31 July 2012 (Tuesday) - Geocaching

There was someone shouting outside the house at 4am this morning. I wish they wouldn’t do that. And, as always, once woken I stayed awake. I got up, and was rather hacked off to see the rain. I had plans for the day. But I got a text – Steve was still game for a walk, and the weather forecast said that the weather would improve. So we carried on regardless.

Seven people and two dogs met up outside the KFC, and we made our way to Park Farm via all sorts of back streets and obscure alleys. From Park Farm we went on to Kingsnorth Church where we had a quick spot of geocaching. I’d heard all about it from Steve in the past, and we’ve been threatening to go geocaching for months. Today we had a go. It’s great fun. Someone hides a little box with a signature list somewhere and tells geocaching dot com where it is. Using a GPS based app on your phone you find the app and log it. Sounds simple, but it kept us out of mischief for a while.

We then followed the Greensand way from Kingsnorth to Great Chart (like I did last week with Fudge) where this time we did go to the pub. We sat in the beer garden and had our sandwiches. Smaller ones had a glass of pop; me - I had a pint of Doom Bar.
It had been a mistake to stop; we’d all seized up. Trying to move afterwards was hard work. From the pub we made our way home slowly. Having four (relative) littluns along gave us an excuse to stop at play parks on the way home. And we did do some zip lines too.

Once home I showered, ironed a couple of shirts, and signed up with geocaching dot com. It’s free to join up; the phone app cost six quid; but what is money for if not to squander foolishly. If any of my loyal readers geocache, why not add me as a friend. My user name is something that can be guessed rather easily.

And then, being Tuesday the clans gathered. This time at the Chrisery. On the way there I did some geocaching. I narrowed one geocache down to being in a thicket of stinging nettles. I tracked another as far as being in a rather large flower bed. And actually found the third one. I won't say where it is, just in case any other geocachers want to find it.
I was going to locate the geocache in St Mary's Church on the way home, but it was getting dark. I'll find that one another time...

30 July 2012 (Monday) - Missing the Dog...

With Fudge gone back to the Fudgery the house seemed very lonely this morning. No one was waiting eagerly to greet me when I got up this morning. No one dozed next to me whilst I scoffed brekkie. I came home to an empty house this evening. I miss him.
I had been expecting a week of chaos and mayhem last week whilst he stayed with us, and in retrospect that never happened. He was rather excited on his first evening, chewing a dustbin and nibbling a carpet, but as time went on, so he calmed down somewhat. He did love destroying plastic pop bottles in the garden, and there was a dodgy two minutes with a sturgeon. He doesn't really get on with other dogs that well, but that's nothing that cutting his goolies off wouldn't cure. By and large he was no trouble. Perhaps taking him for a lot of walks wore him out - I'm told that he looks like he's lost weight over the week. He was a good dog; not scrounging at meal times like so many dogs would. I didn't like leaving him home alone when we went to work, but a lot of dogs are left home alone. And on coming back home to him, invariably we would find he was asleep anyway. And he had no "little accidents" at all.

Now I've had a dog for a week, the burning question must be "do I want a dog of my own". And for all that I liked having a dog for a week, the answer must be a resounding "no".
Take Sunday morning for example. We had planned to go out for a spot of breakfast. Where would we go? Normally we'd be spoiled for choice. With a dog in tow, the options become severely limited. Also having a dog in the house can put people off of visiting. Not everyone likes dogs; there's quite enough badly behaved ones out there to keep fuelling the prejudices of those who aren't keen on pups. Forcing the issue by employing the philosophy of "love me; love my dog" all too often means that rather than your dog gaining pals, you end up losing friends. Dogs aren't cheap to obtain or to maintain. They generate a prodigious amount of poop. They need lots of time. And actually taking a dog on a decent walk can be tricky; I lost count of the amount of fences and stiles I had to carry Fudge over last week. And I lost count of the amount of piles of dung in which he tried to roll. Taking a dog into the pub garden during a walk is off-putting for many people; so many pubs have "no dogs" policies for that reason. And I get too attached to animals; I'm currently pining for a dog I see every week anyway... I liked having the loan of a dog. But I don't think I want one permanently. Having said that, if anyone wants to re-home a dachshund I might (just possibly) be interested.

Meanwhile my piss (that most volatile of fluids) boiled. Today's news featured the shocking revelation that if one wants to buy chips at the Olympics, one must buy McDonalds chips. Unless one has fish with one's chips. And that's only because McDonalds don't sell McFish (yet!). If you fancy a crafty half with your McChips, you can have a Heineken (or go thirsty). And if you want to buy your McChips with a credit card, then it must be a Visa card. There's been quite a furore about the matter. I've had this discussion in several places over the last day or so. I only consider this revelation to be shocking because so many people don't seem to understand the entire concept of corporate sponsorship. If McDonalds and Heineken and Visa are paying for the Olympic games (which they clearly are) then they want a return from their investment. They've paid to be the sole supplier of their particular product. Of course they don't want KFC and Burger King and Fosters and MasterCard muscling in on the act. If other suppliers want to sell their wares, then tough (!) They had their chances to throw millions of pounds at the Olympics.

