Dear Diary... August 2015

Monday 31st August - Capesthorne Hall

It was the final Bank Holiday of the spring and summer today, and myself and The Love In My Heart had come up with the idea to head to Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire, which was a privately owned stately home with gardens that was only open to the public on a Sunday and Monday. It's also quite a popular wedding venue too and with its imposing hall from the website, I could see why to be honest. It wasn't looking that brilliant weather wise but we weren't going to let a bit of rain attempt to spoil the day to be honest.

The Love came around noon and we were soon heading along the A34, skirting along the bypasses that meant heading around Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Nether Alderley, and after the Monks Heath junction, then looking out for the right turn for the hall. We had passed it a few times on the way to Biddulph Grange and Little Moreton Hall, but never stopped there till now. As we headed down the driveway towards the hall, we spotted a car with someone in who was doing the admission charges there - we paid our admission for the hall and gardens and headed to the car park at the side of the hall.

As the hall wasn't open till 1.30pm we went first off for a cuppa at the Butlers Pantry café, and sat inside the marquee which they sometimes use for seating for weddings, with its rather nice view over the gardens to the lake. In fact there was a couple with their relations being shown the wedding venue as well, so that was good to see it was still doing well on that side. The rain had stopped briefly so we took the walk down through the gardens and on to the side of the lake, admiring the view of the bridge and over the lake to the fields of cows opposite.

In fact we had a good walk along and past the outdoor metal gazebo, where you can also do the wedding ceremony as well. I can imagine on a sunny day overlooking the lake that this would be rather lovely to be honest. We then followed the path through the Milanese Gates and along the path to the back of the house and the chapel, with a view over the lawn to the fields of sheep beyond, and that was rather nice - a bit of the countryside right on the doorstep too.

We made our way back to the front and entered the hall via the impressive front courtyard, and straight away I noticed the large "no photography" sign, so camera kept well away as we toured the house, which was rather lovely. Lots of pictures of the family, especially in the basement, where they were annotated in type as to what was happening, and even a notable appearance by royalty with them at occasions such as the Cheshire Show too. The upstairs bedrooms were all immaculate, a nice nod in the American Room to some of the American side of the family who had married into relations of the Bromley-Davenports over the course of the 20th Century.

After a leisurely tour of the house it was then on to the gardens and this time the woodland walk, following the path through the trees and to the ice house. The Love headed the short way back to the back of the house and towards the car, and I did the full circuit, following the path through the forest, noticing the clues for the adventure trail for the younger ones, and then heading at the top end of the field of sheep, walking through and past them whilst dodging all the sheep poo everywhere (and there were loads of it) before then arriving at the back of the gardens, and spotting the family cat who looked rather cute and lovely it had to be said!

We stopped off on the way back for a late lunch and it was nice too to have an ale and chatter away together before heading home, where it was nice just to snuggle up with a bit of telly before The Love headed homewards and I then watched the Lenny Henry drama "Danny and the Human Zoo", which was actually really good, with plenty of songs from the 1970s forming an excellent backdrop to the story of the comedian growing up in Dudley, sort of autobiographical really. I enjoyed it and it was notable to see Lenny playing the boy's father, with the advice to "bowl them a googly" to get out a tricky situation. Out of the soundtrack, I noted David Bowie's classic "The Jean Genie" so make that tune of the day.

Sunday 30th August - Hit The Hut

It was nice just to have a bit of a lie in of sorts and wake up this morning watching some of the World Athletics Championship, as the 5000 metres for women proved to be a bit of a ding dong battle until the last three laps or so, and the high jump proving that the favourite doesn't necessarily win every time - and that ended up being a jump off to decide the winner as well, rather dramatic that. We were going out later and so headed back to The Love In My Heart's place first which also meant I could fuss over the two cats Jô and Brian a bit too.

As The Love was getting changed, I was watching the women's 4 x 400 metre relay, and a cracking clash with Jamaica being the USA despite Allyson Felix on the USA bringing the team back into it singlehandedly. Great Britain finished third with a solid run, and a deserved bronze, and the men later on would do the same as well in more dramatic circumstances, snatching it right on the line with a perfectly timed final leg from Martyn Rooney doing the business. So it meant Great Britain had four golds, one silver and two bronzes, a pretty good effort all round really.

We then headed on the tram from The Love's place and off towards Ashton-under-Lyne, where we were meeting up with some friends to celebrate my friend's birthday from yesterday and off to Pizza Hut, as he fancied going there. I must admit I'd not been in there and selected from the full menu for some time - the last time I went to Pizza Hut was the buffet lunch when I was in Edinburgh, so it would be good to see what it was like for a full menu or so. Everyone arrived and so it was time for much chatter and some food too.

In fact I did know of course about the refill drinks, and the fact you could put some shots of flavours in, so for example 7Up Free with some vanilla in, which actually worked pretty well for me to be honest. I thought about having a starter but knowing that you now have a side bowl of salad with the main, I declined. Even though I'm not a salad person, there are stuff like breadsticks, pasta with sweetcorn in a creamy sauce, cous cous etc, so I was still able to have something anyway. I did have the barbecue meat feast as the main which went down rather nicely it has to be said.

My friend liked his presents, and I'd already explained yesterday that one of them hadn't as yet arrived, so was able to hand him the rest over, which was the box set of the first six Fast and the Furious films on Blu-ray, as well a Tin Machine 2-CD set which features a live show from 1992, and of course a certain David Bowie was in Tin Machine as well, so spot on for him. It was just nice to catch up and chat anyway, and so a good way to spend the afternoon. Even the choice of music in the background was decent which had "Losing My Religion by REM on. As it's one of my friend's favourite songs as well as mine by that band, tune of the day it is.

Saturday 29th August - Four Out of Four

It was my friend's birthday today, and we were off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City take on Watford in a game that we hoped would be historic for a number of reasons: one of which would be that City would break their all time record of most consecutive wins in the top division. The win at Everton last Sunday had therefore equalled the nine on the bounce that was last set in 1912, and with six wins from the end of last season and three at the start of this, the league form was looking pretty good. I could only imagine how much it would mean to get ten on the spin.

I headed to the city centre first off this morning as my hair needed cutting, and the lovely staff at the Northern Cutter once again did the business, making sure that it was all nice and short and looked neat and tidy. I did have a mooch in Vinyl Exchange as well and was tempted by a couple of vinyl singles, even though they were not necessarily that cheap. I think too that the stock levels are more about quality than quantity now in some cases, not a bad thing either truth be told.

It was good with the weather at least holding off the rain for the time being as we headed later to the Etihad, and with a cuppa down us, excitement was building. We noticed Watford hadn't filled their away allocation, which meant that we reckoned around 52,000 there in all, and with the crowd behind the goal in the South Stand in good voice, hopes were high for a City win, and with the news that Kevin de Bruyne could be signing for us this weekend, all seemed pretty well.

The game started and City were attacking with Watford pretty keen to have a ten men behind the wall and park the bus tactic, which I suspected might not last all game. City were patient and with Raheem Sterling and David Silva doing all they could for Sergio Agüero to have a few chances, the midfield kept possession and kept the Watford defence guessing, but they held firm and it was a case of some fans getting frustrated. I said to my friend that it was a matter of time and the goal would come in the second half.

At half time off went Jesús Navas for Samir Nasri, which meant Nasri on the left, Silva down the right a bit more, and Sterling in the middle. Within 88 seconds of the restart the tactic proved to be spot on, with SIlva drawing men in to tackle but getting nowhere, laying the ball off to Bacary Sagna who put in a lovely cross for Sterling to score from close range and his first goal for City. This also meant out of the nine goals scored by City so far in the league, this was our eighth different scorer, some statistic that!

City pressed on and after a free kick was half cleared, Fernandinho put in another excellent challenge to win the ball, did a nice one two with David Silva, and then blasted home past the Watford keeper for 2-0. An excellent goal and one he deserved, every tackle he won, and won cleanly, he got stuck in, and I think he's really helping the midfield do their fancy stuff with him as insurance. And with both Chelsea losing and Liverpool losing, an all round good day of results for us - wonder what the odds were for both of those losing at home I wonder?

I headed home later and The Love In My Heart came over for tea, and we had some really nice chicken in a white wine and leek sauce together with some potatoes, peas and carrots, and as a certain programme had come on, I she watched the telly having the tea, with a nice trifle for dessert to come later on. In fact, it was nice for the two of us just to chill out and watch Match of the Day later with a chance for me to relive City's win, and with some good tunes playing throughout, but none perhaps as iconic as the theme tune itself, so tune of the day that very much is!

Friday 28th August - Busy Bunny

Quite a busy day today, and some of that involved a Skype based messaging call over to one of our specialist software suppliers, based in Canada no less, so had to arrange a time that took into account their time difference. I had managed to install the specialist piece of software no problem, but setting up the licencing server proved to be a little more difficult, which is what I required some assistance with. It turned out that although you had to do a full install of one of the pieces of software just to get the licencing side working installed too (annoying that) and then activated the software, it was how the ports would be talking to the FlexLM licencing.

With other software that uses FlexLM (Autodesk and Solidworks for example) they normally will use a port for the FlexLM service and another port (called a vendor port) for the licencing itself. In most of the documentation they both provide, they say to ensure you have a firewall rule to have both ports open. Autodesk uses 27000 (FlexLM default) and 2080 (vendor port) and when you install the licencing for Solidworks, it asks you do you wish to use the same vendor port every time, and assigns 25734 for FlexLM and 25735 for vendor port - easy really.

I looked at the license.dat file used by this other piece of software, and although it seemed to use port 27001 for FlexLM without prompting, it was effectively giving a different vendor port every time. Hence if you tried to do a firewall rule, it wouldn't be practical. However this is where my FlexLM knowledge came into play - in that file, you can specify both the FlexLM and vendor ports to ensure the same one is used every time. I set them to 27001 and 27002 respectively, opened both ports on the firewall and once I ran the software, it could then see the licence and run without issues. Hurrah to that!

That started the weekend off nicely, and even better was that The Love In My Heart texted me and asked if I fancied a drink after work. Well why not? So we arranged to meet in a place close to work that we both like, and with the weather being pretty decent we sat outside, and I had a rather nice pint of the Beartown Brewery's Polar Eclipse, which was a very dark stout like ale, and rather gorgeous it has to be said. Good to spend some time together and catch up a bit.

It was good to be at home later, and my brother in law dropped off a new laptop that needed setting up for my niece. She had asked for money for her birthday from everyone, and so had enough to get her own laptop. When they went to look for one they had asked my advice and for the price I'd spotted a really nice Lenovo Core i3 based model, which seemed pretty good and reduced in price too. As it was, it was well worth it - it performed pretty well when setting it up, and as they'd got Office 365 with it at the same time for less, I got all that set up and installed too, and made sure it was up and running.

I also watched The Last Leg with Katherine Ryan being a good and hilarious guest, and a great rant by Adam Hills about the American gun laws, sung to their national anthem. It might not have gone down to well with some, but I think it was a valid point and very well made too. I also had been listening to some music earlier in the evening, and blasted out some classic Slayer, their 1990 "Seasons in the Abyss" album, with the title track being tune of the day at that. It just really is much more than just a death or thrash album, it has crunching guitars, melody and a real sense of purpose and attack, definitely for me their best work.

