30 May 2024 (Thursday) - Littleport

Bearing in mind just how awful the weather has been this week and how utterly unreliable the BBC weather app on my phone has been, this morning as everyone else was fast asleep I deleted it and replaced it with an app from the Met Office.
That only took half an hour to do.
Eventually everyone was up and about and scoffing a rather good full English brekkie. With iffy weather being threatened by my new weather app we felt it best not to be marching through the mud today so an urban walk would be ideal. We drove up to the village of Littleport where we wandered about finding various geocaches as we went on between the downpours.
As we came to the end of our walk we called in to the Downham Isle brewery; a strange place operated by some old boy out of an extension at the back of his house. We got some beer, and as everyone else looked for a geocache in the car park I went to get some port. I’d had problems getting the stuff yesterday and today was equally problematical. I went into the village off-licence…
“Have you got any port?”
“This is an off-licence?”
“Do you speak English?”
So I went to the village shop.
“Have you got any port?”
“A fortified wine?!
Eventually the co-op came up trumps.
We came back to base where it was raining. I cracked open a bottle of the beer I’d got. The chap at the brewery had warned up it was lively… the stuff was nothing but froth. Having wasted a bottle I eventually found the way to drink it was to uncap the bottle and leave it standing in the sink with froth gushing out of the bottle. Eventually after ten minutes the froth would go and I’d be left with between a third and a half pint of not-bad beer.
As the rain continued to fall we spent the rest of the afternoon playing “Ticket to Ride” and “Sorry” until it was dinner time. We had some rather good burgers, but having scoffed far too much together with the yeast from the bottle conditioned beers has left me with a rather dodgy stomach.
I took a few photos today. I also spent an inordinate amount of time farting, I hope this sorts itself out.

29 May 2024 (Wednesday) - Witcham

With rain forecast for the early afternoon we wanted to crack on today. We had a prompt brekkie and soon set off to an obscure lay-by. We were walking a series of geocaches today, and the designated parking certainly didn’t seem up to the job when we’d looked on Google Street View so we found somewhere better.
We set off and followed lanes and tracks and swamps. I’d like to say that we’ve found muddier and swampier ground before, but the simple fact is that we haven’t. Half way round the route we had to retreat; the path was utterly impassable; it was a swamp wider than the path and was deeper than our boots. We went back fifty yards and planned to walk along a field that ran parallel to the swamp in the hope there was a fence at the end of the field.
There wasn’t.
We did find a narrowing in the hedgerow though… so we got enough rocks form the field to ford the ditch om the hedgerow, and in a total triumph of idiot enthusiasm over common sense I launched myself across the ditch and demolished the hedgerow on the other side of the ditch to get back to the path on which we were supposed to be. It was still a swamp, but a passable one.
A little later we found another impassable path. We again walked a field that ran parallel to the swamp, but this time there was a way from the field we were in to the track where we were supposed to be.
Geocache-wise the route was… I think the best way to describe it was sadly as not one that I could recommend. The series was twelve years old; the given hints may well have been spot-on when the series was created, but (for example) the dead sampling and stump referred to have long since gone. Many of the caches hadn’t been found by the people before us, and seven “Did Not Find” out of twenty-three caches is a rather bad result, to say the least.
Needing supplies we came home via the Spar we’d found the other day. I asked if I could buy a case of beer. The woman behind the counter stared at me blankly; she had no idea what a case of beer was. I suggested that when the shop had a delivery of beer it didn’t come in one bottle at a time. She went out the back and fetched me a cardboard box.
Ho hum.
Sadly they had no port, so we went down the road to what Google would have us believe was an off-licence.  I asked the bloke behind the counter for port. He stared at me and asked what port was. I explained it was a fortified wine; he suggested I might like Stella or Budweiser.
Ho hum.
We came home where the dogs had a serious scrub; all having been out of their depths in the mud and swamps today. Just as we finished scrubbing them so the heavens opened. The plan had been to sit in the garden drinking the beer I’d got from the Spar; we sat inside and drank it until tea time when we had a particularly good tea of quiche and garlic bread and chips and salad and profiteroles.
I took a few photos today. Today had been rather good. But we all had an earlier night tonight than we’ve had all week.

28 May 2024 (Tuesday) - Lazy Day

“er indoors TM had taken great care to turn off all her alarms; it was a shame that they woke me this morning, but there is it. I nodded off again, and eventually we all got up rather later than we might have done.
With rain forecast we went for a little walk up to the village and back hoping to miss the rain, but sadly we didn’t. Had we been out two minutes earlier we would have remained dry.
The plan had been a quick walk and then a full English brekkie. We had the quick walk, and as others fought with the hob and the oven I sat with the dogs to settle them; they were rather fractious this morning. Sadly they settled me, and I was soon fast asleep.
I woke to find brekkie ready, and a good brekkie it was. Sadly the rain was still hossing down, so we got out the Infinity Table and played games. Ticket to Ride, Battleships, Wheel of Fortune, Hungry Hippos, Chicken Wrangler and Trivial Pursuit (both traditional \and Harry Potter).
Eventually the rain stopped and we took the dogs for another short walk, then “er indoors TM was on cookhouse duty. She boiled up a rather good dinner, and with that scoffed we sat about listening to Alexa playing music.
We’ve not done much today; a very lazy day really. There’s photographic evidence here. So why do I feel so tired?

