30 April 2024 (Tuesday) - Baby Reindeer

Another iffy night. I got about an hour’s sleep before “er indoors TM and the dogs came up. Rather than just having a bit of a kip like anyone else would, Bailey wanted to pick a fight with anyone she could. For a very small dog she can be very pugnacious.
I gave up trying to sleep just before five o’clock and spent a little while plunging the bathroom sink’s plughole. It doesn’t drain as well as it might.
I made toast, watched an episode of “Bottom” out-takes then had my usual look at the Internet. It was much the same as ever; one big argument. People of the Star Trek Facebook pages showing how they have never actually watched the show. And people on the pond-related Facebook pages looking for an argument. There was one particularly impressive squabble in which some chap wanted a waterfall for his garden pond but wanted it to be environmentally friendly and use no power at all to make the water move.
I set off to where I'd left my car last night (two streets away). As I walked so the Munzee magical unicorn was scattering stars in entirely the wrong direction, but I'd gathered enough over the last few days for me to chuck them down the Munzee wishing well (just outside the hairdressers) and make a wish. The thing produced a virtual Munzee I might chase - in the outlet centre.
I gave up Munzee-ing and went to get my car,
Needing petrol I went to the Sainsbury's in Ashford. The old bat behind the counter who has been difficult in the past has clearly been spoken to. Today she was doing the job properly; scanning the shopping and the Nectar cards just like all the other assistants. She clearly wasn't happy about it though, and had a face like thunder. Mind you she usually has that.
I drove off to work up the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the delivery firm Getir which is leaving the UK market. They used to operate a business in which you ordered all your shopping from whichever supermarket you wanted and they would deliver it to you. However all the supermarkets have realised that they are missing a trick here and are now doing the deliveries themselves. As Oliver Hardy once remarked over ninety years ago "cut out the middleman Stanley".
They then started dribbling on about the current political situation in Scotland when I saw something that made me sit up and take notice.
As you come past junction seven on the M20 so the slip road leading on to the motorway becomes the fourth lane. Usually I pull over into it, but there was a car on the hard shoulder there seemingly at right angles to the way it should be. I stayed in my lane to give it space, and as I came past so I noticed it was moving. It was doing a three-point turn, and I watched it in my rear view mirror going off the wrong way back up the motorway.
Work was work; a rather beautiful spring day turned to rather miserable drizzle as I drove home. I gathered dog turds in the garden in the rain as the BBC’s weather app told me there was a zero per cent chance of rain in my postcode.
And Facebook presented me with a memory this evening. Seven years ago we went to deepest Sussex for one of our geocaching walks. Back in the day when my joints weren’t entirely poggered we would go for serious walks. Fudge could walk for miles. He wouldn’t though. He would pathetically look at Charlotte who would always carry him, and as she carried him he would glare at me as though to say not to let on that he was only pretending to be tired.
At the weekend someone commented that Morgan was Fudge MkII. When we got him I worried that he might be, and that was why I originally said no to having Morgan. But they are very different dogs.
He’s been gone over three years and I still miss my Fudge though…
We spent the evening binge watching something on Netflix. “Baby Reindeer” was rather good even if the end was something of a let-down.

29 April 2024 (Monday) - This n That

I went to bed last night and slept for an hour or so before the dogs woke me. I nodded off again only to be woken by the noise of one of “er indoors TM’s phones randomly phoning the other. I then lay awake for much of the night before giving up and getting up. I watched an episode of “All The Light We Cannot See” then sparked up the lap-top.
The Internet was its usual brand of nonsense. Overnight my Facebook Friend count had gone down by one. Someone hates me. I saw no end of photos of Alyson Hannigan (why?) and quite a few adverts for fish pond filters. You’d think whoever makes these spybots would figure out a way of not bothering us with the adverts once we’d bought whatever it was we were looking for.
Several friends were banging on about how cash is far superior to credit cards. Cash is ideal for two sorts of people; people who like wasting their time going to a shop rather than having stuff delivered, and tax dodgers.
I had a message from Daddy’s Little Angel TM” who had a guts ache. I told her it was probably wind. It probably was.
And I had an email. Yesterday I saw that the pockets were wearing through on my trousers so I ordered up another pair from Amazon. They were posted out ah twenty past three this morning and I was told they should be arriving today. That’s the way forward isn’t it? Had I been farting about with cash I wouldn’t be able to get to the shops until Wednesday at the earliest. And the fish food I’d ordered was on the way too.
Again I tried chasing the unicorn which was scattering magical stars as I walked to the car; today it was gambolling in the same direction as I was going, and I got six before we parted ways. I've now got enough to drop into a wishing well and make a wish. Wishing wells, magical unicorns - there really never is a dull moment in Munzee.
As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about how the Irish Taoiseach has got the arse. Ever since the UK government got the legal thumbs-up to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda the illegal immigrants have started running to Ireland; they don't want to go to Rwanda, do they? Not surprisingly, the Irish don't want them, and the Irish want the British to take them back. The British government is taking the line that if we take illegal immigrants back from one EU country when they leave the UK, then the EU should take them back from us if they enter the UK from the EU. That strikes me as quite reasonable.  And so all of them coming across the channel from France should go back to France. The French aren't keen...
Hopefully if the word gets out that the UK won't house them any more, the illegal immigrants will stop coming, and the entire Rwanda thing will be resolved. Whilst I do feel for the poor people running from all sorts of horrors, once they are safe (entering Europe) do they really need to keep running for hundreds of miles to come to the UK? (No - they don't!)
And there was another interview with Patrick Harvie the leader of the Scottish Green party. Ostensibly being interviewed about the plight of the Scottish premier he was (just like I mentioned last week) more keen on spouting what he'd come to spout; talking through everything the interviewer put to him.
As I worked “er indoors TM sent the news that the birds had started scoffing from the feeder I'd got them last Thursday. Just as well; it cost enough. So far they've only had a go at the seed feeder. Hopefully they will have a go at the fat balls eventually.
She also said that the fish food and my new trousers had arrived too.
And “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TMsent me the Weiner Dog song. Since he got his own mobile he's been sending me occasional silly videos from Lube-Tube (as he used to call it).
Getting home took some doing this evening. I eventually got out of the works car park at about the time I would usually get home; there was some major hold-up on the roads. I got home to find I had two friend requests on Facebook.
What a pair of delightful young ladies…
The more innocent looking one (on the left) had sent a quite indecent message with her friend request. The other one just sent the photo. However bearing in mind the sort of saucy undercrackers that these sorts usually wear, I think that this one has a lot of catching up to do…
I’ve got to go to work again tomorrow. Three days on the trot – can you believe it?

