30 September 2023 (Saturday) - Family Staying

After yesterday’s vaccinations (one in each arm) I woke with my left arm aching and my right arm was fine. What was that all about?
As I made toast I saw that the clock in the kitchen had stopped. What is it with stopped clocks? Whenever one has stopped at home or at work I notice it all the time, but when it is running I’m not conscious of ever even looking at the thing.
I sparked up my lap-top and peered into the Internet. Facebook was crawling with posts about some tree that had got chopped down in Scotland. Am I being cynical in wondering if more than one or two of the dozens of people posting about the tree had ever heard of it before, let alone seen it. I certainly hadn’t. There’s a lot of this on the Internet – post up about some bandwagon or other and everyone jumps on it.
Someone else asked about good places to go for a walk – I suggested Orlestone and Kings Wood; someone else immediately claimed both places were ideal places for getting a car broken into. Seriously? I’ve been going to both for years and never heard of any issues there. I said as much… and the chap who’d said about break ins then said he’d never actually been to either but had a vague inkling that he’d heard rumours.
Isn’t the Internet wonderful…
Being Saturday we loaded up the dogs and drove round to Repton for Dog Club. We had a great time running and charging about. Little Lilly who was so nervous and reactive a few weeks ago is coming on in leaps and bounds. The two Spaniels who came for their first time last week (and just barked in nervous terror) were in the thick of all the games. And a tiny dachshund who came for her first time today had a whale of a time.
As we came home we listened to Steve’s Mystery Year competition on the radio. As we’d driven to Dog Club there was a competition to name a tune being played backwards – it was Super Trooper by Abba. Go me. And I got the Mystery Year too – 1992. As we messaged to Steve, that year was famous for being the late Queen’s horrible anus.
Once home I ran out the pond hose pipe, rigged it to the filter and had the filter cleaned out and all the accessories away in just under twenty-five minutes. Pond filter cleaning with the pressure filter is so much easier than it used to be. All I need now is a round pole to act as a spindle for my big reel thing.
Just as I’d tidied up I had a message. Someone had left the padlocks at Dog Club locked. Yes. I had. Deliberately. I thought if I left them open then passing herberts might nick them, and that whoever locks up might use their key to open the padlocks prior to locking up. However it turns out that Dog Club only has one key to the gates (the one in my pocket) and that locking up is dependent on me leaving the locks open.
I popped back to Dog Club where the big dogs session was in full swing and unlocked.
I came home via Waitrose as I thought we deserved Belgian buns. Two Belgian buns from Waitrose was just under a quid cheaper than the co-op.
We drove down to Folkestone to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMand “Darcie Waa Waa TM (and Pogo). We brought them home and after a sandwich and a “Feed The Fish” ceremony we went round to the park. We’d heard the council had spent (literally) millions doing up the park, and they had. New climbing frames, trampolines, swings, zip lines… there were hundreds of people at the new play area and we spent over an hour there with the littluns. You really don’t mind paying council tax when it is spent on projects like that.
Eventually we were played out and come home for a KFC dinner, and then spent a little while watching Lube-Tube videos. Baby songs and gallium and crochet… the evening passed rather quickly.
Darcie Waa Waa TM is asleep;  “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM is doing crochet with his grandmother. Pogo hasn’t screamed for at least fifteen minutes. I’m rather exhausted with it all…

29 September 2023 (Friday) - Trousers

I've a vague recollection of pushing a dog so that I could roll over in the night, but other than that I had a good night's sleep. I got up, and as I wandered to the bathroom I noticed all the light on next door. As I took Bailey for a tiddle last night at 9pm the only light on next door was the one in the back bedroom. She clearly goes to bed and gets up several hours earlier than most.
I made toast (with jam again - because we've now got some), and as I scoffed toast watched the most recent episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks" that was released last night. Am I being rather sad in thinking that Lt Tendi is perhaps the foxiest woman in all of Star Trek?
I got dressed in the dark; something I do for five to six months every year over the winter. It is mostly much the same as getting dressed with the light on, but you don't wake anyone else up. However you do run the risk of spending the day with your undercrackers either inside out or back to front.
As I left the house I saw we'd not moved out recycling bin to the pavement. With the bin lorry coming up the road (you probably heard them shouting thins morning, no matter where in the world you are) I moved the recycling bin two yards from the front of the house to the pavement so that they could empty it. The bin men flatly refuse to walk the two yards from the pavement to the front of the house where the recycling bin lives... I've complained to the council before; the chap with whom I spoke admitted that it was rather pathetic, but made it clear that we all need to "appease the contractors"...
As I drove through the rain up the motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister is seemingly sucking up to motorists. It was alleged that there's more potential votes for him from those who drive cars than from those who get about using any other form of transport. He can suck up to me all he wants, I'd piss on the voting slip before voting for him.
And there was a lot of talk about how Labour are looking to win a lot of seats from the Scottish Nationalists.
I thought it rather strange how there is clearly a fascination with national politics whilst locally there is utter apathy.
Work was work; I did my bit on the early shift, then (with the afternoon off) walked out at mid-day and wandered over to the vaccination hub where (after a ten minute wait) I got my COVID jab in one arm and my flu jab in the other.
I then came home. I thought about taking the dogs up to the woods, but it was perhaps rather too hot for a long walk, so we wandered round the local roads. A geocache I’d hidden not far from home was supposedly missing and had had reports of being inaccessible because of massively overgrown weeds. We didn’t have any problem getting to where it was supposed to be. Was the old one still there? In all honesty, don’t know, don’t care. I dropped off a new one and we walked home again.
I then had a little sort out. I had planned to go to Cotton Traders on my way home for new trousers and a new fleece. The pocket of my work trousers has worn through (the keys do that to all my trousers) and the cuffs of my fleece have frayed away after many years. But rather than buying new I thought I might have a little look-see upstairs. I have a habit of buying new clothes, chucking them in the cupboard and forgetting about them. Sure enough there was a new fleece there. That saved a bit of cash. But as for trousers… There were over a dozen new pairs in the cupboard, but all too small for me. If any of my loyal readers would like a dozen pairs of new trousers (waist 40 inches, inside leg 29 inches) just drop me a line.
I then had a little sleep for an hour or so. Why was I so tired? I blame the vaccinations.
“er indoors TM sorted out fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”. I’ll have a look on Amazon for new trousers in a minute…

