Archive for June, 2005

More Triffic Traffic

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

I started off responding to Kitty Hawk’s comment on yesterday’s entry – then realised that when you find yourself writing a forty-line comment on your own blog, you’re wasting perfectly good blog material! Yes, maybe some things could have been done better, although I’m not a traffic engineer, and what seemed simple to me may have been a complete no-no to them. But based on my limited knowledge of traffic management, I’d have thought –

a) After a while, the lights were switched to “permanent green” for traffic leaving the city on the main trunk routes, maybe that could have done sooner. Although of course, those people who “knew a back route” got REALLY held up once this happened!

b) More active crowd management might have stopped the crowds blocking the main bus operating areas a bit more effectively – but with something like 50000 (that’s not a typo, I DO mean fifty thousand) people choosing to walk rather than wait for a bus, nothing was going to keep the roads clear.

However, some points which people stuck in the jams might not have appreciated:
1) More important than anything else, the five emergency ambulances that left the seafront treatment areas heading for QA Hospital all had an uninterrupted clear run through. Had fire, or other emergency vehicles, needed to come south to the seafront, they’d have also got through without trouble. The main reason why it wasn’t possible to use some “normally inbound” roads for outbound traffic, was the need to preserve a “Red corridor” for these vehicles.

2) Say what you like – to shift 250 000 people from the southern tip of Pompey back to where they came from, in “only” three hours, is still damned good going to my way of thinking!

3) Like any other kind of event response, this was the art of the possible – Portsmouth only has the roads that it has, and while some one-way streets operated “reverse flow” for the duration, some “Give Way” priorities were changed and as I’ve already said, traffic lights adjusted to speed things along, no-one was about to build new roads just for this event!

NOTE: – these are the thoughts of someone who was there as a voluntary1 member of the communications backup team – and OUR operation went really well. I’m not a traffic specialist and I still think they did as well as they could have done!

1 Yes, voluntary. This is my hobby, and I took two days off work to do it. I MAY get a small cheque to cover travelling expenses but I’m not holding my breath!

Trafalgar Traffic – Triffic

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Update at 2:20 PM on Wednesday: Pictures are now posted in the Gallery. Yesterday was spent in the Portsmouth Traffic Management Unit, providing communication backup on the Trafalgar 200 Celebrations. It was all very quiet really – main excitements for us were:-

  • The air conditioning in the office going barmy, leaving us in arctic conditions
  • A mighty thunderstorm which we watched through the huge picture windows
  • The evening meal (the world’s mildest ever beef curry) being delivered

We each had a couple of periods of time off and as the pictures will show (when I get round to posting them), I spent the first of mine on the seafront, joining the crowds watching the small boats and helicopters charging around, and straining for a view of the ship that Her Maj was using to review the fleet. Sadly the awful weather kept the crowds away, although there were still enough to keep the park ‘n rides busy.

And in other news, my Mum was allowed out of hospital after her op. She’s a bit disappointed that she’s not going to be well enough for a little light gardening (building a rockery, say, or re-concreting the driveway) for at least a couple of weeks, but she’s happy to be home.

Me and my big bloody mouth

The above was written during my second rest break of the day, from eight till ten. The expectation at that stage was that we’d all be stood down earlier than originally planned, I’d go home and fire up the PeeCee, and post my blog before retiring for a few well-earned hours of shuteye. Just after I shut down the PDA I was called back from my break a bit early, to where hurried plans were being made to get some extra people on the ground for the task of getting all those people back to their cars (they’d come in from car parks outside the city on park ‘n ride busses). I eventually went home at quarter past two.

If you were one of the people stuck in the queues in Southsea, I can assure you that the traffic management people were doing their best: The main problem was that so many people had decided to walk back to their cars, that the streets were jammed solid with pedestrians and the busses simply couldn’t get through. People were also phoning the local radio – their traffic news reporter was based in Traffic Management like us – complaining that the marshalling arrangements to get cars out of the park ‘n ride car parks were rubbish. All I can say is, that if you have 3000 cars in a car park, and they all try to leave at once, then even with a car leaving every second, it’s still going to take an hour to empty the car park.