Thursday 27th August - I Have Played Atari Today

I had had a little card through the door yesterday, and when I got home from work I noticed it was a recorded delivery package which I had to sign for at the sorting office. The good news for me is that the sorting office isn't that far away, so I headed off to there first thing this morning and ended up collecting a decent sized package, and I knew what it was too - an auction I'd won on eBay for twelve Atari 2600 games to make my collection of games for that console around twenty odd or so, more than enough to be going on with.

I did have a productive day at work really, getting to the bottom of a few issues which I needed to resolve, and actually was good to go for a few things including the testing of some software and also to make sure I implemented an alternate fix so that AutoCAD 2016 would be able to launch without issues and should make it a lot better overall so that it doesn't disrupt anything else at the same time. Things are good when they work too, makes life a heck of a lot easier.

I arrived home and the first thing was the Champions League draw, which took place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, as it tends to do. I was surprised that Peter Schmiechel was hosting it and doing a decent job, and they had various former Barcelona players to celebrate the fact that they won their fifth Champions League title this year, and so even had the likes of the former goalkeeper Zubizaretta from the early 1990s too. I just wanted them to crack on with the draw though, more than enough time for faffing afterwards.

Once the draw took shape and that it went to pot two, where Manchester City were, it meant that we could only be in one of four groups. As it transpired, we ended up in Group D, where Juventus, last season's runners up, in Pot 1, were waiting for us. As the third pot was drawn, we ended up with Seville, and then the final pot could have been something possibly easier such as Gent or Astana - nope, Borussia Mönchengladbach at that. City have actually played them before in Europe, meeting in the 1978-79 UEFA Cup quarter finals - City lost on aggregate and Borussia went on to win the tournament.

So onwards to the Atari 2600 and on with all twelve of the cartridges, and they all worked perfectly. Naturally as seven of them were Activision titles (back then Activision was decent quality gaming) I went through some of those first: Boxing, Tennis, Freeway, Starmaster, and the rather under-rated (in my view anyway) Laser Blast. It was then on with the Atari ones I had: Breakout (another copy but tested and working), RealSports Soccer (3 a side football with scrolling pitch, but works well), and Centipede, which was still just as enjoyable as I remember it with some classic sound effects.

I also played Racquetball from Apollo, never heard of that publisher before, but the game was a sort of 3D version of a mix of squash and tennis, and the shadow of the ball helped you work out where it was on screen, reasonably playable actually. But I saved the best two to last, which was the classic Activision shooter River Raid, where you would head up a river shooting ships, little boats, flying planes on the landscape and remembering to make sure you ran over the fuel when needed so that you didn't run out either. Still just as brilliant and playable as I remember it.

And last, the Activision Decathlon, complete with very nice version of Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" (make that tune of the day) and the ten events are just as joystick waggling tiring as they ever were, the 400 metres especially. I still managed a respectable 9000+ points though including four instances of the "charge" jingle when you scored over 1000 points on the event (100 metres, 400 metres, pole vault and 1500 metres). If of course you have an Atari trackball this game is made ridiculously easy...

Wednesday 26th August - Boom, There's A Hat Trick

I finally had the licences arrive for a specialist piece of animation software (well two of them actually) both of which were made by Toon Boom Animation, based over in Canada. Ordering this has proven to be a bit of a challenge primarily because the company don't have a UK bank account, so had to get our finance people to manually raise an order, and then ensure that a money transfer could be authorised with the currency converted before finally getting the serial numbers and being able to download the software.

I did hit a puzzle or two when it comes to the licencing server and the way you have to set it up. First off, unlike most vendors, it doesn't have a separate licence server install which you can do and set up, but you have to install one of the full versions of their products which then has the licencing server software inside. Once set up, the codes are activated and an instance of FlexLM, commonly used by many software companies such as Autodesk, is placed on the server. However the instance that it sets up doesn't allow for some reason to allow you to specify its own vendor port (Autodesk has always used port 2080 and 27000, set up firewall rule, good to go) and so unless you completely open up the firewall on a server (not really an option) it may not see the server. It also seems to refuse the proper use of the hostname for some odd reason, but this may be a setup error so the plan is to liaise with them over the next day or two and get it sorted.

On a plus side, we did get the licencing for Maxwell Render sorted, as they do offer educational institutions a learning licence for free. As most of our Windows servers run on VMWare (nothing unusual there) the licencing software Maxwell and others have started to use, Reprise Licence Manager, doesn't natively support it by default. However, their support kindly reissued me with a licence file with the vm_enabler switches on, and once that was put on the server and the instance refreshed, voila, licences being issued and good to go. Happy bunny.

I got home later on after spending some time sorting a few other issues out at work, and it was on with BT Sport Showcase, channel 59 on Freeview, for some free football. As part of their mega deal to get the Champions League coverage, part of the contract says that a certain number of games from this and the Europa League have to be shown on free to air television. One of these was tonight with the second leg of Club Brugge against Manchester United, and with a last minute goal from Marouane Felliani in the first leg meaning a 3-1 lead for United, the first goal of the night was crucial.

As it turned out, Wayne Rooney scored it and made it 4-1 on aggregate, and for me that was tie effectively over, and Brugge had a couple of chances which they wasted before half time. United made them pay in the second half with Rooney completing a hat trick and a fourth goal from Ander Herrera was also welcome for them. They brought on Javier Hernandez who missed a penalty and a sitter in front of goal, or else the 7-1 aggregate scoreline could have looked a lot worse than it was. With the England internationals coming up, Rooney scoring might prove to be a good thing, but it does mean four English sides in the Champions League draw. Had Brugge scored the first, it may have been a bit more interesting, and I kind of wanted that, but you don't always get what you wish for do you?

Later on I caught up with the athletics and then on BBC2 watched a classic episode of The Fast Show, always a classic of its time and this episode from Series 2 proved to be just that, with many iconic characters such as Ron Manager, Roy and Renée, the "which was nice" bloke and "Brilliant Kid" played by Paul Whitehouse especially. One of the other episodes on this week had a classic Oasis pastiche based around a song "Mr Wells" effectively calling their Manager Mr Wells a money grabbing idiot and a bit of a, well, not nice person really. Add to that a snooker sketch with someone who could have been in the 1970s film "Shaft" hence the classic theme tune (tune of the day) and Steve Davis too. Ah, classics...

Tuesday 25th August - Bargain Fever

I had a productive day of sorts at work today, and all the software I'd deployed overnight to the new suite of PCs all worked correctly, so I'm pretty much good to go for all the kit in two of the buildings now. All I'm effectively waiting for are the replacement laptops for the trolley, and that's me pretty much good to go to be honest. In fact it also allowed me to do a fair few other tasks throughout the day and crack on with the workload that we all seemed to have a bucketload of at the moment.

I headed home and set off for a shed load of ironing whilst watching Pointless. The couple who got through to the prize round had a perfect subject for them - Germany - and even a perfect round where you could name German equivalents of counties. From my GCSE German I remembered that Saarbrucken was in Saarland, and that was my answer, and that was actually pointless too. The couple got three, I got one, but that would have been enough for me to win £2,000 this time around. Tune of the day should be something German, so how about the classic "Die Mensch-Maschine" by Kraftwerk to use its original German title!

Later on The Love In My Heart came over, and we had a good natter before I popped some tea in the oven - some Hunter's chicken with a nice barbecue sauce, some mini roast potatoes with rosemary, and some broccoli and freshly shelled peas to go with it. That worked out to be really nice and was just the thing as The Love was watching Emmerdale, and I am sure she was as surprised as I was to find out that it was another double episode at that. Oh unadulterated joy. Not.

A bit later after that was the second and final episode of Bargain Fever Britain which must mark the longest run between the first and second episode of any documentary type series ever on any channel, with the first one being shown sometime last year if I remember. Naturally one of the items was on the Black Friday sales and they were at Asda Wembley seeing how idiots were queuing up outside the store for it to open at a certain time just to go into an almighty scrap over cheap tellies (Polaroid ones at that - not really worth it..)

There was also a feature on Shoe Zone, and how they prepared for the sales, and back to the Approved Food distribution centre, where the owner was taking in all sorts, including the bizarre taste of mint chocolate Pringles. I kid you not. And three advent calendars with chocolate in for £1 which then became a massive 5 for £1 in an attempt to sell them. Bizarre, especially when the owner got the kids involved in an attempt to try and sell more of them too.

Monday 24th August - Going Berzerk for Atari

A day of getting on with things, really, and after having had a successful push of some of the core software to a new suite of PCs on Friday evening, I went back there this morning, primarily to ensure that the next batch of software went on (all the specialist stuff that was needed) but also to head up to the second floor of the same building, as the network socket that I needed to be added to one corridor was done so, and it was then a case of ensuring that the socket for the printer was live, on the right network speed and vLAN, and job done as they say.

I arrived home and had some nice little surprises in the post in the case of eBay purchases for the Atari 2600 I got the other week. No less than two Atari classics (Breakout and Berzerk) plus Activision's Skiing as well, which I played first. It seems simple enough but actually plays spot on, with the slalom really being a case of working out the motions to get through each gate at the fastest speed and without issues as well - miss one and it's a five second penalty which might not be so good.

I put on Breakout and had the paddle controllers connected, but one of them seemed quite jerky in terms of response. A quick check of this and it's all about some dust or dirt in the potentiometer which is known to cause this, and even some extreme cases of people taking the controller apart. The second of the two paddles worked fine though so I just set it to two player mode and only played as player two. I'll see if I can unscrew that and get the thing possibly sorted nicely.

Berzerk of course is a classic, and how they managed to fit the main gameplay on the classic Atari was something ace, no mad fancy controls, just direction and fire to send the bullets that way, but watching out for the fast bullets being shot at you. This of course where the diagonal shots really do come into play hugely. Also worthy of note is that someone recently did make an enhanced version of this, complete with some of the speech from the original arcade game - not cheap but definitely an interesting homebrew version product.

And talking of Berzerk, some of you may remember the classic "Stakker Humanoid" by Humanoid in the late 1980s (make that tune of the day) in which the samples from the arcade original featured quite a bit, all wrapped up in an acid house anthem that it clearly was. Having the Evil Otto blast out "Intruder alert" at full pelt along with the bass lines and drums was just a real moment of the times, and certainly a classic of its genre. How I miss old school sometimes!

Sunday 23rd August - The Rain Falls on the Cheshire Plain

The Love In My Heart and I woke up at her place with the two cats Jô and Brian snuggled up by the end of the bed, all cosy, bless them. We got up and The Love made some very lovely poached eggs, bacon and muffins for breakfast, and I settled in to watch some of the World Athletics Championship as she got ready, with Jessica Ennis-Hill winning the final 800 metres event and sealing her second world title after a really solid performance, with the other Briton Katarina Johnson-Thompson fouling three times on the long jump and meaning she didn't have a chance of winning, shame that.

