29 February 2012 (Wednesday) - Astro-Arky-ologee

Seeing how today was the last Wednesday of the month, this evening we set off to the arky-ologee club. Tonight was the AGM. I read the minutes of last year's AGM in amazement; at last year's AGM it was me who had proposed doubling the annual subs. In this new world order of austerity I can't help but wish I'd kept my trap shut last year.
This year's AGM was rather entertaining. There is talk of amalgamating with Harrietsham Historical Society. But only talk because (at the moment) Harrietsham Historical Society doesn't actually exist. It's still at the theoretical stage, and if it ever gets off the ground it would probably be very much the same as the arky-ologee club. I can't see why the historically-minded denizens of Harrietsham can't just join the arky-ologee club and be done with it. Starting their own club just to then amalgamate with another club seems like a lot of fiddling about to me. but what do I know?

There was also talk of getting involved with a local village's open day for the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations. Apparently in celebration the club is going to invite the general public to do a resistivity map of a nearby field to try to find an oast house. Personally I can think of easier ways to find oast houses. Just having a look is one that immediately springs to mind.
Mind you the whole idea may well be doomed to failure as Margot would seem to have reservations about the whole sorry issue of insurance. There may well be those of my loyal readers who are wondering who Margot is. I too am wondering as well. It was never made clear who Margot was, and I couldn't bring myself to ask.

Having elected someone else to the position of club chairman (even though he wasn't there) we then had the evening's talk. And in an amazing break with tradition the talk was really good. Astro-archeology. The talk was about how Stonehenge and Avebury lined up with celestial bodies as they were in the skies several thousand years ago. And then the speaker moved on to other sites, including several local ones. It was a really good talk; I didn't know that Stonehenge had been upgraded over the millennia to account for stellar drift.
At the end of the talk we had the opportunity to ask questions. I asked if the speaker would come to the astro club in a few months' time.
She agreed....

28 February 2012 (Tuesday) - Alcatraz

Regular readers of this nonsense may recall my mentioning that I'd found a web site from which I'd downloaded all sorts of books. Most have (so far) seemed to be genuine, but I've made a discovery. The most recent Harry Potter book that I downloaded isn't actually the most recent Harry Potter book. It's about Harry Potter, and features all the characters of the Harry Potter world, but the story isn't the one that's in the last book. It's a tad saucy in parts - Ginny has a wonderbra.
I'm treating it as a whole new Harry Potter book, and (in the meantime) will have to try out some other dodgy websites to see if I can get the real Harry Potter book.

There has been quite a bit of talk over on the astro club's Facebook page about the practicalities of taking photographs through a telescope. It's something I've been thinking about trying for sometime, but have never actually got round to having a go at. And on reflection, since getting my telescope a year ago I've only had the thing out twice. It's no secret that I am an armchair astronomer. I wonder if I might be better off flogging the telescope; if only to clear up some space behind the sofa. After all, whenever I go telescoping there are plenty of other people about with telescopes of their own that I might look through.

Being a Tuesday, the clans gathered. Since I was coming from work i thought I'd park in the Vicarage Lane car park; after all it was free parking and there would be loads of spaces when I arrived there at 8.30pm (ish). Or so I thought. I managed to take the last space - the car park was full. What on Earth was attracting so many people to a town centre car park at 8.30pm on a Tuesday evening?
Once parked, I made my way to the aptly named Queen Street. After exchanging a few insults we watched the first episode of the new series "Alcatraz". Once we got over the novelty of playing spot the actors from "Lost", "Terra Nova" and every other TV show known to science we realised the show was actually quite good. I liked it - it has promise. Let's hope it lives up to that promise.

Meanwhile the Sex Pistols are re-releasing their classic album. I think I've still got it on CD somewhere...

27 February 2012 (Monday) - The Holiday's Over

Bearing in mind the active weekend I've just had, I was amazed that I wasn't aching this morning. Mind you, the word is that my grand-dog Fudge went home last night and was absolutely shattered: he'd never been so quiet and subdued. I think we might have got ourselves the job of wearing Fudge out more often.

To work, where, after having a weeks holiday, I found that I disagreed with the management. They felt that I still had a week's leave to book before the end of March. I wasn't quite so sure, but after a moment's reflection I decided to agree with them, and promptly booked another week off.

And then on with the business of the day. I was at work, so I did some. Not much; in fact I probably did the bare minimum. There was a time when I would have done far more. But times have changed.
Over lunch I spent half an hour on the phone to one of the employment agencies about another possible opening, and then heard about last week's interview. Needless to say I didn't get the job. I'm told that I interviewed well, but some of the other candidates had hands-on experience with what the job was to be demonstrating. I must admit that I wasn't expecting to get the job, bit it don't stop me being disappointed. Mind you, there are always loads of other jobs I can apply for. And having said that, I spent an hour this evening applying for more jobs to prove (or disprove) the point.

And then once I felt "applied out" I spent some time doing on-line surveys. I've now got twenty quid in Tesco vouchers. I might buy some new trousers. Ones that aren't six inches too big round the waist...

