31 July 2023 (Monday) - So Tired


In between doing work last night I re-read old diary entries. On 25 March 2012 I wrote about night shifts" "Best described as hours of boredom interspersed by moments of panic... I've always said that I don't mind night work. I don't, but I really have to qualify that statement. I don't mind the actual night work itself, but I hate spending the day before the night shift sulking at the thought of having to do the night shift. It's never anywhere near as bad as I expect it to be; I just resent the fact the I have work to look forward to. I'd rather get up each morning and go straight to work".
And that really summed up yesterday for me. I really did just pootle about killing time before going to work. And (just as I said) the shift was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be. But I was still glad when the early shift came in.
As I drove home the pundits on the radio were looking to make an argument with some government spokesman or other. Despite the government’s green targets, there are still plans to use fossil fuels for some years yet. Totally in line with these published plans, the Prime Minister has announced it is far more sensible to use fossil fuels from the North Sea (the supply of which the UK controls) rather than stuff from Russia (which can be and has been turned off at a moment’s notice).
And there was talk of Andrew Malkinson. Having been in prison for seventeen years for a crime he did not commit he was found innocent by the appeal court last week and released. And now he’s been billed for the cost of keeping him inside.
How is that fair?
I got home and went to bed where I slept until the Amazon driver came. Having been happy to leave deliveries on the doorstep for ages, today he made a point of knocking. Loudly.
I needed to get up anyway.
I made a rather late brekkie and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. Two friends had a birthday today – I sent out the birthday video (as I do). Not a lot else was going on so seeing a break in the rain I took the dogs round the block. Ideally a trip to the woods would have been good, but the forecast was rain all day, and we’d come home wet and muddy.
We had a totally uneventful walk round the block, but we did see quite a few grown men pedalling about on children’s bikes. What is it with riding a bike that is far too small for you these days?
With nothing else on the agenda I spent the afternoon doing the ironing, and with that done I sat on the sofa and stared at the telly. “er indoors TM sorted dinner then went bowling, and I carried on staring at the telly.
Sleeping, ironing, telly… As I said I don’t mind the night shift, but the day before it is spent in a sulk, and more and more the day after is spent in a zombie-like stupor as I’m fit for nothing.
Mind you there’s not *too* many night shifts before semi-retirement… I wonder if I can weasel my way out of night shifts when I go part time?

30 July 2023 (Sunday) - Before the Night Shift


As the washing machine did its thing I peered into the internet this morning. There were several people posting about yesterday’s garden party. Everyone who got along seemed to have had a good time (I certainly did), some had other commitments which stopped them getting along, some had been personally stuffed up by the train strike. But there were over forty people who had been invited along from whom I’ve heard nothing. Did they not see the messages? I’ve organised events in the past through Facebook Events and had similar. Perhaps I need a better way of contacting people?
There was a rather impressive squabble on one of the Sparks-related Facebook pages; someone had started posting various puzzles the answer to which were songs by Sparks, and so many people were grumbling that the answers were songs more than five years old… Quite bitterly grumbling.
I got the garden-full of chairs, tables and shelters disassembled and put away, hung out the washing and then sat and scoffed left-over cake as I read more of Adrian Mole’s secret diaries. Have you ever read all of them? I realise that Adrian Mole is a fictitious made-up character, but I’ve always felt that the author tired of her creation. Toward the end she was particularly nasty to poor Adrian.
“er indoors TM went off to see her mum; I went to bed. I stayed in bed for a couple of hours, seemingly constantly shouting at Treacle who was seemingly constantly barking for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I eventually got up and watched an episode of “Shameless” during which Treacle was absolutely silent.
Mind you as I’d slept it had been raining very hard. There had been a geo-meet this afternoon not a million miles from work which had sadly been rained off.
“er indoors TM is boiling up dinner, and then I’m off to the night shift in a bit. Today was dull. But at least the rain came today. Today was dull, but yesterday had been rather good.

29 July 2023 (Saturday) - Garden Party

I woke to the sound of the forecast rain. Many years of sleeping in tents has set up a Pavlovian reflex in me in that waking to the sound of rain immediately sets off a sulk.
A double sulk today as today’s dog club had been cancelled as there was renovation work going on in the field we use.
I made toast and had my usual look at the internet. It was still there. Some friends had posted photos of their holidays. As always those who regularly plead poverty were on rather impressive hollibobs. I found myself missing the Facebook friendship of an old mucker’s ex- who would regularly tell the world how poor she was either from her half-million-pound house or from her four month long tours of Europe, and how she couldn’t afford her daughter’s twelve thousand pound school fees.
I wonder whatever happened to her?
The doorbell rang; the Iceland delivery was on the doorstep. Far more prompt than we’d expected; the sound of the doorbell woke the dogs.
With no dog club to drive to we tuned in to Steve on the radio via the internet and I immediately narrowed the mystery year down to some time in the 1990s. Eventually when I had to commit I was right with 1997.
And then I decided that idiot enthusiasm always (occasionally) trumps common sense and I set up the garden in readiness for a garden party. As I heaved and strained I messaged with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”. Reluctantly we came to the conclusion that she was going to have to miss the party because of the train strike. Several other friends also cried off because of the train strike. Everyone asked the same question: what do the strikers hope to achieve? The answer is clear; they will get their own way. Rather like my small grandson when he has a hissy fit, if he shouts and screams and generally misbehaves he (sometimes) gets what he wants. The railways are much the same. By being generally bloody-minded with no regard for anyone but self, a train driver in his first year earns far more than my boss’s boss despite years of study, training and experience.
Despite the train strike we had a good afternoon in the garden. It was good to catch up with friends we see far too infrequently/ The afternoon raced away, but (as always)   I took a few photos during the afternoon.
I had a really good afternoon; really must do this again…

