7th. - 19th. March 2003

The lovely weather over the past few days has given much motivation to do my own garden a bit.
The onion seeds I sowed about a month ago aren't doing much and when in France last week I found a 100 onion set bag for only 0.95 euro. So, they.ve gone in just in case.
I've sowed some lettuce underneath the runner bean poles (which I moved for some rotation) and prepared more ground for the potatoes and evry thing else.
I'm away this weekend coming, so the weekend after that - in they go - just about everything, bet it's raining or snowing that weekend !!

One of my older chickens died. She was the really tame one who followed me everywhere and was no problem to pick up. I had noticed she was a little on the light side, but I didn't expect her to die. The others seem OK, so I'm hoping it's not a virus.
It has happened before and all the flock have been OK.
The present 9 are laying about 4 a day now, thank goodness - I was starting to get really worried after only 5 or 6 eggs in February.
Earlier today I brought 8 ex-battery hens for £2 the lot at Auction. I've put some photo's of them on the Keeping ex-battery hens pagePage. Regret photo's do not show the real extent of the damage, but boy were they happy to be free !!

My 5 days in France were productive on the work side. I got 44 hours work done and had a chance to spend a few hours investigating the local villages.
A lovely place indeed. Set in a small hamlet, it is an old Water Cress Farm with some really characteristic almost derelict outhouses.
It was quite peaceful and the cottage was like a timewarp. You expected the French Resistance to walk through the door any minute !
Door to door, it only takes between 4 and 5 hours, ferry included, so not bad on the tiredness side either.
I have to go back for a further 5 days at the end of next week.

After my weekend to Southampton, I shall be non-stop for a while. Next week I have a 3 day pdecorating job for a Canterbury Company, the Mill House, then France, then Cricket and inbetween, my garden !!
But it can only be good for the old bank balance which, although not so bad, has a long way to go.
It's quite strange, the diversity of work. I can be cutting grass in the morning, building wall panels at lunchtime, having a meal for mystery shopping and rounding off the day with some digging.

With all that's been going on, I haven't added any more to the web site since last time but one very kind site visitor from New Zealand has offered to do a regular 'job of the month'. More to follow on this one.

The one thing I have noticed on all the TV gardening, make over type programmes, there's nothing really said much about vegetables. I suppose it became non-friendly a few years after WW2 had finished with every one taking the view that foods easy to get and quite cheap.
I wish there was more to promote home grown produce, even keeping a couple of hens, after all, you know where the food came from, you know you were the one responsible, you get much pleasure in saying "Thank you, I grew these" when some one compliments you and it's always going to taste so much better than anything you've had before - and that's no kidding !
There is nothing worse than the first Supermarket Tomato after 5 or so month's of eating your own. Bigger maybe, but tougher skinned, 'factoried' and spent quite a number of days on a train, plane or articulated lorry.

Grow your own - Dig for Victory !!

22nd.February - 7th.March 2003

I've been meaning to do this entry since Sunday, but I haven't been able to get on line due to something in the exchange which slipped ??

Much to do, I'm off to France on Sunday to do some decorating in a Holiday Cottage over there. Should be back on Thursday night or Friday morning. I haven't driven abroad since 1981 so I'm a little nervous about this. But it's only about 20 miles on the other side, so I'm hoping they all know I'm coming and won't go out onto the roads for a few hours.

Grass cutting is once again on the agenda. I cut mine last week and was surprised how it didn't clog up the lawn mower this year.
I've sown the Broad Beans and 196 Onion seeds. With the onions I used one of those trays with tiny compartments and spent a very patient half an hour sowing each individual seed one by one !!
The tomatoes have shot up on the window sill and the Rocket we put in the greenhouse in January has also come up and should be ready to eat in about another three weeks.

After France, just about everything will be sown. I'm still digging the garden, one hour every day. The potatoes are chitting in the bathroom and they take up space. I'm only growing salad potatoes. At the end of the day, maincrop can be brought fairly cheaply at the farm shops around here.
We're trying some Squash for the first time and different varieties of courgette. The courgettes seem to grow just about anywhere in any soil.
One of the advantages of being south is we can get going a bit earlier than some.

