1 October 2023 (Sunday) - Flip Out
I woke twice in the night needing the loo. Each time I went I was followed by an exodus of dogs, all of whom wanted to go up to the attic room to bother “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. All of whom actually cried when they were told they couldn’t because they would wake the baby.
We all got up just after seven and over brekkie watched “Lube-Tube” videos of dachshunds getting in to scrapes. Dachshund Olympics, European holidays… it was all good fun.
After a flying visit from Auntie Cheryl we settled the dogs and set off to Flip Out for “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM”’s birthday treat. We got there, put on our special socks (you have to wear the right socks), and trampolined about like things possessed. It was rather good, if a tad tiring. Though it probably didn’t help with me being fifty years past their target age.
After two hours boinging and jumping and playing tag in a three-storey maze our time was up, and so we went for lunch. The birthday boy was given the choice of venue, and he chose McDonalds. Good lad. A Big Mac with extra gherkins followed by McFlurry with extra choccie and monkey blood is always a good thing.
We then ran the Folkestonians home, and came back to the garden for a cuppa. I toyed with the idea of taking the dogs out, but they all seemed knackered. They too had been worn out from the grandchildren staying over… or (more likely in their cases) having had Pogo staying over. Instead I read a couple of chapters of my Kindle and then slobbed on the sofa feeling rather washed out. I suppose having the family round was a tad intense.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a pizza which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA” and all sorts of other stuff. With the Sky-Q box you can record stuff six times faster than you can watch it. Recording TV programs isn’t an issue, but watching them is akin to fighting a losing battle.
2 October 2023 (Monday) - Week Off Day One
I rather ached when I woke this morning. After-effects of Friday’s vaccinations or too much jumping about on the trampolines yesterday?
I made toast and sparked up my lap-top. Two Facebook friends had birthdays today. I sent out birthday wishes to the one with whom I see regularly… the other made me think… The one to whom I sent the birthday video is someone with whom I work. The one to whom I didn’t is someone with whom I used to work twelve years ago, haven’t seen since and (in all honesty) probably never will.
Work is strange, isn’t it? You spend so much of your life with some people all day every day. Then one or other of you leave the workplace and you never see them again…
I loaded the dogs into the car and we set off for WIllesborough. As we drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing someone or other about his experiences with someone else. I have absolutely no idea who the person being interviewed was, or any idea who they were talking about, but it was rather captivating.
We got to the Skoda garage where we left the car (to get the brakes sorted) and walked the two and a half miles home. The walk went well even if the dogs did have to stay on the lead the entire time. We met a few dogs; most encounters passed off uneventfully. One didn’t though. There was an elderly couple with a white Labrador. The dog didn’t seem fussed, but the elderly woman started shrieking “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh” with increasing volume and increasing panic for absolutely no reason at all. Needless to say this wound all the dogs up.
And then another woman screamed and jumped on to a wall as we walked past. I’m seeing this more and more and (at the risk of appearing racist) especially from the immigrant community. Are my three hounds really *that* scary?
As we walked we went past where I once hid a geocache (nearly ten years ago). I’d had a report that the thing was missing. Was it? I don’t know – I couldn’t get anywhere near the tree where it was supposed to be; the brambles were that high.
We came home where I sorted a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM” and warmed up the last of the pains au chocolat from yesterday, and then had a little think about that problem geocache of mine.
Having thought about it I then put right whatever geocaching dot com had done to the description of one of my geocaches near work (rendering it unsolvable), then strained my brain on a puzzle geocache that I spotted on the geo-map not far from home.
The puzzle was straightforward. There were eleven photographs of Lego models of famous landmarks each with a letter from A to L (geocachers don’t use the letter “I”!) You have to identify each landmark, then order them from the most westerly to the most easterly. If the most westerly was “F” and the most easterly was “B” then F=1 and B=11. (*If* they were… which they weren’t). Given a numeric value for each letter you then substitute each letter into the formula N51 (H-H)(C+G-B).(K-L)(L-F)(J-D+C) E000 (D-E)(L+C-H).(A+B)(K-G)(J-F+E) and come up with a location either a short(ish) walk from home or somewhere out on the Romney Marsh, depending on whether you got it right or wrong.
I got it right…
I had hoped we might be walking past this geocache when we went to get the car from the garage in the afternoon. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say that it would have involved a little more than the teensiest diversion. Luckily “er indoors TM” suggested we drove out in her car on her lunch break to see if we might find it.
As we drove home so my phone rang. My car was ready. So pausing only briefly for a quick sandwich I got the dogs onto their leads again and off we went to get it.
We walked out past where my problem geocache was. I put out a new one on the footpath a few yards from the old one, and then a little later I replaced one of “er indoors TM”’s geocaches which was missing.
Eventually we got to the garage and got the car. There’s no denying we drove home a lot faster than we drove out.
I spent an hour reading more “Game of Thrones” on my Kindle, and once “er indoors TM” had boiled up dinner and gone bowling I sparked up Netflix and sat on the sofa amongst a swarm of dogs. As they snored I watched a film. “In Time” started off with an interesting premise; rather than having a cash-based economy, the currency of the society in the film was lifetime. Given enough time people could live forever. However this was just the basis for a police story with a difference… the difference being it was pretty much the same as every other police story that has ever been told. It descended into a sort-of sci-fi version of Bonnie and Clyde. Sadly despite being total paupers, Bonnie managed to have a complete change of wardrobe in every scene.
I watched it with a sense of déjà vu. Some of it seemed really familiar. Had I seen it before?
Today was rather busy; not a bad start to a week off work really.
3 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Week Off Day Two
As I scoffed toast I tried to look at Munzee what with today being the start of the Clan War. However the app (and the website) were slow to the point of being unusable. A couple of months ago Munzee HQ had a major upgrade to its IT, and like pretty much every IT upgrade everywhere the IT is now doing all sorts of wonderful things behind the scenes… but actually does the job it is supposed to do far slower and nowhere near as well as it used to.
There was a whinge on Facebook about the size of the housing developments going up locally. Sadly some people seemed to think what whinging on Facebook equated to making a formal complaint to the authorities… because they felt that “the authorities” was Facebook. Sometimes I get rather scared about how thick normal people can be.
I loaded the dogs into the car and we went out. AS we drove the pundits on the radio were spouting all sorts of drivel. The proposed HS2 train line from London to Manchester would seem to be dead in the water. It was said that if that odious Nigel Farage were to join the Conservative party and mount a leadership challenge, he’d be Prime Minister before the year was out (what a chilling thought). But no one really seemed to grasp the implications of the malaria vaccine that had just been announced. More than one person dies from malaria every minute; mostly children under five years of age. And pretty much all people from the poorest parts of the world. No one asked our potential Prime Minister (and those of a like mind) make of that.
We got to the woods and saw that Dalmatian who was running loose last week. Today he was on a lead being walked by a rather doddery old lady. A little way into our walk we met the chap who gets dragged all over the place by the akitas who are clearly far stronger than he is.
And three quarters of the way round as we came through one of the narrower paths through the trees we found a tent. Someone was camping over a mile into the woods.
After four miles we got back to the car and came home. Treacle had a bath as she’d been stomping through the swamps. And as I sat with a coffee and croissant so I got whiffs of fox poo. Bailey then got a bath.
I then set about the lawn. After a week’s growing the lawn is too long to easily be able to see dog dung. Mowing the lawn, bionically burning the weeds and vooming round with the garden vacuum took an hour.
As I emptied all the lawn clippings and garden waste into the green bin in the front garden I did chuckle. Two young(ish) chaps were walking down the road, each with the most ridiculous haircut. Imagine growing your hair for five years then sticking a dessert bowl on your head, shaving away everything that fell outside the dessert bowl and covering what was left with cooking oil. As they walked past (rubbing the obviously sore bald bits) one said to the other (in all sincerity) “That barber’s good, isn’t he?”
Having completely forgotten the earlier issue with the Munzee app we got the leads onto the dogs and drove down to Stanhope with the intention to have a half-hour Munzing session. We had a go, but it is a tad frustrating to have the app taking over five minutes to do what it used to be able to do in a couple of seconds. Our plan had been to get a Qrate each; I managed, but “er indoors TM” didn’t. Eventually we abandoned as “er indoors TM” had to be back for lunch.
I spent the afternoon doing more gardening. Over the years the stepping stones up the lawn have sunk deeper and deeper into the grass. So I took the first one, lifted it out of the lawn, trimmed the grass from around the edge of the hole, popped in seven scoops of soil, replaced the stepping stone and stomped it level. In a novel break with tradition I used a spirit level to make sure all actually was level.
And having done the first one I then simply repeated the process for the other twelve.
The ninth one is a tad wobbly; if it doesn’t settle I shall have it up and bung in some more soil to balance it out… in a day or so.
“er indoors TM” boiled up pizza and chips and went off to see her mates. I set the dishwasher going and settled down on the sofa with the dogs and watched a film. “65” was… crap, really.
It started off with someone whose daughter was dying and so the chap had a phenomenal medical bill. If that’s not an advert for state-provided healthcare, then what is? Anyway… to pay the bill this bloke took a whole load of people (in hibernation) off for a ride in outer space in his space ship which he inadvertently pranged on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico sixty-five million years ago on the very day before that great big asteroid crashed and wiped out all the dinosaurs.
I suppose the film could have been good but… (to give but one example) if you are being attacked by some sort of dinosaur thingy and your only means of defence is a space laser, what would you do? Personally I would shoot the dinosaur with the space laser. I wouldn’t let the dinosaur get to within biting distance and then repeatedly clout it with the blunt end of the space laser.
My Munzee app has completely died now…
4 October 2023 (Wednesday) - Thirty Seven Years Later
Some people have more money that sense. This morning as I looked at Facebook there was an amazing post on one of the Lego groups I follow. Someone had been to Edinburgh castle where the gift shop was selling single Lego bricks with the Edinburgh castle logo for one pound twenty-five pence. The chap who’d seen them was asking who would be so daft as to spend that on one Lego brick. Dozens of people said they would. And then someone who lives in Edinburgh posted a comment offering to go to the castle’s gift shop to get bricks and post them out… for a fiver each (the fiver covering the cost of brick and postage). Dozens of people were asking for one, and were handing over their money.
And then there was a rather bitter squabble over a rather trivial point in an episode of “Star Trek: Picard” started by and egged on by some chap who openly admitted he’d not seen the show but had read others’ opinions on the Internet.
We got the dogs onto their leads. Being over an hour later out of bed than usual when on a day off, we didn’t have time for Kings Wood so we took the dogs to Orlestone. Orlestone is much closer to home but has the disadvantage of roads much closer to the car park, of being muddier, and…”something else”. I wish I knew what that ”something else” actually is. Something down there sets Morgan off. When he’s in Orlestone his recall is terrible, he is constantly over-excited and always in a state of semi-frenzy. I’m not saying he’s an angel in Kings Wood but there is a noticeable difference. I’d love to know what the difference is.
But today the walk passed off rather well. Morgan did get a tad over-exuberant, but came back when called. In fact today’s problem pup was Treacle who at the end of the walk (when only a hundred yards from the car) jumped into what I can only describe as a small river. She was still dripping when we got home.
We (I) bathed Treacle, settled the dogs and leaving Alexa playing them “Soothing Jazz for Dogs” (she’s an obliging girl!) we set off. We’d been given a Wowcher/Groupon ticket for a look round Chiddingstone Castle. I won’t say it was crap (because “er indoors TM” assures me it isn’t) but I will make the observation that when the owner of the place died and left it to the National Trust, they turned it down.
