31 August 2023 (Thursday) - Another Dull Day

With an alarm set I was up far too early as I always am when I have an alarm set. I watched some "Shameless", then had a little look at the Internet just in case something amazingly different had happened overnight.
It hadn't.
There were loads of people squabbling on Facebook about how "un Star Trek like" the most recent episodes of Star Trek had been; all of these people proudly showing off how little they'd actually watched the program. And quite a few people on my Facebook friends list were posting from places abroad. As is so often the case, the more these people plead poverty during the year, the more exotic their foreign holiday. Or holidays... as they have several.
I set off to work and as I drove I listened to the radio. As I drove there was a lot of talk about high street shops closing. Wilko, Boots, M&S, Iceland... the list is growing.
The amazing revelation was made that this is because of on-line shopping and how people can order stuff from the comfort of their living rooms without the aggro of having to go to a shop and face the Great Unwashed. The chap being interviewed seemed to think this was rather surprising ... he really did. He went on to say that on-line shopping is all very well for the younger generation, but it isn't something that the older ones among us can do; the implication being that if you were over fifty then the twenty-first century had rather passed you by. I thought that rather rude. Realistically being able to use the Internet today is akin to being able to read or write. If you can't do so, there's plenty of help out there.
Let's be honest - the only people who are IT illiterate are those who choose to be.
There was also a lot of talk about how Chief Constables are to have the right to sack bad coppers. The police unions felt that in theory this was a good idea, but in practice there might be those Chief Constables who would use these powers to settle old scores. They might be right.
The point was also made that public confidence in the police is at an all-time low. I must admit I've no respect or confidence for the police. Here's a suggestion... why not make being a police officer compulsory for everyone for a period of time just like National Service used to be. If we've all done it, we might just be a tad more understanding of the Old Bill?
I got to work for the early shift and had a rather busy day... matters weren't helped by my having the theme tune to "Tiny Toon Adventures" stuck in my head. But an early start made for an early finish, and seeing the forecast rain hadn’t happened I took the dogs down to Orlestone Woods where something odd was going on. Or, to be precise, two somethings odd.
There was a hippy camper van in the car park which had clearly taken up residence; there was a washing line set up out of the back of it with all the hippy laundry drying. I tried to take a photo, buut couldn’t do so without being obvious.
And the wooden bollard (to keep motor vehicles out of the wood) had been removed. Removed very cleanly. The thing had obviously been lifted out of the hole. But to lift it out without disturbing any of the surrounding soil must have taken specialist equipment. And had it been done “officially”, a gaping hole wouldn’t have been left. Fortunately someone had stuck a stick in it to make the thing obvious otherwise I (for one) would have fallen into it.
Had the hippies removed it, or were these two unrelated somethings?
“er indoors TM got kebab for tonight’s dinner. It was rather good, but I think my scoffing all the chilis was a silly idea.

30 August 2023 (Wednesday) - A Day Off

For once, pretty much nothing was kicking off on social media this morning, so once I’d scoffed toast I got ready for the off. I’d booked today as a day’s holiday as Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had some errands to run, but she’d changed her plans. So rather than cancelling my day off, I thought I’d take it anyway.
I took the dogs out. With no burning need to hurry home we went up to Kings Wood. Orlestone is a nine-minute drive away; Kings Wood is twenty minutes, but a much bigger wood with a lot less mud.
As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the summer’s various festivals that had taken place. Apparently every year about a quarter of a million tents are left behind at festivals in the UK. This was always a problem; back in the day there used to be a biker’s meet-up on the Romney Marsh and after they’d gone the landowner would offer free tents to anyone who wanted to come along and take one away, but now the numbers of tents have got too many, and the things are gathered up and chucked into landfill by commercial companies.
I found myself thinking of the years when we used to go to kite festivals and spend hours taking our camp down. Perhaps we should have just said “sod it” and left them all behind?
We got to the woods and took a rather circuitous walk… because we could. We went for (almost) five miles and as we went we met two other dog walkers and one group of forestry commission workers. Morgan ate blackberries from the brambles, Treacle waded in swamps, Bailey was the one who would disappear, but would come back when called.
But they seem to be getting better at posing for the camera.
After five miles we got back to the car, and came home. The dogs were soon snoring so I popped up the road to get some pastries, and also to chat up the scaffolders. Our washing line is held up by three scaffold poles. They were old when we moved in thirty-two years ago and are now rusting through at the bottom. It can only be a matter of time before they collapse so I’m on the lookout to replace them. The scaffolders didn’t have any spare… shame. I eventually found what I need (what I actually need; not what I can bodge) on Amazon. So do I replace the poles now… or wait for them to collapse? They might collapse tomorrow; they might do another few years. Mind you the ones on Amazon are quite a bit shorter than the ones that are currently in the garden… if any of my loyal readers are walking past a building site…
And then I smelled something. I looked down – the mostly white Bailey had a rather odd-looking yellow smear on her neck. Fox poo! She wasn’t happy about being woken and scrubbed in the bath. And then we found some rather yukky marks on Morgan’s back. He wasn’t pleased to be chucked in the tub either.
As I have said many times before, no day off work is complete without a couple of hours spent doing ironing, and today was no exception. As I ironed I watched a couple of episodes of “Shameless” then wrote up a little CPD.
“er indoors TM sorted out a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more of “Bake Off: The Professionals” which tonight I couldn’t take seriously. Things started badly with one of the judges talking about dickhead pastry”. Having rewound and replayed a couple of times we think he actually meantdecadent pastryand I misunderstood the accent. From then on my attention was divided between the amazing baking and the dreadful haircuts. And one of the contestants was wearing a rather obvious wig. What’s the etiquette when seeing someone wearing a frankly dreadful wig? Do you politely try to keep a straight face, or fall about pointing and laughing? I can’t say I’m happy being a slaphead, but the alternative is far worse. Isn’t it?

