night we made plans, and decided to go for an early morning swim. I got up, pruned the beard, brekkied, and found she was still fast asleep. So much for swimming. Instead I brought forward phase two of the days plan. and went to Wilkos to get the makings of Christmas ale. My own is now on the go, and I have two other loads to get ready over the next couple of weeks. In retrospect I should have taken orders for job lots of Christmas ales; but I've left that too late. Maybe next year.
We gathered those of the clans who were available today, and set off on a day's outing. Driving and walking. Stopping off on the way; doing some hiking, enjoying the views. A lovely day for a spot of geocaching through Ruckinge and Bilsington. As time goes on more people have found more caches. Of the twenty-odd that we went to today there was only one that was new to all four of us. Mind you, I like re-visiting caches with people who've yet to do them. There is something about the sense of smugness that comes from watching others trying to find what you've already discovered. And for all that we did go to quite a few caches I'd not previously done, I increased my total of caches found by thirteen.
It was a really good day to be out with friends; just a shame it was so cold.
Home for a quick cuppa and a change of clothing and soon Steve and Sarah arrived. We set off to Maidstone for a spot of tea in the Muggeton Arms (which apparently is not a Wetherspoons). As we scoffed so the rest of our number arrived. Once everyone was together all eleven of us made our way to the Hazlitt theatre. The Stage Theatre Society were putting on a show. We'd seen their previous productions and they were very good. "Beauty and the Beast" was every bit as good as we'd hoped. And during the interval both Beauty and Beast posed for photos.
Much as I enjoyed the show, there's no denying that I spent quite a bit of time watching the wonder on the faces of the littluns of our party.
In closing I'll bang the drum again - please click here and give whatever you can spare to sponsor my face. And if you are a tax payer you can give more for free by clicking the gift aid option. Or so I am reliably informed..
10 November 2012 (Saturday) - Rye Bonfire Parade
With nothing major planned for the daylight hours we had a bit of a lie-in this morning. Whilst the lazing in bed is OK, for me it does come with a feeling of precious time being wasted. So we got up shortly after 9am to find heavy rain outside, and so wasted the morning in other ways. Browsing Facebook over brekkie saw off half an hour, as did doing a couple of on-line surveys.
I then went round to B&Q. Fudge does like his toys, but is destructive with them.. And dog toys aren't cheap. So I had this stroke of genius that I might get a length of rope from B&Q and plait it. Fudge could then have a cheap toy. I got a metre of rope for ninety-eight pence and plated it. Fudge seemed happy with the makeshift toy and set about it with a vengeance. It was un-plated within five minutes and in several pieces in less than half an hour.
Mind you I stand by the initial brainwave. It's a good idea in theory. If any of my loyal readers have any odd bits of rope laying about (the thicker the better) please send them in our general direction.
With the rain showing no sign of letting up I wandered up to the post office's collection depot. I had a parcel that needed to be picked up. I got there top find the biggest queue there that I have ever seen. People were queueing out of the office back almost onto the street. And in a novel break with their usual practice they were insisting on seeing I.D. before handing over the parcels. Whilst this is a good thing in theory, in practice I would question just how valid a Tesco clubcard can be as a form of identification. But, like everyone else in the queue, I vaguely waved a Tesco clubcard in the air and got my parcel. It was a charger and two spare batteries for my mobile phone. That will save me the trouble of having to lug my telescope's power pack about the next time I want to use the GPS on my phone for more than a couple of hours.
A spot of lunch, and with no sign of the weather improving we put on coats and took Furry Face for a walk. He needed to get out, and so did I. We went on a "round the block" walk for a couple of hours; obviously calling in at a few geocaches along the way. Once home "er indoors TM" went for petrol, and I spent half an hour with a smelly wet dog fast asleep on my chest.
Friends soon arrived, and two carfuls drove round to the abode of "the man with no alias (patent pending)" where we picked up three more carfuls of friends. We then went in convoy to Rye where we eventually managed to park and met up with even more friends. With over twenty-five people assembled we had chips and then cheered as the bonfire procession came past. It was a shame that the Cliffe bonfire group were missing certain friends; their absence was noted by several people.
With the procession gone past us we made our way down to the bonfire area. Not as easy as it sounds. There were serious crowds to get through, and keeping twenty-odd people together was somewhat akin to herding cats. But with a little help from my scrolling LED app we eventually got everyone together. "er indoors TM" cracked open the mulled wine (very tasty) and we watched the bonfire and fireworks.
This year's Rye bonfire parade was great. The procession seemed shorter than usual; the town seemed more crowded that usual. The fireworks were as good as any I remember from the past. A great evening with friends. As always there are photos of the event if you know where to look.
It's only a shame that this year's bonfire's season is now over...
11 November 2012 (Sunday) - The Otham Ramble
I had my orders last night. "My Boy TM" had instructed me to get his various foul fishing baits out of the freezer and put them in the bath to defrost so he could collect the quietly this morning at 7.30am. I love the first fruit of my loin dearly, and will not hear a word said against him. But there is no denying that "quietly" is not one of his more developed skills.
Sure enough he came home with the full force of an atom bomb at 7.45am. I'm sure my loyal readers in America and the Far East heard him.
We got up, dressed, had brekkie, and got ready for the off. Fudge was getting over-excited as he does when he knows we are going out. And then (for Fudge) it all went terribly wrong.
On the last few walks we've done Fudge has got very wet. And very cold. By the time we got back to the car on our last half-dozen walks he's been shivering. So yesterday we bought him a coat. I thought it was a nice coat. Fudge didn't. It was clear that he hated it. He stopped jumping about. All the excitement left him. Normally at walkies time he bolts to the door. This time he looked at the open door with disdain, and wasn't interested in going out. He had to be dragged.
And once in the car, rather than being his usual excitable self, he sat on my lap pretty much motionless. If ever a dog exuded an aura of sulkiness Fudge certainly did this morning. Rather than greeting the rest of our group with mad-keen enthusiasm (as would be usual) he looked up, then went back to his sulk.
We made our way to Otham and having parked the car we set off on a little stroll. The Otham Ramble is a guided walk of twenty geocaches along a seven mile circular route. Fields and bridges, footpaths and woods, lanes and roads. It exemplifies what I like about geocaching; it's a guided walk around some beautiful countryside where I would never have gone. We had a wonderful time on a bright November day. It was a bit damp underfoot; positively swampy in places, but it was a good day to be out. We saw hot air balloons and biplanes. As the day went on the temperatures rose, and we even took Fudge's coat off. He liked that, and promptly set off in pursuit of a fox he'd seen.
As well as the seven mile ramble we took a little detour to fit in a Church micro. We stopped off at the seventh cache on the route for lunch. For all that we are in mid-November it was a glorious day. So much so that as I sat in front of the telly in the evening my face was glowing: I caught the sun.
If any of my loyal readers are wondering about this whole geocaching lark, or just want a walk with some rather spectacular scenery, the Otham Ramble would be the ideal thing. And, as always, there are photos of the outing on-line.
12 November 2012 (Monday) - Another Day's Geocaching
A week or so ago I went on a stroll round Brabourne helping to work out a circular route for a series of geocaches to be laid. Last night I got notification that the series was in place and was ready to be found. For all that I'd helped with the route, I had no idea on what the hides would be, so doing this series could not be seen as cheating in any way.
