Archive for September, 2005

Huh!

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Who are you calling a wuss? YAAARRRR!

Um, anyway, I’m in Nottyham, chums, at the home of Jenny and Chris. Ooh, and I’ve seen the photos of Jenny’s injured ostrich – I’m hoping she’ll let me post one of them on the web soon.

Two caches on the way up today, plus one with Chris just up the road. And there’s more tomorrow! Oh, and I almost forgot – I had my diabetes review with the nurse at the surgery this morning, she’s really pleased with me and thinks I should have no problems if I keep on the way I’m going.

More later

Excitement

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

I got home last night to find a message on my answering machine. Joanna Toye wants me to phone her.

Now I know this might not mean much to most of you – but Joanna is a member of the production team of the world’s fabbest radio series, The Archers, and being asked to phone her is akin to being invited to tea with the Queen. I wonder what she wants? Perhaps she’s going to offer me a part – Clarrie Grundy’s surprise toyboy, perhaps, or Lynda Snell’s body double.

Unfortunately at the moment I don’t know which it is – she’s got her phone on Ansafone at the moment. I’ll keep trying – no-one ever achieved greatness by giving up.

Learning

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Thing I learned last week: When you’re watching “The Simpsons” with the sound turned down, and you can identify the episode by lip-reading Homer, you’ve been watching “The Simpsons” too much.

Thanks to everyone who left sympathetic comments on yesterday’s blog – Jenny has read them all, and appreciated them. Don’t forget that over in the gallery there’s a whole collection of pictures of Titch to look at. I was going to blog about something else as well, but I don’t want yesterday’s blog rolling down off the page just yet.

Sad

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Those of you who’ve been following the story so far – and particularly the chatroom residents – will know that Titch, my chum Jenny’s cat, hasn’t been well. Over the weekend, his condition worsened and at lunchtime today he had his last visit from the vet.

Anyone who’s a cat person (including me, needless to say) will understand just how devastated Jenny is feeling. He’s been a constant loyal friend through some times of great change in her life, including more low times than many of us face in a whole lifetime. She nearly lost him once before, to a road accident when he was little more than a kitten, but he recovered and they’ve had another fifteen years together. I hope she’ll remember that she should be proud of taking a rescue kitten and giving him a glorious lifetime of love – at a time like this it’s easy to grieve for what you’ve lost – in fact, it’s impossible not to – but it’s also important to celebrate what you’ve had.

In the early hours of this morning, knowing what the day was to bring, Jenny wrote this poem for him – you’ll guess that “furball” has been one of his nicknames since the early days.

Night Night Furball

Night night furball
Close your eyes
Dream of chasing butterflies
Basking in the sunshine
Jumping up trees
Exciting smells in a gentle breeze

Sleep tight furball
Love you little friend
I’m so sorry this is the end
Thanks for the laughter
Thanks for the tears
Thanks for all the loving years

God bless furball
Don’t be afraid
I know that you can be brave
Be peaceful in passing
Enjoy what’s in store
In furball heaven
It won’t hurt anymore

Jenny says “He was Titch to the end”…which is distressing, but better than being old and in pain before anything gets done. But he died in her arms with the sun on his face, and there are thousands of cats in the world who’d wish for that to be their end. Dunno about you, but I’m having a little weep now. I found this, which is lovely.

UpdateThis evening I also found this, which made me cry all over again (you may need to click on the magnifying glass to read it properly – it’s the poem I’m pointing you to, not the item). And Jenny rang to say she was very moved by all the comments so far.

What I Did at the Weekend

Monday, September 26th, 2005

It was the great Dartmoor Geocaching Weekend, in the company of Rockin’ Rob and The Lovely Miche, a.k.a. Team Paws for Thought. They picked me up on Friday evening and we headed for Devon, stopping only once on the way to take on essential nutrition at a pub. It was a bit odd really – the couple at the next table wanted to order a bottle of wine, but the waitress apologetically explained that the pub’s licence conditions meant that they’d have to order at the bar. A few minutes later they asked a waiter, who told them the same thing. When we left they were still wine-less, and still grumbling to each other.

