Dear Diary... August 2014

Sunday 31st August - Walking in the Warm

It was a much needed sleep for myself and The Love In My Heart overnight. I had recorded The X Factor for her (not for me I should add!) and so once we'd got back from our night out and with the clock passing midnight I put the Freeview HD recorder box on, and so it meant that she could watch that. I must admit that the usual reasons why I loathe X Factor so much were all in evidence: many people with delusions of grandeur and actually thinking they can sing when they can't sprang to mind. That bloke who brought his own keyboard in and wouldn't stop playing for twenty minutes despite the fact he'd been told that he was bobbins was the stuff of cringe, it really was.

In fact even more so when there was a woman and her mother, who had brought a shed load of Chinese food and cakes to give to the judges whilst the woman was performing (and I use that term loosely) a really horrible rendition of a song. In fact not only was it that bad, it was out of key, out of sync and everything. Maybe the ploy was that the Mum's food would keep them quiet so that they couldn't make comments about their "performance" but even so, it was horrible to watch. I know that the bad ones are on there almost to show the good from the bad, but you do have to wonder if it's the whole Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame mantra don't you?

I did decide to head out later in the day, and undertook one of my favourite urban walks - a nice four mile stroll between where I live and along the cycle path up to Chorlton. It's quite nice though in that there's plenty of flat sections with the odd hill only being close to a main road passing over the railway so that bicycles can get down to the paths easier. There's also of course the diversion via Sainsburys in Fallowfield as well, which means that you have to head up and then downhill to get alongside and past it - the old line would have ran directly where the site now is.

I also did see some of the World Triathlon as well, the women's event at that, and it looked rather nice where it was being held in Edmonton, Canada. I must admit that I couldn't do the triathlon even if I tried - not because of the cycling and running, that'd be okay, but the swimming would be no good for me as I can't swim - and I can't see them providing me with a float to doggy paddle in front to be honest. At the world class level it amazes me that a decent swim, 40k or so bike ride and 10k run can take the leading women around two hours to complete - properly hard that is.

In a way though I'm also thinking about work tomorrow and dreading what's going to happen. I just am not looking forward to it at all and I would much rather be elsewhere. However I also know that sometimes you have to bite the lip, take the rough with the smooth and get on with things as best you can. Maybe I need to think of that and just carry on. So with that in mind tune of the day is "Carry On" by Ben's Brother, which might prove to be an inspirational choice.

Saturday 30th August - Food for Thought

It was a mixed bag of a day today. I spent the morning sorting the house out and also heading to the post office to post a birthday card to my brother. As he lives over in Japan I wanted to make sure it got there in good time and even with air mail that can take a good few days, so thought it best to post it off earlier instead of later. It wasn't that costly as thankfully the card and envelope weighed under 20 grams, thus keeping it reasonably not that expensive. Considering the cost it's actually not that bad!

My friend came over later and it was off to the Etihad for Manchester City's second home game of the season against Stoke City. In the past few occasions the games have been close and we got past them 1-0 last time at home so I suspected it wasn't going to be an easy game of it at all, given added spice by former manager Mark Hughes being manager of Stoke and making them still hard to beat and get past, with Ryan Shawcross as captain and central defender someone you really have to work on to defeat, a proper old school full of heart and tackling defender.

The rain had just about stopped as we walked up towards the stadium, and we had a brew outside before heading into the ground itself. The brew I had outside the ground was decent coffee, unlike the rubbish Nescafé in a sachet that the club now deems acceptable to serve to the masses for a mere £2 a go, not good enough that in my eyes. Outside a proper coffee, awesome, and worth paying a little extra for as well. Why they don't go the full hog and have Costa Coffee served inside the ground I don't know - it'd be rather worth it in my view.

Anyway, the game wasn't great to say the least. City struggled to break Stoke down and they were just too content attempting to go through the middle rather than use the wings to try and get some good crosses in. It meant that both Aleksandar Kolarov and Bacary Sagna were rather isolated (Sagna more so, making his City debut and all that) and to me it seemed that they weren't trusted with the ball either, so straight through the middle again. It wasn't working and something just didn't seem right to me and it was 0-0 at half time.

As City attacked in the second half, a corner broke down and Stoke's Mame Biram Diouf legged it forward, running past the midfield, and without a challenge from Vincent Kompany or Aleksandar Kolarov, slotted the ball through Joe Hart's legs for 1-0 to Stoke. They really did keep it tight from that point onwards and as much as City tried, bringing on Edin Džeko and Jesús Navas in an attempt to break the defence down, but chances went begging, Yaya Touré maybe should have had a penalty but his reputation for diving on occasions got him a yellow card instead, and it wasn't very good at all whatsoever.

Suffice to say it then decided to throw it down with rain on top of it all as we left the stadium, with Oasis' "Wonderwall" belting out from the speakers as we left (make that tune of the day more for my friend, who quite likes that song and has even sang to it). We then headed back homewards still disappointed from the game, but at least we had something good to look forward to later - a nice meal with our respective partners, and all four of us together, so that would indeed be good.

And so it was later on as The Love In My Heart and I met up with my friend and his wife, and we had a nice evening meal at The Fiveways in Hazel Grove. The Love and I took the bus there and walked the short distance for the rest of the way, and all was good for us to chat and enjoy the food. I had the potato skins to start followed by the beer battered fish and chips for the main, and this rather nice Jalousie slice, with just enough frangipane without being overpowering, and a nice strawberry filling with some fresh cream. Yummy.

I had got my friend the new Manchester City away shirt as his present from us both, and because this year was a special milestone birthday, I'd also got all the trains sorted so that we'd both be heading to the Emirates Stadium a week on Saturday to see us play away at Arsenal. I've actually been twice to the old Highbury stadium in the mid 1990s, but going to the Emirates will be another ground crossed off the list for me and my friend's second City away game, so it'll be something we'll be looking forward to massively.

Friday 29th August - Join in the Chant

First of all, I should say that today was one of the hardest days I've ever had to face at work, and possibly one of the most uncomfortable. There's a variety of reasons why which I won't go into to be honest, but suffice to say that it's only given me a bit more determination in what I want to achieve and also just how much I can see that in the long term, I maybe need to think differently about a few things. As I said, I can't say too much right now but I just feel rather numb and upset.

The only positive I had from the day is the final nine PCs in one building were all complete and good to go, had all the software on, and were able to be used effectively. I even added the specialist weave software, which although a manual install is basically a file copy from a CD or server to a folder on the hard drive, followed by a couple of rights needing to be issued, and then one final installation of the drivers for the USB dongle. It's quite painless really but it does at least mean that everything works correctly and as intended.

I got home but felt restless and thought that with time to spare before my Tesco delivery arrived, it would be a good idea to stock up on some real ales. So off I headed on the bus to B&M Bargains in Openshaw, and their real ale selection was not only very good but in terms of price as well, just ace. We're talking the gorgeous Robinson's Dizzy Blonde ale for 99p a bottle, Thwaites Original ale for 70p a bottle, the Marston's Charge beer (done with the band Elbow) for £1.19, Oakham's Bishop Fulwell for £1, Oakham JHB for £1.29 and so on. In fact I totted it up, nine real ales for the measly price of £8.84 in all. That averages less than £1 a bottle. Beat that if you can!

I got home rather flush with my purchases and although I wasn't going to drink any of those tonight, I made myself some tea and decided that the best course of action was to put some classic vinyl 12" singles on and give them a blast on the turntable to have a nice Industrial feel to the Friday night. First up was the brilliant "Iceolate" from Front Line Assembly, which really does have a massively pounding beat and bass to really set the tone perfectly, and lots of dark mood throughout. My, why did this never get played in clubs back in the early 1990s?

But then on to Nitzer Ebb, and some stonking tracks on the 12" singles that they released, notably some of the remixes. One of my all time favourites of theirs is the trance mix of "Getting Closer" that was a double A side on their "Fun To Be Had" 12". The trance mix just has a great dark bass line and beat and really sounds magnificent with the lights down low and the volume ramped up - tune of the day for sure. Next up was their classic single "Join In The Chant" on 12" as well, rather good that, notably the fact that you can actually chant the words along with them, you know - "Gold! Church! Guns! Fire! Muscle and Hate!" etc.

There were plenty of other 12"s from the collection that got a good play, including the ace "Hearts and Minds" (I have both the hypersonic and subsonic mixes), and the rather good Renegade Sondwave version of "Lightning Man" as well, which sounds rather brilliant even today. There's also the excellent beat and bass heavy "Control I'm Here" too which I rather enjoyed. I remember buying both "Belief" and "Showtime" on vinyl cheap in Power Cuts back in the day and hammered them to death, ah those were the days...

Thursday 28th August - Cakegate

Granted, I'm a day late to comment about this, because I'd recorded The Great British Bake Off as The Love In My Heart was at a friend's place last night, so we could watch it together. I had an inkling something had happened in the programme because of a BBC News headline which I skimmed but tried my best to avoid, and one of our weave technical staff had asked me "did you see Bake Off?" and said "You must, ooh there's a moment in there!" and guessed that something was rather amiss.

I must admit I'm still not sure of the programme moving to BBC One, for me it had a nice cosy corner on BBC Two, where Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins' humour was appreciated rather than it seemingly annoy people, Mary Berry could be all lovely and the sort of grandparent you'd all want to have, and Paul Hollywood could furrow the eyebrows and have ladies of a certain persuasion drooling with effortless joy. But maybe that's me sort of thinking "surely people can actually find where BBC Two is in their programme guides?"

Anyway, so the first two dessert challenges were fine - the first, a challenge often failed by Masterchef contestants, doing a dessert with a sauce in, notably of the course the chocolate fondant (which a few did and managed pretty well). The second was Mary's tiramisu cake which relied on delicate layers of soaked brandy and coffee in the right consistency, and that proved pretty tough going. I did like Martha's though, she had the right mix and the chocolate pieces on top in the shape of daisies were fab. She's the sort of daughter any Mum would be proud of.

But then - the ice cream cake challenge. And this is where "cakegate" was. As many of the cakes were ice cream with sponge and meringue etc, keeping the ice cream cool was paramount, not least because it was such a hot day in the tent and the moment the ice cream was removed from the fridge it started to melt. Anyway with contestants putting cake into the fridge, and based on the way the programme was, it looked like Diane had removed Iain's cake from the freezer and not put it back in, which led the ice cream to melt and make his cake a mess, which he then in a moment of madness threw in the bin.

Inevitably it led to him leaving because he didn't present anything in the final challenge, but based on the edit both The Love In My Heart and I were thinking "well that's not fair, clearly foul play was afoot" and thus you'd actually wonder just why they kept Diana in. However, if the producers and cameramen were watching the whole time, you then think "well actually if it was that blatant you'd see them having words with the judges." After The Love had headed home tonight, I red the story and it turned out Diana was quite upset by the editing, putting her in a supposed bad light (as it turned out she fell ill and exited the show, but that almost seems rather convenient for some reason..)