28 April 2024 (Sunday) - Early Shift

I was awake early this morning. As I needed to be. Rather than turning the telly on I had a look at Facebook and found myself pondering as I saw who had birthdays today.
Four friends had birthdays. One of them had been a really close friend for many years; we’d shared so many adventures together. Then one day when on a family holiday in Gran Canaria two years ago I got a message that with no notice to anyone he’d upped sticks, moved to Scotland and hasn’t been seen since.
I wonder how he’s doing.
There wasn’t much else happening on the Internet so I got ready for work.
I tried chasing the unicorn which was scattering magical stars as I walked to the car (it's a Munzee thing), but the unicorn wasn't going the same way as me. I left it to do its thing and drove off to work.
I turned on the radio and caught the end of some strange program about religious beliefs in the neurodivergent. It seemed that religious leaders (vicars and priests and the like) aren't keen on congregants who see the world differently to them. These people can't seem to distinguish between the make-believe which is actually make-believe (Harry Potter, tooth fairies and magical pixies) and the make-believe which the religious want us to take seriously (all the tosh the churches spout).
This was followed by some article about beef farming in an obscure Scottish island, but the chap being interviewed was on the dull side, so I turned over to my rather wonderful choice of music and sang along to that as I drove up the motorway.
I got to work. Not having been there for a while I checked my emails. My long service award for forty years of blood testing has come through. I had a choice of vouchers for various shops, so I went for a Lego voucher. I would rather have had cash, but I was told that I would have to pay tax on a cash award but not on a voucher. How does that work?
Lego it is then...
Work was work. Having been off for five days it made a nice change, and being at work forced me to leave the new pond alone to settle for a few days, and not to do any more heavy lifting.
What with four-mile dog walks and rather strenuous gardening I've been overdoing it somewhat lately. Blood testing has its stressful moments, but it is a whole lot less physically demanding than how I've been carrying on lately.
I did my bit. Still suffering from Friday's epic beer session, and still aching from last week's pond building.
I came home to find the grandchildren were having a day with Nanny. I had a rather good time with “Stormageddon – Bringer of Destruction TM who was playing with the pond fish. “Darcie Waa Waa TM was good right up to dinner time. Having spent twenty-five quid on KFC she didn’t eat a thing and just constantly screamed (for over an hour) for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I’m sorry but I don’t have the patience for that. And being wound up made me very unimpressed to see the KFC had got the order wrong. Again. I’ve been going to that KFC on and off since 1986 and (at the risk of sounding like a reactionary old git) in all that time they’ve never employed anyone who can speak English well enough to work in a KFC. If you check the receipt you’ll often find that what you order bears no relation to what they think you’ve asked for. And the receipt is completely at odds with the food you get. And there’s no point complaining because they don’t understand what you are saying.
Just recently we’ve used the app and that works. I shall use the app next time.
“er indoors TM has taken the littluns home. I’m sitting on the sofa enjoying the peace and quiet.
I’m still feeling grotty…

27 April 2024 (Saturday) - Feeling Rather Grim

I wasn’t feeling on top form when I woke this morning. Can’t imagine why. I made toast and had a little look at the Internet and rolled my eyes at the argument on the UK Ponds page. Someone’s pond water was green; did anyone have a solution? Someone suggested chucking in a bale of barley straw. Some said they’d done it and it worked, others said it hadn’t, and both sides were openly calling the other liars. And there was a lot of ranting about the cash machines being removed from a local hospital. The machines are old and need replacing, but because hardly anyone uses them it isn’t worth the company’s time to replace them. There was a lot of consternation being expressed by people who openly admitted they never used the machines but thought the things should remain in place as a public service.
I thought about making the observation that there used to be an actual branch of a bank in the hospital when I started working there, but that it closed through not enough people using it.
We got ourselves organized and set off to the Repton Estate. As we drove Steve was doing the “Guess the Lyrics” competition on the radio. “Every day is like survival. You're my lover not my rival”. It could have been anything; I hadn’t a clue. When Steve announced it was Karma Chameleon by Culture Club I had a “dur!” moment. Of course it was.
Dog Club went rather well; the dogs all had fun. There’s not really much that can be said about Dog Club; we stand in a field whilst the dogs run riot. I love it.
As we drove home I got the “Mystery Year” competition wrong by one year. Boney M singing about a holi-holiday… I thought it was 1978. It wasn’t.
We came home for a cuppa, and I *again* posted details about how to pay to the dog club’s Facebook page. Last week someone had complained that the text payment thingy didn’t work and suggested I might like to sort it out.. I tried it; it worked.
We then drove down to Kingsdown for the monthly geo-meet. We met up outside the pub and wandered the beach for an hour or so gathering rubbish. It was a shame that the dogs had to eat seaweed but there it is.
With rubbish gathered we stood chatting for a while – it is always good to catch up with friends. It would have been good to have spent the afternoon there, but I was rather wilting from a rather busy day yesterday and today’s adventures. I slept most of the way home.
We got home, did the “Feed The Fish” ritual and then the rain started.
After I’d had a little doze “er indoors TM went off out with her mates. I settled in front of the telly with the dogs and watched a couple of episodes of “All The Light We Cannot See”; a Netflix mini-series. It’s about two youngsters in St Malo during the war. It is completely the sort of thing that wouldn’t appeal to me at all, but Netflix recommended it, and so far it’s bee rather good.
I’m going to have an early night in a bit… I’m rather suffering from the excesses of yesterday. Back in the day I could drink myself silly… not any more.