29 August 2023 (Tuesday) - Dull Day At Work


I was up far too early again this morning. I’d been laying wide awake in desperate need of the loo, but not daring to go because getting up would mean surrendering the precious little bed space that I had.
I eventually got up and watched another episode of “Shameless”. I do like the show, but the writers don’t do their homework. In the previous episode the gangster family supposedly set up a blood bank in their kitchen using freezer bags to hold the blood. Seriously? And the plot of today’s episode involved a very junior trainee pharmacy technician being able to regularly steal large amounts of prescription drugs. Again – seriously?
I then had a look at Facebook as I do. Someone had posted to the Facebook page of the Gran Canaria hotel we went to last year slagging the place off. Someone else had posted to one of the Lego groups I follow trying to laugh at someone for spending money on a rather expensive Lego set. Both had obviously started off thinking they were the voice of the majority; both had been rather bluntly told to get knottted by the majority, and both had promptly left the “discussions”. However despite their having left it (and consequently being unable to see any further comments on their postings) there were still no end of people queueing up to join in the petty bickering.
I set off to work… or tried to. The cars in front and behind my car weren’t the ones that were there when I parked it on Sunday. The one behind had left me about a foot or so of space; the one in front had left perhaps six inches. There certainly wasn’t room to walk between the cars.
After a little to-ing and fro-ing I got out.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how there is to be a revolution in the treatment of type two diabetes in the under forties following the revelation that people aged under forty with type two diabetes seem to have really bad disease progression pretty much immediately after diagnosis. This obviously gave rise to two possibilities. Either people are not getting diagnosed soon enough, or the current treatment is causing the disease progression. The expert being interviewed didn’t want to answer these points…
There was also a lot of air-time spent on the head honcho of football in Spain. The chap got rather excited when the Spanish team won the women’s world (football) cup last week and kissed one of the players. From what I can work out this was a spur-of-the-moment thing caused by the excitement of the moment and could (and should) have been forgotten about as soon as it happened. But a week later there’s consternation all around the world about the matter. The poor chap seems to have only one ally worldwide (on reflection I think I shall remain neutral!); his mother, who is currently in some church somewhere having a hunger strike in his defence.
Work was rather hard work today Even though there was cake, I was rather glad to get home.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching more episodes of “Bake Off: The Professionals”. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have walked out of the Harbour Restaurant’s kitchen in early September 1981 but stayed on and studied cooking rather than blood testing… Could I have ended up on “Bake Off: The Professionals”? Possibly…

28 August 2023 (Monday) - Dull Bank Holiday

I had an early night last night and got four hours asleep before needing the loo. I then had a pitched battle to get any bed space. How can such small dogs take up so much bed?
I put a load of washing in to scrub, and over brekkie I had my usual look at the Internet. This morning people were ranting about how we should use cash rather than credit cards; the implication being that credit card transactions cost whereas cash just goes round and round and round in free perpetual motion.
But it don’t.
Eventually the cash in your pocket will be deposited or topped up which requires a trip to a cash machine or bank, and costs (depending on who you bank with).
Cash does not generate interest when in paper form like digital money does, so you are effectively devaluing your money when you turn it into cash (especially right now when inflation is so high).
If my cash is lost or stolen, I’m poggered. If my card is nicked I’ve got some come-back.
Shops might not have the same costs on cash transactions as they do on card ones, but it costs them to count it all and take it to the bank. (I can remember my old boss (at the Harbour Restaurant in Hastings) going on quite a journey to the bank with two burly washer-uppers as bodyguards as he went to deposit thousands of pounds of cash several times each week).
Shops can also deal with far more customers per hour using cards than they can taking cash payments (which must go some way to counteract the cost of the card transactions).
On a personal level if I buy something for (say) £3.99 on my card, that’s what it costs me. If I pay cash I spend a fiver and the change just disappears.
I use my card whenever I can for the simple reason that it has been my experience that about one payment in two hundred never actually goes through and appears on my statement. This year I've had free fish and chips, Amazon e-books and fifty quid worth of clothes. In the past I’ve had free bar bills and tank-fulls of petrol.
And (like all government employees) my income is a matter of public record and therefore so is my tax bill. If people are paid in cash it is a lot easier to end up paying a lot less tax (not that *anyone* would ever dream of doing that!)
I then took a deep breath…
Our plan for the day had been a family beach day. But events conspired against us. So I got out the paint brush and put the last coat of paint onto my epic wooden reel.
I mowed the lawn.
I hung out laundry and put more in to scrub.
I gave the pond filter a seriously big scrub (as opposed to the routine fortnightly ones it gets), then washed myself off. No one said anything about fish poo when I first dug the pond.
I had a little look at the pond. The plants in the bog filter are now flowering and look rather impressive. Sadly the ones in the floating baskets look dead, but you can’t have everything.
I hung out more laundry and put undercrackers in to tumble-dry.
I pruned the stuff pouring over our fences.
After six hours I was aching somewhat. I went inside where “er indoors TM was putting the finishing touches to the assembly of our new table. The old one was poggered. But despite it being poggered she’d advertised it as a freebie on Facebook Marketplace and someone said they’d collect it at two o’clock.
I’m told they arrived at half past five; I was asleep underneath a pile of dogs.
The idea of a Bank Holiday is to have a bit of a rest. “er indoors TM had been busy indoors all day; I’d been busy outside. But we thought we should do something today. So we took the dogs to Kings Wood for one of our shorter walks. Starting from the lower car park we did our two and a half miles walk. It was a shame that Treacle had to wallow in every muddy puddle she saw, but that’s the kind of dog she is.
“er indoors TM boiled up dinner which we scoffed off of the new table whilst watching the final of “Lego Masters: New Zealand”. The new table is rather good; it is higher than the old one and so consequently has room to get your legs underneath.
And for all that today was rather busy, being able to eat dinner without cramped legs was the highlight.

