30 November 2023 (Thursday) - A Day's Leave

I woke feeling rather grim this morning; whatever lurgy I’ve got has turned into some sort of cold. But as always I can sulk or get on with my life.
I got on with my life.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. This morning there were several posts on the 1970s nostalgia Facebook pages all of which showed some random still from a film with comments “this was always popular” or “I liked this one” and me feeling that I was the only person in the world who had no idea what the film was. I am so tempted to post up a random family photo and comment “watched this one last night” and see how many people pretend they know what the film was (when it wasn’t a film at all).
I had a look at my emails. I saw some people had been out in Kings Wood finding the geocaches I’d hidden there, and unusually a new geocache had gone out. Another fiendishly difficult puzzle though. Several geo-meets had been created over the next few weeks too. None particularly local though, which was a shame.
I did a YouGov survey, then as the dogs had their brekkie I got ready for the morning’s mission.
Leaving “er indoors TM in charge at home I took the dogs up to Kings Wood. It was a bright morning at home, but again we drove up into the fog. As we walked so the fog slowly lifted and the mud (which was frozen on arrival) slowly melted.
We had a good walk round the woods. We ate some horse poo, and with no fox poo to be found we rolled in a dead sparrow. As we walked we saw several birds of prey. More than we usually see. And they were all fairly close. Was I being paranoid in thinking that they had their eye on Bailey?
We came home and met the roofer bloke clambering up a ladder. The roofer chap was finishing the work on the flat roof up on top, but showed me photos of the state of the roof over our bedroom.  The bits I thought would be an issue are fixed, but more problems have been found. Part of me is thinking “OMG!!!” and part of me is thinking that now we know there’s an issue we can get it sorted before it becomes a problem.
After all, what is money for if not to squander on roof repairs?
I washed the dogs’ paws, legs and bellies, then had a look at the pond. It was crystal clear. Bearing in mind how cold it has been recently the water flow would have made sure the water was cold, and consequently the fish all in torpor (fish hibernation). So I turned off the pumps and the filter, took the filter apart, cleaned it all out and put it all back together again empty ready for the winter. Several Februarys ago I wrote “Every year I turn the filter off when the pond is shut down in November, and every year I don’t clean it out then. Instead I leave carp turds festering over the winter so they are nice and ripe a few months later when I come to clean the thing out.” I didn’t make that mistake today. It needs the new bulb putting in place; I can do that another time.
I’m really pleased with this pressure filter. Back in the day I used huge box filter things. They were heavy. Carrying them down the garden to the drain (where I can clean them) involved my getting covered in fish poo flavoured pond water, and the cleaning took over an hour. I started off with one of those things on 22 March 2007 (when “My Boy TM” installed the first one) and I struggled on with that sort of filtering for just over sixteen years until 26 April this year when I put in the pressure filter.
It’s brilliant. I wish I’d installed one years ago. Leaving aside the fact the thing does an excellent job, I can do a quick clean in twenty minutes, or a deep clean (like I did this morning) in half an hour. The quick clean can be done without moving the filter at all, and being a lot lighter and being a sealed unit means I can take the filter to the drain for a deep clean without slopping fish poo all over the place.
It takes longer to get set up to do the cleaning and to tidy away afterwards than it does to actually clean. Life is so much easier when you’re not spreading fish poo flavoured muck all over the place.
I then had a little tidy-up round the garden. As I pootled I kept looking up at the roof. The nice roofer is doing work on our house and new-next-door at the same time and he was all over the roof. This made me think… There’s no way I would clamber all over the roof. But I think nothing of spending large parts of my day dealing with other people’s blood.
No day off work is complete without doing the ironing; I spent some time with the ironing whilst watching more “Squid Games: The Challenge” It’s a “reality TV” sort of show, or so it is billed. I hope it is all acted out; some of the contestants being interviewed are truly nasty.
With ironing ironed I settled myself on the sofa… and woke two hours later. Despite having cracked on with the day I still felt rather grim, and probably needed the sleep.
“er indoors TM has gone out with her mates. I’ve just set up the Facebook album for this year’s Advent Calendar. I really should open the thing, shouldn’t I?
For a day’s holiday I’ve not stopped…

29 November 2023 (Wednesday) - Dull

I slept rather well, but still woke over an hour earlier than I might have done. I made toast and watched the second episode of “The Couple Next Door” in which her who used to be Demelza in Poldark intimated that she was up for a portion of jiggery-porkery from the neighbours, and in which Hugh Dennis nearly got a punch up the bracket.
I then had a look at Facebook… Last night we made a point of watching the final of “Bake Off” only a few minutes after it was broadcast. I was glad we did; this morning spoilers abounded.
I walked two streets away to where I’d parked the car last night, and spent a few minutes scraping the ice off of it, then set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Prime Minister of Australia has apologized to survivors of the thalidomide scandal and their families. I’m not in any way detracting from the horrific birth defects that happened, but the thalidomide scandal was sixty years ago, and the Australian Prime Minister is sixty years old. How can he possibly give a credible apology for something that happened when he was in nappies?
There was an interview with one of the keepers at Edinburgh Zoo where the giant pandas were being made ready to go home to China. There was talk about how the arrangement for their being in Edinburgh was a ten-year loan from the Chinese government. There was also talk that the zoo was paying three quarters of a million quid to the Chinese government each year to have the pandas. I wonder which is right?
And there was the seemingly obligatory interview with someone from Gaza. I have no idea on which side the person being interviewed was on. It might sound heartless, but everyone from Gaza being interviewed says the same thing. They all have an axe to grind and no one will be content until the other side is totally obliterated.
I got to work where we had the inspectors in. I smiled sweety at them, and then did my utmost to avoid them. For the most part I succeeded.
As I worked I had a message from the roofer. Having been all set to crack on today he’d been delayed, his fan belt had gone. I’m not sure where it went, but fan belts do that. As she took the dogs for their constitutional, “er indoors TM took a photo of our roof. There’s no denying that after twenty years it probably needed some maintenance; I’m glad it wasn’t me who had to go up there.
Having watched the final of “Bake Off” yesterday we watched the final of “Taskmaster” this evening. It was rather good.
Today was dull… and I’m not feeling well either…