26 April 2024 (Friday) - On The Beer

As I scoffed toast I saw I had another friend request on Facebook. Domina Scarlett Lush claimed “I make you feel submissive, weak, and eager to please.. there is no fighting your addiction to Me”. Yet again I found myself wondering about Facebook’s so-called Community Standards. I do like Facebook, but it could be so much better. If it is isn’t ladies of dubious morals brandishing their arses, it is the petty squabbles over the most trivial matters. There was some quite intense bitching on the UK Ponds Facebook page in which someone had asked a question, and there were as many answers as there were people to give them; no two in agreement and everyone aggressively shouting down everyone else.
I saw someone had been round Kings Wood yesterday and hadn’t been able to find one of my geocaches there. They’d sent me a message to say they’d replaced it. I wish more people would replace missing caches; saves me a job.
Not having much time this morning I took the dogs round the block chasing a unicorn which was dropping lucky stars (it’s a Munzee thing). As we walked through the park there was a minor incident. From about twenty yards away a small child started crying because he claimed Morgan tried to bite him. The brat’s father glared at me; I replied “From that distance? Seriously?” in a sarcastic tone. The child immediately stopped crying and smiled and happily announced how cute the dogs were. Father seemed happy with this.
I was reminded of the more simple-minded cubs who would say absolutely anything in their attention-seeking.
With walk walked I came home, gathered dog turds from the garden (you wouldn’t believe how much three small dogs produce) then made a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM and dished out the last of the cake I got yesterday.
I then looked at some geo-puzzles in Hastings in the general vicinity of where I would be later. Having solved two I found the finals were nowhere near where I would be. Three other puzzles looked a little tricky, so with time pressing I asked a friend if he had the solutions.
He had.
I wandered up the road to the train station and was soon on a very crowded train to Hastings. We all sat and listened to some loud old woman who was regaling whoever would listen with a constant stream of drivel. The guard asked to see my ticket; I remembered my old mate who used to be the guard on the Hastings line. Is it really eighteen tears since he died?
I arrived in Hastings to find it all rather different to how it used to be. With a few minutes spare I walked to the old town by going over the West Hill. A rather uphill walk. I walked past the vicarage where out old vicar used to live back in the day when I was thick with the church. The vicarage is now a dog groomer.
Having found the geocaches I’d been after I made my way to the Hastings Arms where I was soon joined by my brother and my cousin who I’d net seen for years. It was good to catch up. Sister in law and nephew joined us, we had a very good dinner and things got very vague, as they do.
Getting home was fun. I got to the train station and caught the last bus home with minutes to spare. We drove to all the train stations on the way home, and at each stop the bus driver asked if we would all like to get out and wait for the train. Apparently the train was running half an hour behind the bus, and the bus was going to Ashford anyway, so why would we want to get the train? And the bus driver was utterly unable to explain why there was a bus service when the train was running anyway.
I must have got home safely… I wonder when.

25 April 2024 (Thursday) - Little Pond Finished

I found myself in a rather thoughtful mood as I scoffed toast this morning. Facebook told me a friend was having a birthday today. I first met this chap in September 1984 when I started working with him. We worked together through thick and thin until August 2011 when I was sent to work elsewhere. Having been in very close company for twenty-seven years, that was it. I ran into him totally by chance once morning several years ago when I was doing a spot of geocaching before a late shift, but apart from that, I’ve not seen him at all in thirteen years.
Another Facebook friend was also having a birthday. Someone who I would see regularly on holidays ad high days back when I was into kite flying. Again, someone I’ve not heard from in years.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
There wasn’t a lot happening on Facebook this morning. Seeing it was eight o’clock and she’d slept through her alarm again I kicked “er indoors TM out of bed. Once the dogs had scoffed brekkie we went off for our walk.
As we drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the Shadow Transport Minister who was talking about Labour’s plans to re-nationalise the railways. She made the point that at the moment when a train runs late it could be a problem with the train, the track, the signalling, or an issue somewhere else. All of which are run by different companies and there are three hundred lawyers currently employed to sort out who is to blame. That’s one saving that could be made right away.
As we drove through the town centre there were countless children on bikes on their way to school; all with those silly white things in their ears. Let’s not pretend to be surprised when they get splatted, eh?
We got to the woods, and had a rather good wander round the woods. A shorter walk today; just over three miles. As we walked up the slope back to the car park we met a youngish lady and her dogs and Morgan and Bailey had a great game of chase with them. And when I shared treats with them, Treacle was quite happy for me to do so. Before we started Dog Club there is no way she’d allow a non-family dog to have a treat.
We’d started our walk early today as rain had been forecast. As we drove back into Ashford so the heavens opened.
We came home for a cuppa, then leaving “er indoors TM having a finance meeting I went to Bybrook Barn. Needing a length of black hose for the new little pond’s filter (ninety-nine pence) I spent over sixty quid. Four phlox plants, some garden ornaments, bird feeders and bird food too. “er indoors TM has this idea she’d like to watch the birds as she works, and a bird feeder might entice our feathered friends. It might… at the cost of those fat balls I hope it does.
With the rain stopped I thought I might crack on in the garden. I disassembled the new pond’s filter waterfall thingy and plumbed in the new hose. As planned, being black it is nowhere near as obvious as the one it replaced. I then arranged a few rocks and stones around it.
Then I sorted the shingle. Having scraped it all out of the way last Friday, I scraped it all back again today. Then I rearranged rather heavy stone garden ornaments before emptying weeds out of the smaller stone planters and putting the phlox in them. I took a deep breath and then swore at the dogs as they tried to dig them out again.
After three hours I decided that enough was enough and painted the sleepers. With them painted that would stop me walking across them and doing any more fiddling about.
I put the new garden ornaments onto the shed, then logged into the wi-fi booster. Hopefully this will allow us to use the house wi-fi in the garden. If it don’t I’ve still got gigabytes of mobile data I never use.
With my back aching I came in and made us both a cuppa. I had cake (I’d got some when at the garden centre earlier). “er indoors TM didn’t; she had a Penguin biccie. Each to their own, eh? More cake for me.
As I swilled cake I priced up what I’d spent on the little pond. Bearing in mind I got the waterfall at half price (as it was ex-demo) and that some of the odds and sods were recycled or already licking about in the shed, by the time I’ve paid for the fish (hopefully next week) it will have cost me two hundred and fifty quid. That’s not bad, really.
I then had a stroke of genius (I have those from time to time) and bodged together a little bracket to the old upright which used to hold the insect house (until it fell to bits). I was about to set up one of the new bird feeders on it, but rain stopped play. I’ll do that tomorrow.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching another episode of “Taskmaster”.
My face is glowing… I seem to have caught the sun today. Somehow. 

