30 April 2023 (Sunday) - Badlesmere, Pond

I woke to find “er indoors TMsleeping at the bottom of the bed. Apparently she too had had problems claiming bed space from sleeping dogs. It’s unlike her to take any lip from the pups, though.
I got up, put a load of washing on, made toast and had a look at the Internet. I had two more friend requests from rather dubious young ladies. The first one didn’t say anything at all about herself on her profile. I expect she was letting her chest do the taking. From a purely objective point of view, she had a rather impressive chest, If I had one like that I too would brandish it with similar wanton abandon.
From a chest perspective the second one didn’t come close, and (to be fair to her) she wasn’t trying to compete. However she had a whip so she meant business. She was also wearing waders. My father had a pair that he used when he went shrimping.
I sent out some birthday wishes, and then sighed. Someone had posted a photo from a bookshop in Hastings. A book I once had (in the mid 1970s) was up for sale for a hundred and fifty quid. There were quite a few people posting “how much!!!” but I had a look on eBay and on collector’s sites. It is ironic to think that something I once had and chucked out is now worth a small fortune.
Also in Hastings (well, a Hastings-related Facebook group) were photos of the Memorial. If you’ve ever driven through Hastings “the Memorial” is the pedestrian area with all the traffic lights where up until 1970 there was a memorial to Prince Albert. It was demolished in 1970 after a fire. One or two locals were demanding the demolition of the pedestrian area and the re-building of the Memorial. Hastings-based Facebook groups are full of spur of the moment complaints about the local council coming from people who wouldn’t dream of getting off their arse to do anything themselves.
We got ourselves and the dogs organized and drove out to Badlesmere where we met Karl and Tracey, and wandered round “er indoors TM series of geocaches. She sorted out any issues; I took a few photos. And with walk walked we had a rather good pub dinner and I slept all the way home.
Bearing in mind the weather forecast for tomorrow wasn’t overly good, I got busy in the garden. First of all I ran out the hose pipe, set up the fish pond filter cleaning arrangement and scrubbed out the two filters that I took out on Wednesday.
I then buried the cable for the new filter under a paving slab, and landscaped a rockery behind the pond’s splash pool..
And then I dismantled the cascade I built last August Bank Holiday.
With jobs done I looked at the pond and had a little think and reviewed the situation with the pond. A year ago I had a rather huge filter box that wasn’t really cleaning the water, looked awful and was far too heavy for me to clean out without knacking my back. So over last summer I replaced it with two smaller filter boxes. That was over three hundred quid on something which bunged up with fish poo really quickly. looked even worse than that which it had replaced, and didn’t clean the water either. So I got a load of paving slabs and landscaping to hide the new boxes and built a cascade. Four hundred quid on something which looked frankly dreadful and leaked.
The filter I installed last Wednesday (together with the cleaning hoses) was the two hundred quid I should have spent in the first place.
I’ve now got the pond clear, which was the object of the exercise. The area above the splash pool is far from perfect, but is a vast improvement on what it was. I can tinker with that over the next few weeks. It needs more big rocks, but at a fiver a throw I might wait for a while. Especially as I have effectively wasted seven hundred quid on that pond over the last year.
Now that the old filters are scrubbed out I really need to look at selling them (if I can).
If an of my loyal readers have got any rocks they don’t want…
I really ache now… rather than taking my time, this afternoon I did everything on my list for tomorrow. I really should slow down when it comes to shifting heavy rocks about.

29 April 2023 (Saturday) - And Another Late Shift

I slept reasonably well I suppose, but was awake earlier than I might have liked. I made toast, and as always looked at a rather dull Internet. Pretty much nothing at all had happened overnight, which was a shame. No squabbles or petty backbiting… all rather dull.
However I had an email to say that the twenty metres of hose for cleaning out the new pond filter had been dispatched. I must admit I wasn’t happy. I ordered through Amazon because Amazon will deliver it to my door. However the seller (that *wasn’t* actually Amazon) had posted it using Royal Mail, and from bitter experience I know that Royal Mail aren’t averse to driving past the house, claiming I wasn’t in, and expecting me to go to some obscure depot miles away. But in readiness for when the hose arrives, I watched some You-Tube videos about cleaning the filter. It looks straightforward enough… here’s hoping.
Being a Saturday morning we took the dogs round to Dog Club. There was a rather good turn-out, but everyone stayed at the top of the field; no one ventured down into the swamp. I took a few photos as I do.
We came home, had a cold cross bun and a cuppa, and then I set off to work a little earlier than I might have done. As I'd scoffed my cold cross bun I'd seen a photo on the Facebook Garden Ponds (UK) group which had given me an idea. I was planning to do a bit of landscaping round the pond tomorrow anyway, and having seen this piccie I needed (wanted) some flattish rocks.
I thought I'd have time to pop to Bybrook Barn to get some.
The roads were heaving and what I thought would be a five minute drive took me half an hour. I got to Bybrook Barn and ended up asking the staff to make an announcement over the loudspeakers. In all honesty there couldn't have been more than three or four people in the place who actually realised that they weren't the only customers in the place. People were blundering about, randomly stopping for no reason whatsoever, and crashing head-on into other shoppers as though they were invisible. The chap on the counter agreed with me; they really did need to be told to open their eyes and look at the world around them. But (he admitted) he wasn't brave enough to tell them.
And then when I got to the tills there was some chap who was trying to push in at every till despite his wife telling him he had to join the queues like everyone else had done.
There's no denying that my piss was boiling as I drove out of the car park; it cooled as I sang along (very loudly) to Ivor Biggun songs.
Pausing only briefly in Sissinghurst for a steak and stilton pasty I was soon at work.
There’s no denying that I sulked as I worked today. I had planned to go to the Kent Lego Show in Medway today.
And failing that I could have rallied the troops to go to the London Calling geocaching event.
I could have spent time swimming with the grandchildren.
Instead I was working.

