Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012  Review - January to June


Now that the festivities are dying down, the selection boxes and tins of sweets have been raided, and everyone is fed up with cold Turkey, its time to have a look at this year's weekend world. Its interesting looking back over the past years events, some weekends have been dull, most have been good, either spent with friends or family, or both.

January


Stargazing Live, Wye Stargazing and building my model railway seemed to be the theme this month. All was working out fine until we got received news that Arnie had been seriously injured. The Vet fixed him up and he spent the next few months in solitary, poor thing.


February



The month started with a dusting of snow. Luckily it didn't last, just enough to cause a day of trouble on the roads. I had a photo published in the local paper of a Swan on a frozen Singleton Lake. Sadly Dance Web Radio closed, only temporarily but it saw a significant change in the way it operated. We grand dine in and a grand day out with friends at Dover Castle. Another is planned for February 2013.
We said farewell to Sarah's Uncle, and of course the music world mourned the loss of Whitney Houston.

March



We went for a couple of good walks this month, both were along the coastline around Folkestone. The first took us along the coastal path from Sandgate. The second was an excellent walk along the Warren. The weather was great and it was probably the best walk I've taken.
The local Radio Station threw a wobbler and sacked all their breakfast show presenters, and I offered my services to 107.1 AHBS, the Local Community and Hospital Radio Station. It would be September  until I get on the air.

April.



Another good month, and the weather wasn't too bad either. We went to see Avenue Q in Canterbury, excellent. I joined the others for a bike ride in the countryside around Ashford. What a great day we had. Easter Sunday was spent at the Smarden Duck race. The weather had turned into what would be a damp and miserable spring. Oh and I celebrated my Birthday.

May.



We bought another car. Little did we know it would turn out to be a lemon. The garage did what they could, but when we eventually got it back someone could have killed us by leaving the injector manifold loose, spraying petrol all over the engine bay. The RAC came to our rescue. It didn't go wrong again until November, and we had it repaired properly by a professional garage. Then Christmas day the CD player ate a CD. Bloody French electrics...Anyhow we also went for a nice sunny walk in Bethersden, won a pop quiz and helped a friend move house.

June.



The month started with a visit to the Folkestone Airshow. We failed to take any sun protection and got burnt to a cinder, I have never been so red. After Sarah's Birthday BBQ we set off to Birmingham for a family wedding. Then a week later we went to a friend's wedding reception. Both were excellent. We used one of our Christmas presents, lunch for two at Eastwell Manor. The end of June saw us at a local dog show, representing the Astronomy Society.

Next week. July - December.



Sunday, 23 December 2012

Shopping and Radio. 22-23 December 2012

As the big day approaches, so the shops start to get very busy. There was mention of a get together in town for an event with AHBS. The weather was atrocious and members were very busy doing other things. I don't think it occurred but having avoided town because of traffic problems I could be wrong. We arrived at Asda about 8:30 this morning, it wasn't too busy. We got all we wanted and then headed for the farm shop to get the sprouts ready for transport to Birmingham. Sarah bought a load of cheese. A quick stop for a frothy coffee, and a stop at yet another supermarket, then home. The afternoon was spent wrapping presents and doing housework.
There was a slight change of plan. We were going to cook dinner for Sarah's Dad, who was staying overnight. After defrosting chicken we were told he would be eating elsewhere, so its chicken tomorrow instead. We went down to the Chinese restaurant in town, and had quite a nice meal. On the way back we popped into Asda again, twelve hours after our first visit to get a few bits that we needed during the day. We watched the 'Strictly' final, well done to Louis Smith, but I thought he got the popularity vote for dancing topless. Now maybe if Kimberly Walsh had done the same thing......

Sunday.



Guess what? We had to go to the supermarkets again. Sainsburys was rammed at 10 in the morning, so we went into town instead. On the way we saw the 'ELF' mobile heading towards yet another Geocaching adventure.

This afternoon I was on the air with another Steve on AHBS. The show went well apart from a bit of finger trouble on Steve's part, and he blamed me for distracting him! I managed to play a bit of 80's soul out this afternoon, I think it went down well.

This evening we spent wrapping presents ready for Tuesday. There is a bit of work to go to tomorrow then its no more work until the 31st.

Merry Christmas peeps......

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Quiet One - 15-16 December 2012

I suppose its nice to have a quiet weekend in the run up to the season's festivities. There was nothing in the diary, no parties, get togethers, walks, or visits. 

Saturday.

We went into town first thing. I needed a few bits n bobs. Whilst searching for bits n bobs we bumped into Julie & Andy, also shopping for bits n bobs. Back home we had a spot of lunch. I had been tasked with buying a new PA system for the Astronomy Society. I had seen one from Maplins that fitted the bill so the plan was to go down to the Folkestone branch and get it this afternoon. First off Sarah's Nephew phoned and asked if we could transport 'A few boxes' for him. When we got round there and he showed what he wanted shifting the term 'A few boxes' was an understatement. I dropped the back seats down and we filled the car with boxes. He also wanted a glass cabinet shifting (That one was sprung on us when we got there) but as time was pressing on we really had to get down to Folkestone. We got the PA system and speaker stands, and because I spent more than a certain amount they gave me £25 off as well, saving the Society some dosh. 
We got home and watched 'Despicable Me', a very enjoyable animated film. The evening was spent with a crispy duck from Farm Foods, Sweet n Sour Chicken and a beer. Then we watched 'Strictly'...As I said it was a quiet one.

Sunday.



We planned to visit the parents today. I offered to take them out for lunch but they were already sorted, so we went into Dartford first for a look round the shops and a spot of lunch in the 'All day Cafe'. I used to go there years ago, when I lived up there. Nothing much has changed even the set breakfast (1) was still the same. They used to employ a very camp (and very hilarious) waiter, who sadly doesn't work there any more. I saw this guy on TV once during the general election campaign a few years back. He accosted William Hague outside the cafe and asked him if he wanted a taste of his little sausage. 

Dartford town centre is still a shadow of its former self, although it was good to see the market had made the effort. We sat round at the parents place for an hour or two, had a cuppa and watched a bit of the Carry On film then left for home. An uneventful journey home, with a stop for fuel again. Then it was time to put the dinner on and write this blog. The evening will be spent writing cards.

As I say, a quiet weekend. Some would say dull.




Sunday, 9 December 2012

Deck the Halls with Light Emitting Diodes 8-9 December 2012

Saturday.

We went into town early today and first stop was breakfast at the Gorge. I managed to get most of the Christmas pressies as well. We were back home by midday. I decided to put up the exterior 'House-Bling'. It seems to have prompted all the neighbours to do the same. The lights were brought down from the loft. I actually packed them away properly in January, so they unraveled quite easily. The only problem is I seem to be missing one mains adapter. I seem to remember throwing away a faulty one last year. At least the remaining ones worked first time. 
This evening we decided to go into town for a curry. Normally we would have cooked but we had nothing in, We don't normally shop until tomorrow. As we walked down the High Street we noticed Blockbuster were having a DVD sale so we had a browse, and bought 'The Artist' at a very reduced price. Another to add to the growing list of DVD/Blu-rays we purchased and haven't seen yet.

