30 January 2013 (Wednesday) - More Stuff

Another terrible night's sleep. I was woken by the gentle breathing of my beloved shortly before 3am, and despite me giving her a light shake, a more forceful push, and even a straight kick up the chuff, her snoring continued. One of my more vigorous attacks earned me a punch up the bracket accompanied by the warning to leave her alone as she was asleep. Which was nice for some.

I gave up trying to sleep, and sat with Fudge watching Babylon 5 DVDs. That is I watched the DVDs. Furry Face didn't. He snored too. He knows which is the winning side. Eventually it was time to set off to work. As I drove the weather was awful, and I consoled myself with the fact that the rain would have spoiled the day if I had not been working. Imagine my reaction when the rain stopped shortly after 8am and we had a lovely day.

The radio featured another article on the proposed high speed rail link to connect London with strange places known only in legend. Places such as "Birmingham" and "Leeds".
It would seem that one of the major obstacles to the proposed high speed rail link is that whilst a lot of people are in favour of in in a theoretical way, no one actually wants the rail line anywhere near their house.
NIMBYism rules, OK!!!

And the news went on to boil my piss again. The results of the most recent census are in. There are one hundred and thirty eight thousand people in the UK who can't speak English.
That's not "speak English badly" - that's "can't speak English at all". The number that speak English badly is over seven hundred thousand. There's free English lessons for anyone who wants them. What's going on? How can anyone live somewhere where they don't speak the predominant language? And in a sign of the times, the second most used language in the UK today is Polish...

I checked my emails - more constructive criticism about a series of geocaches I put out a couple of months ago. Mind you it was very constructive and polite, for which I was grateful.
Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I recently hid a series of geocaches to the south of the town. They were in a circular pattern, but were multi-caches. The idea is that you go to a certain point, solve a clue and then go on to the geocache proper. I also staggered the caches so that here would be an element of doubling back on yourself. I had this idea that it might be fun.
From the feedback I've received it seems that I was mistaken. Only the hardened cachers are bothering with my "Manky's Multi March". The clues seem to be rather tricky, and the amount of walking involved is off-putting to a lot of people. In fact it would seem that the word on the street is to avoid these caches altogether.

I've decided to revamp the series. My idea originally was to have a staggered series of caches. That's clearly not worked. I shall re-order them to be more logical; with one leading on to the next. And maybe pop some traditional caches in between them. That will give me something to do on my next day off whilst I'm walking Furry Face. If it's not raining...

29 January 2013 (Tuesday) - Stuff

I logged all of what I'd scoffed on MyFitnessPal dot com last night, and was suitably under my calorie allowance. Lets see if I can keep this up.
I woke this morning with a terrible backacke and over a spot of brekkie I saw that the Teston squabble was still going on. The whole sorry tale was summed up this morning on Facebook: "For Sale - Something. Size - indeterminate. Colour - unspecified. Price - to be announced after you've bought it".

I'm now getting to the end of my tether with this whole sorry story, and I've emailed the organiser to find out what's going on. He seems to be rather oblivious of everyone's organising the event around him, but the official line is what we've all been told all along - there might or might not be an event at Teston in June. We know the possible weekend, but not the duration of the possible event. And we have absolutely no idea of the cost.
I like to organise my life as far in advance as is possible. There are other events going on that weekend. Folkestone airshow and geocache camps amongst others. To say nothing of staging a camp of our own. Any possible event at Teston in June is fast going to be left by the wayside.

"Daddies Little Angel TM" arrived with Sid, and as "er indoors TM" set off to work so we took the dogs on their morning constitutional. Bowens Field was still very flooded, and as we walked I took the opportunity to wind up the most recent fruit of my loin by searching for a geocache which had gone live in the area recently. “Duck in Distress” had been hidden by "er indoors TM" in memory of a little episode I had in the area some six years ago. Some of the more hardened of my loyal readers might recall the incident, but (as always) if you know where to look you might care to call up the entry for 20 September 2006.
Let’s just say that I was grateful not to be in the river this time.

We would have taken the dogs further, but the fields were waterlogged, so we came home, had a cuppa, then went up into town. With "Daddies Little Angel TM" taking the bus off to big school, I paid the astro club’s takings into the bank. Again I missed the perfect opportunity to embezzle the funds. I went to Wilkos to get the makings of some mild – I’ve committed to brewing eighty pints of the stuff for various episodes in April, but could only find enough ingredients to make forty pints. Oh well – they did say I can use the Internet to have them order the rest. I shall do that.
I then went looking for duck decoys (for no adequately explored reason) but was unable to find any. I shall have to rough it with a yellow bath duck.

Home, where I wound the dogs up a little, and then did a tip run. Over the years we’ve accumulated a load of computer components. We went through them the other day. The vast majority of them are now obsolete, so I’ve recycled them.
And then I had a quick spot of “diet lunch” whilst watching more Babylon 5 DVDs whilst both dogs slept on me. They are fine when asleep, but having two dogs awake proved to be hard work. Whilst they did what dogs do, I got that first batch of mild out of the tin and into the barrel. We all then had a crafty snooze before the Rear Admiral arrived to collect Sid and all his accessories. It was only after they'd gone that I realised that Sid's bed had been left behind.