27 May 2024 (Monday) - Wardy Hill

Morgan was stomping about at four o’clock. I took him for a widdle, then went back to bed. He went straight to sleep; me not so.
Over brekkie there was a lot of checking weather forecasts going on. In the end we decided on a shorter walk for today, and with brekkie scoffed we set off on a short drive to Wardy Hill to walk it. The route was flat, and alternated between dry terrain and knee deep swamps. It was a good walk; it was only a shame that the puppies disappeared into so many thickets.
As always our route followed a series of geocaches. Having been put out some time ago this geo-series was somewhat old-school; there were twelve geocaches where I would have put twenty-five. I don’t want to sound critical, but the hides could have done with something better in the way of hints. “On the ground” or “Not on the ground” isn’t really enough if the difficultly is going to be set at “easy” level.
With beer supplies running low (actually run out) we came back to base via a farm shop in the naïve hope of getting some rather good local beers. Sadly the farm shop didn’t do beer; like all farm shops it was selling massively overpriced stuff to people who won’t spent a quid if they can spend two. If you want to pay over the odds for Arse and Dandelion cordial then this was the shop for you.
We drove up the road to the local Spar and got more beer than sense.
We came back to base, had a light lunch and sat in the garden for ten minutes until the rain hit before retreating in. Jigsaws came out, and I slept through the entire assembly of the jigsaw; eventually waking in time for a rather good dinner,
With dinner scoffed we got out the Infinity Table again and played “Ticket to Ride” until it was long past my bed time.
I took a few photos during the day. I’m worn out now…

26 May 2024 (Sunday) - Lazy Day

Yesterday had been rather full-on for the dogs, They slept well last night, and consequently so did I. We all slept well last night. Yesterday had been spent being constantly surprised at how early the time was as we’d had a very early start. Today with a rater late start we were constantly surprised t how late it was.
We started the day with a rather good bit of brekkie, and then the morning was rather odd. We slobbed, and played “Whack-a-mole” on the infinity table and waited until shortly after mid-day when the weather forecast reckoned we’d have some dry weather.
We then took a little walk up the road hunting out a couple of geocaches there, We found one, didn’t find the other, and Bailey rolled in something disgusting.  We then walked the other way down the lane and found two more geocaches. No one rolled in anything, but by then the damage had been done.
We came back to base; the plan had been to have a short walk before the forecast storm hit. We scrubbed the dogs then sat in the garden having a crafty drinkie until the storm hit… the storm never did.
Eventually we wandered inside where having scoffed a very good bit of dinner we then played all sorts of games on the Infinity table as some of us set about the port and cheese.
I took a few photos today. The plan is for a more eventful day tomorrow. If nothing else we’ll have to go out for beer… we’ve run out.

25 May 2024 (Saturday) - Fulbourn and Ely

There’s no denying we had something of an early start today. So much so that when I went to make the bed there was a minor earthquake as Morgan was still in it.
We’d got the car mostly loaded up yesterday evening; we got the last of the luggage into the car and were only ten minutes late getting away. We made good time up the motorway, and soon met up with Karl, Tracey and Charlotte at Duxford McDonalds where sausage and egg McMuffins went down rather nicely. For most of us. Having had the sausage Treacle then refused manky old egg.
From Duxford it was a short up to Fulbourn where we had a rather good walk. It was a shame the grass was wet; it was a bigger shame I’d left my gaiters at home. But we were soon out of the wet grass and onto
drier ground. It was good to go on a rather epic walk; I quite miss those. It was only a shame the rain started rather earlier than forecast. But we were only ten minutes form the pub, and as we scoffed a rather good dinner so the rain dried up.
We drove on to Ely to get supplies. Karl and Tracey went into Teco; the rest of us went for a little wander to find the Ely Giraffe. And with giraffe found we made our way back to Tesco. Whilst some of our group spent a small fortune in Tesco, I needed the loo. I asked the security guard where I might find the gents. He told me outside; it was a supermarket and not a public convenience.
I told the manager we'd take our custom elsewhere in future...
From Tesco it was a short hop to the Old Red Lion; out home for the week. We’re staying in a converted pub. It’s rather good. It’s a shame there’s a hole in the garden fence big enough for me to climb through, but the dogs have only gone out once. Hopefully I’ve bodged it closed.
We had a rather good dinner of various pizzas, but the early start and twenty-two thousand steps took their toll. I spent much of the evening fast asleep on the sofa.
I took a few photos as we went about today. Mind you being Saturday I rather missed Dog Club and Steve’s competitions on the radio. 


24 May 2024 (Friday) - Dinner with Darcie

I slept rather well. I made toast and peered into the Internet. An ex-colleague was having a birthday today. Someone with whom I worked very closely for over twenty years, and who I’ve only seen twice in the last ten years. I can distinctly remember meeting him in the town centre once and my mother taking an instant dislike to him. When I used to work with him another colleague had the same birthday; a particularly lonely, vicious and nasty woman who eventually moved away to the Midlands. I wonder whatever happened to her?
There was an interesting post on the local newspaper’s Facebook page about how the local outlet shopping centre has put up parking fees. Judging how people queue up hundreds of yards just to get into the car park it looks like a license to print money. Among the squabble was a comment from a local Green councillor mentioning how expensive local council-run car parks are. Rather odd; bearing in mind the local council is run by an alliance of the Greens and independents.
I got the leads on to the dogs and set off to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were interviewing the leader of the opposition. He looks set to be the next Prime Minister for the simple reason that he currently appears to be the least crap option. However for all that he kept on about having a plan, he didn’t want to commit himself to very much.
We got to the woods to find the car park was heaving. Apparently loads of teenagers were setting off on their Duke of Edinburgh Award hike this weekend. I would like to have had a go at that. When in the Boys Brigade we were always told that what we were doing was “D of E standard”, but no Duke of Edinburgh awards were ever forthcoming. Presumably D of E didn’t have enough god-bothering for the Boys Brigade?
As we walked we saw two separate herds of deer. Or that is I did. The dogs missed both.
We had a good walk; the wildlife was really active today, Birds, deer, squirrels…and then the young mothers and dogs running group came through, Spaced out over a couple of hundred yards with those at the front bellowing a conversation to those at the back they were making enough noise to wake the dead.
We didn’t see anything wildlife-related after that.
We came home; a quick cuppa and I set off to Folkestone for a cheeky Subway with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM”. And with Subway scoffed we went to McDonalds for McFlurries.
I came home via the Folkestone Tesco where again everyone seemed to think they were the only person in the place. How do these people manage to blunder around utterly oblivious to everyone else around them?
Once home I did the monthly accounts. Could be better (am I wrong in wanting to have far too much money) but they could be a whole lot worse.
And then we for ready for next week...
The bags are packed, Bailey’s had a shave, the house-sitter is in place… early start tomorrow. If there’s no wi-fi in Cambridge I shall be back in a week or so…

