Archive for April, 2004


Friday, April 30th, 2004

Now I HATE to take the mickey out of our beloved leader…Hizonner SimonG, Lord of the BlogRing…

But there are just some things you shouldn’t do when you’ve got a webcam…

Click here for the evidence

Nice Thought

Friday, April 30th, 2004

On Wednesday night when I was watching telly, a work colleague rang me asking for help: Her mother-in-law had been given a computer and she was trying to install software on it but it wouldn’t recognise the CD drive; could I help? Well, I gave a bit of advice and went back to “Danger on the Beach”.

Yesterday, Trina brought the computer in to work, on account of having had no luck, and I spent my lunchbreak sorting it out. It wasn’t a difficult job (not for someone as clever as me), it was just one of those jobs that drags on for ages.

Anyway, lunchtime today saw me in Trina’s office again (it’s the nearest peaceful place to sit to the canteen), and her in-law had sent me a box of Black Magic*! So in the unlikely event that you’re reading, Kay, thanks very much! Oh, and we also heard that a company who specialise in pick’n’mix sweets want to come and have a visit to our production site, so I volunteered to show them round…you never know how grateful they might be!

And now it’s the long bank holiday weekend, and I’m away to “isn’t-it land”** in the morning***. I’m not sure what internet access is available there****, so you may not hear from me again until Monday evening. I’m sure you’ll cope.

*Chocolate, that is. A box of voodoo dolls and shrunken heads wouldn’t have been a very nice thank-you present would it?

**South Wales

***In case any gentlemen with an interest in unauthorised house clearance are reading, I should stress that the house will still be occupied in my absence.

****In the house where I’m staying, not South Wales generally.

Evening Diversion

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

Since I paid so much for the new immobiliser, I suppose I really ought to get more than one blog out of it. Direct Line really have got the whole thing right – if an approved immobiliser isn’t fitted, not only is the car not covered against theft, it also isn’t covered against damage caused by attempted theft. So you could have the best home made immobiliser in the world (I’m a bit of an ElectroBoff), and even though the scrotes can’t nick your car, you can’t even claim for the window they break in the attempt. So, I’m buying an alarm/immobiliser costing more than my neighbour is charging for a second-hand car.

In other news, I had a meeting in Winchester this evening, and an hour and a half to kill before it started. Which was handy as Winchester is in the middle of a cluster of geocaches I haven’t found yet, so I went and did A Cache to Remember, a nice thought-provoking trip around village war memorials. Then I went to the meeting, and went home.


Nothing much

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

D’you ever have one of those days when nothing blogworthy has happened? I went to work, I came home via John’s house, and Asda. I watched some telly, and now I’m going to have a shower and go to bed.

I did make one rather expensive phone call this morning: It’s a requirement of the insurance on the gruntmobile that I get a Thatcham Cat 1 immobiliser* fitted, and this morning after some research on the internet, I found a local agent who can supply, and come to my workplace and fit, such a thing, thereby providing me with the all-important certificate of installation to keep Direct Line happy. I went a bit mad and bought the top of the range one that also has an all-singing all-dancing alarm, and remotely locks the doors, and will shut the windows if I’ve forgotten to do so before I set the alarm. I’m trying not to think about the cost, but it’s nowhere near as expensive as replacing the gruntmobile if it got nicked. In fact, it’s not as expensive as replacing all the gadgets that I’ve installed in the gruntmobile, so it’s definitely worth it.

Then the reason for the Asda visit was to purchase a supplementary birthday present for a friend I’m seeing this weekend, and I just couldn’t resist buying a CD for myself while I was there…oh, and some pick’n’mix. Couldn’t find the J2O, though…

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the little “My Mood” logo has disappeared, there seemed to be some incompatability between it and the “Comments” thingy, so until that’s resolved you’re going to have to guess my mood from my blog.

*I’ve always found a smear of superglue in the litter tray adequate, but apparently that’s not what it means**.

**Although superglue in the litter tray of the cat next door might well prevent a number of scratches in the paintwork on the bonnet and roof.