28 November 2023 (Tuesday) - Feeling a Bit Poorly

I slept rather well. Over brekkie I started watching a new thing from Channel Four. "The Couple Next Door" stars her who was Demelza in Poldark who moves in next door to a rather saucy set of  neighbours who seem to invite equally saucy friends round for regular sessions of jiggery-porkery. And over the road lives Hugh Dennis playing a rather sad peeping Tom who is watching it all with his telescope. In a novel break with tradition, her who was Demelza in Poldark did remove her undercrackers before “performing the dirty deed” in today's episode, but her protagonist forgot to do so.
I then had a quick look at the Internet. Our Munzee Clan has reached our target for the month, which was something of a result. And I deleted a comment from a sci-fi Facebook group that I moderate.  Based on the books of Julian May, that group generally doesn't need much moderation. But today's uncharacteristically nasty comment came from someone who didn't even know which books Ms May had and hadn't written.
As I got dressed I could hear a commotion outside. Some chap was standing outside our house bellowing two different conversations into two different mobile phones. Fortunately he'd gone by the time I went out.
For once the morning's news was interesting. Bits of the asteroid Bennu have arrived at the Natural History museum for analysis, and manned long-distance space travel looks (possibly) to be a practical proposition as human hibernation might not be the fantasy it has always been billed to be.
There was also a lot of fuss made about the Greek Prime Minister having the hump because Rishi Sunak has cancelled a meeting with him. The Greeks want the Elgin Marbles back. Bearing they are only in England under the most dubious of circumstances, and also bearing in mind that the average bloke in the street is utterly disinterested in the things, why not give them back?
I got to work. The iffy guts I had yesterday were continuing, and I felt rather tired for much of the day. As I worked I had several messages from “er indoors TM. The scaffolders arrived shortly after nine o’clock, and the roofers arrived soon after that. Treacle woofed a bit, and Morgan watched out the window with interest.
I’m reliably assured that most of the roof work is now done, and that the roofers will be back in the morning to finish up and tidy up.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of scran this evening (as she does) and we watched the final of “Bake Off”. I won’t say who won it, but I will say that if I was a betting man I would be out of pocket right now.
My guts are still iffy, I still feel tired, and I think I’ve got a sore throat coming on…

27 November 2023 (Monday) - Iffy Innards

I slept like a log last night, which was something of a result. Mind you I did have an early night after falling asleep on the sofa. I suppose I needed one after a night of “Darcie Waa Waa TM screaming and a bottle of plonk yesterday evening.
Over brekkie I watched another of the animated "Dads Army" episodes; watching it as a recorded program on the SkyQ box is the way to do it. Being able to fast-forward through twenty minutes of adverts meant I watched it in only twenty minutes. You'd think advertisers would give up, wouldn't you? There's no need to watch adverts, and I don't. To be honest (being an awkward bugger) if I find myself faced with an advert I can't avoid, I tend to avoid that product.
I set off to work on a rather rainy morning, but half past six this morning was a full ten degrees warmer than half past six was yesterday. As I drove there was a lot of talk on the radio about the upcoming United Nations climate talks. This latest round are being hosted by the United Arab Emirates. Apparently the BBC have found out that the United Arab Emirates plans to use its role as the host of UN climate talks as an opportunity to strike oil and gas deals. It was claimed that leaked briefing documents revealed plans to discuss fossil fuel deals with fifteen other nations.
Like anyone would really be surprised about that...
There was a lot of talk about the cease-fire in Gaza and pretty much everyone was hoping that the cease fire might be extended. It's a shame that there had to be conflict in the first place, but whilst pretty much everyone interviewed on the matter is keen for the hostilities to stop, they've all got their decades-long grievances that they won't let go.
I got to work and made a bee-line for Trap One. Over the weekend Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM had dodgy guts, and whatever it was, I think I've now got it. I spent an inordinate amount of time in Trap One today.
Still, what are grandchildren for if not for spreading infections, eh?
In between dashing to the chodbin I did my bit at work. Work went better than it did yesterday; I prefer working with others around me, rather than being on my own for extended periods.
Over a mid-morning cuppa I sparked up the Internet through my phone. Someone had posted to one of the Dalek-related Facebook pages that I follow that they had just discovered the "Doctor Who and the Daleks" films made in the 1960s. Someone else had commented asking how any so-called Doctor Who fan couldn't know about these films, and the petty name-calling that this generated was rather impressive, to say the least.
After nearly two weeks my local councillor had replied to the email I'd sent her about the floods by Asda. She said she'd look into it. Will she? I wonder.
And I got a quote for the repairs to the roof following the chap's having had a look on Saturday.
With my bit done I came home. It wasn’t that long ago that I would take the dogs for a walk after an early shift. Today it was dark and raining. So I sat and wrote up some CPD, and my piss boiled about one of the articles that had been emailed to me.  It’s no secret that a few years ago I made a serious mistake at work for which I was comprehensively crucified. Now it seems the same workplace allow their staff to openly admit to mistakes, for which everyone involved has (presumably) got off scot-free.
With “er indoors TM off bowling I settled myself on the sofa underneath a pile of dogs and watched the fourth episode of “Squid Game: The Challenge”. It was rather good. Now it’s finished I shall have a little kip; I’m not going to move until the dogs wake up. If a dog falls asleep on you, you can’t move them. It’s the law. Even if you desperately need the loo.