27 August 2023 (Sunday) - Family Bingo

Last night I saw that “Alien Covenant” was on the Film 4 channel, so I put it on, and then woke up at two o’clock. I went to bed and with everyone up in the loft room with “Darcie Waa Waa TM I had a rather good night’s sleep. I heard her chattering at eight o’clock so got up, had a shave and made toast before the mayhem started.
We had a good singalong to the “Bingo” song on “Lube-Tube” (as my grandson calls “You-Tube”), then had some assisted walking round the garden. Littlun insists on having her hands held as she toddles about. After a few seconds you get the world’s worst backache, and she wants to toddle about for ages.
Eventually she tired of it, and had her brekkie of dry cereal and grapes, and with her fed she then fed Bailey. She would take a handful of dog food and throw it at Bailey. Bailey loved this; I’m not sure which one had the most fun.
“er indoors TM then took Darcie Waa Waa TM home, and I took the dogs for a walk. Orlestone has been an unmitigated disaster at the weekends before (as it heaves with normal people at the weekends) but although we met five other groups of dogs walkers today, the walk passed off without serious incident. The only problem was Treacle trying to pick a fight with a Rottie about ten times her size.
We came home; I got some more fence paint onto my huge wooden reel, then sat on the sofa with the dogs and slept until “er indoors TM came home.
The dogs soon settled, and we set off to Dymchurch for our family bingo afternoon. We had a rather good time; even if it did pour down at one point. I won one round, and emptied six bottles of ale down my neck.
All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes. I was all set to have a little sleep on the way home, but “er indoors TM suggested I might check the new geocache notifications in case we got home and found we’d driven straight past a new one. A couple of hours previously a new geocache had gone live a little way out of our way home, but with no logs registered on the thing we took a little detour out to it, and soon we had the cache in hand. First ones to find it too. Result (!)
We came home feeling rather pleased with ourselves. “er indoors TM boiled up pizza and we watched the semi-final of “Lego Masters: New Zealand”.
I really need an early night…

26 August 2023 (Saturday) - Before Another Late Shift

My phone had a message for me this morning. Apparently my EVRI driver Adam had been unable to deliver my parcel at quarter past three this morning. If I would log on to a very dubious website and give it all my bank account details and passwords they might be able to redeliver…
I suppose it only takes one idiot to fall for these scams for the scammers to break even, and the second idiot puts them in profit.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. I had an email from the nice people at Credit Karma who told me that my score had gone up twenty-seven points in the last month, and was currently three points up on what it had been what I first joined them. The nice people at Credit Karma are very quick to tell me when my score goes up or down, but are very vague about what might make it go up or down.
There was an entertaining rant on one of the atheist pages I follow on Facebook where some religious crackpot had joined to “spread the word of the lord” and had found that the words of his lord were at odds with the words of the lords of the other religious crackpots who had also joined the atheist pages to “spread the word of the lord”. I follow one or two religious and anti-religious pages for a bit of a laugh… mind you one of them makes me very uneasy. When I was a lad I used to go to Boys Brigade which is all about tricking small children in to going to church and then brainwashing them. Looking back the Boys Brigade was a very dangerous organization which should be banned. It certainly did me quite a bit of mental harm. But when I was eleven years old I took my best friend of the time along. Sadly he really fell for all they were pushing, and he’s now a Baptist pastor in the West Country. I follow his church’s Facebook page; it’s macabre. My old mate regularly stars in their webinars in which he presents stark staring nonsense as supposedly being factually correct on a regular basis. He’s clearly deranged… and it’s all because of me.
I had planned to get another coat of paint onto my wooden reel after brekkie, but with a forecast of zero per cent chance of rain overnight I’d left the thing out, and it had poured hard overnight. So I carried on slobbing on the sofa until it was time for dog club.
We had a minor disaster as we drove to dog club; Steve wasn’t on the radio, and whilst his replacement was bravely having a go, he was sadly no substitute.
Dog Club was much the same as ever… it sounds rather dull; you can’t really big it up. It is forty minutes in a fenced area in which dogs run riot whilst the humans stand around chatting. But I love watching the dogs have fun, and the dogs clearly love it; our three squeal in excitement when we turn the car in to the Repton estate.
We came home, and seeing my big wooden reel had dried out I got some paint onto it. Again what seemed like a simple and straightforward job took ages. I then got pastries from the corner shop, and spent a few minutes on the lap-top before setting off to the late shift.
As I drove I had a phone call from Sky. Did I want to get a Sky Glass telly with them? I said I wasn't keen... and the woman on the phone immediately hung up. I thought that was a tad rude... I would ask if they want my future custom, but there's so few providers these days they've got something of a monopoly anyway.
I drove up the "Operation Brock" dual carriageway to work. The westerly bit of "Operation Brock" has been abandoned (for now), but the easterly bit is still in force... for no reason that I can fathom. Similarly there was a delay at the bottom of Hermitage Lane where one of the lanes of the dual carriageway has been coned off all week for seemingly absolutely no reason at all.
I also drove through glorious sunshine to work. I was a tad miffed as when I left home the weather forecast gave seventy per cent chance of rain. There were a few specks of rain as I drove, but I see "seventy per cent chance of rain" as being somewhat more impressive than not enough spots of rain to bother putting on the windscreen wipers.
I got to work and did my bit. After an hour or so the rain set in, and I chirped up a little. I don't mind working at the weekend if I don't think I'm missing much.
And with my bit done I came home to a very quiet house. Favorite smallest granddaughter Darcie Waa Waa TM has come for a sleepover, and she is fast asleep in the attic room with “er indoors TM and all three dogs.
The living room is rather lonely, but I’m making the most of it and watching the telly in peace and quiet.