Tuesday, April 27th, 2004

It’s Rayyyyyyaaaaayyyyyniiiiiiiiing……
Raining down on Meeeeeeeee…

Actually I don’t care, because it only started raining just as I was about to arrive at home.

Well, part one of our annual Health and Safety Audit went OK, apart from Immediate Boss deciding to go and spend the afternoon playing golf instead of hanging around and providing information, but that’s OK, we can ask him in part two, and in any case it demonstrates his confidence in his underling (i.e. me). To add to the day, the canteen knocked out a reasonable curry at lunchtime. This evening I stopped in a local park to eat my sandwiches and read a few pages of my book, before going to church group, which was a very quiet, reflective, peaceful evening.

And now I’m going to bed. I’m still sneezing, by the way, but I notice the Oilseed Rape is flowering which means it’s hay fever time for yours truly.

Ordinary Day

Monday, April 26th, 2004

Would you believe, I’ve been and forgotten what I was going to blog about?

It’s been a pretty ordinary day really, after the excitement of the weekend, the main news is that the cold, which I thought had run away to annoy someone else, has come back and I’ve been sneezing all day. A day of frantic last minute preparations at work – we’ve got part one of our annual Health and Safety audit tomorrow.

And speaking of Health and Safety, I’m still waiting to book the next part of my H&S diploma course, which I can’t do yet as we don’t yet know if the cost is in next year’s training budget. When does next year* start? This Saturday! What a way to run a business…

Anyway, I’m writing this at Hospital Radio, while carefully monitoring the CCTV. Yet again last night, one of our members had his car vandalised by the local yobbery: Just up the road from our studio is one of those estates where they put all the people who’ve been thrown off all the other estates for being bad neighbours. We’ve had numerous windows smashed, both in the building and in cars. We used to have an Outside Broadcast caravan, until it was broken into and torched, and on one occasion a member was assaulted by one of the little twelve year old thugs. To add insult to injury, dad-of-yob turned up with a Policeman in tow, claiming that our member had been the one doing the assaulting! Luckily the whole incident had been captured on videotape, and after viewing the video, the Policeman took Dad-of-yob on one side and , in Police parlance, “gave advice???.

So, it’s not a very happy ship here tonight. The only good thing is that we’ve decided to have an early night tonight…

*Company year, obviously

More Sun

Sunday, April 25th, 2004

Whoo, what a lovely day!

My Raynet group were providing communications cover for the Marwell 10k road race today. I was on checkpoint seven, tucked away in the far recesses of the course, and had a very nice blonde police lady on the checkpoint with me. Erm , when that was all over I drove down to one of the other checkpoints to speak to two new members of our group, and then went geocaching.

I’d originally planned to do Betty Mundy’s Finest Asset, but I couldn’t find anywhere to park the gruntmobile anywhere handy, so I drove up onto the beacon and did Beacon Book Box instead. A brilliant cache, this is, with excellent views from the walk, and a trigpont to log on the way as well.

Then a nice drive home and a chinese takeaway to round off the weekend.


Saturday, April 24th, 2004

For the second time this year, I wore my shorts today…I love nice weather!

This morning I slept late, then spent a couple of hours sorting out some more of the ham radio gear in the car – it’s now almost all as I want it! The GPS beacons nicely, so my fellow radio hams (or at least, those using UI-View software) can follow my travels. As can you, good friend and reader, just by clicking here, then clicking on the “Click here for Europe” link. The good maps all used to be on the one page, but there were a few licensing issues…

Anyway, this afternoon I went geocaching and found Bury Your Head by the SpottySpaniels: This is a tour around a local village, picking up clues in various places before heading off to the final location. The final clue place had a great tearoom where I stopped for a cuppa and a KitKat, then at the cache location there was a lovely carpet of bluebells.

And on the way home I stopped at the caravan shop and looked at lots of things I couldn’t afford, before spending three quid on a pair of covers for the towing-electric sockets on the car.