26 February 2012 (Sunday) - Two Dogs and a Walk

For all that I had a very tiring day yesterday I didn't sleep that well last night. I couldn't stop worrying about how my grand-dog Fudge was doing downstairs spending the night in the kitchen. Eventually I got up a couple of hours earlier than I usually would on a Sunday only to find the dog quite happily fast asleep. I was about to go back to bed when his ears pricked up, his head picked up, and he came running over to me. So much for my going back to bed.
We'd had no pottty emergencies overnight, but he had been sick. There were small sharp lumps in the vom: presumably he'd eaten something that he shouldn't. But dogs do that. I let him out into the garden where he did something else that dogs do, and then we played for an hour or so. For that hour this morning he was my devoted companion. And then "er indoors TM" came downstairs, and (as far as the dog was concerned) it was as though I no longer existed. It's quite clear who his favourite is.

The morning was spend slobbing about browsing the Internet. I didn't feel one hundred per cent - my insides were having a serious rumble, and I had a vague headache. I did have three pints last night - was it a hangover? If so then I am seriously thinking of giving up the beer altogether. I've mentioned before that it is a lot of expense just to put on weight and to feel ill.

After a while we got dressed and set off to Folkestone where the clans had gathered, and several of us set off on a walk along the Leas to the Coastal Park. The smaller ones among us played on the kiddy toys, then we met up with the Hoseys and we wandered down to the beach. We sat on the waters edge and enjoyed the sunshine. I wished I had my swimming trunks with me - I would have gone for a dip; the day was that lovely. And to think that it was only three weeks since we'd been sledging in the snow.
We walked back past the Leas Cliff beer festival, which was in full flow. In years gone by I would have stopped for a crafty half. But not any more. It's not "me" any more. A shame? possibly. But we carried on past the festival, waved goodbye to some of our number, and then wandered through the harbour, up a really steep flight of stairs, and slowly made our way back to our Folkestonian base. We had a quick cuppa, the dogs did their thing, and then we came home.

A quick catalogue retrieval, a bite of tea, and then the dirty weekenders arrived to collect Fudge. They'd had a good time, but the trip was marred by a speeding fine and three points on the driving licence following falling foul of a speed trap in Bexhill. But Fudge was pleased to see them, and with all his accessories packed into the car, they set off with Fudge. And the house now seems a much quieter place....

25 February 2012 (Saturday) - A Dog, A Walk, A Meal

We were up earlier than usual on a Saturday morning: we were expecting a house guest. With "My Boy TM" setting off to his dirty weekend in Eastbourne, we had volunteered to supervise the antics of our grand-dog. Fudge arrived shortly after 8.30am and burst into the house like a mini-whirlwind. We got our instructions for what do do with him, and the dirty weekenders set off. Fudge continued to charge about the house for an hour or so. He then went into the garden where he tiddled over pretty much everything. Getting him back into the house was something of a mission; bearing in mind he totally ignored everything I said to him. In the end we left the back door open and waited until he went into the house of his own accord. Following on from that, it's clear he can't be trusted off of his lead at walkies time.
Fudge seemed to trying to get at something under the sofa. It was a dog biscuit left over from one of my other grand-dog's visits. He soon yummed that up; and spent a few minutes yumming up all the other left-over dog biscuits he could find.

For some odd reason when "er indoors TM" went upstairs to get changed, Fudge's behaviour completely changed. He became very restless, and stood by the door and cried. It's obvious that he's decided who the head of the household is. After a while "er indoors TM" came down, which cheered him up no end. He then followed her around like a second shadow. He would rather follow her than bother me for my coffee and cake. Mind you, he did bother her for her tea, but when given some tea of his own, he didn't seem to like it at all. "er indoors TM" then gave him an old teddy bear and a sock which he threw around the living room and destroyed with gusto.

Whilst Fudge got used to his new surroundings and slowly calmed down (calm being a relative term) I had a look-see what was happening on Facebook. I do that a lot. I exchanged insults with various people, reminisced with my cousin about Tiswas, commented with various other people about what an excellent night we'd had last night at astro club, and even had a database write fail error. Which was nice.

Andy arrived, and after a quick hot cross bun for lunch we set off to Kings wood for a wander. Ostensibly to wear the dog out, but a stroll round the woods is always good. I'd not been to Kings Wood for ages. I really should go there more often. After all I am a member of the friends of Kings Wood. (Or the Tree Huggers, depending on your personal perspective).
We very soon found ourselves at the Stour Valley Arts B52; and on finding out that Andy hadn't seen the art in the woods, we set off on a mission to see as many of the woodland art exhibits as we could come across by randomly wandering about the woods. During our two and a half hour wander we probably covered about six miles of paths, and found just over half of the art work. It was a shame that vandals have removed the descriptive plaques of most of the exhibits, but such is life, really.

I came home and sent a message to Tree Hugger HQ to let them know about the removed plaques. I don't know if they already know, but it's probably best that they be told several times than not at all.
And then I noticed something strange - one of the best Facebook pages in the world had somehow lost all of its followers. So, loyal readers, do sign up to Facebook; if only to keep "CrackWatch" alive. After all, if we don't watch those cracks, who else will?

After exchanging insults with the dirty weekenders, the Folkestonians arrived and with Fudge absolutely shattered we left him in the kitchen and set off to High Halden. Following a particularly excellent pre-Christmas dinner back in December we seem to have started off a non-competitive "Come Dine With Me", and tonight Andy and Julie were in the hot seat. And they didn't disappoint. A wonderful starter of all sorts of dips, really good fajitas, choice of desserts, excellent company and fun entertainment. We had a really good evening - must do it again soon....