We'd decided to have a nice little walk around Knutsford and go round some of the shops, and it was a nice little leisurely ride as The Love headed along through the back of Handforth and Wilmslow before joining the road to take you through Mobberley and on to Knutsford centre itself, where she parked in the usual space that we tend to park in, which incidentally is free on a Sunday. Knutsford also has a McLaren garage, and in the front window they had no less than Kimi Räikkönen's 2006 McLaren F1 car which was drawing plenty of admiring glances as you can imagine.

We had a nice walk along the shopping streets and indeed had a good look in a few of the shops that were open, and there seemed to be a couple of new additions to King Street as well which was good to see - one of which was a specialist wine and beer merchant (they had local real ales too) which also had a really nice space at the back to have a drink at, and even a "wine jukebox" where you could pick from a selection of wines and have a sample. A really nice place and I suspect somewhere that we might return to!

We went into a few other shops before heading into The Angel for Sunday lunch, which was very nice indeed. The Love went for the sirloin of beef Sunday Roast which looked lovely with a good selection of vegetables, Yorkshire pud and plenty of gravy, and I had the meatball carbonara with rigatoni pasta, which was rather gorgeous actually - proper nice hand rolled meatballs and some gorgeous pasta with plenty of ham and a nice sauce too - and even better that it wasn't that expensive either.

We'd timed the run into the pub perfectly as it started to hammer down with rain just after we'd entered to have lunch, and even later on when we were heading back to The Love's car you could tell that it was still attempting to rain a fair bit, so we made it in good time and headed back homewards, where we settled in to see the 100 metre final of the athletics. I must admit I was massively pleased to see Usain Bolt win and do the business, primarily because of him beating Justin Gatlin and I'm sure a lot of people out there wanted to see the same result to be honest.

The Love headed home and I watched the F1 highlights, which wasn't the most spectacular race ever but it was a solid win from Lewis Hamilton, and Sebastian Vettel was holding off Romain Grosjean for third until a rather spectacular tyre blow out two laps from the end. It needed a bit of rain to be honest but it wasn't as exciting as it could have been, but I suppose for me it's a step in the right direction that the start is controlled completely by the driver now..

Tune of the day in the meantime is another classic by The Jam, and one it was nice to see the video of in the video wall of Somerset House yesterday, namely "The Bitterest Pill" as it really showed more of the direction that Paul Weller was going once the band had split, but also a more measured approach to their songs rather than just be angry in the way that the band seemed to really put together three minute anthems together. I know that The Love likes this song too, so another good reason.

Saturday 22nd August - About The Young Idea

It was an early-ish start as myself and The Love In My Heart were off to London for the day for the second time within a month. This time around it was off to see an exhibition at Somerset House, close to Aldwych and the River Thames, which was a collection of memorabilia and plenty of other artefacts from the band The Jam, which of course Paul Weller was a part of during the late 1970s and early 1980s. As The Love is a Paul Weller fan and I like both his solo and The Jam stuff, we thought it'd be good to go along and see what it was all about, and certainly from the news reports we had seen about it, it did look promising.

It was on the 0955 departure to London Euston, and the train journey was usual pretty good and fairly relaxed, with only a minor signalling delay between Milton Keynes and Berkhamsted to stop us in our tracks a little bit. We were though sat near a couple where the wife was already worrying about the possible heat in London (it was going to be 30 degrees or so) and I suspected that some of this may have been down to the fact that it's a nice air conditioned train where it definitely made you feel more comfortable on the journey down.

We arrived at London Euston and yes, it was pretty hot. We stopped off at the newsagents close to Euston Bus Station to top up the Oyster cards, and it was then on the 59 bus which dropped us pretty much outside the Strand entrance to Somerset House. We also noted the fountain in the middle of the square wasn't in operation and this was due to a proposed photoshoot later in the day. We had also seen beyond the square in the South Wing that there was a terrace overlooking the river and spaces to sit, so we nipped to Tesco Express close by, got some lunch and sat there at a table, and with the sun out it was very nice to do so it had to be said.

We did have a fair bit of time to spend before the exhibition entry time we had, so we then went back to the square, and spotted a fair few scooters going in, with plenty of people in mod-like outfits, which kind of went with the exhibition very nicely indeed. There were lots of people with cameras out shooting, and it was a good way to see how it all unfolded. We had also noticed that there was a temporary bar and fenced off nice seating outside on the terrace, which was Tom's Terrace bar. It might not have been cheap, but to have a nice cold drink and overlook the river and be in rather comfortable seating was pretty lovely actually.

So it was on to the exhibition "About The Young Idea" and was it good? It was rather brilliant actually. There was plenty to see, one particular highlight was all the stage set and instruments from the band's final gig at Brighton in December 1982, which one of the fans had bought over time and donated, so the bass, the guitar and the drum kit were all there, with a central screen of footage from another date during that same tour. There were also lots of old pictures of the members of the band growing up in their surroundings of the town of Woking as well, even with some early posters of when the band had formed in the mid 1970s, even with some vinyl from Paul's Mum's record collection and an old record player to boot.

It was then definitely into more the band starting out and recording singles territory, with a number of gig posters, guitars and instruments (one of the guitars had a set list taped to the body of the guitar to make it easier to remember) complete with a backdrop of a tiled wall with The Jam logo, as featured on the cover of the first album "In The City" and the room also had some posters around this time, including the band in Union Jack jackerts as well (looked like an original old poster too).

Another room had some of the band's outfits as worn on the singles and albums, including a Fred Perry white jacket worn by Weller, a striped jacket as worn by Rick Buckler, and various other shirts and trousers, complete with a backdrop of the single of Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (make that tune of the day as that was also playing in one part of the exhbition too) - and it was good to see the corresponding publicity shots with the outfits on.

The fans also featured, and there were original letters from fans, one from Paul Weller to a photographer who ended up doing shoots with them, and the sheer amount of letters preserved by his sister Nicky were a joy to behold, and definitely showed the relationship between the band, fan club and fans. There was also in one small room a 5 x 5 TV screen video wall showing some of the singles and even the unreleased video to "Absolute Beginners" as well, complete with quotes from the likes of Noel Gallagher on the side walls.

Complete with a complete run of singles from start to finish from various countries of the world, and also the albums in chronological order likewise, and indeed the opportunity to purchse some special edition posters produced for the exhibition, it was really well worth a good look around, even if the venue was really really hot inside (think of the outside temperature, add 10 degrees, seriously!) - and it certainly felt like the time we had in there was rather well spent.

Afterwards we headed over Waterloo Bridge and walked along the South Bank, admiring the book sellers, the skateboarders and the general vibe, even with a large sand pit for people to play in and far too many people running through the fountains next to the Royal Festival Hall. We did however head up to the very top of the Southbank Centre, where the roof garden and bar was rather nice, with The Love having a Pimms No 1 at that which she enjoyed, and the garden itself even had a small allotment for growing vegetables too, nice to have that in such a city centre location.

It was then back on the 59 bus by Waterloo Bridge and back to Euston, and off towards Euston Square and to the Crown and Anchor on Drummond Street, where with the temperature still very warm, we sat outside for tea. The Love had the Southern fried chicken which again was gorgeous, and after it being so fab last time out, the chicken, ham hock and leek pie was mine - and a gorgeous proper pie and even more gorgeous roasted vegetables too with some lovely gravy. And a nice East Lothian Pale Ale too, what more could I ask for?

It was a lovely way to end the day in London and we headed back homewards on the 1920 train which was packed, so really pleased to have reserved a ticket and seat in advance to be honest. We then were on the tram back to The Love's place and ended up watching the Top of the Pops Big Hits from 1979 which included the likes of "Babylon's Burning" by The Ruts, "Up The Junction" by Squeeze and best of all (and apt really!) "The Eton Rifles" by The Jam, sort of definitely the way to end the day rocking!

Friday 21st August - Up, Running and Shopping

I was chairing our team meeting today so made sure that we had something nice to have during the meeting, including some cake and some cookies too, only thought it fair that it made a nice start to the weekend. Actually the meeting went well and I think that it was a lot easier to be able to get a few things sorted between us. It was also a final meeting for one of our colleagues before he heads off to Greece next week and gets married, so definitely was nice to give him a little send off as part of the meeting too.

Thankfully also the driver package I knocked up yesterday worked a treat and is now showing correctly in the main OS deployment task sequence that we have, so I was able to switch on all the other PCs within the room I've been working in and therefore get it running as I intended it to do, and have the OS come down. Fingers crossed I can get some of the main required apps on tonight (they're going on now) and then on Monday I can finalise everything else as much as I can and have the room readied - well at least that is the current plan anyway.

I think too that it has helped us considerably having a number of contractors on board with us, who are both very nice people and have been getting on with things nicely for us, saving a lot of time and hassle across the board really. One of our senior managers asked if I thought they were worth keeping on a bit longer, and I had no hesitation in recommending them both where possible - after all if people have been really good and they've been getting on with it, and if you need them, easy decision for me really.

After work I headed into the city centre to get some birthday presents for one of my friends. In fact I'd checked the prices online from the list that they had provided me, and then when going into certain shops in the city centre I could then see if they matched up or were cheaper. In fact I was amazed to spot that I was able to get almost all the items either the same price, or in a fair few cases, less than Amazon! I suppose it was a case of doing my homework and I'm sure when a package heads up to Ulverston, there'll be a happy face too.

I then settled in to watch 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, which was actually pretty good, but before that was Celebrity Fifteen To One, with Gary Delaney taking out Shobna Gulati and Bruno Tonioli in the final, and actually there were some tactics going on in the second round to ensure that David Baddiel was knocked out before then, as I think a fair few of the contestants had feared how good he might be come the final round. It's been quite entertaining actually.

Tune of the day in the meantime is from something that arrived in the post for me today - and part of an order I'd raised a while ago, namely the new album from The Sword. I've been looking forward to this and so the track "Empty Temples" has been in the head for most of the evening. Imagine some nice hard rock riffs with a vocal line that could have come out of Thin Lizzy in their finest era, and you're pretty much there. It's good too that it's not all the same when they do each album too - keeps it fresh and interesting in my view.

Thursday 20th August - Catch Up and Drivers

Another good day of sorts, but spent a fair bit of time working on a driver package for the new PCs that we set up yesterday. By the look of it, there wasn't any current driver package that would work with the HP Z640 Workstation model (tried the Z620 driver package, that didn't work as intended) - and so set to download the drivers as required from the HP website, thinking that it was going to possibly be a lengthy task to get all the right ones etc.

But no - not so whatsoever! HP have to be commended for making everything available in their "driver packs", one download for the operating system you want to deploy, and this has all the necessary drivers, .inf files etc for what they call "bare metal" deployments, where you don't need any other extra software installing, just the drivers and getting them to work very nicely indeed. In fact this meant that it made life a lot easier: snag the pack, extract it to a folder and then place it somewhere on one of our SCCM servers,. and then create a driver package, referencing where you're going to upload the drivers from, and giving it their own category. One easy upload later on, and job done.

I've set off a machine to test this with a test task sequence, effectively mimicking what our OS deployment does, but adding in the driver package, which naturally has the correct WMI query as well. Fingers crossed that it'll sort itself out and then I can get everything pretty much sorted. It is good when that happens as it saves lots of time and means that others can benefit from the work done there too - and after all isn't that something rather good?

