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20th.December '04 - 10th. January '05
A very late entry.
Besides that, a fine Christmas time visiting family and generally chilling out. My present to the family of a DVD comprising of old VHS family film and new bits and pieces went down well. Thank goodness, on the Thursday before Christmas after a final copying problem, I was up til 4.30am fixing it !
Returning home so late has brought about a backlog of jobs so the weekend has been spent wood collecting, chicken shed cleaning, tidying and whatever. Now the serious work of finding a bit of cash to pay the bills commences.
With the exception of the last 6 hours, 2004 has to be one of the most enjoyable years. Sure there were a few downers but overall I can look back and say it was good. Not only has the home garden side been good, we had a good mountain holiday in the Lake District, the Cricket job brought about even more new friends and yet more memorable moments.
My chickens obviously worked out somehow that it was Christmas time and in fear of retribution suddenly started laying 3 or 4 eggs a day. I haven't a clue why this should happen. Last year they didn't lay a single egg between December and late February (didn't have a clue why that was either !).
So, the good Lord above has allowed me to visit yet another year. I don't know what it will bring. Besides the garden and the Cricket, it's all a crystal ball. If I knew I'd probably run.
The cycling this winter is proving to be more difficult than last. It's pure fate that every time I need to cycle anywhere, it pours hard. Should I get the long awaited, promised Tax Rebate, I think I may step over the frugality in that direction and get the car back on the road. I have certainly missed it over the last few weeks. I shall still bike if the weather and situation permits, but I have relied on other people to shunt me around with bags, cases, buy the chicken food etc.
So, this week, some work, then off to Southampton again at the weekend to check things over. Time id certainly flying by so all the more reason to squeeze as much out of life as is possible.
Have a super 2005.
6th - 20th. December 2004
The weekend at Southampton was a good one, not only did I manage to catch the train OK, I also managed to catch a real humdinger of a cold off the grand children !
I attended the Kent Cricket Club Christmas Luncheon last Friday. This was really nice. Half way through the off season and meeting all my colleagues and some of the Team.
I've managed to get all my Christmas presents sorted out. A quick flurry of sales on ebay enabled me to have everything done and dusted by last week.
The combination of downshifting and studying the family history has shown me the importance of getting things down on paper or other medium. There is so much passed down from over a 100 years ago to about the 1980's, then all seems to go quiet. So not only is this a present, but it is at least ensuring that some materialistic evidence that we were here is 'filed' and the thought of a great great grand child in 100 years time shouting 'Hey Mum, look at this old DVD I've just found' gives me a buzz.
I guess the combination of downshifting, frugal and basic living does not always appear to be hand in hand with Computer technology, but I don't know where I'd be without the PC ! It does seem odd though speaking about 'the good life' in one breadth and fitting a new graphics card in the other !
I'll tell you something that's bugging me at the moment - TV Gardening programmes and their presenters. I don't have the slightest problem believing the knowledge of some present Presenters. They have brough out good books, one or two of which I own.
Anyway, more important issues. My chickens aren't laying enough eggs. I've issued them with a second written warning and their Union Representative (Doris) has asked that arbitration come into effect because of the cold weather.
Work wise is tough going at present, but better than last year. Last winter I did tend to wish time away til Spring and not focus on less important things than the chickens, like money !
So have a good time whatever you are doing over the next two weeks. They say Charity starts at home, so does 'peace and love'. I really wish you those things. Happy Christmas !
20th. November - 6th. December '04
A slightly delayed entry due to varying circumstances beyond my control (railway talk !).
I'm still quite busy with some jobs I'm doing but my hours are being cut by the main income contributor which means I have to find other work or a part-time job.
You'll see on the left I've put a short movie clip in. This was done on my digi camera standing on a corrugated roof, so no great David Lean job here. I was going to cut the last bit out, but my friends acounrtylife.com said I shouldn't. Apparently I have the Johnny Depp look. Shame about the face ! So, I slightly changed it and here it is !
I've decided to put the car to bed for winter. Other than going to Southampton every 6 weeks or so, I only do about 25 miles a week and it'll get the old bones going a bit during the cold as well.
This weekend coming Leo an myself are going to Southampton to visit the family. The Grandkids are always a joy to see and you don't need an Alarm Clock and go to sleep pretty easily at night time !
It seems the chickens have decided to take the winter off again this year and I'm only getting about 8 eggs a week. It's poor I know but you have to account they are from battery farms, had 360 odd days of warmth and 16 hours of artificial daylight. But they've also had heavily fortified food, shared their cage the size of 4 A4 sheets of paper with 4 other hens and never seen the sky or felt the seasons.
I realised yesterday I'm half way through the cricket off season , doesn't seem possible. I should be starting at Canterbury mid March.
Highlight last week was seeing an eel in the stream with the Trout. It's good to see two fairly unrelated creatures sharing the same habitat in such an amicable way.
4th - 20th. November 2004
Strewth it's cold, even Mrs. Rats specially knitted cardigans must be freezing for them when they're pinching the chicken food. I do like how the rats are now forming a queue and at least clear up after them. Don't go much though on them complaining about the under cooked quince peelings last Monday. You just can't please them can you !
I've actually been very busy over the last two weeks. A job which started as decorating a sitting room and hallway became those two rooms plus the Utility room, stairs / landing, laying laminate flooring through Kitchen / Dining Room / Utility room plus front and back garden as well.
Last Saturday Jamie Reid (yes 'The Man' himself) invited Leo and myself to watch the Gillingham v Derby football match and look behind the scenes. This gave us the chance to tour the dressing rooms, meet some of the players and the Manager. It was also good to see one or two of the Sports correspondants I see at the Cricket during the sumer.