I posted on one of the geocaching groups asking if anyone wanted to come with me and Steve to try to find these caches. There's no denying that my piss boiled with many of the responses. Perhaps people mis-read what I'd said. If I wanted to know who couldn't come, I would have asked who couldn't come. What I asked was who *could* come with us. A subtle difference.
In the end there was only one taker to come with me and Steve. But I was glad to have made the offer, and was glad to have made a new friend. Sid drove down from Thanet and met us in Brabourne. It must have been quite disconcerting for him to be faced with meeting me and Steve (and dogs) for the first time. But it's more fun to go on a walk in the countryside with company than on your own. And we had a great time. The weather was good, the caches were varied, the company good and the scenery beautiful.
Bearing in mind that the caches went live last night there was the possibility to have been "first to find" on some of them. Or so we thought. There is a chap locally who delights in being the first to find any geocache, and as we went round and read the logs we saw that he'd beaten us to all of the caches; having been out in the deepest parts of the countryside shortly after midnight. Others, including "er indoors TM" and the Hose Beast, had also been along after dark.
Personally I don't like night caching. You can't see what you are doing, you look very suspicious, and you can't be sure that you've hidden the caches properly afterwards. We found some that hadn't been re-hidden at all well. One in particular was in plain view on the roadside. Being in daylight we made sure that we re-hid everything properly as we went.
Having read the logs it would seem that no one else had actually done the series of caches (what I would call) properly. There are many ways to play the geocaching game. There is no right or wrong. But, for me, I feel that if a series of caches has been laid out then you should start at one end and work to the other following the route laid out for you. We were the first to start at the beginning and to them all in sequence. I think we can feel suitably smug about that.
Steve had brought Sasha - his German Shepherd dog - on the walk today. It was interesting watching Fudge's behaviour around another dog. I have always said I would trust him with small children but not with other dogs, and I think I would stand by that. The two dogs were mostly fine, and when off the leads would play nicely. However Sasha would get rather fractious when crossing stiles or bridges and would whine. And that whining would make Fudge snap at her. The morning passed off mostly without dog-incident; but it came close a couple of times.
At one point Steve walked both dogs together, and I think that improved Fudge's demeanour a lot.
The series of caches had been billed as a four hour walk; and that was what it took. But all too soon the walk was over. As luck would have it we got back to the cars just as the rain was starting to fall. We said goodbye to Sid (who had to go to work later) and went back to Ham Street for lunch. Fudge helped himself to Steve's dogs' lunches and picked a couple of fights.
And then we drove across the Romney Marsh clearing a few more geocaches off of the "to-do list". It would have been nice to have done more caching, but by 4pm it was getting noticeably darker and the rain had got so heavy that Fudge was soaked. And as a consequence of Fudge being soaked so was I. So we came home where I showered the fox poo off of Fudge. He does love rolling in that stuff.
Fudge then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening snoring. Lacey has told me off in that past because she feels I walk Fudge too much. Perhaps I did today - he was shattered. He slept on my lap whilst I watched some of the stuff I've been recording onto the SkyPlus box over the last few weeks...
13 November 2012 (Tuesday) - Poorly Pup
Fudge slept a lot yesterday evening. When I get up most mornings the sound of me coming downstairs wakes him and he looks up so see me and greets me with a wag of his tail. This morning he carried on snoring as I walked through the kitchen. that was not like him. He was still asleep after I finished my morning ablutions and was eventually woken by the sounds of me generally clattering about the kitchen.
He got up, pootled a bit, and then was sick. Twice. I've been worrying all day about that little dog. I suspect that he probably ate something yesterday that disagreed with him. Probably fox, sheep, cow or horse poo.
To work where I did my bit, and then home via the Chrisery where we watched another episode of "Merlin", which is surprisingly good. Kenneth Cranham guest starred in tonight's episode, and we had an entertaining ten minutes trying to work out how many films in which he starred as a character without a full quota of limbs.
And so home, to find Fudge hadn't eaten at all. He even turned his nose up at yoghurt, which is quite unlike him. If things don't improve soon there will be a trip to the vets for that little dog.
Here's something to make you think. I've always maintained tha the average man in the street is a bit of a thickie, but now science would agree with me. It would seem that intelligence was developed as an evolutionary necessity to deal with the rigours of a hostile world. But now with modern society things are somewhat easier than they were when we had to out-smart sabre-toothed tigers. The theory is that humanity reached its intellectual peak some four thousand years ago. Which probably explains why I think that rummaging in the undergrowth looking for tupperware containers is a good thing.
The sponsorship for my chops is moving on apace, for which I am grateful. If any of my loyal readers would like to give a bit, there is still time. As always, http://uk.movember.com/mospace/184961 and give whatever you can spare.
In just over two weeks I can shave the thing off. Those three weeks can't go quick enough...
14 November 2012 (Wednesday) - Walkies
In my life hobbies and crazes come and go. At the moment hunting for tupperware is all the rage. A year ago I was mad-keen on dieting. In retrospect being focussed on dieting had made me far more aware of what I stuff down my neck. I no longer religiously document every single thing that I eat, but I am far more sensible about what I eat. And I weigh myself regularly as well. This morning I found I'd lost another pound since the last weigh-in. Possibly due to the amount of walks that Fudge has been getting lately.
Talking of which he did seem a little better this morning. We'd left his tea down overnight in case he got hungry, and he'd eaten some of it. Not much, but some.
The front door bammed open - "Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid had come to visit. I'd not seen her since I started growing the face fungus. She wasn't impressed, for all that I've been told that the new look suits me.
She sorted out Sid's breekkie - watching Sid eat his breakfast encouraged Fudge to eat some, and then we took both dogs for a walk. Through Viccy Park, round by Singleton Lake, through Great Chart, up to the Environment Centre, and then home. It was a good bright day, and we were out for a couple off hours. Both dogs seemed to like the outing, and played together very well.
We came home, and I spent a little while tidying the garden. It's rather a sorry sight at the moment. And then it was lunch time. Only toast, but I was able to feed the crusts to Fudge. Normally I don't feed him my food, but it was good to see him eating.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" then set off for an hour to see her mates, so I did some dull chores. In between chores I had a little look on Facebook. An interesting development in one of the geocaching groups. In the past I've blogged about the need for kite fliers to have public liability insurance. It would seem that geocachers need such insurance too. Folkestone council have refused permission for geocaches to be hidden on their land unless the cache owner had public liability insurance.
If anyone hurts themselves looking for a cache that I've hidden am I liable? Should I add disclaimers to all of the caches that I've hidden? If nothing else, this is a sad sign of our times.
As "er indoors TM" went out for the evening I settled in front of the telly to catch up with stuff I'd put onto he SkyPlus box, and Fudge was promptly sick again...
The sponsorship for my chops is moving on apace, for which I am grateful. If any of my loyal readers would like to give a bit, there is still time. As always you might like to click here, and give whatever you can spare.
In just over two weeks I can shave the thing off. Those three weeks can't go quick enough...