The chap who used to own the place seemed to have been some sort of rich eccentric with more money than sense who spent good money on old tat. Each room had different themed old tat. One was Japanese tat, one was Egyptian tat. One room contained “objects” that were under a cover. You were invited to pull the cover back to see the objects (and cover them again afterwards). If ever you find yourself at the “objects exhibition” at Chiddingstone Castle, just keep on walking.
On re-reading this I think I might be being a tad harsh. It wasn’t *that* bad really, but after over an hour’s drive to get there I was rather expecting more.I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I was expecting more of it.
Mind you the tea room was rather good. As part of our ticket we got a cream tea. Very nice. As we scoffed scones and jam and cream we tried to listen in on the couple on the next table. They’d made some sort of mistake; they’d either come on the wrong day or gone to the wrong castle. Either way their voucher wasn’t valid and were having a heated, if rather quiet, argument with the staff about it. We couldn’t quite make out what the problem was, but there is nothing as entertaining as someone else’s misfortunes, is there?
We came home to find my new pruning device had arrived, so as “er indoors TM” popped out for milk and dog biscuits so I started lopping the rose brambles that were overhanging half of our garden from two metres up in the overgrowth from not-so-nice-next-door’s garden.
Once she’d got the shopping I popped down the road to the Chinese takeaway to get a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of hock whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”. And with that scoffed we had far too much trifle as today was a special occasion… today is our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary.
Looking back at previous blog entries it would seem to be something of a novelty not to be working today. Today was rather good.
5 October 2023 (Thursday) - Dentist, Pants, Camera
As I had my usual rummage around Facebook this morning I saw quite a few posts from Midge Ure’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall last night. Earlier in the week I had an offer of a ticket to be there (and a lift to get there) but what with wedding anniversary I turned it down. It looks like I missed a good show.
There wasn’t much else happening on-line, so with “er indoors TM” off to the Sandwich office I settled the dogs and walked down the road to the dentist.
I took my place in the waiting room and my piss boiled as I watched some young mother with her brat. The brat had a scooter and when it wasn’t trying to smash lumps out of the floor and walls by using the scooter as a hammer, it was running round the surgery like a thing possessed. Mother followed making rather pathetic excuses. I realise that in today’s (rather pathetic) society we are supposed to try to reason with the brat to ask it to consider a different way of carrying on whilst in no way criticizing what it is doing, but seriously… Give it one firm crack across the arse and it will behave. And having had one firm crack across the arse the threat of more will ensure it doesn’t wreak havoc again. I realise there are those that disagree, but in my experience those who disagree either have no children of their own or have the most ill-behaved brats.
A couple of weeks ago I had a rather bad toothache and was told I needed a root canal filling. Today it was happening. I’d read up on the things and was prepared for an hour’s pain. I was in and out in fifteen minutes and was told to come back for more treatment in a month. Hopefully by then the burning taste will have gone from my mouth.
I came home to find the dogs asleep. I woke them and we drove up to Kings Wood. We took a little diversion to our planned walk today; several dozen small children were running round screaming where we’d hoped to go, Now I don’t mean that figuratively or sarcastically. I mean that quite literally After five minutes walking in to the woods we encountered a very large group of primary school aged children who were all running in random directions, all screaming, as half a dozen adults looked on. Was this some sort of school activity? We went the other way.
When we go to the woods we often chase squirrels, roll in fox poo, wade in swamps and try to avoid the normal people. Today we explored a path we’d not wandered before… and found a rather large pair of recently shitted underpants. Someone had crapped themselves and abandoned pants.
Between screaming children and crapped pants the dogs were incredibly well behaved.
We came home where I scoffed the last of yesterday’s Chinese then cracked on with the ironing. As I scoffed and ironed I watched four episodes of “Alice in Borderland”; a Netflix program which isn’t entirely unlike “Squid Game”. With the ironing done I watched telly from under a pile of dogs… and then the doorbell rang. My new Dog-o-Vision security camera had arrived. After a little fiddling about I managed to get the thing up and running. Connected to the house wi-fi it can transmit to my phone via the mobile data and so I can keep an eye on the dogs from miles away… not that they are every left alone for any length of time.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the final of “Lego Masters: USA” in which the best team were robbed.
I then fell asleep during the first episode of the most recent season of “Taskmaster”.
6 October 2023 (Friday) - Solving Geo-Puzzles
As I scoffed my toast this morning I saw that one of the professional bodies with which I am associated has given out its Gold Award to someone of whom I’ve never heard. They may well be very deserving of the honour; I honestly don’t know the first thing about them. But in singling out one person for what they have done automatically belittles the efforts of others. Something similar happened in the geocaching world earlier this week when the Geocaching Association of Great Britain gave out their annual awards. Five people were nominated for “Geocacher of the Year”; the only one I’d ever heard of has done noticeably less for the hobby that half a dozen others I could name.
I’ve ranted about this sort of thing before. Honours are all very well for the recipient but…
So many people get given an OBE or a knighthood for doing the job for which they are paid, but the chap who ran our old Boys Brigade company and the woman who runs the local scout group and the leading light of the kite club gets nothing.
I got the leads on to the dogs… well, on to Treacle and Bailey. For all that he seems to love his walks, Morgan is a bugger for getting his collar and lead on. Does it hurt? Does he get travel sick? But I captured him, and leaving “er indoors TM” working we set off for the morning’s adventure.
As we drove Katherine Ryan was on “Desert Island Discs” and was surprisingly interesting. Billed as a “comedian”, whenever I’ve seen her on the telly she always looks miserable and doesn’t so much crack jokes as just makes surly put-down comments. Perhaps I should try her again?
We got to Kings Wood where we walked for nearly four miles. We met a couple of other dog walkers, but my three were as good as gold, coming back to the sound of the whistle. Morgan did that hopping thing a few times. The vet has hinted at surgery, but Fudge had a luxating patella too, and from what the vet says (and people on forums whose dogs have had the surgery have also said) the surgery seems to be a lot of stress on the poor dog for minimal improvement. When Morgan’s patella pops out he hops a bit, gives the leg a shake, and carries on regardless; just like Fudge used to do.
We came home. I settled the dogs then popped up the road to get pastries. As I came back I retrieved our garden waste bin from where the bin men had thrown it. I’ve whinged about the bin men before; it has to be said that they could put more effort in *if* they tried.
As I scoffed my croissant and had a cuppa I had a look at the geo-map. Over brekkie a new geocache had gone live in New Romney. With little else I had to do today, I might have gone to chase a First to Find… However the chap who lives up the road who’d flown out of the house yesterday and done a round trip of thirty miles for the new cache in Sissinghurst had already gone down to the marsh.
So with nothing else on the agenda I spent the afternoon in the garden alternately reading “Game of Thrones” on the Kindle app and trimming and tidying until it got too cold. I came in then and spent a little while straining my brain solving geo-puzzle before preparing “Hannah”
“er indoors TM” sorted out fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching all sorts of nonsense from the Sky-Q box. We’ve got the new series of Bake Off and Ghosts…
It might be good if telly stopped bringing out new stuff for a few months to let us catch up…
7 October 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club, A Walk, A Sleepover
I slept well. As I scoffed toast I was messaging a friend in the hope of getting a hint for the solution to a geo-puzzle that had eluded me. He was bemoaning how he’d offered to help with a local scout group. Had he made a mistake in offering? He was beginning to wonder. This made me think me of my time as a cub scout leader…
I saw (through Facebook) that several other friends were on foreign holidays, and there was a rather amazing argument going on in which some religious idiot was claiming that the Bible was true for the simple reason that it said it was. When challenged to come up with non-biblical proof the fellow was amazed to ask how anything non-biblical might be used to prove the bible. It is always best not to argue with the righteous…
Being Saturday we set off to Dog Club. It was rather good. The puppies charged around like things possessed with new and old friends. Treacle tolerated the other dogs as I shared treats with them all. There were a few new dogs (and people) along today; everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. At one point I counted dogs… I’m not sure I got the count right but I was surprised at how low the number was (mid-teens); it seemed a whole lot higher.
After Dog Club we set off west-wards. In a novel break with tradition Steve wasn’t on the radio today; his replacement wasn’t as good. There were no quizzes or competitions and the reception was nowhere near as good as it usually is so we turned over to “er indoors TM”’s choice of music which featured far less “Ivor Biggun” than mine does.
Our plan for today was to walk round Hemsted forest. In years gone by I had a Sparks-themed series of geocaches in those woods, but like all series of geocaches they soon ran their course. Last summer I archived them, and a few months ago a friend asked if I was going to replace them. I wasn’t intending to, so she asked if I would mind if she put some caches out in those woods.
Fine by me!!
She did, and today we went to go find them. It was a shame that our visit coincided with some girl guide event, but the woods was plenty big enough for all of us. I’d forgotten how pretty those woods are. My main memory of the place was how muddy it is in winter, but today there wasn’t *that* much mud. Treacle found some swamps though; that’s the kind of dog she is. Our route (for the most part) followed a different route to the one I set out (four years ago) and so we explored different paths. Geocaching-wise it was a very good walk with some easy and some not-so-easy hides.
I took a few photos of the day. It was only a shame that my GPS was playing up. It took ten minutes to realise we were in Hemsted forest and not at home, and it did struggle to settle on locations; seemingly unable to get to more than twenty feet accuracy. Mind you, “Hannah” is eight years old; how long do these things last?
Once home I strained my brain on some geo-puzzles. If any of my loyal readers can make (Half a ton – urban) / 11 come out to eight, nine or ten, please let me know.
“er indoors TM” then set off to collect “Darcie Waa Waa TM”; with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” off out with her mates, we were looking after littlun. The girls soon returned home and we had a rather good evening singing songs and scoffing KFC.
“er indoors TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” have gone up to the attic room followed by a mass exodus of the entire wolf-pack.
I’m going to stare at the telly for a bit then hopefully have a bit of space in the bed (for once)
8 October 2023 (Sunday) - This n That
I slept like a log with the bed to myself last night. I eventually woke to the sounds of “Darcie Waa Waa TM” jabbering away to herself just after eight o’clock. She jabbers and chatters away, but none of it is in English.
We all got up and had an hour or so chattering at the dogs and feeding the fish and singing the “Nanny’s In The Toilet” song and throwing wet cornflakes around the room and trying to snog the dogs..
Once the washing machine had stopped I hung out the washing… and immediately brought it all back in to hang over the banister and the clothes horse. The idiot in the house over the way was having a bonfire. I pointed out to him that he might want to bring his own clothes in off of his washing line as his smoke would make them stink. He assured me his bonfire wasn’t a barbecue… and then pretended he couldn’t speak English. Interestingly his wife then started shrieking at him and the bonfire was out within seconds.
“Darcie Waa Waa TM” seemed very content being with her nanny, and Treacle was definitely staring at me expectantly, so I took the dogs out. Just lately the Munzee app has been playing up a lot (and there has been endless complaints on various Facebook groups) so I thought I’d take the dogs round the roads on a little Munzee session. As we walked we met a few other dogs who barked and snapped at us; Morgan totally ignored them. As we walked we met Bernie; it was as well he said “hello” as I was miles away. It was good to catch up.
We had a good little walk, but Munzee-wise we proved a point. The app was slow to the point of being useless.
We came home. “er indoors TM” took “Darcie Waa Waa TM” home and I had a very late catch-up on what was happening in the on-line world.
I had an urgent email from the nice people at Credit Karma. My credit score has gone down by eleven points over the last month. The nice people at Credit Karma seemed utterly unable to explain why though. However they did suggest I ask for a higher limit on my credit card, and that I pay for a lot more things with that credit card. Personally I’m not keen on spending money when I don’t have to, just to increase some meaningless number.