I just sincerely hope that it's not a ploy from the BBC or Love Productions West (who make the programme for the BBC) to attempt to be more controversial in a bid to attract viewers. After all, the whole reason people (even blokes like me) actually quite like Bake Off is that it's all rather lovely and good fun, and shows that there's plenty of talented everyday people out there just wanting to produce something lovely in the end (Great British Sewing Bee is of the same mould added of course by the utterly adorable Claudia Winkleman) and it's all cosy and homely. We don't need it to be like Big Brother or anything outlandish to be honest.

Anyhow, I'd had a good day all told, culminating with me being on the final leg of imaging all the student PCs in one building, and I've just got a handful to finish tomorrow, so fingers crossed on that score. I also headed home tonight before The Love In My Heart came over, and managed to do a shed load of ironing whilst listening to Heaven 17's "Penthouse and Pavement" album on vinyl. I still adore "(We Don't Need No) Fascist Groove Thang" so that's going to be tune of the day.

And in another joyous moment, between my friend and I we've sorted out tickets for the game and tickets for the train for Manchester City's trip to Arsenal on Saturday 13th September. Granted it'll be an early start of sorts due to it being a 12.45 kick off, but with everything sorted it means that we can go and enjoy it all. In fact, it's sort of a present to him for his birthday which is tomorrow. I said if he could get tickets I'll sort the trains out and we'll make a day of it together. I did something similar for my father's birthday many years back, taking him to London to see his beloved Tottenham play, so I can imagine how much it'll be a good trip.

Wednesday 27th August - Integration Rules The Nation

So, all good with the first batch of PCs that I did. They all apart from two completed the mammoth Autodesk Building Design task sequence overnight, and I set those off first thing to do their thing. However, I'd also been working on a suggestion from one of the senior staff at Nemetschek, who make Vectorworks, as to how to integrate any additional content into the main install rather than have to add it on separately later (which can't be done unless you're an administrator). Indeed I had tried the all in one package for the content but that failed, so tried the separate downloads.

I copied one of them to my installation source and ran the installer, which still ran (something the all in one content didn't do). I added a few more which I was going to add, and tested the installer on my work laptop. It installed everything including all the content. This was good. I then decided to make sure it worked en masse, so advertised the reinstall to the machines I did yesterday, and all worked there perfectly. What it also meant was that any new installs as part of my software task sequence would also have the new content on as well, so that was also good.

By the end of the day I'd managed to set off thirty or so PCs in the open access areas of one building, marking them all off with notices to say that they were under maintenance so please do not use, and then the plan would be to set them off overnight with the remaining Autodesk task sequence and see how they go. At least then it would mean that I could hopefully box them off overnight as well and leave myself much less to do over the next few days - well that was the plan anyway.

I did also manage to look at some of the software installations elsewhere and do some testing, to make sure that all was well with a few pieces of software that had been rolled out. On the whole it's been a pretty positive experience, and it's meant that I've learnt a few things along the way: not just to be patient, which is important, but to try and make the best use of the time I have to get everything done correctly and not stress too much about it. Sometimes a calm head is the way forward, maybe it's the new me. Well one day anyway.

In the evening I spent a chunk of time sorting things out, mainly a shed load of washing, which isn't the best to leave, and on top of that catch up from CSI last night (which I don't watch with The Love In My Heart because she doesn't like the gore!). It was a cracking episode with the investigative journalist who has been in the show before, and even better, there was some Nine Inch Nails in the soundtrack to the episode as well, namely the excellent "Find My Way" from the Hesitation Marks album. All good stuff so tune of the day there really.

Tuesday 26th August - Blasting Out

It was time to knuckle down and get on with things today, and with the Bank Holiday shortening the working week, it meant that I had some sort of a plan and was determined to execute it somewhat. I knew that realistically I wanted to get a chunk of PCs all imaged with the additional software on in one building, and now I had packaged the additional software up, I could throw it out to them all with the minimum of fuss. It also meant that I was able to try and do three floors at once and get them all going.

So with a colleague in tow, that's what we did, started them all off imaging, and after a couple of false starts all looked good. By the end of the morning, twenty eight were way on the road to completion with only a couple dropping out, which we soon got going again. The good thing was that we knew that we had two software tasks to do: one which installed the other software and then one final one to add all the components of Autodesk Building Design Suite 2015, which we knew from experience would take hours.

Thankfully by the end of the day all but one of them were starting their final task sequence and I hung back a little bit to ensure that the last one started. The plan was that hopefully we'd get in to work tomorrow and all would be done, so we could then concentrate our efforts on the remaining kit and make sure that they were all playing ball as well, and hopefully that would at least mean that we could get things up and running the way that we wanted them to.

I headed home later on and The Love In My Heart came over for tea, which I did a nice pork loin steak with some cheese and leek topping, which was pretty nice and herby too, and added some mash, petits pois and carrots into the mix. I indulged her with Emmerdale as she'd missed it earlier, and then after seeing Ade at Sea all going around the Thames, we then decided to settle in for another instalment of the madcap world of those people that sign up for Don't Tell The Bride.

Dear me, some people just have no idea do they? The groom was more run by his supposed best man and best mate, who revolved everything about beer and football instead of the groom, and who clearly wasn't happy with any decisions being made. The stag do in a bar with beer and football wasn't to the groom's liking, and neither was the fact that the best man decided he wanted a £300 designer suit whilst only spending £25 each on the bridesmaids' dresses. The mind, as they say, boggles, it really does.

Tune of the day in the meantime sums up though how Man U fans must feel after their team were thrashed 4-0 by MK Dons in tonight's Capital One Cup second round. And I mean thrashed. The song I'm thinking of is "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by The Smiths, not least because Morrissey is supposedly a Man U fan, and I think that even some of said bands' most downtrodden songs couldn't even come close to how it must feel to support that team tonight. I wonder if someone dares tell Louis van Gaal that 3-5-2 doesn't work?

Monday 25th August - Back to the Etihad

It was nice to stay over at The Love's place, and even more so because it was a nice quiet day planned, with plenty of fussing and attention for the cats (because we can) and also lots of relaxing telly as well. We headed out to Asda late morning to get some food for the evening meal we were going to have, and then mid-afternoon also headed out to The Sheldon Arms pub for a drink and a nice chatter, which was good. Not least because the Golden Peddler ale was on, which is rather nice and not that expensive, so epic win both ways there.

Later on we had on some more telly, and The Love set about a rather gorgeous meal: chicken with mushrooms in a really nice sauce, topped with some potatoes and fresh vegetables, mainly carrots and broccoli. It was all very nice indeed, as were the nachos that we had with a nice sauce and sour cream to start. That did fill me up very nicely and would mean that I wouldn't need anything else for the rest of the day, or indeed at the game tonight, as Manchester City entertained Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium for the first home game of the season.

I headed to the car park where my friend was going to be parked up on a more permanent basis: we have the same space now for each game so that works out pretty well. We were soon heading up Joe Mercer Way and to our seats in the East Stand, and good job too: the rain started to hammer it down and by kick off you could see that anyone in the uncovered South Stand sections as the roof was being lifted and the ground redeveloped was going to get a tad on the wet side.

The build up started and New Order's "Blue Monday" blasted out (tune of the day obviously) and before long City were heading out on to the pitch. I was pleased Pablo Zabaleta was back at right back, meaning Gaël Clichy back at left back, with Martin Demechelis and Vincent Kompany in central defence, much better all round that. Of course Edin Džeko and Stevan Jovetic up front was all good too, could cause their defence some problems. On the Liverpool side, they had signed former City player Mario Balotelli but too late for him to play tonight, so he was watching from the stands.

Liverpool did have the better of most of the first half and were knocking the ball about well, with the pace of Raheem Sterling and Danny Sturridge causing problems. City though looked sound, and going forward gradually got into the game with Jovetic really working hard to create space and make some room to shoot. His determination was eventually what led to the opening goal, as after a defensive challenge to stop David Silva, the ball came out to Moreno, who was beaten to it by Jovetic before he calmly slotted the ball through Simon Mignolet's legs and for City to take the lead before half time. 1-0? I'll take that now, thank you.

The second half saw Liverpool get forward again and correctly have a goal disallowed for offside, but City were looking better going forward and after some good work down the right, Samir Nasri put a delightful ball into the box. It evaded Zabaleta but Jovetic had read the ball perfectly and cool as you like slotted the ball home for 2-0. It was deserved and I think that his finishing prowess, if he stays fit, might prove to be good for us this season, and he looked hungry for more which was good to see. Džeko had to go off injured and was replaced by Sergio Agüero.

It didn't take Sergio long to get into the game though - a mere 23 seconds to receive a pass from Jesús Navas before slotting it home past Mignolet for 3-0. Amazing stuff, and showed that although Liverpool looked good forward, their defence is still where they need to strengthen. All three of our goals came from the right side which says to me that a decent left back is massively needed for them. Rickie Lambert came on late on and scrambled the ball home (although it's credited as a Zabaleta own goal) and the goal line technology worked correctly again proving the ball had crossed the line.

So 3-1, and I'd have happily taken that before the start of play, no problem. City weren't in top gear but the clinical finishing showed that we mean business this season, and against a good Liverpool side who had pushed us all the way to the title last season at that. They'll still be up there, I can say that, but I think we could do more and that's quite heartening as well for us to be honest. We're also now one of only four teams left in the Premier League with a 100% record as well..

Sunday 24th August - Eyam Hall

After a very nice and well deserved lie in, with no cats to disturb The Love's sleep (as nice as they are, they do tend to want attention and wake up at the oddest of times!) it was good just to be up and about, and I made some breakfast and pottered around the house. I had got up earlier anyway as the first ever Match of the Day was on BBC red button, and this was a titanic classic from 1964 with Liverpool beating Arsenal 3-2 with a last minute goal, and they had gone 2-0 up before Arsenal pegged them back. With the great Kenneth Wolstenholme presenting and commentating, it was really good to see it in full and one for the archives too.

I'd set the F1 to record but got to see the first few laps before we set off, and oops, going to be ructions there I reckoned. Nico Rosberg tried to pass Lewis Hamilton at Les Combes, but was nowhere near, but went for a gap that wasn't there, his front wing sheared off, but also sheared Hamilton's tyre at the same time, ruining his race and also meaning Rosberg had to get a replacement wing, and he fought back to second, although I was most pleased when I saw the recording later that Daniel Ricciardo had won and won well, like him a lot.

We had decided to head to Eyam in Derbyshire, as the hall and gardens are now National Trust, so effectively free for us to get in. It was a leisurely head down the A6, although just after Chapel-en-le-Frith and before the turn off for the A623, temporary traffic lights meant being stuck in a jam there for a bit. Once on to the A623 and through Sparrowpit, Peak Forest and Tideswell, we soon spotted the turn off for Eyam in the trees and headed to the village, following the signs for the hall.

The Love was waiting in the car park for a couple to leave, and they indicated we were good to have their space as they left. She waited, but an annoying as hell posh couple decided to steer around The Love's car and the car coming out and sneak in, and then the husband claimed that they didn't see The Love. Rubbish. It was annoying but another couple were leaving and said for us to have the space instead. It really annoys me when stuck up people think they're better than everyone else..