15 November 2012 (Thursday) - Dull
Yesterday was bright and sunny. Today was dull and foggy. Over the last week or so I've done so much; walks with friends, been to places I've never seen before, watched new TV shows with some of the best people I've ever met, time with my daughter, time with my dog.
Today was dull.
I was planning to have gone to a party this evening; my nephew is eighteen years old today. There was a surprise party planned for him. I had hoped to get along, but the intricacies of swapping my shifts made it rather impractical. Which was a shame.
With "er indoors TM" off to the gathering I had resigned myself to coming home to an empty house. But I came home from work to find my dog waiting for me. He was chomping on a chew stick when I came home which was a good thing. Once we'd had a little fussing he then ate some of his tea, and once I'd had my tea he helped my finish my yoghurt; something he'd not shown any interest in for the last two days. He then sat on my lap and we both slept through a film the description of which was a lot more interesting than the reality.
I had something of a shock with my chops today - some colleagues didn't understand the whole Mo-Vember thing and thought I was growing it seriously. They have now said they will sponsor it. If any of my loyal readers would like to give a bit, there is still time. As always, please click here and give whatever you can spare.
In two weeks and one day I can shave the thing off. The time can't go quick enough...
16 November 2012 (Friday) - Busy
My phone rang at 7am this morning. Usually i would have been out of bed a couple of hours before then, but today I wasn't. It was my brother. He's splitting up with his girlfriend of the last ten (or more) years. A great shame - I just wish there was something I could say or do to make it all better. But of course there isn't.
"My Boy TM" came to visit and told of a funeral he is attending next week for a friend who committed suicide. I was feeling profoundly depressed when I took Fudge for a walk.
With nothing much on the agenda for this morning I took Fudge for a little walk. Past the International station, up past the rugby club, Simone Weil Avenue to the Cows roundabout and home via Chart Road, Viccy Park and Bowensfield. A pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Once home, over a spot of lunch I watched the docu-drama I'd recorded from UK Gold about the early days of Morcambe and Wise. I quite liked it.
I then got busy in the kitchen. The five gallons of stout I'd started fermenting last week needed putting into a barrel, and five more gallons of best bitter needed kicking off. Whilst beer went from bucket to barrel and from ingredients to bucket I got laundry done as well. I was quite busy for a few hours.
With chores done I had planned to iron shirts. But I sat down for five minutes and with Fudge having fallen asleep on my lap I didn't have the heart to move him. So I watched the last episode of "The Stand" which I'd recorded from the Horror Channel. A televisation of the Stephen King book - it didn't work. It was rather like the Harry Potter films in that you needed to have read the book to understand what was happening in the program. And now having seen the last episode I realise that I have wasted eight hours of my life.
There was talk of going to Folkestone this evening, but what with "er indoors TM" not finishing at work until late we would have been setting off to Folkestone about the sort of time we should really have been coming home. So we knocked that idea on the head. Which was a shame. Whilst waiting for her to come home I watched Star Trek on the SyFy channel. Before the program started there was a warning that the program dealt with adult themes and emotions. What was that all about?
And with "er indoors TM" home we had fish n chips (oh yes!) and watched telly. All the time conscious that I am working all weekend...
17 November 2012 (Saturday) - Dull
Whenever the topic comes up in conversation I always say that I don't mind working at weekends. However it is easy to say that. I got up this morning with a heavy heart knowing that everyone else would be up and about and up to mischief whilst I was not. And I certainly sulked whenever I got texts about what I was missing throughout the day. Mind you I had a sly smile at 2pm when the storm came over less than two minutes after I'd received a text message telling me that the picnic lunch I was missing had just started.
As I drove to work I felt vindicated when I heard the news. Regular readers of this drivel may recall how in the past few weeks I've ranted about the farcical elections for the posts of police commissioners. It came as something of a surprise for me to realise that I actually missed the vote, which took place last Thursday. Had I remembered would I have voted? Somehow I doubt it. We only had any information through on one of the candidates, and I couldn't bring myself to vote for him on principle. Knowing nothing about the other candidates meant that had I voted it would have been sheer guesswork. I suppose I might have spoiled the ballot paper as a political statement, if could I have been bothered. But I couldn't.
And nor could eighty five per cent of the electorate, according to the official figures. There's apparently going to be a formal review into why the turn-out for this election was so low; the lowest of any election in history.
The sad thing about all of this which really boils my piss is that there is to be a formal review into the bleeding obvious, whilst something which is patently wrong (someone takes office with only the support of seven per cent of the electorate) is allowed to pass
unchallenged. I would suggest that all of my loyal readers click here and have a look at this e-petition. The plan is to give the electorate the option to say "none of the above" in elections. Given the scenario
that half the voting electorate gives the standing candidates the thumbs-down, these candidates are automatically disbarred. The election (whatever it is for) would then be re-run with a new gaggle of
This has the advantage that the electorate can say no to candidates they don't want. But it doesn't actually do anything to ensure that the electorate get better candidates. I suspect the petition hasn't got a hope as it will certainly give standing politicians something to worry about.
And here's something which made me think. A devout Christian (alarm bells ring!) has won his court battle. He got demoted from a position in a local housing trust because of his views against gay marriage. He's now shown in court that his dismissal was unfair. Something of a pyrrhic victory as the legal costs have left him all but bankrupt But he has proved his right to say what he thinks. Regardless of how wrong he might actually be.
Personally I think that gay people should be able to get married if they want to.
Let me qualify that... as a civil ceremony - yes. Not as a Christian ceremony - becuse the Christian teachings are quite firm on the point. I don't join a snooker club and insist they play darts. I don't join a political party and insist they all go pot-holing. It's the same with a religion. If you take it up, you go with what the religion teaches. You don't pick and choose what parts of the faith you want and ignore the rest. Or if you do, that's fine but you don't then apply the name of that religion to yourself.
This Christian bloke explained his position by saying "I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church. The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the State wants to offer civil marriages to the same sex then that is up to the State; it shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience." I think he might have a point there. Why would anyone want to get married in a church knowing full well that the teachings on which that church is based say that what they are doing is fundamentally wrong?
As I came home this evening I looked to the sky. Originally I wasn't expecting to be working this weekend, and so had organised for the astro club to have a bit of a telescope session tonight. If for no better reason that the Leonid meteor shower is supposed to reach its maximum tonight. As always whenever anything astronomical happens there is complete cloud cover. Astronomy really sucks sometimes..
18 November 2012 (Sunday) - More Dull
Up far earlier than I would normally be on a Sunday. Over a spot of brekkie I checked out what was going on in the World Wide Wubbish. One of the Facebook groups to which I subscribe had some worrying news. Worrying, but realistically a sad sign of the times. The Queens Head pub in Rye has closed down. In more affluent times I would go to Rye for something of a pub crawl a few times every year. There are some good pubs in Rye. Or that is there used to be some good pubs in Rye. The Queens Head was one such - the only place in which I've ever seen a FILO beer on the hand pump outside of the FILO itself. And now the Queens Head has closed for the last time. Last week at Rye bonfire parade I saw that another old favourite, The Union Inn, had shut down as well. It's all rather sad really. But, as I've said before, in this new world order of austerity when I can brew five gallons of half-decent ale at home for the price of half a gallon in the pub I'm not going to give them my money. A few years ago I was quite the connoisseur of local pubs. A few years ago I was over five stone heavier...