28 July 2023 (Friday) - Another Early Shift


I woke finding myself tangled up in the hose from my CPAP device. In between extricating myself and knocking it on the floor I managed to wake Morgan, who was not at all impressed by the commotion.
I couldn't get back to sleep after that.
Every morning I turn the telly on before I start the toast going. Sometimes the Sky-Q box wants to update itself and that can take an age. This morning it didn't, and as I made a sandwich for lunch I listened to the infomercials that are broadcast at silly o'clock. Toda there was one about a certain brand of garden products, all of which are powered by the same battery. The presenter was waxing lyrically about the advantages of this battery and how brilliant it was, how much in love he was with this battery, he'd already taken it home to meet his mother and was planning to get married to it in the near future.
This was followed by another infomercial about a wireless charging gadget. Voiced by the same presenter it went on about how all batteries are a load of crap, there's not a good one on the planet, and only a half-wit would every use anything that was battery powered.
I wonder if the makers of these two adverts realise this presenter is clearly happy to say that shit is sugar if paid enough. 
I watched an episode of "Shameless" then had a quick look at the Internet. There's a particular group I follow on Facebook. Ostensibly offering help on garden ponds to beginners it seems to be filled with keyboard warriors who wait for someone to admit to ignorance, and then make a point of trying to humiliate them.
I wonder what these people get out of it?
Half a dozen different (and unconnected) friends had also posted various seemingly random photos on their Facebook pages all with the caption "if you know, you know". I had no idea what any of them were talking about; I certainly didn't know.
I set off to work. As I drove down the road the bin lorry was coming up the other way. Rather than deliberately parking in the middle of the narrowest part of the road to deliberately obstruct the traffic, today the bin lorry had done the decent thing and pulled over to one side where there was space to pass. What was that all about?
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the head honcho of Google UK who didn't really come over as well as she might have done. She made great show of how her company (and she personally) took great pains to ensure that smut and lies were kept off the internet. And then shot herself in the foot by admitting that because of end-to-end encryption no one has any idea what nonsense is being posted on-line until someone else makes a complaint.
And there was talk of how much the government is spending on housing asylum seekers, and how the government is going to stop using hotels and start using tents to house them. On the one hand I have nothing but sympathy for people fleeing persecution and running for their lives. But on the other hand there are plenty of safe places that they run through on their way to the UK.
Meanwhile rather than sending a whole load of top secret stuff to the Americans, the Ministry of Defence has emailed it to the Russian's best friends instead. Whoops!
Mind you it turns out that the Americans have made the same mistake themselves...
I wonder if anyone will get sacked over this? Somehow I doubt it.
Work was work; I came home and took the dogs down to Orlestone where (unusually) the woods were crawling with dogs that couldn’t be trusted off of the lead despite being a mile into the wood. The puppies ran toward the first pair that we saw and those dogs started snapping and snarling and growling and straining at their leads. I blew the whistle and the pups came straight back. We took a turn off from the path into the woods away from them, and as we went so the people with the nasty dogs started a serious argument. “Why can’t you train our dogs to do that… did you see how good they were… our dogs are an embarrassment…” I did feel rather smug.
Five minutes later I heard a fuss behind me. “F..k! F..k! F..k! F..k!” some thug was shouting as his greyhound and the puppies were sniffing each other. Again I blew the whistle; again my dogs came to me. “Thank f...k for that” announced the thug, who then walked up to his dog, put it on a lead and walked off in the opposite direction.
And just as we came toward the final stretch of the walk we met grannie, two children and two dogs. The puppies went to say hello; their dogs said hello to the puppies. All was heigh, ho, pip and dandy (to coin a phrase) when grannie loudly announced that she would let this gentleman and his dogs come past as her dogs are very scared. The children with her commented that the dogs weren’t scared at all (clearly they weren’t). Grannie announced that the dogs were scared whether they looked it or not. I blew the whistle and the puppies came away. Grannie’s dogs wanted to come too…
If you aren’t going to let your dogs off of the lead there are plenty of places to take them. TO the beach, to the park… why go where you know you are going to have the arse with dogs that *can* be trusted off the lead?