If, however, we want a choice when buying stuff at the Olympics, then the entire event should have been funded somewhat differently (or properly, depending on your political leanings). The whole concept of corporately funding the 2012 games was something which was mooted and decided years ago. It's a bit late to be kicking up a fuss now...

29 July 2012 (Sunday) - Rain

Bearing in mind the late night we'd had, we were up far too early this morning. I got the washing on to the line. The Bat arrived, and we set off to the Riverside Diner for a spot of brekkie as a prelude to the planned walk. Brekkie was good. Everyone else had pancakes and bacon; being a traditionalist I went for the Full English.
Once replete we made our way to Chilham village square where we watched the ageing bikers and their vintage machines. Keith and Amy arrived; the heavens opened, and we had second thoughts about the planned walk. Checking the weather forecast confirmed our fears, and we abandoned our plans. It was a shame, but for the next hour or so the weather alternated between glorious sunshine and torrential downpours. If we'd gone on with the walk we would have got soaked, dried out, got soaked again, and carried on in that vein. And the fields would have been muddy.

So we came home. My laundry on the line was still wet. I left it out in the hope that it might dry. It did. The afternoon turned out to be lovely, and we stayed home, did nothing, and I got rather bored. Mind you, I did spend quite a bit of the afternoon feeling somewhat light-headed. I hope I'm not sickening for something.
"My Boy TM" and his entourage came round during the afternoon. Home from their holiday, and despite bouts of sickness they all enjoyed themselves. They collected Fudge and took him home. The house now seems somewhat emptier with him gone.

With absolutely nothing else to do we watched some of the Olympics on the telly. Synchronised diving - what on Earth is that all about? Certainly it's an activity which requires skill. But an Olympic event? Like any of the events which are not scored on distances or times but on a judge's opinion, how can it be anything but subjective? Then there was Olympic tennis. Tennis? Is there any place for tennis (and football come to that) at the Olympics? Surely those sports are done to death on an international basis elsewhere?

Perhaps I'm ungrateful. There are people who don't do anything with their lives, and actually would welcome an afternoon spent sitting in front of the telly watching random sporting events. Me - I was *so* bored today. I found myself ironing some shirts just to have something to do...

28 July 2012 (Saturday) - A Birthday Party

We had a late night last night. By the time I'd done the astro club's finances, time was pressing on. I had a quick look on Facebook, and it seemed we were missing something special. Everyone was talking about the ceremony of the start of the Olympic Games, so we turned the telly on.
I wish we could have found what everyone else had found that was so interesting. For all that we had the right channel, I remain convinced that somehow we were watching the wrong thing. The entire world was enthusing about a show which was (frankly) tedious. What was the attraction of watching several thousand people walking round a stadium? I managed to give it fifteen minutes before I was bored senseless. I couldn't believe that some people had been watching that drivel for hours. But in the end we too watched it for hours; out of a sense of disbelief, really. The rest of the world was finding this opening ceremony to be wonderful. It wasn't wonderful. It was boring. Surely we must have been missing something?

I had my weekly weigh-in. I've lost a pound. Not really surprising when you bear in mind how much walking I've done this week with Fudge. Perhaps that's the key to further weight loss - borrow Fudge more often. Talking of which, whilst "er indoors TM" did the weekly shopping, I took Fudge for a walk round the Park Farm estate. Not a bad place to go exploring; Fudge seemed to like it. We came home, and despite last night's disappointment we thought we'd give the Olympics another go. I cheered Team Paraguay in the women's sculling. They came third in the heats. I know how to pick a winner(!)

We then put on our glad rags and set off to Park Farm (again). Drinkies, and then on to the coach and off to Finchcock's for a masquerade birthday party. Finchcocks is somewhere that I've driven past so many times and meant to visit, but never did. It was a good place to visit; especially today as it was the venue of a birthday masquerade. We started off with Pimms in the afternoon sunshine, then had a rather special buffet. A look round the museum of music where I finally learned the difference between a piano and a harpsichord (something which has had me foxed for years), and then a concert. The evening was rounded off by dancing to the live band. I had a go, but found myself struggling to contend with having more partners than sense. An entertaining time was spent trying to determine whether one of the band was wearing a wig, or whether his hair naturally didn't suit his head.

It was a great day out, with great friends. And just as we got on the coach to come home I suddenly realised that I've reached another stage in life. Once I went to a lot of birthday parties with jelly and ice cream. Then it was weddings.
Now it's fortieth and fiftieth birthdays. It will be retirements soon...

27 July 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club

I got up this morning and as I went downstairs I was expecting to be greeted by Fudge. I wasn't. He was in his bed, and when I went up to him he did open an eye and wag his tail. I opened the back door so he could go out and do his business. He heaved himself up and as he walked he did seem to hobble somewhat. There's no denying that I ached somewhat after yesterday's exertions. I seem to have somehow strained my hip; which is an odd thing to have strained. Perhaps Fudge aches too? Perhaps both of us need to go out walking more often?
I left him with "er indoors TM" as I went to work; being glad that I didn't have to shut him in today. He's been a good dog so far. On his first night he did nibble a rug and have a minor chew of a dustbin. But nothing serious so far. Unlike a chap in Devon who was filmed on CCTV causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage when he chewed a lump out of the seat of the bus on which he was travelling.
Also in the news today was an article about the imminent collapse of Facebook and, by implication, all social media. The reason for this rather bleak outlook? Money. It seems that Facebook is considered to be a failure because it doesn't make lots of cash for its owners. Doesn't this speak volumes about the sad state of our society? Does something have to make loads of money to be worthwhile? Is money the beginning and end of our value system?

