Archive for April, 2007

Sepcially for Sarah

Monday, April 30th, 2007

I was in conversation with a certain rather cheeky person last night: no names mentioned but the title of this piece might give you a clue. I commented how exciting I thought starting my new job was going to be, to which she replied “Yes, at least your blogs should be a bit more interesting now.” Huh!

Still, she wasn’t wrong: The day got interesting on the train, where the people in front of me were discussing nice places to live in Southampton. Rather a restricted topic in itself, it can’t have been helped by the fact that the one with most opinions was illustrating her points using a London A-Z.

The first thing that happened when I arrived was my security induction, in which I was told – among other things – all the horrible things that would be done to me if I blogged about anything that happens at work. I didn’t think disembowelling was still legal in this country, but there y’go. I was also tipped off that most of the people I work with – including my boss – are going to be on strike tomorrow. As long as there’s someone who can talk me through the intricacies of the voicemail system, I should be OK.

I hope that keeps a certain cheeky person happy – she should be warned that I’ve still got a picture from our Devon trip, which even she hasn’t seen yet, that I could share with you all.

The Good, the Bad and the Pretty

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Today’s good news was that the early start I moaned about yesterday was cancelled.

The bad news was that it wasn’t cancelled until after I’d got a bit stressed running around and solving all the problems that the early start might’ve caused if it hadn’t been cancelled.

The pretty, of course, was the views I saw this afternoon. Since one Raynet activity hadn’t happened, I decided to spend the afternoon surveying locations for another Raynet activity: We’re covering a big event in a couple of months time that we’ve never done before, and I’d promised the other organisers that I’d check out parts of the course – the main job being to visit the locations where we’ve decided we’d like checkpoints, and see what the access, parking etc is like. So, as you’ll see from the picture, I’ve been climbing hills around Salisbury looking at views.

Of course, while it wasn’t specifically a geocaching outing, if my route took me right past a cache I’d never done, it would’ve been rude not to do it, wouldn’t it ;-) . I managed to plot a route that took me past:
Off the Monarch’s Way
A Glimpse of the 404 Feet
City Trail: Intercity
City Trail: the Workhouse
City Trail: Height Limit


Saturday, April 28th, 2007

I’m sure there was something I was going to blog about…

Meanwhile, the phone at Gottlegog Towers has been going bonkers today – all sorts of chaos connected with the event I’m supposed to be working on. Still, hopefully it’s all sorted out now and I can get an early night – in preparation for the five o’clock alarm :-(

It could be worse – any of my Hospital Radio readers remember the days of Poole Marathon?


Friday, April 27th, 2007

Well that was a novel experience – I’ve never maxed out a credit card in an afternoon before!

Today was the day that I bought my season tickets – both for the train, and the bus that’ll get me to the station. The train season ticket was a no-brainer – I only need to use it on 35% of the working days in the year and it’s cheaper than buying individual tickets, and that’s without all the perks that come with having a season ticket, like a third off all off-peak train travel. The bus ticket is a bit tighter: I need to use it for 284 journeys to break even, and with days off, and days that the weather’s nice enough to walk, it’s a bit questionable. I’ll need to keep a record of how much I use it – of course I’ll sometimes use it at weekends for non-work purposes, so that needs to be considered. Also, having a season ticket will save me the hassle of making sure I’ve got the right change for the bus – which in turn will save me buying drinks and newspapers that I don’t really want.

Ooh, it’s getting exciting!

I Forgot…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

…to mention a few things, the first of which was the first of yesterday’s activities: I told you that we had to put a new log sheet in one of Sarah’s caches – nice and easy you’d think, download the approved design from the geocaching website, print it, and off we go. In a house without children it probably would’ve gone like that, in our case it involved half an hour on hands and knees, digging out the chocolate biscuit crumbs that were causing the printer to jam!

Something else I’d kept from you is my own act of near-stupidity in Maplins: I told you that I’ve been busy copying music onto my PDA so I can listen to it on the train: To facilitate this process, I ordered a 4GB CF card from those nice people at MyMemory, knowing that I could put it straight into the memory slot on the lappy and copy across.

