4 March 2024 (Monday) - Squirrels, Pressure-Washers

The internet is an amazing thing… This morning on my Facebook feed a vague acquaintance announced his amazing discovery that so much of it isn’t actually free but is paid for my advertising. Which is why there are so many adverts on it. How can supposedly intelligent people take so long to realise this? And some American evangelist was claiming that atheists ate deep-fried embryos whilst his own Twitter feed was offering that the chap would pray for you for a price.
Meanwhile I had an email – my credit rating has gone up again. That was nice.
 
Seeing the sun was out for a change (he typed cynically!) I got the leads on to the dogs. Morgan wasn’t keen on the idea. Strangely he never is. He clearly loves the walks when we get to the woods, but never wants to actually go.
As we drove up to the woods the pundits on the radio were talking about how today marks the fortieth anniversary of the miner’s strike. Several experts were wheeled on including Neil Kinnock who was the leader of the opposition at the time.  The observation was made that the leadership of the miners made a bit of a balls-up in waiting until the country had stockpiled loads of coal and waiting until the worst of the winter was over before starting the strike. Neil Kinnock made the observation that everyone involved in the coal industry knew its days were numbered and it would have been far better had everyone made the effort to invest in transitioning away from coal than in flogging a dead horse. At the time the country was divided on whether or not to support the miners; I think my father summed it up when he made the observation that it was already cheaper to import coal from Poland, and then the miners chose to go on strike anyway.
 
We got to the woods and walked one of our usual walks. As we went the dogs found a dead blackbird to roll in. And after one of their mad charges into the trees, Morgan came back carrying a dead squirrel. He got to within ten yards of me, looked very sheepish and ran into a thicket where he dropped it. Bailey picked it up and seemed very pleased with herself.
I managed to get it off of her and I put it up a tree where the buzzards will see it off.
I’m pretty sure Morgan just picked up a dead squirrel and didn’t kill it himself; in the past when Treacle, Pogo and Fudge had small animals, the things would be twitching for some time after death. This squirrel wasn’t twitching at all.
Dogs can be foul creatures…
 
We came home where I made a cuppa, then I went into the garden, cleared the patio area, set up the pressure-washer, turned it on… and nothing happened. I gave it a clout and it made an odd noise. So I unplugged it and attempted to take it apart to see if I could fix it. The screws holding it closed seemed rusted in place. I gave it another clout, plugged it back in again and it worked perfectly. I got the patio and the area outside the kitchen window scrubbed, but it took some doing.
Have you ever pressure-washed a patio? After a very short bit of pressure-washing the ground is soon awash with filthy black water which needs to be swept away. Sweeping it down the drain is OK for five minutes, then the grate over the drain blocks up and needs unbunging. By the time I’d washed, swept, washed, swept and tidied up, a couple of hours had passed. I put everything away and found that after all the exertions I could barely move.
 
I settled myself in front of the telly and watched episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which those claiming to have years of experience of running five-star hotels were outdone at every turn by those running a B&B for fun.
 
“er indoors TM boiled up dinner and went off bowling. I sparked up Netflix and watched a film.The Mercystarred Colin Firth as a competitor in a single-handed round-the world yacht race in 1968. I won’t say too much about the film for fear of giving spoilers, but I will make the observation that with today’s technology you would have been far more alone sailing the world alone then than you would be now.

3 March 2024 (Sunday) - Late Shift

I can always remember the golden rule of toddlers being that you never let them have a nap. “Darcie Waa Waa TM had a nap yesterday evening and consequently was screaming for much of the night. Fortunately she, “er indoors TM and the dogs were up in the attic room, but the noise got so much that Treacle decamped to my bed at half past two just to get some peace and quiet.
I woke at eight o’clock, and with everyone else finally asleep I made the most of the peace and quiet, made brekkie and peered at the Internet. Today people were deliberately trying to pick fights about daleks and Amazon deliveries. Always something new to quarrel about, eh? There was also a question about people’s favourite format for the story of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. To me it is a radio program; that is how it first started. The books and films and TV series have been made for those who don’t/won’t listen to radio. In much the same way that the Harry Potter films were made for people who don’t/won’t read a book. But I thought better of voicing the opinion.
 