27 July 2023 (Thursday) - Early Shift

I had a better night's sleep last night. As I've said before, it helps when everyone else is settled.
I made toast, watched some telly, saw that pretty much nothing had happened on-line, and set off to work through the drizzle.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about "Martyn's Law"; a new law named in tribute of Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside twenty-one other people in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack of 2017. The idea is to protect public safety but as is so often the case, bureaucracy has made a nonsense out of a very sensible idea. Apparently village halls will need formal security arrangements (when they don't) but pop-up markets (the sort of places that terrorists strike) won't.
There was an interview with the mother of Martyn Hett, and (like most live radio) not a lot of thought or preparation had gone into the interview. The woman being interviewed clearly had a houseful (presumably a party in honour of her being on the radio) and she couldn't hear the interviewer over the background noise. And the interviewer was haranguing this poor woman about the many failings of this law. Clearly she had nothing to do with the wording of the law or its implementation and to make her apologise for the failings of something which was nothing to do with her was rather unfair.
There was also talk about the overnight coup in Niger. The military have taken command. Col Maj Amadou Abdramane appeared on the local telly (flanked by nine other uniformed soldiers) and announced: "We, the defence and security forces... have decided to put an end to the regime you know... this follows the continuing deterioration of the security situation, and poor economic and social governance."
Apparently the general public over there have now got the arse as they only elected their new President last year. As I said the other day, democracy is a wonderful thing all the time those you elect are doing what you want them to do. Demonstrably when they don't, it is up to whoever feels the need to do the democratic thing of making sure they get their own way. As Ron and Russell once said (sang) "Might makes right though you’re wrong".
Meanwhile the American Congress has convened a panel to look into UAPs. UAPs? No - I had no idea either. It would seem that unidentified anomalous phenomenon (UAPs) is the modern phrase for UFOs. Presumably because if you talk about UAPs no one knows what you are talking about, but if you talk about UFOs, everyone thinks you are a half-wit.
Either way we're still in denial that it might be aliens.
Meanwhile whilst Congress argues, the aliens would seem to have pranged a spaceship on Mars.
I stopped off at the petrol station on my way to work. It was rather busy for seven o'clock in the morning. Mind you when I say "busy" there were cars parked at most of the pumps, but no one at all with these cars, and no one but me in the kiosk. What was going on there?
I'd been asked to do the early shift today. I was up for that. I always get to work relatively early anyway, and getting there a tad earlier than usual means I get home nearly two hours earlier than usual. Pretty much all of my colleagues hate the earlies as they have housefuls to feed and organise and pack off to play school, school, college and work. Me - I just try not to wake “er indoors TM or any of the dogs in the morning.
Work was the same as ever, but getting out early meant I got to take the dogs to the woods. We went to Orlestone where they ran round like things possessed. I wouldn’t say their behavior is worse in Orlestone than in Kings Wood, but they certainly stay closer to me in Kings Wood than they do in Orlestone. I took advantage of their running further today by practicing whistle training. It worked rather well.
With walk walked I then got the lawn mower out and scalped the lawn. The plan is that we’ll need it relatively short for the weekend… weather permitting.
I wonder if the weather will permit?

26 July 2023 (Wednesday) - Intimations of Mortality


I had a rather bad night's sleep. When everyone else is restless, so am I. And when I finally nodded off I was gripped by an incredibly vivid dream in which the NHS had embraced a new cost-saving measure in which no printed information would use the letter characters on a keyboard. Words would be spelled out by seemingly random sequences of numbers and punctuation marks, and consequently my letter of complaint about this stupid idea was problematical to write (to say the least).
I got up earlier than I might have done, watched an episode of "Shameless" and then set off to work. As I drove up the road far too much air-time was devoted to Nigel Farage's banking difficulties. It turns out that his bank account really was closed for political reasons and not because he wasn't rich enough for Coutts.
The head honcho of the Nat West who'd led the BBC to believe it was purely because of financial issues has since resigned. She really should have kept her trap shut, if for no other reason than to keep Mr Farage out of the news. Freedom of speech is one thing... but I can't stand the chap. I saw him once, and he oozed arrogance and contempt.
There was also a lot of talk about green issues. The Prime Minster is signaling that he is prepared to take a softer stance on environmental concerns. The ULEZ around London is seen as a vote-loser. And Lord Frost has announced that rising temperatures are good for the UK.
As always, those advocating "f... the planet" are those who look to make short term profit. However when they raise the point that no matter what the UK does is merely pissing in the wind compared to the amount of carbon chucked out by the newly built Chinese power stations it is difficult to argue, isn't it? Perhaps the "Just Stop Oil" protestors might go glue themselves to a road in central Beijing and see how they get on over there?
I stopped off at Sainsbury's as I had to get one or two bits and bobs. I'd forgotten just how rubbish the Aylesford branch of Sainsbury's can be. Once I'd got what I needed I went to the tills only to find no one manning them. There were four members of staff standing round the self-service tills watching the public in much the same way that I might watch something entertaining on the telly. When there were no self-serving customers to laugh at, they just chatted about what had been on telly last night, and showed one another stuff on their mobiles phones. They really don't care.
In the past I've suggested they might open a till themselves, but this morning I really couldn't be arsed.
Part of my shopping was a BBQ chicken sandwich for lunch. It gave me quite the gutsache. Having spent much of the morning peering down a microscope I spent much of the afternoon closeted in the work's "trap one" with a dose of fizzy gravy (to coin a phrase).
Perhaps I should have gone home sick? I didn't want to take the risk of being more than a few seconds from a functional chodbin though.
As I drove home “er indoors TM sent instructions for me to go to Asda. So I did. As I walked round there were two teenaged girls shrieking at each other and not looking where they were going. One crashed into me; the other fell about laughing “you bumped into that old man!
Whilst factually correct, this has bothered me far more than it should. I’m not old… I don’t retire properly for another seven and a half years…
And Asda also had four members of staff watching the self-service tills whilst the manned tills stood closed.