Being the last Friday of the month, tonight was Astro club. I spent a few moments on Google Maps working out the best way to get there; and was pleasantly surprised to find that the way I have always gone is actually the shortest. I got there reasonably promptly and helped with the setting up thing. I had been wondering about how much of a turn-out we would get tonight. Being the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, I wondered if a lot of people would stay at home to watch that. Personally I couldn't see the attraction. But then I can't see the attraction of watching any sport. I really can't. Sorry(!)
I was hoping for a decent attendance this evening; we had a guest speaker tonight. We had a decent attendance, which was good.
And I was rather worried about what we might be getting as a speaker. The last guest speaker was (in my honest opinion) all wind and piss. I was hoping for better this time. I was disappointed. Stellar evolution can be a tricky subject to convey comprehensibly to the masses. But the speaker didn't really give the promised lecture on stellar evolution. Instead he had a disjointed series of (so-called) facts which he spouted at random. He kept showing pictures of Hertzsprung Russell diagrams but never explained what they were. He kept mentioning the concept of absolute magnitude, but never explained how it could be measured. At first sight the fellow was entertaining, but I couldn't help but feel that he was all style but no substance. His presentation would have been good for the general public, but it needed to be more structured and detailed for an astronomical society.
Towards the end I actually fell asleep.

And then one of the parish councillors marched in and complained about the cars in the car park. There are ways to complain, and marching in shouting at whoever might be there isn't the way to do it. The fellow didn't recognise me; but I recognised him. He was someone I originally met through scouting many years ago, and have since encountered in various places. I think it fair to say that the first time I met him I felt he was a prat, and in the intervening twenty years he has done nothing to make me change my opinion of him.
Home. I had been worrying about Fudge. He was fast asleep. It was a shame to wake him...

26 July 2012 (Thursday) - Walkies

Fudge had a good night. And consequently so did I. Perhaps I fuss too much about that dog. After we'd both had some brekkie and I had put the washing on the line, we went for a little stroll. Getting to Asda was easy enough, but it was shortly after here that things went west. There was a crossing over the railway, so we crossed; aiming for Park Farm. In retrospect I should have looked at the map before we crossed the railway. There was no footpath, and no way out of the field we'd walked into. Faced with backtracking a mile I picked Fudge up and carried him through a thicket onto the bypass. There was a dodgy few hundred yards walking along the bypass, but soon enough we found ourselves in Park Farm and back on course. Flushed with success we opened our pack and both had a drink.

The footpath up to Kingsnorth Church was clearly marked, and from here we picked up the Greensand Way, heading through Kingsnorth. The plan was to get an ice cream from the shop at the bottom of the hill. We found that he shop had closed down some years before. So we carried on along a lane, and then along footpaths. We crossed Long Length; a lane we often cycle down, and then across a corn field. It was at this point that Fudge collapsed. He just flaked out and wouldn't go any further.
We had a drink and a few minutes rest, and carried on. We left the corn field and found another lane we often cycle along - cycle route 18 on the far side of Singleton Hill. I once got a photo of a local for "CrackWatch" along this lane. We soon left lanes for footpaths again. And the pup which was on the point of exhaustion only a few moments before was now leaping all over the place chasing butterflies.
Once over the top of Singleton Hill we did take a wrong turn, but soon got back on course and took the footbridge over the A28 into Great Chart. If I wasn't on my own I might have popped into the pub for a crafty half. But I resisted temptation, and we took the underpass back into Singleton. Round the lake, along the river, though the park and home. Three and a half hours walking; probably about ten miles covered.

As I made myself a sandwich for lunch, Fudge lay down and slept for the afternoon. He's a good dog really. Whilst he slept I earned a few quid by doing some on-line surveys. I should do more of those really. They are easy enough to do; just time consuming, really.

"er indoors TM" came home and we set of to Folkestone. Collecting Sid and his entourage from the Admiralty we had a really good walk along the warren and back. Fudge and Sid seem to get on really well; which is probably for the best. On the way back to the Admiralty we stopped off and got fish and chips which made for a really good bit of tea.
I was worn out by the time I got home.... I hope that dog is grateful for my efforts today...

25 July 2012 (Wednesday) - Back On Line...

A very restless night. I lay awake for much of the night listening for Fudge's crying. At the first squeak I was going to fetch him up. He didn't make a sound all night. I got up earlier than I normally would to see if he was OK only to find he hadn't been shut in the kitchen. He was sitting at the bottom of the stairs and he could have come up at any time, but had chosen not to. Soppy pup.
After brekkie I sat in the garden with him whilst he destroyed some pop bottles. He was quite interested when I fed the Koi. I don't think he'd seen them before. He was fascinated by them; at one point rubbing noses with a sturgeon.

