01 September 2007 (Saturday) - A Dull Day

01 September 2007 (Saturday) - A Dull Daymagnify

One of the good things about keeping a blog is you can see what you’ve done over the last few weeks. In the days before blog it all blurred into “history”. Going back through the last few Saturdays I’ve been camping, hiking, more camping, more hiking, to a wedding, read the Harry Potter book with a hangover, done archery, even more camping, watched the Sugarbabes, yet more hiking, took the Cubs to Gilwell, yet more camping, been to a beer festival, been on a pub crawl… in fact I have to go back to mid May to find a Saturday when not much happened.

Today was on the dull side. Before work I popped into Tesco’s to get everyone doughnuts. Two bags at 48p each and I got 10p change from a pound? And then to Kent Wool Growers to get mousetraps. Two mousetraps at £1.43 each cost £2.87? Work was the same as ever, and then I spent the afternoon tidying up the shed. I say tidying up – I really should chuck the rubbish away. We’ve got all sorts of rubbish in there, most of which is now covered in mouse poo, hence the need for mouse traps. Two “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending)” should sort out the rodent problem. They’ve certainly sorted out my thumb – it’s at times like that when one recalls the ancient Chinese proverb “Don’t play silly beggars with mouse traps”.

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02 September 2007 (Sunday) - Meanwhile In Trench Two

02 September 2007 (Sunday) - Meanwhile In Trench Twomagnify

The “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse trap” would seem to be a total waste of £1.43 as so far all it has wrecked is my thumb. I’m reliably informed (by “My Boy TM) that mice don’t like bread, they like chocolate bourbon biscuits. We shall see.

Setting off rather later than planned (!) we went to the camping shop that was having a sale. Unfortunately all the bargains had gone before we arrived, but I did pick up arguably the sexiest back pack in Christendom. And, yes, it does have just the tiniest hint of pink about it. A picnic was scoffed on the hill above Charing watching the gliders flying overhead. Really scenic – I could have sat there all day. But we had plans….

The arrival of four of us at Lenham Archaeological Society’s dig tripled their workforce. OK, so none of us had done “arkyolo – gee” before, but how hard could it be? The “Nice Lady TM had aerial photos which showed land patterns, and had even done geophysics in the form of resistivity testing. The “Nice Lady TM gave us a few hints of what to do and pointed us in the direction of Trench Two. I got the distinct impression that “Proper archaeology” had already been done to death in this trench, and a corner had been left for the newbies.

But it was good – the “Nice Lady TM sat her chair above us and as we dug, scraped and generally spuddled about she gave encouraging hints and tips. It transpired that a lot of what actually looks like artefact is actually rubbish. In this case a lot of it was just lumps of iron ore, or slag from the iron making processes that had been going on in the Iron Age. But industrial waste from two thousand yeas ago is still artefact. If nothing else, it shows people were actually smelting iron and that we were in the right place. Before long we’d unearthed Neolithic flints, Iron Age pottery, twelfth century floor tiles and loads of industrial waste. And then we filled the hole in.

Oh how I ache…



03 September 2007 (Monday) - Failing Apparatus

03 September 2007 (Monday) - Failing Apparatusmagnify

One of my “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse traps” would seem to be wrecked. “My Boy TMclaims he was “baiting it”. He’s bought me some water hyacinths to say sorry, but he’s not fooling me. I reckon its revenge for the trap of his that I inadvertently accidentally destroyed. I’ve had another go at fixing the thing, and it’s had another go at my thumb. Rodent fans everywhere will be pleased to hear that the total caught remains at zero. I’m told peanut butter works. That will be tonight’s bait.

Mind you, I thought we’d caught something last night. Whilst having my ablute I heard what I can only describe as a shed collapsing. It was in fact the washing machine. It had gone mental, and boiled my undercrackers and then exploded for no adequately explored reason. I pulled the plug and got the stuff out, but my smalls and the washing machine were red hot. I let it cool down, and then spun them off. It seemed OK, and it’s done another load this morning. I’m hoping this was a temporary aberration.

Er Indoor’s” scrat nav had a temporary aberration on Saturday night. I’ve been after a large tub for some weeks, and I got one off of eBay. (It’s that big black thing in the piccy above). The adverts said that the buyer must collect from Wingham. So I arranged to get it on Saturday night. Wingham is easy to find. If you go from my house to Canterbury and keep going, you’re there. Easy. But as I wasn’t sure, I thought I’d try the scrat nav. Never again!. It demanded I took the M20 to Folkestone (which is 90o in the wrong direction . Being a trusting soul, I followed its advice. On approaching junction 12 it told me to prepare to leave the motorway. So I did, and the thing then had a little rest and said nothing for ten minutes, then announced I should do a U-turn and get back on the motorway. Narrowly missing the prat who overtook me as I turned right I got back on the motorway. I then followed the thing’s random gibberings up hills and down dales until I was totally lost. Once I’d done about thirty miles more that I needed to, its battery went flat and it died.

However my tub is now in the garden. It will form the reservoir of a big water feature. All we’ve got to do is bury it in the ground. I shall treat this as archaeology practice. Or that is, I shall once “My Boy TM is back from his holiday and he can do the digging. I bet I find artefacts. Does anyone want some topsoil? About a couple of square metres of the stuff…


04 September 2007 (Tuesday) - Off On His Adventures

04 September 2007 (Tuesday) - Off On His Adventuresmagnify

Making enough noise to wake the dead, “My Boy TMhas left these shores for his holiday. Him and “his bird TM“ have gone to Egypt. He’s not been abroad much before. He went to Holland with the cubs ten years ago and to Canada with the scouts seven years ago. I wonder what he’ll make of Egypt? I’ve warned him about the water. Everyone I know who’s been to Egypt gets the squitters. What was wrong with Skegness or Blackpool? Felixstowe & Weymouth did me!

Meanwhile in the shed the “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse traps” are living up to their reputation of being the best waste of £2.87 known to science. Last night I baited them with peanut butter, and they got my thumb again.