I do know that the next time I’m stuck in traffic trying to leave the city after the Great South Run, I promise I’ll never again say that Traffic Management are rubbish.

Update

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Thanks for all your good wishes.

Mum’s op seems to have been a complete success – she’s sitting up in bed and moaning about the food, so there’s not much wrong with her! As long as the follow-up goes OK she should be going home tomorrow, thanks to the offices of my Aunt who’s going to pick her up.

Helpful

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Today I have been mostly writing a “How to be Paul” guide, for m’colleagues to use when I’m on holiday.

Regular readers with good memories will remember that I did that a while ago, before I went off sick to have my wrist done. Sadly it wasn’t clear enough, and they had to resort to phoning me at home for advice. My fault – I will insist on using all those nasty three-syllable words.

I phoned the hospital this afternoon:
“Hello, this is Sheila Gottlegog’s son: Can you tell me if she’s gone down for her operation yet?”
“No, she hasn’t gone yet”
“Can you tell me when she will be going?”
“No, ring back in an hour”
Surely by the middle of the afternoon they must have the day’s schedule sorted out?

Ah well. Don’t expect blogginess tomorrow chums – I’ve got a hard day of combing armadillos and I probably won’t even turn the computer on. I’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday.

Just an Illusion

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

In spite of it being Sunday, I had to go to work this afternoon.

Well, I didn’t have to – but I’ve got two days off in the week and the period end figures need to be done, so I chose to go in today rather than work late tomorrow – especially as my Mum is in hospital for a minor op tomorrow and I want to be able to get away and go and see her.

I’d been there about an hour and a half, and almost done as much as I intended to, when I had the following text conversation with Rockin’ Rob:
Him: “Have you seen the Brodie Clan have placed a cache based on a sudoku puzzle?”
Me: “Is that the one called ‘Illusion’? I’m thinking of doing that later.”
Him: “No, it’s called ‘Sudoku‘ “
We met up about fifteen minutes later and headed off to find the cache. it was a bit of an adventure – although this is clearly common access land, it isn’t marked as such on the map, and the map doesn’t show any paths, so we had to wander back and forth a bit (and also hither and yon), but we found our way there in the end. The pic is Rockin’ Rob and The Lovely Miche – to prove we found it, Rob has the cache log book in his hand!

Since we’d already discussed it, we decided next to have a go at IlLuSiOn, a cache where you have to find the first container, solve the puzzle therein, and that gives you the location of the final cache. Unfortunately, we arrived having no idea what kind of puzzle awaited us, and when we got it, it turned out to be one that people with only one eye (e.g. me) are physically incapable of solving :-( . Miche had a go, as did some other cachers we met there (the t.a. folk), and even a couple of muggles (non-cachers) we roped in to assist, but even those people who normally can do these puzzles had trouble. Ah well…

After that it was on to Keep Your Hat On, a webcam cache. I’d taken the precaution of priming everyone’s favourite pizza-scoffing loon, Lord Simon of G, to take the pic for us, but unfortunately the webcam wasn’t refreshing this afternoon: I’ve noticed that before, I think perhaps Sunday is server-maintenance day. So we went to the pub instead.

Update: The cache owner has now included a hint on the “Illusion” page so you are pre-warned what sort of puzzle it’s going to be. He’s also e-mailed me to point out that there’s a warning on the cache page, that the webcam at “Keep Your Hat On” shuts down on Sunday afternoons. My bad.

A Right Shower

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

I blogged rather later than usual last night.

