30 December 2009 (Wednesday) - A New Facebook Group

I actually spent ages on yesterday’s blog entry trying to make it as (relatively) un-offending as possible. I was expecting quite a backlash of opinion. As it turns out, I’m not in such a small minority as it would seem. So far I’ve only heard one conversation taking the opposing view to the one I took yesterday.

I checked my emails this morning to find that (another) Facebook group has been started in my honour. Far be it from me to disrespect the founder of said group, but it’s a shame he can’t spell “dalek”. It’s amazing how these Facebook groups take off. I’ve already got supporters I’ve never heard of, let alone met.

Still, I expect I could carry off the role of “Doctor Who” rather well. I have appointed my sidekick, one with whom I have already battled aliens and survived Sarthong Plunder (!) I have every confidence in her ability to pootle around variously screaming and getting caught by the baddies (oo-er!) whilst I save the day.

In many episodes of “Doctor Who”, our beloved hero displays technical wizardry beyond the scope of mortal man. I did something along those lines this evening by unblocking the washing machine. I say “unblocking” – I’ve flooded the kitchen and trashed some bath towels, but it could be worse. The thing is still working (read “making noises”). We’ll see how it comes out in the morning.

Meanwhile on Facebook I would seem to have chummed up with Brian’s paramour. I hope it’s her, because following a series of messages, I’ve sent photos of the bruising he got on his “appurtenance” when he had the thing pierced. If it’s not his new girlf, I’m sure it won’t matter – he’s usually quite demonstrative with the thing anyway.

The email advertising tonight’s arky-ologee club promised a quiz, a raffle, some food, and an interesting slide show (from Frank)”. Bearing in mind that the email came from ‘er indoors TM, in no way would I dare to question the veracity of said communiqué.

Well, to be fair, it was interesting. “Frank” had obtained a slide show of pictures of a monastery carved into the side of a mountain somewhere in China. Absolutely fascinating. The presentation was only marred by the fact that “Frank” knew absolutely nothing about the monastery. He just showed a few slides, and hoped that the punters would be impressed.

In a novel break with tradition, as well as an Xmas bunfight, tonight’s arky-ologee club featured a quiz and a raffle. We came third in the quiz, and I won a bottle of “Bishop’s Finger” in the raffle. I might go next time if my winning ale in the raffle is to become a feature…

29 December 2009 (Tuesday) - The News

(I *know* I’m in a minority with this one. Sorry to those of my loyal readers who disagree!)

The news today bears the sad tale of Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen who was executed in China this morning. This would seem to have touched a nerve with many people here in the UK, and (as always) I would seem to be in the minority.

I’m sorry, but unlike certain other prosecutions I could mention, this entire case has no grey areas at all. The chap was caught red-handed trying to bring a quarter of a million quid’s worth of heroin into China. He’s guilty. The Chinese take a firm line on drugs, and any student of history would know why. The drugs he was smuggling would ultimately cause misery for so many people. The world would be a better place without it, and without those smuggling the drugs.

There are those who oppose the death penalty on principle, claiming that killing the guilty is wrong, regardless of what the criminal has done. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”, or so I’m told. I can’t see the logic in this argument. It presupposes the death penalty is wrong. It is not. If one or two villains get strung up, publicly and without mercy, then potential miscreants will think twice about spoiling this world for everyone else.

From my own personal experience, a native Chinese person living in the UK (an ex-colleague) often told me he felt far safer back at home. England was a dangerous place. China was a safer place to be because they had far harsher punishments and a death penalty to deter the scum element. And so (or so he told me) crime of all sorts was far less common as a result.

In many ways it’s an extension of the corporal punishment in schools argument. When I was a lad, if you put your foot out of line, you got caned. One child had a sore bum for a day, and a thousand kids behaved themselves indefinitely. But how many canings took place? I can remember one during my six years at Hastings Academy for Budding Geniuses. That was all that was needed. There was order in the school. But look at the state of schools nowadays, thanks to the liberal policies of the last twenty years which have given the brats the right to do whatever they want to. I’ve blogged endlessly (in the past) about the anarchy in today’s classrooms. I’m sure that if my children had more to worry about from their teachers than moralising or a day’s suspension, then their exam results would have been somewhat better.

