10th - 26th. January 2008

A busy fortnight yet again and finishing with a disturbing experience on Friday night. My son Leo and four of his mates were attacked in Town by four times the amount and he finished up knocked out, in Hospital with a head the shape of a football.
Even more disturbing is that they said he was lucky to get away with just a beating. Also a pregnant woman was attacked and a few others as well.
It seems to me that if these kids want to fight, let it be disciplined, put them in the Armed Services and let them fight where fighting is often needed.
But needless to say, we couldn't do that to kids that have such a hard time in our modern society! I winder if anyone has stopped to think - they are our society!
But he's on the mend, that's the main thing.

I have decided I'm tired and not what I should be! Work has been plentiful and I am eternally grateful for the jobs I am given. But some of them are a tad physical and the old back's playing up a bit, plus a few other little niggles.
The main thing is I don't want to jeopardize my summer work with the Cricket Team. That I love more than anything else and should I be making a move in the Autumn, I want to finish with them.
I guess that 60 is just one day older than 59, but I have to take account of things changing.
I've always said that if I can't do my summer work properly, I won't do it atall. It's a job in which I can work to my own ways, my own Standards and to a degree, at my own pace. Nothing less would be acceptable for everyone's sake.
We'll see, things can look different on a hot summers day to a bleak January one.

Oh dear, all a bit negative isn't it!

One compensation is that the last few days have produced Spring like weather in Kent and I'm sowing the Broad Beans later today. I have a few things to do and have actually phoned in to say I can't work. The first time in seven years at the Club!
One of the chickens is still moulting and the heart flutters every morning when I go up the garden and see feathers everywhere, the fear being that a chicken eating creature has paid a visit.

The effect of the Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall programmes is still bringing in three times the amount of hits to this site, so I welcome them all with arms open.
Good news is that sales of free range chickens have gone up by 50%.
The thing is now that the awareness has to be maintained and it's not just a short forgotten fashionable retail trend.
Also, the Supermarket Buyers weren't 100% on the ball about the effects of the documentaries and most seem to be selling out of the free range options.
I hope this doesn't force consumers into the other options and I certainly hope this isn't the plan!

Website wise I've been squeezing in time to write more and have just extended the cricket pages with more to come. I'm also writing for the 60's part of the 'Growing up' pages, but there's so much to tell that it's getting the right words on the right themes which I'm finding difficult.
Some days the words flow and they seem to come out OK, some other days, it's hard going. It's on the latter where I usually just give up, leave it half finished and wait for the day when I go on overdrive!

I'm also thankful to John Harrison who runs the UK's most visited Allotment Growing Site for offering some joint ventures.
John had set up a Chicken Suppliers list and this is being 'fed' onto a Down the Lane page. So should you be a seller of livestock or accessories etc., please GO HERE.
In return I am writing a Chicken FAQ page and the Allotment site will share this as well.
Sounds quite National and corporate doesn't it!

To make the Diary a little easier to predict, I will now write two entries per month, so it may be there are 15 / 16 days between entries. This will make it easier to archive into month's. So the first entry would be on the 1st and the second entry finishing on the 28th or 30th or 31st etc.

So much happening geographically, physically and otherwise down the lane at present.
My main aim now is to accumulate sufficient funds to take a bit of proper time off before the cricket season, so a few more weeks of long hours to make this possible.
My daughter is holding a 60th birthday party for me on the 8th.March. The cricket starts about 10 days after and with the longest period 'off off' in the last 11 month's has been 5 days - so I'm determined to give the ageing body and brain a break. It would be nice!

1st - 10th. January 2008

My very first action at one minute past midnight on New Years night was to check my Bank balance - and I had £4.76 exactly, the best 1st. January for seven years! I was deeply proud of myself and had a small Hot Chocolate to celebrate!

Today is actually the first day 'at home' this year and many jobs were undertaken, mainly as always around the Chicken Shed.
Above you see me having a good clean out. I would have got Leo to take a photo, but it would have appeared rigged, but about two minutes after the far right picture was taken, I came out the shed and slipped straight into the Compost Heap (containing mainly the stuff which comes out of Chicken's bottom's) and did indeed get somewhat covered in it.
Not only did I undertake the tasks above, but laid a carpet in the Porch as well. The Landlord is kindly replacing our two doors with Double Glazed types tomorrow. In some ways this is a shame, because if I sat with my left side toward the front door, it would part my hair for me.

Well, you can't say that Chickens haven't had their fair share of the Press this week can you!
I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls' three programmes with great interest and was not disappointed because it simply re-itereated what many people have known and fought against for years.
Also, who would have believed that Battery Chickens would make the main News item on the BBC 6 o'clock news.
It should be remembered it isn't the end of caged hens as such. They will be replaced with larger cages with a perch and nesting area.
I believe that by the time 2012 comes round, most people will have gone free-range anyway.
Certainly with the likes of CIWF, The RSPCA and VIVA fighting their corner with feet under Ministerial Doors, the future is looking a lot lot better for our feathered friends.

There is good discussion on the Down the Lane Forum.

With this sudden awareness coming about, it will mean that more and more Battery Hen's will be available for re-homing.
After some weeks of TLC, they are just like 'normal' chickens and will serve their owners well with good 'clean' eggs.
There are thing's to consider though and info can be found on the Chicken Welfare Pages 

It doesn't seem like only another 10 weeks to the start of pre-season training at the Cricket Club. I see a few of the players almost every day, but most are sunning themselves somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere all in the name of Sport!
It is good news though that James Tredwell has been selected for the England One-Day Squad. A 'Man of Kent' and a sincere young man with a most professional approach.
I could have played for Kent, but I wasn't good enough. But Saturday afternoon's on a Village Green next to a Pub and Church was a pretty good substitute.
At the ground, before the re-development can begin, they're digging up the Car Parks.
One of them is above an ancient Leprosy Hospital Burial Ground and I believe they've found quite a few persons there.
In fact, all around the ground is a mass of trenches with brainy types wearing hard hats scraping away. They were very careful and have only cut through three mains cables thus far! The past strikes back!

I'm not looking forward to the change of view from the Dressing Room though. One side of the ground will have a sixteen feet high fence with building work going on behind.
They also have to move the famous Lime Tree Mk11 (the first one being blown down three years ago).
So, where many peoples ashes have been scattered around the tree's is yet to be moved again. It all add's up to being a bit spooky I think!

I'm still plodding along with work in the Cricket Academy and Catering Kitchens. It's hard work, but nice to be in demand. Certainly, the work has thrown a huge winter finacial weight off my shoulder.
Plus of course I eat well, as do the Chickens who get all the vegetable left overs.
It's like a 'win win' situation as they say in business.

So the next two weeks will allow me one day off. I need to do this as I plan a trip to Southampton during half-term week in February, then again in March between the winter and summer work.
I made a mistake of not having a break at the end of the seson last year and it's meant not having more than 5 days off in a row for eleven month's now.
This downshifting's a piece of cake isn't it!

But, only about two weeks before I sow the Broad Beans, always the first sign that thing's are about to change for me.
Wish time wouldn't pass so quickly though.

Going back to look at the future