28 September 2023 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off

A night shift and a bottle of red wine meant I slept like a log last night. I was licked awake at half past seven by three rather excited dogs, the smallest of which seemed to have got over whatever it was that had upset her yesterday.
I made toast (with jam) and had a look at the Internet. It was still there. I looked at a few holiday photos… here’s a thought. If you home-school your kids you can get to go on holiday when it is a lot cheaper when everyone else is at school. I sent out a birthday wish to someone who was one of my trainees thirty years ago. She was fifty today. Fifty - where do the years go?
And I looked at the geo-map. Yesterday I mentioned that the geo-feds had archived one of my caches without my having received any notification that there was a problem with it. I saw on the map that another of my caches in that series had been disabled by officialdom because of perceived problems with it that they hadn’t told me about. I can’t be poring over the geo-map every day looking to see if there’s issues with what I’ve hidden. I archived all my ones along the Greensand Way (as that seemed to be where the problem was).
I also heard that last night’s launch of the South Ashford Community Forum wasn’t the success that it might have been. There were four local councilors (who really had to be there), two members of the “Friends of Victoria Park”, four members of the public (at whom the meeting was aimed), the chairman of the South Ashford Community Forum, and the secretary of the church which was hosting the meeting. As I suspected, apathy was the winner here.
And with not a lot else happening in cyberspace I turned off the lap-top and cracked on with the day.
Yesterday I did loads of washing which just didn’t dry, so I hung it on the line again. That took ages. And with it done I took the dogs for a walk. We went up to Kings Wood where we walked for three and a half miles. We arrived to see a Dalmatian running round the car park; he followed us (at a distance) into the woods but wandered off after a while. I hope he’s OK – he was a hundred yards behind us for a while, then suddenly just disappeared.
As we went we did whistle practice which worked with varying degrees of success. Treacle rarely left my side, by when she did the whistle brought her back in near panic. Bailey would come at top speed, but being only little and being keen to wander, coming back took a while for her even if she did respond immediately. And Morgan would come in his own good time when he was ready. But whistle training did work (even if it took a while).
With walk walked we came home where I put a load of washing into scrub, got the washing in off the line, and started an epic session of ironing. As I ironed I watched the last episodes of “Shameless”; I started watching the series on May 5th; it has only taken just under six months to watch. And with the last of “Shameless” watched and pants still to sort, I put on a Netflix film.
Paradise” is a sci-fi (ish) film, the premise of which is that you can sell years of your life for financial gain or to pay off debts. However (like “Shameless”) the writers would have benefitted from the teensiest bit of research. *If*it were possible to extend human life, telomere transplantation would be a sensible place to start… and for the film-makers this would involve something which would look like a blood transfusion. Physically ripping years out of someone’s back in much the same way that a butcher might remove the kidneys from a carcass simply doesn’t work. And having the leading characters being in total disagreement, but each alternately taking different sides of the argument didn’t work. The film was originally made in German; perhaps it lost something in translation? I think it fair to say “es war krappenschite”.
“er indoors TM came home from a day in the office and the dogs all got rather over-excited to see her. She boiled up a rather good bit of scran which we devoured whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”. There’s a new series of “Bake Off” going on to the Sky-Q box, but we’ll get Lego watched before we start on that…
Today was a rostered day off… I think I needed it after Tuesday’s night shift…

27 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Ranting After the Night Shift

