29 April 2017 (Saturday) - The Kent Mega

I slept well, but woke with my right elbow in some pain. I damaged it at Brighton Kite festival a couple of years ago, and now any physical effort (like yesterday’s gardening) sets it off. What with that elbow, the inflexible bunion joint and the rheumatic metatarsals my entire right hand side is in constant (if low-level) pain these days. But (as always) I had a choice. I could sulk about it and spend the day moping in self-pity, or I could get up and get on with life.
I got up.
I hobbled downstairs; what was pain eventually subsided to a dull ache. Over brekkie I had a look-see at the Stan Laurel archive. Over his life and career the comedy genius Stan Laurel received thousands of letters from fans. He replied to pretty much every single one. There is a project to compile all the letters he wrote; it makes for interesting reading.

We took the dogs into the garden and fed the fish. The new little fish seemed to be holding their own at feeding time. We were mean with the amount of fish food we put in to the pond; the pond is (at the moment) clean and clear. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

Pausing only briefly to drive over to Willesborough to collect my car (I left it there last night) we drove out to the Hop Farm at Paddock Wood. The Kent Mega was taking place. A Mega-event is one of the biggest things that happen in the geo-world; there’s probably less than a dozen happen in the UK every year, and we are rather lucky to have one within an hour’s drive of home.
We arrived and met Karl and Tracey in the car park. We walked the short distance into the Hop Farm and were soon chatting with friends. Pretty much everyone in the geo-world was there today and whilst the ladies went into the building to have a look at the various stalls I stayed outside with Karl and the dogs and chatted with loads of friends.
We then did a dog-swap (dogs weren’t allowed inside the buildings) and left the ladies with the dogs whilst we looked at the stalls. I won three caches on the tombola, and then bought some raffle tickets and some bisons and stuff, then we wandered over to play on the lab caches.

Lab caches are great fun – a serious bit of silliness. We played counting crayons, and bursting balloons. We dived in ball ponds with frogs and waved at E.T. flying through the trees. We played with the Three Little Pigs, and with Wall-E. We even saw Inspector Gadget (My contribution to the event was that I’d supplied Inspector Gadget’s coat). The people who’d created the Lab Caches had clearly put a *lot* of effort into making them. Lab caches are fun; it is a shame they are so few and far between. In six years and eight thousand finds I’ve only come across forty-one of the things.

We had a spot of lunch from the burger van. For all that the event had been really well organised it was a shame that the Hop Farm people couldn’t have sorted out their catering. One van wasn’t enough for a thousand punters. But with a burger scoffed we teamed up with another friend and half a dozen of us went for a little walk. You can’t go to a caching event and not walk.
As we walked Fudge was looking longingly at the water in the river. It looked clean but he seemed reluctant to go in. So I gave him a little shove. Then I saw why he was reluctant to go in; he couldn’t get out again. I nearly (but not quite) fell in trying to retrieve him from the water.
My dog then took his revenge for being pushed in; having come out of the water dripping wet he then rolled in dust, mud and fox poo. He’d never been so filthy.

As we walked my phone beeped; a text message. I’d won something in the raffle. We finished our walk and made our way back to the raffle stall. I’d won a collectible coin, Karl had won something similar, and Tracey had won a truly awful toiletry set.
We then adjourned to the nearby pub to celebrate our fortune.

Karl and Tracey then had to go home; teenage daughters needed to be taxi-ed here, there and thither. We said our goodbyes and then walked across to the camping field; we had an invitation to dinner with the campers. More friends to chat with. When we arrived at the camp site I rather wished we’d camped out too. It was a beautiful evening, and a beautiful location. But as time wore on I was glad we were going home. It was rather cold; too cold to be in a tent overnight.

We came home; the dogs slept as we drove. We’d all had a rather busy day. Mega Day was a good day…

28 April 2017 (Friday) - A Funeral

Another good night’s sleep; mind you I did ache when I woke. I might have overdone the garden work yesterday.
Over brekkie I stared into cyberspace. Facebook told me of a few birthdays today, but other than yet another personal snipe at me there wasn’t much of note there. My inbox was similarly uninspiring, so I took the dogs out.

The plan for today had been to drive out to the hop farm and set up a camp site for a four-day geo-extravaganza, but my heart hadn’t been in it from the start. It is too early in the year to go camping. And when it comes to camping one can either camp in comfort or rough it in a tent. Camping in comfort takes too much effort these days; especially when it is all over and everyone wants to go home.
It turned out I wasn’t the only one whose heart wasn’t really in it, so we decided against camping.

I took the dogs round the park for our morning walk. We went the other way round to that which we usually go, and it seemed to confuse Fudge; he straggled even more so than usual. As we walked we kept meeting up with the nice lady who lives up the road who runs the Morris dancers. We met up so often it became embarrassing.

We came home, and I went into the back garden where I had a few things to do. Firstly I had to sort out the membranes where we’d put in new fence posts over the last few weeks.  Once the membranes were straightened I had to re-bury them with shingle. That hurt my arm somewhat. I was rather depressed to see that nice-next-door had taken their shed down. One of the broken fence posts was held in place by being wedged between that shed and the pot of my monkey puzzle tree. Now the shed has gone I will have to fix that fence post. The first stage of the job will be moving the monkey puzzle tree’s pot, and that is heavy.

