20 July 2024 (Saturday) - Hic !

As I drove home yesterday evening the weather forecast said that it would be a hot and humid night and that people wouldn’t sleep well.
They were spot on, but too much ale did help.
 
I made toast and peered into the Internet as I do most mornings. There were petty squabbles about Lego and Star Trek, and endless adverts for Temu who seem to be making everything from children’s toys to saucy underwear these days.
Judging by the pictures I saw several people were on holiday; I suppose it’s the time of year for that. My old mate from Boys Brigade days who moves from hotel to hotel was posting to the world from the Lake District today. He says it is cheaper for him to lead the lifestyle he wants by moving form hotel to hotel rather than having a house of his own with all the associated expenses.
It’s another world, isn’t it?
I got Wordle on the fifth attempt. I also had another dubious friend request.
 
Being Saturday we drove round to Repton and Dog Club. We’d had three people asking about Dog Club in the week, and in a novel break with tradition two of them turned up. So often we have people asking so many questions about Dog Club and preparing us for a dramatic appearance, and then never showing up.
Dog Club went rather well. It was a shame that Pogo had to hump Kai, but there it is.
Having totally failed Steve’s “Guess the Lyrics” competition on the radio on the way to Dog Club we were out late and missed the Mystery Year competition on the way home.
 
We got home. The dogs immediately went to sleep. I counted up the Dog Club money and paid it into the bank, then cracked on. Washing on to the line, putting away the garden chairs from last night, running the shears over my head for a quick haircut, then popped over the road to get some beers for later.
Disaster.
For years the Polish shop over the road has had the best beer selection for miles. Today it was no different to Tesco. Such a disappointment.
 
“er indoors TM  slipped off shopping. I fell asleep on the sofa and dozed for an hour or so until she returned. We had a spot of lunch, then set off to Sittingbourne where we had a rather good afternoon sitting in Karl and Tracy’s garden drinking beer, eating pizza and putting the world to rights. There’s no denying that after six pints cracking the gin open might have been construed as a questionable move, but it was a move I would certainly do again.
We left Pogo there; he is now having a little holiday. We came home down the M20 following a train which was setting off all sorts of sparks as trains do. “er indoors TM said it was lightning; who am I to disagree (as Annie Lennox once sung).
I’ve got to be up early for work tomorrow… right now that seems rather ambitious.
 

19 July 2024 (Friday) - A Birthday Get-Together

I was rather late to bed last night and slept like a log until quarter to one, then dozed fitfully looking at the clock every twenty minutes. This happens every time I have an alarm set.
I got up at half past five and made toast which I scoffed whilst watching an episode of “Boomers”, then had a little look at the Internet. It was much the same as ever.
A new series of geocaches had gone live about an hour’s drive away. I featured in one of the caches; rather flattering to be mentioned. And overnight the people who’d supplied the pond waterfall attachments had sent an email saying they would accept the things back again, which was just as well because they are going back whether they would be accepted or not.
Three people on my Facebook list had a birthday today. I sent out birthday wishes, failed at Wordle, then got ready for work.
 
I set off to work... once I remembered where I'd left the car last night. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the upcoming presidential election in America. Donald Trump has been confirmed as the Republican candidate, and there are moves afoot to get someone who's not in their mid-eighties to be the Democrat candidate. Poor President Biden would seem to be quickly losing the confidence of everyone. The implication was that the American public are being faced with a choice between the incompetent and the incapable, and given such a choice no one wants to choose "incapable".
There was also an interview with the new Defence minister who is today meeting with the Ukrainian president who's got the arse because the UK government won't let them fire UK weapons into Russia. I must admit I was rather disappointed with the new Defence minister. After so many years of Conservatives, this Labour minister sounds exactly the same as the Tories in that he said a lot without saying anything.
I suppose that's politicians for you.
 
I did my bit, and came home. We had a rather good evening in the garden with friends having a little get-together in honour of a sixty-fifth birthday.
A very good evening… the fourth bottle of ale might have been a mistake…

18 July 2024 (Thursday) - Pies, Late Shift

I slept well last night (for a change) spending over nine hours asleep in my pit. That was something of a result.
As I made brekkie so my phone beeped. The car parking I’d bought on the Ringo app last night was about to expire. I hadn’t realized that there was free parking from six in the evening until eight in the morning, so by parking at quarter to six and getting an hour’s worth I’d effectively brought three quarters of an hour’s parking this morning. Woops.
I had my usual look at the Internet. There were a lot less people wanting to join the “Upstairs Downstairs” Facebook page I help moderate this morning. The show has started a re-run on ITV3 recently and the group which used to get two or three membership requests a week has recently been getting a couple of dozen every day.
There was an argument about the correct name of the Post Office Tower in London. Some people were pretending not to realise the thing was over sixty years old. Apparently it is to be converted into a hotel.
 
I munzed from the sofa and captured “er indoors TM’s baby dragon. Then took five goes to get today’s “Wordle”. At the risk of giving spoilers, today’s answer was “Nerdy” – rather appropriate. I wrote up some CPD. CPD (continuous professional development) is something I legally have to do to keep myself up to date with what’s going on at work, but to anyone who doesn’t test blood it would be incredibly dull. But within minutes of having written up an incredibly dry few lines about this week’s newsletter from Oncology Central, that entry had had views.
 
