24th,November - 12th. December


Another couple of weeks with plenty of ups and downs.

Remember the 4 hens I brought some weeks back - two are cocks !! I had my suspicions and these were confirmed
with a lovely wake up call. I've spoken to our 3 neighbours and, beside thinking it somewhat amusing, don't mind
(although I don't know if they'll think that in Spring at 6 o'clock in the morning!).
I've sent an e-mail to the Auctioneer but haven't had a reply yet. They were sold at a Catalogue Sale and the receipt
shows they are pont of lay hens.
I don't mind keeping one and see what happens, but two ! I haven't the heart to eat it, so maybe they will find 'the seller'
and swap with a layer.

The car has gone from bad to worse, but I have the Micra arriving on Monday / Tuesday next week. Just a case of paying
for it now. I've been leaving the Renault in every place I can think of where it may get stolen or badly vandalised, but
nothing !! Looks like I shall have to write it off as a life bad misjudgement.

My mobile phone got drowned at The Mill House and my Radio broke. I've looked in the shops for the radio, I can find the
same model but not one with the paint splash marks and grubby volume controls. One has to look the part, doesn't one.

The rat problem seems to have diminished and I've only seen one in the last week. Old Freddie Fox is still strolling
around but hasn't worked out a way into the chicken run (YET). Other than that there are quite a few pheasants walking
around which tend to scare the living daylights out of me when working in the Mill House garden. I've heard the shotguns
going off quite a lot down on the fields, so I don't know how long it will be before I don't see any pheasants.
The Woodpecker is still a daily visitor and needless to say, I have a Robin friend who hangs around me on every move.

I have some work, but not enough to fulfill the gladness of my Bank so I must look around for a weekday evening job,
maybe Tesco's or the like. I have a couple of 'mystery shopping' jobs coming up in January.
Christmas is going to be a commercial non event this year, but I have the Kent Cricket Clubs Stewards Lunch next week
and I'm looking forward to that.
I'm already totally fed up with late autumn / winter and can't wait for the Spring.

I'm researching my family history on the Internet at the moment. It's really fascinating and on my name sake side have
now got back to the 18th. century. It's hard work though. So many changed their first names and some weren't married.
Looking at some other family tree's it seems the 1960's weren't so 'far out' as we thought ! It was just the same as the
Victorians but with The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Speaking about that. I found Paul, who was a member of the Band I was in back in the 60's on Friends ReUnited. He
was good, but I still don't know how I got away with it. When we split up, three became professional and I went into the
DIY business !!

I heard yesterday that my last Company, Connex the Rail Operator, has 'thrown in the towel', having a Government
subsidy and having to give up the franchise 6 years earlier than contract. I told everyone that it would happen as soon as
I left !

Tomorrow Leo and I go to Southampton and will watch The Saints play Newcastle, a Christmas present from my
daughter Vicky. I'd like to see Shearer score, but would appreciate it if he could do it in the 90th minute when
Southampton are 4 goals up !

I heard also yesterday that McDonalds only use free range eggs. Just thought I'd put that one in.

Finally, if you really want to see the answer to the fox problem with chickens click here !!!!!!!!!!!

Take care, Richard.

 



6th.- 24th.November


A little late I'm afraid. I've been working most hours and, having decided I've neglected my own property, have been
doing some improvements (well I think they are) both outside and in.

I had to dig into my savings this month, one of my customers being away for two weeks and the other one not being
able to afford paying me til next week. I had to pay a few bills and this left me absolutely broke and nothing left in the
cash stakes at the Bank.
Now, my 'savings' are a large jar which I've put all my 1p's, 2p's and 5p's in since about April. Off I went to Sainsbury's
to cash them in at the newly installed coin changer - £19.27p !! Oh what wealth and some to spend at last Thursday's
Pool Match (at which my play resembled a drunken ferret !!). I strongly recommend this type of investment plan, there
is no interest but it's fun watching the money tick away upwards on the Sainsbury's machine !

Luckily, one of my customers is now back and hopefully I can pay in some money tomorrow morning. One of the joys,
and warnings, of being self employed I guess.