24 April 2024 (Wednesday) - Busy, Busy

I slept well, and made toast in a toaster which did that which was expected of it this morning. A minor result.
I scoffed toast whilst peering into a frankly dull internet. Squabbles abounded on the Facebook pages I follow. Garden ponds, Radio Four programs, no matter what the subject someone will argue about it.
I downloaded bank statements, got some cable ties from the shed, and got ready for the morning.
Seeing the geo-feds had given me the thumbs-up for what I’d planned yesterday I thought I’d better get that new geocache into place so I took the dogs to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about shoplifting in the UK. Apparently you can’t prosecute anyone for nicking anything worth less than two hundred quid from a shop, and the scum element know this. There was an interview with some chap who runs a co-op in Islington who said that shoplifting costs him tens of thousands of pounds every year. He also said that he calls the police every time he catches someone thieving and they turn up maybe three times out of every ten times he calls them.
This tells me that it is time that we as a society admit that the police force isn’t fit for purpose, and need to think about a better way to make the world a better place.
We got to the woods and walked a round trip of four miles. Once we were away from the car park we didn’t see anyone other than the forestry workers. I think one of them told Morgan off; as we were walking up to where they were working Morgan came running up to me (he’d been running free up till then) and he stayed by my side whilst we walked past where the work was going on.
Mind you, the forestry workers don’t help themselves. They make a point of throwing food to the dogs when they are on a break, and then wonder why the dogs want to go see them the next time we pass.
With the fake owl geocache tied to a tree we came home, and I unplugged the water pump for our new small pond and extracted it, and wired in the new power socket I’d bought yesterday. I then plumbed the new filter which arrived this morning and was amazed that I’d spent over three hours on what would seem to be such a simple task. I’m not sure I like the water feature head, and the white hose to the waterfall needs to be replaced… but I’ll worry about that tomorrow.
As I worked my phone had beeped with the news that the geocache we put out this morning had gone live, and as I got on with the ironing so I got a message that the thing had been found. There’s always something of a sense of relief when someone finds a new cache that I’ve hidden… it shows I’d done it right.
As I ironed I watched the last two episodes of “Gunpowder”. When you think about it the Gunpowder Plot was frankly ridiculous, but what is more worrying is that a lot of people still take that sort of religious twaddle seriously.  
I then got busy in the kitchen and boiled up dinner. “er indoors TM came home and we scoffed it whilst watching the first episode of the new series of “Taskmaster”; five new contestants of which I’ve heard of one.
I might have an early night…

