31 March 2024 (Sunday) - Woodwork, Folkestone

What with Daylight Saving the clocks went forward an hour overnight. Why? No daylight was saved. It is darker in the mornings and lighter in the evening, but the total hours of light and dark don’t change. So why do we fart around doing it?
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. Several people were wishing the world a Happy Easter; easter clearly being about scoffing far too much chocolate in the minds of most. I can remember as a scout leader one small girl telling me that we had to eat loads of chocolate at Easter because the baby Jesus got nailed to a tree. I didn’t disillusion her. As a child I was brainwashed into religion… sadly that’s what the Boys Brigade was actually all about. It took me a long while to see through it all… Christianity in particular makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and doesn’t stand up to any thought at all. God becoming human and dying for all that we did wrong… not that we had any idea that we were doing wrong in the first place because that god didn’t tell us the rules.
There might be a god, there might not. I don’t know. But the Christian idea isn’t it.
I saw that my brother and nephew were off to watch football. Having driven for an hour to get to Brighton they were then on a five-hour coach trip to Liverpool.
Two friends had birthdays today. One I’ve not seen for a little while. We used to walk to school together many years ago. We were in the Boys Brigade together. He’s been living in Sweden for some years now. He doesn’t come back to the UK very often as the UK-Sweden ferries stopped ten years ago. Now he faces an eight hundred mile car drive which takes fourteen hours whenever he wants to visit old haunts. The old haunts we both used to frequent are less than an hour’s drive from me, and I don’t frequent them very often myself.
And I saw that “er indoors TM had received the thumbs-up from the geo-feds about the meet she is organizing for May. A minor result, bearing in mind the fights she usually has with the geo-feds.
I hung out washing then cracked on with up-cycling. A couple of days ago I took the poggered picnic bench apart. On Friday I made a base for the garden boxes with some of the wood. Today I sawed some of the planks into precisely measured (!) lengths then screwed those lengths into four box-sections. That only took three hours. It has to be said that my efforts were hampered because I was actually recycling the bench I used to use as my working surface for garden projects. The next stage is to secure the box-sections together into a box, put on a base, line it, and move one of the potted shrubs into it. I’ll do that later.
I’ve got three potted shrubs in circular pots, but two of the pots are poggered. And being circular means I can’t get the lawn mower behind them. I shall replace the circular pots with straight edged boxes. However being a skinflint I’d rather not spend too much money on it.
If any of my loyal readers have any poggered wooden garden structures they don’t want any more…
I stopped for a spot of lunch. A Mars bar. From the Mars bar cupboard. I never knew we had a Mars bar cupboard. See what you miss if you don’t pay attention. It was a shame it was three months past it's "scoff by" date but I scoffed it anyway.
We then popped down to Folkestone where we met the most recent fruit of my loin and her entourage and we went for a little wander up the Leas. It was a shame that Morgan was in “dire-rear mode” as Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM informed me.
The plan was that we would walk up the Leas and have an ice-cream. Sadly none of the usual ice cream stalls were open, and there were no ice cream vans to be seen. Because it is Easter Sunday pretty much the entire world shuts down. However Maccie D didn’t let us down; milk shakes and McFlurries saved the day.
We came home. I got the washing in and had a look at the pond. The leak in the bog filter seems fixed; I *think* the outlet was silting up and making the water level too high. I raked the silt out yesterday, and this afternoon the bit that had been wet from the leak was dry.
I looked at the box-sections I’d made this morning, but decided against more woodwork.
I downloaded Candy Crush Saga onto my phone and played that until “er indoors TM sorted out lamb chops. We scoffed them whilst watching the final of “The Traitors:Australia”.
How many people would you stab in the back to end up with more money than sense?
What with all that was going on today I never got round to scoffing my Easter egg. Egg. Singular. Back in the day I would have got a dozen. Not that I’m sulking…
Oh – and my brother and nephew travelled all the way to Liverpool to watch their team lose.

30 March 2024 (Saturday) - Dog Club, Badlesmere

I realized something in the night… the dogs take a while to settle. If I go to the loo about three o’clock they all move into the warm space I’ve left. If I go after four o’clock they are all too fast asleep to realise I’ve gone.
As I scoffed toast there was quite a lot of indignation being expressed on-line about some ex-teacher who’d been sacked for using the wrong pronoun with relation to one of his pupils. Having been a girl for years this one now thought it would like to be a boy and the teacher either didn’t realise or didn’t care. Trans right is a rather contentions issue. The vast majority of people feel it is a bit silly but aren’t really that bothered. A vanishingly small minority see it as the number one issue in the world today, make loads of noise and get listened to. As Ford Prefect once remarked “You can’t win against people who care”. Personally I identify as a millionaire, but until such time as the bank give me that million I shall take the whole identifying thing with a pinch of salt.
Being Saturday we set off to Dog Club. As we drove Steve was doing the “Guess the Lyrics” competition on the radio. I got it right.
Dog Club was fun. Loads of chasing about, loads of running after tennis balls. Quite a bit of wading in swamps. As we Dog Clubbed so my phone beeped; another friend request from a young lady with more chest than sense.
From Dog Club we drove out to Badlesmere listening to the mystery year competition on the radio. A rather obscure sone from Sweet which I can distinctly remember being released in 1972 was actually released in 1975. Woops!
We met Karl and Tracey and went for a little walk. Not so much a walk as a preliminary recce for a new series of geocaches of the May geo-meet. And with walk walked we went back to the Red Lion; a very good pub which does rather good food and has a very good ale selection. And mild too. And they put up with over-tired dogs as well which in my world is a bonus.
I took a few photos of our day whilst we were out.
We came home via the pet shop. After a quick cuppa and cake I cracked on in the garden. The lawn got mowed, and I cleaned out the pond’s filter. Ten seconds to write; an hour to do.
“er indoors TM went off to see Neon Street playing at The Chimneys. I stayed at home and dog-sat. I’d caught the sun earlier and perhaps a drinkie or two in the pub earlier was taking its toll. I watched some of The Gentlemen on Netflix. It’s rather good; a shame I had to have the volume so loud to make it heard over dog snoring.
And in closing, today would have been my parents’ sixty-seventh wedding anniversary. It’s been a little while but I’m still not used to being an orphan…