Making the most of the peace and quiet I had another look at the geo-puzzle which had me stumped yesterday. I’ve got to find two numbers. The first “is a funny one really and only consists of three characters”. I know that one. I won’t give it away, but I will say that it was part of a geo-puzzle to which I got the answer a week or so ago. The other one has me stumped. With five or six (can have either!) characters, it “was once used as a number before more modern (and more sophisticated) numbers were discovered. Nowadays it is more often used in a recreational context”. If anyone knows what it is, feel free to let me know.
 
With everyone else still asleep I spent a few minutes pootling in the garden. A bit of tidying up... once dog turds were gathered it was mostly emptying rain water out of buckets and pots, and getting ready for the next bout of pressure-washing. There's probably a car-full of rubbish in the shed to take to the tip at some point as well, but I decided to worry about that another day.
 
“er indoors TM and “Darcie Waa Waa TM emerged from their pit, and I spent a few minutes with littlun looking round the garden. She seems to find it fascinating. But all too soon it was time to set off to work. I went via a dozen dull Points of Interest (now the Munzee Clan War has started for this month) to the Sainsbury's petrol station where in a novel break with tradition absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happened. I mentioned to the woman behind the till about the old bat who works there during the week and bends over backwards to be unhelpful. This got them all giggling behind the tills; they knew exactly who I meant.
 
As I drove west-wards to Pembury I listened to "Desert Island Discs" featuring Rita Rae who is a Scottish lawyer and judge who has a fascinating life story and a frankly dreadful taste in music.  Her choices of music weren't songs; they really were strange howling noises. I turned off half-way through and sang along to Ivor Biggun songs instead.
 
Work was work. I always say that working in a blood bank is hours of tedious boredom interspersed with moment of stark panic. Somewhat flippant perhaps, but not entirely wrong. It certainly summed up today where time dragged up until the last hour when things suddenly livened up.
I was very glad to see the night shift arrive.
 
I came home to a rather good pork chop. “er indoors TM certainly does boil up a good bit of scran.
Daddy’s Little Angel TM” has announced she wants to start buying storage lockers full of crap and selling it at a profit. This sounds like an awful lot of farting about to me, but once she gets a daft idea in her head… she is very much her father’s daughter…

2 March 2024 (Saturday) - Awaiting Waa-Waa's Arrival

I woke with quite a headache this morning. We won’t get that brand of red wine again. I made toast and looked into the Internet and rolled my eyes.  American football player Tyler Owens has revealed that he does not 'believe in space or other planets”. Seriously. Just look up at the night sky… The chap also seems to think the flat earthers are making some serious points. Not only is this chap allowed to vote and do jury service, being a sports star, gullible people will listen to his drivel.
Here’s a suggestion. When people reach adulthood they should sit an exam. If they pass they are allowed to join in with society. If they fail, they become effectively a “protected citizen” looked after by a state to which they are demonstrably unable to contribute. It’s an old idea in sci-fi, but surely one with merit. How can our current democracy work when the opinion of someone like this is of equal value to someone who actually believes in reality.
 
Being Saturday I took the hounds round to Dog Club. Just me; “er indoors TM was off to Craft Club. I had wondered whether I would be taking them this morning after yesterday’s rain, but the rain had eased up a little. The ground was still muddy though. We had a great time. Honey who started only a month ago and had been oh-so-timid came straight up to me to say hello. Bailey had a go at “fetch” in that she chased after the ball, but lost interest when it stopped bouncing. Fudge used to do that – I think he was colourblind. Is Bailey too? Treacle did her usual trick of carrying a ball and prompting me to try to take it. And then Morgan and Bailey joined in with the bigger dogs playing chase in the mud.
As we drove home so the rain got worse. I got the mystery year competition on the radio right. What year was the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited released? 1981.
 
We came home for a serious scrub. All three dogs got far filthier after half an hour at Dog Club than they ever do after hours in the woods.
With dogs scrubbed I put my trousers though the washing machine – they were filthy too. I then sent out messages about next week’s geo-meet to fifty Hunters of Tupperware. Hopefully that should drum up the numbers.
And talking of numbers I then struggled with a new geo-puzzle that went live this morning.
 