I set off to work... with a few moments to spare I thought I might pop into Matalan to get some more work shirts. They had stuff which was either utterly posh or totally casual. I'll have a look on Amazon later.
Bearing in mind the utter shambles that is Operation Brock I decided against going up the motorway. I took the A-road instead and stopped off at Lenham. I thought I might treat myself and got a steak and kidney pie from the local bakery. I took one bite and the thing utterly disintegrated and sprayed its contents everywhere. It wasn't so much a pie as a gravy-filled grenade. It was as well that it came with a foil tray; I ended up slurping the wreckage out of the tray. Pies do that. If you are ever going to scoff a pie, have a plate, knife and fork to hand.  Pasties and steak bakes are a different matter, but never trust a pie.
I didn't actually go to Lenham for the pie (I wish I hadn't now).  I've got a geocache near the church which has had reports of being missing. I had a little walk across the fields to where it was supposed to be and found it was missing. I replaced it. It was a shame that the people who logged it as missing couldn't have done that. You really can replace the thing quicker than you can write a log saying "it ain't there any more" and save me a load of pie-related arse-ache. But there it is.
 
I drove on to the petrol station for fuel both for the car and myself. Having learned from my earlier pie-related disaster I got a sandwich and a bag of crisps. And then it was on to work for the late shift. Work seemed rather odd, but then ever since I've gone part time it's seemed odd. I'm not quite sure why. I did my bit. I don't really like the late shifts, but there it is.
 
I came home to find my new waterfall attachment (for the bog filter) that I ordered from Amazon had arrived. It was far too small. That’s going back.

17 July 2024 (Wednesday) - Folkestone

I didn’t sleep that well last night. Shortly after I finally nodded off “er indoors TM ‘s alarm woke me, and then once she’d got up, Treacle started barking for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I got up and made toast. The Internet was its usual argument. There was quite the squabble this morning about a flood relief weir in the far east on one of the Facebook pages I follow. Was it made in the twelfth century or in the 1980s? I would say “who cares” but it would seem quite a few people did care. You wouldn’t believe how heated people got over something so trivial.
 
“er indoors TM fed the dogs and I took them up to the woods. We had a rather good walk round. The place was surprisingly much muddier than it had been yesterday. We met two other groups of dogs, and Pogo’s reaction was entertaining. If the other dogs don’t get in first he screams. But if the puppies recognize the other dogs, then Pogo just stands and watches in amazement.
We walked for over an hour; at the end my watch said we’d covered over four miles.
Getting home was entertaining. We got to within a few hundred yards of home and found ourselves stuck behind the local DPD van. We’ve met this one a few times before; the chap who drives it is an idiot. When he has a delivery he doesn’t pull over, like anyone else would. He just stops his van in the middle of the road, saunters out to make the delivery, chats on the doorstep, then wanders back and drives on to the next port of call where he again blocks traffic in all directions.
 
We eventually got home. I hosed the mud from Morgan’s belly (no one else had a grubby tummy) then sorted a cuppa for me and “er indoors TM. I did dull housework for an hour or so, then spent a couple of hours ironing whilst watching a film on Netflix. “Unfrosted” was rather good -  a comedy about the origin of pop-tarts with an all-star cast including Tyrian Lanister out of Game of Thrones. After this I watched an episode of UFO – made in 1970 and supposedly set in 1980 it hasn’t aged well.
I wrote up a little CPD, then once “er indoors TM had finished work we drove down to Folkestone. There was a geo-meet on the Leas from which I collected a Mad Hatter trackable. And having met and chatted with (mostly) German tourists we took a little walk along the Leas before coming home.
 
Being rather late(ish) home we had KFC and watched more “Meet the Richardsons”.
I’ve got a guts ache now…

16 July 2024 (Tuesday) - Gardening

I had a restless night. When the dogs settle all is well; there’s plenty of space for them at the foot of the bed so why do they spend all night long trying to nudge me over?
 
I made toast and had a look at the Internet. There was consternation on one of the Jack Russell Facebook pages I follow. Someone had been banned because the only posts she ever made to that page were posts begging for money to pay for vet bills. The people implementing the ban took the line that being able to fund a dog was an integral part of having one. I thought that perhaps a tad harsh, if true.
And there was a semi-joking meme about how following the England football team’s defeat by the Spanish, sales of tapas have rocketed in Scotland and Wales… I wonder if that’s far from the truth There’s a really odd relationship between the countries of the so-called United Kingdom. The English aren’t really that bothered about the others, but the others *really* hate the English on the pretext of historical events from hundreds of years ago.
I’m always running into Welsh and Irish and Scots who really hate England and the English despite their living and working in Kent from where they couldn’t be further from their home country but still be on the same island.
 
I took the dogs up to the woods for a walk. We took a longer walk than we did yesterday, and my watch told me we walked a tenth of a mile less. What was that all about? I had a plan we’d been done before the forecast rain; sadly we weren’t. The rain started when we were about a mile from the car. We got rather wet, and the rain stopped on the drive home.
 
Once home I ran round with the Hoover, and rather than having a cuppa I got myself a Magnum ice cream from the shop over the road. They are two and a half quid each these days. Can you believe it?
I scoffed it as I watched drivel on the telly, and with drivel watched and ice cream scoffed I went into the garden and pootled. I trimmed the lawn edges, mowed the lawn, kicked the gravel to some semblance of tidiness, then did something I’ve been meaning to do for years.
We laid all the stones round the pond on 9 April 2007, and over the intervening seventeen years the world and his wife has felt obliged to throw the stones into the pond. I got a net and hoiked quite a few out. The trouble is that it isn’t easy to get to the bottom of the pond what with pumps and hoses and leccie cables all over the place, but I got quite a lot out.
As is always the way when working in the garden after four hours I was worn out, and the garden looked just the same as when I’d started.
 
I fed the fish, spent a little while staring at the pond, then looking at Amazon. My pond’s bog filter isn’t big enough. I’ve twice tried to expand it, and both times I’ve made the mistake of trying to do so on the cheap. The first time I bought things which simply didn’t fit, and ended up throwing good money after bad and building a second pond. The second time I bought a cheap tank which I bodged into place but didn’t bother putting in the effort to sink it in the ground and I’ve got something which will look OK all the time that plants are in full growth (as they are now) but will look dreadful in a couple of months’ time.
I’ve bought a couple of waterfall blades. Once they arrive I shall get some sleepers that fit them. Then in the autumn I shall spend a couple of days doing some serious carpentry and digging a hole.
I also got a small hand-held pressure washer as setting up my current one is too much arse ache, more armpit squirt and a couple of bottles of smelly. I’ve been sweating a lot recently and don’t want to be whiffy(!)
 
