30 December 2012 (Sunday) - Dull

I had a better night's sleep last night than I've had for a few days. But I don't like getting up whilst it is still dark outside. But we are now past the shortest day - mornings will get lighter. I got up and fussed Fudge. Once he was awake he wasn't interested in me. normally he's quite affectionate in the morning, but yesterday he was given a lamb bone, and this morning he only had eyes for what was left of that bone. Previous dogs have guarded bones and been quite aggressive with them. Fudge isn't nasty with it; he's just more interested in it that anything and anyone else.
So I left him to it, I put the telly on, and watched "Little Shop of Horrors" over a spot of brekkie. And then had the dentist song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

And so to work. On Thursday I ranted about the drivel that was being aired on the morning's radio show. Today was equally wasted air time. For no adequately explored reason the morning's news program had invited a Rabbi, an Imam, a Bishop and some woman who was something big in religion (exactly what was never made clear), and all had been subjected to an obscure personality test. Funnily enough all of them turned out to be the sorts of people who would do well in organised religion. What a waste of my TV licence fee.

The weather forecast predicted a mostly dry day, which put me into a bad mood. Last night I'd turned down the option to go on a walk round Monkdown; somewhere I've not been before. Half a dozen friends would be off on a brisk winter's morning. With my dog. And I wouldn't be there. Still, as "er indoors TM" so rightly said, I can go back over the summer when it's brighter and warmer. And it transpired that much of the day was spent trying (and failing) to stop the dog eating horse poo. Mind you even if it had been raining today I wouldn't have minded being off today. Today was my brother's birthday; a crafty half with him wouldn't have gone amiss.

Having done my bit at work I came home again. The radio had a program about personal finances, so I turned it off and put on a CD instead. I squalled along to classic "Sparks" tracks all the way. Haven't done that for a while - must do it more often. It's probably better for my blood pressure than getting wound up by the news...
It's rather sad that singing in the car on my way home was the high point of the day...

29 December 2012 (Saturday) - 1000...

Another disturbed night. When "er indoors TM" is having a late night watching drivel on the TV till all hours, she often doesn't notice Furry Face sneaking upstairs. He likes to sleep at the foot of our bed, and he woke me as he jumped up shortly after midnight last night. I wish that pup would stay downstairs where he belongs. Having successfully barged the dog-proof gate open and crept up undetected once or twice a couple of weeks ago, he now thinks he can doss down on my pit whenever he feels like it.

I got up shortly before 6am this morning and set about yesterday's pile of washing up. It's amazing how much washing up is left over following a visit from the most recent fruit of my loins. I then watched most of another episode of "Smallville". I'm getting quite into that show; even if I have no idea of what's going on.

As I drove to work the radio was abuzz with news of who has received recognition in the New Year's Honours List. This morning's news featured an interview with a lady who had raised thousands of pounds to give dying children some good times. No one can deny that she richly deserved an award. But awards for so many athletes? I suppose I can understand why Olympians get honours; or am I being cynical in feeling that it keeps the masses happy about having an Honours system? For all that most of humanity enjoy watching sport and games, I can't see the attraction myself, and never have. I really enjoy flying a power kite, playing poker, going fishing, riding my bike. However watching someone else doing that is (for me) incredibly dull. But I am in the minority; it would seem to be what the public wants. As would watching that someone else get a medal for doing so.

Mind you it is odd that athletes who had performed in last summer's Olympic Games had received honours for what they had done at the same time that a ninety-two year old chap had only just received an honour for what he had done in the Government's centre in Bletchley Park during the second world war. And Kate Bush has just received an honour (for her charity work) several years after she was most famous. And the illustrator Quentin Blake has finally been given a gong.

Again countless civil servants received honours for doing the jobs for which they are richly paid, and that annoys me. In the past I was particularly incensed by one such award, and wrote to the Home Office asking (under the Freedom of Information Act) why a certain Honour had been given. They told me that it had been well deserved, and that I should mind my own business. Which put me in my place. Even if it didn't stop me ranting. The country's Honours system is something I've ranted about in the past, the first time being on January 4, 2007 (!).

I'd left for work a few minutes earlier than I might have done today. Yesterday whilst out geocaching my tally of caches that I'd found had reached nine hundred and ninety nine. There are those who set great store by their tally count and some can be quite competitive about it. You can even get badges for numbers of caches found (akin to the distance swimming badges I had as a child). I'm not really that fussed about the number found. But I was told (in no uncertain terms) that my thousandth cache was to be something special. I suppose I can see the logic.
There is a geocache in the general area of Crundale named "Anno Domine MM" (The Year 2000).I felt that the name of that cache wouldn't be entirely inappropriate for the occasion, and it wouldn't be more than ten minutes out of my way as I drove to work. So I went to find it.