And it would seem there was an incident at one of the later Dog Club sessions yesterday. Some chap was having a rant about how disorganised it all was, and then blocked the Dog Club admins so’s they couldn’t find out what the issue was.
We then had something of a lazy afternoon sitting in the garden (recovering from “Darcie Waa Waa TM”). As I read more of “Game of Thrones” on the Kindle app I chuckled at a pigeon. This pigeon would land on one side of the pond, and as the dogs all ran at it, so it would fly over to the other side of the pond, then fly onto the fence, then fly into a tree overlooking the garden until the dogs lost interest in it. Then it would come back and repeat itself until the dogs calmed down. Watching the pigeon it was deliberately provoking the dogs.
I then had a little sleep whilst “er indoors TM” got on with painting the back room. I won’t say she got more on Treacle than she did on the walls (as she didn’t) but there was certainly more on Treacle than there might have been.
Having done the painting, “er indoors TM” then boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a couple of episodes of “Detectorists”; I’d forgotten just how good that show was.
9 October 2023 (Monday) - Back to Work
I woke shivering at three o'clock this morning to find that an alliance of “er indoors TM” and the dogs had captured pretty much all of the duvet. I managed to take back six inches of covers and then lay awake for much of the rest of the night. I thought I had a major opportunity to get some duvet when “er indoors TM” went for a wazz at half past four, but unusually it was just her that went. There was no great canine exodus (as there usually is) and the sleeping dogs weren't budging much. I shifted them sufficiently to get enough duvet to cover myself, but when “er indoors TM” came back she took back everything I'd gained, and then had a bit of a set-to with one of the dogs (I think it was Treacle; it usually is).
At half past five I gave up and got up. I made toast and watched an episode of "Alice in Borderland" which was entertaining, but would have benefitted from someone bilingual in both Japanese and English doing the translating. The program was originally made in Japanese and in the English version the characters speak in pretty much the way that Google Translate would speak. No English-speaking actor would come out with the phrasing that the show uses.
With telly watched I got ready for work and set off west-wards through the -hursts and the -dens aiming for Tunbridge Wells. You'd be amazed at how many dustbin lorries I got stuck behind today.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing situation in the Gaza strip where the Palestinians and Israelis are indiscriminately killing each other again.
I blogged about this on 16 October 2015 when I wrote " Israelis and Palestinians continue to kill each other. They have been doing that for as long as I can remember and show no signs of stopping". I don't want to appear cynical, but there was an interview on the radio a couple of years ago with the leading lights on both sides of the conflict. Both people being interviewed kept on about irreconcilable differences dating back to twenty years before I was born. Sadly the only thing either agreed on was that they would never agree.
There was also an interview with the head honcho of Unite the Union who was grumbling that the Labour party would never get into power unless they stopped being so timid.
This is the trouble with our system of government though, isn't it? Sometimes tough decisions need to be made, and tough decisions are often vote-losers. Doing the right thing can get you out of office, and threatening to do it can ensure you never get into office.
As I drove I found that I was (sort-of) following a hot air balloon. I can remember following one deliberately many years ago. A friend who was visiting suggested we followed it to watch it land. As well as that hot air balloon we also followed a truck with a trailer. I will always remember the hot air balloon not so much landing as crashing in a random field, and the frantic rush to load it all onto the truck's trailer before the land owner arrived. There used to be hot air balloons randomly crashing on the Bat-Farm in years gone by. Sometimes they would escape before anyone could get to them. Occasionally my mate would block their getaway with a land-rover and pretend to be cross. The hot air balloon people would smile and offer a free ride as a sweetener.
When you book a hot air balloon ride no one ever tells you that the ending of the ride is somewhat random.
Having been unable to find my sandwich box this morning I popped into Tesco in Pembury to get a sandwich. Like Sainsbury's in Aylesford, rather than having staff on tills doing their job they too had staff glaring with contempt at people fighting with the self service devices.
I hate the self-service tills; if I wanted to use them I would pack it all in as a blood tester and get a job in a supermarket.
I got to work. In between doing work we had a “Name the Disney Animation” competition in which I did surprisingly well.
As I came home my car came up with an alarm. It suggested I might check the back left light. I did. It looks fine to me. I’ll phone the garage in the morning…
10 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Rostered Day Off
Last night everyone was settled and I slept rather well. Over toast I had a peer into the Internet. There was a petty squabble about the price of full-sized Daleks on one of the Dalek building Facebook pages… Now that’s “one of the Dalek building Facebook pages”; there’s quite a few people into building daleks, and they are incredibly critical of each other. Other than that, there wasn’t a lot going on so I set off to town.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the ongoing situation in Gaza. The Foreign Secretary was being interviewed on the matter. It was quite plain that regardless of what was actually happening, the UK would side with the Israeli government and regard the Palestinians as Satan incarnate. Meanwhile the poor innocents on the ground suffer.
I got to town a tad early and had a little look around. The town has changed quite a bit since I last had a look. Ashford has a surprisingly large number of nail bars, international food suppliers, and vagrants begging.
I joined the queue outside Boots which was being entertained and disgusted (in seemingly equal measures) by a rather drunk young pair who were boasting about the strength of the cider they were swigging, and telling anyone who would listen that the pissed woman needed a new bandage for her knee. Apparently she’d smashed it rather badly when out on the piss the other day. She seemed unable to keep hold of the crutches which she was holding, and was falling over every time she dropped them. Interestingly when Boots opened their doors the drunks showed no interest in going inside, and seemed rather upset that they’d lost their captive audience.
I went in to the optician which is based there. I had photos taken of the insides of my eyes, had air blown into them, and read various letters of various sizes. After twenty minutes I was told my eyes were pretty much unchanged from last time and I didn’t really need new glasses. I was pleased about that.
I popped to Tesco for milk and pastries and came home. After a cuppa and a croissant I loaded the dogs into the car and we went up to Kings Wood for a walk. Kings Wood is odd in that there’s usually about twenty cars in the car park, but once you are more than a hundred yards from the car park if you see more than two other walkers, that’s a lot. Today we walked about three and a half miles (guesstimating from the step count) and saw one other walker with two dogs. Apart from Treacle wading in a swamp, the dogs were as good as gold; coming back when called and not upsetting the only other person we met.
We came home via the petrol station where I saw an old friend. Someone who had a baby at about the same time that “er indoors TM” squeezed “My Boy TM” out. In the late eighties we were rather chummy… she didn’t recognize me at all when I smiled this lunchtime.
Once home I put a load of washing in to scrub, and whilst it scrubbed I wrote up some CPD. And with CPD written up I went into the garden and mowed the lawn, then sat by the pond reading more “Game of Thrones” on my phone’s Kindle app. As I read I watched the antics of a pigeon who was having a drink not four feet from where I was sitting.
I then dozed off for an hour or so…
Today was rather busy for a rostered day off.
11 October 2023 (Wednesday) - Bit Tired
Having spent much of yesterday afternoon asleep it's probably not surprising that I woke feeling full of beans and raring to go at twenty to two this morning. I lay dozing on and off until three o'clock when I heard a thud. One of the dogs was going downstairs. They only do that for one reason so I hurried after whichever one it was. As I suspected it was Morgan; he's had an iffy rear end for a day or so and I'd rather he did what he had to do outside rather than on the carpet. Sadly our getting up meant everyone else followed us, and we were all restless for a while. (I say "we" - I could quite happily have gone back to kip given half a chance).
When Morgan got up again at five o'clock I saw that as God's way of saying I'd wallowed in my pit for quite long enough.
Once he'd "raked out" in the garden I made toast and watched another episode of "Alice in Borderland". It's a good show spoiled by sloppy writing. Take today's episode in which fifty-eight people were involved in a game-to-the-death. After seemingly endless killings, at the end there were clearly over a hundred contestants still going strong.
I got ready for work; by this time everyone else had settled and were all sparko...
As I started my car so the alarm about checking the tail light came on. Even though the tail light came on. The garage says the sensor is at fault here; I shall have to put up with this until they can fix it.
As I drove west-wards the pundits on the radio were talking about the frankly awful situation in Gaza where no end of innocents are again suffering. This morning they were interviewing someone from the UK luxury foods industry who had the arse about the war, or more specifically the media's coverage of it. Apparently the constant mention of ongoing atrocities makes people in the UK realise just how lucky they are, and so they spend any spare cash on charity donations for international aid and stop buying caviar, champagne and brandy. The implication was that if people want to have wars, that is all very well. But could they do it quietly and not cut into the luxury market's profit margins.
First world problems, eh?
There was also a report from the Labour party conference claiming that if (when) they come into power the Labour party is going to build one and a half million new houses. I wonder where? Certainly not between Ashford and Pembury; the Conservatives have beaten them to pretty much every spare scrap of land there.
And then my piss boiled at the "Thought for the Day" in which some vicar or other earnestly explained that it was natural for us all to be angry with his God for seeming to be doing nothing about the ongoing situation in Gaza. He totally glossed over the demonstrable fact that his God really isn't actually doing anything...
With a few minutes spare I took a little diversion through Staplehurst on my way to work. Having solved several geo-puzzles in the area I expect we'll be going for a walk there some time soon. There are four multi-geocaches up the high street where you have to go to a location and get information on the spot to solve a different sort of geo-puzzle. I got all the information required to find them (as well as dinner from Greggs) and set off to work.
Work was work… the morning wasn’t so bad. The afternoon was somewhat marred by the guts ache that the baguette from Greggs gave me. It looked so nice as well.
I came home where “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching more “Detectorists”.
The dogs all seem rather subdued and slept much of the evening… perhaps (like babies) they should be kept active and awake to ensure a good night’s sleep? I’m going to plot where these four multi-geocaches are, and see if I can’t plan a little walk in the area.
If I can stay awake…
12 October 2023 (Thursday) - Dull
I slept like a log last night, which was a result. I got up, made brekkie and scoffed it whilst watching more "Alice in Borderland" which has taken an interesting turn; the picture cards have turned up. When you need a complete deck of cards in order to stay alive, having no picture cards is a definite disadvantage.
I then had a little look at the Internet. Someone on one of the local groups had recently bought a pet tracker and had put up a picture of where her cat had gone overnight. It was rather amazing just how far a cat roams. Such a shame that the things don't work on dogs which have gone walkabout when out in the woods.
I got ready for work, and pausing only briefly to nearly (but not quite) splat a cyclist I set off. Why on Earth would anyone be riding a bike in pitch darkness on the wrong side of the road, with no lights or reflectors and clad entirely in black? Do they want to die? I wound down the window to shout abuse at the idiot and was somewhat amazed to see it was someone far older than me. You'd think he'd know better, wouldn't you?
Mind you the warning about checking the car's rear light didn't come on this morning (but the rear light did).
As I drove through the rain the pundits on the radio were talking about moves afoot in officialdom to try to curb the growth in teenagers vaping. It rather amazed me that this was seen as news; forty years ago I was part of a very small minority of teenagers who didn't smoke. Kids have always smoked; did anyone seriously expect vaping to be any different?
There was also talk of the recent samples of asteroid returned to Earth from the asteroid Bennu. The pundits on the radio amaze me sometimes. Last week they were banging on that the world is short of all sorts of mineral resources and today they were presented with a solution to that problem... and all they could do was take the piss out of anything remotely sciencey
But most of the morning's radio was devoted to the ongoing situation in Gaza. Things look pretty bleak there, and are showing no sign of improving. Meanwhile there's thirty-one other wars going on elsewhere in the world to say nothing of a major earthquake in Afghanistan.
Our old friend science has found something new – “never-seen” material that is “beyond the periodic table”.
And none of these got a mention.