It is a beautiful time of the year, but all about to change with the coming of proper winter. See the photo on the left of the sunset last week. According to the BBC Weather Presenter, it was an unusual cloud formation that evening. I didn't edit the shot atall and it's an accurate portrait of colour. See the Acer bush like it's on fire !
I've also been busy on ebay and have rounded sufficient fund to buy a second hand camcorder. In an ideal world I'd like a digital, but you don't get anything decent for £60 ! So a hi8 has been acquired and now I must master the arts of loading to PC, changing the format and burning DVD's. I feel a nervous breakdown coming on rather rapidly.
Next week there's a Poultry Auction along with a Household Auction. I shall probably be forced into feeling sorry for yet more ex-battery hens and hope to find a few old valve radios going cheap as well. The last 5 radios I brought for £6 raised me £69 profit !!
On the hens - 11 chickens and 2 eggs a day. Autumn / winter is here !
Up to the end of December it's OK, but I have a strong dislike for January and February. For me thay are no go month's; it's cold, damp and depressing, neither one thing or the other. Saying that, the broad beans will go in February and that's only10 weeks away.
Time flies and it seems much faster nowadays. Surely a sign that things are good, but also a sign that I'm getting older. Grrrh, if only I'd have.....etc.,etc.,etc. !!
22nd. October - 4th. November 2004
'Strewth' as the Ozzies would say. No sooner had I got to the end of my newly found media coverage and I received an email last week from a South Korea Television company asking if they could come and film me !
So, much going on. At present I'm on a decorating job which will take about 8 days and there is loads of work over the Lane as well. It's simply the motivation of getting on with them and pay a few of those bills.
The positive side of the TV coming here was it spurred me on to a giant garden tidy up, even the slugs are impressed. All that remains is to find some old carpets in a skip and put those down over an area I'll be needing for early sowing next year.
Perhaps a little time now to up-date and tidy up the web site.
Not much gossip around at the moment. Mrs. Austin (third door down) hung her washing up last Saturday and a dog walked past on Monday morning. Never a dull moment down here !
In the chicken run, a pact appears to have taken place and all the new ex-battery hens are happily mingling with the others now.
All too soon it'll be Christmas. I've found my Yule Log already. Last year I had a lovely log and it was so mild on Christmas Eve I was going around in a T-Shirt.
Oh dear, perhaps I am becoming a miserable old git !
11th. October - 22nd. October 2004
A slightly earlier entry as I'm off to Southampton for the weekend enjoying the peaceful tranquility of grandchildren and a 48 person gathering for the christenings on Sunday ! The only really nasty thing is it means having to wear a shirt and tie for the second time in 5 days . Not sure if the neck can take it.
I had a fine time at the University of Brighton last week. I met with a Researcher and Professor. Basically the first interview was a tell us about your life exercise - from birth sort of thing. It was most interesting and I must admit to finding it quite theraputic and on a couple of occasions a little emotional.
Then there was my day out at the BBC in Tunbridge Wells where I met some of the local network 'celebs'. Jamie Reid asked me up there and it was fascinating seeing the angle from behind the microphone and cameras (Jamies fans - see new'Jamie Reid' 'Jamie Reid' page).
My book is going along well. I've already decided on how to spend the £50,000 I'm going to make out of it, where I'm going to do the signing and where I shall put my Office in the country home I intend to buy and who's going to star in the movie version !!!! All there is to do now is to write it. Ah, Dreamworld is often the best place to be on this Planet.
Monday week I've a large decorating job to do and there is much work over the Lane. Problem is that it's outside windows so I'm tied by the weather on that one.
The 4 new chickens have now settled in and join the others in the morning rush for the mixed corn and pellets. There is still the occasional punch up but chickens will be chickens so to speak.
A couple of days of strong winds has brought down much of the foliage around here and the trees are starting to winter but there's still another two weeks or so of beautiful colours to enjoy and watching the squirrels hustling round the Chestnut and Hazelnut trees.
One thing that struck me at my brothers Pub was the wonderful scent of wild garlic coming from the riverbank next to the place, a sign that not all is dying off and where one thing ends it's replaced by something else.
What a shame I had to wait 50 odd years to realise what goodness there is around us and almost all of it is completely free !
27th.September - 11th. October 2004
Firstly, I'll get the TV doc. out the way. Meridian TV filmed last friday at Canterbury with some glowing shots of me storing the towels and doing the hoovering etc. I must admit to completely folding up during the interview bit and could hardly get a word out. Needless to say afterwards I thought of all the things I meant to say ! It's being shown on Friday 22nd. October at either 7pm or 7.30pm.
Busy work times ahead and I have a genuine feeling of optimism at present. Work accross the lane is quite promising; I'm painting windows and have work to do inside as well. A friend of a lady I cut grass for has asked me to decorate three rooms in their house. All this should be sufficient to last me at least up to Christmas.
Socially as well things are looking up. Next Monday, the infamous Jamie Reid from the BBC has asked me up to the studios to have a walk round and see how things work etc. I'm also meeting him at the Gillingham v Derby game in November which has pleased my son Leo much.
The 'one extra ex-battery hen' I talked about two weeks ago became two ex-battery hens and I'm now up to 11. This has caused a bit of a break in the chicken shed routines and all are busy getting to know each other with a restructuring of who gets to the mixed corn first every morning.
I have now started to write a book which I've threatened the world with for the past two years and the spare time I have is being occupied with a bit of research and a lot of typing. I reckon at the rate I'm going, I'll finish it in heaven.
More birds seem attracted to the garden. Last week I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker and on the same day, coal tits, long tailed tits and an Owl sitting on a chicken run post at sundown. Marvellous sites and made my day. For the owl and the Woodpecker I quietly got my camera and just at the right time, for them, they did a runner and I missed it !