Dear Diary... December 2015

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives.

Thursday 31st December – Collecting In The New Year

I headed back to the house in the late morning after having a lie in, and had arranged for the two items won on eBay to be collected. Both buyers had asked for the items to be dismantled where possible, so The Love In My Heart had lent me her IKEA tool set, and some alan keys, so I was able to then set to work when I got there. I first dismantled the dining table and worked out the best way of doing so, and once that was all done it was good to go for the first collection at 12 noon which was fine.

I then set off dismantling the futon sofa bed, and the frame was easy enough to sort everything out with, just remembering to take out the alan keys in the right order and remove the two main slatted metal frames first, and then the main base structure afterwards. I was surprised how easy it was to disassemble in the end and so at around 2pm the buyers came over to collect that and it just about fitted into their estate car, and so all was very good there too. I felt pleased as that was two items in all which were gone, and hopefully more in the next week or so.

Later on The Love came back to collect me and we took the air bed and pump over to Mum's, as she may need it more than me if she was having people stay over – in truth, my bedroom space is a lot smaller now overall and so having anyone stay over unless they were snuggled up with me (as The Love will be) will be difficult really. It also meant another thing gone and dealt with, and that meant a lot of sense overall to be able to do that all at the same time before we headed to Asda and got some last bits of shopping before heading back to her place.

We had various different nibbles for tea including these gorgeous pulled pork small lattices, some duck spring rolls, crisps with cheese and chive dips, and plenty more. We relaxed with a drink, I caught up on the episodes of World's Strongest Man as well, and we also watched the documentary behind the scenes of Take That's most recent tour, which The Love was interested in seeing. Actually I could see why from her point of view: the three of them were coming across well and the live stuff reminded her of when she saw the band live a few months ago.

As is our usual want on New Year's Eve, the night would not be complete without a bit of BBC2 and the annual Jools Holland's “Hootenanny” that's always on. It was tinged with a bit of sadness though as one of his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Rico Rodriguez on trombone, had passed away earlier in the year. Tellingly as Pauline and Arthur from The Selecter had joined the band to sing “Train to Skaville” there was a picture of Rico on Jools' piano, and later on they also blasted out “On My Radio” as well which was really cracking, so tune of the day there.

Paul Weller was also on and he was rocking out with his band and doing some great stuff, especially the title track of the Saturns Pattern album and “White Sky” the opening track from said album as well. BBC1 were showing Bryan Adams in the same venue that they had Queen and Adam Lambert in last year, but there was no comparison – we both agreed that last year's was way better and it seemed that it lacked something this time around, so apart from the fireworks we stayed with BBC2.

As it approached the midnight hour and KT Tunstall sang a really nice rendition of Cole Porter's “Night and Day” we turned it over to BBC1 with the countdown to midnight happening. We saw in the New Year with a kiss and the fireworks in the background on the telly, and a glass of prosecco, all rather nice. In fact it was just nice to end the year with the woman I love but who also inspired me to get another job and end the year work wise on a new high and have a whole different life to look forward to as from now, so there's a heck of a lot to thank her for really. I just know I am really lucky.

Wednesday 30th December – Selling Out

I had an appointment at the house this morning with a local estate agent, after me being able to arrange a suitable time for them to come over and visit. I had arrived earlier than planned to make sure everything was tidy, shipshape and as nice as possible ready for her to come and have a chat. In fact due to the fact it was going to potentially rain later after the remnants of Storm Frank were descending over Manchester, it made perfect sense for me to do so.

The agent was really straight talking – something I appreciated straight away, and once I was showing her round the house, she was making some suitable notes, but also appreciated the fact that plenty of storage options were available in most rooms where needed as well. I think for me it was telling that the potential side of it could be seen, so double glazed front to back, new front door, decking in the back yard with space for plants etc, and that had to be good. She also noted a few other things and we sat back down and had a chat.

The valuation which she came to was more than I expected – and I suggested coming in at £50 under the valuation because it would then potentially hit more search criteria for people looking. That was very agreeable and once we'd got the details sorted out, it was essentially all done. So it means that it'll be all up for sale in early January and they were optimistic about selling it, but we shall see. I am not taking anything for granted and so will just take things as they come and get on with it.

I headed back to The Love In My Heart's place later and discovered not only had I managed to sell one thing on eBay, but two! I had sold the futon sofa bed in the spare room and the dining table and chairs too, so that was a definite positive really. I spent some time writing emails making sure that there was a suitable time for collection to be arranged, and that meant I could head back during tomorrow and get all that side of it sorted. All good to go there and we could then both be showered and changed to head out later.

It was really nice to see some friends and have a meal at The Ashlea in Cheadle, and as usual the food was spot on as was the service. I even had the Rocking Rudolph ale which was gorgeous too. So it was the stilton and peppercorn mushrooms to start for me, followed by the really nice cod and chips, and even had the sticky toffee roulade for dessert, all gorgeous. The Love had the pork belly for the main and that looked stunningly nice, and all was good with everyone's meal in general so that set the tone very nicely.

We also swapped presents, and there were some lovely presents for me too which were greatly appreciated. I had the second album from Metronomy, the album by Susanne Sundfor, and the reissue CD of Sandie Shaw's “Hello Angel” album (make the opening track “Nothing Less Than Brilliant” tune of the day as it's a real song I adore lots), along with Shaun The Sheep The Movie and School of Rock on Blu-Ray as well, and I know my friend appreciated the David Bowie live CD I purchased from a record dealer in Sweden too. All in all, a lovely end to the day too.

Tuesday 29th December – Clearout and Strikes

I headed back to the house today and The Love In My Heart had given me an excellent idea – essentially to try and sell off all the things that I didn't need in the house anymore. I was armed with my digital camera as well so it made sense to be able to get a few pictures done, and also to clear out anything else not needed. In fact I was able to dismantle a few items and be able to get rid of them and dispose of them in the refuse and recycling, so definitely that was good.

Once I'd sorted out what was needed and what was not, it was then time to take pictures of the items that I was going to sell, with a view of placing them on eBay. It just made more sense to me in that if I was able to empty out the items I didn't need then it meant that I would then have the place even more ready to sell, which is what I've decided to do. I could have possibly looked at renting it out but that might not necessarily prove to be worth it, especially considering the distance and all that, so thought it best to be realistic and sell instead. In fact I did spend a fair amount of time this morning having a chat with estate agents and attempting to get appointments sorted too.

So with all the place tidied, anything excess disposed of and photographs taken, it was time to head back to The Love In My Heart's place and armed with the memory card, I was able to copy the pictures to the laptop, get everything transferred over that was needed and then be able to start listing the items accordingly. It took a bit of time at first to be able to get into the swing of things to get stuff sorted, but once on a roll that was all good to go, and I even located the remaining issues of Retro Gamer magazine I had and realised I had 95 issues from 97 consecutive, which isn't too bad either.

I think for me too it's now a realisation that I've moved on and that getting everything else sorted is a case of leaving behind the old job, old house etc. I will obviously feel good once I've sold the place as well and that's something that then puts another piece of the jigsaw into place nicely. I have also already later on had some interest in some of the items I'm selling, which is surpsiringly quick all things considered. However sometimes after Christmas is a good time to sell generally as everyone is going to be after things that they maybe have some money to spend on, so you never know.

Later on The Love In My Heart made us a very nice meal of some chicken in a white wine sauce with potatoes and carrots, which was rather lovely all round really. We then were picked up by my brother and we were heading off to Mum's first of all, and then from there The Love was with my brother's girlfriend and Mum having some wine and chatter, and my brothers, brother in law and I were off to the Tenpin in Didsbury for some tenpin bowling action!

I'd booked it a couple of days ago and it was best to book for the Tuesday evening as it was half price for the bowling, so three games were £9. Can't argue with that really and the four of us were soon parked up and at Tenpin. I showed them the booking and they had allocated us a decent lane 12 in the middle of the action – and now even better, it looks like you can use your own shoes to bowl in as long as they're flat surfaced, which all of ours were. I call that a result in more ways than one to be perfectly honest and that meant we were all relaxed before we started.

We were bowling three games, and we did get better with each game. Once I had the purple 10 medium in my hand I definitely was able to bowl really well with that. I was able to get some strikes and get some spares, as did everyone else. In fact my brother in law hit two strikes on the trot and was playing well, and at one point three of us bowled a strike each (admittedly mine was quite flukey as the final pin just tippled over at the last minute) so we definitely had plenty of good bowling going on. Later on we hit the arcade part as well and ended up attempting to win prizes either on the 10p falls or the occasional grabber machine. My brother did win this ball that was glowing in the dark when you bounced it which looked pretty cool.

Tune of the day is the classic theme from the Full Metal Challenge TV series that I used to adore from a few years back. One of the games played in the earlier rounds was indeed Tenpin, where you effectively had your vehicle smack into ten massive sized bowling pins and attempt to knock them down in strike or spare style. Reminded me of the bowling tonight in some way as we were thrashing balls down the lane at quick speed and putting some good scores together – I was most pleased with my 144 as well.

Monday 28th December – Bank Holiday Chillout

It was very much a day of taking it easy and not really doing that much over the Bank Holiday Monday. It was also a case of having a well earned lie in, although the two cats Jô and Brian were doing their best to warrant all the attention possible. I suspect though that they were still getting used to having the idea of me for company and having lots of fussing over all round. Admittedly though it's mainly the stool that Brian likes to snuggle up on, he cosies up to the cushion on there and just stares out of the window happily.

We were going to eat out in the evening with a couple of friends but one of them was poorly so instead the two of us had a change of plan and still decided to eat out anyway. To make things a little easier bearing in mind the rubbish weather we headed over to the Sheldon Arms close to the IKEA and the retail parks in Ashton under Lyne, but it's usually a rather nice place all round and the carvery is usually spot on. In fact this meant that I could have the plum pudding ale once again, so no complaints there from me whatsoever to be honest.

The carvery was really nice all told, and they didn't charge the Bank Holiday prices so it was a mere £7 each, can't complain about that. The beef and the ham that we both had was rather lovely all round, as were the vegetables that we had with it as well, and some gorgeous gravy from the meat juices. I even had a really nice little lemon cheesecake with a lemon curd topping for dessert too, so I can't argue really with that either. It was relatively quiet though so it was good to relax and chat somewhat.

When we got back we ended up watching Googlesprogs on All4, which was quite a good idea and something we didn't see on Christmas Day due to schedules of TV clashing. It was effectively a kids' version of Gogglebox, with the sets of children commentating on various programmes more relating to them – and indeed a whole section dedicated to when Frozen was being shown on Sky Disney, and unsurprisingly the girls all singing along. We were both enchanted with the two Scottish sisters who clearly were very close, and the three Liverpool lads who were asking all sorts of questions. Tune of the day is the most excellent “Perfect World” by Kodaline, the theme tune to Gogglebox. Somehow the theme tune just suits the programme perfectly.