23 May 2024 (Thursday) - At The Doctor's

I slept reasonably well last night. The CPAP machine still smells funny, but you soon go nose-blind. I made toast and had a little look at the Internet. It was still there. A pub in Hastings Old Town is closing, and on one of the local Facebook pages was a rather bitter and nasty argument about whether or not that pub was welcoming. I’ve only ever been in there once, and at the time it was all but empty.
The same Facebook group was having a rant about a statue of Hastings which had a road cone on its head. The statue of Queen Victoria in Warrior Square has regularly had a road cone on its head for as long as I can remember. There’s quite a few very vocal people in Hastings Old Town’s cyber-community who’ve only just moved there.
I woke “er indoors TM and the dogs, and took the dogs out. As we drove the Prime Minister was being interviewed on the radio. He was trying to defend his government; I felt a little sorry for him. He’s trying his best to do something about illegal immigration, and inflation has come down massively during his government. But his government is just one year old following thirteen years of Conservative disaster. People still remember Liz Truss’s comprehensively and deliberately bolloxing the economy and Boris Johnson’s constant stream of lies. To be fair to the Prime Minister, he would have done so much better on the radio this morning had he not ended every utterance by saying just how crap he thought the opposition would be.
We got to the woods and had a rather good walk. As we went we met three other dog walkers, and each encounter passed off without episode, which was something of a result.
Once home I popped up to the corner shop for pastries.I sorted a cuppa with those, wrote up a little CPD then set off to see the GP. My left knee is a worry. I can and do walk four miles without issue, but it *really* hurts when going up or down stairs or getting into the car.
I got to the surgery and sat in the waiting area, and it soon became clear that I was the odd one out. Everyone else going in to see a doctor or nurse wasn’t alone. Most people seemed to be going in as part of a group of at least three or four. When I went in I apologized to the doctor that I hadn’t brought the entire tribe along. She chuckled, asked me a few questions, had a poke and a prod and asked if I wanted her honest opinion. Expecting the worst I said that I did. She said that she was sending me for an X-ray to be sure, but she thought that my knee was giving me gip because that’s what happens when you get old. She also gave me pain killers for free – free because now I am old, I don’t have to pay for prescriptions.
I popped to Tesco for the shopping I’d forgot to get on Tuesday, came home, and I got the lawn mower out and mowed the lawn. And then spent the best part of an hour connecting an outlet to the bath I got at the weekend. I hope it’s watertight. Then bearing in mind the doctor’s advice not to overdo it, I sat by the pond reading for a bit, then watered the plants, and played “Candy Crush”.
I resisted the temptation to put the bath into place – I shall do that when I’ve got more time to spend on it and when I’m not taking it easy

22 May 2024 (Wednesday) - At Work

Another frankly dreadful night. I spent much of the night hanging off the edge of te bed with only six inches of bed space, and when I did manage to nod off I was having nightmares about taking a cousin to afternoon tea; said cousin demanding to have an “earl grey latte ya fukker”.
I made toast, watched an episode of “Catastrope” and had a look at the Internet. I sent out birthday wishes to my nephew’s four Facebook accounts, reported some adverts for prostitutes to the Facebook Feds (Community Standards, eh?), and got ready for work.
Having completely forgotten to make myself a sarnie I went to work via the petrol station. I could fill up the car and get scran too. I waited to pay for an inordinately long time; the chap in the queue in front of me would seem to have been some long-distance driver who had driven hundreds of miles overnight and was quite clearly desperately lonely. He just wanted someone to talk to. And as he jabbered on at the po-faced harridan behind the till so the queue grew and grew. He must have been desperate for company - the woman behind the till at Sainsburys in the mornings isn't someone I'd want to exchange pleasantries with. She scares me.
I set off up the motorway. As I drove I was conscious of the car behind me getting closer and closer. Far too close. When it got to about six feet behind I pulled over a lane and it just kept coming forward. As it pulled level so I saw the woman behind the steering wheel was engrossed in her mobile phone. I beeped the hooter; she looked up in surprise as she found herself overtaking on the inside, gave me the V-sign and sped off.
I should really have squealed her up, shouldn't I? But I soon forgot her car's registration number.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the recently released inflation figures. The government was saying that the lowest inflation rate for three years was a vindication of their policies; the opposition were claiming that it was nothing to do with government policy. Surely any decent independent economist would be able to say which was right? Or so you might think. According to the experts that were wheeled on, this would not be the case. Economic theory is something of a dark art; akin to betting on the horses. There are apparently as many economic theories as there are experts to expound them. It would seem that economists are on a par with weather forecasters; they have a go, but no one really expects very much from them.
Again I realised I picked the wrong career.
I got to work and did my bit. Not being the only one in the place made for a much easier shift than the one I had the last time I was there. But there's no denying that I spent far too long looking out of the window and a not-rainy day wishing I'd gone into work yesterday and been home today when I could have done stuff at home.
I wonder what the weather forecast is for tomorrow?