05 September 2007 (Wednesday) - A Brush with the Law

05 September 2007 (Wednesday) - A Brush with the Lawmagnify

Last night we started watching “The Lost Room”. It’s good, or that is, it’s good so far. I’m quite looking forward to the next episode. Having slept through most of “Lost” over the last few months, having something watchable for our Tuesday evening sessions is a definite plus.

I was called into work in the early hours of the morning for a minor catastrophe, and when I got back home I couldn’t find a parking space. Whilst driving about to find somewhere I soon spotted a police car which followed me until I parked. As I got out of my car, so the policemen got out of their car and approached me. I smiled and them and asked if I was in trouble. Apparently at this stage they were merely conducting a routine examination because I had been driving in a suspicious manner (!) I asked what they meant by that. It seemed that I had been driving very slowly around a residential neighbourhood. I explained that I always drive slowly, the local streets are rather narrow, it’s dark, I was trying to find a parking space, and I had a police car on my tail. This rather lame explanation was treated with scorn. Would they rather I sped around the back streets? Did they think I’d be casing the joints with the law on my tail?

They then latched onto the “parking” aspect of my defence, and asked where I lived. I told them. Their eyes lit up. In their tiny minds they’d found the flaw in my logic. What was this villain doing parking four streets away from his alleged house? Could I explain that one? Yes, I could. There was nowhere closer to my house where I could park. Which the coppers should know as they’d been following me. They seemed rather crestfallen about my calling them as witnesses for the defence. They then asked if I’d been drinking. What a stupid question. What on earth did they expect me to say? “Yes officer, I’m absolutely rat-arsed”? I offered to do a breathalyser but this again scuppered their plans. They then cynically asked if I’d be going home at this stage. Well, obviously I was. They commented that the address I’d given them was a long way from where I’d parked. I agreed with them, and smiled as they got in their car and drove off. In retrospect I should have asked them for a lift.

I’m not the greatest fan of the police, but they do themselves no favours at all. They strut around with an attitude of arrogance tempered by stupidity and wonder why they command no respect from the general public.

Meanwhile back on the ranch the “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse traps” have still failed to apprehend a singe rodent. But on the other hand the water hyacinths are breeding. Where yesterday there was six, now there’s seven.



06 September 2007 (Thursday) - Another Day, Another Cent

06 September 2007 (Thursday) - Another Day, Another Centmagnify

An interesting development with the “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse traps” – they have been de-baited. Everyone denies having taken the bait from them, so it must have been the mice. Those mouse traps worked well.

It’s Thursday – I mowed the lawn. Normally a dull task, but today I found the chap pictured above. One of the down sides to all the work I’ve done in the garden is that we don’t see the slow-worms as often as we did. I must make a slow-worm enclosure for them.

I finally got round to taking some rubbish to the tip. Thursday at 8.30am must be the time to go as there were only three other cars there. I didn’t have to wait at all. There was the obligatory twat with his bag perched on the edge of the crusher, kissing goodbye to each and every one of his bits of tat. I “accidentally” knocked his bag in the crusher. But then, I was bigger than him. The “nice man at the tip TM” says I can ding any excess soil from my hole at the tip. I must get round to digging that hole…


07 September 2007 (Friday) - Paintball, anyone?

07 September 2007 (Friday) - Paintball, anyone?magnify

An even more interesting development with the “Rat-Wrecker 2000 (patent pending) mouse traps” – they are now sparklingly clean. Something’s licked off the last residues of peanut butter. They worked well!

After doing the ironing (boring!), it was off to work. I baked a cake for my colleagues last night. Despite it’s not rising and being somewhat on the crispy side, it got scoffed pretty quickly.

It’s been suggested by a chap from Crawley that the Brighton Kite Fliers have a paintball game one Saturday. http://www.holmbushpaintball.co.uk/ My initial reaction was that I was quite keen. But then I’ve seen the bruises that people get playing this game. And it costs over £40. I’d like to play, if there’s enough interest I’m sure I’ll join in. But there’s so much else I could spend £40 on. Beer doesn’t buy itself, you know….



08 September 2007 (Saturday) - Elbow Deep in Fish Poo

08 September 2007 (Saturday) - Elbow Deep in Fish Poomagnify

I was running late this morning, and just as I was about to feed the fish I realised something was wrong with the pond. The water level was about two feet lower than what it should have been. I immediately spotted the problem – water was pouring out of the filter unit. I quickly turned it all off, chucked a handful of scoff in for the fish and zoomed off to work. Work was quiet, and I spent the morning imagining countless expensive scenarios for the afternoon. These filter units aren’t cheap!

When I got home it was straight to the pond to sort out the problem. This turned out to be easy enough. The filter was completely bunged up with fish poo. I knew I’d have to clean the filter out sooner or later, but I thought that it wouldn’t need doing until the autumn. I’d better do it every couple of months from now on. Have you ever been up to your elbows in fish poo before? It’s not something that I can recommend.

It was at this point that Kate wandered past with the hose pipe from two doors down and set about topping up the pond. And having got that under way she then opened Trench One. Eventually we’ll be putting a fountain into it, but for now we’re having loads of fun playing at archaeology and pulling out pottery, nails and what Katy thinks is the remains of a medieval stocks. It might well be….

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09 September 2007 (Sunday) - More Digging

09 September 2007 (Sunday) - More Diggingmagnify

An afternoon spent with the Lenham Archaeology Society. Last week we had a muck about under supervision. This week we were part of the team. In fact we were over half the team. We started from scratch and opened up Trench Three under the instructions of “geophysics” who had cunningly positioned the trench over a site of scientific interest. The proper people who knew what they were doing started at one end, and it looked like a proper archaeological dig. We started at the other and it looked like a building site. There was a vague area in the middle from where the “nice lady” supervised.

