29 February 2024 (Thursday) - Leap Day

Last night I disabled all the internet connections on my phone and also the Bluetooth too. This morning it was oblivious to what had been going on on-line. I think my watch must be telling it stuff overnight. Which begs the question how does my watch know the password for the wi-fi.
I made toast and had a little look at the Internet through a connection that had my permission to be connected. It was still there. A mostly American Facebook group I follow had posted a rather idiotic quote from Donald Trump. As an outsider looking in at American politics, Donald Trump amazes me. I have never seen or heard anything about the chap which doesn’t reinforce the opinion that he comes over as a feeble-minded simpleton. But the chap is rich and successful, has been President of the USA once, and looks set to do it again. I must be missing something. I asked on that Facebook group, and sadly I think I got the answer. Everyone who posts intelligently and reasonably agreed with the idiotic character that I see in the media. However everyone who takes no effort to cover up their ignorance when posting thought the chap was wonderful and wouldn’t hear a word against him.
Is the character of Donald Trump a carefully choreographed act to appeal to the masses? I’m convinced Boris Johnson did just that.
I also had a dozen more adverts about the plight of pangolins.
I had an email about a new virtual geocache at Battle Abbey. I thought about chasing to be First to Find but thought better of it. It would involve an hour’s drive along country lanes, and I’ve done enough of that already this week. There was also a meet-up of geocachers to go tidying up a park in Tunbridge Wells this morning followed by a tidy-up in Frittenden, but again I didn’t fancy the driving.
Instead we went to the woods where we had a good walk. We chased squirrels; chasing squirrels is rather entertaining in that usually within a second of being spotted the squirrel zooms up a tree, but the dogs rarely notice that the squirrel has gone up. They fly off in the direction in which the squirrel headed, zoom past the tree, and after fifty yards run round in circles looking rather miffed that they have been outsmarted again.
We stomped through a swamp and rolled in fox poo. We didn’t see any normal people, but you can’t have everything.
We didn’t come straight home; if you log finds on four geocaches today you get a souvenir for the leap day. So we took a circuitous route home.
Once home it was into the bath for a scrub, washing went into the washing machine, other washing went into the dishwasher. I had a once-round with the Hoover and then it was out with the ironing board. As I ironed I watched a film on Netflix. “Vesper” was a total load of tripe which I found myself watching in the desperate hope that it might perk up a bit.
It didn’t.
I would have cracked on in the garden it it hadn’t been raining. Instead I dozed on the sofa underneath a pile of dogs.
Having plans for the evening, “er indoors TM set me up with some KFC and as I scoffed that I watched another film. ID is an old favourite of mine. Nearly thirty years old, you can pick it up on DVD for a quid from CEX.
Peering into the internet, a  dog walk, housework, and watching telly. Is this the future?

28 February 2024 (Wednesday) - Frogs, Pangolins, Guts Ache

Last night I made a point of making sure my phone’s connection to the internet was switched off. And again this morning there were no end of messages on it. How does it do that?
I peered into the Internet over brekkie to see if I’d missed much, and whether it had been worth my phone’s effort to keep up with what was happening.
It wasn’t really.
I sent out birthday wishes to two friends on Facebook, and thought about Vivian Barr who was in my class at school for the seven years that I was at Red Lake Primary School. Today is her birthday. We weren’t particularly close during that time at school, and I think I’ve seen her once since I left that school in 1975, so why do I always remember her birthday?
One of the Facebook groups I follow (about AI generated pictures) was embroiled in a religious squabble. After something utterly unrelated some god-botherer had tried to claim the moral high ground, and had been asked why his god needs people to do its will. Why can’t it do stuff for itself? Sometimes I despair – large swathes of the world (including much of America) really are still in the dark ages.
Rather than mucky adverts, this morning my Facebook feed was filled with adverts about the plight of pangolins. Poor little things. I’m keen to make a donation to protect them, but I found myself with several competing charities and not knowing which one to support.
I didn’t have as much time on my hands today as I might have had, so we had a shorter walk than usual. We went to the park. The episodes which Pogo used to provoke don’t seem to happen with Morgan and Bailey, but we had a minor one this morning. As we walked past the playpark bit so some small child called to the dogs. Personally I quite like littluns petting them; it gets both sides used to the other. But before I could do anything, mother announced “give them a snack” and suddenly Morgan and Bailey were scoffing heaven-knows-what. Seeing my face, mother said that it was OK, and it was only a snack. I asked if it was poisonous to dogs, mother announced that it was only a snack. When I told her that chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins are all a no-no, there was a look of horror followed by a stony silence.
The dogs seem fine; I’m sure they are. But I do wish people wouldn’t feed random crap to random dogs. I’ve had people in the park feeding Fudge chicken bones in the past.
We came home as the drizzle got worse. I gathered a bumper crop of dog turds from the garden, then set off to work (as today was a work day!) and sang along to my rather eclectic choice of music as I went. After a few miles I realised I'd not made a sandwich, so I stopped off at the shop in Sissinghurst to get some lunch. They do rather good pasties in there. They do a lot of good stuff (their beer selection is second to none) but they don't give it away. Today they were selling a particular brand of wine that is two quid a bottle cheaper in Sainsburys.
As I queued to pay so my idiot magnet kicked in. The old duck in front of me in the queue was jabbering on at anyone who would listen; seemingly oblivious to the world around her. Having been prompted to pay for her shopping (several times) she eventually handed over some money. And then just stood there wittering on. She had to be told (several times) to take her change, and eventually the woman behind the till decided that enough was enough, and loudly told the old biddy to pick up her shopping and go away.
It was with a sense of relief that I drove away.
I got to work where all the Munzees in the works car park looked rather odd when I called up the Munzee app. They all had a frog picture. Capping a frog gave you extra points today; it's a Leap Year thing.
Work was work; I spent the day with something of a stomach ache. Last night I finished off the stilton which I opened last week when I found it was past its sell-by date. At the time I thought it tasted a bit odd...