I got to work and did that which I couldn't avoid. Work was a tad dull, really. As I drove home “er indoors TM” sent a message. The co-op was doing a deal on steak and chips; could I pick some up on the way through. I did… Admittedly the steak and chips was cheap. But it was cheap because there was sod all of it.
Some days in my life are rather good. And others are on the dull side…
13 October 2023 (Friday) - A Housefull
Treacle was snarling for absolutely no reason at all at three o'clock this morning. That woke me up. And on hearing Morgan running downstairs at four o'clock I got up and chased after him. It was pouring hard outside but he still went out; it must have been urgent.
I gave up trying to sleep at five o'clock and watched the first episode in the second season of "Alice in Borderland" which was more like an episode of Alexei Sayle's "Things Exploding", then got ready for work.
This morning the lights on my car seemed OK - they worked, and there were no warnings coming up. I headed off west-wards listening to the pundits on the radio who were again talking about the deteriorating situation in Gaza. Apparently the Israelis have ordered a million people to sling their hooks and move. The United Nations have asked them not to say that, as it is clearly impossible for a million people to sling their hooks and move but the Israelis remain adamant.
Meanwhile the Americans and the UK are sending warships to help the Israelis anyway. I expect the Ukrainians must be rather pissed off about that.
As I drove through a rather dark rainy morning I think I inadvertently found a road race. A couple of cars dangerously overtook me at Biddenden and then drove as close as possible to the back end of the car in front for several miles. This sort of thing happens rather often... a clear sign of the absence of police on the roads.
I got to work and did that which I couldn't avoid. But being on an early was a result. Once I was done I drove down to Folkestone to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM”, “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and Pogo.
As we drove home so the warning about the iffy rear light came on again. Just the warning though. The light seems OK.
Once home we had a “Dogs Chaos” five minutes in the garden, then watched some Lube-Tube videos (as I am reliably informed “You Tube is pronounced). We sang our own words to some of the songs… “There Was a Man Who Had a Dog and Desmond Was His Name-O”. For some reason Darcie Waa Waa TM” thought this was hilarious.
After a couple of hours “er indoors TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” went up the KFC. They came back with dinner which included baked beans… “Beans Beans, the Wonderful Fruit. The More You Eat, The More You Diarrhea”. Apparently.
In a novel break with tradition the dogs were shut in the lobby so we could eat without scrounging pups harassing us. They weren’t keen on that.
“er indoors TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” are currently making all sorts of things with her craft stuff. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” have thrown in the sponge and gone to bed.
I’m biding my time… I’ve heard rumours of jelly and ice cream.
14 October 2023 (Saturday) - Dog Club, Rye Harbour
Despite the excitement of having family round I slept very well last night. I would have slept better had my phone not started bellyaching about wanting to have a virus scan at ten past five this morning. If it wanted one that badly, why didn’t it just do one for itself? Did it really need to bother me about it?
I got up, and eventually so did everyone else. Seeing there was something of a delay, ably assisted by “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” I took my three dogs round to Dog Club. Grandson had been keen to see Dog Club, and he seemed quite impressed with what was going on. We had a decent turn-out of pups and the usual mayhem ensued. Mind you when I say “mayhem” it was all good-natured mayhem. Loads of charging about and playing and dog-piggybacks (!)
“er indoors TM” and the rest of the tribe soon arrived, and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” had a great time alternately chanting “dog dog dog” at the assorted throng and snogging any dog which was daft enough to get too close. Pogo was well-behaved and seemed to enjoy himself. Treacle had a first – she played with another dog at Dog Club. Admittedly it was her brother Pogo, but it was something of a result.
Ideally I would have stayed a little later at Dog Club – there was to be a meeting of… I suppose “leaders” or “organisers” isn’t really the right word. But apparently there was an “episode” at one of the later sessions of last week’s Dog Club in which someone brought his newly rescued dog along and then pissed off leaving it unattended. But what do you do when that happens? When the chap who started the club isn’t at the early session I suppose I am seen as “in charge” for the simple reason that I hold the key to the gate. But most people arrive after I’ve opened and wouldn’t know that. At the early session everyone keeps an eye on their own dog, everyone seems to know what dogs are like, any “episodes” are nipped in the bud (most of the time by Morgan having a time-out) and it all seems to work. I suppose having smaller dogs makes it easier? But with having family along and with having yet another one-day weekend I wanted to make the most of the day. So I sent my apologies to the little meeting with the observation tat I think the early session is running OK, and we cracked on with our day.
The girls and Pogo got into the “er indoors TM”-mobile, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM”, the dogs and I into mine and we drove down to Rye Harbour for a bit of a walk. We followed the path from the car park to the river’s estuary and back again.
After our little walk “er indoors TM” and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM” went into the visitor centre to get a cuppa for us all. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” stayed outside with “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and the dogs whilst I sulked. I’d suggested that we went to Rye Harbour in the hope of seeing seals, but we hadn’t seen any. No one else seemed rather bothered, but I was sulking. And then we saw one swimming about. I shouted to the most recent fruit of my loin and she took a photo of it. Several passing normal people heard my shout and came hurrying over, But they were too slow, and were not at all amused when “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” loudly announced “Bollox – it’s gone”. The look of shock on the faces of the normal people gave me quite a fit of the giggles.
But just as “er indoors TM” came back with our drinks, so the seal came back, and we watched him (or her?)
swimming about for five minutes whilst we had a cuppa.
If ever you visit Rye Harbour I’m told that the visitor centre is a good place to see the seals whilst relaxing with a cuppa. Mind you for all that the cuppa was rather good, a cuppa and a bit of cake all round came to over thirty quid; they don’t give it away.
I took a few photos of our little family adventure. It was rather good, but (it has to be said) the photos of the seal really don’t do it justice.
We said our goodbyes; “er indoors TM” took the kids back to Folkestone. I came home as I’m on yet another one-day weekend and had stuff to do in the garden.
As I drove I realised the car was quiet. I’d turned the radio off to talk with grandson… and I then realised I’d missed one of the highlights of the week; Steve doing the Mystery Year contest.
We came home. The dogs were all soon fast asleep. I rolled out the pond hose and cleaned out the pond filter. As I pootled I realised that the aerating mini-fountain in the pond wasn’t there. After a bit of fiddling about I found it. Laying on its side on the bottom of the pond. Had a fish knocked it over?
I made a cuppa, and as I watched another episode of “Alice in Borderland” I felt a tad peckish. There was quite a bit of KFC left over from last night’s tea. Warmed up chicken is good, but yesterday’s chips?
I then had a (quite frankly) stroke of genius. With far too many left over chips to chuck, I thought they might make the basis of a curry. I put a pan of water on, ripped up all the leftover chips and chicken and popped them in together with some ketchup, an oxo cube and all sorts of this and that which I found in the fridge and left it simmering until “er indoors TM” came home.
It went rather well with some rice and a bottle of Piesporter.
15 October 2023 (Sunday) - Poorly Pup
I heard Morgan jumping off of the bed at three o'clock so I hurried after him. He was a good boy and waited by the back door to be let out. I trusted him to do his thing and he soon came back inside and we were all soon back in bed.
He jumped up again at quarter to four. And at quarter past four. And shortly after that… Just before five o'clock he didn't make it to the back door and there was quite a bit of blood-stained sick and he was bringing up coffee-ground-like bits too. that's never a good sign (it's semi-digested blood - yuk!)
After this he settled, but by this time I'd been up with him seven times so I didn't bother going back to bed. I made brekkie and watched a bit more of "Allice in Borderland" whilst listening for the sound of a small dog coming down the stairs. Sure enough he soon came down again.
I left “er indoors TM” with strict instructions to take him to the vet, and I set off to work on a very dark and cold morning. As I drove I listened to a frankly ridiculous program on the radio which seemed to be taking the line that any religious or superstitious old tosh (no matter how patently absurd) could become factually correct *if* it was put to music. Which is why people in church sing hymns (apparently). The presenter then went on to claim that someone has made a musical called "Yahweh vs Allah" which will supposedly sort out religious wars once and for all (!)
Amazingly this program was called "Something Understood".
There was then the usual farming program in which the presenters were visiting a farm in Devon which has been nominated for "Farm of the Year", where the presenters were rather surprised to find it was being run as a business rather than as a shambles.
Apart from the usual road racers who infest the A262, the roads were rather quiet this morning and I made good time to Pembury. I had enough time to go look for a geocache. Having spent a little while puzzle solving yesterday evening I was hopeful... I found a location which matched the description of where I thought I should be... but no cache.
I went in to work and had a rather busy day. Usually when I’m working at the weekends I grumble about what the weather is doing, but I had no idea what the weather was like today; I really didn’t stop.
But as I scoffed a bit of dinner I had a look at the Internet through my phone. Again we completely forgot about Hastings bonfire which happened last night. Back in the day I used to organise mass outings to the bonfire parades... these days people just go in smaller groups on their own.
We probably wouldn't have gone last night, but it would be nice to have been reminded that it was on.
As I worked “er indoors TM” sent updates on Morgan. She showed the vet photos of what he'd sicked up and the vet seemed to agree with my diagnosis; hopefully just a rather bad bout of gastroenteritis but possibly an ulcer or damage caused by something that the daft dog might have eaten. He was given medicine and instructions to return if there's no improvement in five days.
“er indoors TM” took him and his furry associates for a walk; apparently you wouldn’t have realised he was poorly.
I came home to find three sleeping dogs; “er indoors TM” had gone to visit the in-laws. I put the telly on, put on more “Alice in Borderland” and was soon sleeping myself.
I wonder when “er indoors TM” will be home?
16 October 2023 (Monday) - Bird Fights
Morgan jumped off of the bed with a crash at half past three. I hurried after him to find him waiting by the back door. He went out, and after a few minutes came back in again. I wasn't going out with him; it was a tad chilly. We all went back to bed and (thankfully) unlike yesterday that was it for being up in the night.
Over a bit of toast I watched another episode of "Alice in Wonderland"; for a post-apocalyptic series set in a world in which pretty much everyone but a very small number of people have died, there seems to be an awful lot of survivors cropping up. I suppose the writers suddenly realised that with a cast of a precious few, wantonly mowing people down with machine guns on a regular basis soon eats through your available characters.
I got dressed... then got dressed again properly. I'd no idea just how uncomfortable it would be to have pants on back-to-front. And then I set off... and realised that it was officially winter. "Official Winter" starts when the car is covered in ice for the first time since summer, and I had to do some vigorous scraping this morning.
I had a quick Munzee session in which I capped a dozen (rather dull) points of interest and a Space Manatee (which was also on the dull side) then set off up the motorway. Today I was working at Maidstone; it’s a much easier journey.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the deputy leader of the Scottish Nationalist party who ranted that pretty much all the failings of the Scottish Nationalist government in Scotland are down to the actions of of the English. And there was also an interview with the Israeli ambassador to the UK who answered ever suggestion that the Israelis are being heavy-handed in Gaza with the rant that the UK fought a war eighty years ago so we were in no position to take the moral high ground.
There was quite a bit of ranting on the radio this morning; being English certainly wasn’t seen as being a good thing by some parts of the rest of the world.
I got to work a tad early so I made a cuppa and used my phone to tune in to my morning Facebook fix.
A friend had been taken ill yesterday; he's now on the mend. I've not seen him for some time; if he didn't live sixty miles away I'd see him more often. I find this more and more. Back in the day I was much more outgoing and sociable and spent so much time with so many people. These days I rarely see anyone outside of family. I really should do something about that.