29 March 2024 (Friday) - Good Friday

I had something of a lie-in today, finally getting up about nine o’clock. I had a minor plumbing disaster when I found the bathroom sink wasn’t draining so I got jiggy with the plunger.
Facebook was something of a minefield this morning. The god-botherers were out in force today as were those poking them with sticks. I resisted the temptation to poke any of them myself, but it never fails to amaze me why all religious are so popular when nothing of what they advocate stands up to any considered thought at all.
In recent years (relatively speaking) Good Friday would be spent pouring far too much beer down my throat at the Chambers Br beer festival. Before that, traditionally Good Friday is when I start in the garden. This year I’ve been on the go out there for some time, and I carried on this morning. I got the old picnic bench to pieces, sawed it about a bit and made a stand for a couple of wooden boxes I made some time ago. Where those boxes sit on the patio they get rather wet; lifting them up might stop them rotting through.
I took apart the trellis I got from B&Q yesterday, then popped the saxifrage plants round the rockery by the pond. I might re-pot them; I might not. We shall see.
We then took the dogs out. Today to Ham Street Woods. “er indoors TM had reports that the paper logs in her geocaches there were wet. The only way they get wet is people not putting them back properly, but they needed sorting. It made for a good, if muddy, walk. As we walked we found some normal people who were making great show of having special precious dogs who couldn’t possibly have other dogs anywhere near them, and also making great show of seemingly guarding the entrance to the woods.
Some people can be hard work.
We eventually evaded them, and pausing only briefly for Bailey to chase rats, we came home for a cuppa.and cake. I then got another coat of paint onto the garden bench. There’s still loads of stuff to do in the garden, but I came in and sat with the dogs whilst “er indoors TM went shopping.
I took the opportunity to slob on front of the telly whilst the dogs snored.
“er indoors TM returned from shopping and boiled up a steak dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching more ofThe Traitors: Australia”. It’s a rather good program which sadly demonstrates the worst of human nature. Given the opportunity to either help someone or to piss on their chips, how many people *really* would help someone else?

28 March 2024 (Thursday) - Posting a Turd

After a rather good night’s sleep I made brekkie and saw I had an email. Well, four emails. The geocache I hid yesterday had been accepted by the geo-feds. I had an email to tell me that the reviewer had accepted the thing, another to say that he’d written a note to say that he’d accepted it, another to say that my geocache had been accepted, and a fourth to say there was a new geocache in the area. Geo-HQ does fart about sometimes.
There was an interesting thread on one of the local Facebook groups about the best places to feed the ducks. Places in Maidstone and Hythe and Canterbury and Romney Marsh were being recommended… why did no one suggest any local lakes to which people might walk? I was reminded of a chap with whom I used to work who (as a matter of principle) would never buy anything from any shop within twenty miles of his house. He really did seem to think that the further away something was, the better it was.
I sent birthday wishes to one of my nephew’s three Facebook accounts
With rain forecast for later I got the dogs into the car and we set off for our walk. As we drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour party. I can’t remember what she was being interviewed about; all I can remember is her voice. She doesn’t so much talk as shriek; she always reminds me of collecting the fruits of my loin from school when the mothers at the school gate were always screeching at each other over matters of utter triviality. You really would think that someone who is looking set for a position of real authority would have an elocution lesson or two, wouldn’t you?
We got to the woods and walked for just over four miles without seeing anyone once we were more than fifty yards from the car park. Mind you the car park was very quiet today. Half a dozen cars on our arrival and only eight when we left an hour and a half later.
We walked a rather different route to our usual ones. I’ve noticed that the dogs assume where we are going and occasionally walk a bit too far ahead, so I took a few surprise turns to keep them alert. I shall do this more often – back in the day Fudge became so set in his ways that we had to do the same walk every time as he would refuse to go any other way.
We came home, and after a cuppa and a croissant I set off to post a turd. Quite literally. I’d had a parcel through the post from the bowel cancer screening people. Would I please send them some turd? Personally I’d rather have cake, but if they want a turd, they shall have one.
I then drove to Folkestone through the rain. I found “Darcie Waa Waa TM having a bit of a melt-down, but she soon chirped up once we left her house. She seemed quite happy to tell me it was raining, and once in Taco Bell she munched on a cup full of ice; ignoring her taco-burrito thingy and chips. She seems to like cold. Me and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” went with a volcano burrito (oh yes!) and Big Jake had a huge box of something or other.
Sadly for all that their food is rather good, the only pudding they do is churro. Which is dull. So we went over the road for McFlurries. It was at this point that “Darcie Waa Waa TM ‘s father pointed out that she bears a more than passing resemblance to Jimmy Neutron.
He’s got a point.
With scoff scoffed we said our goodbyes and I headed off to ByBrook Barn (which hasn’t been called that for years) to get some saxifrage. And rocks. And pot stands. And cake as well. I came home via B&Q where I got a trellis. I don’t actually want a trellis. I want the battens it is made out of so’s I can repair fence panels.
Getting the stuff into the house took some doing. I had to stop for a cuppa and some of that cake before cracking on in the garden. I lasted for two minutes before I gave up because of the worsening rain. Instead I cracked on boiling up dinner. It turned out rather well (he said modestly!)
We scoffed it whilst watching more episodes of “The Traitors: Australia” in which the contestants have taken to brandishing a lot more chest than they might do.
The word on the street is that volcano burrito has given “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” the two bob bits…