Sunday 27th December – Clearout

So it was back to my house today with The Love In My Heart, and plenty of clearing out still to be done, despite moving a shed load of stuff down with the original move a couple of weeks back. In fact I had arranged for my brother in law to collect the tumble dryer so he could drop it off with my auntie, who was hugely appreciative of having it. I had explained a couple of things for her, and thought it best to hand it over for free and then at least it's something that I was able to get rid of and do so in a good recycling type way as well.

The Love concentrated on defrosting the freezer and sorting out the oven, and I spent time in the office room taking down two lots of shelving and making sure that they were all ready to pack in The Love's car to take to the recycling tip later on. I also had to make some decisions and get rid of some old recorded blank VHS tapes with various stuff on but knew realistically I wasn't going to watch them again, so I was ruthless and got rid. I also made sure that I cleared out a lot of other things too, such as old duvets, covers, pillows etc and did what I could to sort that all out.

We ended up making two trips to the tip in total, one of which to get rid of the blankets, cotton duvet covers and clothes that I had already bagged, and then the second to get rid of the two wooden shelves and some final duvets, which we used to act as a cushion for the wooden shelves beforehand – and that made a lot of sense. In the end it meant that I had cleared out so many bin bags full of stuff and that was all good to get rid. I will now be in a position to talk to an estate agent either about letting and managing the house or possibly selling it – a move I've seriously considered too.

The Love and I had also headed to the Elizabethan pub for lunch, and we hadn't been in there for a fair while so it was nice to go in. I had the rather lovely Plum Pudding ale, which was stunningly nice, and also the steak and ale pie, again gorgeous too. I suspect that it was just the thing we both needed as the hot pot that The Love had was also really lovely as well, so all good there. I must admit I wish that JW Lees did the ale in bottled form for me to buy as I'd rather quite like that actually.

Later on back at The Love's place it was on with Channel 5 and the annual thing always on this time of year – the World's Strongest Man. This year it was from Malaysia and this year also Terry Hollands was a pundit instead of competing, and he really did give a good insight into the events. There were some staple events such as the revamped keg toss (now a slightly different form of item toss) and the fact that the atlas stones could score double points too and so be crucial in deciding the outcome of the heats. I knew though that Brian Shaw was going to win this one and so it proved too. I suspect that'll be on over the next few days or on catch up.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good “Getting Away With It” by Electronic, which was a song I loved in late 1989 and still adore now. I think for me too there's so much in the song (especially the seven minute version) that really does resonate with me and it's one which I've had in my head today a lot, most likely because I can remember buying it from Compact when it used to be in Manchester Arndale – those were the days when record shopping was rather ace actually.

Saturday 26th December – Never Felt More Like Singing The Blues

The Love In My Heart and I had woken up and pottered about the house a little and had breakfast, and saw the local news. It wasn't looking good. All the rain that had come down had set record levels in some local rivers, and in fact even part of Manchester City centre close to the banks of the Irwell had been affected, as well as the upper parts of the same river, so the likes of Summerseat near Bury and also the centre of Rochdale, where the River Roch had burst its banks, looked awful. Hebden Bridge was also looking more like a giant lake than a town centre, and it was heartbreaking to see to be perfectly honest.

I was thinking a lot about that over the course of the day and later on my friend headed over to the Etihad and I met him there from The Love's place. Manchester City were at home to Sunderland and so it was going to be a good game hopefully. City needed to bounce back after the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Monday, and also Sunderland were near the bottom and so needed a win for a different reason. I suspect that both of those reasons may be one to see some goals being scored today.

We had our customary cuppa before the game, and before the start of play there was a video with the likes of Noel Gallagher talking about the new Manchester City badge, before it was then unveiled in the big screen before the fans. Admittedly it had been leaked via the Intellectual Property Office and so I had an idea of what it looked like, but it still was very much a case of going back to a classic round badge with the classic elements of the ship, the rivers, the rose and the circles, and having the 1894 year of formation was a nice touch too. Supra's “Blue Moon” set the scene (make that tune of the day) and so all was good to go.

Whatever City had had for Christmas dinner yesterday it certainly seemed to pep them up a lot. Just after the ten minute mark a hopeful cross from Aleksandar Kolarov went too far but it was retrieved by Kevin de Bruyne whose cross found the head of Raheem Sterling who made no mistake for 1-0. Better was to come five minutes later as Yaya Touré collected the ball towards the edge of the box, sidestepped past one player and then belted a shot low and hard into the bottom corner for 2-0.

More was to come just five minutes later too – City got a free kick, de Bruyne delivered a great ball and Wilfried Bony headed home for 3-0. It was cruise control till half time and only a bad offside call from the linesman meant that Sterling hadn't added to his tally and it was 4-0. Although to be fair, it was a case that Sunderland were also not very good either. And indeed their defence gave the ball back in a 1-2 meant for Bony which de Bruyne tucked away at the start of the second half for 4-0. Easy. Not even a consolation goal for 4-1 made any real difference really.

It was a good win and just what City needed, and later on it was good to see some catch up TV with The Love in My Heart, seeing some of the Aardman documentary shown earlier in the day on BBC1 which was pretty good – notably with a lot of the people who have done the voice overs for various animated films of theirs as well. Of course it was naturally fab to see the classic Morph though, a character I grew up with and loved so much during the Tony Hart art programmes as well, so that was all good.

Friday 25th December – Happy Christmas!

So it was nice to wake up snuggled up next to The Love In My Heart and with the two cats in tow at either corner end of the bed, they were really just all happily snuggled up without a care in the world. We had exchanged cards last night and the Christmas card from The Love was gorgeous, and that made me feel very festive and Christmassy, notably as I had also wrapped up some final presents that I brought home with me yesterday. It was raining outside, and the rain would be pretty persistent for most of the day.

The Love very kindly dropped me off at my uncle's place, and I had already dropped their presents off with them before I moved down South. They were all chuffed with their presents, and they had very kindly got me several presents too – the 2007 F1 review DVD, and several CDs, Fuzzbox's 2CD reissue of “Bostin' Steve Austin” as well as albums from Jean-Michel Jarre, Guy Garvey and Hurts, so lots of listening for me when I get back that is for sure.

I had breakfast with them and that was all really nice, and had plenty of chat and conversation with them before I very kindly was offered a lift to my auntie's place, and had a quick chat there as well as drop some presents off, and my auntie had mentioned her dryer had broken down. I offered her my old one and she was more than pleased to be able to have that from me – and so we'd arrange a time that she could collect it from my house in Manchester and take it from there, but it's the time of giving, so that definitely was something good to do.

It was then over to Mum's and be able to spend most of the day there. My brother and his wife had flown over from Japan, and my sister, brother in law and the two kids were coming over later. My other brother and sister were there too, so it was a packed house at Mum's all told. I got some very nice gifts too – my brother in Japan had located for me the Japanese import CD of Pop Will Eat Itself's “Dos Dedos Mis Amigos” (this version has extra tracks not on CD anywhere else) and it was still sealed, and the other brother had got me four Atari 2600 cartridges including Keystone Kapers and Tutankham, plus the Pixies' “Indie Cindy” CD. My sister got me series one to three of Miranda on DVD, and Mum got me two shirts, some socks and Lynx, plus a gift card for Debenhams and a tin of biscuits in the shape of Monkey from the PG Tips adverts.

It was a really nice Christmas dinner and Mum excelled herself. I helped her dish out as there were twelve of us at the table. The turkey was lovely as were all the trimmings, especially the stuffing, potatoes, carrots, mini roasties, and of course the staple for the Christmas dinner, the pigs in blankets. All was tasty as was the dessert – my sister had brought a trifle round and I was having that definitely. In fact I was spoilt for choice – there were profiteroles, Christmas pudding, chocolate cake and all sorts, so I just had to be good and not have too much really.

We all relaxed in the afternoon and it was good to catch up with the family and chat all sorts, and in fact the only thing was that the rain was still hammering it down massively. I suspected that it wasn't going to stop, and I was going to get a taxi back to The Love's, but my brother offered, which was good, and so once it had got later in the evening he dropped me off, which meant the rest of the day was going to be spent relaxing in the company of the woman I love. Not a bad way to spend the evening at all of course.

We opened presents that family members had purchased for us first, and The Love's family had been very kind – getting us some beer, and also Inside Out on Blu-Ray as well, much appreciated. The Love also got me some lovely presents too which was massively appreciated – The Imitation Game on Blu-Ray, the Atari Game Over documentary on DVD, the Hugo Boss Orange aftershave, and a really nice Fred Perry coloured button shirt which I'd been after for some time too. So they were all lovely and having lots of hugs and kisses were also something to be appreciated as you can well imagine.

We spent the evening in front of the telly, watching the hour long episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street before then seeing the last ever episode of Downton Abbey (make the theme tune the tune of the day) and it managed over the two hours to seal off all the plot lines and be able to give a reasonably happy ending to most cast members as well. It was a case of seeing most of the major cast also have a big part to play in deciding the future of some of the staff working for them and although having to cram a lot in, it's to the writers' credit it didn't feel too convoluted. It was then time to snuggle up and head to bed, but what a nice Christmas Day it was.

Thursday 24th December – Riding Home for Christmas

It was a case of leaving the flat this morning complete with large case in tow, and to make life a lot easier, I headed on the 468 bus from near the flat and that took me virtually to the front door of work. In fact, the traffic was pretty quiet so it sped through the suburbs before arriving at Elephant and Castle and so I was able to get to my office on time and without any issues, so that was pretty good. I knew a couple of colleagues weren't in who were sat either side of me so that meant I could have the case next to me as well.

It was a productive morning all round though as I had the activation codes for the Zoo licence server for Rhino products, so I was able to activate the ones for Penguin, Flamingo and then Rhino, and with me also having documented all the processes this meant that it could easily be referred to in future as well. I've now also got access to most of their process flows and documents so I can appreciate what actually needs to be done and get on with getting it done, a perfect example of which was today really.

As the building was closing around 12 noon, everyone was leaving the building then and making their way home for Christmas, so all was good there. Thankfully for me that meant I was able to wait at the bus stop close to work and be able to get the 68 bus back to Euston – although not without incident. The first bus didn't have a working Oyster reader and decided to terminate at Aldwych, and then I had to hop on another 68 which was fully operational to head back to Euston. On the whole that worked pretty well, and with the extra time I had before my train I thought a spot of light lunch might be nice first.

So off to the Crown and Anchor I went, and that was rather good. I had their wild boar and pork ragu with some lovely pasta and a really nice sauce, and that with a good pint of ale was a good way to wind down. The food's always good in there and today was no exception. I really was so pleased to enjoy everything despite the hustle and bustle of people having a farewell drink before they were also heading homewards (perhaps not as far as me though) for Christmas.