24 February 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club

This morning was much like yesterday morning - a lie-in followed by a late brekkie and some job applications. One of the agencies phoned back about one of the applications, so the morning wasn't entirely wasted. After a while "My Boy TM" came home. We bandied insults for a while; he's off to a dirty weekend in Eastbourne (which will be nice for him). Unfortunately two minutes on Late Rooms (dot com) came up with several hotels in the area at a cheaper price than he'd paid. Oh well, he'll know next time.

As "My Boy TM" set off to work, so my mobile rang. It was another of the agencies about one of the jobs I'd applied for. In fact three different agencies phoned me during the afternoon about jobs I'd applied for. Nothing seemed immediately promising, but I suppose that the fact that they phoned me shows there must be some hope.

The Rear Admiral arrived, and we turned on the telly: Challenge TV and an old episode of "The Crystal Maze". A quality show - at the end of the show they had five crystals, three of the team locked in, and one of the lowest scores I've ever seen. Oh, how we laughed. There is nothing like the thwarting of naked greed for cheering me up.

Being the last Friday of the month, we set off to astro club. We started off with an update on matters astronomical, and then moved on to the business of the evening. Tonight was billed as a telescope workshop; and we had a good talk on telescopes, and as I hawked the raffle so everyone had the chance to look at the telescopes on display, and to bring in their own scopes. We got word that there was a break in the clouds, so I quickly called the raffle, and people went outside to look at Mars and Jupiter. As they looked, so I tidied away the chairs. And as I put away the last chair, so the clouds rolled over, and everyone came in for a Stellarium show. A show they had to stand for, as I'd put the chairs away. Whoops!
But, all things considered, another excellent astro club meeting. It turns out I'm lecturing there in October on a subject which has yet to be decided. I wonder what I might talk about...?

23 February 2012 (Thursday) - Surveys

In a novel break with tradition I wasn't woken by "er indoors TM" going to work this morning: I slept through till nearly 9.30am. I got up, brekkied, and spent a little time (three hours) applying for more jobs. I must admit I did get rather wound up by some of the job agencies' web sites. I specifically called up "laboratory sales" and "South East England" as my search criteria, and was amazed with the amount of utterly irrelevant jobs that came up. Catering manager, care assistant, recruitment consultant all came up on my search. What was that all about?
Mind you, I shouldn't complain: on my search I found a link to several on-line surveys for which I can get paid. So after three hours of applying for jobs I spent an hour or so signing up to do on-line surveys. If any of my loyal readers would also like to be paid for doing on-line surveys, please drop me a line. I get a bung for introducing people.

A bite of lunch, then an hour or so was spent on the ironing. I must love ironing; I seem to do more than the average person does. And then I put on my "Survivors" season three DVD and slept through it until "er indoors TM" came home. I woke up, we did a catalogue drop, and then tea time. Over tea we watched the Uma Thurman film "My Super Ex-Girlfriend". It was a film I'd been meaning to watch for some time. If you've not seen it, give it a go - it's not bad. Whilst the film played I did on line surveys. For every ten thousand surveys I do, I get two pence in vouchers. Perhaps not the bargain I was hoping for...?

And here's a bit of news which made me smile. Having spoken with my brother, it would seem that after forty years I am no longer the fat brother. He's a stone heavier than me. I'm pleased about that.

22 February 2012 (Wednesday) - Busy, Busy....

As well as being my birthday, yesterday was another anniversary. It was my thousandth blog entry here on Blogger, and my two thousandth blog entry (in total). I've been making daily diary entries since September 2006. that's five and a half years. Not bad going really.

After a rather restless night I made a point of being up and about for the arrival of "Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid. Whilst "Daddies Little Angel TM" worked on her latest essay I did some paintings. I had a couple of commissions to sort out, and I also wanted to try out the smaller sized canvas I bought last week at Dunelm Mill. I'm quite pleased with how the paintings turned out. As always photos are available on Facebook if you know where to look. Before I do any more painting I need to get some white spirit. I have been using "Artist's white spirit" from the art shop. From now on I think I shall get white spirit from B&Q at a fraction of the price for ten times the amount.

As essay writing and grand-dog farting continued in the background I mucked out the fish tank. Under-gravel filters are all very well, but even they need attention from time to time. After stirring the gunge, syphoning, leaving to settle and again syphoning gunge a dozen (or so) times I eventually got the tank a little cleaner that it was.

And then no day off work is complete without a spot of ironing. An hour's worth kept me out of mischief. The Rear Admiral visited, we had a cuppa, and as the Folkestonians disappeared into the sunset I dozed in front of the telly. In fact I kipped for over an hour until "er indoors TM" texted me to start boiling up some scran for tea. And then I wasted the evening watching rubbish in UK Gold. Talking of watching rubbish, yesterday I mentioned that we'd watched "Grimm". We made a point of watching it so's when everyone else was talking about what had happened we wouldn't have to stick our fingers in our ears. But for once no one else has watched it yet: everyone has it on the Sky box to watch later.
This really is a sign of our times: people rarely watch TV as it happens. Most people watch stuff from a Sky box so they don't get bothered by adverts. And so no one ever watches programs at the same time. Which means there's a whole etiquette about talking about what you saw on the telly last night. Or that is there should be. How long can you give someone to watch a TV show before it's acceptable to start talking about what you've watched without spoiling the plot for others?

