16th - 29th. July 2007

I've just arrived in Southampton for 5 days of grandchild sitting. They're all out at present so I have a couple of hours of non-kids TV and a garden without any toys out to sit in.
It was an eventual and epic trip down here. I took the most challenging route via Hastings, Brighton and Chichester. Although diverse terrain from the Romney Marshes to the South Downs, the Cinquecuento made it in victorious fashion.
I stopped three times; once because I wanted to, second because I was hungry and third because I had to.
I filled the car up last night, drove here (138 miles) and filled itup again - £9.98. So I reckon that's pretty good.
I calculated that had I come by Moped, it would have taken 6 hours with stops, eight wasp stings and about a fivers worth of petrol.
What's with this weather! Here in Kent it's nowhere near as bad as elsewhere in the country. I really feel for those affected by the floods; their homes, their families, their belongings and pets etc.
I cut the grass twice yesterday. Because it's grown so much since the last time, 17 days ago, I did it twice (the second lower than the first).
Normally I would lose about 5 bags from the lawnmower. Yesterday, I counted 14. Well, I guess it's lush, but that's all.
I also noticed the Farmer harvested all the wheat around us last week. I diaried it last year and it was the second week of August.
The Chicken Run is fairly grown with nettles. Yesterday I went in to cut some of them down, over six feet high in places, but as I was doing it I noticed the chickens quite happily walking through them like a forest.
They have about 5 'clearings' joined up with these little 'forest walks'. So I decided to leave most of it.
They're still laying for England and don't seem to mind the weather much atall.
I have some really fantastic weeds this summer, I'm quite proud of some of them! Although it's a never ending battle to keep the vegetable stems clear of any, it is at least attracting a wild variety of more friendly visitors to the garden.
I firmly believe those who say that every garden should have one area 'let loose'. It brings in the dragon flies, butterflies, frogs and other things.
Big Ron (our 1st4lb black cat) did use up a life yesterday because of this though. I was quite happily push pulling the rotary mower into the long grass against the hedges, when he leapt straight over the top. He was obviously nesting right in line! Ginger did this once with the strimmer and there could have only been an inch in it.Scares you!
But, the beetroots are booming, loads of them. After 4 years of failure - bingo - jackpot. I don't reckon on getting any sweetcorn and squash though. Unless we get a prolonged dry spell, that's it I reckon.
I'm still looking for gaps in my busy schedule to finish off the first Ark (see above). I started a full size one but, rightly as it happens, decided to do a Rabbit / Bantam size one first.
All the time I find myself saying 'I could do that better if..." or "I should have brought X" x X" rather than this" etc.
I don't intend to sell this one yet. I'd like to ask a couple of 'Handyman' types if they'd be interested in building them for me.
With the wastage I'll do some mini Guines Pig Daytime Runs to sell at Boot Fairs during the winter months. They'll have to be mini to go into the Cinquecuento!
Nest Saturday I rise at 5am to make my way to Edgbaston to see Kent play in the twenty/20 finals. Usually it's a big fun day out for the spectators and becoming quite a summer special.
We have as good a chance as the others, so who knows, after six seasons of looking after the Kent Team, I may handle some silverware.
You may wonder how I've found the time to produce 38 new pages this month. Well, a lot of them were on another website of mine which has failed to take off. Rather than to flog a horse, I found the articles which would fit into Down the Lane and whipped them accross. Not all of them are though. I think I've managed writing about eight!
So, a good fortnight with the highlight being almost arrested in Ashford Town Centre for stealing a bicycle. The full story 'Bicycle Thief Returns' is in the Blog, click here
Anyway, I think I still have some peace. I can usually hear the kids when they're just passing Winchester from here.
I've already heard that since seeing the photograph of my car, it's being called 'Pop's Toy Car'.
They'll know different when I get them to clean it tomorrow!
I've brought my tent down as well for them to have picnics in. I may even sleep in it. I'll tell them horrible things about foxes pinching things out of tents. That'll keep them inside!