Whilst I sympathise with the philosophy that perhaps we shouldn’t bring ourselves down to the level of the scum, there is overwhelming evidence that lax law enforcement is actively encouraging lawlessness. Clemency on the part of society is taken as weakness by those who would exploit that society.

There is also the argument that the chap in question should be let off on the grounds of mental instability. There’s a knotty problem. The latest statistics show that one in four of us will have a mental illness at some point in our lives. Does this mean that at any given time a quarter of the population can’t tell right from wrong and therefore should be considered to be beyond the law?

I would pull the lever myself. I really would. And in doing so would be protecting my children, my family, my friends, and making a better world for humanity at large….

28 December 2009 (Monday) - Hever Castle

Over breakfast I worked out our route to Hever Castle. The RAC Route Planner, and Google Maps gave rather different directions. My gut feeling agreed with Google, but we let the final choice be made by the scrat-nav. It took the route that Google Maps had come up with. Which was only to be expected. I can remember an incident featuring a broken down car awaiting pickup in Cheriton High Street. The RAC patrol drove the length of the A21 being unable to find Folkestone (!)

Usually whenever I plan anything, I tend to email everyone with my plans, but it was only when half way there that we realised both ‘er indoors TM and I had assumed the other had emailed everyone. If any of my loyal readers would have liked to have come along today, I can only apologize. My bad.

Only slipping once on black ice, we met up in the car park at Hever and made our way in. The freezing weather had deterred most of the normal people, and once we’d been back to the cars a few times for hats, coats, gloves, and stuff, we set out round the grounds. There was a lovely “Keep off the Grass” sign. My standing behind it would make for an excellent photo, but I got caught by the nice lady, who told me off. Woops(!) We then tested the thickness of the ice on various ponds, streams, moats and rivers before finding the water maze. This too was frozen over, which made navigating the thing somewhat easier.

And then to the inside of the castle. Which was rather like the inside of most castles, really. Lots of paintings of dead dudes. There were several suits of armour, all of which seriously encased all of the body in metal, except for one vital area. Not one of the armours covered the “flowers and frolics”. In fact, all had a gaping hole where such defence might be expected. Shocking, really (!)

We then spent some time winding up the normal people by pointing out our relatives in the photos. Some of the American tourists seemed to believe us. Bless them. I must admit to a wry smile over the “posh family”. “Papa” and “Tarquin” strolled arrogantly into the castle, loudly wondering (in a very toffee-nosed accent) where “Mama” and “Rufus” were. “Mama” eventually showed up, pushing “Rufus” in a most decrepit push chair. None of the wheels matched, “Mama” was grumbling that the wheels kept sticking, and as she extracted “Rufus” from the thing, a screw fell out, and the whole contraption collapsed. I didn’t actually laugh out loud, but it was close.

On the way back to the car a passing child warned us about the volcanoes, and that we should look out for the lava. I think I must have missed those. All things considered, a good day out. You can see the photos of the day here. The only thing I’ll say against Hever Castle is the cost. Twelve quid per person is just the teensiest bit far too much. By the time you’ve paid out for their incredibly over-priced souvenirs you can end up seriously out of pocket.

And then for a spot of lunch. I’d asked the regulars contributors to the “Beer in the Evening” website for recommendations for a decent pub in the area, and I had four places suggested. We chose this place, and for the food, it’s up there with the best of pubs. The ale choice was a tad limited. They had two - Larkin’s “Traditional” isn’t a beer I’ve seen anywhere else, but everyone sells Harvey’s Best. I’ll score the place 7/10 – above average.

And as we had an hour before dark we had a look around Tunbridge Wells. Somewhere I’ve not been since a weekend’s holiday with the Boys Brigade in 1975. It’s quite a good place to go – I’d like to go back and spend a bit more time in some of the more weird and wonderful shops. We’ll do that next time.

