31 August 2009 (Monday) - Photographs....

Oh, I woke up with such a backache today. Perhaps sleeping in a tent isn’t good for me? But I was up and fishing before 6am – it hurt to lie down. So I had another go at fishing in the “duckhouse pond”. I had nine fish, six big enough to need the landing net. And, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it at all. There wasn’t enough room. No room to wave the rod about, no room for the net. I was constantly tangled in brambles. Next time I shall take the chain saw to the undergrowth.

And then brekky – featuring omelette made up of all the leftovers. It was really great. And then we packed up camp. There’s something about BatCamp – at a kite festival we are up early, breakfasted and packed away by 11am at the latest. Today we were still fiddling around at 2pm. I suppose that because we are on home territory, there is no urgency. But eventually everything went back into the barn – that’s camping done for another year. And home to wash the laundry – in three days I’ve generated loads.

And then I thought I’d put up the photos of the weekend on Facebook. Oh I got so wound up. If I saw the message “Upload failed” once, I’ve seen it a hundred times today. This would seem to be an ongoing problem with Facebook photos. The uploader simply doesn’t work. I tried it in IE8 as well as Safari. Both to no avail. You *can* use the “simple uploader”, which is what I eventually did, but it can only do five photos at a time, and seeing how I was trying to send up seventy six photos, it became a tad painful.

I managed to get an album on Picasa (eventually). Creating the Picasa album is easy enough – you can see it here. However, I put it on Picasa with a view to putting a slideshow of photos onto the blog, but that too was painful. I think I’ve got it sussed now, and I quite like the idea of my most recent photo album as a blog slideshow.

However I need to decide where to put my photos from now on. Assuming the world wants to see my piccies, I’m only too happy to share them. However this afternoon I’ve spent five hours to get the photos I want to get onto Facebook. Facebook photos has the advantage that people can tag themselves and comment. But it has the disadvantage that it doesn’t actually work.

I have a theory that the file size of the photos I’m taking might be too big. I can vaguely remember using Paint Shop Pro to batch convert photos, but there comes a point when one has wasted too much time on a job, and I’m now sick of the sight of these photos….

30 August 2009 (Sunday) - A Family Reunion

Despite a gutful of beer yesterday, I was up, shaved, yesterday’s washing up done, and fishing before 7am. A successful couple of hours were spent at the pond before braving the campsite and hoping some brekky was on the go.

Just as we tucked into bacon and eggs, My Boy TM ” arrived with “Daddies Little Angel TM ”. Both had joined us for the day. This must be the first time since Xmas the whole family has done anything together. Following brekkie, the first order of the day was to shift one of the duck houses. Regular readers of my blog may recall a day last November when I nearly died of hypothermia-induced shock whilst installing the duck house into the pond. Unfortunately there is more to duck houses than just launching them into a pond. They require maintenance. So we eventually managed to get the duck house onto dry land, and then left it there to drain out. The thing had become somewhat waterlogged.

My Boy TM ” and I then spent a couple of hours fishing. In his pursuit of leviathans, he would seem to have lost the art of tiddler bashing, but he soon got the hang of it again. After dinner we wandered around the fields, and then back to the duck house. The thing had drained sufficiently to allow four of us to lift the thing onto a trailer. And then “My Boy TM ” got to drive the tractor & trailer back to the barn, and that was the last we saw of him for some time. He then used the tractor to help with muck spreading, to deliver a boat to one of the ponds, to round up sheep… he developed quite a rapport with that tractor.

Having told me that he would only be along for a couple of hours, “My Boy TM ” spent most of the day with us. Busying around. His sister lazed around the campsite with her mother. Both seemed happy, which was probably for the best. They eventually set off some time in the late afternoon, and then I went fishing again. This time in the pond from which we had taken the duck house. The fish were bigger, but the pond was difficult to fish. There was hardly and space to move about, wield rods or land fish. Which was a problem as four of my catches needed the landing net.