Then I went for a shower. You’ll remember that the proper man came and fitted the new shower only a few weeks ago, so I wasn’t expecting it to fail just yet. I should’ve known better. The shower was fine, but once I’d finished I pressed the button on the front to turn it off. Nothing, water continued flowing. To cut a long story short, I ended up taking the front cover off to turn the whole thing off – now for some reason I can’t get the damned thing back on again. So it’s back to baths (which I don’t particularly like) and showering over the gym again.

Yet again, I find myself asking for help with wildflower identification: I really ought to buy a better book, the problem with the one I’ve got is that, like a dictionary, you can only look something up once you already know what it is. Anyway, any ideas in the comments, please. This one is growing in the rather scrubby cutway behind my house, along with nettles and other nasty things. I’ve also got one – which must have self-seeded – in the garden.

You’ll also remember that on Wednesday this week, I was first to find the new cache planted near my house – this morning this rather fabbo certificate dropped through the letterbox. The cache owner is a chap called Easy Rambler: His first ever find was my cache A Walk in the Park, he’s since found all my others that are still out there, and he works with a friend of mine – I suppose we may even meet one day! Anyway, nice one Martin, thanks a lot. As soon as I can find where I put the nails, it’ll be going up on the hobby room wall.

Old

Friday, June 24th, 2005

As I mentioned the other day, all this talk of geocaching on Dartmoor has been bringing back memories of Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions on the moor.

One of those memories concerns an old shepherd, whom we stopped to check that we were where we thought we were. In an impossibly broad Devon accent, he told us, “Ooh, by Christ, you’m proper lost, bain’t you”. On another occasion, as we sheltered behind a wall from yet another downpour, Mark commented “Y’know, by Dartmoor standards, this is a pretty nice day”.

But sadly, the main memory is of an advertisment we heard on local radio while we were there. The characters are a pair of stock caricature American accents…
“Hey you, what’s that?”
“This? This is a MacDonalds Hamburger”
“A MacDonalds Hamburger? What’s that?”
Yes, I’m old enough to remember the times when a significant proportion of the country didn’t know what MacDonalds was.

Anyway, after work tonight I hauled my weary way to a mud patch near Winchester, where I proved I’m not too old to find the geocache Dips (Hampshire). You may remember this is my second go at this one – first time was before I had my hand mended, and I chickened out of the scramble up and down a steep bank that’s involved. I managed it tonight though, although with a couple of scary moments on the way down.

Then I went into Winchester city, where, with my mate Sheila, I took part in the radio club treasure hunt. We got very wet in the rain, and came second.

Yawn. G’night all.

Fleet Review

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

As most people in the UK will be aware, next week marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, when – to put it in a rather non-PC way – our hero Admiral Lord Nelson kicked seven bells out of Johnny Foreigner and sent them back whence they came1.

The event is being marked by great festivities in Portsmouth, with fireworks, a son et lumičre and a review of the fleet, among many other things. Wednesday features a ceremony which includes a march past of naval veterans, so presumably any 220-year-old survivors of Trafalgar – or at least, any still capable of marching – will be there. Needless to say, the fleet review isn’t happening in Portsmouth itself – even the British Navy wouldn’t run all its ships aground at the same time – so the fleet is currently anchoring in Spithead, the bit of sea between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

I’m told that next week, the public won’t be allowed within shouting distance of the Navy ships, but this morning our ferry to and from the Isle of Wight passed through the middle of the fleet, with much clicking of on-board cameras. The Royal Marines were charging around in speedboats making sure no-one came too close, but there was still plenty to see and photograph.

And that’s why I’ve blogged the following pics for you. Click on a piccy to see a bigger version.

1 Although some of the escaping Spanish fleet got lost and ended up sinking off the coast of Scotland2
2 OK, my bad. It was the Froggies we beat at Trafalagar, and it was Drake who beat the Spaniards wot subsequently got lost and sank off Scotchland.

Morning has Broken

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

You’ll remember that yesterday I commented that someone had placed a cache 1˝ miles from my house.