Ooh, and thanks muchly to Minxy Morticia, in whose blog I found the directions for putting the “My Mood” logo over in the sidebar…

Night, all!


Friday, April 23rd, 2004

What a plonker! I wrote most of today’s blog at work, meaning to email it to myself to save posting time (Blogger has been barred at work by the Network Nazis). Anyway, ding ding, round two…

My first thought when I woke up this morning was “Oh ostrich, I must have fallen asleep and left the light on last night”. But no! The unexpected luminosity was coming straight through the curtains…hurrah, it’s a sunny day!

Regular readers will know that today was the day I was having the tests done – these are to determine whether the pain in my wrist is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or not. The appointment was at nine, so it wasn’t worth going into work first; instead, I just got up a bit late and dithered around for a bit (but didn’t get one*).

Parking at the local hospital is total pants, and also very expensive. This is partly because the NHS is so underfunded that it needs to turn a shekel wherever it can, and partly because people working in the town centre park there and catch the bus in. I drove almost all the way there, then left the car in a quiet side road and walked the rest of the way in morning sunshine. I arrived with time to spare, so bought a paper and sat in the waiting room.

Conductivity tests are a bit like plugging your fingers into a power point and having various bits of measuring equipment strapped to your arm**. That’s about all there is to say, other than that the lady strapping the electrodes on was very nice, and can do it again any time she likes***. Then a nice sunny walk back to the car and into work.

After work I went to my friend John’s house to drop off some stuff I’d promised to lend him, then I went and logged a new geocache that’s just been planted near home, the Southampton Travel Bug Hotel, part of the park around Eastleigh Lakeside Railway. The cache was a nice easy find, then I had a walk round the park in the sun, and finished the evening with a bit of off-roading on the way home.

And now I’m listening to the ham radio, where a neighbouring Raynet are doing an all-night exercise.

*Oh, how I enjoyed dusting off that old joke!
**Only a bit like. Don’t try this at home.
***Or this, unless you’re over the age of consent.


Thursday, April 22nd, 2004

Gnnr, what a rubbish day.

First, I should say sorry to Henry…I didn’t make it to the sweary pub at lunchtime, because as soon as I arrived at the factory I was chained to a desk and not released until I’d made MS Excel work properly. You can imagine what a long job that was, not helped by the fact that the person who wrote the spreadsheet I was fixing had put in some features best described as “curious”.

I slept poorly last night, so now I’m tired again, and feeling not a little upset. Dunno why I’m upset, but I am. Still, looking on the bright side, tomorrow I will be going to the hospital to have the tests on my wrist that I’ve been waiting for for seven months, so that’s progress of a kind.

I hope to be a bit more cheerful tomorrow evening.


Wednesday, April 21st, 2004

It’s funny, the things that make us happy. Tonight I’m passingly pleased because my gym kit is all sweaty. Ever since this lurgy, whatever it may be, struck me, I’ve not had the energy to train: I leave work with all good intent, and by the time I get to the gym I’m so tired that I just go and sit in the steam room for a while, have a shower, and go home.

But tonight, all that changed! OK, it was only a mile up a 1-in-10 hill on the treadmill, but it still counts, and hopefully it will mark a renaissance in my training regime.

And in other news…this morning I had an early start to go to the Isle of Wight for a meeting, and as we came back into Portsmouth, the Navy chaps at Haslar fired a 21-gun salute for us. Very nice of them and we don’t mind at all sharing the salute with Her Maj, seeing as how it’s her birthday.

And the only slight downside on the day was that as I was leaving the gym, some impatient twit bumped my car while he was coming in the “out” gate (because he was too important to have to wait for the three cars using the “in” gate). Only a tiny scuff on the plastic bumper protector, so who cares? I refuse to let it get me down!

Times Past

Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

Those of you who only know me as a short, fat bald bloke will be a bit surprised by this…but there was a time when I was a short, skinny bloke with an impending hair loss problem. In fact, I used to be a marathon runner*. I was really fit for a few years, and although it never made me famous, it did get me a bit part in “Howard’s Way“**, and I really had some fun.