21 February 2012 (Tuesday) - Happy Birthday to Me

Ideally I wouldn't have had an interview scheduled on my birthday, but one takes what one is given in life (mostly). I was up before the lark, breakfasted and on my way before 7am this morning. The M25 was better than I have known it to be, and (to be fair) worse than I have known it to be as well. With the radio tuned to radio four (for a change) I trusted my sat nav, and it didn't let me down. I drove the ninety miles to Wokingham in just under two hours and immediately found my destination. Once parked up I made my way to the reception, got given a visitor's badge and was sat down. I went through my Powerpoint presentation one last time, before striking up a conversation with the chap sitting opposite me. He too was there for an interview; for the same job as I was there for.

After exchanging pleasantries with the opposition for a few minutes I was called in. First of all I had half an hour with the personnel manager which seemed to go well. I then gave my presentation which also seemed to go well, as did the following interview with the departmental managers.
Will I get the job? I don't know. For all that the presentation and interviews went well, I have no idea how well the other candidates did. It turns out that there are still interviews to be had on Friday. I was told that I probably wouldn't hear anything for a week or so. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I'm crossing my fingers.

The journey home was easier than the journey there, and once home I opened my birthday pressies. I had quite a decent haul of pressies this year. And once pressied we had some lunch. Two hot cross buns and a cup of coffee - four hundred calories. Four hundred!! I then got cross playing on-line scrabble. It wouldn't allow "Latin" but was quite happy with "dunt" and "dup" and "jeed" (for 102 points!) , and would probably accept "kxvzjg" as long as someone else was playing it against me (!)

Following a flying visit from Maria borrowing hair crimpers for an 80s party, we set out to Hothfield for a walk. I'd not been for a stroll on the common for years. It was warmer than yesterday's outing, and it was good to get out. We wandered all over the common, through the bogs, admired the wildlife, and against "er indoors TM" s better judgement I played on a rope swing that the local kids had put in a tree. Who says I'm to old to play on a rope swing?

And so home again where we had coffee and cream cake (three hundred more calories) and we watched this week's episode of "Grimm". I can't help but feel that it's a good show, but it's just yet another police program. And being a Tuesday the clans gathered this evening and we watched more "Being Human": I do like that show...

20 February 2012 (Monday) A Day Off Work

I'm on a week's holiday starting today, so with no need to be up early I stayed in my pit till 9.30am. Which was nice. After a spot of brekkie I had a look at the pond. For once all seemed well. I thought about cleaning out the filter in readiness for the spring, but thought better of the idea. Instead I put the shovel and broom and my wellies away: I'd got them out for the snow a couple of weeks ago.

I spent a little while tidying up my back room; it had got somewhat out of hand over the winter. It's amazing how the rubbish accumulates; I found a dozen star atlases from last year's Stargazing Live. I'm loathe to throw them away, but what good are they now? I shall see if I can unload them onto the public at this week's astro club - if I can't, I wonder if we can use them for some of the club's outreach activities. And talking of the astro club I had another go at the club's accounts. Regular readers may recall that a few weeks ago I did the accounts and was three pence adrift. The trouble with the accounts as they were was that I had major equipment purchases down as "purchase of equipment". I wasn't happy with that, so I went through the accounts and re-wrote the lot to specifically itemise each purchase. Now the accounts are far more specific as to exactly what we've bought, but are now twenty six pence adrift. Oh well, such is life. I'll have another look at the accounts later this week.

Whilst I'd been busying, "My Boy TM" had been busy tattooing his mother. "er indoors TM" now sports a particularly fetching pocket dragon tattoo. Once we'd had a spot of dinner, "My Boy TM" went to work, and "er indoors TM" and I went for a walk. We drove down to Brockhill Park (which is somewhere I've not been for ten years) for a wander. It was cold, but quite pretty. We spent a pleasant five minutes admiring the river. And an annoying five minutes examining my shoe. I kept getting whiiffs of dog poo, but couldn't see any on my shoe. Eventually I realised that I was standing two feet from the dog poo bin. I won''t do that again.

Home again where I worried over my Powerpoint presentation some more, and after a spot of tea we popped round to see Steve and Sarah. Regular readers may recall hat their cat was run over a couple of weeks ago. Arnie was very lucky to have survived, and was in what I can only describe as "Cat Prison"; he needs to be in cat prison - if he jumps or puts any effort on his pinned broken leg he will do untold damage to it. So we spent a few minutes feeding him cat treats. And after a quick cuppa we said our goodbyes, and came away having borrowed a suit for tomorrow's interview. It's quite a novelty having trousers that aren't six inches too big round the waist.
Here's hoping the suit does the trick tomorrow.....

19 February 2012 (Sunday) - Dover Castle

Only one dead Koi this morning. But the local cats had been at the dead ones I'd bagged up yesterday. I wonder if turning on the filtration system might help, but the water in the aeration splash pool was frozen this morning. It's still far too cold to reactivate the pond. At this rate I might just shut the pond down altogether as another economy measure. Not that I want to, but it might be the pragmatic solution.