It was in a beautiful area, with a really pretty view. It turned out that the name of the cache related to an inscription on a bench overlooking a rather spectacular valley. The cache was just behind this bench. The last person to find it had mentioned something about hoping that a passing dog hadn't disturbed it too much. I can't help but feel that that person should have gone back after the passing dog had done its thing. I found the cache sitting out in the open; in plain view. Still, it made for an easy find, and once I'd done the top-secret geocachers ritual with it (known only to us "special people") I hid the cache under a pile of stones, enjoyed the view once more, and then took the scenic route to work. There were one or two more geocaches in the general area, but I've left those for when I'm next working on a Saturday. They will break up the day nicely. Hopefully.

It's amazing how much this looking for plastic boxes has become part of my life. There are people who are very active in the Kent geocaching community who have been playing this game for years who have only found a few hundred caches. I've now been doing it for just under five months and have found a thousand of them in that time.

And so to work . There's no denying that I would rather not have been working this weekend. Or would I? As I had a crafty cache on the way in to work it was a lovely morning. but as the day wore on so the wind picked up and the rain got heavier. I must admit that it wasn't long before I was looking at the rain and feeling glad that the bad weather wasn't spoiling a day off.

I did my bit at work, and came home again. This time via the more direct route. Home to find that "er indoors TM" had got me a metal 1000 geocaches badge and trackable coin. They are quite nice, actually. And, you know, I might just get myself a sew-on "1000 geocaches" badge as well. Unless any of my loyal readers might like to get me one as a late Christmas present. (You can get them on eBay you know) After all, I still have that hole in a fleece that I need to cover up...

28 December 2012 (Friday) - Stuff

We were woken this morning by the sound of "Daddies Little Angel TM" coming to visit. Complete with "Cat Scratch Fever". and Sid. A quick bit of brekkie and we left her supervising Fudge whilst we set off to see my mummy. After all it was her birthday today. On the way we stopped off a few times to pick up some geocaches that we were passing. It would have been rude not to have done so.
We eventually got to Mum's house a couple of hours later than originally planned, and after exchanging insults for an hour or so we came home as the darkness was setting in. Home via Tesco which was surprisingly busy.

We got home to find "Daddies Little Angel TM" still in residence, accompanied by the Rear Admiral. Fudge was looking very sheepish and was apparently in disgrace; having eaten his nanny's slippers whilst we'd been out. Normally he knows what he can and cannot eat, but today he would seem to have had an aberration. Bless him.
However Sid must bear some of the blame for having (apparently) egged him on.

And then on to astro club. Attendance was down. Very much so - I counted thirty five people tonight, and can't remember the last time we had less than sixty along. Mind you a combination of terrible weather and being Christmas week probably put a lot of people off of going. But we had an excellent meeting - tributes to Sir Patrick Moore, a demonstration of new planetarium software, a Chrimbo poem, a party feast.
Another great meeting...

27 December 2012 (Thursday) - This n That

Having had a spate of sleeping well, last night I had a terrible night; sleeping for maybe three hours. I went downstairs far earlier than I should have, and spent an hour playing tug o'war with Fudge. I was hoping that he would be quiet and soppy; he was bouncy and boisterous.
It's two days since Christmas and that dog has now destroyed most (if not all) of his new toys.

The roads were incredibly quiet as I drove through what would usually be rush hour traffic. I suppose most people are still off for the Christmas break.
Something in the news made me sit up and take notice. In future every time a child attends a hospital's accident and emergency department, the visit will be recorded in a national database intended to pick up child abuse. Whilst I agree with the sentiment I cannot help but feel it will merely flag up how some parents take their children to hospital every time the child so much as farts. Or what if any child is naturally accident prone. I lost count of how many times the most recent fruit of my loin was in casualty over the years.
She phoned today - apparently she's still suffering from what I have tentatively diagnosed as "Cat Scratch Fever". If only she'd listen to her old dad...

Yesterday I mentioned that Gerry Anderson had died. This morning the radio featured an interview with the actors who provided the voices for some of the Thunderbirds puppets. And my piss boiled. Here was an opportunity to speak with actors who had been part of something special to so many people -something wonderful. And it was an opportunity which was totally wasted. The interview couldn't have lasted for more than a minute. It was abruptly and rudely cut short to make time for a (frankly rubbish) article about some incredibly geeky inarticulate children who were allegedly using science to make unrecognisable music from wet wine glasses.