To the farm shop. For somewhere that specialises in apples and has apple fairs, I was amazed to find that they'd sold out of apples. They were waiting for the new season apparently, so I roughed it with a banana and a curly-wurly.

Before starting work I phoned the internet people. It was still down. I got through to yet another person who couldn't speak English, and after quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I got out through to someone who could mumble English. Not speak it; mumble it. He mumbled something about British Telecom being involved in sorting the problem. I came home to be told that British Telecom had "implemented a solution". Well - the internet connection is working. Let's hope that this solution remains implemented....
I'd be inclined to swap internet provider to British Telecom if not for the fact that they are seriously more expensive that what I have at the moment. Which is why I packed up with BT in the first place...

24 July 2012 (Tuesday) - No Internet !!!!

Yesterday afternoon my home internet connection was fine. It died over tea time, and didn't come back up. One only realises how much one values something when it is gone.

I phoned the broadband people to see if the fault was at their end. A disinterested voice told me that there was a fault in my area and it hung up. I wondered how he knew where my area was when I hadn't told him, so I phoned back. I got through to someone who clearly didn't speak English at all well. Certainly not well enough to use it professionally. I lost count of the amount of times I told her I didn't understand what she was saying; and at one point in frustration I asked her to stop saying "bid bid bid". Was that wrong of me?

Eventually I think she said that there could be a fault with some third party's equipment, and it might be fixed in a couple of days time. The internet connection wasn't working when I got up this morning, so I phoned back to the Internet people during the late morning today to be connected to someone whose spoken English was equally bad. I think I was told that they had received no update from whoever this third party might be. I tried phoning them again in the late afternoon and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing was told that they still had no news. As I hung up my mobile beeped. A text message. From the broadband people telling me that there was no news.
I'm hoping that the fault is with their tackle - I really don't need the expense of having to get a new router.

Meanwhile Fudge continues being Fudge. Having had a good night on Sunday night, he had a bad night last night. I lay awake for ten minutes about 1am listening to him crying. I went downstairs to sit with him, but he wanted to play. I had two choices. Either I could sleep with him downstairs or he could come upstairs. He's only a small dog. We didn't notice him sleeping at the bottom of the bed. and he was as good as gold, really. I expect we will regret having relented, but he was sobbing. I couldn't leave him alone all night. Mind you his auntie has been doing "Dog School" with him today. I did wonder if that might have sorted him out, but I am reliably informed that he was rubbish at "Dog School".

And there's an update from Great Yarmouth. The first fruit of my loin and his contingent have arrived safely and have been in the sea where they have been "playing like cods". That must have been nice for them. And the denizens of Great Yarmouth...

23 July 2012 (Monday) - Walkies

It was quite nice to be greeted by my grand-dog when I came downstairs this morning. I had a spot of brekkie whilst listening to him destroying an old lemonade bottle. I've found that all the time I can hear something, I know what he's up to. It's when things go quiet that I need to worry.

Things went quiet and I found him drinking from the garden pond. Ten minutes later things went quiet again, and I had a minor panic. He'd disappeared. I was having visions of calling the police and lost dog services when I eventually heard a scurrying. He'd got stuck under the shed. Silly pup. He got himself out, and I went to unload the washing machine. When I came back to the garden the daft pup was rolling in cat poo. I chased him out of that, pegged out the washing and went inside to change my shoes. When I came back Fudge was soaking wet. Absolutely sodden. I can only imagine that he'd been in the garden pond.
Leaving the house came as a blessed relief.

I eventually got the lead onto Fudge (it took some doing) and we met up with Steve and his pups. Together we went for a bit of a walk to give the dogs a bit of exercise. We went through Viccy Park to Singleton and on to Great Chart. Across the lands of Godington Park to Sandyhurst Lane, and then up to the north end of Kennington. We stopped for a sandwich and a crafty half at the Pheasant, and then came home across the new bridge and along the river. Three and a half hours; about ten miles. It was a lovely day, and it was good to get out and about.

Home, to find consternation. The idea of us having Fudge for the week is because "My Boy TM" and his crew are holidaying in Great Yarmouth. We had Fudge arrive last night so that they could get away promptly this morning. They got away slightly less promptly than they might have done, got as far as Maidstone (which is about ten per cent of the way there) when there was a loud bang, all the lights on the dashboard lit up, and the car fizzled to a halt. This is the sort of thing which is absolutely hilarious provided that it is happening to someone else.

He got towed home, and I came home to find a houseful making insurance arrangements for them to take the "er indoors TM"-mobile on holiday. They've all set off now, and are (presumably) going to worry about their car when they get home at the end of the week.

With the house to myself and Fudge worn out (for once) I got my latest batch of beer into the barrel, and had rather a lazy afternoon. Until we lost the Internet connection. Oh, I got angry with it. It was at that point that "Daddies Little Angel TM" crashed through the door shrieking about trivia, which made my blood boil even more...