27 February 2024 (Tuesday) - First Semi-Retired Day

A few days ago I mentioned I’d finally got round to doing something about my broken GPS unit. The power button was poggered. Garmin don’t do repairs any more and had offered me a discount on a new one. After a couple of minutes I found that I could actually get one from the Ordnance Survey website cheaper than Garmin’s discounted price. But either option would cost hundreds of pounds. I found replacement power buttons on eBay, and one arrived yesterday. Yesterday evening I glued it into place and left it to set overnight. It don’t look pretty, and the button is rather stiff, but it has saved me quite a bit of money.
I made toast and had a look at the internet. I had a message from Facebook. A few days ago my Facebook feed gave me four adverts. Clicking once on any of them gave a full-screen picture of a lady's lady-bits. I reported them as sexually inappropriate and here's the response: “… We've taken a look and found that this ad doesn't go against our Advertising Standards”.
Funny old world.
I sent out birthday wishes to five people having birthdays today, and rolled my eyes at some of the nonsense being peddled on some of the crackpot conspiracy theory pages I follow. So many people want t believe rubbish which has long since been proved wrong. So many others are so quick to show their ignorance. So many are just plain stupid. And all are allowed to vote and do jury service.
Yesterday a new geocache had gone live a couple of miles from home. This morning it was still unfound, so I got the leads onto the dogs and we chased off for a First to Find… We didn’t get it. With a description of “The cache is within easy reach attached to something metal” I searched the obvious targets with no luck.
Having admitted defeat, looking at the map I saw we could either go straight back to the car, or take a circular route through the countryside following footpaths back to the car. So we followed the footpaths. Or that is we followed the clearly marked paths that people had obviously been walking. But using the maps on my phone I could see that those weren’t the actual footpaths – those were parish boundaries.
The first field we crossed was rather squishy swampy grassland. From there the track went up into a field of mud, then through a wood where the mud was ankle deep. We then went across a ploughed field, and as we walked along a fence by the side of a school so suddenly the dogs were on the other side of the fence and heading off in totally the wrong direction. I eventually found the hole that they’d gone through, whistled, and they came back immediately.
We came home for a serious scrub, then after a cuppa and a Belgian bun I went down the road to the dentist. There was an idiot in the waiting room grimacing at everyone who came out from seeing the dentist and asking why they weren’t smiling. And then grimacing at me as though I should agree with him. Ironically he came out from seeing the dentist with a face like a smacked arse.
The dentist seemed happy with my gob. I came home and spent an hour pootling in the gardens (front and back) before setting off on the afternoon’s mission.
I went to the co-op for a sandwich where I met another idiot. As I queued so the chap in front of me asked for forty fags. Getting no change out of thirty quid he then announced to the world in general how he and his wife get through a packed of fags a day each because of the stress of having the leccie company threatening to take them to court for their unpaid leccie bill. It clearly never occurred to him to knock the fags on the head.
I then went round to the Repton centre for a little meeting. The people there are happy with how things are going with the Dog Club – they’ve not had any complaints about us, and say they’ve rarely (if ever) found any errant dog turds…
I didn’t realise that we are only one of three dog groups that use the field.
They did say though that the Repton Centre has ongoing costs and whilst they are far from skint, he is trying to encourage those who use the facilities to pay more if they can.
We agreed that putting our price up to £1.50 per dog wasn’t unreasonable, and encouraging people to pop a bit more in the pot if they can.
Personally I think that’s a bargain and will be bunging a fiver in the pot for my three each time from now on.
We also talked about the possibility of a working party later in the year (when it has all dried out) to give the field a deep clean and tidy up. And to bung up some of the holes through which Bailey escapes.
I came home via Shadoxhurst for geocachical reasons, and once home mended a broken dining chair (I didn’t break it…) then settled myself in front of the telly and watched episodes of “Four In A Bed”. The first episode featured a trip to a B&B run by a chap who was wearing the world’s worst wig. This was followed by a visit to a couple of lads who were half the age of all the other contestants and for all that I felt they were streets ahead of everyone else, their age was held against them. The third episode was hosted by a boss-eyed bloke who got incredibly defensive and aggressive about the same failings that he was accusing others of. And the chap running the fourth B&B went off sick half-way through his episode and everyone else all pissed off down the road to a café.
I put a load more washing in to scrub. “er indoors TM boiled up dinner, and Treacle is currently sucking on my pyjama top.
I named yesterday’s blog entry wrongly… It should really have been “start of part time working”. Today was the start of semi-retirement. Walking the dogs, pootling in the garden, watching telly… I can do that.
Having said that, over the next few weeks I plan to paint the garden fences, start up the pond again, plant rockery plants round the bog filter, tidy, paint and re-roof the shed… I’ve plenty to keep me occupied.