Andy and Julie arrived, and we set off to Dover Castle where we met more of our number. Bearing in mind our English Heritage membership is approaching its last month, we thought we'd have a look round one of the better local attractions. On arrival at the castle site our first port of call was the newly opened Casemate-level tunnels. We had to queue for a little while, but it was well worth the wait. The tunnels had been done up very well, and were brought to life by the guide and the various audio and visual effects. At the end of an hour's exploring of the tunnels we found ourselves forced to come out via the gift shop. I wasn't falling for that marketing ploy, but made a point of scoffing the free sweeties they had laid out.
There was an exhibit here where you could try on various military uniforms, so we spent an enjoyable ten minutes playing dressing up before moving on to the next part of the day out.

We did the tour round the underground hospital the last time we went to Dover Castle, but underground tunnels are always good places to be. The guide at this area seemed to be quite new to the job, but she did a very good job. Bearing in mind what a wonderful job English Heritage have made of the tunnels in the White Cliffs under Dover Castle, it's a shame they can't do something with the tunnels over on the Western Heights. It's criminal that those tunnels are being left to rot and collapse, but that is a rant I've done before.

With all of our party finally rallied together we decided to eat. It was a lovely sunny day, so we found the picnic area and ate. And shivered. For all that the sun was shining, the wind was cold. So once scoffed, we set off to the castle itself. Dover Castle is good in that there's a lot to see and do. We'd been on the site for two hours and still hadn't got as far as the actual castle. And once at the Great Keep everyone scattered. Whenever we go anywhere we seem to go mob-handed. And trying to organise everyone is akin to herding cats. A dozen people wandered in a dozen different directions. My direction was that of the toilet.

Once I'd been for a tiddle I spent ten minutes trying to find everyone else. I found two of our number in the Angevin exhibit, two more in the gift shop, and four at an archery display. Eventually eight of our party were at the archery display, and realising that this was as many as we were likely to get together, we moved into the Great Keep. And within five minutes everyone had scattered again. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing: I wandered round meeting various members of our party as I went. I would go up the turret with two of our number and come down with a different three. I would go into the kitchen with two of the ladies and come out with two of the blokes. Everyone seemed as content as I was to wander randomly; and it worked.

It was a shame that the lances, pikes and halberds were all chained down: they looked ideally suited for use in a game of "poke up the a**shole". But this was a game we had to forego. Instead we went to the gift shop where I availed myself of the free samples of mead and wine. The chap behind the counter assured me that after one taste of the mead I would buy a bottle. I had the taste; I didn't buy a bottle. The chap then said the same about the cheery wine. He was again wrong. In fact I proved him wrong about quite a lot of his drinks. I was quite happy to guzzle his free samples, but there is no way I'm shelling out ten quid on overpriced plonk.
We then moved on to the Pharos - the oldest part of the castle. Originally a Roman lighthouse the Pharos is next to an old church, and we spent a few minutes nosing round it.

All too soon we realised we'd seen most of the attractions, and that it was time to come home. We said our goodbyes and came home. Yesterday I mentioned that I was working on a Powerpoint presentation; I came home to spend a couple of hours (and a large part of the evening) carrying on with my preparations. I hope that my efforts are all worth while: time will tell - it always does....

18 February 2012 (Saturday) - House Move, Curry

Two more dead Koi this morning. What on Earth is wrong in the pond? It's not as though the fish are in need of food - they don't seem hungry at all. I wonder if it something to do with the cold snap a week or so ago after a very mild winter.
The Rear Admiral arrived and we set off to find Chip. Regular readers of this drivel may recall an entry from October 2010 when we helped Chip move to a second storey flat. We nearly killed ourselves lugging no end of gear across town and up flights of stairs. At the time I told him that he was never to move out of that flat - moving in was too much like hard work.
So despite my better judgement, today I found myself helping him move house again. All the heavy, awkward, bulky items I'd heaved up all of those flights of stairs had to be heaved back down those same stairs, back into a van, and driven to the aptly named Queen's Street. Most of the stuff survived the move, but one of the wardrobes did look a little the worse for wear by the time I'd done my thing with it. I offered to repair the thing with a hammer; perhaps making good the scrapes I'd made in the paintwork might be a better thing to do.
It has to be said that I noseyed round his new house with more than a tad of jealousy. It's a wonderful house on four floors with a wonderful attic room and an even better basement suite. Bearing in mind his previous houses, there seems to be a marked absence of toilets. But what he lacks in cludgies this time, he more than makes up with stairs.

For some reason we were amazingly organised today. Previous house moves have dragged on all day long. Sometimes they have taken a whole weekend. Today we had two loads to lug down stairs, across town and up stairs again. And even taking the best part of an hour for a very leisurely lunch (yum!) we were all done by early afternoon.
And so home, where I spend several hours working on a Powerpoint presentation and a web site. I have to prepare a presentation that will take ten minutes to deliver. Am I being that facetious when I say that every minute of a presentation requires an hour of preparation?

Whilst I did my thing upstairs, the Bat did his thing in the kitchen. He'd been wanting to stage a dinner party for some time, but lacking the wherewithal he'd asked to borrow mine. I was quite content to have someone cook me my dinner and let him get on with it. And once dinner was cooked, nine of us sat down to some really good curries. A really good time was had by all. We must do it again sometime soon...