22 July 2012 (Sunday) - A House Guest

On Tuesday I mentioned that I missed being at the week's gathering. I also missed watching "Being Human" then, so I got out of bed at silly o'clock to catch up on that program this morning. It was quite a good episode really. I quickly checked my emails; I had one from Violetta who is apparently "a playful chick with a lot crazy thoughts in a head!" She admitted that she wasn't sure what she was looking for; probably "just exciting dialogue with fellows, maybe flirt, maybe bedroom relations or maybe some kind of building serious relations if we're lucky." She went on to hope that I would be exactly what she needed. I hope not.

On that note I set off to work. Three weeks ago I worked on the Sunday. At the time I blogged that I listened to the Sunday service on the radio as I drove in, and found it quite uplifting. This morning I listened to the Sunday service and didn't find that at all. This morning's service came from some happy-clappy convention, and far from having traditional hymns and stuff that I could relate to, it was all best described as new-age toadying. I didn't warm to it at all.
Three weeks ago I worked on the Sunday, and I mentioned that I didn't mind working as I spent the day listening to the rain. Today I spent much of the day looking out of the window at the glorious sunshine, and I sulked a bit about missing the pirate day at Hastings to which a lot of family and friends had gone. Mind you, I'm not complaining: the chance of bonus hours is not to be turned down lightly; even if I did miss seeing the world record amount of pirates seen together at any one time. I'm reliably informed that "er indoors TM" was part of a crew of over fourteen thousand pirates.

And so, after I'd done my bit I went home to find our new house guest was in residence. With the first fruit of my loins having taken his entourage on a family holiday to Great Yarmouth, we have taken charge of Fudge for a week. Fudge seems quite happy about the arrangement; so far he has destroyed his new toy, chewed the carpet and tried to eat the dustbin. Little does he know that it will be a week of "Dog Borstal" for him. I intend to give him a couple of serious walks, and his auntie is planning to do some dog training with him (whether he likes it or not).

I've been through the contacts list on my mobile phone. Since getting my new phone I have transferred all my old contacts onto it. The phone has then updated the contacts list with any data it could find on Facebook, with several email contact lists, with a very old Yahoo messenger application and with a large dollop of random guesswork. Consequently the phone number list I have on my phone is slightly at odds with reality. If any of my loyal readers wuold be so kind as to drop me a line with their current phone number, I'd be very grateful...

21 July 2012 (Saturday) - Glambling

The weekly weigh-in. No weight lost; no weight gained. I can see from MyFitnessPal (dot com) that my weight has remained the same for two months. Whilst I'm very pleased with the amount of weight that I've lost so far, there's no denying that I'd like to shift some more. But realistically I think I've gone as far as I can go with dieting. So more exercise would seem to be the way forward. Looking back over the last few weeks I haven't been as active as i might have been. Let's do something about that.

We popped into town quickly this morning to do a bit of banking. Whilst in town I met an old colleague. I hadn't seen her for years - it was good to catch up. And then on to Folkestone where we swapped cars for buses and took a scenic route up to Capel. A really good walk along the cliff tops, and soon we were at a favourite stomping ground: the derelict plotting rooms, bunkers and shelters left over from the last war. It might seem as though we were trespassing. Perhaps we were. But these tunnels have been left open to the elements, and are slowly decaying. No one takes any responsibility for these tunnels, and I for one enjoy exploring them. Dangerous? Possibly. But we take care of each other.

We had a picnic lunch in the sun and then went into the first set of tunnels. Easy to get into, a bit damp underfoot. Compared to many of the tunnels we've been in they are rather dull. But they were the first tunnels I ever went into at Lydden Spout, and they are special to me.
After a few minutes we then went on a mission. We knew that there were tunnels below where we pic-niced. We'd read bout them on the internet, so they had to be there. But finding the entrance would be tricky. We'd searched before but not found the entrance. Or (taking all the credit here!) others of our party had searched and I'd stood at the top of the cliffs and watched them search. This time I went looking for the tunnel. I scrambled fifty yards down the cliff face to where we'd searched before. And then I went on another thirty yards further than I probably should have. And just when I was on the point of giving up I noticed a rope coming down a slope. For want of anything better to do I used the rope to scramble up that slope, and at the very top I found an entrance to a tunnel. At first glance it looked like the tunnel had long since collapsed, but if I had risked life and limb to scramble that far, so could other brave souls. I turned - where were they? So I clambered back down the slope and hollered to the rest of the party. After twenty minutes others were eventually standing with me at that entrance.
It looked like a landslide inside, but I had been wrong in my initial assessment. In a typical example of idiot enthusiasm triumphing over common sense "Daddies Little Angel TM" climbed, struggled and shimmied through the subterranean landslide. That's my girl! She shouted that it was worth our while going in, and so we did. And inside that hole halfway down the White Cliffs were hundreds of yards of tunnels on several levels. We found rooms and staircases, and spent the best part of an hour investigating. When we eventually climbed back to the top of the cliffs where the girls had been waiting, they told us that whilst we were gone they could hear voices but no one was about. Was it us they could hear: our voices coming up through ventilation shafts?
A quick five minutes in a third set of tunnels and then, pausing only briefly for Sid to eat cow-poo, it was time to think about coming home. By one of life's co-incidences there was a pub by the bus stop, so we had a crafty pint whilst waiting for the bus. The more eagle-eyed amongst us noticed that whilst in the beer garden waiting for the bus, two buses went past. We caught the third bus.