The decorating work continues and I reckon on sufficient work for another 12 or so weeks. I have however, been
asked to decorate the inside of a renovated cottage and this will be about 3 weeks work. The interesting news is that
it's in France !! So, do I change my business card to 'Down the Lane International' .

So all in all, I think I have sufficient work to see me through til the Cricket season starts next April.
I've just written all the fixtures down on next years calendar and it looks like about 50 days work from mid April to mid
September. More if Kent have good cup runs.

My black chicken is back laying eggs this week, 4 in total. She's the one who has survived about 8 fox attacks and
been injured twice. Certainly street cred there I think.
The rats still remain a problem. I've gutted the top shed and the smell was dreadful. I must have shot at least 20 over
the past 10 weeks or so, the cat must have had a dozen and the neighbour has been putting poison down, mainly to
no avail though - still they come. Some say it's because of the chickens but I know many people miles away from a
hen who have them, seems the milder autumns are giving them an extra breeding period and survival is getting
easier.

It would appear my car is a little bit of a dud. The engine is overheating and a head gasket is required. I will try some
of this engine repair compound and see if that gets me by for a while.
The good news though is that Ray, the chap who owns the breakdown service who use a part of the mill as a garage,
is getting me a Nissan Micra. He's serviced it from new (H reg), will get an MOT and sell it to me for next to nothing - s
greatly appreciated gesture. I'll put the Renault in the auction at the right time.

Highlight of last weekend was my Mum taking Leo and me to Sunday Lunch at Sevenoaks Hospital. It was a highlight
in so far as out of the 20 or so people there, I was the second youngest. Made me feel quite the 'Jack the Lad'.
The last time I was in there was for 7 weeks with a scalded foot in 1964, nearly had it amputated. It made me think
the old "what if" scenario - who knows.

I apologise to my friends I have not e-mailed lately. I've had enormous problems with my e-mail and little time to sort
it out - will write soon.

Til the next time - have a good one - and if you're English, avoid the cricket !!

 


21st.October - 6th.November 2002


At least the 5th. November is finished (or about 6th.Oct - 5th.Nov) and the animals in the area can get back to a sense
of normality. I enjoyed bonfire night as a boy, but it was just that night then and the fireworks didn't seem to make the
earth move so much.

Last weeks storm wrecked my corrugated iron chicken run, but at least it showed me where the weakness was and
I've repaired to withstand the tempest.
My four new chickens can't be far off laying now, but the 3 'oldens' haven't laid an egg since the last fox attack about 8
weeks ago. It must have been one attack too many for them I suppose. But I haven't given up on them.
When working at the Mill House I look in every hour to check there aren't any there and the rats are getting them. Alas, I
don't even see a chicken in the nesting boxes. Be patient and wait.

For the next two weeks I'm parrot sitting again at the Mill House. 'Lola' doesn't like me though and after the occasional
'Hello' in the first hour of being there - silence.
At the House I'm just finishing off painting the bathroom cupboards and about to embark on all the woodwork in the
Hall, Stairs and landings. This amounts to 17 doors, staircase ballistrade, three arches, picture rails and all the
skirting. I shall be as high as a kite on paint soon I think.

I've just decorated a kitchen for another customer and am now onto laying that laminate flooring in her hall and Sitting
Room. Everyone says it's easy to lay, but I'm really struggling and cursing the phone call when I said I'd do it !

Tomorrow night sees the start of the Winter Pool Season at the Golden Ball so I've been doing some holding beer
glass exercises this evening in preparation for the big kick off.
I haven't frequented the Pub for 4 weeks due to being worn out - and broke !! I have no doubt that Shepherd Neame
Brewery will not go out of business because of this.

It broke my heart last Sunday when the vinyl flooring in the kitchen gave up the ghost and I couldn't find any oddments
in skips around the back of Carpet Stores. £20 and housemaids knee later, all was done.

Chris, my school mate and oldest friend has asked me where the entries for August have gone in the Diary - well, it
appears they have vanished and I can't find them. So if you were looking, just see it as 'Quite hot, worked at Cricket, got
tired and went to the shops'.