Later on The Love In My Heart arrived and we first of all headed to my Mum's for a coffee and a chat. Admittedly her front room and kitchen now look lovely with the new redecorating, and we were sat in the front room and having a bit of a catch up. It was Cilla Black's funeral today and that showed a lot on the local news, and Mum was with her friends in the Cavern Club last week, and in a way it was quite poignant to be there and in their own way appreciate what she had come through to become famous as a singer and entertainer as well.

We headed back to mine later and after one nice tagliatelle carbonara and with The Love catching up on a double episode of Emmerdale, it was nice too just to relax a bit and snuggle up watching Who Do You Think You Are, as Jane Seymour traced some of her relations back to the second world war, where they were constantly attempting to escape to other parts of Europe from France and constantly being refused exit visas out of there before a Nazi invasion. It was fascinating stuff and you could tell she was rather deeply moved by the whole episode.

As for tune of the day it seemed somehow appropriate that it represents my state of mind right now, and that has to be "Happy" by Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Yes, it's a rather good tune, but the opening line of "feeling so frustrated, so antiquated" is kind of how I've been up and down this week in terms of workload and actually getting things done. It also reminds me of seeing the band live back in 1991 where people were jumping down from the balcony - a proper mental sort of gig really.

Wednesday 19th August - Wet and Waiting

Another productive day, albeit quite bitty in parts and also pretty busy too. Most of the afternoon in fact was spent setting up some of the new PCs for a new course, and they had a room reserved ready with a plethora of power and data points, and tables in. It was a case of me and a couple of colleagues unpacking them and setting them up and so making sure that they were all good to go. It actually looked quite good when done too as we took the time to ensure that we'd taken all the rubbish to recycle bins in a quadrangle close to the room and did all the good work there.

It did however look like there was a potential problem in the fact that you couldn't appear to use the classic PXE boot, and that it wanted to use some sort of UEFI boot, which may not play so well with some of the network kit out there. I'll have to check this over more in the morning as well as possibly patch in some network sockets, but this may have to involve some careful liaison with the vendor, we shall see. It was chucking it down outside though so every time we were recycling the rubbish we were all getting pretty wet.

And the bus journey home was lengthy and not great. We're talking almost forty minutes to go some three miles or so. Whilst I accept that due to one road being closed due to a building knock down currently happening that a diversion isn't ideal, you'd think that someone would have triggered some of the traffic lights a little differently to allow the traffic flow wouldn't you? Or maybe not. So it was stuck on one road waiting to turn left because that road was full of traffic waiting to turn right at the next set of lights at the end of it. Not really that good to be honest.

However, what did keep me going tonight was the latest instalment of The Great British Bake-Off, where breads were the order of the day. As you can well imagine this was Paul Hollywood territory, so the technical challenge of a baguette was deliberately designed to see if the contestants understood the technique somewhat. Some of them shall we say fared better than others in that some realised that steam of some sort was required and made the steps, and others left it, well, a little more of softly softly approach!

Still though I had a feeling who was going to go, and I was right, it was Dorret. Although Mat held on by the skin of his teeth and he could be next to go, despite his obvious desire to be the next Paul Weller inspired baker. No bad thing of course, but I suspect that Ian is one who could possibly win it, star baker twice on the bounce, and I do quite like Flora as well, she's consistent too. I must admit though that I really do like Mel Giedroyc in it, and when she was doing a feature with those Ukranian bakers, she was her usually lovely hilarious self!

Talking of Weller for a second though, The Love In My Heart and I are off to London to see the Jam exhibition "About The Young Idea" with Paul Weller's sister curating a shed load of stuff, and so played the Compact Snap compilation to get me in the mood. Definitely for me tune of the day is the early classic "The Modern World" - even if the version here has the swear words removed, with the line changed to "I don't give a damn about your review" instead. Plenty of anger in it and coolness though.

Tuesday 18th August - Brick Walls Over 100k

So another long(ish) day at work, but quite productive in a way too as I was looking at some new pieces of software and how they'd best work - namely all three components of the Nuke Studio Production Collective (Nuke, Modo and Mari). They run via a network licence on a server, and so was first of all attempting to get that set up to make it all happen. In fact, what I soon realised was that it used Reprise Licence Manager to do its work, and that effectively it meant that depending on how the vendor implemented the licence manager, it basically was a case of adding the licence file to the manager, starting the service, and seeing what happened.

In fact I soon was to hit a brick wall. The licence itself was applied without issue and clearly showed as present. However for some reason the ISV vendor part wasn't playing, stating that a service could not run. I contacted the vendor's support email directly and sent them some diagnostics, and from that they determined that the licence server was a virtual one (indeed all our Windows licencing servers are Windows Server running on VMWare, nothing unusual there) and as such needed a litle extra licence file to do the business. With that added, I could now install and run the components and they licenced without issues. Hurrah!

I also had a meeting with some of our Mac technicians from one site as we needed to look at moving some of the hosted licence stuff on to a properly managed licence server. In fact one of the four pieces of software wasn't needed to do so anyway, because of our Autodesk academic resource centre licences, and so it was looking reasonably simple to see if we could get the other licences moved over, and that proved to be pretty constructive really.

It was really nice too to see The Love In My Heart later on, and set about making the tea with her watching Emmerdale (as she does!) - and it was pretty nice, some gammon steak with cheese and a barbecue sauce, with some parmentier potatoes and broccoli. It went down very nicely, and later on we then indulged a little bit with The House That 100K Built, except for a few factors which annoyed us both: first off the house cost more than £100k, second, the upside down layout with the cantilever that had to be strengthened somewhat with some pillars, and lastly, the couple were in my view a little bit "make it up as you go along."

Talking of telly for a second, I had of course seen this morning that Carol Kirkwood was the next "celebrity" announced for this year's Strictly Come Dancing. I know The Love is not a fan of hers and I can tell she was thinking "who else are they going to get now?" The list isn't inspiring and Ainsley Harriott is also on there, and he was fine for a while till he started getting something I've always called "Carol Vorderman Syndrome" where a celebrity ends up being on every single programme you can think of for the sake of it.

Anyway, we ended the evening watching The Three Day Nanny on Channel 4+1, with Kathryn Mewes sorting out another family with issues, this time with two girl twins approaching their second birthday. The family did look pretty posh, especially with the big house and a garden with its own sandpit for the girls to play in as well, but you could tell that the Mum was decidedly clingy and panicky, and that showed in the behaviour. Once they were on the right track with simple steps to follow, the change was remarkable. The Love of course by her profession knows these sorts of things, but good for us both to see what would happen.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather lovely "Train To Inverness" by Vonda Shepard from her new album "Rookie". It's got a real feeling of being on said journey, especially if like me it's the second part of an epic journey from Manchester via Edinburgh, which I did a few years back when The Love was away with some of her family and I was on my own. You head through the highlands and up mountains, and I'm sure listening to that at the time would have made a lot of sense really. Can't wait to see her live in October now..

Monday 17th August - Another Monday Done

It really did feel like it was just another Monday of just another week at work, and to be honest, it's felt like that for a while now. I've been doing what I can to crack on with several things, and today was the start of attempting to get the PCs in one small suite imaged. Three of them have a laser cutter attached, and the fourth a 3D printer, so it was important to at least bring the operating system and main apps down to it, and in the afternoon then install the specialist stuff before then letting all the bigger software go to it during the evening.

That plan was in operation but I finally got somewhere in one job too where for some reason one of the lift telephones was failing to function. As we have IP telephony, any analogue lines have to be convered with an ATA (analogue telephone adapter) box which then allows for the network signal to be converted without issues. It appeared from having checked the MAC address of the device that it was actually reverted back to some old non-working firmware, so then we'd be able to try and rectify that remotely, fingers crossed.

With that all done, I headed home and had a nice little surprise arrive in the post - not one but two game cartridges for the Atari 2600 console and at a cheap price too. In the end I'd won two games from the Imagic label, Demon Attack and Atlantis. Demon Attack is often recommended by a lot of Atari game players, and to be honest, I could see why, it's quite fast paced with birds swooping down and you needing to shoot. Interestingly too their array of bullets can stay on screen for a small while as it hits the ground at the bottom so you can inadverently steer into it and lose a life, quite clever and makes it a bit more of a challenge too.

Atlantis was a more simplified version of Missile Command, with one gun at each end and one in the middle, and tactically you'd select which gun to use to shoot the alien craft overhead, with one armed with a laser beam destroying your city of Atlantis below the sea or taking out one of the gun positions. It's actually pretty playable on the whole and shows what you can do with some good imagination and sensible gameplay too, and certainly is one of the more obscure titles out there.

Naturally Monday night also meant University Challenge and Only Connect, where I excelled myself with the opening question and got a maximum of five points for getting the connection on the first clue - all counties and postcodes of the Queen's residences throughout the country. That alone pleased me no end but so did the missing vowels round where I was also on the case too, so definitely pretty pleasing throughout for me to do well I reckoned.

Later on still I played the Two Steps From Hell album "Invincible" in full and of course track two is of interest to a fair number of people, not least of course snooker fans as Neil Robertson has often used it for his walk on music, namely "Heart of Courage" and therefore tune of the day. It is pretty stirring stuff and definitely gets you in the mood for listening to the rest of the album as well, all very orchestral and also dramatic at the same time - no bad thing in my book.

Sunday 16th August - Faking It At The Etihad

It was off to the Etihad Stadium for my friend and I for the first game of the new season at home, and after Manchester City's win on Monday night at West Bromwich Albion, plus Chelsea's off field issues including all the malarkey with the club doctors, it was certainly a case of it might be the best time to play them, even at this early stage on. City of course were also officially opening the new third tier of the South Stand, which meant now that three sides of the ground were three tiered.

We got to the ground (with new signage to direct cars in laned access from Alan Turing Way to the car parks, good idea in my view) and the view of the new stand was rather spectacular. I'd also guessed that some of the real diehards had decided to relocate to a section which was going to be more of a singing area, so that the atmosphere would be better. In fact, the away section now expands to part of the third tier as well, so it's quite good to see that in operation - and with more seats pitch side, the attendance was over 54,000.

So with the atmosphere racked up by someone playing the Orbital version of the Doctor Who theme (hehe - classic! - tune of the day obvoiusly) and the teams coming out, City were at it from the first ten seconds, with a gorgeous David Silva through ball finding Sergio Agüero and only a cracking save from Asmir Begovic prevented City taking the lead. In fact Begovic saved twice more from Sergio, one of which had the striker applauding and shaking the keeper's hand in respect - really nice to see that sporting gesture actually.

I figured it'd only be a matter of time before we scored, and sure enough the ball was passed patiently, with then Silva to Yaya Touré and a delicate ball to Agüero, who then took on three players and slotted the ball perfectly and just inside the post for the opener. The crowd went understandably mental and it was really loud too, something which wasn't unnoticed. City pressed on and again it was close to being a second with more good saves from Begovic.

Just before half time, Gary Cahill the Chelsea defender was injured in a collision. Out came the medical staff with the City fans chanting "Where's your doctor gone?" and "You're getting sacked in the morning!" as they'd ran out on to the pitch quickly. A minute later and Diego Costa was being treated after an aerial challenge with Fernandinho, and the City fans ramped it up to "Eva! There's only one Eva!" (in reference to the doctor of course) and just to spice it a bit, "F*** off Mourinho". Quite.