There's no denying I'd not been looking forward to last night's night shift. The worst night shift I ever had was the night of a 26th September, and I get a tad superstitious sometimes. The one that had me worried was in 1987; the day after My Boy TMwas born. Ideally I wouldn't have been working that day but... Over the years the people I've worked with have come and gone. Sometimes work has been fun, other times not so. I'm probably working with the best group of people I've ever worked with at the moment, but things weren't so peachy in 1987. I'll gloss over the "delightful people" with whom I worked at the time; but I'll say that it speaks volumes that at that time no one was prepared to swap a night shift the day after my first child had been born. I went in to work feeling exhausted back then and during that shift there was crisis after crisis. I did compatibility testing on over fifty units of blood (these days more than four in a night shift is rather excessive).
Last night's shift wasn't anywhere near as bad, for which I was rather pleased. But I was still glad when the early shift rolled in to take over this morning.
I listened to the radio as I drove home (as I do) and rolled my eyes. The Home Secretary was being lambasted for making some very harsh anti-refugee comments and for threatening to take the UK out of the international conventions on migration.
What boiled my piss here was that she is making these nasty comments and the masses think she’s wonderful because they want anyone they see as competition for their dole to be sent back on the next banana boat. What the masses don’t see is that voting for her is voting for the government who has been allowing all these immigrants in for the last ten (or more) years.
I got home, had a shower and shave and went to bed. Morgan and Bailey came with me and as I tried to sleep so they had a play-fight. After half an hour (!) they wore themselves out and I slept through till mid-day when I put some washing into the machine, made toast, and remembered that yesterday evening when I went to Sainsburys I’d meant to get some jam.
I put peanut butter and marmalade on my toast (don’t say “yuk!”, try it!) and had a little look at the Internet. Yesterday I mentioned that the geo-feds had archived one of my geocaches. The thing had been supposedly missing, and my plan had been to replace it tomorrow. However I had an email today telling me that “once a cache has been archived for non maintenance it can't be unarchived”. Bearing in mind that others have been unarchived before I was a tad pissed off about this. Also bearing in mind that geocaching dot com openly admit that their notification system isn’t reliable you’d think that they’d make sure I got the message before pulling the plug.
Oh well… it was one of a series of caches along the Greensand Way; those ones have run their course. Rather than doing the maintenance run I’d planned, I shall archive the lot.
I hung out washing, then got out the tape measure. Ever since “er indoors TM got me my new SmartWatch at Christmas I’ve been rather obsessed with my step count. But (to be honest) the step count never really meant very much… until today. After a few measurements I’ve worked out that twenty steps is fourteen metres sixty-five centimetres. Which means that one step is seventy-three and a quarter centimetres. So my daily target of six thousand steps is four point three nine five kilometres or two point seven three miles (in English). I thought it was more…
I got out the garden vacuum, sucked up all the dead leaves from everyone else’s trees that were littering my lawn, then mowed the lawn. And with lawn mowed I sat by the poind and read more of my “Game of Thrones” e-book. As I read so Bailey yelped. She’d been sitting on the lawn doing nothing (much like me) when she screamed, jumped up and flew into the house where she seemed very sorry for herself and wanted lots of cuddles whilst holding up her front right paw. Had something bitten or stung her?
The plan for the evening had been to wander round to the local Baptist church where the South Ashford Community Forum was being re-launched. I’d seen the meeting advertised on Facebook and had asked what it was all about. Shortly after my asking that, commenting on the event was turned off.
The South Ashford Community Forum was originally set up from a feeling that the local council and councilors don't have a clue about the people they serve, don't communicate and basically get away with things because there's no interaction. A community forum would give people a voice and let them know what's planned. The South Ashford Community Forum has run as a Facebook group for some time, but apparently (so I was told) the deputy mayor wanted to re-launch it to make herself look good. Cynical? Perhaps. I might ask if has any politician ever done anything other than self-aggrandizement but that’s probably not the case for local councilors; if for no other reason that no one really cares about local councils. Take for example my rant of ten years ago when I pointed out that the local councilor at the time got in with only seven point six of the electorate voting for him. That was ten years ago and look at the most recent election. With just over two thousand people eligible to vote, the winning candidate came in with one hundred and sixty-one votes; seven point eight per cent of the electorate.
With everyone else utterly apathetic about local matters would I be wasting my time? Mind you I was rather knackered after yesterday’s night shift so I sent my apologies.
Instead we cracked open a bottle of montepulciano (as one does) and watched an episode of “Lego Masters: USA” whilst Bailey sat with me and quivered. She’s not well. If she doesn’t perk up, we’re off to the vet.

26 September 2023 (Tuesday) - Before the Night Shift

I slept well for a change. I made toast and scoffed it sitting on the sofa with a very quiet, subdued and soppy Morgan. What was that all about? As I scoffed I had my usual look at Facebook. This morning it was rather entertaining. There was a rather nasty rant about anti-same-sex relationships on one of the groups I follow… apparently Donald Trump and some bunch of religious crackpots being in agreement automatically made anything true. It is odd how some people really cannot distinguish between what is factually correct as being “true” and what they personally believe as being “true”. Quite often these people take to putting the word “Fact!” after ludicrous nonsense as though that makes it true.
There was a mini-squabble about the origin of the name “Hastings” on another group; several theories were being put forward despite no one having any actual evidence for any of them.
A friend who often pleads poverty was jetting off on yet another international holiday.
And someone who regularly spams all the local Facebook pages for her own favourite pet projects was lambasting others for doing the same… and getting quite a bit of stick for doing so.
And I had an email that the geo-feds had archived one of my geocaches… that was kind of them. I emailed a complaint.
I got the dogs onto their leads and set off for a little walk. As we drove there was a rather interesting article on the radio about extremely rich people. It started off with concern being expressed about how international leaders are queuing up for meetings with the rich. Elon Musk was mentioned. It was then claimed that being extremely rich and influential was nothing new, and there was a mini biography of Henry Ford who (so it was claimed) spent a small fortune on anti-Semitic stuff. This was followed by an equally rich and influential person who lived in the eighteenth century. I’d have loved to have known who it was but the woman speaking had such I thick accent that I could only understand about half of her words.
Why do they allow these people on the radio?
We got to the woods and had a rather good three and a half miles walk. The last time we were in the woods the puppies’ recall wasn’t what it might have been, so we worked on whistle training and treats today, and did (mostly) rather well. We had one occasion when they were a tad slow coming back, but today was a vast improvement on the last walk.
As we walked I noticed Morgan doing “the hop”; I think he’s got the patellar luxation thing that Fudge had. I shall have to keep an eye on him.
We came home. Treacle had her paws washed as during our walk she’d made a point of being a swamp monster. Morgan and Bailey walked (ran) round all the muddy puddles and swamps; Treacle proudly marched through all of them whilst looking at me seemingly incredibly pleased with herself for doing so.
I then popped to the corner shop for pastries. “er indoors TM had hers as she worked; I scoffed mine as I wrote up CPD. Dull, but I have to. Mind you, yesterday when staring down the microscope I saw something interesting. Having a CPD blog means I can gloat about it.
I had a shower, then went to bed for the afternoon. I slept for nearly four hours, which was rather good.
I’m hoping that “er indoors TM will boil up some dinner in a bit, then I shall set off to the night shift.
Can’t say I’m keen on the idea…