27 March 2024 (Wednesday) - Banner's Arrived

This morning there was a message on my phone. Despite my having turned the wi-fi off before I went to bed last night, it had decided to scan the wi-fi at half past midnight and told me that it was safe to use. I wish it wouldn’t keep doing what it pleases.
I had my usual look at Facebook over brekkie. A friend who organizes Ghost Walks had been approached by the BBC asking if he knew of any haunted toilets. In one of the hospitals where I work there is a haunted toilet. Seriously!! For years there would be all sorts of toilet noises coming from the next cubicle even though no one was ever in it. After a few years I came out of that loo and turned left and left again (rather than my usual right) and found there was a ladies that I didn’t know about which was on the other side of the wall.
I’m rather disappointed that the loo wasn’t haunted…
I had some emails. The nice people at Credit Karma told me my credit rating was excellent, and my next update would be sixteen days ago(!) I also had a string of “Found It” logs from someone who had walked round my geocaches in Kings Wood and had found some of them. They’d also logged “Didn’t Find It” on six of them, so that was my morning sorted.
I picked up six replacement geocaches, loaded them and the dogs into the car and we set off to Kings Wood. As we drove I listened to the radio. It would seem that the general public’s satisfaction with the NHS is at its lowest ever. Public opinion is a fickle thing, isn’t it? A few short years ago the masses were on the doorsteps clapping like demented sealions about how brilliant the NHS was; now they think it’s a load of crap. The trouble is that the masses want more and more whilst spending less and less. Someone or other being interviewed on the radio hit the nail on the head. This woman pointed out that the NHS is a victim of its own success. Now that people aren’t dying of preventable diseases in their youth, and now they’ve seen the folly of smoking things which will kill them, people are living longer and longer. Money spent on curing patients with one set of ailments is effectively giving a whole load of patients with another.
Perhaps I have a vested interest, but for those who would find fault with the NHS I’d suggest going private and seeing how much that costs you.
We got to the woods and took a little walk around those geocaches which had been reported as being missing. Three were missing; three were exactly where they were supposed to be. Finding myself with a spare geocache in my pocket I found somewhere at the very far end of the woods where I could hide a new one, and hid it. To find it you need to solve a very simple puzzle.
We came home for belly washing, and I then painted the garden pond cupboard and the bench which goes by the pond. I used green as a bit of a contrast to the fence colour, but the green paint is a bit watery. Maybe after three of four coats it might look half-way decent.
I then made a start at disassembling the old garden table. It has to be said I never liked the thing, and I’m glad it’s gone. It was rather mildewed and mouldy. The new garden table arrives at the weekend apparently. The old one is in large bits at the moment. I got it so’s I could stack the components against the shed for disassembly, popped to the loo, and the rain started.
I’ll take it apart another day.
I then drove out to Henwood – the geocaching banner I’d ordered was ready. It looks rather good.
As the rain fell so I cracked on with ironing whilst watching episodes of “Four In A Bed” in which a pub with rooms, a glamping site, a castle and an American Diner competed. The people who ran the castle had been doing so for forty years and felt they would win because of their experience; everyone else had been in the game for only a few months. The people running the castle came last.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of plonk whilst watching more The Traitors: Australiain which various idiots have to root out a secret cabal using nothing more than guesswork. It is strangely engrossing.

26 March 2024 (Tuesday) - Another Day At Work

Again with an alarm set I was wide awake for half the night. Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Friday Night Dinner” and polished my walking boots, then had a quick look at the Internet; if only to check the traffic update. Whichever half-wit which was allowed to reinstate “Operation Brock” has certainly ballsed up. Mind you, that’s democracy for you. Perhaps if we elected the right people to run Kent County Council (i.e. capable of running a council)…
Apart from a surprisingly heartfelt squabble about whether “Logan’s Run” was best watched on Blu-Ray or DVD there wasn’t much happening on-line so I got ready to see if Google’s traffic predictions matched reality.
It turned out that Google Maps was right - the traffic on the motorway was moving, and moving better than it had been yesterday. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the amount of foreign students in UK universities. It was claimed that some universities get up to eighty per cent of their income from overseas students. I can't help but wonder if this implies that a university education isn't something the average Britisher can afford any more?
There was also talk about the future funding of the BBC. Heaven forbid the BBC should have adverts. There was a lot of talk about how the BBC have gone into partnership with Disney to produce Doctor Who. How times have changed since the 1990s when Doctor Who was cancelled despite it being the Beeb's biggest moneyspinner. It simply wasn't the sort of thing the BBC wanted to be seen to be doing; regardless of the profit.  And there was a lot of consternation about the future of the BBC World Service; it turns out that those who fund the BBC (through the TV licence fee) aren't at all keen on funding the BBC World Service which for the most part isn't even listened to in the UK. The most surprising part of this revelation was that it came as a surprise.
And meanwhile our old mate Science is looking set to save the world by turning carbon dioxide into methanol.
What we do with tons of methanol rather than tons of carbon dioxide is yet to be announced, but I suspect that is just a piddling detail.
Work was work; I spent quite a bit of time bothering the people who are supposed to be paying my pension. And with work done I came home where I shall be for the next six days. The journey home was nowhere near as easy as the journey into work; sitting in stationary traffic on the motorway looking at the torrential rain.
“er indoors TM boiled up a good bit of dinner as she does which we scoffed whilst watching more of The Traitors: Australiain which people professed friendship whilst stabbing each other in the back. It’s rather entertaining.