The second half got underway and both my friend and I agreed we'd have taken 1-0 and would take it now. Chelsea had a goal disallowed for offside, but City kept pressing forward, and Martin Demechelis came on for Raheem Sterling. From the resulting corner, the captain Vincent Kompany headed home with a really well placed header, and he and the crowd went mental again for 2-0. Even better later on as a good Silva challenge found Fernandingo, who then smashed it low and hard to the bottom left corner. 3-0! Ace. Absolutely ace.

It made me smile afterwards when the TV interviewed Jose Mourinho and said that the result was "fake" claiming that in fact Chelsea had played better. Oh, so the three goals we scored were an illusion then. It was pretty good on Match of the Day 2 later when Alan Shearer responded with "The only thing fake about the result was that it could have been five or six nil!". Oh yes. In fact the general response was that we'd played really well and we had to agree - and the atmosphere was pretty special too. Get in!

Saturday 15th August - Sales and Rams Heads

It was nice to have a bit of a lie in today after some epic travelling yesterday. I must admit I enjoyed being in Edinburgh more than I thought, and part of me would have liked to have spent more than a day there. However, the sheer cost of staying there during the Fringe season is just way too expensive to muster, and at least this way I could see several shows and not have to necessarily go through a raft of expense. I did sort out the pictures I took from one of the shows (with artist's permission I should add) and they looked pretty decent too, one of the black and white ones I was most pleased with.

With that done, I decided that a bit of vinyl hunting was on the cards, and so headed to Chorlton to Kingbee Records. It was time for their annual sale which had started Monday, where a shed load of vinyl goes down to half price. And as I thought, most of the good stuff had already been snagged during the week. There were still some good bargains to be had, including original Harvest label releases of Deep Purple albums (which I already have) so definitely well worth a pop into if you have the time.

I did also wander by the market close to me on the way back as there's normally a vinyl stall on there too, and the selection was pretty good although I didn't see anything I fancied this time around. It was quite a good mix of stalls generally and I'm sure I could have spent more time mooching if I felt like it. However, I did want to get all the domestic chores well out of the way before my online grocery delivery arrived (obviously not going to be delivered yesterday with me being out and all) and then rest and relax.

The Love In My Heart arrived later on, and looked very nice in her blue dress and some new silvery heels as well. We were going out for the evening to the Ram's Head pub in Disley, as we've been there before and the food is nice, plus we did have a voucher for some money off the food too. We took the train there, and the ticket clerk at the station wasn't realising that for the Two Together Railcard discount to work, you have to add the 2 people before then applying the railcard, which then did the business without issues. It's a shame that it's not inside the Greater Manchester ticketing boundary as an all day ticket would probably be less..

Anyway, we took the train and it was relatively quiet and calm, arriving in Disley in good time for the very short walk to the Ram's Head. They did have Black Sheep Best on cask (hurrah) so that was me sorted, and The Love had some very nice wine. She had a really good duck paté to start, and I had some wild mushrooms in a veloute sauce complete with a poached egg and some rounded garlicky bread, which actually was really fab, perfect for dipping into the veloute as well to be honest.

The mains were just as nice: The Love had the roasted chicken which had a bit of a lemon and garlic kick, and some lashings of gravy and chips etc, all looked really well cooked. I must admit I really was surprised too how good my main was: a king prawn, crab and chorizo linguine, with no skimping on the prawns or the chorizo either to be fair, and with a few chillis in for a fair bit of kick. We even spotted some horse riders going past during the early evening and it made us feel even more in the countryside (maybe we just needed an Escape To The Country presenter at the same time!)

We had had a lovely time and got back to the station for the train home, which was rammed once it got to Hazel Grove full of people on a night out into Manchester City centre. It was nice to get home later and just kick back with some of Match of the Day but we also then watched some of the Top of The Pops Big Hits from 1978, which included some really classic tunes on there. What was even better though was the "Rock 'n' Roll at the BBC" programme after, which had some great performances on. My favourite was Robert Plant doing the Led Zeppelin classic "Rock and Roll" so tune of the day - after I'd explained to The Love who Robert Plant was. I really need to buy her a copy of Led Zeppelin IV I think!!

Friday 14th August - Fringe In The Rain

The weather wasn't looking too clever as I left my house this morning, so made the decision that I'd take my umbrella with me. I was heading off to Piccadilly Station and from there getting the 0745 departure to Edinburgh, where I would be seeing (hopefully) a few of the Fringe shows and make a day of seeing a bit of te city as well. I had decided to go primarily because both She Makes War and MJ Hibbett both have shows on, and not only close together in time during the day, but also the same day I am going, so that's definitely two of them I wanted to see. Looking at the online guide there was something else too, so I got myself up and ready and off to the station.

I got the 0745 train fine, which was one of the new Transpennine Express Class 350 electric four carriage trains - they'd doubled this to an eight carriage one due to the Fringe, and I had a ticket for first class on the way there as the cost wasn't much more than the cheapest standard class. It was pretty nice too - big comfortable seat with window view, complimentary tea and coffee, mineral water and even some Danish pastries as well as some crisps and a small flapjack. That was more than enough to keep me going nicely during the journey as I had She Makes War's "Direction of Travel" album on the iPod, and enjoyed the view of the countryside, especially in the Lake District and beyond the border into Scotland itself.

The train arrived dead on time at 1102, and the rain was pretty incessant. It was out with the brolley and first of all a walk along the Royal Mile, there the Edinburgh Tattoo grandstands were set up by the castle, and with plenty of people milling around the people dressed up in kilts and full tartans. For me, it was notable just how busy part of the Mile was with performers etc, and so thought I'd take a walk along the George VI bridge, then down towards the South Side of the city and more where the University is based. I had a really lovely latte in Press Coffee close to the main University of Edinburgh buildings in Buccleuch Place, and all was well with the world.

Thankfully it also wasn't too far from my first Fringe event of the day at The Southsider, a pub I remember well as years ago when on a training course, a few of the attendees including me did the pub quiz there and as Quizteam Aguilera (haha) won the first prize, which we very kindly gave to the students in second place as it was a fair amount of beer that we weren't going to be able to drink prior to having some more course material to do in the morning. They even had the St Andrews Blonde ale which I had a pint of, and that was rather gorgeous to say the least.

So into the small performance area at the back and to see Cassie Atkinson and Oh Standfast do some "comedy in progress". Oh Standfast was first, and he read poetry and also recited other little stories, either armed with megaphone or with a fair bit of loudness. And to add to the comedic angle, he read from a book which clearly didn't have any pages written in, so effectively adding more to the art angle. There was some audience participation too.

He was decent enough, but Cassie I have to say was better. She had three different distinct comedic sketches - the first one was probably my favourite in which she played a Britpop DJ from the mid 1990s who clearly thought she was cool and was name checking the likes of Rick Witter from Shed Seven and Jarvis Cocker from Pulp. She also definitely had the attitude to match - and then went into her second sketch, which was Amy Adams attempting to act all kooky in a Tim Burton film, with a song to the tune of the Pulp classic, proclaiming "I want to act like kooky people" but couldn't do it, before then finishing as a glamorous actress writing and performing a play about love on a council estate with a baby. Quite witty and overall pretty good stuff.

With that done, I then headed back down towards the city centre, and the rain was pretty bad - it was also time for lunch so spotted Pizza Hut close to the Royal Mile. There were two entrances and the one in North Bridge was busy but around the back was quieter, I got a table much quicker and it was the buffet too, so I tried different slices of pizza, had some of the pasta in a cheese based sauce with peas and broccoli and some soft drinks to go with that too. It just made more sense to do that instead of get even more wet.

Later on I then crossed the North Bridge and then on to Princes Street, and with brolly up took a walk along the gardens, which to be fair did look pretty lovely even in the bad weather. I also spotted a carousel at the west end of the gardens and also then walked up to spot the new trams going up and down the street, which run from the airport to the city centre. Imagine if they had the trams similar to the ones in Lisbon running up the Royal Mile for example? That would be pretty ace actually.

So it was then to Fingers on Frederick Street for the 4pm show, "S**t Girlfriend" by Laura Kidd aka She Makes War. It was nice to see a fair few people in, and I even had some Deuchars too (albeit the bottled version, no cask!). It was a very entertaining show, detailing ten reasons why she would not make a good girlfriend with her being a musician, and interspersed with songs from her extensive catalogue which were written about various situations with partners in the past - although rightfully stopping at naming names, which was a good move. The audience had a few laughs with her, and although not intended to be a comedy show, the warmth of the storytelling couldn't help but make you smile.

All this of course was one thing but having the songs to back it up really worked wonders. Naturally having seen her live before musically, I knew what was coming when she started to play "Delete". And sure enough out she came with a megaphone, which also had a police siren noise for the appropriate moment of the song, so tune of the day for me for that one - it was ace. She also played the likes of "The Best" and "Paper Thin" from the "Direction of Travel" album, and "The Best" just with the ukelele sounded rather lovely.

I had a little chat to her afterwards, and it seemed she was genuinely pleased that the show was going well and people were coming along. I mentioned I'd seen her supporting the Levellers in Manchester, and she said that when the Levs were on the show was pretty intense in terms of people bounding around (which it was!) - and that her boyfriend was heading up to Glasgow to meet here there, which I think she was more than happily looking forward to. Realy nice show all round, and well worth going to if you're in Edinburgh currently.

It was then back down Princes Street, across by Waverley Bridge, up the hill to the Royal Mile and then down Old Fishmarket Close to Cowgate, where Sneaky Pete's was in time for the 6.15pm showing of Hey Hey 16K. Mark and Steve spotted me so it was nice to say hello and have a natter pre-show, and also there was Claire Gibb, who I'd seen at shows in York and knows Mark and Steve too, so it was all rather lovely. In fact there was also a crowd coming along too, so it'd be interesting to see what they'd make of it.

And.. it was great fun. Naturally said Internet Single that is "Hey Hey 16K" got played, albeit in parts to fit the story, and lyric sheets of the chorus had been handed out so that the crowd could sing along later (which they did). Effectively, Mark goes back in time to 1985 and meets a younger version of himself (played by Steve, "role of a liftime" he calls it) an finds that things were different back then - not least due to the fact that one of the songs about the 80s mentioned things like "one day there won't be a Conservative Government" (cue "oops!" look from Mark) and stuff like that.

It was also good to see some of the older songs come out such as "I Come From The Fens" to explain that they were in Peterborough, and indeed retain the sense of continuity with "Hibbett's Golden Rules of Beer" so that you could understand where to go right with drink, and then even some hula hooping (which explained the lack of microphones they needed). I had a good giggle throughout, notably at the Dad jokes where the punch line was the same for different jokes apart from one word...

Afterwards I headed up to the Royal Mile and thought that a quick half of ale was in order before then going downhill for the 2014 train. It turned out to be a really nice move as both partners of Mark and Steve, namely Charlotte and Meg, were in there already with table and beer. I had a good chatter to them both before Mark came in along with his parents too, so it proved to be a really nice way to wind down all round, and had a good natter with Meg about the Women's World Cup and the WSL in general (and how Rachel Yankey of Arsenal is one of her all time heroes).