Work was much the same as ever. Unlike yesterday I did spend some time looking out of the window today. As the day went on so a flock of starlings and a flock of goldfinches were having an ongoing battle for who would have the top of the biggest tree outside our window. At first it was the starlings who chased off the goldfinches. But the finches came back with reinforcements… and so the battle ebbed and flowed. It was all a rather gentle spat, but entertaining nonetheless.
With work done I came home. Coming home down the motorway is much easier than coming home cross-country. We fed the dogs and gave Morgan his medicine; he was well enough to put up a fight about that.
“er indoors TM” boiled up dinner and then went off bowling. I put more “Alice in Borderland” on the telly and ironed shirts.
I hope Morgan sleeps better tonight… I need a decent night’s sleep.
17 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Retirement, Cauliflower Cheese
Morgan slept through last night which was a result. He was a bit fidgety at three o'clock, but isn't everyone?
I got up whilst it was still cold, and as I shaved I had the bathroom fan heater running. The nice builder who quoted for a new bathroom said we can't have a fan heater in a rebuilt bathroom as that's against the building regulations. Stuff that - for quite a bit of the year the room is too cold not to have one.
I made toast and watched more "Alice in Borderland" in which the leading characters took all their kits off in a prelude to "doing the dirty deed" but decided against it at the last minute. Usually when on telly the dirty deed is (supposedly) done whilst fully clothed. Not that I'm advocating unmorality (!) but you'd think the program writers would make their minds up, wouldn't you?
I set off to work. As I went I had a little Munzee session. Among other things I captured two Vorpal swords (as one does) and was rewarded with ten Zeds. Zeds are the crypto-currency used in Munzee; ten Zeds is a shade over seven and a half pence.
Suitably rewarded I headed off west-wards. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking with some squash player or other (apparently whoever it was is famous?) about how squash is to be an Olympic event in the future. As is cricket.
There was also an interview with the leading light of some exam board who have announced that GCSEs will be done on-line in future, starting with Italian and Polish next year. In theory a brilliant announcement; in practice not at all thought out. Schools will need to buy dozens of laptops, and at exam time pogger each one so that it can access the exams, but not access Google so that that the kids can’t cheat. And then un-pogger them all again afterwards so that the laptops can be used properly. That will take some time...
There was also a lot of air-time about how President Biden is heading off to the Middle East to try to stop everyone killing each other. He's not the first to try this, and sadly he probably won't be the last. Interestingly since it all kicked off in Gaza last week, no one has mentioned Ukraine on the radio... Am I being cynical in wondering if the Ukrainian situation is now (quite literally) yesterday's news?
I got to work; I did my bit. I had a chat with the pension advisers. The process for retirement seems quite straightforward and simple. I've got a meeting on Thursday with the boss to thrash out the details...
Having left home in the dark and arrived at work in daylight, I left work in daylight and got home in the dark. “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of cauliflower cheese which we washed down with a bottle of plonk. I quite like cauliflower cheese.
And in closing spare a though for Kirsty Smitten; a pretty-much unknown genius who has quite probably saved the human race. With antibiotic resistance becoming so prevalent, it is forecast that more people will die from septicaemia than cancer by the year 2050, with untreatable infections causing ten million deaths per year (one death every three seconds). However Ms Smitten has developed nanotechnology that will do for bacteria just like penicillin did for them a hundred years ago.
But Ms Smitten died last week. Aged only twenty-nine.
18 October 2023 (Wednesday) - Rainy Day
I woke feeling rather grim this morning, but cracked on with the day in the hope that I might perk up a little. Leaving “er indoors TM” and the dogs snoring I went downstairs, had a shave and scoffed toast as I watched telly. "Alice in Borderland" is now getting a bit silly. Given that you are part of a gang of six (all of whom have rather lethal guns) and you are facing one evil baddie, what do you do? Shoot him from a safe distance, then once he’s down shoot him between the eyes at close range? That's what I'd do. But our half-dozen heroes all charged the evil baddie, dropped their weapons and took it in turns to have a fist fight with him. And all acted surprised when they all lost. And then despite all of the gang of six getting multiple stabbings and gunshots to the gut and the head, all of them survived to do it all again in the next episode.
I got dressed. As I got dressed I was a tad miffed to find that “er indoors TM” and the dogs had all stopped snoring. It's a shame they can't do their snoring once I've gone to work rather than when I'm trying to get a bit of kip...
I walked seemingly miles to find my car. When I came home last night there were no parking spaces to be had. This morning I walked past a dozen.
I drove up the motorway (Maidstone again today) through miles of coned-off-only-two-lanes with not a single road work actually being done. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how a hospital in Gaza has been bombed. Both sides blamed the other; the Arab leaders have all refused to meet with the American President in protest, things go from bad to worse… and the poor people on the streets remain shat upon. Sadly in that part of the world, twas ever thus and probably ever will be. Even though it doesn’t have to be.
Meanwhile it was announced that Oxford university will be the international headquarters for the “Breakthrough Listen Initiative”; an astronomical programme searching for “technosignatures” - of past or present technology that would signal the presence of life in other parts of the universe. After ten minutes of the interviewers having no embarrassment of their ignorance, the chap being interviewed was quite open that they hadn’t found any aliens to the total surprise of the interviewer. His “Dur!” at the rather simplistic interviewer was quite apparent in his tone.
Needing petrol I stopped off at the Sainsbury’s petrol station in Aylesford. The staff on the till were quite openly talking about the attitude of the staff in the main supermarket. I’ve blogged about how rude they are before (many times); this morning the people in the petrol station were egging customers on to make formal complaints and telling everyone the name of the old harridan to mention in the formal complaints.
That store must be a delightful place in which to work…
I got to work. Today was a rather good day in that it rained, and when it rains a puddle forms on the flat roof outside our window and the goldfinches come for a bath in it. I have seen more goldfinches before, but they are fun to watch.
Mind you the same rain made getting home something of a nightmare…
I felt grim when I got up… I still feel grim now…
19 October 2023 (Thursday) - Late Shift
slept through until nearly eight o’clock this morning which was a major
result. I had a shave and bearing in mind the weather wasn’t good and
forecast to get worse I thought I’d get our walk in as quickly as possible. I
took the dogs up to the park and back through the drizzle. Morgan pulled a
bit, but nowhere near as much as he has done in the past, and we didn’t bark
at anyone or anything despite some provocation. I understand that not
everyone likes dogs, but when walking past dogs just walk past them. If you
don’t like them, don’t shy away in terror as this scares them. I think my
three were rather good in not reacting like so many passers-by did this
I was rather late looking at Facebook this morning. It told me that as a paid-up Munzer I’d been given a little prezzie. I’d got a bung of one hundred and twenty five Zeds. That’s ninety-four pence. And I saw something which made me think… One day in 1975 I asked a friend to come to Boys Brigade with me. The Boys Brigade is a very religious organisation and makes no secret it is all about getting children into church. That friend and I stayed in the Boys Brigade for years… eventually I saw through the brainwashing but my old mate lapped it up and a few years ago packed up a very well paid job and is now a Baptist minister down in the West Country. Every morning someone from his church does a webinar “Prayers at Ten”. Today it was my old mucker. The chap who for many years was my best mate was on my lap-top screen so earnestly preaching utterly stark staring nonsense which didn’t stand up to any reasoning or thought whatsoever. I can’t help but feel responsible that the chap is clearly living in a fantasy world.
“er indoors TM” says he’s clearly happy enough. He probably is… but he seems utterly mad. I suppose that’s religion for you. I’m told that those who escape religion become very anti-religious… perhaps I am.
Bearing in mind we’d gone out for our walk earlier because
the rain was supposed to be getting worse as the day went on, I was rather
miffed to see sunshine as I set off west-wards to
the late shift. As I drove, the "From Our Own Correspondent"
show on the radio was talking about how religious leaders in Senegal adopt no
end of children and then send them out on the streets as
professional beggars. The government won't do anything about this as
professional begging is too lucrative and those adopting/employing the
children have become too powerful a pressure group. I suppose I should be
grateful that my old mate hasn't jumped on this bandwagon.
There was also a rather humungous lorry bunging up the tight corner by the church in Goudhurst; there often is.
We filled in all the forms and now we just have to wait to see what the first obstacle to semi-retirement will be. I'm sure there will be some problem or other cropping up. I would be very surprised if there wasn't.
I can't pretend I don't like my job, but I'm rather excited at the thought of having quite a bit more spare time next year... It has to be said that working five days a week is a tad dull.
20 October 2023 (Friday) - Wondering
I woke feeling particularly grim this morning, but that's nothing unusual these days. I got up, farted around, then made toast. Needing something new to watch on telly I started on the second season of "Foundation" on Apple TV. Despite being based on Asimov's famous series of books and despite being produced by Asimov's daughter, apart from the names of the main characters the show bears pretty much no relation whatsoever to the books. However, like so many other TV series, having watched the first season I really feel I need to see it through to the bitter end.
With telly tellied I set off to work. As I walked up the road I picked my way round the discarded emptied bins scattered across the pavement, walked past the bin men who were bellowing across the street at each other, and into the corner shop where there was quite the anti-bin men tirade going on. |I wasn't the only one who'd had to negotiate a rather tortuous route round the emptied bins they'd just flung. The local bin men aren't going to win any popularity contests.
I set off west-wards to work listening to the radio as I went. There was a lot of talk about the two by-elections yesterday in which the Conservatives had their arses handed to them on a plate as Labour won both in landslide victories.
Mind you it would seem this isn't any damning of government policy or glowing endorsement for the Labour party. The so-called expert who was wheeled on to discuss the matter seemed to think that the Labour victory was all about how the electorate fancy Sir Kier Starmer more than they fancy Rishi Sunak. And the observation was made that if that idiot Boris Johnson was still in power the Conservatives wouldn't have lost. For all that the bloke has been caught out in lie after lie, the masses love him
There was talk about President Biden's trip to Israel and how he's trying to milk Congress for billions of dollars to give to the Israelis. And how faced with a new war in the Middle East, interest in the war in Ukraine is rapidly dwindling. Is war *really* something just to entertain the Western world? From what was said on this morning's radio it would seem so.
And then the fatuous windbag on the morning's "Thought For The Day" said not to really worry too much about what is going on in Gaza as God will sort it all out... one way or another. Like God has demonstrably sorted out so much else?
As I drove I was very conscious of the idiot who was not five yards from my rear bumper for pretty much the length of the A262. I also saw that the two cars which had gone through the hedges near Sissinghurst last night had been extricated, but the one which had come off the road just outside Biddenden last week was still in the hedge there. This made me wonder...
And I spent much of the day wondering.
Do I really want to keep making this journey? And is the trip to Maidstone *that* much easier? - on Monday I had to take a five-mile diversion to avoid the carnage at junction five of the motorway.
I left home this morning at seven o’clock and got home this evening at seven o'clock.And then parked three streets away as there wasn’t anywhere closer to park.
When I retire I might just knock hospital work on the head entirely. There must be something else I could do... something that doesn't involve round trips of sixty miles every day and not getting home so late and not working nights and weekends.
I wonder what…
21 October 2023 (Saturday) - It Rained. A Lot...
The alarm woke me this morning at half past seven. That was something of a result. I made toast and had a look at Facebook like I so often do. My friends list was eight people shorter than when I’d last looked. Eight people who were once Facebook friends aren’t any more. I wonder what I did to offend them? And I wonder which (ex) friends they were? I’ve identified one of them and sent a message. For all that Facebook claims it doesn’t randomly delete people from your friends list, I’ve had people asking me why I’ve defriended them when I haven’t.
I also had a message via geocaching dot com. Last weekend a couple of people from Bournemouth had stayed locally overnight to do all my Kings Wood geocaches. They had had a good time and enjoyed the woods. I was rather pleased about that.
