21 May 2018 (Monday) - Works Bake Off

Again I didn’t sleep well. A really long walk on Saturday; a full day yesterday… I wonder why I didn’t sleep? I really wish sleep was something we could control; wide awake for much of the night, nodding off at the most inconvenient times…
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Thunderbirds are Go”, Alan and Virgil were off rescuing people today, which is what the show should be about. As I watched so Fudge snored. He has no trouble sleeping after a busy weekend.

My morning rummage round Facebook was rather disappointing; overnight I had not received a single notification. Not one.
"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" had posted that she was off to do jury service today. I’m not sure that is the sort of thing she should be posting on social media (or I should be mentioning here)… but then again, why not? If someone wanted to nobble a jury they are far more likely to watch who is walking in and out of the courtroom rather than hope to find some obscure reference somewhere in the Internet. In many ways it is like all the “don’t put pictures of your children on the internet in case in attracts the paedos” theory. How does that work? Is some freako-type *really* going to randomly find a photo of (say) "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM"  and then go searching for him? Really?
I only had one email of note this morning. The nice people at Untappd told me about a Belgian beer festival in London: “…Upon arrival, you will receive a glass and off you go, no need to purchase any tokens, all the brewers will serve you an unlimited number of tasting doses of their own creations…” It sounded good; I wondered how much it would cost to get in. The email didn’t say. Nor did the event’s web page. After quite a bit of Googling I found a ticket was over forty quid. Perhaps that was why they kept it quiet; twenty-five quid is a *lot* to spend at a beer festival.

And so to work. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were talking about…. To be honest I didn’t really listen. As I got in the car so the sport bulletin started. As I have said before I really did hear “blah blah sport - blah blah sport”, my attention wavered, and I didn’t really pay attention again.
I got to work to find that colleagues were setting up the tea room for today’s bake-off competition. I laid out my malt loaves in the “bread” area. I was up against some chocolate and hazelnut pastries and some cheese twists. In all honesty I think the other two did better than me, but having said that, I was quite pleased with my effort. The categories had been given at random – looking at the tray bake, savoury and layered cake categories I think I was lucky to have been put in the “bread” section.
It was ironic that at ten past nine I was asked to go work at Tunbridge Wells for the day. However I got to snaffle some of the various cakes before I went. And seeing how I’m supposed to be on a diet it was probably as well that I was sent away from the cakes.
I had time to photograph some of the cakes before I left – they looked rather good. We’ll have to do it again – after the diet’s finished…

20 May 2018 (Sunday) - Family Barbeque

Surprisingly I didn’t sleep that well last night. After laying awake for some time I got up at six o’clock and spent a little while doing all the geo-admin for yesterday’s walk. Having had something of a GPS failure it took some sorting out. Eventually I found what had gone wrong with “Hannah”yesterday; I’d put my GPX file where my jpg should have been. I would suggest that my loyal readers take care where they stick their GPX files so as to avoid a similar calamity.
As I sat so Fudge came and sat with me. He seemed knackered after yesterday’s exertions.

I then had a look at my cryptography course. It was time for this week’s test… I’ve given up with the course. It was very interesting; but it was *very* difficult and today was the end of week test. I didn’t have the faintest idea what the questions were asking, let alone what the answers might be.
I shall go back to Netflix in the mornings before work.

With "er indoors TM" still asleep I got out my ingredients and mixed them all up (as one does). The intention was to make another couple of malt loaves as a final practice run for the works bake-off tomorrow. I experimented with soaking my sultanas and priming my yeast and left it all to prove (like they do on bake-off on the telly) whilst I had a go in the garden.
Last week I cobbled the lawnmower so that it wouldn’t keep cutting out, and it seemed to work. As I mowed Treacle came out to “help” me; having scurried up seemingly ten thousand dog turds before I started, Treacle then proceeded to lay what must have been her own bodyweight in dog dung. How can a small dog create so much?
I got the fence posts painted; regular readers of this drivel may recall that on 15 December of last year "My Boy TM" helped me (i.e. did all the work) to replace some fence panels. At the time it was too cold to fiddle about so I decided to paint the new posts later. I finally got round to doing it today. I then cut back the stuff flowing over the fence from next door, then had a little sit down; I was still aching from yesterday’s walk.