Time went by too quickly and I was keeping an eye on the time to make sure I didn't miss my train (as it was the last one back to Manchester!) and easily made it on to the 2014, where it was standard class for me this time, and just had some tunes on the iPod as the train made it through the darkness via Lockerbie, Carlisle, Oxenholme, Lancaster and Preston before then diverting via Wigan towards Manchester. It was a long day and I literally hit the sleep afterwards, but it was really a grand day all round!

Thursday 13th August - Post Runner Stress

Another busy day at work, although I ended up rescheduling quite a few things that I was going to be doing today, primarily due to the lack of imaging that we could do, but also down to the fact that there was the team meetings etc brought forward from Friday. In essence I ended up carrying out some software installations which I could do there and then now, and also made sure that whatever I needed to be packaged up for one lab which we're hoping to do next week can be done - note carefully how I said hopefully. I am not going to assume anything at the moment to be honest.

I arrived home later on, sorted a few things out around the house and then started to make the tea for The Love In My Heart and I, as I'd given us a choice of what to have. In the end what we did have worked really well, the Hunter's chicken together with some parmentier potatoes and some peas too. In fact I did the sensible thing of transferring the parmentiers to the roasting tin instead of leaving them in their foil tray, and that actually produced a much nicer even look to them - so mental note made to do that in future to be honest.

The Love had watched some of Emmerdale and later on we decided to see what was happening on Coast, where many caves and coves were being visited. Naturally I was pretty pleased that both Jersey and Cornwall were featuresd, notably of course as I've seen quite a few of the caves and coves in their rather awesome looking glory. Thankfully as well Nicholas Crane is in his rightful position as host of this - he's a much better front man for it than Neil Oliver in my view.

We also then did watch Who Do You Think You Are? on BBC1, as it featured Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off. He did venture to see his family on the Wirral, and ended up at the end of the programme in the Highlands of Scotland, where it emerged that one of his ancestors was a "post runner" that would deliver the post from the likes of Poolewe on the west, and take a trip over three days and sixty miles to Inverness, and then back again, so two trips in a week. And apparently for a long time in years too with just the Sunday off...

In preparation for my day off work tomorrow, I've been playing some classic MJ HIbbett and the Validators as well, as I'm seeing the "Hey Hey 16K" show. Naturally that partcular track has had some play (make that tune of the day) but I've also been listening to a fair bit of their album "We Validate" as well, namely with the likes of "The Lesson of the Smiths" and "The Gay Train" on there - two really good singles for a start. And on top of that the solo album "All Around My House" as well as it has the rather good "Gilette Soccer Saturday" on there - and any football fan can relate to the words in that..

Wednesday 12th August - Rock On!

I had had a busy and yet frustrating day at work, with the lack of being able to image kit proving a real issue right now. Thankfully to a degree a fair number of the ones I've needed to do have been done, but there's a real sense of needing to crack on with things at the moment. And in addition to that, the good thing was that the three machines I set off yesterday had finished, I added on all the software that was required, and that worked really well and so I could get them all in situ without issues. Hurrah to that really.

I thought it might be a nice idea to see if The Love In My Heart fancied a drink after work, and so sent her a quick text, to which she was surprised and pleased, so off we headed to Sandbar later to have a catch up and a chat with the sun out too - it was lovely and warm out and the ale I had (the Pioneer) was on tip top form too, a lovely amber colour at that. Little things like that really do mean a lot and it was just nice to spend a little bit more time together and all that.

I headed to Piccadilly Station later to pick up some tickets for a forthcoming trip for the two of us, and then it was a nice easy ride on the bus back homewards from there. In fact it was fairly quiet so that was a surprise too - and I got home just in time to see the contestants on Pointless try to win the jackpot by concentrating on German F1 drivers and seeing if they could get one. I did actually get Markus Winkelhock but was surprised that Heinz-Harald Frentzen was also a pointless answer too (I'd also gone for that) so there you go, jackpot would have been mine!

I decided a few days ago to get back into Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, especially after sorting out the calibration settings on the telly so they match my Samsung LED beastie. In fact I've managed pretty well to get some good scores and even managed to beat a couple of bests, including the bass score I set myself on "Bat Country" by Avenged Sevenfold, so that's going to be tune of the day. I can sometimes do the bass on hard but some of the more difficult tunes like this just don't go with my lack of co-ordination at times, so I do what I can to enjoy it and rock out.

That left time for tea and then The Great British Bake Off, with a turnaround from week one to the second week, where the biscuits for some really did take the provberbial biscuit. The biscotti were difficult enough but having that challenge to do those biscuits with the swirl in was quite difficult, then of course the showstopper where making some biscuits wasn't enough, but a box made of a different sort of biscuit to put them in as well. The box itself proved the undoing of a few, and that also showed how difficult it was to keep all the timings together as well..

Tuesday 11th August - Escaping To Cornwall

I wish! I really do. In fact what prompted it was the fact that one of the recent episodes of Escape to the Country, which The Love In My Heart and I watched tonight, was of a family wanting to relocate down to Cornwall, because the wife was the one who had parents living in Porthleven, pretty down the far corner. Indeed they looked at three houses down there, and in fact one of them was in Towednack, a couple of miles west of St Ives, which was a former methodist chapel tastefully converted. It brought out some desirable wonderlust in us both to be honest.

We also looked at one holiday place we'd booked an apartment in Cornwall through a couple of years back, and the one that we stayed at was available for some weeks next year, as was one in St Ives itself that seemed to be in a rather nice location all around, which was pretty good, and with a bit of a view from the front window to die for to say the least. I suspect that it might be in the offing in the future if we were going to head back there, as we do like it down there a fair bit - and especially when the weather is really nice - it always brings out the gorgeous light the place has.

Anyway, work had been busy and I'd managed to crack on with a few things including sorting out a few replacement PCs for one building that just needed the odd bit of specialist software on here and there. In fact it was a good move all round because it meant that I could utilise the network sockets from one room which I'd already imaged all the kit in and do some setup there and get cracking. Mind you, imaging seemed painfully slow for some reason and I had to therefore leave two of them running in the hope that they might then finish overnight, we shall see.

I did also work on a couple of things once I did get home - and filled out a survey for one of the pub restaurants we go to, with the upshot nicely being that we were able to get a discount voucher which we'll probably use for ourselves. It's always good when there's little incentives like that and definitely more so when you can use them at weekends as well as during the week, which a lot of the time that you don't get with certain vouchers (usually Monday to Thursday and Sunday if you're lucky.)

In the meantime, it's only right that tune of the day is something by a Cornish band, and who better than 3 Daft Monkeys at that? In fact I was thinking back to last year when I was booking everything for a trip in November which involved seeing them in Falmouth, and indeed being in Cornwall in the Summer and actually going to the place mentioned in the song "The Lovers of Porthgwarra Cove" which was a really nice walk down to the cove, spending time on the beach there, then walking to Porthcurno for some more quality beach time. Happy memories all round really.

Monday 10th August - I Have Played Atari Today

I had a nice surprise when I got into work this morning from one of my colleagues, which really started the week off nicely. He had mentioned to me that he thought he had an Atari 2600 at his parent's place that he probably played when a lot younger, and didn't find it that good, so it had been in storage for a fair while. I said I'd gladly take it off his hands and if he wanted some money for it, that was fine too, but he insisted not. So he brought in a nice little box this morning with everything in.

I did of course have a busy day at work to get through first of all, and it mainly was getting some of the new PCs out to desks. I'd imaged four of them and added on all the software and they were to go to a postgraduate room on the 5th floor of one of our buildings. As it turned out, it was a good move to do so early as no one was in, and this meant less disturbance and more chance to get stuff done. One of the four network points appeared to be on the wrong vLAN so got that sorted at the same time, happy bunny.

I also put a PC in place following a network point installation that took place last week which meant we've filled a gap for some of our technical staff in one faculty, allowing them to work more efficiently. I didn't mind one bit sorting it out as the staff who requested it are a really nice bunch, and when people are really nice to you generally, I think it does make a massive difference overall. It also makes you feel more motivated and more happy too, what more could I want?

I made my way home via the local pound/discount shop, as I did need a couple of things for the Atari 2600, first of all a power supply that would operate at 9v and have the right connector (got one), and also the right lead which is phono to RF to connect it to the telly. Those were the only things I needed, although I did get a small plastic storage box to put it all in too, made sense to me that did. Everything else was there for me so that was a massive plus really.

I got home, set everything up (ensuring the power supply was at 9v, it's a multi voltage one) and then switched on. I realised I had to tune the analogue bit on my telly to the right channel, but it picked up PAL-DK instead of PAL-I. Once changed to I, I could hear sound as well as see picture, and there was the title screen of one of the cartridges, Pole Position. Needless to say I had a go and got to the third lap before I ended up crashing twice and didn't have enough time left to complete it, but still set a decent lap time to start off with - and that little title tune is a classic so tune of the day.

In fact five of the six games that were with it worked, and I had two joysticks too - a Cheetah 125 and an Atari original one. The console itself was the newer "Jr" version, not the wood grain one, but it works really well and of course is much smaller to store too, so good thing there really. The other working games were Phoenix, Mario Bros, Battlezone (ace) and even more ace, The Empire Strikes Back. This was one of the ones I loved playing as a kid when I had one, so obviously that got some heavy play. Only Pac-Man failed, but can't complain one bit.

I then focussed on to the Manchester City game at West Bromwich Albion, and the first game of the season too. City wasted no time and after a deflected Yaya Touré shot for the lead, the Ivorian buried a screamer to make it 2-0. In the second half too a header from Vincent Kompany (and from a corner too) made it 3-0. David Silva though was completely unreal, he played superbly and showed if anything how much Raheem Stirling has to learn from the master.

Sunday 9th August - Sleepy Sunday

My hunch about it not being an early rise this morning was sort of half true. Normally once I'm asleep, I tend to sleep through most things, but The Love In My Heart had two cats to contend with around 6am, but to fair they were probably woken by the sound of a rather loud alarm going off close to The Love's place. Indeed that same alarm was on and off for most of the day, not exactly useful if you wanted to go back to sleep. I must admit this is when I'm glad that I don't often get that much disturbed through the night.

The Love made us both some breakfast later, and it was really nice - some bacon with eggs, and some toast too. Just the job, and once we had that The Love decided to head back to rest, but ended up having a bit of a sleep. I watched the cricket highlights from yesterday and saw England take the final three wickets needed to seal the Ashes being regained, with not many runs being added and some accurate bowling doing the job. I was pleased for the relative newcomer Mark Wood to take the final wicket - excellent captaincy by Alastair Cook to give the young lad confidence too.

The Love was still resting so I decided to leave her to it (the cats were now snuggled at the end of the bed too) and so headed home in the afternoon. I knew she had had a tough week at work and it's not necessarily physically tiring, more mentally tiring and I thought if she was able to have a good rest it might do her the world of good. I could always watch the Manchester City Women's game later at Arsenal and also sort out a few things in the house, so all was good.