26 November 2023 (Sunday) - Early Shift

Darcie Waa Waa TM didn't settle last night, and when she doesn't settle, neither does anyone else.  Perhaps having the heating on all night for her meant the house was too warm? I don't know but I couldn't have had more than fifteen minutes continuous sleep all night. I gave up trying at five o'clock and came downstairs where “er indoors TM was sitting with her. The dogs asked to go out, so I took them out and Pogo ran round the garden screaming. He doesn't bark; he screams. I wish he wouldn't. As do all my neighbours, I expect.
I scoffed a bit of toast, and once I'd scraped the ice from the car I set off to work (at 6am!). It was a cold morning this morning. As I drove I listened to the radio. There is rarely much of interest on the radio early on a Sunday morning, and today was no exception.
I caught the second half of "Something Understood". Have you ever listened to it? Give it a go; words can't describe how pretentious this drivel is. Supposedly about the power of memory, there were no end of readings of poetry which meant absolutely nothing to me (or anyone else I suspect). For all that there can be some interesting stuff on Radio Four, there is also a lot of highbrow rubbish that is of no interest to anyone but a vanishingly small minority. 
This was followed with an interview with Kelvin Fletcher. Apparently he was in Emmerdale and on Strictly Come Dancing, and he's jacked it all in to run a farm up north somewhere. He and his wife talked for half an hour without really saying anything.
Surely there could have been something better to broadcast before seven o’clock this morning?
I got to Pembury just as dawn was breaking, and got on with work. There's no denying that I didn't want to go to work today. I'd been sulking about it all week. I was probably over-reacting; I get worked up about working on my own at Pembury. Being a trauma centre, things can got from peachy to not-so peachy in seconds. I’ve had worse shifts than today, but I’ve certainly had better ones.
And with shift shifted I came home listening to the end of “Desert Island Discs” in which Matt Smith (of Doctor Who fame) was advocating some frankly dreadful music. My choices for that show are listed here.
I got home just as “er indoors TM was taking “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and her tribe home. I would much rather have been home with them today rather than working, but at least I got to see them today, if only in passing.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner. I cracked open a bottle of Sainsbury’s plonk, and we watched yesterday’s Doctor Who sixtieth anniversary special. Bearing in mind how disappointing Doctor Who has been over the last few years, my hopes weren’t high. But the episode was rather good. Mind you I can’t help but think it a shame that they brought David Tennant back. Up till now the show has always moved forward… was this episode a backward step?

25 November 2023 (Saturday) - Rather Busy

I slept well, but woke feeling oddly morose. I wonder why. Over brekkie I had my usual look at Facebook and saw my brother and nephew were off on their football adventures again. This time to Nottingham. Four and a half hours each way. I’ve said before that I really don’t understand the attraction of football. I wish I did; so many other people love it. One or two people were posting twee memes, and there were again an inordinate amount of posts about scantily clad teenage girls and dying dogs. People often talk about how social media spies on us and presents us with what we’ve been talking about and browsing for… if it did I would have endless posts about living dogs and Lego.
And someone with whom “er indoors TMworks passed his driving test this morning… before eight o’clock. What time do driving tests start?
Despite it being a cold morning we went to dog club. The rain has put us off recently, but cold and dry is far better than cold and wet. We had a great time with a dozen dogs running riot.
And with dog club done we set off on our second mission of the day. As we drove to Badlesmere Steve was doing the mystery year competition on the radio. In which year did Concorde stop flying after twenty-six years? I can remember seeing Concorde flying in 1976 when I was at my Uncle Eric’s house in Orpington… 1976 + 26 = 2002. I was one year out. It was 2003. “er indoors TM said that Steve actually said “twenty-seven years”.
For some reason the radio reception was rather iffy today (that’s my excuse!) and we were listening to the radio through “er indoors TM ‘s radio app on her phone.
We got to Badlesmere where Karl, Tracey and Charlotte were waiting for us, and we had a rather good walk round our usual circuit up there. As we walked there was a minor contretemps with some old bat (presumably the landowner) who quite rightly pointed out that we weren’t on the official footpath. However the reason for that was that there was a pheasant shoot taking place on the official footpath and it would have been extremely dangerous to have been where we should really have been.
When I get a minute I shall find an email address and tell her to piss off.
With walk walked we were soon back at the cars. As always we’d parked by the Red Lion pub (can you believe it?) where we had a particularly good bit of dinner. The dogs were a tad woofy over lunch, but there were quite a few dogs in the place today, and to be fair to the pups, once they’d woofed to tell us there were other dogs they (relatively) soon shut up again.
It would have been good to have stayed longer, but there was quite a bit on the agenda today. We said our goodbyes and came home.
“er indoors TM dropped me and the dogs home and she went off to collect “Daddy’s Little Angel TM”, “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMand “Darcie Waa Waa TM whilst I had a chat with the roofer. The chap got out a ladder and scrambled up on top of the roof. I didn’t go with him, but he took a few photos up there and showed them to me.
My suspicions were right; some maintenance is due.
“er indoors TMand the tribe arrived, and we all went up into Ashford for the Carnival of the Baubles. It was… I suppose it was OK. It could have been better. But billed as a festival of lights, maybe only one person in ten in the procession had made any effort. Most were just walking along in their everyday clothes. Would it have caused them physical pain to have stuck a glow-stick on their head or popped on a hi-vis jacket and joined in?
We came home and spent the evening watching daft animal videos on You-Tube.
I took a few photos during the day. It’s been a rather busy one.