However despite our end looking a mess, Sam soon unearthed a floor surface, or the top of a wall, of a load of stones or something. The proper diggers were jealous. They’d found nothing. And then “geophysics” piped up that what we’d found shouldn’t have been there. And furthermore the proper diggers should have found something. He then consulted the “geophysics” again, and then asked what scale the map was……

As we’d been digging, all the soil that came out had been chucked in a heap. “Geophysics” then announced that our soil heap was where we should actually be digging. Oh how we laughed. If the trench was any deeper, I’d have chucked him in.

And then home to find Kate had been carrying on with our own hole in the garden, and another hour was spent digging there. We’ve probably dug about three quarters of what we need to dig. It would be good to have it all dug before “My Boy TM” gets back from Egypt, but I can’t see that happening.

To view this multimedia content, please click here.


10 September 2007 (Monday) - A Year In The Life...

Today marks a year since I’ve been blogging continuously. Sometimes I’ve struggled to find something to write, sometimes I’ve written too much. There’s a lot of things which haven’t been blogged. Some entries have made me laugh. Others have been out-and-out rants. As well as concentrating the mind on the day’s events, a blog is a good way to record stuff I’d otherwise forget.

Over the last year I’ve been to beer festivals, kite festivals, bat- and cub- camp. I’ve flown kites and been on pub crawls. Been to firework displays. Been to the theatre (several times). Taken up archery. Joined an archaeology society. Helped set up an astronomy society. Given a talk to the astronomy society. Taken my garden from jungle to being half-way decent. Been to countless meals & parties with friends. Been to a wine tasting. Learned to make fruit cake. Been in the carnival and on the telly. Been fishing (not nearly enough). Discovered Whelan’s stone works. Had fun with the DCW. Been to a wedding with a buffet (!). Rescued ducks from fishing line. Enjoyed the annual “Ice-Cream Pig Out”. Watched Eurovision. Become a roving reporter for B.I.T.E. Laughed at friends having an earthquake. Taken cubs to the world jamboree and into the river. Put shelves up. Found several new favourite pubs. Been on lots of walks in the fresh air. Wasted days in NeverWinter. And transferred all of this to a new PC. Life is something which is too precious and too short to waste.

For the same time period a year ago (September 2005 – September 2006) I kept a “reflective diary” (posh term for blog) for my PG Cert. In that I was required to come up with a top ten list of that year’s events. I was wondering about doing the same for this year. But I can’t do it.

How many times have I been round to the Riverside for a meal with mates this last year? Several sessions immediately come to mind. A couple of excursions to the Red Lion and to the FILO that became hazier as the day went on would have to be in the list. As would walking along Whitstable sea front dreaming about flicking peanuts at the normal people. Four holidays away with friends would have to feature. And what about the little events that without a blog would pass unnoticed? As I look back, I’m amazed how much I’ve done in this last year that I would have completely forgotten if not for the blog. Here’s a little movie to remind us all of what happened:

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

And, as I celebrate “New Blog Year”, as well as looking back, it’s a time to look forward. Plans for the future include finishing off the latest garden project, Rye bonfire is coming up, there are plans for pub crawls in Lewes & Tenterden, plans for another sit-down Xmas meal in the cubbery, back to Eastbourne for more ice cream, a walk from Herne Bay to Faversham harbour, a beer festival in the back garden, more bow snarrows, more fishing….. never a dull moment.


11 September 2007 (Tuesday) - What's In A Name...

11 September 2007 (Tuesday) - What's In A Name...magnify

As the new school term begins so some of the older cubs move up to scouts. The spaces they leave behind are soon filled. Some are filled by the older Beavers coming up to cubs, this year including one “Tom Tiddler”, who seems a likeable enough child. Other spaces are filled by children who are entirely new to scouting. One such girl rejoices in the name of “Hobbit”. Presumably this is due either to her uncanny resemblance to Bilbo Baggins, or to her hairy feet?

As part of their “centenary of scouting” challenge I was trying to get them to do one hundred bounces on the Lo-Lo ball. Funnily enough I’m quite proficient at the Lo-Lo ball, as is our young leader pictured above. But precious few of the youngsters can do it. I persuaded a lot of them that the trick is the chant – you have to sing “Boingy, Boingy, Boingy” continuously or you fall off. When they all fell flat on their faces after one bounce I told them it was because they weren’t singing the chant properly. And so they’d get up, dust themselves down, and fall flat on their face again in mid “Boingy”.

Little Louise got 140 bounces. I got 85 until our young leaders realised I was far better than them and they pushed me over. They pick on me….

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12 September 2007 (Wednesday) - In A Hole

12 September 2007 (Wednesday) - In A Holemagnify

I was rudely awoken at 3.55am as “My Boy TM” and “His Bird TM” arrived home quietly. I’d hate to hear the racket if they were trying to make a noise. Apparently Egypt, like archery, is “not too sad”. I am assured that there is more to be said about the place, but it will have to wait until later, as he’s off to the pub with his mates. Can’t imagine who he takes after!

There was a minor hiccup with the latest garden project in that I couldn’t get out of the hole I’d dug. My back’s not what it once was. But the water tank is now in the hole and awaiting filling. I’ll do that tomorrow. In the meantime, if any of my loyal readers want some soil for the garden – help yourself. How can a hole which is just a little more than a cubic metre generate three cubic metres of soil?


13 September 2007 (Thursday) - An Afternoon Off Work

13 September 2007 (Thursday) - An Afternoon Off Workmagnify

An afternoon off work as I had loads to do. To Bybrook Barn for more edging slabs. They’ve got cheeky – like the supermarket you now have to put money in the trolley before you can make off with it. I think that’s a bit of a sauce. Fortunately I had a quid on me. Next time I shall brave the retards and go to WyeVale.