Or I could, if my lappy had a CF slot :-(

What I need, I decided when I was in Maplins, is an adaptor that plugs into either my USB port or my PCMCIA slot, that takes a CF card. Maplins didn’t have any USB ones, or none that I could see: After much searching, I found one that fits the card slot. It was having found it – and luckily, before buying it – I realised it looked mightily familiar. I’ve already got one.

So, I’ve been going through my CDs and copying stuff: It’s surprising how much of the stuff I’ve got, I haven’t listened to for ages. I suppose it figures really: If you’ve got one CD, you listen to it all the time: then you buy another and listen to them in rotation. Once you’ve got a load, you can only listen to one at a time, and the older ones are likely to fll by the wayside. So I’m rediscovering stuff I last listened to years ago – it’s like a voyage of discovery, only with better on-board entertainment.

The Day We Did Some Caches

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Today had been determined the day that Sarah and I would do a bit of caching activity.

First we visited They Flew From the Forest, one of Sarah’s caches, which needed a new log book, and now it has one! There’s another cache nearby but we weren’t sure if it was still there – a quick phone call to Nobby confirmed that it was, and soon Sarah had found Solent Way – Tithe Barn – which I’d found a couple of years ago.

The main job for the day, though, was to replace the cache camera in Bob’s Box: Theoretically Sarah and I jointly own this one, but I did the hide and the puzzle and Sarah had never been there, so she can legitimately claim it as a find :-) . As you can see from the picture, the dogs helped us with the find – the reason I look so manic is that I’m trying to stop Lenny escaping before the self-timer on the camera took the picture!

All that activity left us with an appetite, so it was lucky that the next planned activity – after changing out of our muddies – was lunch at the Heath: We’ve been here a few times, in fact I had my birthday bash here a couple of years ago, but neither of us had visited since it was refurbished so we wanted to know what it was like. It’s posher than it was!

After lunch, Sarah needed to visit a couple of shops, so we went down into Hythe, where a visit to the pet shop resulted in me carrying a 17kg bag of dog food back to the car. Although I struggled with it a bit, it was nice to work out that it weighed only 70% of the weight I’ve lost in the last couple of years :-) . And then it was back to Sarah Mansions for tea and chat to round off the day.

That Didn’t Go As Intended

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Those of you who’ve read the seekrit blog will know that it could be summed up by saying: “Something made me question something I’d believed for a long time. I wrote a blog-style thinkpiece to myself as a way of starting to sort out my thoughts. Although it was never intended for public consumption, I shared it with five friends.”

If you weren’t one of the five, please don’t be offended – one of the criteria for being given the password was knowing enough of the history to be able to understand it, without long and rambling explanations, and that’s what ruled most of you out!

While I’m a firm believer in “Never say never”, and I know I may change my mind on this, I don’t think I’ll be making it more widely available. Someone who read it has responded with a suggestion that I wasn’t comfortable with: don’t get me wrong, I trust that person absolutely to respect the fact that their suggestion isn’t what I want to do, and to not do anything I wouldn’t like, I wouldn’t have let them read it if I didn’t trust them. But it’s highlighted to me the fact that I really don’t want to share those thoughts with any except the closest and most trusted friends. And to the one person who read it who may think they don’t know me well enough to be in that group: sometimes I just trust my intuition about who’s trustworthy, and you certainly knew more of the relevant bits of the history than most.

To summarise that bit: I’m glad I shared it with the people I DID share it with, but I don’t want to share it with anyone else!

To those of you who didn’t get to see it – sorry, but don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything particularly life-enhancing – it wasn’t even funny. And you’ll probably get to read how the story pans out anyway.

To those of you who did read it – what happens next? I don’t know: I start my new job next week, and we don’t know what changes that’ll make to my lifestyle – any long-term plans have to take that into account. And in any case I may decide just to do nothing different, I’ve been as happy as most people I know for the last 43 years and there’s no reason that shouldn’t continue. So for the time being at least, I’m just going to carry on, enjoy life as it is, and see what happens next.

Oh S**t!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Do you ever have those “Oh s**t” moments? Moments when you realise you’ve done something really stupid that’s going to cost you dear in terms of inconvenience and/or expense? I had one of those this afternoon – but you’ll have to keep reading, because a lot of other stuff happened first.