Sunday

I needed a new pair of shoes. So after the weekly shop we popped over to the outlet. We bumped into Jackie and her other half. It was good to see her as she moved away a while back and the only contact we have is via Facebook. Anyway I finally found a pair that I liked. 
After lunch we went over to yet another shop, this time over at Wincheap. They had exactly what we wanted so it was worth the journey.



It was sad to hear that Sir Patrick Moore has passed away, aged 89. He probably did more to promote astronomy in the UK than anyone else. Did you know that 'The Sky at Night' has been running non-stop for 55 years, and Patrick has presented every one of them, including last Monday's episode. That's quite an achievement.   I was lucky to see him on a lecture tour a few years back. He enthralled the audience with his talk on the solar system, then after the interlude, during which he peddled some of his own CDs of Xylophone music, he took questions from the floor. I never got the chance to meet him in person, but a few of my fellow astronomy friends did three years ago and they said it was a memorable experience. He was an honourary member of the AAS, and his name appeared on our member signing in sheets, just in case he happened to turn up to one of our meetings. I think it says something about the man that all the tributes and comments I've read  have had nothing but praise for him. Farewell Sir Patrick, you will be sorely missed. 






Sunday, 2 December 2012

Weekend off 1-2 December 2012





It has been a busy week. Every evening has been filled with one event or another, and was rounded off with a really good Astronomy Society meeting on Friday night. Josh gave a talk on 'New Horizons'. We presented Drew with a Pot Noodle for services to the Society (pic). Steve gave a great talk about Astronomers of note. Sarah won the constellation lottery. We had clear-ish skies so were able to get the telescopes out and most of our attendees managed to view the moon, Jupiter or the Pleiades. We even caught a glimpse of the Andromeda Galaxy, a bit of an achievement considering the poor viewing conditions.

Saturday.




We had to be at the garage for 9am so there was only chance for a short lie-in today. The Pug has decided to revert to its original faults (various lights and warnings). The garage did a quick diagnosis but will only know for sure when they run it from cold. That means keeping it until Monday.
We went into town and as is the case every year we bought stuff for ourselves and no Christmas pressies. There is still plenty of time before the big day. I've been known to buy presents at 4:55pm on Christmas Eve.

We walked down to the RSPCA cattery for their Bazaar, which also meant having a look at the cats that are in residence at the moment. Lots of 'Awww' moments (pic). Anyway we won a bottle of plonk and some chocs on the tombola so it was worth a visit.
Then we headed to Park Mall where Webbo and Co. were hosting the lights switch-on. We also bumped into Julie and the O'latas. Luckily they had volunteers to wear the parrot costume for 'Find a Voice' (pic) so I wasn't needed. The afternoon was spent doing nowt, except watching old episodes of ST:TNG. The evening was rounded off with a Chinese takeaway, bottle of plonk (sadly past its best) whilst watching Strictly and ...Celeb. I managed to catch the end of Bad 25, a Spike Lee film about the making of Michael Jackson's 'Bad' Album. I need to watch the rest on catch-up as it looked excellent.

Sunday.

We seemed to spend the whole day driving about. Starting out at 10am from home-Asda-Currys/Pets at Home-Sainsburys-Home. Then Home-Town Centre-Home. Then Home-Sarah's Nephew-AHBS-Home. All I need is a 'For Hire' sign on top of the car and I'll be sorted. 
In between that we decided to order our 'Christmas Pressie to Ourselves' online. What a palaver! We went through the ordering process, which took longer than usual because the John Lewis website was on go slow. Then card verification took ages, then decided it didn't recognise my password. So then we had to go through the whole process again with Sarah's card, which worked this time. The good thing is that our order is going to be sent to the local supermarket for collection, rather than the Royal Mail failing to deliver and dumping it back at the sorting office, which you can't park outside because of double yellow lines and over zealous wardens. We collect it tomorrow night. All will be revealed on next weekend's blog.

Until next week then...











Sunday, 25 November 2012

Trip to Birmingham 24-25 November 2012

Saturday.




This morning I am Coventry bound, Sarah is Solihull bound. I have never been to Coventry before (and no, I've never been sent there either!). First impressions are its a bit like Croydon, but without the charm.
The museum was actually a bit of an eye opener. I never realised there have been so many british vehicle manufacturers over the years. They also had a scooter exhibition on at the entrance. If I was to ask people "name me a make of scooter", most would say Vespa or Lambretta. There were some really cool looking british makes there, and a scooter 'thing' that hardly sold, due to its poor design and looks. (see pics).



Along with the usual array of vintage and classic cars and bicycles (Coventry was a cycle 'Hub') there was the Thrust SSC display, including a ride on a simulator. Also of note was a collection of 20,000 model cars, buses, trains, planes etc... all collected by the same person. The last gallery was called 'Curators Choice', and it ranged from a Raleigh Chopper to a DeLorean (lovely looking car actually) and a red Mini Metro. What was so special about the Metro. Well it was owned by a Lady Diana Spencer, before she met Charlie. I had a Metro once. I bet she didn't have the problems that I had with mine. It was the worst car I ever owned. I enjoyed the museum. If ever you are in Coventry I suggest a visit. 
David suggested we stroll over to the Canal Basin. Apparently there were shops, cafes etc.. to walk round. So we set off in that direction in what was now pouring rain. Well all they had was a Tattoo parlour, everything else was closed or closed down. When we got back to the car the parking machine didn't accept the ticket. Luckily the barrier was set to open automatically. At least we got free parking. Back at base I watched the GP Qualifying, had dinner and the rest of the evening was spent playing cards.

Sunday.



We planned to leave early afternoon. So Sarah's mum prepared a blow-out Sunday Lunch first. Then we packed and got underway about 2pm, aiming to get home about 5pm. Sarah drove the first stint. Sutton Coldfield to Beaconsfield in 1.5 hours non stop. Then it was my turn to drive. We got on the M25 OK. Then at Junction 13 we came to a halt. The Gantry signs said 'Accident'... An hour and a half and half a mile later we passed the scene of the accident. We eventually arrived home at 6:30pm. The same thing happening going up. Her stint was easy, mine was traffic jams. 

I managed a news blackout before I watched the Grand Prix highlights. What a great finish to the GP season. The start of the race was in the balance for the two would-be champions, and to see another Brit driver on the podium was a great result. Its a shame Lewis got taken out on his final race for McLaren, but well done Vettel.
We have a day off tomorrow, but its not going to be a lazy one. We have a bit of an early start! More about that later..

Until next week then.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Trip to Birmingham 22-23 November 2012

Thursday.