26 February 2024 (Monday) - Start of Semi-Retirement

I woke in something of a panic at five to one this morning after a nightmare in which the world was being invaded by supposedly sexy aliens... I say "supposedly" - they looked like the sort of ones that send me dubious friend requests on Facebook, and I was the only person who could see what was going on... in that the weren't sexy at all and were incredibly dubious.
I didn't get back to sleep after that; I looked at the clock at least once every fifteen minutes from then until five o'clock when I gave up trying to sleep and got up.
I made toast and sparked up Netflix. It suggested I might like “Friday Night Dinner”. I’ve seen odd episodes in the past, but now I shall watch them in order.
With telly watched I had a quick look at the Internet. Following a long-standing ban of anything rainbow coloured in Saudi Arabia, apparently rainbow coloured kites are frowned upon in Kuwait, and kite-flyers of my acquaintance are looking to sell quite a few of the things. Apparently just looking at something rainbow coloured might turn you gay, or so those who give permission for kite festivals to be held in the middle east claim.
Funny old world, eh?
I set off to work rather earlier than I might. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the younger members of the workforce are far more likely to be phoning in sick than the older ones. It was claimed that on any given day last year, five per cent of those in their early twenties were off sick. Some expert or other was wheeled on who explained that the snowflake culture really has created a generation who simply aren’t up to the strains of reality.
With a little time on my hands I took a little diversion for geocachical reasons. Having finally got the solution to a puzzle that has had me stumped for years I went and found the cache this morning. It is one of those that will probably be archived in the near future, so it was as well that I went and got it whilst I still could.
I went on to Tesco to get doughnuts for work. I’d taken cakes in to Maidstone on the Friday before last week’s holiday, so it was only fair to take some in to Pembury today. As I queued to pay, the woman on the till wasn’t happy. Apparently every Monday between seven o’clock and nine o'clock she is expected to man the till and the self-service machines because (so she claimed) all the other till-trained staff (including the manager) refuse point-blank to start work before nine o’clock on a Monday.
She asked everyone waiting to make a formal complaint on her behalf.
Work was work; I had something of a left-shifted day today (it’s a neutrophil thing). I came home, and “er indoors TM sorted a rather good dinner which we scoffed watching an episode of “Richard Osman’s House of Games”. I particularly like that show, but I always find myself thinking about some of the poor contestants. Supposedly all celebrities, some of them are in no hurry to conceal their ignorance and show off their stupidity. You would think their agents would advise them against going on national television just to show how thick they are, wouldn’t you?
And with “er indoors TM off bowling I set more laundry scrubbing, then sparked up Netflix and watched an old favourite. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is a film I’ve seen so many times, but it never fails to keep me amused… it is only a shame that the ending is rather weak. That film will be fifty years old next year.  
I haven’t got to go to work tomorrow…

25 February 2025 (Sunday) - Another Pub

I slept until backache woke me this morning, which is usually a sign of having had a good kip. I managed to make myself comfortable again, but Bailey stirred, and started licking my hand in her sleep.
I got up, put a load into the washing machine, had a shave and cut a lump out of the side of my nose.
In between dripping blood on my toast I had a look at the Internet. It was still there. Yesterday’s squabble over the dog club seemed to have fizzled out. I hope it has; I’m not the most tactful of people and from what I can work out the squabble wasn’t caused by my group. And when I say “my group” I’m still not entirely sure how it has become “my group”. Having offered to open up for one week when the organiser was on holiday I’m now key holder, collector of money, admin of the Facebook page, and am meeting the land owner (supposedly as representative of the club) in a couple of days’ time.
I then reported yet more porn-mongers to the Facebook Feds. “Volleyball girls UK” claimed to be an insurance company, but it is actually peddling filth. “Business Money” claimed to be a business supplies service, but was certainly dealing in an entirely different sort of business. “Paradox Home” and “AWJR” claimed to be advertising agencies; one click took you to full-on lady bits.
And this morning’s petty argument blown out of all proportion held by people who will never actually meet was about whether or not there should be a remake of “Logan’s Run”. Ironically those against the re-make were all very happy about the series that followed the movie which was essentially a re-make.
I sorted undercrackers, hung out washing, and spent half an hour in the garden. The lawn was far too wet to be mowed, but I mowed it anyway. It had got too long to be able to find dog turds with any certainty, and it was so long that it wouldn’t dry anyway. As I gave the lawn its initial scalping I thought back to the days when the nutty bloke lived next door. He would get very angry and aggressive whenever I mowed my lawn. According to the strange voices in his head I was always mowing my lawn at the wrong time. It was too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry. He could never tell me when I should mow the lawn; only that when I was mowing the lawn was the wrong time.
I wonder whatever happened to him.
With lawn scalped I then pruned some of the dead stuff out of the pond’s bog filter, then we got ready for the day.
Knowing the dogs would need to run off some energy we drove to Benenden where there was a little geocaching Adventure Lab series. We spent half an hour wandering about finding things we would never otherwise have found.
From Benenden it was a short hop to The Peacock at Goudhurst where we met my brother, sister in law and oldest nephew and had a very good Sunday roast. Starting off with whitebait, then full roast beef dinner, and ending up with Crème Brulé, we (I) washed it all down with five pints of Masterbrew and a couple of glasses of amaretto.
Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
Once home the dogs slept like tired things. Yesterday they were out like lights after our full-on day. Today was much the same. For them a busy morning is a couple of hours up the woods; they probably really do sleep for twenty hours every day. Six hours full-on wears them out.
With dogs sleeping we settled in front of the telly whilst the washing machine did its thing again.
I’ve had a rather good week off work – back to the grind tomorrow – part time…


