31 October 2011 (Monday) - Halloween

It takes me a little while to get used to the clocks having gone back. But did you know that this year the Russians haven’t bothered with the nonsense. They have left the clocks on the summertime setting, with darker mornings and lighter evenings. As a mad keen astronomer, I’d rather have the darker evenings. As someone who’s driving home in the dark, I’d rather have lighter evenings. As someone who can’t get used to the clocks changing, I wish we could copy the Russians and leave the things alone regardless of whethere the mornings or evenings are lighter or darker.
And it’s Halloween tonight. We had three loads of “Trick or Treat”-ers round tonight. That’s an improvement on last year. I like “Trick or Treat”…

Today’s news wound me up somewhat. Bearing in mind the problems with piracy in various parts of the world, the Prime Minister has only just announced that British ships can take armed guards with them. Up until now, merchant shipping has had to stand by helplessly as armed pirates sail up to them and take over at gunpoint. Now the decent law-abiding majority can shoot back at the pirates. Good (!)
And talking of today’s news, I see the astro club is on the BBC website. I could be wrong, but aren’t they using one of my photos?

And talking of the astro club, we had a committee meeting today. We shall be a part of Stargazing Live 2012. The club merchandise is coming along well. I’ve agreed to do a talk next year (but have absolutely no idea on what topic). The club’s coming on in leaps and bounds: I’m so glad to be a part of it.

And I’ll end today’s little rant with the observation that having lost two stone in weight over the last few months, I’m now (realistically) still only one third of the way along my weight loss campaign. For all that I’ve noticeably lost weight; I’ve still got quite a way to go.
I just hope that the urge to become a lot less porky keeps itself higher on my priorities than the urge to shove pies down my neck.

30 October 2011 (Sunday) - Samphire Hoe (Almost...)

A relatively good night’s sleep, and then an hour lying awake worrying about money. I really shouldn’t worry about money, but I do.
I then did a little fiddling with the accounts on-line, and after a spot of brekky I had a look-see on the Internet.I then tweaked my Sky subscription. We’ve so many DVDs in the house; we don’t really need the movies channel. And I can’t see the difference between HD and normal TV, so the HD went. That’s saved thirty quid each month.

Chip arrived, and we set off to Folkestone for our planned walk. My mobile then went crazy. Unfortunately there would seem to be a dose of the lurgie going around, and a lot of people had no choice but to cry off. We were also hoping for an appearance from the Bromley contingent, but ill health intervened there too. Which was a shame. So many good friends missed a really good day out.

A quick cuppa, and six of us (and a dog) drove down to the East Cliff. Once parked up, we set off. The plan was to walk to Samphire Hoe along the beach, have a picnic, and walk back again. Things got off to an iffy start when I realised that the tide was higher than I was expecting and I got a wet foot. But we pressed on regardless. I spent a few minutes trying to photograph a wave, and got soaked when a big one took me by surprise.
Just off the beach, in a very secluded spot we found what looked like a beach hut with a wonderful view, and the lady outside it invited us up to have a look. It turned out that it wasn’t a beach hut – it was her house. Built on a little wooden platform just up from the beach, it’s in a wonderful location Sheltered from the winds; there’s no roads or easy way of getting to the place, other than walking along the shore for a mile or so. But she said that it kept her fit.
We got chatting: apparently she spent a year or so living in a tent in various places all over Folkestone Warren until she found the spot she liked best. She then checked with the land registry and found that no one owned the land, so she built a wooden platform and based her tent on it for a few months. And when no one had complained, she then built a little hut, and has been living there ever since. Good for her!

We then carried on along the beach, finding another home-made house on the beach on the way. And then we had a dilemma. It was high tide, and we could go no further unless we scrambled over some rocks. I clambered up a bit, reviewed the situation, and was on the point of announcing that we could go no further when I realised that Chippy had already got past the rocks and was waving from the other side. So having realised I could go further after all, I did.
But not a lot further. As I scrambled in an easterly direction, a nice lady was scrambling in a westerly direction, grumbling that it wasn’t possible to get to Samphire Hoe unless it was at low tide. And within half a mile we saw what she meant. We were within half a mile of our destination, but the sea was washing right up to the cliff face. There was (at least) two hundred metres of beach which were under water and so were impassable.
We had our picnic lunch and sulked. But didn’t sulk for long.

On the way back there was a tunnel into the cliff face, and so Stevey felt the urge to go investigate. I was quite keen on the idea, but the tunnel was a little way up the slope, and I chickened out. I was about to reconsider my chickening out after ten minutes had passed and Stevey hadn’t re-emerged, but Chip went off on a “Search and Rescue” mission instead, so I let him get on with it.
It turned out that this hole was actually a ventilation shaft for the train tunnel, and feeling the change in pressure as the train rattled past was quite impressive. I wish I’d gone up there now. Pausing only briefly to watch the penguins swimming past, we made our way back to base for a cuppa and a Maryland cookie (57 calories) before coming home.
It had been a wonderful day out: just a shame that so many friends weren’t able to join us. As always, there are photos of the event on the Internet; in fact in more than one location.