After spending a morning packing, herding cats and Doctors appointments we finally got underway about 2pm. Traffic was fine for a Thursday afternoon and we did the M20, M26, M25 and most of the M40 without any incident.  A quick pit stop at Oxford services and it was my turn to drive. The weather was closing in and we noticed a lot of flooding in the fields around the River Cherwell. By the time we hit the M42 it  was the west midlands rush hour. We crawled along past all the main junctions until our exit, Junction 9. By now it was chucking it down. The local news showed terrible flooding, as you may have seen on the national news. I hope this weather improves over the weekend. 

Friday. 



After brekkie we all decided do a bit of Christmas shopping in Wolverhampton. Why Wolves I hear you ask. Well it has a department store that Sarah likes. So we jumped on the train to New street, then a quick walk to Snow Hill and jumped on a Tram to Wolverhampton. The fares are so cheap here. I can't help wonder that if they reduced fares in the south east people would use public transport more instead of clogging our roads. Have you ever tried to get to Bluewater near or after Christmas? Its a bloody Nightmare. Anyway Sarah found the clothes she wanted. another present sorted. Then after coffee and a very mediocre sausage roll we headed back to the City and the German Market. 
Whilst the market was all very picturesque and there was plenty of food, drink, sweets, trinkets etc to be had I couldn't help wonder if it was a tad overpriced. I was impressed with the look of the half metre sausage though! 

We popped into the Museum/Art gallery and whiled away a couple of hours at an exhibition celebrating the people of Birmingham. Very interesting it was too. I particularly like the BSA motorcycle (Birmingham Small Arms don't you know) Circa 1911 and had a 1965 tax disc on it.

Back at base we sat down for a couple of hours rest then it was off to 'Buffet Island'. You guessed it a chinese buffet at a road junction. The food there is very nice. There is great selection of grub and you can even have it cooked fresh, if you want noodles or a pancake. 

Tomorrow David and me are off to Coventry for a look round the transport museum. The ladies are doing more retail therapy.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Radio and Cinema 17-18 November 2012

Saturday.



For the first time in weeks, we had nothing planned for the weekend. First off though we headed towards Tenterden. My hair needed a cut and there are only  two places I use. One is in Barnehurst, a bit too far for me to travel. We parked up, and after getting my 'ears lowered' we had a stroll around the shops. One place had a wonderful model carousel in the window. It was fully working with lights, music, even the horses went up and down. There was a 'for sale' sign on it so out of curiosity Sarah asked the assistant how much it was. £450 was the answer. Phew! Then again this is Tenterden, they are a bit posh around there.... 

During a break for coffee and cake I had a call from Steve at AHBS. He had a technical query about Dover Community Radio  for me and told me he was presenting the request show at AHBS tonight. Would I be a contact for him as he was lone working. I offered to come down and help. So we decided to do an hour each on the air tonight.
Back home I fitted a new pull switch in the bathroom, Then we had to go into town so Sarah could visit the optician and order her new specs. It was also the Christmas light switch-on in town, so the place was packed. The area by the bandstand was gridlocked, it was not very pleasant and people could have been crushed.
We didn't stay for the switch-on, instead going straight down to the studio. Two hours passed quickly, we even had a few people phone in, and after recording a promo we headed for home via somewhere for food. As I dropped on to the M20 at junction 10 the traffic had stopped ahead. There must have been an accident which closed it. 10 minutes later we were underway though. For all I said about having nothing planned, we haven't stopped since we left the house this morning.

Sunday



Plans for today...

Buy a new catfish.

Go and see 'Skyfall'.

Both tasks were achieved. We now have a Leopard Catfish, The pic is the actual one we bought. It seems to have settled in ok, we just need a name for it now. After watching a few episodes of ST:TNG we headed off to Cineworld, collecting Alison in the way. I thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall, but if you haven't seen it yet I won't say anything. I'm just glad nobody told me anything about it beforehand...Superb!

Until next week then...






Sunday, 11 November 2012

Rye Fawkes Pageant and RIP Mick 10-11 November 2012

It always seems that when we have a busy schedule planned, myself or Sarah catches a cold. This time it was me, with Sarah coming down today. I had Thursday off sick as I was feeling awful. I had already booked Friday off so I had two days to recover before the weekend. Friday night we were fit enough to go up to the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone for the Stage Theatre Society production of 'Beauty and the Beast'. What an excellent show! Even better when you realise that no performer was over 19.

Saturday.



There was nothing planned until the evening. So we watched telly, had lunch,  and watched the Muppet Movie DVD. Soon it was time to collect Julie and Andy, then meet up with the other clans for the trip to Rye. We arrived in a convoy of six cars (I think) and parked up on the A259 about a mile from town. We made our way to the High Street where we met more clans then queued for chips. Luckily the queue was just out of the door. By the time I left the shop it was snaking down the road. I reckon there were more here this year than last. The place was packed. We stood at the same place as last year and by the time chips, drinks candy floss etc was consumed and sparklers lit the procession was making its way down the street. Manky used his LED banner on his phone to herd us all down to the bonfire for the main event. 100k worth of fireworks later it was time to leave. The queue out of town wasn't too bad, and apart from the fog through Appledore and up to High Halden the journey back was ok. Yet again it was a great evening and a worthy end to the bonfire parade season.

Sunday



I came downstairs to the news that Mick, our 3 year old Bristlenosed Catfish was no more. I netted him out of the aquarium and tried to flush him, but in a final act of defiance he refused to budge. So a garden burial was in order. I just hope the cats don't dig him up. I will be replacing him soon as I like Plecos. By the way the photo is not Mick, but it was the nearest I could find on the web. I have searched through my pics and I can't find any. He was a bit camera shy.

This afternoon we were thinking about going to see 'Skyfall'. However Sarah's cold is not better so She doesn't fancy sitting in the cinema all snotty, and I don't blame her. Will I ever get to see this film? As it was a nice day we decided to drive down to Tenterden Garden Centre and check out replacements for Mick. Swallow Aquatics didn't really have much in as they are re-fitting the store. We had a look at the Christmas display and bought something, stopping to photograph 'The worlds biggest spade' verified by the Guiness book of Records. Then we drove back home via Woodchurch, Kenardington and Hamstreet, a very picturesque route which I have done on the bike, but never in the car. As I type this Star Trek:TNG is on the telly. Of course I have seen these loads of times, but this is one series I can watch again and again. 

Until next week then...

   


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fireworks and Food 3-4 November 2012

Saturday.