25 July 2023 (Tuesday) - This n That

My piss boiled somewhat as I watched an episode of "Shameless" this morning. The entire plot hinged on a character being held prisoner in a hospital ward by the machinations of one crooked member of staff. This was clearly just not possible in real life, and was pure laziness on the part of the writers. Fiction only works if it is plausible, and sadly this morning's episode wasn't.
I had a quick look at the Internet. It turned out there had been a geo-meet yesterday lunchtime not a mile from work. That had been either a well-kept secret, or a warning that I should really pay more attention to what is going on. Bearing in mind the thing was publicised  and that I'd had an email about it, I suspect the latter. It's amazing what you miss if you don't stay alert, as Zaphod Beeblebrox once remarked.
I set off to work. As I drove up the motorway there was a mile or so of lorries being held as part of "Operation Brock" as part of the government's plan to pogger all cross-channel traffic. I'm not saying the pre-Brexit arrangements were perfect, but they were certainly streets ahead of what happens these days.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing several Israeli citizens about what their government did over the weekend. Details on what it actually did were rather sparse. Some new laws were brought in, or some old laws repealed... I don't know. But the attitudes of those being interviewed spoke volumes. Some didn't like what the government had done and were furious that they felt that they now lived in a dictatorship rather than a democracy. Others who were in favour of whatever had happened were furious about how an anti-democratic fraction were trying to oppose the government.
As the argument went on it became clear that for everyone being interviewed "democracy" was synonymous with "what I want", and that electing a government is only a democratic act all the time that government is doing that which the specific individual in question wants (and nothing else).
Can't beat "the will of the people", eh?
And then there was an interview with a Labour MP and a (trans) Lib-Dem councillor about the changes in the Labour Party's official position of what actually constitutes being a "trans woman". Details about the official position were sadly lacking, but the general feeling was that in order to be legally recognised as a woman one should do more than put on a dress and demand to be called "Brenda". The Labour MP made a rather good and reasoned case about how easy it is to invade women-only safe spaces, but sadly the (trans) Lib-Dem councillor wittered on at great length not really making much sense to me, and then shot herself (?) in the foot by saying that none of her constituents have the slightest interest in trans issues.
Don't these two incidents sum up today's world, though? Two separate and unrelated things about which the specific details are vague (at best) but still there was no shortage of people willing to go on national radio to argue about them.
I got to work and had something of a "platelet clumping" sort of day. I get those; quite possibly more than most.
In between clumps I carried on filling out forms for my semi-retirement which is now (hopefully) less than seven months away.
And with work worked I came home, and had a little look at the monthly accounts. They have been a whole lot worse; but (as always) am I wrong in wanting to have far too much money? I'm hoping that this relative affluence will continue in seven months' time when the planned semi-retirement comes. The idea is that retirement will put me on half-wages, but still working two and a half days each week will leave me on the same money. The trouble is that being at work stops me squandering. Being away from work for half the week will (quite probably) give me far too much opportunity to squander. 

24 July 2023 (Monday) - Back To Work

With the schools all being off from today I had this idea that the roads (particularly the motorway) would be quieter and so I might get away with leaving for work rather later this morning. And so I might have a (relative) lie-in. The dogs weren't spread-eagled; such a shame I had to spend much of the night clouting a snoring “er indoors TM .
I got up, wasted twenty minutes trying to find what I'd done with my sandwich box, then made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" before setting off to work. As I drove I listened to the radio. Not having heard the news for a couple of weeks I wondered what I'd missed in the world.
Precious little really.
The drive to work took about forty minutes; I listened to the radio the entire way and I can remember hardly anything. The only point of note was the revelation that the green initiatives needed to save the planet are costly, and are a vote -loser. With most people voting for short-term interest it would seem that the political parties are considering dropping all green promises in order to get votes.
Have I ever mentioned about what a stupid idea democracy is?
I got to work; it was much the same as when I'd left it a couple of weeks ago. As I worked I saw someone – someone with whom I used to work some time ago had come to visit. We had a little catch-up; chatting with her reinforced my conviction that I am far better off where I work now than where I used to be.
“er indoors TM boiled up chops and chips and went bowling. I got out the ironing board.
It has to be said that today was rather dull.

23 July 2023 (Sunday) - Last Day Off

I got up to find the rain hossing down despite only an eleven per cent chance of rain. Regardless of the elements I went out to the pond, took out the Lamb’s lettuce (which pond-wise had been an abject failure) and popped in the watercress we’d got yesterday. Hopefully it will do better than the Lamb’s lettuce; it can’t do much worse.

As the rain continued I had my usual look at the Internet. It was still there. Today’s argument on Facebook was about the White Rock Theatre in Hastings which faces closure next year as the current lease comes to an end. And it was the old, old story in that no one wanted the place to close… even though no one had been there for years. I must admit I’d rather the place stayed open… even if the last time I went there was taking My Boy TM” and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” to see Geoffrey, Bungle, George and Zippy in “Rainbow” some time in the early 1990s. It’s the same with pubs closing down all over the place. No one is happy about it but no one uses the pubs. Mind you with beer at a fiver in the pub, and a theatre ticket over thirty quid (for next weekend’s show) is it surprising these places are shutting down?