And so home, and after a spot of tea I knocked off some more job applications. Two to be a mortgage advisor, and one to be an NVQ assessor. It doesn’t hurt to try….

29 October 2011 (Saturday) - Stuff

I was up with the lark, and did the weekly weigh-in. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight this week. I now notice that when I look in mirrors I’m obviously thinner than what I was. There’s still quite a bit of blubber to shift yet, though.

After a bite of brekky I sorted the money from last night’s astro club meeting. I might not know much about astronomy, but I can count the takings, and take it to the bank.
We strolled up to town, and paid the money into the bank. I then had a nosey at the market stalls. In the past I’ve got an apple and a carrot for lunch from Asda on a daily basis. Three days’ worth from Asda comes to more than a week’s worth from the market stall. And as money is now tighter than it has ever been for me, I shall be going back to that market stall more often.

And back home again. ‘er indoors TM (and a gaggle of girlies) went off to Folkestone to get their feet chewed by fish. I fell asleep watching the film “Mission to Mars”, and then did the ironing. It’s amazing how ironing piles up when you’re not looking.
And with the ironing done I popped round to visit “My Boy TM. For a long time I’ve been hankering after a lean-to in which to put the rubbish and the recycling. He’s built one, and says he will build me one as well. He’s a good lad. Whilst he went shopping, me and Fudge went for a walk. Fudge is getting more and more excitable’ it’s been suggested that it might soon be time for Fudge to go to the vet’s for extraction of his “Flowers and Frolics”. I don’t think he’ll like that very much…

Saturday evening has been film night for many years. The tribes gather at Chris’s house and watch a couple of films. Normally I’m not a “films kind of guy”, but this evening I made an exception. And I was glad that I did. The Green Lantern was a film I’ve wanted to see for ages, and it was really good. And then after a short break was the fourth of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. I did like it, but as the film went on, I found myself dozing off. It was getting late…

And in closing, spare a thought for Sir Jimmy Savile who died today.

28 October 2011 (Friday) - Comets

Spare a thought for my cousin today. She absolutely *loves* Halloween and everything spooky. She’s taken her family to Euro Disney for a holiday which has cost them thousands of pounds, only to find that Euro Disney hasn’t decorated the place for Halloween this year. She’s not happy.

And also spare a thought for Lamna Dauda, who is “seeking a serious long term relationship and more. Someone who is responsible, respectful, can take care of themselves, and who is employed special to capture my heart and knows how to handle it with care, one who will cherish me and be willing to share life's greatest joys and sorrows. Someone who's willing to spoil, pamper and love me unconditionally, whom is kind, sincere, honest, passionate, loyal, sense of humor, loving and wants a lifetime of passion and also knows how to have fun but can be serious when needed., so only serious inquiries will be accepted. I hope to hear from you soon I'm looking for a soul-mate...a best friend for life! Someone I could talk to about anything....A good listener, smart and funny! I'd give the same to the ONE !! Who knows - may be you are my twin-soul” She’s asked to add me as a friend on Facebook. I remain dubious about her.

Being the last Friday of the month meant it was astro club. The evening went well – I was speaking about comets, and the talk was OK. I think I did the talk better a few weeks ago at the SEKAS club: I could probably have done with having rehearsed the thing a few more times. And my unfamiliarity with the PC didn’t help. But it went OK. I then got a bit distracted with the raffle, and ended up selling strips rather than individual tickets. (I’ve a lot on my mind at the moment!)
But it could have been worse. Poor Drew (our chairman) had his lap-top battery die on him half way through his presentation on the autumn sky. I think that’s because I used all it’s power earlier….

27 October 2011 (Thursday) - Hunger, Woody and Euros

Here’s some bad news: no matter how hard you try to lose weight, it would seem that your body conspires against you. People who’ve lost over ten per cent of their body weight (like I will soon have) have to contend with hormonal changes which increase the appetite. Which explains why I always feel hungry. Still, I will persevere.
Meanwhile it would seem that crash helmet technology is improving in leaps and bounds thanks to research about why woodpeckers don’t get headaches. It amazes me that science has taken so long to come up with this one.

The news also had something which sounded as though it had promise. Every evening the financial bit mentions how much a Euro is worth in pounds and pence. Tonight it was worth eighty-eight pence. This came as something of a surprise, as it is *always* worth eighty-seven pence. One of the listeners had emailed in to ask why this was. And this is something I’ve always wondered myself. I was intrigued, and looked forward to the explanation.
 The answer (however) was dull: I for one was disappointed. But I did find myself asking that if the pound and the euro are demonstrably of equal value, and have been for some time, how would entering the Euro hurt the UK economy?

I did some more research on car sharing today. One website seemed to think that I drove 248 miles to work every day (and the same again coming home). Another one said it would send me a confirmatory email, and then denied all knowledge of me. There is always the bus, but for all that a monthly ticket would save me loads of cash, I wouldn’t get home until 7.30pm.

I then spent a little while preparing for tomorrow evening’s talk to the astro club. It’s been in preparation for a year, so I hope it goes down well. And then ironing whilst watching “Terra Nova” and “Star Trek”. I must love it…