30 November 2017 (Thursday) - Between the Night Shifts

After a surprisingly busy night shift I found myself scraping ice from the windscreen of my car. The early shift who relieved me told me the cars in the car park were not frozen; my car was.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were talking about the spat between Donald Trump and Teresa May. From what I can work out, Donald Trump made a tit of himself (again), Teresa May told him off for making a tit of himself, and Donald Trump told her to wind her neck in. It’s the sort of thing that goes on all the time. From the world’s playgrounds to the world’s leaders, squabbles abound.

Just as I got to Ashford the snow started. Just snow flurries, but snow nonetheless. My journey home was further hampered by a lorry having broken down in the middle of the roundabout coming off of the M20.
Once home I immediately walked the dogs round the park. They both shouted at passing buses; Fudge humped a Yorkie… business as usual really.
For once Fudge didn’t straggle though. It was so much better not having to stop to wait for him every few yards.

We got back from our walk almost exactly twenty-four hours after our smart meter was activated yesterday. In that twenty-four hour period our gas and leccie cost us three pounds sixty nine pence. That’s rather a lot; especially when you bear in mind we’ve not had the washing machine going yet, and the fish pond filter is switched off for the winter.
I think we need to economise somewhere…

I had a shower, and over brekkie watched Star Trek cartoons, then took myself off to bed for the day. Bearing in mind the trouble I had with Treacle yesterday I set the hot water bottle where "er indoors TM" usually sleeps just to keep the puppy off of me.
Treacle soon came up and made herself comfortable. Fudge wanted to stay in his basket. That was fine with me until I had to get up because he was barking for absolutely no reason whatsoever. After the fourth time in quarter of an hour I marched him upstairs and settled him on the bed, and we all slept peacefully for five hours.

I woke a little earlier than I had hoped, and seeing the time I thought we might just have time for a quick walk round the park before it got dark. The pups were up for a wander. We did our usual circuit of the park; this time clockwise (usually we go anticlockwise). This time Fudge did straggle.
As we walked so it got darker. I lost count of the amount of people on bikes who was dressed all in black with no lights whatsoever. How do they get away with it in these days of over-kill health and safety legislation?

Lacey is currently with her auntie just round the corner. I’ve been told that if I collect her and give her a lift home, Cheryl will give me dinner. I hope so; "er indoors TM" has gone to see “Bananarama” and if Cheryl don’t feed me, who will…?

29 November 2017 (Wednesday) - Smart Meters

Another cold night spent shivering whilst everyone else had the duvet. I got up at seven o’clock, went downstairs and pulled all of the crap out of the way of the cupboard where the electric meter lives. It took a major excavation to get to that cupboard. Why do we have so much clutter?

I made myself some toast, and had a look at the Internet. I had a little chuckle when I read something on one of the Facebook pages devoted to the TV show “Star Trek: Discovery”. There had been some post on there about something or other and (as usual) someone took a totally innocent comment to be a perceived insult to the gay community, or to some race or other, or to the elderly, or to the left-handed or to anyone whose name begins with the letter “B” … I don’t know who was supposedly offended and don’t much care. It seems that there is always a minority waiting to be insulted when no insult is intended.
Anyway… one chap had posted “Star Trek fans are so disappointing ... before social media I lived with the happy illusion our fan community was intelligent and forward thinking and fun but dignified. That bubble has certainly popped.
The bit “before social media” was what made me laugh. Long before the Internet I used to subscribe to a Star Trek fan-written magazine. It was printed on paper, published and posted to me every month or so, was one *huge* argument from start to finish, and that was over twenty-five years ago.

Before long the door-bell rang; the nice man from the power company had arrived to install our smart meters. For some time the old leccie meter has been broken. The reading hasn’t changed in months and the people at the leccie company said that a smart meter was the way forward. Bearing in mind that it is the twenty first century and anything with the word “smart” in it is in fashion, who was I to argue?
The nice man came in, got out his equipment (oo-er!), turned off all the power, and rummaged in the cupboard. After an hour he turned it all back on again and went outside to do whatever it is that he does to gas meters. We were told to allow four hours for his visit; he was done by half past nine. I was hoping he’d leave instructions for the new meters. He didn’t; he left a “literature pack” instead. What am I going to do with a “literature pack”?
I’ve installed the leccie company’s app on my phone. I wonder if I can use it to monitor my power usage when I’m not home?