I then had a look at my photo archive. I’ve got nearly two hundred gigabytes of photos – as time has gone on so photo size (in bytes) has got bigger and bigger. In the past I’ve just saved everything I ever photographed. I need to be a tad more judicious in deleting crap photos. Some of the earlier photos were in .cam format. Bitberry file opener was recommended to open these but failed. As did Irfanview. Eventually XN view came up trumps and I was able to look at photos I’ve not seen in years. Including some photos of a baby born in November 2001. I wonder who that was? I’ve no idea.  

We settled the dogs and with “er indoors TM foot still playing up we drove up to the town centre where we met up with friends for our monthly brekkie and catch-up. It was good to catch up. It was good to scoff brekkie too.

We came home, and I spent a couple of hours pootling in the garden, weeding and trimming and Bionic Burning. Two hours effort just to have it look just like it always used to.
We spent the afternoon slobbing by the pond reading more of the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.

“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the latest episode of “Star Trek”. A crossover episode between the live-action “Strange New Worlds” and the cartoon-animation “Lower Decks” set over a hundred years later. I thought it would be awful; it was one of the best “Star Trek” episodes ever (and that’s up against some pretty stiff competition).   

I’ve had a good couple of weeks off work, but tomorrow I’m back to the grind. And (to be honest) I’m quite looking forward to it. For many years I would feel physically sick at the prospect of going to work… not any more.

22 July 2023 (Saturday) - A Lazy Day


During the week the carcass of a dead whale washed up in the beach to the south of us. This morning someone posted photos of it on-line, and told the world not to re-circulate his photos without written permission. Obviously loads of people did; several of them claiming to have been the ones who actually took the photos in the first place. Some people really do just go looking for an argument.
And there was still no message from the chap who was supposedly coming to collect some fish pond filter stuff. Having found a couple of bags of fish pond filter meshes and media in the shed the other day I put them onto Facebook marketplace a few days ago. Have you ever seen Facebook Marketplace? Whenever I’ve tried to buy anything I see complete knackered crap for twice the price of brand new from the shop. Right now I’m trying to sell brand new for a fraction of the shop price, and basically having people suggest I pay them to take it away for me… If any of my loyal readers want the insides for fish pond box filters, just let me know, otherwise it will go to the tip in a week or so. I’ve no use for the stuff and it is in my way.
Being Saturday we went round to dog club. There was quite a good turn-out today including one rather nervous older lady who seemed incredibly terrified by the whole concept of Dog Club. After a few minutes encouragement she let her little dog off the lead, and it was so good to see her little dog sniff around, say hello to everyone else and within minutes be having a great time. As was the lady.
Morgan and Bailey had their usual excitement, and Treacle made progress; if slowly. She sniffed a few bums, and tolerated other (non-family) dogs being between me and her when treats were being given out.
As we drove home Steve was doing the mystery year on the radio. I was sure it was 1973 right up to the last question… decimalization. 1971.
We settled the dogs and drove down to Folkstone where grandson “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMwas being something of a “pain in the glass” as he might say. Once he finally agreed to get dressed we went for a little walk (to McDonalds). I had the Big Mac; “Darcie Waa Waa TM had the pot of ketchup, and a great time was had by all.
We popped in to the ice cream shop on the way home where they had a very good range of ice creams at half the price we paid in Southwold a couple of weeks ago.
Pausing only briefly to get a cheeky FTF on a geocaching Adventure Lab we came home (via Tesco). The plan was to plant (chuck in the pond) the watercress we got in Tesco, but the rain was against us. And I wasn’t feeling very well, so I dozed on the sofa underneath a pile of dogs for most of the afternoon.
“er indoors TM boiled up pizza which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Bake Off: The Professionals”.
Today was a rather lazy one – for the first time in two weeks I walked under ten thousand steps today.

21 July 2023 (Friday) - Posing For The Camera

I slept well. When the dogs are settled, everyone is settled. I made toast and had a little look at the Internet as I do most mornings in the hope of seeing something new and interesting, enlightening or provocative. As usual I was rather disappointed.
I saw that two new geocaches had gone out (presumably) on the Romney Marsh; both needing some serious puzzle-solving effort before the things could be found. I’ll have a look at them when I’m bored…
There was an interesting post on one of the Sparks-related Facebook pages that I follow. Some chap was whinging. Having followed them on their worldwide tour he was disappointed that they played the same set at every venue. He must have some money(!) Others were getting rather nasty about him.
And three people on my Facebook friends list had birthdays today. Bearing in mind not one of them had made any effort to contact me over the last few years I found myself wondering if maybe I might prune that list a little.
I took the dogs out for a walk. As we drove to the woods so “Desert Island Discs” was starting; today featuring some footballer or other. I tried to listen, but it really didn’t grip my interest. Perhaps if I followed football I might have been more entranced, but I really can’t see the attraction of watching others hoofing a ball about. And for all that watching someone else hoofing a ball about is dull, listening to some sycophantic presenter rabbiting on about it was dull in the extreme.
I turned to my fall-back position of Ivor Biggun songs and sang along until we got to Kings Wood.
Once at the wood we wandered round for three miles (so my watch said). As we walked I waited until we were about as far from anyone else as we might be, and with no distractions I tried our latest futile pastime “posing for the camera”. It took quite a while to get any photos. Treacle sat still, but the puppies mobbed her; licking all round her muzzle (it’s a dog submissive thing). And when they finally stopped that nonsense so each would wander off as soon as I got the other into a posing position.
I can remember having problems getting Pogo and Fudge to pose as well…
We came home, and I pootled in the garden some more. A quick clean of the pond filter, a quick sweep round the yard, a quick blast with the Bionic Burner… and two hours later it all looked just the same as when I’d started.
I spent the afternoon slobbing by the pond reading the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole until the totally not-forecast rain started.
“er indoors TM sorted salmon for dinner. I’m reliably informed it was healthy. It wasn’t bad but might have been better with chips.
As we scoffed we watched a couple of episodes of “Bake Off – The Professionals”. There’s no denying I was hoping for some pretentious idiot to build some elaborate pastry construction only to have it collapse at the last minute.
I was sadly disappointed…