And first I must tell you that Saturday afternoon’s caches were:
Itchen Puzzle – the final part of a series that I started ages ago. It takes a walk round a lovely local park, which was great in the sunshine :-) . Then I went on to Dune’s Blackbird Hideaway, which has been one of my nearest “not founds” for far too long, before finishing the day with Little Fat Ponies, a nice walk through some bluebell woods.

Today started early, with the main event being to be an important person on the Rockbourne Ride: This is a horse riding event, and I was manning one of the checkpoints, watching all the horses (and riders) going past. Once I was freed from that duty, a little more caching was called for – first was Brews and Views: Rockbourne, owned by our old chum Nobby Nobbs. A steep climb up a hill was rewarded by both a trig point and some great views, so that was worthwhile!

Then I moved on to another of Nobby’s caches, Brews and Views: Whitsbury, where the biggest problem was parking – the village was en fete today and there were parked cars jammed in every available hole. I cheated by parking in the village hall car park, pretending I was calling in for a cream tea (sold in aid of the church roof, or something), and scooting off to find the cache. My conscience was bothering me a bit by the time I got back so I called in prepared to spend a pound on a pot of tea – and if anyone could have been bothered to serve me, I’d have had one. Instead I moved on to Fordingbridge, and Bridge over Troubled Water.

On the path down to this one I met a man walking two dogs, black and white collies: Nothing odd in that you might think, but he was also walking two black and white cats! Apparently whenever he walks the dogs the cats insist on coming along as well. He’s got a parrot at home as well.

Getting back to the car I had my “Oh s**t” moment. I took my boots off, then went to open the door to throw my rucksack in: Where are my car keys? Not on my belt, where they normally hang: Not in the zipped trouser pocket I sometimes put them in if I don’t want to wear them on my belt. Oh S**T, I must have dropped them somewhere on the walk :-( . There’s no option – I’ll have to do the whole walk again and hope I find them. And I haven’t even got my walking boots, because I’ve already changed into my trainers and put my boots in the car…

Hang on, if I’ve put my boots in the car, I haven’t lost my keys have I? They were on the back parcel shelf. Phew!

And on the subject of the seekrit blog – those of you making guesses are going to be disappointed, it’s no kind of big announcement at all. But keep trying, it’s fun seeing you all guess!


Saturday, April 21st, 2007

…or not!

There’s nothing sinister in the fact that the blog entry below is password protected – it’s just that I want a couple of people to see it before it goes public! If you haven’t had an email with a password in, please don’t ask for one – the post will go unprotected soon anyway :-)

Protected: Surprise!

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Friday, April 20th, 2007

I told you the other day that I wanted to sort out my haircut before I had my new ID card pictures taken. Sarah commented “Having your hair cut won’t make that much difference will it?”. Cheeky…umm…person.

Anyway, as you can see I’m still handsome, so that’s OK. It’s lucky I got on and got that sorted really because I’ve had some news – I start my new job a week on Monday! So next week I’ve got to sort out train season tickets and stuff like that, as well as having a Raynet meeting and hopefully doing the New Forest trip that was postponed from today. I’d rather like to get some caches in as well ;-) .

I had another crack at mending my caravan today: I thought I’d got it sorted, but without success. Time to call in a proper man, the trouble is I’m not sure where to find the appropriate personage: It’s more of a bodywork job that a mechanical fix, so the normal caravan engineer probably won’t do. Any inspiration on caravan bodywork experts in the Southampton area would be gratefully received.

Finally – remember I told you I was doing a mega-holiday-blog but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever post it? It was about softy stuff like feelings and stuff, and Sarah reckoned I should post it. So last night I finished it off, and the stupid software promptly lost it. Luckily I had the unfinished version saved so it’ll appear sooner or later…just not yet!