23 April 2024 (Tuesday) - This n That

I slept well. I woke to the sound of “er indoors TM”’s alarm, then went back to sleep. As did “er indoors TM. I woke an hour later, woke everyone else, and made toast. The toaster was being difficult again; it cooked the toast but wouldn’t let it go.
Once I’d extracted it I scoffed it as I peered into the internet. I saw that there’s a minor issue with the geocaching app I use. For some reason it is no longer available on Google Play, and the chap who made it says it isn’t financially worth his while to re-list it. He intends to launch it as a new product, and rather than making a one-off payment he wants people to pay a monthly fee. The chap is talking of a tenner a year or a quid a month.
I will happily pay as I use the app not just for geocaching but for finding my way all over the place… but when you think about it you see the chap ain’t daft. Why settle for a one-off payment of ten quid (which I paid years ago) when you can get a regular stream of cash every month?
And there was a load of jingoistic ranting about St George’s Day on one of the local Facebook pages from those who haven’t realized that the British Empire is long gone.
I got the leads on to the dogs and we went for our walk. When I made the decision to archive loads of my geocaches that were all over the place and put out loads in Kings Wood, it was because having them all there would make maintenance easier. I could do it on a dog walk. And that’s what I did today. Over the weekend I’d had two reports of issues. One missing cache and one broken cache. Neither were anywhere near a car park and they were a mile apart. In a round trip of four miles we replaced both and found a spot for another cache. The dogs chased squirrels… I say “chased squirrels”; for every squirrel they chased there were a dozen shadows.
We came home for a cuppa, and then I managed to get all of the rubbish I intended to get rid of into the car and set off to the tip. Unlike many previous visits, today’s tip run passed off rather uneventfully, which was something of a result.
And then I went to B&Q…
I needed an outdoor power socket. They weren’t where they used to be. I asked an assistant where I might find them. He grunted and waved in the general direction of the other end of the store. I eventually found what I wanted, but couldn’t find a plug to go with it. I asked another assistant who just said “aisle eleven”. I explained I’d been up and down aisle eleven but couldn’t find them. She repeated “aisle eleven” and turned her back. As I was again looking in aisle eleven a third assistant came past. I asked for help; she snapped she was too busy to help me. I told her not to worry; I would go to Wickes. As I walked out three more assistants were sneering at the customers struggling with the self-service tills. So far this year I’ve spent over a hundred quid with them… can’t say I’m very inclined to spend much more.
I drove into town. Having a few minutes spare I went into Starbucks and treated myself to a fudge Frappuccino. It was rather good.
I then went on to the bank. Sadly the woman on the phone yesterday wasn’t much help, but the chap I spoke with today was rather good.
I came home via Wickes where the staff were cheerful and helpful, and I got what I needed. The outdoor power socket I bought has a wi-fi booster so maybe I will be able to use the house wi-fi in the garden. That will be fun…
Once home I took the dogs up the garden to do the “Feed The Fish”; fish feeding has become one of the highlights of their lives. I thought about cracking on in the garden, but decided to have one day of not doing hard physical labour. Instead I wrote up the website for the new geocache I found a location for this morning. I shall hide the thing tomorrow.
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the last episode of the current series of Hunted”. It strikes me that these contestants make hard work of it. If I was a contestant, once I’d got away at the start (and that would be the trickiest bit) I’d lie low for a few days shave my head and grow a beard… and that’s the face recognition CCTV stuffed.

22 April 2024 (Monday) - ... Treason and Plop

The toaster had a little episode in that it wouldn't actually toast anything this morning. I have a vague recollection of “er indoors TM having had a fight with it yesterday claiming something inside had caught fire. I gave it a clout and it eventually did that which was expected of it. I just hope that when the machines rise up the toaster will have forgotten this morning's altercation.
After I'd gone to kip last night “er indoors TM had been at the new telly, and it all works through the Sky-Q handset now, and starts up in Sky-Q mode (as it should) rather than in some strange Amazon thingy mode.
I scoffed toast as I stared at the telly. It was playing the first episode of "Fat Friends"; a show originally broadcast over twenty years ago. I won't be bothering with the second episode; it boiled my piss. Being a fat sod myself (and having been so for most of my life) there is nothing more irritating that people banging on about how fat they are when in fact they are quite substantially thinner than I am.
I set off to work. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the leader of the Scottish Green Party. This chap had come on to the radio  having already decided what he was going to say, and he started talking and talking about heaven only knows what. When asked any questions he just kept talking. He spoke over the interviewer every time the chap tried to say anything, and flatly refused to answer the questions put to him.
He won't be getting my vote... 
I got to work and cracked on. As I peered down the microscope I made a few phone calls.
I phoned the pension people. Apparently I won't get any formal notification about my pension payments; there is no equivalent of a payslip which comes with the wages. I asked how I find out what tax I've paid on my pension... it seems I don't.
I phoned the bank's helpline to arrange an appointment at the local branch tomorrow. It wasn't easy. I *think* the woman I spoke to said to just turn up at the branch and that I didn't need an appointment, and that I should also book an appointment on-line.
I booked one on-line just in case.
I left a message for the ENT people at the local hospital to chivvy up the date of my nasal re-bore. They sent me a text to say I should send them an email.
And I booked a slot at the tip tomorrow. I've got a poggered telly to get rid of.
As I worked I was introduced to a new boss. Back in the day when I was management I was a "chief biomedical scientist". These days we have an "operational lead". How times change. To be honest I never thought I was much good as a "chief biomedical scientist" (which is why I gave it up); I know I would be hopeless as an "operational lead".
I came home, and “er indoors TM boiled up sausages and chips before going off bowling as she does. I sparked up the new telly. Netflix told me that based on what I’d told it I liked, it thought I might like to watch “Gunpowder”; a drama series based on the Gunpowder Plot.
The first episode was rather good…

21 April 2024 (Sunday) - New Telly

At some point in the heavy lifting of the last few days I poggered my left wrist. It really hurts. I gave up trying to sleep and thought that if I got up and did something then the pain might ease.
I made toast and had my usual look at the Internet. I had an email. My credit rating went up by eleven points this week. That’s nice. I had another dodgy friend request on Facebook from a young lady who would seem to be all tits and no sense. I sent out birthday wishes to people with birthdays today, and wrote up some CPD until “er indoors TM and the dogs emerged.
We got ourselves organized and drove out to Lyminge where we went for a little walk following a series of geocaching Adventure Labs. A rather good walk of half an hour or so. It was a shame we couldn’t find the cache at the village sign. We tried for that one seven years ago and failed then as well.
We came home for a cuppa, then “er indoors TM helped me with (did all the work) lining the little pond / water feature.
Leaving her tidying up I popped out to B&Q for two more bricks, and then on to Bybrook Barn for more rocks and some pond plants. And with those in place my little pond / water feature is almost complete. There’s pictures of it here. I’m quite pleased with how it came out. I’ve got to arrange the gravel around it a bit better and I want to landscape a rockery in front of it. And I need to take the water pump of off the circuit it is currently on with all the other water features, and have it running all the time. And in a week or so I shall look at introducing some fish.
And then the fun started. Our telly has been on the blink for a few days and last night it packed up altogether. We first got it on 24 May 2021 when I wrote “Bearing in mind we got the last telly on 16 January 2010, I’m wondering if this new telly will also do us for another eleven years”. Well, it didn’t. It didn’t last three.
We set up the new telly, and after an hour’s farting about it was ready to go… and it couldn’t connect to the Sky-Q box. We used the “contact Amazon” option and got through to a most unhelpful woman whose only suggestion was that the problem had to be with the Sky-Q box as there was no way that her company’s device could ever be at fault. I was all for taking the thing to the tip, but I had a quick look on the Internet instead. Several people had reported the same problem; and all had cured it by doing a factory reset.
Eventually we had the thing going but it wasn’t easy. Back in the day when you got a new telly the company would send a man to set it all up for you.
“er indoors TM popped to the kebab shop to get dinner which we scoffed whilst watching one of the new extended “Bottom” episodes. After the fun of the afternoon it was good being able to watch anything at all.
I’m off to work for the early shift tomorrow… an early night might be a plan. My wrist is better than it was… but still hurts.