25 August 2023 (Friday) - Plastered


I didn't sleep very well last night, and gave up trying to sleep whilst it was still dark. Being still dark I didn't see all the stuff we'd moved out of the back bedroom onto the landing so we could get the room plastered, and promptly fell over it all.
Oh, how I laughed. Mind you I was amazed (and grateful) that the dogs didn't spring into "Red Alert".
I came downstairs and fell over the wooden reel I'd brought home yesterday.
I made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless", then had a little look at the Internet. Apparently there are gangs of teenaged thugs on the beach at Hastings hurling stones at passers-by, and (as is always the case) the police are nowhere to be seen. It was suggested that gangs of decent people go and "have a word with the children", and (just maybe) break the arms that throw the stones.
I can't help but think that if the police aren't going to do the job for which they are paid then this might be the way to solve the problem. After all, gangs of vigilantes wouldn't have to render many teenagers incapable of throwing stones before they got the idea.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about power bills. The energy price cap is to fall so the amount that power companies will charge us will be capped at less than it has been. So our leccie and gas bills will be less than they were. However last year the government gave us all sixty quid a month for half the year to help pay our leccie and gas bills, and they ain't doing that this year, and so effectively the price of power will rise
Some windbag was being interviewed about bills; I don't know who this idiot was, but he was billed as something big in the energy sector. He said the answer was obvious... if people used less energy then their bills would be less. So there we are... shiver, have a cold shower and eat raw food.
Work was work. I spent much of it with a rather annoying earworm "Bertie, Bertie, Bertie the wonder glow-worm. He doesn't burp. He doesn't fart. He rides around in a hovercraft".
Where on Earth did that come from?
I also found out that not only had Alvin Stardust been dead for nine years, his real name was actually "Bernard". I'm not sure why that should have been quite such a disappointment to me, but it was.
I came home, and had a look in the back bedroom. The plasterer had finished and done what looks like a good job to me. Certainly it’s a better finish than anything I could do, but the burning question is “will the stuff stay stuck on the wall?
Time will tell; it always does.
Mind you I’m not keen on putting shelves back up on the new wall – I think I might shop around and see if I can get some free standing shelves.
I then got a coat of wood preservative onto the top half of my huge wooden reel (that only took half an hour!) then as “er indoors TM watched a German webinar about flogging candles I had a look at the monthly accounts. There’s no denying that they are far better than they were a few months ago. As part of this month’s sort out I organized the last payments from Dad’s estate – that only took a year to sort out.
Having said that, given the choice I’d happily go back to what the accounts were and have Mum and Dad back… but I’m not given that choice.

24 August 2023 (Thursday) - Before The Late Shift

I slept better last night than I had the night before; even if I only had about eight inches along the edge of the bed on which to balance.
I didn’t hang around; with the plasterers coming at eight o’clock I wanted to get the dogs out of the way so that they could set up in peace. Admittedly the weather forecast was against us, but it was dry when we set off. We got to Orlestone in some slight drizzle, but (as I said to the dogs) “What are we going to do? Dissolve?” So we set off on our usual walk. By the time we got to the third-of-the-way-round point the rain had become torrential. At the two-thirds way so the thunder and lightning started. At the point where the dogs go back onto their leads the puppies were hiding under a bush.
We hurried home to uproar. Before new plaster can go on, the old had to come off, and that was a very dusty job.
The dogs got a hot shower, and I wrung out my pants, put on a dry pair, then had a little look at the Internet.
I had a friend request from some young lady with a rather epic chest, but in a novel break with tradition, this one seemed to have it under control. If not a triumph for morality, at least it’s a step in the right direction. I downloaded bank and credit card statements to peruse over the next few days, then set off in completely the opposite direction of work.
I headed off east up the A28, remembering all too well that thoroughly miserable six years I had working at Canterbury. One of the more trivial things I disliked about working there was the A28 itself. The speed limit changes from national speed limit to forty miles per hour to fifty miles per hour to national speed limit again, and all possible combinations and permutations of those every few hundred yards. And at every stage is the very real possibility of a police speed trap waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting driver who didn't see the umpteenth change of speed limit.
On Monday I mentioned that I was looking for a large reel for the pond filter's hose. “Darcie Waa Waa TM's dad had sorted one out for me from his work, so I drove to an obscure building site near Sainsburys where I picked the thing up. As Big Jake and I hoiked it into the back of the car, a bearded chap wandered past. He was the foreman of that building site. Big Jake explained what we were doing; the foreman chuckled and asked if there was any other rubbish I'd like. This reel really was going to get thrown away, and the foreman couldn't work out why I'd driven miles out of my way to get what he honestly thought was fit only for the bin.
I then checked my phone. Earlier I'd seen an email about a new geocache going live in Whitstable. Whitstable isn't *that* far from Canterbury... According to my phone it was eleven minutes’ drive from where I was, and no one had yet found it. I set off, and eleven minutes later I had it in my hand. No one else had found it. I was first. Go me.
From there it was a pretty much straight run to work... or to the petrol station near work as I needed fuel. Petrol for the car and a sandwich for me. I went to pull up at the petrol pump but in my world things are never that simple. There was a chap standing by his car at the pump in front of mine who was chatting away to whoever it was filling his car at the opposite pump. And there was a rather dim-looking child (staring blankly into space) standing exactly where I wanted (needed) to put my car. So I waited. And waited. After a few minutes I beeped my hooter. The chap at the car in front looked up, seemed genuinely surprised to see my car, swore loudly at the dim-looking child, stopped his conversation with the chap at the other petrol pump, and started putting petrol in his car. The dim-looking child then blundered away, bouncing off of the petrol pump I wanted to use, and then stood staring into space blocking up another petrol pump.
I went into work and had a relatively good day. But together with everyone else I spent an inordinate amount of time checking the travel news. There was an overturned lorry on the motorway. Had the wreckage been cleared away? Could people get home up the motorway, or was everyone going to be in one huge traffic jam?
I took the line that being on the late shift all the traffic (jammed or otherwise) would have cleared by nine o'clock.
It had…