My piss also boiled at the standard of driving. Why is it that when the roads are so quiet everyone drives so badly? Indicators are useful; if only people would use them rather than randomly going wherever the voices in the head might prompt. It never fails to amaze me that the worst drivers are those who have taken time and effort to have their company's name and logo emblazoned on their vehicle. What kind of advertising is that? And if you are going to blatantly queue-jump at the petrol station, why do it in a car covered in notices telling the world who you are?
Whilst getting petrol I noticed a new discount store where once (many years ago) there used to be a pet shop. I like discount stores - when I next have a minute I might just pop in and have a nosey.

To work, where I did my bit. And then home again. The radio featured what I confidently predict will turn out to be a blatant lie. Comet Ison and Comet 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS) are predicted to be very bright next year. So bright that they will supposedly outshine the full moon. Come to the astro club next year. I confidently predict that there will be no bright comets, and if there is, I will eat the astro club's raffle...

26 December 2012 (Wednesday) - Boxing Day

I went to bed relatively early last night. "er indoors TM" did not have to be up for work this morning so she had a late night. When she came to bed at 2.45am she woke me, and I then lay awake for the rest of the night until finally giving up and getting up at 6am. I then spent a little while fussing the dog whilst watching "Smallville" on the SyFy channel. I've never watched a complete episode of that show; merely seeing snippets here and there. I really should make a point of watching the whole thing. It looks to be quite good. Certainly better than yesterday's "Doctor Who" - I'm still sulking about how rubbish that program was. Perhaps I should just stop watching it like so many others seem to be doing.

Originally I had been intended to work on Christmas Day this year and to be off today. Plans for today had involved going to Deal for the Boxing Day swim or going to Westfield for turkey curry with relatives. But a colleague wanted to take part in a Boxing Day road race today, and I didn't mind swapping shifts. After all, I'm always on the cadge for people to swap with me. And the weather turned out to be rather awful, so I couldn't really grumble.

I listened to the news as I drove to work this morning. The roads were very quiet, but then you would expect that. However, for all that it was Boxing Day, for many people today was billed as the busiest day of the year. Apparently there's more horse racing planned for today than at any other time, and also there are more hunts with dogs planned today than at any other time. For all that fox hunting with dogs has been banned for some time, hunts still go out.
Some hunts apparently chase a trail that's been laid for them, others continue to hunt illegally. There's apparently quite a rant from the hunting lobby that fox hunting with dogs is a good thing. I can't see it myself. If people and dogs like charging around then then that's fine by me *if* they can do so without making a nuisance of themselves. And if a fox is wreaking havoc with livestock, then one person can go quietly out with a shotgun. But as for traditional hunting.... Having a mob chasing a fox to exhaustion, and then allowing dogs to rip it to pieces is just plain barbaric.

And so back to work after a five day Christmas break. Other friends who are back to work today have intimated that they are rather miffed that a lot of friends and family don't go back for another week. There's no denying that I'd like to have done my own thing and gone with "er indoors TM" to visit family and to have had turkey curry.
But realistically I'm glad that I'm working whilst the weather is awful; I can have time off when the weather is better and/or when I choose to have it.

And in closing, Gerry Anderson died today...

25 December 2012 (Tuesday) - Christmas Day

We were rather late home last night. And staying up till 2am watching "American Pie" was probably a mistake. I came down this morning to find carnage. Last night Furry Face had been given a rope toy by his Auntie Kat. By the morning all that remained was rope fragments.

We then opened our pressies; a decent haul including new troosers and golf bats. Fudge got quite a few toys, and having trashed his rope toy then ripped the stuffing out of a plush within five minutes.
Eventually we got ourselves organised, and set off to my mummy for Christmas dinner. Fudge seemed to like my Dad; immediately spotting the softie who would feed him. Christmas dinner was good - and loads of it. Oh I ate too much, and then slept through a large part of the afternoon. I was only woken by the theme tune of "Doctor Who". And, in keeping with tradition, I wasn't overly impressed with the Christmas Doctor Who. The show tries to mix adventure and comedy, but all too often comes over as frankly ridiculous. Mind you I did like the new TARDIS console room. And I quite liked the idea of the baddie being an old one; one we've met before. I wonder how many other Whovians spotted the 1967 London underground references? The snowmen were just too obvious, but when they blatantly mentioned the Great Intelligence I was expecting (hoping) some sort of Patrick Troughton cameo.