Technically speaking of course, I'm not heading home really – but back to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart and family too. I had booked the 1520 train back and took advantage of a First Class for £30 offer too, so that was all good. Comfy big seat with window view? Check. Lovely staff serving you tea and coffee, light lunch, snacks and alcohol? Check. Train on time? Check. In fact it was all lovely, and even had the Red Willow Wreckless ale with my salmon sandwich. So much so that the lovely ladies serving said “would you like a top up?” and gave me a second can to go with the first one to enjoy on the journey. It's little touches like that which make Virgin Trains so fabulous!

I arrived back at Piccadilly on time and The Love In My Heart was there to greet me, which was lovely. We headed back to her place and unpacked, and it was just nice in the evening to relax and chill out to some degree. In fact later on we headed out to Pizza Hut having done an order online and collected the pizza from one of the collection stores, and had that later on watching telly. All was good and relaxed there and it was just nice to snuggle up to her and have the two cats Jô and Brian generally potter around and be themselves too.

Tune of the day – although technically I wasn't driving, is the Christmas classic “Driving Home For Christmas” by Chris Rea. As I was heading on the train I had that in my head thinking about the classic other Christmas songs which I've been hearing most of the last few weeks and how that'll soon change once Christmas day passes and it's all over. I must admit it is nice to be back in Manchester for Christmas although I also know realistically that this might not be the case that I come back every year, depending on how the job goes and how things generally pan out. We shall see what happens but until then have a great Christmas!

Wednesday 23rd December - Get On T'Internet

I had an appointment this afternoon with a BT Engineer, which hopefully was going to mean phone line and Internet at my new place at last. It's been a bit of a different lifestyle without it to be honest, and I've distracted myself by doing other things to do with the flat so that has at least kept me busy. However it was also good to be able to get the phone back and so be able to ring on the landline instead of my mobile, no matter how good the reception might be there's only so much data tethering at 3G you could possibly use to be perfectly honest.

The engineer arrived on time and in fact earlier than planned. I explained I was still on the way back from work and so he was able to grab a coffee and come back. It wasn't too bad in the end: he went to the point in the flat, got that side sorted, and the communal area downstairs where the lines come in was also (once we'd got access) something he was able to sort out. He had to then head to the green box which was close to the flyover not so far away and do his bit there, came back here and finished off, and so by around 3.30pm I could use the phone and get on the Internet.

It was quite good to note whilst waiting that World's Strongest Man - the Giants Live part - was on Channel 5. In fact they dedicated a whole show to the World Deadlifting competition at the event in Leeds, and that was won by Eddie Hall with a new world record of 463kg. That's a heck of a lot of weight, and he's even talked of possibly doing 500kg in future, which would be just purely mental. In fact several competitors beat their personal best and the Mountain himself Hafthor Björnsson did 450kg, put himself fourth on the all time list with that, so an impressive competition.

I must admit though that I am still not sure about Danny Wallace as commentator - where's the reassured passion and calm and Paul Dickenson when you need him? It did have the energetic as ever Colin Bryce all over the place who has a massive passion for the events, and I think that the competitors respect him a lot as well because he's actually aware of the sheer power, guts and determination it takes to win the thing. For me personally it's good to see.

Later on I caught up with telly on iPlayer, and in fact as part of a BBC Four documentary the other night about classic kids telly, there were some archive episodes on iPlayer, including the classic Grange Hill episode where the likes of Laura and Julia lie about heading out to an all night party because of one of their horrid parents, and Zammo wants to borrow some money from Roland only for him to collapse in a back room in the arcade later having clearly taken drugs. It was shocking at the time and still now it's an iconic TV moment. The iconic theme tune, "Chicken Man" by Alan Hawkshaw, is tune of the day.

So it's back up to Manchester tomorrow afternoon to spend Christmas with The Love In My Heart. I must admit I am pleased to see her and have missed her a heck of a lot (understatement folks!) - and that's going to be rather lovely. Hopefully I can get to spend time with friends too as well as get the old place sorted out and see if I can either look into renting that out or possibly selling it on, depends on how the market is I guess. It's another thing on the to do list but at least then it means I know where I am. Have a great Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday 22nd December - Through the Wind and Rain

It might still be mild(ish) but the wind and rain certainly hit everywhere today, in Croydon this morning and evening, and during my lunch break, where the wind blew the leaves towards me as I was heading out to get a Tesco Meal Deal from the Tesco Metro near work. Even tonight from my 7th floor flat I can hear the howling wind outside and it doesn't look very nice to be outside either. I know though that soon it will be Christmas and I'll be snuggled up with The Love In My Heart and the two cats Jô and Brian. Awwww.

I did have a better day today at work, I decided to get on with things as best I could but also to ask questions, and in fact once I did, I felt better as one of the senior staff said to me that they knew it'd be a different learning curve for me and not to be too concerned about asking anything. That did make me feel better because I knew I wouldn't feel so awkward now. In fact when a customer came down to see myself and two colleagues I was able to explain what was happening and what a possible solution was (not least because I had also taken on the task as well) so felt pretty pleased there.

I did have an email from eBay with an item to collect from the local Argos in Croydon on the way home, and that worked out well because it was something I was after. It was in effect a short but spring loaded shower rail, but I could also use it for some more wardrobe rail space, which was the plan. I got that set to the right distance, brought it down to the place I wanted to carefully, and it fitted spot on, so my measurements were correct. This has meant I've now been able to put up some jeans on hangers in the bottom of the wardrobe and thus be able to therefore save space elsewhere, so could now be unpacking all my remaining clothes. I call that a result!

It is slowly all taking shape and I even used the shiny new hob to make myself a chicken korma with the stuff I had in, so definitely worth doing that all round really. I think for me that I'm attempting where possible to keep things relatively minimal but at the same time make use of the space in an effective way. I have some other ideas what I can do with that and it's just a case of getting the space utilised in a sensible way. I may even decide in the long term to format the PC and sell it on and replace it with a laptop instead - reason being it's smaller space usage. Although admittedly I do like having a proper PC to work on.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the classic CSI theme "Who Are You?" by The Who, as a classic episode was on Channel 5 earlier in the day. I must admit it's been pleasing to see some of the episodes again and makes me realise just how much I've missed all the classic episodes since the series finished with the finale a few months back (and thankfully the UK were a mere two days behind the USA for a change.) I still think it was an inspired move getting Ted Danson in for the last few series, he was ace!

Monday 21st December - Frustration and Second

It was a day where I just felt a bit of frustration really. I think primarily because I'm still new and settling in to the new job, and that I'm still nervous and shy of asking too many questions because I am not sure how to take everyone as yet. I do think that it's also a source of frustration because I've gone from knowing pretty much everything in terms of the day job where I was to being the new person where I am going to need to learn a lot of different processes, procedures and indeed a way that is different too.

I had a bit of a heart to heart with The Love In My Heart later on because I really felt not confident and also felt like I wasn't really able to ask people anything. I don't want people to think I am stupid or anything like that but I do want to get on with it too. She spoke a lot of sense in the fact that she had to face up to her new job when she started a couple of years ago, but has now hit her stride massively and is really confident now. I think that is the journey I've got to go on and start to maybe not be so shy and start talking to people a bit more, as hard as that is for me. I didn't build relationships for sixteen years at work overnight where I was after all.

I decided that a bit of fresh air was a good thing and headed over to the Argos in Purley Way where they still had one of the oak CD towers available. I purchased that (I was massively in credit with my energy provider at my house in Manchester, so claimed some of that back and it went into the bank account, plus I used some of the leaving present from work towards it too) and all was good there. I took it home and used the carpeted hallway outside to build it, and saw the neighbours from next door, who seemed friendly enough too.

What this did mean when built though was the fact that I could empty another full box of CDs, and even part of a third box. I suspect once other stores get this back in stock I'll be able to do another build worth and crack on with it, and the space it uses is a sensible use of space and means that the CDs will all be there, and nothing of those in boxes. Ideally I'll feel much more settled once the boxes are all gone, everything is neatly put away and it feels like home then. I suspect this is also part of the frustration as I want to get on with it all!

I did decide to watch a bit of telly and settle in to a BBC Four documentary about former children's TV programmes and how much had changed in that time. It was great to see the presenters and clips tell all about the likes of Vision On, Jigsaw, Think of a Number etc, and of course it was ground breaking when John Craven's Newsround hit the screens and in fact the BBC ensured several good reporters did their bits for the show (notably Michael Buerk was reported not to wrap up a report for the main news unless he did a companion one for Newsround, respect!). Tune of the day in fact is that distinctive theme tune from Newsround, simple but classic.

Sunday 20th December - Sunday Shopping and Sports Personality

I decided earlier in the day that it would be good to get a little bit of food shopping to keep me going in the days before Christmas and indeed then have something in for when I got back to Croydon from Manchester in the New Year. In fact, it was good to be able to walk down Surrey Street and off to Iceland, and no time wasted in there getting what I needed. What surprised me was actually how much I did get for my mere £16 spend, including the likes of a pint of milk to go with my coffee for just a mere 25p - their flat rate of milk pricing does actually make some sense to be honest.

I also got plenty for the freezer and fridge and notably nice sized portions of chicken and mushrooms that were perfect for just one, so I could make a chicken curry with that and some korma sauce for not much dosh either. It was a good way to get what I needed for less, and being realistic, I'm going to do what I can to save money to make sure that I for the first few months manage to budget sensibly. I even needed some proper Sellotape to wrap up the presents I got yesterday and found that the Sainsburys local close by was a mere 90p for the proper stuff, so all good, and a local 99p shop had padded envelopes too, so definitely worth knowing I can save where possible.

In fact once that was done I kicked back a bit and decided to watch Toy Story 3 on BBC1 in the afternoon. Granted I do have it on Blu-Ray and all that but it was good to be able to actually have it on to watch anyway, and yes, I still do have a tear in the eye at the end when Andy gives the toys (especially Woody) to Bonnie, but it seems a natural changeover to me and at least it's gone to someone who loves toys too, which is also a lovely moment all round really.

It was then settling in for Sports Personality of the Year, and all was good there. I was most pleased that David Beckham narrated the nomination for Lucy Bronze, showing that the men's England team were fully behind the female Lionesses and supporting them all the way, and their heroics were definitely worth shouting about big time. I had a feeling that Team of the Year would be the Davis Cup tennis team (and it defintiely was) and Andy Murray because of that would win for the second time, but deserved, and it wasn't Tyson Fury (who to be fair did at least make an apology for offending people with his comments of late.)