Anyway, the Hall and Gardens were lovely, albeit a small place all told. The house had some real history in its library room including a harpsichord and a book which detailed how football was banned in the 16th Century! The owners lived in the house till recently and now the National Trust look after it for them. The gardens too were being nicely restored, with the sundial and the vegetable gardens looking pretty good already. It was really nice actually, and that wasn't all either.

In the front courtyard the craft centre shops were in the old barns prior to the house entrance, so you could get some nice arts and crafts, including a clock made of wood where all the numbers were made of dominoes (it looked fab actually) and a nice book sale, where The Love picked up a nice paperback novel along the way. It was quite nice to mooch around there and to be honest because you could go there at any time, not just when the hall is open, it made for a much more attractive place.

As it turned out, Eyam's Wakes Week and Carnival was starting, and as such the main two wells in the village had been "dressed" with floral displays, which looked pretty good all told. The houses have displays outside as well, one of which was a Teddy Bear's Picnic with lots of Harrods Christmas teddy bears and the appropriate song playing (on repeat too, must drive the house owners mad!) Lots of the houses also went to town on their displays and had won prizes, and one near one of the wells was dressed up spookily, with a real attention to detail.

After a lovely walk around the village we headed back to The Love's car, and back along the A623 and A6, and we stopped off at The Ram's Head in Disley for a meal. The Love had the rather nice Sunday roast chicken and I had the fish and chips which was scrummy to say the least. I also noticed that they had on some good music on in the background as well which set the atmosphere nicely too. And with a nice pint of Black Sheep, all was very well with the world.

We headed back to The Love's place later, and snuggled up with the two cats and watched the last of the series of The Mill, and then The Village, with the posh hall actually being Lyme Hall, which I guess might have been possible considering it's not that far from Hayfield (where The Village is set) as well. I do like the theme tune from said series, sums up the gritty feel of it all, so tune of the day was an easy decision really. John Simm and Maxine Peake are both excellent in it as actors as well, although part of me thinks that in modern day Hayfield you'd want to see Philip Glenister pull up in an Audi Quattro...

Saturday 23rd August - Levenshulme Market

It was a good opportunity today with the weather set pretty fair to visit Levenshulme Market, and hopefully pick up some nice items. The markets have a different theme but the one on the fourth Saturday of the month is normally a good mix of all sorts, so you can get crafts, you can get gifts, lots of different types of food and pretty much everything else besides. A real hub and social enterprise too, and attracts people from all over the city of Manchester to it as well, and definitely shows what can be achieved if run the right way.

With the sun coming out, I headed over to the market, and lots of nice food stalls were tempting me with their wares, with fresh sausages and bacon, some Mexican street food, ice cream, milk shakes and all sorts. One stall though, Tabula Rasa, caught the eye, not least because of the vinyl and CDs available to purchase. Of course I thought it'd be worth a look, notably in the three albums for a fiver (or £2 each) section, and a lot of them were really well looked after and in really good condition. I was very tempted, as I flicked through the racks, and spotted a few things I fancied.

In the end I decided on three albums on vinyl that I don't own at all on any format, so "Penthouse and Pavement" by Heaven 17, "Kaleidoscope" by Siouxie and the Banshees, and Visage's self titled album as well, which of course has "Fade to Grey" on there. That wasn't all I got though: I managed to get a fab card from the wonderful people at Brick Creations, and they really did some lovely little gifts too. And added to that a wonderful lemon tart from the people at The Buttery, which I had with a coffee later whilst watching the F1 qualifying.

After that, I put on my vinyl, and the Heaven 17 album first. It's a really good album of course, and even more so when the vinyl is in really good nick. My Pioneer turntable did the business, and to this day I still adore the track "Play To Win" on there, which I've seen them do live, so that's tune of the day right there. Side One does have the title track and the classic "(We Don't Need No) Fascist Groove Thang" as well, so a real quality side to start the album off I reckon.

It was good to really enjoy having a bit of a 1980s fest, and as well as playing most of those three albums I also played the debut Fuzzbox album (when they were called We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It) and that includes their early classics such as Rules and Regulations, What's The Point and X X Sex as well. The former of those three tracks are now played regularly by an all-sister rock band Maid of Ace, and they're ace, they do the original proper justice as well.

Later on The Love In My Heart came over. I showed her the bargains from the market and also the card I bought, which she loved, and then made some nice tea - namely the chicken and bacon filo pie, complete with mash, petits pois and leek with pancetta. It was very wholesome and very nice indeed and I'd even got a bottle of prosecco to have with some dessert afterwards. We mainly settled in and saw a programme I'd recorded from this morning, with Dick Strawbridge and his son heading around Cornwall, getting fresh produce for their three course meal served on a boat in Penzance harbour!

I also saw Match of the Day and not only was I most pleased to see Barry Davies commentating, but for the match he was doing (Crystal Palace v West Ham) they had retro graphics in the old style of Match of the Day, including the clock which displayed after each goal, the old Action Replay symbols, the team in a diagonal slope down the screen, all that sort of stuff. It was rather good and a lovely touch all round and really appreciated that classic throwback to football (the game wasn't bad either!)

Friday 22nd August - Tired and Emotional

I think it's been a pretty tough week of sorts, and I realised that a few things weren't going to happen in the way I'd like them to. I've done all I can to assist people, give them as much of a technical hand as I can, and I just suppose that I feel a bit worried that I've managed whatever I can but still isn't enough in my eyes to get where I need to be right now. I know realistically that there is an outside chance of things not working the way that they need to do, but I suppose I'm pretty hard on myself like that.

I did have to take a deep breath and try and get myself a little bit of time to myself over lunch just to try and not think about things too much - sometimes when you overthink, you are just in fact analysing things all the time and not actually as calm as you'd like to be. I guess it's just one of those things that sometimes I have to accept that I can't be successful at everything. I also knew that if at all possible, I had to do a bit of a rewrite of a project report that I'd submitted and so wanted to get some time to myself to do that.

I did stay a little later than planned to get that done, but it meant that with the rewrite it was one less thing to worry about for next week with a bit of luck, and so this meant that I could try and focus my attention on the things that needed to be done over the next few days next week. Granted, there's a Bank Holiday weekend to look forward to including a nice match on Monday evening with City playing Liverpool (which should be excellent, especially if ex-City player Mario Balotelli signs for them!) but still.

After getting a ton of ironing sorted out tonight, it was time to settle back and listen to some tunes, and so a bit of Slayer was required, namely their ace "Seasons in the Abyss" album. The title track is excellent and epic and still one of my favourites of theirs, but if you want an album opener to basically rock and get you in the mood for the rest of the album then "War Ensemble" does a pretty good job in my view, it's just fast, frenetic and has a middle section that just drives onwards. Awesome stuff.

Almost as awesome as another album which I own the original long deleted CD release of: "The Covenant, The Sword and the Arm of the Lord" by Cabaret Voltaire. This 1985 Industrial meister-work, with beats heavy driven tracks sounds suitably frenetic and also dark in places, and showed the direction the band were going at the time. For me the two best tracks on it were later covered by Rob Hubbard on the Commodore 64 game "I Ball", namely "Whip Blow" (track 9) and "I Want You" (track 2) in that order. The 12" version of "I Want You" is just brilliant and I can imagine if I was old enough going mental to that in clubs, so tune of the day there.

Thursday 21st August - Victory over Vectorworks

I had some good news of sorts today - the order for Vectorworks 2014 arrived, and so landed on my desk at lunch time. This was the final piece of the updated software that I was waiting for so that I could get that all packaged up for use within one of the faculties. I had already worked out that we were looking at around three hours or so for part of the software to install, and then another four hours or so on top of that for Autodesk Building Design Suite 2015, so it's crucial that everything works correctly as intended where possible.

With that in mind, I spent most of the afternoon testing out Vectorworks and making sure that the method used for silent installation is still the same - which it is. You simply call the installer with the following: -q -u "username" -c "company name" -s <serial number> - d "C:\Program Files\Vectorworks 2014" and provided of course you've added a valid serial number, all will be good to go for you. Crucially if you've got an update, and you're using a USB network licence dongle, the last six characters of your serial number need to match your old one and your dongle ID (and in my case they definitely do) so all is good there.

All was well as me, but when running the software as a limited user it seemed to want to look for the serial number, even though it was clearly visible in the Windows registry. Then I remembered something from the old Vectorworks 2009 version, which I didn't have to do in 2011 but looks like I've got to do again here: the registration registry key (located in HKLM\Software\Wow6432Node\Nemetschek\Vectorworks 19\Registration - omit the Wow6432Node if on a 32-bit machine) for some reason requires all users to have full control over the key. The moment you do that, it works. Bizarre, I know.

Anyway, I remembered back in the days of 2009 when we had Novell, I used to use a separate registry permissions executable to sort that out. Thankfully in Windows 7, regini.exe (which used to be a part of the old NT Resource Kit) is located in the Windows\system32 folder, so all you have to do is create a text file that says "\registry\machine\Software\Wow6432Node\Nemetschek\Vectorworks 19\Regstration" followed by [1 5 7 17] (to make sure all users get full rights) and then simply run regini.exe <your text file location> and all is done.

As I also needed to install the Service Pack 4 as well, I quickly thought a task sequence was the easy way in SCCM to do this - do the installer first, then the updater (which has the same silent install command line, easy) and then the regini to do the registry permissions. That way I know that everything is fully service packed and up to date for the software, and that it'll run as any user as well, which is crucial for us. I checked our licence dongle server to make sure that everything talks correctly to that, and it does, so all is rather good there it has to be said.

Later on The Love In My Heart came over, so I was able to make us some nice spaghetti and meatballs for tea, and then relax and snuggle on the sofa for a bit, whilst indulging her with some Emmerdale as she had a tough week, and then me seeing the final half hour or so of the England women's footy team tonking Wales 4-0 and qualifying for their World Cup in Canada 2015 with a game to spare as group winners. Congratulations to the Manchester City contigent in the team, namely captain Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley, Jill Scott and Toni Duggan. Yaay indeed.

For my ultimate sins and to prove what a nice person I can be, I even indulged The Love In My Heart with Celebrity Big Brother. Not my thing at all, and to be honest half the people aren't even technically celebrities anyway. The Love did recognise the old bloke who used to be in Will and Grace (she was a fan of said show) and of course Kellie Maloney (she was Frank the boxing promoter before her gender reassignment) and Claire King who used to be in Emmerdale. But, it all seemed rather rubbish and pointless to be honest, the words "scraping the barrel" spring to mind. The only decent thing is the Elementfour (aka Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray) theme tune - the original of which is tune of the day.

Wednesday 20th August - Laser Cut and Go

Today one of my colleagues and I headed to one of our CAM suites in one of our buildings, as we were going to image four student machines in there with the latest build, plus add on Corel Draw X5 so that they could use it to send documents to the laser cutters and indeed the 3D printer that's also in that room. We checked the configuration of the 3D printer and the separate network card of the PC that's used to control it via a crossover cable, and made sure that we knew that the laser cutters were all disconnected before we started.