Being Tuesday the clans gathered - this time at the Chrisery where we started season two of "Merlin". We played "spot the historical inaccuracies" (there were several), bandied insults, and then came home again. Good times.

28 January 2013 (Monday) - Back on the Diet

Despite being rather tired after yesterday's walk, I didn't sleep well last night. I was in bed by 10.30 yesterday evening but woke shortly after midnight, and saw every hour of the night from then on. Some nights I sleep, other times I don't. Laying awake is dull. I got up about 5.30am and once I'd done some boring chores I watched an episode of Babylon 5 with Furry Face over a bowl of Bran Flakes. I've taken to watching my Babylon 5 DVDs again, if only to give me a reason to brush the dust off of them.

I then stepped on the scales. My weight seems to be holding constant - but over half a stone what it was before Christmas. Bearing in mind how good I was at weight loss last year, I really need to get back on to the weight loss campaign again. Realistically I want to get back to where I was a month ago, then lose at least another stone in weight, and probably two in total. So it's no more choccy digestive biccies for me. From now on it's Rich Tea all the way. And I shall go back on to MyFitnessPal dot com and start logging what I shove down my neck. Just recording what I eat seems to make me more conscious of what I'm scoffing. On the flip side I will feel permanently hungry, but then that's what weight loss is all about.

And so to work. I scraped the ice off of my car. Ice! The weather forecast didn't show the overnight temperature to be getting below freezing point. I follow weather forecasts religiously, and I know that more often than not they will get it wrong. I really shouldn't bother.

As always, as I drove I listened to the morning news on the radio. And in a novel break with tradition there was barely anything worthy of note on the show. In fact much of the time was spent discussing the proposed high speed rail link to go from London to various places up north. Would you believe that there are people who are against the project? It amazes me that in this day and age anyone would feel that it was acceptable to have trains that run at less than half the speed of what is considered to be standard for train travel in the twenty first century.

Once at work I did my bit, and came home again. I see on other social media that Friday's blog entry has inadvertently given offence. This was never my intention, but it's not given as much offence accidentally as was given to me deliberately on Saturday.
Regular readers of this drivel will know that for years I have been the first person out of bed every morning and last person to bed every night at previous Teston kite festivals to keep the thing running. I've spent a lot of my own money for the events (where did that go...?). I've acted as on-site liaison many times for all sorts of people and reasons.
Somehow all of this seems to have been ignored or forgotten. Or (which is far more likely) not known to those who feel that daring to voice dissent is akin to heresy.
I'm waiting for an apology which I doubt I'll ever get...

27 January 2013 (Sunday) - Gravy - Send.. (!)

I felt a little fragile when I woke this morning. Can't imagine why that might have been. We had some brekkie, and rallied the troops. We had plans for the day - plans that had been abandoned last week because if the snow. And despite the rain we went ahead with our plans.

The sat-nav had some difficulty with local place names, but we think we knew where it meant by "Gravy-send" and "Ro-ches-tor" and we soon parked up in Higham railway station's car park. Shoes were swapped for boots and we set off. A country walk - a walk for the dogs, and one or two geocaches along the way. Smif's stroll, Lumi's loop, and one or two other caches as we were walking past them. Some were quite straightforward to find, some were trickier. Some on roadsides, some up trees, some in hedges, and some nearly having us in small rivers. But we came up trumps on most of them. In fact we only failed on one, but that was one that had been washed away in recent floods, and we met up with the cache owner who confirmed that we'd found the correct hidey hole and told us to log it as found as we signed the log of the replacement cache.

The earlier rain had given way to a bright, if rather windy day. Our geopositioning apparatus (oo-er!) told us that we'd covered some seven miles by the time we got back to the car. As we arrived there something upset the dogs who had a serious woofing fit for no adequately explained reason.

We then came home the scenic route via a few more geocaches. One church micro saw me ripping my new trousers. These were a Christmas pressie - I wasn't impressed. Another church micro had us finding a rather obscure hidden obelisk which had been built in honour of an MP from years ago.
Just as we found a cache at a pub known locally as the "Wonky Donkey" so the rain started. Rather heavily. And bearing in mind that the light was failing we decided to call it a day and come home. A good day's walking and exploring. And we'd increased our geocaching tally by another thirty as well.

And so home. We dropped off the troops at their homes and came home. Fudge was bathed as he was filthy. He'd picked up rather a lot of mud during the day. I then stitched up the hole in my trousers - they will live to fight another day.
I was rather worried about Fudge. He seemed incredibly clingy, following me like a shadow. But when I sat down he sat with me and was soon snoring. The day's walk had worn the poor dog out.
If truth be told it had worn me out too. But it was a good walk. Geocaching is a seriously good way to find new places for walks in the countryside. And, as always, there are photos of the day on-line.