I then dozed until “er indoors TM boiled up some dinner which we scoffed whilst watching the most recent series of “Meet the Richardsons”.
Supposedly the Richardsons have split up… I can’t help but wonder if this is something purely for the telly show. 

15 July 2024 (Monday) - St Swithin's Day

I slept reasonably well. Periodically I wonder about moving house; an en-suite would be nice as it is quite a trek to the toilet in the night.
I had a rather quick brekkie this morning then popped down the road to the dentist to see if I could get an appointment today. This week’s receptionist (there’s someone new every time I go) seemed surprised I went to the surgery rather than phoning; I asked if she’d ever phoned the surgery and she gave me a rather embarrassed smile. They said they could fit me in at lunch time, so I went home, put a load of washing in to scrub and took the dogs out.
 
As we drove to the woods the pundits on the radio were talking about last night’s big football game. It turned out that the England team didn’t win, so there’s no Bank Holiday to be had. There was talk about the manager of the England team being sacked because of the defeat. I don’t know much about it, but it strikes me that being a football team manager is a thankless task; they seem to get sacked very regularly.
 
We got to the woods; we had a rather good walk. One of our usual ones that didn’t take the slope down and the consequential slope back up again. It was a shame that Treacle had to wade through the swamp, but that’s what she does.
After four miles we were back at the car. We met a few other dogs; I wish Pogo wouldn’t scream at them. He didn’t bark or go up to them or be in any way annoying or threatening. He just screamed. He does that. I wish he wouldn’t.
 
We came home. I pegged out the washing, put more in and made us both a cuppa. There was a minor disaster in that when we wrote the shopping list yesterday we forgot we’d run out of biccies. Fortunately we’ve a job lot of expired Snickers bars from the Bargain Warehouse, so we had one of those each.
I had my root round the Internet rather later than usual today. But it was much the same as ever. People were arguing about garden ponds, crackpot religions, dogs, Star Trek…
Google told me that I am one of the top ten pub reviewers…
I saw someone I used to know was moving house today. He and his nearest and dearest have sold up and are moving hundreds of miles away to start a new life. Quite a few friends have done this over the last few months and years. Wales, Scotland, East Anglia, the West Country…people want to be anywhere but the South East it would seem. Some people moved to be with family and friends. Some moved for a job. Some are going home. Others just took a leap into the unknown, which is rather brave.
Sometimes I think I’d like to move house. Somewhere with off-street parking and a chodbin closer to my pit. But where… either Ashford, or *just possibly* (but incredibly unlikely) back to Hastings. I suppose I took a leap of faith when I moved from Hastings to Folkestone all those years ago, and another when I went from Folkestone to Ashford. But I was young and brave then.
 
I went down the road to the dentist where the waiting room was rather full. But again like with any medical appointment the person having the appointment had brought along an entire tribe to keep them company.
With my gob fixed I then went on to the pet shop to get some odds and sods, and as I was in there so the drizzle started. I came home to find “er indoors TM had brought in the washing from the line. Together with that which was in the washing machine I struggled to find space to air out all the damp washing.
With damp washing spaced out we had a cuppa with biccies. “er indoors TM daid we had biccies; I just couldn’t find them.
 
I then cracked on with something I’ve been meaning to do for ages; a general little tidy up round the chodbin. Wiping the blind took twenty minutes. I washed the walls down, scrubbed the skirting boards and generally tidies up a bit. It took an hour and at the end I was knackered and, like gardening, it looked just the same as it did when I started.
I then spent an hour writing up CPD. As I wrote up I kept glancing out of the window. In the great scheme of things cleaning the bathroom and writing CPD had been pencilled in for tomorrow. Today was supped to be an “in the garden” afternoon. But I’d come home from the pet shop in the drizzle, and the radio was giving yellow warnings of rain and thunderstorms. However the rain stopped about ten minutes after I got home, and the afternoon was rather dry.
 
“er indoors TM sorted dinner then went bowling. I’ve settled myself in front of the telly for the evening.
This forecast torrential rain hasn’t come yet. I wonder if it will? After all, if it rains hard today, it will supposedly rain all summer.

14 July 2024 (Sunday) - Cheeky FTF

Last night I saw that the First to Find was still waiting on that geo-puzzle I solved yesterday, so my plan for the morning was to wake at dawn, nip down to the marsh to find it and be back in bed before anyone realized I’d gone.
However far too much ale and port yesterday meant that it was nearly ten o’clock before I rose from my pit.
 
I had a little look in the garden when I got up. Yesterday I’d put two loads of washing onto the line which both got soaked in yesterday’s rain. This morning they were drying nicely. This weekend’s weather is typical for the second weekend of July. In years gone by we would have gone to Brighton Kite Festival for the second weekend of July and we would have had one day of glorious sunshine and one day of torrential rain. Every time.
I made toast and had a look at the Internet as I do. It was still there.
Seeing that the First to Find was still waiting on that cache on the marsh we took the dogs down to the marsh to see if we might get it. We parked up, and according to the map we had to follow a footpath across the fields for a little way, so the dogs got a little run. We got to where the GPS said that the geocache was. I saw a likely looking place, and after a minute or so it was in my hand. No one else had signed it. We were first. Result.
We then went on for a minor wander round Lydd, then took a rather circuitous route home.
 
Once home, seeing the laundry on the line had dried I put still more in to wash, then with “er indoors TM off shopping I spent a little while generally tidying up around the house before having a cheeky little doze on the sofa. I seem to be doing that more and more just lately. Dozing on the sofa that is, not tidying up.
 