28 April 2023 (Friday) - Before Another Late Shift

With the coughing and the snotting finally receding to manageable proportions I was sleeping better than I had done for a long time when the bin men woke me at silly o’clock. The bin men won’t collect bins that aren’t put onto the pavements for them, and on bin day they send an advance party to move each bin about a yard or so seemingly just to make a noise at five o’clock.
I wish they wouldn’t, but what can anyone do? Complaints about the bin men won’t be acted on. As the chap at the council said, we must all “appease the contractor”.
I made toast and sent out four birthday wishes. One to a munzing friend. One to a cousin. One to a real friend. And one which had me pondering. There was a chap who was such a large part of my life for many years. We would go on cycle rides and camping trips and pub crawls. Some rather decent Christmases… and about this time last year we heard (third hand) that he’d sold his house and moved to Scotland and no one has heard anything from him since.
I wonder how he’s doing.
As I perused Facebook this morning there was a post about a “Gofundme” campaign on one of the pages I follow. Someone who also follows the page needed money. Being American she had no access to any NHS-type freely available healthcare and had chosen to pay for cancer treatment rather than paying the electricity bill, but ended up not having enough money for either and found herself owing tens of thousands of dollars.
Bear that in mind when you (I) whinge about the NHS.
Despite the mud yesterday and the overnight rain we went back to Orlestone for a walk today. When time is at a premium it has the advantage over Kings Wood of a twenty-minute shorter driving time. Morgan seemed reluctant to go, but he seemed to enjoy himself even though the mud was as bad (if not worse) than I feared.
As we walked there was an odd incident… at just over the half-way point I could clearly hear someone whistling a cheery tune. I looked around wanting to nip any potential “dog episode” in the bud. But no matter in which direction I looked I couldn’t see anyone. Even though I could clearly hear the whistling.
And then at the end of our walk (was it connected?) not fifty yards from the car park we met two police officers tiptoeing through the mud. Morgan and Bailey ran up to them to say hello. The policewoman asked if we’d seen anything suspicious in the woods. I mentioned the strange whistling sound, and the two coppers exchanged glances. The policeman asked exactly where I’d heard the whistle, and his face was a picture when I said about half a mile away. He looked at me, looked at the policewoman, looked at the mud and repeated “half a mile?” in a rather disbelieving tone. He had no idea how big Orlestone Woods are. Our standard walk is just under two miles, and we don’t go anywhere near the southern or eastern parts of the wood except in the height of summer.
I would have thought that police would have been issued with wellies if they were going to be sent on missions into woodlands…
We came home and the dogs had a serious scrub. They were filthy. Especially Treacle; she really is a swamp monster.
I then had a little look at the pond. The new filter has certainly been doing good; I can clearly see the pumps on the bottom of the pond which I couldn’t two days ago. All I need now is to think about filter cleaning. That will involve a pipe long enough to go from the filter to the drain. I got out a tape measure and even using the hose I salvaged on Wednesday I’m still going to need twenty metres of the stuff.
Good old Amazon!!
I hope the stuff comes on some sort of reel.
We'd had a good walk earlier, and I'd had a few minutes in the garden. As I headed off to work so the rain started. With little more than tripe on the radio I turned to Ivor Biggun songs and set off to work thinking about something that “er indoors TM had mentioned. Six years ago (27 April 2017) “My Boy TM” and I had emptied her mate's pond and shifted a *lot*  of small fish into our pond (forty-six). Bearing in mind there were quite a few fish already in the pond when those forty-six went in, there is nowhere near that amount of fish in the pond now. Where have they all gone?
The drive to work today was rather slow. As I crawled at a snail's pace behind a huge lorry I saw that the pub in Biddenden was up for sale. Another pub gone; I can't imagine that one re-opening.
And then there was quite the hold-up in Bethersden as three huge lorries tried to negotiate the chicane for which they were clearly far too large.
I got to work and as I sat in the car park scoffing a sandwich my phone rang. It was the estate agent who had just turned down an offer on Dad's house as they thought it was too low. I can't help but think that by this stage of the game, any offer is worth having. With every single viewer saying they can get bigger houses cheaper in the area, I was giving up any hope of selling it.
A little while later she phoned back to say the buyer had upped his offer, and we've accepted it. Perhaps not as much money in my back bin as I would have liked, but (in all honesty) far more than if we'd held on for a price we'd never have got.
Now we've got all the arse ache of solicitors...