26 January 2013 (Saturday) -- A Family Day

After a rather good evening at the astro club I was rather late to bed last night. The morning was rather depressing. Having organised an extended family swim in honour of my father's birthday I spent a lot of time receiving messages from several people (including the guest of honour) backing out. So I took Furry Face for a walk to cheer myself up, and my piss boiled.
I've taken to blowing a whistle whenever I give Fudge a treat. He associates the sound with the goodie, and when he's off the lead the idea is that the whistle will call him back. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. It gets better with practice and reinforcement. We were practising this today in Bowens Field - it was working fairly well until some passing prat stuck his nose in. This twit called Fudge away and started fussing him when I was trying to call him myself. I politely suggested that the fellow shouldn't interfere when people are clearly doing dog training. The bloke seemed amazed that anyone wouldn't want their dog interfered with. Being already in a bad mood I'm ashamed to say that I saw red and told him the error of his ways. I felt a bit better for having vented my spleen. I should do it more often.

We came home, and then went round to Tesco's where it seemed to be "National Stare into Space Day". People were randomly stopping anywhere and just staring blankly. I got my shopping done, but if I had been there for five minutes more I would have taken to shoving these twits out of the way.

Home to unload shopping, and then to the sports centre for the planned family swim. I've not been in the family pool at the Stour Centre since it was rebuilt, and I must say I'm impressed. It's not the biggest pool, but it's really good. I especially liked the Lazy River. We swam and played for an hour or so, then came home where both fruits of my loin were waiting for us. We all had a really good hour or so swapping insults. Must do it more often.

And as the last of family set off into the sunset we went round to Bybrook barn to get fish to re-stock the tank. A ruby shark and some platys to be getting on with. They weren't cheap - four fish came to nearly ten quid.

"er indoors TM" went off to watch films, and I settled down in front of the telly when the phone rang. "My Boy TM" was in the pub up the road and wondered if I fancied a pint? Mild and a pickled egg went down very nicely. There's no denying that the fifth pint might have been a mistake though...

25 January 2013 (Friday) - Reflections on Teston

Yesterday evening and this morning social media in my world was alight with news, concerns and worries about this year's kite festivals at Teston Bridge picnic site. There was no festival there in June last year, and at the August festival last year there was a meeting of "interested parties" to discuss the future of these festivals. The organiser was also invited, and he made it quite clear that he was the organiser, and he would organise future events. So I for one took him at his word... Perhaps we all should?

Recently all manner of scare stories and misinformation has been bandied about concerning the kiting weekends in Teston. The festival in August this year is apparently going ahead, with the organiser expecting to make a loss on the deal. There now seems to be an on-line ad-hoc campaign being launched to support a possible festival in June. A year ago I would have been one of the leading lights in keeping this festival going. Five months ago I was on the point of taking on the organisation of the event. But what do I think now?

The financial outlay required for the event is unclear (to say the least). It's certain that Kent County Council want a fee for the use of the field. However the required cost varies between two hundred and fifty quid and five hundred quid depending on which person you speak to. (And this is from people "in the know", not just random guesses). But what do we get for that fee? Absolutely nothing! I would have thought that having paid for hiring a field we would be given exclusive use of it. But this is not the case. The "normal people" still get to use the site as they do at any other weekend. We get to pay money to be in the same field which the general public are using for free. It's just a nice little earner for the council.

The apparent cost of the public liability insurance varies between two hundred and fifty quid and five hundred quid depending on which person you speak to. I was personally quoted nearly five hundred quid from a specialist insurance agency. A local kite club insist they have been quoted far cheaper for the same cover. And what liability is there anyway? Any kite-caused damage is covered by the flier's personal household liability. I can't see how anyone can be held liable for anything that the general public get up to as the council have said that the public can be there anyway. If they hurt themselves then their issue must be with the council like it would be at any other weekend.

First aiders want a couple of hundred quid just to turn up. Hiring first aiders a prerequisite for hiring the field. First aiders! I don't want any first aider anywhere near me or anyone I hold dear - I know the damage they can do. I've left written instructions for first aiders not to be allowed near my children in the past. If a plaster can't fix the injury, there is a hospital not five minutes up the road. I don't doubt that there are some first aiders who do sterling jobs. However the ones of my experience are those who watch "Casualty" on the telly, believe it, and get silly ideas from it. But first aiders are compulsory, and are another drain on the limited finances.

(Stops and takes a breath. Teston kite festival has always been one of the high points of my year. This rant is all rather negative...)

So we are now in the position that what was once free is now costing about a thousand pounds. And having shelled out all this money what do we get? Most kite festivals take place in designated areas as "kite festivals".
That's what they are. You go there for the kites.
The events at Teston are very different. They are weekends of trying to fly kites in a picnic site where many people are very accustomed to having picnics, walking dogs, playing football, and generally doing their own thing every weekend. It's made quite clear by these people that the kites are very much in their way. The swarms of normal people do not like having the kiters around. I've had my tent ripped open in the past by the locals, and other friends have had children's bikes stolen.