“er indoors TM boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we washed down with a bottle of Sainsbury’s claret. It went down rather well as I carried on washing undercrackers. As the rest of the country was busy shouting at the telly, I was washing undercrackers.
This evening the England football team was playing in the final of some big European tournament. I only mention this because there is talk that if the England team win (note that’s “the England team” and *not* “England”) then the Prime Minister might get the King to give us all an extra Bank Holiday. I have no interest whatsoever in the football, but I’m quite keen on getting a bonus Bank Holiday. Or half of one I suppose, as I now only work part time.
 
And I’ve lost half a tooth. I’ll go bother the dentist in the morning.

13 July 2024 (Saturday) - Rather Busy

I slept reasonably well; of all the dogs little Bailey takes up an awful lot of bed space when she puts her mind to it.
I made toast and had a look at a rather dull internet. Not much was going on at all really. I spent a few minutes wrestling with a geocaching puzzle that went live yesterday. I have an idea what it is all about, but turning that idea into longitude and latitude wasn’t going as well as it might until I had a sudden stroke of genius. Ironically with no finds having been logged I might have had a First to Find, but I wouldn’t have got to the Romney Marsh and back before Dog Club…
 
We drove to Dog Club. As we drove Steve was on the radio doing the guess the lyrics competition. I didn’t have a clue.
Dog club was fun. Pogo came along. He spent the first few minutes on his lead as he was finding it all a bit too much, but after a few minutes he joined in. All dogs find it a bit much to begin with, but soon get the hang of it.
As we came home I got the Mystery Year competition right on the second attempt. When was the last Jeeves and Wooster series made for the telly? 1990.
 
“er indoors TM set off to craft club. I took the dogs home and had a busy morning. I washed the fox poo off of Bailey, hung out the washing and put more in, generally tidied up and threw away, and ran round with the Hoover. By the time “er indoors TM came back from craft club I was worn out.
 
We loaded ourselves and the dogs into the car and set off to Tudeley; a small village near Tonbridge. We took mostly the route I take when working on Pembury, and as always the roads were a nightmare with totally unnecessary temporary traffic lights seemingly everywhere. But we weren’t *that* late.
We had a rather good afternoon sitting in the sunshine drinking beer and port and chatting… up until the torrential rain stopped play.
 
Amazingly I stayed awake as we drove home, and it wasn’t long before Steve, Sarah and Chris came round and we had a very good evening on the Infinity tale playing “Sorry”, “Ticket to Ride” and Game of Life”.
 
A very good day…

12 July 2024 (Friday) - Back to Work

The dogs didn’t settle last night, and consequently neither did I. “er indoors TM had something of a fight with them shortly after three o’clock, and I then lay awake for the rest of the night. I gave up trying to sleep and sparked up Netflix. I watched the first episode of “Boomers” which passed half an hour, then had my usual root around the Internet. Apart from a very dubious friend request on Facebook, this morning it was rather dull. I sent out a couple of birthday wishes then got ready for work.
 
As I walked to the car it was hossing down. So different to yesterday. I drove off, then spent a couple of minutes waiting for the car in front to get past the bin lorry. In a novel break with tradition the bin lorry was stopped by the pavement with plenty of space for cars to pass. Sadly despite two feet clearance on either side, the car in front was reluctant to go forward. Eventually we got going, and I took a little trip round the town Munzing Points of Interest as I do.
 
As I drove up what was once a motorway the pundits on the radio were talking about President Biden's rather iffy performance yesterday. With no end of influential people showing great concerns about the President's ability, in a speech yesterday the chap confused the names of the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, and then went on to confuse the names of the vice-president and Donald Trump. At over eighty years old does he seriously want to be President for another five years even if he is fit enough?
 
The rain had eased off as I got to work. Going back to work wasn't the original plan for today. Originally the surgeon told me he would sign me off for three weeks which meant going back to work next Thursday. However the paperwork he gave my GP said to take two weeks off.  I spoke to the GP who signed me off for two weeks and two days. A rather odd amount?
So I went back to work today. I found myself thinking about going back to work after prolonged time off when I used to work in Canterbury, when I would feel physically sick at the prospect of turning up there. I had been rather looking forward to going in today. Being happy in your workplace is such a bonus.
Mind you there had been some changes. There was a new set of shelves behind one of the analysers, and a new bogroll holder in the gents. Perhaps rather trivial in the great scheme of things, but I don't do change very well.
 
Work was work. No cake, but we had cookies. I also had an interesting conversation with a colleague. Just lately we've been watching episode of "Race Across the World" in the evenings. If I were to be a contestant I've been very vocal about how I would save money on accommodation costs by taking night buses.  “er indoors TM  is probably getting sick of hearing me banging on about it. My colleague is off to Glasgow tomorrow. He's not taking the night train or the night bus but going during the day.
The night bus is just like any old bus in which you sit bolt upright all night long. There used to be a proper night bus with bunks but even at twenty quid from London to Glasgow not enough people were using it to make it financially viable. And the seats on the night train don't recline enough so that you can sleep. You can spend three hundred quid on a cabin on the night train if you want, but at that price you might as well fly. Travelling at night would seem to be (quite literal) arse-ache at best.
And one of the hospital's therapy dogs came in to visit us at lunch time. I'm not sure what I was expecting from a therapy dog, but compared to my wolf-pack it seemed rather quiet and subdued.
 
Work was rather hard work – I’m glad I’m not back till next Thursday.

11 July 2024 (Thursday) - Penshurst

As is always the way, with an alarm set I didn’t sleep well and saw every hour of the night. I eventually gave up trying to sleep, got up, made toast and had my usual look at the Internet. It was still there. Apparently the England football team won some match or other last night. A rather important match judging by all the fuss. Even the Prime Minister was getting excited about it.
I wish I could see what everyone else sees in football; it really is a matter of the utmost indifference to me. 
 