At 7:30 this morning, I was first to find The Sporting Chance, which made me rather happy :-) . I was a bit late to work, but who cares? It was a good walk around a local open space, where I’d thought a couple of years back about placing my own first cache, but never done so. The sun was shining, the birds singing, and there weren’t too many people about, so it was great. The cache owner has obviously worked hard to find a good hiding place and set an enjoyable puzzle.

Meanwhile, advance planning is well underway for the next grand cache away-weekend with Rockin’ Rob and The Lovely Miche. We’re going to Dartmoor in September, and we’re staying here. Dartmoor will always be for me principally the place where we did our Duke of Edinburgh Award Silver expeditions, and this B&B is only just up the road from one of the campsites we used. The moor is crawling with caches (and letterboxes, but that’s another story) – I can’t wait!

Rubbish yet again

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

I was nearly more rubbish than Mongers today.

My plan, as with most Tuesdays, was to go to the gym after work: A really hard session, a shower, and home. It was as I was getting into the car that I remembered thinking last night “Hmm, must remember a fresh towel tomorrow“. Going to the gym was obviously going to be a non starter – unless I was prepared to go home afterwards smelling really unhygienic, which I wasn’t.

No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just go and have a look at that new cache near Netley“. Then I realised that my GPS, my spare GPS, and my other GPS were all at home.

So I decided to go for a walk and spy out an area where I thought it would be nice to place a cache. Turns out the area’s no good, because there’s no cover where a cache wouldn’t be fairly quickly discovered and trashed, but it had to be investigated!

And someone’s planted a new cache 1˝ miles from my house…

Sporting Life

Monday, June 20th, 2005

This last weekend was the Festival of British Endurance Riding, based at Cirencester Park.

I’ve not been involved with the event for years – the 2000 event was the last one I was at, and I’m pretty sure these pictures were taken in 1996. It didn’t happen in 2001, because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak, and when it came back in 2002, different people were organising the Raynet cover and our group wasn’t called in to help. The event itself had horses competing over courses of varying lengths, the longest being a hundred miles, the shortest about thirty. Horses were checked over by vets a couple of times round the course, and any showing any problems at all were retired without hesitation, and there was no appeal against the vet’s decision.

From our point of view, it was one of the most exhausting events in the calendar: The hundred mile ride usually started at four in the morning on Saturday, to make sure they all finished in daylight, and those of us camping on site (as opposed to the locals who travelled from home) were put on the earliest checkpoints, so we had to be in position no later than four thirty. One year – I think it was 2000 – I was on first checkpoint just after four in the morning, and helping on a search party twenty hours later! Sunday was an easier day – we didn’t have to be on checkpoint until six, and to be fair, Noel always made sure that those of us with long journeys home were on checkpoints that were finished soon after lunch.

Hopefully the pictures give an idea of why I kept volunteering for this one – the views from the checkpoints were excellent, but the pictures don’t show the atmosphere. Of all the types of event that Raynet do, horse ones are often the nicest: The people really seem to appreciate our being there, and all the volunteers get really well cared for. The first time I did Cirencester, I was sitting on my checkpoint in the middle of nowhere when a Landrover arrived and delivered my complimentary packed lunch: There was so much there I thought they’d given me Sunday’s as well, but the same thing happened the next day! I think I finally finished eating it all on Tuesday, the bottles of lemonade and Coke lasted a bit longer.

Maybe I’ll declare my availability to help next year and see what happens.

Sunny Sunday

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

Does anyone know what this is? They’re everywhere at the moment, but I can’t find them in my wildflower book, and any assistance would be gratefully received!

Anyway, a steaming hot day today, and I celebrated the good weather with a few caches. The picture – me with Hampshire in the background, etc, – is at Cache Bang Wallop!, a multi-cache involving a walk around the Royal Armouries Museum. An interesting visit, and best of all, it’s free! I had some trouble with one of the clues, but a bit of intelligent guesswork told me where I’d gone wrong, and it was sort-of plain sailing thereafter.

