21 September 2019 (Saturday) - Bekesbourne

I slept well again, despite a very rumbly stomach. I wonder what I’ve eaten to have set it making such noises?
As I looked at Facebook over brekkie I sent out a few birthday wishes, then after fighting with the printer (it doesn’t work!) I made some provisional plans for my next Wherigo project. Following on from the feedback from my two recent Wherigos (which have been entirely positive) I’ve got a plan to do “The Crystal Maze” in the co-op field. I can divide the field into the four zones. In each zone there will be four games. The player will be randomly given a game to play in each zone. If they win they get time toward the final task. And depending on how well they do in the final task they will be given the co-ordinates of one of three geocaches (gold, silver or bronze). If people want to find all three caches then they have to go through the maze again. Being randomly presented with four games out of sixteen should give a different game each time, and only taking fifteen minutes (maximum) to go through the maze should mean that people could do the lot in less than an hour.
It will mean a lot of programming, but what else would I do with my time?

We got ourselves organized and into the car. First of all we went to the post office in Singleton. I had a letter to send by recorded delivery. The woman behind the counter (rather aggressively) told me that “recorded delivery” and “signed for” are the same thing these days. As I was paying, the woman at the till next to me asked her customer if he would like “recorded delivery” or “signed for”.
I left the two women behind the counter having a rather heated argument.
We drove out to Bekesbourne. We listened to Ashford radio for as long as we could, if only to listen to the woman presenter. She..um… was a ….yeah… little… um… hesitant….yeah… and….yeah …. struggled … um …. to string… yeah… more…than…two…yeah….words…um…together.

We got to Bekesbourne where we went on a little walk which was marked out (as always) by geocaches. Today’s route was one we’d walked before five and a half years ago (on 26 January 2014). In the meantime many of the caches had been replaced, and so with about two thirds of the route being new caches we thought we might have a little walk.
We bimbled about. The route was mainly off-road and so ideal for the dogs. One of the paths we followed went right through the middle of Howlett’s zoo and it was rather fun to see the elephants. It was a shame that Treacle had to try to pick a fight with a wild pig (of some sort); it is amazing how brave she can be when there is a sturdy fence between her and that with which she is arguing.
We had a minor episode when one of the normal people latched on to us. I’m all for allowing dogs to socialize with other dogs, but within limits. If you *really* want a full-time playmate for your dog, get yourself another dog.
Geocache-wise it was a good walk. Caches were sensibly placed, and the hides weren’t overly difficult. One had us struggling for half an hour, but we’d got the wrong idea from the hint that had been given.

With walk done we drove up to a rather amazing place. There used to be a geocache there which I found in 2014 when I wrote “... It was actually rather scary. In a corner of a field there were about a hundred concrete pyramids; each about a metre tall. The pyramids were very old and whatever their original use was would seem to have disappeared into the mists of time. Many of these pyramids were now under stinging nettles and brambles. But many were still visible, and they all looked incredibly out of place. It was eerie - almost like something out of an episode of "Doctor Who".
I’ve since found that those concrete pyramids are tank traps from the last war. The original geocache there had been archived, so we popped in to have a look and to find the replacement.

There was an issue with this cache. There wasn’t one cache there. There were three. The original from 2005 (which had been archived but was still there and was fine). The “new” one from 2015 (which was broken), and one which someone threw down recently. We tided things up. We took the dry paper log from the broken cache and put it into the unbroken watertight one, cleared away the rubbish and told the cache owner what we’d done. That took us about a minute. It certainly took me longer to type it than to do it. According to the rules we should have told the C.O. to sort it out, but why have him waste half a day when we had it done in seconds? 
Similarly we’d seen one of the caches on the series we’d walked as being missing and before we left home we’d arranged to replace it as we’d be walking by anyway.
It never fails to amaze me that we are in the minority when it comes to fixing geo-problems. Most people just post a “sort it out dogbreath” log and walk away. Much like one chap had done yesterday (on both of these caches).