I saw the number of votes later and was surprised to see that Murray and Kevin Sinfield were massively ahead of the rest, with Lucy Bronze last of the twelve. It did show that despite the good viewing figures for the World Cup and the increased attendances for the Women's Super League, there's still a bit to go for the women's game, but to even get a nomination says a lot too. I was then watching the Apprentice and was surprised to see that he went for Joseph in the end, could have gone either way.

Now that the first batch of CDs are playable though it was nice to kick back with the separates on and listen to some songs, and so on went the Cabaret Voltaire "78:85 Electropunk to Technopunk" compilation, which has 7" versions of many of their songs from that era. I must admit it did feel odd listening to a four minute edit, cutting in half the epic "Kino" but it's still a great track despite that so tune of the day it most certainly is. One of those I have the original 12" and CD singles of too.

Saturday 19th December - Sorting out and Strictly

It was a day to get some shopping done and sorting out a few things too, and I was able to visit two shops this morning and sort out remaining Christmas presents that I needed. In fact I got a bit of a bargain in one instance as I was able to get something that I needed and use an existing gift card I still had to purchase it, so definitely no complaints there. In fact I had been able to also get some plastic storage boxes from Poundstretcher close to me, and so was able to box away quite a bit of stuff.

In the morning I had been over to Purley and first stop was the recycling centre, as I was able to sort out some clothes and realise which ones weren't needed anymore, and therefore be able to recycle them for a good cause, which made sense. I then went to Purley Barbers as I needed to have my hair cut, and it was good that I got it all sorted and for a decent price too (£10) and on top of that, the hairdresser was a Manchester City fan and was happy to talk football! No complaints whatsoever to be honest and that was good to be able to do.

I also went to Argos late afternoon and spotted a CD storage unit that would be pretty ideal for my needs, I'd need more than one, but it effectively stored around 360 CDs or so in an oak effect unit, and the price was decent for what it was. I would have possibly been tempted by the Billy Bookcases in Ikea, but they're too deep for CDs and also you then need to get extra shelves too. Granted they do the tall Gnedby towers, but you'd need several of them (180 CDs each) and there's the fact you've got to either carry them one at a time home, or pay £25 delivery charge.

The Argos unit I got (the Portland one in oak) when I got it home was fairly easy to assemble, and all the parts and packs of screws were numbered (easy) and in fact once it went up I added some felt pads underneath at the back so that the unit would be at a very very slight angle leaning back and the felt at the back meant it wasn't going to scratch the wall either. Result all round. I've now managed to unpack the first box and a half worth of CDs and so that looks very good. Hopefully I can get some more over the next few weeks and be able to then put all the CDs out nicely - or even get them delivered to me rather than me carry them. Although admittedly one of the branches is a bus ride away where the bus is close to where I live, so that's good news.

I think for me I don't like having boxes of stuff around me everywhere - I'd rather have everything nicely sorted out and neatly organised, and so then be able to work out where and when I'd want to put the dining table in relation to the front room living space, the rear speakers etc, and then from that I can also put in a proper desk for the PC as well (currently the monitor and keyboard is just on the dining table in part) and then feel like a space I'm enjoying living in (which admittedly I am - despite the fact rent isn't cheap it is a lovely place, so it's well worth it from my perspective.)

I watched the final of Strictly Come Dancing later on and was fascinated to see how well all three did - Kellie and Kevin especially. I must admit though I was hugely surprised that Jay McGuiness won - he and Aliona Vilani had been good but I suspect the public were backing him a lot as the last bloke standing (plus fans of The Wanted would love him of course.) He was very good and the really moody dances he did with Aliona were excellent. I could see them being a couple actually (cue all sorts of Strictly curse conspiracy theories.)

Tune of the day though is the theme tune to Match of the Day and in tribute to a man who made the programme changes happen over the years: the late great Jimmy Hill, who passed away today. He was definitely a pioneer: abolishing the maximum wage, really putting the view of the pundit at the forefront of such programmes, and a consummate presenter on top of all that too. A great man who had been missed in football terms for some time, but deserves all the accolades coming to him. It was great to see them mention the Harry Enfield sketch with "You don't wanna do that!" bloke sharing the punditry with Jimmy, and he pastiched himself brilliantly when he said "Defending like that? You don't wanna do that!" - cue Enfield: "Winning? Yes. Losing? You don't wanna do that!"

Friday 18th December - Away Day

It was the away day for the new place I work at in terms of getting together, working as a team, sharing ideas etc. I had been asked along so it was a good end to the first week of work. The place was a neighbourhood centre close to the South Bank, but I'd got up earlier and decided to have a walk around St Paul's Cathedral and then head across Blackfriars Bridge and have a walk along the road to locate the place. I had got there early so I had a well earned coffee and waited for various people to arrive. In fact my colleagues had all made it too so it was good to see everyone.

For the majority of the morning we were split into groups which meant you had a cross section of different people: I had one of the senior support people, first line customer service, a business analyst, a web master and plenty more. It was a good idea as it got people mixed together and meant that for the first two exercises (what had we done successfully and then what new ideas we could bring forward) were really good. In fact I ended up having to do the speaking for the first one which was a little nerve wracking in front of so many people, but at the same time a good way to possibly introduce myself!

In the afternoon we spent time in our own teams and it was good to be amongst them and think of the things we were doing in the next 12 months, and that certainly meant that from our point of view it also gave me an idea of what technical challenges we were going to face. Certainly for me I'd rather see them move to SCCM instead of Zenworks 11, but that's not down to me technically - but what it does mean is that I will at least be able to understand more how it works too.

A few of us after the productive day headed down to our base office as there was a Christmas party on for the building, with food and drink provided. It was also a good opportunity to be able to meet a few different people as well and once we realised that the disco and the band (who were called Motown Gold and were good) were loud enough that you couldn't hear yourself, it was time to head outside and chatter, and that was good. I think that one of the folks from another team said "It doesn't feel like you've been here a week!" which was really nice for him to say actually.

I headed home later and decided to test out the 468 bus which would be able to take me virtually do the doorstep home. I was a good idea to do that actually as it gave me an idea of the time span in minutes. It was quicker than expected but still around an hour, so that was good to measure at off peak times in terms of what might happen if there were train strikes (which could happen as those who work for Southern appear to have done so.) This may also be where the working at home could prove advantageous!

I then watched Gogglebox, the last of the series (make "In A Perfect World" by Kodaline, the theme tune, tune of the day) and that was good to see that they watched the First Dates episode where Scott proposed to Victoria, and you could tell that the watchers were just as nervous as we all were. It was a great moment and so nice to see Leon and June say how romantic it was, and it was good to see, and Rev Kate's "I've been waiting for this!" pretty much said what most of us thought.

Thursday 17th December - Disgusted of Croydon

I got home tonight and had a letter from Manchester City Council. I had advised them that I was moving to a new address and had provided them with that, so that they would know (in my view) I shouldn't be liable for any Council Tax anymore at my previous address. Far from that: they decided to confirm that I still own the property (which I do till I rent it out) and that because of that fact, they were not only going to keep charging me but also charge me at the full rate with no discount, despite the fact that the place is currently unoccupied. It transpires it's down to me being the owner with mortgage, but why the hell should that matter? Disgusted really.

I mean to be perfectly honest I could have quite easily have not said anything, just moved and then been eligible to still pay the 25% discount so I'd have still been paying it off. What if for example there were other people less honest than me? I do feel strongly that I am paying for my honesty and instead of pursuing payers like me they should be using their resources to go after those that don't pay whatsoever. I am going to do some research and see how the land lies, because I suspect something somewhere is pretty awry to be honest.

Still though it was a good day at work all round: after doing a bit of testing at the office, I headed over to the Central St Martins site with a few colleagues and we were meeting a colleague there for a meeting over breakfast at Dishoom. I hadn't been there before but I don't think it'll be the last time either: the latte I had was lovely, and the sausage naan roll was just the thing, and it filled me up for most of the day to be honest, it was gorgeous, it really was.

I had a walk around the site there before we headed back on the train from St Pancras back to Elephant and Castle, and it's noticeable how friendly staff tend to be, there's always one that is particularly happy at the desk there too, so that's good. I cracked on with testing out the ZBrush installation and realised that in fact because the file had decided to become a blocked file when placed on the network drive share, that it was refusing to install correctly. Once I'd cleared that hurdle and refreshed it all looked good from what I could see. In fact one of my colleagues mentioned considering I hadn't touched Zenworks in ages I was picking it up relatively quickly, so that was nice to know.

It was a slow train home from Blackfriars tonight: not sure if there was something on the line but especially between Herne Hill and Crystal Palace on the way back to East Croydon it just seemed to take a bit of time all round. Eventually once London Bridge is all sorted the trains will go to there then Blackfriars which will still be good for me, and notably the other way around I'd be getting on at Blackfriars first after the short trip from Elephant and Castle, so all good there. I'm getting there..

I had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart later on. Yes, I am missing her hugely as you'd expect, but that shows the two of us how much we love each other and how much we're going to make everything work as much as we can do - we know that it's going to be a different element to our relationship from here on in, but it's one that we're going to do all we can to ensure it's better for us both, not just for me and the career move. Tune of the day by the way is by Moby, the classic "All That I Need Is To Be Loved", apt and very true really!

Wednesday 16th December - Blackfriars Bridge

So I tried a different way in today from East Croydon - taking the 0658 train to London Blackfriars. It was a little slower than the services to London Bridge but also less busy, so I got a seat. And on top of that I was also able to then get a train from there to Elephant and Castle and that was empty (and I mean empty!) primarily as I was going against the main commuter traffic. That'll be handy to know if I get to the train station in time for that train. Granted it does mean walking through the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and then on to work, but still pretty decent all round really.

What was also good today was that I got the printer default removals all completed, which was a good thing to have got done, and I made some progress on a few things too. I don't as yet have a power user account for some of the server access etc but have requested that, and I also got my phone sorted by one of the really good guys on the Service Desk - I could speak into the phone but no one could hear me, so really good to have that all sorted out to be perfectly honest.

I also had to approach the HR systems team as I wanted to put the address in of the new place - but as you can imagine, that didn't work because of the fact that it's a new post code and their system may not have been accepting the ones from Royal Mail (or it doesn't feed from their system in the same way) so that was something else to take into consideration. And I got my Health and Safety assessments added on to Moodle, so that was also good to have done too.

I spent a chunk of time this afternoon looking at Z-Brush. My colleague had set up the licencing side but I suggested it might be good for me to take on the task at packaging it etc, and he was pleased I was offering. I knew that the installer was built using InstallBuilder, and so that effectively meant that a silent installation was possible. I was just pleased that it was looking good, and once I'd obtained the missing licencing DLL file plus created a file to point to the licence server, I was able to demonstrate that it was working correctly and without any errors also. Felt positive.