After that it was just round the corner to Padworth’s Cash Cache, a nice simple find with some friendly ‘osses on the way, and a HUUUUUGE monument to look at. Then it was back to the car and up the road to The Cache of Bere, which turned out to be today’s fail-to-find. I met some other cachers there – I forgot to ask their names, but they may have been the Teall Bimblers. They had also given up!

Not wanting to end on a sour note, I finished the day with an easy find at STUMP!, a brilliant walk along the upper reaches of the Hamble. And then I went home.

Good News and Bad News

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

The story of yesterday evening…

Bad: Only getting one geocache.
Good: It was Taxonomy Trail – you’ll remember I failed half way round that last Friday. That’s me in the picture, with Hampshire in the background.
Bad: I visited the cache owner at his workplace afterwards.
Good: He works in a pub!
Bad: I was driving.
Good: They do take-home packs of their home-brewed beer (including the Gold-Medal-winning Village Elder).
Bad: My knees have gone rubbery.
Good: I’ve still got a pint left!
Bad: He wasn’t there.
Good: The barmaid was very nice and she’d heard of geocaching – and was keen to talk about it. And she was very nice – oh, I’ve mentioned that already.

The “treasure” I took from the cache was a cute character egg separator – that’s him in the pic below.

Bells

Friday, June 17th, 2005

Wedding Bells that is.

My mate of many years – in fact, my longest-standing mate – is getting married. I received my invitation the other day, a lavishly produced affair – you can tell he’s a publisher – with maps of how to get to the registry office, the restaurant for lunch, the Buddhist priory, and the restaurant for the evening. I’ll be programming that lot into the talking satnav – as well as a number of caches in the vicinity of where I’m spending Friday night ;-) .

What there isn’t is a wedding present list, so I e-mailed him about that. Apparently they’ve got two of some things and at least one of everything – they’ve each lived alone for years before they moved in together, and they’ve even got a house each – so they’re suggesting donations to a cancer research charity instead. Because I’m rubbish at remembering things, I thought this morning I’d get on and do an intermaweb donation, so logged on to Cancer Research UK. They’ve got a really easy-to-use donation section, and I whistled through that. The problem – didn’t you just know there’d be a problem – came from Mastercard’s whizzy anti-fraud security measures: I’m not sure if I donated twice or not at all, so I’ll wait and check my credit card and maybe have another go.

D’you think, having already agreed to be Best Man1, and accepted the offer of accomodation on Friday night, I need to ReSerVuP the invitation as well? I suppose it’s only polite…

1 Yes, I know – if I’m the Best Man, goodness knows what the rest are going to be like.

Rubbish part 2

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Well, the process of selling my SD card was rather smoother than I expected :-)

I recently tried out some software on my PDA. The distributors offer a “try before you buy” version on their website, so I downloaded that and installed it. I was pretty dischuffed that it stopped working after 24 hours, but that was long enough to convince me that it was useful enough to spend a pair of crisp fivers on the full, not-time-limited version. It doesn’t actually do anything, but it improves the display on the screen and makes some useful information easier to access.

At least, it’s supposed to.

In practice, it behaves just as the trial version did, lasting for a day and then shutting down and having to be re-installed. Unlike the trial version, it also interacts with Bluetooth Manager and stops me from using Bluetooth, so until that’s sorted out I’ve uninstalled it pretty darn pronto.

They’re also really slow at responding to emails. I shan’t be recommending them to my friends.

A Bargain for Someone

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

I have a second-hand 512 Meg SD memory card.

Offer closed!

First choice to Adam (of Adam and Lisa) – ‘cos they spoke first

If Adam doesn’t need it, then it goes to “Sixty’s Dad” c/o Miss Sixty.

Lisa, could you let me know fairly quickly if Adam wants it, so I can let Sixty know what’s going on?