17 February 2012 (Friday) - Stuff

A late start meant I didn't have to emerge from my pit too early, and not having set an alarm, I dozed until 8.30am. Quite the lie-in. Mind you, I felt rough this morning. I think I had a hangover. A hangover after only two pints last night. What's that all about?

Whilst checking my emails over brekkie I glanced down the garden and saw a few of the Koi on the surface of the pond. Something didn't look right, so I went down to the pond and found six floating dead. That's now a dozen that haven't survived the winter. I wish I knew what was wrong in that pond.

And then it was time to go to work. After filling up with petrol in Morrisons (a penny a litre cheaper than the Esso not a few hundred yards away) I popped into Dunelm Mill. I'd been told they sold canvases. They did - in a range of sizes. And reasonably priced too. I got a few. I was very tempted to get one of the canvases that was a metre across. I'd like to have a go at a painting that size, but I have no easel to hold such a huge canvas. Mind you, if any of my loyal readers would like to commission a huge painting, I'm game to give it a go, though

And this evening we watched the first episode of the new hit series "Grimm". I liked it - it's got promise...

16 February 2012 (Thursday) - A Visitor

There are many annual events in my life. Today was one of them - Alan's annual visit. I *really* wish I'd got my act together and taken the day off work so's we could have had more time. The three hours in the local Wetherspoons just flew by. It was so good to catch up - has it really been a year since we last met up?
Whilst others guzzled cheeky Vimtos and Woo-Woos and Skippy p*ss and Guinness, I had a couple of pints of ale. Tonight was the first time I've been to the pub for four months. And for all that I wouldn't have missed meeting my mates for the world, next time we'll have a get-together at home.
The trouble with a pub is that it is someone else's get-rich-quick scheme. The food was good, but we could have done better at home for cheaper. And I can certainly knock up beer far cheaper than what we paid at the bar.

But it was really good to meet up with Alan. A shame that his time is limited and he has so much to do in so little time. Next year we'll get ourselves organised in advance.
Or that's the plan....

15 February 2012 (Wednesday) - Making Money

In a novel break with tradition I slept right through to 5.30am this morning. That's to be encouraged(!) I got up and after watching Bob Ross and checking on-line scrabble, I set off to work. Once there I did my bit. I spent quite a bit of time today thinking about a business scheme my cousin suggested. She reckons... well it's not good business sense to tell the world about my next money-spinner. Suffice to say that when it's ready my loyal readers will be amongst the first to be tapped up for their hard earned dosh.
And all the job hunting I've been doing lately might be beginning to achieve something - an agency phoned today asking my availability for interviews over the next week or so. I know I mustn't get my hopes up, but if any of my loyal readers have any interview hints, tips or suggestions I'd be grateful to hear them.

I then did some on-line surveys for financial gain. It seemed a lot of survey for relatively little financial gain, but it was something to do whilst "er indoors TM" boiled up some tea. And if I can finance some new trousers by idling away a few minutes that would otherwise be wasted, then that's a more productive use of my precious time. At the moment I seem to be frittering a lot of time away on nonsense. Like on-line scrabble. I have nineteen games on the go at the moment....

And talking of financial gain, I sold a painting tonight. Since I launched Badger Original Landscapes back in November I've now sold a grand total of four paintings. That's only one a month. Or four times more than Van Gogh sold in his lifetime, depending on your perspective...

14 February 2012 (Tuesday) - Stuff

Another restless night - for once "er indoors TM" couldn't sleep, and her tossing and turning kept me awake. For a moment I had this plan that seeing how she was awake and we were both in bed.... and then I remembered what happened the last time I had that sort of thought ("Daddies Little Angel TM" was the result) so I rolled over and thought puritanical thoughts instead.
It's unlike "er indoors TM" not to sleep. She tells me she sleeps better now that I don't snore. I don't snore because I don't sleep. If she's going to be awake, I will make a point of snoring. Perhaps we could take it in turns to sleep?

Regular readers of this drivel might recall that a few months ago I had my cholesterol checked. It was a tad high, and the doctor said to check it in mid-February. Bearing in mind my dieting ways I was expecting it to be really low, and I was planning to have it checked this morning. As I got up I prepared myself for a hungry morning - one needs to have the blood taken before eating anything. And then I remembered we'd had a fry-up for tea last night. That would do wonders for the cholesterol level - I shall leave that for a week or so before having it done again.

I've received an offer for the waterfall scene I painted at the weekend. Ker-Ching !!! Not that it'll make me rich, but it will go some way to cover the cost of a bottle of black gesso (do stop me if I'm getting too technical). And, realistically, covering the costs of the hobby is all I should hope to achieve from flogging the paintings. Because if I start making loads of dosh, I'll start having to pay income tax on my profit. Which would probably be far more trouble than it is worth.
In the meantime I've signed up with a website which might help me flog some more paintings. I just need to put a few more pictures up on it.

Being Tuesday the clans gathered: this time round at Somerset Road. We stood on Matt's doorstep for ten minutes until we (and he) realised that the batteries in his doorbell have had it. We admired his model railway layout: I must admit I'm not at all into trains, but the scenery he's building is wonderful. And after a crafty bit of cake (CAKE!!!) we watched "Being Human". In a novel break with tradition I stayed awake during the show. Which was for the best. I hate sleeping through telly programs that I want to see...