We came home; I posted some photos of our walk up on to Facebook. For some inexplicable reason Facebook tagged several of the photos as having been taken in Ramsgate.
"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner then went off to the Saturday film night where they were showing “Dumbo”. I stayed home with the dogs, and as they slept I watched “The Lego Batman Movie”. I’d not seen it before. It was rather good…

20 August 2019 (Friday) - Another Late Shift

I slept well; now that Pogo has gone back to where he lives I don’t spend all night with an air of waiting for a fight to kick off any more. Not that Pogo was to blame; Treacle was (is) the pugnacious one but she seems to kick off at Fudge far less than she used to have a go at her brother.
It was a shame that the bin men had to be quite so noisy quite so early.

As I scoffed my toast I had a look at Facebook. There is a page I follow about all the local crimes and villainy. It was posting about how the police’s counter terrorism unit had been raiding some house not five miles away. Everyone was up in arms whinging about what a terrible place Ashford has become. It strikes me that this page is full of doom and gloom and horror stories, but I have never seen any of the things they claim are happening on a daily basis. I’ve never had gangs of Kosovans on the doorstep demanding money. I’ve never had gypsies in the shed trying to steal the lawn mower. I’ve never felt the need to make the public aware of the danger of two teenagers sitting on a park bench. Whilst there might be some truth in some of the stories, I honestly feel that much of it is made up nonsense.
Interestingly this Facebook page has recently acquired a rival. I’ve joined the rival page out of interest. This new group is all about “freedom off speech” and it has only one rule: “please be polite other member's”.
Equally literate, I then had a notification of a new geocache. I read the description with interest. Apparently this one is “tided to the tree”.
And they say education is alive and well….
(This isn’t having a go at dyslexia. This is having a go at people being too lazy to take a few seconds to pause and re-read what they have written!)

I took the dogs round the park. We’ve not been round the park much lately, and today proved exactly why I’d rather go elsewhere. Orlestone Woods and Kings Wood don’t have many people there, and those who are there seem to understand dogs. Viccie Park seems to be attracting those with “furry precious princesses”. I lost count of the number of other dog walkers who shrieked in terror when Fudge wandered over to see their dog.
Mind you we made the most of our walk. And despite chronic kidney failure, Fudge showed the squirrels who was boss. One idiot squirrel jumped out of a tree not two feet in front of Treacle. Treacle and squirrel stared at each other; Fudge leapt into action. He very nearly caught it.

We came home. I spent a few minutes looking at the geocaching adventure lab thingy that I’ve been awarded. I’d like to be able to do something fun with it, but it doesn’t seem to lend itself to the sort of nonsense I like to do with Wherigos. The chap who put out the series in Hastings had a really good idea with the more obscure blue plaques. There’s a good tour in London of “Jack the Ripper” sites, but there isn’t a lot I can do locally. I’m really not that keen on ending up with a tour round the “Museum of Dull Bits of Broken Pots” which (unfortunately) so many of these Adventure caches seem to be.
I had a look round the Internet seeing what historical stuff I could find out about Ashford that wasn’t incredibly dull. I’m probably going to end up doing some history tour involving the old jail (that no one knows about), the house with a fake top floor (that no one knows about), the tank (that everyone knows about) and two other things which I will probably make up. I’ve got to pop into town on Monday to see the optician. I shall have a look then.

With the dogs asleep I set off to work. With a few minutes to spare I drove to Sainsburys to get some petrol. Just as I was about to pull up at the pump I had to slam on the brakes as some selfish prat flew past the queue, flew past the cars at the pumps, and straight to the pump from which I was only a few feet. Having slammed on the brakes I filled my car with petrol at the pump at which I found myself. Ironically I had filled my car and was in the queue in the kiosk before Mr Speedy. As he joined the queue I suggested that he might like to barge to the front. Several people who were queuing chuckled. Mr Speedy pretended not to hear me.
As I paid for my petrol I also got a sandwich; again I'd forgotten to make myself one before leaving home. I've done that twice this week.

I drove in to work, I parked up. As I got out of my car I nearly broke my neck as I fell over on a conker which was laying on the ground. Conkers on the ground - there's a sign of our times. Back in the day conkers were stripped from trees long before they would fall naturally my children who would play "conkers". Do kids put them on strings and clout each other over the knuckles any more?