24 November 2023 (Friday) - This n That

I woke far too early following a rather vivid nightmare in which I and a load of my old muckers from the Boys Brigade (from the late 1970s) had been seconded into the Merchant Navy in order to make up the numbers for the posh dinners they were planning. We could do whatever we liked during the day time, but all of us had to be in Portsmouth Harbour every evening for a sit-down meal. Sitting down on the quayside whatever the weather.
What was that all about?
I hobbled downstairs. Overnight I'd developed a seriously painful right hip; it felt as though I'd been kicked. How did that happen?
Over toast I watched an animated episode of "Dad's Army"; someone or other has taken the old radio broadcasts of the TV episodes that were lost and has animated them in much the same way that the missing episodes of "Doctor Who" have been animated. Having seen the missing "Dad's Army" episodes recreated with new actors, the animations are far better for the simple reason that you can see which characters are which. In the re-created episodes I couldn't tell who any of the new actors were supposed to be playing.
I tried not to make too much noise as I got ready for work, but I suspect I could have been heard miles away. Now that the back room is sorted maybe I might squirt my armpits in there in the mornings. If I did that I could switch the light on rather than crash about in the darkness trying to find which tin has got some deodorant left in it, and which is one of the half-dozen empty ones I've not got round to throwing away.
I set off for work and was immediately confused by the bin lorry coming down the road. For over thirty years the bin lorry has come up the road; why has it changed its direction?
As I drove there was a lot to worry about in the news. With migration into the UK hitting an all-time high, right wing groups are calling for a stop to all immigration. The racist politician (from the "Reclaim" party) being interviewed this morning made the tired old comments that as a nation we shouldn't be reliant on immigrant workers, and that UK citizens should be doing care home and hospital work. The fact that this has all been said before (time and again) and UK citizens clearly aren't interested didn't deter him in the least. Mind you this chap was adamant that immigration should stop; better to have no one doing the work than to have immigrant workers was the implication.
I wonder who this bloke was; I wouldn't vote for him.
Meanwhile elections in the Netherlands have come up with a new leader for their country. One of his election pledges was a ban on the building of any new mosques. I wonder how he will get on with that.
With a few minutes spare I went to the petrol station to re-fuel; I was getting a tad low on the stuff. Petrol in Aylesford was eight pence per litre cheaper than in Ashford. Or would have been had the petrol station been open.
Sadly it wasn't.
I went into Sainsburys to get lunch, and to ask if anyone knew of a petrol station that might be open. No one did, but luckily for my back (which was saved from pushing my car), whilst I'd bought a sandwich Sainsburys had re-opened their petrol station.
I got to work and did my bit. I spent quite a bit of time today emailing more stuff to various people about my (hopefully) upcoming retirement. Just three months to go until I take semi-retirement. I don't dislike my job, but as the pension date approaches I find myself getting progressively more and more tired. I find myself taking longer and longer to recover from the night shifts, the late shifts are hard work, and given a choice it would be early shifts all the way since they finish two hours earlier than the core ones.
Being on an early today was a result. Mind you a few months ago I would have come home and taken the dogs to the woods. Today I raced the dusk home, and it was dark by the time I got home.
I stuck the dishwasher cleaning jollop into the dishwasher, set it going, and tried to have a look at the monthly accounts. Tried and failed; the excitement of today’s Black Friday was too much for the bank, and their app and website had crashed.
After a few hours it came back and I could get to my statements and have a look at the accounts. Could be better, could be worse…
My hip still hurts.

23 November 2023 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off

I had a rather good night’s sleep last night, which was something of a result. With “er indoors TM off to the office today I sorted the dogs’ brekkies, then as they all slept I sorted my own and had a little look at the Internet to see what had changed overnight.
Not much, really. A few people were posting to social media pointing out that today was the sixtieth anniversary of the first ever episode of “Doctor Who”, a few people were having birthdays, but this morning was a quiet one on the Internet.
I got dressed and took the dogs to the woods. As we drove out of Ashford it was a rather bright morning, but Kings Wood is high up, and we actually drove up into the fog. We had a rather misty walk, the fog not clearing until we were nearly half way round. We walked a longer walk today. Having been coming home covered in mud recently I had this naïve idea to stick to the better paths. But that made for a much longer walk (as it is all the short cuts that are muddy) and Morgan got caked in fox poo anyway.
We came home, scrubbed off the fox poo, and as Morgan’s frankly foul collar went through the washing machine I created the opening segment of my entry for next year’s Geocaching International Film Festival. I’ve got this idea that I need to make a rough and ready first draft of the entire thing, then work on improving each bit. If nothing else it will keep me out of mischief.
With the dogs asleep I spent the afternoon ironing and watching “Squid Game: The Challenge” which was a live-action version of “Squid Game” but in which no one croaked.
And then to the dentist for a root canal filling…