Hunter’s Lodge B+B at Dartmeet is officially fabby – although it’s in a mobile phone dead spot, which made it a bit awkward when we wanted to report back to family members that we’d arrived safely. Still, a ten-minute drive up the road found us some signal.

Update – Saturday’s route map is available here

Saturday was dry with bits of sunshine, and we’d planned a ten-mile circular caching walk: First, and not far from the B+B, was Badge(r’s) Holt, where Miche slipped on a rock and hurt her knee – and worse still, tore her jeans. After a fair trek – and some stepping-stone-related hilarity – we came to The Judge’s Chair, which took some searching.

More stepping stones and some moorland walking brought us to our most remote cache of the weekend, This Will Be The Ruin of Us: In fact it didn’t ruin us, it was a really nice cache alongside a ruined cottage in the middle of nowhere. Even that wasn’t as nice as lunch at The Forest Inn, Hexworthy :-) .

After lunch, we failed to find at Splash and Dash, but some more stepping stones brought us to our final planned cache for the day, A Quick Dart Across the River. Back at the B+B I discovered the advantage of letting Rob and Miche have the room with en-suite: While they had a shower in their lovely en-suite, I had to go to the shared bathroom and use the whirlpool bath. Shame.

On our way back to the Forest Inn – for evening meal this time – we went to Venford Reservoir, a drive-by cache that Rob and Miche had done on a previous visit.

Sunday had been allocated to some further-afield caches, although we started with Holt Badger’s Crossing, half a mile downriver from Hunters Lodge. Back to collect the car, and drive to the start of the walk to Boom Boom Bang, a cache hidden close to a now-derelict gunpowder factory: We amused ourselves on the walk by “moo”-ing at the coobeasties on the way.

Admire the View and North Hessary Tor came either side of Sunday lunch: both are really nice caches, the tor is a climb up to a trig point and cache alongside a HUUUGE TV transmitter mast. Want one!

Sadly we ended the weekend with a fail to find at Town Quay, one of the Blog Standard series owned by our chum Lord Hutton. Still, a great weekend with good mates, and nine caches found – that’ll do me! Pictures online soon, with a bit of luck.

Periodical

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Had an e-mail yesterday from some caching friends of mine, wanting some assistance with a puzzle cache they’re trying to unravel. It seems to require some knowledge of electronics – which I don’t have much trouble with – and a fairly thorough knowledge of the Periodic Table of the Elements, which I haven’t really paid much attention to since A-level Chemistry. It also seems to require knowledge of something else, since there’s definitely a bit of the puzzle that I’m missing – and so are Chris and Barbara. Further e-mails have flown back and forth as we discover new things, but these all seem to confirm the bits we’ve already worked out, rather than taking us any further forwards.

I’m sure we’ll get there in the end – unlike another puzzle cache rather closer to me, which I’ve stared at for ages and just can’t see where to start.

Oh well. No bloggage tomorrow chums, look out for an update after my fabby (I hope) caching weekend with Rob ‘n Miche.

You Couldn’t Make It Up

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, I had an e-mail from a fairly new team of geocachers. It was a bit odd really: “You may think it strange, but you say you’re involved in Hospital Radio, and you mention Nottingham a lot: I wonder if you know Jenny and Adrian?”.

Regular readers will know that I do indeed know a Jenny in Nottingham, although most won’t know that her ex’s name is Adrian. It therefore seemed likely that we were thinking of the same couple – especially as they mentioned the surname in their e-mail – and so I responded in that vein. It turns out that Stuart used to work with Adrian before they moved to Nottingham, and that Jenny had taught Lynda the “Saturday Night” dance – not that that proves anything, Jenny taught most of the South of England the Saturday Night dance, including a crowd of 5000 at Winchester Fireworks one memorable night.