23 August 2023 (Wednesday) - Early Shift

I woke in a panic at half past two this morning following a nightmare in which I'd been implicated in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister. It had all been a horrible mistake stemming from My Boy TM's plan to kick Boris Johnson up the arse whilst shouting "Take that, you smarmy f...er!", but somehow it all went wrong, the kick was a tad too vigorous (and went up the wrong arse) and suddenly we had a dead PM on our hands (or foot, to be precise).
I didn't get back to sleep after that; the dogs were taking up far too much bed space for three small dogs, and each was radiating slightly more heat that the summer sun.
I got up shortly after five o'clock, made toast and watched another episode of "Shameless". Thinking that there can't be many more episodes of that left for me to watch, I had a look on-line.
I've got twenty-six more to go.
And with telly watched I had a look at Facebook as I do. Yesterday it had been quiet, today there was something of a fight happening on a page devoted to strange things found on Google Street View. Some (rather thick) woman had looked up the place at zero degrees north (or south) and zero degrees east (or west) and was rather surprised to find it was in the Atlantic Ocean. Thinking this location had been chosen as the starting point for longitude and latitude she asked "What idiot chose this random place?". But sadly in doing so she gave a classic demonstration of the old adage "it is better to remain silent and be though a fool than to open your mouth and remove all possible doubt".
People weren't being kind to her.
Having had a couple of rostered days off, it was back to work for me today. As I drove up the dual carriageway which is the M20, I listened to the radio (as I do). It would seem that there is quite a bit of consternation in Russia in that criminals can volunteer for service in the army in the ongoing war in Ukraine, and after a few months then be released from both the army and their prison sentence. And so are free to go and make miseries of the lives of decent people who had been glad to see them being locked up.
And there was talk of the armada of small boats bringing illegal immigrants across the channel from France. (Note that these people are "illegal immigrants" and NOT "refugees"; they stopped being "refugees" the moment they set foot in mainland Europe and became safe). It was alleged that the French authorities aren't keen to chase after the small boats once they've left France for the UK.
Of course they ain't. Once they've left France, the French are rid of a problem, aren't they? Why did the French put the immigrant facilities at Calais on the north coast (from where you can see the UK) rather than on the south coast at Marseilles?
I got to work for the early shift and had a fairly good day but was still glad to come home. I took the dogs to Orlestone Woods where we had a very good walk. We went on a rather long walk (for Orlestone Woods) but despite walking for over an hour only saw two other dog walkers, and both of those withing a minute’s walk of the car park.
We did “boot dogs”; we came home. “er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: New Zealand”.
I do like that show… if “Lego Masters: UK” returns I wonder if I could sort out a team mate…

22 August 2023 (Tuesday) - Having a Rest

My morning routine was much the same as ever… up until I turned on the lap-top. Amazingly no one was squabbling with anyone else at all this morning.
I then spent a few minutes getting the dogs onto their leads. Morgan is getting quite troublesome before a walk; he simply doesn’t want to go out. Once we are on the walk he obviously has a great time. And if he doesn’t get a walk he is like a fractious toddler. But before we go out he runs from the lead and hides and clearly doesn’t walt to go.
As we drove to the woods the pundits on the radio were talking about the government’s announcement that they are spending a million quid to “support children attending schools in disadvantaged areas across England to learn and play chess, improve visibility and availability of the game and fund elite playing”. There were those who felt this was a lot of money… mostly these were those who were too thick to understand how to play chess. After all, this million quid is just pissing in the wind compared to how much the government spends on sports.
There was also talk about how the International Chess Federation has banned trans women (biologically men) from competing in women-only chess competitions. The head honcho of the English Chess Federation was wheeled on who made the point that the top one hundred chess players in the world are all men and made a rather good defence of the decision… Even though the English Chess Federation don’t agree with it and aren’t implementing it.
We went to Kings Wood today and went on a longer walk than usual. At Orlestone unless we walk in circles and back-track a lot it is difficult to get more than a three-mile walk in. I have a series of geocaches in Kings Wood on a (sort-of) circular walk of eight and a half miles. Today we did a walk of four miles. As we went we met three other dog-walkers; all within half a mile of the car park. We walked for an hour and a half, had had a really good (if uneventful) walk.
With walk walked the dogs were soon fast asleep in their baskets. I got pastries for me and “er indoors TM, and once we’d had them (with a coffee) I went on a little shopping mission.
When I left home (in September 1984) one of the very first things I got for myself was a fish tank. I’ve always had a fish tank. My current one is rather old and tired and just a tad too small. I would like one which has a footprint about six inches bigger in both directions, but is the same height as the current one.
I couldn’t find one.
I also need some sort of a huge hose-reel thingy for the pipe I use for cleaning the pond filter. I couldn’t find one of those either.
I came home. I had all sorts of ideas for things to do in the garden but it was a very hot day, and the physical effort of the last two days had taken their toll. So I sat on the sofa (with Bailey) and watched episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which a pub, a holiday complex and a hotel totally thrashed some posh woman who lets out bedrooms as a hobby.
And then the doorbell rang. The nice bathroom man came to measure up. Our current bathroom is a bit tired; my Dad installed it as a moving-in pressie some time in the early 90s. It is time for a new one. I’m dreading seeing the estimate, but what is money for if not to squander foolishly?
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of curry which we washed down with a bottle of hock whilst watching a rather good episode of “Lego Masters: New Zealand”. And then we watched Sky Arts’ “Landscape Artist of the Year”. This programme really is “The Emperor’s New Clothes” of our era.
Some of the paintings were *very* good.
Some really were pathetically awful; my eight year old grandson really could do better, and has done so.
Sadly no one was brave enough to say “that painting is truly crap”, and to ask who the (so-called) artist has porked to get on to the show.
I’m told that doing so is bad form…