It was actually relatively painless, the main Windows 7 image went on, as did the software and Corel Draw, and by 2pm it meant we could head over and set up the three laser cutters plus the 3D printer. We looked at the 3D printer first and realised that as it was a Belkin F5U213, with USB to network adapter, that we needed drivers. However, no Windows 7 64-bit drivers. We did though find out that it was actuallly an Infineon ADM851X USB to Ethernet adapter inside, and a bit of searching later I located some drivers, we installed them, and badabing - it all worked!

Once we'd then set up the static IP of that adapter, and installed the printer software so that it would talk to the printer, it was all good to go, so we then went to the laser cutter. I'd already downloaded the software for it and so we installed it on all three, restarted the machine and then connected the USB cable for the cutter. It detected its drivers, all installed without any issues (hurrah to that) and then I was able to do some tests with a sample drawing and made sure that it all talked to the cutters. All was well.

I headed after work straight to Mum's, as she was going to make me some tea (which is always nice). Also, I was able to drop off the travel insurance documents that I'd printed off for her. Although doing these things online is all good, it's a bit of a pain if like in Mum's case you don't have a printer to print to, so she simply forwarded them to me the other night, I printed them out and took them with me, much easier. She was pleased too as I'd found her a good price for what was needed, so all good there.

It was nice just to sit down and chat, just the two of us, and I needed to check later on whether my case would be the right size for her, as ideally it might save her having to get one. I think sometimes it's too easy to go out and buy some luggage when you don't have to, especially if there's one someone else in the family might just have. For me, I know that I have two - one for a short weekend break, and one for a week long one, and that's all I need really. I do have a small overnight bag as well that I use when going to gigs on my own, but that's about it.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the theme tune from The Great British Bake-Off, how I adore the show so much. Just wish it was on a different night instead of a Wednesday so that I'd have much more quality time with The Love In My Heart watching it instead. We both adore the show and it's something we used to watch together on BBC2 with much "awww" and "wow, look at that" during the show. I wonder who will be leaving the tent this week?

Tuesday 19th August - Claim Honoured

It was a pretty productive day on the whole, as more laptops were all completed and ready to loan out, and we reckoned that out of the 80 that we have, all the ones we had back at the time (58) were now all done, so in effect any ones that we had in returned were able to be handed to one of us, we'd do all the re-imaging steps, and then get it back into the stock list. The good thing about that is it means that we're able to then at least loan ones out with the new stuff on, and then be able to keep the service going as well, so it worked out to be a pretty good exercise, and we've even worked out the next room to do after liaising with a colleague as well.

I did have a very good piece of news this morning though: a phone call from my house insurance company. Now normally you wouldn't expect it to be good news, but after me putting the claim in for the damage to my roof with the recent storms and having to get it urgently repaired last week, they were pretty quick in processing everything once I sent them all the information from the roofer including before and after pictures, showing the work that needed to be done.

So the very nice lady who was dealing with my claim rang me to say that everything was fine and that they would be sending me the full amount (minus my £50 excess) in the next few working days, and also wanted to know if I wanted it transferring straight back into my bank account or a cheque. I picked for the fomer, thought that having it electronically would be quicker and less costly all round, but also means that the money is in my bank account and straight back, so all good there. Must admit I was pleased as was The Love In My Heart when I told her as well.

In fact The Love came over tonight, so it was nice to see her and to spend some time catching up and chatting. She had had an up and down day of sorts, so it was a bit of a contrast to mine. I made us some Hunter's chicken which I did a bit longer in the oven to make sure that the barbecue sauce was really hot and gave the chicken and cheese some well needed kick to it, and also did some nice mash and petis pois as well. Nothing overly special but it did us both good to have something to fill us up for the evening.

We settled in to watch Coast as well which was all about Winter. I had a feeling we might have seen parts of it before but it was still good to watch, notably with Nicholas Crane heading around Mousehole, seeing the Christmas lights being switched on, and remembering the Penlee lifeboat disaster from 1981 as well. He also went to Newlyn and explored that fishing port as well as going out for a ride in the lifeboats now to see the sort of conditions that they have to work in during that time. Also fascinating was one of the fire festivals in Shetland with Neil Oliver completely in his element I suspect!

My youngest sister headed over later as she needed me to sort out a web based application form for her as well as update her CV, and so it was good to chat to her and my nephew too, who was being kept enterained by The Love whilst they were watching Don't Tell The Bride on BBC Three. And shock horror, a happy bride with her dress for once, although I'm not sure she would have been entirely convinced by heading out to the island of Lundy to conduct her ceremony, not least as her and her husband to be were stranded on the same island a while back!

Tune of the day in the meantime is 3 Daft Monkeys' excellent track "Civilised Debauchery" which is off their album "The Antiquated and the Arcane". It is certainly one to get people up and bounding around but it just has so much of a fun element to the song, sort of having them as the main attraction of a circus show almost, but yet with good humour and lots of smiles along the way. Some lovely violin playing by Athene too and when played live, the percussion from Richie just adds something to make it even more fun. Hurrah to that!

Monday 18th August - Once a Blue, Always a Blue

After a long(ish) day at work, where I managed to work closely with a colleague and get two lots of loan laptop devices all task sequenced with not just the Win7 base image WIM but also all the extra bits of software that needed to go on, it was good to be able to head out in the evening with a friend of mine and also meet up with some fellow Manchester City fans at one of the supporters' meetings that we head to. For my friend it's a good opportunity to mix with people too but also for us both to get to see some City faces of the past or present as well.

Tonight we had the pleasure of Richard Edghill, who was a promising youngster in the mid-1990s and stayed with the club for many years. One abiding memory I had of him was in the 2001-02 promotion season when I went to Hillsborough to see us play Sheffield Wednesday. City's record there was abysmal but we won 6-2 and I can remember that Richard, with injured knee at the time, made one final last ditch tackle to stop a certain goal before going off on a stretcher, and the fans' chanting of his name was one of the loudest chants I'd ever heard at an away match - everyone appreciated what he did that day (indeed he was out for a few months after that, real shame)

Richard was also here tonight to answer some questions from the fans: my friend asked several including what his thoughts were about the lack of English players in the current Manchester City side, and also what was the most difficult opponent he'd faced. He actually mentioned Ryan Giggs as one of them, saying "I know he's a red and all, but.." emphasising just how much he was still a City fan at heart. Indeed, he was telling us of several stories that Tony Book would say to the youth team players to make sure a player knew you were there, give him a niggle, get in his face etc, and having met the legend that is "Skip" I can well believe that!

He had also co-written an autobiography "Once a Blue, Always a Blue" along with Dante Friend, a City fan and writer of some note. He was selling copies and signing them for the fans, and he very kindly signed my friend's 1955 FA Cup final shirt, which now has a collection and a half of some famous City names on there as well. He also was telling everyone about his current role in a primary school in North Manchester, doing sports and PE with them and basically getting them on the right track. He did mention that the area and the parents and children were challenging, but it was something he relished doing and got massive reward from, fair enough that.

It was a good evening all round, made more so by the fact that it was a nice informal relaxed atmosphere in the Commonwealth Suite, and my friend thoroughly was having a good time of it. Of course this time next week we'll be back at the Etihad for real, seeing us play Liverpool in a mighty clash. We can't wait for that but in the meantime tune of the day is a Manchester City classic from old, "The Boys in Blue", which used to resonate from Maine Road (where Edghill of course used to play) and that got everyone ready for the game when it was played over the tannoy system back then. Happy memories indeed for me especially.

Sunday 17th August - Sporting Excellence

It was nice to have a relaxing lie in with The Love In My Heart this morning: for different reasons we'd both had long tough weeks interrupted by things that don't normally happen, and so it was good just to feel snuggly and asleep. Sometimes it's the little things which actually make a relationship so lovely: and once I got up I pottered around the house for a bit before making some nice bacon on toast for us both along with a well earned coffee. I let The Love get herself ready and saw some of the cricket news on the BBC with them whacking India for everywhere and then getting two wickets before lunch. I did wonder at that point if they were going to finish the job off.

We did later on watch the athletics from Zurich, the Euopean Championships. At the start of play Great Britain and France had seven gold medals each, and one target being bandied around by Gabby Logan was maybe ten golds for the Brits, which would be excellent all told. Anyway the first race was the men's 1500m and in a slow and somewhat controversial tactical race, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad won but not before winding everyone up by waving to the crowd, disrespecting the others in the home straight. Considering he'd had the gold medal in the steeplechase struck off him for taking his shirt off during the race, you'd think he'd learn. Obviously not. Idiot.

Still that meant France were on eight gold medals, and so then was the women's 4x400m. In a titanic scrap with Britain, Ukraine and Russia initially, the Russians tied up but it was the French girl who came through at the death to nick it on the line from Ukraine with Britain getting a bronze, so nine golds to France now. This was soon to be eclipsed by a rather good men's 4x400m in which Martyn Rooney brought it home and with a superb final split as well to get the job done, so 9-8 to France at the top of the medal table.

We decided to head out for lunch and so thought it'd be nice to go to The Fiveways in Hazel Grove for their rather ace carvery, and so it proved, with the turkey and the gammon being particularly lovely, along with the mash and roast potatoes, the carrots, the big Yorkshire pudding and the really nice gravy, just the right thickness for me as well. The Love had the same (minus the Yorkshires but added with some different vegetables) and she enjoyed that, and it was nice to chat and just relax and be together.

We got back in time for the final athletics events, with Mo Farah getting gold in the 5000m (and a bronze for Andy Vernon too) so that was now 9-9 for gold medals. However, then the British team turned it on even more, with a good gold for Greg Rutherford in the long jump, meaning he's now Olympic, Commonwealth and European Champion. The final two 4x100m relays were gold for the men, and perhaps more surprisingly but well deserved, gold for the women, and smashed a thirty four year old national record in the process. So that was five of the eleven gold medals won on the final day and top of the medal table with the best ever performance by a British team at the European championships. Superb stuff, it really was.

Added to that a Manchester City win to start the season off, with a good 2-0 win at Newcastle, plus the England rugby women's team winning the World Cup final as well, and you have to say it was a rather good afternoon of sport really. In fact England's cricket team demolished India as I saw later on the Channel 5 highlights, once it was 9-2 for them after a great run out, the wickets tumbled and they were bowled out for just 94, meaning a massive innings and 244 run victory for England, superb stuff.

Tune of the day though is the theme tune from the iconic 1970s sporting series Superstars, which is "Heavy Action" by Johnny Pearson. I was inspired to listen to that once I saw the presentation of Greg Rutherford's long jump gold medal, by no less than Lynn Davies, former Olympic long jump champion and of course legend of Superstars, winning past masters titles and coming second in the legendary Champion of Champions event, beating Brian Jacks and only finishing behind the legend that is Keith Fielding!