And then to B&Q for galvanised mesh. I’m afraid they had a “WyeVale Reject” on the till. This one spent ten minutes haranguing the lady in front of me in the queue. Apparently their children go to the same school. Whilst this was a matter of earth shattering importance to the till operative it was a matter of utter indifference to the lady in front on me. It was quite plain that the lady in front of me considered this to be a matter of utter triviality to everyone except the retard behind the till. This one crowed on about the co-incidence as though it was the most amazing thing in the history of the universe. After ten minutes the lady in front of me just walked off and left the retard still wittering on. After a couple more minutes the retard realised the target of her wittering had disappeared, wasted a few more minutes looking for her, and then turned to me. I put my galvanised mesh on the counter. She zapped it with her bar code reader. And then zapped it again. And again. On the fourth zap she realised it had no barcode, advised me of this in a tone of voice synonymous with “f*ck off fatso” and attempted to serve the person behind me. I wasn’t standing for this and told her that they were £3.97 each. She told me they had no barcodes. I repeated the price. She grumbled about calling someone from gardening and looked around for the phone she’d just buried with her price list. She eventually found the phone and got through to someone. “Dan?”, “Kev?”, and then started to go through every name in the English language before the bloke behind shouted out “For Christ’s sake ask them the price”. She then asked me what the galvanised mesh was. I told her it was galvanised mesh. “But what is it?” she asked. “Mesh that’s been galvanised?” I replied, desperately trying to recall the technicalities of galvanisation, should the need to elaborate arise. Fortunately for my sanity the need did not arise. The anonymous person at the other end of the phone told her they were £3.97. Like I’d told her some ten minutes before. The bloke behind me was quick to point this out, and I left quickly – I could see him getting into a “Two Ronnies fork handles/four candles hoes/hose/ o’s” type of squabble.

Quickly (and uneventfully) filling up with petrol I then stopped off at the tip with some rubbish. One of the things I like to do is to chuck bags of rubbish into the skip from a distance. The bag of rubbish Kate had given me burst open in mid air. I hope the nice man didn’t see.

To Rolvenden for a water pump for the new garden project. I got one in the sale, but it might be a tad too powerful for what I’ve got in mind. We shall see. On the way out a voice called “Dave?” I turned “Yes?” It was a chap who, like me, was in the Boys Brigade in Hastings the early 80s. We’d not seen each other since 1983, and he recognised me! We’d been fellow buglers in the marching band for some years, had been on numerous outings and activities together including one memorable hiking/camping contest in 1982 when we’d walked some twenty miles around the Brighton countryside, lugging all our gear as we went. He looked well, a little grey, but better to be grey than bald (!) He was replacing the filtration system for his pond – someone had stolen his. Some people will nick anything.

The journey home would go past where “My Boy TM” was fishing. I thought I’d stop and waste ten minutes watching. As I arrived his mate was catching a big fish. As my ten minutes were up, his mate caught another, so I thought I’d stay a little longer. I was there for nearly two hours, catching my biggest fish of the year – a 3 ½ pound carp.

And so home – much later than planned. The water tank which went in the hole is filling with water, and I’ve put soil back down the sides of it. Hopefully it will all settle over the next few days and be ready for action soon.

The ironing didn’t get done, but you can’t have everything.


14 September 2007 (Friday) - Photographs

14 September 2007 (Friday) - Photographsmagnify

Yahoo Photos have closed down, and have been replaced with Flickr. Which is OK if you’ve not lost your Flickr password AND you’re prepared to pay for it. If someone can tell me how to continue using it for free, I’m all ears. Failing that I’m going to have to find somewhere else for my photos. I’d rather not – I’d rather stick with Yahoo because I know it and I like it. Ringo is free. http://www.ringo.com/profile/manky_badger.html I shall experiment with it and see how I get on….

(Dear Mr Yahoo – please don’t think I’m advertising for your competitors here – but since you’ve stopped doing the photos, I don’t know what else to do…)



15 September 2007 (Saturday) - Holes

15 September 2007 (Saturday) - Holesmagnify

My Boy TM” was out on the beer until 3.30am last night. He was still up early enough to help with the completion of the latest garden project. There’s no denying the thing is bowing somewhat in the middle. There’s quite a bit of weight on it. I may need to hoik all the stones off and put some more substantial grilles underneath. But that would be expensive. So long as no one’s daft enough to stand on it, all should be OK (he hoped). And until I can shift several tons of soil, this will have to be the last garden project.

Er Indoors” suggested a cheeky way to get rid of the excess soil in the week. The water board dug the road outside our house up on Wednesday. We could stick it on their heap and see if anyone notices. I’m a bit cross about the water board at the moment. I came home from work on Tuesday to find that the parking bay outside the house was temporarily designated as “no parking” as Mid Kent Water needed to do essential work on Wednesday at 7.30am. Well, needless to say, they didn’t do anything (essential or otherwise) at 7.30am on Wednesday. Some time during that afternoon they dug a hole in the road and then shoved off leaving traffic chaos in their wake and haven’t been seen since. Parking is tight enough round our area. Now we’ve lost seven more spaces for heaven only knows how long.


16 September 2007 (Sunday) - Kent Scouts Big Day Out

16 September 2007 (Sunday) - Kent Scouts Big Day Outmagnify

An early start for a day out with the beaver, cubs and scouts. It started off in the corner shop where I told the cubs and the junior leaders how shocking it was that they were buying their sandwiches rather than making their own. It took them some time to realise exactly why I was in the corner shop…

And so off to the county showground, with two less than we were planning. One littlun had been throwing up all night. One biggun had moved house two days previously. He’d been sent to buy a dishwasher. He came back with a plasma screen TV & home cinema set-up, and had been grounded (!) The coach trip could be described as uneventful or traumatic, depending on whether or not you’ve been out with the cubs before. I personally thought they were quite well behaved, but one of the parent helpers sat in utter terror wondering what she’d let herself in for. I’m told that life in the accompanying cars and minibus (there were a LOT of us) was equally dull (or traumatic).

