21 February 2018 (Wednesday) - Happy Birthday to Me

I slept well; I say “well”. I slept for eight hours, but had some rather vivid dreams and woke feeling rather more worn out than when I went to bed. I had a quick bite of brekkie then drove my car to the garage. On Monday the nice man at the garage had said to drive it a bit and take it back and maybe they might be able to identify the oil leak. I got there, left the car with them and the nice man gave me a lift home.
As I opened my birthday cards Fudge got told off. He’s been chewing a large plastic chew-toy. When Treacle chews anything like that there are plastic fragments everywhere. When Fudge chews the same sorts of thing there are never any plastic bits. He must swallow them all. He found himself facing a lifetime ban of plastic chewy things. The dogs got given a rawhide chew each instead. Fudge started chomping his; Treacle immediately scrambled behind the sofa and under the wall units looking for somewhere to hide hers. Eventually she crawled out from under the shoe boxes without her chew. She’d stashed it somewhere under there. She never eats her chews right away; she always hides them for a bit first.

Bearing in mind “Hannah”’s failure yesterday, I had another go at my GPS unit. It worked perfectly. I wonder what went wrong yesterday? I programmed her up for the Romney Marsh (as one does from time to time) and "er indoors TM" and I took the dogs out. First of all to Great Chart. Yesterday I had a message through Facebook from someone who had just walked my new series of geocaches near Great Chart…
Oh dear…
Originally I had planned to have the route going across a footpath, but with dogs loose on the other side of a stile I decided not to use that footpath, but I hid a cache under the stile. Someone found the cache and showed it to the people who live in the house just up the road, presumably thinking that locals would be as impressed with a sandwich box as they were.
I was a tad concerned as it has always been my experience that people don’t want geocaches near their houses. I suspected this one would soon go missing if it hadn’t already. But I was wrong. It was still in place this morning.

We then drove down to the Romney Marsh where we hunted out three special geocaches (or as special as a wet sandwich box on a marsh can be). “Hannah”’s field trials seemed to go well. It was a shame that Treacle had to paddle in stagnant water, but what can you expect from a dog on a marsh in February?
As we drove home my phone rang. It was the garage. Having scrubbed the outside of my car’s engine on Monday and having driven a hundred miles (well, ninety-six) they had given the thing a good going over to see if they could work out where the oil leak was coming from. But there had been no leaking at all. I was rather pleased about that. We’ve agreed to monitor the leak. I say “monitor”; I don’t know a crankshaft from a big end. I’ll ask the nice man at the garage to have a look when I next have to go back, or I shall wait for the engine to explode.

Seeing as it was my birthday we went to the Beefeater and had a rather good dinner. A rack of ribs and a lump of chicken, chips and a trifle. Not all on the same plate, but I wouldn’t have minded.
From there it was only a short hop to the cinema to see the latest Aardman film; “Early Man”. I won’t say what happened, but I can thoroughly recommend the film.

And then a quiet evening in… In years gone by I would have been out on the lash for a birthday… I’m getting old.

20 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Jack the Ripper

I didn’t sleep well; seeing pretty much every hour of the night. But that wasn’t really surprising. I never sleep well when I have something of a busy day planned.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Plebs” (which featured Miriam Margoyles) before sparking up my lap-top for a quick look-see before getting on with the business of the day. Some time ago Gordon and I had started looking at geo-puzzles in the Whitechapel area of London, and we’d arranged to go up to London to collect them. We’d asked if anyone would like to come along, and five of us set off towards London.

There’s no denying I had a little trouble with getting there. I bought my ticket, and within seconds of getting on to the platform there was an announcement over the tannoy. There was apparently problems with trains coming from London to Ashford this evening; the station would be closed. There was to be a bus service, and for more details I should ask the station staff. The station’s office door was open so I asked the chap sitting at a computer what was the deal with the trains this evening. He sighed, rather dramatically and asked me if I knew what tonight’s winning lottery numbers were, and went on to say that he wasn’t a f…ing clairvoyant. I smiled and told him that the announcement over the loudspeaker said I should ask station staff. The chap sighed again. Apparently the station staff at f…ing Orpington have control over the loudspeakers at Ashford and they just f…ing male stuff up.
Mind you, the guard on the train was rather more helpful. I say helpful; he had no idea about any problems, but he went away and found out, and didn’t swear at me. He suggested I put in a formal written complaint. I would if it might achieve anything.