20 July 2023 (Thursday) - Feeling Worn Out

Bailey was whinging at three o’clock this morning. I thought she wanted a tiddle so I took her outside. She wanted to go outside, but not for the toilet. She just wanted to play silly beggars (a favourite game of all dogs). After ten minutes she got bored, did the tiddle she could have done straight away, and we all went back to bed.
As I scoffed toast five hours later I had another little fight with the new laptop. For all that it is set to “UK English” it still wants to use US spellings. I wish it wouldn’t.
With rain forecast for late morning I took the dogs up to the woods where we had a good walk following some of the lesser-used paths. The dogs behaved themselves; we only met two other groups and both encounters passed off without incident.
After an hour and a half we were back at the car and soon heading home. Once home rather than stopping for a cuppa I cracked on in the garden. “er indoors TM wanted some plant pots swapping round. It kept me out of mischief for five minutes, then I popped to B&M Bargains to get the dragonfly fence ornaments I forgot to get yesterday. As I drove home so the heavens opened.
Once home seeing I couldn’t crack on in the garden I phoned British Gas to sort out the mess they’d made of my Dad’s gas and leccie bill. Having been told they were sending out a cheque to refund the balance of the account, I never received one. They said they’d cancel that cheque and send a replacement. Eventually a cheque arrived so I paid it in to my account… only to find that what had arrived was the cheque that they had cancelled. After a little to-ing and fro-ing I was asked if I had a “general enquiry”. When I said I had a specific enquiry I was assured I was talking to the right person. Eventually it turned out that when they said “we posted the cheque two weeks ago” what they actually meant was “we will post it next week”. As is always the case with these companies, it would have been so much easier had they employed anyone who actually spoke English. Sadly (so I am reliably informed) asking for someone who speaks English is offensive.
I watched a couple of episodes of “Shameless”, then on seeing that the rain had stopped I bodged a repair to not-so-nice-next-door’s fence then hung the dragonfly ornaments.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good curry which we scoffed whist watching the latest episode of “Star Trek”.
Having done incredibly little today I’m surprisingly worn out.

19 July 2023 (Wednesday) - More Holiday


Morgan woke me when he started stomping about shortly after seven o’clock this morning. For a small dog he can certainly stomp.
I got up, made toast and had a look at the internet. It was still there. As always a common theme was dead dogs. Why do so many people feel the need to constantly post really sad and upsetting memes about dogs dying? This was immediately followed by a video from six years ago of my Fudge playing with the garden fountain. After a little melt-down I carried on seeing if there was anything else in the Internet.
After something of a hiatus I had two friend requests this morning. Both appeared to be “wipe clean”, but the second would seem to play a little too rough.
I sent out three birthday wishes to friends, and got ready for the day.
With the weather forecast giving zero per cent chance of rain before the evening I took the dogs up to Kings Wood. We saw several joggers, and again the dogs were all as good as gold. As we walked so the sky got darker and about a mile from the car so the drizzle started. I cut the walk short and we headed back. Just as we came to the car park so we had a refusal. The girls came to have their leads put on, but Morgan was rather reluctant. It was quite plain that he wanted more of a walk. But he was out of luck. I walked the ten paces to him and put his lead on.
Five minutes later as we drove through Boughton Aluph so the torrential rain started. But we got home to find the pavements bone dry. No rain at all only five miles away.
I popped up the road to the corner shop to get pastries; we had a cuppa then I cracked on in the shed some more. I lost count of the amount of new paintbrushes I found, and there was plenty of fence varnish in there that I never knew about. As well as the floating pond plant pot I knew I had, I found another too. I’m not sure if either “er indoors TM ‘s inflatable canoe or my old rubber dingy are seaworthy though.
I didn’t ding out *quite* so much today, but there were several very rusty bits of tat which hadn’t seen the light of day since our last camping trip; including two kettles which you could poke your finger through.
I still managed to load up a car full of tat though, and after a quick bit of lunch set off to the tip.
The tip was its usual self; I have a plan of action when unloading there. On arrival I immediately put one or two smaller items into the smaller skips; electrical recycling or clothes recycling or metal salvage. I then make a point of taking the cardboard boxes the small things were in to the cardboard recycling, and then asking the staff what I should do with some obscure bit of rubbish (today it was a broken shed window and a Camping Gaz canister)/ At first sight this might seem to be farting around, but *if* you go through this rigmarole the staff are far happier to let you then chuck half a dozen black sacks into the general waste. If you don’t go through this ritual they think you simply can’t be arsed and insist that they go through your black sacks with you. And consequently you end up spending an hour lugging this that and the other all over the tip, and listening to the staff getting quite aggressive with each other about the ultimate fate of every little thing you never want to see again. Take for example some poor old sod’s cheese-grater. Was it metal or plastic? They argued for ages over that one!
From the tip I popped to Sainsburys and brought cream cakes home for me and “er indoors TM. We scoffed them with a cuppa as she did her working from home and I did my watching an episode of “Shameless”. And then I floated my pond plant pots and filled them with Lamb’s Lettuce. I would say that “Lamb’s Lettuce” is posh water cress, but it is ten pence a bag cheaper. It might grow in the pond; it might not. The fish seem keen on knocking the floating plant pots about though.
There was a knock on the door; it was Martin. We settled the dogs and went out to the Beefeater where a few of the old gang had gathered for dinner in honour of Chris’s birthday. Having had dodgy experiences there before my hopes weren’t high, but we had a very good dinner. It is ages since we last got together… really should do it more often.