And then to tea – pork & apple braise. It has been said that when we camp, we camp in comfort. And last night’s tea was an example of this. A rather good bit of scoff. Given food like this, I really don’t mind washing up. And once washed up, rather than going to the camp fire, we sat, dozed and had a few drinks. But only a few. We were all worn out, and were all asleep by 11pm…

29 August 2009 (Saturday) - Drinking too Much

Despite a late night last night, I was up and out and at BatCamp before 7am. Seeing as the place was such a hive of industry, I went fishing for a couple of hours until people woke up. Having seen a heron and a shag (oo-er!) around the pond, I expected the strange looking bird I found there to be equally unwelcome. But despite my giving the bird evils, it continued to sit by the pondside, and it went to sleep. It turned out the bird was a Muscovy duck who lives there.

I wandered back to camp shortly after 9am to find people beginning to move about, and we soon tucked into sossies, bacon and eggs. A quick dose of washing up, and then back to the fishing. The pond was only dug out a few years ago, and all of the fish in it are ones I caught in another pond and fetched over in a bucket. Those fish have really grown in a very short time, and are breeding.

About mid day, some sixth sense told me to return to the camp site. I got there to find Terry and Irene had just arrived. We tucked into Ploughman’s lunch and a bottle or two of ale, and then Chip arrived with Ruth, Sam, Bub and Daddies Little Angel TM ”. A pleasant afternoon was spent comparing the relative merits of various beers (hic) followed by a smashing bit of curry for tea, whilst various girlies shivered. For all that it was the August Bank Holiday, it wasn’t very warm.

I did most of the washing up, but as the light was failing, I gave up. I’ve washed up in the dark before, and it’s a silly thing to do. I left it for the morning, and having said goodbye to our visitors, we sat around the fire until far too late….

28 August 2009 (Friday) - To BatCamp (and on to Astro Club)

‘er indoors TM went onto Argos’ web site last night to reserve some gas canisters. Their web site texted me the reservation number. This morning I turned up at the shop, typed in the number, and there it was. I’m impressed.

Once equipped with Martin & Tony we set off (via the tackle shop) to Tesco’s. Supplies were bought, and we then popped into Starbucks. I don’t do that very often. They do good stuff, but they don’t give it away.

And then to BatCamp. Martin & Batty had set up most of the stuff yesterday, but we still had the turdis to erect, and a poop-pit to excavate. Those jobs didn’t take long, and then I put up my new £7 hammock (£7 – bargain!!) and dozed for most of the afternoon.

Once 4pm came, I was conscious that I was wasting time asleep, and so we got an hour’s fishing in. Relative to what I’ve had there in the past, I got a couple of whoppers before I had to leave. Tonight was the AGM of the astronomy club, and as I was stepping down as treasurer, I really felt I ought to be there. Otherwise people might assume the worst.

As always these days, astro club was excellent. Despite it being a bank holiday, we had over thirty people along. We’d suggested a social evening, and asked everyone to bring some food. We had a real good feast, a new committee elected, and an excellent telescope session. And I got to meet up with Stevey again, and afterwards I met his new cat.

And now I’m not on the committee of the astro club…. I don’t suppose it will make any difference. I will still go to the club. I will still put the chairs out, hawk the raffle, give the occasional talk. But we’ve now got another person on the committee, which is never a bad thing…

27 August 2009 (Thursday) - Street Art, and a Rant

Today was one of those dull days. Get up, go to work, and come home again. Dull, dull, dull. Mind you, the house up the road has now become a gallery. There is a lump of concrete with a green ball balanced on it outside their house. And there is a sign saying “Art for sale - £2000”. I wish I’d thought of that get rich quick scheme.

Meanwhile the latest school exam results are announced. And for the ten thousandth year running, the results are the best ever. This mirrors the success at A level announced a few weeks ago. However the same pundits who praise how well the children have done have no explanation for why half the universities in the country have to run remedial courses in maths & English for their first year students. Either the university courses are getting harder (which wouldn’t be my experience from my involvement with undergraduate tutoring), or the unthinkable has happened – GCSEs and A levels aren’t what they used to be. (I remember a group of us considering doing a GCSE in Star Trek a while back – the thing existed at the time!)

There are those who say it is wrong to run down the GCSEs and A levels, because this undermines the students who have just obtained these results. If these students are truly as bright as is claimed, then they would be able to see the dumbing-down for themselves.