There wasn’t much else happening in cyber space so despite the rain we went to Dog Club. Today was probably the lowest attendance we’ve ever had at Dog Club with more people (ten) than dogs (nine) but as always a great time was had by all. Treacle proudly carried a ball around. Morgan and Bailey played with the bigger dogs and Morgan got told off a few times. And (unusually) today wasn’t endless treats all round.
As we drove home Steve was doing the Mystery Year on the radio. The Laughing Gnome… I got it right away… and then “er indoors TM” got me doubting myself. But when Steve said that the films released that year included “Live and Let Die” I realized I was right all along.
“er indoors TM” dropped me off three streets from home where I’d parked my car last night and I then drove round to B&Q for a new light switch. The one in the living room was a dimmer switch which must have been in place for over thirty years. The dimming bit hasn’t worked for years, and recently we’ve had issues with the LED lights constantly flickering. It says on the internet (so it must be true) that old dimmer switches make LED lights flicker.
I spent fifteen minutes marching round B&Q. You’d think they’d have put the light switches in the lighting section, wouldn’t you?
Once home it took longer to clear all the rubbish out of the way of the mains power switch than to change the light switch. The thing is now installed, and it is rather nice to sit in the living room without constantly flickering lights.
And with light switch replaced there was so much I could have done. The lawn doesn’t mow itself. The temporary fix on the outflow from the pond’s bog filter needs reviewing. The shed needs a tidy-up and the rubbish taking to the tip. But the drizzle we’d tolerated at Dog Club had become a full-on downpour. So I looked at filling in the paperwork for my retirement. I’d had a glance at it last night and had despaired. So many questions asking things that I don’t understand, let alone know the answers. My plan was to go through the twelve page document and come up with a list of what I need to find out, and send that list back to the pension people asking “WTF?” I wasted three quarters of an hour compiling a quite comprehensive list of what I didn’t understand before realising all I needed to fill out was my personal details, and someone else would fill in the tricky stuff.
The sun came out. But by the time I’d turned off the lap-top and decided what garden jobs to do, so the rain started again. Even harder than it had been.
“er indoors TM” set off to Folkestone whilst I ironed shirts, then sat on the sofa with the dogs watching episodes of “Foundation” until she returned with “Darcie Waa Waa TM” who is having a sleepover with us. We spent a pleasant afternoon dog-snogging and singing various versions of various songs until littlun became just a little too fractious.
The girls are up in the top bedroom making quite a bit of racket. The dogs are impatiently waiting by the living room door, occasionally squeaking. The moment I open the door, all three will fly to the top bedroom too. I shall give it another hour until I’m sure littlun is fast asleep before letting the dogs up… I shall watch another episode of “Foundation”… for all that I have been rather critical of it, they’ve got the young Hober Mallow spot on…
22 October 2023 (Sunday) - Family Day
I had a rather bad night. Wanting to ensure that “Darcie Waa Waa TM” was asleep so as not to disturb her when I came up with the dogs, I waited for the “all-clear” from “er indoors TM” which came at half past eleven. I went up at midnight. As did the dogs who made a bee-line to the top bedroom, weren’t impressed to find the door (deliberately) closed and all started whinging. I gathered the dogs, marched them to my bedroom, closed the door and formally ordered silence.
At two o’clock I was changing the bedding as one of them (possibly Bailey) had a “potty emergency” and couldn’t get to the lino-ed area by the back door. We then stomped and paced and thrashed about until I gave up, marched them all downstairs and I watched an episode of “Foundation” until it got light outside.
I hung the washed bedspread on the line, then peered into the Internet. There was talk of a pub crawl round London with some old friends on one of the Facebook Groups I follow… ten selected pubs over five miles… Sadly in London and at London prices, by the time you’d got the train there and thrown in a kebab there wouldn’t be much change out of a hundred quid and nothing but a few photos and a headache to show for the day. Mind you if it goes ahead I shall be there.
I sent out a couple of birthday wishes, then on hearing “Darcie Waa Waa TM” shouting “Dog Dog Dog” I turned off the laptop and prepared for the onslaught.
The morning went rather painlessly. We had a brekkie of Tesco’s Choco Hoops. We both had a bowl of the things. I scoffed all of mine myself, littlun threw quite a few of hers at the dogs. Whilst “er indoors TM” got dressed, I sang the wrong words to various Lube-Tube (!) songs to littlun’s amusement, then I drove us all down to Rye Harbour where we met father-in-law and we went for a little walk out to the estuary and back again. Rye Harbour is a pretty place to walk around, but with today being low tide there wasn’t any chance of seeing seals. And the place does heave with normal people. Half of the normal people had dogs off of the leads which were marching up to everyone, and all of these people were rather shocked when Treacle firmly told all of their dogs off. The other half of the normal people had small children on bicycles…
Have you ever seen a small child on a bicycle? There are two schools of thought about small children on bicycles. Either you demand that they cycle at walking pace and pretend to be surprised when they keep falling off. Or you stick stabilizers on the bike, keep shouting at the child and watch (with a stupid expression on your face) as the child who is staring back at you cycles straight into oncoming pedestrians. Time and time again.
Just as we came toward the end of our walk so Treacle jumped into belly-deep stagnant mud and looked at me clearly very pleased with herself…
We said goodbye to father-in-law, and as we loaded up the dogs and littlun into the car we had a few people asking if we were going. The free car park at Rye Harbour fills up rather quickly; we could probably have sold our parking space for hard cash today. If ever you fancy a walk at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, I’d suggest getting there no later than half past ten in the morning.
“Darcie Waa Waa TM” fell asleep half-way to Folkestone, and was still snoring when we dropped her with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” who had had over twelve hours sleep herself. I would have liked to have stayed with them for a bit, but Treacle was seriously stinking the car out. There was only one place she was going when she left the car’s boot, and that was into the bath.
“er indoors TM” and I came home. Treacle got a serious scrub which shifted most (but not all) of the stench.
“er indoors TM” cracked on with painting the back bedroom. I was still feeling a tad grim (I’ve not felt right for a few days) so I sat on the sofa with dogs and pretended not to notice the foul whiffs emanating from Treacle as I dozed through episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which a vindictive harridan from Yorkshire was fool enough to allow the television cameras to record just how filthy her hotel was, and then tried to lambast people whose bed and breakfast establishments were demonstrably far cleaner than hers.
Over a rather good bit of scoff we watched the last episode of “Detectorists”… or the last that is on Netflix. There was a Christmas special last year. I wonder where I can find that one…
Having had a complete weekend off is something of a rarity in my world. It’s been a rather good one.
I am reliably informed that Treacle will be doused with air freshener before bed time.
I had a rather good sleep last night - when the dogs are peaceful, so is everyone else. I made toast and watched more "Foundation" then had a quick look on-line. Periodically all those memes about "I'm here for you" and "if anyone needs a friend" appear on Facebook; quite often posted by those people who turned their backs when others really did need a friend. I'm afraid my piss boiled with a couple of them, and I had to stop myself embarking on a little name-and-shame session this morning. Am I being cynical in thinking that there is far more kudos to be had from appearing to be a friend than actually being one?
No one seemed to be having a birthday this morning, and with no emails of note I got myself organised and set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how shoplifting locally is on the increase. This made me think. Shoplifting has always been a thing in the south east. In the late 1970s most of class 4B at school would take sweetie orders during the mornings and at lunchtime go to the local shop and nick that for which they had orders. After lunchtimes the local shop looked like the locusts had passed through. I can remember that after a week of this the headmaster announced that the local shops were out of bounds. I can remember this very distinctly; our total snob of a headmaster wasn't upset by the shoplifting but by the damage to the school's reputation.
And when “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” used to run a shop in Margate a few years back she and all the shops in the area used to close up at school chuck-out time because of the amount of stuff that would get pilfered.
It would seem that after forty years of this being commonplace the authorities have finally decided to do something about it. As well they should.
There was loads of other drivel on the radio too; over-runs of budgets on HS2, bombings the the middle east, George Harrison. I didn't really pay that much attention to the radio. I was concentrating on staying alive. With the motorway mostly three lanes from Ashford to Maidstone I'd sadly managed to coincide going up the motorway with the emptying of one of the ferries. You can always tell; there are miles of slow moving lorries in the motorway's slow lane and miles of lorries going about one mile per hour faster in the middle lane. Once I'd managed to get onto the motorway (the lorries don't like letting you on!) I had the choice of travelling in the slow lane at just under forty miles an hour, or in the fast lane with idiots only yards from the back bumper flashing their lights in their impatience no matter how fast I went.
Work was work; I got my pension form signed and witnessed and returned to management and then had a rather good day. And being on the early shift I got out early.
I drove home with good intentions of taking the dogs to Orlestone, but as I came down the motorway so the drizzle started. And then the tyre low pressure warning came on for all four tyres. Coming on for all four tyres isn’t as bad as just one coming on. If it is just one, then there’s probably a nail through it. All four going at the same time is just air slowly escaping over time (I hope!).
I got home, pumped up all four tyres, and ended up filthy. Back in the day I used to get equally grubby hands when tightening the chain on my motorbike, and back in the day I always had a tub of Swarfega in the house for the clean-up. Apparently the stuff is still going; I thought they went bust years ago. I shall have to get some; soap and a nail brush doesn’t come close to what the green stuff used to do.
Once I’d finally got my hands reasonably clean the drizzle had become full-on rain. The dogs weren’t overly keen on feeding the fish, so I quietly cancelled the walk round Orlestone with a clear conscience.
I wonder what’s for dinner?
24 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Not on the Night Shift
When I woke after a reasonable night's sleep I noticed something. Treacle was at the foot of the bed (not in anyone's way) and both Morgan and Bailey were lined up with me and “er indoors TM”. With all of us orientated the same way there was a lot more space on the bed. I'm sure this was far more through random chance than judgement, but it was something of a result nonetheless.
I got up, made toast and watched more "Foundation" which wasn't that bad really, then had a little look at the Internet. It was still there. However it was relatively peaceful this morning. Apart from some petty sarcasm on the home-made Daleks Facebook page (there's some obscure stuff there if you look for it!) there wasn't anything kicking off for once. Mind you there was bad news... I say "bad news"... Chambers Bar in Folkestone is up for sale. Chambers Bar is always a "must visit" place on any pub crawl round Folkestone. The place usually has five decent ales on, and for many years the Easter beer festival was one of the highlights of the year. Apparently after twenty-five years the people who own it have had enough. I suspect running something like that is hard work, but with pubs closing left, right and centre, will they be able to sell the place as a going concern? I hope so.
I sent off birthday wishes to the one friend who was having a birthday today and got ready for work.
The original plan for today had me doing the night shift but a colleague has asked if she could do the night as it would make her child care arrangements much easier. I was quite happy to get out of the night shift but this did mean doing day shifts today and tomorrow at Pembury. So I drove off west-wards through a very dark and rainy morning.
As I drove along the lanes I listened to the radio as I do. Much of the talk this morning was about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East in which everyone interviewed differed in the specifics of their opinion, but everyone interviewed agreed that the conflict has been going on for years and will continue to do so. In between the doom and gloom were a couple of interesting snippets.
Apparently the Earth's core has sprung a leak. I wonder if it will deflate?
And a recently run simulation of the creation and subsequent evolution of the universe has shown that current cosmology theories are wrong. However the professor being interviewed was rather pleased about this... all the time science needs a better theory, the chap still has a job.
And then it was time for "Thought for the Day". If you have a minute, see if you can call it up on the i-player. Some fatuous vicar was banging on about how the frankly dire situation in the Middle East proves how wonderful and loving his god is. To me, all he did was prove that right is wrong and black is white, but what do I know?