Having fussed Fudge, ignored the washing up, and done my early morning fiddling about I set off to work. After ten minutes I turned the car round and came back for my packed lunch. Woops!
As I drove I listened to the morning's church service on the radio. Whilst on the way to work one Sunday earlier in the year I heard one such service which I found to be quite spiritual and uplifting. However since then whenever I've listened to the Sunday service I've found them to be something of a disappointment in comparison. This morning's service was one of the better ones, and was quite interesting. It was celebrating (if that is the right word) national prisons week It was interesting that this service was aired immediately after a news item about whether or not prisoners should have the vote. The Prime Minister has taken the line of "over his dead body". Which is rather confrontational.
And in making that statement he conforms to the stereotype attitude so prevalent these days. It always amazes me that prisons and prisoners are something about which everyone has very strong opinions, but (generally) very little experience. It's common knowledge how sort life is in prison. Or that is it's common knowledge to those who don't actually know anything. With two good friends of mine having been sentenced to prison for crimes for which a gently smacked bun would have been more appropriate, I've found out (albeit vicariously) just how harsh the penal system can be. And there's no denying that my experiences of having visited a prison over a period of a year have certainly changed my opinion of the entire penal system. The morning's service on the radio featured an interview with a prisoner who described prison as somewhere where he could only survive by being friendly to everyone but being friends with no one. I would not want anyone to spend any time in such an atmosphere.
And so to work where I did my bit. Whilst continually looking out of the window at the glorious day outside. I would rather have been out and about with family and friends today. Days off mid-week are very good provided there is someone else to do things with. Having said that, it was probably as well that I was working today or I would have been tempted to have set up a stall to flog paintings at the afternoon's psychic fair. I've been to two of those so far and have (just about) covered my costs. As the day progressed I had a few texts from family and friends telling me about what I was missing. Including missing Fudge slipping the lead and running riot in a field of sheep. From what I can determine the problem wasn't so much with the pestilential pup as operator error. It seemed to me that his lead had not been attached to his collar but to the flimsy link holding his I.D. tag in place. That's one mistake that won't happen again.
Also being working meant I got to miss Fudge's first bath (he usually has a shower), and I got to miss the spectacle of Fudge eating a tennis ball. I got him the ball last week- I thought he'd like to play with a ball. He thought he'd like to eat it. That dog has no sense. Having eaten something which gave him the gut-rot last Monday (and put him off food for two days!) I caught him trying to eat a dead mouse on Friday's walk and today he ate a tennis ball. In the past he's eaten his own bed. The strangest thing about his eating habits is that he's not actually a greedy dog. He will leave half of his meals to eat a bit later; there is often some of his brekkie still in the bowl at mid-afternoon which he will come back to later when the mood takes him.
Wish I could do that with my brekkie...
19 November 2012 (Monday) - Films, Walkies, Caching...
I spent a little while this morning trying to find a whistle. I have been blowing a whistle every time I give Fudge one of his treats, and I have this theory that he will associate the sound of the whistle with getting a treat. The idea being that when we are out and he is off the lead, if I’m having trouble getting him back again I can blow the whistle. He will think it is treat time and will come charging up to me. And so will be easy meat to be captured and put back on the lead.
However the entire plan hinges on having a whistle to blow. We’d lost it. Eventually we found one left over from last Christmas, so I took that with us and gave it a try when he was off the lead. It seemed to work. Well, there was no “seemed” about it. It worked. He was charging about fifty yards away. I blew the whistle. He came back to me, sat, and lifted his paw (which is the only trick he can do). We did this a few times, and even when he was on the lead I blew the whistle and then gave him a treat a few times. He does seem to have got the idea.
I took Fudge on a geocaching episode today. It is three days since I last did any, and withdrawal symptoms were setting in. But this wasn’t finding them. This was geocache maintenance time. One of my caches was waterlogged and needed a little bit of T.L.C. And another one had simply gone missing and needed replacing. That took half an hour, but Fudge needed more of a walk than that, so we took the scenic route to the southernmost parts of town where (until today) there have been precious few geocaches.
We spent a couple of hours setting the caches for the “Park Farm Pootle”, a series of six geocaches around the Park Farm estate. In doing so we quadrupled the geocaches on that estate. They are all relatively easy to find; aimed at beginners and families. A bit of light hearted fun. I hope that the punters have as much fun seeking them out as I did finding places to hide them. “Hide and Seek” isn’t an easy game to get just right. Some hides are just plain obvious, and some are just impossible.
It’s been asked why I chose the Park Farm estate for my third series of caches. There are quite a few reasons. Firstly the area didn’t have many, and that is a rarity in the Ashford area. Secondly they are all accessible without getting caked in mud, and that takes some doing at the moment. And thirdly (but possibly the main reason) it that it is a very transparent attempt to convert one of my loyal readers over to the dark side of geocaching. (You know who you are!)
Whilst out, I saw some old friends. They didn’t recognise me at first – it’s been some years. But they looked through the face fur and soon saw it was me. When "Daddies Little Angel TM" and "My Boy TM" were toddlers we struck up friendships with other young families. In the intervening years Debbie and Nigel moved to Maidstone, moved to America, moved all over the place. But we kept in touch through the wonders of the Internet. And it was good to catch up with them today
And also whilst out I read a very interesting notice. When I walk Fudge round and about I can never let him off the lead as much as I’d like because there are horses in lots of the fields. It seems that many of these fields belong to the local council, and the horses are there without council permission. One such notice was saying that if the horses in a particular field were still there in a few days’ time then the horses would be removed. The notice was rather vague about exactly where the horses would be removed to. Presumably to a field belonging to Folkestone or Maidstone council, and left to run riot there?
And so home where we had a spot of lunch and I then did all the logging of the caches I'd set. That took a little while. And then I watched a film I'd recorded onto the SkyPlus box a few days ago. The Scouting Book for Boys looked as though it had promise, but turned out to be a disappointment.
"My Boy TM" came home and told me that Fudge looked worn out. And then I had a flurry of emails. THe series of caches I'd set had been given the thumbs-down. The reviewer thought that one was too close to a play park and had disqualified the lot. He said that if I moved the offending problem cache he'd reconsider the lot.
This reviewer boils my piss because he is inconsistent in his application of the rules. the cache I set today was quite a long way away from the play park. Certainly further away than three other caches the same chap has allowed near other play parks. So I zoomed back down to Park Farm and moved the cache. And re-submitted everything.
With "er indoors TM" out bowling for the evening I watched another film I'd recorded. Zebra Crossing was another disappointment. as was the non-publication of all the work I'd put into making the geocache trail today...
20 November 2012 (Tuesday) - A Birthday
Just after I published last night's blog the caches I hid yesterday went live. Five of them had been found six times each by the time I had my brekkie this morning. Personally I don't like caching at night, but it seems that I'm in a vanishingly small minority in that respect.