2nd - 16th. July 2007

Well, I'm back with four wheels again, a Fiat CinquecentoSX. It's 'R' reg, one years MOT, £400 at the Car Auction - but - overheating!! The Garage don't reckon it's the Head Gasket, but I'm holding my breath. Hopefully just a hose, air or thermostat problem.
The day after I brought it, I went to Canterbury on the Moped, with it's new Drive Belt. Great, got a third of the way home and throttle cable broke. A bit of Gaffer Tape wedged in the throttle piece and I got home at 15mph.
I'd use the Bike, but a pedal dropped off it last week.

Just to finish it off; last night I came down the stairs for my 3.30 'constitutional' and expertly fell over the Hoover parked at the Bottom. I could swear I heard the cats laugh, but not as much as I did when Ginger turned suddenly to run down the garden last week and just fell straight into the Pond.

Never mind, no good crying over it, it'll all come good this week I'm sure. Hope so anyway, I've Sri Lanka one dayer tomorrow, in Tuesday, Thursday, then a 4-day match against Warwickshire.

Someone's already pointed out the number plate reg which ends with 'OGB'. Two separate people have said "Grumpy Old B expletive". I don't care, what's the point.

I had a good few days in Southampton and yes, I did get the screaming ab jabs, but not a virus from the kids, something I ate.
This was a pity because it was the day of the Party, so I spent most of it on the bed feeling really rotten.
I was quite disappointed to hear that none of the children were ill as I wasn't there to see it, or clear it up.

The Brighton University visit was cancelled whilst I was on the way there, so it was the scenic railway trip instead going via Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton. The beauty was capped with a 55 minute wait at Fareham Station looking at the Train Crew Depot opposite and the same chap coming out for a ciggie every ten minutes.
I have nothing against the ban atall, but find it rather strange that if they ban it for affecting other peoples health, why don't they ban gas guzzling cars, chemical fertilizers on fields and people going into a Supermarket with a Cold?
Seems to me that more people had ciggies back in the 50's and 60's, yet there was much less respiratory complaints in young people then? Or am I wrong?

The vegetables are coming along in the same pattern as a fortnight ago. After 4 years of failure, we've got beetroot growing out our ears. Good thing I like them. We're eating Broad Beans, Runner Beans and Courgettes, but waiting on everything else. I can't see the Squash doing anything, so I'll miss the roasted Squash Soup in October.

The chickens are quite happy. Strange, because I left the buying of their food til the day before I went away and could only get the Mixed Corn and not the Layers Pellets.
Whilst I wasn't here, they dropped from 6 eggs a day to 3! Give the Pellets to them 4 days ago - they're back up to 6 again.So there's something in it!

Yesterday I tried starting the building of the Chicken House. After three hours of overheating (me, not the car), I gave up on one wall built, just too hot to do any more and with only one day off in the next ten, I gave up.

Ginger the Cat paid a visit to the Vets this week ( see blog entry ). This dented the wallet a bit. Not because he fell in the Pond by the way.

I don't know quite how I've done it, but there are quite a few new pages both in the Blog and the main site (see links top right).
I had a count of the pages yesterday and the site is now up to 307, the Blog 50 something and the Forum has nearly 300 posting pages. Blimey, that's 300% more than I had this time last year!

I keep on saying to myself that one day I'll make a comparism of things, like 'same week 5 years ago', but I never do. I tend to not go back through the Diary Archives too much as it reminds me of being younger!

One thing which did annoy me some 10 days ago was a remark I overheard someone make on a mobile phone, "OK, he's very ill is he? Well, we'll wait for the inevitable and put another offer on the table". Crikey, that got my back up. We are here for but a short time in the scheme of things, we work, we toil, we raise kids, we pay our dues, then get to being just another person.

What it did do though was, even through the financial hardships I and others go through with downshifting, it said it is worth it to be yourself and live the life you feel most comfortable with.
There's me on the Pulpit again!

Going back to look at the future

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