Work was work… it wasn’t a bad day but I’ve had better. To be honest I always say I love working at Pembury but hate going there. I hate the coming home as well. As I drove in to work through the dark this morning and came home through the dark this evening probably a quarter of the ongoing vehicles had their light on high beam and had no intention of dipping them.
I did get home safely, but it can only be a matter of time before I’m driven into a ditch by a boy racer or because I was blinded by the lights.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner. It was good to be scoffing it at home and not being at work tonight. I wonder how many more night shifts I can swap out of…
25 October 2023 (Wednesday) - A Visitor
Finding myself wide awake far too early I gave up trying to sleep, made brekkie and watched the last episode of “Foundation” on Apple TV. Now I’ve seen it all (so far…) I’m still not sure what to make of it. The show is based on a series of short stories that Isaac Asimov wrote about seventy years ago. The stories follow the collapse of an empire and the growth of its successor over hundreds of years. The stories were rather good. The TV show sort-of takes some of these stories and sort-of uses them in a rather disjointed sort of way. Watching the TV show I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking “that’s not supposed to happen” or “those characters lived a hundred years apart”. I also spent far too long concerned that a colony living in prefabricated huts was still living in those same huts a hundred years later when the writers would have us believe they were well on the way to empire themselves. But my biggest gripe with the show was that I had a vague idea what was going on because I’d read the books. Anyone who’d not read them (or had forgotten them) would have been all at sea. Just like what happened when the “Harry Potter” books were made into films.
Now that’s watched I wonder what will be occupying me in the early morning tomorrow?
I had a little look at the Internet as I do most mornings. It was still there. This morning there was quite a lot of talk about how more animated episodes of “Doctor Who” are to be made from the original audio footage. I’ve got some of these myself; they are rather good. There were also quite a few photos of people who’ve been out picking pumpkins. At first I thought it odd that people would be doing that mid-week, but (apparently) all the schools are on half-term this week? I’ve rather got out of touch with that sort of thing.
I sent out birthday wishes to the one friend who is having a birthday today, then got ready for work.
Having swapped out of doing last night's night shift, as I set off to work I found myself wishing I'd done that night shift. If I had, I wouldn't have been driving through a dark wet miserable morning to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were banging on about how many amateur rugby games are being cancelled at the moment because clubs can't get enough members to field a team to play the games. And professional rugby teams are concerned that with amateur teams struggling, they too will struggle to get players coming through the system, and rugby fans are worried for the future of their passion. But (so it would seem) not worried enough to go scrum down themselves. For myself I can't see the attraction of watching sport. For me sport is done, not watched. But look at the popularity of it - entire TV channels devoted to the stuff. I would seem to be in the minority on this one... Mind you, I wouldn't mind playing a game of rugby; I'm certainly up for it, if not up to it.
And there was loads of talk on the radio about the ongoing conflict in Gaza... specifically talk about the talk about the situation in Gaza. Both Sir Kier Starmer and the Secretary General of the United Nations would seem to have either said too much or not said enough and have caused all sorts of upset and offence. Isn't it frankly amazing that what someone or other has to say about the news is considered to be more interesting than the news itself?
Work was dull. At tea break I had a message; “er indoors TM” has taken to putting out sunflower seeds on the lock-ups outside the kitchen window at home so she can watch the birds as she works, This morning a squirrel came down for some elevensies. And three dogs who (without fail) go ballistic about squirrels in the woods apparently slept through the entire squirrine visit.
I came home where “er indoors TM” boiled up a very good bit of dinner whilst the washing machine sorted out the undercrackers, and I had a look at the monthly accounts. Not too shabby really… they would be a whole lot better if I didn’t keep squandering good money on crap which I neither need nor want.
I wonder how they will hold up to retirement?
26 October 2023 (Thursday) - Banners Flying (Apparently)
I woke up at three o'clock this morning in need of a tiddle, rolled over and then slept through until quarter top six when I was seriously in need of a tiddle. But sleeping probably two hours more than yesterday was something of a result. I got up, had that tiddle, made toast and started on the seventh season of "Big Mouth" (which was quite entertaining) as I sorted the undercrackers which had tumble-dried.
And with telly watched I had my usual root around the Internet. The Facebook page for people who went to my old school was having something of a retrospective on one of the old maths teachers this morning. "Fred Bread" taught us maths for a year whilst I was at secondary school... Mind you when I say "taught us maths", I need to point out that our maths class was immediately after the morning break. Immediately before the morning break "Fred Bread" was teaching at the Priory Road school on the other side of town (our school had two branches), and immediately after the break he was supposed to be teaching us some three miles away. The chap flatly refused to travel during the break time and so consequently arrived twenty-five minutes late for every lesson with us. He would then spend most of the remaining lesson time grumbling about how he shouldn't be expected to travel in break time. Through his "expert tuition" I managed a twenty per cent score in the end of year exams, and much of the next year was spent with the next maths teacher amazed at how little we'd learned in the previous year.
I can remember a "Brains Trust" quiz competition as a fund raiser at school in which "Fred Bread" publicly asked "If you had a third hand, where would you put it?" and another teacher (who went on to become a vicar) replying (equally publicly) "punched down your throat" with quite some venom.
However most people offering an opinion this morning seemed to think that "Fred Bread" was perhaps the most able teacher of mathematics who ever lived. It is strange how people's recollections differ.
Pausing only briefly to be awarded the Munzee "Banners Flying" e-badge (what was that all about?) I set off through the rain up the motorway to Maidstone. As I set off my piss boiled somewhat. There was a lot of talk about how university students are running up such massive debts to pay their tuition and accommodation fees. I can't help but think that perhaps we (as a nation) might revisit higher education. What is it all about? Why do people run up massive debts studying the most random of subjects? Why not go down the old "apprenticeship" scheme and get degrees and qualifications which are relevant to your work and obtained as you work, the costs of which being paid as part of your wages? Like I did when I had six years working four days a week and going to various colleges on the fifth? I can remember conversations of years ago with friends who'd got degrees they weren't going to use, and with massive debts... who at the time were starting jobs effectively three years behind where they might have been.
There was a lot of other stuff on the radio this morning too, mostly about the ongoing war in Gaza. There was brief mention about developments in cosmology theories, but this was quite clearly considered (by those resenting the news) nowhere near as important as the latest antics of Ant & Dec. I didn't really pay that much attention to the radio; I must admit that most of my attention was on staying alive; driving up the dark motorway in the rain can be something of a challenge.
Work was work; I had a rather good day, but was still glad when home time came. Having got to work rather early in the hope of avoiding traffic light hold-ups I was stuck in the thick of them on the way home. I’ve grumbled about the mentality of people who organise the county’s traffic before, but you really would think that having one way to the hospital being blocked up would be enough, wouldn’t you? Do you *really* need road works on the other ways too?
I got home and fed the hounds, then “er indoors TM” arrived with “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” has gone down with the rona, and seriously needed a good night’s sleep.
Much as I do like having littlun to stay, she is hard work…
27 October 2023 (Friday) - Viruses, Petrol, Stuff...
With “er indoors TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” spending the night in the attic room, all the dogs wanted to be up there too. “er indoors TM” had said "NO!" on Saturday night and the dogs had just whinged all night long, so last night she relented and (if nothing else) I got a good night's kip. I have a vague recollection of them all stomping downstairs in the small hours, but that might have been a dream.
I made toast, watched an episode of "Big Mouth", and then turned the telly off and put the remote control where favourite smallest granddaughter wouldn't be able to reach it. Last night she was quite aggressively pointing at it and demanding "Give it!” Letting her loose on it would be a recipe for disaster.
With a few minutes spare I had a little look at the Internet and rolled my eyes at Facebook. This morning there was quite the argument kicking off on one of the Star Trek related pages I follow. Someone who obviously hasn't watched much Star Trek was asking who would win in a fight between one load of fictional aliens and another. Loads of people were weighing in with various opinions; all seemingly oblivious that this hypothetical fight had formed the basis of the entire third season of "Star Trek: Picard". It never fails to amaze me how so many people get into so many bitter fights over that about which they know absolutely nothing.
And then my phone asked for a virus scan, and whilst it was at it, it checked out my Internet connection which is “fast”. Or so it claims. Is it? I have no idea.
I got dressed. With everyone else up in the attic room I could get dressed in the bedroom with the light on. There is something strangely satisfying in knowing that your undercrackers are the right way round *before* you pull them up.
I resisted the temptation to go upstairs to say goodbye to everyone, and letting sleeping dogs (and llittluns) lie I set off to work. I am reliably informed that “Darcie Waa Waa TM” eventually woke up some three hours after I left.
As I set off so the bin lorry came up the road. I'd heard their advance party shouting to each other earlier.
I drove up the motorway listening to the pundits on the radio who were talking about the mass shooting in America where some maniac with a gun has killed eighteen people, injured a dozen more, and is still on the loose. The point was made that this isn't really news as this sort of thing has already happened over five hundred times in America this year. There have been a few calls to ban guns, but no one is really listening to the "let's not kill everyone" lobby; clearly those who make guns have quite a bit of power over there.
It would also seem that the "let's not kill everyone" lobby is doing equally badly in the Middle East with the Gaza situation going from bad to worse, and the Americans now bombing Iranian installations in Syria.
When I was a lad the future looked to bright... I despair for what “Darcie Waa Waa TM” is going to get when she grows up.
As I drove I kept looking at the car's dashboard. I'd left home with the trip meter thingy telling me I'd driven four hundred and sixty miles since I'd last got petrol. I thought I would probably be OK to get to the filling station in Aylesford (and if I wasn't then that would be an adventure for today's diary). The car gave quite a loud alarm five miles up the motorway telling me that I had forty miles of petrol left, and the gauge's needle seemed to be dropping fast as I found myself slowing behind the stream of traffic.
I got to the petrol station without conking out though; which was probably for the best. And from there I popped over to the Sainsbury's supermarket for a sandwich and some sugar and stuff. That trip also passed off without incident, which was a mild disappointment. The sour faced battleaxe who works there who had been the subject of bitter gossip in the filling station was nowhere to be seen this morning. That was something of a shame; whenever I go into Sainsburys in the mornings I've taken to smiling at her and asking innocuous questions just to provoke her. You'd be amazed at the nasty and spiteful replies she gives to the most innocent remarks. I have complained in the past (to no avail) but winding her up is much more fun.
I got to work where I had something of a "glandular fever" sort of day. I blame the kids getting bored during the half-term holidays.
For those of my loyal readers who aren't up on the intricacies of virology, the virus which causes glandular fever is a rather weedy thing. It dies when out of the human body for only a few minutes. It is spread by close contact; most easily by snogging. A few years ago I was telling the trainees about glandular fever. One young lady trainee proudly announced that she'd had glandular fever. Another looked her up and down with great contempt and announced "yeah... you look the sort".
They didn't actually come to blows, but things were tense for a while.
And talking of not being up on the intricacies of virology, “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” remains diseased. To be fair to her, viruses are rather small things so it is easy to lose sight of the little blighters. But whilst she remains moribund we get to keep hold of “Darcie Waa Waa TM” for another night, which is far easier to write about than to actually do. It has to be said it would be a lot easier if she weren't constantly trying to snog the dogs. Poor Bailey looks absolutely exhausted with it all.
As I write this “er indoors TM” is doing bath time with “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. All three dogs are in the bathroom too. I think they are gloating as they probably see bath time as some sort of punishment; in their world it probably is. The sounds emanating from the tub all sound rather traumatic, but I’m enjoying a wonderful moment of peace and quiet.
It won’t last long.