Once home I had a quick shower and put photos of our expedition onto the Internet, and then being Saturday night, it was films night. A different venue, but we sat own and watched three Monty Python films back to back. I loved it...

20 July 2012 (Friday) - Cards

When I went to bed last night "My Boy TM"’s bike was in the hallway. When I got up this morning it was gone. I wonder what was going on there? Mind you I did hear a minor ruckus about 3am. I thought that a bomb had gone off in the garden, but when I looked out I didn’t see anything. Perhaps that was him quietly collecting his bike?

There's no denying that today felt odd. In years gone by today would be but a drunken haze at Canterbury beer festival, but enforced austerity and a healthy dose of being sensible (to say nothing of weight watching) put paid to excessive drinking.

Having a day to myself I had all sorts of things planned. And in a novel break with tradition I got the planned stuff done. I spent a couple of hours applying for jobs for which I know I will be turned down (not that I’m getting bitter or anything!), I mowed the lawn, I ironed fifteen assorted shirts and blouses whilst watching Mad Max 2; a film which wasn’t anything like as good as I remembered it. I went up the road to the costume shop to get a Venetian mask for an upcoming bash. And had it all finished by mid-afternoon. I toyed with the idea of getting my paints out, but the muse wasn’t upon me. So I mucked about going through my old files. A few days I mentioned about holidays I’ve had in Canada. I know I wrote diaries at the time. I can’t find them anywhere.

After a few minutes (!) playing silly on-line games Chip arrived and we set off to Folkestone where six of us (and a dog) had a particularly good few hands of poker. We haven't played cards for ages: really must do it more often....

19 July 2012 (Thursday) - This n That

Yesterday was a really good day - a once in a lifetime special event of which I made the most. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Olympic flame come past my house, and then a rare dry day and a barby in the garden with twenty-odd friends who came and went throughout the afternoon. I even got the washing machine fixed into the deal.
Coming back to reality today was dull. Not that today was in any way a bad day; just that it was dull. Regular readers of this drivel will know that there's quite a bit in my life that is out of the ordinary and eventful, and compared with those days, the average days can seem oh-so-dull.

A comment was made about one of the photos of yesterday's extravaganza; specifically about how thin I looked. Today's piccie compares that photo of yesterday with one from exactly a year ago. In that year I've lost (nearly) five stone in weight: that's sixty-six pounds or thirty kilograms (to anyone of a metric disposition). My clothes no longer fit, but I'm told I must feel better. In all honestly I can't say that I notice any difference. Mind you, I like being thinner: I never liked being the fat lad. No one ever intends to be the fat lad. It's something that just happens.

And now I'm not so lardy, my giblets might be of use to others after I've croaked. Today I signed up with the national organ donor register I didn't realise that the old donor cars that I used to carry don't count any more; if you want your bits to be used, you need to sign up. So I have. I wonder if they could do with the "large glandular organ in my abdomen"?

As I drove home there was an especially dull article on the radio about the LIBOR - the rate of interest banks charge each other. there's been a scandal about it apparently, but I can't really figure out what the scandal is. Which is entirely the problem with high finance. I can remember (many years ago) a friend who'd recently taken up a job with one of the big high street banks. He was quite pleased that he could take out a loan from the bank at an interest rate which was substantially less than the inflation rate; effectively getting something for nothing. It was a perk of the job, and no one quibbled. Perhaps if people had quibbled about that sort of thing thirty years ago we wouldn't be in such a state now...?

18 July 2012 (Wednesday) - The Olympic Flame

I'd been looking forward to today for some time. Several months ago the route of the Olympic Flame was publicised; it was to come right past the front door. Something like this was not to be missed, so we put the word out for people to congregate in the front garden to shout "Woo Hoo!!" at it. I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect, but we had a good time.
I'd hung out our Olympic flags, set up the camp chairs, and me and the Rear Admiral were sitting in the garden from 9am. There were a lot of houses up the street with flags and bunting. One house had an ice cream van in the garden. There was definitely something of a party atmosphere up our road today. There were loads of people out to see the event. The local happy-clappy church was giving out free bottles of water, the local vicar was giving out free scones.

Friends soon arrived, and over twenty of us watched proceedings from the front garden. I started on the beer at 10am, and was pleasantly refreshed by 10.15am. We woo-hooed at everything that came up and down the road, and woo-hooed like things possessed at the lady running with the flame. And when the lady carrying the flame had gone past.... we looked at each other and that was it. Suddenly there was a great anticlimax. Fortunately we'd anticipated this, and we adjourned to the back garden where we spent the afternoon having a barby. Having had a month of non-stop rain it was good to be able to have a barby in the garden.

We scoffed, and drank until the rain eventually started. And then we came inside and watched "Sky High" until it was time to call it a day. For all that it would have been good to have partied on, tomorrow is back to work for most people. Including me....