However we are stuck with a self-perpetuating system. Obviously it looks good for those running schools to be achieving more each year, and it looks good for the politicians overseeing the schools to have a system which is seen to achieve more each year. It would take a brave Secretary of State for Education to bring in a system which doesn’t automatically get better year-on-year…

26 August 2009 (Wednesday) - An Anonymous Admirer

My Boy TM ” was out last night. He came home quietly at 3.45am. I then fended off an attack from ‘er indoors TM who was attempting to steal my blankie. Is it so much to ask to just be wanting a bit of kip?

This morning’s post brought an anonymous ”found this and thought of you” note accompanying a couple of rather splendid pink feathers. I’d like to thank the sender – the feathers will go quite nicely in my pink hat this weekend. Unfortunately there was no postmark to help me identify who sent them. The fact the address on the envelope didn’t go as far as “U.K.” (possibly) excludes any of my overseas pals, and I suspect it probably didn’t come from the chokey as those letter need inmate numbers on them. I have narrowed the sender down to a shortlist of about a dozen (or so), and will identify the culprit by seeing who collapses in a fit of giggles the next time they see me. That one never fails.

And then to the farm where we erected “Brown and Smelly” in the rain. I say “rain” – light drizzle is perhaps a better description. But it’s up now. One less job to do on Friday…

25 August 2009 (Tuesday) - Retards and (in) Dresses

My corner shop had sold out of postage stamps, so I went to another sub post office to get some. And ended up getting more than I bargained for. Why do I always find them? The family from hell was in front of me in the queue. Mother-retard had decided to buy every item that the post office supplied. But one item at a time, pay for it, count her change, and then buy something else. The three hundred and forty seventh item (I counted!) was a postal order. Did she want it crossed or not crossed? After five minutes of indecision, we actually had tears over this dilemma. She didn’t know. Why should she know? She just wanted a postal order.

Meanwhile smallest-son-retard was trying and failing to steal sweets from the shop counter, and oldest-son-retard was seeing how hard he could punch the post office’s weighing scales, despite the woman behind the counter’s constant screeching at him not to.

Regular readers of this drivel might recall a posting of a few weeks ago (3rd August) when I mentioned about my new dress. I had a bit of a shock today. My boss’s boss’s boss has got a new dress. And it is identical to mine. I spent all day alternating between fits of giggles and having to stop myself from telling her…

24 August 2009 (Monday) - Scoring 0/10...

My Boy TM ” had a bit of a cob today. Did I want to lend him twenty quid? No I did not. He then proceeded to be a tad miserable. After a while I asked him what the matter was. He had the hump because he was skint, and because I wouldn’t lend him any money. That threw me. What made him think I wouldn’t lend him any money? I’d never said I wouldn’t lend him twenty quid. I said I didn’t want to lend him twenty quid. Not that I wouldn’t. A subtle distinction, but an important one.

He claims he’ll pay me back on Thursday. I hope he does. I got a hundred quid out of the bank on Friday. Having given (lent!) him twenty quid, I only have a few pence left. I do need to start economising. Or stop tiddling quite so much of it up various walls.

On the subject of beer, there’s rumblings from Dungeness. On July 18th a gaggle of us went up the lighthouse in Dungeness, and then had a meal at the Britannia pub just down the road from there. I must admit I wasn’t overly impressed with the place, and said so on a certain web site. It would seem that the landlord of the place has discovered Beer in the Evening, and had had a little rant. Apparently it’s not fair that people are allowed to publicise their bad experiences of his rather grim establishment, and he wanted to give his side of the story in the form of some personal abuse aimed at his critics.

As you can see from the above link, I’ve told him to wind his neck in, and this morning I found a review on his pub from someone who loves the place. Which has left me wondering about my hobby of reviewing pubs. Particularly those at the bottom end of the scale.