“er indoors TM returned, and as the rain stopped so I got the pressure-washer out again and had a go in the back garden. I got quite a bit cleaned, but there’s still a lot more to do. I could have carried on pressure-washing but the lawn was awash where I’d been at the stepping stones, so I packed up for today.
“er indoors TM went off again to get glasses, so I sparked up the telly and laughed at Ancient Aliens on the telly. Rather akin in intellectual ability to the American footballer who boiled my piss this morning, the people who made this show wanted to attribute absolutely everything to aliens. Given a dog turd in my garden, and three guilty-looking dogs, these people would have you think some hyper-intelligent alien species flew half way across the universe to dump on my lawn. And these idiots would do anything to discredit the obvious explanation.
 
“er indoors TM returned again, this time with “Darcie Waa Waa TM in tow. Littlun is having a sleepover. So far we’ve done dog-snogging, had a tantrum over not wanting our dinner, eaten a bag of Christmas (crisps) and a bag of party rings, and as I type littlun is having her grandmother walk her up and down the stairs.
Much as I love her, she’s hard work. I can’t remember “My Boy TM” and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” being anything like as tiring.

1 March 2024 (Friday) - Battle Abbey, Pressure Washing

Yesterday I wrote “I had an email about a new virtual geocache at Battle Abbey. I thought about chasing to be First to Find but thought better of it. It would involve an hour’s drive along country lanes, and I’ve done enough of that already this week”. What I didn’t write was that being the first one to find a virtual geocache takes some doing as they are very rare, and getting one gives you serious bragging rights amongst Hunters of Tupperware. I spent much of yesterday wondering if I’d made the right decision. I checked the on-line listing probably every half-hour with a view to going down early this morning even though the weather forecast wasn’t good.
“er indoors TM was off out with her mates yesterday evening. When she came home the FTF was still unclaimed. Did she fancy a little road trip? We pondered and thought about it,,, and at half past eleven last night we decided we might as well… it wasn’t as though we had anything better to do.
It has to be said that I don’t think the dogs were impressed…
 
There was a minor hiccup on the thirty-mile drive down in that the sat-nav wanted to do as much of it as possible on single tracked country lanes, and when we finally persuaded it to take wider roads it wanted to take closed roads. Avoiding the badgers, rabbits and foxes we drove through the rain and got to Battle Abbey shortly before one o’clock where we had another minor hiccup. To claim a find we needed a photo with the gatehouse in the background. Well… the gatehouse was most definitely in the background but you couldn’t see it because it was too dark. So since no one was watching we moved the car so that the headlights lit up the gatehouse (a bit) and photographed like things possessed in the desperate hope that we’d get a decent photo before the rain started again.
We got one or two… Bearing in mind that were taken in pitch darkness they aren’t a good as they might be,
There was fog on the way home… And all the traffic lights that I’ve whinged about before. By the time we’d got home and I’d done the on-line geo-things in was half past three before I found myself fighting the dogs for bed space.
 
I woke at half past eight this morning; I might have slept longer if not for the sound of the rain. Over brekkie I had a little look at the Internet. It was still there. I sent out birthday wishes to two Facebook friends.
My piss boiled somewhat at an advert I saw on one of the fishing Facebook groups I follow. I’ve mentioned in the past that fishing tackle manufacturers get tents, re-brand them as a “bivvy” (because most people can’t spell “bivouac”) and quadruple the price. But the latest racket is to knock out a sleeping bag and camp bed as a “sleep system” and watch the punters hand over their money as fast as they can.
There wasn’t much else on-line really, which was probably for the best.
 