I start at Cricket on 20th. March. Only a few days in March, but a very busy April with all the practice and friendly matches.

With the net down for a few days I got time to sort out things on my PC and have added yet another page to the Poultry section. . This tells some of the thing's I've come accross from buying ex-battery chickens. Please take a look at a new photo on the Battery Hen page showing the underneath of a cage - frightening.
Any feedback on these pages is greatly appreciated - good or bad.

I think now is the start of a busy Spring and Summer for me. I learnt a lot last year, though not til December when I realised I wasn't getting enough money in !!
Last year I worked at the cricket and that gave me a break even on spending etc. However, this maybe made me a little lethargic over doing work over the top and I didn't have enough surplus to see me through.
So this year I have to go for it a lot more and try to spur up the motivation stakes.
Saying that, I was working hard on my own little projects.

Tomorrow, I shall be 55 years old and believe me, I don't look a day over 60 !!
I shall get my two cards and the cat will probably be ill over the carpet. Besides that, just any other day !

Once again, thanks to those who are purchasing books etc., through my Amazon links. This is really helping me a great deal, most of all, it keeps the chickens fed !!! (Buying another 5 when I come back)

10th - 22nd. February 2003

The Poultry Auction went better than expected. I got 5 Goldline at £1 each and 2 Point of Lay Black Rocks at £4 each. I was disappointed at not bidding for 4 White Stars which went for £8, but 7 more bringing my present total to 10 will do.
I shall buy another 4 at the next one and, subject to no Mr Fox getting through my Fort Knox of a run, that'll be it for some while (but I've said that before !).

The influx of new birds prompted me into extending the run a bit more and put in a new feeder (old toolbox), shelter (old table with corrugated roof) and an outdoor nesting box (old barrel). The reason for the outdoor box being that the 5 Goldlines appear to be ex-battery and lay 'where they lay', so it's weening process.

I'm becoming International in two weeks time. One of my customers owns properties in France and I'm going there for a week to do some decorating. Nowhere too far afield, just half an hour from Calais, so door to door should only be about two and a half hours.
The a couple of days after I return, the Kent Cricket Team reform and I will be needed there for a few days. April has loads of friendlies, so busy times ahead and hopefully the chance to catch up on my somewhat sorry financial state !

Although we've had overnight frosts, the ground has been soft enough to dig during the afternoon sun and I'm busy preparing the vegetable patch. On Sunday I will sow some onions and Broad Beans.
I really must scribble out a better action plan for sowing and posititioning this year. Last year I didn't do so good and some plants such as Runner Beans, Beetroots were planted too late and brought about a poor harvest.

The Mill House are having some of their outdoor buildings semi demolished, so between my decorating work I'm 'saving' loads of wood from the bonfire to use in the Rayburn. I'm looking forward to a cottage roof replacement soon - the wood from that will keep me in kindling wood for at least the next two winters.

On the frugal side I've acquired some shelving units, cd stands, 300 pairs of surgical gloves and a television set. All stuff destined for the dustbin !!

On the web site front I shall be changing most of the photo galleries over the coming weeks. The Forum is very quiet at present and I know this will put people off posting and asking questions. If I can help in any way, please e-mail me - or if you have a question or want to share views etc.,  I post a lot on there, it is a really busy forum with many participants.
You will also see I've introduced e-bay links. There are many items brand new, second hand, bulk buys etc. If you are after anything, just click through.

I notice from my hit counter stats that I get lots of visitors from Universities. If you are a student, I'd be really interested to know what subject it is you're doing.

Next week is school half term, so Leo and me are going to Southampton for a few days. It'll be about the last chance before my second grand child arrives (1st.April !!!). I shall try and get a bit of dowsing in. I haven't done much lately, so I'll go to the site of the old Netley Military Hospital and have a search around.

So, the sun is shining and I'm sitting indoors doing this ! I'm actually waiting for the paint to dry over the lane before I hang a bit of wallpaper. After that, one hours digging and a bath. I've actually got a party tonight - it's one of my old railway colleagues leaving do. I've seen hardly any one since I left nearly three years ago so it's a chance to do catch up, hear the gossip and all the moans which I'm sure are exactly the same they were before I left !!