It’s no secret I like a drop of ale, and that I act as a roving reporter for Beer in the Evening. I rate pubs on a score of 0/10 to 10/10 depending on some vague guidelines I knocked together whilst I was bored one evening a long time ago. I’ve never awarded 10/10 (yet) but the Chambers bar in Folkestone and the Red Lion in Snargate are coming close. I’ve awarded a score of 0/10 seven times. I give 0/10 as a score to pubs which I find to be personally insulting:

  • The Dog & Pheasant in Godalming who knew we wanted to eat, but tricked us out of the price of a round, knowing full well their chef had gone home.
  • The George Inn in Rye, who slammed their door in my face one bonfire night because I wasn’t a resident. They took my money in the past
  • The Pulpit Inn in Portland which was closed after I’d walked ten miles to find the place.
  • The Swan in Great Chart where the landlady gave me personal abuse on BITE then fabricated some sock-puppet accounts to try to big-up her pub.
  • The Westgate Inn in Canterbury where luke warm food and sour beer is served by arrogant schoolchildren.
  • The William Harvey Inn whose beer garden is full of pikeys that shout abuse to scare off potential customers.

And now I’ve added the Britannia in Dungeness to this list.

But am I right to do so? Perhaps I shouldn’t have such subjective criteria for the most damning score possible? On reflection I must admit to a twinge of conscience about my rating for the pub in Portland. But the other places…. I don’t *really* mind a rough pub, or a grim pub. But I do mind a pub in which the staff are downright rude.

And as for low scores generally – I score an average pub at 6/10. I’ve given a better than average score to 69 pubs, average to 46, and below average to 58. Am I being somewhat harsh on these pubs? What if I’m catching them on a bad day?

But then again, last weekend I spent nearly seventy quid in assorted pubs (Good grief!) Beer in the Evening serves a useful function in that one can use it…. Well, if not to find the best pubs, at least to find the dives that don’t deserve my hard-earned cash.

Meanwhile “Daddies Little Angel TM ” has been hanging the washing out. What’s she up to…. ?

23 August 2009 (Sunday) - The Isle of Sheppey

Simon phoned mid-week – did we have anything planned for Sunday? We didn’t, and various ideas were floated. Bike rides, Bewl water, Brenzett air museum. In the end we did something different. A quiet day out to the Isle of Sheppy.

We met up at Notcutts just outside Maidstone at 11am. A quick squzz round the model shop and then into the garden centre itself. I wouldn’t say it was a con, but… What a con !! They didn’t have anything you couldn’t have bought cheaper elsewhere. A chiminiere like I bought Tina for her birthday, only fifteen quid dearer. Solar powered lights like Hosey has in his garden, only double the price.

And then we went up to Whelan’s. I so love that place. It’s the number one place for garden ornaments, and it’s so cheap. I got myself a concrete rattlesnake for a tenner. We spent ages there, and concluded that we’d have to go back. And then, seeing as we were in rather unexplored territory we thought we’d explore.

First of all, we explored some dinner. We found a pub called the Ship on Shore. The landlord was a character, and the dinner was excellent. Only one ale on the hand pump and no bottled beers, so scoring-wise I couldn’t in all conscience give the place more than 6/10. But I’d certainly go back there.

And then we thought we’d do the beach. And seeing how we didn’t know the area we drove around, took pot luck and found Leysdown. A perfect beach – a field with steps leading down to the sea. I’m not a fan of sand, so I could sit about up the top, whilst those who like beach can go down to it. There was an ice cream van, a café and toilets. We frequented all of the facitities.

I got two photos for CrackWatch, and there was a nubile young lady there who had gone nuclear. In that she was suffering from fall out. Her right breast had completely dropped out of her bikini top, and she was utterly oblivious to it. Oh it was great – I did laugh. We paddled, and ‘er indoors TM got completely drenched by a freak wave. I laughed about that too. Grown men (not in our group, I hasten to add) were swimming in nothing but their pants. And then walking up the beach in nothing but their wet pants. It was brilliant. I nearly wet myself.

We flew kites (something I so rarely do these days). And when I was flying a kite one of the dogs of the normal people got upset. It was so funny – just like in the cartoons. The rat on a lead forgot that it was on a lead, and it flew at the kite. And of course, the lead went tight, but the rat on the lead was running with such force that when the lead went tight, although the animal’s neck was stopped, the rest of the body kept going underneath. The mutt did a complete mid air summersault, didn’t like it, and bit the dog next door in temper.