24 February 2024 (Saturday) - Dog Club and the Pub

Having the dogs still and curled up tightly made for a good night’s sleep. I got up, made toast, and peered into the internet whilst it was still quiet.
I had another dubious friend request on Facebook. This one had more clothes on than most, but could still have done with doing up some buttons and covering up rather than waggling about.
There was quite a bit of talk about the Mount Pleasant pub in Hastings on one of the Hastings-related Facebook groups too. In my religious days I was at some event in one of the rooms in the church opposite one Saturday evening. In another room were a load of police (with the lights out) watching the pub like hawks. A few years later I went in there on my stag night, a mate had eleven pence in his pocket. He put ten pence in the fruit machine and was buying the drinks for the rest of the night.
Among this morning’s haul of emails was one from the Credit Karma people who told me that this week my credit rating had gone up by eleven points. I wonder why. Am I more credit-worthy now I’m semi-retired? If so, how do they know. I’ve not told the bank. Should I have done so?
Being Saturday we took the dogs to Repton for Dog Club. As we drove I had a go at Steve’s “guess the lyrics” contest on the radio, and I mistook E.L.O.’s “Turn to Stone” tor Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”. But I got a mention on-air for having a go.
We had a rather good (if muddy) session at Dog Club. There were some new dogs along, and everyone charged around like things possessed.
As we drove away I missed getting the Mystery Year competition on the radio right by one year…
We drove up to Kings Wood where we met up with Karl and Tracey. We walked a circuit of the woods in glorious sunshine, and once back to the cars the dogs had a rather good dog-dinner and we got our muddy boots off. And on the very second that we drove out of the car park so the torrential rain started. Ten minutes later the hailstorm hit.
And it was all over in the five minutes it took to get to Badlesmere.
We got to the Red Lion. Not being at our usual table we were off to one side with a lot less going on to provoke the dogs and we had a very good bit of dinner. Washed down with copious amounts of ale, post and Drambuie.
Amazingly I didn’t sleep all the way home.
Once home I spent a few minutes being diplomatic. Dog Club had a complaint. It would seem that one of the later groups had based themselves up by the gate today and there had been some barking. One of the residents wasn’t happy, but pissed on her chips by over-stating her complaint. There was certainly no barking before ten o’clock, and the dog club has been sound-checked before and found to be quieter than the Eurostar which regularly goes through. As is always the way, those with a gripe are always happy to gripe it on-line, hiding behind the curtains waiting for everyone to go away before saying anything.
I tactfully gave the sort of corporate reply that would be expected. Hopefully that should placate the natives
We spent the evening watching Takeshi’s Castle – they’ve made a new series.

23 February 2024 (Friday) - Bit Dull

When we came home yesterday afternoon I had a letter from the hospital about a pre-assessment appointment at a rather inconvenient time. I spent an hour on the phone to them yesterday trying to get through before the line went dead when they turned it off at four o’clock. This morning I got straight through when I phoned over brekkie. I re-scheduled and then scoffed toast, fed the dogs, and took them on an outing.
As we drove we listened to “Desert Island Discs”. Today’s castaway was the vulcanologist Clive Oppenheimer who is the same age as I am, and would seem to have a frankly dreadful taste in music. Much like everyone on that radio show. Periodically I make a list of what tracks I’d play if I was the castaway.  
We got to Kings Wood and had our walk. Bearing in mind all the rain of the last few days we took a relatively longer walk today following the gravelled track. As we walked we met so many other groups of people. All with dogs on leads over a mile into the woods. And all the dogs had yellow leads and yellow harnesses. Bearing in mind the “Yellow Dog scheme”, I put my dogs onto their leads at every encounter. And every time the other person cried out “my dog is very friendly”. I told all of these people about the idea of Yellow Dogs; a yellow lead, collar or harness means the dog may be nervous, in training, recovering from an injury or illness or operations, being rehabilitated or simply prefers to keep their distance from people and other dogs. And consequently it means that other dogs should keep their distance.
Each person replied that that they are constantly being told about the “Yellow Dog scheme” but didn’t think it was for real.
We came home, had bellies washed, then I made a cuppa and peered into the Internet, and did something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Some time in 2020 (I think) the button on my GPS unit broke. Over the last few years I’ve been bodging it along; now to make it work I have to poke a pokey-thing through the hole to make it work, and obviously it is no longer waterproof. Having been told many times that I can send it back to Garmin for repairs I phoned the nice people at Garmin today only to find they don’t do repairs any more. They will allow me to trade in my current GPS for a new one and give me a thirty per cent discount… or I could buy a new one even cheaper from the Ordnance Survey website.
In the end I went on to eBay and bought a new button which I can glue into place on my currently poggered one.
I settled myself in front of the telly for the afternoon and watched episodes of “Four In A Bed”. The first B&B was somewhere that specialised in welcoming dogs, and (needless to say) was awash with dog hairs.
The second was run by people who’d taken umbrage at all the dog hairs at the first place, made great show of having high standards of cleanliness, but ironically had far more hairs and stains in their bedding than anyone else had.
Having announced how much experience they had in the hospitality trade, the third set made a total arse of brekkie, and the woman running the fourth B&B told the second that (judging by her appearance) she thought she had something wrong with her. Which was ironic bearing in mind the one making the comment had a head which was clearly several sizes too small for her body.
In some episodes of “Four In A Bed” they all are good buddies; today’s episodes were brilliant; they all hated each other and made no secret of it.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner and when it was scoffed I shared cheese and crackers with the dogs… I had the cheese; they had crackers. But they seemed happy with the deal.
“er indoors TM is now watching Fred Dibnah on the “Yesterday” channel. He’s jumped from Cornwall to Tyneside in one change of scene… My Dad used to like the chap. So far I’m not keen.