Once my loaves were out of the oven "er indoors TM" and I went to Tesco to get stuff for the feeding of the family. Tesco was heaving, but I met Dave Wickham – he used to be a cub leader with me all those years ago. His boys are now in their twenties – where does the time go?

We came home and got the garden organized, and soon the fruits of my loin and their tribes were with us. We had a rather good family barbeque. The morning had been overcast; we had thought about cancelling. But the sun came out, we scoffed ourselves silly, the dogs ran riot, and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" did his Morris dancing (!) and for an encore sang the diarrhea song (to the delight of his mother).

With everyone gone home (littluns have got school tomorrow) and "er indoors TM" off bowling I made the malt loaves I shall be taking to work tomorrow for the bake-off. Soaking the sultanas on the morning’s practice run worked so I did that again. The stuff is proving at the moment. Tomorrow will be the moment of truth. Though (in all honesty) whilst winning would be nice, I’d really be happy if people like the stuff and at the end of the day there was none left.

19 May 2018 (Saturday) - Twenty-One Miles Later

After a rather bad night’s sleep I had my weigh in. After my weight holding constant for some time, this morning I was down three pounds. I was pleased about that.
I gave Fudge breakfast in bed, then over my brekkie I had a quick look at the Internet. Yesterday I whinged about the coming data protection regulations; this morning my dentist had emailed me asking for formal permission to carry on emailing me. What nonsense - *of course* I want emails from my dentist.

Even though it was only half past five, me and Fudge set sail for Junction four of the M20 where we’d arranged to meet our lift. The plan for today was to go for a *lot* of geocaches. I’ve done a hundred (or more) six times before; on each of the three days of our Cornwall trip a couple of years ago, on our walk along the Chelmer and Blackwater navigation series in Essex in May 2013, round Crockenhill near Swanley in May 2014 and on a duck hunt in August 2017.
Knowing that going for big numbers takes a lot of time we set off early. Knowing that where we were going was rather hilly, "er indoors TM" had decided to stay home and crack on with the decorating.

We soon met Karl and Tracey; Charlotte was pleased to have Fudge in the back of the car with her. Pausing only briefly for McBrekkie we were soon high on a hill in the back of beyond. We put on boots and off we went.
We had a rather good walk. Two weeks ago the day was *so* hot; last week it was *so* wet. Today was ideal walking weather. As we walked we saw buzzards and slow worms. We even saw a deer that I logged using my “mammals” app. We also saw rabbits and squirrels who were too fast for us to photograph, and horses and donkeys who weren’t. (You can see the photos here) At the eighteen-mile stage, just as I thought Fudge was flagging he saw a pheasant and suddenly developed a whole new lease of life.
As we went I managed to cut my hand quite impressively (no idea how), we found no end of discarded farm machinery, and we even rolled in stuff (as dogs do).

We walked on high hills and low valleys; as we went we met quite a few cyclists. The day was only marred by the frankly awful music emerging from a farmhouse in one of the low valleys as we walked past high above. Why do people have to play such terrible noise so loudly? But we soon left that way behind.

At the fifteen-mile stage we found a pub. Usually when I am driving I will not drink at all. But with a few more hours walking ahead of us I thought I would make an exception to my rule; after all there was plenty of opportunity to walk it off. A pint (or two) was very welcome after fifteen miles; however having to get up and walk on took some doing.
Ironically from the pub to the car was all ever so slightly up hill.
Geocache-wise today was (for me) somewhat problematical. The caches were all relatively straightforward hides. If we hadn’t found them in five minutes then they weren’t there. We logged “didn’t find” on four. Two had (obviously) gone when a new fence had been installed over the last week or so; one was in seriously deep nettles, and one seemed to have dropped from its hidey-hole. I’ve found more caches in a day before (on four other occasions) but at a shade under twenty-two miles, today was the longest caching walk I’ve ever done. It was a shame that “Hannah” (my GPS unit) only had two thirds of the caches registered. Thank heavens for the ability to hunt Tupperware on a mobile phone.

We’d started walking at quarter past eight in the morning; we got back to the car half an hour after sunset at half past nine in the evening having walked over twenty-one miles and having found one hundred and ten geocaches. Having left home just after half past five this morning, Fudge and I struggled home at just after half past eleven.

We’d had a rather full day…