It was up and at 'em this morning. We had food to buy as were were feeding over thirty people this evening. First stop was the town centre to pay few bills. Then Asda, then home, then Waitrose to get the bits we forgot to buy in Asda. The afternoon was spent preparing Chilli Con Carne for the masses. After putting The spuds and sausages in the oven I managed to catch a few minutes watching the GP qualifying before getting the garden ready, while Sarah tidied round the rest of the house. 
The first people arrived around 6pm. Then there was a steady stream of arrivals bearing all sorts of explosive devices until everybody was accounted for. The Mankybrew beer was sampled and the general concensus was 'I've paid for worse'. Actually it was very gluggable. We had the first round of fireworks until 7:30, then a break for food. We eventually finished around 9pm with a couple of huge rockets courtesy of us and Manky, then Chinese lanterns. All too soon it was over for another year. Some said their good nights, some sat indoors and chatted. A few of us sat outside by the warmth from the chimnea. We had the bright idea of burning the spent fireworks. All was going well until there was a big explosion of sparks, Obviously there was a UXD in amongst the dead'uns. The Rear Admiral, who was sitting next to it leapt from his seat like Usain Bolt out of the blocks. I'm still giggling about it now. Yet again it was a great evening with good friends and family. Oh yes and special thanks to Manky for the beer, Tina for the soup and Sam for the rocky road cakes! Same time next year folks.

Sunday.

The plan was to take Sarah's parents up to my Brothers place, via Bluewater. We got near the junction on the A2 and  the queue into bluewater was horrendous. So we decided to get some food for dinner in the local Asda and have lunch there. We had a chat and coffee round at Colin and Sarah's place. Back at home we prepared dinner for tonight. Then after roast chicken was scoffed we took the rest of the beer back to Badger HQ.  Now back home (again) and its time to put the feet up and watch telly after a busy but enjoyable weekend.

Until next week.........



Sunday, 28 October 2012

Chartham to Canterbury.

Yet another Astro Society evening was marred by clouds, although the guest speaker more than made up for it with a fascinating talk on astronomy and archaeology. I never realised Kits Coty, stones marking a burial mound near Aylesford, aligned with the constellations at certain times of the year back when they were first placed.

Saturday.




A  walk from Chartham to Canterbury, ending with a pub lunch. That was the plan for today. Andy arrived at our place and we set off for the station to meet up with other friends. After a twenty minute wait on the train we finally got underway, and were soon at Chartham. We were joined by Chip's mum and set off for Canterbury. The weather forecast was for cold and clear, not rain. It was raining. The surroundings however were lovely. Its a place we have driven past loads of times but never appreciated. The path follows the river, from Chartham, around the back of Thannington Without and Wincheap and into the City. As we arrived at the Foundry the sun came out. The pub was great, beer was brewed on the premises and two pints of 'Oktoberfest' ale went down well, especially with a half rack of ribs and treacle tart for pud. I wholeheartedly recommend this place. If you are ever in Canterbury check out The Foundry. Suitably replenished we headed back to the station via the high street. There was a stall selling hats and 'scraves' (according to the sign). Back at Ashford we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. It was a great day with good friends. We always have a bit of a laugh when we get together, today was no exception. 

Back at home I had a bit of a nap towards the end of Star Wars Episode IV, although I managed at last to see the bit where the Imperial Stormtrooper accidently bangs his head on the blown open door. Its only taken me thirty five years to spot it! We popped into Dave and Tina's to collect the banana beer for next Saturday, and Dave handed me a rocket, which was huge, bigger than the one I bought last weekend. Next Saturday's firework do should be a corker.

Sunday.

It was nice to have an extra hour in bed today. Its a pity cats don't do GMT.
After the weekly shop, which involved visits to two different supermarkets, I finished off a job I started a couple of weeks ago. The afternoon was spent in the Environment Centre attending the AGM of the radio station. Afterwards some of us adjourned to the pub for refreshment and an informal chat. I get the feeling these social events don't happen very often down there. That sounds familiar as at the other station I worked at the same thing happened. I'm not sure why, maybe its a combination of lack of funds, busy lifestyles or the fact that people won't make the effort to socialise. I always find that things get discussed more in  the open at the pub than round a committee table. I even managed to talk one of our presenters into maybe attending one of our astronomy meetings, as I heard him on the radio talk about the Mars Curiosity mission. Back home for dinner, and its a slow cooker special tonight, followed by an evening of TV.

Until next week then......

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Going Digital 20-21 October 2012

Saturday.



I slept well last night, that was until the cats decided it was a weekday and tried to wake us at 6am. Cats don't do weekends.
First stop today was to get the rear number plate re-fitted on Sarah's car. As is the norm the garage where we got the car had bodged it with not sticky enough sticky pads, so it was hanging off. First place we went didn't do roadside repairs, but I did pick up some wiper blades as mine were knackered. A quick trip to MC motors to get it screwed on was in order, although the mechanic (who bore a passing resemblance to Ray Winstone) had some extra sticky double sided stuff which he assured us would do the trick. We gave him a couple of quid for sorting it.
Then, as we were on the same industrial estate I went to the model shop. I was planning to upgrade the railway to digital, as my christmas pressie was a digital train pack (pic). I came away with a controller and two free digital (DCC) boards so I can upgrade my existing locos. We then popped into town for provisions, including a visit to the new Tesco Express in the town centre. If it brings more people into town then it can't be a bad thing, but Tesco already have two supermarkets and an express in Ashford. Overkill maybe? After a nice coffee and cake in County Square we joined the traffic queues out of town. 
I fitted the new wiper blades, and had a chat with one of the neighbours. Apparently she is a convert to 107.1 AHBS Radio as well, but didn't realise she could receive it in Singleton even though her car radio receives it in Tenterden. The afternoon was spent in the garage fiddling with the railway layout. I also exercised my soldering skills converting my Javelin HS1 to digital. Luckily the Flying Scotsman was DCC ready so it was just a case of plug the DCC board into the socket and watch it go.
The time flew by and before I knew it was gone 5pm. We were supposed to be at a quiz night in Dartford, but I couldn't get a team together and it seemed a waste of petrol going up there without a team. We had a very nice home made Lasagne though , and a  glass of wine or two to wash it down. After 'Strictly' I went back into the garage for another few hours tinkering with the railway, Then watched 'Kill Bill Part 1' on BBC2. There's nothing like a bit of mindless violence  to end a Saturday night.

Sunday.

I slept very badly last night. I think it must have been the strong coffee I made. I must stick to decaf. After the usual Sunday shop, and lunch, we nipped out to get some Fireworks for the party in a couple of weeks. The past couple of years we have got them from 'Homeplus' and this year was no exception. We bought a large box, plus a huge rocket. I think we are going to have a big display this year. Then we went to Dobbies for our monthly free hot drinks. Christmas is in full swing there, and we decided to get a new fibre optic tree as our current one is looking a bit sorry for itself. It has a definite 'lean' to it and looks a bit knackered now. We have had it since 2005 and it was cheap back then.  The rain hasn't stopped all day, so doing anything in the garden was out of the question. I have a load of slabs to break up and they will have to wait. So it was back to the model railway when I got home. I tried out the the new train pack. After a few teething troubles I got it working ok.

