Monday 19th January. Bletchingley, England.

Life is good in Bletchingley. The weather? Well, it's cold of course- freezing cold... and often wet! Luckily, the vast majority of my work is indoors and the little bit that needs to be done outdoors can usually be scheduled pending a fine day. This is going to be a great job for me, I can just tell. So far I've been working in the loft apartment, insulating the walls and plasterboarding the ceiling. Yesterday while I was struggling with a particularly obstinate sheet of plasterboard, I belted my left index finger with the hammer, so hard that the tip of my digit exploded. It hurts like hell, but I'm not complaining because since that happened I don't even notice my sore shoulder any more! There's a lot of work ahead of me here, and I've been working till eight or nine o'clock every night. Today though, due to technical difficulties (both the batteries for the screw gun were flat) I knocked off early... six o'clock. Of course it's pitch black long before then, but the days are getting longer, so they tell me!

The house. It's the back wing- on the left side of the photograph- that I'm working on. This photo was taken from my loft, above the garage.

My grocery supplies have been running low, so I explored Bletchingley for the first time, to see what the village had to offer in the way of staple food products. Three minutes later, when I'd traversed the village end to end, the conclusion was that although blessed with several very inviting looking pubs, Bletchingley would not be able to fulill my needs for such items as bread, milk, fruit and chocolate. There was nothing for it but to bus into Redhill. I considered commuting all the way to Croydon, so I could update my website *tightasses at Red Hill internet cafe won't let me log on with my own laptop, cause they think I might be sending pornography* but the fare from here to Croydon would be over ten Australian dollars each way. Twenty bucks just to update this journal page? Sorry, I hope you understand that I have to be very careful with my money, or I'll never be able to complete the next stage of this trip. I chose to invest that twenty dollars on six cartons of longlife milk and twelve one litre cartons of fruit juice, to brighten up my larder. My employer provides a hearty meal at lunchtime, so I just keep a store of fruit, nuts, chocolates and sandwich stuff here in my little loft. Today, my lunch was bacon, beans, sausages, toast and home made chips (fries to you Americans), with a can of Kronenbourg beer sitting neatly by my plate. Do you get that in your job?

My new home, complete with Spice Girls poster.

SARDINES? For some reason, I've put a can of sardines in my shopping basket, and here they sit on my coffee table. 'Portugese sardines in olive oil'. Funny thing is, I'm sure I hate sardines yet I went to quite some trouble to find them in Sainsbury's. Parhasp my body is deficient in some rare element that can only be sourced in Portugese sardines, or maybe I'm just slipping into the latter stages of dementia. Either way, I hate sardines even more now, because due to the time spent locating the tin of greasy fish- mysteriously in the frozen goods aisle- I missed the bus by two minutes, and then had the pleasure of spending an hour standing in the rain at the bus shelter, the name of which is deceptive in that it gives the illusion that it will provide you with at least a minimal degree of shelter. But after all my trials and tribulations I made it home alive, which is always a bonus, and I'm well stocked for the next week with a selection of tasty treats.

Speaking of treats, can someone please send some condoms to Brisbane, Australia? Seemingly, the city has sold out. Cosmo's wife Jennie, who just had their second baby not long before I left Australia, is fourteen weeks gone again already. Zombie's wife Linda, who just had their first baby last year, is on her second now as well. Jonny and Mel are preggas again, and rumour has it that Lars has been busy too. Crikey! What's with all the reproduction? I can just imagine when I get home... inviting the mates around for a quiet drink, and next thing six minivans pull up in the yard, all full of screaming kids! Yaaaarggh!! Hide the CD's! Close all non-essential doors. Spread old blankets over the lounge suite. Put away all sharp objects. Keep the paper towels at the ready! At least one couple are exercising some restraint- Eddie and Julie have been living together for twelve years now, not ones to rush into marriage or children lightly. Onya guys!

Well, I'm gonna sign off and crawl into my sleeping bag.

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