We walked along the sea front. I got a “lemon thing” (that’s what it was called) from the ice cream van, and we paddled some more. You can see the photos of the day here.

And all too soon it was time to come home again. Whenever I’ve been to the Isle of Sheppy before, it’s just been to Whelan’s and back again. The beach at Leysdown is only forty miles and fifty minutes away from home. OK, it was a bit “council estate”, but then, as I mentioned earlier in the week, that’s what the beach is. And the town of Leysdown itself looked wonderful. We only drove through it, but it seemed to be a super-big version of Dymchurch. Full of tourist-trap shops and market stalls. Leysdown is certainly on the list of places to go back to.

As I said, only forty miles away, and the place was wonderful. I’m left wondering how many other nearby gems I’m still to find.

22 August 2009 (Saturday) - Brook

I woke with backache and was bursting for a wazz, which is usually a sign I’ve slept too long. That’s to be encouraged. After a quick pump of the bike tyres, four of us set off to Brook. On March 7th a group of us went for a country walk and had scoff at the Honest Miller in Brook. Now we are at such a peak of physical fitness (!) that we cycled to the place. (Or some of us did). The landlord remembered us from our visit of five months previously. We were the lot who had the little baby with us (Emily) and were taking photos of our dinner to post into the prison. Were we *that* memorable?

Oh, the food there is good. Pork chops marinated in cider followed by Tennessee toffee pudding with cream. I took some photos of today’s dinner which I shall post in to the chokey with tomorrow’s letter.

The original plan (there *was* a plan!) had us cycling back home the way we came out. But that would have involved a rather serious “up”, so using random guesswork we figured a route home via Wye. Much less “up”, even if it was five miles longer, making a sixteen mile round trip. Whilst coming through Wye we discovered the New Flying Horse, a half-way decent pub at the top of Wye. The food’s not cheap, but the garden is pretty. And following some rather grim experiences in the Tickled Trout, we needed to find a decent pub in Wye. So we sat in the garden and had a crafty pint of Whitstable Bay, and laughed at the pretentious twit in the panama hat who was trying to look oh-so-distinguished after having had two bottles of wine. Or that is, I did. Others of our number were leering at the biker-chicks. Me – I couldn’t work out which ones were the biker chicks and which ones were the bikers. One of them seemed rather well endowed in the chest area, but on reflection so am I, so that as a criterion was hardly conclusive.

And then home along National Cycle Route 18. Over the last few months we’ve explored a lot of the area around Ashford on our bikes, and National Cycle Route 18 from Ashford to Wye is a brill road for cycling. Very scenic, not too much “up”, and it brought us home via Chris’s house. So we popped in to say hello. Shame he wasn’t up yet. Maybe next time…

21 August 2009 (Friday) - Stuff

Regular readers of my drivel might have noticed that I have a “Forthcoming Events” section on the blog. This is in many ways for my own reference as much as for my loyal readership. It’s so easy to agree to something and then forget about it. Having the dates put up make things so much easier. Easier to remember what is happening, and easier to arrange other events for when nothing is going on.

So having realised that nothing is planned for three weekends hence, I arranged a visit to the chokey. Today Medway council announced that they are going to hold a kite festival at Capstone in three weeks time. Three weeks! – How much notice is that?

My portable cludgee that I won off of eBay arrived today, so I thought I’d put the thing together. I’m hoping that today was co-incidence, but I unwrapped the thing in glorious sunshine, and in the five minutes it took to put it up, the weather turned to monsoon. I’ve not seen it rain so hard for ages. The tent is currently sitting in the shed, waiting to be hung out to dry. I’ll do that tomorrow – weather permitting.

Today was pay day. I was rather dreading getting the pay slip. Taking a voluntary grade reduction has done wonders for my insomnia (first fruit of my loin excepted), but how about the money? Well, effectively it’s been a 14% pay cut. It could have been a lot worse. I’ll just waste less money on beer and toilet tents, and be grateful I’m not up all night worrying about problems that I didn’t create and can’t solve.

20 August 2009 (Thursday) - More Inane Drivel....

After I went to kip last night someone had meddled with my PC. I can always tell when it’s been meddled with - the screen resolution had gone to pot. It didn’t take too long to fix (about two seconds), but I just wish that people (“Daddies Little Angel TM ) would leave it as they find it.