I headed back to Elephant and Castle later and took the short journey to Blackfriars and then the 1621 from there to East Croydon, arriving at 1650. Not that bad actually, and definitely something I might do again as it seems to work pretty well all round - and I could get a seat easily on both trains. I guess for me it's a case of another thing to get used to in the fact that there's so many people coming in, but usually the faster trains are first stop East Croydon, so it does mean at least I have less stops to worry about most of the time so that is also good.

Tune of the day in the meantime is maybe one you wouldn't expect, but one I was hearing a lot of round everywhere today: "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses. It's an old 80s classic Christmas song and one that I've heard a fair number of times already in the run up. It does at least though have some form of charm that maybe some of the other songs don't, and at least it's one you can't take too seriously. It's also got more popular than it did back in its day too, a definite plus that one.

Tuesday 15th December - Building London Bridges

A second day in the new job, and again on to London Bridge and then to Elephant and Castle on the tube. I got in at around 7.45am this time because I'd got an earlier train to London Bridge (which was pretty busy mind you) but it did reassure me a lot that getting up early and getting in early was the thing to do, so I had a chat with my manager this morning and stated that where possible 8am to 4pm would be the ideal working day. He was fine with that so got that side of it all sorted, which was good.

I had a fair bit of stuff to be introduced to today including the Zenworks 11 web back end for the administration side of things. It was good to have one of the senior colleagues talk me through some of this and be able to get an idea of what goes on under the hood. Although the likes of doing the "bundle" is very reminiscent of the ways that SCCM 2012 does things as a task sequence, I do think there may be some slightly more convoluted ways and things that need to be done, and it's something that I know I am going to have to learn in order to fulfil the new role properly.

One thing I was tasked with when shown the console was that a number of legacy print policies had a bit of an error when attempting to set the defaults. I was given an idea as to what to do, and did the first couple with a colleague first of all. Once that was done, I was tasked with getting rid of the rest of them - and a sizeable amount at that. Although that said it did mean that I was able to get on with doing some learning of the console itself and being able to crack on with it.

In the afternoon we all attended a visit from a Canon printer rep, who knew his stuff big time about colour matching and colour printing. One big obvious error I can see is that a lot of people have the Adobe defaults set for the likes of Creative Suite/Cloud, and that defaults to American pre-press rather than European pre-press settings. A change of that is always good of course, but what also proves to be quite useful is the way that the colours are often set incorrectly in documents, even if companies assume a "brand guidelines" document. Certainly gave us stuff to think about.

It was then on to the tube which was fine, but at London Bridge all was not good. There were signalling problems south of Purley and that meant massive line delays all round. I was fortunate to time the walk to one of the platforms well enough to get the 1659 to East Croydon, which was reasonably painless (I got a seat too, hurrah) so all was good. I knew too I wanted to get some stuff from IKEA and so I headed straight on the tram from East Croydon and got off at Ampere Way.

I used my Family Card priveleges to get some free coffee in the café (well why not?) and headed to the section I wanted to go to - which had no less than the Kallax shelving systems. I knew the one I was after, the 2x2 frame in an oak effect, and the great thing about the Kallax systems are that they are perfect for storing vinyl in. Seriously. In fact I had seen Argos had attempted to copy the IKEA one but missed out on the fact that actually you need to have the shelves big and wide enough - oops.

So with shelf purchased and Family Card swiped at the till (it guarantees and insures your purchases you see) it was then off on the 455 bus back to the apartment (it virtually drops you off outside) and then it was a case of assembling it - mainly in the hallway close to the front door actually as it's carpeted. Building it wasn't too bad and I remembered to put on the provided felt pads so as not to scratch the floor. With it built, in position and looking nice, I then unboxed three boxes of vinyl 12" singles and LPs along with my 10" singles and placed them in. Perfect. And played "Hey Student" by The Fall on 10" at full blast too (so tune of the day there)

I'm gradually settling in, and those 3M Command picture hanging systems are brilliant - they stick to the wall perfectly and to the picture too, but they're easy to remove (I had to remove one set and use another for repositioning, clean off and no damage). My brother had recommended them to me as they were perfect for people like me in apartments who needed that kind of thing where you weren't allowed to nail into walls etc. All good there then.

Monday 14th December - Starting Anew

So the first day at the new job, and so I was up and out early in order to gauge the commute and see how much it would take me in terms of time. Actually, it worked out pretty well as I was able to get on comfortably at East Croydon station and despite the signalling delays around Norwood Junction, I got off at London Bridge, followed the tube signs for the Northern Line and was soon arriving at Elephant and Castle, and got to the office virtually bang on 8am. It was good to be in early in advance of 9am and thankfully my manager and one of my colleagues were already in.

I got introduced to some of the Windows specialist team I'd be working with and also some of the Mac team also, and everyone seems pretty good and friendly also, all supporting different football teams and having varying levels of commute to do. I got my login sorted but knew that things such as email may not work correctly till overnight, and visited the admin staff on the ground floor to get the ID card issued, so all was very well there too - I even manage a smile on the face and everyone seemed very pleasant.

It was good to get to grips with a few things, set up some virtual machines and be able to have them ready for some application packaging and testing, and also to a degree to be able to work on some of the things in future. I was spending a fair bit of time familarising myself with the surroundings and also thankfully was able to get on with doing the data protection online course and test, and passed that with a good mark as well, so that was a really good thing to go and get on with.

The day went by well and I know there's a fair bit for me to pick up, including the fact that it's mainly Zenworks 11 instead of SCCM for their main software distribution, so there's a bit to re-learn, but not that much. As my colleague said, application pacakging you know what to do, it's just the delivery method that's different from SCCM 2012, which I guess it is. I must admit though I am hoping some of those skills will be in use in the future if a change of direction is made, and I always have those skills if required too.

In the afternoon I was chatting to another colleague about an issue with managed print, and was able to check for a suggestion and email it over. He had a good chat with me afterwards and came over, which seems to be the thing to want to do in a open plan office, more walking and chatting rather than send emails. In a way that's akin to how I was working previously with the team, so that has to be a positive. And on top of that, I had to smile as one of the CDs close to my desk was the installer for DesignaKnit 8, which naturally I've used previously, all good there then.

I headed back to London Bridge later but stopped off at the branch of HSBC there. For some reason one of my standing order instructions had been queried due to the signature appearing different. The staff at the branch were really helpful and saw my specimen signature matched that on the back of my debit card, and also showed the passport as proof of ID too, so that worked out really well to be honest. I was ever so pleased that was done and it's another thing off the list.

It was good to be on the train back, have a mooch around the shops in Croydon and then arrive home, all relaxed and comfortable. I set about using some of the picture hanging kits with the special 3M stuff tonight, and have put up a classy black and white framed pic of Adrey Hepburn, and also a really nice picture my brother got me of the North Wales resort of Towyn and the Black Cat arcade at that in the hallway. It just makes it feel a little bit more homely now and gradually part of my settling in process.

I had a call from both my friend and former colleague and then spoke to The Love In My Heart as well, which was really nice. I am missing The Love a heck of a lot, but she's really been so supportive, and that has been the confidence boost I've needed really. Tune of the day actually is "Something Every Day" by Swing Out Sister, from their Beautiful Mess album. It's really been a case of getting the mood right for that song and feeling confident about listening to it too.

Sunday 13th December - Settling In

As part of the settling in process, I knew I needed some things for the new place, so headed off to the centre of Croydon and on to the IKEA at Ampere Way via the tram. I had added a 7 day Zones 1-5 Travelcard on to my Oyster card, so that meant I could use that all day today too, and the tram didn't take too long before arriving at the stop and the short walk over to IKEA. The store had opened for browsing but wasn't actually open till 11am, so spent the time mooching around and making sure that anything I spotted I made note of.

In fact I did manage pretty well - I got myself a new clothes laundry bag which I can place in the bathroom: it's a nice one with wicker on the outside and a nice inside bag tied in, topped with another piece of white wicker. It looks classy and did use some of the money from the work's present for that. I also on top of that got some lightbulbs for the lamps around the apartment, so that was all good too. I was most pleased that I had sorted that all out and spotted that a bus stopped near the tram stop which took me almost directly to the apartment, so I got that and all was good.

Once I'd got the bulbs sorted and the bag done, I then headed on the 60 bus to Purley and the large Tesco Extra there. In fact it was a worthwhile trip as not only did I get the food bits I wanted, and also some household cleaning items, and on top of all that some basics, but I also spotted that they had the Command 3M hook systems that allow you to hook things on to walls without having to use any nails and my brother and brother in law had recommended them to me. I got them all sorted, and it was 3 for 2, so I got a little bathroom hook for a handtowel, two little hooks for coats for the bedroom door, and then some for pictures as well, so I'll be sorting those out over the next few days.

I had also looked at utilising some of the space for a desk to put the PC on, and try and downsize the office space used, but for now I'm using some of the dining table space and at least that's reasonably out of the way for now. I think it's a case of compromise till I can get everything I need fully sorted, and I have seen a unit in Argos that would be perfect for storing a fair number of the CDs I have, so I definitely will need to look into that or even some alternative systems which I could utilise for storage as well. I must admit I am just itching to get unboxed and fully in.

So on to the new job tomorrow and certainly the first few weeks will be me finding my way around and getting used to a new way of working and being with people but hopefully of the same mindset as me. I know that it will be all scary to start with but to be honest any new job is, and my view is that you have to start at some point somewhere and then develop yourself onwards. I also know realistically that it will depend on what time I need to be in, in terms of the commute, but it's a 9am start tomorrow so I will gauge the time I leave and take it from there, and work out the total time taken from home to work (bearing in mind that was taking almost an hour at times back in Manchester so might be a good test) and see what happens.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather lovely "The Band of Gold" by Seth Lakeman, from his Freedom Fields album. I was thinking about The Love In My Heart a lot today, and she loves that song particularly, and it's also one of my favourites. I think for us both connecting the song in such a way might not be a bad thing, and I suspect as the week goes on I will miss her but in a different way, and I think right now it's more about the move and the distance between us at the moment.

Saturday 12th December - The Big Move

I got up at 7am and started doing more final last minute packing, and it was good to at least get some of that sorted before my brother and brother in law turned up. They had both agreed to help move me today and my brother in law was going to use his van and not charge me for it whatsoever, which was really appreciated hugely by me. We started to get things packed into the van and I was attempting where possible to make sure any last minute stuff was gathered, although I suspect I may have left stuff behind which The Love In My Heart will be sorting out for me as well as my brother.

So with the van all loaded at around 10.30am, it was time to set off, and it was a fond farewell heading down the M56, to the M6, and then via the M5 and M42 to the M40 and off towards London itself. In fact we were glad we went that way as we heard of 8 mile tailbacks on the M1, not good really. I think for me that it was good that we were making good ground as we stopped off at Beaconsfield Services for some well earned lunch, and naturally I got us all whatever we fancied, which for both of them was a Big Mac Meal with milkshake (I almost did the same but went McChicken Sandwich instead.) Oddly, the place has a Wetherspoons too although noticeably the meals are advertised with soft drink.