Anyway, the other evening in the gym, I was busy giving it some LAAARRGE on the treadmill1, when the lady on the next machine asked “‘Scuse me, are you Paul?”. That isn’t the first time that’s happened to me in the gym, but that’s a whole other story, and one I might tell you one day, if I can work out a way to get the salient points across without breaking confidentiality. On this occasion, after I confirmed that I was (and still am) Paul, she announced that she was the Lynda mentioned in the above story – she’d guessed that I went to the same gym as her, from some of the stories I’ve told about it here, and had been watching for someone who looked like me.

Small world, innit?

Ooh, I knew there was something else – I had to go to the NHS walk-in centre yesterday, to have a blood test done. I’ve never paid much attention before (mainly because it isn’t easy with your eyes screwed shut), but yesterday I was feeling brave and kept my eyes open: The strap that the nurse puts round your arm before taking blood was decorated with little pictures of vampires!

1 Excellent training for geocaching

Rubbish Again

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

I blogged last week about losing the memory card from my PDA.

My good chum the King of Sweden has supplied me with a temporary replacement, but long-term I need one with the same capacity as the lost one, so after a quick scan of the intermaweb for best prices, I placed an order. In due course, e-mail confirmation of the item’s despatch was received, along with a tracking number to enable me to follow its progress on the Royal Mail webby sitey.

By yesterday, I was starting to get a bit annoyed with the item’s non-arrival – I’d paid extra for rapid delivery – so logged in to www.royalmail.com.

“Information on this consignment is not currently available. Signed-on-delivery packages are only tracked once they have been signed for”

Now obviously I know very little about the process of international mail deliveries, so I’m probably missing something here – but what the wombat is the point of that? Once it’s been delivered and signed for, I’m probably going to know where it is, so I’m not going to be looking for it on the Royal Mail website.

Further news – it didn’t arrive in today’s post either. Luckily the Swedish Royal Mail is rather more reliable, so the card His Majesty has provided DID arrive, so I’m not totally bereft. Ta, mate

Biting Remarks

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Jenny has asked me to update you all on her being-bitten-by-big-scary-doggy episode. Well, actually she hasn’t, but she’s updated me and I’m too lazy to think of a blog subject.

When she first reported the incident, apparently the Police got a bit nasty with her and insisted it was a job for the dog wardens: Council dog wardens, in return, denied all responsibility, saying that stray dogs were their job, but once someone had actually been assaulted by a dog, it was a Police task.

Anyway, however it happened, the Police were finally convinced to take the thing seriously, and sent someone round to take a statement. Apparently the evening finished with much hilarity, as Jenny and Her Man had a photoshoot, taking pictures of the injured area (her left buttock, for those who didn’t already know) for use in evidence. She originally promised to e-mail me a picture to post here, for your education, but she now seems to be chickening out.

The Police have warned her that she may need to attend an identity parade to identify the dog which bit her. You can just imagine it, can’t you…

Jenny accompanies a big burly policeman into the witness room: In front of them is a line-up consisting of a poodle, a pekinese, a persian cat, two budgies and an alsatian
PC Plod: “So, madam, do you recognise the animal which bit you?”
Jenny: “Errrm, I’m not sure: Could you get number three to say ‘Woof woof bark bark’, please?”

I suggested that next time I’m in the area, we tootle round there in my car: Gruntmobile one, big scary doggy nil, no further problems, thank you very much and goodnight Vienna. It wouldn’t bite anyone else after it’d been chewing on Mitsubishi radiator grille at thirty miles an hour. Jenny has said she doesn’t wish it any harm, it’s a trained guard dog doing what they do, but I’m sure that JG, our resident canine expert, will confirm that trained guard dogs don’t go round biting random posteriors on the public highway – much as it might suit my personal agenda to say that they do.

In the meantime, Jenny is still very stiff and having trouble walking and sleeping: More updates as they appear.

Yarrrr!

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Avast there, me ‘earties! Accordin’ to this website, it do be “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”. All day long, I bin “Yarrrr”-ing and timber-shivering with the best of them. I think my boss now thinks I’m slightly unhinged. I’ll make the scurvy knave walk the plank.

If you feel slightly unnerved by all this brigandry and pirattitude, you’d better check out this website for safety advice.

Tired

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

I’m having an early night tonight, folks.