25 September 2023 (Monday) - Birthdays

Finding myself wide awake far too early (yet again) I thought about making toast and strawberry milk shake for “er indoors TM. Thirty-six years ago last night we'd had toast and strawberry milk shake in the small hours when she was in early labour starting the process of squeezing “My Boy TM” out. For a couple of years it became something of a tradition when awake with small babies, but as they started sleeping through the night so did we (or tried to). But not being brave enough to wake her I thought better of the idea.
I tried to get back to sleep and dozed on and off for a while, before giving up with sleep and I got up. Or attempted it. Moving hurt; I blame an episode at Prison Island yesterday when I dived into the ball pit and tried to "swim" in the balls rather than stepping in and walking.
I hobbled downstairs and started my morning routine. As I made toast I was surprised to see not-so-nice-next-door was in darkness. There is usually a light or two on in there from five o'clock onward. Was she having a lie-in?
I made toast and watched an episode of "Shameless" in which today the scriptwriters showed their utter ignorance of the Scout Association. For a show which started so well, the writers soon gave up any attempt at doing any research on their storylines.
And with telly watched I had a little look at the Internet. There was an extremely nasty squabble on one of the Lego pages about the right way to stick one bit of Lego to another. Taking a thin Lego plate and wedging it at ninety degrees between the studs of another brick was seriously being frowned upon. And someone who was asking for help and advice on one of the Garden Ponds pages was getting nothing but unnecessary sarcasm.
Taking care not to wake those who'd moved into what had once been my bit of the bed I got dressed and set off to work. As I drove I listened to the pundits on the radio. This morning they were rather concerned that the army is on standby as armed police officers are handing in their licences to kill. I can't say I blame them - an armed copper was sent in to a dangerous situation in which he had to make a split-second decision and now he's being charged for committing murder. Understandably other armed coppers aren't keen on going to prison for doing their job. Presumably the squaddies aren't fussed, or they just do as they are told?
Meanwhile our old friend science was getting rather excited as fragments of the asteroid Bennu have safely been retrieved.
And there was an interview with the leader of the Dribbling Democraps who said an awful lot without actually saying anything at all.
I got to work and cracked on with that which I couldn't avoid. As I worked I was surprised to see one of the secretaries in at work; this morning Facebook had told me it was her birthday. Going to work on your birthday? I worked on my birthday once. It was in 1983, it seriously sucked, and I have never worked on my birthday ever since. If my birthday wasn't a weekend day I would take the day (usually the whole week) off.
And talking of birthdays, as well as “My Boy TM” and my Facebook friend, Treacle is having her birthday today. She is seven. She's a funny thing. Sometimes she's a grumpy old lady of whom both puppies are (very) frightened and who can't stand the company at Dog Club; other times she's running off with slippers and socks wanting to play a game. She *loves" "FEED THE FISH!" She's a very intelligent dog and she understands a lot of what we say; she will fetch specific items when asked, and understands when I tell her all the food is gone when I'm sharing scraps.
She’s currently fast asleep next to me on the sofa. Dogs don’t seem to understand birthdays…

24 September 2023 (Sunday) - Prison Island

With “er indoors TM and the dogs up in the attic room with “Darcie Waa Waa TM I had a rather good night’s sleep. As I made toast this morning Morgan and Bailey came downstairs, went outside, did their “thing” and went back to the attic room.
I sat and scoffed brekkie; making the most of the peace and quiet before the chaos. As I scoffed toast I smiled at the Internet. There was consternation on one of the atheist meme pages I follow on Facebook. Someone who had posted some anti-religion meme had had her Facebook profile attacked by a load of angry Christians. Apparently. I’m not sure how one goes about attacking a Facebook profile; presumably having God on your side makes it easier (or possible). And my nephew sent me a link to the official trailer for the upcoming Doctor Who episode(s). It looks rather like Alexei Sayle’s blockbuster spectacular “Things Exploding”; it looks rather good, but then trailers do. Personally I wish they hadn’t brought back David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Am I being cynical in thinking that the writers have done so because they need something pretty damn spectacular to recover from the utterly dire last season?
I sent out birthday wishes, downloaded bank statements then the family came downstairs,,,
We spent a pleasant hour crawling round the floor, chasing dogs, singing silly songs and feeding toast to the dogs. Neither “Darcie Waa Waa TM nor dogs like marmite on toast.
“er indoors TM tookDarcie Waa Waa TM home and I spent an hour in the garden. I harvested dog turds, hung out the washing, harvested dog turds, started mowing the lawn, harvested dog turds, continued mowing the lawn, harvested dog turds... You wouldn’t believe how much dung three small dogs can generate.
With lawn mowed I pruned plants and bionically burned weeds. The bionic burner I bought a few months ago does kill the weeds, but unlike the marketing blurb would have me believe, the weeds do keep coming back. But a few minutes blasting the thing around achieves the same as what I would do scrabbling on my hands and knees for half an hour.
After an hour or so “er indoors TM returned and I stopped gardening. I was knackered. We had a cuppa, settled the dogs and drove up to Maidstone where we met “My Boy TM” and Cheryl. As it is his birthday soon we thought we might have a bit of fun today. I had no idea what to expect; I’d never even heard of the place before. “Prison Island” was really good fun.
The first bit was an hour in a series of rooms in which we faced various puzzles and tasks. I hesitate to mention any telly shows or say anything which might give the wrong impression, but after a couple of minutes I seriously expected to see Richard O’Brien running along next to me. In our hour we managed to try fifteen of over twenty games. In retrospect I think my biggest mistake was that it never occurred to me that I might stand up in the ball pit.
The second part was perhaps the craziest crazy golf I’ve ever played. I shall certainly be going back again.
From Prison Island we drove out to the Toby Carvery for far too much to eat. And a pudding. I gave myself a stomach ache.
I took a few photos this afternoon.
We got home, woke the dogs, and watched an episode of “Lego Masters: USA” in which the contestants had eight hours to build a Lego pirate ship. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that last winter I built one… it took me months.
And then I had a look at those bank statements I downloaded earlier. The fifty quid worth of new T-shirts and pants and stuff I got for the summer holiday still hasn’t appeared on my credit card statement. And the combined leccie and gas bill is now over forty quid a month less than it was.
Bearing in mind I worked yesterday, today’s been a rather good weekend.