"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived with Sid and we took both dogs for a walk. Yesterday I let Fudge off the lead in a field round the back of Asda, and today we went back there to investigate the area. We found a footpath that we never knew existed which led down to Herbert Road past the Swan young farmers club. We never knew that existed either. I'm not sure what goes on in a young farmers club, but they had some sheep and goats. Whilst out I found a footbridge which was just crying out to have a geocache hidden underneath it. I might go back and put one there at some point.
On the way back we saw a new bridge was being put across the river by Asda, and it looked like a tarmac path was being built from this bridge. I wonder where that will go to?
And so home again. Whilst "Daddies Little Angel TM" wrestled with her university work I ironed shirts. Dull, but a job which wouldn't do itself. Whilst we did our chores the dogs scrapped over the fragments of a toy puppet Fudge had destroyed some time ago. For all that Fudge isn't always good with other dogs, he does seem to play well with Sid. It's only a shame that they are the two most flatulent dogs I've ever met. Oh, their bums are rank!
I then spent a few minutes tidying up the front garden. It had become something of a mess. I had a look in the back garden and gathered up the dog dung. I couldn't be bothered to do anything else there today. In previous years I've taken a lot of pride in the back garden. Now I can't be bothered.
And so round to see "My Boy TM" and Cheryl. Lacey was six years old today, and family and friends gathered. She had a decent haul of pressies, and I lay on the floor and played "Doggie Doo" with her for a while. Interestingly "Doggie Doo" is something about which I ranted a year ago. Its actually quite good fun.
And then on to Folkestone for the weekly gathering. In between exchanging insults we watched another episode of "Firefly". Good times...
21 November 2012 (Wednesday) - Fun with Orinoco
This morning as I checked what was happening on Facebook I was rather shocked to hear the news from an old friend. I've known Kev for over thirty years. We don't meet up anywhere near as much as I'd like, but we do catch up a few times each year. Most recently a month ago at the Hastings bonfire parade. By trade Kev is a tree surgeon, and earlier this week he had a very nasty accident with a chain saw. His left arm was severely lacerated with serious muscle and nerve damage done. He's had specialist surgery in Brighton and the prognosis for recovery is good. This news rather put my own worries into proportion.
Having said that I seem to have developed a really painful knuckle overnight. I wonder what that's all about.
The national news goes from ridiculous to farcical with allegations that the late Cyril Smith was also a kiddy fiddler. Stories of his alleged fiddling date from 1974. If anyone can give an honest detailed account of what they were doing thirty eight years ago I would be very surprised. There can hardly be a celebrity left who isn't absolutely terrified of such slanders. Being in the public eye seems to have given the media carte blanche to pursue such stories, and being dead serves their purpose even more.
I for one am certainly racking my brains trying to remember anyone remotely famous whom I encountered as a child. No one springs to mind at the moment, but if any of my loyal readers could name someone famous who was in the general vicinity of Hastings in the early 1970s, I am quite happy to go halves on whatever money I can get out of making up stories of having been fiddled by them. I can remember that the Wombles opened a supermarket near my mum's house at one point during those years. I wonder if I could make out that Orinoco put his hands where he shouldn't have?
I overheard an interesting conversation today. One person had apparently just come back from a holiday in Mexico. She'd been there for two weeks and spent the entire time in the hotel. When asked what tourist attractions she'd been to she thought for a bit, and then said that she'd been to the hotel's pool, and to the hotel's cabaret. She apparently had no interest in leaving the hotel at all. When asked what part of Mexico she'd been to she replied "Mexico - by the airport". And when asked the question of which airport she replied "Mexico airport". From her tone the "dur!!!" following the statement was very much implied.
Why do people travel half way round the world just to sit by a swimming pool.
Today I met up with one of my ex-students who had just come back from a holiday in India. Whilst away he'd thought of me, and had brought me a whole load of Indian fighting kites. I was rather choked up at his thinking of me - I'd not seen him in over a year.
And a chap I'd known vaguely for twenty years retired today. He was a good fellow. It's sad to see him go, and I can't help but wonder how long it will be before I get to retire myself. It can't come quickly enough. When I'm at work I rather miss my dog....
22 November 2012 (Thursday) - Covered in Fox Poo
Among my many and varied hobbies I fly kites. I no longer post on any kite-related internet forums as it is too easy to misunderstand what someone else has written and to have your own words misunderstood. It was the same when I kept snakes, and now it seems to be the same with geocaching. On Monday I mentioned that I hid a cache only to have it turned down because it was too close to a playpark. At the time I didn't realise there was even a playpark nearby. I've had other caches turned down for the same reason, whilst I know of (at least) four other caches which are closer to playparks than the one for which I got the thumbs down. Including one of my own. So I went through the official rules to get some guidance. The official rules were vague, so I asked on a geocaching forum for advice.
In retrospect I really wish that I hadn't. Perhaps I was being over sensitive, but some of the replies were (in part) quite nasty. Having been accused of having half a brain, other posts seemed to imply that placing a geocache in the general vicinity of a school implied paedophilia. Another took offence at perceived digs on my part (supposedly aimed at people I don't even know) that I simply hadn't made.
I got the answer to my question from an entirely different source. It turns out that candidate geocaches are all judged on their individual merits by the specific reviewers. Reviewers who live dozens (if not hundreds) of miles away and who have no local knowledge. Instead they use on-line maps, which are not always right - Google Maps has the position of Norton Knatchbull school wrong by some miles. Which clearly explains the variable way in which caches are allowed or rejected.
This was a pain in the bum. I'd taken the trouble to get council permission to hide some caches in the Ashford Green Corridor, but one of the places I had in mind is not very far (as the crow flies) from a football pitch. Personally I didn't see any problem with the hide... It was at this point that the doorbell rang.
The nice man had arrived to service our boiler. It wasn't cheap, but regular readers of this drivel may recall that the boiler went west a couple of years ago and that was rather expensive. I'd rather shell out a reasonable amount of cash yearly to keep the thing going rather than running this one into the ground like we did the last one. It didn't take long, but once the nice man had done I realised he's left the bottom cover off. I've left a message on his phone for him to come back to fix it.
I then took Fudge for a walk to Frog's Island to set that geocache. After all, I'd gone to the trouble of getting permission from the council, and if it was too near to a football pitch, then I'd decided I'd spit my dummy out and formally squeal up all the others that might be in place but break the rules anyway. As I scrubbled about hiding the cache Fudge scrubbled about rolling in fox poo. I am reliably informed that you can tell fox poo because when rubbed on a dog it smells of rancid fish. Foul dog! I abandoned any plans I had to go on more of a walk and we came straight home for bath time. With the dog scrubbed I did the on-line registering of the cache I'd hidden, and there were no quibbles. This one went live within ten minutes and was found for the first time an hour or so later. You can see the details of the cache by clicking here.
A quick spot of lunch, then round to collect the first fruit of my loin. We went to the driving range again. I quite like smacking golf balls into the middle distance. I didn't get on too well today - my back was playing up somewhat. Probably because I was laying awkwardly on the floor whilst playing "Doggie Doo" with Lacy a couple of days ago. But I enjoyed myself. I came home with loads of dog-related paraphenalia that my boy had got for me, including a new harness for the pup, and a dog Advent Calendar. Fudge sat on my lap whilst I pootled about on the Internet. As I pootled I realised I could smell something. Rancid fish. The poor pup got another bath - this one was somewhat more vigorous.