21 May 2024 (Tuesday) - Rain Stopped Play

I didn’t sleep that well; the new CPAP machine has a very funny smell, and the hose pipe is totally inflexible.
I peered into the Internet as I scoffed brekkie as I do most mornings. Two friends were having birthdays today. Friends from the good old days of kite flying. Really good friends… such a shame they live so far away.
Another friend was griping about getting so may adverts for funeral plans. Some people get rather upset about the thought of their own croaking. Me; I get more upset about the thought of having a eulogy blathered by some vicar who had no idea who I was (as actually happened with my father-in-law and brother-in-law), to say nothing of the dogs being put into a dog orphanage. I’ve left instructions… and my own eulogy too.
I got the dogs onto their leads and I took them up to the woods. The sky was overcast as we started, and as we walked along the top of a rise we found ourselves going parallel to some strange woman in the valley below. This woman had two dogs at which she was constantly shrieking and blowing a whistle. I have no idea why she was shrieking at the dogs; they seemed to be minding their own business. It strikes me that half the trick of getting dogs to do as they are told and to come when called is to leave them be for the most part. They aren’t daft. I only call my three back when there is a reason; usually because there is a Forestry England lorry or a horse coming down the track toward us. The dogs see the lorry or horse and seem to understand why I’m calling them. In the past when I was constantly calling them back they soon tired of it.
Just as our walk took us to the furthest point from the car so the heavens opened. According to the weather forecast the rain was due to start just about when we would have got home after the walk. Clearly the weather hadn’t heard the forecast. We were all soaking wet by the time we got back to the car.
We came home for warming showers and dry pants. I made a cuppa for me and for “er indoors TM who didn’t want cake. What was that all about?
With cuppa guzzled I popped to Tesco for milk. The shop over the road from us sells milk, but I watch the stuff get delivered before six o’clock on the mornings when I am up silly early. On other days I see it sitting in the morning sunshine as I go to work an hour or so later. And on other days I see it finally get taken into the shop when I take dogs for a walk at nine o’clock. It’s hardly surprising that their milk never lasts more than a day.
I got to Tesco; it was heaving. Having narrowly avoided some silly old git’s trolly a dozen times, his wife apologized to me, snatched the trolly from him and told him that he couldn’t push the trolly any more as he keeps crashing into other people. It was only at that point that the old git seemed to realized there was anyone else in the shop but him.
I got milk, wine, port and cakes… and completely forgot all the other stuff I’d gone to Tesco to get.
With the rain showing no sign of letting up I spent an hour or so solving geo-puzzles. As I puzzled I had a message. Favourite oldest granddaughter had passed her driving test. Having recently changed her instructor as she was fed up with constantly being told how bad she was, she can’t have been that bad.
I then cracked on with the ironing. As I ironed I watched a film on Netflix. “Billy Eliott” was rather good… but was strange in that whoever had actually put the film together had ballsed up with the sound. Sometimes I couldn’t hear it and had to crank the volume up. Other times it was deafening.
I wrote up a little CPD, and then did the “Feed The Fish” ritual with the dogs. Or with Treacle at any rate. With the rain not letting up the other two weren’t going outside.
“er indoors TM  boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with the plonk I’d bought earlier. At just over three quid a bottle, it wasn’t bad really.
Today was a tad dull. The rain started at half past nine this morning and didn’t let up all day. There was so much else I could have done.