23 September 2023 (Saturday) - Still Here

I was rather glad to wake up this morning. Apparently yesterday was the end of the world. Mind you for all that Facebook had been crawling with memes about it all week, there was precious little that I could actually find on-line to explain why yesterday was supposedly the end of the world.
Mind you I can remember the first “end of the world” on the first of January 1980. Apparently Nostradaumus had said that everything would come to a crashing halt. But it didn’t. I spent quite a bit of that day walking round Hastings with my mate Douggie Small; both of us rather disappointed that the world was still there.
Since then there have been quite a few “ends of the world” but none of them lived up to the disappointment of that first one.
“er indoors TM was off out with her mates this morning leaving me with the dogs. As she went out and closed the front door so all three turned to me and looked at me with a rather disappointed air. “Oh, the spare human’s in charge now?”. I did their brekkie and they all went straight back to sleep. I did my brekkie and had a little look at the Internet.
There was a posting on the Kent Dachshund Facebook page. Someone’s dog had seven puppies on Wednesday and had died (of sepsis) overnight leaving the newborn puppies. How do you bring up seven orphaned three-day-old puppies? I just wished I could offer more than just twee platitudes.
I loaded the dogs into the car and we drove round to Dog Club where I was on opening up duty. I open the gate and hang up the collection pot and a carrier bag for the poop. An easy enough thing to do.
Dog club went well. Little Lilly who was so reactive and nervous a few weeks ago is coming on in leaps and bounds.
There was a spaniel along for her first time; on arrival she stood at the edge of the field barking in terror at everyone. But after a few minutes she was in the thick of it all seemingly having a great time.
And at one point Treacle was part of a group of seven or eight dogs clustered around me getting tiny treats. When we first started Dog Club Treacle could barely tolerate Morgan and Bailey getting treats from me, and wouldn’t let any other dogs get between me and her; today she was part of a large group of dogs with whom I was sharing treats and she was happy to wait her turn. She’ll never be running and playing with the other dogs like the puppies do, but today was a major achievement for her.
As we drove home Steve was doing the Mystery Year on the radio. It was one of “the hippy years”…Was it 1970? It was.
Once home I emptied the washing machine and hung it out on the new line I’d put up a week or so ago. What with the seemingly constant rain we’ve had recently this was the first time I got to test my new washing line.
I made myself a cuppa and watched more “Star Trek: Lower Decks”, then settled the dogs (they were asleep anyway) and set off to work.
As I got on to the motorway there were a few miles of dual carriageway as the cones were out. There were a few more miles of dual carriageway at Junction eight as well. Having had an open motorway for a week or so, the roadworks have been back in place for a few days. Doubly so today as Junction five was also coned off meaning that I had to drive up to Junction four and double back to get to work. Mind you I was right to go up to Junction four and double back. Everyone else was taking the short cut at Junction six and the traffic was doubled back for probably about three quarters of a mile.
Don't get me wrong - I have no problems with highway maintenance and agree entirely that the roads need to be in tip-top shape. However I *do* have an issue with ten miles of coned-off motorway and no one actually doing any roadworks. That's not "not many" - that's "I've not seen a single person all week no matter what time of day or night I drive up and down the motorway".
I got to work where I had dinner in the works canteen. I often do when working at the weekend. A plate of macaroni cheese and chips with a bowl of apple pie and custard for pudding. Large portions served with a smile, and change out of four quid. Over the years I've heard so many snide comments about hospital food; all I can say is that the stuff I scoff is rather good.
I then cracked on with the business of the day. I've often mentioned that I don't mind working at the weekends... but I did mind today. Probably because the weather was so good.
I came home to mayhem… favourite smallest granddaughter “Darcie Waa Waa TM has come for a sleepover. She and her grandmother and the dogs are all up in the attic room… Telly time for me!


22 September 2023 (Friday) - Geo-Meet

One of the smaller dogs moved in their sleep last night and Treacle got very agitated about it. She can be quite the grump when woken up in the small hours. But she has no difficulty in getting back to sleep. I dozed on and off for a couple of hours, then gave up trying to sleep, and made toast, Rather than watching "Shameless" I watched more "Star Trek: Lower Decks" which was rather good; today's episode had loads of references to what had gone before; quite possibly too many. I suspect people who hadn't been watching Star Trek twenty-five years ago would have had no idea what was going on.
I then had a little look at the Internet (my mornings follow a definite routine); there were still “likes” and comments appearing on the photos from Wednesday’s meet-up. And since then I’ve been thinking… I can distinctly remember that there were twelve people along to our first-ever trekkie meeting in May 1993. Five of us were at the pub on Wednesday. One was (and still is) in America. One was (and still is) in Hastings. I can picture three others who have completely disappeared… and I can’t remember the other two at all.
Taking care not to disturb anyone (especially a grumpy Treacle) I got ready for work and set off through a very dark and foggy morning. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how President Biden has announced that (unlike Poland) he is continuing to fund the Ukrainians' war efforts. I suppose the difference between Poland and the USA is that Poland can't afford to pay for someone else's war and that the Russians are very nearly on the Polish doorstep, whereas the USA is only too happy to fund the war against Russia that they dare not actually fight themselves.
And a year after ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss comprehensively poggered the UK economy the Labour party has suggested that any major changes to the UK's financial policies be reviewed by the official watchdogs.
That's a very good idea. But why not extend this beyond the Treasury. Why not have the same for education and health? It's no secret that every change to the country's health policy has been instigated and abandoned on the whim of the current political climate without a thought for whether or not a policy might (or did) work.
I went to work via the petrol station where they didn't have any sandwiches. having forgotten to make any this morning I needed some scoff. So I drove over to Sainsburys where I got lunch. And again my piss boiled. I managed to work the self-service checkouts as I'm not entirely useless. However quite a few other customers did struggle with them. There were several rather bored members of staff standing round idle. Those that weren't fiddling on their phones were sneering at the customers who were having trouble with the checkouts. You'd think they'd put these staff on the manned checkouts, wouldn't you? After all this is a very regular occurrence.
Work was work; I did my bit. But as the day went on I felt progressively more and more grotty. I was glad to be on an early shift. But once home early I didn’t take the dogs out. “er indoors TM had taken them out at lunch time and brought them home covered in poo. Dogs is foul creatures.
Instead I sat quietly on the sofa and wrote up some CPD.
By the early evening I’d perked up a bit, so we settled the dogs and drove out to Badlesmere where there was a geo-meet going on. It was good to catch up with friends I see oh-so rarely.
Three pints later we came home (via the kebab shop) and watched more “Lego Masters: USA” in which each team of contestants was given an extra team member – a dog. They then had to make a Lego model of their canine team member. It turned out to be rather harder than it looked, with three of the models collapsing into a thousand (or more) pieces at the vital moment of judging.