We arrived along with thousands of other beavers, cubs and scouts from all over the county for Kent Scout’s “Big Day Out”. First of all we set up a tent to stash our day bags in, and were met by the organisers. We were lucky – our group had won the golden badges that allowed us to jump all the queues for the events. We dished out the golden badges; made sure everyone had a “buddy” and sent them all on their way. As long as no one was alone, they are far better off in small groups doing their own thing. There’s nothing worse than trooping round mob-handed.

I was expecting them all to voom off and then, together with the other leaders, make my way to the leaders’ area for coffee. But two of the girl cubs wanted me to go round with them. So off we went as “Team Girls”. We went on rope bridges and did hair painting before going to see the sheepdog demonstrations. Because of the restrictions of movement of livestock due to foot & mouth disease the sheep couldn’t make it. But in true theatrical tradition, the show must go on. The sheep were replaced by their understudies – the ducks. The ducks were herded left right and centre, a one point being herded through a slalom of leaders including “Yours Truly”. And then into the reptile tent. They had snakes! Burmese pythons, rainbow boas, I got quite gooey over them. The next stop was the only place I used my “jump the queue” badge for myself. Face painting! I asked for something pink and got the above butterfly. And the girls wanted the same. Then we went onto indoor caving, and then an assault course run by two royal marines who were very taken with my butterfly. We had our fingerprints taken by the police, and set up an obstacle course for the guide dogs. The first aid people were making fake scars, so I had to have one. A great big gaping gash across my forehead went well with the butterfly, and had all the kids asking if it hurt. To the woggle stall to spend some money. I must admit I was a bit cross with the woggle people. Bearing in mind that the average kid brings along a fiver to squander, charging £3 for a woggle is just a little on the steep side. But they were doing a roaring trade. Woggles were bought and then it was on to the safety pin badge making stall which barely left time to tie a scoobie before it was back to meet up with the rest of our group for dinner.

There were shouts of indignation from the junior leaders as I opened my shop bought sandwiches in front of them. Oh how I laughed. Why did they think I’d gone to the shop this morning? And as we scoffed everyone compared notes. It seemed that everyone had been to different stalls. No one had seen what we’d seen. And although lots of faces were painted, it turned out there were three different face painting stalls. So, with lots more to see we set off to the home guard exhibition, made cushions, played scaleletrix, trampolined, bouncy castled, saw the 100 years display, trampolined on different trampolines, did the gift shop, did the crazy golf, went on different bouncy castles….. I *think* the girls I was with went on everything except the climbing wall and the robot wars (and that was only because they didn’t want to go on those). We went on the last thing at about 3.30pm. We had an hour and a half spare so I suggested we did their favourite bit again. We spent the hour and a half tying scoobies which (I have to admit) is quite restful once you figure it out. I made a nice pink one with pink beads. In fact I made several, but the pink one is the best.

And so back to meet up with the rest of the group for the coach home. Disaster – “Timmy!” was missing. Now the boy had no excuse. He found the assembly point at lunch time. He was there mid afternoon when the girls wanted to put their jumpers back in the tent. So why did we find him only fifty yards away at the “lost & found” stall? Because he’d learned that lost cubs get a free ice cream.

And so home – knackered. As always, the county events are really good. I have only one criticism. If they are going to give out “jump the queue” badges, then the various stalls and attractions should honour them. A sizeable minority of the people running the events flatly refused to let our kids go first as they disagreed with the idea. Whilst I sympathise, surely that’s not their decision to make?

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17 September 2007 (Monday) - The Hole In The Road

17 September 2007 (Monday) - The Hole In The Roadmagnify

Last Wednesday Mid Kent Water dug a hole in the road. Then they shoved off and left it. Over the last five days the hole has filled up with water, but no one’s been to see to the hole. There has been traffic chaos trying to get round the hole, and parking spaces have been lost. I phoned mid Kent Water today and politely asked what was going on. They passed me from assistant to assistant before finding someone who said that that there was a “leak at kerb level” and she’d “reactivate the callout for me and fill the hole in”. I assured her she shouldn’t fill the hole in on my say-so. Wouldn’t it make sense to do whatever they’d dug the hole for first? But no, she was adamant they’d fill the hole in.

How stupid. Dig a hole. Leave it for five days and then fill it back in? Surely someone must be overseeing holes in the road? Yes – there is someone. Kent County Council. I eventually got through to the nice lady who had absolutely no record of the hole in my road, and they’d look into it (!) They gave me a record number and said they’d call me back. I arrived home to find someone had filled the hole in, but there was water coming out from where they’d filled the hole in. One wonders about the genius of the operative who filled in the hole which was so obviously still leaking. There people are allowed to vote. They do jury service as well….

In the meantime, let’s watch a video. Or let’s not, eh?

To view this multimedia content, please click here.

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18 September 2007 (Tuesday) - The "My Faith" Badge

18 September 2007 (Tuesday) - The "My Faith" Badgemagnify

I often moan about the cubs, but tonight we had thirty three of them. We must be doing something right. One of our young leaders is a bit of a god-botherer and wanted to do the “My Faith” badge with the cubs. I had some reservations, but there were three cubs who regularly go to Sunday School, so we let him have a go with these three. One of the things they had to do was write a prayer and say it to the pack (and God presumably) at the end of the evening. Our young leader was very pleased with tonight’s prayer, but afterwards, I took him up on some of what the youngster had prayed about.

The prayer started by sucking up to God and telling him how wonderful he is, and grovelling with thanks about all that’s wonderful in the world. I wondered if in the interests of balance it might have been fair for us to have had a grumble about the shitty bits too. We then thanked God for our lovely pets and the "nice" animals. How sweet. We overlooked sharks, scorpions and malaria. And then there was a request for God to look after the poor cows with foot & mouth disease. I wondered why we didn’t ask God to stop the disease in the first place. We prayed for the starving people in Africa. We could have asked why God allows there to be starving people in Africa, but we didn’t. We prayed for soldiers everywhere. We didn’t pray for who they were shooting at, though. I would imagine that’s OK all the time it’s our brave boys doing the shooting, and “Johnny Foreigner” being shot at. Though I suppose God could do something about bringing the soldiers home.