Saturday 16th August - Fixing Things With Ale

It was an earlyish start for me this morning, as I had a couple of things to do before heading to The Love In My Heart's place later to head with her to see her father. So it was off into Cheadle first of all, and a relation in the cemetery there, which was good to do as I'd not been for a bit. I'd also brought back from my holiday a small Cornish flag as I knew said relation really liked Cornwall, and placed it there by the spot. It blew in the wind and I made me feel all sorts of sad, but in a happy memory sort of way, which was probably a good thing. Needless to say a vanilla latte in Costa Cheadle was much needed afterwards.

I headed then into Manchester city centre via the X57 bus, and because it doesn't stop at every stop it's express through Didsbury, Withington and Fallowfield so got to the city pretty quickly. From there it was off to The Northern Cutter and my hair to be cut, and the usual wizardry from the ladies in there (one of whom's birthday it was today, so she was heading out with friends in the evening). It was just nice to get it all sorted as it was getting a bit long and annoying to be honest.

I did pop into Fopp as well to see what was out there in terms of films and music, and was tempted a little by a couple of CDs. However I was pretty good and resisted, but did notice an arcade machine and indeed a Tron pinball machine situated in the area where you could sit down and have a coffee used to be. Of course that was cool, but I must admit they used to do coffee for £1 in there, and it was good to have that and relax after browsing for CDs, I do miss that a lot actually.

I then headed off to The Love's place, and from there we headed in her car to see her father, and both her sisters were there too, so it was nice to catch up and chat a fair bit. Her father wanted me to check out why he wasn't able to copy discs on the PC, and soon realised that he'd installed an old version of Nero not compatible with Windows 7. Once I removed that and placed CDBurnerXP on with its nice simple wizard, he was really pleased and was able to use it and do what he needed to do, so mission accomplished there.

As I knew there were some good shops close to The Love's father's place, I said to The Love I was going to nip over, mainly to B&M Bargains, as I know from the Chorlton branch they often do real ale cheap. And so it proved: I got six different ales, eight bottles in total, for an average cost of £1.09 each! This included three of the Marston's "Charge" beer brewed with the band Elbow, and then one of the Barnsley Brewery's "Get Thi' Coit" and "They Think It's Ale Over", one each of the Moorhouses' "Black Cat" (ace!) and their "Premier Bitter", and finally the Greene King "London Glory" so plenty of new ones to try in that little lot too.

We spent a bit more time with The Love's sisters and father, with me seeing plenty of old pictures of the local area, which from a historical point of view was pretty fascinating stuff, before we headed to The Love's place, fussed over the two cats for a bit (Jo now likes having his tummy tickled, much to his big purr of happiness, bless him) and then headed over to The Elizabethan for a well earned drink together, and a chance to catch up and chat a fair bit too, before heading back to mine later on.

I had got some very nice Dino prosecco to go with our tea, which proved to be rather lovely all told. We had some nice chicken with lemon and herb garlic in, and some nice mash along with petits pois, leek and pancetta, which went down a treat, as did the strawberry and prosecco trifle afterwards too. We did see most of Tumble and wondered who was doing Alex Jones' wardrobe (both dresses have been horrible to look at and not that nice to see on) and just how Nadia Comaneci was doing as a judge, pretty well we both thought.

Later on as there wasn't that much on telly we put iPlayer on and saw the BBC Three documentary about young English football hooligans, with a lot of The Stone Roses' songs (including "I Wanna Be Adored" - tune of the day) playing in the background. For me, it was interesting to see that for some teenagers they want to belong as part of a fighting gang who meets other like minded so-called "fans" around games to scrap basically. It seemed a lot of clubs, even in the lower leagues, had their own youth "firm" as well, rather scary to think about. On the whole though some of them had ended up growing out of it, but it was still a concern to us both that there's these type of idiots out there. I do wonder what the Manchester City board may have thought seeing some of those fans brandish the club's name that way...

Friday 15th August - Harking Back to the 80s

I spent most of today with a colleague sorting out some laptops that needed to be imaged, and indeed with our new laptop loan task sequence that includes Office 2013 and all the necessary software and tweaks added afterwards. Good news for us was that there was a room which wasn't being used today, so it meant we could use the power and network sockets in that room and get cracking and have most of them done by the end of the day, which is what we managed.

In between setting them off and keeping an eye on them, my colleague and I had a good chat about things we remember from the 80s, and she mentioned the classic Kia Ora advert (you know: "It's too orangey for crows, it's just for me and my dog." - "I'll be your dog!" etc). I then remembered the classic 1980s soft drink Quatro, that was made by the Coca-Cola company and fused four fruit flavours that were pineapple, orange, passion fruit and grapefruit, and wasn't overly fizzy. It was massively refreshing.

The adverts were suitably over the top 80s affairs too, with lots of Industrial beat sounding music, lots of iron and metal on the set (very much the thing - check the McEwans adverts of the time too) and the iconic can design with its typography showing the brand off at its best. I really do wish that they would see sense and bring that one back to be honest - it's a classic drink, and for me and my brother it was a reminder of heading to our local shop in the summer, getting a can each and drinking it on the way home after football or a long BMX ride. See, BMX, there's another 80s icon!

I must admit it was pretty good to be able to just be able to have some nice chatter and get things done at the same time - made the end of the week come a bit quicker and also meant that we were able to sort out things at the same time, so epic win. Even more epic win was the fact that the bus home appeared to be going much quicker than normal, so that was spot on, getting me home to make some chicken, mushroom and black been udon noodle stir fry. Awesome stuff.

In fact I continued my 80s theme later in the evening, and played some 80s classics from one of the Ministry of Sound compilations I have - a good way of having an instantly cool mix of some great songs that I grew up with including the likes of on CD1, Ultravox (Vienna of course, completely ace), Visage (Fade To Grey, another great tune), Gary Numan (Cars at that, although I do prefer the more electric guitar version he plays live these days), Heaven 17 (Penthouse and Pavement, an early classic I like) and possibly best of all, the full 12" version of "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go?" by Soft Cell. Tune of the day easily.

Thursday 14th August - Bake Off Biscuits

As The Love In My Heart and I had otherwise been engaged on something yesterday, we had both missed The Great British Bake Off, so I thought that it would make perfect sense after our evening meal tonight that we watched the programme on BBC iPlayer and would snuggle up together. I think too that it would just mean that after a tiring and emotional week for a whole load of reasons, we'd be able to just settle down and be together when we needed to be.

At work, I was focussed on a lot of things including a report I was finishing to compile, which proved to be pretty good to do. One good thing about manipulating Excel is that you're able to get results out of it much quicker and with much less hassle than you'd think, so it was good that I could adapt a few worksheets and be able to get some pretty good statistics out of them with the minimum of fuss, and with charts too as required. Sometimes doing the simple things now saves time later, so to speak.

After I'd watched Countdown on 4OD with the current champion winning another game and looking rather difficult to beat, notably on the numbers game apart from today's odd blip or two (one great thing about the telly: catch up stuff just works and 4OD especially) I started to make one of my own specialities: chorizo pasta bake. Relatively simple it may be, but as the weather's been getting a bit cooler as of late, just the thing for a nice evening meal. The key thing is layering it all so it's not all pasta in one section - and so you get two nice layers of chorizo to give it some kick and some nicely melted mozzarella on top. Went down rather well to be honest.

The Love and I watched The Great British Bake Off and we were both fascinated seeing Sue Perkins around parts of Ancoats in Manchester looking for the history of the ice cream cone, and lots of the streets she walked around were places that we both knew (and indeed I'd been on a Flickr meet around some time ago too, kindly one of my contacts and a fellow City fan was our tour guide, rather brilliant it was too) so that was quite good. In fact a lot of ice cream makers of Italian descent settled around that area, and indeed the Italian walk around the City centre each year used to start around that area and head for the city, underlining its heritage.

Anyway, I had it pretty right from the final bake to the end in that I knew that with a win in the technical and one of the two best freestanding biscuit type 3D inventions (his skill as a builder obviously came to the fore here) that Richard was star baker. Even though Jordan's biscuit monster invention was messy, it did at least taste nice, unlike Enwezor's biscuit stack where you could actually bend the biccies and eat them without them snapping or breaking. Once I saw that I thought he was going to go and I was right. The Love doesn't bother with predictions and all but I think it does add to the fun somewhat.

Tune of the day is the rather brilliant version of Fuzzbox's "Rules and Regulations" by the all-sister girl punk band Maid of Ace. In fact they not only recorded it in full on punk style and gave it a bit more edge, but in a recent gig of theirs in Birmingham they also had Maggie Dunne from Fuzzbox on stage with the girls and actually singing it with them. Wouldn't have minded seeing that live and singing along myself but still, well worth a good listen in my eyes.

Wednesday 13th August - Delay Repay

You may recall a week or so ago that myself and The Love In My Heart were delayed on our way back from Cornwall on the last leg from Cheltenham Spa to Manchester Piccadilly. Well, I had of course completed the customer form from CrossCountry Trains and was going to claim some money back under the rail companies' "Delay Repay" scheme, which they're all signed up to and mostly offering similar levels of compensation (apart from Arriva Trains Wales for some reason, but that's another story..)

Naturally, I was expecting a bit of a wait as there's usually a few weeks' turnaround when the complaint is received. However, it was a nice surprise when I received a letter through the door this morning, and from CrossCountry at that. To be fair, they were pretty apologetic, which was good, and fully acknowledged the 41 minutes or so that we'd been delayed on the way back. And attached was a rail travel voucher for half of the cost of the journey between Cheltenham and Manchester, which equated to £12.70 in all (we'd discounted this a bit via our Two Together Railcard, so that was one of the two single tickets refunded = 50% back, as promised).

It's amazing actually when I've spoken to people at work who do travel regularly by train how much this isn't actually advertised as such. One of our staff commutes in from either Chorley or Preston, and that's a fair distance to travel and a fair season ticket cost as well. Granted, it's slightly different for season tickets in that you get money off the renewal or next monthly payment, but still worth knowing I reckon. There's actually a really useful page on the Trainline website which explains how much you'll get back based on your delay and the links to the claim forms or online forms for most companies' sites too. Worth a bookmark or a favourite, I think.

Today was a day where really I was there for others than myself though to be honest. Not wanting to go into much detail, but it was something that I had to take a bit more of a back seat in and be there when needed, and that was a case of just handling things during the day and myself the right way. The Love In My Heart I know was really appreciative of that, and was just good for her to know I was there for her, and would instinctively know when to be close to her and when not to.

Once I arrived home later that evening I did have a think about things in general: sometimes there's times in your life when you take stock and realise that actually what you've got is pretty good. I know I have a wonderfully beautiful kind and loving girlfriend in The Love In My Heart, I also know the last six years and a bit have been the best time of my whole life, and I definitely know that had I not had that year and a half of so (my recovery period) where I not only re-found the true me but learned a lot about myself in that time, maybe I wouldn't be so happy and indeed so grateful for everything that has happened since.

All I need now really is to realise that occasionally: it's very easy to get emotional about things when you're a caring person, but sometimes you have to be the strong and silent type, maybe saying things by actually not needing to say anything. When the proverb is said that actions speak louder than words, I'd like to think that it can be me when I'm being the soft gentle person for someone, and that I wouldn't want anyone to walk alone in their own silence. Quite apt then that Joy Division's "Atmosphere" was a song I turned to tonight just to reflect: it's rather good. Tune of the day was an easy decision really.