18 July 2023 (Tuesday) - Tidying the Shed

When I booted the new lap-top this morning it was raring to go in less than a minute. I saw that as something of a result; the old one would sometimes take up to quarter of an hour before it felt any urge to respond to any buttons I might have pressed.
I was into the internet far faster than I’ve been for years, and was immediately judging people with whom I used to work who were setting off on their third Mediterranean holiday of this year. And a minor squabble had kicked off about some company who had started up in Ashford selling cakes but refused to deliver and was incredibly cagey about where they were located. A rather strange business model.
I took the dogs up to Kings Wood. We had a good walk; when it is just me the dogs behave themselves perfectly; when there’s anyone else along with us they tend to play up. I wish they wouldn’t. We walked right round the woods, meeting several other dogs as we went, and every meeting passed off without incident.
With walk walked we came home and as the dogs slept so I cracked on tidying up the shed. It has to be said that the thing was something of a mess. Yesterday I got a set of drawers to help tidy stuff into. Perhaps I might have taken out the benching and put a level one in; instead I sawed up the old planking which has been laying round the garden for ages and used that to prop the shelves level.
I tidied. I found half a dozen packets of clout nails. I found several sets of hacksaw blades. I found an old hedge trimmer that was broken; I remember intending taking that thing to the tip years ago. I found four tubs of ant powder and three tins of WD40. I found a whole load of pond filter stuff which is of no use to me at all (and which is now up on Facebook Marketplace), and loads of tent poles. I wonder what happened to the tent?
As I remarked to new-next-door if you want anything from a set of bellows through to an aircraft carrier, before spending any money, have a look in my shed first.
With about one tenth if the shed tidied I loaded up the car with loads of black bags of rubbish, several poggered carpets, the knacked hedge trimmer and more broken torches than sense, and after a quick sandwich took all the tat to the tip. You still need to book an appointment at the tip, but nowadays you can get same day appointments.
The tip was rather entertaining; as a fellow punter unloaded his bags of rubbish so one of the tip staff ran up and started bellowing “PLASTIC, PLASTIC”. The chap with bags of plastic gave the tip operative a few minutes then asked why he was bellowing “PLASTIC, PLASTIC”. The tip operative rather pompously explained where plastic was supposed to be put. The chap with the plastic pointed out (in much the same way that you might speak to a rather simple-minded child) that he was fully aware of where the plastic recycling goes, and went on to explain how one might better convey this information rather than by bellowing “PLASTIC, PLASTIC”.
I just about managed not to laugh out loud.
From the tip I went to Sainsburys; “er indoors TM had given me a shopping list. And with shopping shopped I came home and put out the garden ornaments that I’d bought yesterday in B&M Bargains. Bearing in mind they came from B&M Bargains I’m quite impressed with them.
“er indoors TM boiled up bangers and mash for scran and we watched another episode of the new series of “Quantum Leap”. I’m quite getting into this; even though I’m pretty sure I can guess what is going to happen at the end…
I’m slowly getting used to the new laptop… the biggest hiccup is that the “\” key is where I expect the down-arrow to be, so every time I try to page down in a word document (like when I’m writing this) I suddenly get “\\\\\\\\\” appearing.
Today’s major victory was saving pictures in .jpg format rather than .psp format. Whilst this probably doesn’t mean much to many people, I’m quite chuffed about it.
If this blog entry uploads OK I shall attempt to install FileZilla and GSAK…


