After probably the busiest spell of work I've had, my work in the Dressing Rooms at Cricket finishes today and I move into off-season mode with work at the Cricket Academy, driving kids in a mini-bus and the almost confirmed occasional hour or two for the Cricket Club Caterers (they're not letting me anywhere near the cooking by the way!!).
This is quite strange compared to my previous seven years 'post downshifting'. Each year until now, my last day in the Dressing Room has presented me with an off-season mystery as far as income is concerned.
Now I have the distinct possibility of at least some guaranteed work which will ensure me a base on which to get through the winter month's in one financial piece. I also need to get my teeth sorted!
To celebrate this sudden work influx, I decided to blow caution to the wind and go on a Cruise.
After looking at all options with weather, price, availability in mind, I decided upon a day trip to Calais and taking Belgium in for good measure.
The day went Calais to Belgium border (30 minutes), buying some of that stuff not very good for you (not chocolates), visiting the Beach at Dunkerque, then back to Cite Europ in Calais for some very cost effective shopping.
I spent just under £200, but in GB I'd have spent £580 for all the goods I purchased. Take off the £18 Ferry fare and 100 miles worth of Petrol and it's not bad for a day out.
But, savings aside, the highlight was certainly a couple of hours exploring part of the Dunkerque Beach, a very visual reminder of what others went through to give us the freedom we now have.
We also stopped off at three Military Cemeteries, places I always visit if I can, albeit very emotional.
I shall be writing a couple of web pages shortly about savings on day-trips.. However, it does help living within 30 minutes of Dover.
Last week I took my Days Course for the Mini Bus, finishing with a rather gruelling test where I had to drive around Maidstone for over an hour in a 16 Seater, twenty three feet long bus.
It's a much welcomed requirement of Kent County Council to do this and I see it as not only being able to do the specified job at the Cricket Club but to have the qualification which will last for the next three years.
Being -ex-railway' I find any safety training as being positive and I certainly learnt a few things through this.
So, enough of the materialistic side of my life.
Between work I managed to clear a fair amount of the stinging nettles. The chickens, although they appreciate the tall plants to forage around in, also appreciated all the seeds falling of the Nettles as you're doing it (see photo above). Not only that, they seemed to enjoy the company as well and we had quite a discussion about global climate and green matters whilst I was doing it.
It's great to see the Forum so active as well!
The egg laying is dropping off quite a lot at present and they've gone down from 5 / 6 eggs a day to 2 / 3. I'm just hoping I don't get the zero egg situation for three month's like I did a few years back.
I had an enjoyable couple of hours fetching kindling wood and stored about 4 weeks worth in that time. I now need to find time for some medium sized stuff to go with the 130 odd logs I got from a dead cherry tree at the Cricket Club.
We had the chimneys swept on Saturday. I don't trust doing it myself, but the Chimney Sweeps a nice chap and you have the assurance that it's done correctly.
I was quite disappointed though. I had to leave for work at 0830 and he arrived at 0815 so I just missed seeing the brush come out the top of the chimney pot!
This is something which takes me back to Childhood. It was always a highlight of the year to stand outside waiting for it to appear. Oh well.
The only downside of the last two weeks, beside being worn out, is that on my one 'whole day off', I took what was meant to be a half hour outing to the Cycle shop for a new inner tube and the Clutch Cable snapped on my Car.
Five hours and £91 later, I arrived home cursing.
However, the positive I guess is that it didn't happen in France tomorrow!
This week I 'plan' (!!!!) to have three days off and to spend it getting more wood collected, sort out the garden and write a number of pages for the website, something I have neglected a bit of late.
But I have been able to get a few pages done in the Blog and elsewhere which are listed top right.
I returned last night from a good break in Southampton. The Grandchildren were both on good form and surprisingly free of any virus's.
As per usual, the visit was not without it's normal drama and due to a sudden swelling, paid a visit to the Dentist. I came out, two teeth less in only 20 minutes. So, if I have a plan for the winter month's, it's to get them fixed once and for good.
The theory of 'if it's not broken, don't touch it' is blown out the window - I'm fed up with them full stop!
Kent were playing Hampshire at the Rose Bowl, so I popped in there for a few hours on the second day. I was going back there on the fourth, but we managed to see them off in three days. The victory has made us completely safe in Division One of the County Championships, so this weeks final game against Durham, should be a little more relaxed.
All in all, a great seaon for Kent especially winning the twenty/20 Cup which silenced all our early season Journalist Critics who wrote us off doing anything. I trust they will do the same next year!!
I had my first day working at the Cricket Academy last week. This involved being with one chap and about 40 women! There was the regular Monday evening Netball League.
I doubt if I shall be so lucky all the time!
Since my last entry I've also managed some more work at the house opposite and sorted out quite a bit of my own garden (for a change!).
I work on the 'if it's big, cut it' theory and I must say it's worked quite well and everything looks quite tidy.
All around I keep hearing "Great year for Squash". Well, I have six Squash plants and one Squash! The only answer can be is that I put them in too good a soil. In all previous years I've grown them on an old bonfire and they've produced magic.
At last we're getting overloaded with Tomatoes. Long time coming but worth the wait.
The pictures above show the results of some frugal explorations. We still have to conquer the Apple Tree's and my eye's are firmly fixed on the Quinces opposite. Luckily the owners of the tree don't like them.
Sadly, one of the chickens died this week. I've worked it out that the youngest would be three and a half years old and could be up to six years old. So I guess she just got tired and enough was enough. There were no signs of attack or Illness. Just had enough. Sobeit, they're good to me and I miss each one when they go.
I went to the University of Brighton for the final Project visit this week. That's just over three years in total.
The 'Learning Lifes' Project is about how people have got to where they are, for whatever reason.
It's all been quite an eye opener for me. It seems I've never had a life plan as such, just drifted along going to what seems best at the time. Guess I'm still here to tell the tale though.
In fact the only 'goal' I've had is since I downshifted and that's basically the goal of contentment with my lot. I think I'm on the right track - except the teeth!
All the data goes into a huge National Database and could be viewed publicly for any reason; research, history etc. It's also nice to know that my life is documented for all to see for all time.
I can see someone now in 2348, saying "Blimey, were they all like him 300 years ago".
Although the cricket season ends next week, I have duties to perform there until the end of the Month. After that, I shall have the usual Autumn flurry of winter preparation around the home and garden.
The Chimney Sweep has been arranged. I always enjoy this. It reminds me of the time, as a child, I'd run outside into the garden and await the brush to appear out the chimney top. I think ours may disturb a few pigeons, one came down the chimney last winter and caused havoc in the Sitting Room.
Regret the cats didn't find it amusing and it was Pigeon Pie for them, without the Pie.
Apparently years ago in large Manor houses, they used to drop a Goose down the Chimney. They would flap and flap in vane and clear the whole pot in one drop. I shan't subject any of my chickens to that though.
Also, the week after next I shall make my International Tour. That is, a day trip to Calais, drive up to the Belguim border and buy some bunty to last me the winter.
With Autumn starting next week, I really do feel more prepared than I have done since downshifting seven years ago.
Must be careful though - I don't do plans!!