I got home mid afternoon and decided to play Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock on the Wii for the first time in ages. I have to say it was pretty enjoyable, once I got the calibration settings re-set for the TV (the last time I'd played it was on the older set, you see) it was time to crack on and play some songs on bass, including John 5's "Black Widow of La Porte" which although really hard even on medium (expert guitar is just insane!) - it's quite enjoyable, so tune of the day there really.

I then had the BT Sport app on my Hudl 2 connected to the TV via HDMI so I could watch the WSL game between Manchester City Women and Arsenal Ladies at Borehamwood. It was a massively entertaining game and a perfect advert for women's football with some great play and some cracking goals too. City had pressed most of the first half and one corner was missed by the Arsenal keeper and headed in by Lucy Bronze, just over the line, for the lead, and at half time 1-0 was a pretty fair assessment of the half.

At the start of the second half Arsenal right back Alex Scott put a cross in, but it was more of a shot that looped over Karen Bardsley in the City goal and so within a minute it was 1-1. City regrouped though and after an excellent move involving Daphne Corboz and Lucy Bronze, Lucy pulled it across the box for Izzy Christiansen to shoot home from close range to take the lead. And then an absolute screamer from Toni Duggan, slotted into the top corner with a curling shot from 25 yards made it 3-1. A real peach of a goal and one that might already win the Man City goal of the season! Arsenal pulled one back via Natalia, but 3-2 away, I'll take that thank you very much!

Saturday 8th August - Barbecue and Carnivals

It was a mixed bag of a day, primarily as The Love In My Heart was actually working today. The place she works at had arranged to have a stand as part of the Caribbean Carnival in Alexnadra Park, and so she had to be there early to help set up the stall and drum up some interest during the day. She had also asked me to volunteer myself to take a few pictures of their stall as well, and so once I'd got everything around the house sorted, I headed on the bus to the city centre first before then getting another bus out of the city and to the park itself.

I followed the directions she'd provided me in a phone call earlier, and as part of a big circular field with stallls all around the outside, there she was with her work colleagues, and it was looking reasonably busy. Someone in a stall next door had one of those bicycle smoothie makers, which is pretty ace, and that definitely was well worth people having a go of - and helped a little bit to direct people towards where The Love was with the stall. With a few pictures taken I had a walk around the quieter parts of the park by the serpentine lake and indeed spotted the Tea Hive café where I had the take out Snugburys sea salt caramel ice cream. And yes, that was gorgeous.

Thankfully The Love didn't have to stay all day, and so later on in the afternoon we headed to her car and managed to leave before the large parade started, which would have meant a definite being stuck in traffic moment. We headed back to The Love's first where the two cats Jô and Brian were being particularly relaxed and cute, and with Jô sat in his box I thought I may well take some pictures of the two of them. They did actually come out quite nicely!

Later on we headed back to mine to get an overnight bag and also to make sure that any washing I'd done was all dried and good to go, and then back to The Love's for a while. It gave her a chance to be showered and changed before our friend came to collect us around 5.30pm as he and his partner were hosting a barbecue at theirs, and thought it'd be nice to head over with the weather being still pretty nice all round - and it made a nice change to have something alfresco too it has to be said.

It was a really good evening: I'd brought along some ale and I definitely had to have the Havercake and indeed the Dizzy's Dark Side (this is fast becoming a favourite of mine) and it was a very nice meal all round, with some nice little chips and dips to start, and with the barbecue on, some excellent burgers and sausages, complete with some potato wedges with a sour cream dip, and even a gorgeous raspberry Eton mess for dessert afterwards - the cooking was excellent.

Drinks and conversation flowed throughout the evening, and naturally The Love and I were mentioning our holiday in Lisbon recently, and my friend revealed that the two of them were going for a weekend away in September, so that'd be ace for them. The "Keep Calm and Stay Cosy" 3CD set was keeping a musical background for most of the night, and naturally when Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" came on both The Love and our friend went "Tune!" - and I can't argue with that, love that one too so tune of the day a very easy decision really.

All in all a really good night, and the time sped by to say the least. Before we knew it, it had gone 11pm and we called a taxi to take us back to The Love's place, and it was a very tired but happy two of us who were snuggling up and with the two cats at the end of the bed too - awww. It was a really nice day all round and definitely different, but with lots of happy moments throughout. I think though we were both feeling pretty tired and I suspect it won't be an early rise tomorrow..

Friday 7th August - Directions of Travel

Another busy day at work, but one which at least I could see some light at the end of the tunnel of, and indeed plenty of progress at the same time. Quite a few things all came together which meant I'd be able to therefore finish off some PCs for deployment, and indeed get a new machine out to a first floor room on Monday morning as well, so will be busy getting kit shifted I suspect. I also planned on working on a plan for the next week or two as I knew I'd be off work next Friday as well.

I arrived home and there was a nice surprise in the letterbox for me - the new album from She Makes War on CD. I had of course pre-ordered it via PledgeMusic and had access to the download once the date came around, and I'd been awaiting the proper CD with the release artwork - just in time for her different show at Edinburgh Fringe coming up too. Indeed the triple fold out sleeve really did look smart, complete with a full run down of who did what on each song - and noticeable guest appearances of course from the likes of Tanya Donnelly and Mark Chadwick for example.

I was particularly plussed to see the two McCarricks in there doing their string thing - they did some excellent work with Kristin Hersh a few years back and are accomplished players, and so to have their instruments on there was another good sign. Playing the album and getting immersed was a positive thing to do tonight, and I have to say that it was well worth the money overall. It's hard to pick an initial favourite, but "Drown Me Out" has a really lilting chorus and some gorgeous guitars, so tune of the day was an easy choice there.

I then settled in to watch some evening telly, including Celebrity Fifteen to One, and it was quite a surprise to see who had managed to be convinced to go on, and it was hilarious seeing Alison Hammond of This Morning fame clearly having palpitations over the 80s pop icon that is Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet. Actually Adam Hills does a pretty good job of hosting the celebrity one, and I suspected that Alex James would be up there as he's actually really clever, you know.

I also of course watched The Last Leg, which was up to its usual hilarious standards, and Bill Bailey particularly was on fine form as a guest. It made me smile every time that both Alex and Josh were clearly ribbing Adam Hills about the cricket (and with good reason, England at the close of play need three wickets to regain the Ashes and with shed loads of time and an innings in hand if required) - but the little moments of digs plus tweets asking if it was okay to add "bowled Stuart Broad" to the name of every Australian cricketer, showed it was fun. And Adam even burned his 5-0 Australian flag prosthetic leg..

Thursday 6th August - Anti-Nasty League

So onwards with more stuff in terms of imaging at work, and I'd managed to try and use one of our new little room set ups in another location - the idea being that we can attempt to image multiple PCs at once. I think that if we're able to do what we can to get another four done that I can get shifted out of the way, it'll then mean that everything will work well and it's the whole of the first batch of kit out there and all done, with possibly more to come in the near future.

I arrived home later on from work and it was good to see a package arrive in the post box, and not just any package either. It was the three disc box set of Pop Will Eat Itself's "Ant-Nasty League" album which I'd pre-ordered a fair while back. I did have access to the download of the album in MP3 and FLAC formats and other stuff in between, but nice to actually have the physical product. In fact the third disc utilised some Aurasma technology, which was good to get up and running - you installed the app on your tablet, added the Pop Will Eat Itself channel, and then when you use the app and camera to take a shot of the front or rear of the third CD sleeve, you then get exclusive video content - pretty nice!

Needless to say I had to give that a good blast from the hi fi rig, and certainly played from the CD and played loud seemed the right approach to take for definite. I really enjoyed it on the whole again, and the album opener "21st Century Civil War" is still a rather brilliant track, so that's going to be tune of the day - I might have to look at the audio stems on that and see if it's worth considering doing a remix of it in some way, not sure how I'd manage it but I am sure I could take a look.

Elsewhere of course, the cricket, bloody hell! I knew it was the first day of the fourth test today but when I was checking a few things over during my lunch break, I glanced at the score. 60 all out for Australia was amazing enough, but eight wickets for 15 runs for Stuart Broad? Unreal. So much so that I simply had to put on Channel 5 at 7pm tonight and watch the highlights, with a real emphasis on the bowling of England and the appalling batting of Australia. I was amazed to see some great cricket, and that catch by Ben Stokes was unreal too.

Once England got ahead with the bat and then took the lead, it was a case of how many they could lead by at the end of the first day, and with Joe Root scoring another century and a good knock of 70-odd from Jonny Bairstow, it set the team up nicely being over 200 in front with four wickets only down. I suspect it'll be a case of bat as long as you can tomorrow, and build up a massive lead with a view to knocking the Australians over and winning the Test and the Ashes. Here's hoping!

Wednesday 5th August - City Live

After a busy day at work I headed towards the city centre, as my friend was driving into the city and meeting me there, as we were heading off to Manchester G-Mex (I refuse to call it Manchester Central, always the G-Mex for me!) for the City Live pre-season launch event. Thankfully I'd worked out a few decent places for my friend to be able to park up, and sure enough he managed to find a good space. We were quite close to Oxford Street as well so we thought it'd be good to get something to eat first off, so Pizza Express came a calling.

That also gave us the opportunity to catch up on all sorts whilst having a rather nice pizza, him the margerita and me the classic La Reine, and these days I even eat all the black olives as well, so that can't be a bad thing. It was good to see my friend had been getting back into vinyl in some way and was now on the hunt for some David Bowie items as well, and I mentioned my recent CD purchases as well and how generally it's nice to play CD and vinyl on a good rig of course.

We then headed over to G-Mex as it said on the ticket doors at 5pm, show starts at 6pm. Actually the 6pm was the pre-event warm up thing with two of the City Square presenters, and not many people were around. We could have actually taken longer having the tea or even head for a drink before going in, but we did see a few City fans who sit near us so we had a chatter to them for a bit before then taking our places, and we weren't that far from the front and to the left.

The evening was started off nicely by the Manchester Camerata orchestra, who didn't just do classical songs - oh no, they did something far more ace. Like a string version of New Order's Blue Monday which was simply brilliant, so tune of the day for that for definite. They also did versions of Oasis' Champagne Supernova, and then naturally Blue Moon. They also did the string introduction theme for the new City video which I'm sure will be played on a match day, where the fans and players together say phrases like "We play for you, we sing for you" and "We'll fight to the end". Stirring stuff really.

So on with the show, and hosts Natalie Sawyer and Mike Wedderburn from Sky Sports News. The latter is a massive Man City fan, and it showed, as he couldn't help but give City in the Community main man and former goalkeeper Alex Williams a proper hug proclaiming "I love you man!" The evening had all sorts of awards, such as the most minutes for an outfield player (Martin Demechelis, amazingly), the EA Sports stats star man (Sergio Agüero), goal of the season (Toni Duggan's chest and volley against Chelsea for Manchester City Women, a brilliant goal) and player of the year (also Agüero unsurprisingly after him getting the Premier League Golden Boot last season)

I did think though that it all seemed a little too self-congratulatory in parts, but it was also a postive to see the women's team get some good exposure, showing off the Continental Cup they won last season and a good interview with the captain Steph Houghton as well. It was also good to see the EDS development players and how three of them are now in the proper senior squad too, which will be good to see if they can step up to the mark and perform so well as they have been doing currently.