13 February 2012 (Monday) - Having a Whinge

Monday , Monday. And so to work. I really shouldn't complain. It's work I can do, paid at a better rate than anything else I can find at the moment. And I work with a group of really good people. But there's no denying that I feel I could do so much more with my time, and that I spend a large part of every day bored senseless. Let's hope that something comes from all the job hunting I'm doing. If any of my loyal readers know of any vacancies in absolutely any walk of life, do let me know.

Talking of work, I spent quite a bit of time today reflecting on something "er indoors TM" posted on Facebook yesterday. I've blogged in the past about the traffic wardens in our area. They don't work during the busy times of the day when there are cars and lorries parked so as to block the road. No traffic warden has ever done anything to improve the traffic flow in my road.
Instead they come round when everyone is asleep (after 11pm and before 7am) and put tickets on cars parked an inch or so over the yellow lines because that's easy to do, and (presumably) because the overtime rate is good. Yesterday we saw a car had been ticketed. You couldn't really see that the car was just over the yellow line because the yellow line was obscured by ice. And the ticket was timed at 5.39am. 5.39am on an icy Sunday morning (!) Am I really over-reacting in thinking that these people are lower than the lowest?
And having said that, at the moment I would go out and do exactly the same myself if the money was more than I'm getting at the moment.

I had a text from "My Boy TM". He'd found a spot of black ice on his way to work and had put his car into a ditch. All is now well, but at the time it was all something to worry about. as was the note I came home from work to find. The RSPCA had come to the house whilst I wasn't in and had left a note about a complaint which had been made about my dog (!).
I wonder what that was all about?

Meanwhile, apropos of nothing, I've been whistling the Gloria Gaynor classic "I Am What I Am" for the last day or so. I wonder what that's all about... I was never confused.....

12 February 2012 (Sunday) - Bored

We got home last night shortly after midnight. It was cold, so we had a cuppa (decaffeinated) to warm ourselves up. By the time we'd watched a couple of episodes of "Haven" it was 2am. Still, a late night might make me sleep in the next morning. Some hope - “My Boy TMcame home “quietly”shortly after 8am, and spent about an hour clumping round the house before setting off again.
The Bat texted - was it too cold to swim across the duck pond to sort out the duck house? Bearing in mind that it had snowed a little overnight, we decided that it was too cold.

I wasn't impressed with the snow. there wasn't much - only a slight dusting. But I'd spent some time yesterday clearing the pavement only to have it covered over again. For all that the temperature was above freezing point today (for the first time all week), with melting snow everywhere, it was too muddy and too slippery to do anything or go anywhere today. I'm getting fed up with Sundays: just lately they are being wasted in front of the telly because it's generally too horrible to do anything else.

Over a spot of brekkie I called up some job-hunting web sites on my lap-top, and thought I'd spend a few minutes applying for jobs. Three hours later i decided that my head was spinning and so I gave up. I've applied for loads of jobs today: some I could do easily, some I could probably do, and some I haven't really got a hope. But applying through agencies puts my C.V. in front of the people who should be having my C.V.
And my point was proved: as I slept through episodes of "Only Fools and Horses" my mobile rang. A chap at one of the employment agencies had seen my C.V. come though an hour or so previously, and he wondered if he might put me forward for a position he had in mind.I didn't realise that the employment agencies worked on Sundays, but here's hoping...

We then went fo a bit of a drive - "er indoors TM" had seen a coat advertised on the local Facebook "Get It Here" list. Normally retailing at a squillion quid, this one was advertised at fifty pence, having only been worn once. The drive to Bethersden was rather dull, but it was something to do.
Having something to do on a Sunday is always good.

11 February 2012 (Saturday) - Painting, Cold...

My Boy TMcame home “quietly”this morning, so I thought that I might as well get up. I looked at the clock to see it was 10am. A lie-in (!) After I’d abluted I had my weekly weigh-in. I’ve lost a pound this week. I was hoping to have lost more, but bearing in mind yesterday’s pig-out I should be pleased I’ve lost anything.

I spent a little while fiddling on the Internet, and then we went up to town. ‘er indoors TM wanted to go to the bank. And having banked we wandered round the clothes shops. Whilst doing this we met friends we’d not seen for ages who commented on my svelte appearance. Whilst I have lost quite a bit of weight, I’ve still got to lose over two more stone to get out of the “overweight” category. I decided not to buy any new clothes: for all that my clothes are all now rather baggy, I like them being baggy, and it’s a false economy to buy more stuff which will end up baggy. After all I have no idea what size I am going to end up at after this diet has run its course.
And so home where I spent ten minutes clearing the ice from the pavement outside our house. The pavement was covered in thick compacted sheet ice, but once the ice was cracked with a shovel it immediately started to melt. It’s odd that the people on the other side of the road have almost cleared the entire length of their pavement, but the people on our side have hardly touched it. But I’ve now done my bit.
And having done my bit, I got my paints out. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that a few weeks ago I was asking after masking tape. Today I used that masking tape in producing a border round a painting of a waterfall in a forest. As usual I can find lots of fault with the painting: I’m not happy with the cliffs, I feel the water spreads out too much, I was hoping for more from the background hills. But in the final analysis I’m quite pleased with the painting. It’s colourful and the border effect works well. It’s easily worth the bargain price of ten quid which I am asking for it. A shame no one has offered me that tenner (yet!).
It has to be said that Badger Original Landscapes has not turned out to be the money-spinner that I was hoping for. Since the launch of the business I’ve sold three paintings with a total income of under fifty quid. But when you feature in the cost of the paints and the canvas and the brushes and stuff, I’m losing money hand over fist. My cousin (whose has serious business sense) has told me that I am selling the paintings far too cheaply. She is probably right, but in these austere times no-one seems to want to spend money on paintings. Which (for me) is a shame.