It’s been so long since I’ve been into god-bothering that I’d forgotten the prayer formula. Suck up to God and say how wonderful he is. Thank him for all that’s wonderful in the world. Make a token request for generic assistance about something which is rather vague and unpleasant and a healthy distance away. Whilst in no way suggesting that world would be a far better place if such an omnipotent God actually existed, let alone showed an interest in the sufferings of his creation.

So I asked our young leader. Why does God need to be told how wonderful he is? Is God a bit thick and needs the ills of the world to be pointed out to him? Can’t he see what needs to be put right? But there’s no discussion with the believer. You walk down the road and find a fiver. That’s the work of God. You then tread in a dog turd. That’s just bad luck.

OK, so I mess with the cubs' minds from time to time. Tree Cows & Dangerous Derek McDeath. They know that’s fun. But when the god-botherers mess with their minds they think it’s for real…..

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19 September 2007 (Wednesday) - Charity

19 September 2007 (Wednesday) - Charitymagnify

September 19th be “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, me hearties, when all you landlubbers should be a-talking like us scurvy sea dogs. Arr! http://www.yarr.org.uk/ And we be a-having fun events up & down the country, we be, and raising loads of doubloons for charidee……

And that’s where I take off the pirate hat and go home.

What constitutes a charity? There’s several definitions, but I suppose we all know what it’s about. A “Charitable Institution” is one that does various good deeds and works. But there’s more to it thatn that. It’s not enough just to generally be a do-gooder. The charity needs money too – donated by the public. And that’s where “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” falls over. In the UK they’ve nominated the Marie Curie nurses as the charity. Now I’m in no way knocking the Marie Curie Cancer Care people, but…. Yes, I am knocking them. What they do, financed by public donation, is what the district nurses used to do years ago, financed by the National Health Service. Until one government or another realised that it was daft spending government tax money on something that charity will provide.

It’s the same with schools. How many “bleeding heart” letters home do parents get about fundraising events? To raise funds for essentials such as books? If you go to the seaside you get beggars pleading with you to finance the lifeboats. If you’re unwell, there are volunteers giving up their time to help run and finance hospitals.

If anyone is feeling public spirited, there’s thousands of good causes that need cash. The Cat’s Protection League are quite hard up. Guide Dogs receive no public income at all. There’s the John Aspinal foundation, Sight Savers, Action Aid, Oxfam….. In order to be named a “charity”, the cause should be entirely self financing. We do ourselves no favours by subsidising that which we are already paying for in our various taxes. Don’t go to the school’s barn dance or the hospital’s quiz night. You’ve already paid for those in your income tax and community charges. By continuing to give you merely encourage the local and national governments (of whatever political parties) to carry on wasting money on the unnecessary rubbish that we read about it the papers.

And instead give your money where it’s needed. I know a scout group that could do with a bung……


20 September 2007 (Thursday) - Gone Fishing

20 September 2007 (Thursday) - Gone Fishingmagnify

Apparently some months ago I was asked about going to the zoo today. Apparently I said I couldn’t go because I had a meeting. Amazing what you miss when you’re not paying attention. In the end apologies were sent to the meeting and I went fishing with “My Boy TM” instead.

We’d agreed to be ready to leave the house at 7am – I was awake from 3.30am. I’d been looking forward to this all week. People who claim fishing is boring have either never been, or have totally missed the whole point of the exercise. Sitting quietly in the open air, watching the birds and the frogs. The rats were quite entertaining to watch, and sometimes you catch a fish too.

Many years ago I’d laughed at an old bloke using peanut butter as bait. Well, I laughed until I saw how many he’d caught. For years I’ve been meaning to try it and see how I get on with it. Now I know that bloke was a fraud. It looked like he was using a knife to smear the peanut butter onto the hook, and then casting the dollop into the water. Today was a lot colder than when the old bloke was moulding peanut butter, and still the stuff was far too runny to do anything with. As soon as you put it on the hook, it slopped off. I don’t know what that bloke was using all those years ago, but it was a lot thicker than peanut butter. I wonder how many other people he’s fooled into playing silly beggars with breakfast spreads over the years? My “amazing never-fail bait with secret formula TM” that took two days to make also let me down by refusing to stay on the hook. Thank the lord for cheese and maggots!

My Boy TM” and I have different theories about fishing. He can’t be bothered fiddling around with tiddlers and sticks on a lump of bait the size of a bus and is prepared to wait all day for one gargantuan fish. Me – I go for the tiddlers and occasionally, just occasionally, you get more than you bargained for. I got lucky twice today. As well as over fifty tiddlers I had the whopper above (a 7lb carp) and one that got away – no idea what it was or how big it was, but it bent the hook. I persuaded “My Boy TM” to come over to the dark side and have a go at tiddler bashing. He had a go, but it was too much like hard work for him. He prefers to go to sleep and let the buzzer wake him when it’s caught a fish for him. He got to sleep a lot today. Apparently I’m a jinx. He catches loads when I’m not around. Strange, that….


21 September 2007 (Friday) - Just Useless

21 September 2007 (Friday) - Just Uselessmagnify

The utterly incompetent bunch of prats to which we laughingly entrust our safety and well being have this time exceeded the expectations of even their staunchest critics. Two police officers stood and watched a child drown. I’m not interested in hearing they weren’t trained to deal with the specific situation, or another policeman arriving later had a go. The fact remains that two police officers stood and watched and did nothing whilst a child drowned.

To add insult to injury, the police establishment is now protecting these incompetents. What would I have done? – I’ve jumped into a river to rescue a duck before, so I’d be in there like a shot. I’d like to think the same of any other decent person.

Any decent person would have been in that pond straight away. So what does that make the police? There was talk of having the police along to talk to the cubs in a few weeks time. I’m having nothing to do with that.