Usually I would take the dogs out first thing, but the dogs were fast asleep after last night’s adventure and the rain was torrential. I had a vague idea to get the pressure washer out because it makes loads of mess which the rain would wash away, but it was too cold and too wet for that idea, so I spent an hour doing CPD then got the pressure washer out anyway. The ground of the front garden is supposed to be a light brown/tan sort of colour, but it was black. It needed a scrub. In the past, passers-by have whinged about the mess the pressure washer makes (it makes a serious mess) but today’s heavy rain would keep passers-by to a minimum, and would wash away most of the mess.
As is always the case, the pressure washer took quite a bit of setting up, and once set up I scrubbed away. Two minutes scrubbing, thirty seconds brushing the water away. What the pressure washer does is to blast the dirt off of the ground, and it leaves you with a flood of foul-coloured water which needs to be swept away. Swept across the pavement into the gutter. It’s the brushing of filthy water across the pavement that winds up the passers-by. I had one once threaten to report me for getting muck up the side of the car parked outside my own house. The fact that it was my car was neither here nor there. I make a point of having my car outside when I’m pressure-washer-ing so’s none of the normal people can complain that I’ve made a mess of their car. Not that I ever have.
 
With pressure-washing done the rain cleared up I took the dogs to the park. We got half-way there before getting caught in a downpour which turned into a hailstorm, so we came home.
I had a little doze in front of the telly, then watched some episodes of “Four In A Bed”. The first B&B was run by a pair of old biddies who prided themselves on running something that my gran’s gran would have appreciated, and when asked why the wi-fi didn’t work, they said that having crap wi-fi was a feature, and that decent customers don’t want wi-fi..
The second place was a rather average B&B run by some odd chap who hated criticism; odd really when he had so much in his place to criticize. The third so-call B&B was an eighty-one room hotel run by someone with a passionate hatred of the chap who ran the second B&B. And in one of those strange quirks of fate the fourth B&B was not a hundred yards from where we’d been taking photos of Battle Abbey last night. Strangely this was the only place to which all the contestants said they would return, but the place still came second to last. Perhaps if the young lady running the place had kept her chest under wraps?
 
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching Johnny Vegas’sCarry on Glamping”.
For some reason I’m feeling rather tired
I hope the torrential rain eases up for Dog Club tomorrow morning..

29 February 2024 (Thursday) - Leap Day

Last night I disabled all the internet connections on my phone and also the Bluetooth too. This morning it was oblivious to what had been going on on-line. I think my watch must be telling it stuff overnight. Which begs the question how does my watch know the password for the wi-fi.
I made toast and had a little look at the Internet through a connection that had my permission to be connected. It was still there. A mostly American Facebook group I follow had posted a rather idiotic quote from Donald Trump. As an outsider looking in at American politics, Donald Trump amazes me. I have never seen or heard anything about the chap which doesn’t reinforce the opinion that he comes over as a feeble-minded simpleton. But the chap is rich and successful, has been President of the USA once, and looks set to do it again. I must be missing something. I asked on that Facebook group, and sadly I think I got the answer. Everyone who posts intelligently and reasonably agreed with the idiotic character that I see in the media. However everyone who takes no effort to cover up their ignorance when posting thought the chap was wonderful and wouldn’t hear a word against him.
Is the character of Donald Trump a carefully choreographed act to appeal to the masses? I’m convinced Boris Johnson did just that.
I also had a dozen more adverts about the plight of pangolins.
 
I had an email about a new virtual geocache at Battle Abbey. I thought about chasing to be First to Find but thought better of it. It would involve an hour’s drive along country lanes, and I’ve done enough of that already this week. There was also a meet-up of geocachers to go tidying up a park in Tunbridge Wells this morning followed by a tidy-up in Frittenden, but again I didn’t fancy the driving.
Instead we went to the woods where we had a good walk. We chased squirrels; chasing squirrels is rather entertaining in that usually within a second of being spotted the squirrel zooms up a tree, but the dogs rarely notice that the squirrel has gone up. They fly off in the direction in which the squirrel headed, zoom past the tree, and after fifty yards run round in circles looking rather miffed that they have been outsmarted again.
We stomped through a swamp and rolled in fox poo. We didn’t see any normal people, but you can’t have everything.
 
We didn’t come straight home; if you log finds on four geocaches today you get a souvenir for the leap day. So we took a circuitous route home.
Once home it was into the bath for a scrub, washing went into the washing machine, other washing went into the dishwasher. I had a once-round with the Hoover and then it was out with the ironing board. As I ironed I watched a film on Netflix. “Vesper” was a total load of tripe which I found myself watching in the desperate hope that it might perk up a bit.
It didn’t.
I would have cracked on in the garden it it hadn’t been raining. Instead I dozed on the sofa underneath a pile of dogs.
 