High on a Hill

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

Back on the day I did the geocache “WWII RDF Site”, I mentioned in my blog that we used to do radio club events up there.

Something happened today that reminded me of those days, so I thought I’d tell you about them. Twice a year, the ham radio world has contests which involve setting up a portable station on a hilltop somewhere, and making as many contacts as possible in the space of 24 hours. Our club’s chosen location was on the top of a hill in the New Forest, and we got special permission to drive up there and set up tents and aerials and things. We had two tents like the one in the picture, each with a gert big mast and a gert big aerial on top, and for 24 hours we talked to the world.

Passers-by – although there were never many – were inevitably curious about what we were up to, so as well as radio operators, loggers, people to make the tea etc, we had someone on PR duty, explaining to everyone what it was all about. We only ever had one negative comment – in a scene reminiscent of “Farmer Palmer” out of Viz mag, one chap in tweeds demanded to know why we were parking our cars up there when “surely there’s enough parking spaces in the big city”.

I wouldn’t try taking a car up there now, even if the new landowners would let us – the track has eroded to the point that only a Gruntmobile would get up there, but the overhanging branches are so low that the Grunty wouldn’t fit.

And yes, that’s my red Skoda in the picture.

Winding

Monday, June 13th, 2005

I’ve found another picture of yours truly in years gone by, to entertain you all.
This one is from a brochure put out by a company I used to work for, before the food industry became too attractive to resist. The pic is probably copyright someone-or-other, but the factory where I worked is now closed, and the head office, from which the whole company took its name, is now a working museum, so I don’t think anyone’ll be too upset.

As you can see, I’ve not always been a bald bloke, although I’d forgotten it was all just that bushy. What I’m doing there is testing the yarns that were going to be used to make the company’s products – I’d like to say the job was more interesting than it looked, but it wasn’t. I’d guess the picture dates from about 1983 or 1984 – it’s certainly not long after I started there. The people I worked with were a right mixed bunch – we had a nymphomaniac granny, a Lancastrian dwarf, a cute lady boss who looked like an owl, and the World’s Oldest Virgin – and they were just the ones I worked with. Oh, and in latter years we had a lab assistant known to everyone as “Dork” – even to his face.

In my last annual appraisal there, my boss (who we all called “the Slug”) told me I’d never make a supervisor as long as I lived. Two weeks later I resigned and went to work at the Jelly Factory, as a supervisor in the QC department.

And finally for this bit, an update on the web search thingy. One person has joined us following a web search for “Tates Southampton” – they appear in the “Who’s Who in My Blog”, so I guess that’s fair enough. Also a couple of geocaching related searches, but most disturbing are the two people who were Googling for “Crusha milkshake cats tune “.

Hmmm.

Sharing Caring

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

You’ll remember that Friday was part one of my annual appraisal.

My boss was slightly less than pleased that I hadn’t taken seriously all the cobblers about “Creating a positive energy to win the endgame”, although he did recognise that the only difference between me and the others was that I hadn’t pretended to take it seriously. We dealt quickly with last year’s objectives, slagged off a few of my colleagues, and then moved on to more general discussion.
Him: “It’s good that you care so much about what you do”
Me: (thinks) “Is he being sarcastic?”
Him: “I mean it – that thing where you come back from your factory tours, throw your clipboard across the office and shout ‘I don’t know why I ****ing bother’ – you wouldn’t do that if you didn’t care”.
I must remember to wonder why I ****ing bother more often if that’s the impression it creates, although I don’t think I’ll start doing it in church.

So anyway – today my Raynet group were doing the radio cover for a fundraising bike ride around the New Forest. Quite an exciting event, we had equipment failure, a forest fire, lost riders, and one of our guys had to call out the AA to get him home afterwards. Still, the organisers were happy with our contribution, so that’s OK.