22 November 2023 (Wednesday) - Bit Tired

I am very much a creature of habit… every time I am on a night shift I get some posh biscuits from Sainsburys to have with a cuppa around midnight and around five o’clock in the morning. I either get chewy granola slices or shortbread with Belgian chocolate. I’ve finally realised that I don’t actually like either, and the shortbread I had last night gave me something of a guts ache which lasted for far too long.
I was rather pleased to see the morning shift arrive.
As I drove home I listened to the radio. There’s been a cease-fire in Gaza, but for how long? There was some Israeli chap being interviewed who made it crystal clear that his side were only having a temporary break in the fighting and wouldn’t rest until the other side were obliterated.
This war is going to drag on and on.
There was also an interview with Ronnie O’Sullivan (the snooker player) who is at odds with snooker’s governing body because he would rather play in lucrative games in China rather than in their official matches which (presumably) don’t pay anywhere near as well.
I got home, had a shave and went to bed. Yesterday I’d mentioned that I was cold in bed. “er indoors TM had stuck an extra duvet on the bed, and I was rather warm this morning. Very warm.
After a couple of hours I got up and had a late brekkie, and had a little ponder. Usually after a night shift I just do the ironing and watch rubbish on telly, and sulk about a wasted day. So I didn’t do that today.
I got the leads onto the dogs and we went up to the woods for a little walk. Perhaps a short walk, but a walk in the woods is always good. As we walked I did some more filming for my latest project, this time with my camera in “Landscape”  orientation. I got some short videos that I might be able to use.
As we walked we had a minor episode. The pups ran up to some normal people and wouldn’t come back. The normal people were making a real fuss of the pups, and I think were giving them treats. I wish people wouldn’t do that, but what can you say without giving offence?
We came home; Treacle and Bailey had their paws rinsed; Morgan had a full belly wash. Being low to the ground he picks up the dirt.
Seeing how it hadn’t rained for over a day I got the lawn mower out. Perhaps the lawn was too wet to be mowed, but it wasn’t going to get any drier, and a mowed lawn makes for easier turd-spotting. And with lawn mowed I ran out the pond filter hose and cleaned out the filter. It was rather overdue its clean. There’s no denying the pressure filter is much easier to clean than the old box filters were, but I do need to do something about the reel onto which I wind the hose. I need some way of lifting it off of the ground for easy winding. And then I looked at the bog filter. The plants are clearly past their best, but what do I do? Prune the pond plants or leave them? In theory the obvious place to ask for advice would be one of the pond-related Facebook pages. In practice those pages are sarcasm central. I asked advice on the East Midlands Koi page… The East Midlands Koi Facebook page is that rare exception to the rule in that it has active moderators who immediately chuck out the keyboard warriors and attention-seekers.
I got advice.
After an hour or so in the garden I came in and was making a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM when I heard a commotion outside. There was some chap outside new-next-door rolling round the pavement pissed as a fart. He was bellowing for help because he was trying to take his trousers off and couldn’t get them over his shoe. Nice-next-door phoned me; she was a tad concerned. I went out to see what was going on. The pissed fellow tried to explain his life story to me; I understood maybe one word in fifty. Luckily his mate appeared and took him away; ostensibly to put him into a taxi. If I was driving a taxi, I wouldn’t have taken him.
I then spent a little while creating graphics for my Geocaching International Film Festival entry until “er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of scoff which we devoured whilst watching yesterday’s “Bake Off” semi-final. I was rather surprised at who got chucked out…

21 November 2023 (Tuesday) - Before the Night Shift

There was the most amazingly ridiculous squabble this morning on Facebook in which someone or other was claiming that the TV series “To The Manor Born” was far superior to any TV shows made today because of the viewing figures it attracted which were many times more than any TV show gets these days. The fact that today there are over a thousand TV channels to choose from whereas back then there were only two (no one watched the high-brow drivel on BBC Two) never occurred to them.
And there was some very bitter squabbles about last week’s Doctor Who special on “Children in Need” in which Davros is no longer in a wheelchair as that is offensive to those in wheelchairs.
They let these people vote, you know.
I got the dogs onto their leads and we set off on a little mission. As we drove there was an interview on the radio with heaven only knows who. Having missed the start of the program I was completely in the dark about who was talking, and consequently very soon list interest. I listen to Radio Four so as to keep up to date with current affairs and to find out about all sorts of things about which I would be completely ignorant, but sometimes they do broadcast crap.
When I could have been broadening my horizons I found myself singing along to Ivor Biggun.
We got to Kings Wood and walked the same walk we did the last time we were there. This will probably be one of our standard walks from here on in; three miles which takes us an hour. The only problem is that it isn’t long enough for Morgan; at the end he was rather reluctant to come back to the lead.
As we walked we only met one group of dogs, and the meeting passed off without event. We saw two other groups, and when the puppies ran off toward them they both came back immediately when called. I saw that as a result.
I also got quite a bit of video footage of the dogs running about as a start of getting material together for my entry for next year’s Geocaching International Film Festival. It was a shame that when I got home I realised I needed to hold my phone in “landscape” orientation to get useable footage. All that I’d done was in “portrait”. Ho hum… Still, I learned something from this, and as I always tell the trainees at work, a day when you learn nothing is a day wasted (I’ve wasted a lot of days over the years!)
We came home via the vets (for flea treatments), and then had baths. I made a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM, and got some (correct orientation) footage of the dogs sleeping, and worked on the screenplay a little more. I think I have the plot of our film for next year’s Geocaching International Film Festival figured out. I know (vaguely) the scenes I need to film in the woods and the piccies I need to create for the film. I just need music. If any of my loyal readers could clang a piano to come up with any of Brahms’ Lullaby, Yakkety Sax, The Dick Barton theme and general background music it would be gratefully received. The people at geo-HQ are rather hot on copyright and I need stuff which I have permission to use.
I then wrote up some CPD because that’s what I do before a night shift, had a shower, and went to bed and despite the hot water bottle and two small dogs, I shivered. The bed is far warmer at night than it is in the afternoon.
And so I shall hope for some dinner, then I’m off to the night shift. The last few have been rather hard work…