The consensus of everyone I've spoken with is that the Teston weekend is good from when we set up our camp on the Thursday until the Saturday morning when the swarms arrive. We then wait for the swarms to go home before we then enjoy the evening, and then they come back again on the Sunday morning to spoil it. Sunday evening is good, and we then pack up and go home on Monday morning

However it would seem that there is a feeling from the establishment that camping is to be curtailed. We can only camp from the Friday until (possibly) the Sunday evening. We get to lose the bit we actually enjoy. And talking of the camping brings me on to something which boils my piss. Every year on the Sunday morning a collection is made from the campers to contribute to any expenses of the event. In the past I've bunged in ten or twenty quid, and others camping with us have done the same. On the basis of this I would expect the collection to raise in the region of two to three hundred quid. It (apparently) raises less than one hundred quid. What's that all about?

And now to add insult to injury the consensus view is that future Teston weekends will be largely financed by stinging those who camp. The implication has been made that we should pay our way. I rather resent that implication. We've been paying our way all along. If the event is paying the council for the hire of the field, then the cost of the event should be passed on to anyone using the field for that weekend. Charge a camping fee by all means, but surely it makes sense to charge an admission fee to anyone at the kite festival as well?

It has been suggested that traders and caterers be invited and charged for their pitches to offset the costs. Leaving aside the fact that the council have said they won't allow caterers, we've had traders in the past. They don't make enough money to make it with their while to turn up.

We've been told that we may lose the Teston kite festivals. Much as I've enjoyed them over the years, I'm not feeling as positive about the idea as I might be. Regular readers of this drivel may recall my witterings from last June when the planned Teston weekend was cancelled and a group of us did our own thing. We went camping on private land which cost one thousand pounds less than a weekend at Teston would have cost, and we were away from the normal people.

Everyone who went to this alternative event enjoyed it immensely. Personally I'm wondering if I wouldn't rather do my own thing again.

24 January 2013 (Thursday) - Home Alone

Having had two restless nights I slept like a log. I'm convinced that I don't sleep if I have an alarm set as I slept like a log last night. "er indoors TM" woke me when she went off to work, and I got up, did my daily round and tried to enjoy a peaceful bit of brekkie whilst Fudge continually barked at the world as it went past the window. He wouldn't shut up, and ignored my shouting at him. So I chucked my slipper at him which did the trick. He shut up instantly, and came and sat on the sofa with me. And had the most sheepish expression you ever did see on a Patagonian Tripehound.

We then went for a walk. The same walk we did on Monday. Three days ago, with snow everywhere, we had a fine stroll, but now with the snow all but melted we found ourselves walking through quagmires and swamps. Whilst out I tried whistle training with Furry Face. He seems to have remembered what the whistle is all about now, but there's no denying that he responds to the whistle in his own sweet time. He could certainly do it faster if he tried.
Once home I did the monthly accounts which could have been better, but certainly could have been worse. I then did an hour's homework (which was dull) until Cheryl phoned. At the weekend we took Fudge to the vets and effectively took out a service plan on him. All the paperwork had arrived with Cheryl. She also mentioned that Lacey was poorly and was having a day off school, so I thought we might pop round to collect the paperwork and visit the littlun too. So we did. I got given a rather good sausage sandwich for lunch, exchanged a few insults with the first fruit of my loin, and then we came home having forgotten to collect the papers we went round to collect.

With "er indoors TM" off on her travels and me left "home alone" (with Fudge) I then spent the rest of the day slobbing in front of the telly catching up with stuff I'd recorded onto the Sky Plus box. A film based on the early life of Madonna, and then possibly the worst film I'd ever seen. A post apocalyptic tale called "The Lost Future" which was about a bunch of cavemen fighting with zombies. Total rubbish....

23 January 2013 (Wednesday) - Ranting...

On the radio this morning I heard about a project taking place over the next eleven months in which eleven accomplished authors will each write a short story about the eleven incarnations of "Doctor Who" as a run-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the show in November. These might be interesting. Each story is only about five thousand words long and will cost a couple of quid. I was a tad surprised to see that these stories are being published by Puffin books, but after all, Doctor Who is a kid's show (!)

But the main news of the day was the Prime Minister's speech. The radio commentators and TV news spoke about very little else today. My piss boiled on so many levels. Firstly with the constant references by the various pundits to "Cameron". I can't pretend to be the chap's biggest fan, but he is the Prime Minister, and should be addressed as "the Prime Minister" or "Mr Cameron" or "Sir". I'm always running him down, but I respect the office he holds.
And as for what he's done.... He's promised a referendum as to whether the UK will be in or out of the European Union. Personally I feel we should remain in, but that's irrelevant. What's annoyed me is the way that this move is billed as being a triumph of democracy. It is not. When you actually analyse what he's said, he is actually offering (if elected) the choice to vote for whatever specific plans he will cook up for a Europe that suits him, or to unilaterally leave the European Union if he don't like the look of it at the time. I'm reminded of a small child demanding its own way before going off in a sulk. A true democratic process would give me personally some input into devising any revised Union treaty.
But is this about the British membership of Europe at all? The Prime Minister has said that he feels that the UK should remain part of the European Union. I can't help but feel that the Con-Servatives have stirred the Euro-debate in order to do the dirty to their political opponents in UKIP, and to appeal to the jingoistic vote by winding up the other European leaders.