Gimme Gimme Frustration Baby

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I know the real song lyric was “Gimme Gimme Temptation Baby”1, but it wouldn’t fit the subject…

As I intimated yesterday, my caravan needs repair, and without going into detail, it’s a bit of basic-ish engineering that’s required. Today was appointed “Mend caravan day”. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve

  1. Made the problem worse
  2. Thrown my tools all over the garden
  3. Hurt my already-painful shoulder and given myself a headache
  4. Caused my blood sugar to fall far enough to have to have one of my emergency dextrose thingies
  5. Given up in disgust

Why does life allocate skills the way it does? I’m supposed to be so sodding clever, yet when it comes to practical skills I’m worse than useless. My Dad wasn’t the cleverest bloke in the world – reading and writing weren’t among his greatest skills – but he’d have had my caravan mended in less time that it took me to arrange the letters after my name into alphabetical order3. It wouldn’t have been pretty but it would have worked.

Following your comments on yesterday, I should explain that I didn’t buy my PDA from Amazon and I certainly didn’t pay the Amazon price for it! I just linkied to that website because it had the best concise description of what the PDA is and does :-) .

And on the subject of frustration – Claire and Aviatrix, I’ve tried leaving comments on your various blogs but Blogger won’t let me log in :-( . Sorry about that. And I’ve had an e-mail from my new employers to day they haven’t started my security checks yet because they’ve had trouble contacting one of my referees – which makes it a bit odd that my formal offer of employment arrived this morning.

Still, it’s still a nice day out there and I’m due to head for the New Forest tomorrow, as one of my caches needs a bit of maintenance. Life could be a LOT worse :-)

1 “Temptation”, Wet Wet Wet 3
2 aBdDEGHHIIIiMMNOOpRrSSS. OK, that took two minutes, so maybe not quite that quickly.
3 Yes, I’m thoroughly ashamed at knowing Wet Wet Wet lyrics.


Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Have you noticed, it’s lovely out there?

I’m blaming that for how little I’ve achieved today: I went to the bank to pay in a lovely big cheque this morning – although it was only for expenses that I’ve already spent :-) . Then I went shopping and bought a hacksaw (because I need to cut some metal to mend my caravan), and a bottle of screenwash. I’ve also filled in my team application form for New Wine, although I can’t post it yet – I’m waiting until I’ve had a haircut before I have a new lot of passport photos done! I’ll need quite a few, I’m expecting to have to submit one for my new work ID card, as well as for my train and bus season tickets. So I want to make sure I look my best.

I didn’t mention that both my fabby new PDA and my new mobile phone have arrived. The phone is a Sony Ericsson W850 – I wanted the 800, because that was what I had as a work mobile until I stopped working. According to the man on the Vodafone upgrade line, the 800 isn’t available any more because it’s too old – odd, because it was brand new and top of the range six months ago! Anyway, I like the 850 so that’s OK. The number is the same, for those of you who have my mobile number!

The PDA is the HP 2790 – I was going to buy the next model down, but my technical advisor (who as far as I know wasn’t on commission) advised that as I was spending a wad on a decent one, I ay as well spend a bit extra and get the best available with the features I wanted. So I did :-)

Off to the gym now…


Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow.

I haven’t been to the gym much lately. Yes Sarah, I know I said I was going yesterday, and indeed I did – but only to sit in the steam room :-( . Anyway, what with being on holiday last week, and the holiday preparations and stuff the week before, it’s been a couple of weeks since I worked out, so today was the day to put that right.

I’m in pain. I think I went a bit mad on the rowing machine and now my left shoulder won’t move. The right one isn’t that good either. Goodness knows what it’ll feel like in the morning.

Still, I had an e-mail today from future employers, saying that my formal offer of employment is in the post and on the way, so obviously I’ve passed the security checks. I’ve been warned that the Civil Service doesn’t move that quickly – a friend of mine was offered a job in the public sector six months after giving up on ever hearing from them – but it looks like I’ll be starting sometime in the next couple of weeks.


Doggies and Other Stuff

Monday, April 16th, 2007

In a comment on yesterday’s offering, Her Ladyship J of G commented “It’s good to see you almost in the same frame as a dog. We’ll get you there one day!”. How’s this then ;-) ? Admittedly he is asleep, but I’m sure it still counts.

I have to admit, my whole dog-phobia thing has been a lot better anyway since I’ve been spending time with Sarah and her doggies: I still let discretion be the better part of valour with the horrible German Shepherd I met up near Northampton the other week, but I don’t run screaming from big scary doggies generally. I even got within lead range of Sarah’s Dad’s Jack Russell one day last week, and that is courage!