Tuesday 12th August - Back To (Sort of) Normality

It was back to work and back to sorting out lots of things in not that much time. I had indeed managed to write a fair bit of a report for a project during some time yesterday, which was good because I had no distractions or disturbances, so I was able to get on with it. Back at base though it meant I was able to get some statistics together, pulled from some of the support calls and also from a server too, so it meant I could use that and make all lovely graphs in Excel.

I also worked out that one of our systems codes some calls in a particular way with the call reference, and so knowing that I should be able to work out number of calls per day, doing the COUNTIF function in Excel along with a wildcard for the call value. To save time, I wanted the wildcard in one cell of my worksheet, and the COUNTIF used the cell value. I managed to sort it by using COUNTIF (Worksheet1!A:A,"*" & B2 & "'*") - meaning that the criteria was *XXX* (XXX being the cell value). Doing it this way meant I could drag and drop the formula all the way down and make calculations really easy. Hehe.

What it did show was that the peak periods for certain periods of work were justified not only with the volume of what was being produced, but the number of support calls in that same period, which aligns everything together rather well to be honest. That meant further evidence could be provided, and together with some other forms of feedback I'd been collating meant that I was able to produce more of the report (currently at some 15 pages) and really look professional with it. If you want a job doing, you do it well, simple as that.

I headed home and to one of the local discount shops to get an indoor door mat. I did have one but realised that I'd need one for the back door as well as the front one, so when I stepped in from any rain, I'd wipe my feet and keep the house clean. Anyway, managed to get a nice one in a similar colour grey to the hallway carpet for a mere two pounds, so not complaining at that, and also then got a few things sorted around the house before I headed to see my uncle for a bit.

Tune of the day is from the excellent Deep Purple album "In Rock" complete with its iconic cover inspired by Mount Rushmore. It's side two track two (if like me you have the original Harvest vinyl release SHVL 777) or track five on the CD (I have the anniversary remaster) and is that really distorted guitar hungry "Into The Fire", which for its time was quite a slow track for them - but the blistering guitar solo in the middle of it punctuates the rather gloriously sung verses, with Ian Gillan belting out "Into the fyeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" at full high pitched lilt. Rather excellent.

Monday 11th August - Water Woe

When I'd got back from Wembley late last night, I spotted something that shouldn't be there - a couple of constant drips of water from the wooden sunken ceiling in the bathroom . Not good. I made sure I got the mop bucket and the big bowl for the kitchen sink and placed them to catch any water drops, but looking at the bath mat, I suspected this happened after a storm hit Manchester (the remains of Hurricane Bertha apparently) later in the day and probably dislodged the roof slates, meaning that where there was cover now isn't. Aaargh indeed.

After managing to sort the day off work, I spoke to my insurance people and had already contacted a local roofer who had done work for me before, and were usually pretty good in what they do. They came out pretty quickly, saw that several slates had been dislodged or moved due to the storms, and were able to do the work later that day. In fact they'd spotted a couple of tiles that had cracked as well as been dislodged, and so were going to replace all of those to be on the safe side as well, better do the work now instead of later I thought to myself.

They did a really good job, and were at mine most of the afternoon as they had to try and make sure they were safe on top of the roof (it is fairly steep up there) in between bouts of rain hammering it down. On a positive note, the first batch of tiles replaced were the ones that they suspected were the source of the leak, and it was definitely the case as the small drips had gone and all was pretty well with the world there, and it seemed bone dry in the bathroom too, so all good there.

The work finished in the early evening, and I've just got to then send everything off to the insurance so hopefully I should be able to get a chunk of the money back, but not necessarily the thing you want to do on a Monday. However I think by acting quickly I'll also be saving myself some time and money in the long run, and to that end I'm probably looking on that in a positive light for sure. It's so much better when you feel nice and safe and secure in your own home!

The Love In My Heart came over for tea later, and we had some very nice chicken topped with cheese and leek, and that was rather nice. We then settled in for the evening and watched Long Lost Family, which always gives us both a bit of the lump in the throat due to how emotional it can get. I think for me it's especially good that Davina McCall hosts it - she really does care massively and you can tell when she speaks to people to tell them that their relation has been found. Just wonderful stuff too to get people back together and shows how important family can be.

Tune of the day in the meantime is "My State of Mind" by Swing Out Sister, which I listened to during the afternoon along with the rest of their rather ace "Beautiful Mess" album - just the thing for relaxing and winding down with everything going on around me including people on the roof sorting all of that out. In a way too it has some really nice vocals from the ever lovely Corinne, a great jazzy vibe that wouldn't look out of place in any club anywhere in the world either. Excellent all round, that.

Sunday 10th August - Wembley Woe

It was early to rise for me this morning, aided by the two cats, and I got myself up, showered and change, leaving The Love's place around 7.15am. You see, I was heading to Wembley for the FA Community Shield with my friend, who was meeting me at the stadium car park. As The Love doesn't live that far from the Etihad Stadium it made a lot more sense to stay over at hers and then walk over to the ground, and with my friend arriving in good time, we made our way to Coach number 1 for the lengthy journey to North London.

It was good to get into the season so early on, and once we'd got down the M6 and on to the M6 Toll, the coach stopped off at Norton Caines services. This meant a nice little visit to Costa and a cuppa and a sit down, together with some toast as well. We couldn't argue with that: always nice to have some breakfast and it was at a reasonable hour when we did (around 9.30am) so that at least would keep us going for the time being and we'd be able to then relax for the rest of the journey.

So it was then the M6 Toll, M42 and M40, then arriving on the A40, turning left into Hangar Lane on the gyratory roundabout and then along the North Circular road, turning off close to the IKEA store and heading around the back of the Industrial estates around Wembley and to the coach park. As this time around we were in the East end of the ground, we had a different block but still on level one along the touchline, so that was actually pretty good. We also after an ice cream due to the nice weather at the time decided to head inside and soak up the atmosphere. Good job we did - it started hammering it down around 2pm!

The game kicked off on time and something didn't seem right with the City team somehow. Whether it was missing key players or not taking it all seriously as they should, I don't know. Arsenal though were showing he fluid passing football and Alexis Sanchez looked particularly impressive down the right side, drifting inwards when needed to help create some chances along the way. And with a defensive mix up, it was no surprise that the ball fell to Santi Cazorla who slotted home with relative ease for 1-0.

City did try to press a little with the best chances from the industrious Stefan Jovetic, but he wasn't aided by the midfield as much. Edin Džeko tried what he could but didn't look 100% right to me, Yaya Touré was lazy, and Fernando seemed to want to dive in a little too often. Having a permeable midfield plus the untried central defensive pairing of Dedryck Boyata and Matija Nastastic proved fatal, as soon before long Aaron Ramsey nipped in and it was 2-0.

In fact only Willy Caballero stopped a few of the Arsenal chances going in, saving well at the feet of Sanchez and looking like he wanted to try and keep the keeper's spot for now. But at half time it was 2-0 and we were a tad lucky to be just that scoreline down. I queued up for a brew and due to the slowness of the Wembley staff (added to fact people paying by card in front were just faffing around) I missed the first couple of minutes of the second half. Sometimes when it's not your day, it's just not your day..

Arsenal had made some changes and one of them scored an absolute belter of a curling shot, similar to the one Yaya Touré scored in the League Cup final, and Olivier Giroud deserved the applause he got from some of the City fans, telling class when they saw it. City did try a bit better once David Silva came on, and he and then James Milner were adding some help to Jovetic's cause, but it was concerning that we didn't look like scoring all game. That and the flat atmosphere as City didn't sell all their tickets - the top tier behind the goal was nothing short of an embarassment. Why are we looking to expand the ground when we can't even sell out this allocation?

So 3-0 to Arsenal it finished then, and as Morrissey would have sang "See these lines? I'm truly disappointed". In fact I'm going to make his brilliant B-side "Disappointed" tune of the day not least because it summed up all of our feelings as we headed back to the coach, and were stuck in the coach park for the best part of an hour due to one person deciding not to turn up for the coach back, and then being stuck in a jam. Eventually when we did get out we headed along the North Circular to the M1, up the M1 to Watford Gap for a quick loo and brew stop, and then up the M6 all the way to Cheshire and back homewards.

The weather was hammering it down when we got back to the Etihad, and it was incessant volumes of rain that was coming down. As you can imagine it wasn't nice for my friend to drive in, so he took it safer and slower and I arrived back home just after 11pm. It had proved to be a frustrating day, good to see my friend and have the day out together, but really annoying due to the fact that the team didn't perform. If they had put up a good fight and lost, whilst I'd have been gutted, but at least more understanding. I do think City should refund all their fans' tickets and travel costs to have to witness that debacle today.

Saturday 9th August - Three Day Test

I had a relatively calm and relaxed day today, mainly seeing to a few things around the house, but also keeping a close eye on the Fourth Test at Old Trafford between England and India. England kept batting throughout the morning and full credit to both Joe Root and Jos Buttler for making decent scores and ticking the runs over very nicely. From a possibly perilous position of 140 for 5 earlier in the innings, and added to some nice blows from the tail enders near the end, England reached a good score of 367, so 215 ahead of India, and before the tea interval had taken the first wicket with a nice plumb LBW from Woakes along the way.

I was staying over at The Love In My Heart's place tonight, and so had already packed my overnight bag and was ready to go. I headed on the bus that takes me around the back of Gorton and Openshaw, and then to one of the tram stops which is a short walk away from her place. It means that not only is it quicker than heading through the city centre, it's also a much more different route and allows me to sit back and relax a fair bit more. Once I'd walked the remaining distance, I'd soon arrived at The Love's place.

I decided that it'd be a good idea if we headed to Matalan, as The Love was after an outfit that she needed, and I thought it may be good to get it done tonight and therefore save her some time on Sunday. As it turned out, we managed to find something nice for her, and that was all good, and in the sale rail I saw a pair of jeans, in my size, with a price reduction marked on the hanger to say £4 instead of £16. Thing was when I got to the till it rang through as full price with the shop assistant mentioning that people often swapped the hangers around in a bid to get things on the cheap, whereas the barcodes are automatically altered on the system to show a reduction.

Ah well, fair dos, I thought, so we then headed on to the local Morrisons to get The Love some wine, and I spotted a nice real ale from the Wychwood Brewery (they make Hobgoblin) which was in conjunction with Status Quo - called Piledriver. Even better it was a mere £1.25, so couldn't argue with that really. Ale was mine, and we headed back to The Love's place whilst she saw to the roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables that she was very kindly making for our tea.

I checked my phone, and it looked like England had won the test against India! How? The Love very kindly said to me "watch it when we're having the tea" and so I was able to see the Channel 5 highlights. For India to collapse to 66-6 for Moeen Ali and James Anderson giving them masses of torture with the ball was a sight and a half, and knowing that there were plenty of overs left in the day, they went for the jugular, bowling India out for 161 and therefore an innings and 54 run win in all. It was impressive stuff to be honest.