17 July 2012 (Tuesday) - Money, Scouts....

I awoke this morning with something of a panic - the realisation that I'd not paid last month's credit card bill. I'm usually so good about that. In thirty years of having had a credit card I've paid it off (in full) every month. This time I was five days late in making the payment. I wonder how much that will cost me in interest?
Probably more than the worth of the money-off voucher I got from Morrisons when I re-fueled the car last night. For all that Morrisons has the cheapest petrol, I can't say I'm impressed with their loyalty points scheme. I've been gathering points from them for almost a year, and a year's worth of petrol has equated to a voucher worth five pounds. I get more profit in five minutes from doing on-line surveys.
I did two of those today; about beer and mobile phones. Mind you, those surveys can be a con sometimes; it annoys me to be over half way through the survey only to be told that I don't fit the profile they are looking for and to be rejected. Still, I've noticed that my shoes are wearing out - the money I get from the surveys will pay for a new pair (hopefully).

Talking of money, as I drove to work there was an interesting program on the radio about economics and the country's current financial plight. Apparently the current British economy is comparable to what it was in the early 1930s. The woman presenting the show had several guest experts in economics; all of whom were under orders that what they said had to be comprehensible to the average intelligent layman. I've always considered myself to be reasonably bright, but I couldn't make sense of what they were saying. I don't understand how having inflation running higher than the average increase in wages can reduce the national debt, but (apparently) it could do.
The program mentioned about how tight the current economic climate was, and how this is a terrible time to be seeking work. I got thoroughly depressed, and then an agency phoned me with a possible job opening. Here's hoping.

Being Tuesday the clans gathered; this time at my house. Being on a 10pm finish I missed seeing everyone. I was a bit miffed about that, but the chance of a couple of hours overtime isn't to be turned down lightly.

And here's something to make you think. In the past I've lambasted the Church of England for backing down on its principles to accept gay marriages. I see the Boy Scouts of America are standing firm in their rejection of all things gay, despite fierce criticism. Whether you agree with them or not (frankly I don't) you have to admire how they are sticking to what they believe.
Having said that, I can't pretend that I'm a fan of the Boy Scouts of America. Having spent a week with them at one of their summer camps I wasn't impressed with what I saw. They ran their operation along frankly military lines, and several of their leaders made it perfectly clear that having piercings and tattoos made me unsuitable to be a scout leader. I can't believe that my week in Camp Piggot was now almost exactly eight years ago. I've got a diary from that time somewhere. I wish I knew where it was...

16 July 2012 (Monday) - Dull...

I found myself waking feeling very refreshed after what seemed like a good night's sleep. But I suspected the worst when I realised it was still dark outside. I looked at the clock: 1.20am. I'd slept for about two hours. And that was pretty much it for the night. I dozed fitfully, but never got more than another ten minutes continuous sleep.
After what seemed like an eternity I got up, did my morning round, and put on a fleece to go to work. There is something fundamentally wrong about wearing a fleece in July. There is also something fundamentally wrong about having spent every day in July looking at the rain. The weather is definitely broken. I wonder if it can be fixed?

Work was work. On the way home I stopped off to get some petrol. In retrospect I should have got a car which runs on diesel and saved a small fortune. In retrospect I would have done a lot of things differently; had I known how things were going to turn out. I suppose I'm not alone in that respect.
Here's a sign of the times: an increasing number of families are staying at home and not going to any touristy-type attractions any more. The reason? Cost. It's not cheap to go out these days. I can remember taking the god-children to the zoo a few years ago. I'd (naively) budgeted spending forty quid for the day which would be a trip to the zoo, ice creams and McDonalds afterwards. It cost forty five quid just to get into the zoo.
And people wonder why my family holiday is a long weekend in a tent in a field.
After such a good weekend today was rather dull. Mind you I did smile when I saw the two time travelling phone boxes that I've used for today's piccie....

15 July 2012 (Sunday) - The Psychic Fair

I laid in perhaps longer than I should have today. By the time I'd got up, brekkied and mucked about playing "Candy Cane Saga" it was time to set off. Regular readers of this drivel might recall that a month ago I ran a stall at the psychic fair where I was selling paintings. Last time (after I'd paid the stall fee) I was five pounds down on the day.
Today started equally dismally. After two and a half hours I eventually sold a painting for a fiver. After three hours I'd just about broken even. After three and a half hours I'd had enough and was desperately hoping that someone else would start packing up. For all that I wanted to go home, I didn't want to be the first one to knock it on the head. I sat there for another half an hour sulking, and with only five minutes before the fair closed, a family came up to my stall, loved what they saw, and bought three paintings.
Having made some sales I suppose I'll go to the next psychic fair now. Mind you, it was quite peaceful sitting with my stall, alternately watching the world going by and reading my book on my Kindle app. There is something quite serene about the psychic fairs.

But from a purely mercenary perspective, if I'm going to make a go of selling paintings I think I need to find a better outlet. There's money to be made at the psychic fairs *if* you are doing tarot readings, poncing about with crystal balls, or having people pay you to rub their feet. It's been suggested that I try my luck selling paintings at a boot fair. I'm not keen on that idea - I would have to be at the boot fair by 6am. And the open day at Shadoxhurxt the other day drew a blank.
Maybe I might find when craft fairs are on. Do any of my loyal readers know when there's a craft fair going on?