And what with the Prime Minister boiling that most volatile of fluids by his performance on the radio, my blood pressure went through the roof at the antics of my fellow road users. Traffic was stacked three miles back out of Wincheap as everyone seemingly celebrated "National Drive Up the Middle of the Road Day". Traffic was at a standstill as so many people were blocking the roads by driving right up the middle, rather than keeping to the left hand side of the road. On the back streets there was even a chap in a mobility scooter following the white lines; seemingly desperate not to be left out.
I can understand his not wanting to be on icy pavements, but did he really need to be following those white lines?

Being on a late start gave me a little time before work, so I did some shopping. A tankful of petrol (not cheap), and then to "Pets at Home" for Furry Face's food. On Saturday we got a card from the Ashford branch of "Pets at Home" where (I am sure) the nice lady said it gave us ten per cent off of all purchases in any of their stores. The nice lady in the Canterbury store wasn't having any of it, but said that we could use the card to accrue points which we might redeem at some vague future point. Oh well - every little helps, I suppose. Mind you it doesn't help that Furry Face doesn't seem to be overly fond of Pets at Home dog food. But it's (relatively) cheap, in these austere times he'd be even less fond of going hungry.

And so to work, which was much the same as ever. I spent a little while looking to swap shifts about when my phone rang. The most recent fruit of my loin wanted to use my PC. She needed it to make a presentation about eroticism in modern art (!) Personally I'd rather she made a presentation about modern art's need to take a firm moral stance (preferably in stout hessian undergarments), but what do I know? And then in a fit of boredom I decided to unleash my savage vengeance onto an ungrateful and unsuspecting universe. However I found myself somewhat thwarted. An ungrateful and unsuspecting universe is rather a large thing onto which to unleash savage vengeance, and I was rather at a loss as to where to start. If any of my loyal readers might like to offer any suggestions on the matter...

22 January 2013 (Tuesday) - This n That

I had an early night last night and was in my pit by 10am. I woke at 1.15am, and saw every hour of the night from then on. There was a rather loud vehicle which came past shortly after 2am. There was a lot of shouting up the street at 3.40am. I gave up trying to sleep and got up at 5.15am. Fudge was in such a really deep sleep that he didn't hear me coming down. I did feel a pang of jealousy, but didn't wake him. He eventually woke as I was watching "South Park" over my Bran Flakes, and he came and sat with me. And he went back to sleep on my lap and was soon snoring.

I scraped the frozen snow off of the car and set off to work. Despite the recent snows, the roads were clear. However there was very thick fog as I drove this morning. The news was all a-twitter with Prince Harry's revelations that he had killed insurgents during his military service in Afghanistan.
Personally I feel he's been a bit daft to have made this admission. Surely the Royals are a big enough target for these extremists without him giving them more reason to take a pot shot at a family member as some sort of a revenge killing?

And then I couldn't believe what I heard. Researchers have found that patients are ten per cent more likely to die when there are fewer medically trained staff about. Can anyone be surprised by this revelation? How is this newsworthy? Isn't this why we have hospitals rather than leaving ill people just anywhere? Interestingly as I drove home there was an article on the radio about trying to have consultant grade staff available in hospitals at all times for this very reason.

"er indoors TM" will have the hump over another snippet of news. For Christmas she was given a book "Fifty Ways to Cook Mackerel" and has been looking forward to boiling some up. I've never been a mackerel fan, but if I didn't like it, Furry Face could scoff it. Or so I thought.
For years mackerel were the vermin of the seas. You only had to mention the phrase "mackerel fishing" and the finny fellows would walk up the beach. But not any more. Their numbers have dwindled so much that apparently the international bunch who says what we can and can't eat have decreed that mackerel stocks are unsustainable, and mackerel fishing should stop. Apparently herring and sardines make an adequate substitute. One lives and learns..

And then I read something which on reflection has come as a surprise. The news that asteroid mining is to be taken seriously.
For myself the surprise is that it's taken so long for anyone to decide to make a go of it. For all that the Chinese are having a go at space exploration, and for all that this will provoke the Americans, the long term future of space exploration will be commercially driven. Which is... if not a shame, certainly not how as a child I imagined it would be...