21 August 2023 (Monday) - Still Busy

As I scoffed toast I looked into the Internet. There was a post on one of the local dachshund groups. Someone’s dog has got dachshund intervertebral disc disease and was bemoaning the cost of vet treatments. It was claimed that the same treatment provided by local vets is several thousand pounds cheaper *if* you drive a few hundred miles to see vets up north.
My Fudge had this condition, and it cost us thousands. We might have saved a bit if we’d gone to a vet in Yorkshire, but he was under the vet with this condition for years. Are people so desperate to save money that they are prepared to spend an entire day going to the vet to drop the dog off for surgery or a day in dog hospital? And then another day collecting the dog?
“er indoors TM announced the dogs had been fed, so I took them for a walk. We drove down to Orlestone, walked our usual walk of about two miles and didn’t roll in anything disgusting, didn’t wallow in any swamps, didn’t chase any squirrels, and didn’t see any normal people to upset. All things considered, rather dull.
We came home and the dogs went to sleep. I wish I had. I heaved a load of rubbish into the car, and then got all of Daddy’s Little Angel TM”’s tat (that I’d got from the lock-up last week) into the hallway.
I took the car load of rubbish to the tip. That place winds me up; the staff there are incredibly petty and pedantic about what rubbish goes where, no two of them agree on anything, and what one bloke tells you today completely contradicts what the same person told you last time. For example the last time I went there I dropped a pile of scrap metal at the entrance to the metal skip. A member of staff had a grumble about why I should carry my rubbish to the far end of the skip and put it on top pf the rubbish already in there. So today I tried to do that and the bloke who’d grumbled last time when hysterical because (today) I wasn’t supposed to set foot in that skip but should pile the rubbish outside.
I then came back to base, loaded up all of Daddy’s Little Angel TM”’s tat and drove it down to her. She wanted to go get more tropical fish, so off we all went. By one of life’s little co-incidences the fish shop is next door to McDonalds so we got some McLunch. As we scoffed I taught “Darcie Waa Waa TM to say “halibut”; that confused the nice lady in the pet shop when we came to get the fish.
With the first fruit of my loin (and her tribe) returned to their home I came back to mine. Yesterday I’d got the back bedroom to the stage where I could get the shelves (and fixings) off of the walls, and today I spent an hour doing that. It didn’t take much doing, but clearing up the wreckage afterwards was rather hard work.
No time off work is complete without ironing, and with “er indoors TM off bowling I ironed for an hour or so watching episodes of “Shameless” in which our heroes again “did the dirty deed” with their pants on.
I’m rather worn out… Again.

20 August 2023 (Sunday) - Rather Busy


The original plan for this weekend had me working last night and consequently asleep for much of today. I was glad that plans had changed.
I woke at half past six, rolled ever and slept through till nine o’clock. We then had something of a minor panic as we had to be up, dogs fed, and on our way within forty minutes as today was our monthly catch-up with friends over a spot of brekkie. We made it with one minute to spare.
It is always good to catch up with old friends; we put the world to rights, and in a novel break with tradition I had mushrooms and black pudding in place of plum tomatoes on my Full English and ate far too much.
From Café Express we drove round to Quantock Drive for the “Garage Safari” where people were effectively running boot fair stalls in their own front gardens. Working on the old maxim that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” I went along with high hopes. However the old maxim is wrong. One man’s trash is actually another man’s rubbish. I honestly think the idea of having a boot fair in the front garden was that the front garden was closer to the car into which the rubbish would be loaded for a tip run. People were selling worn and knackered old clothes, tired-looking crockery, broken toys, and encyclopedias from fifty years ago. I had a transient moment of excitement when I saw a large tub of Lego, but that which wasn’t either broken or had teeth marks all over it was actually fake Lego.
We came home, hung out the washing, and cracked on with the day. Pausing only briefly to mow the lawn, my plan was to empty out the back bedroom. The plaster has blown (quite badly) and I needed to empty all the shelves and then clear space for the plasterer. I boxed up books that I haven’t read in years (and have no intentions of reading again). I found my old telescope; having spent a small fortune on it twelve years ago I used it twice and it has been in storage ever since. I found back packs which I was sure had been binned years ago. I found a brand new pair of slippers I bought to take on holiday two years ago. I found two broken printers which I’d been saving for no reason whatsoever. And as I tidied and cleared stuff out of the room I found loads of Lego minifigures which I’d obviously dropped on the floor over the years.
By the time I’d swept up and made good the afternoon had nearly gone. “er indoors TM drove us all down to the woods where we had a rather good walk. We didn’t see anyone else as we walked, but we did do a little swamp-monstering, and there was a minor altercation with a dead blackbird.
I was in charge of washing dogs when we came home.
“er indoors TMsorted a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Lego Masters: New Zealand”.
I’m quite worn out, and there’s a busy day planned for tomorrow…