Until next week then...

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Rock and Cellars 13-14 October 2012

Saturday.



The plan today was to collect a load of rubble from my parents place. Luckily Manky and Batty had volunteered to help out. I picked them up early then headed to Aylesford to collect the Hilux, then on to Crayford for a spot of breakfast at the Bubble and Squeak Cafe, and a look round Maplins. After the rubble was loaded we then delivered it back to my garden in Ashford, dropped off the fellas and took the pickup back to the dealers. It was nice to see that they (Beadles) had cleaned my car as well.
Julie and Andrew came round this evening for a drink and a chat. It turned into a bit of a film night as we had bought some new dvds this afternoon. We ended up watching 'Rock of Ages', a musical featuring all those 80's rock tunes that were a soundtrack to my twenty-somethings. I enjoyed it. It was a no-brainer, harmless fun film. I wouldn't mind seeing the stage version.

Sunday.




I got up early to watch the Korean GP. I should have stayed in bed really, it won't go down in history as a classic race. After shopping I decided to fit the new back door mat. It needed to be fitted in two parts as one side has a few angles in it to fit in with the wall and unit. I cut a template out of cardboard, which I thought would fit. I need to measure it again...
This afternoon we headed off to Winchelsea to meet up with the clans for a trip around the town's cellars. These medieval vaults are a feature of many houses in the town and the local archaeological society arrange tours. As this was the last one of the year the turnout for the event was huge, so they had to split us into three groups. One of the residents took a picture of us from his bedroom as even he hadn't seen so many people. After a good talk about the history of the town performed in the middle of the road with the use of a chalked out coastline, our designated tour guide took us into the first of three cellars. Two were actually used to store wine (their original purpose). The third was three linked cellars which looked more like a church vault. At the end of the Cellar tour the guide offered us a quick tour round the church (St Thomas) which was very interesting as well. We finished the afternoon with a well earned cuppa in the hotel. We said our goodbyes and headed for home where a menu from the local Chinese takeaway was awaiting us.

Until next week then...



Sunday, 7 October 2012

'Looky Uppy' and Locomotives 6-7 October 2012

Saturday.



The morning was spent putting the rest of the house straight after we had the flooring fitted yesterday. After a spot of lunch we went over to the Singleton Environmental Centre (pic), who were having an open day. The Chairman of AHBS was there publicising the station and also representing the centre (as he works there). We had a chat, then tea and cake. We watched a guy trying to make fire using wood and string, ala Ray Mears. All he managed to produce was smoke. Somebody should have passed him a lighter. After saying our goodbyes we popped into the carpet shop to get a new doormat. The other one has been used by the cats as a pissoir so we had to chuck it.
This evening Graham came down for a curry and a bit of astronomy (he uses the phrase 'Looky Uppy' which describes it exactly). After a really nice meal in town we went over to Woodchurch and met up with other like minded individuals for a rare event. A cloudless evening of stargazing. The skies there are amazing. The milky way was visible from horizon to horizon. We only packed up when the dew got to my telescope lens. I must get a dew shield. Apart from that it was a great evening. 

Sunday.





I noticed there was a model railway exhibition on at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. So the plan was to go down there in the afternoon after the weekly shop and a spot of lunch, plus a TV catch up session from last night. Some of the excellent displays they had there have motivated me to get some more done to my model railway. So I bought some more track and a loco. Sarah bought me my early Christmas present which was a four car Network Southeast passenger train (4-VEP). It is a digital control fitted model so now I have to upgrade my system to digital. I had better start saving my pennies now. We met up with Steve from the Astro club who was helping his friend run a stall there. After a cuppa and a chat we left for home. 

Until next week then...




Sunday, 30 September 2012

Canterbury and Cache 29-30 September 2012

Saturday.



I was going to take the Naim down to Soundcraft to have the software updated, but I realised that I have to take the hi-fi apart next friday anyway so the new flooring can be laid. I can take it there then. 
So we decided to have a trip to Canterbury. It was packed. The main reason being that there was a huge food and drink festival in  the Dane Gardens. After a quick look round the shops we headed for the festival. They always have an abundance of certain stalls at these fairs. Fudge, cheese, cider/apple juice, chutneys and venison sausages. We bought some local blue cheese, chilli BBQ sauce and some Italian pastries (Cannoli). Plus I had a swift half of 'Friggin in the Riggin' from the Nelson Brewery in Chatham. A most acceptable brew. 

As the sun was making a valiant attempt to finish September with some pleasant weather, we put the roof down on the Pug and had a nice drive back to Ashford, apart from passing a rather stinky cess pit. 
A quick stop at Farmfoods for Duck and other frozen food on the way home. Then after arriving home  I had to put all my trains back on the track after one of the Cats staged a major derailment. We had a call from Sarah's sister. Her PC was overheating and could I go round there and blow out the interiors. We went over armed with tools and a can of blower spray. It didn't really need much de-fluffing but it looks like the graphics card is on the way out, and that was confirmed later on when she phoned to say it had died. We will be off to PC world tomorrow. She came home with us and we had a blow-out Chinese meal, then watched the last Dr Who for the time being. It was a cracking episode, quite sad and even scary (The cherubs gave me the creeps) but now we have to wait until Christmas for the next dose of the Doctor.

Sunday.



I received a message from Manky first thing. Would we like to go for a walk this afternoon just on the other side of Great Chart. I need a good walk, it was just if I could get there on time. So this morning was quite hectic. Collect graphics card from Alison's PC, food shopping, PC World, Family Bargains for storage boxes, drop off shopping, back to Alisons, Install new card, then Dobbies for free coffee and lunch. I finally arrived at the Hoodeners Horse at 1:15pm and met up with MB, Tina, Lisa, Earle and Fudge. A swift pint later and we were heading towards Daniels Water via Purchase Woods. The idea of the afternoon was to sound out the area for planting Geocaches (Surprise surprise). We did get slightly lost and ended up walking a complete circle around the woods which MB and I only realised when we passed a Farm that we had walked past earlier. We never got to Daniels Water though. On the way back they stopped to find a Geocache that had eluded them. As I was helping to find it as well I was logged on the cache. It was my first find. I am no longer a 'muggle'. If I have time on Friday I may have a look round Singleton for more. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Party Time 22-23 September 2012I

Saturday.

We had a few things to sort out before heading to Chippy's place for his 40th Birthday party. I had to pop into town and visit my favourite shop, Soundcraft HiFi. I needed some replacements for the spikes on my speaker stands and equipment rack. The reason being that we are having laminate flooring fitted in the dining room, and spikes are not appropriate. Luckily they knew exactly what I needed and not only that they were very cheap. I also asked about updating the software in my audio unit, and they can do it for free as its quite a tricky job and you could end up with a very nice designer brick if you tried it yourself. Its going in next weekend for the update.
We went to the carpet shop to choose the flooring and get an installation date, then home for a bit of GP qualifying. Soon it was time to get changed and head off to Chez Chippy for the party. As we approached town on the bus we saw the other guests walking down the road so we got off and met them, so we all arrived together.