Meanwhile the mo grows apace. There's no denying that I hate the thing, but it is raising some money for a good cause. please feel free to sponsor it; in eight days it is coming off.
23 November 2012 (Friday) - Stuff
With my beloved out flogging candles I had something of an early night last night. And after twenty minutes I went downstairs to comfort Fudge who was crying pitifully. I must have not secured the dog-proofing as I am reliably informed that when my beloved came home Fudge was fast asleep on my bed. Can't think how that happened. It's odd that when she's home in the evenings he takes himself off to bed and doesn't make any fuss.
This morning I had a quick dose of Earth, Wind and Fire in Trap One, and then did the weekly weigh-in. The day on which I have my weekly weigh-in has become rather variable lately, but I do average a weigh-in once a week. And more weight has come off. At this rate being under thirteen stones is seeming more and more possible. Yesterday I had to drill yet another hole in my belt which is a good six inches tighter than once it was.
To work. I listened to the end of the morning's news program as I drove. Consumer groups are worried about energy costs as their experts have predicted that the government is doing something daft. Apparently government subsidies of green energy will add a hundred quid to our yearly fuel bills. The Energy Minister came on the program and was rather amazed because his experts are all of the impression that green energy will save us all a hundred quid every year. Personally I'm all for green energy; but I'm not all for increased bills.
There was also mention that there are moves afoot for Mexico to have a change of name. The country's president wants the name changed to just "Mexico" as opposed to "The United States of Mexico" which is it's real name, but is rarely (if ever) used. I suspect that Mexico only gets called The United States of Mexico by its mum when she is cross with it.
Then it was "Desert Island Discs", this time featuring the television producer John Lloyd. He's one of the brains behind much of successful telly including Spitting Image and Blackadder to name but two. Unlike many of the people on "Desert Island Discs", this bloke was witty, articulate and actually interesting. It was a shame I missed the end of the program really.
I did my bit at work and came home. Rather late. I listened to the news on the way home too. Rather worrying. With the Prime Minister not having secured as much as a rebate from the euro bill as he might have hoped,he's now playing to the crowd with teasing references to a euro-referendum. He's not daft. It will appeal to the jingoistic element. It's a vote winner. Britain will be out of the E.U. within ten years. And at war with it shortly after....
Meanwhile the mo grows apace. There's no denying that I hate the thing, but it is raising some money for a good cause. please feel free to sponsor it; in one week it is coming off.
24 November 2012 (Saturday) - Tuned In
‘er indoors TM set off to the convention of candle floggers at silly am this morning leaving me home alone with furry face. We both had a quick spot of brekkie, and then I took him for a walk before the rain was forecast to arrive. Up to the Bowens Field wetland where I amazed myself by having a bit of a jog. I ran for several hundred yards. Little Fudge seemed to like having me running, and rather than doing his own thing off the lead, he kept pace with me. He could have kept going for miles. I couldn't. I had to stop, but when I did I had covered a far greater distance that I thought I could have done. We walked round to Viccy Park, down Jemmett Road and across the Co-op field where I let him off the lead again and we both had another little run.
Am I being overly ambitious in wondering if I might take up running?
Whilst we were out I couldn't help but notice the amount of houses with Kleeneze catalogues on the doorsteps. I found that rather depressing. There's far too much competition locally to really make a go of flogging that stuff.
Home, where I did the monthly accounts. They weren't as bad as I was expecting; they weren't as good as I was hoping. There's no denying that I don't like this new order of austerity. I need to find something which will bring in more cash. Not lots; just some. More cash from little effort would be good. But more cash. If anyone wants any little jobs doing, I'm your man. I will do absolutely anything for hard cash(!)
Not that I'm bankrupt - far from it. It's just that when you are used to being able to afford to spend every Saturday afternoon in the pub, it's a bit of a pain when you can't any more. Having said that, you can get too much time in the pub. I prefer looking forward to being under thirteen stone than looking forward to being over nineteen stone.
Chippy called round with a barrel. I’d been waiting for that. I got the bucket of beer for that barrel up and onto a table, and left it to settle for a few hours. Whilst I was waiting for the beer to settle, Lisa called round, and we set off for the business of the day. There’s a local geocache called “Tuned In” which I’ve had my eye on for a while. This one isn’t like your average cache – having found the first part, it then leads you on to four other stages. Each part needs you to solve a music-related puzzle. Having done most of the other local caches I didn’t have many left in Ashford. So during last week I mentioned on the Kent caching Facebook group that I was going to try for this cache, and did anyone else fancy having a go at it with me. Ten hardy souls braved the weather. The first part took some finding. We very nearly fell at the first hurdle, but having eventually found it we needed to solve guitar chords. And then we had the co-ordinates for the next puzzle. And off we went. Using apps on our phones to identify all sorts of musical thingies we eventually completed the cache and got to sign the log despite the rain.
By now we were all rather damp, but we pressed on to the local woods where Lisa had hidden six caches. I’d already found four of them before, but it was a fun afternoon out with new friends. And what else would I do on my own on a wet November day?
After a couple of hours we’d found all the caches, and with the light slowly failing we said our goodbyes and made our ways home. For us it was via another cache in Newtown, before putting the kettle on and drying out wet coats in readiness for another session tomorrow.
I then put Chip’s beer into the barrel. And had a crafty swig whilst I was at it. There’s a lot of fruit flavour there, but not a lot of beer flavour. Mind you, it still has a month for the taste to develop. But if all else fails it’s not too shabby as it is. I then checked out what had gone on in the world whilst I’d been out. I saw a friend has had a tattoo done.
Call me old fashioned if you will, but if I was going to have a word, phrase or saying tattooed onto me I would check the spelling when the transfer was applied, and certainly before the needle got involved…
25 November 2012 (Sunday) - The Alternates
We were up with the lark this morning. Realistically today's planned walk would have been more suited to being a summertime one when the days are longer. But in my world idiot enthusiasm usually triumphs over common sense, and today saw another such victory. We were brekkied, dressed and out of the house by 8am. There was a minor delay when we had to drive back to Lisa's house to collect her phone, but we were at the starting point by 9am.
"The Alternates" is a series of over fifty geocaches in the Sevenoaks area. The series features some of every kind of geocache, open ones, premium member ones, multis, puzzles, even letterbox hybrids - and you rarely see those. It also includes the longest and shortest multis I've ever seen. It was a cold day, and windy at times. But it started brightly enough, and five of us soon solved the first puzzle and off we went.
We found the first half-dozen caches really easily; and then I had a minor worry. The seventh cache was a puzzle cache. The co-ordinates were given along the lines of Paris multiplied by Rome minus Munich. We'd seen this earlier in the week; I'd put out a message on Facebook asking for help. I'd been given some suggestions and I'd tried them and came up with a solution which was in the general vicinity of where it should have been. And (would you believe it) my solution was correct. The cache was where I thought it would be. Oh, I was so smug about that.