As we left the M40 for the M25, a queue of traffic formed. We soon spotted it was an accident and the car had pulled to the hard shoulder but was on fire. Once we got past it, all was well, but bizarrely the traffic the other way was queued for ages, most likely with people stopping to have a look (why do they do that?) and before we knew it, it was on to the final stretch along the A23, and at Purley (and spotting a large Tesco) it was then along the A23 and A232 and my brother in law's sat nav got us close, and I directed them from there.

We went in the apartment first before unpacking to take a look around and it was all as I remembered: two and one seater leather sofa, dining table with four chairs, large coffee table and rug, all fitted kitchen with units and in built fridge freezer, dishwasher, oven and hob, and then a bedroom with wardrobe, chest of drawers, two bedside cabinets, and a bathroom with bath and shower over with nice sink and toilet, and towel rail. They were both impressed with it and they could understand why getting a nice lovely new apartment over a flat in a shared converted house was the better option in the long term.

We started off unpacking the van, and in the end worked out a plan - got it in to the reception hall, then commandeered one of the lifts to get the stuff in, and then got everything in to the front room so I could then sort it out later on. In fact that worked out pretty well, and we spotted where the TV and phone points were, so it made sense for me to have the TV unit there along with the hi-fi separates and all the speakers etc, and that meant that all the cables could be hidden away from view as much as possible and then on with the telly, and after a re-tune, all was well with the world.

I went out and got us all a cold drink and we were all relaxed for a bit before they were going to head off home. I really was massively appreciative of all their really good work and they were so helpful in getting me sorted out overall so that at least I was able to be relaxed in the new place. After they had left I unpacked a fair amount of clothes and used pretty much all the wardrobe space and then some for storage, and on top of that I used the chest of drawers provided. As it transpired the boxes I'd packed some stuff in fitted under the bed, so one of them has the extra towels in, and another has the spare duvet covers and sheet.

I undid the new duvet, and covered that, and remembered - oh no! No pillows! Thankfully it was a short walk to Primark in central Croydon and got the pillows sorted there, so all good and once the covers were on, the bed did feel rather homely all round. I knew later that was going to be a good night's sleep for a long day, and with City winning 2-1 against Swansea earlier, I stayed up for Match of the Day and watched up to the City game, and then headed to the shower, had a very nice powerful shower and headed off to bed, with a long day but one where I now feel more at home in my new surroundings.

I am missing The Love In My Heart lots, more than I realised, but I know the feeling is mutual and she is missing me too. I do think though that for us both this is where our relationship takes on a new dynamic in that we'll both be looking forward immensely to spending the time we have together and that will be really good when that happens. I know for the first few weeks after Christmas we've got train travel sorted too so that means we know where we'll both be as well. I must admit it's really pleasing that we're both able to realise how much we do love each other (which we do). Tune of the day in fact is the classic "Stay (I Miss You)" by Lisa Loeb, which has been in my head for most of the day.

 

Friday 11th December - Time To Say Goodbye

So after sixteen and a half years, the day has come - my final day at my current workplace. I must admit I am a little bit mixed emotionally. On the one hand I've had so many wonderful people to work with and they've all been really good, but on the other, I know it was as far as I was going to go in my career and I needed to look at either progressing internally (which didn't happen) or seeing what was out there and getting something else - which is in the end what I've done.

It was a good morning all round though and the team meeting went well. The team at the end came up with a little bag, and inside it was a Umbro maroon Manchester City shirt that had been signed by Pablo Zabaleta. I was most pleased with that and so good that there was a real thought gone into it too. The rest of the morning was spent answering emails and indeed phone calls as plenty of people were calling me, this despite a printing problem which appeared to be an error and a half, and not ideally the sort of thing I'd want to be facing with resolving!

So at around noon I went over to another building where a side gallery had been booked out for me to have a get together with various members of staff. Quite a number of them turned up from various departments including the staff from the Conference and Events Office, the Environment Team and a fair few others within IT as well along the way, and lots of academic and admin staff from the School of Art, so that was a really nice thing. In fact I saw plenty of people who had really made the effort, so that was appreciated overall.

Later on one of our senior managers (and someone I get on well with) did a short speech along with the Dean of the School of Art who handed me over the leaving card and indeed a bottle of Prosecco all poshly wrapped up. Some very nice things were said to me and even though in my head I'd wanted to say how the leaving do nearly didn't happen, I thought "these people here are the nice people, I don't need to upset anyone" and so instead did a speech from the heart, thanking those I worked with and lots of special friendships I'd made along the way too. I had to of course mention my former manager who had come along, and that was a really good thing to note. Interestingly he had also been introduced to said senior manager, to it'll have been interesting to see what was said there.

I headed back to the office later on and noted the mass of signatories in the card - so much so that in fact they had to staple in four extra pages so people could write and sign. It was humbling, along with a sizeable collection too which I'll use towards stuff for the new apartment once I've moved in. It really was a nice day all round and it was just really sad at the end of it all when I shook hands with people in the team, or hugged them, and must have had so many hugs from people along the way too which was also really lovely.

So off home, and a lot of packing to do, and packed all the clothes, packed all the PC and telly away, and all sorts done. I knew I still had a fair bit to do in the morning when I got up, but it did feel rather sad that I was going to leave Manchester behind tomorrow (not permanently though as The Love In My Heart is still there as are the family and indeed Manchester City!) and so even though my body will be in London my heart is always with Manchester. Quite apt then that tune of the day will be "Manchester" by The Times, complete with plenty of mentions to the likes of Factory Records, Anthony H Wilson et al.

Thursday 10th December - Documents and Duvets

So two days to go, and today I managed to write some more documentation with regards to the set up of the USB dongle racks that are served by the licence servers to correctly look at dongles as if they were USB ports and all, and then be able to mention which ports serve which servers, and what USB dongles were on each. In fact that proved to be a useful exercise overall so that the team could see some of the configuration steps and what they had to do overall and how it works from an infrastructure end.

I also looked at another specialised piece of software and was also able to get that documented, explaining how the server side was set up, how the clients would talk to the software and indeed to the server, and how then to be able to effectively get on with things overall and show the way you could extend the licencing also. Again, it was really useful to provide screen shots all the way through and be able to have that as a reference to hand so that if you're stuck, you at least know what screen you should be looking at.

Later on after work The Love In My Heart came over, and we headed straight out as I knew I needed some things for the move. What I did definitely need, and I decided to treat myself to it, was a new duvet. I've had the one in the house for ages now, and thought that new place new start was good. I got that, and a new mattress protector too. And also added to that as well, some more bubble wrap so I could be ready to package more stuff protectively later on as well.

We went to The Greenfinch in West Didsbury on the way back to mine, and had a nice little meal together. I had the steak pie, and hurrah, it was a proper pie and everything! The pub even had some Christmas themed ales too so I had one of those with the food, and The Love looked lovely in her scarf and she had the chicken with cheese and barbecue sauce on, which also looked good too. It was nice to be able to people watch a fair bit as well and just see the world go by.

Back to mine it was a case of packing more things, and to be honest we'd done pretty well by the end of the evening, with a lot more stuff done, meaning that I should be able to get the final things all sorted tomorrow. It was particularly lovely just to have a snuggle on the sofa and have a massive hug later. The one thing I do know massively is that I have her love and support to keep me going, and I know too she really does want me to do well too, and that's special. Tune of the day in fact is Paul Weller's "You Do Something To Me", because that is so true on so many levels.

Wednesday 9th December - The Final Countdown

Another day, and another productive day of documentation for me today. In fact I was on a bit of a roll and added some further updates to the document for one specialist piece of weave software so that it included the client configuration and how that gets passed down to the PC. I also worked on another document which meant that users would know how to configure the software and services on one of the licence servers that serves licences for Mac based software. Obviously as I'm not packaging the software I haven't documented that, but at least it means I'll have been able to pass that on now.

In fact it was also a good exercise for me in that I could to a degree run a test installation of the licencing software on the laptop I use and then be sure to try and configure that accordingly so that it mimics what's on the server. It's useful because if for example I need to run the licencing wizard I can run it to a point and keep the same screenshots so as not to affect the current live server - not daft there you see. It is also very useful too that I can spot anything which I may have done initially that might not be quite right either.

I do feel it's the final countdown though (let's make the song by Europe tune of the day) and for me it's a real sense of it being the end of an era. Not necessarily just because it's me moving onwards in my career and moving away from Manchester to a new place either, but because there is the impending feeling that it's the change in the air where I am currently. I think that there seems to be a common theme of possible restructures and yet another new wind of change, and that does seem to be the case whenever there's a new upper management change. Can this always be a good thing? Not so sure.

I did manage a fair amount of packing in the office room tonight and that was good to sort out. In fact I realised that I had far too many CDs with similar content on, so I managed to get rid of a load of those, and also then be sure that I could box up the remaining stuff to be good to go. In fact my other thing I realised is that I also really needed to cut down on some of the stuff I was going to take with me, so several bin bags of rubbish later and that did feel better.

It does make me wonder though if I need to think carefully in future about how I manage to arrange things in the new place and whether in fact I need not to try and store so much. Thankfully I wouldn't ever get to the point of hoarding or anything like that, but nonetheless it's good to try and have a clean slate and do whatever you can to get yourself straight in the head. I know for me for definite it's a case of getting plenty of things sorted out and then I know I'm all good to go. Granted there's some upheaval and all, but that may yet prove to be a good thing.

Tuesday 8th December - Never Felt More Like Singing The Blues..

.. City win, United lose. And then some. In fact, even though a combination of packing up stuff and heading out to say goodbye to a couple of friends for now meant that I wasn't at the Etihad tonight, I did of course keep an eye out on the scores, and that made me smile near the final whistle as City were leading 4-2 against Borussia Monchengladbach, and coupled with Sevilla's 1-0 win over Juventus meant that not only did Sevilla snatch the Europa League place, but City overtook Juventus to win the group too, which means potentially a much easier tie in the next round.

As for Man United, well the damage was done with their bore 0-0 draw at home to PSV Eindhoven, which proved costly tonight. Wolfsburg at their place is not an easy place to go and United's 3-2 loss there with some bad defending might have been not necessarily expected, but still showed you had to be on the game at this top level. In the meantime PSV's 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow meant that PSV and Wolfsburg went through and it was the Europa League for United instead. I suspect though many of their fans might have this as their final straw moment with Louis van Gaal and I have to say I can't blame them either.

On a positive note today I also put together some more documentation, this time for the updated version of the specialist software V-Stitcher, and with reference to the previous version that had been packaged. The database used on one of the servers could be used for the new one, but it transpired that the silent install woudn't actually do the silent install unless you specified the server address and server database beforehand in a registry key, which would then allow the silent install to happen correctly. Once you had that sussed, absolute doddle.