The party was great, Manky had brewed some very acceptable beer with citrus flavours (I've paid for worse) and Sam had laid on a very nice table of food. Everyone had a great time and the beer went down very well, too well for some people (see pic). Manky was feeling no pain. At the end of a great evening Andy and Julie gave  us a lift home and we finished off the evening with coffee at ours.

Sunday. (Warning - Sweeney spoiler ahead)

The weather did not look good and I felt sorry for a group who were going off geocaching near Wrotham hill this morning. I think they may have got a tad drenched. After shopping we decided to go and see The Sweeney. The early afternoon showing was with subtitles, we didn't fancy that so we went for the late afternoon showing. I thought the film was great and Ray Winstone / Ben Drew were superb, however the locations were slightly off. They drove out of Gravesend river front straight onto the Isle of Sheppey. Hey ho its artistic licence I suppose. The shoot out in Trafalgar Square was brilliant. How did they manage that!! After the film we went for a curry in town, a place we never tried before. The food was good, definitely one to use again.

Until next week then.




Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Trip to Edinburgh 14-15-16 September 2012

Friday.


At last it was time for our long weekend break. This is something Sarah and I have done in the last three years and this year we decided to go to Edinburgh.
We booked a Hotel and train package months ago, and after dumping the cats at the the cattery we set off for Kings Cross via the Javelin, arriving in time to take our seats in First Class on the 11:30 East Coast service. The journey was good, with plenty of complimentary food, drink and Wi-Fi.  We arrived in Edinburgh on time and found the Hotel to be just opposite the station. The room was ok, clean but tired decor and yet again a tiny bathroom. The view was non existent, just scaffolding on the building next door. The hotel is going through some refurbishment which meant the lounge was closed, but the bar in the restaurant was open even though you had to sit at a dining table. 
We went for a walk and found a nice middle eastern restaurant. After a set meal of starters, mixed grill with rice and veg stews,then baklava with ice cream we headed for the 'Real Mary Kings Close'. a 17th century street with houses that is now effectively underground as it has been built on over the years. It was featured a few years ago on 'Most Haunted' and I have to say I wouldn't like to be alone down there at night....spooky!

Saturday.



After a full 'Scottish' breakfast we first checked at the station regarding our return journey, more about that later. Then we boarded a tour bus to Leith where the Royal Yacht Britannia is moored.
If ever you are in Edinburgh I would recommend you visit that. It was really interesting and they have made a good effort in turning it into a tourist attraction. The bus trip back into the city was interesting too. We were pelted with sweets by the local kids, some hitting people on the open top deck. The driver did check if everyone was ok, then reported it. I suspect nothing will get done though.  The afternoon was spent walking around town including a trip up to the castle. We declined to go in though as it was expensive, and frankly if you seen one castle etc... We had dinner. Then as we walked out into the street I could hear a distant pipe band. The Edinburgh Postal band were celebrating 50 years and were performing down by the art gallery. We watched them march up and down the square with the swirl of the bagpipes in the air, it really captured the atmosphere of the place. 

Sunday.

I was in the shower when the fire alarm went off. We threw some clothes on even though I was still wet. Then just as I got my shoes on, it stopped. Apparently someone (not us) had left the bathroom door open with the shower on, and the steam had set it off.
We had checked our travel details yesterday. There was engineering works between Edinburgh and Newcastle and our train journey would take longer as it went to Carlisle first, then on to Newcastle. Just how long we didn't realise until we got to Lockerbie. The train stopped, then waited nearly two hours while they finished over-running engineering works. There were problems further down the line, when passengers who had first class tickets on cancelled trains challenged us and fellow passengers about our seat reservations. We politely told them this was not their train and we had been on here since early this morning. I think the staff did a sterling job getting everyone sorted and ensuring we were fed and watered. Eight hours later we arrived at Kings Cross, then it was a high speed trip back to Ashford. OK so Sunday was not ideal, but all in all we had a good weekend, Roll on next years trip!

Until next weekend then.
 




Monday, 10 September 2012

Training and Goose Fair 8-9 September 2012

Saturday

I took a stroll down to the shops to get a paper this morning. Its something I don't do too often and really should do more as the walk is quite pleasant, and of course good for you and the environment. Dave turned up with his Van and we loaded the stuff for the Challock Goose Fair. Then we popped over to Steve's place to collect  'Dobbie' and the PST. After a quick coffee with Dave and a spot of lunch Sarah and I set off for the Singleton Environment Centre for our training from AHBS. 
We have never been there before, even though its right on our doorstep. The walk took us through the Highland Park estate, where in 2005 we had planned to buy a new house. It was good to see the building works completed although I'm glad we didn't move there. The houses are on top of each other, very claustrophobic! 
We arrived at the centre to be greeted by Daniel. We started with a presentation on health and safety, then Richard led us through responsibilities of broadcasting  as dictated by Ofcom. I noticed the cafe there looked good, and when we had a break some of us (not me!) had cake which they said was good. The tea was nice though. We finished about 5:30pm and walked home. We decided to order up a pizza. I like ordering online, and its the first time we had used Papa Johns. Very nice Pizza, especially when washed down with a glass or two of wine! We watched the second episode of Dr Who, which while i quite enjoyed, I didn't like the fact that the Doctor sent the baddie to his death. A bit out of character if you ask me. Then I finished of the evening with Last Night at the Proms, through the home cinema!

Sunday.




It was 5am and I was fast asleep when suddenly Sarah leaps about three feet in the air and dives out of bed. Apparently something had crawled across her head, that something being a large (and now squashed) spider. Of course I was expected to get up  and dispose of it. I gave it a 'Burial at Sea' then returned to my bed. 7:30 came round in no time and after a nice breakfast we drove over to Badger HQ where Dave was waiting in the street for us.

We arrived at Challock at 9am to be met by Dave(2) and his daughters who had brought all the stuff over in his van. We were shown to our pitch which was next door to KMFM. I was talking to the bloke on the stall and he rolled his eyes when I said I was a member of AHBS. I noticed that they hardly sold a goodie bag all day, whilst our stand was very busy. I wonder if it was something to do with the way they changed their format?
We were soon joined by Drew, then Denver & Jo turned up and stayed a while. It was nice to see a few of our members and people who are on our Facebook page. All in all it was a great day, plenty of punters, sunny, no cloud and the moon was visible until early afternoon. At last we had something to aim the telescopes at, as well as the solar scope. Highlights included:

Me and Sarah photographed holding an Olympic torch.

Dave picking up a kid so they could see into the PST then spending the rest of the day with sticky hands.

Drew and Dave having a 'Sun vs Moon' contest. The sun won.

Sarah winning cup-a-soups on the tombola.