And on we went. Fudge made himself ill by eating horse poo. We got shouted at by some old harridan for being on a public footpath used by her horse. We had a snigger at "Pennis Lane" and "Pennis House". It was at Pennis House that we took a bit of a detour. The entire series of caches are arranged in a circle. If you run short of time you can cut out part of the circle by following five "link" caches. We thought that we'd just do the five link ones as well as all of the others. And we did. It was a lovely walk through some beautiful scenery. At a couple of points the route went through a golf course where golfers had to smack the ball over a lake to the holes. I would be stuffed there.
Cache 42 of the series was my eight hundredth geocache. Eight hundred since the first one on the last day of July. That's not bad going. Cache 42 was also where the weather turned. The rain started. Gentle at first, but more and more persistent. But walking in a circular route meant we had no choice but to push on. And we did. Despite the rain getting heavier and heavier, and the light failing, we carried on. The last hour was done in darkness in the torrential rain with me carrying a small dog who, after the twelfth mile, had refused to walk any further. But we did what we had set out to do; and more. Over the course of eight hours and thirteen miles we found sixty three geocaches:
So far this is my most prolific day's caching. Much gratitude is due to those who set the trail. As always there are photos of the event on-line.
Meanwhile my mo grows. There's no denying that I hate the thing, but it is raising some money for a good cause. please feel free to sponsor it; in five days it is coming off.
26 November 2012 (Monday) - The End of the World
I was rather tired after yesterday's thirteen mile hike. Little Fudge certainly was. I went to bed shortly after 11pm, was woken by my beloved's snoring at 2.30am, and then lay awake for the rest of the night; alternately listening to the sound of torrential rain against the window, and snoring.
I eventually gave up with the idea of sleeping and went downstairs to find a very sheepish looking dog. He'd not been sent out last thing last night, and he'd been taken short. Woops! That was the last thing I needed after such a bad night's sleep, but I couldn't be cross with him. After all it was "operator error" really.
And so to work. As I drove I listened to the news which was abuzz with the death of Larry Hagman who played JR in Dallas. I didn't realise that there was currently a series of "Dallas - The Next Generation" on the telly in which Larry Hagman featured. It's amazing what happens when you don't pay attention. There was also a lot of talk about the floods - large parts of the country are flooded. Hundreds of people are relying on their household insurance to help them out. Thousands of people are being told that from now on their houses won't be covered against flood damage in future. This could well make their houses un-sellable.
Mind you I can see the insurance companies' point of view. Especially as the Government won't contribute to help.
Something which boiled my piss was the latest brainwave from Cambridge University - the "Cambridge Project for Existential Risk". Concerned that mankind might get wiped out by plague, killer robots, asteroid strikes or other such far-fetched stuff, those in a position to do so have set themselves up on a nice little gravy train. They intend to play with ideas that science-fiction had tired of before I was born. And get paid for it as well. Nice work if you can get it.
After the news was a current affairs program about the re-unification of Germany. I listened intently to the program in the hope that I might learn something. Unfortunately after half an hour I still had no idea what they were talking about, other than that if they are having such trouble re-unifying Germany, what hope is there for a united Europe.
Meanwhile sponsorship for the mo is approaching the hundred quid mark. Please feel free to sponsor it; in four days it is coming off.
27 November 2012 (Tuesday) - fudge (with a small "f")
Last week I laid out a series of geocaches around the Park Farm estate. This morning's haul of emails brought news that one of these caches was now waterlogged. Odd. When they went out they all had waterproof bags around them. So after a quick bit of brekkie I took Fudge for a walk so's we could put the cache right. Half an hour's walk to the cache, two minutes to sort the thing, and half an hour to walk back again. I would like to have gone to the park or some fields where Fudge could have had a run, but al the rain we've had meant that everywhere was waterlogged.
With more rain forecast we came home and I spent a rather dull day doing housework. Tidying up and sorting out. Mostly putting things into piles so that "er indoors TM" can (hopefully) deal with them later. I then did some hoovering. Or Dysoning to be more specific. And then I disassembled the Dyson, cleaned out all the dust, string and stuff clogged in its works, and Dysoned again properly. Next it was time for the laundry - washing, ironing, sorting out the smalls. Fudge took a liking to the smalls, and fell asleep on top of them. I lifted him off. He woke up, looked at me, and climbed back on.
Whilst I was busy the phone rang. "My Boy TM" was home with Lacey who'd been brought home from school with a temperature. She's got croup, and had been to the hospital with it over the weekend. No one tells me anything(!) And the insurance company phoned. The house building and contents is due for renewal. The agent wondered if I would like to renew, or go with another company on their books. This other company offered effectively the same policy for just over half the cost. That's a couple of hundred quid I could well do with.
With the day's chores done (dull!) the clans gathered at Somerset Road where we watched another episode of "Merlin"; which is really good. Matt had been cooking. Three varieties of fudge (with a small "f"). Very tasty...
28 November 2012 (Wednesday) - On the Radio
Here's a sign of the times. The average Briton is walking eighty miles less each year. With inactivity now being seen as bad for the health as smoking, this rise in idleness is being taken to be yet another contributing factor to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Perhaps the average Briton should take up geocaching. That would make them walk a bit more. Or that is the way that I do it would make them walk a bit more. I have no time for this drive-by nonsense (he lied)... I digress....
As I drove home this evening there was an interesting discussion about the subject on the radio. The crux of the debate was that a lot of illness which is currently being dealt with by over-worked hospitals is arguably directly attributable to the lifestyle choices made my those with said illnesses. The question asked was should those who smoke, fail to exercise, and/or regularly drink to excess expect to get free treatment for their self-induced maladies from the NHS? Obviously they shouldn't. Obviously they get all they deserve (!)
So how do we spot those who shouldn't benefit from free health care? Can you really tell a smoker from a non-smoker if the smoker is making an effort to hide his predilection for fags? Some people (like me) put on weight by merely glancing at a cream cake; others can dine on lard and remain svelte. Is discriminating against people like me really fair? And how about the super-fit health fanatic who slips on a dog turd and breaks his leg whilst out jogging. Why should the non-jogging community foot the bill? And is someone who plays football regularly deliberately increasing his chances of injury (and subsequent cost to the hospital)?
Initially I was of the opinion that (as a bit of a porker myself) we've all paid our bit and so are entitled to health care. But now I've thought about it I'm not so sure. Is the actual concept of deserving and un-deserving patients simply wrong? Or is it a choice that a health system which is strapped for cash needs to make? And how is such a choice to be made?
I don't know the answer. But I do know that I worry far less about my own healthcare provision (which is currently free) than I do about that of my dog's (which costs)
Meanwhile here's a much sadder sign of the times. Sir Cyril Smith was another celebrity who abused his position to take advantage of small children. Apparently. In a novel break with current practice, it seems that this case might actually have a nugget of truth in it. This morning's news had a statement from his family regretting the incidents, but commenting on the unfortunate "trial by media" which is taking place. The family have a point.
Over the last few weeks I've touched on this and other such cases. I've wondered how many other celebrities are worried. Some are worried that their crimes will be uncovered. As well they might worry. But it is my concern that a far greater number of innocent people are living in fear of baseless allegations made against them by those making money from selling these stories.