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22 September 2007 (Saturday) - The Ordeal (and the cowboys)

22 September 2007 (Saturday) - The Ordeal (and the cowboys)magnify

Today was the annual ordeal. The in-laws have always been big on “faaaaaamily” and every year there’s a big reunion. Strangely as time’s gone on the England-based bunch seem to turn up less and less, but their absence is more than made up for by the Canadian contingent, of which there’s more every year. It’s a good idea in principle, but as ever choosing a venue is problematical.

My father in law said cheerfully that today was a good day to sit in the garden drinking beer. Cynically I answered that it would be, except they didn’t actually have any beer, but they did offer mortgages to help you purchase their vastly overpriced chemically conditioned Euro-fizz. I resent paying £3.50 for a pint of Fosters, which is then served by arrogant spotty schoolchildren. When I asked for anything that’s not lager I just got a blank stare. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Magner’s wasn’t a lager. The food was OK, but over double what I would pay locally for better. And “wiiiiine” started at £16 per bottle. I suppose it’s the old maxim – “if you want a job done, do it yourself” – I’ve got a year to find somewhere that offers accommodation, decent food and beer at reasonable prices and is in the Gatwick area.

But the day wasn’t entirely wasted. I taught all the youngsters to make chickens out of their napkins, and as soon as was humanly possible, together with a gaggle of nieces and nephews we set sail to Kingsfold Steam Rally where some friends were flying kites. There was a bunch of scouts on the entrance, but a quick left handed handshake ensured that entrance fees were overlooked. Kingsfold Steam Rally is somewhere I’d like to spend more time. Lots of stalls selling lots of stuff, vintage cars to see, fishing, camping, and a Wild West village. I spent a couple of hours catching up with old friends, and it was great to see Kate and her cousins immediately charging off with Sabrina, Lucy and Andrew. Collin has been trying to persuade me to go there for five years. I’d like to make a weekend of it, but by 7.30pm, it’s dark. Maybe next year…..


23 September 2007 (Sunday) - Dahn to Mar-git

23 September 2007 (Sunday) - Dahn to Mar-gitmagnify

For some time we’d been hearing of a kite festival in Margate. It’s too cold to camp this time of year, so we went up for the day. Organised by the Kite Society of Great Britain, the festival was host to many international fliers, including a team from Belgium who pranged their car on the way over, and some who put me in quite a moral dilemma. On the one hand they were flying cherubs on a Sunday. Very appropriate. On the other hand, these cherubs had cocks and knackers. How rude!

For me a kite festival is a chance to slob about in the sunshine and watch other people flying kites. Today I had to work. Not only were there kites being flown from our picnic spot which we were supervising, but I was in the main arena doing demonstration kite flying three times. A bit too strenuous for me!

Still, it’s good to have a kite flying event that doesn’t involve hours of driving to obscure locations miles away. There’s talk of Margate kite festival being in August next year. I’ll be there all weekend provided it doesn’t clash with Teston.


24 September 2007 (Monday) - Stellar Evolution

24 September 2007 (Monday) - Stellar Evolutionmagnify

I thought I’d take some biccies to the Astronomy club so a trip to the Polish supermarket was in order. Polish Hob-Nobs and some biccies that I bought purely for the politically incorrect name of “Negro” on the wrapper. A minor disaster at he astronomy club – the hall was filled with pikeys arguing with people in suits. To add insult to injury, the “leading light” of the astronomy club was off sick. I asked the pikeys and the suits if they knew where we were supposed to be tonight. They looked at me in a rather blank way and continued their squabbles, so we set up in a side room.

Tonight’s talk was on stars – what they are, how they are formed…. – the speaker is a chap who’s just completed an MSc in stellar evolution. Not only does he know a lot about the subject, he can deliver it in a way that plebs like me can understand. It was a very good talk. The club’s been going for six months now, and it’s going well. We’ve probably got a membership of about fifteen, interesting monthly talks, a web site, and this weekend we’ve an observation session planned. Mind you, next month’s talk will be a disappointment – the guest speaker is me!


25 September 2007 (Tuesday) - The Navigator Badge

25 September 2007 (Tuesday) - The Navigator Badgemagnify

Most of the cubs were doing the “Animal Carer” badge tonight. I couldn’t bring myself to do that again – the body count last time was too high. There’s only so many pets that you can kill for them. Instead I offered for those who were interested the chance to do the “navigator” badge. Half a dozen were keen to do this. An easy way to start off is to draw a map of their journey from home to the scout hut. They can name the roads, points of navigational interest along the way (post offices, traffic lights, Tesco, McDonalds, that sort of thing). It sounds so easy, doesn’t it.

Billy isn’t allowed to draw Tesco’s on his map. Billy’s mummy works at Asda and wouldn’t like to see Tesco on the map. Should he draw Asda instead? “Do you drive past Asda on your way here?” “No!” But he drew Asda anyway, and then asked me why he had done so. Henry then started crying because Gareth drives past McDonalds on his way to cubs, and Henry was jealous. The fact that Gareth has never once actually stopped at McDonalds is utterly irrelevant to this sulk.

Ollie was in a bit of difficulty. He did not know the route from home to the scout hut. On questioning it transpired he had absolutely no idea whatsoever where his house was in relation to the scout hut. I asked him where he lived. “Number seventeen (mutter mutter) Road” he told me. I asked a few more times, but the location of “(mutter mutter) Road” remained a mystery. He did volunteer the hypothesis that he thought it was in Kent. How useful.

Another child (whose address on his record sheet is somewhere in Singleton) claimed to live in Cheriton. Funnily enough, it was the child from whom I expected the least who made the best effort. Whilst his map may have lacked some of the finer points of cartographic accuracy, he’d put a key on his map.