The weather is doing funny thing's again. Three nights ago there was a frost. Last night at 01.00 is was 13 degrees
cent !
The sprouts don't seem to mind. A few straggly bits at the bottom of the plants have either gone into the contents of a
casserole or soup and some to the chickens. This seems to have brought the top one's along nicely and they're
looking firm and quite appetising.
I'm trying to sow some lettuce in the greenhouse under some polythene bubble wrap. The plants have come through
so I'm interested to see if this works or not.

Frugally, it's been good. My son-in-law Cyril, kindly donated his old PC to me (only one year old) and I've been able to
transfer the fans, graphics card, firewire and 40gig hard drive over to mine. This came just at the right time as I've had
quite a few 'PC tired' problems of late and I can now here my downloaded music over the noise of the cooler fans.
I've also 'come into' a shelving unit, 5 individual oak shelves, bathroom cabinet, some more carpet and a bicycle.
So a few more bits should an urgent Boot Fair be required.

The cars going very well, but I think is in need of a head gasket. It overheats quite a lot and I've changed the thermostat
and Fan Switch. I can't afford that yet, so it's OK on short runs for now.
It even makes asiren if I forget to turn the lights off ! I tell you - am I into 1980's technology or what !!

 



3rd - 21st. October 2002


I sold the van. A part exchange, I give the bloke £100 and an 'F' reg 1988 Renault 11 is mine.
Beforehand I did take opinion from those in the know and it appeared the work required for the van to get
through the MOT (annual road worthiness test) would probably put the Kentish welding trade back onto the
world map and make even Bill Gates eyes roll !
Tomorrow morning I start a kitchen decorating job and all went in the back OK. So £190 a year saving on
insurance and £60 per year saving on Road Tax - much better.

I had hoped to buy for the same as I sold and I was £50 short. This was Saturday afternoon, so I paid £50
deposit, went home, gathered all the old bits of PC left over from my up-grades, ransacked the sheds, went
to a Boot Fair on Sunday morning and made £86 (Leo made £18).
£36 surplus, I tell you, I walked proudly that day and even had a Giant Size Kit Kat.!!!!

A rather keen 60 odd hours worked last week, mainly in the house opposite where a party was being held
yesterday. I can't do wallpapering, so a chap came in to do the lounge whilst I flitted around touching up
about three other rooms. Very diverse work from ceramic tiling to pipe painting and finishing up yesterday
parking the cars around the Lane.

So I guess it's into another chapter now. Hope this books got a happy ending !!

Mimi the cat went missing. I asked the neighbours to look in their outhouses, I combed the hedges,
surrounding fields and the derelict Mill - nothing. I seriously thought she'd died somewhere and was getting
quite depressed (we lost our wild cat from the Mill and Saffi the cat this year - a third would have been
horrible).
Regret to say our next door neighbour did not look far enough. About 20 seconds after we heard the
neihbour open the door to their shed, in pounced Mimi making a world record dash for the cat food.
She'd obviously got shut in and hidden behind their Tumble Drier. She looked no worse for wear and smelt
quite nice as well.
A very pampered cat that night !

I'm writing this as Southampton play away to Aston Villa - the score at the moment is 1 - 0 to
Southampton with 15 minutes to go. I write trying not to get too excited !

I've just two more thing's to do to complete the web site changes; a page for Gillian (a Smallholder who
lives quite close in Canterbury) and a complete up-date of 'My Business' which sounds too over the top and
I'm changing the title to 'Earning a Living' - much better I think. Should have these done within the next 10
days.

Leo and me travel yet again to Vickies in Southampton at the weekend and will stay there til the following
Wednesday. This time I do have the time to hopefully have a little rest and spend time walking around
Netley with it's ruined Abbey and site of the old Royal Victoria Hospital (only the Asylem building remains
and gives Leo the gitters). A lovely place to walk the parks, sit on the Water side watching the Ocean
Liners go by and generally put yourself back in time to Empire days of old.

P.S. Final score; Aston Villa 0 - Southampton 1 'Come on you Saints !'