I finally gave up when I found myself one evening, six miles from home with another six to go, running in the rain, and thought “This is daft, I need a proper break from this for a while”, and basically I haven’t run seriously since. I did take part in the Romsey 5k*** a few years later…but more of that to come.

The reason for these reminiscences is that I was talking to Jenny on the phone last night. No surprise there, we talk on the phone two or three times a week, Jenny is my bestest chum ever and we call each other brother and sister****, even though we’re not…it does confuse people sometimes! Anyway, Jenny, the only person in the world who takes less exercise than me, is going to run the 5k “Race for Life” in Nottingham, and it reminded me that we were originally going to do that Romsey 5k together. In the end we did one training run, she spent the first half complaining that she needed a sports bra, and the second half wheezing. Mind you, we were both hung over…

Anyway, good luck J, and of course I’ll sponsor you!

*If you don’t believe me, I’m the guy with the beard in this pic*****

**I was the jogger on the other side of the road when Leo Howard was filling his Gran’s car with petrol.

***I finished just behind the “First Poodle”. It was a sponsored event for the National Canine Defence League, and there were categories for each breed of dog.

****We call each other some less complimentary things as well

*****We all did slow times that year, OK?

Not Much Happened

Monday, April 19th, 2004

Well chums, in spite of only being up for 11 hours yesterday (stop sniggering Omally) I was totally knackered when I got up this morning! It didn’t help that we had “one of those days??? at work – our national Compliance Manager was down looking at things, luckily he still thinks we’re generally a good bunch!

As I go straight from work to Hospital Radio, I decided to have a shower before I left. Guess what…I’d just got myself covered in soap when the water went cold. Oh well, it’s good practice for New Wine…but more of that nearer the time.

Then an evening at Hospital Radio, followed by the earliest night I could manage. Perhaps I’ll think of something more interesting to blog about tomorrow….

As Promised…

Sunday, April 18th, 2004

Not much happened today really.

I spent the day sorting out my stuff from yesterday…although to be fair this did include assembling a web page to display photos from yesterday’s excitement. I also wrote a members’ newsletter for a group of which I’m the Controller, but this mainly consisted of “There’s no news, so read last week’s newsletter again and pretend it’s got today’s date on it???.

Anyway, I promised you a bit of blog about geocachers’ team names didn’t I? Some cachers just use real names…Tim and June, Anne and Brian, and Paul and Judith, for example. Paul and Judith are also Pompey fans, so they’re doubly nice people. Other cachers name themselves after pets…Bracken’s Bunch are named after one of their dogs, Geoff and Bonnie and The SpottySpaniels are likewise named. NattyBooshka are named after their hamsters, Natalia and Babooshka.

Then there are those who take their names from literature…Omally is named after a popular fictional character (a bit of a drunken rogue, actually), Rincewind and Luggage after others. Plaid Dragon named herself after her love of fantasy literature.

Then there are those of us who call ourselves after other hobbies or bits of our lives – I’m Paul GØTLG because of my ham radio callsign, The Gavotteers are dancers, and Amy and Adam’s Dad is, um…Amy and Adam’s Dad.

So there’s a summary of why some of us choose the daft names we do. And who knows…there may yet be wholemeal bread blog one day.


Sunday, April 18th, 2004

OK folks, I know it’s late…this is Sunday’s blog for Saturday. You’ll get Sunday’s blog later, although if the weather doesn’t improve a lot there isn’t going to be anything worthwhile to blog about.

Yesterday morning I got up. All I had to do was get ready to go out, and drive to a nearby beauty spot in time to meet with some friends, and I had 3½ hours to do the getting-ready bit. So I decided to have a quick look at the new PuzzleDonkey. Needless to say I ended up rushing around at the last minute, having a temper tantrum because there was nothing in the house suitable for barbecuing, and turning the caravan inside out looking for my supersoaker.

I’d hoped to do a geocache on the way to Farley Mount, but spent the time in Waitrose instead buying barbecue goodies.