PS - I won a pool game last week !!!

28th.January - 10th.February 2003

Work is quite good at present; about two weeks full-time over the Lane, 7 'mystery shopping' assignments to do this week and a few bits and bobs sold - plus I finally got my tax rebate. Cor blimey, what's going on !!

I sold the two cockerels at the weekend. The ladies who came along were very nice and the chooks were obviously going to a good home with space. I felt a bit sorry selling the cocks without their two matching hens (and they'd become quite attached), so they brought them as well.
On Sunday I drove to the Battery Farm to buy some more, but the good news was that it's not there any more. The chap who ran it has gone free range. He couldn't spare me any, but I wasn't worried as they are all in a nice large field and looking good.

There's a poultry auction at Ashford Market on Wednesday, so I'll go along and buy 5 or 6. I'd like to get it back to about 16 hens by mid Spring and all laying. That'll give me eggs for us, eggs for others, paying for the food and a few extra pennies for an occasional treat.
The rats have re-appeared in the chicken run and I'm doing my best to cull them with the air rifle. I heard on the radio that the rat population has increased by 60 per cent and there are now more rats in this country than there are human beings (do they have a census ?!).

The extra work and a bit of cash (to pay off the overdraft !) has given me a bit of a lift and I've been busy during the off periods strengthening the chicken fencing, digging the garden and I've even finally got around to finishing the earning a living page on the web site. Please take a peep.
I changed the title of the page from 'My Business' as it was a maybe misleading title. I don't as such,
I get by !

I regret the webcam has not worked. I downloaded a programme but it crashed the PC every half an hour. But I refuse to be beaten and am working on another method. My son and daughter call me 'Doctor Dick' because I have a habit of helping them on their PC's and crashing them !
I have got Freeserve Messenger if anyone fancies some video conferencing and I have ICQ Lite for chat. So if you're interested, please e-mail me and we'll set up a time. You can download both these for free.

I'm a bit cheesed off about the cricket World Cup only being on digital TV. I'd like to see England play and I can't help feeling we're going to do well - watch this space !!!!
I have to go to Canterbury shortly for a chat with a couple of people about the forthcoming season and it's odd that it's only 6 weeks til I start back there again. I do hope the summer internationals will all go ahead OK as I have to look after the dressing rooms for South Africa v Zimbabwe.

Something else to really look forward to is the birth of my second grandchild end of March / early April.

My pool form has progressed to the level of pathetic and have now lost six games in a row. I can only afford to go up the Pub on a match night now, so you can imagine the stick I get ! I need a lucky charm - maybe if I don't wash for three weeks and put the opponents off, that would help.

So, the mood is changing and suddenly everything will happen at once. Spring will hit us overnight, the mad rush to the garden centres on the first nice day (Gets everyone planting too early - good return trade when the they all die !). For the last two diary entries, I've been in a bit of a hole and when you're like that, it's hard getting up in the morning, let alone going to work.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm out of it.

15th - 28th. January 2003

A beautiful sunny day, outside in the shelter it was 17 degrees. Not a day to be decorating and would have been better spent digging the veggie patch and some prep work. We start sowing in February 'in these parts' and I just know there will be the same panic as I had last year.
A sunny day, but a bad PC day. This is my third attempt to do the diary. Dire overheating problems caused the computer to crash on 3 occasions and, has always, I hadn't 'saved' in time. So a quick trip down town for a new exhaust blower and hopefully all is well again.

I think the web cam is OK now. The programme was giving the hard drive judders, so I had to take it off. I've re-installed now and hope it will continue. The logo above links to the web page and tells you if I'm on or off line.
On first glimpse you may think you're on the wrong site as they do say I strike an uncanny resemblence to Mel Gibson - but it really is me. I must remember not to pick my nose and forget some people can lip read should I make a grave error at the keyboard.
I shall set it outside soon but at present have the problem that this side of the house faces south and I get a lot of glare..