JG also said “I can’t see a speeling mistale. ‘Receipt’ is the original spelling of ‘recipe’”. Oh bum – still, I’ve learned something I didn’t know there, as well :-)

Today’s been really productive – I’ve emailed a couple of people I needed to get in touch with, and I’ve:

  • Phoned my new employers to find out what’s happened to my formal job offer. Apparently I should’ve been told I wouldn’t get it until the security checks were complete.
  • Phoned the people I volunteer with in the summer, to report that the applying-to-be-on-team bit of their website is broken. They knew, and they’re going to email me the forms I need
  • Phoned Vodafone to upgrade my mobile. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages, but yesterday Bex and Her Chap were taking the mickey out of my handheld brick, and that was the last straw!
  • Been shopping to buy some bits I need to mend Sarah’s charger, which got chewed by a certain puppy on holiday. That cost me rather more than I was expecting, not because the bits were expensive (they weren’t) but because of the stuff I got for myself while I was there.

It’s a busy old life…

At Last, the Holiday Blog (with Photos)

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Not the mighty holiday blog I told you about yesterday – I still haven’t finished that one, and in any case I haven’t totally decided whether I’ll ever post it publicly if I do. It might turn out to be a bit boring for anyone who wasn’t there – although I’ll admit that doesn’t normally stop me :-)

So, on Easter Sunday I hitched up the caravan to Grunty, and drove to the caravan site. I’d been warned there was no guarantee we’d be camped near each other – apparently the site allocate locations by computer which can’t be overridden. So it was a nice surprise to find I was going to be right next to Sarah’s encampment – and the view was an even nicer surprise. Here’s the sunset as seen from my caravan doorway.

On Monday we went to Exmouth, where we spotted an interesting smelling pistake, in the window of a cafeteria. We didn’t eat at this one, just in case.

And of course, we did the webcam cache I told you about yesterday – but Rob took two pictures for us, and you’ve only seen one so far:

Tuesday was the day we went to Brixham, where we looked at shops, ate chips (with salad), bought wine, and one of us (not me) had an ear piercing. And on the way back to the site, Sarah and I did a couple of caches: As you can see, it was a lovely day – no sign of the snow that Metcheck had promised!

I forgot to mention that the campsite has an “animals” area with pygmy goats – I thought Stu would like this pic:

On Wednesday we went to Topsham where, for some reason, I didn’t take any photos, although I did buy my Mum’s birthday pressie in the antiques warehouse. I also got something for Sarah that she’d admired. Then we went to the cheese shop where we got some things that we both liked! Oh, and near the campsite, I spotted a road sign that I had to have my piccy taken with…

OK, I admit I had to Photoshop a “C” into a “G” on that.

On Thursday we went to Exmouth beach, where Maggie did “Points of Destiny”…

and Sarah did her impression of one of the girls off of “Suburban Shootout”…

Of course as “Suburban Shootout” is on Channel 5, that reference will be lost on 99% of you :-(

And when we got back to the caravan site, Lenny was very tired.

While Lenny (and Mags for that matter) slept, the rest of us went to a local restaurant to eat: I’d promised the Tates a nice meal celebrating my new job, and this was it. After we’d eaten, Bex was amazed at the size of the tip I left – lucky she didn’t see the bill! Then on Friday, I helped the Tates pack up and go home, went and did some caching, went back to Thursday’s restaurant to collect the sunglasses Bex had left there, and went to a beer festival with Hutters.

And on Saturday I too packed up and went home. What a fabby week I had!

Holiday Caching

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

As most of you will know, I’ve been on holiday, caravanning with Sarah, George and Bex – not to mention Maggie the Insane Boxer Dog and Lennie the Loonie Pup. They’ve got a favourite site they’ve taken their caravan to for years, and this time they invited me and my caravan along to join them! I’m working on a fairly long blog about what we did at the moment – meanwhile here’s a roundup of those holiday caches :-)

The Hotspot, a webcam cache from which today’s photo is taken. Thanks to Rockin’ Rob for doing the technostuff for us.