21 January 2013 (Monday) - More Snow

Today was the last day of my little break, and I woke with something of a sulk. My hopes weren't high for today. Having had snow at the weekend we are now in that horrible stage. Other parts of the world have snow for months on end and cope well. That's because they have snow. Powdery stuff that stays frozen and powdery. What we have doesn't stay frozen. It melts during the day time and re-freezes at night. So we now don't have snow any more. We have sheets of ice everywhere.

"Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid came to visit, and after a bit of brekkie we went on a dog walk. And the world was just as I thought it would be. The parts where few people had walked were fine - Viccy park, the co-op field, Bowen's Field were lovely. But Christchurch Road and Beaver Road were like ice rinks.

Once home we had a quick cuppa, before "Daddies Little Angel TM" and Sid went off on a mission. Fudge and I dozed in front of the telly for a while, then in a fit of feeling public spirited I got a shovel and broke and scraped the ice from the pavement in front of the house. No one else seems to have done this, but it only took half an hour, and it was something I could do. I then wandered round to Asda to get some shopping. Dull, but it needed doing. I say "wandered" - "slipped and skidded" would be a more accurate description. On the way I popped in to Pets at Home to look at their tropical fish. I thought they were rather expensive, but I suspect that tropical fish are expensive these days.

Back home, where I got tea on the go. Cooking isn't my strong suit, but I can boil up scran when I have to. I'd rather not, but I can. And I had a look on Facebook. It would seem for every child that has taken the opportunity to enjoy the snow, another has taken the opportunity for uncontrolled thuggery. There is a world of difference between lobbing loose snow in the general direction of your mates, and deliberately targeting innocent bystanders with compacted ice. One such innocent bystander has apparently harangued his assailants and was seriously assaulted for his troubles. And this happened locally.

On reflection I can't say I'm surprised. Shocked, definitely. But surprised? The thug element must be having a field day. It's easy to make an ice ball at the moment. And there is nothing to stop them hurling it where they like. There was a brat flinging ice balls from the church garden up the road at passing traffic yesterday. These thugs do whatever they please. And get away with it with no fear of retribution.
I haven't seen a copper down my road since the Olympic Flame came through last July. The community support CHIMPS (Can't Help In Most Police Situations) are no good - (they came to a community meeting a few years ago and were almost reduced to tears). Schools are demonstrably powerless (and unwilling) to discipline the brats.
When vigilante groups start up and these brats go home having received serious slaps, I for one won't be surprised...

20 January 2013 (Sunday) - Snow

I felt a little under the weather this morning. I wonder if that Woo Woo that I was pouring down my neck last night wasn't actually the nectar I was led to believe it was?
A swift bit of brekkie and then we set off to Viccie Park. Perhaps there wasn't quite enough snow to go sledging, but we thought we'd give it a try anyway. "My Boy TM" Cheryl and Lacey met us there, and we had a few zooms down the incline by the play park. But not many - a combination of not enough snow and not enough slope was against us. We went into the Chinese garden and had a go there. The sledging was slightly better.

The trouble with Ashford (as far as sledging is concerned) is that the place is too flat. We had a vague idea to walk out to Jesus Hill to try there, but we got cold, and when we got close enough we diverted to the Lacey-arium and made snowDaves in the garden. We made some rather good ones. Fudge did disgrace himself by tiddling up Lacey's snowDave, but Lacey didn't notice. Which was probably for the best.

As we walked home we saw that a lot of people had been making snowDaves of their own. And other snow sculptures. Some local herberts had made a four foot tall anatomically correct set of male "bits" which made me snigger.
Once home it was good to warm up. Much as I like playing in the snow, after four hours I was rather cold. A text message - was I going geocaching? The original plan for the day involved a geocaching session in Medway. But the threat of snow meant that we'd postponed that. I had vaguely suggested that I might do a couple of Ashford caches, but by the time I'd got frozen, all I wanted to do was to warm up. And geocaching is all about stealth. You can hardly be stealthy when you are leaving tracks in the snow behind you.
Other plans for today had included restocking the fish tank. So after a trip to the Family Bargains store we went round to Bybrook Barn. They were shut, as were Dobbies. Oh well. Their loss.

Fudge seemed to be in an odd mood this afternoon. He was incredibly restless, and wouldn't settle. The vet did say that he might react to yesterday's kennel cough booster in the same way that we might react to a flu jab. Perhaps that was the explanation. Something was bothering him. He did feel warm, and in his restlessness he managed to destroy Dave the Cactus. There was talk of giving him dog-paracetamol. Just as well we didn't have any.
When "er indoors TM" went off bowling Fudge fell asleep on my lap and snored for quite some time. Let's hope that sleep did him some good...

19 January 2013 (Saturday) - Woo Woo

I hate days like today. There was (at most) half a centimetre of snow on the ground, and the world has come to a halt. The macho element was loudly deriding everyone else for being so wimpy. And was doing so from the comfort of its warm arm chair. The macho element does that. Those who loudly gripe about how Antarctica copes with heavy snows, and about how they lived through the ice age when they were younger never actually go sledging or make snowmen. The pitiful amount of snow we did have wasn't enough to play in, but it was enough to make everything and everywhere cold and wet and muddy. I'm all up for sledging and making snowmen, but I can do cold, wet and muddy at any time (and regularly do). I felt rather sorry for my cousin's children - I saw photos of them (on Facebook) with their sledge and nowhere near enough snow to sledge in.