I am starting a monthly newsletter and would be delighted if any one is interested enough to subscribe (absolutely no charge of course!). I hope to make it one up from the diary with topical and relevant links etc. I would be most interested if any one could write an article or do a regular for me (ie jobs of the month etc.). Anything accepted.
There's a sign up form at the bottom of this entry and another on the Home Page.

I've started my fight back on the financial front, been working quite well and have received one cheque that's been owing to me for quite some time. I hope this is the turning point and I can get back on the straight and narrow reasonably quickly.
The last few weeks have been scary to say the least.

I've now had 7 mystery shopper jobs this month, good for some extra money but completely sick to death of hamburgers !!
This week again is diverse; floor sanding, gloss painting inlays of panelled walling, plumbing in a washing machine, painting two statues, weeding, laying laminate flooring and driving someone to Dover.

The chickens are not laying anything at the moment. I've put adverts in the local paper for the cockerels. I've weighed up the pro's and con's and just can't see the hatching process successful. I'm out much of the summer, also baby chicks would need more protection still etc., etc.
I will however extend the run on my next free day. The grass is almost bare in there now and the rest like a mud bath.
Once I've done these two things, I'll probably get another 5 hens, which will give me 10 in total.
Last Thursday I walked up the garden and a fox quite casually strolled out of the greenhouse. Absolutely beautiful creature but un-wanted for obvious reasons. He sat in the neighbours garden, looked at me for about 10 seconds, then went.
The good news was that he was walking out of the greenhouse and not out of the chicken house ! You can't blame him - he's only doing what he knows best.

I saw a glimpse of the David Attenborough programme the other evening and it showed that they do kill chickens by the number for a purpose. They take them away one by one and bury them with just the heads popping out of the ground.

Still plodding on with the genealogy and boy does that get you going; so many wrong tracks, so many missing persons etc.,etc. I am surprised to know that I'm not just a southerner ! My 8 great grandparents are Yorkshire x 4, Liverpool x 1, London x 1 and Kent x 2. On my fathers side I've got back to the 17th. century now, but the others are causing a problem. They had habits of using another name to which they were christianed, didn't always get married and spent the whole time visiting people which completely mucks everything up when you finally find them on a census !!

Had a disaster in the Pool last week, losing 6 - 3. I did sink an incredible black to finish my doubles match. Regret to say it was before the other reds had gone in. In fact I broke, hit four balls in, then the black, so I was the only one out of 4 players to hit a ball.
Try that at home.

Well to finish on an optimistic note, it's going to snow on wednesday !!

2nd - 15th. January 2003

I'll get the wallowing out of the way and then brighten up !! ). Over 30 years with my bank, I've had three 'blips' in that time - and have they been understanding ? - as yet - no !! "Phone you back" - no they don't; write on the 11th - they answer on the 28th ! (in that time they're happily adding bank charges !!).
Never mind, I'm sorting it out without their help. But next time (if !!) I pay a lot of money in, I know what the answer will be when they phone like last time and ask to come round and discuss my finances. Enough said.
(Stop Press ! 16th. They have just phoned me - three days after they said - and are helping me).

So, work continues and I'm busier now with three jobs to do which will keep me fully occupied for the next two weeks. I have an option also of a part time job, two hours, monday to friday 5 - 7pm. I'm pondering and have until Monday to make up my mind. The local paper comes out tomorrow so I'll see if there's a 5 - 8pm three days a week - that would be better.

I had an influx of Mystery Shopping jobs last week; four fast food restaurants and £10 worth of petrol at a garage close by. They pay for the petrol if you send in a report on the service etc. The food one pays for the meal plus £4 over the top. All these were within 3 miles of the house, so quite worth it (especially if you arrange it for when you've got to go down town anyway).
I've applied on another 4 companies web sites, so hope more will come along.

I've changed the home page a bit so as to make it a bit more 'up to the minute'. So if you are a regular visitor, give it a peep once in a while.
Obviously, the Amazon links give me a bit of commission and every time someone 'asks' a qustion in the 'Ask Jeeves' search boxes, I get 3 pence. The web site is now 2 years old and I've earned £12.60 from Ask Jeeves - Every penny helps !!