The food was lovely too, and The Love excelled herself with her cookery skills once again. The two cats were happy as they had both of us fussing over them, and after snuggling up to watch the lottery show and finding that neither of us had won anything (boo) we switched over channels and The Love noticed that The Holiday was being shown on ITV2 - maybe a bit out of season considering the subject matter in hand, but still good fun. Of course I get Kate Winslet and Jack Black in the same film (a good thing) whilst The Love gets to swoon over Jude Law (a good thing for her).

It was nice just to curl up and cosy with the two cats sat on the stool all being playful and snuggly as well, and just showed that sometimes it's actually quite nice and romantic to spend time alone together like that. Tune of the day in the meantime is one of the tracks from the soundtrack of The Holiday film - no less than "It's Complicated" composed by Hans Zimmer and performed by Imogen Heap. It somehow sums up one of the relationships and yet manages to avoid being too over sickly-sweet at the same time. And that in my eyes is a good thing.

Friday 8th August - Leaving and Digging Out

It was a pretty good day all round: not only did I sort out a task sequence to test to get Photoshop Elements 12 successfully playing ball and working (all good, just awaiting other tests now) but I also assisted one of my colleagues in getting one room of PCs up and ready. Most of them had run the main task sequence for the OS and core software, and we just needed to run the other sequence for the remaining software now. I did find several of them appeared in conflicting records, so resolved those, and badabing - second task sequence not only ran, but successfully on all twenty machines as well. Happy bunny.

In fact several of us headed out after work for a leaving do for one of our colleagues. They'd decided to head to the Sackville Lounge, close to the junction of Sackville Street and Whitworth Street, and actually didn't seem that bad a place on the whole when we got there. Minus points though for no real ale, only smaller bottled versions of the Tickety Brew brewery ales - and indeed, the cardinal sin of them being kept in the fridge rather than at room temperature. Only positive was two of them for a fiver, so that wasn't too bad.

In fact the place had also laid on some nibbles for us as well, as it turned out one of my colleagues knew the owner of the place - good move all round really. The little pies were rather nice, and so were the breaded fish as well, all rather laid out nicely as well. It was a good move as it kept the conversation going nicely for many of us, and the time sped by. Before I knew it, it was time for me to head home and leave plenty of them to have many more drinks into the night, as you do.

I got home and decided to play some more vinyl tonight, as is my wont, and so dug out some classic 7" and 12" singles I'd not played for a bit. A number of them were by Cabaret Voltaire, and so I went for the brilliant 12" version of their song "I Want You", which as some of you may know was covered by Commodore 64 musician Rob Hubbard as part of the soundtrack to the game "I,Ball" (in fact "Whip Blow" from the same album, The Covenant The Sword and the Arm of the Lord, as "I Want You" was the first part of it, with "I Want You" the second) - so tune of the day there.

I also played their "Don't Argue" 7" single as well, which has the B-side version "Who's Arguing?" which I personally like the best out of all the versions of that song. I even put on the likes of Credit To The Nation's "Call It What You Want", the rather ace "Waking Up" by Elastica, and some Industrial stuff incluidng "Iceolate" by Front Line Assembly and "Masterblaster" by Front 242, which meant I was having a relatively loud and kicking Friday evening too. Happy me!

Thursday 7th August - Staying Out For The Summer

It was a semi sort of productive day today, as I was investigating getting Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 packaged, as I needed to deploy it for a member of staff. One of my colleagues in our software and contracts team forwarded me on the location of the installer files, plus the serial number, so I got down to have a look at it. Now, unlike any Adobe software that can very nicely be packaged by using their enterprise tools, you can't do that with Elements. Thankfully, they do give you a nice knowledge base article which shows how to do a silent install.

In essence, it's relatively easy, but you have to launch the setup executable to run the installer - if you try to call the individual Windows installer, it fails, even though the command within the setup.ini file is basically calling the installer. I can only think the main executable has some chaining going on - so not so pretty. On the positive front though, trying their command once I'd made all the other tweaks as per article did work, but it wouldn't play ball for SCCM unless I put a cmd.exe /c in front of it to spawn a command line first - as Adobe recommends the use the start /wait command (and as start isn't a Windows executable, SCCM doesn't interpret that as a valid command)

However, there was also one final thing: it transpired that when you did the install and ran the software, you're asked to sign in with an Adobe ID. Not good, but then I spotted references to APTEE (Adobe Provisioning Toolkit, Enterprise Edition). Now the command lines given as an example initially refused to work until I thought "hmm.. should I put quotation marks around the serial number?" and then it did. So it seems that their example doesn't tell you to put quotes around the serial but in fact you have to. Aaaargh indeed. Good news was though that it then generated a prov.xml file which I could then use accordingly for future deployments to avoid anyone having to sign in. Hurrah indeed.

I headed home from work and not long after The Love In My Heart headed over to mine. As the weather was still pretty nice, we decided to head out to The Elizabethan in Heaton Moor, as they have a nice outdoor seating area, and soon enough we arrived and got a nice table, and got myself a pint of Golden Peddler and The Love a glass of wine. It was nice just to sit out in the sunshine and just chatter to each other, and before long we thought "let's have something to eat as well" and so once we'd made our mind up, I headed to the bar and got everything ordered.

The food arrived and it was as gorgeous as ever - The Love had the pulled pork brisket flatbread with some nice thin fries and some mayonnaise - it still is something I'm going to have to have sometime as the pork is pulled really nicely and was very flavoursome too. As I'd not amazingly had one the whole time I was in Cornwall, the steak and ale pie was mine - and I have to say spot on as it usually is. I've never had a bad pie in there to be honest, and the masses of nice gravy on top were another just lovely thing too. It was good to relax and just be together and happy - for different reasons, it's been a long and hard week.

We relaxed back at mine later and The Love watched Emmerdale before we both settled in later on and watched something on BBC iPlayer which was shown the other night on BBC1 - about people who take up the newspaper offers and go on the £9.50 holidays. Of course most of these are in caravan parks and they get the "bronze" caravan, where the only heating is in the main front room with a single fire, and there's no heating in the bedrooms - fine in the Summer of course, but in the rain or the Winter, a tad on the cold side.

In fact the holiday parks featured had an entertainer in the form of a bunny rabbit where they'd do their utmost to have a children's weekend pass and then charge extra if you wanted a picture with the rabbit, and naturally lots of amusement arcades with the likes of penny falls and the ubiquitous grabbing machines. Of course with many people tightening their budgets it is a way of getting away, unless you're two single ladies who want to sit in a caravan and constantly whinge. To this end, tune of the day is the rather under-rated "Holiday" by Pullover, which has the immortally great line "I want to find out who I am.. in a caravan". Quite apt eh?

Wednesday 6th August - Bake Off on One

It was another busy day at work today, as I started to get some things sorted out for the next few weeks and was also able to assist a colleague with working out how to quickly and easily lock down various folders from being written to by certain users with the good old cacls command. Yes, icacls might be somewhat more powerful in what it can do, but the syntax and having to use the Windows security identifiers left right and centre makes it a little more clunky, whereas it's a bit simpler to do the same task with the former.

I looked into it a bit more and once we'd tested the comand out, and tried to save files to the locations as the logged in user, it effectively said "no, you're not saving there". It was actually a pretty good test but it showed that with a bit of team work and a bit of thought you could manage to get somewhere. Added to that today I had a meeting with a colleague over some planned project work (which will mean lots of time I potentially need to dedicate over the next few weeks) and sorting out some other jobs too.

I headed home and realised that it was a shed load of ironing to be done tonight: my various pairs of jeans which I'd washed and left to dry naturally from the holiday, and then the shirts which I'd worn before going on holiday and they'd all been washed too. I was pretty pleased to have some nice vinyl singles on whilst I was doing a chunk of that including Front Line Assembly's ace "Icoelate", KMDFM's parody on themselves "Sucks" and the effortless simplicity of New Order's original 12" mix of "Confusion" which needs to be tune of the day for the classic that it is.

Later on I settled in for the first episode of the new series of the Great British Bake Off on BBC One. When it used to be on a Tuesday night The Love In My Heart and I would snuggle up together and watch it, and both admire the skills on show and the effortless fun created by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc as hosts (I do love Mel it has to be said) - which really does give it that homely feel. Of course due to its massive success on BBC Two it's moved to One this year, which to me is daft - surely in an age of digital TV people do actually know where BBC Two is, right?

Anyway, The Love was watching it and occasionally texted me her thoughts as I was seeing it too, and straight away I thought that either Claire or Jordan were in trouble: the latter definitely of the geek boy variety, the former a little bit panicky. As for the other end of the spectrum, the youngest competitor ever Martha seemed to have a calmness and maturity beyond her years and made some lovely cakes, and Nancy with her little guillotine tool to help her get her cakes all nice and evenly the same size (which helped her become star baker this week) were definitely two to keep an eye on.

It was Claire in the end, who took it with very good grace, but it could have been Jordan or Iain as well, whose method of scoring the sponge for the Swiss roll in my view was never going to work whatsoever. Be interesting to see how it pans out, notably with the spin off post-show on BBC Two on Friday evenings as well - which may be overkill for some to be honest. I kind of liked the innocence of it but doing something like that reminds me of The Apprentice-You're Fired. We shall see...

Tuesday 5th August - Countryfile from Cornwall

It was really nice to see The Love In My Heart tonight: the first time since we'd headed home after a wonderful week in Cornwall. Of course we'd both missed most of Sunday evening's episode of Countryfile and only had caught snippets of it being based in the far South West, so we thought it'd be worth us watching it tonight. Indeed whilst I was making the tea of some nice chicken with some bacon wrapped around and some potato gratin, I indulged The Love a fair bit with some Emmerdale and some wine - sometimes it's those little sacrifices that you have to make, you know.

We then put on BBC iPlayer, and soon located Sunday night's Countryfile. Of course we were both interested in the Cornish parts as Matt Baker was heading around a few parts of the coastline, learning to hold his breath and free dive, getting some lobster along the way, and then creatively foraging for some plants and leaves that would go well together when cooked, even locating a couple of mustard plants and tasting the very strong afterkick for himself. Seemed pretty good to me.

I was also fascinated by Helen Skelton-Myler's visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan to see how the garden would have been back in 1914. Many of the parts of the vegetable garden (including the tunnel of apple trees) and the potting sheds, the head gardener's office, and nice of them too to show clips of how the gardens were discovered back in 1990 to be rather derelict. When you see the progress since then it really does show what a wonderful place it actually is.

Later on it was time for the new series of Don't Tell The Bride, more for The Love than me of course, but I had a feeling that something was going to go slightly AWOL when the groom and two of his friends decided to head to Thailand, not only for their stag do, but to also supposedly get a bargain for the wedding dress and the suits. In the end the dress had all its bits fall off as it went through baggage handling and the bride thought it was a second hand dress: and the shoes were absoutely awful! No wonder she insisted on another dress which he only just about managed to sort out.