22 February 2024 (Thursday) - Rain, Dozing

In between the McDonalds and the kebab yesterday I had far too much salt. I was laying in bed feeling particularly grim when “er indoors TM and the dogs came up at one o’clock. The dogs all got rather excited. I made the schoolboy error of nipping to the loo, and spent the rest of the night with six inches of bed.
Over brekkie as I peered into the Internet I saw that yesterday I’d had birthday wishes from one hundred and twenty-five Facebook friends which was something of a result. I also had a message from Facebook. A couple of days ago I’d been presented with a rather innocuous advert which when you clicked on it gave you a full-screen view of some lady-bits. I reported the ad, but Facebook replied “We didn't remove the ad. To keep our review process as fair as possible, we use the same Advertising Standards to review reports.
We've taken a look and found that this ad doesn't go against our Advertising Standards”. According to their Advertising StandardsAds must not contain adult content. This includes nudity, depictions of people in explicit or suggestive positions, or activities that are overly suggestive or sexually provocativebut a full-on fanny is acceptable? Go figure.
We got ourselves and the dogs together for a very quick geo-session (despite the rain). There were a couple of geo-puzzles I’d spent ages trying to solve, and it now turns out that the chap who’d set the puzzles and hidden the caches has announced “I’m no longer supporting geocaching as a cache owner as I refuse to support an organisation with double standards and dishonest practices” and is in the process of fetching in all the caches he’s put out. Having spent ages finding the locations of two which aren’t that far from home I wanted to at least get those ones. There’s quite a lot of others I spent ages solving that are now archived.
Having messaged quite a few people, it seems that no one knows what the sulk is about, but I doubt the sulk will stop him going out finding the things.
We drove out to… where these caches were hidden, and the rain held off long enough for us to find them. Then we drove through the rain down to Folkestone to see “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM.
They were both well. We sang along to various videos before nipping to the KFC for lunch. The plan for today was to have a little walk along the prom, but the rain soon put paid to that. We scoffed KFC and sang songs until it was time to go home. It would have been good to have stayed longer, but “er indoors TM had to go to the opticians.
We came home. “er indoors TM went to the opticians and I dozed in front of the telly until she came home when she boiled up fajitas which we scoffed whilst watching “Taskmaster: New Zealand” and I fell asleep again.
I do that a lot.

21 February 2024 (Wednesday) - Happy Birthday To Me (!)

After a good night’s sleep I woke and lay looking at the clock feeling faintly miserable. Ever since I’ve had a phone of my own (since 1987) my mum phoned me every birthday at twenty past seven. Not quarter past or half past, but exactly at twenty past. Of course she hasn’t for the last three years…
I got up and opened a bumper haul of cards and pressies, then spent a couple of minutes updating the main blog page. The timer to semi-retirement has been replaced with one counting down to full retirement. Seven years… I wonder how those years will pan out? The first seven years at my current place of work went better than I could have ever expected.
We then spent far too long unblocking the Hoover. After “er indoors TM waved the thing all over the place it soon became apparent that it wasn’t actually sucking anything up. It was only after I had the thing in pieces that I discovered she hadn’t unplugged it… when it leapt into action and all but self-destructed without any of its retaining screws and bolts in place.  
But I got it all back together again; it was much the same principle as a Lego set really.
With torrential rain putting paid to any plans for the day we drove to McDonalds car park for a McTasty (which sadly wasn’t) and then went on to Dobbies. Our plans were to look at stuff for the garden; the dogs’ plans were somewhat different. Fortunately their staff assured us they were used to dogs taking a dump.
We came home and watched a film we’d recorded at Christmas then I slept until “My Boy TM” and Cheryl came round for dinner.
We had a rather good kebab. Can’t beat a kebab and chips… Today was a rather good birthday; if a bit quiet.
I’ll end today with a little reflection.… I’m now sixty. After this week’s holiday I go back to work as a part-timer being semi-retired.
I can remember thinking that being ten was old… But in all honesty I feel much the same now as I have done pretty much all of my life. The me inside hasn’t aged. I’m still trying to do the best that I can under less-than-ideal circumstances in a world that I didn’t design. I’m still the same as I ever was – a desperately immature child waiting for maturity that if it hasn’t arrived by now probably never will.
The only real difference between today’s taking on semi-retirement and my first day at primary school is that slowly but surely my body is beginning to wear out. The hair has gone. If I sit still for too long I seize up. Our longer walks round Kings Woods are perhaps a tad too long these days; I’m good for five miles, but eight is pushing it. I use the stairs to get from the promenade to the beach when at the seaside; I don’t dare jump down any more. My left knee could do with being replaced. If I have to get onto my hands and knees to pick something up from the floor, getting up takes effort. When I look in the mirror, my grandfather is looking back at me.
But I’d like to think that I’m good for a few more years yet.

20 February 2024 (Tuesday) - Pub Dinner

I had a reasonable night even though the covers kept disappearing One of the dogs kept making themselves a nest. And when I did sleep I was plagued with nightmares about being forced to go on a church camp (to make up the numbers) and constantly hiding from some righteous crackpot who was using a guitar to beat sinners.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. A few weeks ago I mentioned about the TV angling celebrity Matt Hayes who had the arse that he wasn’t famous any more. It was suggested that he crowdfund another TV series, and he’s trying to do so…  You can see the details of the crowdfunding campaign here. Personally I’m not going to hand over any money. I had been planning to, but the crowdunder is set up in the name of someone of whom I have never heard. And according to what I can make out, most of the money will be spent on a custom-built van to drive around in. Am I really being that cynical in thinking they could make the TV show using the cameras on their mobile phones on their days off from a proper job. Like I did?
I took the dogs up to the woods. We had a good walk; the mud had dried out a bit since yesterday. We met several other groups and all the encounters passed off without incident. I do like our walks round the woods.
We came home where the dogs had a little wash to get the mud off their paws and bellies. They were nowhere near as grubby as yesterday.
I made a cuppa and sparked up the lap-top. I’d had an idea about one of the geo-puzzles I’d failed to solve yesterday. As I puzzled I had a message. Daborah Mary had sent me a friend request on Facebook, and had also given a list of her hobbies and favourite activities; some were rather mucky, some quite unhygienic and some anatomically not possible what with my back.
However she is into “findom”. Apparently this is a relationship in which one gives the other all their money.
I’ll quite happily accept any dosh she cares to give me.
After a couple of hours herculean brain straining I solved the geo-puzzle… It will now join the ever growing list of puzzles I’ve solved but haven’t got to getting the associated cache.
I then took Treacle to the vet for her annual once-over and jabs. The vet (who looked young enough to be one of Lacey’s mates) agreed with me that she is a tad overweight. We are going to run some of our walks in Kings Wood from now on.
I spent an hour or so pooting in the garden pulling the ivy off of the fence, then dozed in front of the telly until it was time to go out. A dozen of us met up in Singleton Barn for a joint 110th birthday bash as Matt is almost but not quite ten years younger than me…
I remember our joint 74th