Talking of money, I then spent a little while totting up the astro club’s accounts. I went through the accounts so many times, but try as I might I could not get the books to balance. We have four pence too much. All the figures add up and agree with bills and receipts. But when you add up the cash there is a stubborn four pence that shouldn’t be there. I can only imagine I short-changed myself when I was changing up some coppers.
I then wrote (typed) some letters to go with some cheques I need to post for the astro club. And in these hard times I am going to have to do something which goes very much against the grain and bill the club for my expenses: namely a book of stamps and a replacement ink cartridge.

After spending an hour (or so) playing on-line scrabble we set off to Chris's for the Saturday night film show. This evening we saw "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network". Neither were films I'd seen before, and I enjoyed both. I do like the Saturday night film show. The only drawback with tonight was coming home; oh it was cold. According to the thermometer in the car it was minus six degrees. Far too cold !!!

10 February 2012 (Friday) - Scoffing Too Much

As I drove to work this morning I listened to radio two. Which is unlike me: having been a radio four fan for many years I find myself listening to radio two more and more these days. Radio four is very good, but the programs are somewhat hit and miss. They can be very interesting or very dull. Radio two is somewhat more bland, but I must admit I like the music. Radio four doesn't have music.
I did my bit at work. My bit, but no more than that. Whilst at work I let my dieting ways slip: one of the girls had brought in cakes. Just lately I've been good and not succumbed, but today I relented and had a doughnut. Just one. But that one had over two hundred calories in it. Two hundred!! in the past I would have thought nothing of scoffing two or three of the things.
And then home again. Once more listening to radio two.

Once home I set the washing machine loose on the laundry. "er indoors TM" taught me the difference between acrylics and non-fast coloured. The difference being that if she puts them all in the washing machine together then all is fine, but if I do so, it will turn her pants pink. As the washing machine did it's thing I sorted the undercrackers, and after a decent bit of fish and chips, "er indoors TM" set off to a girlie thing with her mates. I stayed home and did the ironing, and then did an on-line survey.
For each survey I do, I get a quid. It's not a lot, but it adds up. I used to have the money as Amazon vouchers, but now that my Kindle is full to overflowing, I'm going to have Tesco vouchers from now on.
Tonight's survey was about chocolate. And by the time I finished the survey I had quite a hankering for some choccy. There had been the remains of a bar of chocolate in the fridge for a month or so. Not any more - I scoffed it. By the time I'd had a bag of crisps and some biccies as well, a quarter of the calories I ate today were in "rubbish" food I would normally not eat (any more).

I can see how I put the weight on over the years....

9 February 2012 (Thursday) - More Stuff

In the last week I've read "Jem" by Fred Pohl and "The Songs of Distant Earth" by Arthur C Clarke. Both classics, both favourites of mine. Yesterday I started reading "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner; a classic I've been meaning to read for years. Today I gave up with it. I couldn't figure out what on Earth was going on. Having been looking forward to this (supposed) treat for many years I was disappointed, and felt somewhat cheated.
Which got me thinking. Many years ago I wrote a "Top Ten sci-fi Novels" list for a particularly wonderful magazine I once had the honour (ahem!) to edit. I might just see if I can find a back issue of that magazine, see what I wrote, and see if my top ten list has changed over the years.
If any of my loyal readers would care to come up with a top ten list of sci-fi novels, I'd be very interested to see it.

I spent a little while applying for more jobs. It occurs to me that the new-look svelte me might look better at interview than the old-look lardy version once did. However my interview suit will probably now be somewhat baggy. I'm reluctant to shell out megabucks for a new suit: I wonder if anyone might have a suit I might borrow (should I get short-listed).

And then it was off to Park Farm for a committee meeting of the astro club. We went over the plans for the next meeting, and then made serious plans for the future. There is a humungouos telescope being decommissioned in a few weeks time: did we want it? Well, yes we do (dur!) But (and there is always an "but", isn't there?) there are one or two drawbacks to the idea.
Firstly the thing is in Scotland and needs to be collected. It's a huge scope: far too big to go in a car, and would need to come down on a lorry.
Secondly it would need a dome to go into. It's currently in one which is five metres across; we'd need to build a dome for it.
Thirdly we don't have a five mete dome, so the scope would have to go into storage whilst we fund raised the money for a dome and found somewhere to build it.
Fourthly the scope is older than me, so should it go west, spare parts wouldn't be easy to find.

So the original idea might be a non-starter. But if we can scare up some land on which we could build a dome, all the rest could be done at our leisure with a more modern scope. Do any of my loyal readers have some spare land where there's no nearby street lights?