I did do some more packing up in the office room tonight and noticed that plenty of old school PC games were there, mainly ones I used to play when I had the first PC many years ago. So for example both Quake Mission Packs 1 and 2, the Spanish Bay Links add-on for PGA Tour 96, FIFA 99, FIFA 2001, NHL 99, Tomb Raider II, Turok, Interstate 76, Puzzle Bobble, Lego Stunt Rally, Fade To Black, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and plenty more. I might have to see if those can be sold off or not as I hardly play them these days but I know some of those were popular with oldschool gamers.

I also headed out much later on for a meal with The Love In My Heart and two friends, as they wanted to hand me a little Christmas stroke going away present, which was a nice book of how to survive in London, which I'll have a good read of and appreciate. In fact the meal was nice, the fish and chips main was rather lovely all round too and the atmosphere, even with chilled out versions of Christmas songs, was spot on. I guess that things like that I will miss when I move, but I know that I'm also thinking that the right reasoning means that in the long term it'll all work out wonderfully well. That's the plan anyway...

Tune of the day in the meantime is the wonderful version of "Hong Kong Garden" by Siouxsie and the Banshees that has the string intro at the start. It shouldn't work, but it actually does, and sets the tone nicely before the guitars kick in with the classic original vocal. Actually though maybe one day she needs to look at doing full string arrangements of Banshees classics, certainly Happy House with strings might sound bloody good actually!

Monday 7th December - The Final Week Begins

So my last ever week of working for my current employer, and to be fair, it was actually a positive start to the week all told. I managed to put together a number of documents on the same day, including the likes of using Adobe Creative Cloud Packager (CCP for short, folks) to package up the enterprise licence for Creative Cloud, but also the individual device licences and how the device pools work in that instance. It proved to be a good exercise anyway as it meant I could take it through from start to finish and then demonstrate the way that the SCCM task sequence has to be constructed (that is, always installing Acrobat Pro first)

In fact it then proved useful when doing the document for Adobe Captivate 9, as you actually need to use two different tools - the Creative Cloud packager packages the main installer plus exception add-ons, but for the likes of the e-Learning content and NeoSpeech voices add-ons, you have to use the previous tool Adobe Application Manager Enterprise Edition (AAMEE) instead, which of course at the time Adobe don't actually tell you about, and the only way I did find out was to pressure some of the Adobe technical reps into giving me that answer. So definitely for me one worth documenting and showing how it was done.

I had also spent time with a member of staff from another site on the Friday afternoon showing them how they'd manage to package one of their custom applications but ensure that all the pre-requisites were installed first and put together nicely in a task sequence. In fact, what it also showed was that they understood just why it was being done the way it was being done too, and so when we spotted a potential issue with one step, it was because the command line provided by the vendor for one of the pre-requisites was actually incorrect - it should have been with the /q instead of /quiet paramater (Visual C++ 2008 in case you wondered.)

I got home later on and watched Only Connect, admittedly getting a bit tougher now the quarter final stage had arrived. I still kicked backside on the missing vowels round though which was good to see, and on top of that I also got the music connection and music sequence in the first two rounds. I think definitely for me that it's my own little guilty pleasure in that if I do well I do feel a little bit intelligent, although part of me would admittedly love to go on it just to meet the lovely Victoria Coren-Mitchell to be honest, her dry wit really does make her the perfect host for the show.

I ended up with a shedload more packing done to a degree, sorting out a fair bit of the office room and then managing to see if I was able to get a few things sorted online with the likes of the bank account, and some of the domestic utilities and bills at this end. I know that not everything will be fully sorted before I move, but I've got till the New Year to see about potentially letting out my existing place at minimum, and there may also be a plan afoot yet to see if I could use it like an airbnb type place to stay in Manchester - that is also not without possibilities.. In the meantime tune of the day is the rather impressive "This Is The Modern World" by The Jam - I'm still in that mood since the excellent gig on Saturday.

Sunday 6th December - Maximum Return

The Love In My Heart and I woke up, and had slept very well in a nice comfortable bed (thank you Mercure Kensington.) I had myself a cheeky Nespresso (well why not) before breakfast, and the breakfast was rather nice - lots of cereal, croissants and pastries, plus you got a little rack of toast to the table and a pot of coffee, and the hot items were really nice too - bacon, sausages, scrambled or fried egg, mushrooms, and also for The Love hash browns, beans, tomato etc, so all really lovely. In fact that filled us up nicely.

We made sure we'd packed everything and checked out - and it was all rather a gorgeous stay actually. It most likely will be the last time we'll have a stay in central London together due to my forthcoming move, but I'm glad it was somewhere lovely and it felt a special time to be away. We made our way to Earls Court, took the District Line to Victoria and the Victoria line from there to Euston - much more civilised than it was yesterday that is for sure.

We also headed up to the First Class lounge and relaxed in there for a little while with BBC News on the TV screens showing all the horrible flooding up there in Cumbria. The Love's niece is in Lancaster at University at the moment and they currently have no power up there either, which must be pretty awful. In fact we found out later she was coming back a week early due to the fact that the University cancelled all the final week's lectures and tried to ensure everyone could get home as safely as they could.

We got on the train and it was a nice relaxing journey with coffee, the snack pack lunch (same as we had yesterday in fact) plus water etc, and very comfortable sat in the seats. Back in Manchester the weather wasn't too bad and certainly nothing like the terrible weather up in the North West, and we said our goodbyes for now. In fact it was such a lovely time together and I think we both were really pleased that we'd had some quality time together.

I got back home and switched on the opening session of the UK Championship snooker final, and that has been good to watch the last week or so. What I didn't expect was what happened in the sixth frame - Neil Robertson was playing well and I noticed it was red black red black and suspected he was on for a 147 so I sent a text to The Love so she could watch. The 13th red hitting down on the ball was quality and even Ken Doherty was yelling "Get in!" from the commentary box. He completed the task brilliantly and with it made history - the first time ever in a Triple Crown final (UK Championship, Masters, World Championship) that a maximum had been made.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent "Long Time" by Paul Weller, which was a definite highlight from last night's show and another of my favourites from the recent "Saturn's Pattern album, not least because it's short, sweet and to the point, and in a way has a really dirty guitar hook that reminded me a lot of David Bowie at his finest in the 1970s too. Excellent stuff all round really, and another great effort all round from the Modfather.

Saturday 5th December – That’s Entertainment

It was off to London with The Love In My Heart, and for good reason too. Several months ago we had booked tickets to see Paul Weller at Hammersmith Apollo, as it was the last gig of the tour plus it wasn’t an arena, as we both dislike Manchester Arena as a gig venue. I had also booked us the very nice Mercure Kensington to stay at which had an offer on of a discounted price plus breakfast. Add to that I had booked first class train travel (with Two Together Railcard discount) and it was going to be a lovely time all round.

We met at Piccadilly Station and relaxed in the first class lounge before heading for our 1055 departure. The journey was lovely as it always is on Virgin Trains – free wifi, free snack pack with a sandwich, mini cheddars and Cadburys Fingers (which I gave to The Love due to me still not having chocolate) and also had coffee and mineral water. Very civilised and just the thing to have us both in a relaxed frame of mind as we arrived, despite the bad weather, on time and all feeling good.

We topped up Oyster and then headed to the Victoria Line, getting off at Green Park for the Piccadilly Line to Earls Court. Green Park was rammed and we had to let one choc full tube train go before just about getting on to the second one, which at least by Knightsbridge had some seats. It was not our favourite journey ever and we both wondered if the station manageress at Green Park had pre-recorded announcements for all the time she was yelling out "Move down the platform to allow others to board, and stand well clear of the yellow line!"

We walked the short distance along Hogarth Road and to Cromwell Road where the hotel is. Upon checking in, two of my Le Club Accorhotels perks as a Gold Member kicked in – free welcome drink at the bar (which we’d have later) and a room upgrade. As I’d booked a superior double (the standard ones are tiny!) this meant a privelege room. And it was very nice indeed. Massive bed, lovely bathroom, little fridge with complimentary soft drinks, bath robes and slippers, and also not just the tea and coffee. Oh no. We’re talking as Nespresso machine –and pods! Very lovely and that made it just a bit more special for us really.

We had a walk later and headed to the V&A – and mooched around the shop. We also went round a few other lovely shops before heading into Harrods – and yes, it was totally busy. The chocolates section was particularly so as everyone appeared to be buying expensive posh chocs at scary prices to take home. The window displays were lovely too but that did mean that people were stopping and taking numerous selfies also which meant they were getting in the way a lot. We had a quick look at the shops around South Kensington before heading back to our hotel, where The Love had a glass of wine and myself a beer.

We got showered and changed and off to Earls Court, stopping off at the Blackbird for some tea. I had a pie with bacon, mushrooms and guinea fowl in, and it was very nice, and a gorgeous stout too. The drinks weren’t cheap but the food was reasonably priced, and the apple and cherry pie with custard for dessert was really nice. It was good to sit and relax before walking the short distance to the tube station to get the District Line towards Hammersmith where tonight’s gig was taking place.

I had never been to Hammersmith Apollo but had to say both The Love and I adored all the art deco feel of the place – the open plan of the circle hall so you could look down below, the windows and decor of the ceilings – so nice to see it as it was intended to look. We got ourselves a drink (no surprise being a gig venue it was massively overpriced) and then headed to our seats in the circle, which actually offered a good view even though we were higher up than Manchester Apollo for example. The support band were not that good to be honest – they appeared to be more ranting and using electronics than really giving out any form of vibe to engage the crowd. Not my thing and I think that most of them around me thought the same too.

None of that with Paul Weller though, who with the likes of Steve Cradock playing with him, clocked up around two and a quarter hours total. Right from the start with tracks from his recent album "Saturns Pattern" being played such as the really good "Long Time" and "White Sky"being belted out with passion, we both knew it was going to be really good. Oh and add to that two songs by The Jam early on: "Man in the Corner Shop" and "Ghosts" which went down very well.

The Love was also hugely pleased as Paul played three songs from his The Style Council era too – "My Ever Changing Moods", "Have You Ever Had It Blue" and "Long Hot Summer" as well. We also had "Going My Way" (my favourite song on Saturns Pattern), along with really good renditions of his earlier solo era classics such as "Into Tomorrow", "Peacock Suit" and perhaps best of all from this era, complete with Paul on piano, "You Do Something To Me" as well. Another of my Paul favourites, the rocking "From The Floorboards Up" got a really rousing version.