Me winning a bottle of orange squash and a jar of coffee on the tombola.

The day was soon over and after packing up and heading for home, we had a spot of dinner and watched 'The Hunger Games'.

Until next week then.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Fireworks and Film 1-2 September 2012



It has been quite a week. I presented my first request show on AHBS, and I presented my last show on Valley Park Radio. I will miss Thursday nights, we had built up a good evening of entertainment and of course seeing my friends weekly and catching up. I have not left VPR completely, but I will no longer be taking an active role in the station. It may be a while before I get a regular slot on AHBS,  but I'm happy filling in on any vacant request shows. DWR, the internet station I record for is off air at the moment due to technical difficulties. I can't believe that for the first time since I started in 1995 I don't have a regular weekly show. It feels a bit strange.

Saturday.

We had to pop into town this morning. We have been collecting the Diamond Jubilee editions of London Landmarks by Lilliput Lane, and the last one had arrived at the shop. There was a moment when they were about to charge us full price, after last week when they said it was discounted. A quick check put things right. We had lunch and watched the GP qualifying. Al phoned for a chat, then I set about de-foresting the garden. The magnolia tree in the front was starting to grow rather large. It was blocking daylight into the living room. That was pruned back to a more manageable size. The lawns were mowed, also the patio was de-weeded and treated. We then called into Sarah's nephew to drop stuff off for them to sell at the boot fair. Someone had given him a telescope to sell and he wanted to know much it was worth.



Then it was round to badger HQ to meet up with the gang and head towards Sandgate seafront for a firework display. We met up with Jose, Maria and their boys on the seafront. Manky had identified a geo-cache nearby, so we all set off in search of that. After it was found myself and Manky then went in search of an off license, whilst others went in search of chips. The display lasted about ten minutes and was good for a freebie. When that had finished we headed back to Jose's place and watched 'Rio', an animated film that must have passed me by, but was enjoyable. We arrived home about 11:30pm and I started watching a film called 'Soulboy' about the northern soul scene in the 1970's. The music was ok, pity about the acting and storyline. 

Sunday.



We were at a bit of a loose end today after a previously organised event was re-scheduled for next month. We decided to go to the cinema as that is something we hardly ever do these days, and we went to see 'Total Recall'. Now I'm a big fan of the 1990 version, Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, so I had to suspend any comparisons and treat it as a different film. The premise was the same, but the location was just confined to Earth. I won't give too much away but there were one or two homages to the original, It just misses some of that Arnie humour. 

Is it me or do films these days look more like video games. The action is way too fast, I reckon kids are being conditioned by online gaming to see this as the norm. Two movies I've seen this year, Mission Impossible, and this one, seem to overload the senses, the action is too fast and non-stop, with lightning quick edits. Sometimes at the sacrifice of a good story line.

Back home now and some homemade lasagne was waiting for us, a nice way to finish off a weekend. 




Monday, 27 August 2012

Batcamp 25-26 August 2012

In preparation for a weekends camping, we took the tent down to the farm on friday evening. Thanks to many helpers it went up in no time. I think we got a  good tent as people commented how nice it was. We hadn't planned on staying tonight so we went back home, stopping for chinese food on the way.

Saturday.



Sarah woke with a stinking cold, so whilst I went off to the farm, she stayed at home. The plan was that she would have a day of rest then come down on Sunday. When I arrived the weather was pretty grotty, we spent most the afternoon in the 'Brown and Smelly' (the mess tent) chatting and drinking Dave's homebrew. We were joined by Sam, Chippy and the kids and it actually stopped raining long enough for the kids to play outside with a frisbee. Late afternoon we walked down to the ponds for a spot of 'maggot drowning'. I caught one tiddler.  After a great dinner (sweet and sour chicken) courtesy of Jose and Maria, We waited in the 'Brown and Smelly' until the rain had subsided again. The evening turned out quite pleasant, the fire pit was lit and we sat round it while Batty gave us a narration with a twist from 'Fifty Shades of Gray', including sound effects. We rounded off the night with cheese and port, just enough to make me sleepy...

Sunday.



I have to say it was a very comfortable night in the tent. I was awakened from time to time by the wind blowing in the trees, but at about 5am there was a cacophony of Sheep, Ducks, Crows and Geese. Only the Cattle were silent. I got up at 7am needing to use a tree, but I couldn't be bothered to get the wellies on, so I ran across the field barefoot, avoiding the cow pats. At 8am I joined Dave for another spot of maggot drowning, I caught sweet FA. After a hearty breakfast I went home to collect Sarah, have a shower and change clothes as I left the clothes out of my rucksack. We got back to camp about midday and I had yet another crack at maggot drowning. Still no success. As lunch was laid out we were joined by Andy and Julie, then Keith and his daughter Amy made an appearance. There was a job to be done on the farm this afternoon. The duck house on the pond behind the camping field had come adrift from its rope mooring. Batty needed volunteers to swim out and grab the Duck house, and the rope. Step forward Dave and Tina who braved the cold and murky water to get it.

We went back to the other pond for round four of maggot drowning, and yet again I caught sweet FA, I did hook one, but it escaped before I could land it so it doesn't count. We decided to get the tent packed up before dinner so with the help of Keith and Andy I managed to get it back in the bag without too much hassle.
Dinner tonight was Fajitas prepared by Lukey. They were lovely. We lit the Fire pit again and after a couple of hours chatting, the evening was all over too soon and we had to leave our friends and get back to civilisation. We had hungry Cats to feed. I now have to wait until Bat camp next year then...



Sunday, 19 August 2012

Now is the Summer of our Discount Tents 18-19 August 2012

Excuse the Shakespearean pun in the title, but I've been dying to use it and this weekend seemed appropriate.

Saturday.

Boy it was hot last night. I reckon that tonight we'll probably have the fan on in the bedroom, something I never normally do because the noise disturbs me.
We went into town this morning, Sarah bought a few clothes and I bought a new lock for the shed, exciting huh? We popped into Iceland to get a few salad bits, there was a very strong smell in there... and I mean REALLY strong, and it seemed to be coming from this little old lady. she must have been having serious gastric difficulties. 

This afternoon it was so hot that we spent it indoors watching 'Cool Runnings' on the TV and eating ice lollies. We were planning a barbeque, but our friends weren't too sure they could come. So we will have one tomorrow. It was Chinese food tonight instead. This evening we sat outside and tracked Bats with my detector, then watched the ISS fly over.