28 October 2023 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift
I woke to the sound of littlun having a stress fit shortly before seven o’clock. She had several of those yesterday. I thought I’d better get up and have a shave before the onslaught, but by the time I’d had a scrape, all was quiet again.
I made the most of it and had some toast and peered into the Internet. I was bombarded with adverts for sets of first edition coins – I could get a complete set of the first load of coins to feature the new king,. That would be nice… A set of coins which comes to the total value of three pounds eighty-eight pence would set me back thirty-three quid. If I wanted I could pay sixty-six quid and get duplicate coins so I could see both the front and the back of the coins. Or (if I was important enough) I could shell out eighty-five quid on the limited edition set. Presumably limited to as many as they can sell?
If anyone wants a set of these coins, I’ll sort you one out for twenty quid…
I was reminded of a friend of a friend who started a small business (many years ago) in which he bought loads of plain plastic frisbees and lunch boxes and rulers and the like. He printed off a load of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stickers, stuck them on his plastic tat and made a fortune. He took the stickers off of those that didn’t sell and replaced them with Spice Girls stickers and sold more. The last I heard he was still coining it in, milking money from those who were wanting to jump on whatever bandwagon is the latest craze.
I looked at the rain... and looked at the key to the field in which we have Dog Club. If I wasn't the key holder I wouldn't have gone along this morning. I chivvied the dogs downstairs and into their coats and we drove through some rather awful rain to Dog Club. I opened up, and within a couple of minutes Ralph (and his humans) joined us, soon followed by Kai and Polly and their humans. The rain slackened off to mild drizzle, and seven dogs and five humans made the most of it. Some of the dogs were chasing after a ball being thrown, and with far fewer dogs along than usual, Treacle made an attempt to join in. I saw that as a major result.
But the drizzle soon gave way to heavier rain. We all said our goodbyes and left... and then I had a little issue with Morgan who didn't want to go home, and thought that if he stood in the middle of a rather deep puddle I wouldn't be able to get him.
He thought wrong.
As we drove home Steve was doing the mystery year on the radio which I thought was 1978. As the questions went on I became more and more confident... until he mentioned a television show on Channel Four. Channel Four started in 1982. So much for my theory.
Once home the dogs had a hot shower to warm them all up (and shift the mud). I had a complete change of clothes (even my pants were wringing wet), and I went up to the attic room to wake “er indoors TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”.
We then had an entertaining hour or so in which “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and I alternately sang along with Lube-Tube (!) songs (as she used Treacle as a pillow) and went out to the garden to see the water dogs (fish) in the pond. Favourite smallest granddaughter didn't care about the rain; when she pointed to the back door, out we went.
It was raining particularly hard as I drove off to work, but the rain gave way to glorious sunshine, then went back to rain, and then to sunshine again every few minutes. As I drove a familiar car came past and pulled in front of me. “My Boy TM” and his tribe were all off out somewhere. I wonder where?
I got to work, had a bit of dinner, and cracked on with the late shift. As I worked I alternately smiled and sulked as the rain came and went. I don't mind working when it rains, and there was probably equal amounts of rain and shine this afternoon. As I worked “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” sent me some photos - “Darcie Waa Waa TM” had gone home and was far more pleased to see Pogo than her.
Work was rather hard work today; it probably didn’t help that as the afternoon wore on I felt progressively more and more grotty. Once I got home I did a ‘rona test to see if I’d caught it from “Darcie Waa Waa TM”.
I hadn’t. It was negative. I suppose this is the new world order… every little headache and sore throat from here on in will raise the suspicion of ‘rona.
“er indoors TM” boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Below Deck”; a sort-of cross between “Big Brother” and “Carry on Cruising”. Like all these reality-TV shows I can’t help but think that the characters in it are all actors; are people *really* that stupid?
Mind you, I’m completely hooked with this show…
29 October 2023 (Sunday) - On The Dull Side
What with a rather late night and (frankly ridiculous) daylight saving we were rather late out of bed this morning. Usually I resent wasting time in my pit, but the weather forecast for today wasn’t good. Having been listening to the rain, hearing a lull I got the dogs into the garden and they did what was expected of them.
I made toast, had a look at a frankly dull internet, then carried on trying to solve a geo-puzzle. This one involves solving a series of on-line jigsaws related to Bagpuss. I completed the one I’d started a couple of nights ago; that one only took five hours in total and made a start on the next. And then I took a deep breath and realised that I hate jigsaw puzzles. I sent a message to the bloke who’d set the puzzle. He said there were twelve in total, all getting increasingly more difficult. Bearing in mind the ninth took five hours to do, I decided to stop at that point.
Seeing a break in the weather I went on a little outing. “er indoors TM” is secretary of the scout group and they were having their AGM this afternoon. As she was feeling a tad under the weather I delivered the paperwork that needed delivering. Back in the day a rather dull scout group AGM would take a few minutes after a cubs or scouts meeting, and you wouldn’t really notice the time it took. Nowadays you are expected to give up an entire afternoon to the thing. I must have enjoyed some of my time as a scout leader as I did it for long enough, but I can’t help but feel that I am well out of it.
Is that wrong of me?
I came home via Pets at Home as we needed dog food and fish food. The place was surprisingly busy, and for every customer that was looking were they were going, there was a dozen who were just randomly blundering about. I see this so often in so many places. So many people really do blunder about; seemingly obvious that there are other people in the vicinity into whom they are seemingly constantly crashing. Perhaps I might take to doing that; if only for a bit of a laugh.
As I walked into Pets at Home it had been a glorious day with bright sunshine and blue skies. As I walked out less than ten minutes later there was a completely black sky and torrential rain. By the time I’d got the shopping home we had a blue sky again. This was today in a nutshell; beautiful sunshine alternating with torrential rain. Seeing the sun I took a chance and ran the dogs round the block. We got round without getting soaked, and without incident too.
But once home the rain started again. “er indoors TM” cracked open a pot of guacamole dip and we scoffed it with mushroom flavoured crisps (oh yes!!!) whilst watching an episode of “Taskmaster”. Lucy Beaumont was in that show and was not doing very well… I remember her husband John Richardson advising her against spearing in TV quiz shows as no one ever notices who wins, but everyone does notice those who make complete idiots of themselves.
I went into the garden to have a quick measure-up of the pond with a view to enlarge the bog filter. Part of that will involve some serious ground work and sawing of sleepers. But just as I got the tape measure out so the rain started again. I effectively gave up on the afternoon at that point and watched several episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which two half-way decent B&B establishments were up against a canal boat which offered (rather good) accommodation, and a complete sh*t-hole. I’m sorry - there was no other way to describe it. The sh*t-hole was run by some woman who was absolutely convinced that cheap was good, and cheaper was better, and she was accompanied (but *not* assisted) by her husband who considered himself to he a high-flying businessman but was actually a bit of a tit. One of their bathrooms was filmed with toilet roll and soap dispensers being empty, tiles coming off the walls, paint flaking in chucks the size of your hand, and this chap claimed that this was nothing that should warrant any complaint. When challenged that half the light bulbs in the place were missing (they were!) he replied by asking how many light bulbs do people want?
I do love that show.
As I laughed at the antics on the hoteliers, so Morgan and Bailey snuggled with me. They’ve both been rather quiet today; I hope they aren’t sickening for something.
“er indoors TM” then drove off to Folkestone and came back with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” (together with Pogo) who all came up for Sunday dinner.
I’m going back to work tomorrow for a bit of peace and quiet…
30 October 2023 (Monday) - Diseased
On Saturday I mentioned that I’d I was feeling grim, but had done a rona test and it was negative. I perked up a bit yesterday, but as the evening wore on I wasn’t feeing very good. I had an early night, but was coughing and headaching and the throat was getting iffier. I got up for a wazz at half past three, and whilst I was at it I did another rona test. This one was positive.
I immediately messaged the works WhatsApp group to say I wouldn’t be showing up for the early shift, and was surprised at just how many colleagues were awake that early.
I went back to bed, but didn’t sleep much. With “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and Pogo all in the attic room the dogs were all rather excited at every sound that came from above. There was a particularly loud crash just after half past four; I rather expected Pogo to be coming through the ceiling.
I got up shortly before eight o’clock, had a very impressive coughing fit, and made myself some brekkie whilst everyone else was fast asleep.
There was a picture of some children and a horse on one of the Facebook 1970s TV shows pages, and quite a bitter argument was going on about whether the picture was from “Follyfoot” or “Black Beauty”. As if it really mattered.
I can remember every Sunday evening having to have the start of “Black Beauty” on the telly. In the lead-up to the show my brother would be shouting “Black Du-Du, Black Du-Du”. He would burst into tears during the theme tune, and with the theme tune done we could turn the telly off as he’d then lost interest. He used to do the same with episode of “The Good Life” too.
Not much else was happening on Facebook really, so I had a look at my in-box.
I had an email from YouGov about the surveys I do for them (sometimes). In September I did two surveys which was a response rate of only eight per cent (apparently I ignored ninety-two per cent of the emails they sent me) but I was still in the top thirty-six per cent of respondents.
I phoned in to work to find out what the drill was… Apparently today is counted as “Day Zero”; I have to be off until Day Five… so that’s a week off work for me. Ironic really… there is so much I could be doing, and I feel like death warmed up.
Having been awake for much of the night I then slept on the sofa (under a pile of dogs) for two hours. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM” got up five minutes before mid-day
We put “The Phantom Tollbooth” on to Amazon Prime and slept through most of it, then put several episodes of “South Park” onto Paramount Plus and slept through those too.
Usually on an average day my watch tells me that I walk over six thousand steps a day; and over twelve thousand on a dog walk day. Today by eight o’clock in the evening I still hadn’t done five hundred steps.
The last time I had rona I must admit I wasn’t impressed with it. At the time I wrote “I must admit that I feel as though I’m testing positive for COVID as opposed to actually having the thing, and I think it fair to say that compared to thousands I seem to have got off very lightly”.
This time I can see what all the fuss is about… I feel rather grotty to say the least….
31 October 2023 (Tuesday) - Dying to Death
There’s no denying that I had a bad night. I dozed on and off until half past seven in between coughing and sniffing fits before getting up and spending a couple of hours on the sofa continuing to cough and sniff until my stomach hurt.
I must admit to being really hacked off with this COVID lark; the last time I had it, I wasn’t ill at all. The rules said that I had to stay away from everyone else all the time that I was infectious and so I effectively had a bonus week’s holiday. When I was told yesterday that I can’t come in to work for a week I thought I might get another.
But this time I’m ill.
I spent most of the day on the sofa watching all sorts of tripe. “Blue Planet” and a documentary about snow leopards on the Eden channel, something about a huge oil tanker, and more “Four In A Bed” in which the woman who’d spent three episodes telling everyone how clean her place was had dust thick enough in which to write your name.
Once she’d done her day’s work “er indoors TM” drove “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Darcie Waa Waa TM” and Pogo home. As we’d all gone down with disease it seemed sensible to suffer together, but with “Darcie Waa Waa TM” seemingly on the mend “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” thought it best to go home.
As they went home I was charged with making our dinner. I have a special recipe; I chop up all the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and bung it in a pot together with all the apples and bananas and pineapples that “Darcie Waa Waa TM” hadn’t finished. I then stick a little water into the brown sauce and ketchup bottles that are almost (but not quite) empty and squirt that in the pot, then have a rummage round the fridge and the cupboards to see what else I can find. I let it all simmer for an hour or so before serving it all up with rice. Bish bosh(!)
As I cooked I dug out the thermometer and measured my temperature. It was thirty-eight degrees (Celsius) which is high enough to count as a fever.
I said I was poorly…
Mind you today’s step count was over a thousand… just.