Gillian makes feather art from her poultry (she assures me they are naturally moulted and not painfully stolen from a passing cockerel who woke her up a bit too early that morning !!). We hope to get our heads together soon and offer some for sale on the web site. So watch this space.

Talking about watch this space. I have 'gone live' on my webcam.  Should it be a still shot, it's 'one I made earlier'. If I'm moving, I'm live !
The idea is to put the webcam outside for al to see the hustle bustle of the lane - well, four cars a day, two cats, a couple of walkers, Freddie Fox and me walking accross to the Mill House. Really oscar winning stuff which will glue you to the screen.

The pool league gets under way again tomorrow after the Christmas break. I've had to practice with cups of coffee as I can't afford the beer.
Only eight and a half weeks til Kent reform and start training. Ah, summer days, the sound of the leather against willow, glorious sun sets, the unisoned tones of "Howzat" and me charging up and down the stairs like a good'n.
Leo has taken to the game and is indoor training with Kent Cricket Board. It would be nice to see him playing in a test match against Australia and beating them !! But alas, I think this is for my great, great, great grand children to see !!

I'm still getting on with my family tree project. Apparently, my great, great, great grand father redesigned the drainage system in Leeds, thus helping to stop cholera - and his son designed the City Theatre in Leeds where they filmed 'The Good Old Days'.
It seems that all sides of my family did very well for themselves - then there was me !!

I'm still here to tell the tale and will continue to do so.

11th.Dec 2002 to 2nd.Jan 2003

A very happy new year to one and all and trust you had a good Christmas.
Personally, from a financial and commercial point of view, I'm glad it's all over and life can return to some normality.
Just call me Humbug !!
The nicest thing has been visiting family, sharing old times and catching up on all the gossip !!

I just about managed to get the new car, I got it fully serviced with a new MOT for £250 !! It got Leo and me up to London and down to Southampton and back with no problems. So I'm well happy with that.
I just have to get the old one out the way now and have advertised it for £75. With the selling of the van and a few attempts at repair, I stand to lose approximately £300. Too too much and urgent thinking required to get the books straight which are dire to say the least !

The rain over the last few days has left the Chickens in a pen resembling the Florida Swamps and the Lane a constant Welsh Mountain like river ! At least the house has held up to it and the Rayburn does her job efficiently.
Even the main road at the end of the Lane has been shut twice with The Golden Ball resorting to sand bags around the front and sides to protect both the bars and the Cellar.

Before Christmas saw a small rush of work which was very welcome. Gillian, a regular visitor to this site and the forum who lives close by, very kindly found me a couple of Leylandi to cut down - one done, one to go. I also managed a bit of weeding, lawn care and handy man jobs in another house. This with my other regular work just enabled me the car situation.
Now I have a few jobs but will look around for a weekday evening job I think to give me a bit more cash base and hopefully a bonus if other work comes in.

I had a really enjoyable Christmas Lunch with the Stewards at Kent County Cricket Club. I took time to have a walk around the dressing rooms, which are being decorated at present, and looked out of the balcony window to the resting grass and the famous lime tree spikey and bare.
It was very strange and seemed light years away from the cricket season, summer evenings and the sound of applause etc. Can't wait to get back.
However, all 'my mates' were in fine form and the Club Operations Manager gave a short talk. Yet again Canterbury has been voted the best cricket ground in the country for both it's facilities and the welcoming from all staff etc.
A nice gesture.

What is in stall besides the cricket this year I don't know. The first couple of month's will be hard work (to survive) and then hard work on the 'actual work' side to revisit the comfort zone. Regret to say that no matter how happy you are in work, you've still got to pay the bills.
Maybe, with the exception of the cricket which I love, I erred away a little in recent month's from my 'goal' and need to re-assess and try to sit down for a day for planning the year ahead in the garden, home produce and Boot Fair side of thing's.

Another thought from a friend id to make the rest of the site slightly more changable every month, so I'll put my thinking cap on about new articles etc.

Whatever, I've been harder up in a full time job situation and earning three times the amount I am now. It's too easy to slip back into spending money !!

Have a good time.

Going back to look at the future

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