We had the option to go on an organised geocaching expedition today, but at the last minute I saw through the ruse. Billed as a geocaching event, it was actually an outreach event organised by a local free church. Whilst I hesitate to use the phrase "crackpot religion", over the years I've been caught by these sort of things so many times. In fact (before I saw the darkness) I used to organise such events myself (family picnic, sponsored walk, quiz nights) in a thinly veiled attempt to convert people to my particular version of crackpotism.

With little else planned for the morning we took Furry Face to Pets at Home. We'd been meaning to sign him up with their vet plan for some time. For twelve quid a month he gets free check-ups, injections, worming and flea treatments. This saves fifty quid over the year.
He had been biting the skin at the bottom of his tail rather a lot lately so a trip to the vets was on the cards anyway. The vet did unspeakable things with his anal glands, squirted stuff up his beak and told us to brush his teeth. The thing with biting his tail was probably to do with his anal glands (yuk!), and we brought him home where I applied the flea juice to the back of his neck. Fudge promptly rolled over and tried to rub the stuff off, and then spent fifteen minutes barking at the dogs next door.

Despite the weather we went out in the afternoon. Lisa wanted to do some geocache maintenance, and I wanted to do something with the day. We relocated a cache somewhat higher up a tree, and then went on to find nine more caches. And a swarm of sheep which came right down the road at us. We gave up when we were so cold we could no longer feel our feet. So we came home just as it was getting dark, and I spent an hour giving the fish tank a serious clean-out. I totally dismantled everything, tool all of the water and all of the gravel out, scrubbed the lot, rinsed the gravel until the water stopped running black, and then put it all back together. There's no denying that I've been neglecting the fish tank recently. With only three fish left in it I need to either shut the thing down or re-stock it. Snow permitting we'll see what Bybrook Barn have to offer tomorrow.

For the evening we went round the corner to a birthday party. As well as drinking too much ale I had some green stuff, liquid cola cubes, and was introduced to "Woo-Woo". I quite liked Woo-Woo" - I might brew a barrel of the stuff if only I knew how..

18 January 2013 (Friday) - Bit Bored, Really...

Another good night's sleep. Possibly something to do with the two thirds of a bottle of port I shifted last night. I got out of my pit shortly after 9am and tuned in to the Internet. Cyber space was all a-twitch about snow. Some places had a light sprinkling overnight, others had the threat of a light sprinkling. And everyone was on tenterhooks about snow. I'd been hoping for a major downfall so's I could go sledging. We'd had none overnight.

I took Fudge for the standard walk, and gave up half way round. I like to let him off the lead, but when he blanked me for the second time and wouldn't come back I saw red. I caught him more through luck than obedience, so he went straight back on the lead and we came home. As we came I felt bad and wondered if I'd been too harsh on him so we came through the co-op field where I tried him off the lead again. He was fine. He only runs amok when other dogs are about.

Once home I was bored. I had half a plan to walk over to Godington to do a spot of geocaching, but I didn't want to go with just Furry Face. So I watched "Danger UXB" DVDs whilst Fudge sat on the back of the sofa and barked at the universe as it passed our window. In between episodes of nostalgia I continued with my mission of bringing order to the chaos that is the living room. Today it was the turn of the area round the wine rack. I've not been happy with the tangle of cables round it for some time, so I had the whole lot out. The wine rack had somehow stuck to the shelf it was on, but I eventually prised it loose, re-wired everything a whole lot tidier, and put everything back. This little job only took an hour, but it looks better for having been done. Whilst I was at it I found some rather nice bottles of Biddenden cider (still unopened) which expired in September 2008. I'm hoping cider don't go off. If it does I'll either mull it, or save it for when everyone is suitably refreshed at camp over the summer.

As I pootled so the snow started to fall. By the time it was dark there was almost enough snow to cover the ground,, and panic was reigning supreme across the Internet. Mind you for all that it's easy to be flippant, and whilst I do realise that other parts of the world cope with deep snow for months on end, the simple fact is that with two inches off snow, England does stop. I can't help that it's all gone by the time I have to go back to work.

"er indoors TM" came home and we had a "Grimm-o-thon"; clearing episodes of "Grimm" from the Sky-Plus box. An odd series - the first season started well, but it didn't seem to go anywhere, and the beginning episodes of the second season don't seem to be going anywhere either. Or perhaps they are but I'm not paying enough attention. It's certainly not gripping me. But we need to get them watched - we've also got the entire series of "Sinbad" to watch as well...