I’ve spent the day manning checkpoints, and helping to run Control, on the New Forest Marathon. it was a nice day, the sun shone, and most of the plans went…ummm…to plan. But now I’m very tired.

If you’re good, I’ll tell you more about it later.


Bear Necessities

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

Yesterday, believe it or not, I was a bit rubbish.

Not as rubbish as SimonG, of course – no-one’s that rubbish, after all1 – but about as rubbish as someone who phones the doctor’s surgery and has the following converation:
Me: “Hello. I’ve been sent an appointment for an annual health check, and I’d like to change the date please”
Them: “Of course sir…what’s your name and what colour is the letter?”
Me: “My name’s Paul Gottlegog, and it’s pale blue”
*Various comedy sound effect paper-rustling noises*
Them: “When would you like your new appointment to be?”
Me: “A fortnight today please – September 30th
Them: “September 30th?”
Me: “Yes please”
Them: “Your appointment already is September 30th
Me: “No it isn’t, on my letter it says…oh…I’m sorry to have wasted your time”

I was also as rubbish as someone who discovers that he’s lost the memory card out of his PDA: I remember that as I was getting in the car to drive home from work on Thursday night, it fell out of the belt clip and crashed to the ground, but as I was on the phone, getting the latest Jenny-being-bitten-by-big-scary-doggy update, I just picked it up without checking it was complete. It isn’t a major disaster – the data is all backed up elsewhere – but it’ll cost a handful of crisp fivers to replace that I’d have preferred not to spend.

Any old how, after all that rubbishness, something had to go right, so I headed off to find the geocache The Bear Necessities of Life, by my chums Tim & June, whom I’ve blogged about previously as being among the nicest cachers you’d ever meet: They’re also the parents of our blogring chum Loretta…but that doesn’t make them bad people. I didn’t use the parking they recommend for the cache, because that gives a walk of about thirty feet: Instead I parked in a small layby and did a round-trip walk of about 2 miles, seeing on the way the view in the pic up above. Having found the cache, I phoned them to tell them where I was:
June: “Ooh, come round for coffee”
Me: “Great, where are you?”
Bear in mind here that with the card from the PDA missing, I have no talking satnav or Memory Map to help :-(
Tim: *Gives rubbish directions based on the fact that he thought I was parked in a different layby to the one I was really in*
Me: *Drives round and round Winchester for hours 2, but gets there in the end*.

And fun was had by all, and I met their fabby cat, Willow. Oh, and KronA as well!

1 Except SimonG, obviously
2 May be more percent of exaggeration than fact.

Make Do

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Apologies for the lack of bloggy goodness yesterday, chums…

It all came out on top for me a little bit: I actually spent quite a while producing an amusing and witty blog, then decided at the last minute not to use it – the material was such that anyone who doesn’t know me that well could think I was a psychotic axe-murderer, rather than the lovely peaceful chap I really am. Also, should a certain Head Office employee ever turn up dead with a thousand arrows in his body, it could be used as evidence against me.

I’ve saved it though, so if I’m really desperate for material one day, you might still see it.

Still, it’s Friday, the sun is shining here in the south of England, and a good forecast for the weekend. So smiles all round :-) . But I can’t sign off without saying, prayers and positive thoughts to my chum Jenny, who spent yesterday morning in hospital being treated for a painful – and potentially dangerous – dog bite. I’m afraid it just confirms what I’ve always said about dogs, really. And yes, I know that not all dogs are mental human-eaters – the trouble is, you don’t know what sort you’re faced with until they’re running down the road with a mouthful of what used to be your leg, and it’s a bit late by then.

More Cricket

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

I said yesterday…
“Woo. Yay. That is all”

Of course, that isn’t all. Kouros commented about how many instant cricket supporters have suddenly appeared, and I know myself of a few who, three months ago, wouldn’t have been caught dead watching cricket, who suddenly now have the bug. Our Personnel officer at work used to ban me from going into her office while test matches were on, because I talk non-stop cricket to the person she shares the office with: Since last Thursday, they’ve had a TV in the office…

I’m not like that: I’ve followed the England cricket team for years, when they’ve been rubbish as well as when they’ve succeeded. It’s a bit like the football – when Portsmouth were promoted to the premiership, suddenly a load of new supporters were on board: I’ve been there through thick and thin, and even if they’re relegated (or perhaps I should say “when”, based on current performance), I’ll still have seen a lot worse. But I couldn’t suddenly become interested in a sport, just because England were suddenly doing well in it.