19 February 2024 (Monday) - Week Off Day One

I slept well last night, which was a result. Having no alarms set makes all the difference. I made toast and peered into the Internet. Three more people had asked to join Dog Club… or that is to join the Facebook group that goes with Dog Club. With over a thousand members in the Facebook group maybe thirty or forty of them ever turn up in person. But that is today’s society, isn’t it? Everything virtual; nothing in reality. I see this on some of the Munzee and geocaching pages. Sadly the more vocal people on-line would pay money rather than have to actually meet anyone else in person.
I took the dogs up to the woods and we had an excellent walk. We met other dogs. We played nicely with those that wanted to play, and we came back when called (instantly) when it became clear the other dogs weren’t interested. So much better than the episodes we had in the pub yesterday. Mind you the pub dog was the size of a cart horse and simply wouldn’t piss off.
As we walked a buzzard swooped low over the dogs. But for all they have a huge wingspan, the bird’s body was about the size of Bailey. Hopefully this means they don’t see her as food?
We also saw a rather nice coat hanging in a tree. Someone had dropped it over the last few days. Perhaps I should have picked it up; as we reached the furthest point form the car park so the rain started. It didn’t last long and we didn’t get *that* wet really.
We came home and once mud was washed from paws and bellies I did Dog Brekkie then got pastries from the corner shop for “er indoors TM and me. As I had a little look at the Internet over coffee and pastries I saw a cousin was posting family news to Facebook. Apparently my great grandfather had a secret second family. Born in 1888 he would have been doing that nonsense between the wars. Was it easier to get away with that sort of thing back then?  Some friend of “er indoors TM had a husband who had a secret second family. From a purely objective point of view this sort of thing fascinates me.
How does anyone cover up the time required to be off with the other family?
Especially at family holiday time, Christmas and birthdays?
And the cost – how do you hide that level of expense from the other half?
Personally I’d rather have a bit of peace and quiet than double trouble…
I spent a little while preparing for the geo-meet I’m staging in March, then completely failed to solve a geo-puzzle about bell ringing. And then I had a message. “Lunay Camilla” wanted to be my friend on Facebook. Hailing from La Paz in Bolivia today she (I think) started working in the “pleasure management” department of one of the major hotels in Sofia. This one advocates “Less talk, more seduction 💋” I suspect that this major hotel in Sofia is completely oblivious to the antics of its latest employee. Let’s hope so…
I had planned to start tidying up the garden this week; I pruned some of the dead stuff flowing over the hedge from not-so-nice-next-door, then slobbed in front of the telly watching episodes of “Four in a Bed” in which everyone started off very chummy but progressively got nastier with each other culminating with one of the contestants turning up to payment day obviously drunk.
“er indoors TM went bowling (as she does) and I sparked up Netflix and watched the first episode of “Decline and Fall”. So far it doesn’t seem too lame… 

18 February 2024 (Sunday) - Edenbridge

I slept like at night for nearly ten hours. I wonder if the blue-stained duvet covers had anything to do with it? I woke to the sound of Treacle sucking the duvet. She does that. I hope the blue stain doesn’t do her any harm.
I made toast and had my usual look at the Internet. It was still there. There was some NHS-bashing going on in one of the Hastings Facebook groups I follow. Everyone is so quick to find fault with the NHS. It ain’t perfect but the public attitude to the NHS winds me up. One minute the masses are standing on the doorstep clapping like demented sealions, the next minute saying what a load of crap it is. I delivered my standard rant and checked my emails.
A ”tag” had been hidden in Benenden… and found eight minutes before I saw the email. A “tag” is part of the Snag The Tag game… Someone buys a tag, hides it and publishes the location on the website. People then charge out to get it and the first one to find it keeps it. And then that’s it. Game over until the next “tag” goes out. I’ve been told many times that I don’t need to hide a tag myself; just going out and finding them is perfectly acceptable. But I would feel the need to contribute to the game, and bearing in mind these tags were close on twenty quid each the last time I looked, I think I shall just carry on watching.
“er indoors TM sorted bacon rolls, then I programmed “Hannah” for the day and we set off to Edenbridge. Pausing only briefly for a letterbox hybrid just off the M26 we followed “er indoors TM’s car’s sat nav to some obscure country land near Chiddngstone where it decided to lead us in circles. At this point we used my phone to take us on to Edenbridge.
We parked up and had a little walk up and down the village looking for specific geocaches for a little challenge we set ourselves today. Geocaches come in various types and we’d thought we might see how many different types we might find today. Having got a letterbox hybrid on the way we found an Earthcache, Adventure Lab and a puzzle at the nearby church. We then took a little walk down the road where (once we escaped from the normal people) we found a traditional and a multi, then went on to the pub where the monthly geo-meet was taking place. Back in the day there would be thirty or forty people at the monthly meet-ups. But since COVID the meet-ups are a shadow of what they once were. But today was like it used to be with dozens of people along. It was good to catch up with old friends and meet new friends.
I took a few photos – but only a few today.
As the afternoon drew to an end our phones all beeped with the same message – a new virtual geocache not two hundred yards away. We all hurried off together and all claimed joint First to Find. That, together with the meet put our icon type count to eight. It is rare that we get over three on one of our outings.
We used a proper Google sat-nav to get home. Once home “er indoors TM sorted a rather good bit of dinner, and I then slept for much of the rest of the evening. Three pints of porter will do that these days…
Today was rather good… must do it again.