21 September 2023 (Thursday) - A Day's Leave

I woke at one o’clock to find myself in front of the telly with Morgan asleep by my side. I blame the fourth pint of plum porter.
I took myself off to bed and slept rather well.
Over brekkie I saw that the photos I’d posted from the pub last night had received quite a few comments. It had been rather good to catch up last night. Back in the day we used to talk all sorts of geeky stuff with each other; last night we were mostly comparing ailments.
And I sent out some birthday videos this morning; people were having birthdays today. People do that.
Rather than messing about with a phone that never gets answered I went down the road to the dentist and was first one through the door to get an emergence appointment. The woman behind the counter told me they didn’t have any… I told her “No!”, told her I’d been fobbed off yesterday and that I was having an appointment. She booked one for half past five… Emergency, eh?
With “er indoors TM going in to the office today I’d booked a day’s leave to be on dog-sitting duty. I took the dogs out. As we drove up to Kings Wood the pundits on the radio were talking about how Poland had stopped sending military hardware to Ukraine. Snowed out with Ukrainian refugees, not getting the grain shipments that were promised, and seemingly fed up with the loudly expressed ingratitude of the Ukrainian leadership, with an election coming the Polish leaders have had enough.
We got to the woods and had a walk… not one of the better ones with impeccable behavior, and not one of the worse ones either. Rather average really. As we walked we met a nice lady with two small dogs who played with the puppies. The nice lady said she doesn’t come to Kings Wood very often and asked if she was on the right path to get to White Hill. She was. I told her that if she stayed on the path for a mile and a half it would take her straight to the lower car park. Her face fell. “A mile and a half?” she asked. I checked my watch which had been recording the route. When I confirmed the distance she didn’t actually cry, but it wasn’t far off.
After five miles we got back to the car and came home to have our bellies washed (as they were rather grubby). The dogs had a late brekkie and their monthly flea treatments and I put a load of shirts in to wash.
As I scoffed a bit of dinner I started on an epic telly session. As I scoffed dinner and ironed I watched none episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” until it was time for my emergency dental appointment.
After a little fiddling about and an X-ray the dentist declared that the iffy tooth was a bit loose and that the root canal didn’t look right. It did look different to the tooth next to it on the X-ray. He’s recommending a root canal filling which might do the trick, and if it don’t then the tooth will have to come out and I’ll get a falsie.
I’ve got to wait a couple of weeks for the root canal filling. Oh well… the tooth only hurts when I bite down on it. I shall chew with the other half of my gob.
“er indoors TM boiled up some rather good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching more “Lego Masters: USA”.
Despite having done little more than watch telly today, I’m feeling rather worn out.

20 September 2023 (Wednesday) - Thirty Years Later

I had a reasonable night's sleep - settled dogs help. But I woke with the same niggling toothache that I had when I went to bed last night.
I made toast, turned on the telly and the SkyPlus box refused to do anything. It does that periodically. Nothing that turning it all off at the mains, counting to twenty and turning back on again can't cure, but a pain in the glass (!) nonetheless. Whilst checking that it had all come back on-line I saw that “Star Trek: Lower Decks” was now available on Paramount Plus. When I last looked it was only on Amazon Prime, and I had to pay extra for each episode. So I watched an episode of "Lower Decks" on Paramount Plus and reminded myself that despite being a cartoon, it was rather good. Loads of references to what had gone before if you paid attention.
I quickly checked the Internet - a friend in America had seen a documentary on Dover's Western Heights. I sent through some of the photos from when we'd been exploring there twelve years ago, then set off to work.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister is looking to ease up on some of the green legislation he had planned.
There were a lot of people looking to lambast him about this. Not least of which the people who make cars who are spending millions of pounds tooling up to make electric cars. I feel sorry for them having potentially spent a fortune needlessly, but...
The trouble here is that the planning for electric cars is all arse-about-face. As a nation we need the infrastructure to charge electric cars in place *before* everyone is forced to get one. There's no point in people getting a leccie car if you can't charge it anywhere (like I can't).
In any case the whole "UK going green thing" is rather pissing in the wind all the time the USA and China carry on as they are, isn't it?
I got to work and did my thing. I phoned my dentist to see if I could get an appointment for my aching fang; I couldn't.
When I came home I phoned them to see if they had a cancellation. There was no reply so I went down the road to talk to them. According to their website they were open until seven o’clock. According to the sheet of paper blu-tack-ed to their door they closed at five o’clock.
I’m not impressed.
With the dogs settled we went out for the evening for a little get-together. Thirty and a half years ago I answered a letter in the TV Zone sci-fi magazine asking if there were any Star Trek fans in Kent. It turned out there were three. The chap who’d asked the question (who lived thirty miles away in Ramsgate) and two of us in Ashford. Shortly after that a little Ashford-based Star Trek fan club started up. With twelve of us at the first ever meeting (in May 1993 in my living room) over the years the numbers grew. People came and went. Eventually we called an end when lockdowns put paid to pretty much everything three years ago. But over the years we had such fun. Star Trek conventions and role-playing games and booze-ups. Weddings and christenings. We even had a couple of funerals along the way. Over thirty years we lost touch with some people, and what with people having moved away and illness and one thing and another we couldn’t all get together tonight. But some of us did.
We will *not* leave it so long before out next get-together…