Whist the nice man from the power company worked I kept the dogs out of his way by locking them in the kitchen. They screamed the whole time. Once he was done I took them round the park to calm their nerves.
Unlike yesterday we had quite the adventure today.
I knew it was going to be a difficult walk when Treacle had a “dump”, then sniffed the air, turned round and viewed what she’d just done as though it was a major discovery.
We scared the weirdoes who take their dog for a carry. They are an odd couple; they have a small dog not unlike Fudge which they walk round the park and pick up whenever any dog comes within twenty yards. I’ve spoken with them before; their dog isn’t aggressive or timid. They just don’t want him mixing with the sort of dog that gets walked round Viccie Park (!)
We met the Scottie and his owner; they were with a little group of dog walkers who know Fudge by name.
We met Ralph the pug (who looks as though he has put on three stone in weight). He has a new little friend; a chihuahua who Treacle managed to bully. Terrified of all other dogs, she picked on one who only wanted to play.
We saw a solitary OrangeHead. I can only imagine there has been some bust-up; once queen-bee of the Viccie Park dog walking scene, it is months since I’ve seen her with a posse.

Once home I had a shower, then sparked up the telly (if only to watch my smart meter get excited) and watched the episode of Howard’s End that the SkyPlus box had recorded for me on Sunday whilst I’d been driving home from the late shift. It was rather good; that Mr Wilcox would seem to have been a beast.

I then took myself off to bed for the afternoon. I didn’t sleep that much; I spent most of my time in bed trying (and failing) to push Treacle off of my hot water bottle I’d put in the bed earlier.
Why is it that I am so cold that I need a hot water bottle in the early afternoon, but don’t when I go to bed at night?
I got up, had a cuppa, and then saw that the smart meter display thingy had gone blank. It had crashed. That was good; it had lasted eight hours. I phoned the power company and was on hold for about a quarter of an hour before I realised I hadn’t turned on the power to the thing. Woops.

Once "er indoors TM" gets home she can boil up my dinner, then I’m off to the night shift.

Did you know that Treacle has now been with us for a year?

28 November 2017 (Tuesday) - Iden Revisited

Somehow in the night an alliance of "er indoors TM" and two small dogs had pulled the duvet off of me and I woke shivering shortly after 5am.
Over brekkie I activated Netflix and watched another episode of “Red Dwarf” before staring into cyberspace. Not a lot had changed overnight really, but I had a message (via Facebook) from one of the administrators of a work-related Facebook group I follow. Several people have taken to posting medical pictures on that page with comments along the lines of “have a guess at what this is” and some of the responses are rather alarming; some akin to seeing a picture of a chicken and claiming it’s a three-piece suite. I suggested that people post some sort of description with their postings; if nothing else it might spare the embarrassment.
The administrators of the group agreed with me. Mind you I’ve made this comment to them before…

Also on Facebook was a communication to the Geocaching in Kent page from a newly-elected member of the committee of the Geocaching Association of Great Britain. Having spouted a few management catch-phrases it turned out this chap is in Tyne and Wear... He *could* be further away from Kent, but not by much.
Just as I activated my lap-top I had an email. Yet another of the world’s top one per cent of geoachers had just published their virtual reward. This team of Tupperware-hunters have found over ten thousand hides. However their contribution to the hobby is nowhere near as impressive. They have arranged three meet-up (two in 2013 and one in 2016), and have hidden a grand total of three caches; their most recent hide being published in 2009.
Hunting Tupperware as a hobby is entertaining, but the organisers have clearly lost their way.

I spent a few minutes scraping ice from my car's windscreen. It was rather odd that I'd needed to. When I'd looked out of my bedroom window when I got out of my pit earlier the cars were all ice-free, but in the intervening time they'd all iced up.
I drove to work along rather busy roads; where had all the traffic come from today?

As I drove the punters on the radio were spouting about Prince Harry's upcoming nuptials. In years gone by a divorcee  of mixed race who has starred in a mucky video would *never* be allowed near the Royal family. How times have changed.
There was also talk of how every stillbirth that happens in the UK will be seriously investigated so that lessons can be learned to prevent future tragedies. An admirable sentiment; they interviewed someone whose child had died at birth who gave a tear-jerking account of their terrible experience. 
However they then scored an own goal when the chap interviewed said their child had suffered from Edwards Syndrome, sufferers of which usually die before birth, and only a quarter of those who survive birth live as long as one year.
I did my bit at work. What with the vagaries of the rota, today will be my last shift when I've got a workmate for quite a while. I made the most of it.

I came home to an empty house; "er indoors TM" had already taken the dogs for a walk. They all returned eventually, we fed the pups and drove down to The Bell in Iden. Regular readers of this drivel may recall I’ve been there before -14th August 2010, to be precise. At the time I said it was a pub to re-visit; shame it took so long.
We met father-in-law, and had a rather good evening. The food was good, beer was not too shabby… I won’t leave it quite so long before going back again…