Despite still being stuffed from dinner, we had cold meat and pickles. And feeling really full we made our way home where we watched the Christmas "Royle Family". Now that show was excellent.
It turns out we missed the Christmas "Downton Abbey". I hope they repeat that. Soon..

24 December 2012 (Monday) - Christmas Eve

I had something of a lie-in this morning, staying in my pit until 8am. Life is too precious to waste slobbing about in pits. Whilst I waited for the rest of the tribe to emerge I did something festive, and de-friended a dozen people from my Facebook list. Several people have lost their passwords in the past and set up new accounts, so I pruned out the old ones. I also chucked off people that I don't know. There were several of those. Mind you, there are still quite a few on the list who I'm not sure about. Probably either members of the astro club or arky-ologee club. Or kite fliers. Or geocachers. Or people I used to work with. Perhaps I should delete absolutely everyone and start again.

As "er indoors TM" set off to do the last of the Christmas shopping I took Furry Face for a walk. It's funny but since I've started taking him round the block I am now on speaking terms with lots of people to whom I've previously only nodded or smiled. Today's topic of conversation was universally the local floods. The fields round by the outlet centre are under water as was parts of Viccy Park; and the river was several feet higher than usual. Years ago (before we moved here) our road flooded. Lets hope that won't happen again.

We came home, and waited for "er indoors TM" to return. Whilst we waited Fudge slept. Once she was home we got the last of the pressies wrapped and set off to visit the in-laws. As we drove across the Romney Marsh we saw so many floods; the road was completely covered in places. So much water that it rather spoiled quite a few geocaching opportunities (!)
We visited family, but what with trying to fit in one geocache too many on the way home we had no time at all on arrival home before we were out again. The tribes gathered at Steve and Sarah's where a dozen of us had a wonderful evening. Laughing and chatting, and we sent out for Chinese. Very tasty. And then more chatting as I dozed on the sofa...

It's now slightly more than eleven months before I get to do Advent calendar again...

23 December 2012 (Sunday) - Sharsted

Up relatively early only to find "My Boy TM" had popped in on his way to the market. I was impressed to see him moving about quite so early. A quick bout of brekkie, and we tried to rally as many of the troops as was possible via cyberspace, then I played "hunt the sock". I wish I knew where they all went.

The Bat arrived, and we set off to collect others. Via the wonders of sat-nav technology we eventually met up with other friends in Eastling and set off on a walk round Sharsted Manor. For all that we are only two days past mid-winter the day was a lot warmer than it has been lately. We had a lovely walk though the woods. Whilst we were at it we picked up some of the local geocaches; it would have been rude not to have done so.
We found a dozen or so caches in the area. All quite large ones, some hidden rather well; some sitting out in the open.
After a couple of hours we'd done most (all) of the caches in the Eastling area, and adjourned to the pub where we had a pint of the Christmas Ale with our sandwiches. Half our number left us at this point, and a few hardy souls pressed on caching. We found a series of four caches names after characters in "The Simpsons". They were excellent to do, and whilst we were doing them we found a lost railway track and we lost Fudge. The soppy dog wouldn't come back when called. After ten minutes calling we went looking for him. I found him at the bottom of what I can only describe as a small cliff. He'd either ran, climbed or fallen down it, and once at the bottom he was stuck and couldn't get back up. He had a look of abject terror in his eye, and he looked up at me with a very obvious look of relief. I got him to follow me along the cliff till we found a part he could clamber up, and then (after a good fussing) we carried on with our walk. For the next fifteen minutes he stayed within ten yards of me. Soppy dog.

With the four "The Simpsons" caches found we went back to the car, and made our way homewards. Via another eight geocaches. We didn't find one, we found we'd been within spitting distance of another in the past, and got bogged down in a serious swamp in the dark. An excellent day out, but as it had got dark it had got colder, and every time Fudge got on my lap he made me wetter. It was good to get home, get Furry Face bathed and to have a shower myself.

With "er indoors TM" off out bowling I fried up the left over vegetables from yesterday's dinner. Very tasty. I then pootled about on the Internet with a small dog fast asleep on my lap. He seemed exhausted by the day's fun.
I'm rather tired myself...

22 December 2012 (Saturday) - Family Christmas Dinner

A late night, and an early morning. Once I'd brekkied I set about peeling spuds,, parsnips, carrots and sprouts whilst "er indoors TM" set about the turkey and the ham. The Folkestonians emerged some time in the late morning, follwed shortly by "My Boy TM" and his entourage, and my mummy and daddy. And we had Christmas dinner. Far too much to eat and drink. Ker-Plunk, Blokus, poker, home brew, port.
A brill day....