20 May 2024 (Monday) - Hospital, Shopping

I woke rather early, made toast and as I scoffed it I started something new on Netflix. “Catastrophe” is a comedy in which some woman gets pregnant off of some American. The first episode seemed rather good.
I then found myself engrossed in an advert for a pressure washer which runs from a battery and a bucket of water. Much as I like my pressure washer, it is a faff running out the cable and the hose. Battery and bucket might be the way forward, but the reviews on Amazon made me laugh. Several people giving it a glowing write-up openly admitted they hadn’t used the thing; they’d bought it because the adverts looked good.
I sent out birthday wishes, loaded the washing machine and got ready for the morning.
This morning I had an appointment at CPAP department the local hospital. I turned up at the hospital’s reception desk and asked where I had to go. The chap behind the counter glared at me, reached under the counter, pulled out a sign saying they opened in twenty minutes’ time and turned back to what he was doing. I went and had a cuppa and came back twenty minutes later. The same chap took one look at me, was all smiles, and before I could say anything he announced that I had a CPAP machine in the bag I was carrying and told me where the clinic was. I remarked that it was a shame he couldn’t have been that helpful twenty minutes earlier, and walked off leaving him looking rather nonplussed.
 I went to the CPAP machine clinic where the respiratory technician took the old machine from me, and talked me through how to operate the new one they were giving me. New one? Watching the old one go was like saying goodbye to an old friend. No one had told me that I was getting a new one.
Whilst I was there I asked about a follow-up appointment with the sleep clinic. The person who phoned to arrange this morning’s appointment with the CPAP clinic assured me that the chap at the CPAP clinic could arrange a sleep clinic appointment.
The chap at the CPAP clinic assured me he could not.
With that appointment done I walked round to the ENT clinic; I’ve got a nasal re-bore booked at Canterbury at the end of June. When I saw the surgeon a few months ago the surgeon assured me that he would operate at Ashford as that would be more convenient for me. The person who arranged the date of surgery was crystal clear that the surgeon doesn’t do surgery in Ashford. The people at the ENT clinic this morning assure me he regularly does surgery in Ashford.
Getting a lift to Canterbury for 7am, and then a lift home again in the late afternoon would be rather problematical.
I’ve put in a formal complaint, and resisted making the observation that with one hundred and twenty NHS Trusts in the country I am accustomed to working only one step from the top,  and perhaps those in position one hundred and five might learn from them
I came home, hung the washing out and put more in to scrub, then took the dogs to the woods. We had a good wander round the woods. It all passed off rather uneventfully which is always a good thing.
An hour and three and a half miles later we were back at the car. We came home and hung out more washing. I sorted cuppa and cake for me and “er indoors TM, then went on a little mission. Having acquired a little bath for the expanded bog filter I needed to attach a water outlet. I got the attachment I needed (and some fat balls and gecko ornaments too) but the garden centre didn’t have any O-rings. Without O-rings I might get a leak. The lad in Wickes had never heard of O-rings. Screwfix and Toolstation didn’t have any big enough, neither did the two hardware shops at the market. Grudgingly I tried B&Q. They had what I needed, but weren’t as helpful as they might be. Normally I wouldn’t shop there, but needs must. As I used the self-service checkout the thing gave me a message that staff carry out random checks on shoppers. As I walked out so a member of their staff walked up to me. I told him that if he wanted to check my shopping he’d had his chance when I was at the checkout. If they are going to expect customers to operate the till themselves they have to expect customers to take the opportunity to pocket what they can. The chap pissed off without comment. As well he should.
I came home, had a spot of lunch then had the genius idea that the little bath will need a flat surface on which to sit. Five minutes on the Internet came up with what I needed, so I set off again.
I drove down to the garden centre in Bethersden, got the slabs and one or two other odds and sods and completely forgot what happened the last time I bought that sort of garden slab. The edges are very sharp, and I cut my hand open.
Once the bleeding stopped I knacked my back getting the slabs into the car, and once home knacked it further getting the slabs into the back garden.
I watered the plants, and called a halt to doing things today. A trip to the hospital, a dog walk, some shopping and I’d walked sixteen thousand steps and done my back.
Today’s plan had been to wash the new bathtub, and that is still on the to-do list…

19 May 2024 (Sunday) - Littlun Stayed Over

I slept rather well last night. With “er indoors TM and the dogs up in the attic room with littlun I didn’t have to spent the night fighting for bed space. I had one or two vivid dreams about my time at the Open University summer schools thirty years ago when I made some rather good friends… and what with there being no social media other than knowing someone’s phone number in those days, I’ve lost touch with all of them. We had some good times; I wonder what happened to them all.
There was a minor commotion as everyone got up. “er indoors TM had spotted a tick on Bailey’s head. So while “Darcie Waa Waa TM ran riot we got the thing out of her, and put the tick collars onto all the dogs. We’ve had the collars for a couple of weeks; this prompted us to put the things on to them. Did the tick come from the deer at Kings Wood? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there Friday. She *might* have got it from paddock at Dog Club. The grass is getting rather long there and she’s rather low-down….
As littlun ran riot so I escaped to the garden. Both pond filters were running slowly so I cleaned them out. I did it slightly differently this time… I’d had a stroke of genius. Rather then running the waste hose from the big pond filter to the drain I ran it to the monkey-puzzle tree. Instead of pouring the fishy fertilizer to waste I thought it might do the tree some good. And then once I’d cleaned out the filter in the little pond I used the water from that cleaning to slosh away any residue round the tree.
I shall watch that tree for a day or so to see if it perks up or croaks.
Talking of croaking, my cordyline isn’t looking very good. Mind you it’s not looked good for some time. I took off the manky-looking leaves. Perhaps I pruned it a tad too vigorously? Time will tell; it always does.
My Boy TM” and Cheryl came to visit littlun; they stayed for a while. It was good to catch up. I outlined my plans for expanding the bog filter. The first fruit of my loins seemed to agree with my thinking.
They set off, and littlun spent quite a while warning the world about the monster that (apparently) lives in the shed. I didn’t know there was a monster in there. One lives and learns.
We loaded up ourselves and littlun and the dogs and took her home. “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” had set up a paddling pool for littlun, so knowing the dogs would jump in and tear it with their claws we took them off for a little walk up the Leas. An ice cream would have been nice… we found a little kiosk selling ice creams. The tribe in front of me in the queue waited until they were at the counter before even looking at the choices, and then couldn’t decide. Father chose for them, and that started an argument. Add to that the woman behind the till was worse than useless; every ice cream she prepared was as though it was her first. Which flavour is which? Where are the cones? Where is the scoop? Sticking ice cream into a cone should have taken her ten to fifteen seconds’ it was taking two to three minutes. We walked away; life is too short to waste like that. We walked up to the bandstand and back, and saw the queue at the kiosk growing and growing. A shame really; there was no need for a queue. If that were my kiosk I’d employ people who could actually do the job.
Just as I got home so my phone beeped. “My Boy TM” had found a decent second-hand bath on Facebook Marketplace for fifteen quid. A couple of messages, a little drive, and I’ve got the first part of the expanded bog filter.
What with all the excitement of having had littlun to stay, time was pressing on, so “er indoors TM popped up the road to the kebab shop for dinner. We scoffed kebabs whilst watching more “Taskmaster”. I like kebab… but this one isn’t sitting very well.