20 April 2024 (Saturday) - Worn Out

I had a rather good night’s sleep. Not fighting for any bed space helped. I woke… and could only account for two dogs. Morgan usually huddles up close to me but was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t downstairs or in the garden. Eventually it transpired he’d dossed down on the other side of “er indoors TM.
I made toast and had my usual rummage on the internet. I sent out birthday wishes to those having birthdays, and hard cash to those with birthdays coming up. A colleague is doing a sponsored run for her birthday, so I sponsored.
And then I found myself pondering. “The Red Pig” has closed down. The Red Pig is a little van which sells rather good food at Pett Level. We’ve been in it on occasion. The menu is excellent and the people friendly. Three days ago they were advertising for staff. Yesterday they posted on Facebook saying they had closed for good and today the business is up for sale. It’s none of my business, but I’m a rather nosey person and can’t help but wonder what is going on.
We set off to Dog Club. There had been a message that there was a fox den in the top corner of the paddock we use. I went and had a look and couldn’t see anything. Mind you our group operates at the other end of the paddock. We had a great time. There were about fifteen dogs along today. Treacle had her ball, Morgan and Bailey scrounged treats, other dogs wallowed in mud. Dog Club is such a simple idea, and the dogs love it so much.
Having a birthday today Steve wasn’t on the radio. His stand-in wasn’t the same. The “Mystery Year” was 1968…  who remembers anything from then? And the “Guess the Lyrics” competition might as well have been from Beethoven for all that I knew.
We took a circuitous route home via various Munzees getting Level Three on this month’s Munzee Clan War. Not much more to do for Level Four.
Once home we had a cuppa then I cracked on in the garden. I sawed two of the sleepers in half, then painted the sawed ends. And then remembered that when I’d painted the sleepers the other day I’d intended to come back to them and paint the ends that were on the ground. So I painted those. And whilst I was ai it I painted the water feature I’d moved yesterday.
I then scraped all the gravel out of the way for the new water feature/mini pond (that took some doing), and built the box. As space is tight where it is going, I built it in place. My Boy TM” would have been so proud of me – I used a spirit level. With the box in place I enlisted the assistance of “er indoors TM and we took an old blanket to protect the bottom, and then got the liner roughly in place. Even roughly took some fiddling about. To get the liner in place better we three-quarters filled it with water…
And stopped.
Four hours was enough. It can settle and leak-test overnight
I had a little sit down whilst “er indoors TM went to fetch “Darcie Waa Waa TM. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” is being bridesmaid at a wedding and this afternoon was make-up practice. Is this a new thing? I never had make-up practice when I got married.
We had a fun few hours with littlun. We started with the obligatory dog snogging, then played “Hide and Seek”. Littlun would go into the bathroom, count to whatever number she fancied in the strange numbering system she has made, then come and either find me in the toilet, or her grandmother behind the kitchen door.
She thought this was hilarious - this went on for over an hour before she lost interest.
We then played a game where she climbed up and down the stairs and I supervised to make sure she didn’t fall. That only lasted half an hour.
I was worn out when it was time for her to go home.