I recorded X Factor tonight. Why did I bother you ask? They showed some cheeky chappie who worked in Nando's and sung a Louis Armstrong tune...badly. Stick to burnt chicken mate. Then there was a girl who looked like Pink, dressed like Pink and sung a Pink song. When the judges said she was too much like Pink (except for the voice which was pants) she went off on one, assaulting a cameraman and trashing scenery. Staged? Of course it was!
Even the ones who could sing were annoying. I think there was one girl who showed promise. she sang her own composition, which was actually quite good. Get her off the show and into a record contract before they ruin her career. Mel B was the best judge on there. She pulled no punches and you could see some of the auditionees looked a tad upset at her comments. Good. These wannabees need to be told they are no good. I know very talented  musicians who work their butts off, performing live in pubs, clubs, theatres and festivals who will never get a record contract because its 'not what the public wants', which is a shame. So will I be watching it next week? I should not like it but I find it compulsive viewing.

Sunday



It was hot again last night. We had the fan on in the bedroom which made it a bit more bearable, but the noise meant I was waking every half hour or so. Still, must not complain. Remember only a few weeks ago it was chucking down with rain every day.

After the weekly shop we set off in search of tents. Last weekend we were told of a place near Wildwood in Herne. Having had a look at the ones on display we asked if there were any offers, only to be told we were a week early for the sale but they could do us a deal on a couple. So we ended up buying the one in the picture, along with a carpet and footprint groundsheet. I bought an LED wind up lantern as well. I reckon I'm just about prepared for Batcamp next weekend.

We carried on to Herne Bay, and through it. The place was packed to the rafters and there wasn't a parking spot to be had anywhere. We then headed for Whitstable. The queue of traffic into the town was horrendous so we gave that one a miss as well.  Must be the weather...

We got home just in time for the ice cream van to pull up down the road. 99s were the order of the day and very nice they were as well. Tonight we sparked up the barbeque, just for us two, and after a fine meal of lamb chops, bangers and salad followed by strawberries n cream, we settled down for the evening.

Until next week then...



Monday, 13 August 2012

Pastures New and Kite Festival 11-12 August 2012


1994 and my 'debut' with Allen Taylor
Check out the carts top left!

Firstly I have a bit of an announcement to make. Most of my readers know that since 1994 I have been a presenter on Hospital radio in Dartford. First at Radio Joyce Green, and when that hospital closed in 2000 we set up Valley Park Radio at Darent Valley Hospital. Since moving to Ashford in 2006 I have been finding it increasingly difficult to juggle my time between my membership requirements and my other commitments. My weekly show is the only time I have been there. To this end I have recently Joined AHBS in Ashford as it will be easier for me to commit my time. The station is on the 'up' and I want to be part of it. So now is the time to 'Hang up my headphones' at VPR. My last show will be on 30th August. It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the team there. I have made some great and lasting friendships, which I hope will remain. I will still have contact with VPR as I aim to retain associate membership. I want to know what is going on behind my back. I will have to dedicate a blog to some of the stand-out moments from the last eighteen years, of which there have been many.

Sunday

We were shopping early today, making the most of the last early opening of the supermarket due to the Olympics. Once completed we headed off to Teston Park for the kite festival. The Badger contingent are camping there so we thought we'd pop down to see what this kiting lark was all about. 'Not a lot' as it transpired. The weather, although glorious meant there was a distinct lack of wind, which a kite needs to get lift. There were other activities including tasting Manky's homebrew
(most palatable) and taking part in his new found hobby geocaching, which seemed to have plenty of converts. I also brought down the solar telescope, which attracted some interest. After a most pleasant afternoon We said our goodbyes and headed back for Ashford. After a bit of dinner we settled down to watch the Olympic closing ceremony. It started a bit dodgy, but soon picked up and I thought it was brilliant. I did miss a bit though. Just as George Michael came on, and I swear it has nowt to do with him. I suddenly felt ill. Next thing I know I was talking down the great white telephone. It was like a scene from the Exorcist! I don't know what I've picked up but its knocked me sideways!

Until next week then...





Sunday, 5 August 2012

Camping and Castles 4-5 August 2012





I like three day weekends. Friday morning was spent with friends, where we had breakfast at the Foundry cafe. I had the biggest full English I think I've ever eaten.  Then we went for a walk to try and recover from all that food. Victoria park is a place I rarely visit. But walking through there this morning made me realise it is actually a nice place. The River Stour looks clean of rubbish with plenty of fish, and I was impressed with the large fountain. Just a pity they only operate it at weekends. Then it was home for an afternoon of watching Olympics, napping and taking stuff down the dump.

Saturday. 

We had to go into town this morning. So while Sarah went off for a chat with the bank I sat in the cafe with a frothy coffee. When I finished that I went and had a chat with Andy and Julie from Dexterity, who were peddling their motorbike training courses in County Square. I must admit I've neglected the motorbike for a while, it needs an MOT so just sits in the garage looking dejected. 

I have been thinking about staying over at Batcamp* later this month. This involves buying a tent and some camping equipment. We went to Cotswold in Maidstone this afternoon for a look around, and although we didn't buy any camping stuff,  we did buy new waterproof North Face jackets as my old one leaks. They were in the sale as well so I thought they were worth getting before winter sets in and the prices go up. 

A round of lawn mowing was in order when we got home. I managed to empty the grass box three times, that's how long the grass was. Normally I only have to empty it once. Then after some Chinese grub from the freezer we settled down for an evening of Olympics. Wow that was the greatest sporting achievement I've ever seen, Well done Jessica, Mo, Greg and of course all the other Team GB medal winners. It makes you proud to be British!

Sunday.

We were in Asda by 9:30 this morning, and on the way home we dropped into Halfords to have a look at their tents. They sell one with 4 sleeping bags, 2 air beds, electric pump, lanterns the  lot and you can stand up in the tent. A pre-requisite as far as we are concerned. I still want to shop about though as this offer gives us more kit than we need.




After a spot of lunch we decided to make use of our English Heritage membership. Walmer and Deal castles were our destination. I've driven pass these on several occasions but never ventured in. I reckon everyone must be watching the Olympics as there weren't many people at either castles, apart from a few foreign tourists.  Walmer Castle is more of a stately 'ome. According to our audio guides the Duke of Wellington died there apparently. The trouble with these guides is they last longer than your interest in the room. You just want to move on and are not all that bothered about the history of the statuette on the sideboard. We strolled into the gardens and had a  quick game on the giant connect four, which I lost. Then stopped for a quick cuppa before moving on.

Then it was back on the road for the five minute drive to Deal Castle. This castle obviously hasn't been lived in as the interior is sparse, save for a couple of paintings and displays. The lower ramparts were also a bit flooded, so we couldn't get all the way round without getting our feet wet, but I liked the way they have not lit the passageways, so its just natural light in there. EH tend to rely on these audio guides so there is not much visual information around. Unless you buy a guidebook of course.

I see Team GB have won more gold today, absolutely brilliant and all these people who were slagging off the Olympics before they started are strangely quiet now. Having watched a helluva lot of the Olympics on TV I feel that the experience is passing me by. So we are seriously thinking about trying to get tickets for the Paralympics, just to say we were there.

Until next week then...


* If you have never been you won't appreciate how good Batcamp is.