For the non-geocachers I should explain that yesterday was international cache-in trash-out day. Cachers are supposed to observe CITO all the time when caching, but CITO day is when we make an extra-special effort, so a crowd of us had arranged to meet at Farley Mount, a Hampshire beauty spot, and pick up loads of rubbish. Our litter picking team was me, ¾ of Team Tate, and Rincewind and Luggage*, and we picked up 3 sacks of other people’s litter between us, and had fun as well.

Which brings me to a conundrum: Quite a bit of the litter we picked up was in the form of something (we didn’t investigate), placed inside polythene bags with the tops tied, and thrown in a bush. Now…if people make the effort to put their unhygienic rubbish in a poly bag and tie the top…why don’t they go the last step and put it in a bin?

Anyway, we then lazed around not doing much (although the energetic ones played games), then we had a barbie. Then we went for a walk in the woods (night geocaching being discouraged on Hampshire County Council land, this was JUST a walk in the woods), then I was knackered so I went home. It had been a lovely day, and I’m sure the fresh air helped drive away some of whatever this lurgy is that I’ve still got.

There are some pictures here.

And this morning I didn’t get up until gone 10 AM. I still seem to be the first to blog, out of those who were there yesterday, though**.

*I suppose I should blog about geocachers’ team names sometime soon.

**Wrong. Apologies to SimonG for suggesting his sluggardliness.

A Gentle Man

Friday, April 16th, 2004

Today was the funeral of John-from-Church, who, you’ll remember, died last week.

I can’t really remember when I first got to know John: He was already a regular member of the congregation when I joined the church in 1991, and for a while he was just one of those people I knew vaguely. Anyway, I came to know him better, which was my gain…he was a true gentle man with a lovely sense of humour and a true desire to help other people.

We all met up at the crematorium, where the chapel was full to standing room only: After the normal rubber stamp service (all you get time for, at the crem), we went back to the church, where about 90 of John’s family, friends and work colleagues celebrated how lucky we’d been to have known him. Lesley spoke about his part in the life of the church; Justin, his eldest son, spoke movingly about what a great Dad he was, and his workmate spoke about what a good person he was to work with. Strangely, the two things everyone mentioned were his love of food (especially chocolate), and how awful his jokes were!

Then we had a buffet, of a size and standard that John would truly have appreciated!

I have two regrets: One is that I knew him for such a short time, and he died so young (he was 46): The other is that I never had the chance to introduce him to geocaching, which he’d have loved. This weekend I’m caching with some chums, and one of the caches I find will be dedicated to John.

Farewell, old fellah…it was a privilege knowing you.

Sunny Day 2

Thursday, April 15th, 2004

I really don’t want to blog tonight…as I’m sitting here typing this, over in the chatroom they’re discussing breast pumps, and writing about my day simply can’t compete.

Oh OK, I went to work, there was a meeting, I did my action points and went home. Then I went to Hospital Radio via Tesco, where I bought some birthday cards.

Ah…confession time. Andy and Chris, for some reason I was convinced that if I bought your birthday cards today and posted them first class tomorrow, they’d get there in time. That was silly wasn’t it?

Speaking of post…I received a letter today (April 15th) which was posted on March the sodding 31st! Grr.

Oh yes, and the other confession…Rob, my Hospital Radio co-presenter has promised that if I don’t tell you all this, he’s going to post it in the comments where you can all see it. Y’see, I showed him the text message that woke me early yesterday morning, forgetting that it had started with the phrase “Evening, Pompey Pixie…”. The text was from Jenny, and at the recent Hospital Radio conference I made the mistake of telling her that if she had two desserts (as she was contemplating) she’d soon be a “fat little pixie”, and the thing of calling each other “pixie” kind of stuck.

Anyway, I’d rather be a pixie than a…um…what we normally call Rob!

OK, that’ll have to do, the breast pumps are just getting interesting…

A Bright Sunshiney Day

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

I know that many members of the blogring can cope with very little sleep…at the time I’m thinking of getting up in the morning, SimonG is still drawing donkeys from the night before, and most people blog well past midnight. Well, I can’t do that…I need lots of beauty sleep, as those who have met me will testify.