It was somehow fitting that the main set concluded with The Jam classic "Start!" and really sounded good, and during the first encore we also had the Paul Weller classic "The Changingman" too. Some people decided to leave at the end of the first encore and I remarked to The Love how silly they would look if Paul and band came back on – which they did. And played the two classic songs by The Jam: "That’s Entertainment" and "A Town Called Malice" too (tune of the day for me.) Everyone stood and sang along, it was a very special atmosphere to be in.

What The Love and I couldn’t help notice though were people on the left side of the circle by the wall being seemingly allowed to stand there and dance, despite blocking the aisles a lot. The venue staff didn’t seem bothered and neither did the Showsec people. A bit odd really – what if they fell down, what if people wanted to go to the bar or the loo (lots of shuffling past) and all that? It just struck us both as something that in Manchester they would have been asked once, and if failed, would have been turfed out of the venue. Add to that the malaise of people talking whilst Paul was on. Just... No.

We headed back on the tube to Earls Court and had a drink in The Courtfield (Old Golden Hen was on good form there) before then going to the hotel and relaxing whilst watching the repeat of The Apprentice seeing the slimy Selina get her marching orders – and justifiably so. It was also nice and comfortable in the room – and I had one of the Nespresso coffees as a night cap before we eventually headed to sleep after a very lovely day all round. It was worth the trip for the gig alone which was superb.

Friday 4th December – Carol Chorus

I spent time today working on a document detailing packaging of the Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise suites, and how to effectively work out a good method of deployment using Adobe’s own tool for packaging, then SCCM task sequencing (which is where from I shall resume on Monday.) On the whole it’s always good to add plenty of screenshots to help out others, plus also it really does mean I can pass this over to whoever is going to deal with things after I leave. That is the plan and it should come off nicely.

I also worked on some documentation for wide format printing where printing from some Adobe programs were creating issues. I detailed how to flatten the layers in InDesign and Acrobat Pro, and how also to flatten the artwork in Illustrator too. It was a good exercise in being able to explain things in a more demonstrative nature which I know my colleagues appreciated, so that was all good there. It'll all be also something useful for me to take note of as I can use said documentation in future, so there is actually a method to my madness.

I headed to Oxford Road station after work as I was heading to Blackburn tonight – I changed trains at Bolton and the service to Blackburn wasn’t too busy either – that was a positive thing. The Love in My Heart and her father had arrived there already and they were in the pub – so on leaving the station I walked over there and joined them – and it was a tad windy! We had the fish and chips with a drink for tea in the pub so all was good there.

The Love’s sister had joined us and it was off to the cathedral for the evening service, and that was very good all round. It was full of Christmas festive carols and a really good choir singing too, and some stories and poems about the season read out too. In fact I was asked to help out later on to ensure that the charity collections were all handed over, which meant a walk down the altar later on. I didn’t mind, if it meant me giving something back to a well organised evening then that for me is a positive.

Lots of carols were sung by the crowd too including the likes of O Little Town of Bethlehem, but my favourite was also on too – so naturally I sang that with deserved gusto – and it’s one my brother also hums at Christmas too – so Joy to the World is tune of the day for that reason. The two large Christmas trees were also lit, and that did make me feel a little more in the festive mood. I didn’t mind either taking the train back – it meant The Love could drop her father home and head home herself for a good night’s sleep. All in all, all good.

Thursday 3rd December – Out on the Town

Another more productive day of documentation but this time with a real sense of purpose – getting the procedure for packaging certain applications through from start to finish. I think too that it’s always useful to be able to have that documented so anyone else can do the same. One I was tackling today was to do with a specialised learning suite for one department, and how to package the 8 DVDs worth of content into SCCM packages. It worked pretty well.

On a positive note it looks like I am at least able to have a leaving get together, which is good news. I think common sense has prevailed somewhat in that it meant that the powers that be realised that I wasn’t going to get me or anyone else drunk and that in fact other people who have left haven’t faced such issues. What the whole thing does demonstrate though is that I am making the right move to go to pastures new, and that there is a sour taste lingering because of that. I suspect that my manager is also to thank for kicking proverbial backside.

On to a more cheery time – a night out with my two colleagues and friends from Knit and Weave, whom have always been so lovely to work with. We had planned to go out for a while but due to recent events it made sense for us to head out now. It was also a good excuse to catch up too. They both asked me about the new job, new place to live, and admitted that whilst they would miss me lots (the feeling is mutual!) they also could see that for my own career it was spot on to do.

We had a drink in The Bank and were able to chill out and chat together, with plenty of conversation flowing. In fact some of the ales were on top form so that was good. Later on we walked to Piccadilly Gardens and to Pizza Express. I had got a voucher on my phone for two courses for £11.95 so we used that, had the dough balls to start and I had the La Reine pizza for main (my favourite!) so all good there. It was very relaxed and all good.

We were all reminiscing about television we used to watch when younger, and one of them mentioned the classic 80s kids TV show Pigeon Street. It was of its time but apart from the theme tune (cue boodooo for the pigeon noise) the other song she remembered (and now in my head all night) was Long Distance Clara, who was a lorry driver. That now has to be tune of the day – bit of an old school classic really. We mentioned 80s Saturday evening TV and came up with the likes of Airwolf, TJ Hooker, Knight Rider, The A-Team etc. Rather ace.

We headed off towards Piccadilly Station and had a drink there – and they had handed me a little card and present too which was ever so lovely of them both – the card which I read later had some hand written messages of how much they would miss me but thanked me for all the hard work over the years. I will be keeping in touch with them both as there’s been times where even during the day and getting things done, we’ve had plenty of smiles and laughs, and that is one of many reasons why the days have been pleasant. Thanks so much to them.

Wednesday 2nd December - Pack Man

Another day at work, and this time focussing on more documentation on packaging some specialised software: the first one being a look at the likes of APS-Ethos, a specialist embroidery piece of software. This Summer we got a network licenced version with USB dongle, and that's been working very well. It's been good to document a lot of those processes and be able to go through the set up of the licencing server, how to ensure the client is configured correctly, how to record the silent install (it uses InnoSetup) and then how to bring it all together for SCCM deployment.

In the afternoon it was the turn of Vectorworks, and how to first of all set up the NetHASP dongle for the C series licence we have, and then from there how to set up the client, configure the extra package files that have the content so that they install with the main installer, how to ensure it talks to the licence server and crucially how to ensure all users have the correct rights to see a registry key value that it needs to for the serial number. All pretty good to do, and I am hoping that I'll be able to pass on what I can to the masses.

Later on I got home and started to do some more packing in anticipation of the new job and indeed the fact that I've got a new place sorted. This time around it was the hi-fi and AV separates, and admittedly I do have the original boxes for all of those, meaning that in fact I am able to therefore utilise them to safely get them all done. So the AV receiver, DVD player, Blu-Ray player and Freeview HD recorder were all packed, and the trusty Pioneer turntable was bubble wrapped to within an inch of life to be sure that was fine.

In fact when The Love In My Heart came around I'd just unravelled all the speaker cabling and boxed that in one small box, and added the HDMI cables and interconnects in another. I'd also ensured that the floorstanding Mission speakers were rotated at the bottom so that instead of the pointy spikes it has the rounded bits of metal that don't damage a normal floor in any way. I had got all that done, The Love had the bubble wrap and carefully packed glasses and other bits of pots and pans that I wasn't going to need immediately all away, so all good there thus far.

We settled in later on to watch The Apprentice and I have to say that from the word go we knew that if Richard's team could win, then the others with Selina and Charleine were in trouble, and it was notable how their team leader kept them away from each other so that they wouldn't row: which they did do in the café when they lost. To be fair though we knew Selina's time was up and rightfully so, it was clear that everything was everyone's fault - except hers. And that was enough for Lord Sugar to make his own mind up and fire her. I think The Love was even more chuffed than me!

So with a certain vote later on meaning air strikes on Syria happening, which for me isn't what I wanted to see happen, somehow listening to "Everybody's Gone To War" by Nerina Pallot (make that tune of the day) seems somewhat appropriate. The words in the song make a lot of sense too, such as the line of ".. they tell me it's a worthy cause, no cause could be so worthy" which reminds me of the likes of how we were hoodwinked that heading into Iraq was a good idea. Maybe if we meddled less in other countries' business we wouldn't be a target ourselves.

Tuesday 1st December - Documenting A Win

Back to work for me then after all the excitement of being away in Scotland over the weekend, and I have to say it's been a really good day of sorts today. Well, in terms of me being productive and documenting stuff anyway. I have managed to be able to write a lot of stuff with regards to how we can implement Group Policy settings for shortcuts, file and registry settings for applications, and how indeed I went through some of this with the team a little later in the day.

However on the negative side, I did find out something today that I wasn't particularly happy about and for me only reinforces my view that leaving was actually the right decision to make. I am not going to go into too much detail, but suffice to say that it seems odd that what seems to be perfectly fine for other departments at work in terms of how you are able to at least leave on good terms seems to be soured by the actions of certain people in the department I work in. I am not one to create fuss or even be the centre of attention to be honest, but I do feel rather annoyed by the whole situation.

Thankfully at least I had a Manchester City home game to go to later, and the Capital One Cup quarter final against Hull City at that. My friend and I got to the ground, had our customary cup of tea and all was rather well with the world there before we took our seats for the action. The ground was nowhere near full but the Hull City fans had filled the whole of the top of the South Stand, and their fans got behind the team. Good on them I say and it's good to see that the fans have stuck with them despite a drop to the Championship and indeed the proper fans who know Hull City as Hull City and not whichever name their chairman seems to want to change them to.

So City started off brightly and early on were able to carve out a chance as Kevin de Bruyne's shot rattled the post, and it came back out. Wilfried Bony was first to pounce and hit the ball sweetly low and hard into the net for 1-0. To be fair Hull City were at least trying to knock the ball around well enough and hit us on the break, with the Man City fans having their customary giggle at former United player Steve Bruce, with the classic chant of "Stevie Bruce is the Elephant Man" and so on.

The second half got underway and both teams went for it. City made a few substitutions and it had been nice to see David Silva get a good run out of time and he looked lethal with de Bruyne. I said to my friend a second goal would be the killer blow and an excellent run down the left from Raheem Sterling found Kelechi Iheanacho, and he shot home from close range for 2-0, an excellent finish too it was. That was the sign of us killing the game off and I noticed some fans leaving at this point with ten minutes to go.

Whoops - bad mistake that was! Two minutes later and the defender tried to head back to the Hull City goalkeeper but Kevin de Bruyne stole in and dinked it past for 3-0. Five minutes later and City got a free kick, and de Bruyne buried it despite a man being on the line as well the goalkeeper. To the tune of the White Stripes classic "Seven Nation Army" (make that tune of the day) the City fans sang "Ohhhh Kevin de Bruy-ne" etc, and even a consolation goal from Hull City (and well taken too) didn't spoil the mood. 4-1, nice win, semis here we come, much happier!