 



23rd.September - 8th.October


It doesn't seem just 16 days ago I was at the cricket, 5,000 odd people sitting in the sun with their afternoon picnic
baskets and cold lager - just a memory !
The weather has been good here, if you're not a gardener that is. No rain for over two weeks and temperatures still
hovering around 16 - 20 degree's. Saying that, the forecast is colder, but still no rain for a few more days at least.

I lit the Rayburn for the first time a couple of evenings ago. There's nothing like coming downstairs in the morning,
that kind of overall warmth and a scent of wood and coke (coal coke that is !!).
Now's the time for simmering the chicken mash and making good soups and casseroles.

A good harvest has made 12 pots of Quince Jam - I love it. So much so I had six slices of toast yeaterday morning !
Also got about the same amount of Plum Jam.

The four new chickens are settling in and having their 'pecking order' put into place by the old one's and each other.
Needless to say the biggest, Light Sussex, is the one who's getting all the gip - even the rats chase her away !!
The rats though are few and far between now. I think I may be winning (a genuine 'kiss of death' statement !!).

A party at the Mill House on Saturday week means I'm going hammer and tong with the remainder of the downstairs
areas. 8am start - 6pm finish. This week included a lovely 40ft x 16ft floor sanding job. Three bin bags and 95% of
lungs worth ! Not one of my favourite jobs, slow, boring and you can't listen to the radio.
However, the old rope carpet is coming in handy for the bathroom and one bedroom over here !

Last weekend I got down to watch Southampton play Manchester City. For Leo and me, it was the best we've seen
The Saints play and they cruised to a 2 - 0 victory.
Lucky Vicky is now in Spain visiting her Uncle, it's Thomas's first flight so I look forward to hearing the stories

I'm well on my way to completing the web site alterations. I've changed the design on all pages (yet to change text on
some), but if you don't glance round occasionally, here are some of the changes

Photo Galleries - I've 4 galleries now
The Fox - A sub page to the Poultry page. If you have comments, please e-mail me.
Dowsing - At present this is a copy of the article I wrote in acountrylife.com. I plan to expand.

I've also had a good look round the web in the early hours and have quite a lot of new links in most pages, plus more
direct links to Amazon (I get a bit of commission if you buy something !!).

I've decided to sell the van at auction the week after next. I've informed the only two customers I have (where I needed
the van that is), so after the final odd jobs next week will try and find a cheap runaround.
If work gets thin, I'll try for a part time job at the local B&Q Warehouse - they have an 'over 50' age policy, so that, or
some other job, would give me a base of income for the winter.

Old Mr. Austin who lived a couple of doors down died last Wednesday, 92 he was. He leaves a widow.
Since I moved here 4 years ago, the two old boys in the Mill House died, our immediate neighbours moved and now
this loss to the Lane.
Although sad, it shows the evolution of the Lane changing. Besides the Mill going derelict, nothing has been built or
pulled down since the 1940's. You really do get the feeling of 'passing through' - another 4 years, who know's what !

One shouldn't wish time away, but I do look forward to Spring ! Christmas will leave me broke, winter will leave me
cold and March will leave me 55 !
The foxes appear to have given up for the time being, but at a cost to myself. Whilst re-building and repairing the
pen and shed I've dropped a rusty sheet of corrugated iron on my foot taking about a three inch square of skin off
which went septic; badly bruised three fingers by missing with the hammer and to cap it all, got stung my a bee on
the top lip. The latter made me dribble when I spoke for some 12 hours after and had a lip which Louie Armstrong
would have been proud of.
However, all fixed and looking pretty good (the pen that is, not me !!).

I brought 4 new chickens at the Auction on Saturday; two cuckoo morans and two light Sussex, 17 and 20 weeks
old respectively. They're beautiful birds and I hope it will spur the other three to start laying again.
I'll get three more and that'll do me. Enough eggs for the house and the neighbours - free eggs, enough to pay for
the food and a pint of ale left over every week.

As you can see, I've started to re-do the web site and this is the theme of the other 37 pages, when I've finished.
Only 28 to go !!