25 March 2024 (Monday) - Fences Painted

I woke feeling full of energy and raring to go… at half past midnight. I then dozed on an off until  five o’clock when I gave up trying to sleep, got up and watched an episode of “Friday Night Dinner”, then had a little look at the Internet in case it had changed overnight. It hadn’t.
I set off to work. With Operation Brock in place on the motorway again (for no reason that anyone can fathom) I set the car’s cruise control for fifty miles per hour and drove up the motorway in convoy with all the other traffic in the slow lane. Despite being at the speed limit and moving with the traffic, I had a succession of foreign lorries tail-ending me; some dangerously close despite my being unable to go any faster.
This Operation Brock is dangerous.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how more and more pubs are closing earlier and earlier. It was claimed that in many places it is unusual to find a pub open after eight o'clock in the evening as there's no customers. That's not "not many customers"; that's actually "no customers". On the one hand it would be a shame to lose pubs. On the other they are fast becoming a luxury that we can't afford.
And there was talk about how many of the foreign nurses who've moved to the UK are now moving on to other countries for better pay. Coming to the UK is just a stepping-stone in their long-term plans, or so it was claimed. When you consider an hour of a trained nurse's starting pay in 2000 would have bought eighty-one chocolate frogs whereas now it would only buy forty-three, you can see why they are jacking it in. And why no one has money to squander in pubs.
I did a morning’s work, then slipped out early to use up annual leave. I came home and seeing that “er indoors TM had already taken the dogs out, I cracked on in the garden. I got the last of the fence panels painted, then had a go at the wooden cupboard in which I hide the plugs for the pond’s electrics. I started off painting it Harvest Gold (yellow), but it looked dreadful, so I had another go at it with green. Now rather than looking dreadful, it just looks nauseous. I gave up painting as I was beginning to ache. The bench by the pond needs a lick of paint too. I might give that some green, and stick another coat of green on the wooden cupboard, and if they still look grim I’ll go ever them with the dark oak that is on the fences.
Mind you, the pond’s looking clear.
Garden Phase One is complete. Phase Two involves painting up the edges of the lawn…
“er indoors TM went off bowling. I sat myself in front of the telly and watched the last two episodes of Three Body Problem”. It was rather good, and has been left open for a sequel. Having read the books I know what happens next (I think); I hope the sequels get made.  

24 March 2024 (Sunday) - Busy, Busy

I slept well probably because the dogs slept well too. Over toast I peered into the internet. This morning’s petty bickering was on one of the geocaching pages where those who contribute absolutely sod-all to the hobby were telling those who make the effort where they were going wrong and what more they might do.
There wasn’t a lot else going on, so I got dressed and ready for the day.
As I waited for “My Boy TM” to arrive I cracked on with more fence painting. As I painted I could hear some choral singing getting louder and louder. I had a look up the road; a rather pitiful procession of twenty or so were walking down the pavement lead by some vicar and a strange pair who were waving palm fronds.
As I remarked to “er indoors TM, back in the day we used to go round the streets on a Sunday morning with drums and bugles. And it was the streets too. Getting in the way of cars; not the pavements. We didn’t mess about in the Boys Brigade band.
The first fruit of my loin arrived, and we went to B&Q for shed roof felt. As always B&Q had no staff on the tills, but had three standing watching people struggling with the self service tills.
We got what we needed, then went back to his house to repair his shed roof. It’s an easy enough job when there’s two of you, but a bit like hard work for one.
We got to the point where he didn’t need me any more; I came home for a quick cuppa and got two more fence panels painted whilst “er indoors TM sorted her bowling stuff, then we went for a little walk. Bearing in mind that Kings Wood would be heaving we drove up to Badlesmere and had a little wander along familiar footpaths and found one or two new ones. Bailey ran amok at one point; not as seriously as she might, but enough to be a worry.
We came home, and I sat down and had a look at my accounts. The whole idea of semi-retirement was that my pension should top up the half-wages I would get for only working half the hours. In theory it is a good idea… in practice it depends on the pension actually paying out. I shall phone someone about it in the morning. But I have been worse off and survived.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watched The Traitors: Australia”. A rather odd program; by day twenty-odd people work together on various activities, by night they have to guess who is part of a secret cabal with absolutely no evidence to back up their suspicions whatsoever.
I feel all in… what with painting fences and shed roof and walking dogs I think I’ve caught the sun.