21 December 2012 (Friday) - Still Here

It turned out that the world didn't end today after all. Which was probably for the best. After a quick spot of brekkie the Folkestonians arrived. I then did the run to drop people off at work because everyone else was off on the beer this afternoon.
I came home, and ably assisted by "Daddies Little Angel TM" we tidied the living room. It took a Herculean effort, and we tidied one room at the expense of another by merely lugging all the clutter upstairs. But we got there. Whilst at it we found all sorts of stuff, including a bag of pressies bought for last Christmas. For want of anything better to do, we then took a carfull of cardboard for recycling, then took the dogs for a little stroll. And then the dogs covered "Daddies Little Angel TM" in mud, so we came home to wash the dogs and "Daddies Little Angel TM"'s clothes.

A cup of coffee, and we tidied some more. It's amazing how much tidying one can do with a bit of assistance. And then hoovering. Fragments of what I can only describe as "dog-related wreckage" were everywhere.
Once I'd got to the point of being able to tidy no more Lisa called, and I popped out for half an hour's working on a puzzle geocache. I have been criticised in the past for putting out caches which are seen to be too easy. This one was frankly impossible. We gave up trying to figure out a fourteen figure key combination with absolutely no clue after half an hour's effort. We had some ideas, but none were successful. I shall keep thinking.

Home again, into my glad rags, and the Bat arrived and drove us into town. To Wetherspoons where we met the Rear Admiral, and after a pint of the plum porter we made our way to the Chippery. I'd brewed some ale for the gathering. It went down very well with everyone else, but for myself I didn't like it very much: too fruity. Sam had done an excellent spread, and whilst I didn't drink that much, I certainly ate too much. An excellent evening with friends; we finally staggered home shortly after 1am, when we then did battle with a turkey...

20 December 2012 (Thursday) - That's All, Folks...

Being on a late start made for something of a lie-in, even if my beloved's alarm did go off at five past seven. An odd time for which to set an alarm, but what do I know? I got up and spent a few minutes on my morning constitutional - having lost a lot of weight, I'm a bit loose in places. Toning up is a must-do. But have you ever tried to do twenty sit-ups with a Patagonian Tripehound sitting on your chest whilst trying to chew your ears? It's a form of exercise which doesn't come easily. So I abandoned sit ups and spent the time terrorising the dog instead.

After a swift bit of brekkie I set off to work. The rain was very heavy, as was the traffic. Or, that is traffic was heavy in every direction except the one in which I was going. I drove all the way with a sense of foreboding. It seemed that everyone knew of some delay, accident or obstruction that I didn't. Why else would no one be going that way? But I got to Canterbury without event. I wonder why every other direction was heaving with traffic except where I was going. Odd.

For once there was actually something of interest in the news. The star Tau Ceti would seem to have a family of (at least) five planets around it, and one "super-Earth" in the habitable zone. It's a far cry from having discovered aliens, but it's quite an impressive discovery. I felt sorry for the expert astronomer who was being interviewed on the subject on the radio. The news commentators were full of sarcastic puerile comments about little green men, but never once actually asked anything sensible; not even the name of the star in question.
Interestingly the next guest to be interviewed (on the matter of the management of the BBC) told the same news commentators to stop their snide comments.

There was also trivia. Apparently hideous Christmas jumpers are making a comeback. And, making a mockery of all of the talk of recession, shops are selling out of these jumpers; some of them costing over a thousand pounds. Who can spare a thousand pounds to spend on a jumper? If any of my loyal readers have money to burn in these austere times, spare a thought for "Yours Truly" with "er indoors TM" and Furry Face to support.... (provided the world don't end tomorrow)

Just in case the crackpots are right and the world does end tomorrow, can I take this opportunity to wish everyone what they would wish themselves at such a momentous occasion. Ends of the world don't happen that often.
Having said that I've lived through quite a few ends of the world. My first (in 1980) was something of a disappointment, and since then I've never really taken the occasion seriously. Having had a quick look on Wikipedia it would seem I've survived a couple of dozen apocalypses. So far they have all passed off uneventfully, but tomorrow might just be the big one. If it is, I'll just say "so long - and thanks for all the fish"...