I've been able to take a couple of days 'at home' and have, besides doing the chicken pen, got some wood in, tidied
the sheds, cut the grass and sorted out my bedroom !
It's quite strange not charging around here, there and everywhere else. Needless to say, doing less tires me out
and I've dozed off on the sofa for the last three evenings.

I have a deadline of end October to decorate two more rooms in the Mill House. Although that seems easy, it's
walls, woodwork, windows and floor stripping / varnishing.
I have a couple more visits to three regular gardening customers and that will polish that off.

I've made the decision that next year (subject to no sudden major change in Cricket Club policy) I shall just do the
cricket, the Mill House and The Golden Ball. The House and The Ball are within 50 yards, so there will be no
overheads of van, diesel etc. Also, by then the main decorating should be over in the Mill House so it'll be Cricket
and approx 3 days a fortnight gardening, odd-jobbing.
I will probably sell the van in a few weeks time and get myself a little cheap to run car. Saying that, my Bank
Manager will probably advise a second hand bicycle !

There is to be no Pool Team at the Golden Ball this winter so my activities will be reduced to a monthly Dowsing
Meeting and going to watch either Southampton or Ashford Town play football. Both these could have a drastic
effect on my sleeping habits if their present form continues.
However, I've purchased a nice pair of walking boots and hope to get out and about a bit as well.

I've been back to the Cricket Club to close the dressing room up. Within a day of the last game there, the Ground
Staff had moved away all the hoardings and completely scarified the ground. It looked strange, more like a neatly
cut field than a cricket ground.
By luck, the day I went back, the caterers were finishing off the stocks and I was invited to assist in the disposal of
some quite large snacks. Oh boy, have I been looked after this year !

I'm looking for new links for the web site, so if you have any, please e-mail me.

Cheers for now.

 

 



27th. August - 10th. September


Many thanks to those that have e-mailed to ask if I'm still alive !!

After the last entry I went to Southampton, but stayed an extra few days; came back to four days of cricket, one day
decorating, today more decorating, cleaning the Rayburn chimney and sorting the chickens out - tomorrow
another five days of cricket.

Sunday will be my last day of the season Team wise. I hope to have a few jobs there during the winter, but I shall
miss the banter of the Team, the friendliness of my colleagues and the Members.
It will at least give me a chance to catch up on all the thing's I need to do at home before the winter. I have wood
laying around everywhere. I stockpiled some in the woods down the lane and collected various bits through the
summer which are stacked somewhere in the vicinity of where I parked the van at the time.

Last wednesday I played in 'the 4's Bat and Trap final where we came back from the dead to win a really good
match. Shame the trophies aren't real silver, or I could melt them down !

The fox problem seems to have gone for now. I've doubled the size of my temporary corrugated iron chicken run
and Freddie Fox seems to have given up, for now at least.
But one problem goes and another surfaces - Rats ! The farmers just harvested the wheat in the fields next to us
and we're literally inundated with the thing's. I've been able to shoot a few over the last few days. I prefer this to
poison as at least it's quick. I counted 12 in the chicken run two evenings ago.
They're also in the shed outside the house. Cat does her best, but she's on double time and asking for a pay rise.
I understand there's Wiles Disease about, so action has to be taken.
I don't get any joy out of killing thing's, but we have to protect our livlihood and hygiene.

I helped the Kent Scorer to move the week before last - ended up coming home with a double bed, coffee table
and a swivel armchair - and got paid !! I'm using them for myself.

I plan to have a Boot Fair Sunday week. I haven't done one all summer due to cricket etc., so have deposited all
sorts of goodies in the other shed. Plus with all the fiddling around on the PC, I've rather a lot ofbits there I wish to
sell.

At last, after about 10 weeks, I have the proper programme for the web site and it appears to have sorted out all
the gremlins. I feel a major re-write of the site is needed, some extra pages on dowsing and more up to date
photo's.

In some ways I'm looking forward to the next few weeks, fruit to be picked, greenhouse / sheds to tidy, Sunday
evening's and not feeling guilty because I'm not cutting the grass.
Autumn with it's colours, warm days, cold night's, early evenings has something nice about it. January, February
and March - they're the one's I don't like.

Mustn't wish time away !

 


Going back to look at the future