17 February 2024 (Saturday) - Asleep In Front of the Telly

With an alarm set for seven o’clock I woke at quarter to three. I lay awake trying to get back to sleep, but only intermittently dozed for a few minutes.
I gave up and got up at six o’clock, made toast and had a little look at the Internet. Three Facebook friends were having a birthday today. I sent out birthday wishes, then saw I’d been defriended on Facebook. The drag queen who entertained us at Matt and Glenn’s stag party a couple of years ago doesn’t want to be my chum anymore. I suppose he (she?) was a vague acquaintance at best and now that he (she?) has moved to Blackpool the connection is that much more vague. But being a very nosey person, I used to like following his (her?) adventures.
I had a little rummage through my emails. The power company sent me a very misleading email claiming that I was two hundred quid in credit with them. They’ve done this before. They take my monthly payments and stick them into a separate account, and then every so often use that money to actually pay the bill. In the past when they’ve told me I’m in credit, what they mean is that the separate account is in credit. So when I asked for a refund they happily gave me the refund… then asked for it all back to actually pay the bill.
I then geo-puzzled until I decided that “er indoors TM and the dogs had been in their pits long enough at which point I had the duvets off of them and stuck the covers in the washing machine.
Being Saturday we loaded the dogs into the car and drove off through the drizzle to Repton. As we drove Steve was doing the Guess the Lyrics competition. “Nothing last forever, of that I'm sure”. No?  “Same Old Scene” by Roxy Music. I knew the year and the album too…
We got to the Dog Club field where I opened up and it wasn’t long before mayhem ensued. Dogs charged about and we caught up with friends old and new. It was good to catch up with Sue and Chris – I’ve not seen them for some months. They had the latest addition to their dog collection. They found little Lilly running on the A28. She was all skin and bone, and for all that she has got a chip, there is not data on it. The law about chipping dogs is stupid; dogs have to have a chip, but the chip doesn’t have to be registered.
Just as our time was up at Dog Club so the drizzle got worse. We drove home listening to the Mystery Year competition – I got it right; 1977.
We came home and as “er indoors TM scrubbed mud from the dogs I hung out the first load of washing, but the second load in, and popped to the corner shop to get pastries. I geo-puzzled unsuccessfully for a bit until the washing machine stopped.
“er indoors TM went off out with her mates crafting and I ironed shirts whilst watching telly. First of all the “On the Busesfilm which was rather fun, and thenDunewhich I described on Facebook as a load of tripe” and I stand by that. The film was an hour too long and was the sort of film you have to look up on Wikipedia afterwards to find out what it was all about. As the tripe film played, every half-hour I moved the bedding about on the radiators so it would dry out.
“er indoors TM came home and we put the bedding back. She then laid an egg (big time!) because the bedding now has a blue tinge it never had before. Bearing in mind you don’t see it as it goes under a bedspread I can’t see the problem, but she wasn’t happy. I suggested that it matched the blue paint on the bedroom walls, but that was akin to a red rag to a bull. Or a once-white duvet cover to “er indoors TM”.
“er indoors TMboiled up a rather good curry which we devoured whilst watching more “Taskmaster: New Zealand”, and I then fell asleep in front of the telly. I’ve spent quite a bit of time sleeping in front of the telly today.
Perhaps if I slept when I am supposed to be asleep?

16 February 2024 (Friday) - There Was Cake

I had a rather decent night's sleep... up until four o'clock when one of the dogs made a concerted effort to shove me out of the bed. I shoved back as best I could, but didn't really get back to sleep after that.
I made toast and watched the last episode of "Peep Show". It was a good episode; a good show really, but like so many TV shows went on for two or three more series than it needed to. There was definitely vibes of flogging a dead horse toward the end.
I had a quick look at the Internet; nothing of note had happened so taking care not to disturb “er indoors TM and the dogs I got ready for work. I walked out the front door just as the bin man was bringing our recycling bin back from the bin lorry. On seeing me he made a point of putting the bin back tidily... unlike the dozens of others he'd just strewn down the street. As I smiled at him and went off to find my car he grabbed two more bins and nearly (but not quite) bounced them off of parked cars as he took them to be emptied.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about the two by-elections that had happened overnight. Both were relatively safe Conservative seats, but many ex-Conservative voters had voted for other parties this time. More of these ex-tory voters voted for Labour than for any other party and so Labour didn't so much win the elections as the Conservatives lost them. Rather worryingly the Reform (right wing and nasty) party came in third place in both elections.
And that idiot Donald Trump was mentioned... He's suggested that the Russians might like to invade NATO countries who aren't paying their dues to NATO. Did you know that only about half the members of NATO pay up what they should?
Perhaps he's being a tad harsh, but Mr Trump might have put the wind up the cheapskates.
I went to work via Sainsburys where I got a load of cakes for tea time what with me having a birthday next week. I'm always quick to scoff a cake when there's some going so I don't mind getting one or two myself when it's my turn.
As I scoffed some of the cake at tea time so my phone beeped. The EarthCache I'd spent most of yesterday preparing had gone live.   Late last night I'd had the thumbs-down on it. I'd made a mistake with one of the waypoints (the one showing where the chalk was), it had been pointed out that I could be a bit more descriptive of what chalk and flint looked like, and my spelling of "Earthcache" was wrong. It should be "EarthCache".
There are those who think this might be a tad picky; personally I think this is a good thing. So often any old rubbish is accepted in geocache descriptions; raising the standard isn't necessarily a bad thing. My edits did the trick and it had gone live... and just under an hour and a half later I had a message to say it had been found for the first time.
In theory today was my last day of full time working and I worked all day long… Mind you over ten years ago I blogged about my last ever night shift and that turned out to be wishful thinking.

