15th - 30th. September 2008

So the Cricket Season ends and in by a strange quirk of misfortune, Kent have been relegated to Division Two in the County Championship. Two weeks previous we were chasing the Number One slot and two lost games later...!
One can blame it on the weather and all sorts of things outside of our merit and performances, but we must accept it - period.
At least we stand good for some good Derby games next year against Surrey, Essex and Middlesex.
All are totally exhausted from, bar Essex, playing more days cricket than any other County.
Winter to regroup, refill the tanks and get down to it in March 09.

My winter preparation continues well. The wood piles are ever increasing, the Paper Logs are drying well and today I clean out and service the Rayburn.
By servicing the Rayburn I mean filling all the cracks and hoovering the excess soot out !
All that remains is to really tidy up the Chicken Run where most of the Nettles have collapsed.
The chickens themselves don't seem to mind it though and spend many a happy hour grovelling and scraping around under little tunnels they've made themselves, the only problem being is they've found some pretty snug spots to lay eggs and I spend an eternity searching around for them every day!

Work wise I have quite a bit to do in the big house nearby, like 27 say windows ! There's no rush and with the other items which need doing I have all Winter to complete everything. I'm looking at about 8 - 10 hours a week and that will suit me fine.
I bet there are many other casual Oddjobbers who would like that remit !
I'm a lucky man.
Hopefully, this will give me just about enough to spend the rest of the time building up the Website.

I have just completed building up a database and begun writing pages for a completely new section about tips on money and time saving. As soon as I have about a dozen pages or so, I'll be loading it up. All will be revealed in about a weeks time !

In the Forum we are having a monthly photo competition and the first one starts tomorrow. If you're not a Member, please register and join in the chats on a plethora of subjects! There's no mailing list or spammy stuff, so you can be rest assured of privacy etc.

Last week Leo and myself went on an Apple hunt in the disused Orchard up the Lane. It's owned by our Landlord, so it's not stealing!
This meant some dodgy climbing on my part and a Lady in her back garden next to the Orchard cried out in alarm asking me if I was OK. It is true to say I was a bit of a Prat; 30' up swaying on a wind moved very old branch with one hand whilst picking and throwing the apple's down to Leo who was practicing catching for next season!
But, I descended safely and we walked back with over 100 Apples and a few dead branches for good measure.
These are all now wrapped in newspaper inside some bread baskets until cooked and put in the freezer for some Crumbles and sauce for a bit of Pork.

On Friday Leo and I travel to Ypres in Belgium for the day with a quick sorte in Cite Europ on the way back.
I've found a few photo's of Ypres during WW1 and hope to get the same position shots as it is now. This will be a Blog page next week!
Mind you, if the weather is like it is today, it'll be a Cruise rather than a crossing.
I recall a few years back sailing to Ostend. The normal three and a half hour trip took seven hours because of the weather. Somehow or other I slept the whole journey which was great, except the waking up bit when I found out what had been going on around me - not a pretty sight !

It's rather nice sitting in my Garden Office (Shed!!) typing this out. The rain is tapping against the roof and I'm all cosy. I spent some time the other day draught proofing with all sorts of things from paper mashe to bubble wrap paper.
It seems to have done the trick though. For when the cold sets in I have a little heater which burns electricity at the same rate as a 100w bulb under the desk, which in a six by four feet Shed should be enough.

It would be as easy, or easier, to just use the Laptop in the Kitchen with the Rayburn, but this involves getting up to feed the three cats who, upon coming in the Kitchen door, expect to find some fresh food awaiting them and if it's not, sit on the floor staring at you with that pathetic 'poor me' look. Plus of course, the view of the Garden is much better.

The 'off season' has begun. What lays ahead, who knows, but this year I'm as well prepared as ever and hope to avoid the financial disasters of previous years.
Well, I can't be any worse off than the World Economy can I !!