19 September 2023 (Tuesday) - This n That

Bailey woke me in the small hours when she started coughing. Well, I say "coughing". Just like my Fudge used to, Bailey doesn't so much "cough" as "quack". When she coughs she sounds just like an angry duck. It only lasted long enough to wake me up, but from then on I dozed fitfully not getting more than a few minutes' sleep at any time.
Eventually I gave up trying to sleep, got up and made toast, and watched another episode of "Shameless" in which the scriptwriters would have us believe that a sacked trainee pharmacist (with only a few weeks' experience and no qualifications whatsoever) would have a post-graduate level understanding of pharmacology and would be able to make all manner of designer drugs with a child's toy chemistry set. Mind you the same writers would also have us believe that our heroes "did the dirty deed" with their pants still on (again). As I've said before that show could be so much better had the scriptwriters made just the smallest amount of effort.
I set off work-wards listening to the radio as I went. Apparently the leader of the opposition Sir Kier Starmer is travelling at the moment; meeting all sorts of foreign leaders as he goes. Opposition leaders rarely get this treatment from the leaders of other countries. The pundits on the radio saw this as evidence that all these foreign leaders see him as Britain's future, and consequently Rishi Sunak is already seen as history by the rest of the world.
Is he? Time will tell - it always does.
Mind you Sir Kier is apparently keen to re-negotiate the Brexit deal which pretty much everyone in the UK sees as a bad deal. But he will be on a hiding to nothing as there is pretty much no interest at all anywhere in Europe for digging up the past.
And there was more talk about Russell Brand who denies all the allegations made against him (well he would, wouldn't he?) Apparently yesterday the police received rape allegations about incidents which supposedly happened between 2006 to 2013. Whilst I'm not condoning what he might have done, why does someone wait over ten years before going to the police?
And apparently You-Tube have stopped him making money out of his You-Tube channel.
I suspect that will hurt him far more than the adverse publicity.
I got to work and spent most of the day with a guts ache; with a gut the size of mine, that's a lot to ache. And with work worked I came home. “er indoors TM boiled up a very good chili which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s red wine. As basic as red wine goes, and far better than stuff four times the price. As we scoffed and guzzled we watched more “Lego Masters: USA”. Not too shabby at all.
And in closing I’ll make the observation that today was International Talk like a pirate day which was seemingly totally missed by everyone
Ten years ago I wrote "In previous years I've blogged about this. I won't go over the old ground; I'll just say that it was a fun idea at the time which has probably long since had its day. It's not been the same since its founder Mad Cap'n Tom threw in the sponge".
I think that was probably fair - now even the website has gone.

18 September 2023 (Monday) - It Rained

 I felt a bit rough this morning; when the noise of the rain hadn’t kept me awake, the dogs had. They have this habit of sleeping at the bottom of the bed (which is fine) and then slowly moving up the bed so I find myself hunched up with my knees up by my ears.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. A surprising amount of people had been camping last night and had posted videos of the noise of the rain in their tents. It’s a few years since I last camped, but I always felt that the sound of rain on a tent was perhaps the most depressing sound ever. You just knew that you’d have a morning in which absolutely everything you’d touch would be sodden.
With not a lot else on and rain stopped but more forecast I thought I’d take the dogs out.
Bearing in mind the overnight rain, Orlestone would have been a swamp, so we went up to Kings Wood. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about Russell Brand. I can’t pretend to know the first thing about him; apparently there’s several rape allegations against him… but these are allegations made firstly to various newspapers, then (so it would seem) as an afterthought to the police. Personally If I’d been raped I’d complain to the police straight away. Admittedly there’s probably more money to be made from selling my story to the newspapers, but what do I know?
There was also an interview with some woman who was a head honcho at the BBC who was ranting about how inappropriate Mr Brand is. During the interview it came out that Mr Brand still has a You-Tube channel which attracts over six million people a day. Personally I’d see that as saying that six million people find him amusing and entertaining, but this woman being interviewed felt that this was six million people whose viewing she needed to censor.
As I say I don’t know anything about this bloke other than what I heard this morning (and later read up on) but as is the case with all these “evil celebrities”, years pass before anyone says anything.
We got to the woods and had a rather good walk. We went for two and a half miles. We met a few other dogs; the meetings went well. The dogs zoomed into hedges and thickets and came back when called. Whilst their behaviour is far from bad in Orlestone, it is noticeable far better at Kings Wood. I wonder what causes the difference.
We came home where the dogs immediately went to sleep. I loaded a load of rubbish from the shed into my car, then made a cuppa (with cake) for me and “er indoors TM. From the looks on the screen I think her colleagues might have liked a cuppa and cake too. I wrote up a little CPD and as the rain became torrential I drove round to the tip on my way to the late shift.
I was tempted to leave the rubbish in the car for a day or two, but I really needed to empty it out so I braved the elements. I got to the tip and told the nice tip man I had some plaster to shift. He explained I had to pay; I said I knew. So I lugged my bags through the rain past the barriers into the exclusive pay-per-bag area where I had to empty each bag into the skip. Or try to. There was another chap also emptying bags of hardcore. Or trying to. His wife was with him; a quarrelsome old harridan who was keeping up a constant tirade of criticism. The old bat was standing there in the rain (getting in everyone's way) finding fault with every single thing her husband was trying to do. I asked her to excuse me so I could get to the skip; she kept haranguing her husband. I again asked her (a little louder) to move .. She looked at me, and turned back to nagging her husband. After the fourth time that I asked her to move, the nice tip man told the old bat to either help empty the bags of hardcore or get out of everyone's way. She was not all happy about being spoken to in this way, but the nice tip man was adamant; she could either help or get out of the way. As the old bat shuffled away muttering to herself, her henpecked husband quietly thanked the nice tip man.
What must this chap's life be like; saddled with a wife who wants to stand in the torrential rain just to nag him?
I paid the nice tip man twenty quid for allowing me to empty my four bags of plaster, got rid of the rest of my rubbish, washed my hands in the rainwater which had filled a discarded bathroom sink and set off to work through the rain. I probably have driven slower up the motorway but neither I nor anyone else dared go anywhere near what you might call "motorway speed"; at one point (near the junction six turn-off) there was an inch of water covering the slow lane.
I spent much of the afternoon looking out of the window watching the weather alternate from torrential rainstorms to glorious sunshine and back again every fifteen minutes.
It had all dried out by home time.
It was a shame that I had to take a five-miles diversion on the way home as the motorway slip road was closed.