So it was that at twenty past two this morning, I was deeply asleep, until something started making a funny noise. Struggling up from wherever I was, I switched off the alarm clock, but that didn’t help: I knocked ovr the bedside radio, but that didn’t help either. The funny thing was, I’d identified the noise as being morse code and subconsciously I was trying to read it, while still unable to realise that it was the “incoming text message” tone on my mobile.

Anyway, this text that had finally been delivered had been sent at just after five, and said “Ring me this evening, it’s about BC”. I decided to wait until this morning to ring! Apparently, Belinda Carlisle has cancelled all her concerts in Swansea…this is a bit of a bugger, as I’ve already bought the train tickets. You’ll remember that I’m focusing on taking things a bit easier, and one of the ways of doing this was going to be saving myself seven hours driving by sleeping on the train instead: By buying tickets this far in advance, I actually got them for less than the cost of the diesel to drive there anyway.

Oh well…it’ll be a weekend geocaching instead!

This evening after work, I went for a little drive to try to locate the chckpoint where I’m going to be stationed when we cover the Marwell 10k race in a coupe of weeks time. I must have driven straight past it without realising. Oh well, plenty of time for another look…

Night night for now!


Tuesday, April 13th, 2004

No, not the noise made by my stomach…well, not normally anyway. Back to work after the long weekend and boy did it hurt. Getting up, having to stay awake all day, dealing with all the pointless queries that have cropped up over the weekend…

Then after work, I had a committee meeting to go to just ten minutes drive from work, and two and a half hours to fill. I filled some of it by working late, clearing some of the backlog, and I filled some more of it by having my tea from a local fast food place.

And then I took my new four wheel drive off-roading for the first time!

OK, it was only a very gentle, short bit of off-roading but it was my first attempt: For those who know Southampton, it was the bit of dirt track that goes from near the Concorde Club, through the ford, then through to Eastleigh Lakeside Railway: For the cachers, it’s the bit of track by which Trains, Planes and Little Trains used to be located. So now my lovely clean car needs cleaning again!

Then we did the committee meeting, which went very well, and now I’m at home and about to go to bed. Night night!


Monday, April 12th, 2004

Well, this morning I washed the car: Inside with the steam cleaner, outside with the presure washer. And this afternoon I got the ham radio kit mostly installed.

How lazy can you get, eh? Still, it’s back to work tomorrow…

Nice Day

Sunday, April 11th, 2004

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

OK, I don’t normally impose my faith on others, but it’s Easter Sunday and I’ve had a lovely day, so I thought that wouldn’t hurt. This morning, of course, I was in church: A bit bittersweet, of course it was Easter with all that that entails, but by the same token we were sharing our memories of our departed friend John (see Wednesday’s blog). It WAS nice that many of John’s family were with us.

This afternoon had been set aside as the time for fitting the ham radio kit in the car, but it looked like being a nice afternoon so I went geocaching instead! I got totally Omallied¹ doing Watt Meadow Wood when I managed to slip not once, but twice, on a muddy downhill slope. The cache was worth it, though, primroses everywhere and a lovely view across a valley from the cache site. I failed to find this one on Christmas Eve, and I’m sure it was a much nicer find in Spring.

Then on to The Sprat and Winkle Line, which is alongside a popular path that was a special favourite of mine a couple of years ago. Loads of people around, I had to be a bit careful not to get caught putting the cache back in its hiding place.

Then on to the tearooms at “World of Water”, the garden centre which used to be owned (and may still be) by the lovely Charlie Dimmock. She wasn’t there, but I was happy with my pot of tea for one, from which I squeezed three huge cuppas, for just a quid. Then home, via a pretty church which gave me an idea for my next cache.

I must wash the car tomorrow – but for now, it’s time to veg in front of the telly. Night night.

¹Non-cachers may not have followed this – Omally is the geocachers’ God of Mud.