23 March 2024 (Saturday) - Early Shift, Games Night

I didn't sleep very well; I gave up, got up, made toast and watched another episode of "Three Body Problem" which was rather good. I suspect that I'm helped quite a bit by having read the book first; the plot does make sense; even if it does jump about rather a lot.
I had a quick look at the Internet. Facebook was free of squabbles this morning... or it was at six o'clock.
Pausing only briefly to scrape the ice from the car I set off to work. The re-activation of Operation Brock for absolutely no reason at all rather hindered my journey, as did having to go several miles out of my way due to road works between Junctions six and five on the motorway.
As I drove I listened to the radio. There was some strangely interesting article about how Ordnance Survey maps aren't designed with donkey trekking in mind. This was followed by consternation from farmers who've been told that if their farms are so unprofitable that they need to claim benefits then they need to look at doing something else to earn a crust.  And there was a lot of concern about the Princess of Wales who's announced that she too is being treated for cancer. I found myself rather intrigued by her being described as a young mother. She's forty-two; hardly young?
I got to work. This week is a three-day week for me. I worked the early shift last Monday. Yesterday was a day's leave, and I was on the early shift today. I *really* didn't want to work today. The weather forecast had been wrong again, and I spent quite a bit of time this morning looking out of the window at a glorious day and sulking about missing Dog Club and the quizzes on the radio. Mind you the weather had turned by mid-day, and the afternoon saw torrential rain interspersed with hailstorms.
With work worked I came home. I had a cuppa, and fell asleep on the sofa. I woke five minutes before Chris arrived with the Infinity Table, and shortly after that Steve and Sarah arrived.
We had a rather good evening chatting and putting the world to rights and playing “Ticket to Ride”. There’s no denying that I came last in the first game, but in the second game I managed a respectable third place.
And just before we packed up we had a very quick game of “Snakes and Ladders” in which my pink princess avatar came last.
I rather like our game nights…


22 March 2024 (Friday) - Attracting the Loonies (Again)

As I scoffed my brekkie I had a look at Facebook as I do. A couple of weeks ago a cousin posted up a photo of what she was up to. Nothing really major or earth-shattering; just an insight to her day. The sort of thing that a nosey person like me likes to see. This morning she’s found that the Facebook Feds have taken the photo down as it breaches their community standards on cybersecurity.
A friend was complaining about the cost of the mechanics of moving house; the shifting of all her stuff from Kent to Norfolk won’t be cheap. Quotes were coming in at four thousand quid. Is that a lot? I really don’t know. The last time we moved was over thirty years ago. We moved a few hundred yards up the road and we paid a removal firm two hundred quid to shift all our stuff.
Best two hundred quid I’ve ever spent.
I sent out birthday wishes; one to a colleague who is approaching forty, but looks twenty years younger. And another to an old school friend who despite being a month younger than me, has always seemed to be twenty years older.
With rain forecast for mid-morning I took the dogs out earlier than we might have gone. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how children these days all have mobile phones and how it isn’t necessarily a good thing. With instant communication, squabbles that would be forgotten by the net morning now can carry on endlessly.
I found myself rather wrapped up in this since Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM got his first mobile yesterday. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” has put all sorts of safeguards on it, but still it is cause for concern. There was all sorts of talk about the government brining in legislation to control the social media on which children bicker, but as was pointed out, all the time these social media companies aren’t based in the UK, there’s not a lot that the government can realistically do other than ban them altogether.
We got to the woods and after a couple of miles had an “episode”. Morgan and Bailey were charging about like they do. They never go more than fifty yards from me, but they have a great time. As we were exploring a new path I heard a rather grumpy voice shouting “Go Away!!  Clear Off!!” As I turned the corner so there was some chap about thirty yards away with Morgan and Bailey some fifteen yards from him just looking on. The chap saw me and immediately changed his tune. “Good Morning Sir” he announced; all smiles and pleasantries. We walked along the path away from him.
Just as we got back to the car (after four and a half miles) so the drizzle started.
Once home I gathered up various odds and sods for a tip run, then seeing the drizzle has stopped I voomed round the front garden with the Bionic Burner. I got the thing a year ago… the adverts implied that one zap and I would never need to do any weeding again. The adverts lied. I need to voom round with it every three weeks or so; but it is certainly easier to do that than to get on my hands and knees and pull the weeds out manually. As I bionically burned a passing nutter asked if I might like to clear the weeds from his garden as well. Apparently he’s had a letter from the council telling him to sort his garden out. Apparently the council watch his garden from helicopters. This looney went on to say that his neighbours keep putting lettuce up his garden to entice his pet rabbit away, and that he’s put four doors in his garden to keep the neighbours out.
Eventually he shoved off. I then mowed the lawn, and seeing the drizzle had stopped entirely I got one and a third fence panels painted before the rain started again.
I gave myself a haircut, had a cuppa and a croissant, put the washing on the clothes horse then went out.
First of all to the tip where I did my unloading in the rain. Then on to the co-op where one of the normal people was having issues with the self-service till… not so much “having issues with it” as “had totally poggered it”. And having totally poggered it, was actively preventing the store staff from getting to the thing to repair it.
From there I went to Pets at Home to get dog biscuits. There was a woman in there with a dog almost as big as she was. The dog was clearly stronger than her, and was helping itself to all sorts of dog treats. The poor woman bleated pathetically, but the dog wasn’t having any of it. Her husband took over, but the dog was stronger than him too. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing someone else’s dog causing the problems.
I then had a look in B&Q for lengths of timber with which to bodge repairs to the more poggered fence panels. Sadly B&Q didn’t have anything.
I came home and wrote up CPD until “er indoors TM went out. Together with Steve and Sarah she was off to see Iwo Graham at the Marlow in Canterbury. Apparently he’s a comedian?
I had a quick shower, hung a second load of washing round the radiators, put a third load in to scrub and stared at the telly. “Three Body Problem” is rather good and rather thought-provoking. And it stars Eddie Hitler from “Bottom” and Cakehole from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. There’s eight episodes; so far I’ve watched three. If the dogs stay quiet I might get a few more done before “er indoors TM comes home.