15 February 2024 (Thursday) - Rostered Day Off

I slept rather well last night, which was something of a result. I got up when “er indoors TM’s alarm went off hoping to get into the kitchen first. I did, I made toast and then had my usual look at the Internet wondering if I’d missed much.
I hadn’t really.
Much of my Facebook feed this morning was adverts for members of parliament in the Milton Keynes area. They seem to be flooding my Facebook feed at the moment; I see these same adverts all the time. They all follow the same format promising to reduce the taxes that their government has put up over the years, and advocating voting Conservative because they are supposedly less crap than Labour. I would have thought that when the Conservative party paid good money to advertise their candidates from the Milton Keynes area they would have had Facebook only send these adverts to people in the Milton Keynes area. And not to me over a hundred miles away. I would also have thought that they would have turned off the commenting on these posts so that endless disgruntled locals couldn’t raise very valid examples of these MPs’ failings. In trying to advertise their MPs, the Conservative party has given a platform to their most ardent critics, and shown they are rather profligate with money.
Not that the opposition is any better…
I was then asked to take part in a survey for people living in Welsh Communities…
And this morning’s petty squabble was whether the movie or video game of “Tron” came first. Thirty seconds on Google would have given the answer, but who wants an answer when you can have an argument?
I got the leads on to the dogs… eventually. Morgan has taken to running away whenever we try to put his lead on. I have no idea why; he seems to have a good time when we are out.
We went up to Kings Wood where we met a load of forestry workers having elevensies. The dogs looked hungry and all got given some of one of the worker’s steak slice. And having been given steak slice they went and made nuisances of themselves with the next load of forestry workers we met.
We did a rather longer walk than usual; we went right across the woods to the North Downs Way where I managed to find a couple of geological features that I thought might make a good Earthcache. An Earthcache is a rather simple geology exercise for Hunters of Tupperware with both a little lesson and an example. I pointed out that flint and chalk form together, and that you see the two together off of the paths, but you only see flint on the paths as the chalk is soft and gets stomped underfoot.
As I hunted for examples of geological process Treacle waded in a swamp, Bailey rolled in fox poo, and Morgan climbed through the tiniest of holes in a fence to get where he wasn’t supposed to be.
With geology geology-ed we went on for a much longer walk than usual; covering over five miles. We came home for a rather serious session in the bath; all three dogs were filthy.
I made a cuppa for “er indoors TM and myself, then wrote up the web page for the Earthcache project. That only took two hours. As I nipped to the loo in between writing up Morgan snaffled my tomato soup. “er indoors TM watched him… and took some photos.
No day off work is complete without doing the ironing. As I ironed I watched a film on Netflix. “Europa Report” was an entertaining enough sci-fi film, but covered ground that had been done far better in other films and books decades previously.
I then dozed in front of the telly until “er indoors TM went off out with her work mates. I turned to Netflix again. “30 Minutes or Less” was a comedy… or so it says on Wikipedia. It wasn’t so much “funny ha-ha” as “funny oo-er”.
As I watched the film I scoffed a bag of mixed nuts I found in the cupboard. They didn’t taste quite right. I wonder if that is something to do with its having gone past its “best before” date (last November).

14 February 2024 (Wednesday) - Valentine's Day

As I scoffed my toast this morning I sniggered at this morning’s petty squabbling on Facebook. Someone or other had pointed out a discrepancy in the fifty-year-old sci-fi show “Space 1999” in that the scenes filmed inside the cockpit of the eagle spaceships showed that the shape of the inside of the cockpit bore absolutely no relation whatsoever to the shape of the outside. A trivial point – does it matter? Clearly to many it did and there was quite a bit of consternation and a lot of hard feeling being banded about.
And on another page someone was bemoaning how difficult it was to find the original radio broadcasts of “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Others were claiming it was rather easy, but no one was posting any links, preferring to argue instead.
Some people really will quarrel about anything.
With rain showing no sign of letting up I thought I might review old haunts. Back in the day I used to take my little Fudge to Viccie Park all the time. But I rather gave up on the place when Pogo came to us for an extended holiday; he could be something of a nightmare round the park, and being a stocky lump all the normal people thought he was a rottweiler or some other dangerous breed (as opposed to the pug/spaniel cross that he is).
Perhaps the rain work in our favour keeping the normal people away, but our walk went well. There was no belly-deep mud or fox poo or (surprisingly) no squirrels. There was quite a few new streams and ponds, but the dogs stayed out of them. We met OrangeHead and chatted for a bit. She sang the praises of the new café in the park, and when we went our separate ways she was incredibly impressed with how the puppies came running to me at the sound of my whistle. To be honest it is rather impressive to watch… when it works.
We came home and I made a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM and I then sat on the sofa with dogs snuggled up and sleeping next to me whilst I fiddled on the lap-top. Getting small geocache containers for my March geo-meet, paying dog club money to the paddock’s owner, vaguely thinking about another Earthcache, planning for the weekend, and doing some CPD until it was time to go to work.
Just as I was about to walk out of the door so my phone beeped. our Munzee Clan has achieved our second target of the month and as a reward I got a crossbow, a longsword, a western zodiac and a submarine too. There's never a dull moment in Munzee, you know.
The rain had got worse since we went to the park; I drove through a very miserable morning to the petrol station, and then up the motorway singing along to Ivor Biggun songs as I went. Seeing the traffic queued down the slip road onto the motorway at junction five I drove on to junction four and came to work from completely the wrong direction along the M20. Why was the road so busy? I have no idea.
Work was work; it usually is. But there was shortbread at tea time. Admittedly not cake, but it went down the same hole, and went down very nicely too.
I had a message from “er indoors TM. Once she'd finished work she took the dogs out. As it was dark they all wore their light-up collars (the dogs that is, not “er indoors TM). The idea of the light-up collars is that you can see the dogs and don't lose them. All three dogs came home, but Bailey's collar didn't. If you see a very small light-up collar on your travels...