19 April 2024 (Friday) - Rain Stopped Play

After yesterday’s eighteen thousand steps and a lot of heavy lifting in the garden I rather ached this morning.
I made brekkie and had my usual peer into Facebook. There was mild consternation on some of the Rye-based Facebook pages as their Town Crier (an old schoolfriend of mine) had been photographed with a large bottle of water in his trouser pocket, and the photo was getting entirely the wrong sort of publicity.
Seeing the Microsoft and BBC weather forecasts were at odds with each other I took pot luck and took the dogs out anyway. Both forecasts predicted rain; but differed in how soon.
As we drove to the woods Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis were being interviewed on the radio. Their long-running “Now Show” is finally coming to an end, and they were saying how difficult it can be to make a funny current affairs program. With pretty much nothing but the war in Gaza having been in the news for months, and war not being particularly amusing they were saying it is tricky to find anything the public has heard about to which they can relate.
I can remember going to see Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis at the Lees Cliff Hall when they were part of “The Mary Whitehouse Experience” and they were hilarious. But that was thirty years ago. About twenty years ago they were at the Gulbenkian theatre in Canterbury when they were just smug. Hugh Dennis is rather good as a straight actor… perhaps it is time to give up the comedy? Sadly I’ve not found them funny for years.
There was also a lot of talk about how many children are using social media. There were quite a few knee-jerk reactions on the radio this morning. It strikes me that rather than banning what we cannot ban, we should look at how to deal with the reality of it.
We got to the woods. Admittedly an hour earlier than yesterday, but the car park was much emptier, and once away from the car park we walked for an hour and saw no one. We walked a rather shorter walk today; I was conscious of the weather forecast. But we got back to the car with no rain.
Once home I made us both a cuppa, and then went into the garden and made a start on rebuilding the water feature I’d moved yesterday. But after a few minutes the rain started. I came in and fiddled about on my lap-top. I updated my map of sink holes in Kings Wood. I’ve now found sixteen of the things ranging in size from a couple of metres across to twenty metres across.
I had a look at my bank account. There was a lot more money than I thought there should be. It would seem my pension has been paid. That’s a result.
And then I saw the rain had stopped. I went back into the garden and got that water feature rebuilt. I’ve not got the shingle round it just right yet; it needs a lick of paint and the wood got rather wet as I was testing. I then started scraping brindle chippings about in readiness for the next phase of gardening… as best I could. Treacle did insist on getting in the way.
And then the rain started again.
I gave up and came inside and put a load into the washing machine. I cracked on with the ironing whilst watching a couple of episodes of “Tribes of Europa”. Let’s just say that the viewing figures were bad enough for it not to be confirmed for a second season, and with the ironing done I slept through most of the second episode. I shan’t be bothering with the third.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching “Bottom Exposed”; a one-off documentary about the TV showBottom”. It was rather good apart from two glaring omissions about which I won’t give any spoilers.
Yesterday I ended by whinging about how I ached. Yesterday I ended up doing eighteen thousand steps. Today I only did eleven and a half thousand… but I still ache.
Oh – and the Foxy Morons have got to Uluru… or Ayers Rock as I thought it was called.

18 April 2024 (Thursday) - Bonus Late Shift

I had quite the guts ache last night. As I went to the loo (for safety!) at four o’clock I tripped over Morgan who was downstairs. He’d not got up with everyone else when “er indoors TMwent to bed; he’s probably realized just how crowded the bed is getting. I go up earlier and earlier just to get some space and some kip before the crush starts.
I peered into the Internet over toast. It was still there, and squabbles abounded on the Munzee Facebook pages. There’s a new feature on the Munzee app; you get to chase a virtual unicorn if you want to. You don’t have to, but you wouldn’t believe how nasty people were getting over something so trivial.
I got the leads on to the dogs and we went up to the woods. Admittedly we were rather later than we usually get there, but the car park was over half full, and as we walked we met loads of other people. Several people remarked that they had never been there before but had heard about the bluebells.
After about four miles we got back to the car. The last time we went to the woods Treacle had been rather slobbery at the end; today I’d taken water and made sure they were offered some regularly, and Treacle was fine.
We came home for a cuppa and cake, Yesterday I hadn’t been rota-ed to do the late shift; a colleague had asked if anyone could do it for her as she had things to do. I offered, as I often want people to swap with me, and she was so grateful she gave me cake. Result.
Completely forgetting to put any washing in to scrub I went into the garden and mowed the lawn.  Then stopped, harvested a bumper crop of dog turds the carried on mowing. It has to be said that shoving the new garden table out of the way to mow round it is much easier than shoving the old one used to be.
I then made a start on water features. Having spent a small fortune on sleepers and waterfalls that were made redundant by sticking a brick under the bog filter, I've got a plan for making a little water garden and rockery. But that involves moving an existing water feature. Our "badger" water feature never really looked that impressive; in fact (like the one I need to move) it just grew mould and algae. So...
I disassembled the "badger" water feature and relocated the stonework on the other side of the garden. Rather than filling it with water and stones I filled it with compost and some of the left-over plants I bought a couple of days ago.
That gave me a space. I disassembled the water feature with the white pebbles and the pot out of which water flows. I never liked the tile the water flowed over, and the white pebbles had all gone green anyway. I relocated the carcass of the water feature and realised that I couldn't go any further without a trio to the garden centre. The output from the water pump in the water feature is a completely different size to the input to the waterfall it will go into. So I took the bits I needed to Bybrook Barn and hoped I might find a helpful lady in the pond section. I smiled hopefully at the first person I saw, and apologetically said that I was the sort of customer with a query that she just hated. She said (with a smile) that she hated all customers, and we got on like a house on fire. I showed her the incompatible bits I needed to connect, and she came up with a couple of adaptors and bits of connector which did the trick.
Whilst I was at it I spent twenty-five quid on stones to go on the water feature. I got some green slate; the white pebbles went green anyway.
I came home and decided against any more heavy lifting. My phone was beeping like a thing possessed. The person on the late shift had had a minor calamity; could anyone cover? Pretty much everyone had something they needed to do this evening.
I had a shower and drove to work. Doing half a day's work kept me moving; had I not gone in to work I would have collapsed in front of the telly and not moved.
As I did my thing so I had a message. Poor Pogo's leg was bleeding from where he'd had the biopsy yesterday. I said he needed a bandage. After a lot of farting around and the entire family going to the vet's I am reliably informed a plaster was applied.
I really ache. I think I overdid it today. The weather forecast for tomorrow is rain. Maybe taking it easy might be a good idea.