And then home to find “My Boy TM ” sulking. For Xmas he’d received some expensive end tackle (a piscatorial term) and had been on a night fishing expedition to try it out. Overnight the pond froze over, and he had to wait for the ice to melt to be able to retrieve his apparatus. Oh, how I laughed…

27 December 2009 (Sunday) - Display Boards and Shopping

Towards the end of last November I blogged about how I was getting fed up with all the posters at the astro club falling off of the walls all the time, and I mentioned that I was on the lookout for display boards. One of my loyal readers came up trumps – his firm had some that they no longer needed, and today I set off to Brighton to collect the things. We now have twenty boards that can be assembled in a range of ways.

There are

  • 3: 3 foot x 2 foot grey
  • 10: 3 foot x 2 foot grey & maroon reversible
  • 2: 1 foot x 2 foot grey
  • 7: 1 foot x 2 foot grey & maroon reversible

And sufficient joining pieces to be getting on with. Whilst they have been used, they are perfectly serviceable. Something for nothing can’t be bad. You can see them here.

Seeing how I was up early anyway I collected the boards from Brighton first thing. Leaving Ashford at 7am I was on the doorstep of our benefactor before breakfast, and was home by 11am. You can’t beat an early start. There was talk of a hobby-horse mounted hunt around various pubs on the South Downs today, but my guts are still a bit iffy, and so I decided against that. Instead we went shopping.

First of all to Staples for Velcro-type stuff for fixing posters to the display boards. I got some, but they weren’t cheap. I might just leave the job of getting more for those with access to the astro club funds. Alternatively (engage “cadge mode”) – if any of my loyal readers have lengths of Velcro they don’t want…

I spent ten minutes walking round the town centre car park. All three ticket machines were broken; I don’t think that will stop the council sending out parking tickets for us not paying, though. We then followed a family of retards out of the car park, and spent most of our time in town trying to get away from them. Everywhere we went; there they were, underfoot and in the way. I even gave up a trip to McDonalds because that bunch were swarming in there.

I had a WH Smiths voucher to spend. At the risk of appearing ungrateful, I get so wound up by gift vouchers. There are only certain places where you can spend them, and you don’t get change from them. There was a book I particularly wanted, but buying that book would still leave five pounds on the voucher which I could spend or lose. So I found myself buying something I didn’t actually want, just so as not to lose the money. Whatever possesses people to give gift vouchers? Cash is so much better.

And then I thought I’d replace the fluorescent light tube in the kitchen – it’s been on the blink (i.e. not working) from a week. B&Q didn’t have any, nor did HomeBase. I was beginning to have visions of having to replace the entire unit, but I eventually found the tube I wanted in Wickes. You’d think they’d make these things to a standard size.

And then home to watch the Xmas “Royle Family” special, two episodes of “Flash Forward” and to sleep through all sorts of other stuff….

26 December 2009 (Saturday) - Boxing Day

An unsettled night, what with guts and back aches. And then a wasted morning waiting (as always) for everyone else to get out of bed. Perhaps if people went to bed before dawn, then they wouldn’t need to spend all day sleeping. As I’ve mentioned before, I get the bare minimum time off over Xmas, and this morning I was seriously resenting wasting my precious time waiting for everyone else. (rant over...)

I think I ate too much yesterday – my innards have been rumbling all night and most of today. Which has its uses when subduing feral nephews. The threat of sitting on them and trumping on their heads is taken seriously when one is evidently “fermenting”. The early afternoon was spent at mother’s house scoffing more and more whilst playing on the Nintendo Wii. And then later we went round to the sister in laws’ house where I wound up the children, and beat the dog several times in “World Dog Wrestling Federation”.