I came home, totally failed to see that "er indoors TM" had a poncey candle on the go and I spilled molten wax everywhere. And then I got the news that the washing machine has gone west. Let's home the repair contract I have on the thing will stump up...

14 July 2012 (Saturday) - Dover in the Rain

A reasonably decent night's sleep for a change. I got up fairly early and did the morning's weigh-in. No weight loss, but no weight gain either. I mucked about for a bit with silly Facebook games, then spent a bit of time fiddling with my phone. I've downloaded Google Sky to use as a star atlas, but will need to use it in the dark (when it's not cloudy) to be sure it works.
I noticed that somehow or other my phone knew about the planned outing to Dover today. I wonder who told it? Perhaps it reads the "Dates for the Diary" section of this blog.

Steve's arrival prompted me to get dressed, and after a quick visit to the cashpoint machine we set off to the clifftop café in Capel for a bite of brekkie. It might cost, but you can't beat the Full English, and Capel has such wonderful views too.
Just as we finished, the Brightonians arrived, and over a cuppa we were treated to a magic show. Rhiannon might only be small, but she's got quite a talent for magic tricks, and a few of them had me stumped as to how she was doing the tricks.
With brekkie scoffed and cuppas drunk we made our way to the Western Heights car park to meet up with the rest of the crew, and a dozen of us mooched round the gun emplacements as the rain started to fall. I had a look at the entrance to the deep shelter. Someone had replaced the gate with one that I couldn't climb over. I wasn't happy about that.

We made our way to the Grand Shaft. Built over a hundred years ago, the Grand Shaft is a triple spiral staircase going from the top of the cliffs at Dover down to the sea front. Going down is easy enough - going back up is a killer.
As we eventually struggled our way to the top so the rain really got heavy, so we went into the Drop Redoubt. Anyone who's ever been to Dover will have seen the majestic castle overlooking the town from one of the hills. Maybe one person in a hundred who's been to Dover will have heard of the Drop Redoubt on the opposite hill. Because it's not given the same priority as Dover Castle by it's owners (English Heritage) the Drop Redoubt is the poor cousin. But, to my mind, the Drop Redoubt is every bit as good as Dover Castle. Today the Western Heights Preservation Society had an open day, and the Drop Redoubt was opened up. Which was good - it gave us somewhere to get out of the rain.
Last year when we went to this place's open day we had a great time. There were things to do and see, there were re-enactments going on. This time there was torrential rain, and everyone was huddled inside hiding from the rain. We made the most of the day, and saw and did what we could. The pic-nic was interesting; normally we'd lunch in the sunshine. Today we lunched in a draughty corridor of a two hundred year old fortress. It was such a shame: most of the events and activities were cancelled. We were all soaked through. But it was a wonderful day with wonderful company. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

And then back to the car. In the meantime the rain had gone from medium monsoon to completely torrential, and we all got soaked during the two minute walk back to the car park. We said our goodbyes and went our various ways. As we drove home Tony Blackburn was on the radio re-running the top twenty from 1978. There were some good memories there - John Travolta, The Boomtown Rats and the Smurfs to name but most of them. Once back in Ashford the Brightonians (having bought dry socks) came home with us for a cuppa, which was good. The sixty miles which usually separate us can be a nuisance.

Saturday night - film night. Tonight we watched "Underworld Awakening" which frankly made no sense whatsoever. I'm told that if you've seen the three films which come before it, then it becomes somewhat more understandable. The second film of the evening was "Journey to the Centre of the Earth II" which went nowhere near the centre of the Earth. Instead it went to Atlantis (which was on dry land) and had more than just the occasional plot hole. But it was still quite watchable.
I've not been to a Saturday film night for some time - I've quite missed them.

13 July 2012 (Friday) - Bit Dull Really...

I think I am fated not to get a good night's sleep. Following on from noisy parked cars and phones going flat, this morning the bin men were going for it at full blare. I gave up trying to sleep, and once the washing was on the line I went up to town. As I arrived I suspected the worst - there was a particularly vociferous harridan shrieking about "it's a circus". But I never saw any clowns or animals or anything remotely circoid.
I popped into Wilkos to get the makings of my next load of cheap beer. It looked to me like they hadn't re-stocked for a while. I do hope they aren't getting out of the home-brew market. They are twelve quid cheaper than the home-brew shop.
As I came home I saw the mobile phone shop was doing my new phone for a fiver cheaper per month than what I was paying. I wasn't keen on that idea, so I went in to whinge. It turned out that they were doing the cheaper deal on a much cheaper package; so I wasn't too miffed.

Home; where I put the word out about Sunday's psychic fair (where I will be flogging paintings), and I applied for a few jobs. An agency phoned me about another possible opening. Here's hoping. And then I put a pan of water on to get my home brew going and I played "Bubble Witch Saga" for ten minutes. I went to check on my beer only to find I'd turned on the wrong hotplate. So I put things right, wandered off for another ten minutes and came back to find that I'd again turned on a different wrong hotplate. Oh how I laughed.

Eventually I got the beer sorted. I've thrown an orange in with it: I liked the orange in the beer I had last weekend. I'm hoping that this will turn out well. Time will tell. It usually does. I then spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between silly computer games and dozing. A waste of a day, really...