19 September 2019 (Thursday) - Advent Calendars

I was woken at half past two when "er indoors TM" loudly announced “Treacle! Stop!” Ironically no one seems to have any idea what Treacle was supposedly doing.

Being on a late shift I got up a couple of hours later than usual. With no alarm set I slept right through. I made some toast and had a look at the Internet. It was much the same as it had ever been. A squabble was kicking off on one of the fishing pages I follow. There was a photograph of a fish. Was it a roach or was it a rudd? This has been an argument which has been kicking off for years. Opinion was that it was a roach/rudd hybrid. Roach/rudd hybrids have been a bone of contention in piscatorial circles for years because although everyone has seen them and caught them, they are actually impossible because roach (Rutilus rutilus) and rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) are different species. Creating a roach/rudd hybrid would be akin to crossing a carthorse with a hedgehog. (Wouldn’t it?)
I saw my father-in-law had responded to something I’d posted last night on one of his Facebook posts. He claimed that Luxembourg got back thirty-three quid for every pound they contribute to the European Union. Leaving aside they don’t contribute any quids at all (they bung in Euros) they only get back six quid for every pound they contribute. His attitude to the European Union amazes me. He goes on major motorcycle tours round Europe on a regular basis. Until recently he’s rarely mentioned the EU except to say he likes his holidays there. Now you’d think Satan had raised Hitler from the dead across the channel.

I also saw a new geocache had gone live. "er indoors TM" had hidden it. If she’d arranged for it to have gone live when I wasn’t on a late shift I would have driven past it on the way to work and have had the chance of a First to Find. Oh well…

I took the dogs out for a little circuit of the park. It is a pretty walk, but we do meet the normal people as we go. Today we ran into… I won’t mention her by name, but we first met this woman thirty years ago at mother and toddler groups. Since then we’ve seen her at all sorts of places as her son and "My Boy TM" were at the same schools, and her sons were all cub scouts. In all those thirty years I have never seen this woman smile. Not once. Perhaps she *is* happy, but she just has the same expression that a bulldog would have when licking piss from a stinging nettle; she looks so miserable. And today she looked as glum as ever.
We walked past the Jehovah’s Witnesses stall. They’ve got new people on that stall; they seemed pleasant enough. They didn’t bother me, which was a result.
We came home through the co-op field where I field-tested a little idea I’ve got for a future Wherigo. It didn’t actually work, but in failing I saw where it had gone wrong.

We came home. I fed the fish. That new bulb I put in the filter seems to have done some good.
As I set off for work Women's Hour was on the radio. They were discussing a book of which I had never heard, and having listened to two minutes of their talking I don't think I will be downloading it any time soon. I turned off the radio. With a little time to spare I drove up to Bluewater. I'd had an email that this year's Lego advent calendars were available. I'd tried to get them via mail order, but PayPal would seem to be broken. When I tried to use PayPal on the Lego website I just got the blue spinning wheel of e-death. So I went old-skool and drove to the shop. The nice man in the Lego shop greeted me as I arrived. The last time I'd been to the Lego shop was in August when the place had been swarming with children. I mentioned to the nice man that I preferred the place when it wasn't heaving with kids. He agreed with me. Children in a Lego shop - what is the world coming to !!
I got myself a Lego advent calendar, and one each for grandsons as well. They like that sort of thing.
I got myself a rather overpriced caramel milk shake from the rather overpriced caramel milk shake shop, and (once I'd finally found where I'd left my car) I set off for work and the late shift.

Work was surprisingly busy. Just as we were coming up to (most people's) going home time, one of my colleagues said she'd rather be doing the late shift with me. Thursday night is sports night for her children. They have an hour at football club, then an hour's swimming lessons. I commented (sarcastically) that the swimming would save the need for a bath. She laughed, and said she'd planned it that way.​
"My Boy TM" used to have his swimming lessons on a Saturday morning. He'd spuddle about for half an hour, then we'd go get a pastie.
I miss those days...