I also got to meet my new nephew – “Nephew X”. He’s three years old, and because of various issues, social services have taken him from one set of in-laws and re-homed the lad with other in-laws. He’s a great lad, and far from being nervous with me (as I thought he might be), we got on like a house on fire. He’s coming camping with us over the summer. However, since many of my loyal readers will meet this boy, there’s something I need to explain.

Social services have made it very clear that for “child protection issues”, no photographs of “Nephew X” are to appear on the Internet. This is a definite no-no, and they are firm on the point. “Child protection issues” are something the geniuses at social services take seriously.

It would never have occurred to me that my putting a photograph of a nephew who lives thirty miles away and who I will see half a dozen times a year is bad. But what do I know? And seeing how I don’t wish to endanger his life, I will not put up any photos of him. And so I must reluctantly ask my loyal readers to do the same. Should you photograph the lad, please don’t put his photo on the Internet. It might kill him. Or so I’m told.

I must admit that I’m wondering what it is about “Nephew X” that makes him so susceptible to photography. After all I’ve plenty of other relatives who have survived having their photos taken.

And so home. And again, a wonderful Xmas, but again one spent driving here, there and thither. One year I would like one at home….

25 December 2009 (Friday) - Xmas Day

Over the last few months and years I’ve occasionally mentioned about the anti-social church up the road which wakes me early on a Sunday morning. The god-botherers woke me again with their bell. At 11.55pm last night. They were clanging the thing at midnight. And then just as I was dozing off again, “Daddies Little Angel TM ” texted me to tell me the god-botherers were clanging their bell…

I’ve never been able to sleep on Xmas morning – the excitement is always too much for me. As a child I was always woken by my Grandmother at about 3am on Xmas morning. I think it must be something genetic. So I was up at 5am. Writing a letter to the chokey, making rude crossword puzzles and watching telly. Waiting for everyone else to get out of their pits. In previous years I’ve given them until 9am, and then I’ve gone round the house clanging saucepans together. This year everyone was awake at 8.30am. We’d had an early morning phone call – one of “My Boy TM ” ‘s mates (an ex-cub) had gotten himself arrested last night for being drunk and disorderly in Maidstone. He’d been released from the cells this morning, and was wandering Maidstone with a hangover, no money, no idea where he was, no way of getting home, and no one but us who would answer his phone calls. Would we dispatch a rescue mission? There’s never a dull moment in my life

Whilst waiting for the tribe to assemble, we watched “Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo”, and then once the family were finally gathered together we had a major pressie opening session. I did all right, with several DVDs, a couple of gallons of decent ale and a couple of bottles of port. To say nothing of the socks, sweeties and theatre ticket. Oh – and the obligatory liquorice allsorts from the mother in law. Every Xmas since 1983 she’s got me a box of them. I wish she wouldn’t. I hate the things.

The plan was to be on the way to my brother’s house by 10am. At 10.30 “My Boy TM ” was cooking bacon sandwiches for everyone and the girls still weren’t dressed. We eventually set sail at 11am. Only an hour late.

Two days ago there was snow. I was *so* hoping for a white Xmas this year, but no luck. We soon arrived in Hastings and made short work of the first beer. And the second. Then sat down to some scoff. You can’t beat a turkey dinner. Suitably stuffed, we took the dog for a walk. As well as being Xmas, it was the dog’s birthday, so over a smashing bit of tea, we sang “Happy Birthday” to the dog. Santa visited, we played on the Wii, and we eventually waddled home to watch the Doctor Who Xmas special. It’s the best Doctor Who Xmas special they’ve ever done. Having said that, it’s not had much in the way of competition…

24 December 2009 (Thursday) - Xmas Eve

Whilst the rest of the universe is enjoying being off work, “Yours Truly” is still hard at it. I mustn’t grumble. Over the last few weeks I’ve made mention of holiday plans, and quite a few people have commented on how much annual leave I get. On reflection I’d rather work on Xmas Eve, and have a day off when I want it. After all, those who finished last Friday and go back in the New Year are effectively losing seven days holiday.