19 August 2023 (Saturday) - Before Another Late Shift


Anyone who reads this blog will realise that one of my pet hates is how nasty people are to each other on Facebook. But I saw a post this morning that left me speechless. Someone had dug out a garden pond, lined it with the weed-proof membranes that you put under gravel in the garden, and was asking why the thing wasn’t holding any water. Have you seen these weed-proof membranes? They are porous in the extreme; made of woven fibres they are designed to let water though. How could anyone think that these would hold water? Seriously? But faced with a very easy target, pretty much everyone on that Facebook page was being kind and helpful. Here’s hoping this is the way forward…
Being a Saturday morning I loaded the dogs into the car and set off to Dog Club listening to Steve on the radio. Every Saturday on the way to Dog Club there is a lyrics quiz; Steve reads out the lyrics to a song and we have to work out which one...  "Facing twenty-thousand of your friends, how can anyone be so lonely?" Do you know it? This was the first one I've ever known - Super Trouper by Abba. Go me!!
We got to Dog Club, and after a few minutes “er indoors TM joined us. Dog Club was rather busy this morning, but nowhere near as many of the bigger dogs were along. I got the impression that words have been said, and the bigger (quite frankly huge) dogs have graduated from the small dogs session to one of the later sessions. But there were plenty of small dogs to swarm about. There was a minor incident when some small child felt overwhelmed (and got a bit upset) by being mobbed by the dogs, but as the mother pointed out, if you are going to stand there with a bag of dog treats you can either give them out and the dogs will soon lose interest. Or you can stand there holding the treats and get mobbed.
Morgan ran round with his mates; I watched him get told off (by slightly larger dogs) a couple of times, which was good for him.
Bailey made a few heads turn as she screamed, but as I pointed out she was screaming as she was chasing the bigger dogs. They weren't chasing her. She was just excited.
Treacle even sniffed a few other dogs which for her is a massive improvement in her attitude to other dogs.
I did chuckle as we walked out. A woman who hadn't been along before fussed Bailey. As I walked away (with Bailey on the lead) I heard her saying to her friends "there's a man who's not afraid to be seen with a tiny dog".
As we drove from Dog Club Steve was doing the Mystery year on the radio. When did Jon Pertwee step down as Doctor Who? Steve mentioned he'd seen the photos I'd posted to Facebook from Dog Club, then mentioned me by name saying that the next record would give the mystery year away to me. I drove down the motorway grinning like a Cheshire cat listening to Sparks playing "Amateur Hour".
We drove to the Conningbrook Country Park; not somewhere we've ever been before. It looked rather pretty, but with signs everywhere saying dogs had to be on leads it isn't the sort of place we'd go. Mind you there were plenty of people with dogs ignoring those signs.
But today the monthly geocachers' meet-up was taking place there, what with it being International Geocaching Day, and if ever there was a day to meet up with hunters of Tupperware, it was today. So a dozen of us met up, ate doughnuts and talked about things geocachical for an hour.
After an hour, leaving everyone else (and “er indoors TM” and the dogs) behind I set off to work. Mind you I've worked on ten of the eleven "International Geocaching Days" that have happened whilst I've been a Tupperware hunter, so setting off to work today wasn't really anything new
As I drove up the motorway I found myself thinking about the little meet-up of geocachers. Looking back I think we took up geocaching at the right time. There were dozens of people keen on the hobby back then; our enthusiasm bounced off of each other and for many years we all had fun. Both in going out for walks and in meeting up. But over the years I think it fair to say that the novelty has worn off. Where a meet-up would have attracted dozens of people in the past, today we barely got one dozen along.
As I drove up the motorway (which is still now only a dual carriageway) I looked across at the miles of empty lane supposedly to be used as a lorry park for "Operation Brock". I suppose that this is better than the complete motorway closures that happened on the old "Operation Stack", but it is still (to coin a phrase) "a pain in the glass".
I got to work far earlier than planned. The original plan for the day had me working the night shift at Pembury, but what with shift swaps and illness and one thing and another I ended up doing the late shift at Maidstone. I got to work and went to the M&S to get a sandwich. As I swiped my Sparks card (M&S's loyalty card thingy) so the checkout laid an egg, and loudly announced that I was the day's lucky winner and that today's shopping was for free. Had I known that in advance I would have got far more than just a sandwich. But something for nothing can't be bad.
Work was far more like hard work than I had hoped it would be, but with it done I came home to an empty house; “er indoors TM was chauffeuring Cheryl about.
I made the most of watching the telly…