Of course, all this came to a head, with England winning the Ashes, on Monday evening – while I was at Hospital Radio. Normally there’s only a recorded programme going out in that slot, so I over-rode the system, set up some back-to-back music, and did regular cricket-summary inserts. Once the presentation started, I just announced “And now for the presentation ceremony, we join Channel 4 Television’s Mark Nicholas and Mike Atherton at the Brit Oval” and went to put my tea in the microwave.

Thirty seconds later, Channel 4 went to an ad break. I got back to the studio just in time, and waffled mindlessly until the advertisements were finished. By which time, my tea was cooked and cool enough to eat. The rest of the evening went more or less normally.

Celebrate

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

“I don’t like cricket
Oh No
I love it!
10cc: Dreadlock Holiday

Woo. Yay. That is all (except quite a lot more “Woo” and “Yay”)

Muggle…

Sunday, September 11th, 2005

…is a word from the Harry Potter books, used to describe a non-magical person. More importantly, it’s been taken on by the world of geocaching to describe a non-cacher, and “Muggle Trouble” is where you know where the cache is, but can’t retrieve it easily because there are muggles watching. Of course this didn’t ought to be a problem, but you never know when a muggle is going to be the sort of person who’d disapprove of caching (even though caches are only ever placed with the landowner’s permission) and take a cache away and trash it. Sadly, this happens much too often – one of my caches was stolen twice before I finally gave up on it, and I’m not the only one it’s happened to.

As the picture shows, at the cache I did this afternoon, not only were there muggles everywhere, they even had spy-in-the-sky apparatus! Actually the model-aircraft guys were no problem – it was the carload of people watching the very tree where the cache was hidden that bothered me: The cache was Trains Planes and Automobiles – rather confusingly, one of two in Hampshire with almost the same name! This one is in the New Forest, and involves finding two micro-caches, which between them tell you the co-ordinates of a final “big” cache: The second of the micros was hidden near the tree under muggle observation – I retrieved it by pretending to have dropped something, and scooping it up, but re-hiding it involved picking and eating rather more blackberries than I really wanted to, and faking an almost fanatical interest in photographing the flowers on the bramble bushes.

Then I walked to the main cache and back – a four mile round trip – and then went home.

Oops

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

It isn’t only on the carpet, that toast always lands marmalade-side down.

Anyway, with all the excitement over Daniel’s school photo yesterday, I forgot to mention last night’s caching activity: I zipped across to the far side of the New Forest and started with Ice Cream, Paddling and Ducks, although I think there’s a bit of Trade Description going on here – there were neither ducks nor ice cream van in evidence, although I do know that both are usually here. Then it was just up the road to Duck Dash Cache II, and finally a visit to Ringwood’s fabbest pub on the way home.

This afternoon I went to the gym, where I noticed, among all the usual notices saying things like “The steam room isn’t working again” and “Subs are going up again”, there was a profusion of notices about lockers, headed “To All Male Members”. Is it only me that’s giggling stupidly about that?

Awww

Friday, September 9th, 2005

My Ickle Godson’s Daddy sent me this photo of him, as he trotted off happily for his first day at school yesterday.

*Sniff*…how quickly they grow up. I remember the night that Gaz asked me if I’d be a Godparent – he said “We were going to ask [person x], but they’re still young enough to have a chance of having their own children”. That was also the night he introduced me to an alcoholic drink called Aftershock.

God bless, Daniel – enjoy your schooldays while you can, they don’t last anywhere near long enough.

And another thing…

Thursday, September 8th, 2005

Of course, when I said yesterday that I’ve only got 18 more caches to find, for this year’s target – I kind of forgot that finding those 18 would leave me only 16 short of my next century. Oh well.