Being on a late start I had a while to waste in NeverWinter, and then I had a nose bleed. I used to suffer with them all the time – they are quite a rare occurrence these days. The postie then brought a letter from my dentist. The appointment I’d made in January has been changed. They *always* do that – this time, it’s just an hour later than originally planned. I can live with that.

In years gone by, everyone at work went down the pub at lunchtime on Xmas Eve. Today, where there could have been over thirty of us, we had five. A sign of the times, I suppose. Still, I got a couple of pints of MasterBrew out of the boss, so it can’t be all bad. I rather had a plan to go to midnight mass tonight, but for yet another year, none of my tribe were up for it. Shame !!!

Meanwhile, Santa’s come down the chimney. He’s brought presents for everyone in lego-land who’s been good. There’s going to be some disappointments….

23 December 2009 (Wednesday) - Winter Wonderland

A month or so ago, ‘er indoors TM suggested that it might be fun to go to the “Winter Wonderland” at Leeds Castle. It was fifteen quid a ticket (which was a tad steep) but it was fifteen quid I’d only otherwise spend on beer. Bearing in mind the state of my head after last night’s session involving Dark Star’s Russian Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV), perhaps I might be better advised spending less money on the black stuff (!)

Seven of us met up in the car park at Leeds Castle and took the road train up to the castle. Oh, it was so pretty, lit up in the snow with the moat frozen. We checked in, got given some mulled wine and a mince pie, and then Rumplestiltskin walked us up to the reception rooms, and entranced the children (of all ages) with his tale of woe.

And then one of the Brothers Grimm (well, a sister Grimm, actually) took over, and led us though loads of fairy tales. Hansel & Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast. So many, I can’t remember them all. But everyone was entranced. I got to try (and failed to) wake the sleeping beauty, and in the “make your own fairy tale” I got to be the evil Sir Dave who was eaten by a vegetarian shark. It was a magical evening – I am definitely going again next year.

You can see the piccies here.

Meanwhile in lego-land, those with choppers (both manual and mechanical) are about to procure an Xmas tree for the rest of the crew. For what it’s worth, my money is on the tree…

22 December 2009 (Tuesday) - Secret Santas

If any of my loyal readers had called up anything on Google today, they would have seen the logo was “Happy Holidays”. A lot of people have already started their Xmas holidays, including the first fruit of my loin and my beloved. I’m not jealous… much.

In retrospect I got into my line of work by accident, and then having spent so much time studying for the exams it seemed a shame to change careers. In retrospect, when I was younger, had I known then what I do now, I doubt I would have gone into hospital work. I don’t know what I would have done, but something which occasionally closes would be good. I’m getting fed up with not finishing until late on Xmas eve, and being back a week before everyone else goes back to work. In my line of work I can (and do) get called any time of the day of night. As a teenager I seriously considered joining the police. I’m now wishing that I had – the hypothetical P.C. Badger would be looking at retiring in five years time.

Talking of which, to work for the Xmas bash. I got a bottle of Xmas ale, an Xmas pudding and a badger puppet in the “secret santa” draw. Obviously bought by someone who knows me – I’m rather pleased with what I got. It’s so easy to think “Oh stuff it” and buy socks or chocolates. Someone’s obviously thought about me in buying this pressie.

And then home for another Xmas celebration. For some sixteen and a half years, every Tuesday night has been special, and tonight was no exception. Far too much to drink (the Imperial Stout at 10.5% was a mistake!) and another secret santa pressie – another excellent one. To bed with the makings of an excellent hangover.

Meanwhile in lego-land, after a week’s solid drinking, “Gervais” is playing with a chain saw. The rest of the crew now are literally dicing with death. On the one hand a homicidal axe-murderer, on the other a drunken duckie. Which way would you go…?

21 December 2009 (Monday) - Dentist, Facebook, Axe Murderers

I woke with something of a sore throat this morning. Too much shouting at the 1066 Rockitmen last night, perhaps?

I was on a late shift today, but I was up early. Being somewhat later home than planned last night I needed to print off “letter to the chokey #48”. This one includes a festive crossword: “What one of the three kings of Orient was on whilst blowing his hooter (7)”. Easy (!)