20 November 2023 (Monday) - A Birthday

I woke at five past three shivering and spent the rest of the night listening to snoring and shivering. An alliance of “er indoors TM and the dogs had secured the duvet and weren't letting it go without a fight.
I gave up at quarter to six, got up and made toast which I scoffed whilst watching the first episode of the second season of "Green Eggs and Ham" which was watchable. To be honest it had the advantage of having episodes which only played for half an hour. So much of the stuff I find myself watching has episodes of an hour, and I watch half an episode at a time and struggle to remember where I'd got to.
With telly watched I had a little look at Facebook, but it was probably still a tad early for any serious squabbling to be kicking off. I got dressed and set off to work feeling rather miserable for no reason that I could fathom. I've been on the morose side for a little while now. Sleep depravation, maybe? I have done a few night shifts recently.
As I drove through the rain my journey to Pembury was hampered by unattended road works. Sections of A262 and A21 were bunged up by temporary traffic lights which seemed to have no reason for being there. Am I being hopelessly naïve in thinking that if some company or other cordons off a section of road and puts up traffic lights then that company should not leave it unattended until the job is finished? Perhaps I should write to the county council? Mind you I wrote to my local councillor about the flooded footpath last week and still haven't had a reply.
As I drove I listened to the radio. There are problems with evacuating the hospital in Gaza, the mayor of Manchester was being interviewed about the plight of the homeless... and still the pundits on the radio wasted over ten minutes of prime air-time on (quite frankly) utter drivel about the history of the hymn "Amazing Grace".
I got to work; I didn't get *that* wet walking from the car into the hospital. As I did my bit I got chatting with one of the engineers who'd come to do some maintenance on one of our analysers. He mentioned that he was buying a house for six hundred thousand pounds. Once he'd gone we had a little look on the internet and worked out that if he was earning the average amount for someone in his line of work then the monthly repayments on that mortgage would be more than he earned each month.
How can anyone afford to buy a house these days?
With work done I came home through all the road works. I stopped off at “My Boy TM”’s house; favourite oldest granddaughter has her seventeenth birthday today. Perhaps I’m biased, but as oldest granddaughters go, she’s a good one.
And with “er indoors TM off bowling I settled myself on the sofa underneath a pile of dogs and watched a film on Netflix. “The Wrong Missy” was rather good. It was only a shame that I spent much of the film trying to work out what else I’d seen the wrong Missy in.
She was one of the wardens in “Orange is the New Black”.

19 November 2023 (Sunday) - Geocaching International Film Festival

This morning as I looked at Facebook I saw some friends had been to a bonfire parade just outside of Lewes last night. Friends I met through kite flying, and ones I’ve not met in person for far too long. This is why I love Facebook – I can keep in touch despite being a four hour round trip away. Mind you the flip side of Facebook is all the squabbling. Browsing through one petty argument I learned the term “TERF this morning – it means “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” and someone was accused of being one on a Facebook page ostensibly about Star Trek (of all things).
We got the dogs onto their leads and went out. Up to Boughton Monchelsea for the Geocaching International Film Festival. We’ve not done one of these before. The idea is that hunters of Tupperware across the world make small films about their geocaching adventures and these get shown across the world and the worldwide geocaching community vote to decide the best one. A couple of dozen hunters of Tupperware sat down at the Boughton Monchelsea scout hut and after we’d all said hello the films started. Sadly we left half way through as the dogs were getting fractious. Perhaps we might have left the dogs at home, but having been told that Treacle isn’t averse to barking when left alone, I’m loathe to leave them for any period of time.
It didn’t help that there was some strange child there who sat facing away from the films and staring at the dogs whilst scoffing bowls of popcorn…
On leaving the geo-film show, our plan was to drive down to Tenterden to walk a geocaching Adventure Lab, but a quick glance at the map showed we were driving straight past one in Headcorn. So we stopped off there and walked up the High Street doing a rather enjoyable little treasure hunt. We were taken to five places where we had to get the answer to a question. All answers were quickly found except at the fourth location where there was mention of a footpath sign. There were two; we had the wrong one and didn’t see the right one for a minute or so.
At each point we had to count the vowels in each answer, and with all five locations visited we then did a few sums and soon ended up with the co-ordinates of the final bonus geocache which was only a short walk away.
This made for a rather good little walk for the day.
We came home and I did my usual trick of watching episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which three rather overpriced places tried (and failed) to compete with somewhere charging a quarter of what they were asking.
I then had a stroke of genius (I have those, you know). I might put together an entry for next year’s Geocaching International Film Festival.
I’ve already started on the script…