The event went by and eventually after interviews with the captain Vincent Kompany along with new signings Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Patrick Roberts, the whole team came out for the season to be announced, and it was noticable that Edin Džeko wasn't there, assumedly tying up the transfer deal to Roma, which I must admit was a bit of a surprise. The team came out and there was a lengthy wait whilst setting up the stage for Black Rivers to play their set, and assuming it was the end for a lot of people, they did up and leave which left the G-Mex rather empty.

Mind you, they sadly didn't miss much. I suspect the sound engineer didn't help proceedings somewhat, but the sound wasn't great for the band, and my friend said that they weren't that great either really - a bit too bland for him (and me admittedly). The sad thing is that had it been better structured, they could have easily set up a stage to one side and have them play a song in between awards, maybe giving the whole evening a bit of a better structure. Maybe something for them to think about next year...

Tuesday 4th August - Eco Houses and Needing Nannying

I had had a busy day at work, and really was pleased to atr least make a good start on several PCs in one of the floors of the buildings we look after. In fact I had to bring forward deployments of one set of PCs earlier than planned mainly due to the fact that we needed to try and test deployment using a newer SCCM distribution point, and the way to do that was clearly to set off some machines to see what happened. And after a couple of attempts, all seemed pretty well there, so that was most pleasing.

What is taking the time most of all though is the more specialised application deployments - not necessarily due to the number of them in our case, but the sheer size of the packages that there are. For example, we're talking some 12GB or so for Adobe Creative Cloud 2015, and 35GB for Autodesk Building Design Suite 2016. Add to that a large installation of Solidworks (some 8GB) and around a 6GB installation of Vectorworks, and you can clearly see where we're coming from.

This is why in so many ways it's best to set off a deployment to a set of machines in a collection at a fixed time period, and with SCCM that's pretty good to do. In effect it means that none of them start till the time you want them to, and off they go, and happily deploy overnight. In fact the slowness of the network for some reason meant that one set of machines last night took 15 hours to deploy the Autodesk suite (normally it's around 3-4 hours maximum) but they crucially did work, so that was perfectly fine really.

The Love In My Heart came over for tea later, and as I knew that she wanted to watch Emmerdale and see the dramatic events (which involved a gas canister from a car explosion head up into the air, hit a helicopter and then send it crashing into the fun fair set up as part of the wedding reception for a wedding which might be the shortest soap one on record after certain revelations, apparently) I made sure that what I was making was delayed enough to allow her to watch it in peace and quiet.

With food consumed we switched to BBC Two and the series The House That 100K Built. This week it was two people who wanted to build an eco friendly house, but straight away the fact that they were going to leave the interior concrete exposed as a wall certainly made me think "well that would look pretty ugly right there." Even just having it plastered a plain white to give it some lightness might have been better, but I suppose it was in keeping with the cost cutting at every corner, even that horrid straircase with bits of scaffolding as the banister..

We also switched over to Channel 4 for The Three Day Nanny, and both of us were interested to see how that would turn out. In some ways it reminded me of the BBC Three series The House of Tiny Tearaways with Tanya Byron, but in this series, it was one family and child for three days, and the nanny concerned, Kathryn Mewes, giving parents ways to help their child. I think the Mum and Dad were in tonight's episode being almost too soft on their daughter Florence, and not setting any boundaries for her. Once they did, wooo, it improved. Not exactly rocket science but there you go.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent "Crystals" by Of Monsters and Men, a mighty start to a rather good second album, and if you want your track one side ones (LP style) to set the scene, then this does with suitable aplomb to say the least. I'm starting to appreciate a lot more why they have many fans, it's just well written, well composed and in this track's case, quite uplifting too and always a good thing when you've had a busy day at work to take the time out..

Monday 3rd August - Start At The Top

So another day, and another bit of assisting one of our infrastructure teams with some live tests over a new SCCM distribution point for deploying the main operating system task sequence. Thankfully this time around I did have some suitable candidates - some PCs I was planning to do anyway which are at the very top floor of one of the buildings we look after (the 8th floor to be precise). Also, as my colleagues had very kindly got some of the stuff in the 7th floor sorted out as well, it meant that I could attempt to get both floors done and therefore save some time - well that was the theory at least.

I set them off imaging, and boom - almost straight away the error 0x80091007 error with not being able to find or locate any content accordingly. As you can well imagine, this wasn't good, so I started them off again - another error, and then again - and yet another error. In fact it was around the fourth attempt that everything did kick in correctly. It made me wonder whether something was amiss elsewhere on the network which was causing those failures, which then stopped becoming a problem.

The good thing I was then able to do later was to schedule a deployment of some of the core applications (they worked) followed then by a scheduled deployment, around 7pm long after I'd gone home, of the specialist applications that those rooms use. As you do. In fact doing a lot of the massive task sequences with all those applications overnight is actually a better thing in terms of time usage - in theory, less activity on the network, and less therefore to be able to do during the day.

I arrived home later and apart from having to do shed loads of washing (meh) I had a relatively quiz related evening, watching the Eggheads at 6.30pm and a real tussle of brains there, particularly in one sudden death round later on, saw a bit of University Challenge as the University of Manchester were roundly thrashed by the University of York, and that was a surprise to say the least. I guess it shows sometimes that if you have a good team of four, it doesn't matter which university they're actually from.

But then of course, Only Connect. I still adore this show, even with the whole double elimination format. And of course, the look on the contestants' faces when they see the music connection question in round one is normally one of dread - but tonight they had two record collectors amongst the team and so were actually really pleased. Shame then that the question and connection was one they didn't get, despite the presence of the Reynolds Girls and Tina Turner in two of the clues!

I do actually like the theme tune, it's short and sweet, has violins in it and just seems highbrow enough without being too over the top, composed by Dawson Sabatini, so that's going to be tune of the day. And it follows my favourite final round as well, the missing vowels one, complete with the letters' spacing jumbled up to make it harder. Although in truth you can't really hide too well NTN DDC (Ant and Dec) as a puzzle, especially when the clue was famous people who lived together..

Sunday 2nd August - Roman Lakes

I had had a very lovely evening last night with The Love In My Heart - we had headed to the Elizabethan in Heaton Chapel for a drink to start, and then headed back to mine where I made us some lovely tea - country vegetable soup, and a main of beef in chianti with broccoli, minted potatoes and peas. All really good and as I'd got some nice new real ales earlier from B&M Bargains earlier, I had the rather gorgeous Robinson's "Dizzy's Dark Side" to have (99p a bottle too, awesome!) and we saw the top 20 run down of Queen songs.

After breakfast and sorting out a few things we decided to head out of the city, knowing full well that due to the Skyride, the city centre was a no go area. We had a few ideas but as we'd seen a sign for it the other week and indeed had never been there, we thought that the Roman Lakes leisure park just outside of Marple was a good idea. We were soon heading on the road to Marple and once past the town centre, we headed down the road towards Lakes Road, which was a quite bumpy unadopted road, and followed that round and downhill to the other side of the lake where the car park was.

It was a really nice place and certainly one I think we'll both go back to for a walk around or even to take a picnic with us. By the lake itself many ducks and geese were around, and we also saw a peacock and a swan who were quite keen to follow each other around by the lakeside. We followed a path around one side of the lake which then almost doubled back on itself as it headed over another stretch of water and around to a large open field, with a railway viaduct in the distance.

We walked up to there and soon saw that a weir carrying the River Goyt was close by with a house that used to back in the day be the former Flood Gates cottage, and home to a tea room back in the day. I can imagine on a sunny day this was quite the place to be and taking it relatively easy. We then headed back under the viaduct and along the field back towards the main entrance, and stopped off at the little kiosk to get a cup of coffee each - very reasonable priced too. You could also sit in side in the small tea rooms, or even outside at the back under the large canopied area.

It was noticeable that plenty of people were locals, some of which had walked down from Marple down the road all the way to the park, and that plenty were also having a well earned coffee in the sunshine. Some others had brought bread with them and needless to say once the geese caught sight of that, they were running after the food at pace it had to be said. It did feel very relaxing indeed though and certainly I could use that as part of a walk from Marple Bridge, taking the walk up Low Lea Road to join Lakes Road too.

Later on with Paul Weller playing from The Love's CD player in the car (I'll make the rather lovely "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea" tune of the day as I know it's one of her favourites) we then headed through Marple, down to Hawk Green and then to High Lane, then to Hazel Grove and off to the Fiveways for a late afternoon lunch stroke tea. In fact we got a nice booth table away from the masses, and with a very nice guest ale on (Atlantic Hop) it was the carvery for us both, with the turkey and the honey roast ham on mighty fine form too.

Saturday 1st August - Gaming In The Rain

It looked like the weather was going to do all sorts today, so was quite thankful that I was heading to the Museum of Science and Industry in the centre of Manchester to go to the Play It! event before the worst of the rain started to come down. I had booked the 10.15am slot thinking that it might not be as busy if people haven't got out of bed, and then the rest of the day would be mine to do as I needed - and I did have plans for that including the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley (in fact had Manchester City Women got there I'd have been seriously on the train right now..)

So it was on the bus to Piccadilly Station first of all, and then knowing that the Metroshuttle city centre buses had all been revised (they're free too) - all three of them now start from Piccadilly, so took the number 2 and headed off towards Deansgate and then down Lower Byrom Street to the Museum of Science and Industry. Their warehouse café was open so I went in there and had a coffee at first, and I have to say it was really nice in there, quite rustic tables and chairs but the overall feel was really nice, and good to chill out in there.

I'll mention more about the Play It! in my review, but suffice to say that it was pretty popular with families all round - a lot of the parents looking at the old machines with the phrase "I had one of those!" and then explaining to their kids how it all worked back then. In fact one of the parents and children ended up in three player mode on one game of Mario Kart, which was quite good to watch, and another family were in multiplayer action on Micro Machines (fair dos that one, bit of a classic and all) - and the ninety minute session I had went by a little too quickly.

Once I'd headed out of there, I walked to Deansgate and then got the Metroshuttle back to Piccadilly, and back home. It then gave me some time to sort out a few things in the house and settle in to BBC One to see the Women's FA Cup final between Chelsea and Notts County. Neither side had won this cup before and it was the first ever to be played at Wembley, a sure sign that the women's game is growing hugely. And a 30,000 or so crowd as well, which is the highest ever attendance for a women's final as well.

The England national manager Mark Sampson was there soaking up all the action, and at first it was pretty tense, with neither side performing as they could. Chelsea got into the game quicker though, and the first set of chances were all theirs. When the goal game it was mainly due to the running of Eniola Aluko, running at defenders and after a bit of scramble her South Korean team mate Ji stabbed it home from close range, and so 1-0 at half time. A deserved lead, although part of me wanted Notts County team mate Laura Bassett to win after her World Cup semi final own goal..

Chelsea went on to win 1-0 and a well deserved win. You could see the happiness of Eniola Aluko as she was interviewed post-match and also good to see the likes of Manchester City's Lucy Bronze as one of the pundits too. The game wasn't that brilliant but I hope that doesn't put people off - because the game is growing and then some. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Alright" by Supergrass, as this was the tune I was playing along to with the bongos on Donkey Konga earlier when in the Museum of Science and Industry, good fun that was!