I for one am now worried about such baseless allegations being made against me. Over the years when I was a scout leader, at camps and sleep-overs children would from time to time foul themselves. When camping this would happen (on average) at a rate of about one child every night. Sometimes more; rarely less. It was every single night for three weeks when we took them to Canada for the first time. I lost count of the amount of such boys that I (and other scout leaders) cleaned up. And, to be blunt, you can't clean up such a shitted child without being rather intimate.
Admittedly in retrospect I may well have put myself into a compromising position in doing so, but what alternative was there? Should we have left these boys (unable to clean themselves) caked in their own poo?
Many of these boys are now in their twenties. They all now have bills to pay. Some have their own houses and families to support. And they are seeing these stories about alleged child abuse in the news. They are seeing the lucrative deals newspapers will offer to victims of such alleged crimes. I wonder how long it will be before an ex-cub points the finger at me for financial gain? When they do, I expect I will be stuffed. I've done no wrong, but as I've mentioned before several times, from bitter experience I have absolutely no confidence in the British judicial system.
Meanwhile in more mundane news I am reliably informed that a rat which is the size of Fudge has taken up residence in my back garden . I wonder what I'm supposed to do about that. I can't put down poison or Fudge will eat it. Similarly he'll stick his nose into any rat traps I might put down. If the rat were smaller, Fudge might have seen it off. This rat might see him off. I shall have a think...
29 November 2012 (Thursday) - Busy, Busy...
I was laying in bed last night having a last minute check of my emails before going to sleep when I saw something that wound me up just a little bit. Regular readers of this drivel might recall a rant I made a week or so about locations of geocaches. The guidelines say that they shouldn't be near schools or youth clubs. Last week I found what I thought would be the ideal place to hide a cache, but I then realised that it was right on top of a children's farm. So I immediately rejected the place as a potential hide. At 11.30pm last night I read that a cache had been hidden in that very spot. I considered ranting on the geocaching forums, but decided not to bother. Instead I thought I'd take Fudge to find it in the morning.
But I couldn't sleep. I went onto the Kent Caching page where a fellow cacher was egging me on to go to find it. After an hour I realised that "er indoors TM" was still up and about, and was talking on-line to another cacher. And Fudge wanted a walk anyway. So three of us (and Fudge who doesn't like geocaching) set off to find this cache. My GPS took us almost exactly to the spot where I had been planning to hide the cache. And within five minutes I was feeling rather smug having found the cache. In true "Team ELF" style I carried on searching before standing back and being smug. Within another minute we were all feeling smug, Even more so when we opened the cache and saw we were the first ones there. At 1.08am. I'm not normally a fan of night-caching...
Mind you I am still rather miffed about this cache. It is on the footpath by a farm project aimed at children. In fact it is not two yards from the farmland. The cache I had turned down was ten times further away (and on the other side of a very busy road) from anywhere aimed at kiddies.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that I slept well. After a spot of brekkie I took furry face for a walk round Bowens Field, through the park and home. He seemed to like it. On the way home we met the first fruit of my loin who was on his way home too. He seemed well, for all that he was moaning about having a cold. A quick cuppa. and the Folkstonians arrived. One of them did her own thing whilst me and the Rear Admiral set off on a mission.
Being the end of November we thought there might be bargains to be had in Camping International. So we set off there. As it was quite a while since I’d been there, we used Sat-Nav. Woops. Now perhaps I made a boo-boo, but if you put “Camping International” into Google Maps the place comes up with the correct address and post code. However when you then use that same map to navigate to the shop, it takes you to somewhere just over ten miles closer to London. Bexleyheath to be precise. (Go on – try it out!) Oh, how we laughed.
By the time we eventually found Gillingham it was gone mid-day, so we popped into Gina’s café for a spot of lunch. Very tasty. And then on to Camping International. There were one or two tents that looked quite good; but still more expensive than on eBay. So we came home. And in another triumph of Sat-Nav we almost (but not quite) came home via Sheerness.
Once home we found the most recent fruit of my loins, and after a quick cuppa took the dogs for a walk, reprising the route we did this morning, but in reverse. Whilst out I managed to rip a hole in my fleece. I wasn’t happy about that; but I think I’ve managed to stitch a repair which will do to be getting on with.
And then we spent the evening scoffing curry and watching episodes of Star Trek. Good times...
30 November 2012 (Friday) - Having a Shave...
Regular readers of this drivel will know that I suffer from chronic insomnia. To solve that problem I have downloaded a sleep management app to my SmartPhone. I'm still rather vague as to the specifics of how I can manage my sleep using a telephone. But if I can communicate, play games and go geocaching with the gadget, then having a bit of a kip surely can't be that difficult
I checked my emails - I'm in the money(!) Regular readers of this drivel may recall that in February I went for a walk round Shadoxhurst. I put the details of the route I'd taken onto happy wanderer dot com, and anyone who wanted to go on that walk could pay a modest fee to download the route. And from that modest fee I would get some commission.
Over the summer people did pay a fee and download that route several times. And now I've got my commission. Fourteen pence. I have this money as credit in my account, and I can trade the credit for hard cash when I get to having a balance which is over ten quid.
I can either publish one or two more routes to maximise the income, or I can give up on the idea as a silly waste of time. I think I might publish some of the geocaching walks I've recently done. After all I would like to get some money out of this scheme before I retire.
It's official. Winter has arrived. For the first time since last winter I found my car covered in frost and ice this morning. It was nothing that pouring a bottle of tepid water over it couldn't shift, but it still added five minutes to the morning's chores nonetheless. As always when it's frosty I met up with the neighbour who delights in standing over me tutting at my bottle of tepid water. He is convinced that it is not tepid; that it is hot. And he is also convinced that being hot it will shatter the windscreen. He doesn't seem to realise that we've had this conversation several times every week, every winter for the last ten or so years.
Every time that the cars are iced over, I find myself going through the same old routine. I come to my car, having found him already out in the cold, scratching ice from his car. I chuck cold water over my car and it is clear. He whinges on at me, and I drive away. Leaving him still scratching ice. I can only think that he must love standing in the cold scraping ice from his car.
As I shivered on the way to work I listened to the radio. Regular readers of this drivel will kow that I have often ranted about an uncontrolled media. It would seem that the Leveson enquiry is calling for regulation of the press. As well it might. The Prime Minister is apparently against the idea, but in a novel break with tradition the Dribbling Democraps are showing a bit of backbone and are standing up against him. The opposition are also against the Prime Minister, and are threatening to call for a vote on the matter. WIth the Dribblers in revolt, the opposition might win.
Personally I think they are right to call for such a vote, but a cynical part of myself wonders if they want a vote for the right reasons. Do they honestly want a properly regulated media, or do they just want to embarrass the Prime Minister?
Being the last Friday of the month I left work early and set off to astro club. That club goes from strength to strength. Stevey gave tonight's talk. Brilliant. Excellent talks, clear skies for viewing, good time with good friends. But I left a little early to come home for a shave.
And in closing, that's it for the face fur for another year. So far the sponsorship has passed the hundred quid mark. The thing has now been shaved off, but I believe it's still not too late to hand over dosh. Please feel free to sponsor it; and next year you might want to sponsor it again.....