Leaving “er indoors TM and the dogs fast asleep I got myself organized and set off. I had a little Munzee mission round Ashford before popping in to Sainsbury’s to get a sandwich for the day, then I headed off to Penshurst. The sat-nav said I might like to go via the motorway. I did as I was told (it is always a good move in life) and soon found that “Operation Brock” had been re-activated.
In theory “Operation Brock” is a brilliant idea in which miles of motorway is freed up to use as a lorry park because of issues at the Port of Dover. Sadly in practice it is a rather stupid way of turning a motorway into a rather slow dual carriageway. I drove at a snail’s pace up the motorway whilst not a single lorry was using the miles of created lorry park.
 
As I drove I listened to the pundits on the radio talking about how my water bill is set to go up by nearly half over the next year. There was some expert being interviewed who made the valid point that since privatization the water companies have competed with the banks as a place in which people might like to invest money to make money. Consequently the water companies have been playing silly financial games and not concentrating on the business of providing water to the country. The observation was made that, if operated correctly, the infrastructure of the country doesn’t generate money but costs money.
It’s hardly rocket science, is it?
 
I got to Penshurst with half an hour to spare, and quickly zoomed round the nearby geocaching Adventure Lab series before heading back to the car. After a few minutes Gordon arrived with Norton, and Ralph was soon with us. We then walked round the recently published series of geocaches. Relatively easy finds all along well marked paths it was only a shame that we made such good time that we were home before the three pubs we passed opened.
I took a few photos as we walked today. Back in the day I used to go for a mid-week geo-walk quite often. What with all the excitement of the last few weeks it was rather good to get out with friends today.
 
Having taken me to Penshurst up the motorway, my sat nav brought me home cross country where it seemed I’d trailed dried mud all through the house before I’d left this morning. I ran round with the hoover, then fell asleep on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon.
 
“er indoors TM is off out on a little mission. There’s talk of her coming home via the kebab shop…

10 July 2024 (Wedesday) - Woods, Puzzles...

Treacle did start smacking her chops last night, but not until nearly seven o’clock. And she soon stopped. I got up just before eight, let out those dogs that wanted to go out, and made toast. The Internet was rather dull this morning. No dubious supposedly women sending me friend requests, no quarrels about filling garden ponds with all sorts of chemicals but avoiding tap water like the plague.
I did see a friend had had a post removed by the Facebook feds though. Apparently she breached the Facebook community standards by telling her mates on which days dustbins would be collected. It turns out that pretty much anything related to Swale council is red flagged by Facebook’s automated bots at the moment.
 
I put a load of washing in to scrub then took the dogs up to Kings Wood. Now that Pogo is with us for a little while I was worrying about having four to look after, but Pogo amazed me. He stayed close, and I chuckled as watched him. He was keeping an eye on the other three; especially the puppies, and when he felt Morgan was getting too far ahead he would trot forward and there would clearly be some silent conversation going on after which Morgan would slow down.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but as we came to the end of the walk Pogo did seem to be struggling. He’ll get used to the walks; he’s done them in the past.
 
We came home. I hung out the washing, then chased Bailey off of a freshly laid dog turd that she had decided would make a good snack.
I made us both a cuppa, then cracked on solving geo-puzzles. A new series of geocaches had gone live at Lullingstone yesterday. It’s an area we’ve walked round a few times before; it is rather pretty and should make for a good walk at some point over the next few weeks.
Mind you when I say “solving geo-puzzles” there wasn’t much solving. Each of the ones I was looking at today were challenges. You need to have found a certain number of a certain sort of geocache to qualify. For example one was to have found a hundred and fifty with the “swimming” attribute. I’ve found thirty; there’s only about ten of these within fifty miles of home.
 
After having reviewed fifty I saw the weather had perked up a bit so I cracked on in the garden for a bit. I emptied the back garden green waste into the bin at the front, bionically burned the weeds in the front garden and sat by the pond pondering the extension to the bog filter that I put in a couple of months ago. It don’t look pretty, and the existing bog filter is very full. It all needs a re-think.
On the plus side the new lily pads had lasted a day, so that was something of a result.
 
“er indoors TM went off out for some appointment or other (I don’t dare ask). I’d not been in the garden for long but I think I might have caught the sun. So I sat on the sofa, and as the dogs snored I carried on looking at that new series of geocaches at Lullingstone. Out of the eighty-one new caches I qualify to claim finds on about two thirds of them. I didn’t qualify for the rest and probably never will. Bearing in mind these have all been set for the upcoming mega-meet next month it’s a shame that these geocaches near Lullingstone couldn’t have been open to everyone and the silly challenges hadn’t been set in the arse end of nowhere.
I suspect I might be a little less scathing if I qualified for more of them.
 
“er indoors TM boiled up a very good bit of dinner which we scoffed whist watching more “Race Across the World”. A rather good show, and for once the dogs didn’t spend the entire time demanding dog biscuits as they so often do.

9 July 2024 (Tuesday) - House Seems Empty

With Treacle not making slurping sucking noises all night long I slept well. I made toast, and as always just at the point when I was about to eat it when still hot so all the dogs came down wanting to go to toilet.
This morning quite a few friends were posting to the Internet to say that they were off on foreign holidays. Holidays are good; foreign ones are OK… for me there’s far too much travel involved with a foreign holiday. By the time I’ve got to the airport I’ve done all the travel that I want to do.
I had an email. Nectar and eBay would seem to have had a falling out.
 