Having plans for the evening, “er indoors TM set me up with some KFC and as I scoffed that I watched another film. ID is an old favourite of mine. Nearly thirty years old, you can pick it up on DVD for a quid from CEX.
 
Peering into the internet, a  dog walk, housework, and watching telly. Is this the future?

28 February 2024 (Wednesday) - Frogs, Pangolins, Guts Ache

Last night I made a point of making sure my phone’s connection to the internet was switched off. And again this morning there were no end of messages on it. How does it do that?
I peered into the Internet over brekkie to see if I’d missed much, and whether it had been worth my phone’s effort to keep up with what was happening.
It wasn’t really.
I sent out birthday wishes to two friends on Facebook, and thought about Vivian Barr who was in my class at school for the seven years that I was at Red Lake Primary School. Today is her birthday. We weren’t particularly close during that time at school, and I think I’ve seen her once since I left that school in 1975, so why do I always remember her birthday?
One of the Facebook groups I follow (about AI generated pictures) was embroiled in a religious squabble. After something utterly unrelated some god-botherer had tried to claim the moral high ground, and had been asked why his god needs people to do its will. Why can’t it do stuff for itself? Sometimes I despair – large swathes of the world (including much of America) really are still in the dark ages.
Rather than mucky adverts, this morning my Facebook feed was filled with adverts about the plight of pangolins. Poor little things. I’m keen to make a donation to protect them, but I found myself with several competing charities and not knowing which one to support.
 
I didn’t have as much time on my hands today as I might have had, so we had a shorter walk than usual. We went to the park. The episodes which Pogo used to provoke don’t seem to happen with Morgan and Bailey, but we had a minor one this morning. As we walked past the playpark bit so some small child called to the dogs. Personally I quite like littluns petting them; it gets both sides used to the other. But before I could do anything, mother announced “give them a snack” and suddenly Morgan and Bailey were scoffing heaven-knows-what. Seeing my face, mother said that it was OK, and it was only a snack. I asked if it was poisonous to dogs, mother announced that it was only a snack. When I told her that chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins are all a no-no, there was a look of horror followed by a stony silence.
The dogs seem fine; I’m sure they are. But I do wish people wouldn’t feed random crap to random dogs. I’ve had people in the park feeding Fudge chicken bones in the past.
 
We came home as the drizzle got worse. I gathered a bumper crop of dog turds from the garden, then set off to work (as today was a work day!) and sang along to my rather eclectic choice of music as I went. After a few miles I realised I'd not made a sandwich, so I stopped off at the shop in Sissinghurst to get some lunch. They do rather good pasties in there. They do a lot of good stuff (their beer selection is second to none) but they don't give it away. Today they were selling a particular brand of wine that is two quid a bottle cheaper in Sainsburys.
As I queued to pay so my idiot magnet kicked in. The old duck in front of me in the queue was jabbering on at anyone who would listen; seemingly oblivious to the world around her. Having been prompted to pay for her shopping (several times) she eventually handed over some money. And then just stood there wittering on. She had to be told (several times) to take her change, and eventually the woman behind the till decided that enough was enough, and loudly told the old biddy to pick up her shopping and go away.
It was with a sense of relief that I drove away.
 
I got to work where all the Munzees in the works car park looked rather odd when I called up the Munzee app. They all had a frog picture. Capping a frog gave you extra points today; it's a Leap Year thing.
Work was work; I spent the day with something of a stomach ache. Last night I finished off the stilton which I opened last week when I found it was past its sell-by date. At the time I thought it tasted a bit odd...

27 February 2024 (Tuesday) - First Semi-Retired Day

A few days ago I mentioned I’d finally got round to doing something about my broken GPS unit. The power button was poggered. Garmin don’t do repairs any more and had offered me a discount on a new one. After a couple of minutes I found that I could actually get one from the Ordnance Survey website cheaper than Garmin’s discounted price. But either option would cost hundreds of pounds. I found replacement power buttons on eBay, and one arrived yesterday. Yesterday evening I glued it into place and left it to set overnight. It don’t look pretty, and the button is rather stiff, but it has saved me quite a bit of money.
 