21 March 2024 (Thursday) - Walk, Painting Fence, Dentist

There was quite the argument happening on one of the Hastings-based Facebook pages I follow this morning. Some family of four have parked their caravan and a derelict bus by the park there and are living in the caravan whilst they are doing up the bus with a view to eventually be moving into it. Apparently this is just one of several loads of people living in caravans in the area. I can’t say I blame them; why live in a house and pay council tax, or live in a caravan and pay site fees when you can just park on the roadside.
The locals are understandably up in arms about it; but no one seems to be prepared to do anything other than whinge on Facebook.
All the time the knacked bus is parked outside someone else’s house, no one cares. This sort of thing has been going on for years… I can remember back in the early eighties when a gaggle of “caravan dwellers” moved into the staff rest room of the now-demolished Royal East Sussex Hospital and we all had to take our breaks in the public waiting areas.
And I had an email. The geocache we hid yesterday was found for the first time this morning at ten to eight. To get there for that time the chap who found it must have left home before seven o’clock. On reflection that’s probably a rather good time to be going through the woods. I was once up there at six o’clock with Pogo and Treacle; the mist was beautiful and we saw deer too.
I took the dogs up to the woods for our walk. Yesterday the place was having with people; today we saw one woman on her mountain bike, and an organized hiking group who looked like they were kitted out to climb Everest, and no one else at all once we were more than a hundred yards from the car park.
We had a good walk; the dogs didn’t see any squirrels, but I saw quite a few.
Once home, after a cuppa I cracked on in the garden. More fence painting. So quick to type, so tedious to do. I got five panels done in four hours, then went down the road to see the dental hygienist. She gave my gob a serious seeing-to and said I should make another appointment for six months time. So I made an appointment. The receptionist asked if I wanted it before or after my appointment with the dentist in six months time. I told her that was a decision for them; she said it didn’t matter. I said it did; some dentists insist I see the hygienist before them, others say after. The receptionist and her mates laughed; all the dentists have different opinions.
You’d think they’d make a decision, wouldn’t you?
Another cuppa, then we did the feeding the fish ritual. The dogs get rather over-excited at the prospect of some dried koi food.
With fish fed I looked to feeding us. Bearing in mind some of us have more time on our hands than others it has been suggested that I might like to boil up scran from time to time. I had a vague idea to make a right balls-up of it and not be asked again, but that runs the risk of a kick in the nads and being told I need the practice.
I nearly fell at the first hurdle; where do the saucepans live? And the new cooker isn’t the easiest to operate. Eventually I boiled up leftovers into a half-way decent curry. I’m not sure that “er indoors TM was impressed but I quite liked it. Next time I’ll used diced chicken rather than whatever I randomly find in the freezer.
We followed it up with Christmas pudding and cream. The Christmas pudding was rather rubbery; after I’d scoffed it, “er indoors TM announced it was a year out of date.
Oh well… I survived the volcano burrito…

20 March 2024 (Wednesday) - Spring Equinox

As I scoffed brekkie there was a conversation on one of the lest contentious Facebook groups I follow about the House of Lords. It was being suggested that it should be abolished as those in it are not democratically elected. It struck me that all the time that flat-earthers, religious nutcases and evolution deniers (to list but a few of those who shouldn’t) are allowed the vote, the House of Lords acts as a rather useful check on that which is voted in by those who shouldn’t. But what do I know? In any case I resisted saying anything. Those who shouldn’t be allowed to vote are quick to take offence.
I put a geocache container together, got the dogs organized, and took them up to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about how the rate of inflation is only three per cent (or thereabouts) and how the government was hoping that this might get them a few votes. Personally I can’t see how. A year or so ago this same government was claiming that runaway inflation was due to market forces, and now they reckon they’ve got some control of that over which they’ve said they haven’t.
As we drove I couldn’t help but notice how quiet the roads were. But the woods were rather busy. We managed to keep away from most of the other groups, but we must have seen a dozen or so other dog walkers.
We walked to the far end of the woods; yesterday I realized there was a tree stump in exactly the right place in which I might put a geocache. The rules are that the things have to be a tenth of a mile apart, and there’s no denying that I have saturated those woods with caches, but yesterday I found somewhere. I thought I’d put out a two-stage puzzle. The geo-feds were happy with what I’d done and we agreed that if I put the thing out early this morning they would set it live at eleven o’clock.
We hid the thing, came home, and as I had my cuppa so my phone beeped. As arranged, the cache was live.
I cracked on with painting the fence. There is something satisfying about starting with a tatty-looking panel and ending up with a nicely painted one. The whole fence on not-so-nice-next-door’s side needs replacing, but a lick of paint does make it look better.
After two hours my phone beeped. A fellow hunter of Tupperware had solved the puzzle that you had to figure out to locale the cache we’d hidden this morning. That was good to know – at least all the on-line stuff was working.
After two fence panels and two trellises painted I packed up, and set off on a little geocaching mission. If you find three geocaches this week you get a souvenir in honour of the spring equinox, so I went hunting for three geocaches. The first two had been hidden by someone relatively new to the game, and sadly it showed. The co-ordinates of the first one were about twenty yards out; I found it by searching the only obvious place to hide a cache in the area. After all a tiny magnetic geocache named after a road is far more likely to be stuck to the sign bearing the road’s name than it is to be in the middle of the road. And the second one was in a rather unappealing hedge.
The third one was in Hythe and was almost on top of some road works, but I found it.
From there I went on to visit the most recent fruit of my loin. Together with “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMand “Darcie Waa Waa TM we went out for a bit of scoff. In a novel break with tradition we gave McDinner a miss and went to Taco Bell instead. “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMwas very keen to go there as apparently you break the toilet afterwards, or so he assured me. I’d not been there before; I had no idea what to expect. We all had volcano burritos, fries, bottomless soft drinks and some dessert thingy with a caramel dip for about ten quid less than what just me and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had in Maccy D last week.
I came home and put washing in to scrub. For some inexplicable reason quite a few of my T-shirts have fence paint on them.
I feel worn out. This being semi-retired lark is hard work…
That geocache I hid earlier hasn’t been found yet…