19 December 2012 (Wednesday) - Guts Ache...

I was woken by my alarm this morning. That's twice in one month that I've not beaten it by two hours. I'm looking on having had so much sleep as being a good thing. I'm also reminded that a few weeks ago I downloaded a sleep management app for my phone. Perhaps I might turn the thing on? (The app that is - not the phone)
I got myself into gear promptly this morning, left for work a little earlier than usual and got that geocache that I mentioned yesterday hidden. There are precious few of the things in the Canterbury area, and fewer active geocachers over there, so I expect that activity on this one will be slow. Having said that, it was found for the first time about an hour after it went live. Perhaps the denizens of Canterbury are getting more into this silly game?

The morning's radio program had news about how social media will be policed in future. There are apparently concerns that prosecuting people for writing "offensive, shocking or disturbing" messages would have a very bad effect on the right of free speech. I can't see it really affecting me or this blog. As someone who writes a lot I might be critical of the world and those in it, but I try to avoid giving offence. Sometimes I even manage to do so.
Social media websites are being encouraged to embrace this new legislation, and persistent "trolls" will be prosecuted. This could be a good thing - a family member has recently been the victim of cyber-bullying. A mechanism to stop this would be good. But will it make social media a better place? Not really. There's no secret that I am very loathe to post in internet forums because of the bad feeling that is rife in so many of these places. Realistically I blame the schools for not teaching people literacy in the first place. Internet forums are places where people disagree. But how many of us can disagree without becoming disagreeable? How should one disagree politely or civilly?
"I disagree with you for the following reasons..." is a valid statement. "I disagree with you therefore you are stupid" or "You disagree with me therefore you are wrong" or "because you believe "A" you therefore believe "B", "C" and "D"" are not valid. However statements like this seem to form the basis of most of the (so-called) on-line discussions.

At school I learned logic and debating skills. There is a world of difference between reasoned debate and petty squabbling. It's a shame that the Internet can't see more of reasoned debate and less of petty squabbling.

My phone rang. The most recent fruit of my loin had come home for the day and had taken Fudge for a walk. Whilst they were out, a bird had startled both dogs. Sid hadn't been bothered by the feathered fellow, but Fudge had felt affronted, and leapt off after it in pursuit. The bird apparently flew into a hedge. Fudge also flew into that hedge, and got stuck. Daddies Little Angel wasn't at all impressed at having to extricate a Patagonian Tripehound from thick privet. (Apparently the Kennel Club has yet to recognise "Patagonian Tripehound" as an official breed of dog)

I had a good lunch today - the works Christmas buffet made for a serious feast. So much so that I gave myself a rather spectacular guts ache that lasted most of the afternoon and well into the evening.
We also had the exchange of "Secret Santa" gifts. I got a Christmas collar for Fudge and a couple of dog mince pies. He likes the mince pies, but he's not keen on his collar. I expect he will eat it before the weekend. Last Saturday I bought him a nice new rope toy and it is now nothing more than broken fragments. I suppose I can't really expect that much quality from the pound shop, but I live in hope.

And so to bed; hoping my stomach will settle....

18 December 2012 (Tuesday) - Luvaduck

I felt quite ill when I woke this morning - headache, runny nose and a general feeling of bleagh. Fudge didn't seem quite one hundred per cent either. His ears were cold, which seemed unusual. As the day went on I think we both perked up a bit; even if Furry Face did sleep an awful lot.

Once "er indoors TM" set off to work I took Fudge for a little walk. I had some geocache maintenance to do. One of my caches is in a fake snail shell. Or that is it was. Now that it's gone missing, been replaced and gone missing again I've replaced the snail shell with a bog standard magnetic key holder. There are those who look down their noses at magnetic key holders as geocaches. But equally only yesterday I got an email of thanks about one of my series of caches which consists of seven of these key holders. And a magnetic key holder costs fifty pence whereas a fake snail costs over a fiver.

Whilst we were out we hid another cache. When we first started this game the third cache I ever found was round the corner from my house. However "Horse Guards" has not been looked after by its owner, was marked as needing maintenance back in August, and yesterday it was archived (removed from the list of active caches). I've been trying to contact the person who owned the cache for ages, but to no avail.

With that cache now gone, the way was left clear for my latest scheme. A geocache which is blatantly obvious, but rather hard to actually get at. Caches are rated on a difficulty/terrain scheme on which the difficulty and terrain are graded from a score of one (dead simple) to five (rather tricky!). I've rated "luvaduck" as difficulty 1 / terrain 4. The cache is obvious. As the name suggests the cache is in a duck (a floating plastic decoy duck). The difficult bit is that the duck is anchored in the middle of the river.
On arrival at where I planned to place the cache I let Fudge off the lead and spent several minutes trying to carefully arrange everything. And when I finally realised that I couldn't do it in a controlled manner without getting very wet I just chucked the whole lot into the river. There was a huge splash, and in a triumph of pot luck over the odds the duck ended up just where I wanted it. And then Fudge went mad. For some reason he didn't like seeing the duck in the water, and he wouldn't stop barking at it.
We came home and did the necessary on-line activation of the duck and I wondered how long it would be before it was found. I got a text from Lisa at 1pm to say that she had done the cache and found two others had already signed the log before her.