I eventually got to Whitechapel tube station only to find that my sat-nav had lost all the information I’d put into it last night. Oh dear. Just as well my phone can double up as a sat-nav.
I met Gordon, but everyone else was running late. Gordon and I made a start. First of all we followed a series of virtual puzzles around the various parts of London in which Jack the Ripper had done his thing. We had a rather good walk, and were soon joined my Martin, Nick and Sid… but as a “Jack the Ripper” tour it was a disappointment. The trouble with any “Jack the Ripper” tour is that since Jack did his thing the area has been flatted and rebuilt, bombed bulldozed and rebuilt, and so the area now bears no relation whatsoever to what it used to look like.

We completed the “Jack the Ripper” bit by lunch time, and stopped for a bite to eat. A latte and a beetroot & cheese panini went down rather well. We then found a few geo-puzzles on our way to Bishopsgate. There is one particular puzzle which is one of fifteen stages. We’d figured out as far as stage twelve, and now it was time to put this puzzle to bed. With a couple of dozen clues to juggle, the puzzle took some solving, but eventually we were doing the happy dance for this one.

By now it was getting dark. We made our way to St Paul’s tube station and crossed town to Tottenham Court Road from where we picked up a few caches whilst making our way to the geo-meet which was happening this evening. Geo-meets are usually good; but I must admit to a degree of disappointment with this one. I blame the venue entirely; it was so noisy.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I had no problems getting a train back to Ashford. I wonder what that announcement was all about this morning. Perhaps the station staff at f…ing Orpington really do just f…ing male stuff up?

I took quite a few photos today. Once home I uploaded them. Today was rather good… but I already have plans to go back to London…

19 February 2018 (Monday) - Raining

I slept well, but woke up with a nagging sense of guilt. I have no idea why that should have been. As I pondered what crimes I might have committed I watched another episode of “Plebs” in which Stylax had his wicked way with a vestal (virgin no longer), then I peered through my lap-top into cyber-space.
For once I’d had no emails overnight. Facebook was almost as quiet, but here was an announcement from one friend that he’d made his last posting there for the foreseeable future. That fellow has done that several times, as have so many other people. I’ve lost count of the amount of dramatic exits I’ve seen from social media only to have the very same people turning up a week or so later.

I looked out of the window again… it was still raining. I had such plans for this the first day of a week’s holiday. Together with my dogs I was going to take the car for its M.O.T. From the garage we would walk out through the Finberry estate to Captain Kid’s wood and come home through Park Farm. Once home I was going to spend a few hours pootling in the garden.
It had been raining overnight and everywhere was sodden. I took the dogs with me to the garage and we walked directly home through Frog’s Island. I let the dogs off of the leads as much as possible; dog walks are becoming a chore. It is not so much walking my dogs as being harnessed to a train going at full pelt whilst dragging a sack of potatoes.

We were soaked when got home; I was towelling the dogs off when "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" phoned. She was going to Tesco so I went along for the ride. Just as we walked into the place my phone rang. My car had failed its M.O.T.; it needed a new headlight bulb (pence) and some wotsit on the suspension (hundred quid).
We bought cakes in Tesco, took them home and had them with a cuppa. As we chatted the garage phoned; they couldn’t find the wheel-nuts for taking the wheels off of my car. If they couldn’t find them, then I had no idea where they were…

"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and Sam then set off home, and I looked at the garden. My plan had been to repair the damage done to the gravelled areas when we fixed the fence at Christmas, mow the lawn, and generally make good. But it was obvious that anything I did would very soon degenerate into stirring the lawn into mud. So I got out the ironing board and spent the morning doing the ironing. I have always said that no time off work is complete until I’ve ironed, so at least that is out of the way now.
As I ironed I watched a few episodes of “The Crown”. After the first episode the garage phoned again to say that they hadn’t located the oil leak; could they take the top off the engine to see it they could find it.
What choice did I have? With a fifty-plus miles round trip to work every day I need a car that I can rely on. And (to be fair) over the last eight years the car has been rather good to me.

With ironing done I had a spot of lunch, then decided to brave the elements and so some gardening. I gave it five minutes before giving up. Gardening in the rain is no fun. So I geo-puzzled and watched more Netflix until the nice man from the garage came to give me a lift to collect my car. They weren’t entirely sure that they’d sorted the oil leak, so they’d cleaned it all out and suggested I drove a hundred miles and took it back. So pausing only to find the two geocaches "er indoors TM" hid along Hythe Road I drove up to Maidstone, down to Folkestone, and home again. I shall take the car back to them later in the week.

I’ve had my dinner, I’ve programmed “Hannah” for tomorrow… I shall watch some Netflix and have an early night…