I then drove “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” up to Maidstone where she had appointments, and as she appointed I sat around waiting. Eventually I got bored enough to get myself a coffee and a croissant. I was pleasantly surprised to get change out of a fiver too.
With appointments appointed we came home, and it wasn’t long before “My Boy TM” and Cheryl arrived. He’s closing down his little pond and had brought me the last fish and a lily pad. A golden rudd will pootle about the pond nicely enough, but I’m unsure about the lily pad. I’ve never had any luck with them in the past.
As we fiddled with the pond so the girls packed, and “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM soon set off on their little holiday. The house was incredibly quiet as I then wrote up a little CPD in a shallow attempt to redeem myself after the balls-up I made of it yesterday.
 
“er indoors TM boiled up some pizza and I cracked open a bottle of plonk. We watched the first two episodes of “Celebrity Race Across the World”. I’ve no idea who the so-called celebrities are, but the show seems entertaining enough.
 
Having had  “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM here for nearly three weeks, the house seems rather quiet…

8 July 2024 (Monday) - This n That

I had a terrible night. Treacle spent the whole night smacking her chops and kept me awake the entire time. I gave up trying to sleep, and as I got up so the chops-smacking stopped.
I made toast and glared into the Internet as I scoffed. I had a friend request on Facebook from Carla Kidd who suggested I might like to play with her in her room and had sent a rather dodgy link that the antivirus didn’t like at all. I suppose enough people pay them to make it worth their while.
I sent out a birthday wish, and rolled my eyes at a squabble on the Facebook pond-related pages in which some Australian chap had asked about keeping his pond relatively warm in winter, and then having to explain time and time again that July in Australia *is* winter.
And it would seem that there is quite a growth industry in paying someone else to build your Lego sets for you. Apparently more and more people want the completed Lego set, but not the aggro of building it, and there are those who are happy to do the building… for a price.
 
I took the dogs up to Kings Wood for a walk. As we walked there was a little drizzle, but we kept going, and had a rather good walk. We met a few other dogs, and once they’d all said hello my lot walked past. They do that when not on leads. When they are on leads it is one big argument. What’s that all about?
 
We came home, and with it not raining for once I cracked on in the garden. I got the lawn mowed, vacuumed the gravelled areas, and then did something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I picked all the dead leaves from not-so-nice-next-door’s overgrowth out of the monkey puzzle tree. That took over an hour.
I then ran out the hose and topped up the pond, and after three hours fiddling about in the garden I was worn out and the pond looked just the same as when I’d started.
I made a cuppa and wrote up some CPD.
 
Before “er indoors TM went off bowling she boiled up bacon and egg bagels. Once she’d gone “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” came home and I pretended I hadn’t been fed, and got another bagel. Very nice.
Word is “er indoors TM has split her bowling shoes. I see that as a result – she can have a new pair as a birthday pressie.
And my face is glowing – I’ve caught the sun.

7 July 2024 (Sunday) - Cheeky Pint

I slept reasonably well. I put washing in to scrub, made toast and had a look at the Internet to see what I’d missed overnight. Not much, really. One thing caught my eye; people were acting surprised at the revelation that the price of petrol isn’t constant, and that there are savings to be made by going to a different petrol station. Was this really news to so many people?
I sent out two birthday wishes, then went into the garden. Lawn to mow, fish pond filters to clean. It was raining so I gathered dog dung and came back inside and had a go at yet more geo-puzzles.
 
Eventually the rain held of long enough so I could have a look in the garden. I got the fish pond filters cleaned out, and pulled weeds and generally tidied up. After an hour I had something of a backache so gave up and came back inside. I did a little CPD (must write it up!) and even more geo-puzzles.
 
And then we got the dogs onto the leads, and with “Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM off for a cheeky Subway we drove round to the New Chimneys where we met Heather and Andy and spent a rather pleasant hour sitting in the garden putting the world to rights. It was rather good to catch up; there are so many friends I see so rarely these days.
 
I was glad we got out and met friends today; just lately other than hiding from rain, so little has been going on in my life…

6 July 2024 (Saturday) - Still Raining

The noise of the rain woke me in the night, but it had stopped by the time I got out of my pit, which was something of a result. I scoffed toast and had a look at the Internet as I do most mornings. It was surprisingly not full of political talk. With such a low turn-out perhaps people just don’t care any more? I must admit the electoral system isn’t right, is it? Look at the results. The Labour party have got two thirds of the seats in the House of Commons with only one third of the total vote. The Liberal Democrats have got seventy-one seats, but with half a million more votes Reform UK have only got five.
And an ex-girlfriend of a friend was getting loads of stick on Facebook. Having buried her husband (who died after a long illness) only three weeks ago she has now announced she’s in a relationship with someone seemingly old enough to be her father and everyone was lambasting her. I’ve not met her in person for some time, but her Facebook feed can be entertaining.
 
Being Saturday we set off to Dog Club. There was quite a good turn-out, and the dogs all seemed to have a great time. Morgan got told off by a bigger dog, which was probably for the best. I forgot to take any dog treats, but Eric’s mum brought along a box of gravy bones as Eric doesn’t like them. All the other dogs did.
As we drove to Dog Club I totally failed on Steve’s guess the lyrics competition on the radio, but I got the mystery year on the way home. When was the first run of Doctor Who cancelled? 1989.
 
We got home, hung out the washing and had a cuppa. Then the rain started so I got the washing in, hung it round the house and cracked on solving geo-puzzles whilst watching the weather go from overcast to glorious sunshine, and the rain going from none to torrential seemingly regardless of the colour of the sky.
I was reminded of a dozen or so kite festivals in Brighton which always took place in early July when the weather would be just the same; beautiful and hossing down in repeated succession.
As I geo-puzzled we carried on listening to Steve on the radio… and after a while we stopped. Steve’s show was rather good, but he finished at mid-day. The chap who took over was playing some rather depressing music. “er indoors TM told Alexa to play Disney songs instead.
 