17 July 2023 (Monday) - New Lap-top

I slept through till nearly eight o’clock this morning as did “er indoors TM who had forgotten to set her alarm. I took the dogs outside and had a refusal from Morgan. It had rained overnight and he’s not keen on wet ground. But he didn’t have a choice, and I waited with him until he did that which was expected of him. Eventually he did (clearly under protest) and I made toast and had a look on-line. Not much seemed to be going on in the Internet really. For something which takes up an inordinate amount of my time, it can be rather dull at times.
Mind you I had an email from Credit Karma who congratulated me on (yet again) paying my credit card bill on time. I’ve complained to the bank before about their letting Credit Karma know my business but apparently all banks tell this sort of thing to anyone who asks. Or so the bank told me.
With no rain forecast for three hours I loaded the dogs into the car and we drove up to Kings Wood. As we arrived the sky looked a bit iffy, but with blind faith in the BBC we set off. Five minutes later we were sheltering under trees cowering from the downpour, and ten minutes later we were in the car and heading home. As we drove so the weather continually alternated between bright sunshine and torrential rain.
My plan for today had been to walk the dogs then see about tidying the shed and having a spruce-up in the garden. But the rain had put paid to that. So instead I went on a little shopping spree to get some odds and sods.
First of all to B&M Bargains where yesterday “er indoors TM had spotted some ornaments for the garden’s fences. I negotiated my way round the “rather special and delightful” people who infest B&M Bargains; one of whom was getting rather irate at the till. Having acquired a money-off voucher he was trying to see if the till staff would just give him cash for it rather than money off of anything he might have bought. To be fair to the shop staff they would probably have been more interested if it looked like he hadn’t drawn the voucher himself.
From B&M I went to B&Q to get some storage drawers for tidying up the crap and clutter in the shed. It has to be said there’s a lot of crap (and no shortage of clutter) to be tidied up.
And then I went to Currys. I’ve been thinking about a new laptop for ages as the old one takes an age to start up, keeps hanging, and the labels on the A, S, E, H and L keys have completely worn away. Jose told me the average lap-top is good for three to four years; the old one had done seven, so I think I got my money’s worth from it. I walked into Currys at ten past eleven. I waited. And waited. As I stood there so four other people came in, got served and carried their purchases out. At twenty to twelve (after half an hour of waiting) I walked out. As I walked out so the chap who had been so studiously ignoring me asked if he could help me. I said that he could have done so half an hour previously, and that I would spend thousands of pounds somewhere else. Having conspicuously deliberately ignored me for half an hour this chap then pretended he had no idea I had been waiting. I told him that it was very unlikely that he had not seen me, but all the other staff had and they had ignored me too. As I walked off so he continued blustering after me.
I took my shopping home, then drove down to Folkestone. The motorway was like a river, the rain was that hard. The Folkestone branch of Currys was *completely* different to the Ashford one; I was greeted by helpful staff the instant I walked into the shop, and the chap there took me through all the lap-tops on display. Fifteen minutes later I came out with a new one, and a 2Tb hard drive for backup purposes as well.
Seeing a break in the rain I drove to the coast to see if “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and  “Darcie Waa Waa TM fancied McLunch. They had been out for a walk on the Leas where there had been no rain all day. Torrential in Cheriton, completely dry a mile away.
We had a good spot of McLunch, but here’s a tip. If you use the self-service machines you can pimp your burger. Don’t ask for extra sauce on your Big Mac; I didn’t so much have a Big Mac as the ingredients of a Big Mac all swimming about in a sea of some strange pink juice.
I came home, and started the rather tedious business of backing up all of the stuff from the old lap-top that I need on my new one. That took some time. And with back-up backed up I activated the new lap-top. Once I’d logged into my Microsoft and Google accounts I was amazed how much the thing automatically restored for itself, but it still took over an hour to get it to the bare minimum of readiness.
With “er indoors TM off bowling I spent a couple of hours doing the ironing, then had a go at posting this blog entry from the new lap-top. I hope it worked…

16 July 2023 (Sunday) - Not So Busy

I gave up thumping “er indoors TM in a futile attempt to stop her snoring and got up. With a load of washing in to scrub I made brekkie, watched an episode of “Shameless” then cracked on in the garden. I vacuumed the shingle, strimmed the lawn edges, mowed, then got out the Bionic Burner and burned away the weeds on the patio. This Bionic Burner is a load of rubbish. Admittedly it burned the weeds, but just left burned weeds which then needed pulling out. Pulling the weeds out by hand gets rid of them without the need to incinerate them first. I tidied up, and with power tools away the dogs were allowed into the garden; Morgan does attack them. I wish he wouldn’t.
“er indoors TM went shopping; I pulled more ivy off of the fence. I hate gardening; it is a never-ending and ultimately futile pastime.

I then assembled the garden patio heater which has been sitting in its box in the shed for months. Billed as a portable heater it came with screws to bolt it into the ground so that it would be fixed in place. What was that all about? After fifteen minutes it was ready for a trial. It worked. It is now in the shed; I suspect I shall fail to sell it on Facebook marketplace and take it up to the tip in a few months.

 I sat down by the pond which had cleared nicely after yesterday’s mishap with the pond filter. I had a look at the Internet and saw an invite to a birthday bash. A good friend I don’t see anywhere near often enough will be sixty in a few months’ time. Rumours of a camping weekend turned out to be just rumours. Sadly the plan now is a trip to a local pub to listen to some band or other. But when I say “local pub” I mean local to him, not me. I quite fancied a weekend’s camping trip; I seriously don’t fancy travelling for two hours just to get a headache.

“er indoors TM came home from shopping. We settled the dogs and walked up to the park. We’d seen adverts for a “World in a Tent” festival which was happening this afternoon and we went along with high hopes. But all we found was half a dozen stalls selling food (all with massive queues), half a dozen stalls selling overpriced hand-made tat, and a stall offering help with addiction issues.  According to the timetable we arrived as the Nepalese Dance Group were doing their thing. Sadly we couldn’t see any dancing going on, but there was a deafening caterwauling being blared out of the PA system. We’d gone along expecting to spend most of the afternoon there soaking up the ambience; we’d seen the lot and were on our way home within ten minutes.
We sat in the garden and read books for the afternoon instead whilst scoffing mushroom crisps and guacamole dip.

“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed watching episodes of the prequel to Star Trek and the sequel to Quantum Leap.
Both were rather good…