18 May 2024 (Saturday) - Before the Late Shift

As I peered into Facebook I saw the spring break holiday season had started. Several friends were off here and there. That’s why I like Facebook; I’m very nosey.
There were a couple of posts that made me chuckle. Someone was after contact details of a celebrity footballer who lived locally; they were hoping to involve him in a charity event they were organizing. This chap’s nephews and niece went to the scout group I used to be involved with. I lost count of the amount of times we were promised an appearance from this chap at fundraisers and special events over many years. We never once saw him.
A kite-flying friend had the hump because he was expected to cover for a colleague “who had been taken seriously ill with a case of it is Friday afternoon and the sun is shining” (to quote him verbatim).
A colleague was very proud because her son had been announced “Boy of the Year” at Boys Brigade. I’ve warned her about Boys Brigade before. It is great fun, the boys (and girls!) have all sorts of adventures and activities, but all the time slowly and insidiously religious claptrap is being forced onto them without their realizing. There really should be a law against brainwashing children in that way…
I saw four Facebook friends were having birthdays today. I sent birthday wishes to the ones I am vaguely in touch with, and wondered who one of them was. Presumably from the mutual friends we have I must have met her whilst working in Canterbury. But I don’t remember her at all.
And I saw our Munzee Clan had reached Level Three.
I went upstairs and woke “er indoors TM and the dogs, and then spent a few minutes browsing Facebook marketplace for old baths. I soon found myself looking at a new (different) car. Much as I like my car, I miss my old Espace. I could fit so much into it. If I do find a cheapo bathtub, getting it home will mean hiring a van. Back in the day I could fit everything into my old Espace.
Being Saturday morning we drove round to Dog Club. Attendance was down a tad with some of the usual suspects on holiday. Apart from one little spat early on, all went well. It usually does.
Some people turned up just as we were leaving; we stayed with them until the next group arrived, and so having failed totally on Steve’s “guess the lyrics” contest on the radio on the way there, we missed the mystery year contest on the way home. However I was given a question… When did Princess Diana die? 1997. I remember it distinctly. It was a Saturday night when I was working.
We came home, had a cuppa, and I counted up the money in the Dog Club pot. We ask for one pound fifty pence per session per dog… how on Earth did I end up with a spare nineteen pence?
Then leaving “er indoors TM and the dogs, I set off.
I went to work via Willesborough. During last week someone on one of the Facebook pond forums asked if anyone lived in Ashford as he would like some advice. Needless to say the keyboard warriors were out in force offering sarcasm, but it turned out the chap only lived a couple of miles away. I said to him that I was no expert but would come and have a chat if he liked.
The bloke has a rather good pond; far bigger than mine. It isn't very old though, and the water is rather murky. I think the chap has the same issue that I've had for years - too much light and no plants making use of it. I've come to the conclusion that a garden pond will always have a certain amount of photosynthetic life in it, and if you don't stick in ornamental plants yourself, the pond will grow green algae of its own. Which is why I've set up the bog filter, and am looking to expand it. I suggested he might build one. Or two. He's got space to build two rather big bog filters and make something of a garden feature out of them. I got rather enthusiastic as I spoke about what I would do if it were my pond. In retrospect I might have been a tad too enthusiastic; what I had in mind is rather ambitious and would cost several thousand pounds to do. But looking at his garden the chap seems to be rather good with his hands. I hope he does build a couple of bog filters; they would look good. I hope he sends me photos of when they are done too.
From Willesborough I went on to the late shift. I'd rather not work weekends; I'd rather not work at all. I suppose I've got a decision to make. My pension money covers my expenses and gives me a little over too. Working gives me money to squander on ponds and garden and second hand bath tubs. Is having the extra money worth the effort of doing the work? For now I shall continue, but if I have many more shifts like today’s I won’t be continuing for much longer.
I came home to find the house in silence. No one dared make a sound. Darcie Waa Waa TM is having a sleepover and “er indoors TM had got her settled. Heaven help anyone who wakes her.
I wonder how long she will stay settled before the dog snogging starts.