17 September 2023 (Sunday) - Lazy Day

The dogs were on top of “er indoors TM last night so I had a peaceful night with bed space. Result!
The puppies both shoved their noses into my face at half past seven as though to say “Good Morning” but once I’d greeted them, they both went back to sleep.
Dogs, eh?
We all got up an hour later.
I made a cuppa (no toast) and had a look at the Internet. A colleague told me yesterday she’s come off of social media as she spent too long on it. That’s such a shame – I love being nosey and seeing what others do, but she told me that she’s looked back at her posts and what she had been posting up was a sanitized version of her life; history as she would have liked it to have been. Me – I just point the camera (phone) and press the button. Admittedly I do try to get the dogs to pose… but with them any old pose will do.
We then drove into Ashford for the monthly Sunday brekkie with friends. It was good to catch up and put the world to rights for an hour or so. Rather than going for any of the set meals this morning I went for the “make it up yourself” option in which you choose what you want. Amongst which were two poached eggs. Poached eggs… oh yus!!! I shall be having those again.
From brekkie we drove out to Bybrook Barn garden centre because that’s what the normal people do on a Sunday, and we wondered what the attraction was. I got some lawn food (as it is food time of year for the lawn), thought about getting a palm tree, and looked in horror at the garden statues which were about two or three times the price of the stuff in Whelans.
We came home just as the rain started. Rather heavy rain. So with little else to do I watched a film on Netflix. “Superintelligence” featured James Corden as a self-aware computer, and would have been a good film had it been about forty minutes shorter.
By the time it finally drew to an end the rain had eased up so I went into the garden and hacked back some the stuff pouring over the fence from not-so-nice-next-door, and some of the stuff from new-next-door (nowhere near as much on her side though). After an hour or so I was rather knackered, so I sat down and researched the palm tree I’d seen earlier at the garden centre. Apparently if you are thinking of planting a palm tree, this is *exactly* the time of year not to plant one. Early to mid-spring is the time to plant them apparently. Oh well… perhaps I won’t get a palm. After all, the last three I’ve had all died.
I then alternately read my Kindle (Game of Thrones books) and had a kip whilst “er indoors TM painted the back bedroom we’ve recently had plastered.
Over dinner we watched more Lego Masters: USA…
We didn’t do much today, but I’m worn out from having done it.

16 September 2023 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift

Again I was woken by my alarm this morning. Two days running… the after-effects of a night shift, perhaps? I made toast and had my usual rummage round the Internet. It was still there. Today my feed was filled with adverts for dog-tracking technology. You would think that whatever technology that had been spying on me researching dog-tracking technology would have seen the messages from the people who make it openly admitting the stuff is no good to me. In between the adverts for dog-tracking technology were adverts from various charities offering to write a will for me… provided I gave them a bung. I’m all for giving charities a bung provided the money goes to “charities” and doesn’t subsidise a government-funded service. No government of any political persuasion is ever going to fund hospitals and schools properly all the time we are popping money into their collection pots, are they?
I also saw that I totally forgot that Neon Street had been playing at the Conningbrook last night. Mind you every time I’ve seen them before I usually find that watching them involves spending upwards of thirty quid at the bar just to get a headache. A little hint to all musicians… if you are playing inside, you *don’t* need an amplifier. You really don’t. Turning up the volume doesn’t improve the sound quality.
Mind you I did see that an old schoolmate is alive and well and living in a forest in North Wales. That’s the sort of thing I want from the Internet. I’m a very nosey person and want to know what people are doing.
I had an email (or two). The price of leccie and gas is going down in October. That’s a result. Sky were trying to sell me their Sky Glass telly… what’s wrong with the current telly?
I deleted a *lot* of unwanted emails, then got ready for the morning.
I was on opening-up duty at Dog Club so I wanted to be a few minutes early. I was first one there and I struggled with the gate; you’d think they’d have made the thing so that you can get your hand through to open it up, wouldn’t you? As I fought with it so the queue of people (and dogs) waiting to get in grew and grew.
Dog club was rather good today. Lilly the rescue dog who was so reactive to other dogs is coming on in leaps and bounds. There was a baby dachshund along for his first time, as well as a very small Jack Russell wearing a coat as he has an allergy to grass. There were about twenty dogs along today. All charging about and sniffing and scrounging for treats and generally having a great time.
All too soon it was time to come home. “er indoors TM went off to Craft Club; as I drove the dogs home Steve was doing the mystery year competition on the radio. “Brideshead Revisited” gave it away for me. 1981.
Once home I harvested a bumper crop of dog turds from the garden. How can three small dogs crap so much? And then I just sat quietly on the sofa for a while as the dogs slept; dog club really does wear them out.
I loaded up the dishwasher, set it scrubbing and taking care not to wake the dogs I sneaked out. Sadly there's some abysmal parking goes on up our street; I spent a few minutes watching a chap trying (and failing) to park a van in his front garden. I had no option but to watch as he was blocking the entire road. But with him finally out of the way I set off to work.
As I drove I sang along to my strange choice of music in which Meat Loaf gave way to Abba, Kate Bush, Spandau Ballet and Martha and the Muffins.
With a few minutes spare I popped to the branch of Smyths in Aylesford to get this year's Lego Advent Calendar. If I had any sense I'd open it now and give myself a little time in which to plan this year's Advent story... But I don't have any sense, so I won't open it. It will sit on the shelf for two and a half months, and when this year's Advent story comes out no one will be more surprised than me as to how it pans out.
I got to work, had a rather good bit of scran from the works canteen, then cracked on with the day. And as is so often the case when on the late shift, the day was effectively all done by the early afternoon.
Mind you there was a minor incident on the way home. As I came down the slip road off of the motorway at junction nine so there was a fox walking down the road. Completely oblivious to the traffic. I slowed down and beeped the hooter; the fox glared at me as if to say “f… off fatso”. He really didn’t care.
How do you teach the Green Cross Code to a fox? I hope I don’t see him squished on the road soon.