The morning’s post brought the latest missive from the chokey, and a visiting order for my tribe to go up to see him. Since I was on a late I had some time this morning, so I wasted two hours trying to get through. This afternoon I tried at tea break time and they answered on the first ring. They really don’t make visiting easy!

I came home to find I have had umpteen phone calls from various relatives. Cousin Eric has died. My brother is somewhat distraught. I’m feeling a tad guilty that I am not. I’ve not actually seen the bloke since his mother’s golden wedding party in the late seventies, and I’m afraid I can’t shed a tear over a relative that distant.

Meanwhile, somewhat appropriately for today, a survey investigating another blogging site has found that forty percent of the stuff posted there is nothing more than “pointless babble”. Nearly ten percent was dribble repeated from other people’s postings, five per cent was self-aggrandizement, and five per cent was spam. I’m sure that my loyal readership are now feeling themselves very lucky to be reading a blog such as this……

19 August 2009 (Wednesday) - A Paddle in the Briney

Last night I had a word with “My Boy TM ” about his noise in the mornings. He promised faithfully that when he got up this morning he would be “as quiet as a mouse”….

…In the Warner Brothers cartoon “Hare-Way to the Stars” (released on March 29, 1958) Marvin the Martian’s Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator fails to blow up the Earth. Marvin is disappointed, because he was expecting an Earth-shattering “KABOOM!” He should have given up with his Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator. He should have tried being “as quiet as a mouse” up Beaver Road this morning at 5.45am. He wouldn’t have been disappointed with the “KABOOM!” that was generated as the front door was closed.

What I find particularly frustrating is that when it’s not silly o’clock in the morning, “My Boy TM ” actually can creep around the house. He really does move in true ninja fashion. I’ve long known that I will meet my maker having popped my clogs from the shock of him creeping up on me. He *can* be quiet if he tries. He just can’t do it at 5.45am.

Seeing as the temperature had soared today, ‘er indoors TM suggested we went to the beach for a walk. So we went to Dymchurch beach for a paddle. The tide was out, and we waded through several hundred yards of mud to the sea. The sea was a tad cold, but fun – I’ve not gone for a paddle for a few years. We thought we’d have some chips, but the queues at the chippies in Dymchurch were a tad long, so we drove down to Littlestone and had chips on the beach there.

Much as I like a stroll along the beach, or sitting on the beach with chips, I can’t see the attraction of spending all day there. The place was heaving with “The Great Unwashed” who had spent all day (and probably all week) there. Leaving aside the discarded cigarette ends, picnic wreckage, barbecues and inflatable dinosaurs they had left behind, “The Great Unwashed” were also at the beach themselves, spoiling it for decent people (i.e. me).

One gaggle of pikeys were loudly bemoaning the fact they had no money to spend on drink to drink. Presumably they had money to spend on drink for other purposes. One of the “normal people” was having a go with a metal detector, but every time he found something, he had to fight a swarm of opportunistic pikey children out from under his feet to investigate his find. And in the chip shop another bunch weren’t happy that they didn’t get a number to let them know when their order was called. Instead the friers would call out what food was ready. This wasn’t fair because why should this bunch remember what they’d ordered?

As we drove out of Littlestone it struck me that for all I’ve fancied retiring to a house on the seaside, the thought of sharing the seaside with the pikeys it attracts would do my head in...

18 August 2009 (Tuesday) - Found Whilst Tidying Up

I woke early this morning fully anticipating the earth-shattering noise of “My Boy TM ” quietly going to work. I wasn’t disappointed. Who needs alarm clocks? And since I’d been woken I got on with everyone else’s ironing. They all come downstairs and find their laundry washed and ironed and in their own piles. I swear they must think magical pixies do it overnight.

I thought I’d tidy out my locker at work today. It’s not very big, and it’s got so cluttered that I can’t get my sarnies in there any more, so a rake-out was a must. I was amazed what I found. A newspaper from eleven years ago featuring a nudey Anthea Turner. An Empire magazine from fourteen years ago featuring (thankfully) clothed Klingons. And a whole load of paperbacks I’d given up for lost.