17 January 2013 (Thursday) - Frabious Day

I slept well last night. Very well. I didn't hear "er indoors TM" getting up this morning, nor did I hear Furry Face sneaking upstairs and jumping on the bed. Mind you I certainly heard him when he had a woofing fit for no adequately explored reason. Rather a rude awakening - there was no dozing off after that. So I got up , did my morning round and intended to take Fudge for a walk. Being a cold day there was no way he was going out without his coat on. He took one look at that coat and ran off. I spent five minutes chasing him round the house before I could catch him. In retrospect maybe I should have just left him unwalked today if he didn't want to go out.
We got out eventually, and Fudge was slow. So slow - stopping and sniffing everything. He seemed particularly fascinated by other dog's eggs today. Normally if we find a Richard III which has been left by another mutt he'll give it a sniff and move on, but today he was totally enamoured with them. I suspect it was something to do with them all being frozen. We eventually got round our standard walk and came home again. Once home I then put him behind the dog gate and I loaded cardboard and rubbish into the car and set off on a tip run. I've blogged about the tip before. It never fails to wind me up. And it did so again today. The usual tip is currently closed. It has been for some time - it's being re-built. But I noticed new road signs giving directions to the tip as I drove. These new road signs took me to the old tip which is little more than a closed building site. It was just as well I knew where to go - I found the emergency back-up tip a couple of weeks ago (whilst out geocaching!) Unusually no one else had any rubbish to unload this morning, and so I was done very quickly.

I came home via the co-op. I felt I deserved my lunch from there today. The car park was a nightmare, but eventually I got parked. I fought my way through the scrum in the shop, got what I wanted, and joined the queue to pay. The queue wasn't short. I found myself standing in front of some old git who was huffing and puffing and getting redder and redder because other people had dared to be in front of him. Silly old bugger. The more he moaned at me about his having to wait, the more I tried to wind him up. I think I succeeded very well. By the time I got to the till he was a rather pronounced shade of crimson.

And so home, where I scoffed my lunch. And then went through my letter rack. All rather dull. Bills for the astro club, updating bank details for the astro club. I would seem to have stuffed up my personal accounts and have a hundred quid more than I realised. That will come in handy - I expect I will be presented with unexpected bills before too much longer.
I spent a few minutes taking up a pair of trousers, and then no day's leave is complete without laundry, so I wasted an hour ironing before falling asleep in front of the telly. "er indoors TM" came home and in novel break with tradition joined in my on-going tidying up campaign. She unearthed some really expensive chocolate five years past its sell-by dye which had semi-liquified and was growing mould. Eeeww!

Over a rather good curry we then watched the Johnny Depp version of "Alice in Wonderland". It is arguable that I sank too much port during this film.. hic!!.

16 January 2013 (Wednesday) - Horse Burgers

Today's social media was all a-twitter with the (apparently) horrific revelation that traces of horse meat have been found in various meat products in national supermarkets. Personally I can't really see what the fuss is all about.
As for the carnivores amongst us, either one eats meat or one does not. Can one really be selectively carnivorous for any reason other than taste? I'm reminded of a cub who once claimed to be a vegetarian but would eat pork and beef because he didn't like pigs and cows, but he liked sheep so wouldn't eat lamb. I've eaten horse before - it was quite tasty. Other than somehow claiming the moral high ground, vegetarians are unaffected by this news, whilst glibly overlooking the fact that carrots are supposed to be purple - who of us really knows exactly what it is that we are eating?
Personally I can't help but wonder how horse meat was found in the burgers in question; how many burgers are tested for horse meat on a regular basis? The DNA testing that was done isn't cheap. How many other food substances are tested for other random (and harmless) food substances? And in these austere times how much it all costs?

It was very cold this morning so I insisted that Fudge wore his coat when we went out for our walk. He wasn't at all happy about wearing his coat; he would rather have shivered. But he had no choice in the matter. I forced him into his coat, and eventually he stopped sulking. We had quite a good walk despite the freezing fog. I think the cold weather had put other dog walkers off, and we had the park mostly to ourselves. Which was good. Mind you he seems to have forgotten his whistle training. Must work on that...

And then home where I continued tidying the living room. We have far too many candles. And then I stripped out all the clutter from under the stairs. I couldn't believe what I found. Brand new roller blades still with the shop tags on them. "Daddies Little Angel TM"'s painting overall from several years ago, and a dozen pairs of her shoes. More carrier bags than Tesco's have got. Kites and kettles. Odd gloves and odd socks. Paddling pools and picnic baskets. Several scarves. I have put back that which might be worth having, binned some of the more unwanted rubbish, and filled the table with stuff that "er indoors TM" can kiss goodbye at her leisure.

"My Boy TM" came round, and after a quick school run we went to the driving range. It was the first time I got to try out my new golf bats. I've not been to the driving range for a few weeks, and it showed. I'll get the hang of it again.
Back home, and once "er indoors TM" had returned home we set off to Folkestone to deliver shoes and overalls. We then took the dogs to the beach for a walk. They had a good run around, but Fudge disgraced himself by picking fights with two other dogs. I wish he wouldn't do that...