Tune in next time when the “navigator” badge moves from the theoretical to the practical…


26 September 2007 (Wednesday) - Bethersden Marble

26 September 2007 (Wednesday) - Bethersden Marblemagnify

It is standard practice these days that at the end of any educational course or seminar, the participants are given a feedback form. On this form the participants can suggest any improvements to future courses or seminars. I often wonder if when the time comes to shuffle off this mortal coil I will have a similar opportunity to give the Almighty some suggestions for how he could improve this thing we mortals call life. One idea I’ve got is that if you find you’ve had your time wasted, you should be able to claim that time back. I am owed ninety minutes for this evening.

Tonight’s meeting of the Arky O’Logy club was given over to a chap who was talking on the subject of Bethersden Marble. Do you remember that episode of “Red Dwarf” where Rimmer entertains his crewmates with his extensive collection of photographs of pylons? “Marble Michael” has spent the summer photographing steps, pavements and church walls. He seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject, and the talk was very interesting, or so he told us. It culminated with the chance to hold a piece of said stone which the speaker had cut and then spent several weeks polishing to a fine finish.

Those long dark winter evenings must fly by……



27 September 2007 (Thursday) - Nothing Happened Today

27 September 2007 (Thursday) - Nothing Happened Todaymagnify

Rather a dull day today. Actually, if the highlight of the day is a meeting, then the day must be dull. Still, I got the ironing done if nothing else. And I’ve made a start on my presentation on Mars to the astronomy club. Three months ago I made this idiot claim that I could give a talk on Mars, and with less than a month to go till the event, I’d better find out about the place. What I can’t work out is that if Mars is red, why are Martians green?

Oh – and there was this really pretty rainbow. As I got my phone out to take a photo, the heavens opened and I got soaked.



28 September 2007 (Friday) - Hotel Reservations

I’m off to Milton Keynes on Sunday, and I’ve been advised to confirm my hotel reservation before I go. I thought I’d do that this afternoon. As it’s a works trip, I thought I’d phone from work. I’m glad I did. That way I wasted their time and ran up their phone bill.


Heeeelllloo-ooo” (in a voice reminiscent of Insanity Prawn Boy)

I’d like to confirm my reservation

Heeeelllloo-ooo” (in a voice reminiscent of Insanity Prawn Boy)

“Yes - I’d like to confirm my reservation

Que ?”

At this point I was passed to the member of staff who spoke English. They are expecting me, thank heavens. Bearing in mind it’s part of that god-awful chain I visited last weekend I thought I’d check up on the bar whilst I was at it. I got put through to the head barman.

Do you have any beers that aren’t lagers

Erm… we’ve got Stella

That’s a lager, isn’t it?”


Do you have any beers that aren’t lagers


That’s a lager as well, isn’t it?”

Is it? – How about bottles of Budweiser?”

Can I speak to your barman

I’m the head barman

This does not bode well from the trip next weekend. I shall hope for the best, whilst expecting the worst. In the meantime I’ve had a video response on You-Tube. It’s in the same genre as much of what I do, but I'm quite impressed – it’s one of my girl scouts…..

To view this multimedia content, please click here.


29 September 2007 (Saturday) - Stuff

29 September 2007 (Saturday) - Stuffmagnify

I went into Ashford to do some shopping today. “Big Deal!” some might say. For me, going to my home town’s shopping centre is a big deal. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went up there during daylight. Old shops have gone, new ones have popped up. Thank heavens McDonalds remains constant. I browsed around the DVD shops, I picked up one or two bargains, but they aren’t cheap. I had this plan to buy the third season of “Battlestar Galactica”, but I’m not paying £50 for it. “Star Trek: Voyager” is on offer at £35 per season. Offer! It can be no surprise that video piracy has reached such proportions when DVDs are so expensive. If they weren’t so overpriced, video piracy wouldn’t be so lucrative.

On 22nd May I wrote here about the Astronomy club: “I seem to get too involved in clubs and things” How prophetic. At the June meeting of the club I was nominating and running the election campaign for the chap who I thought would make a good chairman. At the July meeting I was the speaker. At the August meeting I was making the tea, a role I reprised at the last meeting. Tonight with the club secretary in hospital, and with the de-facto chairman indisposed, “Yours Truly” was called upon to run the observation evening. I can spot three things in the night sky, the moon, the plough and Cassiopeia (the W-shaped one), and in the winter I’m also good for Orion and the Pleiades.

There are few people less able to run an evening’s observing, so it’s probably for the best that the night was 100% cloud cover and the whole thing had to be called off. Then again, there were a lot of other things I’ve given up tonight so’s to be available for the astronomy. I suppose it’s the old problem – you can never predict the weather. It’s a shame that there wasn’t anyone else available to take the helm tonight. Mind you, I also wrote in May about the Astronomy Club: This one is one I shall sit back and let others do the hard work. Or sit back and watch it fold.” Well, I didn’t sit back. Again I’ve got involved. Either that’s the kind of guy I am, or that’s the way I like it !

And as “My Boy TM” goes out on the sauce dressed as a fugitive from the 1970s, the PC takes a turn for the worse. NeverWinter Nights wouldn’t run at all, and having re-installed the lot it now continually asks for the CD key, even though it’s been given it.


30 September 2007 (Sunday) - Sulking

30 September 2007 (Sunday) - Sulkingmagnify

Events would seem to be conspiring against me. Having missed out on a party last night in favour of an event which was called off at the last minute, I’m missing out again today. Whilst I’m round the scout hut and then driving off to Milton Keynes, I’ll be missing Sunday roast with all sorts of people including a couple of friends who are over from Jakarta who I haven’t seen for nearly eighteen months.

NeverWinter Nights remains dead, and having re-installed the lot again it now continually asks for the CD key, even though it’s been given it. I’ve posted for help on the official forum, but no joy so far. If anyone has any ideas…… (he smiled hopefully)

And just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, our Spanish friends have made the world’s biggest salad. It’s probably as well I’m off to Milton Keynes for three days. Tune in again on Wednesday to see how it went. Let’s hope some laundry gets done whilst I’m gone…..