18 November 2023 (Saturday) - Telly

Last night over a late bit of scoff I found myself watching the start of a film. “The Dirty Dozen” was something I once watched with a load of mates at the cinema in Hastings. It’s a good film, but I’d forgotten it played for three hours. I didn’t go to bed until one o clock.
I got up, made toast and had a look at the Internet to see if I’d missed anything overnight. I hadn’t really. Petty squabbles over trivia abounded, as they so often do. Today there were arguments amongst the anti-firework fraternity of Hastings; they’ve now got two rival Facebook groups (can you believe it?). And the often very opinionated and nasty people on the Facebook Garden Ponds group who only last week were advocating keeping pond surfaces as still as possible were today insisting that splashing fountains were a good thing.
The usual plan for a Saturday morning is dog club, but it wasn’t the warmest of mornings and the fine rain would have had Bailey soaked through within minutes. I drove over to the Repton estate to open up. Ralph and his human were there waiting. I exchanged a few pleasantries and left them to it. I was rather wet after a minute standing in the rain.
Once home I sat on the sofa with the dogs; Bailey was shivering without being cold and wet. We listened to Steve on the radio through the Alexa. In the past the Alexa hasn’t been able to tune in to Radio Ashford; this morning it managed with no problem. I got the mystery year pretty much right away. When was Blackadder 2 released? 1986.
With the rain showing no sign of letting up we took the dogs with us on today’s mini-adventure. To be honest we rather needed Bailey along as we wanted to get her a waterproof coat. We spent a little while in the pet section at Bybrook Barn trying on coat after coat. Those marked “small” were too big, and those marked “medium” were too small. Some were too long and not wide enough round the chest. Others would have gone round my chest but left half of her back uncovered. Eventually we got one that fitted.
From there we went down to Hythe where a friend was running a craft stall at a craft fair, but it had the same issue that every event we ran at the scout hut had. Being at the end of a cul-de-sac and being totally unadvertised the only people who were along were friends and friends-of-friends.
As we drove here and there the tyre pressure sensor on my car’s rear left tyre sounded the alarm, but the air pressure seemed fine when I got the pump out. I wonder what that was all about?
We came home, and with the rain still hossing down we spent the afternoon catching up on films we’d recorded onto the SkyPlus box. First of all we watched “Police Academy 4”, and then the most recent “Downton Abbey” film. Both were rather good.
We then watched three episodes of “Below Deck”; a reality TV series about life on a cruise yacht that gets chartered out. At a hundred thousand quid for hiring the yacht for three days you really have to wonder exactly who can afford that sort of thing.
“er indoors TM popped up the road to the kebab shop to get dinner, and we scoffed kebabs whilst watching a James Bond film. We’d recorded “Spectre” a while ago, and having recorded it we managed to shave forty minutes off the viewing time by fast-forwarding through the adverts.
Today wasn’t rally a bad day; we got out for a bit, we watched some good stuff on telly, and with the short winter day and the rain we couldn’t have done much else… but I do feel rather hacked off that we’ve wasted a day. Even though we haven’t.
I wonder why.

17 November 2023 (Friday) - Before the Late Shift

I slept well last night, but still woke at quarter past seven feeling vaguely miserable and “bleah”. It didn’t help that Treacle had barked at someone crashing next door’s metal gate. Several years ago (and several sets of neighbours ago) someone put metal railings round next door, and every time anyone goes through the gate it crashes loud enough to wake the dead. Or the dogs. I’m sure that passers-by bang the thing for fun.
To compound the issue there were some children standing outside shrieking too.
I got up, made toast, and had a look at the Internet. A new Lego set had been announced – a model of the Orient Express. A bargain at only two hundred and sixty quid. And an old friend (from over fifty years ago) was jetting off on another foreign holiday. He seems to have a lot of those, not that I’m being judgemental. There are several people on my Facebook list who seem to have an inordinate amount of foreign holidays, but I suppose that by the time I’ve spent out on three vet plans and dog food each month there’s a hundred quid (each month) I could put toward a holiday or squander on Lego.
And there were several of those annoying motivational memes being posted on-line. They sometimes boil my piss. It is very easy to say that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade when life has never given you a lemon.
I looked to see to whom I should send my birthday video today. When Facebook tells me someone’s having a birthday I send them a little “happy birthday” video. There were two people on my Facebook Friends list having birthdays today. Mind you I say “people”; one was a pub and the other was the blood transfusion simulator that gives me problems from time to time.
I didn’t send either the video…
With a little time on my hands I took the dogs to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman who has announced that the Prime Minister’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is dead in the water. Perhaps it is, but she was singing the praises of the plan a week ago.
It never fails to entertain me that every Cabinet member when sacked suddenly no longer feels constrained to pretend that someone else’s stupid idea (with which they had hitherto agreed unconditionally) is actually a stroke of genius and immediately slag it off. I’m reminded of myself when I was forcibly removed from a position of (admittedly minor) authority some twelve years ago and did exactly the same thing.
We got to the woods and had our walk. It was rather wet, muddy and slippery underfoot. Usually once we are away from the car park we walk for ages without seeing anyone. Today we met three “special” people.
The first had her dog on fifty yards of rope (rather than a lead). This dog saw the puppies, tried to play “chase” and made a rather impressive cats’ cradle of rope around the trees.
The next had a barking dog on a lead and was seemingly guarding one of the major crossroads in the woods. As we approached the crossroads she shouted asking us to keep away from her dog (which was on a lead and snarling at nothing that I could see). I whistled and my dogs came back. We backtracked a few dozen yards, but it became apparent that this woman wasn’t going anywhere. We stood and looked at each other from fifty yards away. Eventually I called to ask if she was just guarding the crossroads. She grumbled and wandered off.
And as we came back to the car park we met some chap with a dog the size of a cart horse on the lead over which he clearly had no control.
We walked a rather shorter walk than usual today, but I was surprised to see (from my smartwatch) that we walked half a mile further than we’d walked when going to the garage a couple of days ago.
With walk walked we came home for a bath. Treacle particularly needed a scrub; the other two just got generally grubby, but Treacle walks into muddy puddles then stops and looks at me as though showing off how clever she is. And with dogs scrubbed I set off to work via some points of interest (it's a Munzee thing). As I drove up the motorway I tried the cruise control. I mentioned to the nice people in the garage that there wasn't an indicator light to say the cruise control was active. there still isn't. Either they didn't replace the bulb or there isn't one. I wonder which it is.
I went to Sainsburys to get a sandwich for lunch. The car park was gridlocked when I arrived; half empty when I came out.
And apart from the cake that was waiting for my afternoon tea break the day was effectively all done by the time the late shift started...