I called at a friend’s house last night to collect some stuff: I’d never been there before, but I’d been warned what to expect and even so I was impressed – I have NEVER in all my life seen a flat filled with so much stuff! Even the bathroom is packed with stuff to the extent that Brian has to move stuff out onto the landing when he has a shower. The living room is best summed up in Brian’s own words – “Those twelve video recorders are going in the skip when I get round to it – these are the six I’m keeping”. He’s got a fine collection of reel-to-reel tape decks as well, including one of my favourites, the Revox B77.

Then I went to a church group meeting.

The Time, The Place

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

I blogged some time ago about my caching target for the year.

Back in January, I aimed to average three caches found per week, throughout the year. With a third of the year to go, there’s just 18 to be found for the average to be achieved, so I’ve been looking at a new goal.

It’s this: In October, November and December, I will place one new cache a month. That sounds pretty easy – the problem is, all the decent locations for caches around this way (or at least, all the ones I can think of), have already got caches in them :-( . Sometimes, a location that’s a bit ordinary can be livened by a crackingly well-designed cache – Rockin’ Rob’s “A Bridge Too Far (Hants)” is an excellent example of this – but the problem with putting caches in out of the way places that most people don’t know about, is that I don’t know about them!

I’ve had a good study of the map, and I think I’ve got an idea for where one can be placed. And there’s every chance that I’ll be able to place one when I’m up in Nottingham in October (normally, it isn’t allowed to place caches that are too far from home to be able to make regular maintenance visits, but Jenny and Chris have assured me they’ll drop by whenever necessary). And there’s an excellent cache locally which seems to have gone missing, and the owners are taking a break from caching, so I may offer to take over looking after that one.

Just the planning to do. Oh, and finding those other eighteen, of course.

Polly Ticks

Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

A little while ago, MMM expressed surprise in the chatroom, that there’s politics in the world of Hospital Radio.

In truth, I think there’s politics in every field of human endeavour: Hospital Radio is made up of a number1 of totally independent local hospital stations, most of which are charities in their own right. The vast majority of these belong to an umbrella organisation, known “officially” as the National Association of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations (NAHBO), and for day-to-day purposes as the Hospital Broadcasting Association. NAHBO itself is a charity, and the committee is elected from active members of the local stations which are members of the national body, and of course, on the theory that it’s always the same people doing things, most of them are also committee members at their own stations.

NAHBO holds twice-yearly conferences, and regular readers will know that I’ve blogged about them in the past.Conference is open to anyone interested in hospital broadcasting, and moves around the country to try to ensure that the pain of awkward travelling is fairly shared out – and also to follow the best deals in conference hotels to try to keep the price down, especially as unlike business conferences, delegates are of course volunteers who are paying out of their own pockets2.

Needless to say, with 25000 (ish) active volunteers, there are going to be a few whingers, some of whom come to conference, and this is where the politics comes from. NAHBO is never being run the way they’d like – although amazingly one of them actually stood for committee once: He wasn’t elected, and subsequently described those who’d voted for him as “stupid”. I agree, they must have been, but still…

I’ve done a fair time on the National committee, starting as local Regional Representative and ending with two years as national Membership Manager. Most of the whinging I could put up with – people don’t seem to realise that we’re volunteers with things like full-time jobs to do – but really decided that I’d had enough when, four days after my Dad died, a member of a London HR station suggested that he might break my f***ing legs if it would help to get his message across.

Having said that, the moaners are vastly in the minority: Hospital Radio is a great thing to be involved in, and I still go to conferences where I work as the minibus driver for the weekend – a voluntary position, naturally3. The whingers are still there, but I avoid ‘em – if I’m not needed for minibus driving, I just go geocaching!

1 About three hundred, last time I checked
2 There are those who believe that delegates should be funded by their stations to attend conference. I don’t agree, and never will. ‘Nuff said.
3 I still haven’t put in my expenses claim for the hire of the minibus from three conferences ago. The Treasurer is starting to get a bit fed up reminding me.