Fudge and I then went up to the post office to collect a parcel. My Chinese puzzle box has arrived. I shall use that in another geocache. One with a very easy terrain setting (very easy to get to), but rather tricky to actually open up. A 4:1 to complement today's 1:4. It's my intention to hide that on a bridge I know in Canterbury tomorrow morning; if only I can get going early enough tomorrow.

We came home and I did some laundry and then the hoovering. Fudge seemed terrified by the hoover. And then whilst I scoffed the Chinese take-away that "Daddies Little Angel TM" had left laying around I watched a film about the life of the famous footballer George Best. A watchable film, but whilst it was on Fudge fell asleep on my lap. I really didn't have the heart to move him, so I resigned myself to watching rubbish on the telly whilst he noisily snored the afternoon away.
"My Boy TM" came to visit, and he was watching the telly with us when there was a huge crash outside. Some twit had come down the road far too fast and had swerved into the cars parked outside the shop just over the road. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it made quite a mess.

And then being Tuesday the clans gathered. Banana bread and mince pies. Very tasty...

17 December 2012 (Monday) - Grain Sea Fort

Bikes boil my piss. Well, to be fair it's not the bikes so much as the people riding them. Take yesterday for example. I had an interesting altercation with a plank on a mountain bike. I was bringing up the rear of the group with whom I was out walking. I watched the party ahead of me scatter in all directions as an idiot flew downhill through them on his mountain bike. By the time he'd reached me he'd slowed down somewhat. He then launched a bitter tirade about how rude everyone else had been by not saying hello to him. When I intimated that perhaps they didn't like his flying down footpaths on his bike (like a bat out of hell) he got quite mouthy, claiming that he had a God-given right to do just that. Silly fellow.
And then this morning I nearly mowed down two cyclists whilst driving to work. Both were out on their bikes on main roads before 7a.m. Sunrise this morning was at 07.56 - it was really dark when I nearly killed them. Both of my potential victims were clothed entirely in black, neither of them had any lights or reflectors on their bikes at all. And one of them was cycling down the wrong side of the road.

And so to work, which was rather uncomfortable. The elastic had gone in my underpants, and I spent much of the day hoiking my undercarriage about; doing the job my pants didn't. It's the sort of thing which is rather entertaining all the time it is happening to someone else. But when it's your own junk, it's a bit of a nuisance.

And then home earlier than usual. I got changed, and was soon zooming up the motorway with Lisa and Earle. A call had gone up on the Kent geocaching page that people were going to try for the cache in the sea fort which is about half a mile off of the coast of the Isle of Grain and is only accessible at low tide. Low tide as at about 9pm, so a dozen hardy (daft) souls met up and marched along the causeway. The first few hundred yards were the muddiest, but people who had been there before had already gone out to the fort and left a trail of beacons for us to follow, and set up a ladder. And also arranged for hot drinks to be waiting for us all. Another of our number brought muffins, and having explored the fort we had an impromptu sixty-fourth birthday party for one of our number. I was impressed - the birthday boy had received a kidney transplant less than a month previously.
Being a tunnel rat at heart it was odd - reminiscent of the architecture of the tunnels at Capel and Dover, but not underground. And having a geocache there was a nice added bonus. It would have been good to have explored more but time and tide (literally) were pressing. So we made our way back along a causeway which I felt was noticeably wetter than when we'd gone out.

Back on the mainland we looked for (and found) three more caches that were in the area. They took some finding - the local geology apparently had a lot of ferrite which stuffs up GSP readings.
And so home shortly after midnight to find the Chinese take-away that he most recent fruit of my loin had left. That made for a nice bit of supper.

We shall have to go back and explore that fort in the daylight...

16 December 2012 (Sunday) - Yalding

I was woken by my alarm this morning. That hardly ever happens. Up, brekkied, dressed and out of the house by 8am. We collected Hursky and made our way to Yalding. On the way we drove past Teston Bridge picnic site; somewhere which is very special to me. The river was very full, the weir was under water. And there seemed to be a lot of building work going on. I wonder what's happening there?