19 March 2024 (Tuesday) - Woods, Painting Fence...

I had something of a lie-in. I came downstairs to be told by “er indoors TM that she had fixed the dishwasher; the implication being that I had somehow poggered it. As I had a shave Bailey was getting told off for eating Treacle’s poop; that was somehow my fault too.
I had a quick look at the Internet over brekkie; three Facebook friends were having birthdays today. Not one has made any attempt to contact me in over seven years. I like Facebook in that it is a good way of keeping in touch, but for all that there is one person posting content and things of interest, there are twenty just watching. There was a petty religious squabble happening on of the Facebook pages I follow, but this morning the Internet was relatively quiet.
With “er indoors TM off to the office today I took the dogs up to the woods where we had a rather good walk. Again we saw the bloke with the akitas before he saw us. We saw a pair of young ladies with their dog on the end of a twenty-five metre-long lead. The dogs all played together; their dog had one of our dog treats. As we walked off so their dog made the most impressive know with the lead that you ever did see. There is a place for twenty-five metre-long leads, and it is in the dustbin.
As we drove home again listened to the radio for five minutes and then found myself thinking. There was a program on the radio: “Young Again”. What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Given the chance I’d say take your (my) schoolwork seriously. Back in the day I did very well at “O”-levels, but made a total arse of “A”-levels. I did homework on a Monday night. Tuesday night was pub night at the Hare and Hounds (pissed and change out of a quid). Wednesday night was Boys Brigade band. Thursday night was bible club. Friday night was Boys Brigade. Saturday and Sunday were working all hours at the Harbour restaurant. Hardly surprising I bombed out of “A”-levels after the first year with an average exam score of twenty-eight per cent’ is it? Those of my old muckers who did their homework did so much better in life than me. Or if not better, ended up in bigger houses taking better holidays and retiring years earlier than me.
Mind you it was through the religion that I met “er indoors TM so it wasn’t all bad (he smarmed).
I got home, opened the back window so that I could hear the radio, and turned Alexa to Radio Ashford. Sadly it wasn’t gripping. I turned to “Classical Music for Dogs” and got on with painting the bit of the fence closest to the house. I had this idea that if I got it done whilst “er indoors TM was in the office I wouldn’t be disturbing her by farting around right outside the window where she works. But to get to that part of the fence I had to move the lock-ups with all the camping gear in them. They were heavy.
As I painted I remembered Nutty Noodle who used to live next door. I often wonder what happened to him; looking back I suspect he was clinically insane. In years gone by when painting the fence he once leant over the fence on his side and bellowed at me to stop painting immediately because I’d made a serious mistake. I was painting the fence in “Dark Oak”. He assured me that everyone knows that there is only one colour to paint a fence, and that is green. When I asked him why B&Q have such an extensive range of colours, he replied (in all seriousness) “that’s what I’d like to know”.
With that bit of the fence painted I collapsed on the sofa with the dogs and watched episodes of “Four In a Bed” in which the woman who complained about how crap everyone else’s bed and breakfasts were had far and away the worst one of the lot, the ones who found fault with everyone else’s cooked breakfasts were the people who only offered bread and croissants, and the winners were the people who had twenty-three staff doing all the work for them.
“er indoors TM returned and boiled up a rather good bit of steak for dinner. We scoffed that with a bottle of merlot whilst watching Taskmaster: New Zealandand The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin”. For an obscure program on an even more obscure platform it’s got quite an impressive cast.

18 March 2024 (Monday) - Volunteering

Once I’d scoffed toast and watched a bit of telly I had a quick look at the Internet. Several people were crowing that cash is king following Sainsbury’s episode over the weekend when their IT systems went tits-up. For all that a five pound note can’t go down, I’m reminded of a mate who had several hundred quid in cash stolen; you can cancel a credit card. You can’t cancel a nicked fiver.
The chief executive of Sainsburys had emailed me this morning to say sorry. That was nice of him; he’d written a great big letter which didn’t actually say anything.
I had a quick Munz session, then set off to work. Again much of the way out of Ashford was bunged up because of road works in which no one was actually working. The traffic going up the motorway was especially slow as well for no apparent reason.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were spouting their usual drivel. Apparently Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is starting his election campaign for a third term of office. Despite being in office for nearly ten years there is still loads wrong with London. Mr. Khan was being interviewed live on air this morning, and he was laying all of the failings of his administration firmly on the Conservative government. Well he would, wouldn't he? But one thing made me think. He was blaming knife crime and youth gang culture on the cuts made to social services and youth workers which have consequently made youth clubs close.
What's that all about?
When I was a lad there was a youth club over the road from our house. For a while I went to PAC (Physical Activities Club) which operated up the road. I was in the Salvation Army's youth club for a while, and the Barbarians swimming club and St Mark’s youth club. I was a cub scout, and was in the Boys Brigade for years. None of these had any government funding. All were run by volunteers. Like I was a volunteer during my thirteen years as a scout leader.
Doesn't anyone run youth activities voluntarily any more?
I got to work. In between work I had a meeting with the boss to discuss the hours I work; or more specifically how lates on Mondays and day shifts on Thursdays are difficult. Fifteen years ago my work was pretty much my life. These days work seems to just get in the way.