1st - 15th. September 2008

Although time off has been minimal over recent weeks, I'm fairly well ahead of myself in my Autumn and Winter tasks.
I've made quite a few trips to my little wood at the bottom of the Lane and the old Apple Boxes are looking quite filled with all sizes of wood.

My Landlord has also told me he'd like all the other old Apple Boxes "gone" from the disused Mill (picture above right) and this will give me much 'fuel for thought'!
I would imagine they've been laying idle for probably twenty or so years, so any Preservative should have dried itself out by now. I shall saw a few bits and have a test run later in the week, so if the name of the Website says 'used to be Down the Lane', I've burnt the House down!

It's an amazing time of the year for general foraging and collecting freebies from Nature.
Last week I dug up the wild Horseradish down on the field and tomorrow, Kent Cricket Club Head Chef Nigel, will be conquering up his recipe for some Sauce.
I'm making the most of this opportunity and will be taking the Camcorder in to video it and put it on the WebSite, hopefully at the end of the week.

In the Chicken Run things are going well although there is another Hen who seems to be aging. I had three from the same batch, she was one of them. The two others both died in the last two months and I wonder if there is something in the theory that they miss their 'mates'.
I'd take a guess and say she#s about 5 years old, but hard to work out.

The 'new chooks on the block' are being the usual ex-battery hen thing and basically getting in the way of everything you do and walking as close to your feet as they possibly can. But all are seemingly healthy and hopefully past that danger period of about six weeks where you can lose one or two with no warning and apparently no reason.

Next week see's the last game of the Cricket Season at Canterbury, so I have six more days of work, then........?
I have much decorating to do in the big House opposite, but it involves painting above head height and I can't get my arm up that far without cringing. The Kent Physio reckons it's 'Supraspinatus Tendonopathy with sub-acromial narrowing'. He also calls it 'Getting Old'!
I intended doing one or two days a week over there, but it looks doubtful, so must find alternative means maybe.
Good thing I'm still so damned good looking !

The last few days of the Season are tinged with sadness. You know you won't see many faces for six month's and you miss that. However, it always seems that the tree's around the ground with the leaves blowing across the wicket and the coolness of the late afternoon tell you that 'it's enough', so you take it all gracefully.

As soon as it's over, I have a few quickish things to do; go across to Belgium for some booty and visit a few more Battlefields, go to Southampton which is unavoidably neglected through Summer and a planned visit to a fellow Webmaster pal in Crewe.
Between times I shall be gathering more wood until it becomes paranoia, really tidying up the Chicken area and securing varying parts of the Garden for the winter gloom.
I've noticed over the last seven Cricket season's that October is crucial. What you can't get done by the end of it, becomes not only harder, but not so effective as well. Oh yes, then there's the digging!

I've now made about 20 Newspaper Briquettes with my Eco Paper Log Maker. They seem to dry fairly light, so it'll be interesting to see how they burn - or not ! (See page, link on right).

Financially I've had two good bits of luck in the last few weeks. First, after nearly one year of disputing my Phone Bill, I've had a £100 discount 'without prejudice. The chap who came round was very helpful and ran through every Bill for the last two years and was good for economising as well.
Second concerns my Broadband. I changed my package to Broadband and Phone and got half the speed I used to get. After various phone calls ending with a rather irate phone call and threatening to leave, I was given a 'stay with us' Years Contract - Broadband and Hometime calls for £4.99 per month - we'll have some of that!.

It's strange how confidence in debate grows as you get older. Some of it is on purpose, but other times it's simply down to becoming a miserable old Git, something I'm sure will be something I will achieve very well.

The hardship I have (financially that is) is that I earn about 80% of my income between April and September, but I have to pay basic Income Tax. I can't claim some back until the 1st. April, then have to wait for a payment around the end of May - when I don't really need it.
Every year I say I'll put it away, but I never do. I seem to spend most of the Summer buying things I may need through Winter.
But in some ways that's planning ahead isn't it. Almost efficient!!

Going back to look at the future

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