Eventually we decided enough was enough and went for a drive if only to get some petrol. We came home via Pets at Home as we were short of dog food. “er indoors TM went in to the shop to get dog food, and I stood outside waiting whilst the dogs cried and screamed because they had been deserted.
After two minutes “er indoors TM came out with dog food, put it down because it was heavy, and Morgan piddled all over it.
 
We came home… through the rain and I spent the rest of the day geo-puzzling. Rather a waste of a Saturday, but Dog Club was fun.

5 July 2024 (Friday) - Rain Stopped Play

On Tuesday when I was in the thick of “Whinge Mode” when I went to bed I’d only done nine hundred steps. Yesterday when I set off to my pit I’d done just under twenty six thousand steps. I ached a little when I got up this morning.
 
I made toast and had a look at the news. The election results were in. Locally we’ve now got a new MP. The Labour chap is now my elected representative. Mind you I wouldn’t say he won. Reform split the Conservative vote. Had Reform not stood locally pretty much everyone who voted for them would have gone with the Conservatives and they would have won by seven thousand votes. Mind you only sixty per cent of the electorate turned out.
I had a friend request on Facebook. Stacey looked to be wipe-clean which was probably for the best.
 
With drizzle forecast for the day I thought I might as well bite the bullet and take the dogs out anyway. We got to the woods, walked half a mile and the drizzle turned to torrential rain. We turned round, but were all soaked by the time we got back to the car.
As we drove home the talk on the radio was about yesterday’s election. First of all the eminent politician Peter Mandelson was being interviewed. It was a shame that he mumbled and muttered so much that no one could hear a word that he was saying. And then there was an interview with someone or other about what the new Prime Minister’s first actions might be. It was mentioned that he would need to have a budget announcement as soon as possible. Possibly as soon as September. Soon? There’s no urgency with these people, is there?
 
We got home, had warm showers to hose off all the mud, and I made us both a cuppa then did a little CPD. But only a little. I geo-puzzled for a bit, then drove “Darcie Waa Waa TM to collect her mother. The journey was rather dodgy. With motorway notices saying a major delay to get to Folkestone I tried to take the A-road only to find it closed. I eventually got to Folkestone via Hythe. Fortunately littlun slept for most of the journey. We came home via Canterbury as I had a vague idea to call in at the petting farm at Chilham, but littlun was still asleep and the rain had picked up. So we came home as the rain eased up a bit.
Daddy’s Little Angel TM” and “Darcie Waa Waa TM went to the park. I had a plan to have a look in the garden, but the drizzle got heavier so I carried on fighting with geo-puzzles until “er indoors TM sorted out dinner.
 
Yesterday I walked ten miles in the glorious sunshine. Today I got soaked to the skin in five minutes and spent the rest of the day avoiding the rain. And I’ve got guts ache now…

4 July 2024 (Thursday) - North Chailey

I woke to find my right upper jaw numb. That’s probably better than the throbbing that has been going on for the last week... but no whinging !!
I got up silly early, made toast and had a look at the Internet. One of the work-related Facebook groups was asking how you cajole, grovel, plead or force people to cover shifts at short notice. Back in the day all work out of office hours was paid at an overtime rate which if not generous, wasn’t stingy. These days there’s not the same enhancements, and consequently no attraction. I’m glad getting people to cover these shifts isn’t my problem anymore.
 
At the weekend I spent a little while looking at a newly published geo-series solving geo-puzzles and fighting with geo-puzzles and exchanging ideas that didn’t work with Gordon. Eventually between us we solved all the puzzles, and Gordon suggested a little stroll today to go find all the geocaches. Admittedly the closest was fifty miles from home, but I had this idea that a decent walk in the countryside might help be shift this constant whinging that has been my life for the last week.
It did.
 
I checked on Google last night to plan my journey. The predicted journey time was vague to say the least so I left home with plenty of time. As I drove I listened to the radio which was spewing its usual morning drivel. The Ukrainians being interviewed were again being rather ungrateful about the amount of military aid the West is giving them. This morning they were saying they’ve been given enough to prevent defeat, but not enough to get victory. There was talk about President Biden’s fitness for office. And there was again live telephone interviews that simply didn’t work and kept cutting out. You’d think that the people at the BBC would have realised by now that the technology simply isn’t reliable enough for live radio, and they’d record the interviews a little ahead of time, wouldn’t you?
 
I got to our agreed meeting place far too early. But I’d rather be there early than late. I popped down the road to the garage to get a cuppa and a bacon roll. The cuppa wasn’t bad but the bacon roll was burned to the point of incineration.
I scoffed it anyway, and had a little doze until everyone else arrived. We then set off on a little walk. Before I changed job I used to regularly go out for mid-week walks with Gordon, but these last few years the shift system hasn’t allowed it. It was really good to be out and about with him again, and also to meet up with a new friend Ralph.
As we walked we found an old archived cache that I originally found over ten years ago, and we got a cheeky First to Find as well.
I took a few photos as we walked. It was a rather good walk; we only took one wrong turn. Perhaps a tad too much on roads, but you have to go where the roads and footpaths go, don’t you? Geocache-wise the route was good. Straightforward hides with good co-ordinates. I suppose being a new series it hasn’t had long enough for people to hide the things where they think they should be rather than put them back where they find them.
Mind you I would say that some of the hints were open to interpretation – which is probably why we got that First to Find so many days after publication. Gordon and I understood the hint to mean different things.
 
After five hours and ten miles we were back at the cars. We said our goodbyes, and headed off. As I drove home I was amazed by the amount of political posters on the roadside. Quite a bit of the journey was the route I take when working in Tunbridge Wells. In the past there has been no end of “Vote Conservative” signs along the way. Today there was only a fraction of the political signs that there used to be. Most of them were for the Liberal Democrats, and nearly all the remainder were for the Greens. There were four Conservative posters. I counted them.
 