It makes me wonder though how dedicated you must be to decide to get married, and in front of the television cameras, and indeed to have all the three weeks of preparation and planning plus a sum of £12,000 to spend along the way. It is a dear do for a wedding these days admittedly and so I guess the different ways of saying "I do" make it stand out a bit, such as raising the bride down from a chair, Moulin-Rouge style in a theatre. Would have been nice if they used the film version of "Your Song" or even the Elton John original (make that one tune of the day), but no, the Ellie Goulding cover, which although perfectly fine doesn't for me quite fit the setting.

Monday 4th August - Back To The Grindstone Then

It was good and not so good to be back at work today. Reality soon set in once I'd caught up on the emails, turned off my out of office message on my phone and then gradually replied to any emails that needed to be replied to. It was one of those mornings where I just needed to plough on as much as possible and be able to do whatever I could to get things working right in the head. In fact, I'd spotted an issue with a piece of software and was able to take some steps to sort the situation out which was pretty good to be able to do.

I think though that reading through some of the stuff that had happened, a couple of changes had come about, not all of them in my view positive. It does also make me think about the current culture of how it is and if I actually want to consider moving from where I am - maybe I shouldn't think like that but there seems to have been a lot of things recently which I'm not quite sure about. All I can do is make sure I get on with things and do whatever I can to make sure I keep everything ticking over nicely, and that importantly the people I look after are also happy too.

With this in mind, I also decided tonight to have a look at the CV and see what needed to be changed, if anything, and make sure that any courses attended and any additional strengths I can bring to the table were also included in that. If I am going to look elsewhere, then I need to be ready and so that I can apply and know that all the preparation I can do has been done, and then it's a case of answering any of those "please tell us how you meet the criteria and how you fill the person specification" things.

Once that was done, it was then kicking back and watching last Tuesday's episode of CSI on Channel 5 (my Freeview HD recorder is still heavily used and with good reason!) - and that was quite a macabre episode, with everyone who entered the bathroom of one hotel room being slowly drugged with some strong form of PCP to make them go mental and do things that they wouldn't normally. It was fascinating stuff, notably of course when Hodges and Henry went in to investigate and do tests and Hodges ended up being the one going mental for a bit - surreal yet brilliantly played.

I also played Bennet's first album "Super Natural" today. I was contacted by an American via the website who'd read my Bennet article and wanted to get hold of some of their stuff, so I directed them to places that sold their music or dealers based in the USA. Needless to say it gave me a nudge to play that album and notably their top 34 single "Mum's Gone To Iceland" which is a great breakdown of how consumerism takes over your life, how you want everything you can't afford and then on top of all that "they bring out a new game for my Nintendo". Ah, the days. Tune of the day easy peasy.

Sunday 3rd August - Washing and Sorting

I had decided that today was going to be the day to finish off all the washing of clothes from the holiday, and on top of that be able to sort out the photographs that I took when I was away. I do like to have a memento of the travels I've been on which is why in effect many years ago I did buy a camera: primarily because I wanted to have an interest in photography as an art form, but also because it would give me a more creative outlet to be able to do things. I also like to give some background information about the images as well to make it feel more of a travelogue and diary, not just a book of photographs without meaning.

I spent a fair chunk of the day sorting them out and uploading them to Flickr in batches, so if you want to have a look at them, feel free. I also spent some time watching the cycling road races from the Commonwealth Games, in I have to say appalling weather conditions for cycling. Lots of rain, and fell pretty heavily too, and add that to some pedestrianised streets and even a few cobbled sections, almost pavé like, and some steep climbs up and out of Glasgow itself, and you've got a tough race. So much so that a chunk of the men pulled out before the finish, and the drama of the last lap front tyre change for Geraint Thomas must have been pretty heart in mouth stuff, I was glad he won in the end as he deserved it hugely.

I also resisted the temptation to look at the work emails, primarily because I want to go in tomorrow, have the time to catch up but also then not have to think about of any of the content overnight. I think for me when I'm off it's my quality time and the fact that I am then able to spend the time doing my thing and not thinking of work is more important than ever now: it's something I've learned over time that as connected as the technology allows you to be, you can only really switch off if you disconnect from that technology - so much so that I don't connect to my work email with my phone anymore, and have actually felt tons better because of that.

So with most things done, I had settled in for the evening and The Love In My Heart excitedly texted me to say to get BBC1 on - and for good reason, it was Countryfile and they were in.. Cornwall! In fact Helen Skelton-Myler was at the Lost Gardens of Heligan no less, going behind the scenes of their preparations to commemorate the Great War, transforming parts of the gardens into how they were farmed back in 1914, and visiting the same head gardeners' office I was in with The Love, even down to the table and chair. In fact I had uploaded that picture, tweeted it and mentioned Helen, and she favourited my tweet. Woohoo indeed!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Joy" by The Sundays, as I decided to have a bit of a retro listening session, and listen to some of the albums I really liked as a late teenager. Their first album "Reading Writing and Arithmetic" was one of them, it just had some lovely guitars, Harriet's voice on form, and on this final track of the album it just sounds beautifully emotional, especially the end part. Somehow it makes me wonder how many people realise it was they who originally wrote "Here's Where The Story Ends"!

Saturday 2nd August – The Long Way Home

The only negative about going to Cornwall is that, as nice and scenic as the journey is, it is very long. It's at least seven and a half hours from Penzance to Manchester, hence the fact that where possible we book first class for at least the greater part of the journey to make it that bit more comfortable but also less stressful. In many ways and from experience, it means that by the time the train gets on to Plymouth and adds all the day trippers to Torquay and Exeter, it's much less hassle.

The Love In My Heart and I had packed the cases and had enough time for some coffee and toast before departing on the 0828 train, which would be the first leg of the journey from Penzance to Cheltenham Spa. There was an overhanging tree on the line close to Bodmin Parkway, and that slowed the train down a little, but it was soon making up time as it headed through the Devon countryside. The train did seem busy but it was to be expected, a Saturday morning heading back from holidays for many people.

We got to Cheltenham Spa all fine and dandy, but noticed that our 1341 train to Manchester Piccadilly was cancelled. Boo. The very lovely female member of staff at the station informed us that we'd be best to get the 1401 which was the next one to Birmingham, and then we'd have time to get the 1457 back to Manchester. With that done the next train arrived, and lots of room so that was all good. It did mean though changing at Birmingham New Street, which is what we wanted to avoid in the first place!

Thankfully it was only platform 8 to platform 7, and there's lots of lifts now, so much easier if you have a chunk of luggage (which of course we did). The 1457 train to Manchester arrived a little late, but we'd managed by fluke to position ourselves at the entry point where the large luggage racks are, so put those on, found a seat simply enough and was soon heading off back to Piccadilly, and eventually we arrived at 1640, so around forty one minutes behind schedule. This of course means delay repay (which everyone should know about!) for claiming money back when the trains are delayed and it's not your fault.

It definitely wasn't in this case, as the train was cancelled due to a train fault, so wholly the responsibility of CrossCountry Trains that one (which services we were travelling on.) Once I arrived back on the bus I filled out the form and sent that off, in between a shed load of clothes washing (another downer when you come back off holiday I guess) and also heading off to Mum's for a coffee, a chat and to drop off the Cornish pasty that I had got for her, as she always likes to have one brought back. It seemed good enough to me, especially as the shop I bought it from was named after me, hehe.

So now it's back to normal, and that's hit me in a big way (not always good) but it was at least good to have such a wonderful time with The Love In My Heart as well. With that in mind tune of the day is "Lady of the Sea" by Seth Lakeman, a song we both like and somehow because of the week we've had by the sea it seemed right. And true to form with the iPod it actually played as we headed past the sea at Dawlish on the way home as well - somehow pretty apt!

Friday 1st August - Here Comes The Rain

Sadly the weather forecast was to prove right this morning, and the threat of rain (which was supposed to come yesterday but didn't) was true this time around. It was only small showers initially but we feared it might be worse, and looking at the travel times, any potential visit to Gweek Seal Sanctuary wasn't doable – the times just weren't compatible. So instead we thought that a visit to St Ives was a much more sensible option – but on the regular bus instead of the open top!

We got to St Ives and the rain held off for a bit, but by the time we got to the amusement arcade and indulged in some 2p falls action, the rain was hammering it. So instead it was a few plays of the grabber machine, where The Love In My Heart showed her skills and won another large teddy, with a football and a scarf to boot. It was pretty big too, but well worth the effort to win. I'm sure that'll come to some use somewhere!

Once the rain had stopped a bit, we walked along the front and around to near the harbour, admiring the view and also spotting the many seagulls around – a pasty in your hand would resemble lethal prey – believe me, I know! We explored a few of the little independent shops and The Love managed to get some nice cards in one gallery shop – I must admit I was tempted by the vintage railway posters in frames that were not that expensive either!

We walked through Fore Street and plenty of the shops were really doing well – people were heading in out of the drizzle and so were making the most of the time in the shops and purchasing their last gifts before departing. Lots of temptation actually which was good for everyone, and I did succumb to my last Cornish pasty of the week at a small independent takeaway, and it was the best of the week. Also being in the small streets of the town and not by the sea, no seagulls either.

We decided to head to the Harbour Inn out of the rain and we ended up having lunch there – The Love had the ham sandwich which looked really generous on some lovely bread, and I had the mushrooms with a nice sauce on a ciabatta, more of a starter but considering I'd had a pasty earlier, a sensible move really. It was good to get a view out of the window, even with the rain coming down as the boat trips weren't being taken up for fairly obvious reasons.

The Love headed back to the apartment whilst I stayed in St Ives and braved the rain for a nice walk, heading around to Porthgwidden beach, admiring the many little beach huts built into the rocks, and then heading up the hill on The Island, and to the old small church that sits on top. It was a very dramatic view especially with the low cloud as it looked over the coast and down to Porthmeor beach, which was where I headed to next. I saw a seagull pinch someone's ice cream out of their mouth too, don't think they were pre-warned about their lethal reputation.

I headed back to the apartment and the rain kept falling. Undeterred, and because we'd booked a table, we headed later to the Dolphin Tavern, and had our last meal of the holiday there. It was worth it. The Proper Job and Dartmoor Best ale I had was on fine form, and so was the food too – The Love had the chicken sizzler which was very hot and full of tasty chicken and peppers, and I had the Cornish fish trio, which includeed haddock and red gurnard, beautifully cooked with some new potatoes and fresh vegetables. The saffron sauce that the fish was in was gorgeous too.

I also had the sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream for dessert, and that was rather lovely too. The toffee sauce was good, and the clotted cream on top was a nice match for the pudding, melting happily together in the mouth. I think it was nice to end on such a lovely meal, and heading back to the apartment we knew that it was a long way home tomrorow but also we'd had a good week together away from everything, and that would do us both the world of good.

Tune of the day is the somehow apt “One Fine Day” by 3 Daft Monkeys, which considering the rubbish weather, may seem ironic, but in fact proved that you could still make a day of things and enjoy yourselves. The song also has a rather joyous chorus which you can sing along to at the same time as dancing around, maybe not advisable in the rain but still full of happiness, which is what I am really. I'm just so lucky to have someone who enjoys the scenery and the calm nature that is Cornwall and to spend many happy times here is always special.