Gripped by the tidying bug I came home and threw two dustbin bags of rubbish out of the kitchen. If anything precious has gone with the rubbish, then (frankly), that’s a shame. I’m fed up with living in the middle of a mess. I’m getting ready for a major hoik-out in a couple of weeks time. Once the top box is off of the car and I can drive into the tip again I’m going to seriously clear some space about the house.

There’s all sorts of rubbish in the house that is going to get thrown away. Ten year old motherboards and sound cards. Miles of telephone extension cables. The old Sky-Box. Two knacked camping beds. The old round wooden table. Mouse-eaten tents. Mouse-eaten gazebos. Spare parts for mouse eaten gazebos. Spare parts for heaven only knows what. All will go in the bin. So be warned, dear reader. If you think I’m looking after your stuff for you, please be sure that I am aware that I am doing so. Because in two weeks time, it’s going to the tip.

In other news I’ve managed to obtain a portable cludgee for camping to replace the one that died at the Brighton Kite Festival. I say “obtain” - “won on eBay” is perhaps a better description. I’m hoping it will be more hard wearing than the last one was…

17 August 2009 (Monday) - Earthquakes, Time and Money Wasting

I woke this morning and I could clearly visualise today’s blog entry. An earthquake in Ashford. And then I realised it wasn’t an earthquake. “My Boy TM ”s holiday is over, and he was going to work on an early shift. After such a rude awakening I couldn’t get off to sleep again, and so I ironed my work shirts. I’m seriously considering wearing polo shirts to work – they don’t need ironing.

Off to work where one of the trainees asked me if I’d done the day’s “prolonged weighting”. I said that I hadn’t, and whilst I tried not to giggle he then assigned the task to the new boy. The new boy’s prolonged wait went on for an hour and a half before he realised. Bless.

This morning’s post brought the latest Sparks tribute CD. The last one I bought was a double CD and was excellent. This one has cover versions of twenty of some of the more obscure Sparks tracks performed by various amateurs. It’s … “interesting”. Well, to be honest, not so much “interesting” as “tripe”.

I’ve always wondered about the popularity of amateur and semi-professional bands when so many of them are utter rubbish. And this CD confirms my opinion. The last quarter of the CD might warrant a second listening. The first three quarters certainly don’t. Oh well, just as I’m trying to economise, that’s another tenner down the pan.

16 August 2009 (Sunday) - "Skillful Navigation"

Having an early night last night was a good idea. I felt better this morning. Better as in “better”, rather than “better get a bucket”. The original plan for today had us travelling for a couple of hours to visit a campsite in west Sussex. But what with one thing and another we decided to put that on hold for a few weeks. Instead five of us (well, four and a half!) went down to Folkestone Warren. It could have been more, but emails didn’t arrive until too late. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Using “skilful navigation” we utterly failed to find the footbridge over the railway. Which was probably for the best. The idea was to walk along the countryside bits, then cross the railway and go up into Capel for a picnic and maybe even a crafty half (stranger things have happened). And then walk back again.

On reflection it’s probably as well we didn’t find the footbridge over the railway. Whilst the village of Capel is only one hundred yards north of that footbridge, it is some six hundred yards up. And that is an “up” which isn’t far from vertical. That’s quite a lot of “up”. We’ll save that for next time too. Have a look at the photos, and let me know if you’d be keen to join a mission going back to the warren in a few weeks’ time. I’m told there are fossils there…

On the way home we popped into FarmFoods for some shopping. I might have to go there more often. It’s far cheaper than Tesco’s, and doesn’t seem to attract the retard element. The fact that it doesn’t actually sell what I want to buy is neither here nor there. I shall just have to change my shopping preferences according to what FarmFoods have in stock. This might mean buying frozen carrots rather than socks, but it’s all in the interests of economy. After all, what I save on socks I can spend on beer.

And then an email from the arky-ologee club. They would seem to have dibs to dig at one of their standard sites from mid September through to next March. That’s six months worth. If they think I’m excavating that lot for them, they can go whistle.

I then printed off the latest letter to the chokey. This one is the thirtieth. He’s been in there for some time – thirty weeks (!). It can’t be that long until he’s released….