Pausing only briefly a couple of times for caches we were passing, we soon met up with friends old and new in Yalding, and nine of us took Fudge for a walk. Along the Yalding Hill Walk, a series of twenty (or so) geocaches. Up hills, down dales, through swamps. Finding supposedly leaning trees that had actually fallen, shouting at small dogs for rolling in fox poo; it was a really good walk. And at the end of the walk as a bonus we were given co-ordinates for a further five geocaches which were slightly more tricky.
One of these boiled my piss. The official rules of hiding geocaches state that caches should not be put near playparks. The actual rules say that only caches hidden by me should not be near playparks. We found yet another cache on top of a kiddies play area. I've actually started compiling a list of such caches. It's getting longer. When I'm next feeling in a black mood I might just squeal them all up. But not today.

Finding all the Yalding Hill caches took just over three and a half hours. We made our way into the village and sat at the seats by the war memorial to eat our picnic. Disaster! Someone (me) had left our sarnies at home. Fortunately we were with excellent company who ensured we didn't go hungry.

We then said our goodbyes to some of our number, and three of us (and a small dog) then slowly made our way home via whatever geocaches we could find on the way. We stopped off for quite a serious stroll around Collier Street where we found four caches. One named in honour of a pig which once lived nearby, One in the fields where hops are grown.
And then on to Staplehurst where we gave up on two: one being a muilti-cache which seemed to lead us on to a point over a mile away, and another which required a serious hike up and down through the village; as it was getting dark we decided against that. Instead we found "Dog's Cache" in the dark (the light had completely failed by this time). And with only one more pit stop we made our way home. A successful day's geocaching having found over thirty caches. And, as always, there are photos of the day on-line.

Once home Fudge had a bath. He'd gone out wearing his coat,but it had got soaked whilst we were walking, And he'd also done his signature move in fox poo (what is the attraction?) so a scrub was necessary.
And we found the sandwiches I'd prepared for lunch sitting in the kitchen where I'd left them. Waste not, want not. They made for a passable bit of tea.

And with "er indoors TM" off bowling and an exhausted little Fudge fast asleep on my lap I wasted the rest of the evening watching rubbish on UK Gold. My face is glowing; I seem to have caught the sun today.
Five days until mid winter and I've caught the sun....

15 December 2012 (Saturday) - Rather Quiet, Really...

The intention was to catch upon sleep last night. I dozed on the sofa with Fudge on my lap until gone midnight, then lay in bed chatting on Facebook till gone 1.30am. And was woken by the noise of the rain shortly after.

I spent a little while this morning trying to post onto the astro club's Facebook page. What I wanted to say was "Hi all. As a club we have display boards and a *lot* of posters for them. But 99% of these posters are hopelessly out of date. Being a very mean treasurer I am very loathe to spend good money on new posters which will also get out of date.
Instead might I ask the membership to design posters for the club. We have some very accomplished astro-photographers. A print on A3 or A4, maybe a description. laminated would be good. Or why not design something on a planet? All contributions gratefully received"
I posted that, and then deleted it six times because of spelling mistakes I kept finding. The final version has still got a typo in it, but I can't be bothered to change it for a seventh time.

Here's something of interest. t would seem some normal people watched a geocacher doing his thing and were suspicious. They called the police. A town was cordoned off for hours, and the poor geocacher ended up with a police caution.
In theory this is entirely avoidable. For all that caches are reviewed by experienced cachers before they go live, these reviewers do not have local knowledge. To get round this, when cachers find a geocache in a place which could be construed as less than ideal they have the option to say so in the log that appears on-line. In theory this should point out any shortcomings in problematical geocaches.
In practice this doesn't work. It's become the accepted practice that these logs should only be used in a very positive way, and any log which does not gush praise regardless of any problems is frowned upon, and then deleted.

And then shopping. First to the outlet centre. Every time I go there the shops are different. We got some Christmas pressies, then walked into town for more Christmas pressies. We had a look in the clothes shops and I couldn't see anything that I couldn't get cheaper in Asda or Tesco. A quick bit of McLunch, then on to the pound shops to pick up some bargains. And with bargains bought we came home, collected Furry Face and took him for a walk though some very wet and muddy fields. Whilst out we fitted in a couple of geocaches. Well, we were in the area and it would be a shame not to. The pup did get wet and muddy though. And was soon shivering. He will be wearing his T shirt and coat tomorrow whether he likes it or not.

And with "er indoors TM" off to the film night watching a film I wouldn't have minded watching I dusted off an old presentation I once gave to the astro club. I'm presenting at our upcoming Stargazing Live extravaganza, and am fast running out of time to have it all ready...