I then disassembled a broken water feature (the one by the pond) with a view to cleaning it. It was so grungy the only way to clean it was with the pressure washer. So I ran out the hose pipe and set up the pressure washer. With the thing set up I pressure washered quite a bit (including the front garden). There was a dodgy five minutes when the puppy escaped the puppy-proofing and was running loose in the street. I was amazed at how the cars all emergency-stopped when I can into the street and bellowed “all cars stop NOW!!
After that little episode I rather cut short pressure-washing the front garden.

I had intended to sort the red gravelled areas next, but I didn’t have any red gravel spare. So instead I thought I’d sort the concrete wreckage from the garden; there was quite a bit from the recent fence repairs. I loaded those that I could lift into the car and went to the tip.
The tip was quiet, but once there I met a random nutter who latched on to me for some reason. He wanted me to guess what he’d been doing all week long. I had absolutely no idea, but he insisted I guessed. I smiled politely and he said it was obvious. Apparently he’d been installing a new kitchen into his house. I was supposed to have guessed that from the cardboard pizza boxes he was throwing away. I managed to get away before he flipped.

As I was driving past the place, I popped into the shingle supplier by the tip. They had some red gravel. They also had pumps for water features. I saw the very one I wanted. It was somewhat smaller than the one in Bybrook barn I got yesterday. I asked how much it was..
Oh dear.
The chap behind the counter proudly boasted he’d never sold one before, and pulled out a ream of paper to look up the price. Bearing in mind the one I got yesterday cost thirty quid I was expecting to pay about twenty quid for the thing. After ten minutes the bloke announced it was a hundred and forty nine pounds (!)
I didn’t get it.

I came home, thought about getting the gravel out of the car, and decided against it. Instead I had a spot of lunch (and watched “BattleStar Galactica”) and then phoned the payroll people at work. For some reason I’d paid over a hundred pounds more income tax this month than last month. The people at the work’s payroll office said that they take what they are told to take by the tax office, so I phoned the tax office.
They don’t answer the phone with any alacrity, you know.
Fortunately for my nerves I was eventually put through to someone who knew what was going on. Apparently despite NHS pay scales being a very open matter of public record, the Inland Revenue computer had a guess at what my wages would be, and guessed wrongly. I’m told I’ll get a refund next month.
Whilst thinking of money I had a little look at my accounts. For all that I miserly account for every penny I spend, I thought I’d have a look-see at what I’m actually spending with a view to not spending quite so much.  So I cancelled an insurance policy on my desk-top PC. Five pounds a month for something I could (possibly) fix myself was a saving.

Following the morning’s debacle, I then had a look on eBay for pumps for water features. Yesterday I mentioned that I thought that they were about fifteen quid each; I bought two for seventeen quid. It pays to shop on-line (providing the things arrive).

Martin came round, we drove to collect "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" then went on to the crematorium. Today was Glenn’s funeral. Over the years our friends have gone here and there, and every so often we all get back together again. Today was one of those occasions. It was good to see so many old faces; but it was wrong to be for a funeral. Especially for the youngest of our number. Glenn should have buried everyone else.
There was an official wake, but from what we could work out the wake was by and for his father’s side of the family. None of us wanted to make polite conversation with strangers about how we knew our departed shared friend. Instead we went to the Windmill in Willesborough where we staged a wake of our own…

27 April 2017 (Thursday) - A Day Off

I thought I’d have a day off work today. The upcoming Bank Holiday is the only one that I’m not scheduled to be working this year so I thought I’d make the most of it. Not needing to be up for work I slept through till gone 7am this morning. I wish that happened more often.
I had a little look-see on-line; not much had changed overnight.

I drove round to collect "My Boy TM" and together we went to a friend of "er indoors TM". This friend’s garden pond had developed a leak. They’d decided that the leak was going to be too problematical to fix and had decided to do away with their pond and had offered us the fish. We were told there was about twenty pond fish…
We arrived, we set up buckets into which to put the fish, the first fruit of my loin borrowed a pair of waders and got in the pond with a net. I stood on the side of the pond and brandished a net from the safety of dry land. After about forty minutes we seemed to have caught all the fish that we were going to catch (along with three frogs) so we said our goodbyes and brought the fish home. We set up another bucket so’s we could have a look at what we’d acquired. There were some rather pretty goldfish, tench (green and golden), orfe, and several koi. We’d been told we’d be collecting twenty fish; we counted forty-six into my pond, and "My Boy TM" took a further eight to his pond.

Having started the day with one of the fruits of my loin I then went on to see the other. "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" (and Sam) came with me to visit my mummy and daddy. They were well; they fed us lunch. I say “lunch”; "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" just ate chocolate rolls.
We came home via Icklesham Koi, where I got some jollop to sort the froth in the garden pond. We also went via Ham Street garden centre for replacement water pumps for garden water features. They didn’t have any so we went to Bybrook Barn. They had some… but where I thought they were about fifteen quid each they were actually thirty quid each. I wanted three; I bought one.

Once home I mucked out the pond filter and applied the jollop. It seemed to do the trick. Apparently the froth is protein gunge from the left-over food I’ve been feeding the fish. I should feed them less.
I then disassembled one of the knacked water features. Moving a couple of dustbins of stones to get to the pump took some time and effort; but only took an hour. I was pleased to find that after a bit of cleaning, the water pump sprung back in to life. Re-assembly didn’t take more than half an hour, but once that job was done I gave up on my plans to fart around with shingle. Instead I fed the pond fish. I was pleased to see some of the new fish took some food.

"er indoors TM" came home and boiled up a rather good bit of scoff. We scoffed it whilst watching stuff from the SkyPlus box.
It was a shame I fell asleep half way through, but there it is. Today was rather tiring for a day off…