I came home and spent a little while entertaining “Darcie Waa Waa TM before going off to vote. The chap behind the counter told me there had been a pretty much constant stream of people in and out of the polling station all day.
I resisted the temptation to draw a big cock and balls on the ballot paper, but put an “X” instead. Was it the right “X”? Time will tell; it always does.

3 July 2024 (Wednesday) - Little Bit of Politics

I woke this morning determined to stop the whinging which has been most of my last week. I made toast and had my usual look at the Internet as I do. It was much the same as ever; today’s most impressive bitter argument was whether or not a photograph from the original series of “Star Trek” had been photoshopped. It was a matter of the utmost indifference to me, but there were those who felt it to be a matter of life and death.
 
As a first step to stopping the whinging I thought I might get back into the habit of a morning dog walk. Despite the forecast rain I took three dogs up to Kings Wood where I’d had reports of a missing geocache. Sadly it wasn’t one which was anywhere near a car park, but replacing it made for a good walk.
As we walked Bailey found a bone to crunch on. I wish she hadn’t.
According to my watch we walked for just over five miles today. Perhaps a little much for a first time back… is it really only a week or so since I last gave the dogs a decent walk round the woods? At the end of the walk my watch told me I’d done eleven thousand steps; it was under one thousand yesterday.
 
As we drove home there was a rather interesting program on the radio about the right to protest. Professional people who get arrested for protesting are facing the loss of their professional registration for protesting. If you have a professional registration and get arrested you are legally obliged to tell the registration body and there will be an investigation in case you are bringing the profession into disrepute. There were interviews with ex-nurses and ex-doctors who claimed they’d been struck off for noisily waving placards.
 
We came home; I had a little sleep, then struggled with geo-puzzles for the afternoon. Here’s a question. How many letters are there in the phrase “jam roll”? Seven? I thought so, but no. There’s six. You count the two “l”s as only one distinct letter. One lives and learns.
We had a rather good bit of dinner, and as I’m typing this, the Masked Singer is on the telly. I’ve not seen it before; what a load of tripe.
 
And in closing today, don’t forget to vote tomorrow. As I said the other day I’ve got a choice of six candidates at next week’s general election. With less than a day to go, only four of them have stuck their propaganda through the letterbox to let me know where they stand.
I’ve read the literature carefully. At first sight as is the case at every election, those currently in power (nationally and locally) say sh*t is sugar to stay in power, and the opposition politicians have all adopted “vote for me – I’m not as crap as them” as their political position.
But here’s what they have to say for themselves…
 
Our current MP (Conservative) is claiming he will do all sorts of things that he has already had fourteen years to do and hasn’t, and has spent quite a bit of time posing on social media recently trying to take the credit for other people’s efforts.
The Green candidate openly admits that she hasn’t got a whelk’s chance in a supernova (as Ford Prefect once remarked), but says that if elected she would hold the (presumably Labour) government to account. Seriously? With the polls predicting the Labour party having more than three times the MPs of all the other parties put together, Sir Kier ain’t going to listen to anyone, is he?
The Consensus/Independent chap has put quite a lot of paper through the letterbox, but has said a lot without actually saying anything. I messaged him to ask what his policies are on a range of issues. He didn’t even reply, so as far as I’m concerned he can get bent.
The Labour chap talks a good fight. He actually talks sense, but a vote for him is a vote for all that comes with the Labour party. I’ve always felt that the Labour party is such a good idea in theory… but in practice is an entirely different proposition.
Sadly the Liberal Democrats and Reform UK couldn’t be bothered to stick anything through the letterbox. Mind you neither of them could come up with a candidate who lives locally so I suppose they don’t see themselves as contenders?
 
So who do I vote for? In a novel break with tradition for me I’d like to vote sensibly. When I talk about “sensible voting” I mean that I want to form an opinion based on careful consideration of the issues being voted about.
Mind you, I have to wonder if doing so is worth the effort. The trouble we have in the UK is that the carefully considered opinion of someone who has spent time forming this opinion is of no more worth than the passing whim of a half-wit…
 
Here’s some examples of “sensible voting” from people I know…
Voting Labour for twenty-five years until you get promoted to supervisor then voting Conservative because Labour is for workers and Conservative is for managers.
Voting Conservative because your father once said you are a “true blue” even though you don’t agree with a single thing they stand for and everything with which you agree is Labour party policy.
Checking the latest opinion poll before the election and voting for the party seeming to be in the lead as a vote for the losing party is a vote wasted.
Voting for Brexit as your manager thinks it is a bad idea.
Voting against Brexit as your manager thinks it is a good idea.
Voting Conservative/Labour/whatever because that’s what the newspaper’s headline said to do.
Voting Conservative/Labour/whatever because your mum told you to do so.
Voting Conservative/Labour/whatever because your latest main squeeze is a mad-keen Conservative/Labour/whatever supporter and being very loud about their chosen party will increase your chances of doing the dirty deed with/at/on them.
Voting for Brexit so that a particular brand of New Zealand cheese will be back in the shops… even though the dairy packed up over forty years ago.
 
So who am I going to vote for? At the moment I’m probably going to draw a picture of a huge cock and balls on the ballot sheet. Admittedly it’s hardly a “sensible” vote, but with the predicted landslide Labour victory it is as good as any other political stance.
Mind you, if any of my loyal readers are undecided, here’s a half-way decent website which asks your opinion on a range of subjects and might help you make your mind up. Interestingly it doesn’t advocate drawing a picture of a huge cock and balls on the ballot sheet as a political stance.
 
But whoever gets in will make some good decisions which will go utterly unnoticed, some bad ones which will be pasted over every headline, and will get lambasted in this diary with annoying regularity.
As part of my trying not to be so negative, I might just see if I can periodically highlight some of the good things that they might do.