17 March 2024 (Sunday) - Family Dinner

I slept reasonably well but woke in the small hours needing the loo. I came back to bed to find no space whatsoever. Eventually I secured a few inches along the edge and dozed fitfully in between nightmares about Martin opening a café for space aliens over the road, and “My Boy TM” choosing to identify as a six year old pirate, dressing himself in an old curtain and brandishing a rusty bread knife at the normal people.
I gave up trying to sleep and thought I might get some more paint onto the fence. I would have done had it not been raining hard. The weather forecasters are rubbish, but today they got it right.
I made toast and peered into the Internet. Not a lot was going on really, which was probably a good thing. I had an email from the power company saying that the price of power was going down, but there was no mention of my monthly payments going down though.
I had a quick Munz from the comfort of the sofa, wrote up some CPD, then took the dogs for a walk. The idea was a quick circuit of the park. We got a quarter of the way to the park and were soaked. The rain was that annoyingly deceptive fine rain which doesn’t look to be much but gets you wringing wet in seconds.
Once home we towelled the dogs off, and I made the most of the rain water by sweeping the yard and front garden. 
After a little while spent fussing the dogs “er indoors TM sent me shopping. Aldi was surprisingly busy this morning. Apart from substituting carrots for parsnips I got all I was sent to get.
My Boy TM” and Cheryl came round, We had a rather good dinner scoffing far too much and putting the world to rights. The fourth can of London Pride and the fifth helping of pudding was perhaps a tad too much though…

16 March 2024 (Saturday) - Dog Club, Gardening

This morning amongst the various rantings and ravings on Facebook I saw something that made me smile. And then think. The calls for Britain to pay reparations for the slave trade are growing. I’m in no way trying to belittle the horrific trade that went on for years, but I didn’t do it. I’m in no way responsible, and I’m being asked to pay for something which happened hundreds of years before I was born. So… the suggestion has been made that the UK funds its reparations by suing Norway and Italy for the Viking and Roman invasions.
Why not?
If I’m responsible for something that is nothing to do with me and happened hundreds of years before I was born, then so are today’s Italians and Norwegians. And if that sounds ridiculous, then so is expecting me to take responsibility.
And then there was someone asking for prayers for her dog who had a kidney infection. Recently the same dog has had liver issues, surgery to remove a toy that he’s swallowed, and back problems. Why pray to a god to solve an issue that this god could have prevented in the first place?
Meanwhile there was quite a bitter argument kicking off about whether the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck had ever fathered children.
We got the dogs organised and set off to Repton and Dog Club. As we drove we played Steve’s “Guess the Lyrics” competition on the radio. I hadn’t a clue; “er indoors TM thought it sounded familiar. “Mother's got her hairdo to be done. She says they're too old for toys”. It was the Pet Shop Boys.
There was a road accident on the way to Dog Club which delayed us; there was quite a queue of people waiting to get in when we arrived. Dog Club was great fun. One of our regular attendees described it as “Disneyland for Dogs”. The dogs had great fun, and bearing in mind it is actually “Ashford Dog Socialising Club” we had one or two results as well. Dogs who previously wouldn’t leave their owner’s side were wandering around with the others. Dogs who really didn’t like other dogs were playing. When she first started Treacle really hated us having anything to do with other dogs; now she tolerates them, and joins the throng when treats are being dished out.
As we drove home Steve was doing the “Mystery Year” competition on the radio. The music sounded familiar, and in the news that year was the opening of the UK’s first nudist beach. I remember that place opening; it wasn’t far from the disused sand quarry where we used to play as kids, and a dozen or so of us would regularly traipse down to the nudey beach at Fairlight Glen in the vain hope of seeing some really foxy young ladies in the nip. All we ever saw was fat old blokes; one of whom would regularly partake of an al-fresco joddrell, but we weren’t deterred.
We had a cuppa and a bit of cake then I made a start in the garden. Not-so-nice-next-door’s tree had dropped white petals all over the place so I got the garden vacuum out and voomed around. Then went round with the lawn mower; if nothing else dog turds are so much easier to spot in a mowed lawn. I then pulled weeds from gravel and bodged a repair to not-so-nice-next-door’s fence. The thing is slowly collapsing; I’ve offered to pay to have it replaced but I think my doing so caused offence.
As I kicked shingle about to cover the bare patches, I saw Bailey nosing at a small hole in the fence. Fortunately I could see the hole was far too small for her to get through. I carried on with what I was doing, and five minutes later I watched her climb back into our garden through that hole.
I’d saved some slats from a poggered fence panel which we replaced a while ago; they came in handy today. Building a stopper for that hole only took half an hour.
I then drove “er indoors TM to the station. Together with her mates she was off to London for some big Abba tribute concert thingy. Dressed in what I can only describe as a “wipe-clean” outfit, had it been Daddy’s Little Angel TM” I wouldn’t have let her out of the house.
We dropped “er indoors TM off; the dogs all started crying. They were sobbing; they were so heartbroken that she’d gone. We came back, then after another cuppa and more cake I cracked on with fence painting. As I painted so the dogs would come to see what I was doing then go back inside. I went in a couple of times to see what they were doing; they were sleeping. After four hours and five panels painted I reached a sensible stopping point so I stopped.
I cleared up, washed the paint off of my hands then spent an hour or so ironing whilst watching episodes of “Friday Night Dinner”, then over a dinner of KFC I watched a film on Netflix. “Three Day Millionaire” was a comedy. I know it was a comedy because it says so on Wikipedia. I’m glad Wikipedia told me it was a comedy; I would never have known.
And then a message. “er indoors TM was on the train home. Could I collect her from the station. I popped a fleece over my pyjamas. I had a plan to leave the dogs sleeping, but they saw me putting on the fleece, so I took them for a little ride.
“er indoors TM had a good day. I did too, but I suspect hers was rather more relaxed.