17 May 2024 (Friday) - Busy, Busy

Having had no alarms set and having slept well for two nights I had an alarm set last night. I had two hours sleep then lay awake. I gave up trying to sleep at four o’clock, made toast and watched more episodes of “Missions”. Despite having been left for dead five years previously our heroine turned up in a hippy commune somewhere in medieval France, then sent psychic messages to all her old crewmates that she was still alive on Mars.
I sparked up the Internet and had a look at the morning’s arguments on Facebook. On the official Sparks Facebook page people were being accused of “gatekeeping”; an insult used by people who have recently discovered something when they are referring to anyone who has been aware of that something for longer than they have. The assumption is made (usually wrongly) that whoever has been aware of that something the longest is somehow claiming it for their own. I've found it's a good idea not to mention that you've been a Sparks fan since 1974. Just saying that makes you a "gatekeeper" in some people's eyes. And it’s not just Sparks fandom but on all sorts of Facebook pages. Dogs, garden ponds, kite flying, Star Trek...there is a small but very vocal minority who resent that anyone has found their favourite thing before they have.
There was also a squabble about the Eurostar not stopping in Ashford any more. A chap I know who lives in Littlehampton (!) was trying to get people to sign a petition to get the thing to call at the Ashford railway station like it used to. I must admit I’d like the option to walk up the road and hop on a train to Europe. But in all the years the service was there, I only did it once. And that was when work was paying.
I sent out birthday wishes, and got ready for work.
As I drove I turned on the radio. It wouldn't turn on; instead it wanted to play my MP3 collection. It does that from time to time. When I found somewhere to stop I stopped, turned everything off, got out, locked the door and waited for a minute before setting off again. That usually fixes whatever is wrong with the radio. I logged the issue with the warranty people over a year ago, but they never got back to me about it.
As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking politics. Sir Kier Starmer had made some speech yesterday promising shit was sugar. This morning the Chancellor of the Exchequer was making some speech promising that shit would only be sugar if the Labour party put taxes up enough.
These politicians are all as bad as each other…
I got to work rather early, and went into the canteen and had the breakfast. It looked a lot better than it actually was. Periodically I have the breakfast, and usually end up wishing I hadn't.
I had a guts ache which lasted all morning.
I'd been asked to go in this morning to do some extra hours as work was a tad short-handed today. I don't mind doing a little extra; it's always good to be up on hours. I’d been asked to do one specific job. I’d done that in just over an hour. I did something else for a bit, and with that done I was at a bit of a loose end so I came home a tad earlier than planned. With some time spare I had a sudden idea that I might come home via Hastings and see my mum… and then I remembered.
I took the usual route home down the motorway and was home before half past eleven.
I collected the dogs and we went to the woods for a walk. When I was just over half-way there I realized I’d left my phone at home. Back in the day I never had a mobile phone. I made do without one for years. I didn’t need it, and there’s hardly any signal in the woods anyway. I considered going back for it but decided to carry on. And spent the rest of the drive, the walk and the drive home imagining all sorts of emergencies and scenarios which would have been utterly disastrous without a mobile phone.
Needless to say none of them happened.
We came home. I picked up my mobile and popped it in my pocket. And then cracked on in the garden for a bit. The lawn needed mowing, and the sweet pea seedlings needed to go into the planter. As I planted I saw a little slow worm… well, a relatively big one under one of the garden sleepers. He’s lost his tail, so I covered him over to give him some shelter. I wonder how he lost his tail; I hope the dogs haven’t been bothering him.
I then had a little pootle round the garden, and as I did I formulated a plan. Photos taken this time last year showed the pond was on the green side. That was before the plants went in. The plants are clearly combatting the algae, so if I was to expand the bog filter I could have the pond clearer for longer. What I need is another filter behind the existing one. If I could get hold of an old bath tub, that might do the trick. If any of my loyal reader have an old bath tub they don’t want…
I made a cuppa and sat by the pond. And despite the BBC’s weather forecast only giving a ten per cent chance of rain it started hossing down. So I came inside, settled on the sofa and woke over an hour later.
“er indoors TM boiled up fish and chips which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Taskmaster”. Having got up so early, been to work, done four miles round the woods and then a couple of hours gardening I’m worn out.

16 May 2024 (Thursday) - Rainy Day

As I scoffed toast and peered into the Internet I rolled my eyes. One of my colleagues had posted a photo of a Costa cup in the lab and had commented “working eleven days in a row. I live at work, I just go home to sleep.” Many friends, other colleagues and managers had clicked the “like” button… Where I used to work I once got a formal disciplinary warning for posting a selfie at six o’clock and commenting that I was tired.
How things change.
With little else happening on-line I filled out an on-line request form to see my GP. My left knee is becoming a worry. I can and do walk miles with no problems, but having walked miles with no problems I get excruciating pain from the knee when I then get into the car. Getting up and down hurts, and all the kneeling about when gardening is very painful. Back in the day you would just go to Dr Mitchell’s house, sit in his front room and wait to be called to see him. These days things are rather different. I filled out the on-line form, and thought about a dog walk. Sadly the rain was hossing down, and was forecast to do so all day. So I got dressed, and we went for our walk anyway.
After navigating some rather busy roads we got to Kings Wood. The car park was rather empty. Not surprising really bearing in mind the rain. We walked a shorter route than usual, but when we got back to the car my watch still said we’d covered a couple of miles.
As we got to the car so some thug was parking in a white van. I opened the car’s boot and said “Boot Dogs” to indicate to the pups that they should jump in (not that Bailey can manage it). “You What?!” announced the thug in a rather threatening manner. I explained about “Boot Dogs” being the command to get them into the boot; he didn’t look convinced. I then did my whistle and gave the dogs a treat (to reinforce the whole coming to the sound of a whistle) and the thug took offence at that too.
We came home via the petrol station where I picked up cakes, and had another episode. I drove down the road, indicated, slowed down and pulled up in the end of the parking bay. The idiot in the car behind who had been following far too closely behind had also pulled in behind me. When he saw me getting out he flew back, then flew forward, wound down his window and demanded to know that the f… I was playing at. I rather took the wind out of his sails by telling him I was parking my car.
I wish I could get rid of my idiot magnet.
I showered the mud from the dogs, put some shirts in to wash, made us both a cuppa, and dished out the cakes. Whilst “er indoors TM had a meeting I cracked on with some CPD. If you look on-line there are many atlases of haematology; websites showing all sorts of weird and wonderful things you see down the microscope. Some are rather obscure and you rarely if ever see these things outside of an atlas. Years ago I started one of my own. It’s nothing special, the photos are rather dreadful, but it is all stuff that I have seen myself. You can see the atlas by clicking here (if you feel so inclined).
I spent a little while this morning updating it with things I’ve seen over the last couple of months. At the risk of getting technical, those things were basophilic stippling, Howell Jolly bodies, May-Hegglin anomalies and mitotic figures.
And then the washing machine finished so I cracked on with the ironing. As I ironed I watched something on Netflix. “Masterminds” was a rather good film. 
And then I saw the postman had been. He’d delivered a payslip… I say “payslip”; the pension equivalent of a payslip. The sort of thing the pension people assured me I wouldn’t get (!) I then spent an age poring over my monthly accounts trying to figure out why I had been paid hundreds of pounds less than I thought I should be… eventually I remembered I’d halved my working hours. Dur!
And then my phone beeped with a message. The GP can’t examine my knee remotely and needs me to turn up so’s he can give it the once-over. An appointment is booked for next week.
And then my phone beeped again. Yet another friend request on Facebook trying to peddle porn websites.
“er indoors TM boiled up sausages and chips which we scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Taskmasterand then an episode of “Stacey Dooley Sleeps Overin which Stacey was staying with a trans couple in America. They were… different. But then isn’t everyone?