17 April 2024 (Wednesday) - Late Shift

I heard a dog jump off the bed at four o’clock this morning, but by the time I’d leapt up it was too late. There was a small pie of turds by the back door. I let the smallest two out into the garden (Treacle was still fast asleep) before we all went back to bed.
I dozed though till when “er indoors TM ‘s alarm woke me at half past seven. It woke me – it didn’t wake her though.
I made toast and had my usual root around the Internet. It’s been a while since I last had any dubious friend requests, but I had one this morning. “Letex” hails from the Philippines and would like to chum up with me, but so far hasn’t put much on his/her/its Facebook profile, which is probably for the best.
Letex” has twenty-one friends on Facebook – that is more friends than sense, really. I wasn’t going to make it twenty-two.
I read that the geocaches along the river Medway that need a canoe to get at are being archived soon. I wonder if they will be replaced. We had fun with our inflatable canoe when we did those.
I saw there was a new geocache just down the road… with its first find logged twenty minutes after it went live.
Not having been woken by her alarm I prodded “er indoors TM awake, then set off to Folkestone. As I drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing Caroline Lucas (the Green MP) who has written a book about how you can go about being proud of being British without shaving your head, stomping round shouting “Ing-Ur-Lund” and harping back to the glorious days of Empire.
It needed doing.
This was followed by talk of an updated version of Shakespeare’s plays. They’ve been updated with emphasis on being performed. It would seem that generations of schoolkids forced to read plays written in medieval English (and never acted out) have formed the idea that Shakespeare’s plays are a load of old tripe. Which is certainly the opinion I formed after sitting reading frankly incomprehensible drivel.
I got to Folkestone, picked up “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM and took Pogo to the vets. He’s having a biopsy on a rather ugly lump on his leg. As we left him he was screaming the place down. Poor Pogey.
We had McBrekkie; toffee caramel latte and super-McMuffin with bacon, egg and sausage. Very nice. I dropped the girls back home, then dropped the littlun’s car seat back with “er indoors TM.
I set off up the motorway to work. Needing petrol I went to the Aylesford Sainsbury's petrol station. I've used that place for years but it has been closed for the last couple of months for a refurbishment. Seeing it was open I went hoping for great things... it looked just the same as it used to.
Work was work. During the afternoon I got the message that Pogo was home from the vets. He was a little groggy from the anaesthetic, so Daddy’s Little Angel TM put him in a crate where the littluns couldn't bother him too much. I wonder if I might borrow that crate?
And shortly after that I had another message. Another woman(?) of dubious morals wanted to be my Facebook friend, and in order to sway my decision she'd sent photos of her "toys"; she had quite an extensive collection of rubber accessories.
Why do these people do this? To persuade sad suckers to send money on the promise of a mucky photo that you can get for free by turning off the Google safe search?
The late shift was a tad like hard work. They can be sometimes. I’ve now got a few days off…

16 April 2024 (Tuesday) - Pansies, Lobelias, Violas and a Peony

Treacle and Bailey woke me with a woofing fit shortly after eight o’clock. I was glad that they did; I was embroiled in a nightmare in which I’d been seconded to the International Mars Mission as an astronaut. My map-reading and geocachical skills would be invaluable in getting the spaceships to Mars (as if you can’t see the planet from Earth anyway). But my main responsibility on the crew would be to look after the dogs. Having dogs in space suits meant that their taking a dump would be tricky for them, and with the eyes of the world on the mission, I wouldn’t be able to hoof any turds into the undergrowth (not that there’s much undergrowth on Mars). The Prime Minister himself was telling me what an honour it all was, and that he had every confidence that I would work out the piddling details.
What was that all about?
I scoffed toast, rolled my eyes at the Internet, and checked in on what was happening in the shitbox rally on the other side of the world. “Sharon” had sprung a leak and run out of petrol, but all is well now.
I got the dogs onto their leads and we went off to find where I’d left the car, and we set off to Kings Wood for a walk. We took a rather different route today heading through the woods toward the village (rather than away from it), and waked for four and a half miles. Once we were away from the car park we only saw one other group. The bluebells were out; it was really pretty. It was a shame that both Morgan and Bailey rolled in fox poo, but there it is.
As we walked I had a text message from NHS Pensions Retirement Award saying “We have received your NHS Pensions Retirement benefits claim form. We can confirm we have successfully processed your application. A written notification will be issued to you”. That’s a relief… I wonder what it means. I’ve had this sort of message a couple of times already but in both of those cases “successfully processed” actually meant “passed on to the next office”.
There was a minor episode with Treacle when we got back to the car; she was quite seriously slobbering. Was she thirsty? Had she eaten something foul? She’d been acting odd last night – over-excited and restless. I shall keep an eye on her…Dogs, eh? Who’d have ‘em.
We came home. Treacle had the brekkie at which she’d turned her nose up at earlier (which was a result) and Morgan and Bailey had a bath. If you roll in poo, you have a bath, Rules is rules.
We then had a cuppa and a Belgian bun. An Asda one. It tasted OK, but most of the icing had stuck to the packaging.
I popped to B&Q. On the way I knocked in the door of the house with the bricks in the garden, but again they didn’t want to answer the door. So I bit the bullet and paid hard cash for new bricks. Sixty-six pence per brick. And I got some plants as well. Pansies, lobelia, violas and a peony.
I brought them home, moved a huge concrete core out of the yard, and then seeing that “er indoors TM was on lunch break we put the new garden table together. Once we figured out what went where it was rather straightforward, but figuring that out took some doing. Anyone who could write decent instructions could make a fortune.
I then moved the plant pots I’d acquired on Saturday into place, transplanted plants about, put compost into the old planter, planted more plants, heaved the concrete core the length of the garden to add it to the rockery, and realizing the afternoon was nearly all done and I’d only done half I had planned, I said “sod it” and came indoors.
I then boiled up dinner myself. It came out rather well if I do say so myself. We washed it down wit a bottle of Lidl white wine. Billed as “zesty and vibrant” it wasn’t bad, really. As we scoffed we watched a couple of episodes of “Hunted”; a rather good show which I am sure I could do better than most of the contestants.
I really hurt. Having done a few sums the concrete core I shifted today weighs about sixty kilograms. My original plan was to have the first fruit of my loin shift it for me, but he went fishing.
He ain’t daft.