Once it was all over – and I’d batted my manly eyelashes at one of the ladies organising the event – I found I was only a mile or so away from a geocache I’d failed to find a few weeks back. Well it would have been rude to not do it wouldn’t it? So, I went and had a second try at Watchmoor Wood, and this time I found it.

And then I went home to watch the Canadian Grand Prix.

Interesting Rubbish

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

Probably not that interesting, but definitely rubbish.

The saga of getting-the-proper-man-in-to-do-the-damp continues, and this morning’s task was to shift furniture around and lift the dining room carpet, ready for his assault on that room this week. I suppose it’s a sign of how long carpets are made to last in this house, that the copies of the “Sun” which formed a matted layer between the floorboards and the carpet, dated from January 1983.

The main news is the Steven Waldorf shooting: Waldorf was shot by armed Police for the heinous crime of driving the same make of car as the armed robber they were looking for. The wearing of seatbelts was about to become compulsory, and Prince Charles and his new wife Diana were about to go for a ski-ing holiday. Angry moderate miners were gunning for Arthur Scargill – although, presumably, only moderately so – and the talk of the town in TV land was the forthcoming launch of breakfast telly. Evening telly had “Dad’s Army”, Judith Chalmers in “Wish You Were Here”, and a repeat of “The Comic Strip Presents…Five Go Mad in Dorset”.

Some things never change though – Spurs beat Southampton 1-0 in the third round of the FA Cup.

For those of you concerned about my lack of blogginess last night – I was worn out after a long evening’s geocaching, attempting Taxonomy Trail. This is a multi-puzzle cache where solving the clues needs a good knowledge of botany, or a good book about wildflowers. Unfortunately – as I discovered at the second clue – the “Observer’s Book of Wild Flowers” isn’t good enough. Still, I had a nice eight-mile walk – which is quite a lot after work in the evening – and I will be back!

Gah!

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment at the Rubbish Hospital

They’ve been phoning me for weeks, pestering me to go in for a post-op consultation, so I finally gave in and went along. Bear in mind this isn’t a quick trip, from work it takes a good 45 minutes to get there, so it basically wipes out an afternoon by the time you’ve allowed for “Getting stuck in traffic” time and “Sitting in the waiting room” time.

The consultation itself took about two minutes.
“What can I do for you?”
“You called me in for a post-op consultation”
“Did we? Oh. So, how is everything?”
“Fine, I’m really please with how well it worked”
“Oh good. Bye then”
It wasn’t quite that brusque – he was actually very apologetic, saying they shouldn’t have dragged me all the way up there for a consultation that could have been done by phone. As I said the day I had the operation, I think really they’re a very good hospital with a rubbish admin department – and anyway, as the picture shows, any hospital where you find a friendly pussy cat snoozing in the sun, in the flowerbeds next to Outpatients, can’t be THAT rubbish.

So anyway, I was out of the hospital at the time I was supposed to be going in, and I’d already arranged to have the remainder of the afternoon off work. Whaddya think I did next?

First for the afternoon was Along Our Lane, a really nice walk along a country lane, combined with a fight through some rather enthusiastic greenery to get to the cache itself!

Next was Hey Dude Where’s My Car (Keys)?, which I’d been meaning to do for ages. The views from the Iron Age hill fort are amazing, and this is another that should be on every cacher’s “to-do” list. Probably not so nice in rough weather, but yesterday it was great.

I’ve blogged before about failing to find the final part of Little Toe’s Trilogy part 1, and since I was in the area I went back for another look. With some telephone assistance from my mate The King of Sweden (who has found it), I’m pretty sure it isn’t there any more: When I was there last year the greenery had been cut back really severely and I think whoever did that took the cache away. No problem with cut back greenery this time, and it took a few panicky minutes to find my car keys after I dropped them

Last one before heading for home was Old Rectory Rapids, a fairly short walk and an easy find in a pretty Hampshire village. And then it was time to go home.

Oh, and an update – someone has now joined us following a Google search for “hiding in a bush”.