18 August 2023 (Friday) - Before the Late Shift

As well as letting the pups out in the night for that which pups go out for, I turned the fan on for Treacle. She was incredibly breathless and panting at four o’clock. What was that all about? As I lay awake worrying about her so Bailey was constantly dabbing my head with her paws in her sleep.
I’d slept from midnight till four o’clock… what more did I want?
As I waited for the dogs to get up I made toast and depressed myself by looking into Facebook. I really shouldn’t grumble; I do OK really. But I get a tad jealous sometimes.
People who regularly post on Facebook pleading poverty were posting photos of their weeks-long foreign summer holidays. An ex-trainee (who recently moved into a mansion near Bodiam) was posting holiday snaps from her eleven-bedroom second home in France (which she lets out when not using herself).
I’ve absolutely no idea why I should be jealous of people’s holidays; for all that I enjoy going away, I invariably get homesick.
And a chap I used to know (who works in insurance) was advertising his house which is up for sale; the monthly repayments for a mortgage on that house would be a lot more than my entire monthly wage.
I would say that I wondered where I went wrong in life… but in all honesty I don’t think I’ve actually gone wrong; just not as right as I might have done.
After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself the dogs swarmed downstairs and swarmed all over me. You can’t sulk underneath a pile of dogs. As they swarmed, they hoovered up all the toast crumbs I’d made, then had their own brekkie and we all went to the woods for our morning constitutional.
We had a good walk round the woods, meeting no one at all as we went. The walk was only marred by the pups finding someone’s discarded sandwich and scoffing most of it before I could stop them. Panicked by visions of idiots spiking sandwiches with poison (you hear these stories) I had a good look at what was left, but I couldn’t see anything amiss.
We came home; I gathered a bumper harvest of dog dung from the garden then sorted out coffee and cake. Yesterday “er indoors TM baked a rather good banana cake. I’ve given her my regal permission to make more of that(!)
I sparked up my lap-top and had a fiddle about on-line. Yesterday I mentioned I was having issues with Paint Shop Pro 7. After a little farting around I downloaded the latest version of Paint Shop Pro (in trial format). I don’t like it for the simple reason that it is different to what I’m used to, but I expect I will get used to it. After all I’m getting used to this new lap-top (albeit slowly). I just don’t do “different”.
Just as the forecast rain started I set off to work. Well, to the co-op to get lunch. I got to the co-op and saw a couple of young children having a full-on fight in the doorway. After a couple of minutes of waiting patiently for them to move it became quite plain that they had no intention of stopping (or even pausing) their fight. So I stepped over them; rolling my eyes at the manager-type who was chatting with the cashier. As I walked in the general direction of sandwiches I could hear the manager-type loudly asking whose brats were fighting the doorway, and an aggressive voice shrieking back demanding who wanted to know; clearly not happy at having to take responsibility for its children.
I then set off to work properly. Slowly. From Ashford to Bethersden I was in a queue of traffic stuck behind a dustbin lorry. At Bethersden the dustbin lorry turned off, but after a couple of minutes our queue of traffic was soon going just as slowly behind a horse box.
At Biddenden there were epic queues for Tractorfest - a festival involving lots of tractors. Add to this the usual hold-ups in Goudhurst and Sissinghurst and half a dozen sets of temporary traffic lights (for no apparent reason)...
Some days my journey to Pembury is easy, other days not so. I always say that whilst I quite like working at Pembury I hate going there.
Coming home was quicker, but the country lanes in the dark weren’t easy.

17 August 2023 (Thursday) - Late Shift


This morning as I scoffed toast I read a rather amusing argument on the Facebook “Ridgeway and Ancient Tracks of Britain and Ireland” page in which people were arguing about the maximum length permissible for a dog to walk. Someone (who didn’t have a dog) had unilaterally decreed that fifteen miles was too much, and others who also didn’t have dogs were backing him up. Those who did have dogs (or experience of them) were being shouted down.
I can’t help but think that the dog himself is the best judge. My Fudge used to walk for miles – he did over twenty miles round Sussex with me once, and at the sixteen miles stage ran off (like a bullet from a gun) chasing pheasants. At the other extreme on a couple of occasions dear old Sid stopped after four miles and would not walk another step and had to be carried. Mind you I wasn’t going to tell the Facebook “Ridgeway and Ancient Tracks of Britain and Ireland” page that though.
I also had some issues with the graphics package I use to create the piccies I use on these blog entries. I’ve always used Paint Shop Pro, and while the thing can be downloaded in “trial” mode, after a month I have to pay for it. I’m quite happy to pay for it, but when I try to do so I get a rather unhelpful Windows “help” screen.
If any of my loyal readers can recommend a decent graphics package…
I took the dogs down to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the England women’s football team who won some big competition or other yesterday. Mind you when I say “talking about”, the one being interviewed was “hysterically shrieking”. I wish they would just speak rationally rather than be so over-excited. It just makes me turn the radio off.
In any event I thought the England women’s football team won whatever it was last year?
We got to the woods; again we had a good walk round. But a short walk compared to the walks in Kings Wood. When he’s not been walked enough Morgan is very reluctant to come back to have his lead put on, and he wasn’t at all keen on the idea this morning.
We came home. I got pastries from the corner shop and had a look at MP3s on the Amazon store. I eventually downloaded Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” but it took some doing. I then wrote up some CPD and set off to work.
I'd had a message saying that some chap wanted to buy the spare bits for the old pond filter, but he'd not shown by the time I had to set off, so I left instructions for him with “er indoors TM and set off listening to my downloaded "Bat Out Of Hell"; I've not listened to that album for years. It was (and is) rather good. I played it one and a half times on my way to Pembury.
I stopped off on my way at Singleton Post Office as I had a letter to post. Over the years I've built up a mental map of Ashford but over the years pretty much every post box I've noted has since been removed. I suppose we have to wonder who actually posts letters any more when an email can do in seconds what a letter takes a week to do. Eventually I hit on the idea of handing the letter over the counter of a post office. The nice lady behind the counter agreed that was probably the best way to post a letter these days.
I also stopped off at Tesco in Pembury to get a sandwich. There was a new chap on the tills. Smiling and cheeky; I actually walked out of the place with a smile on my face rather than (as I usually do) mumbling under my breath about how unhelpful the staff are. I hope I see this chap again... Mind you I suspect he won't last.
I got to work for the late shift and did my bit (as I do). I sulked a little looking at the glorious day outside; I don't dislike my job, but it's no secret that after nearly forty-two years I'd rather not be inside doing it any more. But I did, and eventually the night shift arrived and I left them to it, and listened to "Bat Out Of Hell" one and a half times as I drove home.