I made toast and had a look at the internet. I had a message from Facebook. A few days ago my Facebook feed gave me four adverts. Clicking once on any of them gave a full-screen picture of a lady's lady-bits. I reported them as sexually inappropriate and here's the response: “… We've taken a look and found that this ad doesn't go against our Advertising Standards”.
Funny old world.
I sent out birthday wishes to five people having birthdays today, and rolled my eyes at some of the nonsense being peddled on some of the crackpot conspiracy theory pages I follow. So many people want t believe rubbish which has long since been proved wrong. So many others are so quick to show their ignorance. So many are just plain stupid. And all are allowed to vote and do jury service.
 
Yesterday a new geocache had gone live a couple of miles from home. This morning it was still unfound, so I got the leads onto the dogs and we chased off for a First to Find… We didn’t get it. With a description of “The cache is within easy reach attached to something metal” I searched the obvious targets with no luck.
Having admitted defeat, looking at the map I saw we could either go straight back to the car, or take a circular route through the countryside following footpaths back to the car. So we followed the footpaths. Or that is we followed the clearly marked paths that people had obviously been walking. But using the maps on my phone I could see that those weren’t the actual footpaths – those were parish boundaries.
The first field we crossed was rather squishy swampy grassland. From there the track went up into a field of mud, then through a wood where the mud was ankle deep. We then went across a ploughed field, and as we walked along a fence by the side of a school so suddenly the dogs were on the other side of the fence and heading off in totally the wrong direction. I eventually found the hole that they’d gone through, whistled, and they came back immediately.
 
We came home for a serious scrub, then after a cuppa and a Belgian bun I went down the road to the dentist. There was an idiot in the waiting room grimacing at everyone who came out from seeing the dentist and asking why they weren’t smiling. And then grimacing at me as though I should agree with him. Ironically he came out from seeing the dentist with a face like a smacked arse.
The dentist seemed happy with my gob. I came home and spent an hour pootling in the gardens (front and back) before setting off on the afternoon’s mission.
 
I went to the co-op for a sandwich where I met another idiot. As I queued so the chap in front of me asked for forty fags. Getting no change out of thirty quid he then announced to the world in general how he and his wife get through a packed of fags a day each because of the stress of having the leccie company threatening to take them to court for their unpaid leccie bill. It clearly never occurred to him to knock the fags on the head.
I then went round to the Repton centre for a little meeting. The people there are happy with how things are going with the Dog Club – they’ve not had any complaints about us, and say they’ve rarely (if ever) found any errant dog turds…
I didn’t realise that we are only one of three dog groups that use the field.
They did say though that the Repton Centre has ongoing costs and whilst they are far from skint, he is trying to encourage those who use the facilities to pay more if they can.
We agreed that putting our price up to £1.50 per dog wasn’t unreasonable, and encouraging people to pop a bit more in the pot if they can.
Personally I think that’s a bargain and will be bunging a fiver in the pot for my three each time from now on.
We also talked about the possibility of a working party later in the year (when it has all dried out) to give the field a deep clean and tidy up. And to bung up some of the holes through which Bailey escapes.
 
I came home via Shadoxhurst for geocachical reasons, and once home mended a broken dining chair (I didn’t break it…) then settled myself in front of the telly and watched episodes of “Four In A Bed”. The first episode featured a trip to a B&B run by a chap who was wearing the world’s worst wig. This was followed by a visit to a couple of lads who were half the age of all the other contestants and for all that I felt they were streets ahead of everyone else, their age was held against them. The third episode was hosted by a boss-eyed bloke who got incredibly defensive and aggressive about the same failings that he was accusing others of. And the chap running the fourth B&B went off sick half-way through his episode and everyone else all pissed off down the road to a café.
 
I put a load more washing in to scrub. “er indoors TM boiled up dinner, and Treacle is currently sucking on my pyjama top.
I named yesterday’s blog entry wrongly… It should really have been “start of part time working”. Today was the start of semi-retirement. Walking the dogs, pootling in the garden, watching telly… I can do that.
Having said that, over the next few weeks I plan to paint the garden fences, start up the pond again, plant rockery plants round the bog filter, tidy, paint and re-roof the shed… I’ve plenty to keep me occupied.