I’ve had a couple of days not at work in which I wasn’t running myself ragged in the garden, and I’m not in pain. Perhaps I have been overdoing it?

15 May 2024 (Wednesday) - DNFs

With no alarm set I slept like a log eventually waking to the sound of Treacle having a sneezing fit just before eight o’clock. I made toast and had a look at the Internet.
Yesterday I saw a comment on my old primary school’s Facebook page from a name I recognized. I sent a friend request, and now I’m in touch with another of the old gang.  “Nobby” was in my first class at primary school. We were at school together from that first day in September 1969 up until I packed up with school eleven years later. We were great mates; often going fishing together. We were both in the Boys Brigade; albeit in different groups. And bearing in mind what the Boys Brigade is all about it’s not surprising that he’s ended up being one of the leading lights of the happy-clappy church where he now lives. One of the main things putting me off organizing a reunion of the old gang is that so many of them are now very religious, and I am not.
With “er indoors TM in the office today she set off leaving us home alone. I set the washing machine going and took the dogs up to the woods. As we drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the government’s plans to ban all forms of sex education for the under-nines. Various experts and windbags were wheeled on; it would seem that there’s quite a variety of opinion as to what the phrase “sex education” actually means. It’s not just the mechanics of doing the dirty deed; it’s who or what you want to do the dirty deed with, at or on. And what you consider yourself to be whilst doing it.
It's all a bit of a minefield really; I’m best off not getting involved.
We got to the Kings Wood and went on a rather longer walk than usual. At the weekend some German chap hurried round the woods as fast as he could seeing how many geocaches he could find. Bearing in mind there’s over a hundred he rather rushed and logged quite a few (ten) “Did Not Find” logs. I always check on those just in case the thing really is missing… Two were missing. I replaced them. The chap also logged that one was broken. I replaced it. He could have replaced it; I carry replacement pots just so I can do running repairs. You can replace a broken pot quicker than you can log that there is an issue.
As we walked I heard a loud bell. Some woman had attached a loud bell to her dogs so that she could hear where they were. We met her just as Morgan and Bailey had wandered off. I mentioned that they had gone walkabout. Immediately the woman pointed over my shoulder and said “what cute dogs”. I said that would be mine. “I don’t think so” she said. I turned to see Morgan and Bailey, and then had a rather surreal conversation with this woman who had never encountered anyone with multiple dogs that look different to each other.
I thought it best to gloss over Morgan and Bailey being from the same litter.
We came home for a bath. Well, the girls needed a scrub. Treacle had been belly-deep in the mud and Bailey had rolled in something foul. Morgan was rather clean, but he jumped in the bath anyway.
With dogs scrubbed I hung out the washing; the morning’s drizzle had given way to a bright afternoon. I thought about pootling in the garden, but contented myself with harvesting the dog turds. I then had a go at Bailey with the trimmers I use on my own head. I think she looks a bit tidier now. Amazingly she didn’t fight; she seemed to take being sheared rather well. I expected “er indoors TM would take one look and lay an egg. But she came home, scoffed the dinner I’d boiled up and didn’t seem to notice.
As we scoffed dinner we watched the second episode of the new season of Doctor Who. After yesterday’s rather dull episode, this evening’s one was perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who for years.
Let’s hope this continues.

14 May 2024 (Tuesday) - Another Day at Work

Having every intention of an early night last night I fell asleep in front of the telly and woke shortly after elven o’clock. I went to bed and slept through till ten past three and lay awake until I finally gave up trying to sleep.
I made toast and watched another episode of “Missions” in which the ghost of Mars took over our heroes’ spaceship, and now looks set to chum up with the space pirates from NASA.
Did I mention this French TV show seems to have lost something in translation?
I had a quick look at the Internet. It was much the same as ever, so I got ready for the off. It was raining as I walked to my car. As I'd parked a little way away I thought I might do my daily Munzee stroll in which a magical unicorn gambols up the road scattering magical stars as it goes (there's no mucking about in Munzee). I set Cappy the magical unicorn going, and it pissed off in entirely the wrong direction.
So much for that idea.
I got to the car and set off to work. As I drove there was talk about Parliament trying to sort itself out. there was a vote last night in which it had been suggested that the merest hint of scandal should be enough to have MPs banned from the House of Commons.
Fortunately that plan was scuppered; MPs have to be formally arrested before getting hoiked out. But the vote was close; only one vote in it.
But can you imagine the chaos in a system by which any hint of scandal gets MPs banned? That was tried with great success by Titus Oates four hundred years ago when he put the skids under every political enemy he had. Titus soon found that the mere hint of impropriety was enough to have his rivals removed from power and stuffed up for life.
I'm reminded of my days in the Scout Association. Before the CRB checks on new leaders came in, the Scout Association used to have an extensive archive of back copies of the old scandal-hunting paper "News of the World" and employed people to go through them looking for any dirt on potential new leaders.
Work was work. But being on an early meant an early finish. I came home through the rain, did the “Feed the Fish” ceremony with the dogs, and had a look at the water cress I’d thrown into the floating baskets last Friday. The stuff had already sprouted. I took a few photos of the cress and the bog filter and added it to the album of photos of the pond; the thing has certainly kept me busy over the years.
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the first episode of the new season of “Doctor Who”. Sadly it would seem that special effects are now the way forward. Back in the day the sets wobbled and the monster was a man in a rubber suit. There was no way round that, so the writers wrote a plot.
It would do the show no end of good if the writers did that again. But having had a whinge, this episode was probably one of the best of those of the last few years. Here’s hoping…