To the dentist to have my stitches taken out. Oh, the relief of not having that inch of thread inside my mouth any more!! The fangquack seemed rather nervous when I walked in, but seemed relieved that I was still alive. He claimed that my tooth extraction was amongst the most traumatic of those he’d ever done. What he’d planned to do in fifteen minutes took nearer forty. I suppose he says that to everyone. But he seemed pleased with how it was healing up. It still hurts to open my gob to any extent, but bearing in mind what I’ve had done, that’s only to be expected. It will get better with time. I hope.

I then spent ten minutes scraping the ice off of my car. Perhaps eight minutes too long. There are those up my road with whom I am not on the best of terms. I watched her scrape an area on her windscreen clear of ice. This area was about a square foot in size. She then got in her car and drove off. She couldn’t see out of either side of her car, or out of the rear window, but she could see straight in front, and that was good enough.

And then home where I realised I’d been tricked. This morning I’d added someone to my Facebook list. I added this person in good faith, and seeing that I’d added him, so did a dozen of my friends, and so did members of my family. However, on closer inspection, “Dick Ammes” isn’t a real person – it’s a manufactured, very nasty personal attack on a very good friend of mine. “Dick Ammes” is no longer on my Facebook list. I emailed all mutual friends, and was amazed at the response. Within five minutes half a dozen people had kicked him off their list too. Should any of my loyal readers be asked to add this person to their list, please tell him to get knotted.

Meanwhile in lego-land the festive spirit is somewhat marred by the advent of a mad axe-murderer. Whether he murders people with axes, or just murders axes remains to be seen…

20 December 2009 (Sunday) - Drinking to Excess

Despite a 1am bed time, as always I was up with the lark. I wrapped a few Xmas pressies, and then set off to the garage for screen wash. My screen washers weren’t working too well (read “at all”) last night, and I was having visions of the car’s screen washing circuit being knacked. I desperately hoped that all that was wrong was the need for more wash jollop. The vicar was clanging his bell as I set off, and I was amazed at how many people were filling their cars with petrol at 9am on a Sunday morning.

It didn’t take too long reading the manual to figure out how to open the bonnet on my car – I’ve had the thing for eighteen months, and I’ve never opened the bonnet before. And sure enough, topping up the screen wash jollop worked wonders. I now have a clean windscreen. Mind you, I don’t know how long it will last – I say “topping up” – the instructions said to pour the stuff in until no more would go. I poured in two litres and it didn’t come close.

Earlier in the week I griped about what short notice I’d been given about the FILO’s Xmas beer festival. Three of us set off at 11am for Hastings, and meeting my brother on the way, we were soon tucking into the Dark Star’s double chocolate stout. If you like chocolate and/or beer, this was the nectar of the gods. Anyone who knows beer will realise how good the Dark Star brewery is, and our second pint was their Xmas offering – “Winter Solstice”. For the third pint we changed breweries to Brains - “Party Popper”. At this point I needed a tiddle, and finding a table was free, we all moved inside into the warm. A friend from way back when joined us, and we then had dinner – possibly the best omelette I have ever eaten. And then some of the FILO’s own beers; a pint of “Cardinal” – a wonderful home-made porter, and a pint of “Crofter” – a smashing beer, gallons of which have accompanied me camping on several occasions over the last few years.

We got chatting with the barman who soon realised that if we didn’t actually know anything about beer, we certainly knew how to pretend we did. He told us of another pub nearby which was trying to establish itself as a “real ale” pub. The Dolphin has been on my list of places to visit for some time, and it is now firmly on the Hastings list”. Being the only place where I have ever seen “Espresso” on the hand pump, a pint of coffee-flavoured beer was bought for everyone. Whether or not they liked coffee. And then a pint of “Rosey Nosey” – it is Xmas after all. At this point I got the cigars in. I don’t often smoke, but I do enjoy a cigar on special occasions, and today had certainly become a special occasion. A second pint of “Espresso” completed the first gallon of ale, and it was at this point that we said goodbye to my brother, who was probably in trouble at home, being more than two hours late home.