The Mudbath, which wasn’t really muddy at all!

The Rocky Horror, which WAS rocky – didn’t stop Sarah complaining that we could’ve driven right to it, though :-)

Estuary View, from where there’d probably have been a good view of the Exe estuary if it hadn’t been so misty.

Woodbury Castle, close to a prehistoric hill fort with excellent views.

Crossed Lines – Bicton Common, a fun cache with an interesting twist

The Old Butts, interesting mainly for the number of opportunities in the area for falling down big holes – it looked like a Time Team dig!


Thursday, April 12th, 2007

One of the things I checked with New Boss Julie, when I was up visiting last week, is the dress code for the office.

Apparently, the usual arrangement (for men, that is) is for a collar and tie and nice trousers, with or without a jacket, or a suit. On Friday most people wear jeans. Sizing up what I was wearing at the time (which included the nice jacket I’d bought in M&S only the day before), she commented “Of course, Asda do some really nice clothes at reasonable prices these days…”. She seems to have sized me up pretty well :-(

She also presented me with the organisation’s Health and Safety Policy, which fills two honkin’ big ring binders. She pointed out that she couldn’t expect me to read it before I started, but if I felt like a little light bedtime reading, at least I had it. I haven’t started yet, but apparently it was written by a consultant…

Net Worth

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

So there you are. I always knew would be worth a few squid – all I’ve got to do now is work out how to capitalise on it. Actually, I’m not totally certain how the source site works the values and things out, but it’s a bit of fun, isn’t it?

Party Party

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

I was invited to a birthday party today!

Acksherly I was invited to one yesterday as well – the difference was, this one actually happened! Our old chum Rockin’ Rob was 30 today, so we went to an all-you-can-eat chinese restaurant: Me and Rob’s Mum, Dave and Sonia, Anthony and someone whose name I can’t remember (but she was very tall), and Sarah. Oh, and Rob of course.

Where I went wrong was leaving Rob’s birthday present at home. Although – and I promise this wasn’t intentional – it worked out well ‘cos he gave me a lift home so he could collect it, me having gone on the bus so I could have a couple of beers.

And of course the rest of the day was spent getting my caravan ready to head off to Devon tomorrow: I’ve left a coupleof pre-written blogs for you, to keep you on your toes – and if you’re lucky I’ll find an internet cafe to bring you some bloggy goodness as well!


Friday, April 6th, 2007

So, to your comments on yesterday’s offering: Yes Nobby, I’m sure the Swan is nice, but it was where we started our walk – we’d have lost rather a lot of time walking back to it and out again. And yes Lois, I’m afraid the was all. We both had to get back in time for Hospital Radio in the evening, otherwise we’d have gone on to do the last three on the Kennet and Avon.

One of the caches that we didn’t do – because it’s currently missing – was The Narrowboat, named after a pub which is very close by. We arrived at lunchtime, so what more natural than to have lunch there? You’d think, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately they were having what might politely be termed “a staffing crisis”, or could be more accurately termed “a useless workshy pillock serving”. Whatever, the consequence was that we were kept waiting nearly fifteen minutes before she’d take our order, then we couldn’t order food because the kitchen closed in five minutes. We went to the Toby Carvery, five minutes walk away – where the staff were polite, the food was good, and it was probably cheaper as well.

Our first photo today shows a bridge in Newbury. This one crosses the Kennet and Avon Canal, and is very close to the geocache “Lock Stock and Barrel”, another one very close to a pub. It’s a lot nicer than the new bridge which replaces it – although needless to say, this one couldn’t carry the amount of traffic that currently fights its way through Newbury. Imagine what Newbury was like before the bypass – or remember it, if like me you don’t need to imagine it!

The second shot was taken nearby: It doesn’t have any particular artistic merit and it isn’t of anything very interesting, but it reminded me of one of my readers and I’ve included it for that reason!

Today’s activity has centred on going to church for this morning’s service, followed by a bit of shopping (buying Rockin’ Rob’s birthday pressie), and doing some caravan preparation ready for going away at the weekend. So there we are.

Happy Easter one and all – and Happy Birthday to Rockin’ Rob for tomorrow.