16 November 2023 (Thursday) - Bit Tired

I rather struggled with the night shift; I wasn’t feeling at all on top form and so was very pleased to see the day shift arrive.
As I drove home I listened to the radio as I do. The new Home Secretary was being interviewed… I say “interviewed”; the poor chap was faced with endless statements about how crap the situation he has taken over, and immediately after making a statement the (so-called) interviewer then presented another one. After five minutes the Home Secretary asked why he’d been brought on to the radio. As he pointed out, the whole idea of an interview is that you ask someone a question, listen to what they say, and then ask further more probing questions based on what they said. And also, as he pointed out, a seemingly endless list of the failings of his predecessor could have been read out whilst he stayed at home.
I was rather glad the chap said this; those presenting the news so often give up golden opportunities when they would rather just listen to the sounds of their own voices.
I got home, and seeing it wasn’t raining I took the dogs out. Usually I go straight to bed but with more rain forecast for much of the rest of the day I thought we might get in a walk whilst we could. We just walked into Ashford and back again and apart from getting rather over-excited about a squirrel in the Memorial Gardens the walk passed off rather well. Far better than most local walks go. To be fair to the dogs, they really need more practice on the leads. Perhaps they’ve been spoiled by going to the woods so often?
We got home as the rain started. It soon became rather heavy. I’m getting a tad fed up with the seemingly constant rain we’ve had for the last few weeks. With walk walked I had a shower and went to bed. I woke after three hours, and as I got up so Morgan and Bailey got up too; they’d come to bed with me.
I saw loads of messages on my phone; apparently a few minutes after I’d left work there had been some incident on the road to work and luckily I’d missed some rather serious hold-ups.
I was pleased about that.
I then had a look through something I signed up to yesterday. Bearing in mind that I’m hoping to take semi-retirement soon I thought I might use the dogs as guinea pigs. Yesterday I signed up to a course with the Dog Training College as Facebook said it was free, and I had this idea that I could use the dogs as test subjects in this free on-line course. However I’d completely forgotten about the fifty-ninth Rule of Acquisition: “Free advice is seldom cheap”. The course wasn’t free at all. The information pack and introductory video was free. The course itself would set me back two thousand quid.
Sod that.
As usual after a night shift I spent much of the afternoon doing the ironing whilst watching episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which some chap who considered himself to be a “big businessman” was running far and away the shabbiest establishment; seemingly unable to even clean his rooms, and putting instant coffee into a cafetiere. But isn’t this typical of those who advocate “business” and “management”; all full of important-sounding words but rather short on actually delivering that which they should deliver.
Meanwhile “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” has seen a UFO whilst taking Pogo for a walk, and “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM is creating new life forms. I wonder if God realises he’s got competition?

15 November 2023 (Wednesday) - Floods, Car Service

The Old Bill flew down our street at twenty past two last night with sirens blazing. I didn’t think they were supposed to have those on in the small hours? I then lay awake for much of the rest of the night.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. It was still there, but for once not a lot was going on. I sent out four birthday messages, and each time Facebook warned me that the birthday video I send out hadn’t been fact-checked. There are those who worry that AI will take over the world… it may well do but not out of any sort of malevolence, but through random actions from frankly idiotic programming.
I popped the leads onto the dogs and we drove over to the garage where the car was booked in for a service. As we drove Michael Howard (the ex-leader of the Conservative party and Folkestone MP) was being interviewed about the sacking of Suella Braverman who has written a rather damning letter to the Prime Minister following her sacking a couple of days ago. For all the hot air being blown out of the radio this morning, it will all be forgotten in a week or so.
We got to the garage, dropped off the car and walked home. The walk wasn’t one of our best ones; the lead brings out the worst in Morgan. He was pulling for over half the way; pulling hard enough to be walking on his hind legs for quite a bit. I wish he wouldn’t. When we see another dog in the woods when he is off the lead he just sniffs and walks past. Today there were two episodes of barking and snarling. As I apologised to the other dog walkers they smiled and said that their dogs are the same. Fine off the lead; a nightmare on it.
We had to take a minor diversion as we came home. The underpass under the railway at Asda was flooded. I can remember it flooding when I used to cycle under there to where I used to work in the early nineties, and thirty years later nothing has been done. I’ve sent my local councillor an email about it. I wonder if she will do anything.
Once home I raked up the leaves that were littering the lawn. There is a *huge* sycamore tree four gardens down the road and every autumn our garden fills with its leaves. And with leaves raked I sat on the sofa with the dogs and wrote up some CPD, failed to solve a geo-puzzle about cabbage, and watched the last three episodes of “Silo”. Then I had a look on Wikipedia to see what “Silo” was all about. Despite having killed off the lead character, a second season is being made. Mind you killing off lead characters has never been an issue ti telly programmes before, has it?
With all the dogs on top of me on the sofa and all of us very comfortable I didn’t go to bed for the afternoon. I just pulled a blanket over the top of us all and we dozed for a couple of hours until the car was ready.
Having walked two and a half miles coming home from the garage this morning we walked another two and a half miles back there, taking care to avoid the flood at Asda.
It was good to get the car back; not so good to spend out a couple of hundred quid though. But that’s the “joy” of having a car. With a sixty-mile round trip to work every day I need a car on which I can rely.
“er indoors TM is planning to go deploy a Golden Carrot (it’s a Munzee thing). Hopefully she’s planning to cook my dinner too. And once I’ve scoffed it (if I get any!) I’m off to the night shift. I can’t say that I’m keen on the idea, but I rarely ever am.