The original plan was to have a couple of beers in the FILO, and take the 3.30pm train home. By now it was 5.30pm, and we set off to the chip shop for tea. And then to the London Trader to see a band. I’ve know my mate Rick for over thirty five years, and his band (the 1066 Rockitmen) were playing tonight. I didn’t know that they were, but finding out just rounded the day off. With a pint of Directors in my hand, I stood at the front and shouted along with the band.

All too soon they were done, and waving goodbye to Kev and Jane we set off for the station. Taking a train some five hours than that which was originally intended, we arrived home at 10pm to find that whilst cleaning the bathroom, Daddies Little Angel TM ” had managed to block the bath drain pipe. Plumbing is never my strong point, and plumbing after a gallon or so of ale would never be on my top ten list of things to do, but I eventually cleared the plughole.

Now to have words with that girl….

Meanwhile on a better plane of existence, whilst some cry over the demise of their remote controlled car, “Ginge” is showing off his skills, having set up a slalom course for his remote-controlled car. Showing off is never a good thing to do. It will all end in tears. I wonder whose….

19 December 2009 (Saturday) - Sumners Ponds (in the snow)

When my number is up and I finally meet my Maker, one of my (many) suggestions I shall give to the Almighty is that when he gets round to making “Humanity Mk II”, he might care to do something different with the entire concept of “sleep”. It’s a simple idea in theory. You go to bed at 11 o’clock, and kip round till 7am. Then you get up and go about your daily round. If only it were that straight forward.

In practice, it’s somewhat different. I could go to bed anytime from 6pm to 2am. It doesn’t matter when I go to kip. I nod off within a few minutes, and then I’m fast asleep for three hours (if I’m lucky) and then I wake up and lie there, wide awake. Most mornings I get up before 6am because I’m bored. I’m typing this part of today’s rant at silly am, because I’m fed up with lying wide awake in bed. I find myself doing ironing and watching all sorts of rubbish on the telly just to pass the time. And then (what really hacks me off!!) I go about my daily round nodding off at embarrassingly frequent intervals. For my Xmas pressie a few years ago I got tickets for a London theatre. I wanted to see the show, it was a brill show – I still fell asleep. I won’t bother going to the cinema because no matter how much I want to see the film, I’ll sleep through it. I’m getting rather fed up with apologising for nodding off at the most inopportune times.

It’s not as though I have any control over it. Perhaps the Almighty might consider what I’ve got on my central heating – some sort of timer switch to regulate the amount of sleep you get. You would go to bed whenever, and set your timer for ten minutes before brekkie. I’d be up for it.

To work, which (apart from a fried breakfast) was dull, and then home again to check weather and travel arrangements to get to Horsham. A gaggle of assorted friends and acquaintances are camping out this weekend (they must love it!) and this evening they were planning to stage an Xmas dinner, so we’d said we’d be along. We set off at 4.30pm, and made good time, arriving at Sumners Ponds at 6.15pm. We navigated the ice, and sat and chatted with friends in John’s caravan for half an hour before making our way to dinner.

Thirty-odd of us sat down for Xmas dinner, and I have to admit I didn’t know half the people there. It was rather embarrassing that everyone knew me, and greeted me as an old friend. I recognised some of them as people on my Facebook list – now I know who they are.

A good time was had by all – feathers were sold in aid of the chosen charity, we chatted for ages, and then home. The homeward journey was somewhat tricky, having to navigate the A20 rather than the motorway because of “Operation Stack”, but bearing in mind the county was impassable yesterday, the roads were fine.

Meanwhile in lego-land there has been a development with the unidentified object, Whilst we still don’t know what it is, someone with a rather unfortunate haircut has pranged his remote-controlled car into it. Let’s hope neither is too badly scarred by the event (either physically or mentally)...